Sunday, July 28, 2013

Making Electronic Copies of Music

A Legal Guide to Backing
Up Your Music Library
By Ryan Goodrich,

Today’s world of media is steadily progressing to all digital, which is to say CDs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Switching from disc to digital can remove a great deal of clutter from your living quarters. Burning CDs, backing up your music to a computer or even cloud-based service isn’t terribly complicated since the files are already digital. What you have to watch out for is the legal caveats involved in backing up your music.

Can You Legally Copy Music Discs?
Under the doctrine of fair use, making a copy of your own CDs using CD burning software doesn’t necessarily violate U.S. copyright laws. What does violate these laws is distributing these copies or using them commercially. Simply put, if you try to resell the media you’ve copied, you will quickly find yourself in a dire legal situation. While it’s unlikely you’ll be taken to court for selling your CDs and keeping the backups on your computer, it is illegal. It’s always a safe bet to delete any digital copies you made before you contemplate selling physical copies of your media.

Music CDs are legal to copy simply because they don’t have any copy protections in place. Movies do on the other hand, which is why copying movies is illegal. If you’re simply backing up music CDs you own, which you still intend on keeping, then you are well within your right legally to do so. However, if you purchase a music CD, burn the music and then return the CD, that is crossing the proverbial legal line.

Can You Legally Copy Music to the Cloud?  
Cloud services like DropBox and Skydrive offer an online method of storage so that, in the event of computer failure, you don’t lose critical files from your machine. Many individuals have used such services to back up their media, from photos to music to movies. Copying music to a cloud-based service does not infringe upon any legal matters unless otherwise stated in the Terms of Use agreement for your cloud service. If a service states that it cannot be used to store music and videos, then you shouldn’t be surprised if your media suddenly disappears due to administrative deletion.

Are There Exceptions to the Rule?
While the law doesn’t explicitly state every circumstance in which you can or cannot copy music, it is most clear when it comes to the legality of copying music to your computer as a backup precaution. However, if you copy music to your computer and then transfer it to a portable music device, then you’ve crossed the line. Of course, this depends on where you originally purchased the music. iTunes encourages consumers to "make as many custom CDs as you like." However, their use is limited to personal, noncommercial usage.
In most any case, you’ll be able to safely copy music to your computer, custom CD or portable music device without fear of legal pursuit. Only in cases of commercial sale and use of copied music can you normally expect to attract the legal attention of music studios.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

van Allen Belts' Speedy Electrons

UI researchers help answer long-standing question about van Allen radiation beltsElectron acceleration occurs in the heart of the radiation belts By Gary Galluzzo, University of Iowa, July 25, 2013

Two University of Iowa researchers and their colleagues have advanced scientists’ knowledge of the Earth’s Van Allen radiation belts by answering a long-standing question about the belts.

Craig Kletzing and William Kurth of the UI Department of Physics and Astronomy note that since 1958 when UI space physicist James A. Van Allen discovered the doughnut-shaped bands of intense radiation encircling the Earth, scientists have wondered just how and where electrons trapped within the belts get their ultra-high energies.

In a paper published in the July 25 issue of the online journal Science Express, researchers say they examined two possibilities: first, the long-accepted theory that the electrons get their energy as they make their way into the belts from outside them, or that they are accelerated inside the belts. Using measurements from NASA’s twin Van Allen Probes mission satellites, the researchers determined that the electrons can also gain their energy inside the belts.

Kletzing says the way in which scientists solved the mystery is similar to the way in which a person might determine whether a woman wearing a strong perfume is standing in the doorway, in this case representing an external electron acceleration source, or if she is in the middle of the room.

"If the woman is in the doorway, then you should detect a decline in the intensity of the fragrance as you move away from the door," says Kletzing. "But if she is in the middle of the room, then the scent will be strongest inside the room, decreasing in all directions away from where she is standing."

Similarly, the Van Allen Probes data clearly eliminated the possibility of external electron acceleration and determined that electron acceleration is taking place through "local acceleration in the heart of the radiation belts," Kletzing says.

Launched Aug. 30, 2012, the Van Allen Probes mission consists of two satellites with slightly different orbits so that over time, one moves ahead of the other. Orbiting the Earth from about 300 miles above the ground to as far as 25,000 miles at apogee, the satellites fly nearly identical orbits during their two-year mission.

The UI-designed-and-built part of the mission is called EMFISIS, for Electric and Magnetic Field Instrument Suite with Integrated Science. The $30 million NASA-funded project to study how various amounts of space radiation form and change during space storms is led by Kletzing, F. Wendell Miller professor of physics and astronomy and principal investigator, and Kurth, UI research scientist and co-investigator.

In addition to Kletzing and Kurth, co-authors of the Science Express paper include lead author Geoff Reeves of Los Alamos National Laboratory and researchers from the University of New Hampshire, University of Colorado, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, UCLA and The Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo, Calif. NASA funded the study.

Earlier this year, scientists with the Van Allen Probes mission reported the discovery of a previously unknown third radiation belt. Other mission objectives include a better understanding of how the Van Allen radiation belts react to solar change, thereby contributing to Earth's space weather. Changes in space weather can disable satellites, overload power grids, disrupt GPS service, and endanger humans in space.

The Van Allen Probes mission is the second mission in NASA's Living With a Star program to explore aspects of the connected sun-Earth system that directly affect life and society. The program is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

For more information about NASA's Van Allen Probes mission, visit:

Friday, July 26, 2013

Great Stories Worth Hearing -- Live

The National Storytelling Festival is held the first full weekend of October in Jonesborough, Tennessee, at the International Storytelling Center. The National Storytelling Festival was founded by Jimmy Neil Smith, a high school journalism teacher in 1973. It has grown over the years to become a major festival both in the United States and internationally.

In 1973, Jimmy Neil Smith, a high school journalism teacher, and a carload of students heard Grand Ole Opry regular Jerry Clower spin a tale over the radio about coon hunting in Mississippi. Smith was inspired by that event to create a story telling festival in Northeast Tennessee.

In October 1973, the first National Storytelling Festival was held in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Hay bales and wagons were the stages, and audience and tellers together didn't number more than 60.

Two years after the first festival, Smith founded the National Storytelling Association (NSA), an organization that led America's storytelling renaissance. For almost a quarter of a century, NSA served as the connecting point for this storytelling revival — the momentum behind this ever-widening movement. Today, NSA (now known as the International Storytelling Center) promotes the power of storytelling and the creative applications of this ancient tradition to enrich the human experience in the home, at the workplace, and throughout the world.

The Festival
Produced by the International Storytelling Center, the three-day outdoor festival features performances by internationally-known artists and has been hailed "the leading event of its kind in America" by USA Today.

In existence for nearly 40 years, the Festival attracts more than 10,000 audience members to Jonesborough---Tennessee's oldest town---from across the United States and world annually, including school groups whose students attend as an educational experience.

The festival builds on the Appalachian cultural tradition of storytelling. Held under circus tents scattered throughout Jonesborough, storytellers sit on stages or at the head of the tent to perform. There are usually five or six tents in close proximity so that festival goers can easily walk from tent to tent and from performance to performance.

Past storytellers include Carmen Agra Deedy, Jay O’Callahan, Donald Davis, Syd Lieberman, Andy Offutt Iwrin, and Kathryn Tucker Windham. The festival has expanded to include the growing ranks of Youth Storytellers, including showcasing participants and winners of the National Youth Storytelling Showcase.

The festival influenced the development of a storytelling graduate degree program at the nearby East Tennessee State University. This is the only Master's degree program of its kind.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Barely Explored World of Marine Viruses

Newly Discovered Marine Viruses Offer Glimpse Into Untapped Biodiversity
By Daniel Stolte, University Communications, University of Arizona, July 23, 2013

Studying bacteria from the Baltic Sea, UA researchers have discovered an entire array of previously unknown viruses that barely resemble any of the known bacteria-infecting viruses.

Bacteriophages – viruses that prey on bacteria – are less familiar to most people than their flu- or cold-causing cousins, but they control processes of global importance. For example, they determine how much oxygen goes from the oceans into the atmosphere in exchange for carbon dioxide, they influence climate patterns across the Earth and they alter the assemblages of microorganisms competing in the environment.

Despite their importance, scientists know almost nothing about "environmental viruses." This is because most bacteriophages studies focus on those involved in human diseases or food processing.

Now, a research team led by Matthew Sullivan, an assistant professor in the UA's department of ecology and evolutionary biology, has deciphered the genetic makeup of 31 phages infecting a bacterium from the Baltic Sea known as Cellulophaga baltica. This bacterium and its relatives, collectively known as Bacteroidetes, play key roles in complex carbohydrate cycling in environments ranging from the oceans and sea ice to the human gut. The results are published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

"All of the phages we found in these bacteria were not previously known to science," said Sullivan, who is a member of the UA's BIO5 Institute. "It shows how little we know about what is out there."

"Every single one of those groups that we found represents a new genus and their biology is exceptional," he added. "For example, some have genomes twice as large as those we've seen before."

"More than 80 percent of the phages' structural proteins have no known counterparts in other species," Sullivan said. "We're breaking new ground with these viruses pretty much everywhere we look."

The analyses also represent what the authors describe as the first glimpse in to the phage side of the rare biosphere.

"Anywhere you go, there are some organisms that are abundant and some that are rare,"
Sullivan explained. "We tend to study the ones that are abundant because those are the ones we see. These Bacteroidetes phages are ubiquitous, meaning they occur in many parts of the world, but they're never abundant – at least at the locations and times we've sampled so far."

"In a random water sample, you might not find any, but if we were to sample an algae bloom, we would expect these rare biosphere organisms to become important. Now that we have them in culture, we can make a bloom happen anytime in the lab, and study them in a way that we haven’t been able to before."

The research illustrates why environmental phages are important: Bacteria like Cellulophaga account for many of the microorganisms that make up marine and freshwater phytoplankton, where they control global cycles of oxygen and carbon, and their boom and bust cycles directly translate into abundance and shortage nutrients, which sustain global food webs and fisheries, for example.

The hidden movers and shakers behind these processes are the viruses that infect their bacterial hosts, regulating their populations and swapping genetic material among them. By understanding the viruses, scientists can develop models that can help better understand the consequences of processes ranging from algae blooms to fish stock assessments to carbon storage in the world's oceans.

"The bacteria in the phylum Bacteriodetes are important in many places," Sullivan said. "One example close to 'home' is the human gut where their ability to metabolize complex carbohydrates in concert with another phylum - Firmicutes - seems to underpin whether you are lean or obese."

"There aren't many marine virus-host systems that have been characterized this way, in fact, only two," he said.

"As far as marine microbes and their viruses are concerned, the paradigm used to be that they aren't nearly as complex in their genetic diversity as their counterparts in sewage, for example," Sullivan explained. "This research suggests that this limited marine diversity is more a function of undersampling, and that extrapolating from the one or a few model systems may not be representative of the actual variability in nature."

"You could say we're seeing 'viral dark matter' for the first time," he added, referring to the cosmic analogy of the elusive, invisible matter believed to far outweigh the visible matter in the universe.

In a different, previous publication, Sullivan's group showed that the most abundant viruses in the oceans are very different from those typically studied by researchers in the field.

The viruses in the study reported here - led by Sullivan's former postdoctoral fellow Karin Holmfeldt - were so new that the researchers enlisted the help of colleagues at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn. to apply a technique called experimental proteomics to figure out what kinds of proteins make up the viruses. The results were then checked against genomic data showing which genes for which proteins occur in clusters in the viruses' DNA. Genes that are located next to each other suggest similar functions.

Almost all bacteriophages known so far were isolated from only three of a total of 45 groups – called "phyla" – of bacteria, Sullivan said. The new study extends this knowledge to the fourth phylum called Bacteroidetes. A phylum is a very high level of kinship among organisms; insects and crustaceans, for example, are in one phylum (arthropods), while fish, lizards, horses and humans are in another (chordates).

Funding for this study was provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Holmfeldt's postdoctoral fellowship was funded by the Sweden-America foundation and the Swedish Research Council.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Negative Quiddity: The National Security Agency

Congressman Amash (R) of Michigan authored an amendment to the Defense authorization bill for a vote in the House. His amendment would have disallowed continued data mining by the National Security Agency (NSA) on individual information (especially phone numbers called over the course of a year) without a warrant, a position itself consistent with the Bill of Rights, which states that no warrants shall be issued without probable cause. This amendment was brought to a vote on July 24, 2013.

Voting "yes" supported the amendment to halt NSA snooping on Americans without a warrant. This position got 205 votes in the House. 111 Democrats and 95 Republicans voted yes.

Voting "no" supported continued data mining by the NSA without warrant. This position got 217 votes in the House. Voting "no" were 83 Democrats and 134 Republicans, including both Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Republican House Speaker John Boehner.

The roll call of the House of Representatives, state-by-state was as follows:

Democrats – Sewell, N.
Republicans – Aderholt, N; Bachus, Y; Bonner, N; Brooks, N; Roby, N; Rogers, N.
Republicans – Young, Y.
Democrats – Barber, N; Grijalva, Y; Kirkpatrick, N; Pastor, Y; Sinema, N.
Republicans – Franks, N; Gosar, Y; Salmon, Y; Schweikert, Y.
Republicans – Cotton, N; Crawford, N; Griffin, Y; Womack, N.
Democrats – Bass, Y; Becerra, Y; Bera, N; Brownley, N; Capps, Y; Cardenas, Y; Chu, Y; Costa, N; Davis, N; Eshoo, Y; Farr, Y; Garamendi, Y; Hahn, Y; Honda, Y; Huffman, Y; Lee, Y; Lofgren, Y; Lowenthal, Y; Matsui, Y; McNerney, N; Miller, George, Y; Napolitano, Y; Negrete McLeod, X; Pelosi, N; Peters, N; Roybal-Allard, Y; Ruiz, N; Sanchez, Linda T., Y; Sanchez, Loretta, Y; Schiff, Y; Sherman, Y; Speier, Y; Swalwell, Y; Takano, Y; Thompson, N; Vargas, N; Waters, Y; Waxman, Y.
Republicans – Calvert, N; Campbell, X; Cook, N; Denham, N; Hunter, N; Issa, N; LaMalfa, Y; McCarthy, N; McClintock, Y; McKeon, N; Miller, Gary, Y; Nunes, N; Rohrabacher, Y; Royce, N; Valadao, N.
Democrats – DeGette, Y; Perlmutter, Y; Polis, Y.
Republicans – Coffman, Y; Gardner, Y; Lamborn, Y; Tipton, Y.
Democrats – Courtney, Y; DeLauro, Y; Esty, N; Himes, N; Larson, Y.
Democrats – Carney, N.
Democrats – Brown, N; Castor, N; Deutch, Y; Frankel, N; Garcia, N; Grayson, Y; Hastings, Y; Murphy, N; Wasserman Schultz, N; Wilson, N.
Republicans – Bilirakis, N; Buchanan, Y; Crenshaw, N; DeSantis, Y; Diaz-Balart, N; Mica, Y; Miller, N; Nugent, Y; Posey, Y; Radel, Y; Rooney, N; Ros-Lehtinen, N; Ross, Y; Southerland, Y; Webster, N; Yoho, Y; Young, N.
Democrats – Barrow, N; Bishop, N; Johnson, N; Lewis, Y; Scott, David, N.
Republicans – Broun, Y; Collins, N; Gingrey, N; Graves, Y; Kingston, Y; Price, Y; Scott, Austin, N; Westmoreland, N; Woodall, N.
Democrats – Gabbard, Y; Hanabusa, N.
Republicans – Labrador, Y; Simpson, N.
Democrats – Bustos, X; Davis, Danny, Y; Duckworth, N; Enyart, N; Foster, N; Gutierrez, N; Kelly, N; Lipinski, N; Quigley, N; Rush, Y; Schakowsky, N; Schneider, N.
Republicans – Davis, Rodney, Y; Hultgren, Y; Kinzinger, N; Roskam, N; Schock, X; Shimkus, N.
Democrats – Carson, Y; Visclosky, N.
Republicans – Brooks, N; Bucshon, N; Messer, N; Rokita, X; Stutzman, N; Walorski, N; Young, N.
Democrats – Braley, Y; Loebsack, Y.
Republicans – King, N; Latham, N.
Republicans – Huelskamp, Y; Jenkins, Y; Pompeo, N; Yoder, Y.
Democrats – Yarmuth, Y.
Republicans – Barr, N; Guthrie, N; Massie, Y; Rogers, N; Whitfield, N.
Democrats – Richmond, Y.
Republicans – Alexander, N; Boustany, N; Cassidy, Y; Fleming, Y; Scalise, Y.
Democrats – Michaud, Y; Pingree, Y.
Democrats – Cummings, Y; Delaney, N; Edwards, Y; Hoyer, N; Ruppersberger, N; Sarbanes, Y; Van Hollen, N.
Republicans – Harris, Y.
Democrats – Capuano, Y; Keating, Y; Kennedy, N; Lynch, Y; McGovern, Y; Neal, Y; Tierney, Y; Tsongas, Y.
Democrats – Conyers, Y; Dingell, Y; Kildee, Y; Levin, N; Peters, N.
Republicans – Amash, Y; Benishek, N; Bentivolio, Y; Camp, N; Huizenga, Y; Miller, N; Rogers, N; Upton, N; Walberg, N.
Democrats – Ellison, Y; McCollum, Y; Nolan, Y; Peterson, N; Walz, Y.
Republicans – Bachmann, N; Kline, N; Paulsen, N.
Democrats – Thompson, Y.
Republicans – Harper, N; Nunnelee, N; Palazzo, N.
Democrats – Clay, Y; Cleaver, Y.
Republicans – Graves, N; Hartzler, N; Long, N; Luetkemeyer, N; Smith, Y; Wagner, N.
Republicans – Daines, Y.
Republicans – Fortenberry, N; Smith, N; Terry, N.
Democrats – Horsford, X; Titus, N.
Republicans – Amodei, Y; Heck, N.
Democrats – Kuster, N; Shea-Porter, Y.
Democrats – Andrews, N; Holt, Y; Pallone, X; Pascrell, Y; Payne, N; Sires, N.
Republicans – Frelinghuysen, N; Garrett, Y; Lance, N; LoBiondo, N; Runyan, N; Smith, Y.
Democrats – Lujan Grisham, Y; Lujan, Ben Ray, Y.
Republicans – Pearce, Y.
Democrats – Bishop, N; Clarke, Y; Crowley, Y; Engel, N; Higgins, N; Israel, N; Jeffries, Y; Lowey, N; Maffei, Y; Maloney, Carolyn, Y; Maloney, Sean, N; McCarthy, X; Meeks, N; Meng, N; Nadler, Y; Owens, Y; Rangel, Y; Serrano, Y; Slaughter, N; Tonko, Y; Velazquez, Y.
Republicans – Collins, N; Gibson, Y; Grimm, N; Hanna, N; King, N; Reed, N.
Democrats – Butterfield, N; McIntyre, N; Price, N; Watt, Y.
Republicans – Coble, X; Ellmers, N; Foxx, N; Holding, N; Hudson, N; Jones, Y; McHenry, Y; Meadows, Y; Pittenger, N.
Republicans – Cramer, Y.
Democrats – Beatty, X; Fudge, Y; Kaptur, N; Ryan, N.
Republicans – Boehner, N; Chabot, Y; Gibbs, N; Johnson, Y; Jordan, Y; Joyce, N; Latta, N; Renacci, N; Stivers, N; Tiberi, N; Turner, N; Wenstrup, N.
Republicans – Bridenstine, Y; Cole, N; Lankford, N; Lucas, N; Mullin, Y.
Democrats – Blumenauer, Y; Bonamici, Y; DeFazio, Y; Schrader, Y.
Republicans – Walden, N.
Democrats – Brady, Y; Cartwright, Y; Doyle, Y; Fattah, Y; Schwartz, N.
Republicans – Barletta, X; Dent, N; Fitzpatrick, Y; Gerlach, N; Kelly, N; Marino, N; Meehan, N; Murphy, N; Perry, Y; Pitts, N; Rothfus, Y; Shuster, N; Thompson, Y.
Democrats – Cicilline, Y; Langevin, N.
Democrats – Clyburn, Y.
Republicans – Duncan, Y; Gowdy, Y; Mulvaney, Y; Rice, Y; Sanford, Y; Wilson, Y.
Republicans – Noem, N.
Democrats – Cohen, Y; Cooper, N.
Republicans – Black, Y; Blackburn, Y; DesJarlais, Y; Duncan, Y; Fincher, Y; Fleischmann, Y; Roe, Y.
Democrats – Castro, N; Cuellar, N; Doggett, Y; Gallego, N; Green, Al, N; Green, Gene, Y; Hinojosa, N; Jackson Lee, N; Johnson, E. B., N; O'Rourke, Y; Veasey, N; Vela, Y.
Republicans – Barton, Y; Brady, N; Burgess, Y; Carter, N; Conaway, N; Culberson, N; Farenthold, Y; Flores, N; Gohmert, Y; Granger, N; Hall, Y; Hensarling, N; Johnson, Sam, N; Marchant, Y; McCaul, N; Neugebauer, N; Olson, N; Poe, Y; Sessions, N; Smith, N; Stockman, Y; Thornberry, N; Weber, Y; Williams, Y.
Democrats – Matheson, N.
Republicans – Bishop, Y; Chaffetz, Y; Stewart, Y.
Democrats – Welch, Y.
Democrats – Connolly, Y; Moran, Y; Scott, Y.
Republicans – Cantor, N; Forbes, N; Goodlatte, N; Griffith, Y; Hurt, N; Rigell, N; Wittman, N; Wolf, N.
Democrats – DelBene, Y; Heck, N; Kilmer, N; Larsen, N; McDermott, Y; Smith, N.
Republicans – Hastings, N; Herrera Beutler, X; McMorris Rodgers, Y; Reichert, N.
Democrats – Rahall, Y.
Republicans – Capito, N; McKinley, N.
Democrats – Kind, N; Moore, Y; Pocan, Y.
Republicans – Duffy, Y; Petri, Y; Ribble, Y; Ryan, N; Sensenbrenner, Y.
Republicans – Lummis, Y.


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Afterword by the blog author
The roll call above is an excellent explanation for registering and acting as an independent voter rather than a member of either party. Both parties will always push for additional statism rather than for a government limited in its authority to the consent of the governed.

And I’d like to remind any blog readers that this extension of federal power occurred because civilian aircraft were used to strike the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001. Fifteen of the nineteen individuals who commandeered those aircraft and flew them into buildings were from Saudi Arabia. These individuals got the money and the resources to commit this act of terrorism because the official position of the Saudi government is to pay extortion fees to its own terrorists. What has the U.S. government done over the last dozen years to discourage that practice? Nothing, instead it lessens the privacy of its own citizens, posturing without any evidence that the data mining has prevented terrorism within the USA. But the actual work on the beat of average American municipal uniformed police forces has been the primary factor in preventing another 9/11 massacre – whereas the US federal government has winked at continued payments by its Saudi "ally" toward jihadist and terrorist movements over these last dozen years.

The blog author recommends placing no faith on any government matter in the hands of those who voted "no" in the roll call listed above.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Positive Quiddity: Love in Action

IntroductionBy the Blog Author

The posting below is part of the personal blog of professional golfer Tom Watson. Watson has won eight "major" tournaments including five claret jugs for the British Open. In the post he is repeating what a friend quoted about television host Art Linkletter and what children told Linkletter about love.

A little child shall lead them.

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This next anecdote was sent to me by a good friend, Jim Marshall, who sadly is no longer with us and is in honor of Art Linkletter's Children Say the Darndest Things. I remember watching Art's show as a kid and sometimes not understanding why all the adults were laughing. I guess maturity has filled in the gaps.

What does love mean? A group of professionals posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year olds. The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think:

"When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis, too. That’s love." -Rebecca, age 8

"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that you name is safe in their mouth." –Billy, age 4

"Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and
smell each other." –Kari, age 5

"Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fires without making them give you any of theirs." -Chrissey, age 6

"Love is what makes you smile when you are tired." -Terri, age 4

"Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK." –Danny, age 7

"Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss." –Emily, age 8

"Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and just listen." –Bobby, age 7

"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate." –Nikka, age 6

"Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it every day." –Noelle, age 7

"Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well." –Tommy, age 6

"During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn’t scared anymore." –Cindy, age 8

"My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don’t see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night." –Clare, age 6

"Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken." –Elaine, age 5

"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford." –Chris, age 7

" Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day." –Mary Ann, age 4

"I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones." –Lauren, age 4

"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you." –Karen, age 7

"Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn’t think it’s gross." –Mark, age 6

"You really shouldn’t say, ‘I love you,’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget." –Jessica, age 8

And the final one –

Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child.

The winner was a four-year-old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went up to the old gentleman yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, "Nothing, I just helped him cry."

I hope these thoughts from the mouths of babes lighten up your day.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Helen Thomas Dies

Helen Amelia Thomas (August 4, 1920 – July 20, 2013) was an American author and news service reporter, member of the White House press corps and opinion columnist. She worked for the United Press and post-1958 successor United Press International (UPI) for 57 years, first as a correspondent, and later as White House bureau manager. She was a columnist for Hearst Newspapers from 2000 to 2010, writing on national affairs and the White House. She covered the administrations of eleven U.S. presidents—from the final years of the Eisenhower administration to the second year of the Obma administration.

Thomas was the first female officer of the National Press Club, the first female member and president of the White House Correspondents’ Association and the first female member of the Gridiron Club. She wrote six books; her last, with co-author Craig Crawford, was Listen Up, Mr. President: Everything You Always Wanted Your President to Know and Do (2009). Thomas retired from Hearst Newspapers on June 7, 2010, following controversial comments she made about Israel. Israeli Jews and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In November 1960, Thomas began covering then President-elect John F. Kennedy, taking the initiative to switch from reporting the "women's angle" to reporting the news of the day. She became the White House UPI correspondent in January 1961. Thomas became known as the "Sitting Buddha," and the "First Lady of the Press." It was during Kennedy's administration that she began ending presidential press conferences with a signature "Thank you, Mr. President," reviving a tradition started by UPI’s Albert Merriman Smith during the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt.

In a 2008 article, the Christian Science Monitor wrote: "Thomas, a fixture in American politics, is outspoken, blunt, demanding, forceful and unrelenting. Not only does she command respect by the highest powers in the US, her reputation is known worldwide." When Cuban leader Fiel Castro was asked in the early 2000s what was the difference between democracy in Cuba and democracy in the United States, Castro reportedly replied, "I don't have to answer questions from Helen Thomas." Thomas considered Castro's reply to be "the height of flattery."

In 1962, Thomas convinced President Kennedy to not attend the annual dinners held for the White House correspondents and photographers if they disallowed women from attending. President Kennedy moved for the dinners to be combined into one event, with women allowed to attend. In 1970, UPI named Thomas their chief White House correspondent, making her the first woman to serve in the position. She was named the chief of UPI's White House bureau in 1974.

Departure from UPI
On May 17, 2000, the day after it was announced that the had been acquired by News World Communications Inc, an international media conglomerate founded and controlled by Unification Church leader Reverend Sun Myung Moon which owns The Washington Times and other news media, Thomas resigned from the UPI after 57 years with the organization. She later described the change in ownership as "a bridge too far." Less than two months later, she joined Hearst Newspapers as an opinion columnist, writing on national affairs and the White House.

After leaving her job as a reporter at the UPI, Thomas became more likely to air her personal, negative views. In a speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she quipped, "I censored myself for 50 years when I was a reporter. Now I wake up and ask myself, ‘Who do I hate today?’"

Resignation Controversy
Rabbi David Nesenoff of, on the White House grounds with his son and a teenage friend for a May 27, 2010 American Jewish Heritage Celebration Day, questioned Thomas as she was leaving the White House via the North Lawn driveway. When asked for comments on Israel, she replied: "Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine." and "Remember, these people are occupied and it's their land. It's not German, it's not Poland..." When asked where Israeli Jews should go, she replied they could "go home" to Poland or Germany or "America and everywhere else. Why push people out of there who have lived there for centuries?" She also mentioned she was of "Arab background." A one-minute excerpt of the May 27, 2010, interview was posted on Nesenoff's website on June 3.

On June 4, Thomas posted the following response on her web site:
I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon.
Thomas's agency, Nine Speakers, Inc., immediately dropped her as a client because of her remarks. Craig Crawford, who co-authored Listen up, Mr. President, said "I ... will no longer be working with Helen on our book projects." Her scheduled delivery of a commencement speech at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland, was canceled by the school. The White House Correspondents’ Association, over which she once presided, issued a statement calling her remarks "indefensible." In January 2011, the Society of Professional Journalists voted to retire the Helen Thomas Award for Lifetime Achievement.

On June 7, Thomas abruptly tendered her resignation from Hearst Newspapers.

On December 2, 2010, shortly before a speech for the eighth annual "Images and Perceptions of Arab Americans" conference in Dearborn, Michigan, Thomas told reporters that she still stood by the comments she had made to Nesenoff. Referring to her resignation, she said "I paid a price, but it's worth it to speak the truth." During the speech, Thomas said: "Congres, the White House, Hollywood and Wall Street are owned by Zionists. No question, in my opinion." Thomas defended her comments on December 7, telling Scott Spears of Marion, Ohio AM radio station WMRN, "I just think that people should be enlightened as to who is in charge of the opinion in this country."


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Positive Quiddity: Planar Magnetic Speakers



Ribbon and planar magnetic loudspeakers

A ribbon speaker consists of a thin metal-film ribbon suspended in a magnetic field. The electrical signal is applied to the ribbon, which moves with it to create the sound. The advantage of a ribbon driver is that the ribbon has very little mass; thus, it can accelerate very quickly, yielding very good high-frequency response.

Ribbon loudspeakers are often very fragile—some can be torn by a strong gust of air. Most ribbon tweeters emit sound in a dipole pattern. A few have backings that limit the dipole radiation pattern. Above and below the ends of the more or less rectangular ribbon, there is less audible output due to phase cancellation, but the precise amount of directivity depends on ribbon length. Ribbon designs generally require exceptionally powerful magnets, which makes them costly to manufacture. Ribbons have a very low resistance that most amplifiers cannot drive directly. As a result, a step down transformer is typically used to increase the current through the ribbon. The amplifier "sees" a load that is the ribbon's resistance times the transformer turns ratio squared. The transformer must be carefully designed so that its frequency response and parasitic losses do not degrade the sound, further increasing cost and complication relative to conventional designs.

Planar magnetic speakers (having printed or embedded conductors on a flat diaphragm) are sometimes described as ribbons, but are not truly ribbon speakers. The term planar is generally reserved for speakers with roughly rectangular flat surfaces that radiate in a bipolar (i.e., front and back) manner. Planar magnetic speakers consist of a flexible membrane with a voice coil printed or mounted on it. The current flowing through the coil interacts with the magnetic field of carefully placed magnets on either side of the diaphragm, causing the membrane to vibrate more or less uniformly and without much bending or wrinkling. The driving force covers a large percentage of the membrane surface and reduces resonance problems inherent in coil-driven flat diaphragms.


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Loudspeakers are available with planar magnetic technology and so are some very expensive headphones. Geoffrey Morrison of Forbes recently reviewed the Audeze LCD3 planar magnetic headphones, which cost $1,945 for a set.

Morrison tells us that these expensive headphones don’t look like other headphones and don’t sound like them either; "they sound much, much better," he writes.

His article in Forbes has a link to a video that shows how planar magentic drivers work to produce sound. He also notes how this sounds to the listener:
"Compared to most headphones, the LCD3s seem like they’ve taken a layer of film off the music. They’re not brighter then other headphones, specifically, or even more detailed (which would imply an overbalance of high frequencies). Full-size planar magnetic speakers have this same quality, and I figure it’s because of the speed at which the drivers react. Percussion hits, like the crack of a snare drum, are quick in real life and fade rapidly. Through the LCD3s these attacks just seem a little more lifelike in that speed and decay."Morrison also likes the way the bass sounds through these headphones; "There’s good bass and then there’s bad bass. These have good bass. It’s a very warm, full sound, that doesn’t overwhelm. There’s a tight accuracy to it: A bass drum sounds like a bass drum, a tuba sounds like a tuba. It’s not just a wall of low frequency energy like on many headphones."

Morrison also notes that although these headphones cost nearly $2,000, they are worth it. If the price is horrifying, though, there is the Audeze LCD-2 headphone available for half the price.

The Forbes article is online at:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Human-Powered Helicopter Wins Prize

The AeroVelo Atlas is a human-powered helicopter (HPH) that was built for the Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition. On 13 June 2013, it became the first aircraft to achieve the goals of the competition and thus won the prize.

DescriptionAHS Sikorsky Prize Winning Flight by AeroVelo.jpg
Date: June 13, 2013.
Author Martin Turner, Visiblize

Design and Development
Aerto Velo, a team of students and graduates of the University of Toronto, began flight testing its Atlas quad-rotor HPH on 28 August 2012. The core team of AeroVelo is the same group who created Snowbird, , the first successful human-powered ornithopter. The Atlas is the largest HPH ever flown, and has a diagonal, tip-to-tip rotor span of 154 ft (47 m), second only to the Russian Mil V 12.

The peak power of 1.1 kW (1.5 hp) was only generated during the first few seconds to climb to the required 3 metres (9.8 ft) altitude. By the end of the flight, power had reduced to 600 W (0.80 hp). Todd Reichert, the pilot and a racing cyclist, had specifically trained for such a power profile.

Control was created by leaning the bike, which flexed the entire helicopter frame, tilting the rotor axes.

Operational History
On 13 June 2013, AeroVelo flew its Atlas HPH and submitted data from the flight to the AHS International Human Powered Helicopter Competition Committee. After the panel of vertical flight technical experts reviewed the data from the flight, AHS International announced that the flight had met the requirements of the competition and that AeroVelo had officially won.

During the 13 June 2013 flight, occurring at 12:43PM EDT, the team managed to keep Atlas in the air for 64.11 seconds, reach a peak altitude of 3.3 m (11 ft) and drift no more than 9.8 m (32 ft) from the starting point.

AHS International awarded the $250,000 prize on 11 July 2013 to the AeroVelo Atlas.


Data from
Aviation Week and Space Technology 15 July 2013[6]
General characteristics
  • Crew:
  • Empty weight:
  • 55 kg (122 lb)
  • Gross weight:
  • 128 kg (282 lb)
  • Powerplant:
  • 1 × human , 1.1 kW (1.5 hp)
  • Main rotor diameter:
  • 4× 20.2 m (66 ft 3 in)
  • Main rotor area:
  • 1,282 m2 (13,800 sq ft)Performance
    • Service ceiling:
    3.3 m (11 ft) Link:

    Tuesday, July 16, 2013

    A New Way to Trap Light

    MIT researchers discover a new phenomenon that could lead to new types of lasers and sensors.
    David L. Chandler, MIT News Office, July 10, 2013

    There are several ways to "trap" a beam of light — usually with mirrors, other reflective surfaces, or high-tech materials such as photonic crystals. But now researchers at MIT have discovered a new method to trap light that could find a wide variety of applications.

    The new system, devised through computer modeling and then demonstrated experimentally, pits light waves against light waves: It sets up two waves that have the same wavelength, but exactly opposite phases — where one wave has a peak, the other has a trough — so that the waves cancel each other out. Meanwhile, light of other wavelengths (or colors) can pass through freely.

    The researchers say that this phenomenon could apply to any type of wave: sound waves, radio waves, electrons (whose behavior can be described by wave equations), and even waves in water.

    The discovery is reported this week in the journal Nature by professors of physics Marin Soljačić and John Joannopoulos, associate professor of applied mathematics Steven Johnson, and graduate students Chia Wei Hsu, Bo Zhen, Jeongwon Lee and Song-Liang Chua. “For many optical devices you want to build,” Soljačić says — including lasers, solar cells and fiber optics — “you need a way to confine light.” This has most often been accomplished using mirrors of various kinds, including both traditional mirrors and more advanced dielectric mirrors, as well as exotic photonic crystals and devices that rely on a phenomenon called Anderson localization. In all of these cases, light’s passage is blocked: In physics terminology, there are no "permitted" states for the light to continue on its path, so it is forced into a reflection.

    In the new system, however, that is not the case. Instead, light of a particular wavelength is blocked by destructive interference from other waves that are precisely out of phase. “It’s a very different way of confining light,” Soljačić says. While there may ultimately be practical applications, at this point the team is focused on its discovery of a new, unexpected phenomenon. "New physical phenomena often enable new applications," Hsu says. Possible applications, he suggests, could include large-area lasers and chemical or biological sensors.

    The researchers first saw the possibility of this phenomenon through numerical simulations; the prediction was then verified experimentally.

    In mathematical terms, the new phenomenon — where one frequency of light is trapped while other nearby frequencies are not — is an example of an "embedded eigenvalue." This had been described as a theoretical possibility by the mathematician and computational pioneer John von Neumann in 1929. While physicists have since been interested in the possibility of such an effect, nobody had previously seen this phenomenon in practice, except for special cases involving symmetry.

    This work is "very significant, because it represents a new kind of mirror which, in principle, has perfect reflectivity," says A. Douglas Stone, a professor of physics at Yale University who was not involved in this research. The finding, he says, "is surprising because it was believed that photonic crystal surfaces still obeyed the usual laws of refraction and reflection," but in this case they do not.

    Stone adds, "This is in fact a realization of the famous ‘bound state in the continuum’ proposed by von Neumann and [theoretical physicist and mathematician Eugene] Wigner at the dawn of quantum theory, but in a practical, realizable form. The potential applications the authors mention, to high-power single-mode lasers and to large-area chemical [and] biological sensing, are very intriguing and exciting if they pan out."

    Monday, July 8, 2013

    Bigfoot DNA identified

    Bigfoot in New Published Article
    After what The Huffington Post described as "a five-year study of purported Bigfoot (also known as Sasquatch) DNA samples," Texas veterinarian Melba Ketchum and her team announced that they had found proof that the Sasquatch "is a human relative that arose approximately 15,000 years ago as a hybrid cross of modern Homo sapiens with an unknown primate species." Ketchum called for this to be recognized officially, saying that "Government at all levels must recognize them as an indigenous people and immediately protect their human and Constitutional rights against those who would see in their physical and cultural differences a 'license' to hunt, trap, or kill them."

    Failing to find a scientific journal that would publish their results, Ketchum announced on February 13, 2013 that their research had been published in the DeNovo Journal of Science. The Huffington Post discovered that the domain had been registered anonymously only nine days before the announcement. The current edition of DeNovo is listed as Volume 1, Issue 1, and its only content, thus far, is the Bigfoot research which costs $30 to read.

    --Wikipedia at

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    Bigfoot DNA Identified
    A reported has taken the actual DNA to a laboratory to be identified. No more play possum with this story and the nature of Sasquatch:

    June American Employment Figures

    Daunting American Employment Numbers
    On July 6, Investors Business Daily (IBD) ran an editorial criticizing the latest labor and unemployment report. The editorial called the employment environment "abysmal."
    IBD said the real numbers for the economy show it to be shaky and troubled:
    • The unemployment rate stayed at 7.6%
    • The total number employed, 135.9 million, is 1.6% below the figure from 5 ½ years ago
    • All the new jobs in June were part-time. 360,000 part-time positions were created while full-time employment shrank by 240,000
    • Year-to-date, 130,000 full-time jobs were added and 557,000 part-time jobs were added
    • The underemployment rate (people overqualified for their jobs or working part-time when they want full-time jobs) increased from 13.8% to 14.3% in June
    • An outside report from McKinsey & Co. shows that 45% of college graduates have a job which doesn’t require a degree
    • The unemployment rate for 18-to-29 year olds is 16.1% with 1.7 million having dropped out of the labor force entirely
    Investors Business Daily offers the following factors to explain the labor malaise:
    • Five years of government "stimulus" from the Obama administration
    • "Quantitative easing" by the Federal Reserve
    • Thousands of pages of new regulations
    • Higher taxes on entrepreneurs
    • An administration that profoundly dislikes healthy free markets
    • ObamaCare and its costly regulations encourages employers to hire only part-time employees (who receive minimal benefits and no health care)

    Sunday, July 7, 2013

    Zip Lock Bags Repel Flies!

    We went with friends to a restaurant on Sunday for lunch and sat in the patio section beside the store. We happened to no...tice zip lock baggies pinned to a post and a wall. The bags were half filled with ...water, each contained 4 pennies, and they were zipped shut. Naturally we were curious! The owner told us that these baggies kept the flies away! So naturally we were even more curious! We actually watched some flies come in the open window, stand around on the window sill, and then fly out again. And there were no flies in the eating area! This morning I checked this out on Google.

                                           Water bag with pennies on a post 

    Below are comments on this fly control idea. I'm now a believer!

    Zip-lock water bags: #1 Says: I tried the zip lock bag and pennies this weekend. I have a horse trailer. The flies were bad while I was camping. I put the baggies with pennies above the door of the LQ. NOT ONE FLY came in the trailer.The horse trailer part had many. Not sure why it works but it does!

    #2 Says: Fill a zip lock bag with water and 5 or 6 pennies and hang it in the problem area. In my case it was a particular window in my home. It had a slight passage way for insects. Every since I have done that, it has kept flies and wasps away. Some say that wasps and flies mistake the bag for some other insect nest and are threatened.

    #3 Says: I swear by the plastic bag of water trick. I have them on porch and basement. We saw these in Northeast Mo. at an Amish grocery store& have used them since. They say it works because a fly sees a reflection& won't come around.

    #4 Says: Regarding the science behind zip log bags of water? My research found that the millions of molecules of water presents its own prism effect and given that flies have a lot of eyes, to them it's like a zillion disco balls reflecting light, colors and movement in a dizzying manner. When you figure that flies are prey for many other bugs, animals, birds, etc., they simply won't take the risk of being around that much perceived action. I moved to a rural area and thought these "hillbillies" were just yanking my city boy chain but I tried it and it worked immediately! We went from hundreds of flies to seeing the occasional one, but he didn't hang around long.

    --from Facebook

    Saturday, July 6, 2013

    Messenger RNA Gene Creates Two Proteins

    New mechanism for human
    gene expression discovered
    Study results could lead to a therapy for at least one neurological disease
    July 3, 2013

    In a study that could change the way scientists view the process of protein production in humans, University of Chicago researchers have found a single gene that encodes two separate proteins from the same sequence of messenger RNA.

    Published online July 3 in Cell, their finding elucidates a previously unknown mechanism in human gene expression and opens the door for new therapeutic strategies against a thus-far untreatable neurological disease.

    "This is the first example of a mechanism in a higher organism in which one gene creates two proteins from the same mRNA transcript, simultaneously," said Christopher Gomez, MD, PhD, professor and chairman of the Department of Neurology at the University of Chicago, who led the study. "It represents a paradigm shift in our understanding of how genes ultimately encode proteins."

    The human genome contains a similar number of protein-coding genes as the nematode worm (roughly 20,000). This disparity between biological complexity and gene count partially can be explained by the fact that individual genes can encode multiple protein variants via the production of different sequences of messenger RNA (mRNA) -- short, mass-produced copies of genetic code that guide the creation of myriad cellular machinery.

    Gomez and his team, which included first author Xiaofei Du, MD, discovered a new layer of complexity in this process of gene expression as they studied spinocerebellar ataxia type-6 (SCA6), a neurodegenerative disease that causes patients to slowly lose coordination of their muscles and eventually their ability to speak and stand. Human genetic studies identified its cause as a mutation in CACNA1A -- a gene that encodes a calcium channel protein important for nerve cell function -- resulting in extra copies of the amino acid glutamine.

    However, although the gene, mutation and dysfunction are known, attempts to find the biological mechanism of the disease proved inconclusive. Calcium channel proteins with the mutation still seemed to function normally.

    Suspecting another factor at play, Gomez and his team instead focused on α1ACT, a poorly understood, free-floating fragment of the CACNA1A calcium channel protein known to express extra copies of glutamine in SCA6 cells. The researchers first looked at its origin and found that, to their surprise, α1ACT was generated from the same mRNA sequence as the CACNA1A calcium channel.

    For the first time, they had evidence of a human gene that coded one strand of mRNA that coded two separate, structurally distinct proteins. This occurred due to the presence of a special sequence in the mRNA known as an internal ribosomal entry site (IRES). Normally found at the beginning of an mRNA sequence, this IRES site sat in the middle, creating a second location for ribosomes, the cellular machines that read mRNA, to begin the process of protein production.

    Looking at function, Gomez and his team found that normal α1ACT acted as a transcription factor and enhanced the growth of specific brain cells. Importantly, mutated α1ACT appeared to be toxic to nerve cells in a petri dish, and caused SCA6-like symptoms in an animal model.

    The team hopes to discover other examples of human genes with similar IRES sites to better understand the implications of this new class of "bifunctional" genes on our basic biology. For now, they are focused on leveraging their findings toward helping SCA6 patients and already are working on ways to silence mutated α1ACT.

    "We discovered this genetic phenomenon in the pursuit of a disease cause and, in finding it, immediately have a potential strategy for developing preclinical tools to treat that disease," Gomez said. "If we can target the IRES and inhibit production of this mutant form of α1ACT in SCA6, we may be able to stop the progression of the disease."

    This work was supported by the National Ataxia Foundation, the National Organization of Rare Diseases and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

    University of Chicago researchers have identified yet another layer of complexity to how genes are expressed, with their discovery of the first human "bifunctional" gene -- a single gene that creates a single mRNA transcript that codes for two different proteins, simultaneously. Their finding elucidates a previously unknown mechanism in our basic biology, and has potential to guide therapy for at least one neurological disease.

    Friday, July 5, 2013

    Positive Quiddity: Christopher Wren

    Sir Christopher Michael Wren FRS (20 October 1632 – 25 February 1723) is one of the most highly acclaimed English architects in history. He was accorded responsibility for rebuilding 52 churches in the City of London after the Great Fire in 1666, including his masterpiece, St. Paul’s Cathedral, on Ludgate Hill, completed in 1710. The principal creative responsibility for a number of the churches is now more commonly attributed to others in his office, especially Nicholas Hawksmoor. Other notable buildings by Wren include the Roytal Naval College in Greenwich and the south front of Hampton Court Palace.

    Educated in Latin and Aristotelian physics at the University of Oxford, Wren was a notable astronomer, geometer, and mathematician-physicist, as well as an architect. He was a founder of the Royal Society (president 1680–82), and his scientific work was highly regarded by Sir Isaac Newton and Blaise Pascal.

    Early Life and Education
    Sir Christopher Wren was born in East Knoyle in Wiltshire, the only surviving son of Christopher Wren Sr. (1589–1658) and Mary Cox, the only child of the Wiltshire squire Robert Cox from Fonthill Bishop. Christopher Sr. was at that time the rector of East Knoyle and later Dean of Windsor. It was while they were living at East Knoyle that all their children were born; Mary, Catherine, and Susan were all born by 1628 but then several children were born who died within a few weeks of their birth. Their son Christopher was born in 1632 then, two years later, another daughter named Elizabeth was born. Mary must have died shortly after the birth of Elizabeth, although there does not appear to be any surviving record of the date.
    Through Mary, however, the family became well off financially for, as the only heir, she had inherited her father's estate.

    As a child Wren "seem'd consumptive". Although a sickly child, he would survive into robust old age. He was first taught at home by a private tutor and his father. After his father's royal appointment as Dean oif Windsor in March 1635, his family spent part of each year there, but little is known about Wren's life at Windsor. He spent his first eight years at East Knoyle and was educated by the Rev. William Shepherd, a local clergyman.

    Oxford and London
    Receiving his M.A. in 1653, Wren was elected a fellow of All Souls College in the same year and began an active period of research and experiment in Oxford. His days as a fellow of All Souls ended when Wren was appointed Professor of Astronomy at Gresham College, London in 1657. He was provided with a set of rooms and a stipend and was required to give weekly lectures in both Latin and English to all who wished to attend; admission was free. Wren took up this new work with enthusiasm. He continued to meet the men with whom he had frequent discussions in Oxford. They attended his London lectures and in 1660, initiated formal weekly meetings. It was from these meetings that the Royal Society. England's premier scientific body, was to develop. He undoubtedly played a major role in the early life of what would become the Royal Society; his great breadth of expertise in so many different subjects helping in the exchange of ideas between the various scientists. In fact, the report on one of these meetings reads:
    Memorandum November 28, 1660. These persons following according to the usual custom of most of them, met together at Gresham College to hear Mr Wren's lecture, viz. The Lord Brouncker, Mr Boyle, Mr Bruce, Sir Robert Moray, Sor Paule Neile, Dr Wilkins, Dr Goddard, Dr Petty, Mr Ball, Mr Rooke, Mr Wren, Mr Hill. And after the lecture was ended they did according to the usual manner, withdraw for mutual converse.

    In 1662, they proposed a society "for the promotion of Physico-Mathematicall Experimental Learning." This body received its Royal Charter from Charles II and "The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge" was formed. In addition to being a founder member of the Society, Wren was president of the Royal Society from 1680 to 1682.

    In 1661, Wren was elected Savilian Professor of Astronomy at Oxford, and in 1669 he was appointed Surveyor of Works to Charles II. From 1661 until 1668 Wren's life was based in Oxford, although his attendance at meetings of the Royal Society meant that he had to make occasional trips to London.

    The main sources for Wren's scientific achievements are the records of the Royal Society. His scientific works ranged from astronomy, optics, the problem of finding longitude at sea, cosmology, mechanics, microscopy, surveying, medicine and meteorology. He observed, measured, dissected, built models and employed, invented and improved a variety of instruments. It was also around these times that his attention turned to architecture.

    Architecture and Family
    It was probably around this time that Wren was drawn into redesigning a battered St. Paul’s Cathedral.
    Making a trip to Paris in 1665, Wren studied the architecture, which had reached a climax of creativity, and perused the drawings of Berini, the great Italian sculptor and architect. Returning from Paris, he made his first design for St Paul's. A week later, however, the Great Fire destroyed two-thirds of the city. Wren submitted his plans for rebuilding the city to King Charles II, although they were never adopted. With his appointment as King's Surveyor of Works in 1669, he had a presence in the general process of rebuilding the city, but was not directly involved with the rebuilding of houses or companies' halls. Wren was personally responsible for the rebuilding of 51 churches; however, it is not necessarily true to say that each of them represented his own fully developed design.

    Wren was knighted 14 November 1673. This honour was bestowed on him after his resignation from the Savilian chair in Oxford, by which time he had already begun to make his mark as an architect, both in services to the Crown and in playing an important part in rebuilding London after the Great Fire.
    Additionally, he was sufficiently active in public affairs to be returned as Member of Parliament for Old Windsor in 1680, 1689 and 1690, but did not take his seat.

    By 1669 Wren's career was well established and it may have been his appointment as Surveyor of the King’s Works in early 1669 that persuaded him that he could finally afford to take a wife. In 1669 the 37-year-old Wren married his childhood neighbour, the 33-year-old Faith Coghill, daughter of Sir John Coghill of Bletchingdon. Little is known of Faith's life or demeanour, but a love letter from Wren survives, which reads, in part:
    I have sent your Watch at last & envy the felicity of it, that it should be soe near your side & soe often enjoy your Eye. ... .but have a care for it, for I have put such a spell into it; that every Beating of the Balance will tell you 'tis the Pulse of my Heart, which labors as much to serve you and more trewly than the Watch; for the Watch I beleeve will sometimes lie, and sometimes be idle & unwilling ... but as for me you may be confident I shall never ...

    This brief marriage produced two children: Gilbert, born October 1672, who suffered from convulsions and died at about 18 months old, and Christopher, born February 1675. The younger Christopher was trained by his father to be an architect. It was this Christopher that supervised the topping out ceremony of St. Paul’s in 1710 and wrote the famous Parentalia, or, Memoirs of the family of the Wrens. Faith Wren died of smallpox on 3 September 1675. She was buried in the chancel of St Marin-in-the-Fields beside the infant Gilbert. A few days later Wren's mother-in-law, Lady Coghill, arrived to take the infant Christopher back with her to Oxfordshire to raise.

    In 1677, 17 months after the death of his first wife, Wren married once again. He married Jane Fitzwilliam, daughter of William FitzWilliam, 2nd Baron FitzWilliam and his wife Jane Perry the daughter of a prosperous London merchant.
    Wren died on February 25, 1723 and was interred in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

    Christopher Wren as a Scientist
    One of Wren's friends, another great scientist and architect and a fellow Westminster Schoolboy, Robert Hooke said of him "Since the time of Archimedes there scarce ever met in one man in so great perfection such a mechanical hand and so philosophical mind."

    When a fellow of All Souls, Wren constructed a transparent beehive for scientific observation; he began observing the mooin, which was to lead to the invention of micrometers for the telescope. He experimented on terrestrial magnetism and had taken part in medical experiments while at #Wadham College, performing the first successful injection of a substance into the bloodstream (of a dog).

    In Gresham College, he did experiments involving determining longitude through magentic variation and through lunar observation to help with navigation, and helped construct a 35-foot (11 m) telescope with Sir Paul Neile. Wren also studied and improved the microscope and telescope at this time. He had also been making observations of the planet Saturn from around 1652 with the aim of explaining its appearance. His hypothesis was written up in De corpore saturni but before the work was published, Huygens presented his theory of the rings of Saturn. Immediately Wren recognized this as a better hypothesis than his own and De corpore saturni was never published. In addition, he constructed an exquisitely detailed lunar model and presented it to the king. Also his contribution to mathematics should be noted; in 1658, he found the length of an arc of the cycloid using an exhaustion proof based on dissections to reduce the problem to summing segments of chords of a circle which are in geometric progression.

    A year into Wren's appointment as a Savilian Professor in Oxford, the Royal Society was created and Wren became an active member. As Savilian Professor, Wren studied mechanics thoroughly, especially elastic collisions and pendulum motions. He also directed his far-ranging intelligence to the study of meteorology: in 1662 he invented the tipping bucket rain gauge and, in 1663, designed a "weather-clock" that would record temperature, humidity, rainfall and barometric pressure. A working weather clock based on Wren's design was completed by Robert Hooke in 1679.

    In addition, Wren experimented on muscle functionality, hypothesizing that the swelling and shrinking of muscles might proceed from a fermentative motion arising from the mixture of two heterogeneous fluids.
    Although this is incorrect, it was at least founded upon observation and may mark a new outlook on medicine: specialization.

    Another topic to which Wren contributed was optics. He published a description of an engine to create
    perspective drawings and he discussed the grinding of conical lenses and mirrors. Out of this work came another of Wren's important mathematical results, namely that the hyperboloid of revolution is a ruled surface. These results were published in 1669. In subsequent years, Wren continued with his work with the Royal Society, although after the 1680s his scientific interests seem to have waned: no doubt his architectural and official duties absorbed more time.

    It was a problem posed by Wren that serves as an ultimate source to the conception of Newton's Principia Mathematica Philosophiae Naturalis. Robert Hook had theorized that planets, moving in vacuo, describe orbits around the Sun because of a rectilinear inertial motion by the tangent and an accelerated motion towards the Sun. Wren's challenge to Halley and Hooke,for the reward of a book worth thirty shillings, was to provide, within the context of Hooke's hypothesis, a mathematical theory linking the Kepler’s laws with a specific force law. Halley took the problem to Newton for advice, prompting the latter to write a nine-page answer, De motu corporum in gyrum, which was later to be expanded into the Principia.

    Thursday, July 4, 2013

    Steinway Has Been Acquired

    Steinway & Sons, also known as Steinway, is an American and German manufacturer of handmade pianos and purveyor of subcontracted pianos from suppliers sold under the secondary names Boston and Essex. Steinway was founded 1853 in Manhattan in New York City by German immigrant Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg (later known as Henry E. Steinway). The company's growth led to the opening of a factory and company town in what is now the Astoria section of Queens in New York City; and a factory in Hamburg, Germany.

    Steinway is a prominent piano company, known for making pianos of high quality and for its influential inventions within the area of piano development. The company holds a royal warrant by appointment to Queen Elizabeth II.

    Steinway pianos have been recognized with numerous awards. One of the first official recognitions was a gold medal won in 1855 at the American Institute Fair at the New York Crystal Palace just two years after the company's foundation. In 1855–62 Steinway pianos received 35 gold medals. Several awards and recognitions have followed, including 3 medals at the 1867 Exposition Universelle in Paris. Steinway has been granted 126 patents in piano making; the first patent was achieved in 1857. Most of the patents have expired.

    Other than the expensive Steinway & Sons piano brand, Steinway markets two less expensive brands: Boston for the mid-level market and Essex for the entry-level market. The Boston and Essex pianos are made using low-cost components and labor and are produced in Asia by other piano manufacturers.
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    Steinway Being
    Acquired by Kohlberg

    Monday, July 1, 2013, Steinway announced that it has agreed to a buyout by Kohlberg for approximately $438 million. The acquiring organization has tendered an offer to buy all existing shares for $35 each. The story was reported by the Associated Press. Steinway has also finalized the sale of Steinway Hall, located near Carnegie Hall in New York City.

    The AP quotes Burt Flickinger III, president of Strategic Resource Group, a retail consultancy, as saying the new Steinway management may concentrate on expanding its business into China.

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    Note by the Blog Author
    It is my opinion that the future of Steinway will depend on whether or not they can become the world’s premier manufacturer of electronic keyboards. Steinway pianos are masterpieces of nineteenth century wood technology, with a soundboard stressed to twenty tons and a wooden drum with a superior and distinctive sound. The sound is so complex that these pianos are hard to set up for microphones and for recording. They require a great deal of maintenance and adjustment. Therefore they risk becoming out of date as technology marches on and customers come to demand low-maintenance goods. For example, sterling silver flatware is no longer handmade in the United States by anyone, because the apprenticeship takes ten years and customers want flatware that requires no maintenance or polishing. The leisure boat industry is in a deep recession in the United States, and no one makes wooden yachts or sailboats anymore due to high maintenance.

    The distinctive sound from a Steinway – a bright treble with a sonorous and profound base, is extraordinarily complex and difficult to synthesize. But modern computers can do it. They must do it to remain competitive in the modern age of music and technology.

    Steinway needs to hire piano music lovers who are, professionally, programmers and computer design experts. They need to offer an electronic keyboard that sounds like a Steinway Model D grand and performs as effortlessly as the popular Yamaha keyboards. I wish them luck and skill in achieving this necessary benchmark.

    Wednesday, July 3, 2013

    Voyage of the Last Nazi Submarine

    German submarine U-977
    was a World War II German Type VIIC U-boat which escaped to Argentina after Germany's surrender. The submarine's voyage to Argentina led to many legends and apocryphal stories: that it had transported Adolf Hitler or Nazi gold to South America, that it had made a 66-day passage without surfacing or that it had made a secret voyage to Antarctica.

    was launched in 1943. She was used in training and made no war patrols during her first two years of service. On 2 May 1945 she was sent on her first war patrol, sailing from Kristiansand, Norway, under the command of Oberleutnant Heinz Schäffer (1921–1979). Schäffer's orders were to enter the British port of Southampton and sink any shipping he found there. This would have been a very dangerous assignment for a Type VII boat. When Admiral Donitz ordered all attack submarines to stand down on 5 May 1945, U-977 was outbound north of Scotland.
    Oberleutnant Schäffer decided to sail to Argentina instead. During later interrogation, Schäffer said that his main reason for this was German propaganda broadcast by Goebbels, which claimed that the Allies' Morgenthau Plan would turn Germany into a "goat pasture" and that all German men were to be "enslaved and sterilized". Other factors were the poor conditions and long delay in being repatriated suffered by German POWs at the end of World War I, and the hope of better living conditions in Argentina, which had a large German community.

    Schäffer offered the married crewmen the choice to go ashore in Europe. 16 men opted to so, and were landed from dinghies on Holsenöy Island near Bergen on 10 May.

    then sailed to Argentina. Schäffers version of the voyage states that from 10 May to 14 July 1945 inclusive she made a continuous submerged Schnorchel passage, "at 66 days the second longest in the war (after U-978’s 68 days)". A conflicting account from the U.S. Navy (USN) report of 19 September 1945 contradicts Schäffers version.
    The USN Report on the U-977 crew interrogations was compiled within a month of the boat's surrender; it makes no mention of any 66-day voyage always submerged, an interesting omission since the details of the voyage must have been still fresh in the minds of the German crew. They told the American interrogators that U-977 "made for the Iceland Passage on course 300º (that is, a little North by West) diving once on sighting a plane and once on sighting a ship (this means she was surfaced at the time): "she was also D/F'd many times late in May [through high frequency direction finding techniques]".

    According to the USN report the submarine stopped in the Cape Verde Islands for a short break en route, then completed the trip traveling on the surface using one engine. Crossing the equator on 23 July, she arrived in Mar del Plata, Argentina on 17 August after 99 days at sea from Bergen and a voyage of 7,644 nmi (14,157 km; 8,797 mi).

    In general, historians have tended to discount the USN report and accepted Schäffer's report as the more accurate version. The Schäffer map provides only three dates: 8 May "End of the war", 24 July 1945 "crossed Equator", and 17 August 1945 "arrived at Mar del Plata".

    Schäffer maintained that he crossed the Equator on 23 or 24 July 1945, on this date both the US Navy and Schäffer agree. Comparing the USN report with Schäffer's account, the impression is of two separate voyages from Norway meeting up at the Equator on 23 July 1945.

    After arriving at Mar del Plata on 17 August 1945, U-977 was surrendered to the Argentine Navy. She was later towed to Boston and given to the U.S. Navy on 13 November 1945. On 13 November 1946, she was sunk off Cape Cod by USS Atule during torpedo trials. The crew was transferred into U.S. jurisdiction by presidential decree on 22 August 1945 and flown out for interrogation in the United States.

    Schäffer later wrote a book: U-977 – 66 Tage unter Wasser ("U-977 – 66 Days Under Water"), the first postwar memoir by a former U-boat officer. It was published in 1952, and was translated into English under the title U-boat 977.

    Tuesday, July 2, 2013

    White House Delays Implementing Obama Care

    Implementation of ObamaCare has been delayed by the White House itself, as reported in an article by Kelly Phillips Erb in Forbes today. There are several components of this delay.

    The "Small Business Health Insurance Exchange" system, called "SHOP" should be in place by January 1, 2014 with employees of businesses with fewer than 100 persons offering open enrollment on October 1, 2013. SHOP was designed to provide choice and competition – and therefore reasonable price for coverage. But, at present, there is only one option available through these exchanges, and not all states have signed on to the idea of exchanges. And "costs have skyrocketed," according to the Forbes story.

    For businesses with more than 50 employees, the White House has announced a one year delay on implementation of ObamaCare:

    • Reporting requirements have been suspended throughout 2014.
    Employee benefits need not be reported to the IRS on 2014 W-2 forms
    • Employer penalties for non-compliance will not apply for 2014

    Proponents of the health care act are concerned about these delays in implementation. And Senator Max Baucus (Democrat from Montana), a co-author of the 2010 health care legislation, recently called it a "train wreck."


    More news on this topic from the Washington Post at:

    Monday, July 1, 2013

    Coverage for Alzheimer's Test Is Disputed

    A $3,000 test, approved by regulators in 2012, has been developed which accurately identifies the brain plaques which occur in Alzheimer’s disease. Some in the medical profession favor covering this test under federal health insurance – the results will lower the level of anxiety among families struggling to provide an appropriate level of care, and the test could create a pool of early Alzheimer patients to provide subjects for research. Opponents of coverage contend that, since the disease remains incurable, a patient knowing the disease is present or not provides no benefit.

    To provide appropriate treatment, specialists have noted that it is important to obtain an accurate diagnosis. Alzheimer’s presents in a manner similar to multi-infarct dementia and establishes memory loss similar to tumors or dietary deficiencies.

    Elizabeth Lopatto of Bloomberg reported on June 30th:
    Amyvid, the first drug of its kind, was approved for sale last year by U.S. regulators, and in January in Europe. It binds to beta-amyloid plaques in the brain that are a suspected cause of Alzheimer’s. The dye’s radiation allows an image to be produced using a PET scan, showing where amyloid plaques exist in the brain and how extensive they may be.

    In January, after Lilly requested a determination on coverage from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a panel of U.S. advisers said it wasn’t confident the tests would improve the health of people with Alzheimer’s. A final decision will come July 9, according to Don McLeod, an agency spokesman who declined to comment further. The agency oversees Medicare, the U.S. health program for the elderly and disabled, and Medicaid, the joint-state medical plan for the poor.
    Full story at:

    To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Lopatto in New York at

    To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at