Category Archives: Opinion

Musical Milestones

First there was 22,000 Days

and now (just the music – no relation to the folks in the video)

because …

Side bar … although I own* many versions of “Birthday” – vinyl, cassette, CD, and iTunes – I can’t play it for you due to “copyright issues”, so I am forced to find the best cover on YouTube.

Welcome to the Future.

(Sigh)

* no longer sure I actually own them, but I sure paid for them

Relevant RANTS: HERE and HERE

Wolves

I first met him in 2000. He was the Oracle DBA at the company which would later be bought by the one that employed my for 15 years. He is the reason I got my Oracle DBA certification.

He has been out of work for several years now and was finally forced to sell his house. He will be moving back to Oklahoma to live with relatives. He’s my age or a little younger. 

I went over to see him tonight. He is giving away his stuff as his subdivision doesn’t allow garage sales.

Lay offs, reductions in force, terminations continue unabated in the “oil patch”. 

Ever since he called me over the weekend to tell me he was moving, the Garth Brooks song “Wolves” has been playing in my mind. 

Oh Lord, keep me from bein’ the one the wolves pull down

Wolves

Garth Brooks

January’s always bitter

But Lord, this one beats all

The wind ain’t quit for weeks now

And the drifts are ten feet tall

I been all night drivin’ heifers

Closer in to lower ground

Then I spent the mornin’ thinkin’ 

‘Bout the ones the wolves pulled down

Charlie Barton and his family

Stopped today to say goodbye

He said the bank was takin’ over

The last few years were just too dry

And I promised that I’d visit

When they found a place in town 

Then I spent a long time thinkin’

‘Bout the ones the wolves pull down

Lord, please shine a light of hope

On those of us who fall behind

And when we stumble in the snow

Could you help us up while there’s still time

I don’t mean to be complainin’ Lord 

You’ve always seen me through

And I know you got your reasons

For each and every thing you do

But tonight outside my window

There’s a lonesome, mournful sound

And I just can’t keep from thinkin’

‘Bout the ones the wolves pull down

Oh Lord, keep me from bein’

The one the wolves pull down

 
Songwriters: STEPHANIE DAVIS

© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Academy

Like a scene from the sci-fi movies Arrival or Close Encounters of the Third Kind, National Guard Black Hawk and heavy twin-blade Chinook helicopters fly over my house inbound to and outbound from the Academy corporate headquarters that is adjacent to my subdivision. The top floor of the parking garage serves as a makeshift heliport. Other floors of the parking garage serve a sleeping areas for a variety of first responders, including Texas State Troopers, who have come in from all over the state. Elsewhere in the parking lots, the National Guard has established bivouac with tents, trucks, and communications equipment. Several fuel tankers are also deployed.

Academy Sports and Outdoors (http://www.academy.com/shop/en/store/company-info) is a sporting goods and outdoor equipment company headquartered in Katy Texas next to my subdivision. The first Academy store opened as a tire shop in San Antonio in 1938. It turned into a military surplus store, then began offering sports and outdoors equipment as it evolved into the present day Academy Sports + Outdoors. They have more than 230 stores in 16 states, supported by more than 23,000 team members throughout the South, Southeast, and Midwest. My next door neighbor is the director (manager) of one of the nearby stores. Several of their IT folks also live in my subdivision.

I recently spoke to one of their corporate accountants who estimated that Academy had already donated over a million dollars worth of supplies, equipment, and services to the ongoing Hurricane Harvey relief effort. The photos below attest to part of this contribution. In addition to providing lodging and logistics for first responders, the Academy corporate headquarters and distribution center has also opened their cafeteria to their guests providing both room and board. 

I am very proud to have Academy as my neighbor. If you live near an Academy store, stop by and thank them for the support they are giving the greater Houston area in this time of need.

View of the Academy headquarters from the south

 

View from the west (street view)




 
 One of the back parking lots

BulgariaSat-1

SpaceX does it again … relaunch and landing of another Falcon 9

Falcon 9’s first stage for the BulgariaSat-1 mission previously supported the Iridium-1 mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base in January of this year. Following stage separation, Falcon 9’s first stage will attempt a landing on the “Of Course I Still Love You” droneship, which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

Link to the Press Kit

 

Personal observation … I cannot believe the bozos who comment that this is all faked based on video dropouts. When I “watched” the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions live video was rare to non-existent after the initial live launch video.

You go SpaceX!

PS


Extant

Smart, sexy, intriguing sci-fi. Starring Halle Berry. Deep and multi-threaded. Well written and well acted.

I’m watching it via AmazonPrime. You should watch it any way you can.

http://m.imdb.com/title/tt3155320/

On second thought don’t start watching it. You won’t be able to stop … and sleep will be a thing of the past.*

 

 

* if you have the ability to binge-watch it as I am doing via AmazonPrime.

Apple Support

Apple Support Rocks

Saturday March 27 approximately 1:00 PM … sanity is restored

It may be a while before this posts, that is, between now and when I finish it.

In my previous post I commented: Arthur C. Clark once said that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” except when it f*ck$ up, then it is like a curse from Marie Laveau. (I added the Marie Laveau bit)

Note: My friend also updated his iPhone 6s Plus and thought it went without a hitch. HOWEVER he just discovered that his App Store app is gone. He just called Apple Support and was told that he needed wipe his iPhone and and restore from scratch. Based on my experience there may be another approach but after three days of this I told him I would help him another day. That will be another blog post. UPDATE – my friend had set up Settings > General > Restrictions to turn off access to the App Store and that is why the App Store app disappeared. Sadly he only discovered this after resetting his phone to factory default … TWICE.

Based on personal evidence I conclude that the iOS 10.3.2 upgrade is flawed. I now extremely reticent to upgrade my other devices. 

Additionally I still don’t have all of my ringtones back. I now have most of them but not all. It may be less frustrating to just buy them again if I really want them. You see ringtones are entirely different from music or apps (or iBooks?) purchased from iTunes. Perhaps they are a throwback to the early days of cellphones. Ringtones cannot re-downloaded after purchase. It is a onetime thing. Backing them up requires syncing your iPhone to iTunes on a PC or Mac. I only got back the ones I did through the effort of upper level Apple iTunes Support.

My problem with this entire debacle is that I am so spoiled when it comes to Apple. I expect these kinds of issues with Windows and Linux. With Apple I expect it to “just work”. It always has for me. This time – for me – it failed to “just work.”

Anyway … back to Apple Support … throughout this entire ordeal every Apple Support person I have dealt with from Tier One to Upper Levels has been gracious, calm, and absolutely committed to resolving my issues. I don’t expect technology to function flawlessly at all times (Apple excluded – as I said I’m spoiled), but what do appreciate are companies dedicated to having happy customers. Apple certainly qualifies in this regard. Attention Tim Cook – you should be very proud of your support team.

Hell week continues

Oh for the good olde days 

 
Maybe Jim Stafford had it right …

     Well, I think of that girl from time to time

     I call her up when I got a dime

Or maybe a cocoanut telegraph?

Arthur C. Clark once said that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” except when it f*ck$ up, then it is like a curse from Marie Laveau.

 •  •  •  •  • 

Re-configuration continues slowly and methodically. Now I need to call Apple to figure out how to get all of my ring tones back. Mañana. I’m going to bed early tonight.

Left is “right”

In a previous post (Left? … or Right?) I asked your opinion regarding which on my new professional portraits you preferred. Sadly only maggie0019 formally responded with a comment. I would have preferred more data points before reaching a decision, but it is what it is. It is not too late to voice your opinion. I will update the results if I get more feedback.

As you can guess from the title of the post and the “FEATURED IMAGE” at the top, the Left portrait appears to be the “right” one.


 

The break down was interesting. My wife, oldest son, and his wife all preferred the portrait on the right. My sister, the photographer, and everyone* else chose the portrait on the left.

The Mrs thought that the Right image made me look slimmer. She also thought that my cheek in the Left image looked “bulbous”, to which I must agree.

Those who preferred the Left image thought I looked friendlier and more approachable. Maggie’s humans both preferred the Left image. Her young human Jamie cracked me up with “He looks like Teddy Roosevelt. We can call him The Square Deal now! Actually, he looks like a military person. I’m kind of intimidated right now. He doesn’t look like the guy who’d tell you to do 20 pushups…he looks like the guy who tells the guy who tells you to do 20 pushups!” Teddy Roosevelt? Hmm. I did think that some of the images I rejected in the screening session looked more like Wilford Brimley.

I have decided to use the Left image for now as my LinkedIn portrait and for other business related content, but I can mix and match as the spirit moves me.
 

 
* almost everyone else

Papers, have your papers out and ready

Did I say “papers?” I meant “permits.”

I generally try to keep this blog as apolitical as possible … but “I’m angry as hell an not going to take it any more.” Below is but one example of a nationwide epidemic.

Armed Agents Raid Park, Destroy Food, Seize Food Carts — Over Improper Permitting

http://thefreethoughtproject.com/food-raid-armed-agents/

Excerpts below …

Government agents have again let their true colors shine, in a latest attempt to fight one of the most pernicious and brutal crimes embattling far too many communities across the nation — a lack of permit.

These fearless agents of the State, peace officers, not only seized the food supposedly so in need of a permit, they dumped punch into storm drains and confiscated coolers, tables, chairs, canned soda, and literally everything in the vendors’ possession — the entire raid, captured on Facebook Live video.

Ironically-monikered peace officers claimed without elaborating or providing specific details on the video they’d received complaints — but the outpouring of support from the public and church communities, as well as outrage over the raid, did not evince any complainants relieved to see the picnicking quashed.

From diligent street vendors offering tasty bites to kids’ offering family-recipe lemonade to parched passersby, one thing has been made abundantly clear — permitting is out of control.

Permits are the government’s way of bilking people of money under the petulant guise of public safety — but the truth about permitting is much simpler and infinitely less benign. 

‘You aren’t allowed to profit unless I get my cut,’ is what the State really says when Mexican food vendors, flood victims, little girls, and countless others receive fines and tickets — or have their possessions confiscated — due only to lack of permit.

That the Sacramento food vendors didn’t shirk legal responsibilities and had applied for the necessary permits when cops seized their wares again proves the issue has little to do with the permit, itself, and everything to do with an unreasonable government running roughshod on all of us.

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

As it always has been …

It’s all about the Benjamins

Read the entire article at http://thefreethoughtproject.com/food-raid-armed-agents/


Gold, currency, and “risk-free savings”

Read the original on medium.com 


A few thoughts on Gold, currency and “risk free savings” in the wake of Brexit

Today is one of those days that I almost wish I had taken the blue pill.

As the co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of the world’s only gold-backed financial service institution, I’ve received a lot of questions and comments today about the violent movements in gold and currency markets. The starting assumption is that I must somehow be happy for this, and to be celebrating that “we were right”. This assumption could not be further from the truth.

Gold did not make anyone rich today, the currencies built on debt and false promises, unproven and illogical economic theories, THIS money absolutely made people poorer today.

Today the gold savings accounts of our clients were spared over 9 figures in collective devaluation (no, gold is not rising, currency is failing par excellence). I’m not celebrating because this debasement of global currencies hurts the poor and vulnerable most, it is the core of their savings, it measures their contractual wage, and it’s their costs of food, energy, medicine, housing, and education that moved a little farther out of reach today.

This talk of “no inflation risks”, and “post scarcity economics” of robots and “free living wages” is peak hubris from the elites, an insult to the majority of the world’s aspiring middle class that works for their prosperity, and have been realizing at least 5% compounding inflation in EVERYTHING it means to be middle class (except their wage of course). Frankly it makes me disgusted. And today the failed promises of central planners is being manifested across the UK and Europe, as it has been the past few years for most of the worlds emerging market currencies (Russia, Brazil, South Africa, Venezuela, Nigeria, they are becoming too many and too frequent to name).

The Elites that caused this mess in the first place will be bailed out with “emergency liquidity measures” — ie printing money and devaluing the cash of many, the poor, to float asset prices of the few. This is how it has always worked, when money is unbacked “fiat” and only valued by decree (is it backed? no. Is it scarce because savers receive an interest rate? no. Do banks have to work for this interest-free savings? no.). Emergency liquidity is not magic, it does not come from magic people, its snake oil and always ends the same way.

Do you hear this version of the story anywhere in mainstream “news”? FT, where are you at? WSJ, where are you at? Economist, where you at? The view I present today is backed up in math, history, logic, physics, and philosophy. No, what you hear is that ignorant voters caused this (first they rig markets and tell you free markets and capitalism is failing, now they have a problem with democracy too?). You hear that gold, a stable money by the decree of natural law and physics, is rising irrationally out of fear. They call it a speculative commodity, with no value except that its shiny and liked by the uneducated. Oh really? So when I measure everything that is bound by the scarcity of time, toil and energy (food, energy, housing, education, health care), why is gold perfectly correlated with these things? When I price these things 30 years ago in gold, measured in gold, they are the same price today. Gold does not make people rich, debt makes them poor.

So no, our clients are not richer today because a speculative asset is in a 10,000 year bubble and went up; those that only put faith in unbacked currencies are just poorer. We built this businesses because we believed we were right about the logical end points, the case study that is EVERY instance in history, but no, it doesn’t make us happy. There is too much good happening in the world, our currencies are more volatile than the amazing economy they were designed to serve. Free markets and democracy and the invisible hand is the reason for our prosperity and social progress, not the cause of today’s panic.

Gold ascended as natural money due to the binding laws of nature: scarcity, randomness, decay, entropy. These laws make it work as money even if forgotten or obfuscated by the elites. In other words, there was no decree that made gold money, and no decree that stopped gold from being money. Our elites are so lost (or obfuscating), that they actually believe that the value of money is subjective, or valuable only because of their ivory tower decrees. They increasingly believe the wisdom of crowds is just ignorance and a random walk of bias and immorality. Don’t listen to their words, look at their actions, they don’t want free markets, they don’t want democracy. They want control. But their control is not aligned with laws of nature. Uncertainty rules, entropy rules, and this must be embraced or any unnatural system will fail.

The invisible hand has always been energy. Money is energy, everything is energy. Gold is simply its physical equivalence, the only immortal index of time, energy, labour and information you can hold. Measure your wage, measure your value, store your value appropriately. Today its easier than ever with technology.

If the past 8 hours aren’t a reminder, look to the past 8 years. If the past 8 years not a reminder, look at the past 8 decades…centuries…millennia.

If you agree, support our mission. It’s not always fun, but it’s time to take the red pill, too much good happening, to much value to be destroyed by this prevailing financial hubris and ignorance. Today proves that ignorance is not bliss.

Sincerely,

Josh & Roy

Stupidification …

YouTube, the Internet, and the Stupidification of Mankind (A Rant)

stupidification 

Noun

1) making one less intelligent

2) filling people’s mind with patently false concepts, ideas, or historical information

3) reducing or eliminating common sense and rational thought in others

stupidify 

Verb (see stupidification)
PRE-RANT

I can’t stand it anymore. If I don’t rant my head will explode.

I am a child of the 60s. I was there when it happened I saw it with my own eyes. I am also a man of rational thought and historical perspective. I understand and follow the scientific method and I have a good grasp of recent and ancient history.

Humankind has made incredible advances in the last 5000 years. We have gone from wandering about foraging for food, living in fear of nature, disease, and the elements to almost totally mastery of our environment. We have greatly improved the life expectancy and quality of life of the majority of people living on this planet. We have identified, studied, and cured numerous diseases. We have dramatically improved the food supply. We have improved sanitation, the quality of the water we drink and the safety of our work environment.

In the past 5000 years our concept of mathematics has gone from one / few / many to calculus and higher forms of mathematics. This has enabled the advancement of the sciences and our understanding of chemistry, physics, and the world around us, below us, and above us. We have gone from walking on foot to spanning the globe by land, sea, air, and space. Our roads and automobiles allow us to travel farther in an hour than ancient people could travel in a day. Modern air transportation can take us nearly anywhere in the world in less than a day. Manned and unmanned spacecraft circle the Earth in 90 minutes.

Our accumulated knowledge of the past 5000 years has allowed us to develop the technology required to build computers, routers, switches, fiber-optic cables, the Internet, online banking, video communication, websites, blogs, YouTube, streaming music, smart phones, tablets, and much much more. Geosynchronous satellites provide weather information and satellite television. Google, Bing, and other search engines provide us instantaneous access to all of mankind’s knowledge. Men and women graduating college today have never known a time without this technology and we all take it for granted.

Eratosthenes first determined that the Earth was a sphere in the first century BC and actually calculated its circumference to within 15% of its currently accepted value. The fields of surveying and geodesy have established to the nth decimal point the shape of the earth as an oblate spheroid and have developed a vast selection of projection systems (aka Coordinate Reference Systems) used by map makers and the global GIS community to map sections of the three dimensional earth to the two dimensional maps used by governments, companies, and individuals. The map applications on our smart phones rely heavily on this body knowledge. The global network of fiber-optic subsea cables that empower the global Internet could not have been laid without this body of knowledge.

Mankind has been a spacefaring nation since the late 1950s with launch of Sputnik by the former Soviet Union. Humanity has had a more or less continuous human presence in low earth orbit since the early 1960s beginning with Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. To date Russia / Soviet Union, the United States, and China have launched men and women into space. Each of these countries has had multiple long duration space stations in orbit. A total of 544 people have been in orbit. Twelve Americans walked on the surface of the moon during the Apollo program of the late 1960s – early 1970s. The total time spent by humans in space is in excess of 131.3 man-years. The following countries have some form of manned and/or unmanned space program: America, Canada, China, Europe, Japan, India, and Russia. Unmanned scientific probes have studied every planet in our solar system. India has a robust unmanned space program and it successfully placed the Mangalayaan probe into Martian orbit on its first try in 2014. World Space Flight has documented every manned and unmanned mission to date.

The knowledge mankind has acquired in the past 5000 years is vast and deep. The technologies we have developed with this knowledge are nothing short of magical.

BEGIN RANT

The “straw the broke the camels back” occurred while preparing my previous post on the Falcon 9.  I ran across a YouTube video on “FakeX” whereby the vlogger reviewed footage of the last SpaceX CRS-8 launch and step-by-step pointed out how every aspect of the video was fake. His explanation and reasoning for each of his points indicated how truly clueless, ignorant, and stupid he was … and yet this video had thousands of views and the vlogger had thousands of followers. Most of the comments and commenters agreed with him. I won’t give you the link because I don’t want to give him another view. Across the Internet and YouTube you will find hundreds (thousands?) of videos “proving” how we have been lied to about:

The Earth is really flat and not a sphere – we’ve been lied to

NASA is lying to us – all spaceflight is faked

The Moon landings were all faked

9/11 – the Twin Towers were brought down by controlled demolition, not planes

The holocaust never happened

Pretty much if you can name an established fact, you will find a blog and a host of YouTube videos “proving” that it is obviously not true and that we have been lied to. A vast global conspiracy has lied to us about pretty much everything we have ever been taught in school or college.

Funny you think? Maybe, until you realize that this counter-culture numbers in the hundreds with followers numbering in the thousands or more. Globally. Millions of views. It is not so much a disbelief in reality as it is a readiness to BELIEVE that everything we have been told or taught about [insert topic] is a lie.

How do you teach science to kids when an Internet search is just as likely bring up even more sites and YouTube videos refuting the science. In a world where everyone gets equal time the “NASA lies crowd” get as many hits as the “NASA crowd”. Even worse Google and YouTube give you suggestions based on your viewing history. Months ago I watched some flat Earth videos and faked Moon landing videos. Now most of videos suggested for me by YouTube are exactly these kinds of videos. “There must be some truth to this if there are that many videos.” And … if someone tries to refute the “we’re being lied to video” the vlogger responds with “wow look at how hard they are working to prop up the big lie.”

Think I’m over reacting? Go to YouTube and search on “NASA lies” or “flat earth” or “Moon landing hoax” or “holocaust hoax” or “9/11 hoax” or … or … or … Look at the number of views. Look at the comments. If you personally did not experience it how do you know what is truth? Science? Laws of Physics? All lies.

Lies lies lies everything you have ever been taught about anything is a lie. AND YOU CAN’T PROVE OTHERWISE.

CALMING DOWN

Whew, OK I’m calmer now … but I’m not done yet.

The irony in all of this is that the Internet and YouTube would not even exist were it not for the very technological advances and hard earned knowledge that the conspiracy theorists tell us are all lies. Global subsea cables and communications satellites are the backbone of the Internet. Flat Earth? I don’t think so.

We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology. – Carl Sagan

So back to the title of this rant … YouTube, the Internet, and the Stupidification of Mankind

YouTube and the Internet give anyone regardless of intellegence, education, or cognitive function equal footing with the brightest and most learned among us. It is the great equalizer … and the great stupidifier … on a global scale … 24×7.

 

 

We’re doomed.

 

 

See also The War on Science

Release the Kraken

I have decided to call my new toy tool The Kraken, mostly because I love saying “Release the Kraken.”
 

Below we see the Scooba 450 in action, as filmed by one of my Arlo wireless security cameras. Note the infrared eyes on the front of The Kraken. These are invisible to the naked eye, but detected by the infrared-sensitive Arlo camera.

  
And now with the camera riding The Kraken … yee haw ride ’em Arlo!

  
From more info see:

http://www.irobot.com/For-the-Home/Floor-Scrubbing/Scooba.aspx

http://www.arlo.com/en-us/

Power of gold …

MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2015) Gold

I ordered one of the new MacBooks. It arrived on Thursday. 

For many years I have not had a computer at home, just various iPads and iPhones. This was all I needed for my online activities. I had multiple computers at work, I didn’t need one at home.

All of that changed a week ago Friday. It is easier to update one’s resume on a laptop than on an iPad.

Let’s just say that I was as excited as a little girl with a new pony to get it, but don’t take my word for it …

“and a hard drive of five hundred and twelve megs” megs??? I hate it when I do that … Gigs! Not that bad considering it is all solid state.

  

Wish me luck on coming up with a kick-ass resume otherwise I may end up like this guy

 
  

Interview with Roy Sebag

October 2015 interview with Roy Sebag Founder of BitGold and CEO of GoldMoney

This is a one hour interview with the founder of BitGold. Roy Sebag is a smart, knowledgable, articulate dude.  

Regardless of your current feelings about gold, if you work and want to safeguard the value of your earnings you owe it to yourself to watch (listen really) to this video. Roy talks about concepts of money, value, investments, and of course … the BitGold platform. 

No hype. No scare tactics. Just information. 

I hope you find it interesting.

  

For more info go to https://www.bitgold.com

PS   I was just notified that this was my 1,000th post 😎

One millimeter

[begin rant]

One fucking millimeter. There I said it … millimeter … or if you prefer millimetre.

iPhone 6s   The only thing that’s changed is everything

No … not everything.

My old iPhone 5s died. OK so it didn’t really die, but the female charging port on the phone got damaged from accidentally ripping the charging cord out of the phone … one … too … many … times. Getting the phone to charge involved just the right amount of ceremonial incantations, fiddling with the Lightning connector, and careful positioning of the iPhone and cord. On the Monday before my birthday the phone died and would not charge. So I ordered a new iPhone 6s Plus, which as luck would have it arrived on said birthday. (Happy Birthday to me, etc., etc, etc.)

I love everything about it … except …

Sir Jonathan Paul Ive, can I call you Jony?

So Jony, the whole world knows how fucking brilliant you are. There, I did it again … brilliant. Yes, you … are … brilliant. You’ve even been knighted for brilliance, for Christ’s sake.

You are brilliant … and you are obsessed. Obsessed with industrial design. Obsessed with elegance. Obsessed with perfection. You are also obsessed with thinness. Obsessed.

But when does obsession cloud judgement? When does the obsession for thinness negate superb industrial design?


One fucking millimeter. If you had made the iPhone 6 series one millimeter thicker, the camera lens would be flush with the case … like the iPhone 5 … and EVERY other iPhone before it. No one … and I do mean no one … would have noticed or cared if the iPhone 6 series was one millimeter thicker.

What could you do with an extra one millimeter of thickness? Make the case a tad thicker and stronger. Make the battery thicker and add a few extra minutes of run time. Who knows? Who cares?

The important thing is that one millimeter is the difference between a smooth backside and one with an ugly zit that keeps the phone from laying solidly on on flat surface without rocking. One millimeter means not worrying about scratching fine old wooden finishes. One millimeter is the difference between obsession and … perfection.

Any chance of fixing this in the iPhone 7?

[end rant]

Please … STOP BLOGGING

 

I … can’t … keep … up

Seriously, stop blogging. Just for a day or two. 

Please …

How did it get this bad?

It started simply enough. I decided to automatically follow anyone who liked or commented on any one of my posts. Then to make sure that I read them, I went to “Blogs I Follow” and made sure I got an email notification for every new post. I figured that anyone who liked or commented on one of my posts was a like-minded spirit and would be interesting to follow. More or less this turned out to be a correct assumption.

Others turned out not so much. Some had long, rambling (boring) tl;dr posts that I just couldn’t wade through. Some posted every minute of every day and flooded my email with posts. Some posted on topics that were of absolutely no interest to me. So for these I went back to “Blogs I Follow” and turned off email notification.

Now I was down to the blogs that were interesting. Your blogs. Your stories. Your cats. Your photos. Your news. Your ideas. Your humor. Your successes. Your fears. Your emotions. All of it good. All of it interesting.

  

Even as I write this, the email counter ratchets upward. Notifications are coming in faster than I can delete them. But I can’t just delete them. I have to look at them in order to delete them and then I read them and then I click on the link and go to the post and then I read the comments and by the time I’m done more notifications have come in. Even worse I may decide to reblog one. By the time I’m done, yet more notifications are in my mailbox.

  

I originally started this blog a few years ago as a venue for writing Fiction and autobiographical history. Then I started adding cat photos. Then reblogs of interesting posts and videos. Now I can’t even keep up with the blogs I follow.

 

 
(help…)
  

(please …)

  

The WAR on SCIENCE

We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.
Carl Sagan

Perhaps society has always been at war with science. Science challenges belief systems. Science threatens the status quo. Scientific thinking requires one to question everything. 

However scientific thought does not grant one the ability to throw out centuries of hard-won knowledge just because the doubter does not “believe” it. The Internet is chock full of blogs decrying the “lies” perpetuated by scientists, NASA, the media, the government. It is truly ironic that the science and technology that made computers, smart phones, tablets, and the Internet possible is the very science under attack on the Internet. So much of the “information” on the Internet is opinion and belief offered up as fact. The Internet gives everyone an equal voice.

Instead of making us smarter, the Internet is making us dumber. Our knowledge is based on “factoids” and “sound bites”. Few people bother to dig deeper. TL;DR

Sadly, I ran across this video on one of those “anti-science”, “we have been lied to” blogs. The author comments:

This is just such a great example of how sometimes the propaganda gets so heavy in it’s shaming tactics that it only serves to show how desperate and panicky the official side is seemingly becoming.

Science = propaganda 

Sigh

Whatever other titles I have held during my professional career …

I proudly claim the title of Scientist.

The Martian 3D

I just saw The Martian in 3D on the wide screen.

Excellent. Seriously excellent. The cinematography was superb. So was the acting. Although there was scrupulous attention paid to the scientific and technological aspects, it did not in any way overshadow the human drama. There was humor. There was frustration. There was elation. Aspects of Apollo 13 and Castaway were strong. There were even reminisces of 2001 A Space Odyssey (without the monolith, monkey men, or crazed computer). I would see this again in the theater.

I previously posted that I had listened to the unabridged audio book. The movie was true to the book, somehow condensing 10hr 53min down to 2hr 21min without loosing anything. Yes, yes the book goes into much more detail on the underlying science and isolation of Mark Watney, but you can read the book later.

GO SEE THIS MOVIE IN 3D


  


  

  

GO SEE THIS MOVIE IN 3D

  

  

http://www.foxmovies.com/movies/the-martian

Pay it forward

The next time you give money to someone on the street, tell them to “Pay it forward.” 

All cultures embrace concepts of compassion and charity. Only the most greedy, miserly wretch does not feel compelled to help a fellow human being in need. Too many people view the homeless, the street corner beggars, the mendicants as just good-for-nothing bums, too lazy to get or keep a job. Yet many of these folks have fallen so far, have lived on the street so long, have let their health and appearance degrade to the point that no one would hire them. Many have just given up – the pit of despair can be very very deep. Many have made poor choices, drugs and alcohol often are involved. Others are victims of circumstance, the economy, or upbringing. In the “bell curve” of human intellect, drive, ambition, and social skills there will always be those who excel at the high end … and those trapped at the low end. Others are only visiting the low end, a temporary “fall from grace”.

Much is made of the phrase “a hand up, not a hand out.” As if giving to someone in need is only justified if that person somehow betters himself or herself. People who would never give money to someone on the street, feel somehow better giving to their church or an organization. Others feel that tithing 10% to their church, obviates the need for direct person-to-person contact with the low-lifes begging at the intersection. Yet how much of the monies donated to the church and/or other organizations actually makes to into the hands of the needy? What with administrative costs, rents, utilities, etc., churches and organizations can justify huge “expenses”. We continually hear of directors of charitable organizations “living large” off the proceeds donated for the poor.

Who best to decide
How to distribute the tithe
Than he who has need?

• • •

Perhaps you have heard the following comments: “But there are so many people in need, how can I possibly help them all?” or “If I help one person, I’ll have to help them all! I am compassionate, but I am not wealthy. Let the wealthy help them.” 

The story of the starfish comes to mind …

Once upon a time, there was a man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a child, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The child was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The child paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled man.

To this, the child replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

At this, the child bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “I made a difference for that one.”

Quoted content from http://www.throwingstarfish.com/the-starfish-story/

• • •

Paying it forward is a third-party beneficiary concept that involves doing something good for someone in response to a good deed done on your behalf or a gift you received. When you pay it forward, however, you don’t repay the person who did something nice for you. Instead, you do something nice for someone else. For example, if someone changes your tire while you are stranded on the highway, you might shovel your elderly neighbor’s walkway after a snow has fallen.

“The concept has a firm foundation in history. Ben Franklin described it in a letter he wrote to Benjamin Webb in 1784, in which he wrote about his intention to help Webb by lending him some money. He did not want to be repaid directly, however. Instead, Franklin hoped that Webb would at some point meet an honest man in need of financial help and pass the money along to him.”

“Paying it forward doesn’t have to mean giving a large some of money or expending a lot of effort. It could be as simple as holding the door for someone laden with bags or giving up a place in line to someone who appears in a rush. It could even mean spending a little cash on coffee for the person behind you in line at a coffee house. For those who have money they can afford to give, there are always people in need, but even the smallest, free gestures can make a difference.”

Quoted content from http://www.wisegeek.org/what-does-pay-it-forward-mean.htm

We live in the future. Come join us.

I am unapologetically pro-science and pro-technology. I am also a futurist as my blog postings show.

However science, technology, and futurism should not and must not equate to the destruction of culture and tradition of any peoples. The current wave of protests against the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea, while news to me, is an ongoing clash between the culture and traditions of native peoples and the interests of outsiders.

I have no opinions on the current protests, but this post is a good starting place to learn more.

Additional sources of information 

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2015/05/mauna_kea_telescope_protests_scientists_need_to_reflect_on_history_and_culture.html

http://www.civilbeat.com/2015/04/peter-apo-mauna-kea-under-siege

KE KAUPU HEHI ALE

Adapted from NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


We Live in the Future. Come Join Us.

by Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada

“Hawaiians need to stop living in the past.” We’ve all heard this before, and we’re probably going to hear it a lot in the coming days. Brave people are getting arrested up on our sacred mountain right now in frigid temperatures (there was even a blizzard there a couple of weeks back), continuing a years-long fight and engaging in a blockade to prevent the further cultural and environmental desecration of the very piko, the umbilicus, the center of our islands by the Thirty Meter Telescope. I attended an overnight vigil a few nights ago on our island to show support for these koa on theirs, and we got an update via phone from Kahoʻokahi Kanuha and Lanakila Mangauil, two of the humble young leaders of the blockade. I…

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Minnetonka Deerskin Moccasin

Minnetonka Men’s Double Deerskin Softsole Moccasin

No not Mini Tonka
  

Minnetonka

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000XAZUQQ

  

Why did I wait so long to buy a pair of these. Well, I admit that the Internet in general and Amazon in particular has made it really easy to find and buy stuff not generally in stock at local stores. In the last few months, since I sprung for the Amazon Prime membership, I have been been checking Amazon first for EVERYTHING I want or need. No longer do I have to go from store to store looking for that particular thing that no one has in stock or in the right size. Now I check on Amazon first and if they have it … I don’t leave the house. The other day a delivery man looked at all of the boxes and asked the Mrs if we were moving in. “Yes, yes we are,” she lied. 🙂

My god, are the Minnetonka Men’s Double Deerskin Softsole Moccasins comfortable. But don’t take my word for it, read the other people’s reviews.

 

Go ahead. Splurge. Treat yourself or a loved one. Think early Christmas shopping.

Happy Aniversary

To me …

  

Out and about

I admit right up front, I am not man enough to own a motorbike*. But that does not stop me from appreciating them.

Saw this while out to breakfast on Saturday.

   

     

    

* My wife won’t let me get one. When we were newlyweds she was an ICU nurse. As such she saw the results of one too many grisly single-vehicle motorcycle accidents. Belt sanders have nothing on rough payment at speed.

Monolithic Memory

I am neither a software engineer, hardware engineer, nor electrical engineer, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night (obscure, questionably humorous ad reference). Technically I am a Data Wrangler, an Oracle DBA (Database Administrator), a SysAdmin (Systems Adminstrator), a troubleshooter, yada, yada, yada. I have a keen interest in all things technological. I am a geek (if that is a positive accolade) and was a nerd (a negative accolade) as a kid. I have some cred.  

I present for your consideration that monolithic memory is the holy grail of computing and within our grasp in the next few years. This is good news for consumers, not so much for old guard industries.

Consider the modern computer. By computer, I include desktops, laptops, servers, tablets, phablets, smart phones, whatever … running any operating system including but not limited to Windows, Linux, Unix, MacOS, iOS, WatchOS, Android, DOS … you get the idea. Regardless of manufacturer, these systems are all remarkably similar. They each have one or more CPUs (Central Processing Units), each CPU having one or more levels of dedicated ultra-high-speed memory called cache. 

Next, they each have a shared block of high-speed RAM (Random Access Memory) which is dynamic (hence DRAM). DRAM is fast. But that speed comes at a price. All data is lost when power is turned off. Recall the time you forgot to save that epic document or spreadsheet and the power went out? Yeah, that drawback.

Finally there is storage, usually in the form of a hard disk drive (HDD), although more and more computers use some form of solid state or flash storage (SSD for Solid State Drive). Mobile devices make heavy use of flash storage. Storage is persistent, but slow. Historical forms of storage include floppy disks, magnetic tape, and even paper punch tape and punch cards. Slow, but persistent.

The term memory is used contextually to describe each of these “data buckets”. The statement “I have 16 gig of memory”, is ambiguous without context. Do you have 16 GB (gigabytes) of RAM in your laptop? Or 16 GB of storage on your iPad? The former is a lot unless you are a gamer or scientist. The later is woefully small especially if you want to store a video or audio collection. RAM is currently supplied in tens of GB and usually in powers of 2: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128 GB. Storage on the other hand is now commonly hundreds and thousands of GB.

Modern computer systems have evolved the subsystems necessary to route data between the CPU, cache, dynamic RAM, and persistent storage. These subsystems are comprised of both hardware (controllers, data busses, I/O channels, etc.) and software (drivers, modules, packages, etc). Data flow is a well choreographed dance between low, medium, and high-speed subsystems and pipelines. A true monolithic memory system would eliminate the need for all of this. No more need for swap or page files. No more paging of memory out to disk. No more “saving” work out to disk. No more disk.

In the previous post, I addressed claims by Nantero that their carbon-nanotube-based NRAM offers the tantalizing possibility of lower power, higher data density, faster response, and lower cost than all other types of conventional memory. NRAM has the potential to provide the basis for true monolithic memory. But it won’t happen overnight. Even assuming that NRAM (or a competing technology) is up to the task, no existing operating system or hardware platform is up to the task. A complete redesign of memory management of both the hardware and operating system would be required. 

As a consumer, this is great news. All consumer computer devices will become like smart phones and tablets from the user’s point of view. Always on, instant “save”, super fast. Except that now the amount of storage will be many times greater. Power consumption will be primarily a factor of display efficiency. Speed and power will be better in every way. Prices will fall as capability increases. The consumer wins all the way around.

Not everyone will be a winner. Old school RAM, flash, and hard drive manufactures will have an uphill fight to remain relevant. Their investors will suffer as the share value of these companies fall. Mergers and acquisitions will contract the industry like a collapsing blackhole. History repeats. How many steam locomotive or buggy whip manufactures can you name?

The Martian | Andy Weir

 

  

OK 

I had my joke

Time to be serious.

This is one fine book. I am listening to it on audio book from Audible.com

  

Eleven hours

Unabridged

I like audio books. Easy on the eyes. Accessible while driving to and from work. Multi-tasking friendly. 

Whether in hardcover, paperback, eBook, iBook, or audio book … READ THIS BOOK. Unless of course you hate science fiction. (Why would anyone hate science fiction?)

The Martian is in the same class as Apollo 13Castaway, and Gravity. It is a satisfying survival/rescue story replete with lots of techie goodness, human compassion, bureaucratic assholery, and will-to-survive. Prior to seeing the movie trailer, I was unaware of this book. The movie, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon is looking better and better.

http://andyweirauthor.com

http://andyweirauthor.com/books/the-martian-hc

  

  

Walther Weed Whacker

Cold, wet, rainy, miserable. It’s late fall / early winter on the Texas Gulf Coast. Temperature in the 50s for the foreseeable future. Add to this that the backyard of Cat Beard Manor has become quite junglefied. The Calla Lilies have encroached the walkway to the back door. I’m carrying in all of the groceries from our Christmas food shopping and getting tired of brushing against the cold wet leaves each time I go in and out the back door.



But wait, I have the Walther® Mach Tac 1 Machete given to me over the summer. Never had a use for it. My trailblazing days are but a distant memory.

It was like attacking warm butter with a searing-hot knife. So very satisfying. Like spindly-legged green zombies hacked off at the ankles. I’ll clear the carnage away later when it’s drier.





See also:

https://contrafactual.com/2014/06/16/tactical-machete/

21st Century I.P.

IMG_3672
This in response to a 30 second clip of Steppenwolf’s Born to Be Wild as the sound track to The Race.

How do other folks manage to upload entires albums, movies, etc. to YouTube and Vimeo?

I have reblogged an earlier rant below.

More on The Race in my next post. Stay tuned …

Contrafactual

RANT

Hey Googstapos … To paraphrase Arlo Guthrie, “You’ve got at lot of damn gall to come after folks who include copyrighted music in their YouTube videos when you collect and store FOREVER every damn bit of personal information you can about us to be used against us to try to sell us crap we don’t need!”

OK … That about sums up the rest of this post. This is an incoherent rant. Deal with it.

Weggieboy’s comments on my JOSIV5 post hit a nerve.

Now I am not a lawyer and I don’t even play one on TV, so I have no legal insight here. But consider the following: let’s say

    I invite you to my house to listen to my LP record of C. W. McCall’s Convoy
    I invite you to my house to listen to my 8-track of C. W. McCall’s Convoy
    I invite you to my…

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The Near Future of Space Travel

An Essay

This week saw the crash and burn of two commercial space ships; one manned, the other unmanned. Regardless of how commonplace spaceflight seems to have become it is still dangerous business. As Elon Musk quipped when a SpaceX test vehicle self-destructed (as intended) when something went haywire over the McGregor Texas test site, “Rockets are tricky“.

Continue reading The Near Future of Space Travel

Russian rocket engines suspected in launch blast

http://m.phys.org/news/2014-10-russian-rocket-blast.html

The AJ26 engines—modified and tested in the U.S.—originally were designed for the massive Soviet rockets meant to take cosmonauts to the moon during the late 1960s.

The massive explosion of the Russian Moon rocket dashed the Russian bid for the Moon. Faulty AJ26 engines … the same used on the Antares booster … most likely caused the Russian Moon rocket explosion. [my comment]

In 2012, SpaceX’s billionaire founder and CEO, Elon Musk, called the Antares rocket “a punchline to a joke” because of the Russian engines. SpaceX, by contrast, makes its own rocket parts.

“I mean they start with engines that were literally made in the ’60s and, like, packed away in Siberia somewhere,” Musk said in an interview with Wired magazine.

Walmart, CVS, others boycott Apple Pay

Think about what they’re doing.” wrote Daring Fireball’s John Gruber on Saturday. “They’re turning off NFC payment systems — the whole thing — only because people were actually using them with Apple Pay. Apple Pay works so well that it even works with non-partner systems. These things have been installed for years and so few people used them, apparently, that these retailers would rather block everyone than allow Apple Pay to continue working.”

“I don’t know that CVS and Rite Aid disabling Apple Pay out of spite is going to drive customers to switch pharmacies” writes Gruber. “But I do know that CurrentC is unlikely to ever gain any traction whatsoever.”

CurrentC is the app MCX developed for use on smartphones. Josh Constine gave it a close look in Techcrunch yesterday and came to the same conclusion Gruber did: It’s a system designed not to make consumers’ lives easier, but to do an end run around the credit card companies.

Source: Fortune

Elon Musk

is the next Steve Jobs. 

There … I said it.

Where to begin? Have you ever watched  a Steve Jobs product unveiling? Watch Elon Musk as he unveils the model D or Dragon V2. They are both on this blog.

Jobs: changed the industry with his first company; Apple.

Musk: changed the industry with his first company; PayPal.

Jobs: was simultaneously CEO of two companies; Apple and Pixar

Musk: is CEO of Tesla, SpaceX, and … Solar City.

Jobs: gave us amazing technology that changed our lives

Musk: electric cars, coast to coast free charging stations, freakin’ rocket ships, man. How amazing is that!

Jobs: “the journey is the reward”

Musk: “Mars”

I could go one, but you get the idea.

Elon Musk is the next Steve Jobs.


The Bloomberg View | GTAT

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-10-06/apple-sapphire-supplier-breaks

Bottom line of the above article (my words):

Apple loaned GT Advanced Technologies money to build the sapphire plant which GTAT would pay back out of the monies Apple paid for the sapphire. BUT if certain conditions were not met, Apple could demand all of its money back … NOW.

Bloomberg and other analysts interpret this as a collapse in the Apple – GTAT relationship. Very bad for GTAT.

At one dollar a share, GTAT could be a takeover target play … or it could fold its tent and disappear into the night.

Are you a gambler? 

Spoon Theory

In my reblogged post immediately before this, weggieboy referenced the Spoon Theory.

So sitting here in the ER with nothing else to do (if you have ever been in the ER, you know that it is not unlike Waiting for Godot), I read Spoon Theory and found it to be an excellent explanation of what it is like to live day-to-day with a chronic illness.

If you have a chronic illness and need to explain what it is like to others, or if you know someone with a chronic illness and want a better understanding of what they are dealing with, I recommend reading Spoon Theory.

http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

The True “Hero” of Breaking Bad

A year later … spoiler alert

Nicholas Conley

Before we begin:

WARNING, THIS POST CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE BREAKING BAD FINALE.  YOU ARE NOW WARNED!

breakbad_duo

 Some straight like you, giant stick up his ass, age what, 60? He’s just gonna break bad?

– Jesse Pinkman

If there’s one thing that last Sunday’s epic Breaking Bad finale, Felina, demonstrated, it was that—from the beginning to the end, from the start to the finish, the plunge to the crash—Breaking Bad was a Greek tragedy about a man named Walter White, as he went from Mr. Chips to Scarface, repressed high school chemistry teacher “Mr. White” to commanding drug kingpin “Heisenberg.”  In the end, Walter’s story finally comes full circle; he returns “back from the dead,” moving through the landscape like a ghost, tying up all of the loose ends that his reign of terror left behind.

But even though Walter has always been our protagonist, our eyes and…

View original post 2,312 more words

Bendgate

Op-Ed

No pictures, no links, no embedded videos.

By now surely you and everyone else in the world has heard of Bendgate. The iPhone 6 Plus can be bent. It’s thin, it’s light, it’s a large, it’s flat, it’s aluminum. The laws of physics and material strength properties apply.

For Apple to have made a phone this large and thin and light and also have it be impervious to bending, one of the following things would have to change: the material the back is made of, the shape of the back, or the thickness of the back.

Thicker aluminum would make it stronger and heavier and more expensive. Titanium would make it stronger but much more expensive. Steel would make it much stronger and much heavier. I can only assume that Apple choose the grade of aluminum that they did based on a combination of strength and price point.

A curved back would make it stronger. A corrugated back would make it much stronger. Either would make it thicker. Either could be considered less aesthetically pleasing.

Making the iPhone 6 Plus thicker or at least making the back thicker would make the phone … well, thicker … and heavier.

There’s another way to make the iPhone 6 Plus stronger and thicker and heavier. Buy a case for it. There are sure to be a variety of cases for the iPhone 6 Plus. Many people religiously buy cases for their phones anyway. Why should this be any different?

If you watch the videos you see that a fair amount of stress must be applied to bend the iPhone 6 Plus. It’s not like you laid it on the table with half of it on the table and half of it off and came back in an hour and found it bent at 90 degrees as if it were in a Salvador Dali painting. You have to try very hard to bend it. Or you have to sit on it. Or do you have to wear very tight pants.

I sport a naked iPhone 5S. It gets its own pocket … in the front. I often take it out of my pocket when I sit down. I don’t want to put it in the case, so I have to be extra careful with it. The same would be true for an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus.

This is much ado about nothing. This is in the same category as people who intentionally microwave their phones. Or shoot arrows at them. Or see what it actually takes to destroy them. On YouTube, where the goal is to get as many views as possible.

Might be a good time to buy some AAPL stock, what with the price drop and all …