Funniest Lab Glassware


The short path distillation condenser, affectionately abbreviated by chemists as the MFP, is a very useful piece of lab glassware if you are distilling small amounts of sample. It has a ground glass joints to be attached to round-bottom flasks and a ground glass joint for a thermometer. There are two hose prongs for cooling water (in and out), and a third hose prong which can be attached to a vacuum line or left open to atmospheric pressure. The short path distillation condenser takes the place of three pieces in a traditional distillation apparatus: the distillation adapter, condenser, and receiving adapter. This gives it the advantages over a traditional distillation setup of having less points that need clamps and less points that could come open and release the (often preciously created) sample out of the distillation pathway.

Why is this the funniest piece of lab glassware? Well, you have to hold it upside down, as shown below, and then you will see. Of course, MFP is short for Man F---ing Pig, because that is what it looks like.


The MFP, inverted



When one is generating primes, the first step people usually take to see if a candidate number is prime is to see if is divisible by some small primes. You could try dividing it by a selection of small primes (which requires a number of divisions, which are generally computationally demanding operations). Or you could do it in one operation by calculating the greatest common denominator (GCD) with a primorial, which is the product of a number of primes, and the GCD will necessarily be 1 for any prime not used to make the primorial. To be computationally efficient you would want the largest primorial that fits in the number of bits your computer is working with, for example with FFA you want the largest primorial that fits in the FZ field size. So I went ahead and calculated some primorials, it just took a short time using FFA and the peh tape example in FFA Chapter 18C.

The largest primorials of power of 2 bits from 256 to 5196 bits are (in hexadecimal notation):

256 bits:

512 bits:

1024 bits:

2048 bits:

4096 bits:

8196 bits:

16384 bits (this one took about 10 minutes to compute on my computer):

Time Formatting


In most numbers we write, the largest value comes first. So if I want to write ten plus two hundred, I write 210. Most significant value comes first. If I want to write a time of day, there is a standard format that everybody uses1, so 10:15 means ten hours and fifteen minutes while 15:10 means fifteen hours and ten minutes. Everybody understands it and it is easy to use. If I want to add in seconds, since they are smaller than minutes I put them to the right, so 10:15:20 means 10 hours, fifteen minutes, and twenty seconds.

Now, for some reason, when it comes to dates nobody can agree on ordering. If I say I was born 03-04-05 and my sister was born 06-02-01, which of us is older? Does 01-02-03 come before or after 02-01-03? It depends on where you come from, in the US they tend to list the month and then the day, while Europeans tend to put the day first and then the month. (Correct answer: they are both wrong.) Obviously we can make things clearer by including the four-digit year, which narrows it down since days and months cannot be four digits. The best way to write a date is year-month-day, since that puts the most significant number first. So the date should be written 2020-04-06, that is year 2020, month 04, day 06.

Have you ever been looking at dates sorted alphabetically, such as a list of files where the date is part of the filename? Of course you want things sorted as August, December, February, January, October, ... right? Or would you rather have things sorted first by the day of the month, and then by month? When would that ever be useful? When you use YYYYMMDD, the files get sorted by date automatically. So much easier.

On a slightly related topic, today I found out that Wordpress has a setting to indicate the format of the date that you want, but that setting can be over-ridden each time the date is called using a formatting string. So if you change the date setting, you also have to go to each place the date is used in the theme and check if it is using a formatting string. Because that makes sense, let's have a user settable value that does not actually change anything (/sarc).

Bug report (low priority)/To Do item: On the Wordpress settings page, by the time and date section, there is a link to, this should be updated to The linked help page and the other associated documentation pages should be mirrored/archived in a safe place.

  1. Ignoring for the moment the difference between a 12 hour clock with AM and PM compared to a 24 hour clock []



By Raelani Lambert

The park is still, silent. The sakura trees sway in the breeze. How beautiful, the sakura looks, dancing in the wind. Beautiful. My sweet Ichika was beautiful. The most beautiful woman in Japan. When she smiled, she lit up the room. Her eyes shone for miles, and her hair fell perfectly without her trying. To compare the sakura to her, she was twice as beautiful as the pink flowers; and I have lost such beauty.

I absently walk along the stone path leading my way and come across a pool of water. I kneel down and run my hand through the liquid. The water is so clear and refreshing, but when I try to scoop it up into my hand, it slips away. Ichika. She is like this water. Clear and beautiful, but she slips away so easily. I lost her, she has slipped away from me.

I get up and keep walking, almost blindly. The path starts curving up into a bridge. Ichika was my bridge. She was my way, my passage over the water. The bridge ends, but there is no more stone path. Ichika was my bridge, my path, but I lost her. I lost my path. I lost my wife. What do I do now?

I close my eyes. The wind is blowing, gently, softly, ever so sweetly. There seems to be some sort of melody, a song, sung by the wind. I remember how much Ichika loved the wind. She would dance with it, and whisper it her secrets. I smile slightly. Slowly, I begin to perform the movements that she had rehearsed every day for as long as I can remember. My limbs move along with the wind, while my body twirls around the grassy clearing. I begin to speed up, along with the tempo of the wind’s song. Then the song begins to slow, becoming nothing more than a hum. I stop moving and open my eyes.

The wind blows again, brushing a small sakura flower from her tree. The flower drifts through the wind and lands in the palm of my hand. I stare at it. The small pink flower is so beautiful, and pure. It reminds me of Ichika. Ichika was a flower. My flower. My beautiful, clear, absent minded flower. Another gust of wind blows the sakura out of my hand. I long to jump up and grab her, but my mind says not to. She is already long gone. It hurts my heart to lose Ichika, but I will see her soon. I watch as the small flower drifts away and into the sky. I close my eyes and let out a breath. Goodbye Ichika, I think. I open my eyes and the flower is out of sight. I have let her go.

A Time to Kill


I recently finished reading "A Time to Kill", one of the first novels written by John Grisham.

The book begins with a brutal rape of a little girl. Not long thereafter, the girl's father takes matters into his own hands and kills the two rapists. The rest of the book follows the legal battle as the main character, a small-town lawyer, tries to build a defense to get the father off. The first chapter is rather graphic, but the rest of the book is pretty tame.

In the forward of the book, Grisham admits that he based the main character on himself. Grisham was a lawyer before becoming an author, and he gives a very vivid, detailed look into the inner workings of the American criminal justice system that can only be written by one who has experienced these things first hand.

The book is set in rural Mississippi in the 1980's. Racial tensions between the blacks and whites in the American South forms a major theme of the book. Several characters in the book pose the question of whether the defendant would have a different sort of trial if he was black or white. Overall, Grisham shows some charachters with deep-seated racial prejudices, both on the black and white sides, and other characters who work to get past those prejudices, some fighting against there own biases and some fighting against the societal structure that they live in.

Overall, this was an entertaining book. There are some funny characters, some drama, some tension over what the outcome will be, but not too much, you can pretty much guess that the goog guy is going to win from the beginning.

Web Crawler for Finding Commentable Blogs

In response to the idea of a web crawler described by BingoBoingo, I threw together a quick script in Python which follows his specification, I think.

The script loads data from a "churn" file. This should be a list of valid websites, one per line. It then goes through the list, looks for any links, which it adds to the todo list, and saves any sites that it finds a comment box into the "targets" file. I added comments to make the whole thing readable, let me know if there is anything confusing.

Why am I a Parent?


Me, cleaning up the house: "Ugh, kids are so messy. Why do I even have kids?"

8-year-old: "Well, when you were younger you met Mom and got married and kissed each other a lot and had sex. You have kids because you had sex."

I suppose he is not wrong.

Disneyfication to ruin a good story: Frozen 2


I took my kids to see the new Disney movie, "Frozen 2". Why can't they at least try to come up with a creative name? Just putting a "2" at the end is the most boring possible way of naming a sequel.

If you liked the first "Frozen" then you will probably like this one too. It had the same colorful animation style and great musical numbers, with the downside of the annoying snowman character and plot holes you could drive an iceberg through. The story is set in a "Kingdom" that has a population of about 50 people. And apparently people who have been cut off from civilization for 30 years will still be wearing the same uniform they were last seen in.

Despite the plot holes, this could have been a great story about making sacrifices. Elsa (the queen) sacrifices herself and dies to send a message to her sister, Anna, of how to save everybody. Anna then has to make the hard choice, the only way to save the day will destroy their city and castle; although, this is slightly lessened by the fact that everybody has already evacuated the premises. Elsa then takes her place as the queen of the magical spirits, and Anna has to work together with her former enemies to rebuild the capital. - Oh, wait, this is Disney, so there has to be a way to deus ex machina magically save the day. So Elsa isn't really dead, the love of her sister brings her back, or something? That part didn't make sense to me while I was watching the movie. Anyway, Elsa is totally OK after having been turned into an ice statue, so she hurries instantly back the way that had taken a montaged trek previously in the movie and uses her magic to save the castle. You thought both characters were making hard sacrifices, but it's OK, nothing bad really happens.

So my conclusion is, this was fun to watch but left me a little bit unfulfilled in the end. Now I want to go watch "Star Wars: Rogue One" again so I can see a movie where everybody dies like they are supposed to.

Family Dynamics - The most sexist quiz ever


Take this quiz with your significant other to make sure you are on the same page where family dynamics are concerned, so that you can identify where she needs to improve so that you will be happier together.

Q. How should a woman dress while doing the housework?
A. Heels and Pearls
B. Barefoot

Q. When should a woman have dinner on the table?
A. 5:00 sharp every night
B. Whenever the man comes home at night

Q. How frequently should a couple have sex?
A. Whenever the man asks
B. Every night

Q. After the woman serves dinner, who should wash the dishes?
A. The woman
B. The kids
C. The servants

Q. When a woman has emotional troubles, who should she talk to?
A. Her mom
B. Her girl friends
C. The dog

Q. When a man has emotional troubles, he should:
A. Drink a beer
B. Work out
C. Get laid

Q. If the kids get in trouble at school, a woman should:
A. Take care of it so as not to bother the man
B. Tell the kids "Just wait till your father gets home"

Q. The man needs pants. The woman should:
A. Buy nice pants and keep them ironed for the man
B. Buy care-free pants that don't need ironing

Q. Everybody gets in the car. Who is driving?
A. The man

Q. Everybody sits in front of the TV, what should happen next?
A. The man uses the remote to select the show the man wants
B. The man uses the remote to select the show the woman wants

Post vs Article


Sometimes when people read your writings they see things you take for granted. For example, my previous article begins "In this post ..." which prompted this discusion in #trilema:

mp_en_viaje: peterl & all : would you mind terribly if you referred to your articles, on your blogs, as articles ? it's what they are, i get it, you post them, but calling them "posts" makes about as much sense as calling cars "a drived" and girls "a fucked". you don't go about bars with a "hey, fucked! wanna do shots ?", do you ?
mp_en_viaje: it's bad grammar to begin with, what desophistication is this!
spyked: mp_en_viaje, it's "post"<->"fuck" tho, innit? so "she was a good fuck" is a closer analogy
mp_en_viaje: heh, i guess that's true huh
mp_en_viaje: i dunno, it fucking grates, on the level of wow kiddos saying "rouge" for rogue and midwesterner 15yos saying "scratch" for "itch".
spyked: tbf, I can see the argument. "article" was already there, so adding the "post" slang is somewhat similar to how romanians added the new meaning for "locatie" in the lang. what's wrong with "loc" anyway
diana_coman: - technically it was "a blog post"; going for correctness there, I would even question wtf is "blog" anyway, since I get it, binary log except I don't write in binary, what.
ossabot: Logged on 2019-11-05 04:46:58 mp_en_viaje: peterl & all : would you mind terribly if you referred to your articles, on your blogs, as articles ? it's what they are, i get it, you post them, but calling them "posts" makes about as much sense as calling cars "a drived" and girls "a fucked". you don't go about bars with a "hey, fucked! wanna do shots ?", do you ?
diana_coman: so yeah, it is correct to call them articles and to call the "blog" a book I suppose.
diana_coman: or what, gazette
mp_en_viaje: what's wrong with having a blog fulla articles ?
mp_en_viaje: moreover, what we do has so little in common with what the bleaters call posts... the facebook items are properly called posts. dozen-charactger gibberish.
diana_coman: yes, but "post" there for all its similarity to "to post to the blog" is just as made up, as far as I can see; a blog post, as there is a newspaper article, dunno; and in the vein of "just as much to do with what they are doing otherwise", wouldn't that hold for articles too?
diana_coman: what, those articles they write in the new yorker or the wired or what
mp_en_viaje: seems to me article's exactly what we're doing.
mp_en_viaje: nah, article is a wider word than that. "articles of incorporation" predates the newspaper / tin alley morti di fame trying to steal it.
diana_coman: ah, in that sense; yes, that would be it indeed.
diana_coman: all right, articles it is!
mp_en_viaje: was my thinking
mp_en_viaje: article (n.)
mp_en_viaje: c. 1200, "separate parts of anything written" (such as the statements in the Apostles' Creed, the clauses of a statute or contract), from Old French article (13c.), from Latin articulus "a part, a member," also "a knuckle; the article in grammar," diminutive of artus "a joint," from PIE *ar(ə)-tu-, suffixed form of root *ar- "to fit together."
mp_en_viaje: Meaning "literary composition in a journal, etc." (independent and on a specific topic, but part of a larger work) is first recorded 1712. The older sense is preserved in Articles of War "military regulations" (1716), Articles of Confederation (U.S. history), etc. Extended meaning "piece of property, material thing, commodity" (clothing, etc.) first attested 1796, originally in rogue's cant. Grammatical sense of "word used
mp_en_viaje: attributively, to limit the application of a noun to one individual or set of individuals" is from 1530s, from this sense in Latin articulus, translating Greek arthron.
mp_en_viaje: in any case, the morphological description of the articulation of thought : a pile of articles, and the web of links tieing them together.
diana_coman: yes, that would be quite it (or it should better be it).
PeterL: The way I understand, on a blog (short for web log), a post refers to any item, which could be an article. Most posts are articles, I will try to refer to them as such in the future.
PeterL: But I wouldn't call a picture of my cat an article, even if it is a blog post.1
mircea_popescu: which is the problem : you belong on facebook.
mircea_popescu: intellectually, not yet matured enough to reach past infantile superficiality into adult interesting.
mircea_popescu: becauise i both would and do call a picture of my cat an article. and in my case, it also ~is~ an article.
PeterL: mircea_popescu: that is an article that contains a picture of a cat. My point is that you could post something other than an article.
mircea_popescu: yes, and you're cordially invited to do it on facebook. you could similarily cook using something other than a stove -- such as for instance, an open pit fire. you're cordially invited to do that with your berber brethren, rather than indoors. and so on.
BingoBoingo has thought of a blog post as being like a fence post. A structural piece holding together the larger blog as a whole. The poor labeling argument however does carry more weight than my previously private metaphor.
hanbot wonders what a writ really is, after all.
BingoBoingo: hanbot: A writ seems like something determined important enough that the order was issued to have the matter written into a writ.
mircea_popescu: traditionally, the notation behind legal proceedings.
hanbot: right, but is writ:written::post:posted ? does the act of ordering scrub 'writ' of its grating-ness? or is the seemingly obvious connection between written and writ wholly imagined?
PeterL: perhaps post (something posted) is analagous to toast (something toasted)?
mircea_popescu: i think "despatch" is more in the vein of what happened there.
BingoBoingo: English isn't a consistent enough language for me to want to save the noun "post" on blogs through comparison to other English language constructions.
BingoBoingo: If it's going to be saved by comparison, I'm inclined to favor comparison to physical posts. Fence posts, mile marker posts, "woe unto he that digs into this buried gas pipe" posts, etc
hanbot: lol, it occurs to me...should mp-wp backend change to reflect post --> article?
mircea_popescu: i thought it said "publish"
mircea_popescu: but, yes.
hanbot: left column, "posts", add new, etc.
mircea_popescu: ah, yeah. indeed it should.
hanbot: cool, that oughta cement it.
diana_coman: BingoBoingo: that "physical posts" image makes me think of a sort of haphazard hut-of-a-blog, lolz
BingoBoingo: diana_coman: The process of construction rarely focuses on the aesthetics of process regardless of how much aesthetics factor into the final product.
BingoBoingo: But that is a strong objection because... when is a blog ever finished?
BingoBoingo: Anyways, articles are the future. Noun posts need actual holes dug.
lobbes: I'm sold on 'articles', tho it dun help the cause any that the mp-wp database uses the 'posts' terminology everywhere (posts table, post_id, post_content, etc.)
mircea_popescu: indeed.
mircea_popescu: whatever, now i know i want it fixed.

So I guess the consensus is that a blog is a series of articles which are published. But if you say you posted a blog post to your blog people will understand what you meant, it just doesn't sound as formal.

  1. For example, see []