Archive for May 18th, 2014


Night owl chat – Brian Cox

For those of you unaware of who Brian Cox is:

Brian Edward Cox OBE (born 3 March 1968)[1] is an English physicist and former musicianProfessor, a Royal Society UniversityResearch FellowPPARC Advanced Fellow at the University of Manchester.[14][15] He is a member of the High Energy Physics group at the University of Manchester, and works on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC)[16][17] at CERN, near Geneva, Switzerland. He is working on the research and development project of the FP420 experiment in an international collaboration to upgrade the ATLAS and the CMS experiment by installing additional, smaller detectors at a distance of 420 metres from the interaction points of the main experiments.[18][19][20][21]

Cox is best known to the public as the presenter of a number of science programmes for the BBC, boosting the popularity of subjects such as astronomy and physics.[22] He has been described as the natural successor for BBC’s scientific programming by both David Attenborough and the late Patrick Moore.[23][24] He also had some fame in the 1990s as the keyboard player for the pop band D:Ream.

He is one of my favorite presenters on the BBC, and I consume his programs voraciously. He breaks down the complexities of physics to a level that a layman such as myself (one who flunked university physics) can understand now in his middling years. He’s an atheist, and I’m a seeking agnostic, and we both share an overweening awe at the wonders of the universe.

To take you into Early Morning Chat, a speech by Dr. Cox, in which he expounds on the need for science education, and in which he castigates the media for ignoring science and taking on sensationalism. We will not be able to solve the grave problems facing us if we continue to ignore the science. President Obama, to his great and unending credit, believes in a reality-based world. We have to make sure in November that he has a Congress which believes so as well. Our fate as a species depends on it.

Dream big, night owls!


Sunday evening chat – Poetry

Here are a few gems gleaned from YouTube.


e.e. cummings – i carry your heart with me


Pablo Neruda – If You Forget Me

Continue reading ‘Sunday evening chat – Poetry’


Ukraine crisis in tweets

The world’s news media has gone strangely silent on Ukraine, now that it seems as if their savior Vlad Putin won’t roll over the border in military glory while riding shirtless on a horse. But the people of Ukraine are still facing an assault. So a catch up on today’s news.








Chat on!


Flashback: The Kindness of a Stranger

(Harvard, c 1988)

Source – Extracts: Mary was a newlywed and ready to move to Norway, but was stopped at the airport because she didn’t have enough money for the trip. Then a stranger turned up and paid for her.

Mary Menth Andersen was 31 years old at the time and had just married Norwegian Dag Andersen. She was looking forward to starting a new life in Åsgårdstrand in Vestfold with him. But first she had to get all of her belongings across to Norway.

The date was November 2nd, 1988.

At the airport in Miami things were hectic as usual, with long lines at the check-in counters. When it was finally Mary’s turn and she had placed her luggage on the baggage line, she got the message that would crush her bubbling feeling of happiness.

“You’ll have to pay a $103 surcharge if you want to bring both those suitcases to Norway,” the man behind the counter said.

Mary had no money. Her new husband had travelled ahead of her to Norway, and she had no one else to call.

“I was completely desperate and tried to think which of my things I could manage without. But I had already made such a careful selection of my most prized possessions,” says Mary.

Although she explained the situation to the man behind the counter, he showed no signs of mercy.

“I started to cry, tears were pouring down my face and I had no idea what to do. Then I heard a gentle and friendly voice behind me saying, “That’s OK, I’ll pay for her”.”

Mary turned around to see a tall man whom she had never seen before.

….She was thrilled to be able to bring both her suitcases to Norway and assured the stranger that he would get his money back. The man wrote his name and address on a piece of paper that he gave to Mary. She thanked him repeatedly. When she finally walked off towards the security checkpoint, he waved goodbye to her.

The piece of paper said ‘Barack Obama’ and his address in Kansas, which is the state where his mother comes from. Mary carried the slip of paper around in her wallet for years, before it was thrown out.

“He was my knight in shining armor,” says Mary, smiling.

She paid the $103 back to Obama the day after she arrived in Norway. At that time he had just finished his job as a poorly paid community worker in Chicago, and had started his law studies at prestigious Harvard university.

In the spring of 2006 Mary’s parents had heard that Obama was considering a run for president, but that he had still not decided. They chose to write a letter in which they told him that he would receive their votes. At the same time, they thanked Obama for helping their daughter 18 years earlier.

In a letter to Mary’s parents dated May 4th, 2006 and stamped ‘United States Senate, Washington DC’, Barack Obama writes:

“I want to thank you for the lovely things you wrote about me and for reminding me of what happened at Miami airport. I’m happy I could help back then, and I’m delighted to hear that your daughter is happy in Norway. Please send her my best wishes. Sincerely, Barack Obama, United States senator.”

The parents sent the letter on to Mary.

“It’s amazing to think that the man who helped me 20 years ago may now become the next US president,” says Mary delightedly.

Original Norwegian newspaper link


Mary watching Barack Obama’s first inauguration


It’s Sunday, so I thought I’d dust down this gem.


Rise and Shine: The Week Ahead

President Obama looks out of Marine One during the flight to Soldier Field in Chicago, Jan. 11, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)



The President will have lunch with Combatant Commanders. In the evening, he will attend a DCCC event.



The President will attend meetings at the White House.



The President will participate in an Ambassador Credentialing Ceremony in the Oval Office. Later, the President will welcome the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks to the White House to honor the team and their Super Bowl XLVIII victory.



The President will travel to Chicago to participate in two events for the DSCC. He will remain overnight in Chicago.



The President will return from Chicago.


On This Day

Sen. Obama orders ice cream with his wife Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha at Lew’s Drive In, May 18, 2008 in Milwaukee, Oregon


First Lady Michelle Obama looks over her speech before speaking at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, May 18, 2009 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)

First Lady Michelle Obama and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg attend a ribbon cutting ceremony to officially re-open the Charles Engelhard Court, centerpiece of the newly renovated American Wing, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 18, 2009 in New York City


President Obama greets workers during a shift change at V&M Star, a manufacturer of steel products, in Youngstown, Ohio, May 18, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)


President Obama calls out to a fellow Hawaiian cadet while giving the 130th graduation commencement address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy on May 18, 2011 in New London, Connecticut

Ensign Jennifer Catherine Proctor stands with her father, Col. James Proctor and President Obama during the 130th graduation at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy on May 18, 2011 in New London, Connecticut.


President Obama prays following a meeting with religious leaders in the Oval Office, May 18, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama jokes with Commander Wendy Halsey and Command Master Chief Al Marcucci following his arrival at Camp David, Md., for the G8 Summit, May 18, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama waits to greet G8 leaders in front of Laurel Lodge at Camp David during the 2012 G8 Summit, May 18, 2012









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