BB #40 – Down the Tubes

tubesLast week Vinton “Vint” Cerf was the guest on The Colbert Report. The elegant Mr. Cerf is one of the two acknowledged fathers of the internet (the other is Bob Kahn). Among other things, those two invented the TCP/IP protocol that allows all internet communication.

Briefly, the need to connect different computers together goes back to the 1960s. Researchers in the 1970s sought to create a network for government (especially military) and academic computing (the ARPANET). The 1980s saw the birth of the internet — the first “dot-com” name was registered in 1985. And only six years later, in 1991, the “interweb” began!

It got me thinking back to those early text-based days before “the web”…

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BB #39 – Exceptional Thinking

BrainFireComputer programmers are exceptional thinkers. By which I don’t necessary mean they are “exceptional” in the sense of “outstanding” (although no doubt some are). I mean they are trained to think about exceptions (to the rule), about what might happen.

Computer programmers, in general, think about all the possible paths a system could take. When creating email software, they have to think about all the possible ways a user might use the software. There are the obvious actions the user is supposed to perform to read or write email. But there are also “What happens if I click this?” moments to consider.

It’s not about just of the “correct” ways but also about the “incorrect” ways!

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BB #38 – Fright Night

13 ghosts 1Even as a kid monster movies didn’t really frighten me. I just was never that impressed by Dracula or Frankenstein (let alone a Werewolf — a mere dog). The Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Blob, the Thing, giant insects, Harryhausen animations, even zombies… All such obvious effects.

Slasher movies weren’t that big when I was a kid. Jason, Freddie, Chucky, they all came along later. The first Saw wasn’t until 2004. And again, on some level, just special effects. That’s actually part of what’s cool about the gory movies.

But ghost stories? Ghost stories definitely get under my skin!

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BB #37 – Generation Gaps

BrainFireEvery generation “can’t imagine what it was like” with regard to something. Various  generations have recently gone through not knowing what it was like before automobiles, before flight, before black and white TV, before space travel, before CDs, and — increasingly —before social media.

The thing about being plugged into the interweb is that you’re plugged into something very, very big. Not just big, big and fast. Lots of information rushes by very fast all the time. Drinking from the interweb — as those they that say things say — is like trying to sip from a firehose.

So what about a generation that’s never known the quiet?

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BB #36 – Heaven and Hell

BrainFireOnce upon a time I had a theory that Heaven and Hell were what happened at the very last moment of your life. They say  your “life flashes before your eyes” when you’re about to die. What if that’s literally true? What if it really does?

And in that final, eternal moment, when your mind knows “this is the end,” and there’s no more kidding yourself, what if you have to face the person you’ve really been with no filters, no deceptions, no self-rationalizations?

What if, as death stands at our shoulder beckoning, we have an infinite moment of clarity in completely and fully recognizing ourselves.

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7-4, 2014, 2011, 1998, 1992, 1776

US Declaration of IndependenceToday, of course, is Fireworks Day for USAnians. It’s an important summer day we celebrate with picnics, sunburn, maybe some swimming, maybe some baseball and — always — a lot of fireworks. I always wonder how many reflect on how those fireworks echo a war we fought to become who we are today.

Three years ago, on this day in 2011, I began Logos con carne. It wasn’t my first blog — I’d had a go at a baseball blog begun the month before. But I’d found it harder to write about baseball, especially just about baseball, so “meaty words” was born. This will be my 361st post here. The experiment and experience of blogging continues today.

weddingSixteen years ago, on this day in 1998, I got married. On a riverboat. With balloons and cake. And fireworks that seemed appropriate at the time. But the anticipated life-long path came to a dead-end by 2003, and that,  as they say, was that. My experiment with marriage had an unexpected result, and the echoes of that result linger yet today.

My UncleTwenty-Two years ago, on this day in 1992, my uncle — my dad’s only brother — died. He was a really cool uncle, and we  had a lot of fun in years past discussing quantum physics and theology. He was a theology professor at a local college, and he was very interested in the scientific world. He found out the answer to the great experiment we call life: what (if anything) comes next? He might have enjoyed this blog; I miss him still today.

signersTwo-hundred-and-thirty-eight years ago, on this day in 1776, some famous guys ratified an important contract — the United States Declaration of Independence. Then they went to a picnic and maybe some swimming. That was the beginning of an experiment that, for better or worse, is still with us today.

And so it goes.

And so it goes.

And so it goes.


Twins… Not So Much

Minnesota TwinsLast night the Minnesota Twins played their 81st game of the 2014 season. That means they’ve now played exactly half of the 162 games that comprise a Major League season.

They lost, which — unfortunately, lately — isn’t surprising. They’re back in last place in the AL-Central, nine games behind the first place Detroit Tigers and seven games below the break-even .500 mark. Most of the stats show a downward trend that doesn’t bode well for the second half of the season.

It appears that earlier optimism about a decent Twins year was unfounded.

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Remembrances

1998-07My mom would have been 90 today. She almost made it, but her path ended three months short of that goal. Last March she found the answer to a question we all have: What comes next? It would be nice to think her lifetime of faith brought the ultimate reward. She surely earned it a million times over.

In any event, she’s at peace now. Those last years were hard — constant pain and a body that no longer served her well or, sometimes, at all. She bore it as gracefully as she did all of life’s travails — always positive, always upbeat. She was the epitome of a wife, of a mother, of a person.

Today, for (what would have been) her 90th birthday, some remembrances.

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Happy Tau Day!

tau-1This might seem like another math post… but it’s not! It’s a geometry post! And geometry is fun, beautiful and easy. After all, it’s just circles and lines and angles. Well, mostly. Like anything, if you really want to get into it, then things can get complex (math pun; sorry). But considering it was invented thousands of years ago, can it really be that much harder than, say, the latest smart phone?

Even the dreaded trigonometry is fairly simple once you grasp the basic idea that the angles of a triangle are directly related to the length of its sides. (Okay, admittedly, that’s a bit of a simplification. The (other two) angles of a right-angle triangle are directly related to the ratios of the length of its sides, but still.)

However, this isn’t about trig; this is about tau!

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At the Pearly Gates

telling jokesAfter three grueling math theory posts (which I’m sure you all read very carefully and are fully prepared for next week’s pop quiz), it’s Friday and time for some fun. Here is a trio of very old jokes about the afterlife. They’re so old they may have gone around the loop to being new again, at least for anyone under the age of mumble-mumble.

As I write this post it occurs to me that I don’t hear many jokes anymore. Comedians have stand-up routines, and there are funny quotes, and lots of funny videos and gags and images… Maybe I’m just out of the loop, but it seems like people don’t tell jokes that much anymore.  Pity!

I’ll have to look into that. In the meantime, enjoy (and have a great weekend):

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