Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Euler's Formula

What is Euler's formula? What can I do with it?

First, the letter "e" represents an irrational number (with unending digits) that begins 2.71828... Discovered in the context of continuously compounded interest, it governs the rate of exponential growth, from that of insect populations to the accumulation of interest to radioactive decay. In math, the number exhibits some very surprising properties, such as — to use math terminology — being equal to the sum of the inverse of all factorials from 0 to infinity. Indeed, the constant "e" pervades math, appearing seemingly from nowhere in a vast number of important equations.

Next, "i" represents the so-called "imaginary number": the square root of negative 1. It is thus called because, in reality, there is no number which can be multiplied by itself to produce a negative number (and so negative numbers have no real square roots). But in math, there are many situations where one is forced to take the square root of a negative. The letter "i" is therefore used as a sort of stand-in to mark places where this was done.

Pi, the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, is one of the best-loved and most interesting numbers in math. Like "e," it seems to suddenly arise in a huge number of math and physics formulas.

Putting it all together, the constant "e" raised to the power of the imaginary "i" multiplied by pi equals -1. And, as seen in Euler's equation, adding 1 to that gives 0. It seems almost unbelievable that all these numbers — and even one that isn't real — would combine so simply and be used in so many diverse applications. The physicist Richard Feynman referred to the equation as "the most remarkable formula in mathematics."

Friday, March 25, 2016

Goodnight, Irene

Bulldozing Monuments

Bulldozing Monuments and the War on American History

by Jarrett Stepman

On December 17, the New Orleans City Council voted to remove four Confederate statues from the city, using obscure “nuisance” laws to strip these over 100-year-old historic monuments from their places of display. Mayor Mitch Landrieu said it was a “courageous decision to turn a page on our divisive past and chart the course for a more inclusive future.” Of course, the plan to remove the statues is itself divisive as a number of preservation organizations have filed lawsuits to save the monuments.

The New Orleans statues to be removed are of General Robert E. Lee, General P.G.T. Beauregard, and Confederate President Jefferson Davis. The city will also remove an “obelisk dedicated to the Battle of Liberty Place” according to CNN. The Lee and Beauregard statues are on the National Register of Historic Places.

The most controversial of the monuments on the chopping block is the Battle of Liberty Place monument—dedicated to a Democratic white supremacist paramilitary group that fought the state and federal government during Reconstruction. But an adjacent commemoration was constructed in 1974, which states, “Although the ‘battle of Liberty Place’ and this monument are important parts of the New Orleans history, the sentiments in favor of white supremacy expressed thereon are contrary to the philosophy and beliefs of present-day New Orleans.”

There are times when it is acceptable for monuments to come down: Americans tore apart a statue of King George III during the Revolution, Lenin and Stalin statues were destroyed after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and most Americans today remember the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue during the second Iraq War. These were all revolutionary events in which an old regime was entirely replaced by a new one, a clean break with the past.

However, the war on Confederate monuments is part of the most recent effort by national activist groups to strip elements of American history deemed offensive and not in line with their current, ever-evolving political agenda. They wish to do more than create a new political order, and insist that the only way for the U.S. to move forward is by entirely erasing the past.

The anti-Confederate monument activists are not just setting their sights on the Confederacy, but American history as a whole—deep down they make little distinction between the Confederate founders and the Founding Fathers of the United States. There are plenty of reasons for critics–both contemporary and modern–to attack the Confederacy, especially the ideas that were at its cornerstone. Yet neither the ideas nor the personal character of the monuments’ likenesses are particularly relevant in this crusade. All that matters is that they are currently politically incorrect.

Those who argue to remove the Lee and Davis statues, for instance, claim that the two illustrious men were traitors and not even from New Orleans, so the statues are inappropriate on those grounds. However, this is clearly not their real standard. The statue of Andrew Jackson is next on next on the agenda, yet Jackson saved New Orleans from British capture during the War of 1812 and was one of the staunchest unionists, known for his famous phrase, “Our federal union, it must be preserved!” He had deep ties to New Orleans and was the furthest thing from being a secessionist. But Jackson owned slaves and killed Indians in war, so he must be purged alongside Jefferson Davis. Similar arguments can be made about George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, and a never ending list of now unacceptable historical figures.

America doesn’t need a whitewashing of history, it needs a renewed commitment to the leaders and inspiring people, heralded and unheralded, who made this country what it is today–and an understanding of those who may have caused it harm. New monuments and reinterpretations of the past will undoubtedly arise, but this should not necessitate the bulldozing of priceless and irreplaceable works of art.

The current efforts to fundamentally transform history are fueled by people who believe America has been rotten since day one and want nothing less than total political and cultural revolution. It would be a travesty and a foreboding sign for America’s future if there is no attempt to preserve these monuments against the push of a temporary majority or—more accurately—an incredibly vocal and insistent minority.

In the last few years alone, leftist activists have been relentless and often successful in their pursuit of dismantling this country’s past in an attempt to recreate the nation in their own image. Amongst many other examples they have attempted to remove: Alexander Hamilton from the $10 bill, Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill, Andrew Jackson and Thomas Jefferson from annual Democrat Party dinners, President William McKinley’s name from Mount McKinley, and even progressive forefather Woodrow Wilson’s name from Princeton University. And perhaps most disturbing of all is the effort to dig up Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife from their graves in a park in Memphis, Tennessee. Even the dead are not allowed to rest.

For the modern Robespierres there is simply no difference between the ideas of Thomas Jefferson who wrote that “all men are created equal” and Confederate founders such as Alexander Stephens who claimed that “our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition.”

Backers of the movement to eradicate the Confederate monuments in New Orleans claim it is an attempt to bring unity to the to the now mostly-black community, yet it does the exact opposite. As Ian Tuttle wrote in National Review, “The Left’s Confederate-eradication frenzy is not meant to promote healing or encourage dialogue but to enforce conformity,” he continued. “…the goal of folding up the Confederate battle flag — or discarding a bust or renaming a school — is not to facilitate racial unity by minimizing the visibility of potentially hurtful displays. The goal is to impose a uniform ideological perspective on dissenters.”

When this agenda is stoked and accepted, monuments will increasingly face a permanent and revolving ideological test, subjected to destruction after sudden shifts in power and minor changes in the cultural milieu.

New Orleans suffers with rapidly climbing murder and crime rates, some of the worst roads for a major city in the United States, unsafe drinking water, and sky-high levels of debt. It is only now starting to build an effective system of education based around school choice, after scoring among the worst in the country for generations. Is the crusade to remove the monuments going to change any of this or fix racial tensions? No. And it will come at a great additional cost.

A city that struggles to fill potholes should perhaps be focused more on the immediate problems at hand than demolishing century old statues. As Ellen Carmichael noted in National Review, “One New Orleanian said he spoke with a contractor who said that the cost to remove just the statue — without its foundation — and store it for a single month would top $1 million. This could instead be used to pay for the salaries for 228 new police officers during that same period.”

If Americans continue to back down to the relentless attempts to erase our history—essentially everything that falls outside of the constantly shifting and increasingly narrow band of ideas acceptable to the modern intellectual left—there will not be merely fewer statues of Robert E. Lee and old Confederates. There will be little of this country’s history and ideas left to protect, reflect on, and uphold. We will live in an intellectual and moral wasteland in which the only views deemed acceptable to express or examine come from the loudest and most indignant purveyors of social justice haunting college campuses.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Rocky Has Left The Planet

My boy Rocky.
I had a premonition last week and sure enough it has come true. My feline companion Rocky has given up the ghost and joined his brother Bullwinkle, hopefully now romping through Elysium fields. I only had those boys for about a year and a half but they were sure fun and great companions. For pity's sake, neither could stay away from the old highway.

My boys had the life knocked out of them by separate pick-up trucks driven by separate Texas boys just as crazy as me but I'm quite sure I've never hit either a single dog or domestic cat. I hit a bobcat one night between Bridgeport and Decatur but that's a whole other story. If there's a bright side to this tragedy, neither Rocky nor Bullwinkle ever knew what hit them. It was like, what was that? and then nothing. As far as death goes, that's pretty easy. Like a light being turned off. Heck, I always figured I'd end up in pieces some late night on one of these north Texas back roads. I've come close but not yet. If I was muslim, this is where I'd shout out something about two yahoos in the snack bar, but I'm not, so I won't. For a southern boy, it's probably the equivalent of saying hell yeah. Grim acceptance of my heart-breaking reality. Rocky and Bullwinkle don't care either way. I'm going to miss those two. Hell yeah.

25 Things I Trust

25 things I trust before the government (or the media or Wikipedia) on Sandy Hook:

• Mexican tap water
• A wolverine with a 'pet me' sign
• A mixed drink made by Bill Cosby
• A straight edge shave from Jodi Arias
• An elevator ride with Ray Rice
• A night out with Aaron Hernandez
This guy killed all those kids? Really?
• Brian Williams' memory
• Pete Carroll coaching decisions
• Loch Ness monster sightings
• Pinocchio
• The Boy that cried Wolf
• Browns going to the Super Bowl
• A Nigerian inheritance email
• A pilot alone in the cockpit
• Harry Reid's exercise equipment
• Tying Anthony Weiner's shoes
• A 3 year old with a fully charged taser
• A factory packed parachute
• A kiss from Judas
• An Afghan wearing a backpack
• A Supreme Court decision
• Keeping my healthcare plan
• A North Korean trial
• A BIC pen that doesn't leak
• A week old tuna fish sandwich found on a city bus

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Imaginary Numbers

Contrary to what some people might tell you, imaginary numbers are not numbers that only exist in the brains of weird people. Or maybe they are; all numbers in math are "imaginary" in the sense that you can't touch them or experience them directly.

But this is not what people mean when they talk about imaginary numbers. Imaginary numbers are numbers that can be written as a real number times i.

So what is a real number, and what is i?

Well, the real numbers are all the positive numbers, negative numbers, and zero. These are numbers like


So the real numbers are the numbers that you probably already know: they're the ones on the number line.

What is i? It's the square root of -1 (see footnote below). And it's NOT a real number. i was invented because people wanted to be able to take square roots of negative numbers, and you can't do that if you limit yourself to real numbers.

So we can make an imaginary number by taking a real number like 5 and multiplying it by i. That gives us 5i. Some other imaginary numbers are


Note that the square of any imaginary number (except 0) is a negative number.

Complex numbers are numbers like 7 + .4i; they're a real number plus an imaginary number.

Footnote: actually, there are TWO numbers that are the square root of -1, and those numbers are i and -i , just as there are two numbers that are the square root of 4, 2 and -2.

Monday, March 21, 2016


We like to say we navigate through all the confusion by the power of our superb human brain, owing to the questionably superior thoughts that are stored, circulated, believed in, and built upon. I prefer to say that the brain is more akin to a companion for the heart and is the louder, more public partner of the two. The heart is where we truly reside and to believe such a thing requires faith. Ultimately, faith may be the subject of all meaningful discussion but for the purposes of this article, let's focus on the brain.

My data for human brain size is largely based on participants of European ancestry and indicates an average adult brain volume of 1130 cubic centimeters (cm3) for women and 1260 cm3 for men. There is, however, substantial variation; a study of 46 adults aged 22–49 years and of mainly European descent found an average brain volume of 1273.6 cm3 for men, ranging from 1052.9 to 1498.5 cm3, and 1131.1 cm3 for women, ranging from 974.9 to 1398.1 cm3.

The right cerebral hemisphere is typically larger than the left, whereas the cerebellar hemispheres are typically closer in size. The adult human brain weighs on average about 1.5 kg (3.3 lb) with a volume of around 1130 cm3 in women and 1260 cm3 in men, although as discussed above, there is substantial individual variation.

Click to enlarge.
Scientists say brain size stopped increasing with neanderthals. Since then, the average brain size has been shrinking over the past 28,000 years. [Edit: How can they possibly know such things as fact?] So, some scientists claim human cranial capacity has decreased from around 1,550 cm3 to around 1,440 cm3 in males while the female cranial capacity has shrunk from around 1,500 cm3 to around 1,240 cm3.

In the digital age, the brain is like an intelligent switchboard that ensures all the proper connections are met and maintained. Simplistic, but that's the view.

Most people have heard that the brain doesn’t feel pain. It's true. Consider this grisly scene from Hannibal with Anthony Hopkins..

Your brain has physical needs, requiring 20 percent of your total daily oxygen and caloric intake — even though your brain only makes up two percent of your total body weight.

I've heard this one before, so I have doubts, but 80% of the brain is water. Instead of being relatively solid, your brain is 80% water.

They also say our brains are more active while we sleep. There's got to be some self-deprecating punchline that would fit in nicely here but I just can't think of anything. Maybe it'll hit me later. Or maybe a kind reader will supply it.

Anyway, your brain operates on 10 watts of power. Enough to power an electric guitar.

Some say a higher IQ equals more dreams. The smarter you are, the more you dream. Additionally, some people believe they are smarter in their dreams than when they are awake. I think there may be an inverse effect as well. We are probably as stupid in our dreams as awake.

Your brain can store every experience you've ever had. Technically, your brain has the capacity to store everything you experience, see, read or hear. However, the real issue is recall — whether you can access that information accurately.

Perhaps we are meant to be fallible, to forget things as a way of getting over some unpleasantness that the heart can't fix because the brain won't let go. Most everybody I know is pretty stubborn that way. I suppose that's one more thing all our brains have in common.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Great Blizzard of 1888

We've had a wet, mild winter this season here on the wild and woolly plains of north Texas. Some flooding but no ice or snow to speak of. Every few years, we get the cold stuff but not this year. Bad weather certainly comes and goes but I shudder (literally) to think how people up north bear a brutal winter.

The Great Blizzard of '88 (March 11 – March 14, 1888) was one of the most severe blizzards in the history of the US. Snowfalls of 20 to 60 inches (51–150 cm) fell in parts of New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, and sustained winds of more than 45 miles per hour (72 km/h) producing snowdrifts in excess of 50 feet (15 m). Railroads were shut down and people were confined to their houses for up to a week.

The weather preceding the blizzard was unseasonably mild with heavy rains that turned to snow as temperatures dropped rapidly. The storm began in earnest shortly after midnight on March 12, and continued unabated for a full day and a half. The National Weather Service estimated this Nor'easter dumped as much as 50 inches (130 cm) of snow in parts of Connecticut and Massachusetts, while parts of New Jersey and New York had up to 40 inches (100 cm). Most of northern Vermont received from 20 inches (51 cm) to 30 inches (76 cm) in the storm.

Drifts were reported to average from 30 to 40 feet (9.1–12 m), over the tops of houses from New York to New England, with reports of drifts covering 3-story houses. The highest drift (52 feet or 16 metres) was recorded in Gravesend, New York. It was reported that 58 inches (150 cm) of snow fell in Saratoga Springs, New York; 48 inches (120 cm) in Albany, New York; 45 inches (110 cm) of snow in New Haven, Connecticut; and 22 inches (56 cm) of snow in New York City. The storm also produced severe winds; 80 miles per hour (129 km/h) wind gusts were reported, although the highest official report in New York City was 40 miles per hour (64 km/h), with a 54 miles per hour (87 km/h) gust reported at Block Island. New York's Central Park Observatory reported a minimum temperature of 6 °F (−14 °C), and a daytime average of 9 °F (−13 °C) on March 13, the coldest ever for March.

Referred to as the Great White Hurricane, the storm paralyzed the East Coast from the Chesapeake Bay to Maine, as well as the Atlantic provinces of Canada. Telegraph infrastructure was disabled, isolating Montreal and most of the large northeastern U.S. cities from Washington, D.C. to Boston for days. Following the storm, New York began placing its telegraph and telephone infrastructure underground to prevent their destruction. From Chesapeake Bay through the New England area, more than 200 ships were either grounded or wrecked, resulting in the deaths of at least 100 seamen.

In New York, neither rail nor road transport was possible anywhere for days, and drifts across the New York–New Haven rail line at Westport, Connecticut took eight days to clear; transportation gridlock as a result of the storm was partially responsible for the creation of the first underground subway system in the United States, which opened nine years later in Boston. The New York Stock Exchange was closed for two days.

Fire stations were immobilized, and property loss from fire alone was estimated at $25 million. Severe flooding occurred after the storm due to melting snow, especially in the Brooklyn area, which was more susceptible to serious flooding due to its topography. Efforts were made to push the snow into the Atlantic Ocean. More than 400 people died from the storm and the ensuing cold, including 200 in New York City alone. Among them was former U.S. Senator Roscoe Conkling.

It's Confirmed!

There is a secret moon base and it's been confirmed by President Obama. I suspected it all along. The question remains: what are they doing up there?

Edit: Okay, so I may have jumped the gun a little on my secret moon base announcement. However, that doesn't discount the fact that my government has released a Zombie Preparedness notification. There's a plan in place. Thank goodness! On the CDC web site, they suggest it is tongue-in-cheek, but I know it's not. You may return to whatever you were doing before.

It's hard to admit the truth
when the lies were exactly what you wanted to hear.

-- Anonymous

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Prime Spirals

Because prime numbers are indivisible (except by 1 and themselves), and because all other numbers can be written as multiples of them, they are often regarded as the "atoms" of the math world. Despite their importance, the distribution of prime numbers among the integers is still a mystery. There is no pattern dictating which numbers will be prime or how far apart successive primes will be.

The seeming randomness of the primes makes the pattern found in "Ulam spirals" very strange indeed.

In 1963, the mathematician Stanislaw Ulam noticed an odd pattern while doodling in his notebook during a presentation: When integers are written in a spiral, prime numbers always seem to fall along diagonal lines. This in itself wasn't so surprising, because all prime numbers except for the number 2 are odd, and diagonal lines in integer spirals are alternately odd and even. Much more startling was the tendency of prime numbers to lie on some diagonals more than others — and this happens regardless of whether you start with 1 in the middle, or any other number.

Even when you zoom out to a much larger scale, as in the plot of hundreds of numbers below, you can see clear diagonal lines of primes (black dots), with some lines stronger than others. There are mathematical conjectures as to why this prime pattern emerges, but nothing has been proven.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Did You Sell Out?

Speaking of money... As you know, the value of gold has been used as the standard for many currencies. After WWII, the United States created the Bretton Woods System, which set the value of the U.S. dollar to 1/35th of a troy ounce (888.671 mg) of gold. This system was abandoned in 1971 when there was no longer enough gold to cover all the paper money in circulation. So, what do we use to back our currency now? Nothing, absolutely nothing, except if you count the faith of the people to agree to use a purely fiat currency. The fact is, your money is nothing but paper. If you've been blessed and managed to accumulate a small fortune through hook or crook or luck, don't make the mistake of believing your padded bank account makes you an authority on anything or will save you from the ravages of sin, death, and dishonor. I'm pretty sure about this.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The biggest single-day loss ever in the history of the Dow occurred on September 29, 2008, when it dropped 777.68 points, or approximately $1.2 trillion in market value. The experts say we'll see it happen again but it's expected to be worse next time. Will you be ready?

The Dark Side Of The Moon

The Dark Side of the Moon is the title of the eighth studio album by the Pink Floyd, a popular English progressive rock band from the last century. Released in March 1973, the psychedelic album was as influential to pop music as Sgt. Pepper's or Pet Sounds. Themes include conflict, greed, the passage of time, and mental illness, the latter partly inspired by founding member Syd Barrett's deteriorating mental state.

The album was a huge success, topping the Billboard Top LPs & Tapes chart for one week. It subsequently remained in the charts for 741 weeks from 1973 to 1988. With an estimated 50 million copies sold, it is Pink Floyd's most commercially successful album and one of the best-selling albums worldwide. It has twice been remastered and re-released, and has been covered in its entirety by several other acts. It spawned two singles, "Money" and "Time". In addition to its commercial success, The Dark Side of the Moon is one of Pink Floyd's most popular albums among fans and critics, and is frequently ranked as one of the greatest albums of all time.

After Pink Floyd released Meddle in 1971, the band assembled for an upcoming tour of Britain, Japan, and the United States in December of that year. In a band meeting at drummer Nick Mason's home in Camden, bassist Roger Waters proposed that a new album could form part of the tour. Waters' idea was for an album that dealt with things that "make people mad," focusing on the pressures faced by the band during their arduous lifestyle, and dealing with the mental problems suffered by former band member Syd Barrett.

Waters, Gilmour, Mason and Wright participated in the writing and production of the new material, and Waters created the early demo tracks at his Islington home in a small recording studio he had built in his garden shed. Parts of the new album were taken from previously unused material; the opening line of "Breathe" came from an earlier work by Waters and Ron Geesin, and the basic structure of "Us and Them" was taken from a piece originally composed by Wright for the film Zabriskie Point. The band rehearsed at a warehouse in London owned by The Rolling Stones, and then at the Rainbow Theatre. They also purchased extra equipment, which included new speakers, a PA system, a 28-track mixing desk with four quadraphonic outputs, and a custom-built lighting rig. Nine tons of kit was transported in three lorries; this would be the first time the band had taken an entire album on tour, but it would allow them to refine and improve the new material, which by then had been given the provisional title of Dark Side of the Moon (an allusion to lunacy, rather than astronomy). However, after discovering that the title had already been used by another band, Medicine Head, it was temporarily changed to Eclipse. The new material premièred at The Dome in Brighton, on 20 January 1972, and after the commercial failure of Medicine Head's album the title was changed back to the band's original preference.

Dark Side of the Moon: A Piece for Assorted Lunatics, as it was then known, was performed in the presence of an assembled press on 17 February 1972 — more than a year before its release — at the Rainbow Theatre, and was critically acclaimed. Michael Wale of The Times described the piece as "... bringing tears to the eyes. It was so completely understanding and musically questioning." Derek Jewell of The Sunday Times wrote "The ambition of the Floyd's artistic intention is now vast." Melody Maker was, however, less enthusiastic: "Musically, there were some great ideas, but the sound effects often left me wondering if I was in a bird-cage at London zoo." The following tour was praised by the public. The new material was performed live, in the same order in which it would eventually be recorded, but obvious differences between the live version, and the recorded version released a year later, included the lack of synthesizers in tracks such as "On the Run", and Bible readings that were later replaced by Clare Torry's scat singing on "The Great Gig in the Sky."

Nick Mason, David Gilmour, Rick Wright, Roger Waters
The band's lengthy tour through Europe and North America gave them the opportunity to make continual improvements to the scale and quality of their performances. Studio sessions were scheduled between tour dates; rehearsals began in England on 20 January 1972, but in late February the band travelled to France and recorded music for French director Barbet Schroeder's film, La Vallée. They then performed in Japan and returned to France in March to complete work on the film. After a series of dates in North America, the band flew to London to begin recording the album, from 24 May to 25 June. More concerts in Europe and North America followed before the band returned on 9 January 1973 to complete work on the album.

The entire musical piece was built upon experiments Pink Floyd had attempted in their previous live shows and recordings, but lacks the extended instrumental excursions which, according to critic David Fricke, had become characteristic of the band after founder member Syd Barrett left in 1968. Guitarist David Gilmour, Barrett's replacement, later referred to those instrumentals as "that psychedelic noodling stuff," and with Waters cited 1971's Meddle as a turning-point towards what would be realized on the album. The lyrical themes include conflict, greed, the passage of time, death, and insanity, the latter inspired in part by Barrett's deteriorating mental state; he had been the band's principal composer and lyricist. The album is notable for its use of musique concrète and conceptual, philosophical lyrics, as found in much of the band's other work.

Each side of the album is a continuous piece of music. The five tracks on each side reflect various stages of human life, beginning and ending with a heartbeat, exploring the nature of the human experience, and (according to Waters) "empathy." "Speak to Me" and "Breathe" together stress the mundane and futile elements of life that accompany the ever-present threat of madness, and the importance of living one's own life —"Don't be afraid to care." By shifting the scene to an airport, the synthesizer-driven instrumental "On the Run" evokes the stress and anxiety of modern travel, in particular Wright's fear of flying. "Time" examines the manner in which its passage can control one's life and offers a stark warning to those who remain focused on mundane aspects; it is followed by a retreat into solitude and withdrawal in "Breathe (Reprise)." The first side of the album ends with Wright and vocalist Clare Torry's soulful metaphor for death, "The Great Gig in the Sky". Opening with the sound of cash registers and loose change, the first track on side two, "Money", mocks greed and consumerism using tongue-in-cheek lyrics and cash-related sound effects (ironically, "Money" has been the most commercially successful track from the album, with several cover versions produced by other bands). "Us and Them" addresses the isolation of the depressed with the symbolism of conflict and the use of simple dichotomies to describe personal relationships. "Any Colour You Like" concerns the lack of choice one has in a human society. "Brain Damage" looks at a mental illness resulting from the elevation of fame and success above the needs of the self; in particular, the line "and if the band you're in starts playing different tunes" reflects the mental breakdown of former band-mate Syd Barrett. The album ends with "Eclipse", which espouses the concepts of alterity and unity, while forcing the listener to recognize the common traits shared by humanity.

Monday, March 14, 2016

"If... the machine of government... is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law."

–- Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Keith Emerson

Prog-rock keyboardist dead at 71.

Someday I'll Be

Something Happened, But What?

9/11 Was A Hoax

by John Kaminski

The invasion of Iraq was undertaken for many reasons — the imminent replacement of the dollar by the euro as the world's primary currency, the tempting lure of untapped oil reserves, the desire to consolidate U.S./Israeli military hegemony over a strategically vital region — but the most important reason was to further obscure questions about the awesome deception staged by the American government that has come to be known as 9/11.

9/11 was a hoax. This is no longer a wild conspiracy assertion; it is a fact, supported by thousands of other verifiable facts, foremost of which are:

The attacks of 9/11 could not have happened without the willful failure of the American defense system. In Washington, Air Force pilots demanded to fly but were ordered to stand down. Yet instead of prosecuting the president and military leaders for this unprecedented dereliction of duty, military leaders were promoted and the president was praised for presiding over a defense system that suspiciously failed the most crucial test in its history. None of the deaths would have happened without the deliberate unplugging of America's air defenses.

Planes that lose contact with control towers are usually intercepted by fighter jets inside of ten minutes. Yet on 9/11, the jetliners that struck New York were allowed to proceed unmolested for more than a half-hour, and the plane that supposedly crashed in Washington was not intercepted for more than an hour and forty minutes after it was widely known that four planes had been hijacked.

The twin towers could not have collapsed as a result of burning jet fuel. Most of that fuel was consumed on impact. In the south tower, most of the fuel was spilled outside the building. Heat caused by burning jet fuel does not reach temperatures needed to melt steel. What does stand out as particularly suspicious and still unexplained is that fires raged out of control beneath three of the collapsed towers for 100 days, clearly indicating the presence of some kind of substance utilized in the demolition of the structures.

The Twin Towers did not fall because of plane impacts or fires. Most likely explosives were placed on structural supports in the towers, and these controlled implosions snuffed out the lives of three thousand people.

FBI Director Robert Mueller insisted officials had no idea this kind of attack could happen when in fact the FBI had been investigating the possibility of exactly this kind of attack for almost 10 year. Numerous previous attempts at using planes as weapons, intimate knowledge of terror plans called Project Bojinka, and knowledge of suspicious characters attending flight schools who were being monitored by the FBI make his utterance a clear lie on its face.

In the weeks before 9/11, the U.S. received warnings from all over the world that an event just like this was about to happen, but FBI investigations into suspected terrorists were suppressed and those warnings were deliberately disregarded.

The names of the alleged hijackers, all ostensibly Muslims, were released to the public only hours after the attacks, despite Mueller saying we had no knowledge this would happen. This is an impossible twist of logic. If he didn't know of a plan to strike buildings with planes, how would he know the names of the hijackers? Various artifacts were discovered in strategic places to try to confirm the government's story, but these have all been dismissed as suspicious planting of evidence. Since that time several names on that list have turned up alive and well, living in Arab countries. Yet no attempt has ever been made to update the list. And why were none of these names on the airlines' passenger lists?

Much like the invasion of Iraq, the anthrax attacks were designed to deflect attention from unanswered 9/11 questions in the patriotic pandemonium that followed the tragedy. The investigation into these killings was abruptly halted when the trail of evidence led straight to the government's door, and has not been reopened. The anthrax attacks also amped up the climate of fear and deflected attention from the passage of the government's repressive Patriot Act.

The Patriot Act was presented in the days after the tragedy supposedly as a response to it, yet it was clear that this heinous act, drafted to nullify provisions for freedom in the U.S. Constitution, was put together long before 9/11. In addition, testimony by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) revealed that most members of Congress were compelled to vote for the bill without even reading it. This was a vote to eliminate the Constitutional Bill of Rights, which has defined American freedom for 200 years, and it was accomplished when legislators voted for the bill without even reading it.

The invasion of Afghanistan was presented as an attempt to pursue the alleged perpetrators of 9/11, yet it had been discussed for years prior to the tragedy and actually planned in the months before the attacks on New York and Washington. Statements by Zbigniew Brzezinski and the Republican-written Project for a New American Century have stressed that America needed a formidable enemy to accomplish its aggressive geopolitical aims. The supposed enemy we attacked in Afghanistan was a diverse group of men from all over the world who were initially recruited, encouraged and supported by the American CIA.

The hole in the Pentagon was not made by a jumbo jet. Damage to the building was simply not consistent with the size of the hole nor the absence of debris. At the supposed point of impact, a whole bank of windows remained unbroken and there were no marks on the lawn. No airplane debris (except what was planted on the lawn) nor remains of passengers were ever found.

The president has admitted that he continued to read a story to schoolchildren in a Florida school for 30 minutes after being informed that two planes had struck New York and that the nation was under attack. He has never explained this puzzling behavior, nor how he saw the first plane hit. It was never televised, only recorded by a French crew filming firemen in New York. In that film, the plane in question does not appear to be a passenger airliner.

The plane in Pennsylvania was shot down and broke apart in midair. No other explanation can account for the wreckage, which was spread over a six-mile area, or the eyewitness accounts that describe debris falling from the sky.

Cellphone calls cannot be made from airliners in flight that are not close to the ground. As research by Professor A. K. Dewdney has shown, the emotional conversations between hijacked passengers and others would not have been possible under conditions that existed at that moment. These calls were cynical fabrications, exploiting the distraught emotions of those who lost loved ones.

Radio communications from firefighters on the upper floors of the Trade Center towers clearly indicate that fires were under control and the structure was in no danger of collapsing.

These are merely a few of the deliberately false statements made by U.S. officials about 9/11.

Consider just a few more of the other unanswered questions from among the thousands of unexplained loose ends that all point to 9/11 being an inside job.

Who benefited from the suspiciously high numbers of put options purchased prior to September 11 for shares in companies whose stock prices subsequently plummeted, on the supposition that whoever was behind the hijacking was also behind most of the purchases of these put options? And what was the role of the new executive director of the CIA, Buzzy Krongard, who handled these transactions?

Why was the debris from the collapsed Twin Towers removed from the site with no forensic examination? Why was almost all of it sold to scrap merchants and shipped abroad where it would not be available for scientific examination?

Why did so many people, from San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown to many employees of companies in the World Trade Center who failed to come to work that day, know in advance that something bad was going to happen on Sept. 11, 2001?

Why do all the major U.S. media continue to act as if none of these questions is legitimate or relevant?

History has shown all too clearly the deceived American people will support the destruction of faraway countries on phony pretexts of defending so-called freedom.

Thus the wars continue.

The American people have been lied to, propagandized, down-sized, and idiocracized merely to invent a pretext — the war on terror — so the government can kill anyone they please - en masse -- in order to design, yes you guessed it, a new world order.

If the American people continue to tolerate such insanity, then they clearly do not deserve to survive as a nation or a people.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Windows 10 Sucks

Remember when Microsoft decided to give away Windows 10? Well, now we know why they gave it away. First, Windows 10 provides an OS that sends your data to the "cloud" and makes it easier for government oversight (That's right, sweetie, nothing is private anymore. We know what you do when nobody is looking...). Secondly, Windows 10 just plain old sucks.

Windows 10 is slow, it's buggy, and it's not as easy to navigate -- plus, like I said, it surrenders your privacy.

Here are things that suck and are common across practically every Windows version:

1) significant slowdowns caused by installations and uninstallations overtime, disk fragmentation - yes we have SSDs so this problem can be considered gone, but Microsoft has really done nothing to deal with this issue on their operating system level

2) Windows registry - this is simply a mess, no sane developer would ever use thing like this to store configuration

3) folder system is a mess - when you uninstall an application, there is often leftover mess in ProgramData, AppData Roaming, AppData Local, AppData LocalLow and various other places most users don't even know about

4) svchost.exe which is responsible for RAM handling, it's really unbelievable such ancient ineffective flawed way is still preserved in worldwide leading operating system.

5) safe mode isn't really a safe mode, because it still lets malware to run successfully.

6) clean installation state is practically nonexistent, for practically all OEM distributions.

7) user rights are a joke - either you are system admin and so let any malware be installed without notice - or you have just a basic user rights and often cannot even plug external disk because driver installation fails due to insufficient rights.

8) bad installer packaging system - .MSI is fragile and pain to work with, especially for administrators.

9) system wide updates are nonexistent, let's say you update certain Windows component negatively affects functionality of some third-party software, but you are not being notified/asked about update of that software. Windows (10) Sucks

10) it's often impossible to get proper drivers for hardware devices, with no versatile drivers available either.

11) debugging culprits of problems (such as slow boot) is very difficult, practically impossible without third-party utilities.

12) Windows often refuses to boot properly, although in most cases it's caused by minor hiccup in system, sadly often requires clean reinstall of whole system.

13) Windows is hardware dependent (situation is even worse with UEFI), so it's not possible to just grab a disk with installed Windows and put it into entirely different PC, it will not boot at all most likely.

14) Windows Updates are terribly unreliable, tricky, very slow to install, wasting disk space, wasting cpu and ram, wasting users' time.

15) retarded logic of looping installation of updates which failed to install (often for couple hours making your PC unavailable) sounds like a bad joke, but indeed is a harsh reality.

16) absolutely no way to upgrade system without any leftover mess (and as I mentioned above the complex files&folders structure, practically impossible to ever clean).

17) Windows installer is not friendly to any other non-Microsoft operating systems already installed, always overwrites Master Boot Record, in case of detecting another Windows versions, it will make this new installed system primary without absolutely any notice, no questions asked - but that's not all, UEFI is going step further, Microsoft actively preventing OSes which don't support UEFI to be usable at all along Windows with UEFI.

18) WinSxS could have been a nice way to keep backup of files, sadly this process keeps versions of files user will absolutely never ever need, so for ex. you use english version of OS but this process will store backup copies of countless other languages if included.

19) Cryptic error messages - who the f*ck gives a damn about number of the error, Windows takes over 10GB of disk space, so why couldn't it include brief info about errors, so users would actually know at least a bit what's (not) going on?!

20) Windows OSes are wordlwide being used most, so obviously malware coders are targeting this platform most, yet Microsoft has done nothing to effectively disable ability to modify system files during runtime.

21) constant disk activity of Windows system is ridiculous, it literally steals performance from user all the time, for nothing!

22) NTFS file system is over 25 years old, and Microsoft's programmers are still unable to cope with its fragmentation, neither develop some new filesystem which would be more effective - things are getting even worse due to the fact most Windows applications are not preallocating files, therefore producing even more fragmentation.

23) sadly Windows anti-virus solutions make PC even more vulnerable, so honestly if your primary concern is good security, then stop using Windows and migrate to Linux, immediately.

24) annoying Windows 10 upgrade is being pushed among mandatory updates in Windows 7/8/8.1 which is inacceptable, and actually lying to users.

Now, here are things which suck about Windows 10 specifically:

1) Windows 10 spying is unacceptable, Microsoft hasn't explained it yet, even admitted it cannot be stopped, I'm seriously curious if any company/enterprise will ever upgrade to Windows 10.

2) Microsoft even boasts about the spying results, in other words they openly promote they are spying on Edge users, Gallery app users, what programs you run, for how long you run them etc... I mean, what the f*ck, seriously?!

3) Microsoft explicitly lying about older Windows, claiming if you buy a printer or game right now it will not work well in Windows 7, they even openly admit they are pushing their software and hardware partners into Windows 10, which will result in nothing less than even more security holes and virus backdoors.

4) according to Microsoft's EULA, you are giving Microsoft rights to use use any of your (personal) content related to the services like Bing, Cortana (a built-in file indexer and search in Windows 10, even if voice functions are disabled), OneDrive or Skype - Microsoft obviously tried to paint everything in positive light, but I am not going to believe someone who keeps changing their statements all the time.

5) quality of Windows 10 as it is right now (if I were optimistic) BETA release:

5.1) GWX app upgrades the PCs which are clearly incompatible with Windows 10 due to lack of drivers of used peripherials.

5.2) Microsoft evidently hides information about Windows 10 updates, no clear indication of update being "fix" or "improvement", influences and consequences of updates are unknown.

5.3) Start Menu still sometimes fails to open for plenty users.

5.4) Cortana on the other hand often opens by itself annoyingly.

6) no real control over crucial features of the OS.

6.1) as Microsoft clearly shows, there updates are being released fluently, no big ServicePacks planned, which basically means the whole OS is a work in constant progress and so you are perpetual beta tester.

6.2) forced updates cannot be opted out, no matter how much they fail (search for stories about KB3081424 for ex.).

6.3) Safe Mode has become inaccessible unless you have booted into running OS - because fck logic, right? - so it totally defeats the purpose of Safe Mode, plus in case you try to get into Safe Mode, you need to get through almost a dozen steps (instead of single F8 key during boot, as known in Win7 and older).

7) terrible UI inconsistency.

7.1) ClearType2 for classic softwares and weird gryish filter for modern apps.

7.2) visual decorations and styles are ridiculously inconsistent and not matching together.

7.3 classic Control Panel and modern Settings of entirely different design and layout is an annoying mess to work with.

7.4) inconsistent font faces and sizes.

7.5) different styles of settings for modern apps.

7.6) context menus layout and appearance is utter mess.

8) terrible customizability, dubious design and extremely limited functionality in general (compared to Win7/XP, not even trying to compare it to Linux distros).

8.1) classic Control Panel and modern Settings are obviously done without any logic put into the split process of making 2 separate control panels, no clear indication of what's the purpose of using each for what things.

8.2) following the point above, certain control widgets/windows are spread between Control Panel and Settings (for ex. users management), it seems like a joke but it's not.

8.3) no classic UI decorations, barely any settings of Windows 10 decorations.

8.4) choice of colors is truly awful.

8.5) amateurish set of icons, without any option to choose different icon set.

8.6) many Windows 10 Apps are still not fully replacing their Win7/Vista/XP counterparts in terms of design and functionality.

8.7) Start Menu is like saying fck off to anyone who has hopes of using it, literally zero customization, alphabetical non-expandable list of programs is joke.

9) true nightmare for users with limited or metered internet connection.

9.1) updates being now mandatory, you can only choose when do you want to reboot the PC (and from my own experience Windows 10 ignores that if you leave PC running for more than 20 days without reboot) but not when do you want to download the updates, since some users and companies use 3G/4G backup on their wired network interfaces, Windows 10 doesn't know and will not give a sh!t about how are you connected to internet.

9.2) if you're still using Windows 7/8/8.1, then you should be aware of fact that Windows 10 is downloaded automatically, regardless of your decision about the Windows 10 upgrade, that's about 4GB of data many people absolutely don't need, 4GB of writes to shorten lifespan of your SSD, 4GB of internet bandwidth - and this all every time you manually delete it.

9.3) by default Windows 10 wastes your precious upload speed (which usually is 10x-100x less than your download speed) to distribute updates to other users around you - yes basically torrenting without letting you know - this obviously has negative impact on network response, network speeds, disk response, disk speeds and overall system performance.

10) Wi-Fi sense, the incredible feature which most people would consider unquestionably illegal, gives anyone in your Skype, Outlook, Hotmail, Facebook etc.. to be granted access to your Wi-Fi network as long as they are in its range.

11) if you decide to add another user to your PC, then make sure you have enough disk space for it - newly created profile with literally nothing useful has over 300MB (!)

12) then once you first login to the newly created account, you will need to wait (without absolutely no choice) until Windows 10 bloats it with default apps and other useless things, which on regular disk may take more than couple minutes

If you're still reading, congratulations, you're almost to the end. Let's just bust some lies spread by Microsoft about Windows 10:

1) "Windows 10 boots faster" - this is a nice lie, Windows 10 has enabled "fast startup" by default, what this feature does (simplified) is that it just hibernates core system components - so it's slower than hibernation (session data stored on disk, loaded after waking) and incomparably slower than sleep mode (session data stored in RAM, loaded after waking), yet everyone goes crazy about how fast Windows 10 (also applies to Windows 8/8.1) boots, few people notice restart takes surprisingly long though...

2) "Windows 10 is faster" - you can search for countless comparisons online, proving most programs not being any faster, mostly do not benefit of slightly improved memory handling.

3) "Windows 10 is more secure than any previous version of Windows" - let's laugh out loud to this bullsh!t, since Windows 10 is still Vista in its deep core, it offers exactly zero new protection mechanisms, apart from apps running in some sort of sandbox, all programs are left vulnerable, Microsoft Security Essentials primary purpose isn't protecting users or PC, that's why in most real benchmarks is behind other anti-viruses available nowadays.

3.1) yes Windows 10 does incorporate multi-factor authentication, but this improves only physical security, not protecting from remote breaches at all.

3.2) yes Windows 10 (particularly enterprise versions) offers encryption, which becomes real fun when damaged disk (by Windows 10 itself often) refuses to boot and thanks to encryption there is little hope to save anything.

4) "I have nothing to hide - let them track me!" - privacy should be concern of every user at reasonable amount, Windows 10 spying becomes more interesting in countries and companies with limited freedom/liberty, realtime surveillance can be very easily abused, even beyond Microsoft's expectations.

5) "Windows 10 is a more modern OS" - I wonder how exactly is Windows 10 different compared to Windows Vista/7/8/8.1, when I take a look at general folder structures, files&folders within Windows folder, registry structures, drivers, software launchers... honestly I don't see any difference at all - yes user interface does look different, but UI is absolutely no reflection of how modern an OS is - just remember how many people still prefer classic UI which is noticeably less resource-heavy and so is more suitable for serious workstations and servers.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Dealing With Disappointment

Tommyboy is told to go home and put on something more appropriate.
God Alert! This article contains references to God and spirituality. Read at your own risk!
While life is certainly a gift to be cherished, sometimes things might not go your way and you end up having to deal with disappointment. Maybe somebody let you down. Maybe your favorite team lost a match. Or maybe, it's something even more serious.

In any case, true disappointments can be painful, regardless of their magnitude. My friend recently terminated a long-term relationship in which she'd struggled for a long time. The harsh words, hurt feelings, bitter memories, and daily friction had taken their toll.

My neighbor, Little Joe, lost a job he loved. His supervisor seemed distant and hostile. Feeling under-appreciated at an otherwise satisfying job frustrated Joe but losing his livelihood was even worse.

My last editor knew something was wrong even before the doctor told her a mastectomy might remove the cancer. Cancer wasn't supposed to be part of her charmed life: always class president, cheerleader, socialite, proud wife and parent. Cancer happened to other people. How was she supposed to handle it? Not to mention her husband and child.

When I survey my own life, I realize I'm no different. We all experience disappointment from troubled relationships, poor job evaluations or test scores, death of a loved one, health challenges, social snubs and on and on.

Unsurprisingly, sometimes disappointment develops into depression or despair. Did you know shipwreck victims who lose hope may die after a few days even though physiologically they could have survived many days longer? While despair can contribute to suicide, hopelessness bred by poverty may manifest as apathy. Values, meaning, and hope appear to act as catalysts for mobilizing energy and finding satisfaction. Without hope, life can justifiably seem futile.

So how can we keep hope alive when we become so disappointed we actually feel paralyzed? Well, first, adjust your expectations. Understand that much of what happens is out of your hands. Everybody doesn't get to win the Super Bowl or Olympic gold. Not every applicant gets the job. Illness happens. Not every marriage succeeds.

A word of caution. Hope can be misplaced. If your highest hope is in achievement, you will eventually be disappointed — success is transient. Solomon said, "As I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless... like chasing the wind" (Ecclesiastes 2:11). On the other hand, if we're so afraid of disappointment that we lower our hopes, we can close ourselves off from what God may have in mind. The proper balance can be elusive.

Learn from your struggles and your losses. When allowed to do so, disappointment and failure build character and patience. They can teach you to win and lose with grace, an increasingly lost art these days. Romans 5:3-4 says it like this: "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character..." Inner spiritual strength helps develop that attitude.

As a teenager, surfer Bethany Hamilton lost her left arm to a 1,500-pound shark, yet she says, "This was God's plan for my life and I'm going to go with it." Hamilton now regards her tragedy as an opportunity to inspire others.

God often ministers to our hurts through other people. It can be tempting to put up walls when you're feeling especially vulnerable, but if you shut out friends, you could be sealing off healing and hope.

Friends are essential, but people can also let us down and make errors in their judgments. Remember that God is an unending source of hope, inspiration, and energy. "I will never fail you. I will never forsake you" ( Hebrews 13:5). Cultivate your spirit and in times of despair, you will be protected.

Paul wrote, "If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since God did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won't God, who gave us Christ, also give us everything else?" (Romans 8:31-32) The more we trust in God, the less power disappointments will have to undermine our hope.

Paul also said, "God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God" (v. 28). In my experience, that's how it's supposed to work.

We sometimes get stuck focusing on the here and now, but our present situation isn't the end of the story. Paul knew how disappointing life could seem — we only have to read his letters to know that. Yet he never quit encouraging his fellow believers to see the big picture in the midst of their trials. He wrote, "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" ( 2 Corinthians 4:16-18). God's plans are nearly always bigger than we think. The sting of our relatively short-term disappointments in no way compares to the ultimate hope we have in Him.

First Peter 1:13 counsels, "Prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed." In other words, wonderful things will come our way once Jesus returns to this troubled planet. But even now, God offers compassion, forgiveness, and strength to those who trust in Him. Relationship with Him gives us the great hope that empowers us to face any disappointment.