Fall 2015 was extraordinary due to, as stated before in BRT, the weather gods conspiring to get the color out at the right time to enhance autumnal light in ways that have not been seen in NE for quite a long time. Enjoy. :)
Sunday, November 22, 2015
After 50 years ...
Another giant of the computing industry just died, Gene Amdahl, the architect of IBM's System/360, the most successful mainframe in history, passed away at 92. In looking at his singular accomplishments, the one thing that stands out is the fact his code is still being used after 50 years, something simply unheard of in the age of the digital computer.
The system was announced at IBM’s annual shareholders meeting on April 7, 1964, in Endicott, N.Y., a village near Binghamton where the company had opened a facility early in the 20th century.
At the meeting, Thomas J. Watson Jr., then chairman and chief executive, singled out Dr. Amdahl as the “father” of the new computer. “I remember it very clearly,” Marian Amdahl said in an interview. “Gene was so proud of that.”
Michael J. Flynn, a computer scientist at Stanford University and former colleague of Dr. Amdahl’s at IBM, said the 360 series “set the design philosophy for computers for the next 50 years, and to this day it’s still out there, which is incredible.”
Dr. Amdahl is remembered at IBM as an intellectual leader who could get different strong-minded groups to reach agreement on technical issues.
“By sheer intellectual force, plus some argument and banging on the table, he maintained architectural consistency across six engineering teams,” said Frederick P. Brooks Jr., a computer scientist who was the project manager of the System/360 and is now at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Had to show another System/360, this one @ NASA, used to crunch data for Apollo missions.
Friday, November 20, 2015
A Hard Rain ...
Had to do another - Definitely in the same league as It's Alright Ma....
It's Alright Ma
Like rolling thunder or Finnegan's Wake, It's Alright Ma is hypnotic, riveting and terrifying in it's take on reality, humanity and the demons that reside in us all. Without question, Dylan, in the early 60's, was incandescent, just as Miles was when he headed two great groups in the late 50's and mid 60's. Listen to the song and read the lyrics as they relate to the dark times we are living in. Something to consider as we move further toward the end of 2015.
Shadows even the silver spoon
The handmade blade, the child’s balloon
Eclipses both the sun and moon
To understand you know too soon
There is no sense in trying
Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn
Suicide remarks are torn
From the fool’s gold mouthpiece the hollow horn
Plays wasted words, proves to warn
That he not busy being born is busy dying
Temptation’s page flies out the door
You follow, find yourself at war
Watch waterfalls of pity roar
You feel to moan but unlike before
You discover that you’d just be one more
So don’t fear if you hear
A foreign sound to your ear
It’s alright, Ma, I’m only sighing
As some warn victory, some downfall
Private reasons great or small
Can be seen in the eyes of those that call
To make all that should be killed to crawl
While others say don’t hate nothing at all
Disillusioned words like bullets bark
As human gods aim for their mark
Make everything from toy guns that spark
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It’s easy to see without looking too far
That not much is really sacred
While preachers preach of evil fates
Teachers teach that knowledge waits
Can lead to hundred-dollar plates
Goodness hides behind its gates
But even the president of the United States
Sometimes must have to stand naked
An’ though the rules of the road have been lodged
It’s only people’s games that you got to dodge
And it’s alright, Ma, I can make it
Advertising signs they con
You into thinking you’re the one
That can do what’s never been done
That can win what’s never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you
You lose yourself, you reappear
You suddenly find you got nothing to fear
Alone you stand with nobody near
When a trembling distant voice, unclear
Startles your sleeping ears to hear
That somebody thinks they really found you
A question in your nerves is lit
Yet you know there is no answer fit
To satisfy, insure you not to quit
To keep it in your mind and not forget
That it is not he or she or them or it
That you belong to
Although the masters make the rules
For the wise men and the fools
I got nothing, Ma, to live up to
For them that must obey authority
That they do not respect in any degree
Who despise their jobs, their destinies
Speak jealously of them that are free
Cultivate their flowers to be
Nothing more than something they invest in
While some on principles baptized
To strict party platform ties
Social clubs in drag disguise
Outsiders they can freely criticize
Tell nothing except who to idolize
And then say God bless him
While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society’s pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he’s in
But I mean no harm nor put fault
On anyone that lives in a vault
But it’s alright, Ma, if I can’t please him
Old lady judges watch people in pairs
Limited in sex, they dare
To push fake morals, insult and stare
While money doesn’t talk, it swears
Obscenity, who really cares
Propaganda, all is phony
While them that defend what they cannot see
With a killer’s pride, security
It blows the minds most bitterly
For them that think death’s honesty
Won’t fall upon them naturally
Life sometimes must get lonely
My eyes collide head-on with stuffed
Graveyards, false gods, I scuff
At pettiness which plays so rough
Walk upside-down inside handcuffs
Kick my legs to crash it off
Say okay, I have had enough, what else can you show me?
And if my thought-dreams could be seen
They’d probably put my head in a guillotine
But it’s alright, Ma, it’s life, and life only
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Of Speed, Distance & Time :)
Young people doing cool things like Ryan Chester's take on The Special Theory of Relativity is not only entertaining but masterful in showing us rubes why Einstein really mattered.
The STOR worldline
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Depth-sensing capabilities are coming to the forefront of some camera designs, but
LIDAR takes it a step further, by capturing images by depth and depth alone.
We sense depth information somewhat indirectly, through interpreting the differences in the images produced by our two horizontally offset eyes. It's not an exact science and, as evidenced by the minor craze for auto-stereoscopic images a few years ago, you can fool the system quite easily.
Absolute accurateness doesn't matter much if you're staring at a painting, but it could be a life-or-death matter if that depth information is influencing the angle of your steering wheel.
LIDAR, which is essentially a laser-based depth sensing system, produces images based solely on depth. Since it works by measuring the time it takes for light to travel to and from a distant object, readings can be pretty exact and unambiguous.
Said tech is obviously being used in the development of driverless cars, courtesy the Google's and Tesla's of the world, not to mention the imagery produced is stellar without a doubt. :)
Friday, November 13, 2015
Wish fulfillment :)
This Dilbert resonates big time with yours truly, especially when relating it to politicians running for office. :)
Checking out the neighborhood
As per the Physics Forum post, here are all the robots checking out the solar system.
Pretty cool without question.
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Past the point of no return
It won’t take much to cause the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet to collapse—and once it starts, it won’t stop. In the last year, a slew of papers has highlighted the vulnerability of the ice sheet covering the western half of the continent, suggesting that its downfall is inevitable—and probably already underway. Now, a new model shows just how this juggernaut could unfold. A relatively small amount of melting over a few decades, the authors say, will inexorably lead to the destabilization of the entire ice sheet and the rise of global sea levels by as much as 3 meters.
Previous models have examined the onset of the collapse in detail. In 2014, two papers, one in Science and one in Geophysical Review Letters, noted that the Thwaites Glacier, which some scientists call the “weak underbelly” of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, has retreated dramatically over the past 2 decades. Most Antarctic researchers chalk this up to warm seawater melting the floating ice shelves at their bases; seawater temperatures there have risen since the 1970s, in part because of global temperature increases. Right now, an underwater ledge is helping anchor the glacier in place. But when the glacier retreats past that bulwark, it will collapse into the ocean; then seawater will intrude and melt channels into the ice sheet, setting the juggernaut in motion.
And we haven't even talked about the Greenland equation. Click albedo effect to see how disappearing ice transforms the uncovered ocean into a heat sink, thus helping to push the state of GW past the point of no return.
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
The Shining ... returns :)
The Military Aid Equation
Howmuch strikes again, this time regarding military aid and the region of the world where such largesse is so freely given.
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
The Political Gambit
Sunday, November 08, 2015
2001, the finest SF movie of all time, (Interstellar's No. 2) in tandem with Arthur C. Clarke's 2001, one of the finest SF novels of all time, (Starmaker's the other) gives one pause given just how deep and sophisticated both works are. When looking at Kubrick's masterpiece, one sees just how prescient both men were in describing a reality set 33 years into the future from 1968, regarding computers, tech and the nuance of space, where no sound resides, where ion engines rule and where science takes precedence over religion as the only viable way to try to understand the mysterious reality in which we all live, something altogether different from the fractured and increasingly illiterate environment of earth circa 2015.
Take the time to read the book as it's not only a seamless connect showing how writing is properly translated into film when done by a master like Kubrick but also it explains, in clear fashion, the raison d'ete of 2001 in a way impossible to do in a medium that plays out in just two hours and 22 minutes.
Behind every man now alive stand thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead
outnumber the living. Since the dawn of time, roughly a hundred billion human beings have walked
the planet Earth.
Now this is an interesting number, for by a curious coincidence there are approximately a
hundred billion stars in our local universe, the Milky Way. So for every man who has ever lived,
in this Universe there shines a star.
But every one of those stars is a sun, often far more brilliant and glorious than the small,
nearby star we call the Sun. And many - perhaps most - of those alien suns have planets circling
them. So almost certainly there is enough land in the sky to give every member of the human
species, back to the first ape-man, his own private, world-sized heaven - or hell.
How many of those potential heavens and hells are now inhabited, and by what manner of
creatures, we have no way of guessing; the very nearest is a million times farther away than Mars
or Venus, those still remote goals of the next generation. But the barriers of distance are
crumbling; one day we shall meet our equals, or our masters, among the stars.
Men have been slow to face this prospect; some still hope that it may never become reality.
Increasing numbers, however, are asking: "Why have such meetings not occurred already, since we
ourselves are about to venture into space?"
Why not, indeed? Here is one possible answer to that very reasonable question. But please
remembert thi sis only a work of fiction.
The truth, as always, will be far stranger.
Saturday, November 07, 2015
A sense of scale
Coal Terminal, Qinhuangdao, China | Earth | Satellite
This image shows the coal terminal at the Port of Qinhuangdao—the largest coal shipping facility in China. From here, approximately 210 million metric tons of coal are primarily transported to coal-burning power plants in the major cities in southern China each year. This figure is believed to account for approximately half of the country’s annual consumption.
Pretty scary when you think about the ramifications of burning this stuff 24/7 to China and to the world at large. Something to think about if you ask me.
Drugs - In a good way :)
Time killer to the max. Enjoy.
When listening or reading what Ben Carson has to say in areas outside of his expertise, the content accessed boggles the mind whether it be his takes on evolution, opinions regarding science or his declarative view on the Founding Fathers.
Carson, a political novice running for the GOP presidential nomination, made this observation in a late-night Facebook post defending his lack of political experience. As he put it:
“You are absolutely right — I have no political experience. The current Members of Congress have a combined 8,700 years of political experience. Are we sure political experience is what we need. Every signer of the Declaration of Independence had no elected office experience. What they had was a deep belief that freedom is a gift from God. They had a determination to rise up against a tyrannical King.”
Let’s start with Thomas Jefferson, the primary writer of the Declaration of Independence. Years earlier, he had been a student at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg. As luck would have it, the House of Burgesses met there, and so Jefferson as a student was able to witness legislative debates.
The House of Burgesses evolved from the first European-style legislative assembly in the Americas, the General Assembly that was formed in 1619. And in 1769, seven years before penning the Declaration, Jefferson was elected to the House of Burgesses. As an online biography of the signers said: “It was there that his involvement in revolutionary politics began. He was never a very vocal member, but his writing, his quiet work in committee, and his ability to distill large volumes of information to essence, made him an invaluable member in any deliberative body.”
Now let’s look at the other members of the drafting committee: John Adams (Mass.) was elected to the Massachusetts Assembly in 1770, Benjamin Franklin (Pa.) had been elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1751 and served as speaker in 1764, and Roger Sherman (Conn.) had been elected to the Connecticut General Assembly in 1755. Only Robert R. Livingston (N.Y.) had minimal political experience.
Of the other 51 signers of the Declaration, we count at least 27 as having at least some elected office experience, primarily in Colonial assemblies.
John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress, had been elected to the Boston Assembly and had participated in the Stamp Act Congress, a gathering of elected representatives (from Colonial assemblies) to craft a response to new British tax laws. Some states sent delegations with little political experience, but every member of the seven-person delegation from Virginia had been elected to the Houses of Burgesses.
Friday, November 06, 2015
Everyone loves a good mystery
Conjecture, guesses and inquiry, the stuff of science writ large. :)
Click here for more info on this "magic" duo of infinite mystery.
Language Set 101
Infographics like this knock me out, particularly when the data set's so interesting like that of the number of languages spoken on planet earth. Gives one pause doesn't it?
There are at least 7,102 known languages alive in the world today. Twenty-three of these languages are a mother tongue for more than 50 million people. The 23 languages make up the native tongue of 4.1 billion people. We represent each language within black borders and then provide the numbers of native speakers (in millions) by country. The colour of these countries shows how languages have taken root in many different regions.
The Tower of Babel lives, big time. :)
Fall 2015/Light/Color & Image
Fall 2015 was spectacular due to the perfect combination of rain/sun/heat & cold needed to amp up the transition from all green to all shades of green plus yellows tamping down to browns as NE moved into November. Hopefully, this video captures, in small part, this most beautiful of seasons with it's take on light, color and imagery. Stellar without question. Enjoy.
Thursday, November 05, 2015
These are the facts. At some point, someone somewhere in the US government had an amazing idea: why not build a compressed natural gas (CNG) filling station in Afghanistan? Forty-three million taxpayer dollars later, the city of Sheberghan, in the far north of the country, got its gas station. But, according to the watchdog agency probing Afghanistan reconstruction spending, nobody seems to know — or wants to admit — who signed off on the project or how its costs spiraled so completely out of control.
The whole thing is so strange and wrongheaded that the crazily high price tag — more than 100 times what a similar facility would cost in neighboring Pakistan — is not even the worst thing the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) found.
The art of stupid anyone?
1888 - 2015 R.I.P.
For more years than I want to count, yours truly, like countless others, loved National Geographic, a magazine filled with incredible imagery and well researched writing that showed us readers the wonder and beauty of reality, died when Rupert Murdoch bought the company and effectively killed it in the year of our lord, 2015.
When the climate-change denier/evil billionaire bought National Geographic, National Geographic Society CEO Greg Knell promised that "there won’t be an [editorial] turn in a direction that is different form the National Geographic heritage." This week, the company fired some of its most senior, decorated staff.
Murdoch has a long and dishonorable history of remaking the editorial directions of the publications he buys -- see, e.g., The Wall Street Journal, which downplayed foreign affairs, government, education and media coverage after the Murdoch acquisition, replacing them with more business and health coverage.
Included in the mass-firings are photo editor Sherry L. Brukbache, picture editor Nancy Lee Ott, photographer Michael "Nick" Nichols, and a designer described by colleagues as "the best designer on staff." At least 180 staffers were fired in all, the largest layoff's in the magazine's 127 year history.
Nat Geo circa 1915
Wednesday, November 04, 2015
Channeling Willie Sutton
Willie Sutton's attachment to money gained via nefarious ways is the stuff of legend while HowMuch's 3D map depicting where the money is the stuff of fact, something most intriguing to techs like your truly.
As shown by the map, the New York metropolitan area, which includes Newark and Jersey City, lead the country with $1.5 trillion in GDP. The area had GDP growth of 2.4% in 2014. The New York metropolitan area provided almost 10% of the total GDP for the entire country.
The Greater Los Angeles area was second with $866 billion in GDP, with an increase of 2.3% over 2013. This was followed by the Chicago metropolitan area with $610 billion and growth of 1.8%. In fourth was the Houston metro area with $525 billion. Dallas, another Texas metro area, had $504 billion in GDP.
The esteemed Willie Sutton :)
Tuesday, November 03, 2015
An artful dodge
BRT has waxed poetic about Citizens United, the corporate power grab made manifest, courtesy the supremes, the bought and paid for court that favors business and church above the rights of the public this august entity is supposed to represent. With this crit notwithstanding comes an incendiary and well researched piece from the NY Times titled Arbitration Everywhere, Stacking the Deck of Justice
On Page 5 of a credit card contract used by American Express, beneath an explainer on interest rates and late fees, past the details about annual membership, is a clause that most customers probably miss. If cardholders have a problem with their account, American Express explains, the company “may elect to resolve any claim by individual arbitration.”
Those nine words are at the center of a far-reaching power play orchestrated by American corporations, an investigation by The New York Times has found.
By inserting individual arbitration clauses into a soaring number of consumer and employment contracts, companies like American Express devised a way to circumvent the courts and bar people from joining together in class-action lawsuits, realistically the only tool citizens have to fight illegal or deceitful business practices.
Monday, November 02, 2015
GunFAIL Ad Nauseum
Yours truly has no problem with people having guns IF they are registered and IF they know what the hell they are doing with said firearm, something that's not true in so many cases with idiots possessing tech able to kill, maim and wound without question.
The self-inflicted shootings are really racking up the numbers toward the end of the year. It's hunting season now, and I think that magnifies the problem. In fact, five of our GunFAILs were hunting accidents, two of which were fatal. During the week of this installment, it was still early in the season, but we still found 20+ people who accidentally shot themselves. Seems like 23 or so for sure, with another two incidents that are highly suggestive of self-inflicted injury, but where the language of the report is less than 100 percent clear on the question of who pulled the trigger. Or rather, who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, when the gun "suddenly went off," as the saying goes.
In a countdown of other familiar categories, six people were accidentally shot by family members, five people accidentally discharged guns while cleaning them, four people were accidentally shot while sitting in cars (well, one was in a golf cart), three each were accidentally shot while target shooting or had accidental discharges while at work, two were accidentally shot in bars, and just one left a loaded gun behind in a public bathroom.
The week also included two GunFAILs by cops and/or security guards, two movie theater GunFAILs, two GunFAIL shootings by toddlers, and two Salina, Kansas GunFAILs.
Kind of reminds me of the Repugs debate where anti-knowledge rules and ignorance is good. Unreal as we move further into the never ending campaign of people not qualified to run anything of consequence let alone POTUS.
End of rant, for now.
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