Thursday, January 31, 2008

First The Kennedys, now Volker

Paul Volker just endorsed Obama...

We're beginning to think WL was right - this starts to take the revolutionary sheen off of our guy Barack. Of course - compared with the others still in the race, he can afford a little insider cred.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, the latest big name to endorse Sen. Barack Obama, could give the Illinois Democrat a boost by lending his gravitas in the financial world to a presidential candidate whose biggest hurdle is to convince voters he is experienced enough.

“After 30 years in government, serving under five Presidents of both parties and chairing two non-partisan commissions on the Public Service, I have been reluctant to engage in political campaigns. The time has come to overcome that reluctance,” Volcker, a Democrat, said in a statement today. “However, it is not the current turmoil in markets or the economic uncertainties that have impelled my decision. Rather, it is the breadth and depth of challenges that face our nation at home and abroad. Those challenges demand a new leadership and a fresh approach.”

He concluded: “It is only Barack Obama, in his person, in his ideas, in his ability to understand and to articulate both our needs and our hopes that provide the potential for strong and fresh leadership. That leadership must begin here in America but it can also restore needed confidence in our vision, our strength, and our purposes right around the world.”

Feeling Adrift?

Has anybody checked on AO lately?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Oh, and by the way

Xena is back on line. It was a fried processor chip..

John McCain Wins Florida

The Great Wiki has this to say about Mr. McCain:

As a child, John was known for a quick temper and an aggressive drive to compete and prevail.[4] After World War II was over, his father stayed in the Navy, sometimes working political liaison posts;[3] the family settled in Northern Virginia, and McCain attended the educationally stronger St. Stephen's School in Alexandria, Virginia from 1946 to 1949,[5] where he began to develop an unruly, defiant streak.[6] Another two years was then spent following his father around to naval stations;[7] altogether he would go to about twenty different schools during his youth.[8] He then attended Episcopal High School in Alexandria beginning in 1951; it is a top private school with a rigorous honor code.[9] McCain earned two varsity letters in wrestling,[10] where he excelled in the lighter weight classes.[2] Gaining the nickname "Punk",[6] he had a continued reputation as a fiery and contentious personality[10] and graduated from high school in 1954.

We sure hope the "punk" nickname doesn't come back to haunt Mr. McCain. It might make him mad. Also - no Football.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Where have we been?

Solzhenitsyn doesn't live in Vermont anymore?

No - not since 1994. We wonder how the von Trapps are getting along without him...

It turns out that the author of the Gulag Archipelago has gotten a mite cranky:

He described the problems of both East and West as "a disaster" rooted in agnosticism and atheism. He referred to it as "the calamity of an autonomous, irreligious humanistic consciousness."

It has made man the measure of all things on earth — imperfect man, who is never free of pride, self-interest, envy, vanity, and dozens of other defects. We are now paying for the mistakes which were not properly appraised at the beginning of the journey. On the way from the Renaissance to our days we have enriched our experience, but we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility.

We thought that was Protagoras who came up with all that "Man is the measure of all things" stuff...

Well, at least CP's dog Gilligan came to visit us today. At least we've got that.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Suharto, Indonesian Ex-President, has died

Sky News: Ex-Indonesian President Suharto Dies, January 27, 2008

Indonesia's former president Suharto, who ruled with an iron fist for 32 years, has died at the age of 86.

His rule was marked by rapid economic growth and political stability, but marred by massacres, human rights abuses and corruption.

Rewind Review

Last night The Rewind Band made their debut in Marlborough at Speakers night club. Loud, but enjoyable, the band played three sets. Their oeuvre spanned the range from the Ramones to Johnny Cash, and practically everything in between.

After a slow start, by the second set Jim Jazzy and the band kept the nearly packed Speakers jumping.

Have a listen to the video above, to get a feel for what it was like to be there, "back when" you could get see this band without any cover.

A timeline

Apropos of Neddie's post, we present this timeline - where 100 years is equivalent to 1 second:

PeriodYears1-second equivalent
A long human life1001 second
Magna Carta Signed8008 seconds
Agriculture, Cities10 thousand1.66 minutes
Behaviorally Modern Humans appear40 thousand6.66 minutes
Anatomically modern humans appear200 thousand33.3 minutes
Neddie's one million year minute1 million2.8 hours
Non-avian Dinosaurs go extinct65 million7.5 days
Flowers130 million15 days
Mammals200 million23 days
Neddie's 286 million year old rock's age286 million 33 days
Reptiles appear300 million35 days
Amphibians appear360 million42 days
Land Plants appear475 million55 days
First Fish appear500 million58 days
Cambrian Explosion530 million61 days
Sexual Reproduction1.2 billion139 days
Eukaryotic Cells2.1 billion243 days
First life on Earth3.8 billion1.2 years
Age of the Earth4.5 billion1.4 years
Age of the Universe13 billion4 years

Some approximate times from the Wikipedia article: Timeline of evolution.

Thanks to Carl Sagan for the idea.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Obama "exceeded expectations"

That's how The Guardian put it tonight.

With almost half the votes counted, Obama had 54% of the vote against 27% for Clinton and 19% for Edwards.

Clinton lost no time in conceding, issuing a statement of congratulations to Obama as she headed for a rally in Tennessee. But her husband, who was an equal partner in the negative campaigning against Obama in South Carolina sounded a more combative note.

"He won fair and square," Bill Clinton told a rally in Independence, Missouri. "Now we go to February 5 when millions of Americans finally get into the act."

The primary, the first in the south, was bitterly contested between Obama and Clinton, aided by her husband.

Exit polls showed voters starkly divided by race, with Obama carried to victory by 81% of the African American vote. Clinton had 17% of the African American vote, and John Edwards just 1%.

Obviously Bill has some issues, and a monster jones for his old DC digs.

Next up: Florida - we can only imagine how exciting that'll be. Do they still have punch-card ballots there, or have they gone the Diebold route? (Looks like they're planning to abandon Touch-screen voting - but not until this July).

UPDATE: Kennedy to endorse Obama!

New York Times Political Blog, "The Caucus", By Jeff Zeleny, January 27

MACON, Ga. – Senator Edward M. Kennedy intends to endorse the presidential candidacy of Senator Barack Obama during a rally on Monday in Washington.

The Kennedy endorsement has been underway for days, even before the outcome of the South Carolina primary. Mr. Kennedy told his decision to Mr. Obama on Thursday.

Of all the endorsements in the Democratic Party, Mr. Kennedy’s is viewed as the most weighty. He had vowed to stay out of the presidential nominating fight, but as the contest expands into a state-by-state fight – and given the tone of the race in the last week – associates said he was moved to announce his support for Mr. Obama.

The endorsement will be announced at a rally at American University on Monday, hours before the State of the Union Address at the Capitol.

Guinea Pigs Are Rodents

Guinea Pigs are Rodents - but that has not always been without controversy.

In 1991, a paper submitted to Nature proposed that caviomorphs should be reclassified as a separate order (similar to Lagomorpha), based on an analysis of the amino acid sequences of guinea pigs.[8] This hypothesis was refined in a 1992 paper, which asserted the possibility that caviomorphs may have diverged from myomorphs prior to later divergences of Myomorpha; this would mean caviomorphs, or possibly hystricomorphs, would be moved out of the rodent classification into a separate order.[9] A minority scientific opinion briefly emerged arguing that guinea pigs, degus, and other caviomorphs are not rodents,[10][11] while several papers were put forward in support of rodent monophyly.[12][13][14] Subsequent studies published since 2002, using wider taxon and gene samples, have restored consensus among mammalian biologists that the order Rodentia is monophyletic.[15][16]

We're glad that controversy has been settled amicably.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Kitchen Sink Tea

Today is one of those days where you realize that there are an awful lot of leftovers. And just ending a Summit can leave one less prepared than might otherwise be the case.

So, drop on by, but don't expect a particularly royal spread.

Carsbad Summit Finishes

... and everyone is happy!

We've once again decided to review all of our error codes, so ED should be getting his document early next week. The final tester is going to take the great leap into the future and store all of it's data in, get this, a database!

We'll have to do this more often.

Reminder: JT and the Rewinds

KD Lang and the Reclines
JT and the Rewinds will be playing at Speakers Nightclub in Marlborough, MA, Tomorrow night!

Be there or be square!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

"It's the first synthetic bacterial chromosome"

Or so said Craig Venter, as reported in today's Washington Post:

Md. Scientists Create Full Chromosome of Synthetic DNA

By Rick Weiss

Scientists in Maryland today said they had built from scratch an entire microbial chromosome, a loop of synthetic DNA carrying all the instructions that a simple cell needs to live and reproduce.

The feat marks the first time that anyone has made such a large strand of hereditary material from off-the-shelf chemical ingredients. Previous efforts had yielded DNA strands less than one-twentieth the size, and those pieces lacked many of the key biological programs that tell a cell how to stay alive.

On the basis of earlier experiments, the researchers believe the new, full-length loop would spontaneously "boot up" inside a cell, just as a downloaded operating system can awaken a computer -- a potentially historic event that would amount to the creation of the first truly artificial life form.

Team members emphasized that they have not done that yet but expressed confidence that they would do so before the end of the year.

Kucinich drops presidential bid

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer - Kucinich is no longer running for President.

Too bad - now we only have one choice for a woman as President.


Today marks the midway point of the latest Software Summit.

Things have started slowly, with many chaotic interruptions.

Maybe we'll be able to turn the tables today.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Ya know that server we used to have?

You know the one - Xena?

Well, she appears to be an ex-server.


Carnivale Summit

Today marks the beginning of the Pre-lent, pre-carnivale Carlsbad summit. SR will arrive at about the usual time, and it looks like wall-to-wall meetings for several days.

Including scientists.

Luckily our shots are all up to date.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tu B'Shevat

It's a Tuesday in January, and there's no primary or caucus? Heaven forfend!

At least we have Tu B'Shevat, the Jewish New Year for Trees. (Yes, you read that right).

As I mentioned in Rosh Hashanah, Judaism has several different "new years." This is not as strange a concept as it sounds at first blush; in America, we have the calendar year (January-December), the school year (September-June), and many businesses have fiscal years. It's basically the same idea with the various Jewish new years.

Tu B'Shevat is the new year for the purpose of calculating the age of trees for tithing. See Lev. 19:23-25, which states that fruit from trees may not be eaten during the first three years; the fourth year's fruit is for G-d, and after that, you can eat the fruit. Each tree is considered to have aged one year as of Tu B'Shevat, so if you planted a tree on Shevat 14, it begins its second year the next day, but if you plant a tree two days later, on Shevat 16, it does not reach its second year until the next Tu B'Shevat.

To celebrate, have a piece of fruit - just make sure it's from an old-growth tree!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Software Quakers

Come on in, make yourselves at home - Nuestra casa, su casa.

Just don't confuse us with the Shakers, we hate that.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

This is it, folks...

This is it - we're into the home stretch. Just hold it a little longer...

It's going to be an interesting, exciting year, at the end of which we just might not have a Bush as President any more.

Just one more long (366 day) year to go.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Today's Tea

Today's Tea - as ED reminds us - welcomes back NR to our fold.

We'll have some Cuba Libre's (aka Mentiritas) available to celebrate!

Yiddish Word of the Day

We have two Yiddish Words of the Day today: Bupkis and Tchotchke.

First: Bupkis


Yiddish: (large) beans, from the Yiddish word kozebupkes meaning goat droppings, from Slavic root koz meaning goat, and diminutive of Slavic root bob meaning bean. See Polish wiktionary entry:


Also: bupkis, bupkes, bobkes, bubkes, bopkes

1. absolutely nothing; nothing of value, significance, or substance

We searched for hours and found bupkis.

Usage notes

Often translated as as meaning small round fecal pellets, referring to the shape of goat droppings. A colorful usage, though more emphatic expression (in Yiddish mor so than in English) is "Bupkis mit Kuduchas", translating roughly to 'Shivering Sh*t Balls" - kudcuhas refering to the condition of generalized shaking palsy.

And: Tchotchke

Tchotchke (originally from Yiddish טשאַטשקע tshatshke [often spelled in a variety of other ways (such as tshotshke, tshatshke, tchatchke, chachke, or chochke) because there is no standardized transliteration] trinket), ultimately from a Slavic word for "toys" (Polish: cacka, Russian: цацки) are trinkets, small toys, knickknacks, baubles, or kitsch. The term has a connotation of worthlessness or disposability, as well as tackiness. The term was long used in the Jewish-American community and in the regional speech of New York City.

The word may also refer to swag, in the sense of the logo pens, keyfobs and other promotional freebies dispensed at trade shows, conventions and similar large events. Also, stores that sell cheap souvenirs in tourist areas like Times Square and Venice Beach are sometimes called tchotchke shops.

In Haredi circles a Yeshivah bochur (lad) of marriageable age who is considered exceptional, would be called a "tchotchke".

Leo Rosten, author of The Joys of Yiddish, gives an alternate sense of tchotchke as meaning a desirable young girl, a "pretty young thing". Less flatteringly, the term could be construed as a more dismissive synonym for "bimbo". These usages are not widely used outside Jewish circles. The term (in the form tzatzke with a "z" instead of a "ch") is sometimes used in modern Hebrew as a slang word equivalent to "slut."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Public Service Announcement

Our own JT will be at Speakers Night Club in Marlborough on Saturday, January 26th with the band "Rewind".

If you're nearby, drop in for a look see.

Speakers Night Club
19 Weed St. (Behind City Hall)
Marlborough, MA

Saturday, January 26, 9:30 PM

No Cover Charge (Though we bet there will be covers!)

Suggested Audiences: College, Adult, Elders

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Gruntled is a word...

Gruntled is a word, since at least 1926, at least according to W.P. Webb, whoever he was.

Gruntle is a back-formation from disgruntled.

Before him - we think you have to go back to Middle English:

[dis- + gruntle, to grumble (from Middle English gruntelen, frequentative of grunten, to grunt; see grunt).]

Available in the Cafeteria!

Roasted Cacao Beans! (A good source of Theobromine).

The reviews so far:

JU: "How can you eat this?"
NT: "Like eating dirt"!
PG: "They're all right"


Mitt ("The Shit") Romney triumphed over McCain 4:3! It's all the way to the White House now!

Your pappy George sure would be proud! Wolf Blitzer even reported that ol' George had won the primary. Careful Wolf, someday someone might just take you seriously!

Next up, Saturday, the Nevada Caucuses and the Republican South Carolina Primary... Stay tuned for more fun!

Monday, January 14, 2008

We've had a bit of snow out here

We've had a bit of snow out here in the hinterlands.

It's still coming down.

We hear that Natick got 3 inches.

Things are tough all over.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Tea without NR?

Tea without NR?

That's what it's looking like.

We'll have to make do.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Free at last

AZ's puppies are free!

If anyone wants to check out the custom desk modifications, stop by the software lab. (It's not pretty - but it was quick!)

UPDATE: - no need to drop by the lab...

Did you know?

Alpacas have been domesticated for thousands of years. There are no wild alpacas.

Alpacas and llamas differ in that alpacas have straight ears and llamas have banana shaped ears. Aside from these differences, llamas are on average 1-2 feet taller and proportionally bigger than alpacas. Alpacas are considerably smaller than llamas, and unlike them are not used as beasts of burden but are valued only for their fiber. (And their friendship!)

Alpacas and llamas can (and do) successfully cross-breed. The resulting offspring are called huarizo, which are valued for their unique fleece and often have gentle temperaments and are suitable for pets.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Putin is behind this...

First it's the Russian scientists, then it's the Russian Gulls.

For the first time in recorded history, Boston has been visited by the Slaty-backed gull.

Boston Globe, By Martin Finucane, Januery 9

Flock's foray from Siberia inspires local delight

A group of Russians landed unnoticed on the Massachusetts coast recently, saying little as they scouted the area for a possible occupation. But with their bright pink legs and distinctive wing markings, the slaty-backed gulls could not maintain their cover.

The local bird-watching community is atwitter over the first known Massachusetts sightings of the species, which usually nests on Russia's frigid eastern coast and winters in northeast Asia.

David Sibley of Concord was the first to spot the gull, at Jodrey State Fish Pier in Gloucester on Dec. 23.

"It's always a thrill to find a bird that rare," said Sibley, an artist who has written several authoritative bird books. "There's something really special about that feeling of discovery."

Wayne Petersen of the Massachusetts Audubon Society sighted a second gull on Coast Guard Beach in Eastham an hour later. Later, others sighted a third slaty-backed gull in Gloucester.

Sibley said the gull stands out from local species because of its leg color, an extra bit of white on its wing tips, its slate-gray back, and brown streaking on its head. Petersen said the bird has been sighted in the last two decades across the United States, as far southeast as Florida. The gulls may be looking for property; gull populations, in general, have been on the rise.

Sibley said more slaty-backed gulls could visit in the future. "This could be the beginning of the invasion," he said.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

o-bama concedes

Not ten seconds after CNN projected Hillary the winner - Obama conceded New Hampster. Amazingly, he's not conceding the whole enchilada.

Then again, Kucinich garnered 1% of the vote, and he hasn't conceded...

Yes We Can! - at least until November!

This is just enthralling theater!

CNN is a wimp

The AP is predicting that Hilary Clinton will win the NH Democratic Primary. CNN has not.

UPDATE: Yes! CNN has caved and has joined that staid old institution AP to predict that the Hill-meister (Hill- Mistress?) will win New Hampster. It's a great day for the DLC! More of the same!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Mitt Takes Wisconsin

On an otherwise sleepy winter's night, Mitt Romney has taken 8 of the 14 delegates to the Republican Convention that Wisconsin has to offer.

Fred Thompson got three - Duncan Hunter got one.

McCain got none.

Huckabee wasn't even listed.

Wisconsin Democrats are hanging back until March.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Green Tea Available

We have approximately 78 bags of green tea available in the kitchen.

Today's Friday Tea will have elements of green (lime, habanero) as well, but only as accessories.

In fact, we're back to red Tea today - Cape Codders.

They look so good spattered against the snowbanks.


Well, he's gone and dun it - come in first in Iowa!

Run, Huck, run!

Maybe life is like a box of chocolates...

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Iowa, Iowa

Iowa, Iowa,
You represent the beginning of the end
of the Bush Presidency
Iowa, Iowa,
May you return to placid obscurity
as candidates quit your residency.
Iowa, Iowa,
Wyoming and New Hampshire succeed you
but know nothing of your resplendency.

Caucus, anyone?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Baby Aspirin Life Savers Available in the Software Lab

Because SM had some car troubles last week (amounting to nearly $200.00 worth) due to having spent too much time here, there are now Orange Mint Life Savers available in the Software Lab.

You can just feel the temperature drop

4 degrees (F) forecast for tonight, 3 degrees (F) for tomorrow night - with a wind chill.

We hope your feathers are well oiled.

Update: Ya can't even go to Miami to escape this one...

Are You A Loser?

We have 5 people attempting not only to be losers, but to be the biggest loser!

Good luck AZ, JT, AO, NT and T!

UPDATE: NR has thrown her hat into the ring, too!