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Musings #5

Some Fave Excerpts

  • It's a truism of science that the observer affects the thing being observed - but it works the other way, too.

  • Anything unique and powerful can be very useful -- but different people will see different uses for it.

  • Two (or more) heads are not necessarily better than one ...

  • One culture's "obvious and fundamental" may be another's "strange and baffling".

  • It seems humans aren't meant to have empathic powers and remain happy, Mike thought. An empath who lived around the same people constantly found the flow of emotions becoming easier over time -- like a stream eroding a deeper, straighter channel through rock. And that stream could not be slowed. The genetic engineering techniques that had made Linna and a handful of other humans into empaths or telepaths had been abandoned decades ago -- too many of them had gone mad, some committing suicide.
         Linna was actually one of the more stable ones. One of the luckier ones.
         Linna continued: "It's too intense. Itís not just you, it's everyone on the ship. Outwardly, there are the smiles, the jokes, or at least some sense of being up to any task required of them. But underneath, they're all a mass of anxieties. Feeling unloved or incompetent. I can feel them holding back anger and saying the 'right' thing instead. Or not daring to tell someone how they really feel about them. They ache."
          (Dave Creek, "Some Distant Shore")


        -- ANALOG Science Fiction and Fact (September 2007)


    analog_sff_sep2007_202x320.jpg



  • ... is the medium of comics inherently less sophisticated and impactful and artistically deep than that of novels?

  • ... revel in the oft-times wacky (racist, sexist, ageist, and whatever-ist) detritus of forgotten pop culture, seeing in these decades-old effusions of the mass mind hidden cosmic significances.

  • ... employ a kind of erratic, non-linear plotting by synchronicity and chance associations of characters.

  • ... conspiracies as reality.

  • ... ornate, recondite, witty, yet altogether engrossing and captivating style ...

  • ... a mimetic piece that poetically keens a muted, heartfelt elegy for a free spirit ...

  • ... a poking and prodding at the tenor of reality ...

        -- "On Books" by Paul Di Filippo
                Asimov's Science Fiction (September 2007)



    asimov_s_science_fiction_september_2007_100x160.jpg



  • Security Breaches:

    Consider these 2006 news items. AOL accidentally released data about 19 million searches by 650,000 users. The searches reveal Social Security numbers, among other items most people tend not to share. The Department of Veterans Affairs lost a laptop whose hard drive stored personal and financial data for more than 25 million veterans, active-duty personnel, and spouses. Ernst & Young, a "Big Four" accounting firm, lost data on more than 200,000 Hotels.Com customers through a laptop theft.

        -- Edward M. Lerner,
           "Beyond This Point Be RFIDs"
            ANALOG Science Fiction and Fact
           (September 2007)



  • Moore's Law:

    Dependably since Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel Corporation, articulated this forecast in 1965, the number of transistors on an integrated circuit chip has roughly doubled every two years. Data densities more or less double in eighteen months. Simply put, Moore's Law suggests that in five years computers will be fix or six times more powerful than today, with ten times the storage.

        -- Edward M. Lerner,
           "Beyond This Point Be RFIDs"
            ANALOG Science Fiction and Fact
           (September 2007)



  • Google:

    Google's cofounders began research on a search engine in 1996. By 2005, the New York Times reports, Google had index eight billion web objects, with more being added continually; the aggregated data volume in those objects is vastly larger. Constantly maintained indices enable us to search across those billions of items, often within a fraction of a second.

          Web objects ... [are] harder to parse and index ... Web objects include text pages, images, Usenet messages, and linked files of various types. It all keeps growing, of course. Google aspires to scan and make searchable every book ever published (although copyright issues may constrain that ambition).

          And Google does most of its work with swarms of commodity PCs.

        -- Edward M. Lerner,
           "Beyond This Point Be RFIDs"
            ANALOG Science Fiction and Fact
           (September 2007)



  • Divide-and-Conquer
    (Parallel Processing):

    Large-scale computing challenges often yeidl to a divide-and-conquer approach -- what computer scientists call parallel processing. It's true of climate studies (many small atmospheric volumes modeled concurrently), H-bomb simulations (far tinier volumes, in much shorter time slices), and data mining (subsets of vast data aggregations). Specialized computers harness many processors in parallel to more speedily calculate, sort, and search. Such computers gain increased throughput with faster chips or increased paeallelism.

        -- Edward M. Lerner,
           "Beyond This Point Be RFIDs"
            ANALOG Science Fiction and Fact
           (September 2007)
  • sketch_bouquet.gif

    Excerpts from Stanley Schmidt's "Adapting"
        (Editorial in ANALOG Science Fiction and Fact ,
         September 2007)

  • Rise in Sea Level:

    "... any rise in sea level means some coastal real estate will be going under -- and much of the most valuable real estate in the world is coastal. Depending on the actual amount of sea level rise, small to large amounts of cities like New York and Amsterdam [and many parts of coastal Singapore, especially the islands such as Sentosa] will be submerged, meaning they will have to be either abandoned or radically (and expensively) rebuilt to deal with constant salt water flooding, wave action, tides, and storm surges."

  • Rise in Temperature:

    "Any rise in temperature means that some plants and animals will no longer thrive where they now do, and the crops that are the economic lifeblood of agricultural regions will no longer grow there. Weather will grow more violent, with an increase in droughts, wildfires, and destructive storms (of which the unprecedented 2006 Atlantic hurricane season may be a sample)."

  • It's Not the 'End of the World':

    "Is it the end of the world if sea levels and temperatures rise a lot and huge areas of cropland become unusable?

          "Literally and emphatically, it is not. Sloganeers who shout 'Save the planet!' are indulging in melodramatic and anthropocentric hyperbole. What they really mean is, ' Save us! ', which has a considerable less noble ring to it. The planet is (at least so far) in no danger from us. It has taken far more in the past than we're capable of dishing out, and will undoubtedly do so in the future. It will still endure quite a while; if we mess things up badly enough to destroy ourselves, the Earth will simply go on without us, striking a new (and, as always, temporary) balance with whatever is left over. It simply doesn't care whether we're part of that future."

  • Adaptability:

    "Adaptability is one of the most important characteristics of our species. ... we have found ways to live in ... nearly every kind of environment found on this planet: deserts, wetlands, Arctic tundra, the extreme altitudes of the Andes and Himalayas. ... Small numbers of us have even managed to live for significant periods in the very harsh climate of Antarctica and in an orbiting capsule, and some of us dream quite seriously of colonizing other planets or the Asteroid Belt. If we must, surely we can find ways that at least some of us could live with a climate altered from the one we've taken for granted."
  • Testing .........

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