Sunday, January 22, 2012


Every once in a while, scientific perfection in the way of hardware design appears. The two Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity come to mind along with the Planck, an exquisitely designed space craft developed to measure the microwave background radiation of the universe by cooling its sensors down to 0.1 degrees above absolute zero via liquid Helium.

Originally, the Mars Rovers mission was targeted for 90 days, it's now going on 7 years, a testimony to visionary engineering without question.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A World Without Wikopedia

Created by: Online University

Got this infographic from Jen Ree. This shows the impact Wikipedia has on society. Pretty powerful argument as to why government must never be allowed to control the net.

Manufacturing 101

How US lost out on iPhone Work is a must read to see why our economy is in the dumper. What's not said in this otherwise excellent NYTimes piece is the fact corporations were encouraged to go overseas for workers instead of staying here thanks, in large part, to the Fed and WS bankers striving to reward investors at all costs while the government helped out by allowing said companies to avoid taxes because "monies were made overseas". This is why GE paid no taxes in 2011.

As stated before, the article's terrific but what's even better is the interactive graphic one can see by clicking the image at the top of this post. It's a primer on why we are such trouble on the employment side of things, a situation which could get worse given the acceleration in all things digital with emphasis on robotics and AI, the twin engines of digital manufacturing.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Kickin' & Screamin'

First off, I love books as yours truly is a voracious reader of the first order, I have stacks of them fairly well organized in book shelves all around the house and continue to be in a prolonged state of morning regarding the death of two Borders stores that were but a short drive from the house. Be as it may, the news Apple is doing a Garage Band number on text books is a good thing because the old way of creating and distributing textbooks that go out of date the minute they're published is an unsustainable way to do education in the connected age of the web.

The issue now is how to properly integrate Apple's offering into an under financed and often dysfunctional teaching environment as the game changing aspect of this tech introduces the issue of a "wicked problem" whereby the questions and answers pertaining on how to make this happen changes the problem itself.

No doubt, this tech will eventually come to Windows and the cloud as the educational system, as it stands today, cannot continue on the path it is in and... the market, outside of Apple, is just too big and important to ignore.

Addendum: Seems there's a prof who wants to do away with term papers and replace them with blogs, something yours truly totally agrees with since starting up BRT over four years ago. Why you may ask, because of folks like you reading and commenting on articles posted in it, something aspiring writers can relate to in the digital age in which we live.

The Times They Are a-Changin'

There's a new force in town, a force who's time has come, where tech enables the common man to fight back and make his voice heard, thanks to the net, the last bastion of freedom in the world. Additionally, this is not to say the web is perfect because the net, if not properly understood, can hurt, humiliate and steal you blind yet, at the same time, if properly managed, becomes a gateway to knowledge, collaboration and creativity at levels unimagined just a few years ago. Based on just what has happened, the possibility of us taking back our country becomes real because the internet and the hardware and software constructs that drive it, enable our voice to be heard at levels the insular bought and paid for politicos in DC can no longer safely afford to ignore in spite of K Street bribes and surreptitious corporate funding of campaigns to keep these compliant fools in power. 

Last rejoinder, if SOPA/PIPA passed, my posting of Dylan's album cover, even though it's being used under fair use auspices, would be illegal, something to think about when talking about the net and Article One of the Constitution - the right of free speech.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Big Mac Index

Purchasing power using the Big Mac as calculating engine is a good thing as long as you don't actually eat one. Check this bad boy out. Without a doubt you will learn something. I know I have.

Speeding Around The World in Under 5 minutes Time Lapse

When looking at this wonderful video, one truly sees why an unfettered net, free from censorship and government control is essential for mankind. Support the blackout, it's the right thing to do.

Going Dark

PIPA/SOPA & now the Research Works Act
Enough is enough. It's time we fight back, the web is too valuable to lose to
a Congress too damn venial and inept. Fight back, join the strike and go dark on 
Wednesday, January 18th.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Great Unwinding II

We are at a critical point in history where the status quo is fighting for it's life as we mover further into the 21st century. Signs of this struggle are everywhere. (Note: This is but a small sampler, of course.)
  • In Congress, the effort to pass PIPA/SOPA to impose censorship and benefit hollywood and the music industry at the cost of endless litigation, innovation and security on the net continues unabated while central banks use tech to continue the illusion they actually have enough money in hand to save the Euro.
  • Congress strikes again by positing this bill, H.R.3699 -- Research Works Act  whereby scientific research paid for by the government (Us), which is now free, would be privatized.
  • Fracking, used to extract natural gas at the cost of destroying the environment for short term gain, is erroneously touted as the way to stave off the inevitable fact peak oil is past and that alternatives to fossil fuels must be undertaken in serious fashion before it's too late.
  • Corporate personhood enables the powers at be to funnel even more monies to Congress and to the presidency in order to insure whoever is in office supports the status quo. 
  • WS banksters remain free, untouched by Eric Holder and the "rule" of law.
  • Endless war and the attack on civil rights as seen by the enactment of the Defense Authorization Act opens the way to potential military dictatorship given the fact the military now supersedes the authority of the FBI and police in being able to intern US citizens indefinitely without due process if one is suspected of being a "terrorist" as "security" must be maintained at the cost of liberty even though the threat of entities like al- Qaeda is questionable at best. (see Afghanistan as example)
  •  Adherence to endless war (Iran anyone?) and the printing of money, courtesy of the Fed, to maintain the TBTF banks while bankrupting the nation continues to be covered up by the corporate controlled media as we endure the never ending presidential campaign whereby "serious candidates" "debate" over gay rights, religion and being a pure conservative instead of discussing why our money has been systematically stolen from us thanks to government collusion with the Fed and the WS banksters. 
  • US education, buffeted by cutbacks, fear, politics and ignorance of all things digital, threatens to become irrelevant in a world connected by the web. 
  • Resource wars heat up due to excess plundering of the planet's irreplaceable offerings.  
  • The oceans, polluted and overfished, are at the breaking point while firms like Monsanto dominate the food chain by producing GMO corn even though such crops have questionable value for humanity.
  • Environmental degradation and massive extinctions of earth's life forms continues unabated, driven by ever more fossil fuel use and the desire to product more "stuff" no matter what the cost may be.
  • And on and on and on it goes......

Because instant and unfettered communication of information of all types (via the web) has a tendency to alter human behavior in unpredictable ways, the impact of same on the powers at be cannot be predicted in any great detail but after all, we already knew that, right?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Vermin Supreme for President :)

See more on Know Your Meme
Vermin Surpreme for President, sounds alright to me given the craven fools we have running for America's top office. At least Vermin's promising a pony for everyone and mandatory tooth brushing to combat America's true enemy, gingivitis. :)

Monday, January 09, 2012

Harking Back :)

As readers of BRT know, The Whole Earth Catalog is viewed upon as a biggie regarding the creative use of technology for the good of all. Well, it seems there is a successor, No Tech Magazine is an online resource filled with pragmatic tech that's cheap, efficient and very cool. Enjoy.

Forgot, the original's alive and well also. Like fine wine, pubs like this never go out of style. :)

Sunday, January 08, 2012

I Sing the Body Electric II

The Net never ceases to amaze. The NYTimes has a terrific article titled The Vitrural Body, Ready for Dissection, a piece discussing the revolution coming to anatomy courtesy of BioDigital, a startup focusing on all things digital regarding the human body (Zygote is another player gearing up for this emerging tech  as well.

PEOPLE wear 3-D glasses for new movies like “The Adventures of Tintin.” But for medical school?

The answer is yes at the New York University School of Medicine, which is using 3-D technology to update a rite of passage for would-be doctors: anatomy class.

In a basement lab at NYU Langone Medical Center in Manhattan last month, students in scrubs and surgical gloves hovered over cadavers on gurneys, preparing, as would-be doctors have for centuries, to separate rib cages and examine organs. But the dead are imperfect stand-ins for the living. Death — and embalming fluid — take a toll.

So, in an adjacent classroom, a group of students wearing 3-D glasses made by Nvidia, a graphics processing firm, dissected a virtual cadaver projected on a screen. Using a computer to control the stereoscopic view, they swooped through the virtual body, its sections as brightly colored as living tissue. First, the students scrutinized layers of sinewy pink muscles layered over ivory bones. Then, with the click of a mouse, they examined a close-up of the heart, watching as deep blue veins and bright red arteries made the heart pump.

Compared with the real cadavers in the lab next door, the virtual one seemed as dynamic as Imax.

Now, if only health care was as promising as this, food for thought, don't you think?

Friday, January 06, 2012

Education 101

According to Alan November , education will rapidly become irrelevant in the connected age of the net if it is not properly integrated with tech. In listening to a talk he gave in my home town, I learned quite a bit on why education in this country is hurting, primarily due to politics, fear, the urge to control and profound ignorance of what tech is really all about, something rather disconcerting when considering just how pervasive technology is becoming. His definition of technology happening after one is born is apt because a child born in 2012 will have no idea what a PC is, a notion Arthur C. Clarke expanded upon in 3001, The Final Odyssey,  where people would have absolutely no idea how any tech worked due to 1; the sheer complexity of same and 2; the level of integration of it to man, something Ray Kurzweil talks about in great detail in  The Singularity is Near.

November also introduced a practical way to better search the web using Google Operators, website URL modifiers yours truly knew a little about but have never used in trolling the net for nuggets of gold such as the ones seen in this post. This will change without question :) While talking about this, November brought up the issues of trust, competency and empathy, core attributes kids and adults alike must have in abundance in order to intelligently deal with the ever increasing flood of information (bogus/otherwise) issuing forth from the web, the construct that is changing how we do business on planet earth.

Click on the picture to get November's tips on how to search, something kids and us adults should know when mining for info on the net.

"We have to abandon the idea that schooling is something restricted to youth. How can it be, in a world where half the things a man knows at 20 are no longer true at 40 - and half the things he knows at 40 hadn't been discovered when he was 20?" - Arthur C. Clarke

Sunday, January 01, 2012



Because quantum theory, chaos, the law of initial conditions and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics preclude the ability to predict the future, the only other option one can take regarding the reading of tea leaves vis a vis the future is to guess, something that can be somewhat accurate if one is aware of strange attractors and the entities attracted to same. So, as Kurt Vonnegut says, And so it goes.

Some 2012 negatives -  A tiny sampling to be sure: 
  • Obama signs the National Defense Authorization Act - Due process gone in the name of security
  •  PIPA & SOPA - Web censorship writ large if congress has it's way.
  • The endless Presidential Campaign - Promises never kept, just ask Obama about this.
  • Presidential Campaign II - From Obama to the Repugs, incompetency, fanaticism, ignorance and corruption rule the day. A third party disruptor may show up given the sorry condition this once great nation is in. 
  • Congress - Bought and paid for comes to mind along with sloth, unenlightened self interest and craven ineptness
  • Religion - Reality, as seen through the wrong end of a telescope, continues to thrive in the land of the free, home of the brave. 
  • Nationalism - Religion's first cousin
  • Corporate Personhood - Judge Roberts & Company have no shame
  • Endless war - Iran could be next now that the Iraq fubar has finally run it's course.
  • Global Warming - Don't ask, don't tell
  • Oceans Under Siege - Overfishing, pollution (BP anyone?) and GW, the troika from hell portends disaster if we don't change course
  • Habitat Loss -   The second Great Dying looms
  • Fossil Fuel Addiction - Continues unabated
  • Resource Depletion - We consume more then the earth can provide. 
  • The 99% - The potential for violence is nigh, especially from those with no jobs, no homes and no hope thanks to WS malfeasance perpetuated on the US aided and abetted by government, the Fed and big business.
  • The Press or lack thereof - George Orwell and Paddy Chayefsky had it right all along
  • Reality Shows - The race toward the bottom continues unabated
  • Central Bank follies - Printing money does not equate to generating value through innovation and real capitalism. Just look at Europe and the US to see why.
  • The XL Pipeline - A short term fix to maintain the unsustainable
  • Water Wars - Privatization of something that never should be privatized. Akin to the patenting of genes by big pharma thanks to the ineptness of the US patent office.
  • Crony Capitalism -  Without risk and transparency, the country cannot succeed, something the Fed will never understand while bailing out incompetent bankers and foreign interests as needs warrant. 
  • Fascism - The US is moving toward it thanks to opacity and the power of the banks, with help of significant others, to control the courts, government and the military.
  • We Can't Handle the Truth - Ignorance is not bliss
Some 2012 pluses Tiny sampler II:
  • The Higgs Boson will finally be found. Noble Laureates anyone?
  • M Theory will finally start to become real
  • Solar gets real.
  • Artificial Photosynthesis gets real
  • Robotics takes off
  • Fabbing takes off
  • Digital money makes headway. Bitcoin is but a first step
  • Cancer begins to be treated as chronic disease rather then inevitable death sentence
  • Stem cell research begins to pay off in disease control and the ability to generate new organs as needs warrant. Time frame - 10 years 
  • Finance & Governance - The demand for real transparency of all things political, financial and corporate gathers momentum.
  • Tech, in general, shrinks in size while increasing in power. Distributed systems, cloud computing, AI and all things digital will presage the arrival of the singularity as the infrastructure is in place to make it happen if the financial and political system doesn't totally implode. Other specifics include the rise of solid state memory, flexible quantum dot displays and 3D chip design, things that will transform smart phones, pads and other discrete devices into objects of unimaginable power.
  • Education - The inexorable push into digital finally starts to impact US education in a good way as tech cannot be stopped, only harnessed, something people are finally understanding as we move further into the 21st century.
End game: 2012 looks problematical to say the least, thanks, in large part, to the negative impact the central banks have had on the world's economy. Factoring this in with peak oil, endless war,  inept governance and climate change only adds to the treacherous sledding envisioned for the upcoming year but there is hope. Science, tech, innovation and creativity, combined with an emerging sense that we are the 99%, can make a difference but only if we have the courage to make it happen.

Remember, maintaining the status quo is, in fact, Einstein's definition of Insanity of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. 

Lest we forget HAPPY NEW YEAR! :)