Math fans: Apparently they're making a(nother) movie of Flatland.  (Warning - flash.) After seeing movie adaptations of some of my favorite books, I'm hesitant to watch this one; even if the movies are great, something about the act of watching them makes them someone else's reality rather than my personal pictures floating in Platonic space. No matter how well-imagined it is, it's no longer my world. I can no longer read the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy without picturing a tiny rotund Marvin, or Lord of the Rings without the sweep of Eomer's men down into Helm's Deep (and no Trillian love subplot or Elves present dammit.)

Still for math fans: Open source math software is a necessity for future math research. Joyner and Stein explain why more eloquently in their essay "Open-source math software," but basically, how are we supposed to verify proofs that are dependent on closed-source software we don't have (or worse, has become obsolete, or is actually broken)?

In one of the coolest examples of "practice what you preach" I've seen, they made Sage, a CAS (computer algebra system) that stitches a bewildering array of mathematical functions together with Python. It works with Matlab, Mathematica, Maple, and other math software that doesn't necessarily start with M (Octave, for instance). It graphs, formats equations, does worksheets, and crunches numbers with astounding speed. Best of all, they seem to be trying quite hard to make their software developer-friendly, even for newbies. Definitely something worth playing with.

In Shanghai news: soup dumplings are mmmm. They come in both small and large varieties, the latter being the "you stick a straw in them to drink the soup out" fist-size that Christie mentioned. We also found a small art gallery in a shopping mall that featured stick calligraphy - polished and stained tree roots that (with a liberally artistic eye) look like the flowing shapes of Chinese words.