Monthly Archives: December 2006

Happy New Year!

An early happy new year to everyone, as I will be out later. I’m quite happy to be able to celebrate it in New Orleans. I’ll be at Igor’s on St.Charles with my wife, so come see us if you’re around! As usual, I’ll be the guy in a black shirt and khakis and a black derby hat.

Show up and mention this ad and get a free drink on me!

Vacation Notice

To whom it may concern:
I will be “on vacation” from 2006-12-21 through 2007-01-07. I plan on doing some work during various parts of that period. I should have access to my email, phone, etc most but possibly not all of that time. Please leave a message in whatever format is convenient (phone, blog comment, email, SMS, etc) if you can’t get ahold of me.


Saturnalia: The real reason for the season.

Skepticlawyer over at Catallaxy (where I sometimes blog) has a nice little summary of the pagan origins of Christmas, before it was co-opted as the pretend birthday of Jesus. Here’s just a snippet:

Romans decorated their doorposts with holly and kissed under the mistletoe. Shops and businesses closed and people greeted one another in the street with shouts of Io Saturnalia! On one day of the twelve, masters waited on their slaves at table while, in the legions, officers served the ranks. A rose was hung from the ceiling in banqueting rooms, and anything said or done sub rosa went no further than the front door. That banqueting could get out of hand is attested to by Seneca, who tells of slaves detailed especially to clean up the spew. The government – in both Rome and the provinces – often laid on free public feasts. In the poem by Statius running through this piece, we’re told how the emperor Domitian held one such feast in the colosseum, somehow combining (and the organisation can only be marvelled at) vast quantities of food with entertainment. The Romans, I should add, had no weekend, no useless and unproductive Saturdays and Sundays, so they looked forward to their sanguinary feriae with considerable relish. The festival of Saturnalia was a time, too, for family dinners, for parties, for amours, for socialising, for wishing others well.

Surely this is something that several of my readers already have extensive knowledge about, but while I’d heard of it, it’s mostly new to me. Also, the Roman city in SecondLife, whose name I can’t at the moment recall, was celebrating Saturnalia last time I was there.

Obligatory Wikipedia entry link. Note that Wikipedia claims the link between Christmas and Saturnalia is tenuous, at least as far as the date goes. The traditions seem pretty clearly related to me.

Seeking Validation

Progress has continued smoothly on my class project. I’ve done one of the key validation steps in the project, and am just about ready to move on to the meat of the study.

What I did was to current-clamp the two different models, and compare this with the results of the exact same experiment in the paper that the models are taken from. Below, you can see the results:

Current Clamp Comparison

The top row contains snapshots of both types of model from the original paper. The bottom row shows my results for the same conditions. They’re essentially identical, although it’s hard to tell from the pictures in the original paper.

I still have a little more validation to do, but this is a pretty good sign.