Friday, October 03, 2008

Goat Friday

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Witty line on clever repartee

“No one really cares about the facts Hitchens brings to bear. He could be making one case today and the opposite case tomorrow. Would anybody notice? They’re just interested in the rococo tapestry he weaves around the facts. You don’t walk away saying, ‘I’ve learned X, Y or Z from Hitchens,’ you walk away saying, ‘Wasn’t that a witty line? Wasn’t that a clever repartee?’ ”

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End of world to be determined by Swiss energy market

Professor Lawrence Krauss of Arizona State University was featured this week on the (allegedly ‘anti-science’) Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s weekly Science Show, offering his take on the Large Hadron Collider, going to Mars, and the US Presidential campaign.

Inter alia Prof Krauss made the point that operation of the LHC is, in part, determined by

the cost of electricity in Geneva. So in fact they have to shut it down during the winter a lot of the time because the cost of electricity is too great.

This is true enough, according to this now rather dated document, which also gives further fascinating background on LHC operations:

According to [Pedro Martel, electrical and computing engineer for CERN], CERN must shut down the LHC during the winter months because of the high price of electricity from its sources in France and Switzerland. Additionally, the LHC is the coldest facility in the world, with cryogenic technology keeping the system cooled to almost absolute zero (-459° F). If there is a breakdown in the LHC, it takes three weeks to warm the system to the point where workers can make repairs, and another three weeks to cool it down again so research can resume.

With roughly a six-month window to operate the LHC each year, preventive maintenance and system uptime are critical. “If we have just four critical breakdowns per year, there simply will be no advanced particle physics research that year,” Martel adds. “We are literally inventing new maintenance procedures because there never has been a machine like this before.” He says they chose Datastream 7i from Datastream Systems because they believe the software can provide the scalability and flexibility to support the complicated maintenance requirements of the LHC “no matter what they are.”

Getting back to Prof Krauss, he also held forth on the ‘anti-science’ tendencies of John McCain’s US Presidential campaign, venturing that

... in the unfortunate eventuality that John McCain becomes president, one hopes that the campaign rhetoric is just rhetoric to get elected and he'll revert back to more sensible positions.

It’s quite novel, really, that Krauss should want to encourage McCain to put into practice the political philosophy of our own Rt Hon Peter ‘We’ll Change It Back’ Garrett, MP.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

A spot of blonde bashing

The following is doing the rounds on the email.

A blonde lady motorist was about two hours from the Gold Coast when she was flagged down by a man whose truck had broken down.

The man walked up to the car and asked, “Are you going to the Gold Coast?”

“Sure,” answered the blonde, “do you need a lift ?”

“Not for me. I’ll be spending the next three hours fixing my truck. My problem is I’ve got two chimpanzees in the back which have to be taken to the Gold Coast Zoo. They’re a bit stressed already so I don’t want to keep them on the road all day. Could you possibly take them to the zoo for me? I’ll give you $100 for your trouble..”

“I’d be happy to,” said the blonde.

So the two chimpanzees were ushered into the back seat of the blonde’s car and carefully strapped into their seat belts. Off they went.

Five hours later, the truck driver was driving through the heart of the Gold Coast when suddenly he was horrified!! There was the blonde walking down the street and holding hands with the two chimps, much to the amusement of a big crowd. With a screech of brakes he pulled off the road and ran over to the blonde.

“What the heck are you doing here?” he demanded, “I gave you $100 to take these chimpanzees to the zoo.”

“Yes, I know you did,” said the blonde, “but we had money left over — so now we’re going to SeaWorld.”

Boom Boom!

N.B. I’m indemnified for transmitting this joke because I used to be a blonde myself (before I went grey silver).