Thursday, October 31, 2013

Positive Quiddity: Machines

A machine is a tool that consists of one or more parts, and uses energy to meet a particular goal. Machines are usually powered by mechanical, chemical, thermal, or electrical means, and are often motorized. Historically, a power tool also required moving parts to classify as a machine. However, the advent of electronics technology has led to the development of power tools without moving parts that are considered machines.

A simple machine is a device that simply transforms the direction or magnitude of a force, but a large number of more complex machines exist. Examples include vehicles, electronic systems, molecular machines, computers, television and radio.

The word machine derives from the Latin word machina, which in turn derives from the Greek (Doric μαχανά makhana, Ionic μηχανή mekhane "contrivance, machine, engine", a derivation from μnχος mekhos "means, expedient, remedy."
Classification        Machines

Simple machines Inclined plane, wheel and axle, lever, pulley, wedge, screw
Mechanical components Axle, bearings, belts, bucket, fastener, gear, key, link chains, rack
     and pinion, roller chains, rope, seals, spring, wheel
Clock Atomic clock, watch, pendulum clock, quartz clock
Compresssors and pumps Archimedes’ screw, eductor-jet pump, hydraulic ram, pump, trompe,
     vacuum pump
Heat engines
     External combustion Steam engine, Stirling engine
     Internal combustion Reciprocating engine, Gas turbine
Heat pumps Absorption refrigerator, thermoelectric refrigerator, regenerative cooling
Linkages Pantogtraph, cam, Peaucellier-Lipkin
Turbine Gas turbine, jet engine, steam turbine, water turbine, wind generator, Windmill
Aerofoil Sail, wing, rudder, flap, propeller
Electronic devices Vacuum tube, transistor, diode, resistor, capacitor, inductor, memristor, 
     semiconductor, Computer
Robots Actuator, servo, servomechanism, stepper motor, computer
Miscellanerous Vending machine, wind tunnel, check weighing machines, riveting machines

Industrial Revolution

The 'Industrial Revolution' was a period from 1750 to 1850 where changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times. It began in the United Kingdom, then subsequently spread throughout Western Europe, North America, Japan, and eventually the rest of the world.

Starting in the later part of the 18th century, there began a transition in parts of Great Britain's previously manual labor and draft-animal–based economy towards machine-based manufacturing. It started with the mechanization of the textile industries, the development of iron-making techniques and the increased use of refined coal.

Mechanization and Automation
or mechanisation (BE) is providing human operators with machinery that assists them with the muscular requirements of work or displaces muscular work. In some fields, mechanization includes the use of hand tools. In modern usage, such as in engineering or economics, mechanization implies machinery more complex than hand tools and would not include simple devices such as an un-geared horse or donkey mill. Devices that cause speed changes or changes to or from reciprocating to rotary motion, using means such as gears, pulleys or sheaves and belts, shafts, cams and cranks, usually are considered machines. After electrification, when most small machinery was no longer hand powered, mechanization was synonymous with motorized machines.
is the use of control systems and information technologies to reduce the need for human work in the production of goods and services. In the scope of industrialization, automation is a step beyond mechanization. Whereas mechanization provides human operators with machinery to assist them with the muscular requirements of work, automation greatly decreases the need for human sensory and mental requirements as well. Automation plays an increasingly important role in the world economy and in daily experience.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Future of Middle Class America

There is an edgy, somewhat scary book out there about the future of American education and the decline of the middle class. The book is Average Is Over, and it was written by economist Tyler Cowen. Here’s what Amazon has to say about it.

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Average Is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation By Tyler Cowen

About the Author

is a professor of economics at George Mason University. His blog, Marginal Revolution, is one of the world’s most influential economics blogs. He also writes for the New York Times, Financial Times and The Economist and is the cofounder of Marginal Revolution University. The author of five previous books, Cowen lives in Fairfax, Virginia.

Editorial Reviews
Praise for Average Is Over

"A buckle-your-seatbelts, swiftly moving tour of the new economic landscape." - Kirkus Reviews

"Cowen has a single core strength...his taste for observations that are genuinely enlightening, interesting, and underappreciated." - The Daily Beast

A bracing new book" - The Economist

"Tyler Cowen's new book Average is Over makes an excellent followup to his previous work The Great Stagnation and I expect it will set the intellectual agenda in much the way its predecessor did." - Slate

"The author roves broadly and interestingly to make his case, outlining radical economic transformations that lie in store for us, predicting the rise and fall of cities depending on their capacity to adapt to this machine-driven world and offering policy prescriptions for preserving American prosperity." - The Wall Street Journal

"Audacious and fascinating." - The Financial Times

"Thomas Friedman - move over. There's a new guy on the block." - Tampa Bay Tribune

"Eminently readable." - The Brookings Institute

"Cowen has a rare ability to present fundamental economic questions without all of the complexity and jargon that make many economics books inaccessible to the lay reader." - The American Interest

Customer Review4 Stars (out of 5)

The Middle Class Is Dead – An Economist Predicts the Future
By Patrick Obriant, September 23, 2013

Tyler Cowen writes the terrific Marginal Revolution blog [...], teaches economics at GMU, and in his spare time writes books. In "Average is Over" Cowen examines the trends of the last 30 years including the introduction of smart technology, polarization of high and low wage earners, outsourcing of manufacturing jobs, wage stagnation. Cowen uses the prizm of chess, chess software, and chess software games as both analogy and predictor for future of how technology and technology / human interfaces will evolving and projecting these trends forward into the next 20 - 30 years.

Given the trends from today Cowen's "Average is Over" makes a strong and highly plausible argument for a likely American future. Perhaps even the most likely future.

The good news –
The already expensive, livable, and elite cities become even more so. For those self motivated, hard workers from anywhere in the world and nearly any economic background, the future looks extremely bright. Their tools and access to smarter training gets better and better. Online classes are easy to access worldwide. Smart technology gets smarter becomes "genius" but still works far better with people than without. Productivity (and wages) for these top 10-15% continues to increase. Even if you cannot work with
"genius computers" managing, hiring, training, assisting, or coaching those who can will still be lucrative.

The not so good –

What does the rest of Cowen's America 2033 look like?
Older and poorer. Invest in micro housing and trailer parks in Texas. Maybe it won't be so bad. [...] or maybe it will be.[...]

Cowen correctly points out the huge pitfall in online education. "Online education can thus be extremely egalitarian, but it is egalitarian in a funny way. It can catapult the smart, motivated, but nonelite individuals over the members of the elite communities. It does not, however, push the uninterested student to the head of the pack." The remaining 85% stagnate albeit with access to cheap fun and cheap education. Many of the 85% will live quite well as they benefit from the near free services but others will fall by the wayside.

But maybe it does not have to be this way. Cowen himself points to a potential way out. Education has typically failed to motivate. And even the best online courses are probably even worse than most classroom teachers. "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink." There are however a few coaches who have demonstrated the ability to motivate. [...] I never met Coach Fitz but I certainly met mine as a lazy 8th grader on the football field in the form of a 5 foot 4 inch Woody Hayes disciple named John Short.

Could this be bottled and taught? The future for your kids and the rest of us American 85 percenters may depend on motivators like these.

What the end of average will look like to colleges.

"It will be a brutal age of good schools and also mediocre schools undercutting each other in terms of price and thus tuition revenue. If it costs $200 to serve a class to another student, how long will it be before an educational institution undercuts a competitor charging $2,000 for those credits?"
This is a highly original book. I strongly recommend this especially for a high school senior or college freshmen.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Galaxy Is 30 Billion Light Years Away

z8_GND_5296 is a galaxy which, after its discovery in October 2013, was announced as the galaxy with the greatest redshift that has been confirmed through the Lyman-alpha emission line of hydrogen, putting it among the oldest and most distant known galaxies at approximately 30 billion light-years from Earth. It is "seen as it was at a time just 700 million years after the Big Bang [...] when the universe was only about 5 percent of its current age of 13.8 billion years". The galaxy is at a redshift of 7.51, and it is neighbour to what was announced then as second most distant galaxy with a redshift of 7.2. The galaxy in its observable timeframe was producing stars at a phenomenal rate, equivalent in mass to about 300 per year.

The light reaching Earth from z8_GND_5296 left that galaxy over 13 billion years ago, corresponding to a distance of over 13 billion light-years. In accordance with the prevailing theory of an expanding universe, the observed position of the galaxy is now much farther away, about 30 billion light-years (comoving distance) from Earth. [See discussion of comoving distance below]

Research published in the October 24, 2013 issue of the journal Nature by a team of astronomers from The University of Texas at Austin led by Steven Finkelstein in collaboration with astronomers at the Texas A&< University, the National Optical Astronomy Observatories and Univerisity of California, Riverside, describes discovery of the most distant galaxy known using deep optical and infared images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. Their discovery was confirmed by the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. MOSFIRE (a new instrument on the Keck Telescope that is extremely sensitive to infared light) proved instrumental to this finding.

To measure galaxies at such large distances with definitive evidence, astronomers use spectroscopy and the phenomenon of redshift. Redshift occurs whenever a light source moves away from an observer. Astronomical redshift is seen due to the expansion of the universe, and sufficiently distant light sources (generally more than a few million light years away) show redshift corresponding to the rate of increase in their distance from Earth. The redshift observed in astronomy can be measured because the emission and absorption spectra fof atoms are distinctive and well known, calibratedd from spectroscopic experiments in laboratories on Earth.

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Comoving Distance
In standard cosmology, comoving distance and proper distance are two closely related distance measures used by cosmologists to define distances between objects. Proper distance roughly corresponds to where a distant object would be at a specific moment of cosmological time, measured using a long series of rulers stretched out from our position to the object's position at that time, and which can change over time due to the expansion of the universe. Comoving distance factors out the expansion of the universe, giving a distance that does not change in time due to the expansion of space (though this may change due to other, local factors such as the motion of a galaxy within a cluster). Comoving distance and proper distance are defined to be equal at the present time; therefore, the ratio of proper distance to comoving distance now is 1. At other times, the scale factor differs from 1. The universe's expansion results in the proper distance changing, while the comoving distance is unchanged by this expansion because it is the proper distance divided by that scale factor.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Positive Quiddity: The Righteous Brothers

The Righteous Brothers were the musical duo of Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield. They recorded from 1963 through 1975, and continued to perform until Hatfield's death in 2003. Their emotive vocal stylings were sometimes dubbed "blue-eyed soul."

Medley and Hatfield both possessed exceptional vocal talent, with range, control and tone that helped them create a strong and distinctive duet sound and also to perform as soloists. Medley sang the low parts with his deep, soulful baritone, with Hatfield taking the higher register vocals with his soaring tenor.

They adopted their name in 1962 while performing together in the Los Angeles area as part of a five-member group called The Paramours, which featured John Wimber (a founder of the Vineyard Movement) on keyboards. At the end of one particular performance, a U.S. Marine in the audience shouted, "That was righteous, brothers!", prompting the pair to adopt the name when they embarked on a career as a duo.

Musical Career
John Wimber (then as Johnny Wimber) brought Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley together for the band The Paramours in 1962. The Righteous Brothers started their recording career on the small Moonglow label in 1963 with two albums and two moderate hits: "Little Latin Lupe Lu" and "My Babe".

Their first major hit single was "You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’" on the Philles label in 1965. Produced by Phil Spector, the record is often cited as one of the peak expressions of Spector's Wall of Sound production techniques. It was one of the most successful pop singles of its time, despite exceeding the then standard length for radio play. Indeed, according to BMI, "You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’" remains the most played song in radio history, estimated to have been broadcast more than eight million times.
Spector used Cher (of Sonny & Cher fame) as a backing singer on this and other recordings.
The Righteous Brothers had several other Spector-produced hit singles in 1965, including "Just Once in My Life", "Unchained Melody" (originally the B-side of "Hung on You"), and "Ebb Tide".

However, the singers did not get along well with Spector personally and their contract was sold to Verve/MGM Records in 1965. Their next release in 1966, "(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration" was a Phil Spector sound-alike song, produced by Bill Medley, who was able to fully simulate the Spector style of production. It was written by Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann who had co-written "Loving Feeling" with Spector. Medley also used the same arranger, Jack Nitzsche. It quickly became their second #1 U.S. hit, staying on the top for three weeks, but the song failed to reach the Top 10 in the UK. In 1966, before they went their separate ways, and to capitalize on their previous hits, Verve/MGM issued a "Greatest Hits" compilation which has been modified twice: in 1983 with 10 tracks and in 1990 with two more tracks.
After a few more top 40 hits, including "He" and "Go Ahead And Cry", their popularity began to decline.

Even a collaboration with former Motown A&R chief William "Mickey" Stevenson failed to work. They eventually split up in 1968, which lasted more than six years. Medley recorded a few solo recordings on several labels, while Bobby Hatfield teamed up with singer Jimmy Walker (from The Knickerbockers) using the Righteous Brothers name up until 1971. Neither he nor Medley was able to achieve any significant level of success. In 1974 Medley and Hatfield reunited, performing on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour.

Later Career and Going Solo
In 1974, they signed with Haven Records, run by producers Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter, and distributed by Capitol Records. They scored another hit with songwriter, Alan O’Day’s "Rock and Roll Heaven", a paean to several deceased rock singers: Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Otis Redding, Jim Croce and Bobby Darin are among the mentioned (Croce and Darin died within three months of each other in late 1973, shortly before the song was released). It peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, but failed to chart in the UK. It was updated in early 1991 to mourn the passing of Elvis Presley, Marvin Gaye, Jackie Wilson, Dennis Wilson, JohnLennon, Roy Orbison, Sam Cooke, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Cass Eliot, who died a few months after the original version of the song was released. Several more minor hits on Haven followed, and then the Righteous Brothers found themselves "hitless" again until 1990, although they toured frequently. After the tragic death of Medley's wife, the duo temporarily ceased touring between 1976 and 1981.

Earlier that same year, Medley once again began to record as a solo artist as well and had some success: In 1984, he scored country hits with "Till Your Memory's Gone" and "I Still Do" (which crossed over to the adult contemporary charts and later became a "cult" hit with the Carolina Beach/Shag dance club circuit); and in late 1987, his duet with Jennifer Warnes — "(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life", which appeared on the soundtrack for Dirty Dancing — topped the Billboard Hot 100 and won both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song for a Motion Picture (for the three songwriters, which did not include Medley) as well as a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals (which, of course, did). He also scored a moderate UK hit in 1988 with a version of "He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother." One of Medley's minor entries, "Don’t Know Much," was a long running #2 Hot 100 and #1 Adult Contemporary, Grammy-winning smash duet by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville in 1989-90. "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" is now seen and heard ubiquitously on TV and radio commercials — covered by singers other than Medley and Warnes — usually connected with vacation, cruise, resort, and other such holiday-themed advertisers aimed at those looking at what to do with their dream holiday excursions.

In 1990, the original recording of "Unchained Melody" was featured in the enormously popular feature film Ghost (starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Best Supporting Actress Oscar®-winner Whoopi Goldberg). It caused an avalanche of requests to Top 40 radio by fans who had seen the movie to revive the 1965 Righteous Brothers chestnut. This motivated Polygram (who now owned the Verve/MGM label archives) to re-release the song to Top 40 radio where it became a major hit for a second time (their second UK #1) and a greatest CD collection called The Very Best of The Righteous Brothers...Unchained Melody was reissued. The group quickly re-recorded a cover version for Curb Records which also made the charts, and the re-recorded version appears on the budget priced CD The Best of The Righteous Brothers. The reissue of the original 1965 version of "Unchained Melody" hit #13 on the Hot 100 in 1990 in connection with the film, and the following re-recording of the song by The Righteous Brothers hit #19 on the Hot 100 and was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
The Righteous Brothers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 10, 2003. In 2008, The Righteous Brothers 21st Anniversary television special, filmed at the Roxy on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles in 1983, aired on numerous Public Television stations throughout the United States. Bill Medley is currently performing in Branson, Missouri.

Hatfield Death
Bobby Hatfield was found dead in his hotel room in Kalamazoo, Michigan on November 5, 2003, half an hour before he was due to perform a concert with Bill Medley at Western Michigan University’s Miller Auditorium. The cause of his death was attributed to cocaine leading to heart failure, according to the autopsy report.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Chris Carter, Screenwriter

Chris Carter (born October 13, 1957) is an American television and film producer, director and writer. Born in Bellflower, California, Carter graduated with a degree in journalism from California State University, Long Beach before spending thirteen years working for Surfing Magazine. After beginning his television career working on television films for Walt Disney studios, Carter rose to fame in the early 1990s after creating the science fiction television series The X- Files for the Fox network. The X-Files earned high viewership ratings, and led to Carter being able to negotiate the creation of future series.

Carter went on to create three more series for the network—Millennium, a doomsday-themed series which met with critical approval and low viewer numbers; Harsh Realm, which was canceled after three episodes had aired; and The Lone Gunmen, a spin-off of The X-Files which lasted for a single season. Carter's film roles include writing both of The X-Files' cinematic spin-offs—1998's successful The X-Files and the poorly received 2008 follow-up The X-Files: I Want to Believe, the latter of which he also directed—while his television credits have earned him several accolades including eight Primetime Emmy Award nominations.

Starting in Television
In 1983, Carter began dating Dori Pierson, who he had met through a cousin of hers who worked with him at Surfing Magazine. Pierson's connections at Walt Disney Studios led to chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg hiring Carter on a standard contract. Carter began writing television films for the studio, penning The B.R.A.T. Patrol in 1986 and Meet the Munceys in 1988. These scripts led to Carter being associated with contemporary youth comedy at the studio, and although he enjoyed the work he felt that his real strengths and interests lay in serious drama instead.

Carter met the then-president of NBC, Brandon Tartikoff, at a company softball game in Brentwood, California. Tartikoff and Carter began talking between innings, and when Tartikoff eventually read some of Carter's script work, he brought him over to write for the network. There, Carter developed a number of unproduced television pilots—Cameo By Night, featuring Sela Ward; Brand New Life, which has been described as being similar to The Brady Bunch; Copter Cop, a science fiction series that was hampered by Tartikoff's injuries after a car accident; and Cool Culture, influenced by Carter's passion for surfing and experience with Surfing Magazine. During this time Carter would also work as a producer on Rags to Riches, a job he accepted in order to learn more about producing a series.

Peter Roth, at that time the president of Stephen J. Cannell Productions, obtained a copy of Carter's pilot script for Cool Culture, and although the series was never picked up, Roth was interested in hiring Carter to work on the CBS series Palace Guard. However, Roth would soon leave CBS to work for Fox as the head of its television production wing. Carter was among the first wave of new staff hired by Roth in 1992 to develop material for the network, and he began work on a series based on his own childhood fondness for The Twilight Zone and Kolchak: The Night Stalker.

The X Files and Success
Carter's new series would take its stylistic inspiration from Kolchak, while thematically reflecting his experiences growing up during the Watergate scandal. Carter also drew inspiration from his friend John E. Mack’s survey of American beliefs in ufology, which indicated that three percent of the population believed they had been abducted by aliens. Roth warmed to the idea upon hearing of the influence of Kolchak, believing that vampires—one of the central antagonists of the original series—would be popular with audiences given the interest being shown in the upcoming film Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, although Carter insisted on an extraterrestrial-focused series. However, Carter had never been interested in science fiction before this point, professing to have briefly read one novel each by aUrsula K. Le Guin and Robert A. Heinlein. Basing his characters instead on those found in the English television series The Avengers, Carter took an eighteen-page treatment for his new project—by now titled The X-Files—to a pitch meeting at Fox, where it was soon rejected. With the help of Roth, Carter was able to arrange a second pitch meeting, at which the network reluctantly agreed to greenlight a pilot for the series.

After finding the series' two starring leads in Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny, Carter was given a budget of $2 million to produce a pilot episode. The series aired on Friday nights on the Fox network, being broadcast in tandem with The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. in what was perceived to be an unpopular timeslot. The series earned relatively impressive Nielsen ratings for its Friday timeslot, and was given a full twenty-four episode order. The series' popularity and critical acclaim built over the course of its second and third seasons, and saw it earning its first Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series -- Drama and breaking the record for highest price paid by a network for rights to air re-runs, fetching $600,000 per episode from Fox's sister network. After Carter's initial three-year signing for Fox had ended, the success of the series allowed him to negotiate a five-year contract with several additional perks, including the guarantee of a feature film adaptation to be produced by the parent company's film studio, and the greenlighting of Carter's next television project.

Other Work
Carter has made several brief cameo roles as an actor—first appearing in The X-Files' "Anasazi" as a FBI agent; before portraying a member of a film audience in "Hollywood A.D.", a later episode of the same series. Carter also made a brief appearance in "Three Men and a Smoking Diaper", an episode of The Lone Gunmen.

In 1999, Carter began adapting the comic book series Harsh Realm as a television show, also titled Harsh Realm. Carter's friend and frequent collaborator DanielSackheim had optioned the comics for adaptation in 1996. However, when the series first aired on October 8, 1999, the comics' writers Andrew Paquette and James Hudnall were given no writing credits for the work; the two then filed suit against Fox to be credited for their work. Harsh Realm received disappointing viewing figures, and was cancelled after only three episodes had been broadcast.

Two years later, Carter launched a spin-off of The X-Files titled The Lone Gunmen, a comedy series centered on three minor characters from the former series. The Lone Gunmen was cancelled after thirteen episodes, later receiving a coda in the form of a crossover episode with The X-Files. Carter has since been involved with writing and directing the as-yet unreleased film Fencewalker, set to feature Natalie Dormer and Katie Cassidy. In 2011, he began working to develop Unique, a police thriller television series; the project was eventually dropped before completion.

Carter's work has earned him several accolades over his career, including eight nominations at the Primetime Emmy Awards. Carter has also received award nominations for the Directors Guild of America Awards, the Edgar Awards and the British Academy Television Awards.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Negative Quiddity: Snake Handling

George Went Hensley (c. 1880 – July 25, 1955) was an American Pentecostal minister best known for popularizing the practice of snake handling. A native of rural Appalachia, Hensley experienced a religious conversion around 1910: on the basis of a literal interpretation of scripture, he came to believe that the New Testament commanded all Christians to handle venomous snakes.

Hensley was reared in a large family that had moved between Tennessee and Virginia, before settling in Tennessee prior to his birth. After his conversion he traveled through the Southeastern United States, teaching a form of Pentecostalism that emphasized strict personal holiness and frequent contact with venomous snakes. Although illiterate, he became a licensed minister of the Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee)) in 1915. After traveling through Tennessee for several years conducting Church of God-sanctioned services, he resigned from the denomination in 1922. Hensley was married four times and fathered thirteen children. He had many conflicts with his family members because of his drunkenness, frequent travels, and inability to earn steady income, factors cited by his first three wives as reasons for their divorces.

Hensley was arrested in Tennessee on moonshine-related charges
during the Prohibition era and sentenced to a term in a workhouse, from which he escaped and fled the state. Hensley traveled to Ohio, where he held revival services, though he and his family rarely stayed long in one location. He established churches, known as the Church of God with Signs Following, in Tennessee and Kentucky. His services ranged from small meetings held in houses to large gatherings that drew media attention and hundreds of attendees. Although he conducted many services, he made little money, and he was arrested for violating laws against snake handling at least twice. During his ministry, Hensley claimed to have been bitten by many snakes without ill effect, and toward the end of his career, he estimated that he had survived more than 400 bites. In 1955, while conducting a service in Florida, he was bitten by a snake and became violently ill. He refused to seek medical attention and died the following day. Despite his personal failings, he convinced many residents of rural Appalachia that snake handling was commanded by God, and his followers continued the practice after his death. Although snake handling developed independently in several Pentecostal ministries, Hensley is generally credited with spreading the custom in the Southeastern United States.
Personal Life
Hensley was the father of eight children with his first wife, Amanda. They separated in 1922. One of their children claimed that the separation occurred after an incident in which Hensley became drunk and fought a neighbor. Amanda left the area and found work in a Chattanooga hosiery mill but soon became ill and bedridden. Hensley's sister and brother-in-law traveled to Chattanooga to care for her.

Hensley had five children with his second wife, Irene. She was from a prosperous Lutheran family of German descent but believed that she was suffering a curse. She and her family had hoped that Hensley could free her from the curse, but ultimately felt that he was unable to. The marriage was contentious because of Hensley's frequent unemployment and poor treatment of Irene. He found intermittent work, including bricklaying, but Irene's family had to help support them; her mother provided the family with clothing. After seven years of marriage, Irene left Hensley and returned to her family, although she returned to Hensley and reconciled with him. One of their sons recalled that Irene was much more religious than Hensley, whom he claims only spoke about spiritual matters if there were church leaders present. Hensley was again separated from Irene around 1941. The cause of the estrangement is unknown, although one of their sons claimed that she threatened to have him arrested. She reconciled with him after he promised to find steady employment, and they returned to Pineville with their children. Hensley wanted to put their children in an orphanage so Irene could travel with him, but she refused. After a visit from her sister, Irene again left him; she and her children went to live with Hensley's children from his first marriage. A divorce was granted in 1943. Irene later died of complications following surgery for goiter. Hensley attended the wake and visited his children, but departed without them and did not return.

Hensley met Inez Hutchinson, a widow with ten children, in 1946 while performing a service in Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee. After Hensley spoke with her, she accepted the doctrine of snake handling. He soon proposed marriage, which she accepted. They lived in the Soddy-Daisy area for several months. Although he had hoped that she would travel with him and read Bible passages during his services, she left him after less than a year of marriage, and their union was soon dissolved. In 1951, Hensley married Sally Norman in Chattanooga. After their marriage, she traveled with him as he ministered in Tennessee and Kentucky.

Hensley was initially content following his experience at the Church of God, but he began to question whether he was living a sufficiently righteous life. He became fixated on a passage in the Gospel of Mark (Mark 16:17–18, KJV: "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name... They shall take up serpents" which suggested that Christians might take up "serpents" without injury. Psychologists Ralph W. Hood and W. Paul Williamson, as well as one of Hensley's children, have proposed that his preoccupation with this verse arose from a childhood memory of witnessing snake handling in Virginia. Hensley later recalled that he began to doubt his salvation and withdrew to a nearby hill to pray and seek God's will. In a 1947 newspaper interview, he claimed to have seen a snake while walking on the hill. He said that he knelt in prayer, took hold of it, then brought it to his church and told the congregation to also prove their salvation by holding the snake.

Hensley's first experience with snake handling occurred between 1908 and 1914, after which he held snake-handling services in parts of rural Tennessee. His supporters later asserted that a revival broke out at the start of his ministry, a claim considered dubious by historians. At first, the Church of God did not object to his snake-handling services, and, in 1914, he held a snake-handling meeting with a Church of God bishop in Cleveland, Tennessee. The next year, Hensley applied to be licensed as a Church of God minister, but required his wife's assistance to complete the paperwork owing to his illiteracy. He had memorized some Bible verses but also stated that he received divine revelation while speaking.
After being licensed, Hensley held Church of God services throughout Tennessee, including revival services at church general assemblies. He preached about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, a Pentecostal teaching that referred to an additional spiritual experience after conversion. His ministry was often mentioned in Church of God newsletters, and his wife Amanda contributed an article about him. In the 1910s, Hensley is thought to have led churches in Grasshopper Valley (northwest of Cleveland, Tennessee); Cleveland; and Birchwood, Tennessee.
Hensley was short, normally soft-spoken, and friendly with churchgoers. Most attendees at his services were miners or farmers from the Appalachian Mountains; congregants typically arrived at services on horseback or in a Ford Mode. A. Many were from Holiness Pentecostal backgrounds, but unfamiliar with the snake-handling practice. Hensley's sister Bertha, who lived in Ohio, was also a licensed minister with the Church of God. In 1922, he conducted services with her in Ohio. Around that time, more articles documenting his ministry were published in the denomination's newsletter, and by the early 1920s snakes were regularly handled in Church of God services.

Further Ministry
Hensley lived in Tennessee until at least late 1941. He then moved to Evansville, Indiana, after separating from Irene. After a brief stay in Pineville, Hensley returned to Ooltewah in 1943. There he stayed with family members and held religious services. Snake handling had lost popularity since the late 1920s and groups that promoted nontrinitarianism had become popular. Various churches in the area barred those who practiced snake handling from membership.

In 1943, Raymond Hayes, a young adherent of Hensley's teachings, arrived in the Ooltewah area and began successfully preaching about snake handling. Hensley and Hayes started a church together in 1945, which they named the "Dolly Pond Church of God with Signs Following". Later in 1945, a member of the church was bitten by a snake and died. The members of the church continued to handle snakes at services, including at the funeral of the man who died from snakebite.
The man's death was viewed as ordained by God to test the faith of the congregants, and to demonstrate to non-believers that the snakes they handled were, in fact, dangerous. That year, Hensley was arrested for snake handling in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was given a $50 fine, which he refused to pay even when threatened with a workhouse sentence. He was released after members of his church appealed to authorities.
Hensley continued to travel around Tennessee, receiving a mixed reception from those who were aware of his past. Some who knew him were willing to forgive him and welcome him back in a ministerial role, but he remained estranged from most of his family. His son Roscoe saw him preach in 1944. The younger Hensley was also a pastor by then, but had never seen his father conduct a service.

In 1946, Hensley married for the third time, but his wife, Inez Hutchinson, left him after less than a year of marriage. After their separation, Hensley began to preach in Chattanooga. During services, he began asserting that he had been miraculously healed after being paralyzed for a year following a coal-mining accident. Kimbrough disputes his claim, noting that there is no one-year gap in the records of Hensley moving or actively ministering. Hensley continued to live in Chattanooga until the early 1950s; he moved to Athens, Georgia, in the early to mid-1950s.

Hensley's theology, with the exception of his snake handling, was typical of other fundamentalist Pentecostal churches. His teachings on personal holiness bore a resemblance to doctrines of the Wesleyan Holiness tradition. In his sermons he condemned a number of practices as sinful, including gambling, consuming alcohol, wearing lipstick, and playing baseball.

The 17th and 18th verses in chapter 16 of the Gospel of Mark formed the core of Hensley's justification of snake handling and other miraculous activities (he also drank poison in some services, including strychnine and battery acid).
He interpreted the passage as a command, rather than an observation of events that occurred in the lives of some Apostles, as Christians have traditionally interpreted the verses. By handling snakes, he saw himself as part of a continuing tradition that originated in a New Testament injunction. He upheld the ability to handle venomous snakes without harm as proof of salvation and evidence of steadfast faith, linking the practice to speaking in tongues. To him, snake handling was a modern-day confirmation of God's power to supernaturally deliver people from harm. He often cast snakes as a representation of the Devil and interpreted the legal difficulties he encountered as religious persecution. He labeled those who rejected the observance of snake handling "unbelievers".
In early July 1955, Hensley began a series of meetings near Altha, Florida. He conducted the meetings without snakes for three weeks, before procuring a 5-foot (1.5 m) snake and bringing it to a Sunday afternoon service on July 24. Several dozen people gathered at an abandoned blacksmith shop for the observance. During the service, Hensley loudly delivered a sermon on the topic of faith. He removed the snake from the lard can in which it was stored, wrapped it around his neck, and rubbed it on his face. He walked around the audience while preaching and then returned the snake to the can. As he placed the snake into the can, it bit him on his wrist. After a few minutes, Hensley became visibly ill, experiencing severe pain, a discolored arm, and hematemesis. He refused medical attention, although he remained in pain and was urged to seek treatment both by congregants and the Calhoun County Sheriff. One eyewitness claimed that Hensley attributed his suffering to the congregation's lack of faith, although his wife Sally stated that she believed it was the will of God. Hensley died early the next morning. The Calhoun County Sheriff ruled his death a suicide.

Hensley's relatives traveled from Tennessee to Florida for his funeral, at which a country music band played. He was buried two days after his death at a cemetery 2 miles (3.2 km) from the blacksmith shop where he was bitten. After the funeral, some of the congregants met and declared their intention to continue handling snakes. Sally resolved to continue spreading her late husband's teachings, saying after the incident that she had not lost "an ounce of faith".

Friday, October 25, 2013

Seeking a Catalyst to Unlock Hydrogen

Making Hydrogen Cheaply by Imitating Bacteria? Unique Chemistry in Hydrogen Catalysts Revealed

, Oct. 24, 2013 — Making hydrogen easily and cheaply is a dream goal for clean, sustainable energy. Bacteria have been doing exactly that for billions of years, and now chemists at the University of California, Davis, and Stanford University are revealing how they do it, and perhaps opening ways to imitate them.

A study published Oct. 25 in the journal Science describes a key step in assembling the hydrogen-generating catalyst.

"It's pretty interesting that bacteria can do this," said David Britt, professor of chemistry at UC Davis and co-author on the paper. "We want to know how nature builds these catalysts -- from a chemist's perspective, these are really strange things."

The bacterial catalysts are based on precisely organized clusters of iron and sulfur atoms, with side groups of cyanide and carbon monoxide. Those molecules are highly toxic unless properly controlled, Britt noted.

The cyanide and carbon monoxide groups were known to come from the amino acid tyrosine, Britt said. Jon Kuchenreuther, a postdoctoral researcher in Britt's laboratory, used a technique called electron paramagnetic resonance to study the structure of the intermediate steps.

They found a series of chemical reactions involving a type of highly reactive enzyme called a radical SAM enzyme. The tyrosine is attached to a cluster of four iron atoms and four sulfur atoms, then cut loose leaving
the cyanide and carbon monoxide groups behind.

"People think of radicals as dangerous, but this enzyme directs the radical chemistry, along with the production of normally poisonous CO and CN, along safe and productive pathways," Britt said.

Kuchenreuther, Britt and colleagues also used another technique, Fourier Transform Infrared to study how the iron-cyanide-carbon monoxide complex is formed. That work will be published separately.

"Together, these results show how to make this interesting two-cluster enzyme," Britt said. "This is unique, new chemistry."

Britt's laboratory houses the California Electron Paramagnetic Resonance center (CalEPR), the largest center of its kind on the west coast.

Other authors on the paper are: at UC Davis, postdoctoral researchers William Myers and Troy Stich, project scientist Simon George and graduate student Yaser NejatyJahromy; and at Stanford University, James Swartz, professor of chemical engineering and bioengineering. The work was supported by grants from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Wikipedia -- Successful Yet Stagnating

By the Blog Author

MIT Technology Review
has a long and thoughtful article about Wikipedia and its growth into a worldwide encyclopedia with significant problems accompanying that success. See

The article seems to indicate that Wikipedia peaked around 2007 and has been discouraging new postings from new reviewers because of a bureaucratic system involved in rating and checking quality of the entries. Another issue seems to be the preponderance of entries by male researchers, especially in the science and technology area.

Since 92 percent of engineers graduating from college in the United States are male, and a similar high percentage of computer programmers in the USA are male, it is unlikely that these statistics are going to change in the foreseeable future. Perhaps the bias to worry about is the result of a preponderance of nerds.

Take a look at this diagram:
Nerds and other related introverts are fine in crafting quality encyclopedia entries as long as they stay strictly within an area of expertise and resist any faint impulse to write science fiction instead of simply explaining the technology of a development or invention.

Of course, Wikipedia is used very frequently here on this blog. So as an intelligent and wily user, I have noticed an extensive bias that the MIT Technology Review skipped or deleted out of political correctness. This is the notorious bias and sometimes slander that accompanies political leaders’ postings, popular causes, bad science (like global warming, an entry that includes skeptics but not the best skeptics), and topics within the social "sciences" in general.

These social and political issues are written or edited and rewritten by the left as a general statement. This is because of an insurmountable and extensive left wing bias in academia regarding the social "sciences."

                                         Social science political preferences by discipline
This means that biographical information about politicians such as "W" Bush or Barrack Obama tends to get edited and re-edited and bickered over. Some topics can only be discussed in politically correct ways. At the worst, facts can be and are edited out of important discussions.

As an example of editing out facts, the blog author has contributed to the discussion on Wikipedia about "Invulnerability" within the topic of "Psychological resistance." I made the following post to the subtopic of invulnerability within psychological resistance:

"A separate view is that certain children survive extremely high risk environments, such as a schizophrenic parent, through personal invulnerability—a stubborn resistance to being drawn into a maelstrom of mental illness due to a profound attachment to reality."

I then referred to the book The Invulnerable Child by E. James Anthony and Bertram J. Cohler, who conducted case studies of children who survived tremendous individual stress and survived with a "stubborn resistance" to being sucked into a crazy paradigm. But this was deleted from the Wikipedia entry and replaced by this: "Contemporary resilience researchers and thinkers appreciate this view as something in the history of thought on resilience in development, but recognize that it is oversimplified at best. The science of resilience in development has largely moved past the idea of 'invulnerable children.'"

Case studies and actual examples be damned! Invulnerable children don’t exist. Why is that? Because the social science acadamia cannot escape their mental models in which individual thought is always the product of the social environment. This is a bone-hard bias that works its way into Wikipedia and brooks neither opposition nor rational discussion.

So when you read a Wikipedia entry on a social "science" topic, beware of the thought police who have made sure that the concepts are all politically correct and in line with current fads –even when counter-factual.

For purposes of this blog, I avoid the social "sciences" because of socio-political academic corruption and do not trust Wikipedia in this area. However, I am unable to determine whether the rot of correctness will expand into other areas of the free dictionary.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Positive Quiddity: Loyalty

Loyalty is faithfulness or a devotion to a person, country, group, or cause. (Philosophers disagree as to what things one can be loyal to. Some, argue that one can be loyal to a broad range of things, while others argue that it is only possible for loyalty to be to another person and that it is strictly interpersonal.)
There are many aspects to loyalty. John Kleinig, professor of Philosophy at City University of New York, observes that over the years the idea has been treated by writers from Aeshylus through John Galsworthy to Joseph Conrad by psychologists, psychiatrists, sociologists, scholars of religion, political economists, scholars of business and marketing, and — most particularly — by political theorists, who deal with it in terms of loyalty oaths and patriotism. As a philosophical concept, loyalty was largely untreated by philosophers until the work of Josiah Royce, the "grand exception" in Kleinig's words. John Ladd, professor of Philosophy at Brown University writing in the Macmillan Encyclopaedia of Philosophy in 1967, observes that by that time the subject had received "scant attention in philosophical literature". This he attributed to "odious" associations that the subject had with nationalism, including the nationalism of Nazism, and with the metaphysics of idealism, which he characterized as "obsolete". He argued that such associations were, however, faulty, and that the notion of loyalty is "an essential ingredient in any civilized and humane system of morals". Kleinig observes that from the 1980s onwards, the subject gained attention, with philosophers variously relating it to (amongst other things) professional ethics, whistleblowing, frienship and virtue theory.

1911 Encyclopaedia Brittanica
The Encyclopaedia Britannica
Eleventh Edition defines loyalty as "allegiance to the sovereign or established government of one's country" and also "personal devotion and reverence to the sovereign and royal family". It traces the word "loyalty" to the 15th century, noting that then it primarily referred to fidelity in service, in love, or to an oath that one has made. The meaning that the Britannica gives as primary, it attributes to a shift during the 16th century, noting that the origin of the word is in the Old French "loialte", that is in turn rooted in the Latin "lex", meaning "law." One who is loyal, in the feudal sense of fealty, is one who is lawful (as opposed to an outlaw), who has full legal rights as a consequence of faithful allegiance to a feudal lord. Hence the 1911 Britannica derived its (early 20th century) primary meaning of loyalty to a monarch. This definition of loyalty based upon the word's etymology is echoed by Vandekerckhove, when he relates loyalty and whistleblowing (more on which below).
Biblical and Christian Views
In the Christian Bible, Jesus states "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's." So, it acknowledges a limit to the authority of man. In the Christian view, there is a sphere beyond the earthly, and if loyalty to man conflicts with loyalty to God, the latter takes precedence.

Moreover, Christianity rejects the notion of dual loyalty. In the Gospel of Matthew 6:24, Jesus states "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon". This relates to the authority of a master over his servants (as per Ephesians 6:5), who according to (Biblical) law owe undivided loyalty to their master (as per Leviticus 25:44–46).

Josiah Royce’s Conception
Josiah Royce in his 1908 book The Philosophy of Loyalty presented a different definition of the concept. According to Royce, loyalty is a virtue, indeed a primary virtue, "the heart of all the virtues, the central duty amongst all the duties". Royce presents loyalty, which he defines at length, as the basic moral principle from which all other principles can be derived. The short definition that he gives of the idea is that loyalty is "the willing and practical and thoroughgoing devotion of a person to a cause". Loyalty is thoroughgoing in that it is not merely a casual interest but a wholehearted commitment to a cause.

Misplaced Loyalty
Misplaced loyalty (or mistaken loyalty) is loyalty placed in other persons or organizations where that loyalty is not acknowledged or respected, is betrayed or taken advantage of. It can also mean loyalty to a malignant or misguided cause.

Social psychology provides a partial explanation for the phenomenon in the way 'the norm of social commitment directs us to honor our agreements....People usually stick to the deal even though it has changed for the worse'. Humanists point out that 'man inherits the capacity for loyalty, but not the use to which he shall put it...may unselfishly devote himself to what is petty or vile, as he may to what is generous and noble'

Several scholars, including Duska, discuss loyalty in the context of whistleblowing. Wim Vandekerckhove, senior lecturer at the University of Greenwich, points out that in the late 20th century there sprung forth the notion of a bidirectional loyalty between employees and their employer. (Previous thinking had encompassed the idea that employees are loyal to an employer, but not that an employer need be loyal to employees.) The ethics of whistleblowing thus encompass a conflicting multiplicity of loyalties, where the traditional loyalty of the employee to the employer conflicts with the loyalty of the employee to his/her community, which the employer's business practices may be adversely affecting. Vandekerckhove reports that different scholars resolve the conflict in different ways, some of which he, himself, does not find to be satisfactory. Duska resolves the conflict by asserting that there is really only one proper object of loyalty in such instances, the community, a position that Vandekerckhove counters by arguing that businesses are in need of employee loyalty. John Corvino, associate professor of Philosophy at Wayne State University takes a different tack, arguing along lines similar to Nathanson and others that loyalty can sometimes be a vice not a virtue and that "loyalty is only a virtue to the extent that the object of loyalty is good". This argument Vandekerckhove characterizes as "interesting" but "too vague" in its description of how tolerant an employee should be of an employer's shortcomings. Vandekerckhove suggests that Duska and Corvino combine, however, to point in a direction that makes it possible to resolve the conflict of loyalties in the context of whistleblowing, by clarifying exactly what the objects of those loyalties really are.

Businesses seek to become the objects of loyalty, in order to have their customers return. Brand loyalty is a consumer's preference for a particular brand and a commitment to repeatedly purchase that brand in the face of other choices. Other businesses establish loyalty programs, which offer rewards to repeat customers, and often allow the business to keep track of their preferences and buying habits.

Fan loyalty is similar: an allegiance to and abiding interest in a sports team, fictional characyer, or fictional series. Devoted fans of a sports team will continue to follow it, relatively undaunted by a string of losing seasons.

In Animals
Animals as pets have a large sense of loyalty to humans which may be more [than] human-to-human loyalty. Famous cases include Greyfriars Bobby who attended his master's grave for fourteen years; Hachiko, who returned to the place he used to meet his master every day for nine years after his death; and Foxie, the spaniel belonging to Charles Gough, who stayed by her dead master's side for three months on Helvellyn in the Lake District in 1805 (the fact that Gough's body was eaten by his dog was ignored in subsequent Romantic accounts of the story).

In the Mahabharata, the righteous King Yudhisthira, at the end of his life, appeared at the gates of Heaven. He had previously lost his brothers and his wife to death, and when he appeared at the gates his only remaining companion was a stray dog he had picked up along the way. The god Indra is prepared to admit him to Heaven, but refuses to admit the dog. Yudhistira refuses to abandon the dog, and prepares to turn away from the gates of Heaven. Then the dog is revealed to be the manifestation of Dharma, the god of righteousness and justice, and who turned out to be his deified self. Yudhistira enters heaven in the company of his dog, the god of righteousness. Yudhistira is known by the epithet Dharmaputra, the lord of righteous duty. 

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The Philosophy of Loyalty

This social metaphysics lays the groundwork for Royce’s philosophy of loyalty. The book of this title published in 1908 derived from lectures given at the Lowell Institute, at Yale, Harvard and at the University of Illinois in 1906-07. The basic ideas were explicit in his writings as early as his history of California. Here Royce set out one of the most original and important moral philosophies in the recent history of philosophy. His notion of "loyalty" was essentially a universalized and ecumenical interpretation of Christian agapic love. Broadly speaking Royce’s is a virtue ethic in which our loyalty to increasingly less immediate ideals becomes the formative moral influence in our personal development. As persons become increasingly able to form loyalties, the practical and on-going devotion to a cause bigger than themselves, and as these loyalties become unifiable in the higher purposes of groups of persons over many generations, humanity is increasingly better able to recognize that the highest ideal is the creation of a perfected "beloved community" in which each and every person shares. The beloved community as an ideal experienced in our acts of loyal service integrates into Royce’s moral philosophy a Kingdom of Ends, but construed as immanent and operative instead of transcendental and regulative. While the philosophical status of this ideal remains hypothetical, the living of it in the fulfillment of our finite purposes concretizes it for each and every individual. Each of us, no matter how morally undeveloped we may be, has fulfilled experiences that point to the reality of experience beyond what is given to us personally. This wider reality is exemplified most commonly by when we fall in love. The "spiritual union [of the lovers] also has a personal, a conscious existence, upon a higher than human level. An analogous unity of consciousness, an unity superhuman in grade, but intimately bound up with, and inclusive of, our separate personalities, must exist, if loyalty is well founded, wherever a real cause wins the true devotion of ourselves. Grant such an hypothesis, and then loyalty becomes no pathetic serving of a myth. The good which our causes possesses, then, also becomes a concrete fact for an experience of a higher than human level." (The Philosophy of Loyalty, p. 311). This move illustrates what Royce calls his "absolute pragmatism," which is the claim that ideals are thoroughly practical, and the more inclusive ideals are maximally practical. The concretization of ideals cannot therefore be empirically doubted except at the cost of rendering our conscious life utterly inexplicable. If we admit that the concretization of ideals genuinely occurs, Royce argues, then we are not only entitled but compelled to take seriously and regard as real the larger intelligible structures within which those ideals exist, which is the purposive character of the divine Will. The way in which persons sort out higher and lower causes is by examining whether one’s service destroys the loyalty of others, or what is best in them. Ultimately personal character reaches its acme in the recognition that service of lost causes, through which we may learn that our ultimate loyalty is to loyalty itself.

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Afterward by the Blog Author

Aside from Josiah Royce, I find the philosophical approaches to loyalty to be weak and puny in terms of an understanding of human nature and its social norms. It seems obvious that humans are more likely to survive if they exhibit loyalty toward each other, ipse dixit. The animals most likely to form loyal bonds with humans, dogs, have been domesticated thousands of years longer than other animals. Dogs and human beings are more geographically widespread than any other mammals on the planet. In this sense, the section on loyal animals and the story of Yudhistira are the crown jewels of Wikipedia’s treatment of this subject. Loyalty is the observable characteristic of the quality of righteous duty. The philosophers quoted above have fumbled the ball on this vital quality.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Babies Have "Number Sense"

Baby's Innate Number Sense Predicts Future Math Skill
Science Daily, Oct. 22, 2013 — Babies who are good at telling the difference between large and small groups of items even before learning how to count are more likely to do better with numbers in the future, according to new research from the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences.

The use of Arabic numerals to represent different values is a characteristic unique to humans, not seen outside our species. But we aren't born with this skill. Infants don't have the words to count to 10. So, scientists have hypothesized that the rudimentary sense of numbers in infants is the foundation for higher-level math understanding.

A new study, appearing online in the Oct. 21 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that children do, in fact, tap into this innate numerical ability when learning symbolic mathematical systems.

The Duke researchers found that the strength of an infant's inborn number sense can be predictive of the child's future mathematical abilities.

"When children are acquiring the symbolic system for representing numbers and learning about math in school, they're tapping into this primitive number sense," said Elizabeth Brannon, Ph.D., a professor of psychology and neuroscience, who led the study. "It's the conceptual building block upon which mathematical ability is built."

Brannon explained that babies come into the world with a rudimentary understanding referred to as a primitive number sense. When looking at two collections of objects, primitive number sense allows them to identify which set is numerically larger even without verbal counting or using Arabic numerals. For example, a person instinctively knows a group of 15 strawberries is more than six oranges, just by glancing.

Understanding how infants and young children conceptualize and understand number can lead to the development of new mathematics education strategies, said Brannon's colleague, Duke psychology and neuroscience graduate student Ariel Starr. In particular, this knowledge can be used to design interventions for young children who have trouble learning mathematics symbols and basic methodologies.

To test for primitive number sense, Brannon and Starr analyzed 48 6-month-old infants to see whether they could recognize numerical changes, capitalizing on the interest most babies show in things that change. They placed each baby in front of two screens, one that always showed the same number of dots (e.g., eight), changing in size and position, and another that switched between two different numerical values (e.g., eight and 16 dots). All the arrays of dots changed frequently in size and position. In this task, babies that could tell the difference between the two numerical values (e.g., eight and 16) looked longer at the numerically changing screen.

Brannon and Starr then tested the same children at 3.5 years of age with a non-symbolic number comparison game. The children were shown two different arrays and asked to choose which one had more dots without counting them. In addition, the children took a standardized math test scaled for pre-schoolers, as well as a standardized IQ test. Finally, the researchers gave the children a simple verbal task to identify the largest number word each child could concretely understand.

"We found that infants with higher preference scores for looking at the numerically changing screen had better primitive number sense three years later compared to those infants with lower scores," Starr said.

"Likewise, children with higher scores in infancy performed better on standardized math tests."

Brannon said the findings point to a real connection between symbolic math and quantitative abilities that are present in infancy before education takes hold and shapes our mathematical abilities.

"Our study shows that infant number sense is a predictor of symbolic math," Brannon said. "We believe that when children learn the meaning of number words and symbols, they're likely mapping those meanings onto pre-verbal representations of number that they already have in infancy," she said.

"We can't measure a baby's number sense ability at 6 months and know how they'll do on their SATs," Brannon added. "In fact our infant task only explains a small percentage of the variance in young children"s math performance. But our findings suggest that there is cognitive overlap between primitive number sense and symbolic math. These are fundamental building blocks."

This research was supported by a National Institutes of Health grant R01 HD059108, a National Science Foundation Research and Evaluation on Education in Science Engineering and Developmental and Learning Sciences Grant, a James McDonnell Scholar Award, and a National Science Foundation graduate research fellowship.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Positive Quiddity: Nat "King" Cole

Nathaniel Adams Coles (March 17, 1919 – February 15, 1965), known professionally as Nat King Cole, was an American singer and musician who first came to prominence as a leading jazz pianist. He was widely noted for his soft, baritone voice, which he used to perform in big band and jazz genres. Cole was one of the first African Americans to host a television variety show, The Nat King Cole Show, and has maintained worldwide popularity since his death from lung cancer in February 1965.

Early Life

Nathaniel Adams Coles was born in Montgomery, Alabama, on March 17, 1919. Coles had three brothers: Eddie, Ike, and Freddy, and a half-sister, Joyce Coles. Ike and Freddy would later pursue careers in music as well. When Cole was four years old, he and his family moved to Lchicago, Illinois, where his father, Edward Coles, became a Baptist minister. Cole learned to play the organ from his mother, Perlina Coles, the church organist. His first performance was of "Yes! We Have No Bananas" at age four. He began formal lessons at 12, eventually learning not only jazz and gospel music, but also Western classical muwic, performing, as he said, "from Johann Sebastian Bach to Sergei Rachmaninoff."

The family lived in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago. Cole would sneak out of the house and hang
around outside the clubs, listening to artists such as Louis Armstrong, Earl Hines, and Jimmie Noone. He participated in Walter Dyett’s renowned music program at DuSable High School.
Starting Career

Inspired by the performances of Earl Hines, Cole began his performing career in the mid-1930s while still a teenager, adopting the name "Nat Cole". His older brother, Eddie, a bass player, soon joined Cole's band, and they made their first recording in 1936 under Eddie's name. They also were regular performers at clubs. Cole, in fact, acquired his nickname, "King", performing at one jazz club, a nickname presumably reinforced by the otherwise unrelated nursery rhyme about Old King Cole. He also was a pianist in a national tour of Broadway theatre legend Eubie Blake’s revue, "Shuffle Along". When it suddenly failed in Long Beach, California, Cole decided to remain there. He would later return to Chicago in triumph to play such venues as the famed Edgewater Beach Hotel.

Los Angeles and the Nat King Cole Trio

Cole and two other musicians formed the "King Cole Swingers" in Long Beach and played in a number of local bars before getting a gig on the Long Beach Pike for $90 ($1,514 today) per week. The trio consisted of Cole on piano, Oscar Moore on guitar, and Wesley Prince on double bass. The trio played in Failsworth throughout the late 1930s and recorded many radio transcriptions. Cole was not only pianist but leader of the combo as well.

Radio was important to the King Cole Trio's rise in popularity. Their first broadcast was with NBC’s Blue Network in 1938. It was followed by appearances on NBC’s Swing Soiree. In the 1940s, the trio appeared on the Old Gold, Chesterfield Supper Club and Kraft Music Hall radio shows.

Legend was that Cole's singing career did not start until a drunken barroom patron demanded that he sing "Sweet Lorraine". Cole, in fact, has gone on record saying that the fabricated story "sounded good, so I just let it ride." Cole frequently sang in between instrumental numbers. Noticing that people started to request more vocal numbers, he obliged. Yet the story of the insistent customer is not without some truth. There was a customer who requested a certain song one night, but it was a song that Cole did not know, so instead he sang "Sweet Lorraine". The trio was tipped 15 cents for the performance, a nickel apiece (Nat King Cole: An Intimate Biography, Maria Cole with Louie Robinson, 1971).

During World War II, Wesley Prince left the group and Cole replaced him with Johnny Miller. Miller would later be replaced by Charlie Harris in the 1950s. The King Cole Trio signed with the fledgling Capitol Records in 1943. The group had previously recorded for Excelsior Records, owned by Otis Rene, and had a hit with the song "I’m Lost", which René wrote, produced and distributed. Revenues from Cole's record sales fueled much of Capitol Records' success during this period. The revenue is believed to have played a significant role in financing the distinctive Capitol Records building near Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles. Completed in 1956, it was the world's first circular office building and became known as "The House that Nat Built."

Cole was considered a leading jazz pianist, appearing in the first Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts (credited on the Mercury Record label as "Shorty Nadine"—derived from his wife's name—as he was under exclusive contract to Capitol Records at the time). His revolutionary lineup of piano, guitar, and bass in the time of the big bands became a popular setup for a jazz trio. It was emulated by many musicians, among them Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Ahmad Jamal and blues pianists Charles Brown and Ray Charles. He also performed as a pianist on sessions with Lester Young, Red Callender, and Lionel Hampton.


Cole's first mainstream vocal hit was his 1943 recording of one of his compositions, "Straighen Up and Fly Right", based on a black folk tale that his father had used as a theme for a sermon. Johnny Mercer invited him to record it for his fledgling Capitol Records label. It sold over 500,000 copies, proving that folk-based material could appeal to a wide audience. Although Cole would never be considered a rocker, the song can be seen as anticipating the first rock and roll records. Indeed, Bo Diddley, who performed similar transformations of folk material, counted Cole as an influence.

In 1946, the Cole trio paid to have their own 15-minute radio program on the air. It was called, "King Cole Trio Time." It became the first radio program sponsored by a black performing artist. During those years, the trio recorded many "transcription" recordings, which were recordings made in the radio studio for the broadcast. Later they were used for commercial records.

Beginning in the late 1940s, Cole began recording and performing pop-oriented material for mainstream
audiences, in which he was often accompanied by a string orchestra. His stature as a popular icon was cemented during this period by hits such as "The Christmas Song" (Cole recorded that tune four times: on June 14, 1946, as a pure Trio recording, on August 19, 1946, with an added string section, on August 24, 1953, and in 1961 for the double album The Nat King Cole Story; this final version, recorded in stereo, is the one most often heard today), "Nature Boy" (1948), "Mona Lisa" (1950), "Too Young" (the #1 song in 1951), and his signature tune "Unforgettable" (1951) (Gainer 1). While this shift to pop music led some jazz critics and fans to accuse Cole of selling out, he never totally abandoned his jazz roots; as late as 1956, for instance, he recorded an all-jazz album After Midnight. Cole had one of his last big hits in 1963, two years before his death, with the classic "Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer", which reached #6 on the Pop chart.


On November 5, 1956, The Nat King Cole Show debuted on NBC. The variety program was the first of its kind hosted by an African-American, which created controversy at the time. Beginning as a 15-minute pops show on Monday night, the program was expanded to a half hour in July 1957. Despite the efforts of NBC, as well as many of Cole's industry colleagues—many of whom, such as Ella Fitzgerald, Harry Belafonte, Frankie Laine, Mel Torme, Peggy Lee, Earth Kitt, and backing vocal group The Cheerleaders worked for industry scale (or even for no pay) in order to help the show save money—The Nat King Cole Show was ultimately done in by lack of a national sponsorship. Companies such as Rheingold Beer assumed regional sponsorship of the show, but a national sponsor never appeared.

The last episode of The Nat King Cole Show aired December 17, 1957. Cole had survived for over a year, and it was he, not NBC, who ultimately decided to pull the plug on the show. Commenting on the lack of sponsorship his show received, Cole quipped shortly after its demise, "Madison Avenue is afraid of the dark."

Later Career

Throughout the 1950s, Cole continued to rack up successive hits, selling in millions throughout the world, including "Smile", "Pretend", "A Blossom Fell", and "If I May". His pop hits were collaborations with well-known arrangers and conductors of the day, including Nelson Riddle, Gordon Jenkins, and Ralph Carmichael. Riddle arranged several of Cole's 1950s albums, including his first 10-inch long-play album, his 1953 Nat King Cole Sings For Two In Love. In 1955, his single "Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup" reached #7 on the Billboard chart. Jenkins arranged Love is the Thing, which hit #1 on the album charts in April 1957.

In 1958, Cole went to Havana, Cuba, to record Cole Espanol, an album sung entirely in Spanish. The album was so popular in Latin America, as well as in the USA, that two others of the same variety followed: A Mis Amigos (sung in Spanish and Portuguese) in 1959 and More Cole Español in 1962. A Mis Amigos contains the Venezuelan hit "Ansiedad," whose lyrics Cole had learned while performing in Caracas in 1958. Cole learned songs in languages other than English by rote.

After the change in musical tastes during the late 1950s, Cole's ballad singing did not sell well with younger listeners, despite a successful stab at rock n' roll with "Send For Me" (peaked at #6 pop). Along with his contemporaries Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Tony Bennett, Cole found that the pop singles chart had been almost entirely taken over by youth-oriented acts. In 1960, Nat's longtime collaborator Nelson Riddle left Capitol Records for Frank Sinatra's newly formed Reprise Records label. Riddle and Cole recorded one final hit album, Wild Is Love, based on lyrics by Ray Rasch and Dotty Wayne. Cole later retooled the concept album into an Off-Broadway show, "I'm With You."

Cole did manage to record some hit singles during the 1960s, including in 1961 "Let There Be Love" with George Shearing, the country-flavored hit "Ramblin’ Rose" in August 1962, "Dear Lonely Hearts", "That Sunday, That Summer" and "Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days Of Summer" (his final hit, reaching #6 pop).

Personal Life

Around the time Cole launched his singing career, he entered into Freemasonry, being raised in January 1944 in the Thomas Waller Lodge No. 49 in California, the lodge being named after fellow Prince Hall mason and jazz musician Fats Waller.

Cole's first marriage, to Nadine Robinson, ended in 1948. On March 28, 1948 (Easter Sunday), just six days after his divorce became final, Cole married singer Maria Hawkins Ellington (although Maria had sung with Duke Ellington's band, she was not related to Duke Ellington). The Coles were married in Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church by Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. They had five children: Natalie (born 1950) (Watts 1), who herself would go on to have a successful career as a singer; adopted daughter Carole (1944–2009, the daughter of Maria's sister), who died of lung cancer at 64; adopted son Nat Kelly Cole (1959–1995), who died of AIDS at 36; and twin daughters Casey and Timolin (born 1961).

Cole had affairs throughout his marriages. By the time he developed lung cancer, he was estranged from his wife Maria and living with actress Gunilla Hutton, best known as the second Billie Jo Bradley on Petticoat Junction (1965–1966) and also notable as a regular cast member (Nurse Goodbody) on Hee-Haw. But Cole was with Maria during his illness, and she stayed with him until his death. In an interview, Maria expressed no lingering resentment over his affairs. Instead, she emphasized his musical legacy and the class he exhibited in all other aspects of his life.


In August 1948, Cole purchased a house from Col. Harry Gantz, the former husband of Lois Weber, in the all-white Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. The Ku Klux Klan, still active in Los Angeles well into the 1950s, responded by placing a burning cross on his front lawn. Members of the property-owners association told Cole they did not want any undesirables moving in. Cole retorted, "Neither do I. And if I see anybody undesirable coming in here, I'll be the first to complain."

Cole fought racism all his life and rarely performed in segregated venues. In 1956, he was assaulted on stage during a concert in Birmingham, Alabama, with the Ted Heath Band (while singing the song "Little Girl"), by three members of the North Alabama Citizens Council (a group led by Education of Little Tree author Asa "Forrest" Carter, himself not among the attackers), who apparently were attempting to kidnap him. The three male attackers ran down the aisles of the auditorium towards Cole and his band. Although local law enforcement quickly ended the invasion of the stage, the ensuing melée toppled Cole from his piano bench and injured his back. Cole did not finish the concert and never again performed in the South. A fourth member of the group who had participated in the plot was later arrested in connection with the act. All were later tried and convicted for their roles in the crime.

In 1956, he was contracted to perform in Cuba and wanted to stay at the Hotel Nacional dr Cuba in Havana, but was not allowed to because it operated a color bar. Cole honored his contract, and the concert at the Tropicana was a huge success. The following year, he returned to Cuba for another concert, singing many songs in Spanish. There is now a tribute to him in the form of a bust and a jukebox in the Hotel Nacional.

After his attack in Birmingham, Cole stated "I can't understand it ... I have not taken part in any protests. Nor have I joined an organization fighting segregation. Why should they attack me?" A native of Alabama, Cole seemed eager to assure southern whites that he would not challenge the customs and traditions of the region. A few would keep the protests going for a while, he claimed, but "I'd just like to forget about the whole thing." Cole had no intention of altering his practice of playing to segregated audiences in the South. He did not condone the practice but was not a politician and believed "I can't change the situation in a day."

African-American communities responded to Nat King Cole's self-professed political indifference with an immediate, harsh, and virtually unanimous rejection, unaffected by his revelations that he had contributed money to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and had sued several northern hotels that had hired but refused to serve him. Thurgood Marshall, chief legal counsel of the NAACP, reportedly sug­gested that since he was an
Uncle Tom, Cole ought to perform with a banjo. Roy Wilkins, the executive secretary of the organization, challenged Cole in a telegram: "You have not been a crusader or engaged in an effort to change the customs or laws of the South. That responsibility, newspapers quote you as saying, you leave to the other guys. That attack upon you clearly indicates that organized bigotry makes no distinction between those who do not actively challenge racial discrimination and those who do. This is a fight which none of us can escape. We invite you to join us in a crusade against racism."

Cole's appearances before all-white audiences, the Chicago Defender charged, were "an insult to his race".
As boycotts of his records and shows were organized, the Amsterdam News claimed that "thousands of Harlem blacks who have worshiped at the shrine of singer Nat King Cole turned their backs on him this week as the noted crooner turned his back on the NAACP and said that he will continue to play to Jim Crow audiences." To play "Uncle Nat's" discs, wrote a commentator in The American Negro, "would be supporting his 'trai­tor' ideas and narrow way of thinking". Deeply hurt by the criticism of the black press,
Cole was also suitably chastened. Emphasizing his opposition to racial segregation "in any form", he agreed to join other entertainers in boycotting segregated venues. He quickly and conspicuously paid $500 to become a life member of the Detroit branch of the NAACP. Until his death in 1965, Cole was an active and visible participant in the civil rights movement, playing an important role in planning the March on Washington in 1963.


Cole was a heavy smoker throughout his life and rarely seen without a cigarette in his hand. He was a smoker of Kool menthol cigarettes, believing that smoking up to three packs a day gave his voice its rich sound. (Cole would smoke several cigarettes in rapid succession before a recording.) After an operation for stomach ulcers in 1953, he had been advised to stop smoking but did not do so. In December 1964, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He underwent cobalt and radiation therapy and was initially given a positive prognosis. On January 25, he underwent surgery to remove his left lung. Despite medical treatments, he died on February 15, 1965, at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California.
Cole's funeral was held on February 18 at St. James Episcopal Church on Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles.

His remains were interred inside Freedom Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale.


Cole was inducted into both the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and the Aklabama Jazz Hall of Fame. In 1990, he was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 1997 was inducted into the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame. In 2007, he was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.
An official United States postage stamp featuring Cole's likeness was issued in 1994.
In 2000, Cole was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the major influences on early rock and roll.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Good Discipline Can Prevent War

The Pig War was a confrontation in 1859 between the United States and the British Empire over the boundary between the US and British North America. The territory in dispute was the San Juan Islands, which lie between Vancouver Island and the North American mainland. The Pig War, so called because it was triggered by the shooting of a pig, is also called the Pig Episode, the Pig and Potato War, the San Juan Boundary Dispute or the Northwestern Boundary Dispute. With no shots exchanged and no human casualties, this dispute was a bloodless conflict.
The pig
On June 15, 1859, exactly thirteen years after the adoption of the Oregon Treaty, the ambiguity led to direct conflict. Lyman Cutlar, an American farmer who had moved onto the island claiming rights to live there under the Donation Land Claim Act, found a large black pig rooting in his garden. He had found the pig eating his tubers. This was not the first occurrence. Cutlar was so upset that he took aim and shot the pig, killing it. It turned out that the pig was owned by an Irishman, Charles Griffin, who was employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company to run the sheep ranch. He also owned several pigs which he allowed to roam freely. The two had lived in peace until this incident. Cutlar offered $10 to Griffin to compensate for the pig, but Griffin was unsatisfied with this offer and demanded $100. Following this reply, Cutlar believed he should not have to pay for the pig because the pig had been trespassing on his land. (A possibly apocryphal story claims Cutlar said to Griffin, "It was eating my potatoes." Griffin replied, "It is up to you to keep your potatoes out of my pig.") When British authorities threatened to arrest Cutlar, American settlers called for military protection.

Military Escalation
Brigadier-General William S. Harney, commanding the Dept. of Oregon, initially dispatched 66 American soldiers of the 9th Infantry under the command of Captain George Pickett to San Juan Island with orders to prevent the British from landing. Concerned that a squatter population of Americans would begin to occupy San Juan Island if the Americans were not kept in check, the British sent three warships under the command of Captain Geoffrey Hornby to counter the Americans. Pickett was famously quoted as saying defiantly, "We'll make a Bunker Hill of it," placing him in the national limelight. The situation continued to escalate. By August 10, 1859, 461 Americans with 14 cannon under Colonel Silas Casey were opposed by five British warships mounting 70 guns and carrying 2,140 men. During this time, no shots were fired.

The governor of the Colony of Vancouver Island, James Douglas, ordered British Rear Admiral Robert L. abaynes to land marines on San Juan Island and engage the American soldiers under the command of Brigadier-General Harney. (Harney's forces had occupied the island since July 27, 1859.) Baynes refused, deciding that "two great nations in a war over a squabble about a pig" was foolish.  Local commanding officers on both sides had been given essentially the same orders: defend yourselves, but absolutely do not fire the first shot. For several days, the British and U.S. soldiers exchanged insults, each side attempting to goad the other into firing the first shot, but discipline held on both sides, and thus no shots were fired.
When news about the crisis reached Washington and London, officials from both nations were shocked and took action to calm the potentially explosive international incident.

In September, U.S. President James Buchanan sent General Winfield Scott to negotiate with Governor Douglas and resolve the growing crisis. This was in the best interest of the United States, as sectional tensions within the country were increasing, soon to culminate in the Civil War. Scott had calmed two other border crises between the two nations in the late 1830s. He arrived in the San Juans in October and began negotiations with Douglas.

As a result of the negotiations, both sides agreed to retain joint military occupation of the island until a final settlement could be reached, reducing their presence to a token force of no more than 100 men. The "British Camp" was established on the north end of San Juan Island along the shoreline, for ease of supply and access; and the "American Camp" was created on the south end on a high, windswept meadow, suitable for artillery barrages against shipping. Today the Union Jack still flies above the "British Camp", being raised and lowered daily by park rangers, making it one of the very few places without diplomatic status where US government employees regularly hoist the flag of another country.

During the years of joint military occupation, the small British and American units on San Juan Island had a very amicable mutual social life, visiting one another's camps to celebrate their respective national holidays and holding various athletic competitions. Park rangers tell visitors the biggest threat to peace on the island during these years was "the large amounts of alcohol available."

This state of affairs continued for the next 12 years. The dispute was peacefully resolved after more than a decade of confrontation and military bluster, during which time the local British authorities consistently lobbied London to seize back the Puget Sound region entirely, as the Americans were busy elsewhere with the Civil War. In 1871 Great Britain and the United States signed the Treaty of Washington, which dealt with various differences between the two nations, including border issues with the newly formed Dominion of Canada. Among the results of the treaty was the decision to resolve the San Juan dispute by international arbitration, with Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany chosen to act as arbitrator. Wilhelm referred the issue to a three-man arbitration commission which met in Geneva for nearly a year. On October 21, 1872, the commission decided in favor of the United States. The arbitrator chose the American-preferred marine boundary via Haro Strait, to the west of the islands, over the British preference for Rosario Strait which lay to their east.

On November 25, 1872, the British withdrew their Royal Marines from the British Camp. The Americans followed by July 1874.

Canadian politicians and public, already angry with the Oregon Treaty, were once again upset that Britain had not looked after their interests, and Canada sought greater autonomy in international affairs.

The Pig War is commemorated in San Juan Island National Historical Park.

Key Figures
  • Henry Martyn Robert who later published Robert’s Rules of Order was stationed on the island for much of the period.
  • Captain George Pickett, later of Pickett’s Charge fame, was in charge of the initial American landing force.
  • Captain Goeffrey Hornby, commander of the initial British naval force deployed, would later be promoted to Admiral of the Fleet, the highest rank in the Royal Navy, and earned a reputation as a pre-eminent tactician and fleet commander.