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Thanksgiving Bits 121

An anonymous reader writes "Whatis.com has a holiday themed tech quiz, Thanksgiving: Do you speak Geek?. Bit stuffing, anyone?" And reader Punboy writes with some hope of building a better turkey: "Apparently the biotech guys are at it again, this time with our poultry! They're mapping the turkey genome in hopes of providing better breeding techniques, and remove the 'guesswork'." And while food is on your mind, here's a story about the challenges of feeding a hungry planet.
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Thanksgiving Bits

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  • Sounds interesting.. But if we need to feed the poor we should shell out from our exess stock :(
    • by mordors9 ( 665662 ) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @03:11PM (#10919531)
      Sorry but maybe I have missed something. Turkeys are prolific, we can already grow as many as we want to. The only limitation is what the market will bear. So how does making freaky genetically modified turkey change that.
      • A genitically modified turkey might have a better taste, and not need nearly as much stuffing to fix its naturally bland dry flavor.

        It might taste like a goose ;)
    • That's the thing. I don't know that we need to feed the poor. In everything there is a winner and a loser. It is unescapable. No matter how much money, food, etc we throw at poverty, there will always be someone who has less. As such, I think foreign aide from the countries that have to countries that have not is more than acceptable at its current level.

      • Most poor people don't mind having "less". Not everyone is greedy and jealous. A lot of people would be quite happy just to have enough for survival.
      • by GigsVT ( 208848 )
        Economics is not zero sum.

        In every voluntary captilistic transaction, both parties are winners, the purchaser gets something he values more than the money he gave up, and the seller gets an amount of money he values more than the good he gave up to get it.

        Win-Win. Everything isn't zero sum.
    • The best part about genetic turkeys:
      The idea is to identify specific genes that produce desirable traits such as salmonella resistance, strong leg muscles and, of course, big breasts.
      Did you catch that? I wonder if this research is applicable in humans too!
      • The best part about genetic turkeys:

        The idea is to identify specific genes that produce desirable traits such as salmonella resistance, strong leg muscles and, of course, big breasts.

        Did you catch that? I wonder if this research is applicable in humans too!

        What's wrong, A-cup? Jealous?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 25, 2004 @02:41PM (#10919330)
    Welcome our new genetically engineered turkey overlords!
    • Throw a little William S. Burroughs in there and we we can have the Turkey Overlords with Tryptophan producing nipples.
    • Turkeys can kill anyone they want! Turkeys cut off heads ALL the time and don't even think twice about it. These cocks are so crazy and awesome that they flip out ALL the time. I heard that there was this turkey who was about being eaten at a diner. And when some dude dropped a spoon the turkey killed the whole town. My friend Mark said that he saw a turkey totally uppercut some kid just because the kid opened a window.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You're over a month late -- Thanksgiving was observed on October 11, 2004.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Thanksgiving was observed on October 11, 2004
      ... which fortunately coincides with the start of our hockey seas... oh, never mind, eh.
      • Thanksgiving was observed on October 11, 2004 ... which fortunately coincides with the start of our hockey seas... oh, never mind, eh.

        Watch Basketbrawl. The NBA has attempted to emulate a hockey game in Detroit. Maybe with a little more work....
  • by bman08 ( 239376 ) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @02:43PM (#10919348)
    I, for one, hope that they go the tomato route when engineering the super turkeys. It's my dream to find giant perfectly formed turkeys that can last forever on the shelves and look amazing on the table but taste... aw who cares just look at it.
  • What is this thanksgiving of which you speak.

    Your ideas are intriguing and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
  • Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by StarWreck ( 695075 ) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @02:44PM (#10919355) Homepage Journal
    Although mapping the entire Turkey Genome is something new, they have been manipulating Turkey's genetically for years now. For Instance, the Turkey's that are "pardoned" by the President of the United States never survive for more than a couple of weeks because their genetic structure has been altered so heavily for the purpose of providing more Turkey Meat.
    • At least they don't have to be around during the Apocolyptic nightmare that is the next rainstorm...
    • References? What exactly do you mean when you write "their genetic structure has been altered so heavily"?
      • From MetroActive: [metroactive.com]

        Through additional genetic modification, the modern industrial white turkey has been "improved" to create larger, docile birds better suited to tight confinement.

        And:

        Because of genetic engineering, the use of growth hormones and steroids in turkeys isn't necessary. They get preternaturally big on their own.

        And from Adopt a Turkey: [adoptaturkey.org]

        Today's turkeys have been genetically altered to grow twice as fast, and twice as large, as their ancestors.

        Tons more on google if you take a few minutes to

        • Thanks for the reply, but all I could find on Google and in your links was a bunch of hand waving. I want to know what they actually do to remove the pigment, to cause increased rate of growth and egg-laying, to produce these unbalanced (breast-heavy) beasts, the things that lead to the reported short lifetimes. A search on PubMed turned up no relevant literature (even though there is much literature out there on GMO grains and the like). Anyone care to help me out with specifics?
    • I don't think this is genetic mapping. Hormone therapy, sure, but they aren't changing the parts of them that make a turkey, ie, their DNA.

      --trb
  • by ak_hepcat ( 468765 ) <leif@nOSPAm.denali.net> on Thursday November 25, 2004 @02:44PM (#10919360) Homepage Journal
    And what is up with this huge fascination with the 'all-white-meat' bird?

    Gag me with a spoon! Everybody knows that the dark meat is tastier. Who cares if it's got more fat in it -- fat is flavour, after all.

    Sheesh. If i -wanted- all-white-meat, I'd eat caucasian.
    • I like dark meat as much as the next guy, but sometimes its nice not needing to work hard just to chew your meat.

      Hence, the "all white meat bird," which isn't ALL white meat, is a popular choice for me at Thanksgiving. I still love my beef, though!

  • by xXDarkNinjaXx ( 525539 ) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @02:45PM (#10919366) Journal
    "Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."
    Look into it. [vegcooking.com]
    • Look where that got him - he's dead!

      I, on the other hand, am merely stuffed.
    • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @03:16PM (#10919572)
      That, and a damned sight fewer people. The idea that vegetarianism alone, in a geometrically expanding population (which speeds up with an increase in food supply) is the solution, with all due respects to the good doctor, is daft.

      We may need to go through a Soylent Green phase before we can adopt a vegetarian phase.

      I'll also note that the record seems to indicate that it was evolution from a vegetarian diet to an omnivorous one that allowed us to survive our first ice age (while we were still Australopithicine). It's pretty obvious really that the more things you can eat the more things you will find to eat. The invention of agriculture doesn't change this.

      If you live in most of world and are not vegetarian all you need to obtain food is a white sheet and a flashlight. Most hunger (outside of areas that are both arid and overpopulated) is due to fastidiousnous of diet, not a lack of foodstuffs.

      Of course this will change when we add a sufficient quantity of new people.

      (And please note that I have been a vegetarian for more than 30 years before you respond to me with something along the lines of "You meat eater, you.")

      KFG
      • While I definately agree that Vegetarianism alone would not solve world hunger, the numbers [the-south-asian.com] from 2002 are fairly overwhelming. That site is not the only reference, just a quick overview. Also, I most certainly agree that distribution and polotics are huge contributing factors.
        • While I definately agree that Vegetarianism alone would not solve world hunger, the numbers from 2002 are fairly overwhelming. That site is not the only reference, just a quick overview.

          Did I not warn you that you would be preaching to one of the prophets?

          Also, I most certainly agree that distribution and polotics are huge contributing factors.

          This was an issue that I did not address directly, but did so indirectly by pointing out that there was no particualar shortage of foodstuffs at the present ti
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I'm not sure I follow your logic. What I do know is that each step up the food chain there is less than on tenth of energy. To get one pound of meat you need to feed the cows more than ten times as much grain. Thus meat isn't a very efficient source of food. However, the advantage of animal products is that animals can eat food that humans can't.
        • I'm not sure I follow your logic.

          That is because you are thinking in terms of the commercial production of commodity products, whereas I am thinking in terms of finding something to eat.

          Thus meat isn't a very efficient source of food.

          It isn't a question of whether it's efficient. It's a question of whether it's available. If it's there, you can eat it, and thus avoid starvation. Nor is this a minority way of going about things, it is the way 99.999999. . .9 percent of the living orginisms on the the
      • ...all you need to obtain food is a white sheet and a flashlight.

        Please explain - I'm trying to reduce my grocery bills!

        • Go out in your yard tonight, hang up a white sheet, shine flashlight on sheet (if you don't have a flashlight a small fire will do. Do not burn sheet), see what happens.

          Now eat.

          (Note, results may vary due to local seasonal differences. This ought to work dandy in Florida right now, but not so hot in Maine)

          KFG
          • Sounds like a good experiment, though I'd probably be waiting out there a long time here in MN at this time of year. In the spring it would be nice to see that there are other bugs flying around besides mosquitoes.
      • Imagine the chemicl mix this new wonder food would provide.
        When you take a the predator that has been eating top predators all their lives and turn it into a food source the resulting toxic buildup woud only produce remarkable offspring.

      • a white sheet and a flashlight

        I'm sure I'm missing the obvious, but I don't get it.

    • Einstein wasnt a vegetarian, he just gave out pithy quotes after being famous. Its more than a bit hypocritical, but I believe he meant well.

      He's like this bigger than life figure people projec t their pet causes on. His famous "god does not play dice" quote was an expression of his refusal to believe the randomness of QM. In every office cubicle in the world its a "Even Einstein was really religious and he was a smart guy" sign.
      • Einstein was a vegetarian near the end of his life (hehe, perhaps too little too late, no disrespect intended to the departed).
        And it's not from WHOM the quote came that makes it important, only that it is supported by a great many facts, and rings very true.
    • "If God didn't want us to eat animals, he wouldn't have made them out of meat."
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm glad that after wasting most of the article talking about how we need to find better ways of growing crops in order to feed all the hungry people out there, the BBC article does make an off-hand mention towards the end that there is enough food to feed everyone, it's just a matter of distribution due to politics.

    Puts the rest of the article in a totally different light. What would feed the most people soonest would be to topple a bunch of idiot dicators and stablize some chaotic countries, no bio-engi
    • I'm glad that after wasting most of the article talking about how we need to find better ways of growing crops in order to feed all the hungry people out there, the BBC article does make an off-hand mention towards the end that there is enough food to feed everyone, it's just a matter of distribution due to politics.

      The map on the BBC page showed 20 - 34% "undernourished" in the dust bowl countries of the Sahel. But note the dark brown color on the map, meaning >35% of population undernourished. This gr

      • Exactly... many of the countries mentioned in the article are in the best growing regions in the entire world.. it's mainly incompenant govenments that seem to be the problem.

        For example, look at Brazil, it's now one of the best places in the world for agricultural production. They basically have the perfect climate for growing food, hot and relativly humid. We are about to see a major change in the way the world produces food, the western agriculture industry is really in for a shock. We just can't com
  • We don't Celebrate Thanksgiving im European you insenstive clod!
    • Apparently you all don't speak English im Europe either. But maybe I'm just being an insenstive clod.
      • Yeah! Us rest-of-the-worlders need to be able to make fun of Americans' poor grammar and spelling! You are just ruining it TheKidWho!
      • More like ignorant clod, seeing that the only people in Europe whose official language is english is, well, the english. And there's always debate about whether they're "european" anyway :-)

        Then you've got the french, germans, polish, swiss, italians... and a bunch of other countries north of the mediterranean that I loosely group as "European". Seeing that I live on a continent as far away as you can get on the other side of the world, that's good enough for me :-)

        But seriously - widen your worldview, ju
    • I always figured you gave thanks for un-assing us colonists!
    • Enclosed is your formal invitation to start celebrating Thanksgiving in Europe. Please recall that we in the U.S. have accepted European invitations to celebrate your holidays (e.g. October Fest, Christmas) and feel obligated to extend our holidays to you. The U.K. might be particularly interested in 4/7 since it reduced the King's areas of responsibility and allowed him to focus his goodwill on the Irish. In order to allow you to enjoy Thanksgiving, the U.S. offers to increase the supply of turkeys. We
  • Not the problem... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mydron ( 456525 ) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @02:53PM (#10919421)

    These kinds of scary FUD stories come up again and again, but the problem is not world production, it is a distribution problem. So while US farmers are payed to produce too much food [commondreams.org] and while thousands of tonnes of food go to rot in Canada [cbc.ca], African's are left to starve.

    The real obstacle to the world's food issues have far more to do with economics, politics and popular will rather than the production capacity of the planet. Perhaps this won't be a big deal anyway, the UN forcasts that the earth's population will begin to decline in our lifetimes [foreignaffairs.org]
    • ...while thousands of tonnes of food go to rot in Canada

      Yeah, in *2001*. The ban was lifted 6 months later. Your first link was from 2002.

      What was that about FUD?

  • Geek Quiz (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wingie ( 554272 ) <wlmuiNO@SPAMamherst.edu> on Thursday November 25, 2004 @02:56PM (#10919437) Homepage
    Is it just me or is it just some writer under a deadline attempting poorly to write something related to Thanksgiving? I mean, table? That's not something I'd associate Thanksgiving with. And "binary digits"? WTF?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      And "binary digits"? WTF?

      Bend over. I'll show you what binary digits mean!
  • by jackelfish ( 831732 ) * on Thursday November 25, 2004 @02:57PM (#10919450)
    Sequencing is only the first small step required in such lofty goals as improving a turkey's meat quality or introducing disease resistance. The actual tough part (which the article does not mention) is identifying the genes that code for the protein, or more likely proteins, that are involved in producing a desirable trait. If it were as simple as sequencing an animals genome, a task which an automated sequencer and computer can almost do by themselves, then we would already be well on the way to curing all of the genetic diseases that currently plague the human race. I can tell you that this is a goal we are far from accomplishing for humans, let alone turkeys. And remember this is the genetic sequence from only one or two turkeys and hardly represents the diversity of all turkeys on the face of the planet, an issue that also arises in discussion of the human genome project. The genetic sequencing of all these organisms we hear of in the media, while extremely useful for researchers (myself included), is not the holy grail for our understanding of how biology actually works.
  • by TheSHAD0W ( 258774 ) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @03:08PM (#10919515) Homepage
    Maybe someday we'll have real turkipedes [umass.edu].
  • Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October.. this is a bit late isn't it?
    • I must be missing something. Someone care to fill me in on what this "Thanksgiving in October" is all about?
      • from wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

        Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated in much of North America, generally observed as an expression of gratitude. The most common view of its origin is that it was to give thanks for the bounty of the autumn harvest. In the United States, the holiday is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. In Canada, where the harvest generally ends earlier in the year, the holiday is celebrated on the second Monday in October, which is observed as Columbus Day or protested as Indigenous Peoples Da
  • There is enough food for everyone. The problem is not the size of the turkey.

    The problem is that as long as you subsidize farmers to make too many turkeys and then dump them on the international markets, third world farmers won't be able to compete with these prices.

    You'll just end up with a bunch of farmers making too much food, a good portion of it being wasted, and a good portion of earth's population not being able to compete with them.

    It's called protectionism and it's what's preventing the world fr
    • This is true, we subsidize the heartland [stopwelfare.com] (or red states) so much that international competition for agribusiness from the US is futile. The hammer of the free market should fall on them as well, its fallen on me and my industry and my own small business.

      Globalization is out of the bag, except for farmers.
    • by vivian ( 156520 )
      Thankyou for highighting the real cause of world hunger. I thought I was going to have to write a post myself. Well I will expand on what you said anyway.

      it has been shown time and time again that the cause of world hunger isnt the lack of production, but in fact the lack of distribution due to corruption, civil unrest and war, and high levels of subsidies in both the US and Europe that make it impossible for countries out side these areas to compete and hence develop their own agriculture.

      Being forced to
      • complete bullshit..

        high levels of subsidies in both the US and Europe that make it impossible for countries out side these areas to compete and hence develop their own agriculture.

        umm.. Brazil [agbrazil.com] seems to be doing alright and are well on their way to blow away their western counterparts in any competetive market (subsidies or not). I personally don't support subsidies for farmers, but without them the industry will change dramatically, think we have big farms now, just you wait.

        because now the farmers
  • What about countries that simply can't provide food based on whatever reason? Isn't it stupid or even arrogant of people to assume that they can live everywhere, even places that food simply can't grow in sustainable amounts? To me, it seems somewhat absurd to expect people to bail you out when you can't provide the bare necessities yourself in any set of circumstances. Perhaps a move to another region would be the wiser move.
  • by jbridges ( 70118 ) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @04:55PM (#10920190)
    Reminds me a delightful (and dark) book from 1952 called "The Space Merchants" [amazon.com] by Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth. The main character ends up working at an offshore turkey breast factory where they grow a giant turkey breast tumour from cancerous turkey issue.

    They just carve off hunks as it grows.

    The texture is lacking the grain of real turkey breast, but lots of people seem to like ground turkey, or turkey loaf, or turkey hotdogs.

    There is a mention of it in the Wikipedia article on vat grown meat [wikipedia.org].
  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday November 26, 2004 @01:29AM (#10922309) Homepage Journal

    All we have to do is care. There's enough food going to waste on this planet that no one need go hungry if we would only spend the money necessary to get the food to them.

    Of course, that would cost money, and god knows we can't spend money on anything unless it lets someone make more money. There's no money in housing the homeless, feeding the hungry, or any of that touchy-feely humanitarian hippie shit...

  • I find it a bit funny that they have confused bit stuffing with bit padding.

    For those who don't know, bit stuffing is when you add bits to a packet so you know there are no control codes by accident in the fields. For example, your standard HDLC packet begins and ends with 0111110, so to make sure this doesn't appear again before the end of the packet,a 0 is inserted after every five consecutive ones.

    Bit padding is when you add bits at the end of a field to make sure it becomes a standard size.

    • After consulting Google and all the other than Whatis dictionaries, it does appear that "bit padding" is frequently used to mean the addition of bits to make sure some transmission or storage unit is a standard or set size. And that "bit stuffing" is used more often to mean the insertion of control information in a bit sequence. So I've revised our definition of "bit stuffing" somewhat and added a new one for "bit padding." (I'm not convinced that padding is always at the end of a sequence.) Thanks for
  • I just can't wait until the day that turkeys are advertised by feature set.

    *85% water volume

    *grain-fed taste

    *128 MB RAM

    *rfid molecular chains (for your protection)

    *featherless
  • There really is no problem feeding everyone on earth. Most people in industrialized countries have either resources of their own to buy food, can obtain some form of government assistance or private charity to obtain food adequate to sustain life. There are some people who are mentally ill or otherwise unable to do this who can be helped by private charities.

    Virtually every country in the world has enough crop land to grow enough food to feed itself and the ones that do not generally have sufficient weal

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