Monday, February 29, 2016

A Train Wreck Waiting to Happen :)

6 months ago, yours truly stated that Trump had a real shot at the GOP nomination. Needless to say, all parties listening to said bloviator responded with choice tidbits like, "You're crazy, Never happen, Dream on, Jeb's got it in the bag". Well, at this point in time, unless something truly extraordinary happens, The Donald looks like he's going to get it. As for Hillary, it looks like she'll be the candidate for the Dems but the notion of Hillary beating Trump big time, not so fast as seen by the juicy blurbs seen below. :)

It gets better ...

This has the makings of the WWE with Trump having a field day with Hillary. If a miracle happens and Sanders becomes the Dems' candidate, the campaign would become far more substantial as Trump respects Sanders as a smart politician with integrity, something not quite so true with Hillary.

Addendum: I agree with this take on The Donald and Hillary without question.

The Invasive

In other words, T Rex was an invasive of the 3rd kind. :)

Sunday, February 28, 2016

2nd Generation

It's just a matter of time.

The Art of Persuasion

Aeon is a gem. Articulate, insightful and wise, the site never disappoints in presenting essays that provoke profound thought regarding important issues like health, science and, in this case, the art of persuasion, Google style.

It gets better.

Edward Bernays, "the father of public relations" and propaganda, would understand and appreciate the Google Effect to the max. 

Addendum: Read BRT's PR to see the originators of all things related to The Art of Persuasion.

Only the beginning

BRT discussed the Apple/FBI issue in depth in The Answer is No, a piece articulating, in part, how the FBI screwed the pooch in terms of changing passwords twice in disregarding Apple's advice in terms of working with the iPhone vis a vis iCloud, the service that can force the iPhone to dump its data if the password is NOT changed. With this in mind, Monday Note weighs in with a cautionary tale as to why a slippery slope looms if the FBI gets its way.

When taken in conjunction with what the NSA/CIA/FBI, and significant others, do in capturing ALL OF OUR DATA 24/7, one readily sees Apple's encrypted smartphone data to be the last bastion of privacy we have on planet earth. (Google's jumping in on this as well.) 

Extending this notion further regarding our civil rights, yours truly just saw Citizenfour, the engrossing documentary on Edwin Snowden, the NSA whistleblower. In it was the astounding revelation that not only can the NSA track and capture ALL digital & analog traffic in the US but that said data is immediately retrievable by simply accessing an e-mail address, a CC number or a person's telephone number due to the environment's unique ability to link all the skeins of content relating to the specific search item in question and packaging it in such a way that any intelligent person versed in information technology can easily understand. Even more disquieting, according to Snowden, is the use of predictive analytics to ascertain what the targeted party may do in any given situation, whether it's in the present day or in the future, thanks to the singular leveraging of metadata in ways only techs at the NSA can understand. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Quiescent Monster

In this sea of light resides a quiescent monster, a supermassive black hole equal to 21 billion suns.

How long the SMBH remains quiet, no one knows.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Substitutionary Atonement :)

Substitutionary Atonement equates to the word "assume" don't you think? :)

Creative Destruction

Terrific video showing the size range of black holes. Very cool, very informative. Enjoy. :)

The Answer is No

Tim Cook is absolutely right in resisting the FBI's insistence on a back door to the iPhone given the inherent potential abuses such a back door would have on the millions of customers who use iPhones for all things related to conducting business on planet earth. 

Cook's message to "our customers" is impressive without question.

The all inclusive nature of the order scares the crap out of yours truly as the number of new soft targets hackers will have access to boggles the imagination if Apple complies with the court. Lastly, when you consider how our right to privacy have been taken away from us by the Bush and Obama administrations via the ongoing 24/7 surveillance being done by the NSA/FBI/CIA/IRS and other significant parties, it's no wonder why Apple's going to fight this as Google should or any other vendor who has our data in hand 24/7.

We are at a crossroads where either we take back our country or sit back and let the powers at be run it into the ground for the sake of ever increasing profit and power no matter what the cost may be.

The choice is up to us.

Addendum: Click here to get MIT's take on why backdoors, in general, are a really bad idea.

Update on why giving the FBI a backdoor is a REALLY REALLY bad idea.

On Friday, we noted that one of the reasons that the FBI was unable to get access to the data on the remaining iPhone from Syed Farook was because after the shooting and after the phone was in the hands of the government, Farook's employer, the San Bernardino Health Department, initiated a password change on his iCloud account. That apparently messed stuff up, because without that, it would have been possible to force the phone to backup data to the associated iCloud account, where it would have been available to the FBI. But, after we published that article, a rather salient point came out: the Health Department only did this because the FBI asked it to do so. 

From a San Bernardino County Twitter account:
If you can't read that, it says: "The County was working cooperatively with the FBI when it reset the iCloud password at the FBI's request." 

In short: a big reason why the FBI can't get the info it wants is because of an action taken... by the FBI. 

Apple has also provided further information on this, showing how it was perfectly willing to cooperate in reasonable ways with the FBI -- but that it was the FBI that messed things up:

The Apple executive told reporters that the company’s engineers had first suggested to the government that it take the phone to the suspect’s apartment to connect it to the Wi-Fi there. But since reporters and members of the public had swarmed that crime scene shortly after the shootings occurred, it was likely that any Wi-Fi there had been disconnected. So Apple suggested the government take the phone to Farook’s former workplace and connect the phone to a Wi-Fi network there. 

The executive said that Apple walked the government through the entire process to accomplish this, but the government came back about two weeks later and told Apple that it hadn’t worked. 

Apple didn’t understand why it had not worked—until the company learned that sometime after the phone had been taken into the custody of law enforcement, someone had gone online and changed the Apple ID that the phone uses to conduct backups.

Any questions?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


13.8 billion years, equivalent to the age of our part of the multiverse, is the estimated length of time 5D optical memory will last according to the University of Southampton.

Sounds like End Times from the scientific perspective. :)

How the tech works.

13.8 billion for the human race? A stretch beyond imagination without question.

The Law of Diminishing Returns

No, this is NOT about the Terminator but rather about Bill Joy's Why The Future Doesn't Need Us meeting the Law of Diminishing Returns whereby bots, tech and AI are not the saviors of the economy and the world but rather the terminators if the Arstechinca article rings true. 

There is no denying the impact of the information technology revolution on our economy. From the time that personal computers started infiltrating the workplace, there have been impressive gains in productivity. At the same time, there's been an uncoupling of the traditional link between productivity and employment; unlike in years past, the benefits have not been felt by many—or even most—in society. That was the central message from Moshe Vardi's talk.

A professor of computational engineering at Rice University, Vardi said that technology has been destroying jobs since the industrial revolution—one only needs to look at the role of horses in transportation as an example. But in the past, those jobs have been taken by machines designed to do a specific thing, like weaving cotton. Now, Vardi argued, we're facing the possibility of machines that may be better than humans at nearly everything.

Vardi raised the concerning possibility that an over-reliance on automation and AI could have the same effect on our economy as the Roman dependence on slaves. "Can our economic system deal with labor participation rates below 25 percent? Below 50 percent?" he asked. The solution in ancient Rome, he pointed out, was bread and circuses or life as a legionary.

What's interesting about this notion of tech not being the end all is the take The Economist has regarding the same subject with emphasis given to how The Law of Diminishing Returns applies.

IF THERE IS a technological revolution in progress, rich economies could be forgiven for wishing it would go away. Workers in America, Europe and Japan have been through a difficult few decades. In the 1970s the blistering growth after the second world war vanished in both Europe and America. In the early 1990s Japan joined the slump, entering a prolonged period of economic stagnation. Brief spells of faster growth in intervening years quickly petered out. The rich world is still trying to shake off the effects of the 2008 financial crisis. And now the digital economy, far from pushing up wages across the board in response to higher productivity, is keeping them flat for the mass of workers while extravagantly rewarding the most talented ones.

Between 1991 and 2012 the average annual increase in real wages in Britain was 1.5% and in America 1%, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, a club of mostly rich countries. That was less than the rate of economic growth over the period and far less than in earlier decades. Other countries fared even worse. Real wage growth in Germany from 1992 to 2012 was just 0.6%; Italy and Japan saw hardly any increase at all. And, critically, those averages conceal plenty of variation. Real pay for most workers remained flat or even fell, whereas for the highest earners it soared.

Where this leads, no one knows as AI, combined with robotics and nanotech, as Joy and others have noted with great eloquence, are open ended creations, fraught with uncertainty in terms of how these technologies will interact with man, something sanguine researchers like Ray Kurzweil seem to not fully understand. As often stated in BRT, there's a cost to everything thanks to the two laws of thermodynamics,  irrefutable facts we ignore at our peril.

The Way of the Dodo?

From one of the guys who gave us the 2008 economic collapse, Larry Summers, comes his really excellent suggestion, eliminate Benjamins from the gene pool. After that, let's do away with cash altogether because cash is messy and, unfortunately, ANONYMOUS, a notion that should not continue if the central banks of the world have anything to say about it.

Gotta love the reasoning. Reminds one of the old saw, Just keep moving folks, nothing to see here, nothing whosoever. 

For something completely different :)

A magnificent jam on the Dire Straits classic Sultans of Swing.

Here's the original, which is even better! :)

Compare this to the vapid rock of today, no comparison, right?

Speaking the Truth

Yours truly is not in love with THE DONALD but at the same time, yours truly respects the guy, both as a media genius and, when not bloviating about The Wall or Citizens United or the birthplace of Obama, his take on Iraq,  the Middle East, "W's" Mission Accomplished Fiasco and the fact Bush lied about the weapons of mass destruction.

This reminds me of this.

And the beat goes on.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Triumph L'oeil

Talented artist Stephan Pabst does Triumph L'oeil to the max. :)

Infrared 3 Step

Had to do just one more. :)

Infrareds are inherently mysterious and aleatory, something yours truly find fascinating and addictive as processing this work is akin to developing them in a darkroom but using a computer to make it happen. Hope you like the work. Best, Robert E.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

A Touch of Infrared

Had to do another on a bitterly cold & very windy February day. As stated in the video blurb, infrared is inherently mysterious as the range of color is drastically reduced to wavelengths almost too long for humans to see. With a fast camera, one can actually shoot hand held, thus attaining freedom from a tripod as long as the environment is as bright as this frigid but sunlit February day of 2016. Enjoy.

Infrared 4K

A test of the Sony A7S II in 4K/handheld, using a 24mm Nikkor lens and Hoya 52mm infrared filter. Stills and video without a tripod with little noise is something else altogether different. Enjoy.

Days of Future Past Rev II

The Gilbert & Bennett site is a ghost, formerly the largest wire mill in the world. Built in 1919, the facility became redundant after WW II. There is hope it can be transformed into something wonderful but the reality of that happening is difficult to conjecture at best. Architecturally, the factory was innovative, as one will see in this short clip. Enjoy.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

LIGO Rules - Not bad for Article 1800 :)

LIGO did the deed. Gravational waves have been discovered, thus validating the last prediction of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity penned 100 years ago regarding the existence of Gravitons. The implications of this discovery are truly staggering as Gravitons, the no longer theoretical carriers of gravity, can now be integrated into a possible viable Theory Of Everything in ways not possible prior to the success of LIGOs persistent research into finding out that gravational waves do indeed exist and have so since the beginning of time.

How cool is that? :)

The mother of all mergers. :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

In 50 years...

The abyss beckons if man continues to plunder the planet in the pursuit of profit. Who says this, Forbes does, and with good reason.

It gets better.

But pushback is starting to happen not only in the corporate sector but also in the political and public as seen by the "wonderful" presidential campaign of 2016 whereby disgust with the status quo is shaking up the powers at be in ways not even imagined just 6 months ago thought the actions of Trump and Sanders. As for yours truly, it's gratifying Forbes is beginning to see the light. With luck, so will enough others to demand and effect real change before it's too late. 

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Of empathy & love

Intelligence and empathy, traits once considered to be only human, is simply not true as researchers have seen these wonderful traits in elephants, cetacians, primates, dogs and birds like crows and parrots, sensitive creatures social to the max, attuned to each other to a degree never thought possible until now. In an extraordinary NY Times article by Charles Siebert titled What Does a Parrot Know About PTSD? we discover through his experience, that there is something truly special about parrots and their unique ability to connect with us at deep level. Note: It's just a partial list of life forms possessing intelligence to be sure.

Read this piece in it's entirety, it may move you to tears. It did me, without question.

Of moonlight & wonder

As my faithful readers know, yours truly loves full moons as the light luna reflects from the sun to earth is pretty special. When seen from space. as shown by this gem from the ISS, wonderment grows to astonishment as nature never disappoints. :)

Up to here ...

The Big Short, awesome both as book and flick, points out in spades that a revolution is nigh. With luck, it will be a peaceful one as people are up to here with the status quo where wall street, corrupt politicians and the military industrial complex rule while the middle class continues to get hosed in more ways than one can count. This populist revulsion of the status quo covers the entire political spectrum whether it be Tea Partiers railing about immigration or the relentless incursion of government in all aspects of our lives or the left taking about the obscenity of US healthcare and the education ripoff, topics bandied about by the totally unforeseen successful disruptors of politics Trump and Sanders.

And it's about time.

Read the book and, in the movie, check out the gal at the black jack table telling, in a few sentences, why wall street makes Vegas look like a shrine because it least in Vegas, you're betting on something that's real. Priceless says it all. :)

A 1000 Ways to Die :)

The TV show, A 1000 Ways to Die, was a paean to the Darwin Awards whereby really stupid people offed themselves in ways truly staggering in stupidity but this post isn't about Darwin, unfortunately, :) but rather in the perception of how we die versis the stats compiled by the CDC and other such entities eminently qualified to talk about such things. 

Check out the article, interesting without question says it all. :)

Had to put in the logo. Awesome without question. :)

Monday, February 08, 2016

With a clear eye ...

Ray McGovern is a treasure. A former CIA agent, devout Catholic and above all else, a really smart guy with integrity, looks at geopolitics from a sense of history and how that history, in conjunction with the inherent vagaries of reality, impacts the actions of the most powerful nations in the world.

They had an oral literature. “Slovo o Polku Igoreve” [“The Song of Igor’s Campaign”] was one of their major epic poems. It rivals “The Odyssey” and “The Iliad.” It’s a really beautiful thing, except they had no way to set it down in writing. And so two Greek priests, Cyril and Methodius, go up in the 9th century, and they say, “These people are incredibly bright and prosperous. They’re prosperous—and this is kind of a mind leap for most people—because the Norse, from Norway and Sweden, traded with the East all the way to Istanbul by coming through the series of rivers of which the Dnieper [which flows through Russia and empties into the Black Sea] was one. A great deal of so-called civilization and some wealth had accrued there. So they go up there and they say, “Well, that sounds like kai. Let’s make that sound a kai (or “k”). That sounds like the Latin V. That one sounds like Hebrew. That one doesn’t sound like anything, so let’s manufacture a character for that.” And they put the [written] language together. This we call “Cyrillic,” of course.

Read the Salon post, you will learn a great deal on why so much has gone wrong with intel, the CIA and the erosion of our bill of rights. Addendum: click here to read more about McGovern's take on the CIA and the Deep State.

Ray McGovern