Xmas party ends in explosive origami climax

Alcohol-fuelled musings

Letters Alcohol. The basis of several entire cultures. The Antipodeans have been known to sink a bevvy or two and let no one try to pretend the Americans are sober and well behaved. We’ve all watched Spring Break on MTV, y’know.

But yet more research indicates that we Brits are a nation of drunken louts. All very useful, we’re sure:

Dear Tim,

Having read your article on "Forty per cent of IT workers vomit at office Xmas party" and the one on workers having a liquid lunch and getting back to work in the Tipsy mode, I am happy to send you my resume.

Hoping for a new life in the glorious UK IT family, I only ask for some meager salary and the usual compensation, to wit daily liquid lunch, and of course the wonderfull oppurtunity to snogging at my boss after I puked on him...

I mean, I cannot get much better, don't you think ?

Hoping to read from you,

a faithfull reader.


Occasionally I find stories about stupid research the U.S. government has allocated my tax dollars for and I get discouraged. Science, surveys and statistics collected to prove worms can get drunk... great. But here we have some hard core science with true benefits for humanity. Barf rates at corporate holiday gatherings. Certainly at this very moment every reader is trying desperately hard to remember which percentage they actually fell into 11 months ago. Before you know it someone will be analyzing the emotional attachment levels in sheep. I mean really, come on... If more researchers spent their time on important issues instead of crap like this, the world would be a better place. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to start researching the meaning of the term "snogging" you brits use it ever so fluently (where did I put that protractor?)


Given the ratio of women to men in IT I think throwing up all night is far preferable to snogging with a colleague, unless of course you're Net Admin for a chain of strip joints. Some lucky bastard has that job!

cheers Clunk

Is it just our imagination, or have the people with the oddest names written in about this one...?

Your thoughts on Rutan’s thoughts on von Braun. All getting a little derived, somehow...

I enjoyed the artcle on Burt Rutan and Werner von Braun. The reference to von Braun's wartime activities brought to mind a comment from one of my Jewish friends on von Braun's autobiography, "We aim at the Stars." My friend said the subtitle should have been "...but sometimes we hit London." Very apt! John

How is possible to do an article on von Braun without quoting from the classic Tom Lehrer song on the topic? (Repeated here for your convenience... :-) Gather 'round while I sing you of Wernher von Braun, A man whose allegiance Is ruled by expedience. Call him a Nazi, he won't even frown, "Ha, Nazi, Schmazi," says Wernher von Braun. Don't say that he's hypocritical, Say rather that he's apolitical. "Once rockets are up, who cares where they come down? That's not my department," says Wernher von Braun. Some have harsh words for this man of renown, But some think our attitude Should be one of gratitude, Like the widows and cripples in old London town, Who owe their large pensions to Wernher von Braun. You too may be a big hero, Once you've learned to count backwards to zero. "In German oder English I know how to count down, Und I'm learning Chinese!" says Wernher von Braun. Steven

Brilliant scientist or war criminal? I'm reading this and once again struck by the the juxtaposition of ideals imposed on people where war is concerned. Did he design a technical marvel that was used to kill people? Yes. So did Oppenheimer and his team. Who killed more? Barnes Wallace was a brilliant scientist who designed aircraft and the Dam Buster bomb, but that mission had minimal impact on the German war machine although it killed thousands of civilians and no one worries about if he should have been prosecuted.

Von Braun wanted to explore space, and Oppenheimer wanted to split the atom - it was their governments who determined the purpose of their inventions. Remember that history is written by winners, and the losers are often portrayed as villains. (But make no mistake - the Nazis were truly villains) But how many allied personnel stood trial for Hiroshima or the fire bombing of Dresden?

Name witheld

Check out the "editorial" section of my website on Leni Riefenstahl. I believe the questions you raise on von braun are legitimate and worth consideration.



Sunspots, trees and cosmic rays. Must be time for that coffee....

The Max Planck institute studying tree-rings? Surely a wind-up!

Regards Simon

Good one.

More on the utterly fascinating news that people fall over if they squat down:


On a less frivolous note, many Australian and American P.O.W. in Vietnam were in agony when their captors required them to squat. At first, the Viet Cong did not realise that Westerners would find this painful and be unable to hold a squat position. Those who failed were often beaten. Some P.O.W.s injured their Achilles tendon forever. Most finally became accustomed to the position, and a few say they sit like this even now, when picnicing or in from of the TV, as it's comfortable, stable, natural position. Most, understandly, abandoned the position as soon as they were home.

C. A. Clarke

This reminds me of the best research paper I accidently found when looking at the human factors of user interfaces for my PhD. I've never forgotten the paper's title "The ergonomics of toilet seats" (in the "Human Factors" journal) .. for some reason it caught my eye! If I remember it rightly (it was 15 years ago when I read it), it described an experiment in a UK university which created a mini-lab with mock toilets whose seat height could be adjusted up and down and tilted backwards or forwards. Volunteers were asked to adjust the seats to find the most comfortable position ... funnily enough, I think the average height and position was very close to a standard toilet seat 8-)


Apple’s musical selections are not to all tastes:

Hi Tony,

I see Apple has made a special $149 download on its iTunes Music Store that will contain the entire U2 music catalog.

...Unless of course you live in Ireland which despite the patronage of our biggest music act Apple has not included us in it's new iTunes music line up. After Bono has finished counting his money possibly he could have a word with Steve Jobs about this.

Seems a bit hypocritical, buts what’s new?

Best regards,


I'm not sure how Apple can call their recently announced iTunes expansion the "EU iTunes Music Store", since it doesn't include long time EU members Ireland and Sweden, or any of the 11 recently added States. British users may bemoan the fact that downloads are more expensive for them, but at least they can buy from the store, unlike some of us. "Borderless ITMS" me arse...


Tagging sick people: the culmination of a technological revolution

"Our current paper process is error prone, technology is available now which can help reduce human error and improve Operating Room theatre efficiency. These improved efficiencies translate into saving more lives, reducing costs and significantly improving the patient"


it will be the first computerised system in the history of the nhs that manages to reduce errors! guess i know where i'm going to be wardriving this weekend.

Mike S

Deeply paranoid thoughts about the lack of decent science education in schools:

Mr. Blunkett had better hurry up and get the ID card going quickly then, or else an increasing fraction of the UK population will be able to see through the hype, and reject it.

Maybe that's also one of the reasons that Philosophy isn't taught in UK schools ... [http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/today/listenagain/zthursday_20040826.shtml at 0830: Philosophy]

Regards, Mike W

Supercomputers. The brainchild of the electricity companies?

Great , 10K itatium2 processors with an average power consumption of 100W per processor, that's 1M Watt just for the processors, Yuck!

For the Yearly cost of running that monster (power bill and AC bill + Maintenance, etc... ), I would prefer that money going to other department of NASA and have those scientist wait a few minutes.

Funny that nobody talks about cost ! I wouldn't be surprised if it cost 10cents per teraflops per year.

My 2 cents,


And finally, origami. Not much in the way of an IT angle, but frankly, that was never the point with this story:

"wowed Londoners by pulling off the world's biggest paper penis outside the city's London Assembly building."

So, was he done for littering? After all the street must have been covered in cumfetti.


We’ll leave that right there. Enjoy your weekend. ®

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