Friday, August 31, 2012

Positive Quiddity: Lyrics by Dorothy Fields

Dorothy Fields (July 15, 1905 – March 28, 1974) was an American librettist and lyricist.
She wrote over 400 songs for Broadway musicals and films. Along with Ann Ronell, Dana Suese, Bernice Petkere, and Kay Swift, she was one of the first successful Tin Pan Alley and Hollywood female songwriters.


Fields was born in Allenhurst, New Jersey, and grew up in New York City.

Her father, Lew Fields, an immigrant from Poland, was a vaudeville comedian and later became a Broadway producer. Her career as a professional songwriter took off in 1928, when Jimmy McHugh, who had seen some of her early work, invited her to provide some lyrics for him for Blackbirds of 1928. Fields and McHugh teamed up until 1935. Songs from this period include "I Can’t Give You Anything but Love, Baby", "Exactly Like You", and "On the Sunny Side of the Street."

In the mid-1930s, Fields started to write lyrics for films and collaborated with other composers, including Jerome Kern. With Kern, she worked on the movie version of Roberta, and also on their greatest success, Swing Time. The song "The Way You Look Tonight" earned the Fields/Kern team an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1936.

Fields returned to New York and worked again on Broadway shows, but now as a librettist, first with Arthur Schwartz on Stars In Your Eyes. (They re-teamed in 1951 for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.) In the 1940s, she teamed up with her brother Herbert Fields, with whom she wrote the books for three Cole Porter shows, Let’s Face It!, Something for the Boys, and Mexican Hayride. Together, they wrote the book for Annie Get Your Gun, a musical inspired by the life of Annie Oakley. They intended for Jerome Kern to write the music, but when he died, Irving Berlin was brought in. The show was a success, and ran for 1,147 performances.

In the 1950s, her biggest success was the show Redhead (1959), which won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. When she started collaborating with Cy Coleman in the 1960s, her career took a new turn. Their first work together was Sweet Charity. Her last hit was from their second collaboration in 1973, Seesaw. Its signature song was "It's Not Where You Start, It's Where You Finish". Fields died of a stroke the next year at the age of 68.
Fields was the sister of writers Herbert and Joseph.

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She wrote famous lyrics for many songs, including Big Spender, A Fine Romance, I Can’t Give You Anything but Love [Baby], I’m in the Mood for Love, On the Sunny Side of the Street, Pick Yourself Up, Sweet Charity and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

A list of her songs is available at:

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Why Do Schizophrenics Hear Voices?

Posted by Ross Pomeroy at Thu, 30 Aug 2012

In a way, you're never alone. Your inner consciousness is always there to keep you company. That voice inside your head is reliably available for conversation. These intensely personal and comforting self-to-self dialogues are splayed across the humdrum of a typical day. "I think I'll wear the blue polo to my date tonight." "Enchiladas: that's what I want for lunch." "Oh my gosh, cute kittens!"

But what if there was a foreign voice inside your head? An entity over which you could exact no control. Wouldn't that be the worst invasion of privacy imaginable? Wouldn't that be disturbing?

For the majority of schizophrenics, this dreadful plight is a vexing regularity. Fortunately, schizophrenia is rare, but that's no consolation to the 24 million people afflicted with the condition. Moreover, there is limited understanding of its underlying causes, and treatments -- often in the form of antipsychotics -- are far from perfect, presenting their own loaded plate of perturbing side effects.

This is where Baylor neuroscientist David Eagleman enters into the discussion. Widely regarded for his work on the brain's perception of time, synesthesia, and neurolaw, Eagleman is now foraying into the study of schizophrenia. It wasn't something he originally planned on.

Back in 2006, Eagleman and his team conducted an experiment in which subjects were simply asked to press a button. Doing so would instantly cause a nearby light bulb to blink. The researchers then added a slight tenth of a second delay between the press of the button and the light coming on and asked subjects to continue pressing the button. For the grand finale, the researchers removed the delay and watched as something completely perplexing happened. The subjects, utterly flabbergasted, insisted that the light would come on before they even pressed the button!

For Eagleman, this was an "Ah ha!" moment. Schizophrenics, he says, suffer from something called credit misattribution -- they believe that they're not causing their own actions. What if this is because their brain's perception of time is off, thus causing an action's effect to seem to occur before the cause?
"You're always generating an internal voice and listening to it... But imagine now that you got the timing wrong. So you think you heard the voice before you generated it. You would have to interpret that as somebody else's voice," Eagleman told Science Friday host Ira Flatow.

Eagleman's theory has some historical support. One study conducted in 1977 compared schizophrenics' perception of time to that of non-schizophrenics. Subjects were required to work on a task until an experimenter stopped them, and then were asked to estimate the amount of time that had transpired. At judging five-second intervals -- the briefest length of time tested -- schizophrenics significantly differed from the other subjects in their estimations.

Additional research is currently underway at Eagleman’s Baylof College laboratory. If further substantiated, Eagleman believes that this theory could potentially lead to entirely new rehabilitative strategies for schizophrenia.

"Instead of pumping people full of medications, what if we could just sit them down and have them play video games that recalibrate their timing?" Eagleman proposed on Science Friday.

Such a treatment would certainly be a welcome, calming remedy to a mental disorder that's anything but.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Is Your Computer Monitored at Work?

By Becky Worley, Upgrade Your Life, August 29, 2012

A 2011 survey found that over half of US employers are monitoring their employees' computer usage. How can you find out if you are one of them? And if you are, what should you do about it?
  • There are two main ways employers track computer usage — with monitoring software on your desktop, and by watching the traffic on the corporate network. Also, many companies have written guidelines about Internet usage and may indicate if they are monitoring you. HR departments should have these policies available for employee review.
Monitoring Software on Your Computer
Monitoring software tracks all your activity and sends logs to the boss or IT department. Without your knowledge, they may be receiving reports listing the websites you visit, time spent in specific software programs, or even how much you play solitaire. The programs that do this are myriad, but there are often signs that they're running.

On a Windows machine:
  • First, look in the system tray and start up folder. Do you see programs with names like VNC or LogMeIn, GoToMyPC, Shadow, SpyAgent, Web Sleuth and Silent Watch. An IT person can choose to hide these programs from the user so they are not in the Start Menu, but many assume the user won't look for them or know what these programs are.
  • The Windows taskbar often lists all the actively running programs. Check all the icons in the taskbar in the bottom right hand corner of the screen and make sure you know what each program is.
  • The Windows Firewall must give monitoring programs permission to send and receive information. Search 'firewall', open it, click 'exceptions' or 'add program'. Then look to see if any of the above-mentioned programs or any programs that are unknown to you have permission to pass through the ports.
On a Mac:
  • Open Finder and look under applications , click 'utilities' and launch 'activity monitor'. Search for unknown processes or any with VNC in the name.

If you see something in any of these places that you're unfamiliar with, search it online to see if it's a monitoring program.

(Sidenote- many of these monitoring programs can be purchased off the shelf and used to monitor home computers. These are also tools an ID thief could use on a public computer to collect data.)

If You Find Monitoring Software

If you do find any monitoring software on your work computer, do NOT try to remove it. Two reasons: first, doing so may make it look like you have something to hide, raising suspicions; second, your employer has a right to have this software installed on the computer. After all it's their machine.

Monitoring Through The Network

The second way employers can monitor what you do on your computer is a lot harder to detect, because there's no trace on your personal machine; it's all done through the network. Employers can track the files you access on the corporate drives, the email you send through the company system, and the websites you visit via your work machine. And unless you have an "in" with the IT department, there's virtually no way to know if your company is monitoring traffic this way.

So What If You Want A Little Privacy?

Since so many employers have the power to monitor their employees, it's safest to assume that you are being watched. But what if you really need to do something privately?

EMAIL: If you are hunting for a new job or your employer is strict about use of corporate accounts for personal email, use web-based email. Most of the major providers encrypt webmail (Yahoo is in the process of rolling out SSL encryption across its Mail network) so it can't be intercepted on the network.

SMARTPHONE: As long as you are connected over your cellular data connection (and not the company Wi-Fi), you can surf the web and send private email (on your non-corporate account) without detection.

ANONYMIZERS: There are services (usually for a fee — for example, for $70) that will create a VPN or secure tunnel that hides all your traffic from the corporate network. These are handy tools to have if you need secure access to the Internet in unsecured locations like Wi-Fi cafes or public computers; they create a cloak around all IP addresses and data sent on the network. But an anonymizer may not hide your activity from a desktop monitoring program that grabs screen-shots, and many corporate IT departments forbid them and seek them out for removal from corporate machines.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

High School Students Are Poorly Prepared

ACT Scores Show High School Students Barely Ready for College
By Danielle Lagow for

For the high school graduating class of 2012, 52% took the ACT. That equals out to nearly 1.7 million students. By taking this standardized test, chances are they're planning on going to college soon. But are they ready? TheACT did a report on college and career readiness based on test scores to find out the answer.

[The report is summarized at: ]

In this study's findings, only one out of every four students is prepared in all four subject areas tested - math, science, reading and English. Just like the class of 2011, the overall composite average score was 21.1 out of a max 36. Though the amount of students who have participated in taking the exam has increased by 17% since 2008, the average composite scores have not seen any drastic changes.

A little good news is 72% of the test takers met at least one subject's readiness standards. On the other hand, 28% didn't reach any of the four subjects standard, while only a mere 24% proved their readiness in all four.

So what is it that sets the benchmark of college readiness for each field? ACT finds the minimum score needed on the subject area's test that shows there's at least a 50% chance in receiving a B or higher; or a 75% chance of receiving a C or higher in corresponding credit-bearing first-year college courses. Listed below are the percentages of how many students reached the benchmark for each subject.
  • Reading: 52%
  • English: 67%
  • Math: 46%
  • Science: 31%
The ACT also analyzes how different races perform on the test. They found that Asians are at the top with an average composite score of 23.6 and 42% meeting all four subject readiness standards.

Following the Asians are the Caucasians with an average composite score of 22.4, Pacific Islanders with a 19.8 average, Hispanics with an 18.9 average, and American Indian with an average of 18.4. At the end of the list is the African American group with an average composite score of 17 and only 5% reaching the readiness mark in all four subjects.

Monday, August 27, 2012

2016: Obama's America -- a movie review

By the Blog Author

Dinesh D’Souza, an immigrant to America from India who attended Dartmouth and became a young policy analyst for the Reagan administration, has written a book about President Obama’s habits and values called The Roots of Obama’s Rage. He has also made a timely movie version of the book as a documentary featuring himself as the principal interviewer. The movie was distributed widely on Friday, August 24th.  It is already the most-seen documentary movie of 2012.

The movie, 2016: Obama’s America, is chilling. It consistently stuns and rivets the audience with a thesis about Obama’s values and upbringing which explains odd facts and behavior of the President which, superficially, seem to form no pattern. Yet, D’Souza’s narration provides a tight and simple explanation that is compelling. Logically, D’Souza offers us "Occam’s razor," a straightforward explanation that compels us to believe it because it is so clear and so complete in matching Obama’s actions and statements.

2016 nearly defies comparison with other movies. It does, however, bear a significant resemblance to 32 Short Films about Glenn Gould, a mid-nineties masterpiece unmasking the ingenious mind and art of Gould, a Canadian classical pianist. The difference is that 32 Short Films leads us to respect Gould as an artist and thinker, whereas 2016 commands us to see reality and become disenchanted with Obama. So it is appropriate to mention another work that is similar to the movie 2016 and the book upon which it was based. D’Souza’s documentary book and movie are dispiriting and revealing in much the same way that Seymour Hersh’s The Dark Side of Camelot can change forever the reader’s opinion of John F. Kennedy. Only the turgid private conduct of Jack Kennedy escapes this analogy with D’Sousa’s movie.

D’Sousa does not offer a ranting appeal to the audience to vote against Obama. Instead he simply extrapolates Obama’s policies and values forward for four more years, to 2016. It’s all he has to do to make his recommendation about Obama’s political future.

Though many large cities are not showing D’Sousa’s movie, it is worth a day trip of driving to find it and watch it. The drive back home will be quiet and thoughtful.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Negative Frequency Photons

Introduction by the Blog Author

There is a wild new twist to the science of physics:  apparently, photons exhibiting a negative frequency have been observed.  If this stands up after further experimentation, it is a revolution.

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The dark side of light:
negative frequency photons
The impact of something we thought couldn't
exist has now been detected.
By Chris Lee, Ars Technica, August 24, 2012

A cornerstone of modern physics is mathematics. Like it or not, without the tools provided to physicists by mathematics, physics would be dead in the water. But (and this is something that all of us forget on occasion) solving equations is not the same as understanding the physics. A critical step in the development of physical insight is to recognize which solutions to an equation might correspond to reality, and which do not.

To give a concrete example, the equations of physics are blind to the direction of time, yet we know that solutions that involve time going backward are usually (but not always) invalid.

Unfortunately, as a recent publication in Physical Review Letters shows, even the brightest and best can get this wrong, and do so repeatedly over the course of years. A team of physicists has shown that light with a negative frequency (thought to be a quirk of the equations) actually, in some sense, exists.

The equations in question are Maxwell's, and they describe the propagation of light. When describing the propagation of light, the equations require that we describe the light field as having both positive and negative frequencies. A negative frequency would indicate a wave made up of photons that have a negative energy, something that doesn't necessarily make a lot of sense.

Using light to make light

A team of researchers has shown that, in some sense, negative frequencies can be observed through the generation of radiation with a positive frequency. To explore this idea, they looked at very intense light fields moving through certain types of glass and glass fibers. When the light field is very intense—as is the case when a very short, intense burst of light is created—this can lead to some very cool effects. In particular, when the light is passing through a material, the light field pushes the electrons around so hard that the electrons start to push back.

In a material like glass, the electrons can only move so far before they will be ripped away from the atom they are bound to. The harder you push them, the more they resist. So, for a weak light field, the electrons move smoothly back and forth in exact imitation of the light field that is pushing them around. As they move in response to the field, they radiate light at exactly the same color.

But when the field is very strong, the electrons don't follow the field exactly. If they did, they would be ripped away from their parent atom, and the field isn't strong enough to give the electrons enough energy for that. Instead, they just stop moving at some point.

The result is that the electrons radiate light at all colors. Or, more simply, our pulse of light with one color generates another pulse of light with a different color. As the two pulses travel together, energy is drawn from the input pulse and placed into the new pulse, so as long as they overlap, the second pulse will grow brighter and brighter.

Warning: Things are about to get complicated

This process is all described by Maxwell's equations for the propagation of light through a material.

But the solutions to Maxwell's equations are rather weird. Remember, every light field is described mathematically by a positive and a negative frequency. If we just consider the positive frequency component, then there are four solutions to the equation. These correspond to light waves that have positive and negative frequencies, and waves that are travelling in the same and opposite direction to the initial pulse of light.

The researchers ignore the two solutions corresponding to waves travelling in the opposite direction to the input pulse because they are not amplified. Any pulse that travels in the opposite direction does not overlap with the input pulse for very long, and there is no time to transfer much energy to the generated pulse.

Of the remaining two solutions, one has a positive frequency and travels with the generating pulse, allowing it to be amplified. This is commonly observed. The last solution corresponds to a negative frequency, also travelling with the input pulse. This solution, which should produce photons with negative energy, was thought to be an artifact of the equations and did not correspond to anything physical.

But that field itself consists of positive and negative frequencies. And (believe it or not) the negative frequency component of the negative frequency solution is a positive frequency. Or, you might think of it like this: the negative frequency element of the input pulse also generates four solutions that have both positive and negative frequencies.

In either case, what this tells us is that there should be a third pulse of light—remember, we have our input pulse of light, which generates a second pulse of light at a different (bluer) color, and now, thanks to the negative frequency solution, we get a third pulse of light at an even bluer color than the rest.

The researchers performed experiments showing that this extra pulse of light is indeed generated. The experimental results show that negative frequency radiation, in some sense, exists. But it also shows that these frequencies are only observed by their generation (either directly or indirectly) of positive frequency radiation. However, the researchers do not go further in interpreting the physical realization of negative frequency modes. I suspect that in the context of classical electrodynamics, this is actually impossible, and one has to resort to using quantum electrodynamics to interpret the negative frequency modes.

Physical Review Letters, 2012, DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.108.253901

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Astronaut Neil Armstrong Dies

Neil Alden Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012) was an American NASA astronaut, test pilot, aerospace engineer, university professor, United States Naval Aviator, and the first person to set foot upon the Moon.

Before becoming an astronaut, Armstrong was in the United States Navy and served in the Korean War.

After the war, he served as a test pilot at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) High-Speed Flight Station, now known as the Dryden Flight Research Center, where he flew over 900 flights in a variety of aircraft. He graduated from Purdue University and the University of Southern California.

A participant in the U.S. Air Force’s Man in Space Soonest and X-20 Dyna-Sour human spaceflight programs, Armstrong joined the NASA Astronaut Corps in 1962. His first spaceflight was the NASA Gemini 8 mission in 1966, for which he was the command pilot, becoming one of the first U.S. civilians to fly in space. On this mission, he performed the first manned docking of two spacecraft with pilot David Scott.

Armstrong's second and last spaceflight was as mission commander of the Apollo 11 moon landing mission on July 20, 1969. On this mission, Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended to the lunar surface and spent 2½ hours exploring while Michael Collins remained in orbit in the Command Module. Armstrong was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Richard Nixon along with Collins and Aldrin, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor by President Jimmy Carter in 1978, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.

Neil Armstrong passed away following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures. Upon his passing, his family said, "For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink."

Armstrong's call-up from the Navy arrived on January 26, 1949, requiring him to report to Naval Air Station Pensacola for flight training. This lasted almost 18 months, during which he qualified for carrier landing aboard the USS Cabot and USS Wright. On August 16, 1950, two weeks after his 20th birthday, Armstrong was informed by letter he was a fully qualified Naval Aviator.

His first assignment was to Fleet Aircraft Service Squadron 7 at NAS San Diego (now known as NAS North Island). Two months later he was assigned to Fighter Squadron 51 (VF-51), an all-jet squadron, and made his first flight in a jet, an F9F-2B Panther, on January 5, 1951. In June, he made his first jet carrier landing on the USS Essex and was promoted the same week from Midshipman to Ensign. By the end of the month, the Essex had set sail with VF-51 aboard, bound for Korea, where they would act as ground-attack aircraft.

Armstrong first saw action in the Korean War on August 29, 1951, as an escort for a photo reconnaissance plane over Songjin. On September 3, 1951, Armstrong flew armed reconnaissance over the primary transportation and storage facilities south of the village of Majon-ni, west of Wonsan; while he was making a low bombing run at about 350 mph (560 km/h), Armstrong's F9F Panther was hit by anti-aircraft fire. While trying to regain control, Armstrong collided with a pole at a height of about 20 feet (6.1 m), which sliced off an estimated three feet of the Panther's right wing. Armstrong was able to fly the plane back to friendly territory, but due to the loss of the aileron, ejection was his only safe option. He planned to eject over water and await rescue by Navy helicopters, and therefore flew to an airfield near Pohang, but his ejection seat was blown back over land. A jeep driven by a room-mate from flight school picked Armstrong up; it is unknown what happened to the wreckage of No. 125122 F9F-2.

Armstrong flew 78 missions over Korea for a total of 121 hours in the air, most of which were in January 1952. He received the Air Medal for 20 combat missions, a Gold Star for the next 20, and the Korean Service Medal and Engagement Star. Armstrong left the Navy at the age of 22 on August 23, 1952, and became a Lieutenant, Junior Grade in the United States Naval Reserve. He resigned his commission in the Naval Reserve on October 21, 1960.

As a research pilot, Armstrong served as project pilot on the F-100 Super Sabre A and C variants, F-101 Voodoo, and the Lockheed F-104A Starfighter. He also flew the Bell X-1B, Bell X-5, North American X-15, F-105 Thunderchief, F-106 Delta Dart, B-47 Stratojet, KC-135 Stratotanker, and was one of eight elite pilots involved in the paraglider research vehicle program (Paresev).

Armstrong's first flight in a rocket plane was on August 15, 1957, in the Berll X-1B, to an altitude of 11.4 miles (18.3 km). The nose landing gear broke on landing, which had happened on about a dozen previous flights of the Bell X-1B due to the aircraft's design. He later flew the North American X-15; Armstrong would fly the aircraft seven times before September 1962, and during his penultimate X-15 flight, he reached an altitude of 207,500 feet (63.2 km).

Armstrong was involved in several incidents that went down in Edwards folklore and/or were chronicled in the memoirs of colleagues. The first was an X-15 flight on April 20, 1962, when Armstrong tested a self-adjusting control system. He flew to a height of 207,000 feet (63 km), (the highest he flew before Gemini 8), but he held the aircraft nose up too long during descent, and the X-15 bounced off the atmosphere back up to 140,000 ft (43 km). At that altitude, the atmosphere is so thin that aerodynamic surfaces have almost no effect. He flew past the landing field at Mach 3 (2,000 mph, or 3,200 km/h), over 100,000 feet (30 km) altitude, and ended up 40 miles (64 km) south of Edwards (legend has it that he flew as far as the Rose Bowl). After sufficient descent, he turned back toward the landing area, and barely managed to land without striking Joshua trees at the south end. It was the longest X-15 flight in both time and distance of the ground track.

Four days later, Armstrong was involved in a second incident, when he flew for the only time with Chuck Yeager. Their job, flying a T-33 Shooting Star, was to evaluate Smith Ranch Dry Lake for use as an emergency landing site for the X-15. In his autobiography, Yeager wrote that he knew the lake bed was unsuitable for landings after recent rains, but Armstrong insisted on flying out anyway. As they attempted a touch-and-go, the wheels became stuck and they had to wait for rescue. Armstrong tells a different version of events, where Yeager never tried to talk him out of it and they made a first successful landing on the east side of the lake. Then Yeager told him to try again, this time a bit slower. On the second landing, they became stuck and according to Armstrong, Yeager was in fits of laughter.

Many of the test pilots at Edwards praised Armstrong's engineering ability. Milt Thompson said he was "the most technically capable of the early X-15 pilots." Bill Dana said Armstrong "had a mind that absorbed things like a sponge." Those who flew for the Air Force tended to have a different opinion, especially people like Chuck Yeager and Pete Knight, who did not have engineering degrees. Knight said that pilot-engineers flew in a way that was "more mechanical than it is flying," and gave this as the reason why some pilot-engineers got into trouble: their flying skills did not come naturally.

NASA AND Apollo 11

A March 1969 meeting between Deak Slayton, George Low, Bob Gilruth and Chris Kraft determined that Armstrong would be the first person on the Moon, in some part because NASA management saw Armstrong as a person who did not have a large ego.

The objective of Apollo 11 was to land safely rather than to touch down with precision on a particular spot. Three minutes into the lunar descent burn, Armstrong noted that craters were passing about two seconds too early, which meant the Eagle would probably touch down beyond the planned landing zone by several miles.

When Armstrong noticed they were heading towards a landing area which he believed was unsafe, he took over manual control of the LM, and attempted to find an area which seemed safer, taking longer than expected, and longer than most simulations had taken. For this reason, there was concern from mission control that the LM was running low on fuel. Upon landing, Aldrin and Armstrong believed they had about 40 seconds worth of fuel left, including the 20 seconds worth of fuel which had to be saved in the event of an abort. During training, Armstrong had landed the LLTV with less than 15 seconds left on several occasions, and he was also confident the LM could survive a straight-down fall from 50 feet (15 m) if needed. Analysis after the mission showed that at touchdown there were 45 to 50 seconds of propellant burn time left.

The landing on the surface of the moon occurred at 20:17:39 UTC on July 20, 1969. When a sensor attached to the legs of the still hovering Lunar Module made lunar contact, a panel light inside the LM lit up and Aldrin called out, "Contact light." As the LM settled on the surface Aldrin then said, "Okay. Engine stop," and Armstrong said, "Shutdown." The first words Armstrong intentionally spoke to Mission Control and the world from the lunar surface were, "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." Aldrin and Armstrong celebrated with a brisk handshake and pat on the back before quickly returning to the checklist of tasks needed to ready the lunar module for liftoff from the Moon should an emergency unfold during the first moments on the lunar surface. During the critical landing, the only message from Houston was "30 seconds", meaning the amount of fuel left. When Armstrong had confirmed touch-down, Houston expressed their worries during the manual landing as "You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We're breathing again".

After Apollo 11

The press often asked Armstrong for his views on the future of spaceflight. In 2005, Armstrong said that a manned mission to Mars will be easier than the lunar challenge of the 1960s: "I suspect that even though the various questions are difficult and many, they are not as difficult and many as those we faced when we started the Apollo [space program] in 1961." In 2010, he made a rare public criticism of the decision to cancel the Ares 1 launch vehicle and the Constellation moon landing program. In an open public letter also signed by Apollo veterans Jim Lovell and Gene Cernan, he noted, "For The United States, the leading space faring nation for nearly half a century, to be without carriage to low Earth orbit and with no human exploration capability to go beyond Earth orbit for an indeterminate time into the future, destines our nation to become one of second or even third rate stature". Armstrong has also publicly recalled his initial concerns about the Apollo 11 mission, when he had believed there was only a 50% chance of landing on the moon. "I was elated, ecstatic and extremely surprised that we were successful", he later said.

On November 18, 2010, at age eighty, Armstrong said in a speech during the Science and Technology Summit in The Hague, Netherlands, that he would offer his services as commander on a mission to Mars if he were asked.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Negative Quiddity: Dictatorial Executive Order

Martial Law by Executive Order
By Jim Garrison, Huffington Post, March 21, 2012

President Obama's National Defense Resources Preparedness Executive Order of March 16 does to the country as a whole what the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act did to the Constitution in particular -- completely eviscerates any due process or judicial oversight for any action by the Government deemed in the interest of "national security."

Like the NDAA, the new Executive Order puts the government completely above the law, which, in a democracy, is never supposed to happen. The United States is essentially now under martial law without the exigencies of a national emergency.

Even as the 2012 NDAA was rooted in the Patriot Act and the various executive orders and Congressional bills that ensued to broaden executive power in the "war on terror," so the new Executive Order is rooted in the Defense Production Act of 1950 which gave the Government powers to mobilize national resources in the event of national emergencies, except now virtually every aspect of American life falls under ultimate unchallengeable government control, to be exercised by the president and his secretaries at their discretion.

The 2012 NDAA deemed the United States a "battlefield," as Senator Lindsey Graham put it, and gave the president and his agents the right to seize and arrest any U.S. citizen, detain them indefinitely without charge or trial, and do so only on suspicion, without any judicial oversight or due process.

The new Executive Order states that the president and his secretaries have the authority to commandeer all U.S. domestic resources, including food and water, as well as seize all energy and transportation infrastructure inside the borders of the United States. The Government can also forcibly draft U.S. citizens into the military and force U.S. citizens to fulfill "labor requirements" for the purposes of "national defense." There is not even any Congressional oversight allowed, only briefings.

In the NDAA, only the president had the authority to abrogate legitimate freedoms of U.S. citizens. What is extraordinary in the new Executive Order is that this supreme power is designated through the president to the secretaries that run the Government itself:

• The Secretary of Defense has power over all water resources;
• The Secretary of Commerce has power over all material services and facilities, including construction materials;
• The Secretary of Transportation has power over all forms of civilian transportation;
• The Secretary of Agriculture has power over food resources and facilities, livestock plant health resources, and the domestic distribution of farm equipment;
• The Secretary of Health and Human Services has power over all health resources;
• The Secretary of Energy has power over all forms of energy.

The Executive Order even stipulates that in the event of conflict between the secretaries in using these powers, the president will determine the resolution through his national security team.

The 2012 NDAA gave the Government the right to abrogate any due process against a U.S. citizen. The new Executive Order gives the government, through the Secretary of Labor, the right to proactively mobilize U.S. citizens for "labor" as the government deems necessary and to coordinate with the Secretary of Defense to maintain data to coordinate the nation's work needs in relation to national defense.

What is extraordinary about the Executive Order is that, like the NDAA, this can all be done in peacetime without any national emergency to justify it. The language of the Order does not state that all these extraordinary measures will be done in the event of "national security" or a "national emergency." They can simply be done for "purposes of national defense," clearly a broader remit that allows the government to do what it wants, when it wants, how it wants, to whomever it wants, all without any judicial restraint or due process. As Orwell famously said in 1984, "War is peace. Peace is war." This is now the reality on the ground in America.

Finally, the 2012 NDAA was hurried through the House and Senate almost like a covert op with minimal public attention or debate. It was then signed by the president at 9:00 PM on New Year's Eve while virtually nobody was paying attention to much other than the approaching new year. This new Executive Order was written and signed in complete secret and then quietly released by the White House on its website without comment. All this was done under a president who studied constitutional law at Harvard.

It is hard to know what to say in the face of such egregious disregard for the integrity of what America has stood and fought for since its founding. It is hard in part because none of us thought such encroachments would ever happen here, certainly not under the watch of a "progressive" like Obama.

At one level, the prospect for war with Iran is probably an immediate justification. But the comprehensiveness of the Executive Order, like that of the 2012 NDAA, speaks to something much deeper, more sinister. I would suggest that this Order, like the NDAA, has been in the works for some time and is simply the next step in the logic of the "global war on terror." Our political elites have come to consider democracy an impediment to effective governance and they are slowly and painstakingly creating all the democratic legalities necessary to abridge our democratic rights with impunity, all to ensure our "security." Of such measures do republics fall and by such measures tyrants emerge.

The only thing that really remains is the occasion to test the new rules of the game.

Perhaps that will be war with Iran, perhaps some contrived emergency, or perhaps, as long as the public and media remain asleep, no occasion will be necessary at all. It will just slowly happen of its own accord and we, like the frog in the pot of slowly boiling water, will just sit there and be consumed by our own turpitude.


Jim Garrison is President of Wisdom University and author of America as Empire

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Positive Quiddity: Having a Dog

Eight Ways Dogs Improve Your Health

By The Week's Editorial Staff | The Week – Wed, Aug 22, 2012

Canines can work medical wonders, from easing the side effects of chemotherapy to helping army veterans cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.

A dog is man's best friend in the most ordinary situations, but it's when you're down and out that your canine partner really comes through in the clutch. From easing military veterans' battles with post-traumatic stress disorder to reducing heart and lung pressure for heart-failure patients, the tail-wagging beasts are walking therapy centers. They're also great motivators to get you off the couch and exercise, and can even improve infant immune systems. Here, eight ways dogs improve our health:

1.  Lessen the side effects of chemotherapy
Once a week for the past seven years, Veronica Pardo, a volunteer, has brought two dogs to the only hospital in Quito, Ecuador that treats children with cancer. The dogs not only "bring a sparkle to the eyes and smile to the faces of little ones in the midst of a huge struggle to stay alive," says The Associated Press, they also have been shown to boost the children's adrenaline, which helps them bolster their resistance to the harsh effects of chemotherapy.

2. Help veterans with PTSD
Many veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from chronic fear, anxiety, depression, and other forms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and dogs are ideal companions to "draw out even the most isolated personality" and help "traumatized veterans overcome emotional numbness," says Chris Coling at Smithsonian Magazine. There are currently four experimental programs nationwide in which PTSD-afflicted veterans are paired with Labradors and Golden Retrievers as therapy.

3. Strengthen babies' immune systems
"Dander particles, fuzzy fur, hardballs accumulating in corners," says Leah Zerbe at Rodale: "Everything about owning a pet suggests breathing problems," particularly for children. However, a Finnish study shows that "babies living in a home with a dog were generally healthier, suffered fewer respiratory and inner ear infections, and required fewer antibiotics in their first year or life." Scientists theorize that dogs bring an array of germs into the house, and the additional exposure strengthens babies' immune systems.

4. Relieve student stress
Universities around the country are employing dogs during exams in order help stressed-out students "relax and maybe even crack a smile or two," says The Associated Press. Dogs are "in counseling centers for students to visit regularly," and "pet-friendly dorms also are popping up where students can bring their dogs or cats from home." Harvard Medical School and Yale Law School even allow students to "check out" resident "therapy dogs" from libraries.

5. Get people exercising
"If you're looking for the latest in home exercise equipment, you may want to consider something with four legs and a wagging tail," says Tara Parker-Pope at The New York Times. Studies show that dogs "can be powerful motivators to get people moving" and take daily walks. One study shows that "among dog owners who took their pets for regular walks, 60 percent met federal criteria for regular moderate or vigorous exercise," compared with about 30 percent for those who didn't have dogs.

6. Help autistic kids
A recent French study shows that "getting a pet may help children with autism to develop their social skills," says MyHealthNewsDaily, as long as "the furry friend is brought into the home when the child is about 5 years old." The researchers found that "children with autism who got a pet after age 5 showed improvement in their abilities to share with others and to offer comfort, whereas those who had a pet since they were born, and those who never had a pet, showed no such improvement."

7. Heal the heart
A new study shows that therapeutic dogs can "lower anxiety, stress, and heart and lung pressure among heart-failure patients," says Jamie Stengle at The Associated Press. According to researchers, "heart pressure dropped 10 percent" for patients after a visit from a human volunteer and a dog, while it increased 3 percent when only the volunteer showed up and climbed 5 percent with no visit at all.

8. Sniff out cancer
German researchers have reported that dogs can reliably detect lung cancer just by smelling human breath. Four dogs in the study were able to sniff out lung cancer in 71 out of 100 breath samples from lung-cancer patients, while correctly identifying cancer-free breath samples 91 percent of the time.

The Associated Press (2) (3), MyHealthNewsDaily, The New York Times, Rodale, Smithsonian Magazine


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Federal Judge Meddles in Nevada

Nevada’s "None of the Above"
Option Ruled Invalid

"In a high-stakes election that could help determine the presidency and control of the U.S. Senate, a judge has ruled Nevada's unique 'none of the above' ballot option is unconstitutional and has to go," the AP reports [at ]. The judge ruled "that because the 'none' option can never win, even if it gets the most votes, it essentially makes those votes not count."

Rick Hasen: "The case has important implications -- Republicans want to eliminate NOTA because they think doing so will help get more anti-Obama votes for Romney."

-- posted August 22, 2012

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Comments by the Blog Author
The Republican National Committee bankrolled the federal lawsuit in an attempt to get more anti-Obama votes for Romney, says the Associated Press. A federal district court concurred with elimination of the none of the above voting option.

The blog author feels that this federal district court decision is wrong. Voters have a right to express their repudiation of all candidates as, jointly and severally, insufficiently qualified for the office. This goes beyond skipping the selections ("undervoting") and not showing up at the polling place.

When the winner has a margin less than the number of "none of these candidates" votes, you have a nervous, fidgety winner who will know, through his elected term, that he is on thin ice. People who were well informed, came to the polling place, looked at the race and still voted to repudiate the candidates will haunt the winner and his political circle – which is a necessary and democratic way to send a specific, vital and important message.  That's what voters do on election day.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Coming: 3D Movies Without Glasses

by Leslie Meredith, Senior Writer, TechNewsDaily
20 August 2012

Well aware that many viewers balk at high ticket prices and wearing goofy glasses to see eye-popping 3D effects, glasses-free 3D movie technology has become the holy grail of Hollywood. Researchers in South Korea believe they have a solution.

To create modern 3D effects today, movie theaters use a projector to display alternating images at the same time on the screen. When viewers wear 3D glasses, they force each eye to see one of the images, which simulates depth.

In a paper published today (Aug. 20) in the Optical Society's journal Optics Express, engineers at the Seoul National University in South Korea propose using just one projector on a modified screen to achieve a 3D experience. The screen is coated with a light-retarding film that does the work of the glasses, thus eliminating the need for viewers to wear them.

The coating on the movie screen creates a Venetian blinds' slat effect. As the light passes back either through or between the polarizing slates, the offset effect is created, producing the depth cues that give a convincing 3D effect to viewers, according to the paper.

The team said they will continue to refine their method and they anticipate that the technology could be seen at local movie theaters within the next several years.

Monday, August 20, 2012

R.I.P. Phyllis Diller

Phyllis Diller (July 17, 1917 – August 20, 2012) was an American actress and comedienne. She created a stage persona of a wild-haired, eccentrically dressed housewife who makes self-deprecating jokes about her age and appearance, her terrible cooking, and a husband named "Fang", while pretending to smoke from a long cigarette holder. Diller's signature was her unusual laugh.

Early Life

Diller was born Phyllis Ada Driver on July 17, 1917 in Lima, Ohio, the daughter of Frances Ada (née Romshe; January 12, 1881 – January 26, 1949) and Perry Marcus Driver (June 13, 1862 – August 12, 1948), an insurance agent. She had German and Irish ancestry (the surname "Driver" had been changed from "Treiber" several generations earlier). Her mother was about twenty years younger than her father.

Diller was raised a Methodist. Diller attended Lima’s Central High School, then studied piano for three years at the Sherwood Music Conservatory of Columbia College Chicago before transferring to Bluffton College, where she met fellow "Lima-ite" and classmate Hugh Downs.

Diller was a housewife, mother, and advertising copywriter. During World War II, Diller lived in Ypsilanti, Michigan, while her husband worked at the historic Willow Run Bomber Plant. In the mid-1950s [and into the 1960s], she made appearances on The Jack Paar Show and was a contestant on Groucho Marx’s quiz show You Bet Your Life.

Although she made her career in comedy, Diller had studied the piano for many years. She decided against a career in music after hearing her teachers and mentors play with much more ability than she thought that she would be able to achieve. She still played in her private life, however, and owned a custom-made harpsichord.


Diller began her career working at KROW radio in Oakland, California, in 1952. In November of that year, she began filming a television show titled Phyllis Dillis, the Homely Friendmaker. The 15-minute series was a BART (Bay Area Radio-Television) production, directed for television by ABC’s Jim Baker. In the mid 1950s, while residing in the East Bay city of Alameda, California, Diller was employed at KSFO radio in San Francisco. Bill Anderson wrote and produced a television show at KGO-TV called "Pop Club," which was hosted by Don Sherwood. "Pop Club" was a live half-hour show that combined playing records with "experts" rating them, and dancing girls encouraging audience participation. The show was an early advertisement for Belfast Root Beer, the show's main sponsor, known today as Mug Root Beer. Anderson invited her onto his show on April 23, 1955, as a vocalist.

Diller first appeared as a stand-up at The Purple Onion on March 7, 1955, and remained there for 87 straight weeks. Diller appeared on "Del Courtney's Showcase" on KPIX television on November 3, 1956.

After moving to Webster Groves, in St Louis in 1961, Diller honed her act in St. Louis clubs such as Gaslight Square's Crystal Palace. [During the] Mid-1960s -- St Louis was always home to her. Getting her first start on the Charlotte Peters Show in St Louis, where many got their start. Diller's fame grew when she co-starred with Bob Hope in 23 television specials and three films in the 1960s: Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number!, Eight on the Lam, and The Private Navy of Sgt. O'Farrell. Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! performed well at the box office and Diller accompanied Hope to Vietnam in 1966 with his USO troupe during the height of the Vietnam War.

Throughout the 1960s, she appeared regularly as a special guest on many television programs. For example, she appeared as one of the What’s My Line? mystery guests. The blindfolded panel on that evening's broadcast included Sammy Davis, Jr., and they were able to discern Diller's identity in just three guesses. Also, Diller made regular cameo appearances making her trademark wisecracks on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. Self-deprecating to a fault, a typical Diller joke had her running after a garbage truck pulling away from her curb. "Am I too late for the trash?" she'd yell. The driver's reply: "No, jump right in!"

Though her main claim to fame was her stand-up comedy act, Diller also appeared in other films besides the three mentioned above, including a cameo appearance as Texas Guinan, the wisecracking nightclub hostess in the 1961 film Splendor in the Grass. She appeared in more than a dozen, usually low-budget, movies, including voice work as The Monster's Mate in the Rankin/Bass animated film Mad Monster Party (1967), co-starring Boris Karloff.

Diller also starred in two short-lived TV series: the half-hour sitcom The Pruitts of Southampton (later retitled The Phyllis Diller Show) on ABC from 1966 to 1967, and the variety show The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show on NBC in 1968. More recent television appearances for Diller included at least three episodes between 1999 and 2003 on the long-running family drama 7th Heaven, in one of which she got drunk while cooking dinner for the household, and a 2002 episode of The Drew Carey Show, as Mimi Bobek's grandmother. She posed for Playboy, but the photos were never run in the magazine. Her voice can be heard in several animated TV shows, including The New Scooby-Doo Movies (1972) as herself, Hey Arnold! as Arnold's grandpa's sister Mitzi, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2002) as Jimmy's grandmother, and on Family Guy in 2006 as Peter Griffin's mother, Thelma Griffin.

Beginning December 26, 1969, she had a three-month run on Broadway in Hello, Dolly! (opposite Richard Deacon) as the second to last in a succession of replacements for Carol Channing in the title role, which included Ginger Rogers, Martha Raye, Betty Grable and Pearl Bailey. After Diller's stint, Ethel Merman took over the role until the end of the show's run in December 1970.

In 1993, she was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame.

In 1998, Diller provided the vocals for the Queen in Disney/Pixar’s animated movie A Bug’s Life. In 2005,

Diller was featured as one of many contemporary comics in a documentary film, The Aristocrats. Diller, who avoided blue comedy, did a version of an old, risqué vaudeville routine in which she describes herself passing out when she first heard the joke, forgetting the actual content of the joke.

In 2000, she was awarded the Women in Film Lucy Award in recognition of her excellence and innovation in her creative works that have enhanced the perception of women through the medium of television.

In 2003, after hearing of the donation of Archie Bunker's chair to the Smithsonian Institution, Diller opened her doors to the National Museum of American History and offered up some of her most iconic costume pieces and her gag file, a steel cabinet with 48 file-drawers containing more than 50,000 jokes and gags typewritten on index cards by Diller during her career. From August 12 to October 28, 2011, the Albert H. Small Documents Gallery at the National Museum of American History displayed Diller's gag file and some of the objects that became synonymous with her comedic persona-an unkempt wig, wrist-length gloves, cloth-covered ankle boots and a bejeweled cigarette holder.

On January 24, 2007, she appeared on The Tonight Show and performed stand-up, before chatting with Jay Leno.

Diller had a cameo appearance in an episode of ABC's Boston Legal on April 10, 2007. She appeared as herself, confronting William Shatner’s character Denny Crane, alleging to have had a torrid love affair with him. They seemed to have enjoyed a romantic moment in a foxhole during World War II.

Diller was a member of the Society of Singers, which supports singers in need. In June 2001 at the request of fellow Society member and producer Scott Sherman, she appeared at Kansas City and Philadelphia Pride events. The mayor of Philadelphia officially proclaimed June 8, 2001, as "Phyllis Diller Day." She was presented an official proclamation onstage to a standing ovation. In 2006, Mayor of San Francisco Gavin Newsom proclaimed February 5, 2006, "Phyllis Diller Day in San Francisco", which she accepted by phone.

She also recorded at least five comedy LP records, one of which was Born To Sing, released as Columbia CS 9523.

Although known for decades for smoking from long cigarette holders in her comedy act, Diller was a lifelong nonsmoker, and the cigarette holders were stage props that she had specially constructed.
On August 10, 2011, she appeared in an episode of her friend Roseanne Barr's reality show, Roseanne’s Nuts.

Personal life

Diller, a longtime resident of the Brentwood area of Los Angeles, California, credited much of her success to Bob Hope, in large part because he included her in many of his films and his Vietnam USO shows. She was an accomplished pianist as well as a painter.



Diller was married and divorced twice. She also dated Earl "Madman" Muntz, a pioneer in oddball TV and radio ads.

She had six children from her marriage to her first husband, Sherwood Anderson Diller. Her first child was Peter (b. 1940; d. 1998 of cancer). Her second child Sally, born in 1944, has suffered from schizophrenia most of her life. Her third child, a son, lived for only two weeks in an incubator. A daughter, Suzanne, was born in 1946, followed by another daughter Stephanie (b. 1948 d. 2002 of a stroke) and a son Perry (b. 1950).

Diller's second husband was actor Warde Donovan (born Warde Tatum), whom she married on 7 October 1965 and divorced the following year; they apparently re-married and divorced for a second time in 1974.

She was the partner of Robert P. Hastings from 1985 until his death in 1996.

Her youngest son Perry, now 62, oversaw her affairs until her death. Diller was not the mother of actress
Susan Lucci, nor TV personality Dorothy Lucey, despite urban legends to that effect, frequently passed through viral emails under trivia headings such as "Did You Know...?"

The husband frequently mentioned in her act, "Fang", was entirely fictional, and not based on any of her actual husbands.

Diller spent much of her final years painting, cooking, and gardening.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Germans Stingy About New Greek Loans

Michelle Martin of Reuters notes that the German magazine Der Spiegal is reportings that Greece has fallen behind in existing repayments to previous loans which Germany has made to the Mediterranean nation. To meet current loan agreements, it appears Greece needs to make $17 billion in cuts over the next two years rather than the figure of $11.5 billion that had been expected.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Saturday, "It is not responsible to throw money into a bottomless pit." Volker Kauder, head of the conservatives in the German parliament, also favors a tough approach to Greek indebtedness. More and more Germans are calling for a Greek exit from the Euro.

Inspectors representing the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well as the European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB) will return to Greece in September.

Summarized from:

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See also

and, especially (possibly the best news article of 2012) :

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Positive Quiddity: young Taylor Wilson

Taylor Ramon Wilson
(born May 7, 1994) is an American nuclear scientist who was noted in 2008 for being the youngest person in the world (at age 14) to build a working nuclear fusion reactor. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of Energy offered federal funding to Wilson concerning research Wilson has conducted in building inexpensive Cherenkov radiation detectors; Wilson has declined on an interim basis due to pending patent issues. Traditional Cherenkov detectors usually cost hundreds of thousands of dollars (USD), while Wilson invented a working detector that cost a few hundred dollars. In May 2011, Wilson entered his radiation detector in the Intel Intefnational Science and Engineering Fair against a field of 1,500 competitors and won a $50,000 award. The project was entitled "Countering Nuclear Terrorism: Novel Active and Passive Techniques for Detecting Nuclear Threats" and won the First Place Award in the Physics and Astronomy Category, Best of Category Award, and the Intel Young Scientist Award. Wilson stated he hopes to test and rapidly field the devices to U.S. ports for counterterrorism purposes.
According to Wilson, he is currently attending the University of Nevada, Reno and the Davidson Academy of Nevada. He lives in Reno, Nevada.

In June 2012, Wilson was awarded the Thiel Fellowship. The two-year $100,000 fellowship would require him to drop out of college for the duration of the fellowship.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hypersonic Jet Tested Today

Military to test hypersonic jet that could zip across the U.S. in less than 1 hour

By Ron Recinto | The Lookout

A superfast jet that could fly from L.A. to New York City in less than an hour may be one step closer to reality after a key test this week.

The X-51A WaveRider, an unmanned aircraft that could reach speeds up to Mach 6 will be launched from the wing of a B-52 bomber high above the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The WaveRider is expected to zip up into the atmosphere and fly at hypersonic speeds—3,600 mph—for 300 seconds, before breaking up into the ocean.

If successful, if would be the longest jaunt for the test aircraft. The newspaper noted that the development of WaveRider could lead to progress on a passenger jet that could theoretically travel across the U.S. in 46 minutes.

"Attaining sustained hypersonic flight is like going from propeller-driven aircraft to jet aircraft," Robert A. Mercier, deputy for technology in the high speed systems division at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Ohio told the L.A. Times.

But beyond passenger flights, achieving hypersonic speeds could also lead to the development of the next generation of missiles, space vehicles and military aircraft, the Times points out.

The WaveRider program had an issue in June of 2011 when the test vehicle in a similar test to the one planned for Tuesday failed to reach full power.

The Pentagon said it spent about $2 billion on technology and engineering around hypersonic flight over the last decade, the Times reports. This program is estimated to cost $140 million, according to, a military policy research website.

If you're keeping score, the Concorde, a supersonic airliner, crossed the Atlantic at 1,350 mph.
It [the Concorde] would take about 3.5 hours [to cross the Atlantic], about twice as fast as current commercial airlines. The Concorde was retired in 2003.

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Follow-on news: the test was actually
conducted on August 14th

"The U.S. military conducted an unmanned test flight on Tuesday of its hypersonic Waverider aircraft, designed to move at six times the speed of sound using technology that bridges the gap between planes and rocketships, a military official said.

"A B-52 bomber launched the remotely monitored, nearly wingless experimental aircraft, officially known as the X-51A, between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. (1700 and 1800 GMT), John Haire, a spokesman for the 412th test wing at Edwards Air Force Base in California, said in a statement. Results of the brief test flight will be released on Wednesday, he said"

Monday, August 13, 2012

Helen Gurley Brown Dies

Helen Gurley Brown (February 18, 1922 – August 13, 2012) was an American author, publisher, and businesswoman. She was editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine for 32 years.

Early life

Brown was born in Green Forest, Arkansas, the daughter of Cleo and Ira Marvin Gurley. Her mother was born in Alpena, Arkansas, and died in 1980. Her father was once appointed Commissioner of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. The family moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, after Ira won an election to the Arkansas state legislature. He died in an elevator accident on June 18, 1932. In 1937, Brown, her sister Mary, and their mother moved to Los Angeles, California. A few months after moving, Mary contracted polio. While in California, Brown attended John H. Francis Polytechnic High School.

                                            Helen Gurley Brown in 1964

After Brown's graduation, the family moved to Warm Springs, Georgia. Brown attended one semester at Texas State College for Women and then moved back to California to attend Woodbury Business College. She graduated in 1941. In 1947, Cleo and Mary moved to Osage, Arkansas, while Brown stayed in Los Angeles.

After working at the William Morris Agency, Music Corporation of America, and Jaffe talent agencies she went to work for Foote, Cone & Belding advertising agency as a secretary. Her employer recognized her writing skills and moved her to the copywriting department where she advanced rapidly to become one of the nation's highest paid ad copywriters in the early 1960s. In 1959 she married David Brown, who would become the producer of Jaws, The Sting, Cocoon, Driving Miss Daisy and other motion pictures.


In 1962, when she was 40, her bestselling book Sex and the Single Girl was published. In 1965, she became editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan and reversed the fortunes of the failing magazine. During the decade of the 1960s she was an outspoken advocate of women's sexual freedom and sought to provide them with role-models and a guide in her magazine. She claimed that women could have it all, "love, sex, and money", a view that even preceding feminists such as Betty Friedan and Germaine Greer did not support at all and has been met with notable opposition by advocates of grass-roots devotion of women to family and marriage. Due to her advocacy, glamorous, fashion-focused women were sometimes called "Cosmo Girls". Her work played a part in what is often called the sexual revolution.

In 1997, Brown was ousted from her role as the U.S. editor of Cosmopolitan and was replaced by Bonnie Fuller. When she left, Cosmopolitan ranked sixth at the newsstand, and for the 16th straight year, ranked first in bookstores on college campuses.
However, she stayed on at Hearst publishing and remained the international editor for all 59 international editions of Cosmo until her death on August 13, 2012.

In September, 2008, she was named the 13th most powerful American over the age of 80 by Slate magazine.

After more than 50 years of marriage, her husband, David Brown, died at age 93 on
February 1, 2010.

Together with her husband David, Helen Gurley established the David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation. This institution will be housed at both the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and Stanford’s Engineering School. Their $30 million donation to the two schools will be used to develop journalism in the context of new technologies.


Brown died at the McKeen Pavilion at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia after a brief hospitalization; she was 90. In its statement announcing the news, Hearst Publications did not disclose a cause. The company said, "Helen was one of the world’s most recognized magazine editors and book authors, and a true pioneer for women in journalism—and beyond."

Entertainment Weekly said that "Gurley Brown will be remembered for her impact on the publishing industry, her contributions to the culture at large, and sly quips like her famous line: 'Good girls go to heaven. Bad girls go everywhere.'" New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a statement said, "Today New York City lost a pioneer who reshaped not only the entire media industry, but the nation's culture. She was a role model for the millions of women whose private thoughts, wonders and dreams she addressed so brilliantly in print."

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Paul Ryan Changes Entire Campaign

From the Blog Author: An Introduction to today’s post

Certain Republican Presidential nominee Willard "Mitt" Romney has selected Wisconsin congressman (and House Budget Committee chairman) Paul Ryan as his running mate, which the party’s convention in Tampa will surely make official. A Yahoo contributor wrote a story about the reaction to this news by ordinary Republicans. Then people posted comments.


The entire conversation about the presidential race has changed, immediately and distinctly, upon the announcement of Ryan as running mate. This is sharply seen in the comments section to the story.

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"Ken" stated a long comment on the story of Republican response to Ryan’s selection as Romney's running mate:

How Obama Is Ignoring You and Bypassing Congress to Radically Transform America -- Obama denied the Keystone Oil Pipeline, used the EPA to close down Coal Mining throughout the country, as well as closing down and denying new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, etc. all of which will make Power and Fuel prices go UP in the future.

Obama bypassed congressional authority, issuing an executive order to place US coastal waters in the jurisdiction of the UN, and making US coastal states responsible to pay taxes and share revenue with up to 160 foreign nations. Obama placed the UN L.O.S.T. Treaty above the sovereignty of the United States.

Obama bypassed congressional authority, issuing executive order number 13575 to place a large percentage of rural American farmland into the jurisdiction of the UN, and to extend federal control over that portion of our farmlands, driving out the rightful owners with federal regulations. Executive order 13575 agenda 21

Obama bypassed Congress on the DREAM Act, stopping the Fed Gov from deporting illegals and granting them work permits, adding millions to a workforce that already has tens of millions out of work.

Obama bypassed Congress and issued a policy directive that effectively rewrites the welfare reform law of 1996, his change allows the Department of Health and Human Services to waive the work requirement at the heart of welfare reform.

Obama ordered the US Department of Labor secretary Jane Oates to issue "guidance" to government contractors telling them to forget about November 1st warnings to employees about mass layoffs coming due to the automatic budget cuts that take effect in January. The layoff warnings are required under WARN act law, 60 days ahead of a mass layoff, but Obama doesn't want companies to follow the law.

Obama ordered the IRS to ignore fraudulent immigrant claims for refunds they claim for children, who are not even verified to be real, no proof required, it is estimated that this fraud costs tax payers over 6 Billion dollars a year. Yet Obama is more than willing to go after hard working Americans for even MORE taxes.

Obama’s stimulus plan cost more than the race to the moon, the Louisiana Purchase, and the Marshall Plan combined — in real dollars — and it did nothing for the economy. Some of Obama's biggest supporters reaped the rewards of the ARRA stimulus, while the promise that it would ensure unemployment would never go above 8% was proven false, as it never went below 8%.

Everybody in D.C., Obama included, knew the American people didn’t want Obamacare. The polls showed that they hated it. Scott Brown won "Ted Kennedy’s seat" by promising to vote against health care reform. There were angry townhalls, Tea Parties, and tens of millions of phone calls and emails spurred by that legislation.

Obama helped push it through anyway, Obama has time and time again proven he does not care one bit about American's opinions, he will do what he wants to do, not matter what the cost to America.

When Congress Refused to Pass his Cap and Trade (even the overwhelmingly Democrat Congress of 2009-2010 wouldn't pass it), Obama said "Cap and Trade was just one way of skinning the cat; it was not the only way. It was a means, not an end."
Obama is going beyond even maximizing Executive Branch regulatory powers. His established pattern and practice now includes exceeding statutory authority, ignoring court rulings, ignoring the duties of his office, and breaking agreements with Congress.

Obama's policies, driven by ideology and vote-getting, rather than rational analysis of the interests of the USA, do nothing but cause harm to this great nation

-- Ken

All of this consists of a comment posted in response to a story about ordinary Republicans responding to the selection of Paul Ryan as running mate at:
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Obama's friends are people like Louis Farrakhan and Hugo Chavez, Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn.... George Soros, a multi-billionaire Marxist spent huge sums of money to get Obama elected.

Page 425, line 4-12: The government mandates advance-care planning consultations. Those on Social Security will be required to attend an "end-of-life planning" seminar every five years. (Death counseling...)

Page 272, section 1145. Cancer treatment, hospitals will RATION care according to patient's age.

"Look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something - If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Someone else made that happen." Yeah Obama really said it, and he REALLY meant it.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Large U.S. Banks' Secret Survival Plans

America’s large banks have been required by the Dodd-Frank bill to establish "living wills" so they can die off in an orderly manner if one of them becomes unstable. Rick Rothacker of Reuters reports that, additionally, for two years there have been plans for staving off collapse in the face of serious problems without counting on government help. The Reuters article states:
"Officials like Lehman Brothers former Chief Executive Dick Fuld have been criticized for having been too hesitant to take bold steps to solve their banks' problems during the financial crisis.

"According to documents obtained by Reuters, the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency first directed five banks - which also include Citigroup Inc,, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase & Co - to come up with these "recovery plans" in May 2010."
The banks aren’t talking about this and neither is the Federal Reserve. The article states that the "living wills" are "resolution plans" to protect the banking system, taxpayers and the banks’ creditors. But the "recovery plans" seek to protect stockholders by selling off the peripheral businesses and keeping the core operations for the future. Large banks in Great Britain are required to have both types of plans.

In a presentation given in March of 2012, JPMorgan Chase said it had a recovery plan in place and said it was ordered by regulators. The presentation was organized by Harvard Law School and was closed to the media at the time, but is available online at:


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Friday, August 10, 2012

OLED Television Displays

By David Elrich, TechNewsDaily contributor

09 August 2012 -- Move over, LCDs: It’s time for OLED displays to make their grand entry. These new screens, which provide the peak of picture quality, are finally moving from trade show prototypes to things you can buy — if your pockets are deep enough.

What is OLED?

OLED stands for "organic light-emitting diode." Each pixel is made up of a material, placed directly on the display panel, that emits its own light. Since there’s no backlight as used in LCD displays, the televisions require less power and are much thinner. For example, LG’s 55-inch OLED high-definition TV prototype shown in January was 4 mm thick.

Why are OLED TVs special?

Think of the TV with the deepest blacks and most vibrant colors you've seen. Now visualize even inkier blacks (which make for great contrast) and brighter, more-accurate colors, and you have an OLED display.

They also have faster response than LCD sets, so motion blur — in sports, for example — is practically
eliminated. Viewing angles are much improved, too, so more people can gather around to watch.
Where can I see OLED technology today?

Small OLED screens are found on some smartphones, such as the Samsung Galaxy SIII. They are also on a few digital cameras and the Sony PlayStation Vita portable game device. From these you can get a taste of the contrast, color reproduction and improved viewing angles coming your way on TVs.

When do OLEDs arrive?

Actually they already have but were initially a flop. Sony introduced an OLED television, the XEL-1, in 2008. The biggest screen size was just 11 inches, and it cost almost $3,000. Sony didn’t sell too many.
Samsung and LG will bring the first consumer-targeted large screens — measuring 55 inches — to the U.S. before the end of 2012.

Who else will have them?

'Panasonic and Sony announced a collaboration earlier this year that should yield TVs from each company in 2013. As other manufacturers master OLED production (or buy panels from other companies), you can
expect a larger variety of brands and screen sizes, probably in about two years.

How much will OLED TVs cost?

Hold onto your seats: The first 55-inch models will likely set you back $8,000 to $10,000. Samsung announced a $9,000 price for the Korean market this past spring. By comparison, the very best current 55-inch plasma is around $3,000, and LED LCD sets are even less.

Clearly this is 1-percenter territory, but as in all things electronic, prices will drop to more reasonable levels over time. When the first 20-inch LCD TV arrived in 2001, it cost $5,000. Today you can buy a 32-inch LCD HDTV for $199.

Respected market analysts at DisplaySearch believe OLED TVs will be much more affordable within two years.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Major Airport on-time Arrival Statistics

The Associated Press has repeated a statistical list from The Bureau of Transportation Statistics regarding the percentage of flights that arrived on time at various major American airports in the first half of 2012:

  1: Salt Lake City 89.72
  2: Charlotte, N.C. 87.54
  3: Minneapolis/St. Paul 87.14
  4: Phoenix 86.85
  5: Las Vegas 86.67
  6: Chicago Midway 86.16
  7: Baltimore 86.14
  8: Atlanta 85.91
  9: Detroit 85.73
10: Portland, Ore. 85.37
11: Tampa, Fla. 85.35
12: Seattle 85.10
13: Orlando, Fla. 84.92
14: San Diego 84.70
15: Denver 84.52
16: New York JFK 84.35
17: Dallas/Fort Worth 84.23
18: Miami 84.21
19: Los Angeles 83.70
20: Fort Lauderdale, Fla. 83.59
21: Washington National 83.18
22: Philadelphia 82.73
23: Boston 82.56
24: Chicago O'Hare 81.91
25: Washington Dulles 81.02
26: New York, LaGuardia 80.32
27: Houston 79.70
28: San Francisco 73.35
29: Newark, N.J. 70.61

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dolphin Genes Hint at High Intelligence

Dolphins have several unusual mammalian characteristics:
  • They are extremely smart
  • They are able to use tools
  • They recognize themselves
  • They communicate with each other
  • They communicate with human trainers
Researchers compared approximately 10,000 bottlenose dolphin gene with nine different animals (cows, horses, dogs, mice, humans, elephants, opossums, platypi and chickens). They were looking for genes that underwent changes and were passed on, which is to say evolving or "being selected for" by the next generation. This tendency can be determined by protein-changing mutations in the gene.

Dolphins significantly altered over 200 of the 10,000 genes surveyed. Twenty-seven changes affected the nervous system. Many changes were related to metabolism, which is significant because the brain uses more energy than other tissues. Although these changes do not prove that they are responsible for the superb thinking ability of dolphins, they do point in that direction.

The researchers were surprised to find that, overall, dolphins were evolving more slowly than many other animals, a characteristic of other mammals with large brains such as primates and elephants.. This may be explained by the tendency of big-brained mammals to invest more in their offspring and have fewer babies, a trend which itself leads to slower evolution.

The research is detailed in the June 27 issue of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences and was reported in LiveScience by Jennifer Welsh.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Wozniak Uneasy About Cloud Computing

  By Robert MacPherson

(AFP -- Sunday, August 5, 2012) -- Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple with the late Steve Jobs, predicted "horrible problems" in the coming years as cloud-based computing takes hold.

Wozniak, 61, was the star turn at the penultimate performance in Washington of "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," monologist Mike Daisey's controversial two-hour expose of Apple's labor conditions in China.

In a post-performance dialogue with Daisey and audience members, Wozniak held forth on topics as varied as public education (he once did a stint as a school teacher) and reality TV (having appeared on "Dancing with the Stars").

But the engineering wizard behind the progenitor of today's personal computer, the Apple II, was most outspoken on the shift away from hard disks towards uploading data into remote servers, known as cloud computing.

"I really worry about everything going to the cloud," he said. "I think it's going to be horrendous. I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years."

He added: "With the cloud, you don't own anything. You already signed it away" through the legalistic terms of service with a cloud provider that computer users must agree to.

"I want to feel that I own things," Wozniak said. "A lot of people feel, 'Oh, everything is really on my computer,' but I say the more we transfer everything onto the web, onto the cloud, the less we're going to have control over it."

Prior to Saturday at the Woolly Mammoth theater in Washington, Daisey and Wozniak had met once before, in California after a performance of "The Agony and the Ecstasy" in its original version in February 2011.

Wozniak was moved to tears, but a year later Daisey came under fire when it emerged that sections of his one-man show dealing with the Foxconn plant in China where iPhones and iPads are assembled had been fabricated.

Public radio show "This American Life," which had broadcast portions of "The Agony and the Ecstasy," went so far as to issue a retraction. Daisey meanwhile reworked his script, albeit without toning down his powerful delivery.

On the minimalist stage Saturday, seated on plain wooden chairs, Daisey and Wozniak came across as a geek version of Tweedledum and Tweedledee in their baggy black clothes and matching beer bellies.

The bearded, fast-talking Wozniak sported running shoes and a massive wrist watch. In the theater lobby, for Saturday only, one of the very first Apple I computers ever built -- assembled in Jobs' garage -- was on display.

"Everything I designed was purely out of my head, never out of a book," recalled Wozniak, who quit Apple in 1987 after 12 years, taught fifth-graders, hit the lecture circuit and gave away some of his fortune to good causes.

Many in the audience echoed Daisey's concern about Foxconn's work force, but Wozniak said he expected labor conditions in China to evolve as the nation grows richer. He also commended Apple for its oversight of its factories.

"We know we (citizens and consumers) have a voice. We can speak (about labor conditions), but we can't act like, oh, Foxconn is bad or Apple is bad," he said.

Daisey begged to differ: "I hear what you're saying about that fact that everyone goes through an evolution, but it's not as if the evolution was natural in the sense that we are the ones who brought the jobs there."

While Apple designs its products in the United States, all its manufacturing takes place in China -- a sore point in an election year in which unemployment and a long-term exodus of manufacturing jobs overseas have been campaign issues.

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Problem With Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy can backfire and boost cancer growth: study

AFP – August 5, 2012

Cancer-busting chemotherapy can cause damage to healthy cells which triggers them to secrete a protein that sustains tumour growth and resistance to further treatment, a study said Sunday.

Researchers in the United States made the "completely unexpected" finding while seeking to explain why cancer cells are so resilient inside the human body when they are easy to kill in the lab.

They tested the effects of a type of chemotherapy on tissue collected from men with prostate cancer, and found "evidence of DNA damage" in healthy cells after treatment, the scientists wrote in Nature Medicine.

Chemotherapy works by inhibiting reproduction of fast-dividing cells such as those found in tumours.

The scientists found that healthy cells damaged by chemotherapy secreted more of a protein called WNT16B which boosts cancer
cell survival.

"The increase in WNT16B was completely unexpected," study co-author Peter Nelson of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle told AFP.

The protein was taken up by tumour cells neighbouring the damaged cells.

"WNT16B, when secreted, would interact with nearby tumour cells and cause them to grow, invade, and importantly, resist subsequent therapy," said Nelson.

In cancer treatment, tumours often respond well initially, followed by rapid regrowth and then resistance to further chemotherapy.

Rates of tumour cell reproduction have been shown to accelerate between treatments.

"Our results indicate that damage responses in benign cells... may directly contribute to enhanced tumour growth kinetics," wrote the team.

The researchers said they confirmed their findings with breast and ovarian cancer tumours.

The result paves the way for research into new, improved treatment, said Nelson.

"For example, an antibody to WNT16B, given with chemotherapy, may improve responses (kill more tumour cells)," he said in an email exchange.

"Alternatively, it may be possible to use smaller, less toxic doses of therapy."