Monthly archive for September2014

The “internet of things” is coming…and it doesn’t look good.

The “internet of things” is coming…and it doesn’t look good.

At least that’s my opinion.  Every step forward is not neccessarily progress.

Let’s back up a little in case you aren’t familiar with the phrase “internet of things”.  More and more devices we use have microprocessors and internet connectivity built in for automation or for more efficient operation.  In practicality it means many things we use are becoming “smart”.  The “internet of things” refers to this grid of interconnected smart devices.

As I have stated in the past, I am skeptical of our implementation of new technologies, mostly in regard to the development of robotics and artificial intelligence.  Now you can add to that the smartification and internet connectivity of every damn thing we own.  Apparently I’m not alone.  At The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal and Robinson Meyer have co-authored a piece entitled “When Everything Works Like Your Cell Phone” that outlines a few concerns starting with three things that happen to an object when it connects to the internet.  It becomes smart, it becomes hackable and it becomes something you no longer completeley own.  It goes downhill from there.

Companies are working on this technology in ways you probably would never imagine, in order to Make Your Life Easier.  Pull quote:

“Smartness” implies a smartphone-like upgrade cycle…This aspirational smartness is not just coming to watches. Any product that’s worth more than a few bucks will have some intelligence and communication abilities embedded in it. Companies that exist today are trying to create smart umbrellas and smart crockpots.

Do you want a crockpot that has to be replaced at every few years—or at least that will be forever upgrading itself? Would apps change your mind?

Let’s talk about a few examples that exist today.  The “smart” thermostat comes to mind.  The utility company will “give” you one – free of charge!  To help you save money on your bill.  How nice of them.  The little bastard will also rat you out to the utility company if you set it too low or too high, and the utility company can take control over it in certain situations.  Not really yours, is it?  What about your Smartphone?  Well, you can’t do everything you want with it.  Your only allowed to use it consistent with the carrier’s terms of service.  And you can’t unlock it and use it on another carrier.  Plus it spies on you.  Is it really yours?

So do you really want to be driving around in a Smart Car that won’t go as fast as you want it to?  You want to get to work today don’t you?  Click here to agree to our terms of service.  Don’t agree?  Get out and walk.  Do you want to have a Smart Toaster  or other Smart Appliances collecting data about your kitchen habits and sending them up to the cloud?  All just so you can control them with your smartphone without having to get up off the couch ten feet away?  I don’t.


The more automation simplfies our lives, the more it complicates our lives.  And the only reason to have autonomous machines is so that human decision making and judgement are not required for their operation.  You see where that’s going?  As our machines get smarter and smarter, we get dumber and dumber.  And dumberer.  Don’t believe me?  Look around.

I will make an exception for the Manhattan Project BarBot.  Lemme just look over these terms of service.  Hmmm……two drink maximum per person?



Technology reveals much more to Stonehenge than meets the eye

Technology reveals much more to Stonehenge than meets the eye

The Stonehenge ruin in England continues to pique our interest.  Built before the advent of written language, the motives of it creators have ever been a subject of curiosity and scholarly study.  According to this article at, modern technology such as ground penetrating radar and computer modeling are being used to study the site and the surrounding area; the results are showing a vastly larger and more complex design to what is now believed to be a regional ritual site.  Notice that I said believed to be.  Speculation and educated guesswork is the order of the day since as I stated earlier, no written records exist.  So as researchers learn more about the people who built the monuments, they may have a better idea as to why they were built.

The earliest activity at the site, evidence of timber structures, dates from approximately 8000 years B.C., with the large  familiar stone structure having been built around 2600 years B.C.  The last known construction appears to have happened around 1600 years B.C.  which means that the organized activities surrounding the site have spanned a period of some 6,400 years!  The main activities performed here seem to be burials and cremations, and these apparently were ritual internment rather that human sacrifice.


Since the stones line up with various celestial events like the solstices, it is speculated that the site may be an astonomical observatory.  As it seems to coincide with the transition of the then current civilization (such as it was) from a hunting/gathering society to an agricultural one, perhaps the site served as a calendar so that crops could be planted at the correct time, and an accurate prediction of harvest time could be made.  I don’t know a lot about what type of belief system was practiced by the inhabitants of the area, but I assume they believed in deities that controlled natural forces (the heavens, the seasons, etc) and this calendar was part shrine to their deities as well.  The fact that they buried their dead here leads me to believe that it was also considered a pathway to the afterlife.  Strictly my opinions, as I said, I have no expertise in the area.

I don’t subscribe to the various theories of extraterrestrial involvement at Stonehenge.  I think that primitive people were very observant and adaptive and capable of great ingenuity when their very survival may have been at stake.  The history of our species and the collective experiences of our forebears are all part of what makes us who we are.  The things we have learned along the way are the reasons why we do what we do and so to better understand our past is to better understand ourselves.

If, like me you are naturally curious about our origins and history, it is well worth the few minutes of your time it will take to click this link and read the article at  There are several more informative links and a video within that article.  Enjoy!

Since Everyone in America is from Ireland*…

Since Everyone in America is from Ireland*…

How about some Irish humor?  Via Instapundit I came across the Irish humor blog Tyrone Tribulations.  It features “news” stories from County Tyrone.  Hilarious.

Here’s a sample: Witch-Ducking  “Isn’t Alway The Answer” Says Controversial Ardboe Man

Well, I liked it anyway.  I think you will too.

*Not everyone in America is from Ireland, though most of them say they are from Ireland.  Also, this:


Well, it is Music Friday so why not have some Beatles Pancakes

Well, it is Music Friday so why not have some Beatles Pancakes

…and so here you go – Beatles Pancakes (!)

It’s not fair that some people (like myself) have almost zero artistic talent, yet this dude creates art in the kitchen and then eats it.

OK, back to wandering….                 ……………………………………..

Oh…almost forgot.  hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ

Music Friday – Dusty Springfield Edition

Music Friday – Dusty Springfield Edition

Welcome to another Music Friday.  Today I am jumping off a post I did a couple weeks ago featuring The Seekers, who had a hit song written by Tom Springfield, the brother of today’s featured artist  Dusty Springfield.  Who on earth is Dusty Springfield? you ask, unless you are old like me.  Well, since you’ve asked, Dusty Springfield was an English pop singer and Blue Eyed Soul artist from the late 1950’s until the 1990’s, though most of her success came in the mid to late 1960’s.  Dusty Springfield was her stage name.  Her real name was Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien and she was born in London in 1939 to an English father and an Irish mother.  I seem to have a thing for Irish girls.  The family enjoyed music, so the children were encouraged to partake.  Mary began singing professionally in 1958 (age 19).  The “Springfield” alias originated when she and her brother formed a folk group in 1964.  Apparently they rehearsed outdoors – in a field – and so they thought an appropriate name for the group would be The Springfields.  Each member adopted a nickname and since Mary was reportedly somewhat of a tomboy known for playing football with the boys, “Dusty” seemed like a fitting moniker.  In retropsect it is also a neatly fitting description of her vocal style.

As a fan of American pop music, she was responsible for introducing some lesser know American MoTown artists to an English audience as the host of an English TV program called “Ready, Steady, Go!” in the early 1960’s.  The Springfields enjoyed some success, but nevertheless disbanded in late 1963.  Shortly thereafter, Dusty Springfield released her first solo single, “I Only Wanna Be With You”.  The song, released in 1963, charted at #4 in Great Britain and made the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S., peaking at #12 in 1964.  This is the song that introduced her to America.

Here are three performances from British television in no particular order.  Note that these are sung live, not lip-synced as later became common for televised  pop music performances in the 60’s.

From 1968, “Son of a Preacher Man”

Next:  “All I See Is You”

OK, I saved the best for last.  This next song charted in the U.S. in 1966.  Springfield called it “good old schmalz”, but one of the composers of the song, Simon Napier-Bell, felt that Dusty’s rendition took it to another level:

“There, standing on the staircase at Philips studio, singing into the stairwell, Dusty gave her greatest ever performance – perfection from first breath to last, as great as anything by Aretha Franklin or Sinatra or Pavarotti. Great singers can take mundane lyrics and fill them with their own meaning. This can help a listener’s own ill-defined feelings come clearly into focus. Vicki [Wickham] and I had thought our lyric was about avoiding emotional commitment. Dusty stood it on its head and made it a passionate lament of loneliness and love.” – Simon Napier-Bell

A song that was voted among the All Time Top 100 Songs by BBC Radio 2 listeners in 1999: “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me”


She lived an interesting life – too many things to write about and not enough time or space here.  Follow this Wikipedia link if you’d like the rest of the story.  Just two final notes:  She was prone to odd behavior such as food fights and breaking crockery which was described by others as “having a wicked sense of humor”.  She never had a heterosexual relationship.  Though she said her prime ambition was to love a man, she also said  “they frighten me”.  She died of breast cancer in England in 1999.

Stephen Hawking Fears “Higgs Boson Doomsday”…

Stephen Hawking Fears “Higgs Boson Doomsday”…

The headline of this story at is “Stephen Hawking Fears Higgs Boson Doomsday and He’s Not Alone“.  I have no idea what that actually means, but if Stephen Hawking fears it then so do I.  I guess that’s why he’s not alone.  Here is an article that explains what the Higgs Boson Doomsday is.  Let me see if I can get this straight – because the Higgs Boson, the energy field of which is the source of mass for everything in the universe, is estimated to be just the right mass in itself to cause the potential instability of said universe, there is a theoretical possibility that said universe might become unstable and instantaneously cease to exist.  Yeah.  I don’t understand it either.  But these guys do and they say it’s possible.  Ironically (!) if the mass of the Higgs Boson were different by just a few percent, we wouldn’t be doomed!  Boy did we luck out.  Nailed it on the first try.  Better go buy a lottery ticket.

But don’t worry:

“You won’t actually see it, because it will come at you at the speed of light,” Lykken said. “So in that sense don’t worry.”

Super.  We’re all gonna die instantly at any second.  But we won’t see it coming.  So don’t worry about it. Nope.  Don’t give it a second thought.

Stevie says don’t you worry ’bout a thing:

…Pretty Mama.  On second thought, forget the lottery ticket.  If I won and then the universe ended, I would have to kill myself.

Cross posted at Men Out Of Work Blog

How Much Love?

How Much Love?

How much love has been created by the union of two people?

Over 100 years ago in a country I have never been to, two people I have never met were married.  These two people, Michael Angelo and Filomena shared a love.  They had children whom they also loved, and these children grew and fell in love with others.  They in turn married and had children of their own whom they loved, a cycle that continues to this day.  After about 142 years, well over 500 descendants owe their existence to a love shared by two people.

It makes me sad that I cannot embrace my Great-grandparents, two people I never knew but to whom I owe so much.  I’m also sad not to be able to once again hug and hold my Grandparents.  I’ve tried to get a close as I can, but all there is to touch is cold marble.

Florida 2014 026

Florida 2014 028

The sadness I feel is a funny kind of sadness that’s mixed with a little happiness and gratitude, maybe from knowing that while you miss someone badly, they are well and happy and pleased with what has transpired in their absence.  That they are pleased the work they started continues thusly:

How much love is yet waiting it’s manifestation?  Do any of us know what will be the legacy of the love we share today with one another?  Do any of us know of a person yet unborn that may walk in a park, seeking our touch and finding only a stone to caress?  We do not know.  We can not know.  We need not know.

We need only to love each other now as best we can and all will unfold as God wills.

More Air Tanker Action

More Air Tanker Action

I posted a few days ago about the air tanker traffic from McClellan Field (scroll down) that has been passing over my house due to the King fire burning east of here.  I saw this video of a DC-10 air drop and thought I would share.

From what I can tell this is not a drop on the King fire, but a drop on the Silverado Canyon fire in Orange County (SoCal).  This time of year there are often several fires burning in California;  I think there are three or four burning right now, it’s just that the King fire is in my “neighborhood”.

FYI as of today the King fire is 81,000 acres in size, and some 12,000 buildings are threatened.  It is burning in the El Dorado National Forest, but in areas where there are many summer cabins.  The cause of the fire has been determined to be arson.  A suspect has been arrested and arraigned.


The fire is threatening a key University of California, Berkeley research station that is home to scores of experiments on trees, plants and other wildlife. It is also threatening hydroelectric facilities and power lines that deliver water and electricity to the Sacramento region and some treasured Sierra Nevada recreations areas, the Bee reported. Some power stations and lines either burned or were shut down as a precaution, cutting off energy from three utility agencies’ hydroelectric reservoirs.

The man suspected of setting the fire, Wayne Allen Huntsman, 37, pleaded not guilty to an arson charge Friday in El Dorado County Superior Court. He was being held on $10 million bail.

Music Friday – My Most Obscure Offering Edition

Music Friday – My Most Obscure Offering Edition

If you are old enough to have been self aware in 1963, you may remember this song, since it reached #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in December of that year.  It is one of a relative few US chart topping songs to be recorded in a language other than English, and as far as I know it is the only one to be written and recorded by a member of a religious order.  The artist is Jeanine Deckers, also known as Sister Luc-Gabrielle O.P., also known as The Singing Nun.  Deckers was a Nun in the Order of Preachers (O.P.), more commonly known as The Dominicans since the order was founded in the year 1217 by Saint Dominic.

The song “Dominique” is, unsurprisingly, a ballad about Saint Dominic:

The song was so popular that a movie starring Debbie Reynolds as Sister Luc-Gabrielle was made in 1965, though the subject of the film herself dismissed it as “fiction”.  Here from the film is Reynolds in character as “Sister Anne” (Hollywood changed the title character’s name) performing  a version of the song in English.  Note: the English lyrics sung in the movie are not a translation of the original song’s lyrics, rather a version composed for the movie.  Follow this link to see the English translation of the original song (along with the original lyrics in French).

In 1965, Deckers left the Convent, though remained a Lay Member of the Dominican Order.  Apparently her first love was music, as she made several unsuccessful attempts at continuing her musical career.  These efforts were hampered by the fact that the recording company owned not only the rights to the song, but also the rights to the names “The Singing Nun”  and “Sister Smile” (which was another name she was known by) and refused her permission to record under those names.  Now suffering from lack of promotion and name recognition, her subsequent recordings were commercial failures.  In addition to that, the Belgian Government claimed she owed $63,000 in back taxes on royalties from the song.  On a note of black irony, she committed suicide in 1985 and her suicide note cited this ongoing financial strife as one of the reasons for her taking her own life.

Final note: Saint Dominic (1170-1221) is credited with promoting the Catholic Devotion of The Rosary.  He is also the Patron Saint of Astronomers.


I don’t trust robots, and I don’t trust monkeys

I don’t trust robots, and I don’t trust monkeys

With the exception of my (future)  Manhattan Project BarBot, maker of the “Perfect” Manhattan.  I’m gonna love that guy…err…thing.

Like This



But I digress.  I’ve written a few posts about my skepticism of Robotic Technology, referring (somewhat) tongue-in-cheek to the coming Robot Revolution.  I’ve also written a few posts about the differences between humans and animals, and now there’s information about a similarity that humans and chimpanzees share.  And it’s why I say “never trust a chimp”.  Turns out that Chimpanzees are natural born killers, and they prefer mob violence.  Apparently this is not new information to researchers, you just don’t hear about it because no one wants to think of cute little animals as potential murderers.  That’s right, I said murderers.  Chimps don’t kill for food.  They kill each other.  Just like us.  Isn’t that sweet?

Of course, we can only guess at the motives because chimps haven’t mastered language – yet.  So it’s going to be Robots or Chimps.  We’re screwed either way.

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