Saturday, September 29, 2018
Tim Berners Lee, the guy who actually invented the web, wants to do a redo, something that's truly needed if we want the net to remain open and available to all regardless of how rich or powerful a given entity may happen to be.
“The intent is world domination,” Berners-Lee says with a wry smile. The British-born scientist is known for his dry sense of humor. But in this case, he is not joking.
This week, Berners-Lee will launch, Inrupt, a startup that he has been building, in stealth mode, for the past nine months. Backed by Glasswing Ventures, its mission is to turbocharge a broader movement afoot, among developers around the world, to decentralize the web and take back power from the forces that have profited from centralizing it. In other words, it’s game on for Facebook, Google, Amazon. For years now, Berners-Lee and other internet activists have been dreaming of a digital utopia where individuals control their own data and the internet remains free and open. But for Berners-Lee, the time for dreaming is over.
“We have to do it now,” he says, displaying an intensity and urgency that is uncharacteristic for this soft-spoken academic. “It’s a historical moment.” Ever since revelations emerged that Facebook had allowed people’s data to be misused by political operatives, Berners-Lee has felt an imperative to get this digital idyll into the real world. In a post published this weekend, Berners-Lee explains that he is taking a sabbatical from MIT to work full time on Inrupt. The company will be the first major commercial venture built off of Solid, a decentralized web platform he and others at MIT have spent years building.
Sounds like a plan without question.
Friday, September 28, 2018
I'd like to share a revelation I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with their surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to another area, and you multiply, and you multiply, until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague, and we are the cure. - Agent Smith | The Matrix
Of course the machines were prime polluters as well but one gets the point, especially when seeing what is happening to Orcas, the prime predator on planet earth.
At least half of the world’s killer whale populations are doomed to extinction due to toxic and persistent pollution of the oceans, according to a major new study.
Although the poisonous chemicals, PCBs, have been banned for decades, they are still leaking into the seas. They become concentrated up the food chain; as a result, killer whales, the top predators, are the most contaminated animals on the planet. Worse, their fat-rich milk passes on very high doses to their newborn calves.
PCB concentrations found in killer whales can be 100 times safe levels and severely damage reproductive organs, cause cancer and damage the immune system. The new research analysed the prospects for killer whale populations over the next century and found those offshore from industrialised nations could vanish as soon as 30-50 years.
Disheartening says it all.
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Manta Rays aka the Devil Fish, is an elegant filter feeder that glides through the ocean with incredible grace and power while at the same time feeding on plankton and other tiny delicacies without the need to clear it's throat no matter how many goodies it gets during the day.
The car-size, kite-shaped fishes filter their plankton food from seawater, but they don’t pause, close their mouths and snort clogs from their filters nearly as often as you would expect, according to Misty Paig-Tran, a marine biologist and a professor at California State University, Fullerton. If their filters work like sieves, then they must get clogged over time, like all similar systems, from vacuum cleaners to your water-filter pitcher.
But Dr. Paig-Tran and her colleagues’ latest research, published Wednesday in Science Advances, shows that the manta ray is using a previously unknown method of filtration that causes particles to glide over its straining system, rather than go through it. It doesn’t need to clear its filters much because they’re rarely clogged.
Nature never disappoints, ever.
Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Thursday, September 20, 2018
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
From Who.What.Why are some classic quotes regarding power and the drivers that make it happen.
I have a problem with people who take the Constitution loosely and the Bible literally. (Bill Maher)
Religion: a sixteenth-century term for nationalism. (Sir Lewis Namier)
Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful. (Seneca)
Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents. Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without a belief in a devil. (Eric Hoffer)
Don’t buy a single vote more than necessary. I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for a landslide. (Joseph P. Kennedy)
Even the best-intentioned of great men need a few scoundrels around them; there are some things you cannot ask an honest man to do. (Jean de la La Bruyère)
In politics, nothing is contemptible. (Benjamin Disraeli)
When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer “Present” or “Not Guilty.” (Theodore Roosevelt)
Read the post, it's the smart thing to do.
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
BRT has written copiously about AI as my loyal readers know as this is open-ended tech with ramifications far too important to ignore. In many instances, people think of AI as a thing, not as a set of millions of interconnected things, an ever-evolving entity as digital is an environment where duplication, modification and updating of real-time code work at speeds far beyond the kin of man. With this in mind, an excellent article by Henry Kissenger, How the Enlightenment Ends in The Atlantic, connects AI to the Enlightenment at deep level, a piece that should be read by everyone concerned about how this technology will impact society as we move further into the 21st century.
Heretofore, the technological advance that most altered the course of modern history was the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, which allowed the search for empirical knowledge to supplant liturgical doctrine, and the Age of Reason to gradually supersede the Age of Religion. Individual insight and scientific knowledge replaced faith as the principal criterion of human consciousness. Information was stored and systematized in expanding libraries. The Age of Reason originated the thoughts and actions that shaped the contemporary world order.
But that order is now in upheaval amid a new, even more sweeping technological revolution whose consequences we have failed to fully reckon with, and whose culmination may be a world relying on machines powered by data and algorithms and ungoverned by ethical or philosophical norms.
We are not ready for this ...
Third, that AI may reach intended goals, but be unable to explain the rationale for its conclusions. In certain fields — pattern recognition, big-data analysis, gaming — AI’s capacities already may exceed those of humans. If its computational power continues to compound rapidly, AI may soon be able to optimize situations in ways that are at least marginally different, and probably significantly different, from how humans would optimize them. But at that point, will AI be able to explain, in a way that humans can understand, why its actions are optimal? Or will AI’s decision making surpass the explanatory powers of human language and reason? Through all human history, civilizations have created ways to explain the world around them — in the Middle Ages, religion; in the Enlightenment, reason; in the 19th century, history; in the 20th century, ideology. The most difficult yet important question about the world into which we are headed is this: What will become of human consciousness if its own explanatory power is surpassed by AI, and societies are no longer able to interpret the world they inhabit in terms that are meaningful to them.
Questions to consider without question.
And so it goes. K. Vonnegut
Sunday, September 16, 2018
The system isn’t working. But even as the two parties agree on little else, both still venerate the Constitution. Politicians sing its praises. Public officials and military officers swear their allegiance. Members of Congress keep miniature copies in their pockets. The growing dysfunction of the government seems only to have increased reverence for the document; leading figures on both sides of the aisle routinely call for a return to constitutional principles.
What if this gridlock is not the result of abandoning the Constitution, but the product of flaws inherent in its design?
To whit ...
In this telling, the Constitution created not a radical democracy, but a very traditional mixed monarchy. At its head stood a king—an uncrowned one called a president—with sweeping powers, whose steadying hand would hopefully check the factionalism of the Congress. The two houses of the legislature, elected by the people, would make laws, but the president—whom the Founders regarded as a third branch of the legislature—could veto them. He could also appoint his own Cabinet, command the Army, and make treaties.
The Convention placed limits on the president’s powers, to be sure: Some of his actions would be contingent on approval by the Senate, or subject to overrides. But these hedges on presidential authority did not make the office a creature of Congress. Having defeated the armies of George III, the Framers seized upon a most unlikely model for their nascent democracy—the very Stuart monarchy whose catastrophic failure had produced the parliamentary system—and proceeded to install an executive whose authority King George could only envy.
To add fuel to the fire. The Atlantic strikes yet again.
James Madison traveled to Philadelphia in 1787 with Athens on his mind. He had spent the year before the Constitutional Convention reading two trunkfuls of books on the history of failed democracies, sent to him from Paris by Thomas Jefferson. Madison was determined, in drafting the Constitution, to avoid the fate of those “ancient and modern confederacies,” which he believed had succumbed to rule by demagogues and mobs.
James madison died at Montpelier, his Virginia estate, in 1836, one of the few Founding Fathers to survive into the democratic age of Andrew Jackson. Madison supported Jackson’s efforts to preserve the Union against nullification efforts in the South but was alarmed by his populist appeal in the West. What would Madison make of American democracy today, an era in which Jacksonian populism looks restrained by comparison? Madison’s worst fears of mob rule have been realized—and the cooling mechanisms he designed to slow down the formation of impetuous majorities have broken.
Fragile indeed | twice two.
Friday, September 14, 2018
BRT has waxed "poetic" about climate change as my loyal readers know, something that even the climate change deniers cannot deny no matter how hard they try. To whit.
The catastrophic rains expected to accompany Hurricane Florence along the U.S. East Coast can be blamed squarely on climate change, new research shows. The rainfall is projected to be more than 50 percent worse than it would have been without global warming, a team of scientists say. The hurricane’s size is predicted to be about 50 miles (80 kilometers) wider for the same reason.
That reason: warmer ocean and atmospheric temperatures, caused by the warming Earth.
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Factoid: By 2027, it’s projected that the legal cannabis market in the U.S. and Canada could hit $47.3 billion in size.
That will make it bigger than annual global sales for raw metals like nickel and silver put together. It would be a size that even exceeds the North American pork market.
Think about it CT, think really hard about this because I know Colorado has ...
Monday, September 10, 2018
To yours truly, the demotion of Pluto as a planet was a true injustice as she has multiple moons and is now known to be an incredibly complex and active system as per discoveries made by New Horizons, Nasa's gem of a probe that forever changed how we view this distant entity of our solar system.
To some people, Pluto's demotion from planet to dwarf planet status in 2006 was one of the most devastating astronomical losses since the death of Spock. But a new study suggests Pluto should (also like Spock) be resurrected as a planet, since the definition the object failed to meet was not based on precedents set in scientific literature.
Sounds logical does it not?
This image of haze layers above Pluto’s limb was taken by the Ralph/Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) on NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. About 20 haze layers are seen; the layers have been found to typically extend horizontally over hundreds of kilometers, but are not strictly parallel to the surface.
Sunday, September 09, 2018
For a short week, it sure has been a long one. So here's something refreshing.
Over the last week, a group of common dolphins has been racing along the Pacific coast in Monterey, Calif.
So Patrick Webster, the social media content creator at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, set out on Monday to shoot video of the mammals, working together to corral schools of small fish.
What he captured is a remarkable scene: dozens and dozens dolphins, breaking through the surface and plunging down again, under skies the same gray as the water. Webster said the whole group was thought to number more than 1,000.
Something refreshing indeed. :)
Saturday, September 08, 2018
Yours truly loves maps, especially ones showing a different view of the world using tech in innovative ways as seen by this gem above, imaged by defense agency satellites at resolutions thought to be impossible until now.
The pictures are so detailed they had to use one of the most powerful supercomputers on Earth to ingest the data. Having access to this amount of information will allow researchers to better monitor the effects of climate change on the ice.
Click Reference Elevation Map of Antarctica to get cartographic details about the map and the continent it's based on. Stellar to a fault IMHO. :)
Awesome clip from ESA.
It takes just 45 seconds for a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule to depart from the International Space Station and disappear from sight in an incredible new video. SpaceX released the footage on Twitter on Aug. 31.
You can also watch the video in 4K, for the best-quality footage.
Stellar says it all. :)
Wednesday, September 05, 2018
Sunday, September 02, 2018
Words cannot describe just how amazing this Lego Bugatti Chiron truly is but ... to whit:
Joking aside, the Lego Technic version of the Bugatti Chiron is a full-sized achievement. The Lego vehicle is made entirely from bricks and parts, from its fascinating outer skin structure to its interior seating and steering wheel. A working rear spoiler, front and rear lighting, a brake pedal, and more were constructed using 339 types of Lego Technic elements and over 13,000 work hours of development and construction. None of the parts are glued together, and load-bearing parts are almost entirely Lego pieces. The Chiron does include about 58 types of custom-made Lego parts in its construction. That includes its functional speedometer. Tires and wheels were supplied by Bugatti.
Awesome without question.
Saturday, September 01, 2018
The Village Voice died. RIP
The Voice was founded as a nickel weekly in 1955 by three New Yorkers, Dan Wolf, Edwin Fancher and Norman Mailer. They assembled a crew of writers who engaged readers with their wit and provoked them with their penchant for argument. Later owners included Rupert Murdoch and the pet-food magnate Leonard Stern.
The paper gave a start to the theater critic Hilton Als and the novelist Colson Whitehead, both recipients of the Pulitzer Prize. Its resident muckraker, Wayne Barrett, took aim at New York developers and politicians for nearly 40 years, and his obsessive work on Donald J. Trump has become a resource for reporters covering the president today.
It gave a home to the investigative reporters Jack Newfield and James Ridgeway, and the music critics Lester Bangs, Robert Christgau, Ellen Willis and Greg Tate. Nat Hentoff focused on jazz and First Amendment issues from 1958 to 2009, and the nightcrawling columnist Michael Musto wrote on celebrities, drag queens and club kids, with wisecracks thrown in, for more than 30 years.
The voice had serious reporting chops without question.
Over its six-decade run, the Village Voice won three Pulitzer Prizes and became an indispensable source for New York City culture, shining early spotlights on the city’s folk music and hip-hop scenes; an archival photograph of Bob Dylan adorned the final issue of Village Voice in September 2017, when the alt-weekly announced it would suspend its print edition and continue on as an online entity.
Since then, the Village Voice employed 18 staffers, 10 of whom were laid off following Friday’s announcement. The remaining staffers will help digitize the Voice‘s archives and make it “accessible” for “coming generations” before it shutters completely.
The death of print continues, unfortunately but at least The Voice's digital archive lives on.
BRT has posted beaucoup articles about the military fubars this nation has done for the last 50+ years with emphasis on inept equipment procurement, egregious errors in foreign policy and truly excellent and illegal adventures in Nam and Iraq, not to mention the never ending 17 year lost cause known as Afghanistan, the longest war in US history, events one and all that are truly astounding to think about in terms of cost and suffering save for the department of defense, an entity that needs endless war in order to survive as we move further into the 21st century.
To whit ...
Sinjar, the town where the soldiers had been fighting for six weeks, would fall to ISIS control 10 years later. More than 5,000 Yazidi civilians were killed in the ISIS attack and hundreds of Yazidi women were taken as slaves. Tal Afar would be in and out of U.S. control over the next 10 years, until it too was taken by ISIS fighters. Same with Rabihya. Tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians would lose their lives. Hundreds of U.S. soldiers would be killed. So much for “posture decisions” and “military effectiveness.”
But that didn’t stop think tanks in Washington like the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Heritage Foundation, the Hudson Institute and the American Enterprise Institute from lobbying for higher and higher defense budgets. (Douglas Feith is now “director for national security strategies” for the Hudson Institute.) This year, President Trump signed the largest defense budget in our history: $700 billion. The budget includes $13.7 billion for 90 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, which according to CNN are “in service and mission capable only 26 percent of the time.” Not a single F-35 jet has yet to see combat duty.
The budget will provide $4.5 billion for the construction of a new Ford class aircraft carrier, $450 million for three Littoral Combat Ships, $4 billion for two new guided missile destroyers, $5.5 billion for two new Virginia Class submarines, and tens of billions more for upgrades and repairs on various aircraft and naval vessels. Two of the guided missile destroyers already in service were involved in deadly collisions with cargo ships in the western Pacific last year. A Navy investigation revealed that for all of the hundreds of billions spent on defense, there was apparently not enough in the budget to provide for adequate training in standing watch and driving Navy combat ships.
All of billions spent on defense, and still the United States Army couldn’t interdict smuggling along the Iraq-Syria border. They couldn’t hold onto Sinjar, Tal Afar, Mosul or Rabihya.
You want to know what those soldiers in the 101st Airborne Division were using for weapons when I was there? The M-16 rifle. The 7.62 mm machine gun. The 81 mm mortar. The 105 mm Howitzer. All weapons the U.S. Army had fought with in Vietnam, 35 years earlier. You want to know what they’re still fighting with overseas? Those same old weapons.
You want to know what wasn’t being used over there near the Iraq-Syria border? Any of the fancy Navy ships or F-22 or F-35 fighters.
Always has been, always will be.