Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"I am told that the reason the Treasury Secretary does not want limits on executive compensation is because he believes that an executive then will not bring his company in to partake in any program that is set up. Here is my response to that: We can put that executive on his boat, take that boat out in the ocean, and set it on fire."

-- U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Floor Statement on the Economic Rescue Proposal, September 26, 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

"We simply note that if, in fact, the Greeks were able to start fires at long distances, they could not have done it with a single mirror. This is the relevant point to the subject of adaptive optics. Archimedes would necessarily have had to devise a method of accurately pointing a number of independent reflectors to multiply the effect. Because it was not until the latter part of the twentieth century A.D. that analogous techniques were realized in practice, such as the array of 63 flat mirrors comprising the French Pyrenees solar concentrator system, Archimedes' achievement is truly fantastic. In any case, the method, if used, did not prevent the Romans from ultimately sacking the city and killing Archimedes."

-- Robert K. Tyson and Peter B. Ulrich, "Adaptive Optics," The Infrared and Electro-Optical Systems Handbook, Volume 8.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

"For instance, when the first optical laser was developed, a press conference was held, pictures were taken, stories were written, and predictions were made. Then, researchers at other laboratories attempted to reproduce the results, using the photos in the newspaper, which conveniently included a ruler so the scale of the objects could be determined. Try as they might, the copycats could not make their versions work. Finally, they approached the researchers who were successful and asked what trick they had performed to make their laser work properly. The answer was simple; they never did make the laser shown in the picture work, because the rod was too big to get the crystal sufficiently clean. The real laser was much smaller and was not pictured, because the press said it was too tiny for the photographs."

-- John Lester Miller and Ed Friedman, Photonics Rules of Thumb: Optics, Electro-Optics, Fiber Optics and Lasers

Saturday, September 27, 2008

"At the time [1991], a long line at a bus stop in front of a branch of the troubled Bank of Credit & Commerce International was mistaken by passers-by for a bank run. What followed was a frenzied effort by Hong Kong residents to pull their money out of the bank, which quickly collapsed and set off runs at other Hong Kong banks, which survived."

-- New York Times

Friday, September 26, 2008

"You also agree that you will not use these [Itunes Store] products for any purposes prohibited by United States law, including, without limitation, the development, design, manufacture or production of nuclear, missiles, [sic] or chemical or biological weapons."

-- Itunes Store End User License Agreement

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"It is a popular belief that insulators do not conduct electricity because their valence electrons are not free to wander throughout the material. In fact they are free to move around, however, in an insulator there are as many electrons as there are energy levels for them to occupy. If an electron swaps place with another electron no change is made since electrons are indistinguishable. There are higher energy levels, but to promote the electrons to these energy levels requires more energy than is usually practical."

-- Britney Spears' Guide to Semiconductor Physics

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Les Allemands étaient chez moi,
ils me dirent, `Signe toi,'
mais je n'ai pas peur;
j'ai repris mon arme.

"J'ai changé cent fois de nom,
j'ai perdu femme et enfants
mais j'ai tant d'amis;
j'ai la France entière.

"Un vieil homme dans un grenier
pour la nuit nous a caché,
les Allemands l'ont pris;
il est mort sans surprise."

-- Leonard Cohen, The Partisan

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"Within a radius of about 10 to 12 feet, he was one of the most convincing people I'd ever met. If he could get within 12 feet of you, he could borrow money."

-- Charles S. Daley.

Monday, September 22, 2008

"If you have a bazooka in your pocket and people know it, you probably won't have to use it."

-- Hank Paulson to the Senate Banking Committee, July 15, 2008.

"How the economy can go from fundamentally sound earlier in the week to flat out meltdown mode where Hank Paulson had to not only use his bazooka, but also had to use his rocket propelled grenade with a nuke tip while jumping out of a window launching ninja stars and slapping the markets with brass knuckles is really amazing."

-- Dr. Housing Bubble, September 20, 2008.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

"The Secretary is authorized to purchase, and to make and fund commitments to purchase, on such terms and conditions as determined by the Secretary, mortgage-related assets from any financial institution having its headquarters in the United States.
The Secretary’s authority to purchase mortgage-related assets under this Act shall be limited to $700,000,000,000 outstanding at any one time.
Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency."

-- Draft Legislative Proposal for Treasury Authority to Purchase Mortgage-Related Assets

Saturday, September 20, 2008

"One of the eight sectors of the giant [Large Hadron Collider] machine will now have to return to room temperature and pressure for the magnet to be repaired, or even replaced, if necessary. While a repair of the magnet itself would take no more than two days, it will take "several weeks" to warm up the sector and then another "several weeks" to cool it down again, explained Gillies.

The magnets in that sector will have to be pre-cooled to -193.2°C (80 K, or 80 deg above absolute zero ) using 10,080 tons of liquid nitrogen, before they are filled with nearly 60 tons of liquid helium to bring them down to -271.3°C (1.9 K)."

-- Daily Telegraph

Friday, September 19, 2008

"I regret to inform you that Katie Price plans to put her removed breast implants up for auction on eBay with a minimum bid of one million pounds"

-- Ed Zuckerman

Thursday, September 18, 2008

"You can jump off an 80-(floor) building and pretend you're flying for the first 79 floors."

-- Marian Martino

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"It's one of the inherent pitfalls of being a scientist: trying to maintain the distinction between God's domain and our own."

-- Dr. Walter Bishop, Fringe.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Big Bang Theory
The Tangerine Factory (Repeat) 8:00 PM, 30 min
Mon 09/15/2008
TVPG, English, Replay, 2008
In the first-season finale, Leonard asks Penny out on a date after she breaks up with her boyfriend. To prepare for the big night, Leonard practices the date the day before with the guys.
Cast & Credits: Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar

[I think this is interesting just because the plot summary is wildly inaccurate.]

Monday, September 15, 2008

"He's a ghost, he's a god,
he's a man, he's a guru
You're one microscopic cog
in his catastrophic plan
Designed and directed by
his red right hand"

-- Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Red Right Hand

Sunday, September 14, 2008

"Ah! Edinburgh, where Thomas de Quincey, the unmanageable literary opiomane sans pareil, found himself in a debtors’ prison so capacious that while interred he fell into debt again, and so was imprisoned in the debtors’ prison’s debtors’ prison."

-- Will Self

Saturday, September 13, 2008

"Why, if ’tis dancing you would be,
There’s brisker pipes than poetry.
Say, for what were hop-yards meant,
Or why was Burton built on Trent?
Oh many a peer of England brews
Livelier liquor than the Muse,
And malt does more than Milton can
To justify God’s ways to man."

-- A.E. Housman, A Shropshire Lad.

[It struck me recently that "Terence, This Is Stupid Stuff" can be sung pretty well in the style of the Bee Gees hit "Staying Alive."]

Friday, September 12, 2008

"It is always a useful reminder about compound interest that at a 6 percent money-interest rate, the $26 paid for Manhattan in 1626 would yield $120 billion today, an amount approximately equal to the entire land value of this most valuable real estate."

-- William D. Nordhaus, The New York Review of Books, Volume LV, Number 14.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"As for Rappaccini, it is said of him that he cares infinitely more for science than for mankind. His patients are interesting to him only as subjects for some new experiment. He would sacrifice human life, his own among the rest, or whatever else was dearest to him, for the sake of adding so much as a grain of mustard-seed to the great heap of his accumulated knowledge."

-- Nathaniel Hawthorne, Rappaccini's Daughter

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Sexual relationships with prohibited sources cannot, by definition, be arms-length."

-- Investigative Report of the Inspector General of the Department of the Interior on the Minerals and Management Service

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

"The software for Mariner 6 (1969) was no more [than] 128 words of assembler code + data fields: equivalent to about 30 lines in C or comparable. It had a backup control system in hardware."

-- Dr. Gerard J. Holzmann, NASA/JPL Laboratory for Reliable Software.

Monday, September 8, 2008

"The problem with price analysis is that it is over-weighted with distressed properties. The sales data is as accurate as far as it goes. But the question is: How is the market that is not for sale doing?"

-- Lou Barnes, principal of Boulder West Financial

Sunday, September 7, 2008

"Buyers of the mortgage securities fled, and the securities now trade at far below face value. Bankers insist those values are ridiculously low, but they are not buying."

-- Floyd Norris, New York Times.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

"Like the 110 for your mind and the 405 for your soul."

-- Jack-FM

Friday, September 5, 2008

"Remember when NASA JPL lost the Beagle 2 Mars Rover?"
-- Transformers

Thursday, September 4, 2008

"Graham Greene, a modern classic, began his career trying to distinguish between novels he thought of as espionage entertainment and those he thought of as art. The day he realized they were one and the same, he began to write his best fiction in the popular vein and never looked back."

-- Peter Swirski, From Lowbrow to Nobrow.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

"His soul has shriveled to the size of a walnut, maybe not even that big."

-- Ian Rankin, Dead Souls.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

"Following the discovery of radioactivity by Becquerel in 1896, an intense effort was mounted to ascertain whether the decay rates of nuclides could be affected by external influences including temperature, pressure, chemical composition, concentration, and magnetic fields. By 1930, Rutherford, Chadwick, and Ellis concluded that “The rate of transformation of an element has been found to be a constant under all conditions.” (For decays resulting from K-capture, or for beta-decays in strong ambient electromagnetic fields, the situation is slightly more complicated, since these decays are influenced by the electron wave functions which can be affected by external pressure or fields.) For 32Si and 226Ra, which decay by beta- and alpha-emission, respectively, fluctuations in the counting rates (in the absence of strong external electromagnetic fields) should thus be uncorrelated with any external time-dependent signal, as well as with each other. In what follows we show that neither of these expectations is realized in data we have analyzed for 32Si and 226Ra, thus suggesting that these decays are in fact being modulated by an external influence."

-- Jere H. Jenkins, Ephraim Fischbach, John B. Buncher, John T. Gruenwald, Dennis E. Krause, and Joshua J. Mattes, Evidence for Correlations Between Nuclear Decay Rates and Earth-Sun Distance.

Monday, September 1, 2008

"In Lebanon, snowcones (المخروط الثلج) are widely known for their religious purposes in Maronite Catholicism."

-- "Snowcone," Wikipedia