Space

From the word source section at Dictionary.Com

  • c.1300, “an area, extent, expanse, lapse of time,” aphetic of O.Fr. espace, from L. spatium “room, area, distance, stretch of time,” of unknown origin.
  • Astronomical sense of “stellar depths” is first recorded 1667 in “Paradise Lost.”
  • “Space isn’t remote at all. It’s only an hour’s drive away if your car could go straight upwards.” [Sir Fred Hoyle, “London Observer,” 1979]
  • Typographical sense is attested from 1676
  • (typewriter space bar is from 1888).
  • Space age is attested from 1946;
  • spacewalk is from 1965.

Many compounds first appeared in science fiction and speculative writing, e.g.

  • spaceship (1894, “Journey in Other Worlds”);
  • spacesuit (1920);
  • spacecraft (1930, “Scientific American”); space travel (1931);
  • space station (1936, “Rockets Through Space”); spaceman (1942, “Thrilling Wonder Stories;”
  • earlier it (spaceman) meant “journalist paid by the length of his copy,” 1892).
  • Spacious is attested from 1382.
  • 1703, “to arrange at set intervals,” from space (n.). Meaning “to be in a state of drug-induced euphoria” is recorded from 1968.
  • Space cadet “eccentric person disconnected with reality” (often implying an intimacy with hallucinogenic drugs) is a 1960s phrase, probably traceable
  • to 1950s U.S. sci-fi television program “Tom Corbett, Space Cadet,” which was watched by many children who dreamed of growing up to be one and succeeded.

I was born the year and month that Sputnik was blasted into orbit and so I grew up dreaming of the great rockets roaring into space.  My dreams died a little with the end of the Apollo era and a little more with every year of the space shuttle and ISS travesties that followed.  Not because of the actors in the piece but because of the dead hand of bureaucratic-management-executive risk aversion that could be seen crushing the glory out of the endeavor.  It was only the glorious optical archive that is Hubbles legacy that kept a dream alive, a dream rekindled with Faster Better Cheaper and the Mars flurry and then blown to full flame in the last few years with Space X, Virgin Galactic, Bigelow, Orbital, and more.

The Truth is Out There

I posted on Truth, Fact, Lies and Fiction some weeks ago and I find it very interesting that one of the major progressive/liberal reactions to the Romney trouncing of President Obama is that it was all Lies.  And then the follow-up analysis that yes of course it was lies, see this factoid, that factoid, and this other factoid.

In the big picture though Romney didn’t lie, it is not in his temperament or interest to lie and he’s too smart and too well supported to lie by mistake (and the same can be said for President Obama.)  And all those handy Factoids aren’t lies either.   They are all truths that take one cut through a matrix of facts that are too complex to make into sound bites,  too complex to express in an hour, let alone a few moments and in the end too complex to really ‘know’ the end results of at all.

Anything a politician says can be said to be a lie unless it is so basically simple to parse that it cannot (practically) be a lie.  The statement “The dog licking  my hand is alive.” is pretty damned hard to make into a lie {unless the statement’s made on radio and no one is in the studio to vouch for the dog’s existence…but never-mind that!}  But the statement that ‘My Proposal to cut the tax rate for the top five percent of wage earners will not decrease government tax revenues at all, in fact it may raise them!” is impossible to prove as a fiction or as a fact.

The FACT is that many MODELS of taxation show that tax intake does rise if you decrease the tax rate.  This is because those high earners leave more of their money ‘in play’ in the economy attempting to make more money and thus putting it, and any extra they take in, within reach of the taxman.  Those models are pretty simple and anyone who can and will sit down and think about it will realize almost has to be true in the real world.  That is unless you assume that most money is made in a black market beyond the reach of the taxing authorities, and while that may be true in Russia it is patently not true in America.

Throwing the Liar word around is in my opinion simply lazy character assassination and it has backfired on both the right and the left.  The right has again and again attacked the president as a liar  when any reasonable person would see the situation as one of views and values, this ticks the hardliners off and they start frothing and soon turn a lot of people who originally listened to them off (I have been one of these people though I usually calm down and come back.)  The left has said the same thing about Romney and Ryan, often not overtly (but often very overtly) ever since Romney started moving ahead of the pack because many on the left who had met the man when he was Governor of Massachusetts, Savior of the Olympic games or Head of Bain Capital knew him to be a relentless, effective and innovative person of deep convictions but reasonable temperament.  As has been said elsewhere when Romney was a cartoon cutout the character assassination was effective, when they saw the person in action it was a stunning revelation.  The fact that the left and their enablers in much of the media had made him such a cartoon made the revelation all the more shocking, and all the more damaging to the left and the enablers.

Don’t call a politician a liar because you disagree with him.  He may be mistaken in his beliefs but no politician at the national level can be fool enough to just lie because he thinks everyone else is a bigger fool.

So do politicians never lie? Of course they do.  But Statesmen never lie, right? Of course they do.  Statesmen have to lie more that politicians do, and while it’s usually a bad idea for a politician to lie (shading the truth or dodging being their better and most oft chosen course) it is oddly a bad idea for a Statesman to be truthful all the time (though again shading and dodging are often better choices.)

Statesmen, being very important people who know more than they probably care to, cannot tell all to the people because they know damned well that the truth is ugly, the facts poorly understood and the most basic facts are that life goes on and that good people do bad things and bad people do good things.  None of which changes the truth (in the statesman’s eyes) that they are good people and bad people.

So in some ways I feel that President Obama has to be given a bye on some things that he is called a liar on.  Telling the truth is not always a good option and he could well hurt many more people by telling the ugly truth than he is by dodging, equivocating or occasionally outright lying.  But there are limits to the byes and a limit to the things that can pass as Statesmen’s issues.  And the President seems to be skating to the edge or beyond.  But then, what do I know?  Not enough to judge as yet.

You say that sucks!  And I agree.  But think about what a little incitement based on a stupid and utterly dreadful piece of video-logy did in the Muslim world.  That was truth and fact used in the pursuit of sociopolitical ends by enemies of change and development.  That social reaction was pretty much universal once, the torches and pitchforks came out very quickly.  That is the world where Statesmen of good standing learnt they had to lie in pursuit of a more fair and liberal world.

And that sucks. But that’s the world we live in.

 

iPad , iPad

Not sure what I think about the iPad these days, it’s still the single most used computing device I own but to be honest its the one that I would give up first as well.

Which seems odd.  But while I can do many things with the iPad (reader, Music, light blogging, internet addiction) even creative and work related if I have to, it is by its nature more limited in the depth of work that it supports.  It allows one to create a document and presentation or spreadsheet very well but linking them together is far harder than on a PC.  The scientific calculators I have worked with are simply remarkable but their results are hard to integrate with other packages.  Pictures etc are the same, it’s not that the iPad can’t it’s just that with the App model and its flat file structure you cannot organize or cross pollinate work like you can on a PC.

I am sure that many out there would argue with this, they probably feel that the iPad is liberating or does this or that better than any PC, and they could be right.  I also think that I could get used to using the iPad for many more things, but the effort to change over and figure out how to do things differently would be a very deep time sink.

Don’t get me wrong, the iPad is a remarkable development, the culmination of many attempts over a long time, but it’s not clear that it’s the be all that some, even I, thought it  to be.

That said you’d have to pry my iPad out of my cold dead fingers if you just wanted to take it away now (though if you’re thinking of mugging me for it, you can have it, gives me an excuse to go buy a newer one.)

I am disappointed that no one has developed a better stylus technology, for the iPad.  It needs a pen like system as well as the finger painting mode (the Blue Tiger device that was being hyped a few months ago seemed promising.)  And I also feel that the iPad could do with a daylight readable screen at the current or only slightly higher resolution, with a longer battery life, faster processing and graphics and better error handling (than my old iPad v1).  One cool idea would be a two-faced version.  One with eInk on one side and the existing screen on the other.  That way you could do what you most often want to do in daylight, read and interact with documents, and you still have all the capability of the main screen on the other side.

Ah well, who knows what’s to come in the months and years ahead.  Hopefully someone at Apple will think of a better way of doing the things I want the iPad to do.

 

Romney’s Successful Foreign Trip

Really good counter to MSM crap regarding Romney’s foreign excursion: The Governor’s visits to Israel and Poland formed the core of the trip, so, of course, drew less press attention and what attention it did draw minimized or misinterpreted the real meaning of the visits. Contrary to most press reporting, the Romney trip was not primarily about Jewish or Polish votes back in the US. The trip was about highlighting what should be the US relationship with two critical allies located in two very tough neighborhoods. Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, is virtually surrounded by anti-American retrograde forces out to destroy it. Poland finds itself confronting a resurgent and increasingly anti-American, aggressive and even Stalinist Russia that greatly resents Poland’s remarkable economic success and its close relationship with the West, especially the United States. Both of these nations live on the frontiers of freedom; both have been shabbily mistreated by the Obama misadministration. Neither Obama nor Hillary Clinton have shown any regard for the importance of these two allies to the United States or for the difficult and even precarious conditions which they confront. In fact, actions by the Obama misadministration, e.g., precipitously canceling the anti-missile defense system in Poland’s case, and demanding Israel’s return to the disastrous borders of pre-1967, have strained their alliances with the United States and put their national security at risk. By visiting these two nations, Romney has signified how his foreign policy will be different than Obama’s. The Governor realizes something that the President does not: we should stand with our allies.

From the Diplomad blog, well worth following.

Computer aging and user angst…

As I’ve noted before my primary writing implement is a Leonovo (nee IBM) Thinkpad T42, at the time one of the best lightweight laptops in its class and certainly (in my opinion) the LAPTOP writing tool available.  I had been using Windows 2000 on my ‘main’ machine (which I had been forced to upgrade with much cursing, from Win NT a couple of years before) but had to move to XP Professional on Writer, which caused a great deal more muttering under the breath and vibrant curses in the direction of Redmond WA and B.Gates in particular.   (By the way, probably the most maligned man on Earth and proof that curses have no effect. He being, to all appearances; healthy, happy and well off despite a {largely unearned} curse load that should have reduced him, and the local geographic, region to subatomic particles long ago.)

Writer replaced an earlier IBM Thinkpad, a black and white 3.5in floppy equipped 12+ incher that I bought at some an early Staples in the early 90’s.  It had Windows 2 if I remember correctly not the soon to be released W 95.  I typed away happily on that machine, transferred to the ‘big iron’ with its much more stable W NT then to the (even better Win 2000, –though it took at least six months for me to admit as much.)

Then of course I started buying systems for the rest of the family, I bought one with Windows Me (what a piece of trash!) and later Windows Vista (urk) and lately Windows 7, which I have to say I find to be at least as good as XP though I don’t like the increasing levels of detail they are hiding behind the magic curtain, that I have to find my way past to do anything once the wizards etc fail (though admittedly that’s pretty rare these days.)

Before and During this time, working first for the Gov’t then a Gov’t/Private partnership.  I had used several versions of DOS, rightly pooh poohed Windows 1, often used the DEC VAX operating system, a version of the other disk operating system common at the time (which I forget the acronym/name for) and then on to Win 2, Win 95, Win 2000, Win XP.  Now the age of XP is passing (I know I know, in the outside world it passed long ago but main line / old line engineering firms are extremely risk averse.)  My latest little (plastic) jewel is Win 7 which has forced me to finally learn the system (like work moving to XP made me learn XP.)

Sigh, and now they are talking about W-8! and that they are going to stop supporting W-XP!! And Writer is finally showing her age <whine, whine> but is not ready for the removal of her hard drive and consigning to the waste stream of history…but if I wait too much longer I won’t be able to get W-7 the bastards will force me to get a new system with W-8!!!  Those fould fiends in Redmond! whats’s name and all his grimy green geek gremlins, with their damned marketing plans…etc, etc, etc….(and by the way its harder to use Ballmer in a curse than it is Gates, makes it much less cathartic for some reason.

So sometime soon I will have to get another Writer…and my daughter want’s an ultrabook to replace the Gateway 15.6 incher I got her for University.  And having had fun building two computers from scratch this summer I want to play around some more…but haven’t found an excuse to build another one, or two, or three….

And the fools at Leonovo will probably not offer a regular old-fashioned 3:4 aspect screen but one of the blasted 9:16 movie screen slots…the old form is much better for writing when using a smaller screen. But ‘everyone’ seems to like the slots because they can see movies better, why do they get to pick the aspect ratio?  I’m doing creative stuff they’re just rotting their brains for crying out loud!!

And so it goes…things change, those that don’t are either perfect or dead.  Personal computer technology is evolving so fast that it is impossible for anyone to say ‘stop I want to get off for a little while.’  One just has to continue to adapt.  Just be thankful that what we are adapting to is a new and generally much better set of hardware and software….not the appearance of a new predator, plague or famine.

Cheers

 

Thoughts for a 4th of July in an early decade of the 21st Century

There have always been multiple visions of the future of the ‘American Experiment’ despite what comes across from the rather wan gruel we all get fed in public school unless we have unusually good and aggressive ‘social studies’ teachers.

I have read a few interesting modern histories of the united states and the best of these show that there were always multiple threads at work, more than just the now common Conservative / Progressive (NO, not Liberal.)  And I don’t necessarily associate Conservative with Republicanism and Progressives with Democratic ideals.

I think if you go back to your math/geometry and get a view of a three-dimensional graph at the origin ( 0,0,0) with +&- axis for (x,y,z) showing.  Got that picture in your head?

Now simplified political philosophy has taught the Left Right  (x-axis) Dichotomy of Communism and Fascism … which supposedly goes from the people being sovereign to the opposite of one person being sovereign.  With a smooth transition from one side to the other.  This is the sovereignty axis in my opinion And America is not at the far right, its at the middle left, because sovereignty rests in the hands of the people’s elected representatives who can be tossed out.

Now don’t forget that while so-called Communist or People’s regimes claim the mantle of the People they are always in practice Fascist oligarchic or even despotic (one person) systems. And Fascist regimes (when they dared call themselves such) were in reality Party dominated Bureaucratic states and the best run of each type were much more alike than they were different.  They are both basically Oligarchic with a tendency for one man rule.

So there has to be some other axis in play.  Call it the ownership axis, who owns what?  Say this is Up / Down,  Up is personal ownership of everything,  Down is state ownership of everything.  Here you can parse out a philosophical though perhaps not so much a practical difference between Communism and Fascism as practiced in the real world. The Communist state owns all means of production (a person theoretically is still a sovereign actor and can own personal items) Fascism tends to accentuate diverse ownership of the means of production, in fact tends to focus on ownership and ‘winning/winners’ to the detriment of other things.  If you look at the worst of the worst they didn’t really see anything wrong with slavery (but again in practice neither did the Communists, if you were sub-human enough to protest against the regime.)

And then you have the other political axis, call it the regulatory axis, one side you have anarchy, everyone establishes their own regulations, and on the other axis you have the regulatory state where every potential action is regulated by some rule.

Now mankind has never lived in either extreme, every animal has some innate regulation and the more complex an animal becomes the more it operates in some form of society which again has a set of perhaps unstated, but often iron clad, rules.  With humans language and society co developed in complexity and at some point language grew in symbolic power to the point that it enabled humans to think up and then explain new ways to regulate life (as well as explain it and pass the knowledge along so others could build on to what was known before.)  This is the foundation of modern civilization and while I’m a libertarian at heart, I know that humans have to live in a regulated world.  Life in a unregulated world would be impossibly complex because you could never ‘trust’ anyone you did not know at least somewhat, to operate within the same social context as you do.

And as much as many Conservative pundits whine about it we do not live in a regulatory state.  In practice only robots could live in the far limits of the regulatory state because they can be programmed and ‘flash’ reprogrammed to operate by the rules (if their ‘brain’ is big enough to contain said rule set.)  A human cannot learn more than a relatively small set of rules in any lifetime and operationally using rules requires that you focus on a smaller sub set.  This is the reality of the ‘joke,’ “…he knew more and more about less and less until he knew everything about nothing.”

Going back to Communist Fascist dichotomy, what does this new axis explain?  Well to be honest, nothing, in practice both Communist and Fascist states tend toward the highly regulated but in both cases the regulations tend to focus on industrial and militaristic means and social control ends.  However if you look at the ‘Democracy vs Communistic/Fascist’ it tends to show a huge spread, with distributed and relatively low levels of regulation in the Democracies and very highly concentrated and high levels of regulation in the Communist/Fascist states.

Concomitantly the D vs C/F spread on the sovereignty axis shows a wide spread and in my opinion shows a pretty concentrated blob for the C/F group well towards the single sovereign and the D’s a broad spread towards the all sovereign limit (though none get close to the limit)

And the D vs C/F on the ownership axis again shows (in my mind) the C/F’s practically as a spread towards to state ownership side and the D’s a spread towards individual ownership with the D’s getting closer to their limit than the C/F’s to theirs.

So I wandered far from my start point ehe?  No, because if you look at that graph I have tried to form in your head you should see that our Democratic and Republican politicians are in all practical senses identical to each other.  They are for sovereignty of the people, personal ownership of property and moderate levels of regulation all within bounds that most of us would find reasonable, if not totally laudatory.

As much as some ‘Con’ Pundits accuse the Pro Elite of despising America and ‘Pro’ Pundits accuse Con Elites of anti democratic tendencies, both sides almost to a man and woman love the United States of America and its People, in aggregate, if not in personal detail.  Both sides recognize many of the same national failings, but attribute them to different causes, and often times assigning them different levels of importance.  But we by and large live with in the same social memes and can Trust each other on a personal basis (fair dealing on a bet, honesty in word and deed, etc) even when we don’t necessarily agree or even trust them regarding political issues.  As long as this social cohesion can remain to under-gird our political disarray.  In fact I think we are just seeing the chaotic workings of a ‘society and polity’ that while vastly different in detail from what the founders would have recognized, is well within the bounds of what they could have hoped for given that most of what we experience day to day is utterly at odds with their day to day experience.

So, in closing:     As a Naturalized Citizen of the United States I bid all that have always been, those who have become, those who want to become and those who have simply served the greater dreams of our great experiment, have a Joyous as well as Thoughtful, 4th of July.

Best Regards

M.A.Harris

I am going to try and get back on the Blogging pony

My problem is that I often have more things I would like to talk about than I have time to formulate thoughts so I just get depressed and don’t do anything.  But I’m working on all those bad habits and hope to be back in the saddle and trying to upgrade to real horse class.

As much as I love writing for you dear reader, I also write (and formulate) for my job which can sometimes absorb me 10+hours a day 6 to 7 days a week for several weeks at a time, over periods of months with lots of travel as well (this year I was flying somewhere most weeks for the first four months.) But its also very erratic depending on business cycles, the gov’t fiscal year cycle, customer side infighting etc, etc.so I get long periods of relative inactivity which can be almost worse, because I need a lot of feedback to keep in the grove as it where.

And then there is my other writing habit, my sci fi…..dad has given me an edit of Elgin that I have been twiddling away at for months, once I get it done I will do a final submital and move on, I have three other stories in the Iffrit’s universe at least partially written and want to get back to them sometime.  The second book in Exotic Contraband — Home is where the heart lies.  is ready for a final scan, cover art and uploading.   Written and edited but awaiting a Smashwords gloss edit and then the clean up are Skil and Across a Sea of Suns (probably two to four books.) Beyond that the book I was working on when I discovered Smashwords, one no one has seen yet that I call The Demon Engineer is begging to be finished now I have some new ideas and clarity about how to close the story-line’s arc.

So there is a lot going on in my intellectual life, on top of things like daughters getting married, aging car crap, mutant pool scum, honey-dos I should have done three years ago, rehabbing the basement, garage sale and trash haulage to clear  some reasonable fraction of the crap out of our lives  etc, etc, etc.

Sigh, Okay so I should quit my whining, I have an interesting job, working with great people on things I think are important for the country and the future.  I get to freely emote on anything I care to and try to get people to read my thoughts as encoded in these little squiggles.  I have a wonderful wife, great kids, generally a life that a vast majority of the world would envy.

So, on that cheerful note I’ll end.

Cheers and hope you come back to read some more soon.  It’ll probably be more serious next time….maybe more on health care, or the coming drone-apocalypse, or something else juicy…