morning sun wallpaper, issues with internet faster than the speed of light, balloon Zénith’s long distance flight

morning sun wallpaper

Even those who are not particularly into science or technology still might find this interesting to think about,  Design Considerations for Faster-Than-Light (FTL) Communication


We are approaching the time when we will be able to communicate
faster than the speed of light.  It is well known that as we approach
the speed of light, time slows down.  Logically, it is reasonable to
assume that as we go faster than the speed of light, time will
reverse.  The major consequence of this for Internet protocols is
   that packets will arrive before they are sent.  This will have a
major impact on the way we design Internet protocols.  This paper
outlines some of the issues and suggests some directions for
additional analysis of these issues.

I read the entire piece a couple of times wondering if it was not some kind of satire. If it is there is not phrase that gives it away, except for what I have in emphasis.

Lunar halo and luminescent cross observed during the balloon Zénith's long distance flight from Paris to Arcachon in March, 1875

Lunar halo and luminescent cross observed during the balloon Zénith’s long distance flight from Paris to Arcachon in March, 1875. Drawing on blue paper : ink wash, lead white, and graphite. Possibly drawn by Albert Tissandier. This drawing is based on a real hot air balloon piloted by Joseph Croce-Spinelli and Théodore Sivel, that made a series of flights. The last one fatal to Joseph Croce-Spinelli and Théodore Sivel.


benton’s flood disaster, the bestest business startup tips ever

 Flood Disaster

 Flood Disaster, 1951. By American Regionalist painter Thomas Hart Benton. I’ve been having a some good luck lately stumbling over things that are related to what I was researching, but I had not thought of. I finally got a good print of this painting and while looking Benton’s birth date (April 15, 1889 – January 19, 1975) I came across this recent article on Flood Disaster, Thomas Hart Benton An American Artist

I recently read an article about a 1951 Thomas Hart Benton painting that sold for nearly $1.9 million at a Southeby’s auction. The painting, Flood Disaster, was created to highlight the devastating flooding of the Kansas and Missouri rivers in July 1951 that killed 17 people and displaced more than half a million residents. The painting seems timely in light of the current flooding of the Mississippi River.

I was looking at a Benton painting in a museum once and some older women that seemed to be part of a tour group looked at the same painting and one said that it reminded her of a cartoon. They looked over at me – I was fascinated by that painting and was trying to sear it into my memory -I smiled and nodded. They seemed embarrassed that they might have made a silly evaluation. Especially in the context of what we grow up with in terms of graphics – his style does have an illustrated graphic novel quality about it. That might be because his style has influenced directly, or indirectly, so many graphic artists.

tree at sunrise

tree at sunrise

I got this link on Twitter. I generally don’t like links or articles that began with “Ten Tips…” I’m not sure why I clicked over, boredom, restless, anyway this turned out to be a major exception to my rule about such links, via Anil Dash, Ten Tips Guaranteed to Improve Your Startup Success

Having had the good fortune to work with a broad range of entrepreneurs and get a front-row seat to the foundations of their success, I thought it’d be good to share 10 key tips that I’ve found work 100% of the time to increase your odds of startup success. Try to execute on as many of these as you can!

  1. Be raised with access to clean drinking water and sanitation. (Every tech billionaire I’ve ever spoken to has a toilet!)
  2. Try to be born in a region that is politically and militarily stable.
  3. Have access to at least a basic free education in core subjects.
  4. Avoid being abused by family members, loved ones, friends or acquaintances during the formative years of your life.
  5. Be fluent in English, or have time to dedicate to continuously improving your language skills.
  6. Make sure there’s enough disposable income available to support your learning technology at a younger age.
  7. If you must be a member of an underrepresented community or a woman, get comfortable with suppressing your identity. If not, follow a numbingly conventional definition of dominant masculinity.
  8. Be within a narrow range of physical norms for appearance and ability, as defined by the comfort level of strangers.
  9. Practice articulating your cultural, technological or social aspirations exclusively in economic terms.

By following these ten simple tips, you’ll massively increase the odds of success of your startup! I guarantee it, or your money back.


lomo martian reds and greens, darpa’s planes of the future, conservatives have a middle-school plan to deal with terrorists

little pine cones from mars

Back from her trip from Mars, all she got was these pine cones. She plans to plant them, so that one day earth will have Martian pine trees. They’re said to produce hydrogen as a by-product of their respiration cycle. So in the future we’ll be able to fill up our flying cars from trees.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has some plans for the future as well, Experimental Aircraft Program to Develop the Next Generation of Vertical Flight

One of the greatest challenges of the past half century for aerodynamics engineers has been how to increase the top speeds of aircraft that take off and land vertically without compromising the aircraft’s lift to power in hover or its efficiency during long-range flight.

The versatility of helicopters and other vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft make them ideal for a host of military operations. Currently, only helicopters can maneuver in tight areas, land in unprepared areas, move in all directions, and hover in midair while holding a position. This versatility often makes rotary-wing and other VTOL aircraft the right aerial platform for transporting troops, surveillance operations, special operations and search-and-rescue missions.

There is a picture of some of the concepts they envision for this vertical take-off craft, at the link. One of them looks like the craft the corporate army used in Avatar.

lomo dandelion

lomo dandelion

I have relatives like this. many of you probably do probably do as well. No matter what you do , you just can’t please them, Republicans Are Furious at Obama for Prosecuting an Alleged Terrorist

When the Obama administration is killing alleged terrorists with deadly flying robots, Republicans complain that too many of them are being killed rather than captured. When the Obama administration captures alleged terrorists, Republicans complain that they’re being given inappropriate trials instead of being locked away for life.

On Thursday, Suleiman Abu Gaith, identified by US officials as Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law and a spokesperson for Al Qaeda, was indicted in federal court in New York City on charges of conspiracy after reportedly being handed over to the US by Jordanian authorities.  Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) promptly went ballistic, saying military detention was imperative. “By processing terrorists like Sulaiman Abu Ghayth through civilian courts, the Administration risks missing important opportunities to gather intelligence to prevent future attacks and save lives.” They added that Obama’s “lack of a war-time detention policy for foreign members of Al Qaeda, as well as its refusal to detain and interrogate these individuals at Guantanamo, makes our nation less safe.”

But Graham and Ayotte have their history wrong. During the Bush administration, hundreds of people were convicted in civilian courts on terrorism charges, many affiliated with Al Qaeda, without complaint from Republicans. There’s nothing about military detention that magically compels terror suspects to open up—for example, Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, one of two people apprehended in the US who spent several years in military detention during the Bush administration, did not begin talking until he was put back into the criminal justice system.

This is not about politics, it is about middle-school. Barack is one of the cool kids. Conservatives recent the hell out of that, so they are against whatever it is Barack is for. If Barack likes cupcakes, they’re against them. If he doesn’t like cauliflower, conservatives suddenly crave cauliflower. These brats make $179k per year, plus gov’mint health care benefits and a retirement plan.

culture watch: stoning and time travel, the evolution of human language, the ultimate tree house

Graphic: Anatomy of a Stoning in Iran

We look at the brutal practice of stoning in Iran. This method of execution is still practiced in certain countries, where it is used to punish adulterers and other criminals. The graphic below looks at how a stoning occurs in accordance with the exact language of the Iranian Penal Code.

Even in the form of an illustration this is horrifiying to look at.

Time reversal findings may open doors to the future

The time-reversal process is less like living the last five minutes over and more like playing a record backwards, explains Matthew Frazier, a postdoctoral research fellow in the university’s physics department. When a signal travels through the air, its waveforms scatter before an antenna picks it up. Recording the received signal and transmitting it backwards reverses the scatter and sends it back as a focused beam in space and time.

The knowledge of the science behind this concept has been around for a couple of decades. With the technology now catching up to the theory, scientists hope to be able to do things like target tumors in the body or something simpler like recharge your laptop.

Something to ponder. How human language could have evolved from birdsong

Based on an analysis of animal communication, and using Miyagawa’s framework, the authors say that birdsong closely resembles the expression layer of human sentences — whereas the communicative waggles of bees, or the short, audible messages of primates, are more like the lexical layer. At some point, between 50,000 and 80,000 years ago, humans may have merged these two types of expression into a uniquely sophisticated form of language.

	AT&T Employees Display Futuristic Phone

AT&T Employees Display Futuristic Phone. “At the annual meeting of the American Telephone & Telegraph Company, two employees examine a possible “telephone of the future.” 1960-04-20. Note that the phone she is holding has a dial. I’ve used a dial phone. Compared to today’s push button or voice activated calling, dialing is like milking a cow for your morning cereal.

The maple of Ratibor.

The maple of Ratibor. From The picture magazine. George Newnes Ltd., 1893-1896. Pub. 1893. Credit: Mid-Manhattan Picture Collection / Gardens. I had a tree house when I was a kid, if two planks laid across two tree branches count. This one is far beyond anything I even dreamed of.

moon homes of the future by way of 3D printer, the 150 year old question of lung evolution

Foster+ Partners works with European Space Agency to put 3D print structures on the moon

The practice has designed a lunar base to house four people, which can offer protection from meteorites, gamma radiation and high temperature fluctuations. The base is first unfolded from a tubular module that can be transported by space rocket. An inflatable dome then extends from one end of this cylinder to provide a support structure for construction. Layers of regolith are then built up over the dome by a robot-operated 3D printer to create a protective shell.

To ensure strength while keeping the amount of binding “ink” to a minimum, the shell is made up of a hollow closed cellular structure similar to foam. The geometry of the structure was designed by Foster + Partners in collaboration with consortium partners – it is groundbreaking in demonstrating the potential of 3D printing to create structures that are close to natural biological systems.’

larger image

larger image

The ESA is not just floating this is some abstract idea, they, along with Foster, have already built  a 1.5 tonne mockup. They have also done some testing in a chamber that mimics conditions on the moon.

CT scanner helps answer 150-year-old question of lung evolution

One of the great problems of evolution is to understand how the major features of organisms have changed over great swaths of time. How did limbs evolve from fins? How did bird feathers arise from scales?

The lung is a major organ of great functional importance for vertebrates (animals with backbones). Since the mid-19th century, most biologists have thought that in living fishes, gas bladders — internal bags of air to which fishes can add or eliminate oxygen to control buoyancy — are simply a modified version of an ancestral pair of lungs. Others think lungs and gas bladders are completely different organs.

New research at Cornell using computed tomography (CT) technology has gone a long way toward showing that lungs and gas bladders really are variations of the same organ.

By proving that several ray-finned fishes, namely sturgeons and paddlefishes, as well as bowfin, have pulmonary arteries like those that supply the lungs of vertebrates, the researchers show that the common ancestor of all these fishes must have originally had lungs supplied by a pulmonary artery.

This is yet another example answering the question of irreducible complexity. Lungs are very complex organs that act in conjunctions with the heart, brain and vascular system, yet evolved from simpler structures that carried oxygen to cells. In Richard Dawkins The Blind Watchmaker, Dawkins notes how the eye evolved from cells, like pond microbes, that could tell the difference between light and dark. The foundation of sight.

some of the social and technological implications of the bathroom

Where did my fascination with sewers began. A few years ago while I was up late one night channel surfing I happened on a documentary about early American sewer planning. They covered New York and Washing D.C. extensively. Once a area reaches a population beyond a few hundred that are permanent residents and want to live in housing, not have to make trips back and forth to local lake or river everyday, you have to have some kind of water delivery system and some way to get rid of the waste. So when we talk about sewers, sewerage, and water delivery systems we’re talking about water works, the technology, however crude, to create such works and the labor and infrastructure inherently involved in such projects. The first water works that resembled the basic scheme of modern water works in western culture were probably built by the Romans around 800 BC. One would think that such a basic technology for a growing world wide human population would catch on and be preserved, but it sort of sputtered along with some locations using something similar or roughing it. Though even the Romans made one of the most basic and often repeated mistakes of sewerage systems, the waste from their latrines drained into local rivers. The problems associated with both delivering potable water to people and ridding localities of waste would modern civilization for hundreds of years. Millions of people world wide still do not have access to clean water and in the U.S. we’re using smart phones and sending Rovers to Mars, yet about 40 million Americans use old fashioned and unsafe Victorian era combined water/sewerage lines. Which brings us to this modern cultural anthropology view of water works from Barbara Penner, The design, culture & politics of the bathroom – how it is linked to the larger worlds of engineering and infrastructure

“We shall deal here with humble things, things not usually granted earnest consideration, or at least not valued for their historical import. But no more in history than in painting is it the impressiveness of the subject that matters. The sun is mirrored even in a coffee spoon. … Modest things of daily life, they accumulate into forces acting upon whoever moves within the orbit of our civilization.” — Sigfried Giedion, Mechanization Takes Command (1948)

[  ]…The challenge of bridging this disconnect is easy enough to declare; but it goes against deeply ingrained habits and conventions, not to mention the design of the system itself. For the disconnect is actually plumbed into the western world’s water systems, which are created to render not only the user but also the impact of use invisible. In our modern contemporary bathroom, the process — the goal — is to “flush and forget” — to remove the sight and, possibly even more important, the smell of our waste. The vast majority of people take for granted that treated, potable hot-and-cold water will be on tap 24 hours a day and that waste will be speedily flushed away. Our everyday routines, our standards of hygiene, and our understanding of civility are all constructed around these ordinary facts. We tend to assume that access to water and its unfettered use is our right and we do not spare much thought as to what happens before or after.


Plan for the extension of Delgany sewer. Thirty-first Street Overflow Structure, Thirty-first Street, Denver, Denver County, CO.

Just as every generation creates new standards for what tastes good – refined sugars and processed food becoming the new normal. Macaroni and cheese out of a box becomes a wistfully remembered old favorite. Something similar occurs with technology. Old technology, even something as fundamental as water works to having what we think of as civilized society with all its infrastructure is viewed nostalgically. Turning a faucet handle – and that is not even required with sensor activated faucets, flushing a toilet, all quaint old stuff that many no longer even associate with technology. At least until the next bad storm or water shortage. Penner thinks part of the reason waste water and the bodily functions that go with it, besides taking old technology for granted is not worthy of the same kind of credit we give the internet for advancing civilization, is the privacy aspect of the bathroom. We discuss what we do on the internet all the time. More than have the casual conservations I have begin with something someone read or watched on the net. With the exception of some occasional crude bathroom humor, we don’t discuss our bathroom routines. Even though we probably spend most of our bathroom time bathing or brushing our teeth, bathing, once a public affair that required either going to the nearest river or lake, and later public bath houses, is either considered not conversation worthy or a personal matter. It is also a mental image instantly pictured because people do not bath or shower with their clothes on. There is also the hidden nature of waste water technology. We have this tub and a few little pieces of plumbing coming out of the wall. Sometimes it is is basically a tiled closet with a drain. What the user sees and relates to is the water works virtual user interface. Not the pipes in the building. Certainly not the underground aquifer, the dam, the reservoir, the massive pipes big enough to walk through. And who wants to think about the sewerage or waste water treatment plant. Lakes of everything humans can flush down a pipe. Not as cool as clicking on a trash icon and having a neat little sound effect.

Laying sewer pipe at migrant camp under construction at Sinton, Texas, 1939. photo by Russell lee.

Penner takes the sociotechnical view of waste water. The interweaving of the social attitudes, creativity, engineering and now vast commercial enterprises that was created by social attitudes about bodily functions and cleanliness. Modern dams are expensive and very sophisticated engineering endeavors. They have huge social, economic and ecological consequences. The wells that extract ground water only slight less so. there is the requirement for a deep understanding of hydrology. Structural engineers, hydrologists, electrical engineers and technicians, pipe manufacturing, toilet makers, welders – all require education and training. providing water and waste treatment for millions of people is not a lone endeavor like finding a mathematical proof. This is where dogmatic adherents to the lone utterly self sufficient individualism meets a rock and a hard place. Water supply and water treatment was a major driver for the study and creation of the whole concept of public health. If one person gets sick from one piece of bad fruit that may or may not be a public health concern. When hundreds or thousands become deathly ill because of tainted water or human waste being dumped into the source of a towns’ drinking water it stops being a personal matter and becomes a matter of public health. Suddenly someone who has been, say, been tanning leather for years near a local tributary, and dumps their waste in it, and has, what they perceive as traditional individual rights to run their business as they please, has those ‘rights’ curtailed in the name of public health. We studied what made people ill in order to understand contaminants and diseases, and how those diseases spread.

Men turning gear wheel

Men turning gear wheel. International Nickel Co. at District Sewer Department, ca. 1920. Photo by Theodor Horydczak.

Waste water, water works and bathrooms are also an extension of gender roles, race relations and social norms. Women go to one room and men to another in public restrooms. In men’s rooms especially there is a generally code of conduct. Eye contact among men in public spaces is probably lower than any other public space because of taboos about being viewed as gay.

Far from resenting the disciplining design of bathrooms, many users welcome it as a necessary means of protection from physical attacks and bullying or from contamination of various kinds by some “Other.” And of course such concerns about safety and health can be prompted not just by real threats but also by broader social anxieties.When people worry that they might “catch something” in a public convenience, they often have in mind an illness or disease transmitted by a stigmatized social group (e.g., other ethnicities, homosexuals, the homeless).

[  ]….It should not be forgotten that one of the first deaths of the American civil rights movement occurred when black activist Samuel Younge, Jr. tried to use a whites-only bathroom at a filling station in Alabama and was shot and killed by the attendant (who was subsequently cleared by an all-white jury).

[  ]…Those for women’s conveniences, however, have been among the longest running and most far-reaching; having first begun in western countries from the United Kingdom to Belgium to New Zealand, these struggles are now reaching Asia, too, as female activists in Guangzhou demonstrated earlier this year with their Occupy Men’s Toilets campaign. Some important victories have been scored in the last two decades, such as the passing of American “potty parity” laws that mandate that there should be two female water closets provided for every one male — but as any woman who has recently been to the theater or even the London Olympics can report, the queue for the Ladies’ is in no danger of extinction.

A modern, but retro decorated bathroom.

no hostess hohos but plenty of drones, black and white shoreline, news fit to print

Drones for “urban warfare” – Manufacturers are targeting U.S. police forces for sales, as drones move from the Middle East to Main Street

In November 2010, a police lieutenant from Parma, Ohio, asked Vanguard Defense Industries if the Texas-based drone manufacturer could mount a “grenade launcher and/or 12-gauge shotgun” on its ShadowHawk drone for U.S. law enforcement agencies. The answer was yes.

[  ]…In short, the business of marketing drones to law enforcement is booming. Now that Congress has ordered the Federal Aviation Administration to open up U.S. airspace to unmanned vehicles, the aerial surveillance technology first developed in the battle space of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan is fueling a burgeoning market in North America. And even though they’re moving from war zones to American markets, the language of combat and conflict remains an important part of their sales pitch — a fact that ought to concern citizens worried about the privacy implications of domestic drones.

Some movies that immediately came to mind where the police used drones were the original movie version of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 411 and the loosely adapted film version of P.K. Dick’s Minority Report. In both police and their drones are used to stifle civil liberties. Since police are asking and suppliers are willing to have such concerns doesn’t require much tin foil. At one time SWAT teams were for dangerous situations that required military type assault skills to both contain someone who was dangerous and to keep civilians safe. Now they are routinely used – sometimes just for drug raids – innocent deaths have become routine in turn. While some studies suggest that we’re becoming a less intelligent nation, there are quite a few tech savvy people out there. What happens when there is an it becomes a contest between civil liberties advocates and the drone cheerleaders. The amateur techies design weapons to take down the drones or find ways to hack their guidance systems. The government reacts with laws against writing certain software, building certain devices or crippling the average consumer computer so that it cannot be used to write what they define as malicious code. Who is held responsible when the first innocent person is killed by a drone. here we are in the age of Google street view and GPS and SWAT teams are raiding the wrong address.

According to that article it is predicted that law enforcement drones to be used on civilians will be a $6 billion industry by 2016, just three years from now. Law enforcement, not being a private enterprise will get that money from tax revenue. Yet there is resistance to shoring up Social Security and Medicare. People still complain that public education needs more money. Certainly true in school districts where the average income in at or below the median.

With 56 domestic government agencies now authorized by the FAA to fly drones in U.S. airspace, law enforcement is leading the way in the adoption of unmanned vehicles. According to documents published last week by Electronic Frontier Foundation, 22 of the authorized agencies are primarily law enforcement departments, while another 24 entities (mainly universities) have law enforcement functions under them.

Among the domestic users are the Department of Homeland Security, which flies a fleet of nine drones over the country’s northern and southern borders, and the FBI. A Bureau spokesman declined to comment on the nature and purpose of the FBI’s drones saying that he could not discuss “investigative techniques.”

Not to be an alarmists, but this already seems like a done deal. All urban areas are under video surveillance, they are considered public spaces, thus individuals are not thought to have a right to privacy in such areas. To that we’ll have drones. I sense that like so many industries in the past,  there is so much money at stake, the profit motive will drive lobbying. The lobbing, as usual, will give the largest and loudest voice to a hand full of industries in how that legislation is shaped.

black and white shoreline

Some short takes: Strange: Why Do Conservative Red States Have More Traffic Fatalities? The short cynical answer that first pops into your head is true and so is the cause in terms of mind-set.

Fiona Apple Cancels South American Tour to Be With Her Dying Dog. If you’ve never been close to a pet this may sound like melodrama. Those of us who have had dogs know that they become part of the family. They’re like kids with bushy tails. They love you like no human ever will, without qualification.

Knuckleheads in the news, George Eliot writing desk stolen from Nuneaton museum.

John McCain (R-AZ) writes a lot of books in which he talks about honor. Proof you do not have to be an expert on something to get your writing published: Office of the DNI cut “al Qaeda” reference from Benghazi talking points, and CIA, FBI signed off

Maybe we’ll all be gone in a month and none of these earthly concerns will matters anyway. Though since science usually triumphs over myths I will still pay the utility bill, Mayan Apocalypse Countdown: 1 Month ‘Til Doom