Archive for Science

What the hell…why not? Music Friday – A.I. Edition

What the hell…why not? Music Friday – A.I. Edition

Being stuck in the 1970’s like I am has it’s advantages.   One of them is that you can look around at all the “new” things and ideas floating around today and say “that’s just a different version of x, y or z that we did back in the day”.  Case in point:  current topics of discussion today about modern advances in technology that have given rise to research and creation of new machines – specifically robots, or Robots with a capital “R”.  And the creation of said machines begets further conversation, debates, etc over the limits of artificial intelligence or AI.  When does a machine become human? What will happen when AI surpasses human intelligence? What are the repercussions for human society?  I mean the “Rise of The Machines” and the coming robot revolution are what the Kool Kidz are talking about these days.  Except…


So how does this become a Music Friday post? As usual, by accident.  Because another of the advantages of being stuck in the 1970’s is being in the habit of listening to 1970’s Progressive Rock music  – like the progressive rock concept album “I Robot” by The Alan Parsons Project.  An album that was released in 1977.  Often in those halcyon days when people gathered to socialize, they listened to music and had discussions, or “talked”.  This is something people did before they had their phones to distract them since cell phones, smart or dumb did not yet exist.  So friends would gather together and listen to albums which were physical objects – vinyl discs which had grooves molded into them.  An album was placed on a turntable where a needle tracked through the groove, reproducing the music.  Rockin’ it old school in the 70’s meant using physical media since there was no internet, streaming, or a “cloud”.  OK, back on track, this concept album was based loosely on stories in a book by Isaac Asimov…wait.  Let me back up again.  A “book” was a physical object…Oh hell, just google it. The book by Isaac Asimov contained stories about robots and  AI. Getting back to the album, the cover inlay read:

“I Robot… The story of the rise of the machine and the decline of man, which paradoxically coincided with his discovery of the wheel… and a warning that his brief dominance of this planet will probably end, because man tried to create robot in his own image.”

And so the discussions revolved around the music, the music revolved around the topic.  And the current debates are merely history repeating itself.  So, been there, done that and I probably even have the T-shirt around here somewhere not that it would still fit.  Wish I still had the hair, but I digress.  All discussions aside, there was the music.  This is some of what we heard:

One song off the album that was released as a single:

And another single from the album:

And, saving the best for last as I am often wont to do:

Could it be? Are you looking into my mind? I warned early readers that they might find themselves walking around inside my head.  Hopefully you’ve wiped your feet.  Don’t bother setting the clock or changing the calendar, I like it here in the 70’s.  And please lock the door on your way out.

This Blog Continues to not be dead

This Blog Continues to not be dead

This blog continues to not be dead.  Undead maybe?  That might be fitting description what with the current zombie craze and proximity to Halloween.  So, yeah I’m still busy, but I haven’t forgotten about you all.  Meanwhile may I suggest you review a few posts from the grooveyard of forgotten favorites?

Why Would You?  Because You Could.  But If You Could, Would You?

Vero dicta inermis ea

Saint Patrick’s Day revisited


Any Major Dude Will Tell You…

Those are my recommendations for today, but feel free to browse around while you’re here.  I don’t cost nothin’.  Fresh content coming soon.  Stay tuned.

In case you need one of these

In case you need one of these

Most Lunar Excursion Modules are getting on in years and occasionally need wrenching on.  The Haynes Workshop Manual is indispensable in these cases.

apollo 11 manual


Coincidentally (I’m sure) you can purchase one through the Cuana Enterprises store at this link.

Happy flying, and I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.

This was kind of a big deal 46 years ago

This was kind of a big deal 46 years ago

Back in those halcyon days when a man’s tax dollars actually bought him a piece of some magnificent hardware, we sent men to the moon.  This year marks the 46th anniversary of Apollo 11 and, in fact, 46 years ago today Neil Armstong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin were the very first men to walk on the moon.  It was a moment in time when it felt like the aspirations of the entire human race were epitomized in the actions of two men.  The event was broadcast live and was watched all around the globe.  There were people who called the space program a waste of money, but I can tell you that in my lifetime there has never been another event like the moon landing that, if even for only a few hours, brought the whole globe together into one family.  And so for those moments alone it was worth whatever the cost.

Spare 15 minutes of your time and watch this video – made for schoolkids, but suitable for all ages.  It sums up the whole Apollo 11 mission very succinctly.

Now take a few minutes and think about how this was accomplished in fewer than 10 years.  The technology used was primitve comared to what is commonplace today – our cellphones are more powerful computers than those employed in the LEM and Command Modules.  There was no such thing as the internet.  Yet the task was completed and resulted in at least a few hours of  international brotherhood.  Something that we couldn’t do today even if we tried.

Cross posted at Men Out of Work Blog

Welcome New Readers

Welcome New Readers

If you are a new vistior here, welcome!

Let me give you a couple tips on how to get the maximum out of your time spent here.  Essentially this is my soap box, a forum to express my thoughts through writing.  My secondary goals are to entertain my readers, perhaps even to educate or inspire them as well.  For more background, click on “about” in the upper right hand corner.

The technical stuff:  the articles (or “posts”) are in chronological order – newest at the top and older below.  To the left of each title is the date the post was created.  The main page shows all the posts in all categories – if you want to narrow it down, click on a category in the list on the right and – voila!  Only posts in that category are displayed.  Also on the right hand sidebar are “recent posts” whaich are – you guessed it – the 5 most recent posts; and “popular posts” which are the posts that have received the most views in case you like to follow the crowd.  My recommendation?  Read everything.

Boromir meme

Within each post you will notice some text in red.  These are links to additional information.  Click on the red text and a new tab will open taking you to an article, a wikipedia page, a song or something that supports or relates to the material I am writing about.  Try it – click on this link and see where it takes you.

Most pictures within posts can be enlarged by clicking on them.

And – the blog is interactive.  That’s right!  You can participate by leaving a comment or comments on each post by clicking the “comments” button on the left under the date.  All comments are moderated (that means I have to approve them before they are published) so I will see your comment.  And so will the rest of the world if I approve it.

So – happy reading!  And enjoy!

Meet An Old Friend Of Mine…

Meet An Old Friend Of Mine…

It turns out that one of the major geographical features of California is not all that well understood.  The feature?  The Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.  Here is an article at ArsTechnica entitled Growing Mystery – Getting To The Bottom of The Highest Peak In The Lower 48 that outlines the study of the origins of the range.   Reading this was for me a little like reading the biography of a favorite person about whom you just want to know more.  Someone you feel that you already know well, but are always willing to learn more about.

sierra nevadas

The snow covered Sierra Nevada Mountains run roughly along the eastern edge of California

The range runs some 400 miles roughly northwest to southeast, almost all within the borders of California.  Some features that are known worldwide are Lake Tahoe (largest alpine lake in North America), Yosemite National Park, and Mount Whitney (at 14,400 feet highest peak in the lower 48 states).  Interestingly enough, juxtaposed only 85 miles or so southeast of Mount Whitney is Badwater Basin, the lowest point not just in the U.S., but in the entire continent of North America at 282 feet below sea level.

I live in California today because of the fact that my father fell in love with California when the Air Force sent him here in 1959. And one of the reasons he fell in love with California was the mountains.  I have camped, hiked and hunted in the Sierras since I was a child.   Because the Sierras have been a part of my life since my childhood, I feel that they are indeed a part of me.

And they are one of the reasons – if not the reason – that I will never leave California.

Half Dome from Glacier Point

I experience a certain serenity in the higher elevations where the air is thin, cool and dry.   Looking upon massive formations, ridgelines and watersheds, I see magnificently functioning ecosystems created only by the hand of God.

The beauty of the Sierras begins in the lower elevations as they they rise from the eastern edge of the central valley, where the dense foothill woodlands are teeming with wildlife both great and small.  Penetrating deeper into these environs, a person becomes aware of their diminishing superiority over their surroundings.  A feeling arises that caution should be exercised as absolute safety is not a given, and that there may be creatures lurking about that now rank higher on the food chain than you do.  Climbing now in elevation,  enter the diverse montane forests of massive pines, fir, cedars and giant sequoias.  If you travel  higher still into the subalpine zones and you will see sparse white pines, lodgepole pines, aspens and beautiful wildflowers in the spring.

Silver Lake from Hwy 88 April 2015

And finally, if not on foot, find one of the handfull of high passes accessible by car and experience the alpine zones at the crest where you may behold the spectacular granite desolation above the tree line, where both the flora and fauna are small if present at all.

Yosemite granite lake


There are a few places on earth that make a person feel that they are only part of a larger wonderful creation rather than outside it looking in.  The Sierras are one of those places for me.  They are something I am part of – somewhere I belong.


PS – all photos except the satellite shot are mine.  You may click on the picture to see a large version



BarBots: Robots, or Vending Machines?

BarBots: Robots, or Vending Machines?

I do not regard the advances in robotic bartender technology with the same skepticism as I view the advances in development of artificial intelligence.  Nor do I see these advances as heralding the coming Robot Revolution.  Just because, that’s why.  Anyway, the current crop of BarBots are really more akin to drink dispensers or vending machines judging from the photo gallery that accompanies this piece at EnGadget:

Bots and Booze: the Automated Bar of the ‘Future’.  

The difference today is that the so called robots are less boxy and slicker looking than those of yesteryear.

Oh… and women don’t wear their hair “up” so much anymore.

Look, if you’re going to call it a BarBot then it has to have some characteristics of both a robot and a bartender.  Otherwise it’s just a damn coke machine.  And if there was going to be a revolution of the coke machines I’m sure that would have already happened by now.


BarBots: Here To Help

BarBots: Here To Help

Yes, the barbots are coming.  Some are here already.  But don’t worry – they’re here to help!  Over at the Wall Street Journal, Timothy Aeppel pens…err…keys…I mean…writes somehow:

Robots Can Mix You A Drink.  But Will They Listen To Your Problems?

Makr Shakr

The Makr Shakr

Opening sentence:  “Robots aren’t about to elbow bartenders out of a job.”

Are you kidding me?  That thing is nothing but one giant elbow!  How could it not elbow anyone out of anything?  That’s like saying a hammer isn’t about to pound anything.  Of course, Mr. Aeppel factually and logically explains that more than anything else, robotic bartenders are simply tools to boost the productivity of  human bartenders.  But as anyone who had read this blog knows, when discussing robots and the coming robot revolution there is no room for facts or logic .

So, of course the barbots will win us over with their aloof demeanors and cute names like Makr Shakr and Bartendro.  Of course they will be subservient, what with their needing human supervision to function properly.  Then,  when you least expect it…WHAM!  Elbow to the throat.  And then you can add that to the list of problems they won’t listen to.


Read This…

Read This…

…then break up into groups to discuss until I get back.

Stray Dog Joins Swedish Adventure Racing Team and Completes Grueling 6 Day Race

Robots Move Into Japanese Homes 

Photos of Two Small Pluto Moons Open The Door To A New Vastness

In Which I Make Excuses

In Which I Make Excuses

I may have mentioned that I am longer a Man Out Of Work.  I am now a Man Who Seems To Work Every Waking Minute Of His Freaking Life.  But that’s a poor name for a blog.  I’m not complaining, mind you, but I am playing the excuse card for light *non-existent* blogging.

I like blogging.  I want to blog.  I know that all the great bloggers whose blogs I read and who have inspired me to begin blogging work jobs that are undoubtedly more demanding than mine, yet they still crank out the content.  I just haven’t figured out how to make the adjustment from having lots of time to having almost no time.

Right now three things take up virtually 95% of my time.  Work 40%; Sleep 30%;  Wife 25%.   The wife’s time budget has already taken the biggest hit, so there’s no cutting back there.  In fact she is in need of an increase of at least 10%.  Can’t cut back on work, so it looks like sleep is gonna have to take the hit.

We’ll see how it goes.  It should be fairly easy for you to tell:  as the posts get more frequent and less coherent you’ll know I am making an adjustment to my sleep schedule.  Stay tuned!

Cross posted at Men Out Of Work Blog

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