Friday, August 29, 2008

Is John McCain a "Healthy Annuitant"?

Is John McCain a "Healthy Annuitant"?

If so, then first-term Creationism-friendly Governor Sarah Palin of AK has a roughly 13.3% chance of becoming President of the US, should McCain win in November.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Que es mas macho?

Que es mas Macho? Burning Man or La Tomatina

Burning Man: There are no rules about how one must behave or express oneself at this event (save the rules that serve to protect the health, safety, and experience of the community at large); rather, it is up to each participant to decide how they will contribute and what they will give to this community.

La Tomatina: There are very few rules in La Tomatina - it is compulsory to squish your tomato before sending it into the red blur of the crowd before you, and other projectiles are not allowed.

Que es mas Macho?: No Rules: Burning Man!

(But it's a tough decision).

Oh, and Burning Man has a poppy field - does La Tomatina? We don't think so:

At seen at night:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Que es mas macho?

DragonCon or Burning Man?

DragonCon: Dragon*Con is the largest multi-media, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film in the US.

Dragon*Con 2008 will be held Labor Day weekend (August 29 - September 1, 2008) in Atlanta, GA.

BurningMan: (August 25 - Sept. 1) Trying to explain what Burning Man is to someone who has never been to the event is a bit like trying to explain what a particular color looks like to someone who is blind. In this section you will find the peripheral definitions of what the event is as a whole, but to truly understand this event, one must participate.

Que es mas macho? Burning Man!

Lost? Try asking a cow!

Turns out, cows have a magnetic sense which makes them prefer to orient themselves in a North-South direction. Using Google Earth, German scientists made the discovery, published in the PNAS.

Unfortunately, the resolution of the Google Earth images was insufficient to tell if the cowed faced North or South.

Experts acknowledged that the research almost certainly has no practical applications.

What message is being sent here?

Something to do with meeting a comet on the other side of the moon?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tooth day.

Not only did RA and TS have dental appointments today, but AZ is off to get her new bionic teeth installed, putting an end, hopefully, to this dental odyssey she's been on lately. Woo hoo!

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Despite denying he was "the guy" only a few days ago, Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. has been chosen to be Barack Obama's running mate.

He's the longest-serving Senator from Delaware, and if elected, he'll be the first Catholic Vice President and the first Vice President from Delaware. His father was a car salesman. Biden has two sons, both of which are lawyers. He has a daughter, Ashley, who was arrested for obstructing a police officer back in 2002.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday Tea

While the nation, nay, the world, waits for word via the Intertubes 'bout 'bama's choice of running mates, we'll do what we do best, which is to keep on keeping on.

See you at 4:00!

(BTW, WL indicates that KL says the smart money is on Chet Edwards. who?)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


It was just a Gorilla suit.


Turns out, Bigfoot was just a rubber gorilla suit
As the 'evidence' thawed, the claim began to unravel as a giant hoax

ATLANTA - Turns out Bigfoot was just a rubber suit. Two researchers on a quest to prove the existence of Bigfoot say that the carcass encased in a block of ice — handed over to them for an undisclosed sum by two men who claimed to have found it — was slowly thawed out, and discovered to be a rubber gorilla outfit.

Just what can you believe in anymore. Nothing, that's what.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Today is India's Independence Day.

Also, it's VS's actual birthday. (Piranda naal vaazhthukkal!)

India has had 61 years of independence from British Rule, 58 of them as an independent Republic.

The British ruled India for more than 200 years, first under the aegis of the British East Indian Tea company, initially in Bengal. In 1858, the British government got in to the act, and became Paramount ruler of India. On August 14, 1947, Pakistan and India were sectioned into two different nations.

"At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new…India discovers herself again."
- "Tryst with Destiny", Jawaharlal Nehru, 1947

The struggle to transform India into a modern state had just begun. Violent inter-religious clashes followed the 1947 independence. Mountbatten was invited to continue as Governor General of India, and it fell to Deputy PM Patel to unify 565 princely states into the beginnings of the India that we know today.

We'll be celebrating this important day in Indian history, and VS's winning of the Best Birthday Competition, at Tea today at 4:00.

The cheese plate (fresh, as always) will make a return, and the gin and tonics (not an excessively onerous residue of British rule, we hope) will be plentiful.

See you at 4:00!

Did you know?

Did you know that there are up to 40 barrels of oil in a single tree?

We're saved!

It's a good thing we have people like Rep. Bill Sali (R-ID) in Congress.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

It's been a great week for Vacation Earned!

Just last period, we only had 87 hours. This period, we're maxed out again.

Ten (10) hours in two weeks! No wonder people love to work here!

Time to look up what Sam Brown's doing - We hear she's got a blog, too.

Bigfoot found - press conference tomorrow


A couple of hunters in northern Georgia (the state, not the country) claim to have found a carcass of the legendary creature known as Bigfoot (or Sasquatch, if you prefer).

The two hunters teamed up with a fellow named Tom Biscardi, head of a group called Searching for Bigfoot; they plan to hold a press conference on Friday in Palo Alto, Calif., to show off DNA evidence and photos--but not the body itself. That's apparently being kept under wraps. (Yeah, right.)

Biscardi's Web site,, proceeded to crash under bandwidth pressures.


Biscardi, according to LiveScience, has been responsible for at least one Bigfoot hoax before, leading many to take this with an even bigger grain of salt than they normally would.

UPDATE: NYT: Tom Biscardi - "150 percent certain" it's bigfoot.

“This is ‘Eureka!’ man,” said Mr. Biscardi, whose operations include a Bigfoot Web site, a Bigfoot merchandise line and a Bigfoot Internet radio show. “I touched it.”

“There’s a lot of comment being made that it looks fake, or it looks like a suit,” Mr. Dyer said. “But these people wasn’t there when I was sweating, pulling this thing through the woods.”

This years winner.

Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist, white breath through manhole covers stamped ‘Forged by DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, N.J.’”

Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

Julia Child was a spy?

Who would have guessed that the wife of a foreign service agent would also be a spy?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

XN is back

XN is back from her ONE MONTH trip to China. She's returned with moon cakes - more than one month early. We hope she's also brought stories with her.

Welcome Back, X!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What's this, now?

HD is going to attend this year's Burning Man?


Please take copious notes!

Live from the LA Coliseum, 1972

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sorry we're a little late on this item

Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks Tuesday Morning
By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer
posted: 11 August 2008
09:26 am ET

The annual Perseid meteor shower is expected to put on a good display of shooting stars in the pre-dawn hours Tuesday.

The best views will be from rural locations away from light pollution, where up to 60 meteors per hour could be seen, weather permitting. Urban and suburban skywatchers can expect far fewer.

The Perseids are bits of debris left by comet Swift-Tuttle.The debris is like a river of small particles in space, and each year, Earth passes through it. As the bits zoom through our atmosphere at 37 miles per second (60 kps) they vaporize, creating the brilliant streaks of light. Most of the meteors are no larger than a grain of sand.

The shower is typically best between midnight and dawn, when the side of Earth you are standing on is plowing into the stream as our planet plunges through space in its orbit around the sun. It's similar to how bugs hit the windshield of a moving car but rarely smack into the rear bumper.

The annual shower begins as a trickle in mid-July and will continue to spark a handful of shooting stars for several nights to come. But Earth passes through the densest part of the stream Aug. 12 at around 7 a.m. ET (1100 GMT). The moon will set around 1:30 a.m. local time (regardless of your location), leaving the sky dark for a few hours of optimal meteor watching across much of North America.

Departures and Arrivals

We learn that AC has left us for another company. We will miss her passionately delivered Portuguese.

WL and RD have returned. WL acquired some canned roadkill possum, containing only 20% foreign matter. Apparently it's pureed.

JT is off to the cape, and ED is taking some time back in France. (ID is not going with him, but BD is).

NT is away today, and has at least a couple of egg crates awaiting his return.

RS's daughter MS was here today, recovering nicely from some oral surgery. We hope she'll be back to normal by Saturday at noon. We hear rumors that there'll be an Italian spread that shouldn't be passed up.

Georgia hasn't surrendered yet (though it has magnanimously offered a cease-fire), and Russia has about cut it in half. Smooth move, Saakashvili!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Friday Tea (with cats)

There was no formal committee meeting this week. Tea will still happen on schedule, however exactly what will be served is not known. JM is back from France - which might bode well for some additional items.

See you at 4:00.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

War in the Caucus

OK, so it's only "the brink" of war. But Russia can't remain "indifferent"!

Georgia launches offensive in South Ossetia

The Independent, By Shaun Walker, August 8

Moscow - The Caucasus was on the brink of a full-scale war last night as reports came in that Georgia had mounted a large-scale attack to win back its breakaway region of South Ossetia.

According to the Russian agency Interfax, a large group of Georgian soldiers moved towards the breakaway capital, Tskhinvali, late in the evening.

The separatist President, Eduard Kokoity, told the agency that "the storming of Tskhinvali has started" and said that separatist forces were engaged with the Georgian army on the roads into the city. A statement on the separatist government's website said: "The assault is coming from all directions."

The fear is that Russia could be drawn into the conflict, with previous foreign ministry statements saying that Russia could not remain "indifferent" to an armed skirmish on its southern border. Already late last night there were reports that hundreds of volunteers were on their way from North Ossetia, which is part of Russia, through the Caucasus Mountains to join their ethnic kin in South Ossetia. The leadership of Abkhazia, Georgia's other breakaway state, said that 1,000 volunteers from Abkhazia were also on their way.

Thank goodness Beijing isn't involved...

UPDATE: Despite a declaration of restraint, it seems the Georgians are going for the jugular:

Reports Georgian forces surrounding South Ossetia capital

Georgian forces have reportedly surrounded the capital of breakaway South Ossetia and are advancing on the city.

A South Ossetian law enforcement official says 15 civilians have been killed by Georgian firing on Tshkinvali.

The Georgian government says it has decided to "restore constitutional order" in the region which broke away from Tbilisi's control in the early 1990s.

Tomorrow starts the Beijing Olympics

And it's going to be BIG, we tell you, BIG!

NBC Universal is going to televise the hell out of this thing:

NBC Universal, broadcasting its record 11th Olympics and surpassing ABC for the most Olympics broadcast by any network, will present an unprecedented 3,600 hours of Beijing Olympic Games coverage, the most ambitious single media project in history. NBCU's unprecedented Olympics coverage features the most live coverage in the United States (75 percent in all), across the most platforms, of any Summer Olympics in history when the Games of the XXIX Olympiad commence on Aug. 8. The announcement was made today by Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Universal Sports & Olympics and Executive Producer of NBCU's Olympic coverage.

The 3,600 total hours of coverage on seven NBC Universal networks: NBC, USA, MSNBC, CNBC, Oxygen, Telemundo and Universal HD, as well as, is 1,000 hours more than the combined coverage for every televised Summer Olympics in U.S. history (Rome 1960 - Athens 2004, 2,562 hours). will feature approximately 2,200 total hours of live streaming Olympic broadband video coverage, the first live online Olympic coverage in the United States.

"For the first time, the average American will be able to create their own unique Olympic experience whether at home, at the office or on-the-go," said Ebersol.

"With 25 sports streamed live at and significant live coverage on our cable platforms and NBC, highlighted by all swimming finals, the biggest nights of gymnastics and beach volleyball live in primetime, the viewer has plenty of options for live coverage.

Some notes:

Beijing is 12 hours ahead of EDT - (GMT + 8).

Opening Ceremonies are tomorrow night at 8:00 PM Beijing time. (8:00 AM tomorrow our time - see how this works?) "Live" NBC TV coverage doesn't start until 8:00 PM EDT tomorrow. (We do not think they know what the word "live" means...).

Net Coverage will be available at NBC We haven't determined whether they'll be streaming the opening ceremonies live somewhere in cyberspace - but it seems not. Maybe someone with a camcorder will do it live.

TV Coverage listings are here.

Oh, and the Beijing Olympics has an official web site, of course:

Monday, August 04, 2008

Did we mention?

Did we mention that RD and WL were off on vacation this week?

We think so.

We didn't mention where they were off, too, did we?

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Alexandre Solzhenitsyn est mort

The NYT, LAT, and Washington Post (er, Reuters) have the story.

Wiki entry

"It is history's sorrow, the grief of our era, that I carry about me like an anathema," Solzhenitsyn once wrote of his life.

Friday, August 01, 2008

When the cat's away...

WL AND RD are away next week.

That's a lot of time to scheme.

Please make it your top priority.

Friday Tea

In honor of August 1st, today's tea will see a return to the venerable Gin and Tonic. (With lime - not orange).

Perhaps there will be Champagne as well, though our sources are mum on this topic. We feel that BK is likely to be disappointed again today. There is a rumor that NR will stage a sit-down strike in sympathy, starting around 5:00. It may be a long weekend for her.

See you at 4:00!

Coupla developments...

Not only did we get a personal reason to celebrate (Where is that Champagne?), but there were a couple of outside developments that bode well, also.

First we have energy from water, the sun, and a few catalysts.

Scientists have devised a cheap and simple method of turning water into rocket fuel using solar power in a development that could generate a new source of green energy for the home and workplace.

The researchers used electricity from solar panels to split water into oxygen and hydrogen – the constituents of rocket fuel – with a technology that scientists believe could solve many of the problems that have hampered the development of solar energy.

With the help of a simple and yet highly efficient "chemistry set" made out of commonly available materials, the scientists have found a way of storing solar energy as a chemical fuel that can be used to power pollution-free electricity generators known as hydrogen fuel cells.


"The discovery has enormous implications for the large-scale deployment of solar since it puts us on the doorstep of a cheap and easily manufactured storage mechanism. The ease of implementation means that this discovery will have legs," Dr Nocera said.


The secret of the breakthrough, published in the journal Science, lies in the type of electrodes used to generate oxygen and hydrogen when they are inserted into water. The scientists made them from a cobalt-phosphate mixture which acted as a catalyst that speeds up the splitting of water molecules into their components – oxygen and hydrogen.

"The simplicity of this process is amazing. Using common and affordable elements, and a glass of water, these chemists may have given us a future way to efficiently obtain oxygen by splitting water," said Luis Echegoyen, director of the chemical division of the US National Science Foundation, which funded the work.

Dr Nocera said that sunlight has the greatest potential of any power source to solve the world's energy problems given that in one hour enough energy from the Sun strikes the Earth to provide the entire planet's energy needs for a year.

And from the world of medicine, we have a stem-cell breakthrough:

Reaching a milestone in stem cell research, scientists at Harvard and Columbia universities reported yesterday that they created the first stem cell lines from a sick person, then coaxed these cells to become nerve cells genetically matched to those that had gone bad in a patient's spinal cord.

In a paper published online in the journal Science, the team claimed success at what researchers have long been racing to do: create in the laboratory a plentiful supply of cells that have the same genetic makeup as a patient with a particular disease.

The work was done with patients suffering from ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, but the researchers said the same technique can be used to study many other genetic diseases. By comparing diseased cells to normal cells in a Petri dish, scientists hope to better understand what causes disease and test new drugs.