Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Day of the Dead Eve

It's the eve of the Day of the Dead.

Can you not feel the gloom encroaching?

Soon everyone will look like TB.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

NT's Father dropped by for a visit

NT's Father dropped by for a visit, but he didn't stay long.

Next time, stay for more than one beer!

Monday, October 29, 2007


A slightly modified version of this image has been published in the Autumn 2007 issue of CentrePiece magazine, a publication of the London School of Economics.

So, if you'd like to get in, we can maybe write a recommendation for you... (We have pull there, you know).

Update: We note that we share the pages of this prestigious publication with Lindsay Beyerstein, of Majikthise...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Naked Eye Comet!

From the Washington Post:

Glimpse a Comet That Has Grown Mysteriously Bright

By Blaine P. Friedlander Jr.
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, October 28, 2007; Page C11

An obscure Comet Holmes has gone from practically invisible to naked-eye visibility in an amazing few hours, catching astronomers by surprise and creating a cosmic buzz.

To find Comet Holmes now, look to the north-northeast when the sun sets. Without the classic comet tail, it looks like a yellow marshmallow loitering in the constellation Perseus. This second magnitude comet can be viewed from evening till dawn.

Over the next three weeks, the comet will stay in the constellation Perseus, but its brightness remains conjecture.

Arguably the best comet to view in a decade, it was first discovered by Edwin Holmes in 1892. On Wednesday, the comet went from 17th magnitude to second magnitude -- a million-fold increase in brightness -- in a few hours, according to Sky & Telescope Magazine online.

"Astronomers have no idea why this comet flared up a million-fold so quickly," said Geoff Chester, an astronomer at the U.S. Naval Observatory. This quick brightening was something new, and astronomers will try to understand the comet's mechanics.

Schism in Marlboro!

The troubles of the world are visiting the sleepy city of Marlborough...

Episcopal parish breaking from US church
Group relocating in Marlborough

The Boston Globe, By Michael Paulson, October 25

A conservative Episcopal parish in Marlborough is bolting the denomination, in the latest indication that even in liberal Massachusetts the Episcopal Church is losing congregations over its support for gay rights.

Holy Trinity Church in Marlborough is leaving behind its building, renting space in a nearby Methodist church, and affiliating with the Anglican Mission in the Americas, which is overseen by the Episcopal Church of Rwanda.

The small Marlborough congregation, with about 70 active members, is following a national trend in which conservative Episcopal congregations are leaving the Episcopal Church USA to affiliate with theologically like-minded Anglican provinces in Africa.

The Marlborough congregation is the third local group of Episcopal parishioners to bolt this year. In January, many of the parishioners of All Saints Episcopal in Attleboro left to form All Saints Anglican in Attleboro and in September, most of the parishioners of All Saints Episcopal in West Newbury left to form All Saints Anglican in Amesbury. The new Attleboro congregation is affiliated with the Episcopal Church of Rwanda, the new Amesbury congregation with the Anglican Church of Kenya.

The bull of particulars is here, in Google's cache.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Tea - Pre-Halloween

Today's Tea theme will be Halloween. The cheese will be orange...

We could have gone all-out and had a Brain Hemorrhage as AO suggested, but thought better of that.

NR will be providing Vodka today. См. вас на 4:00!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Software Summit is Over

So now it's time to go out on the town with the Board! (They've just finished their meeting, and are just itching to try out the mini!)

The Best Headline Award

The Best Headline Award goes to the Washington Post. The first paragraph isn't bad either.

Rout 1 Goes Through Boston
Red Sox Take It, Easy: Bats Support Beckett In Opening-Game Win: Red Sox 13, Rockies 1

Washington Post, By Dave Sheinin, October 25

BOSTON, Oct. 24 -- The first batter of the first inning of the first game of the 103rd World Series, Willy Taveras of the Colorado Rockies, stepped into the batter's box at Fenway Park at 8:37 p.m. and took a 96-mph fastball for strike one from Boston Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett. The camera flashes of amateur documentarians winked from every nook of the old stadium, and a light rain fell out of a cool, windy sky, and it was the last moment in which Game 1 of the World Series was competitive.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Software Summit continues

... and no one's been murdered yet. Always a good sign.

Progress is being made, slowly. Tomorrow sees an early (9 AM) plenary session, at which the bright blue-sky future will be scheduled out on dull grey paper.

Did you know?

Did you know that there is a "National Mole Day Foundation"? And that it celebrates October 23rd as "Mole Day"?

This can only be a fraud.... Everyone knows that Avogadro's day is June 2nd...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Software Summit

This month's software summit is off to a great start!

The opening lunch over at Demo's was great, as usual, and we've gotten through our first set of meetings and our first crisis!

All right now, back to plenary session.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Curse is Broken!

JT, we think you can go to any game you'd like!

Friday, October 19, 2007

What Fun! (Politics on the weekend)

Wanna annoy some Burmese officials? The Guardian has details:

Activists send female underwear to Burmese embassies

Activists exasperated at the failure of diplomacy to apply pressure on Burma's military regime are resorting to a new means of protest against the regime's recent crackdown: sending female underwear to Burmese embassies.

Embassies in the UK, Thailand, Australia and Singapore have all been targeted by the "Panties for Peace" campaign, co-ordinated by an activist group based in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The manoeuvre is a calculated insult to the junta and its leader, General Than Shwe. Superstitious junta members believe that any contact with female undergarments - clean or dirty - will sap them of their power, said Jackie Pollack, a member of the Lanna Action for Burma Committee.

"Not only are they brutal, but they are also very superstitious. They believe that touching a woman's pants or sarong will make them lose their strength," Ms Pollack told Guardian Unlimited.

It would be impossible for anyone to figure out the address to send such things in America:

Postal address :
Embassy of the Union of Myanmar
2300 S Street NW, Washington D.C. - 20008

Head of Mission:
U Tin Win (Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary)

Deputy Head of Mission:
U Aung Linn Htut (Counsellor)

New York
Permanent Mission of the Union of Myanmar to the United Nations

Address1 : 10 EAST 77TH St. N. Y 10021
Tel : (212) 535-1310, 535-1311
Fax : (21) 737-2421

Head of Mission:
U Kyaw Tint Swe (Permanent Representative)

Deputy Head of Mission:
U Zeyar Oo (Deputy Permanent Representative)

Friday Tea - Prodigal Daughter

NR has returned from the continent, bearing not the confiscated Russian vodka she thoughtfully attempted to return with. Today she's gracing us with Cognac brandy (you're a fine girl) and some Italian liqueur.

The cheese plate is fresh, as are the microscopic canned fish.

Unfortunately, we've had to postpone the Trivial Pursuit tournament, due to lack of equipment.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What did we hear?

That RD's going to pull a Sarkozy and run off with Cher?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Did you know?

Did you know that there's a band named The Pipettes?

We bet they wouldn't like being messed with gratuitously either, JT.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Que es mas macho?

Chamillionaire: Ridin' (Dirty):

OR Weird Al Yaknovic: White & Nerdy:

New Employee News

Rumor is that TM has joined us as an employee, after a long career as a contractor here. It's a time-honored way of getting stuck in the tar pits T, we hope it works out for you. Congratulations!

Also by way of the rumor mill, another new person has joined us. Since we don't know her last name, for now we'll be calling her "A". (Which is another time-honored way of getting stuck in the tar pits!). Congratulations to you, too!

UPDATE: We now know that "A" should be referred to as "AC", or maybe "ABC"...

UPDATE 2: We forgot to mention that GB has also joined us... Welcome and Congratulations GB. We hope that the commute doesn't discourage you too badly.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Fashion Mistakes

Talk about overcompensating!

First Shawwal Tea - Scrounging

‘Īd sa‘īd - Happy Eid!

Today we can all break our fast, Ramadan is over!

Since we haven't been out shopping, the cupboard is nearly bare. We're sure we can whip up something, though.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hey RD

455? Already?

Well, it looks like JT will have the chance to retire in a warm region after all:

Greenhouse gases already beyond 'worst-case': scientist

AP, By Meraiah Foley, October 9

SYDNEY, Australia — Worldwide economic growth has accelerated the level of greenhouse gas emissions to a dangerous threshold scientists had not expected for another decade, according to a leading Australian climate change expert.


Mr. Flannery, whose recent book The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth, made bestseller lists worldwide, said the data showed that the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions had reached about 455 parts per million by mid-2005, well ahead of scientists' previous calculations.

“We thought we'd be at that threshold within about a decade, that we had that much time,” Mr. Flannery said. “I mean, that's beyond the limits of projection, beyond the worst-case scenario as we thought of it in 2001,” when the last major IPCC report was issued.

Which is nice, because Miami won't be an option:

The time has come for drastic action

The Age, By Kenneth Davidson, October 11


According to this report, which is a review of the latest scientific publications on the issue, the Arctic's floating sea ice is headed towards rapid summer disintegration by 2013, a century ahead of the IPCC projections. The rapid loss of Arctic sea ice will speed up the disintegration of the Greenland ice sheet and, through the albedo effect (white reflective ice replaced by dark, heat-absorbing sea), raise sea levels by as much as five metres by the turn of the century.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Fourth Ramadan Tea - Black

Assuming that a quorum can be found, today's tea will be black. As in black armbands for our compatriot in Germany.

The menu:

Chocolate Martinis.
Black Bean Dip with Tortilla chips.
Crackers and White, Extremely Sharp Cheddar.

Yes, the cheese, tortillas and crackers are white - but White is the new Black, dontcha know.

And the cat is gray - kinda a light black.

Perhaps see you at 4:00?

UPDATE: Quorum achieved - RD will be there.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Platypus

The Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) is a semi-aquatic mammal endemic to eastern Australia, including Tasmania. Together with the four species of echidna, it is one of the five extant species of monotremes, the only mammals that lay eggs instead of giving birth to live young. It is the sole living representative of its family (Ornithorhynchidae) and genus (Ornithorhynchus), though a number of related species have been found in the fossil record.

The bizarre appearance of this egg-laying, duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed mammal baffled European naturalists when they first encountered it, with some considering it an elaborate fraud. It is one of the few venomous mammals; the male Platypus has a spur on the hind foot which delivers a poison capable of causing severe pain to humans. The unique features of the Platypus make it an important subject in the study of evolutionary biology and a recognizable and iconic symbol of Australia; it has appeared as a mascot at national events and is featured on the reverse of the Australian 20 cent coin.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Pilot Names

Here are the assignments...

1(27)Amelia EarhartMany - First woman to solo the Atlantic.
2(28)Shannon LucidFirst woman to be awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor - spent six months on Mir.
3(29)Blanche Stuart Scott (aka "Buddy Buddy")Without permission or knowledge of Glenn Curtiss, the airplane's owner and builder, removes a small wood wedge and is

able to get the airplane airborne -- without any flying lessons -- thus becoming the first American woman to pilot an airplane
4Valentina TereshkovaFirst woman in space.
4(30)Sally RideFirst American Woman in Space.
5(31)Svetlana SavitskayaFirst woman to walk in space.
6(32)Kathrine SullivanFirst American woman to walk in space.
7(33)Mae JemisonFirst African-American woman in space.
8(34)Ellen OchoaFirst Hispanic woman in space.
9(35)Anna FisherFirst person to retrieve a malfunctioning satellite, using the orbiter remote manipulator arm.
10(36)Eileen CollinsFirst woman to pilot a space shuttle.
11(37)Elisabeth ThibleFirst woman to fly in a hot-air baloon.
12(38)Therese PeltierFirst woman to fly an airplane solo.

Thanks to for their articles: Women in Space - Timeline and Women in Aviation - Timeline.

Today's excitement - Hawk vs. Squirrel

Today, the hawk won.

Tomorrow, perhaps not...

Finally, the Boltzmann

Finally a chance to use the Boltzmann equation!

The quadratic was getting pretty boring...

Thanks, CL!

AZ your instincts are sound

James D. Watson (yes, that James D. Watson) has a new book out entitled "Avoid Boring People."

We wonder - does he mean "boring" as a verb, or an adjective?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Mafia Regrouping

According to The Guardian:

Italian mafia groups prepare to join forces

Leaders of Italy's three biggest organised crime syndicates are working together to negotiate the creation of an over-arching "crime cartel", according to an Italian MP with special access to the findings of investigators.


The original mafia, Sicily's Cosa Nostra, was a major force in the global heroin trade. But, under the leadership of Bernardo Provenzano, the "boss of bosses" captured last year after more than 40 years on the run, the organisation underwent a period of retrenchment in which its mobsters focused their attention on extortion and the infiltration of the legitimate economy.

I'd keep an eye out, JT.

Monday, October 01, 2007


AO brought in some of the fruit of his hives today.

We wondered what smokey the bear did in his low season.


Drat! Now we've got to fulfill!

Congrats, JB, and thanks a lot!