Friday, December 20, 2013

Happy Holidays

As The Sun Stands Still
On The Deepest Winter Day
Here is Wishing A Wonderful Solstice
And a Grand Saturnalia
And A Merry Christmas 
Will Be Enjoyed By Everyone.
2013 Perihelion ------- 02 Jan 0500U   
2013 Vernal Equinox --- 20 Mar 1102U
2013 Summer Solstice -- 21 Jun 0504U
2013 Aphelion --------- 05 Jul 1500U    
2013 Autumnal Equinox - 22 Sep 2044U
2013 Winter Solstice -- 21 Dec 1711U

All The Julian Dates and Universal Times From:

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Bitcoins - The way I understand them.

I recently read a really good article on Bitcoin.  Here is that URL: 


When I shared the URL with some friends I got a "tl;dr" response and some questions.  Here are my responses to the questions: 

1. "... 
What gives the bitcoin a fluctuating value? ..."
Its fluctuating value is a result of the fact there is absolutely no organization that underwrites the value of Bitcoin.

I think a good analogy to Bitcoin is:  Suppose some new mineral was discovered that was not good for anything on its own but was very difficult to obtain.

Because the difficulty of obtaining it would make it rare then it could be used as money.  (For example gem diamonds.)

If the difficulty of obtaining this mineral was uncertain and at any time some breakthrough could occur that would make it very easy to get more of it or if at any time the process of obtaining it could be taken over by some arbitrary group then its value would fluctuate.

2. "... What is the underlying value? ..."


These days (perhaps excepting gold and such) there is no underlying value of any money, except the trust we have in the countries that issue that money. 

3. "... How are bitcoins purchased/traded ? ..."

You can do it yourself by setting up your own e-wallet then putting some bitcoins in it.  To put some bitcoins in your wallet you find someone to transfer some of their bitcoins to your e-wallet.

There is another way to get bitcoins yourself, you can e-mine them. The computing power necessary to e-mine bitcoins is probably beyond the grasp of normal computers.  After, and perhaps even before all the Bitcoin is mined there is a provision in the Bitcoin protocol (not currently in use) called transaction-fee so you could become a Bitcoin banker and get bitcoins that way.  How this would work has not yet been invented. 
4. "... What if you lose your bitcoin serial # ? ..."

If you really lose it and can not recover it then the bitcoin no longer exists.  

Well sort of no longer exists:  You can still see the bitcoin in something called the block-chain but it can not be accessed by you or anyone else.  NOTE: There is a cryptographic assumption here that applies to everything about Bitcoin.

5. "... Is there a benefit to using bitcoins for consumer services ? ..."

No.  However, the answer is yes if the particular service you need is only available for purchase using Bitcoin.

6. "... Any audit trail for taxation reasons? ..."

Yes:  There is a complete trail of all bitcoins.  

Not only that but a bitcoin is its transaction trail.  If you follow the transaction trail back you get to either the 'bitcoin-genesis-block' or some 'e-mine' event that created it.  

The database of all Bitcoin transactions is called the 'block-chain'.

The act of exchanging Bitcoin involves not just the bitcoins themselves but also the IP address of the 'e-wallets' of the parties who did the exchange.  So the trail is very complete. Currently there are Internet protocols that attempt to anonmize the locations of the e-wallets but they have been shown to be breakable.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

More Thoughts On AI

This post is motivated by this post ( to the TheorySerum.COM blog.

Many of the points made in the post above have been explored by stories written around the assumption that AI was successfully invented.  These are very powerful ideas because they reflect right back at ourselves.  I think it is very productive to try and create as much objectivity around these ideas as we can.

So, it is my opinion that consciousness is an emergent attribute of the mind of any motile organism.  Further this attribute, like most such things, is on a continuous scale.  

To this end it is helpful to think about the mind as an engine that takes sensory inputs, and the memory of the organism, as its input.  This engine then processes these inputs with the purpose of creating a model of the inputs.  Next the engine runs the model to make short term (and longer term) predictions that reflect how the actual environment will change and affect the organism.  Finally the engine sends out commands to the organism that maximize its chances of successfully negotiating that environment.

This model building and execution capacity of the mind is not restricted to just sending commands but also has recursive attributes that cause the model to be modified.  A good way to think about this ability to model the models is say it gives rise to another emergent attribute we call consciousness.  Since this is all on a continuous scale then some organisms are more conscious than others.  

It is important to realize that it is not the case that organisms that are not human are some how lower or inferior to humans but instead when we realize that this high degree of recursive modeling ability that gives rise to consciousness is not necessary for survival but instead is just a side effect of our 'big-brains'.

What this means for AI is that we can not expect to invent it full blown but instead it will be one of those things that starts out not looking at all like it is conscious but over time gains more and more of the attributes of what is called conscious.

For these reason I do not think the points made in the post above are very worrisome because they will be automatically resolved as the artificial organisms that exhibit AI become more and more complete (or conscious).  I think the sense of the decisions discussed above will not present themselves as deliberate choices but instead will be built-into byproducts (side effects) of how the artificial organism is constructed.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Moments In Time

On Friday afternoon, November 22, 1963 I was in 6th period study hall, I was a junior in high school.
In those days I spent as much time as I could in the library reading Scientific American and other such publications. I also read every single book on the shelves that had anything at all to do with ships or sailing.  I was so ready to 'Get-Out-Of-Dodge' when I was that age.  In 1965, within a month of graduating from high school, I was in the United States Navy at the Naval Recruit Training Center at Great Lakes Naval Base, Illinois.

That afternoon in 1963 an announcement came over the school intercom that the president had been shot.  I recall my classmates and I talking about the announcement saying: "Was he killed or wounded, why did they just say shot and nothing else." 
We did not have a television but our grandparents who lived right next door did. 

The next few days were a blur of television coverage of all the events. 

Just a few months earlier I recall being glued to that same television as the president spoke about missiles in Cuba and setting up a sea blockade of the island until Russia withdrew them.  During those years I recall conversations around the dinner table about nuclear war and my dad making the point that since there was a US Air Force SAC airbase just 12 miles north of our town that it would not help to build a bomb shelter. The reasoning was that we, the USA, would not strike first so if a war occurred then the Russians would have struck first and that airbase must be a prime target since it was not any sort of secret that it was there.

A couple of years before that Friday afternoon in November of 1963 I was so excited about the gubernatorial and presidential election of 1960.  My father was instrumental in helping Terry Sanford be elected over a racists segregationist opponent.  John Kennedy was also elected president at the same time.  I, and my brothers and sisters were made fun of by some of our classmates for our father's support of Terry Sanford.  When Stevenson was beat by Eisenhower twice in 1952 and then again in 1956 I knew about it but I was only 5 then 9 years old but in 1960 I was 13 and was very much aware of what was going on and what the stakes were all about.

The weekend of the assassination and funeral I happened to be the only person in my family who was watching at the time they led Lee Harvey Oswald out of his cell to be transferred to another jail and saw the shooting on live TV.  That was an astonishing moment. 

That was the only time in my life I have seen someone killed. Some years later while I was stationed at Cau Viet in Vietnam I was within a few yards of where a fellow was killed during an artillery attack.  Then, many years later, when my mother died after suffering a massive stroke I was at her bedside in the intensive care unit of Pitt Memorial Hospital in Greenville NC.  I recall, the evening before, my wife and I and our two young daughters traveled to Mount Olive NC, my home town, to visit my mom and dad, and as we pulled up in the driveway my father came out of the house and met me saying, "Your sister just now went with your mom in the ambulance to the hospital, I'm going over there in the car now."  My wife and I decided she and the kids would go on to her mom's home in Rose Hill NC while I rode with my dad to the hospital.  I'll never forget sitting with my dad when the neurosurgeon came in and addressed my dad saying, "Mr. Cox your wife is going to die, she had a stroke and it is as if she has been shot in the head."  After that he did say we could hope for a miracle but that was not likely. I have always been thankful for medical folks who tell the truth so you can know what the situation is.

Looking back on events like these I get a profound sense of just how ephemeral our existence is, not only as individuals but as part of the biosphere of this planet, the only blue marble we have.  As we think of things like these then life, living and experiencing the events that occur to and around us as we enjoy our brief moment in time take on higher sense of awareness and appreciation.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Interesting (And Scary)

Here is the article that inspired this post:

The takeaway is to turn on https whenever you can.  I notice that and FaceBook.comnow both run https ... I think it may be by default but if not and if you use web mail you should turn on https!

I've known for many years that access to a "MAE" was something that enabled someone to 'camp-out' right on the backbone and watch every single packet, however, I was NOT aware just how 'packet-injection' and the other exploit that this article details worked.

The United States can really take the lead here, even the National Security Agency (NSA) could lead the charge to make the Internet a more secure and open place to exchange information securely.  Such an effort would ensure that communications between peers and client/servers would be imune to the attacks listed in the article.  At the same time the we could engineer the New-NET so that it could be 'phone-tapped'  in in that case the tap itself could be engineered so to leave a 'bread-crumb-trail' that while not obvious to the user would allow the governing authority that institued the tap to be ultimately accountable for the tap.  This does mean that the 'black-hats' would sill hack/crack away at the 'New-Net' but with the guiding principal of transparency things could move forward.

Also to be very clear I have no idea how to reengineer the Net so that it conforms to what I say above but I am sure that it can be done it is just a matter of everyone agreeing how to proceed.

Monday, November 04, 2013

One million one thousand lengths of the pool

Today I swam one million one thousand lengths of the pool in forty five minutes. 

.   really?

.   sure!

One million one thousand is (1,001,000) and 1001000 (base 2) is equal to 72 (base 10).

Now, sticking with base 10; the pool is 25 yards long.

So the total yards in my swim is 72*25 = 1,800 yards.

Which when converted is 1.02273 miles or 1.64592 kilometers.

Also, when you look at the bottom of the pool you see a stripe of tiles of a different color that marks the middle of each lane.  

This stripe of tiles is six tiles wide. If, as you swim, you use base two to count the number of lengths of the pool you have swum you get a pattern like the one below with 'O' being a white tile and 'X' being a color tile.

. . . O O O O X X X X X X O O O ... 
. . . O O O O X X X X X X O O O ... 
. . . O O O O X X X X X X O O O ... 
. . . O O O O X X X X X X O O O ... 
. . . O O O O X X X X X X O O O ... 
. . . O O O O X X X X X X O O O ... 

To do this mentally you think of the binary numbers overlaying the color tiles in the stripe down the middle of the lane and you get the pattern below:

000001 - (1 length ) -  25 yds
000010 - (2 lengths) -  50 yds
000011 - (3 lengths) -  75 yds
000100 - (4 lengths) - 100 yds 
000101 - (5 lengths) - 125 yds
000110 - (6 lengths) - 150 yds
000111 - (7 lengths) - 175 yds 
001000 - (8 lengths) - 200 yds

And I think of my swim in 200 yard increments because I swim at a pace that takes 5 minutes to go 200 yards.  So I swim one thousand (base-2) lengths of the pool in five minutes.

At the end of 40 minutes (8*5) or (8*200) or 1600 yards I run out of color tiles and mentally turn the adjacent white tile into a '1' getting 1000000 (1,000,000 base 2) lengths of the pool.  And I know I have only 200 yards to go or 1,000 (base 2) lengths to go.

When I ride my bicycle I now track my distance in metric (kilometers) because it seems longer.  And now when I swim I'll be tracking my distance in binary laps of the pool.  Plus it gives me something to think about while I swim.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Inside the mind of the Republican party


A very interesting read.  And Sean Carroll does point out that he got the link from a conservative website,  and at that site the conservative who posted the link was in complete agreement with findings of the original article.

And, of course, the bullet points do match up with my ideas on mentation when you account for irrational belief systems.  Also --- irrational belief systems --- by the way, are not just the purview of conservatives but also progressives.

Here is the link Sean's post (one of my favorite bloggers) who then supplies the link to the actual article.

If you want to cut to the chase here is the link to the actual memo:


Many of the observations in the memo make sense when you consider these are mostly folks who were never trained to think critically (and scientifically) and are now living in a modern world that is changing.  The way mentation works in this case automatically dictates that they will react by clinging desperately to their 'belief-systems' at all cost, eschewing reason and logic. 


Wednesday, October 09, 2013

I Have Arrived At LEVEL-1

Project Euler #24 (Sorted)  

I was the: ${52,018}^{th}$ person to have solved this problem.

And I have earned an award: "... You have earned 1 new award: The Journey Begins: Progress to Level 1 by solving twenty-five problems ..."

Level-1 Award
Level 1 - Award

Note-1The 25th problem was problem #67
Note-2: This must mean that before this I was aimlessly wandering around Level-0


Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Deficient, Perfect, and Abundant

Deficient Numbers, Perfect Numbers,
Abundant Numbers

Did you know:  When you factor 945 into it's prime factors you get:

945 = 5 * 189
    = 5 * 3 * 63 
    = 5 * 3 * 7 * 9
    = 5 * 3 * 7 * 3 * 3

So { 3,3,3,5,7 } is the set of 'Prime Factors of 945

Also the 'Proper Factors' of 945 (i.e. ALL the numbers that divide evenly into 945 excepting 945 itself) make the set:

{ 1,3,5,7,9,15,21,27,35,45,63,105,135,189,315 }

And the sum of these proper factors is 975 (which is larger than 945).

Note-1: Numbers that are such that the sum of their proper factors is greater than the number are called "Abundant Numbers"

Note-2: Numbers that are such that the sum of their proper factors is equal to the number are called "Perfect Numbers"

Note-3: Numbers that are such that the sum of their proper factors is less than the number are called "Deficent Numbers"

And finally 945 is the smallest, odd, Abundant Number.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A 36 Kilometer Greenway Bicycle Ride

A 36 Kilometer Greenway Bicycle Ride

A beautiful September day, temperature in the low 70s.  Gentle breeze, blue skies.  Perfect for a bike ride.

Here are the stats: Note:  The route URL below bit off since I actually rode around Shelly Lake first rather than last, as is indicated by the distance markers.

Route ....
Time ...... 2 Hours 20 Minutes
Distance .. 36 Kilometers
Speed ..... 15 Kilometers Per Hour (18 Not Counting Rests)

I rode down Yadkin Drive to where it crosses Crabtree Creek and then traveled up the greenway to where Crabtree Creek and Lead Mine Creek join and followed the greenway up Lead Mine Creek to Shelly Lake.  

I rode around the east side of Shelly Lake and followed the greenway up Lead Mine Creek to Longstreet and Bent Creek Road where I turned around.  I rode back down the greenway to Shelly lake and rode around the west side and continued down the greenway following Lead Mine Creek to where it joins Crabtree Creek.

I then followed the greenway up Crabtree Creek to Crabtree Valley Mall and then up Blue Ridge Road to where the Horse Creek greenway starts.  I rode the Horse Creek greenway to where it ends, at the bicycle bridge over I440 near Wade Avenue.  

Then I rode across the bicycle bridge over I440 and on up to the North Carolina Art Museum.  I followed the bike paths around the art museum to Blue Ridge Road and took Blue Ridge Road back down the hill to Crabtree Valley Mall area.

I then rejoined the greenway and followed it up Crabtree Creek to its end where I had my banana a drink of waster and started back down the greenway.  I followed the greenway back to where Crabtree Creek and Lead Mine Creek come together and headed down the greenway toward I440.  Instead of going back to Yadkin Drive I decided to climb the hill up to North Hills Park, and extraordinarily steep climb.  They had just finished repaving the greenway up that hill and part of the asphalt was already starting to creep back down the hill.  Once out of North Hills Park I got back on Davidson Street and was only two blocks from home.

Here are some pictures I took along the way:

At the Shelly Lake dam.

Shelly Lake Dam

Crossing the bike bridge over I440

NC Art Museum Grounds

NC Art Museum Grounds

NC Art Museum Grounds

At northern most point of Crabtree Creek Trail

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

2013 CDC Resistant Bacteria 'Threat Report'

This note is not just about drug resistant bacteria but equally applies to many behaviors that humans have and continut to be engaged in.

Here is the report: "".

From what I've read antibiotics do something called 'forced evolution' of the bacteria.  All the 'easy' copies of the particular bacteria are wiped out by the drug leaving only the few resistant cells.  These cells may not be particularly suited to survive normal 'non-forced' natural selection but are artificially selected in favor of by the antibiotic.  

The unintended consequence of an antibiotic is to create antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Not only are humans treated by antibiotics but also our food animals are being treated.  I can imagine that the same unintended consequence will emerge among the bacteria we treat our animals for.

In the long run only a decrease in human population to sustainable levels that are in balance with the rest of the biosphere will 'fix' this.  

The best way to decrease the population is to raise the standard of living among all humans and basically eliminating the conditions that keep the poorest countries poor, the decline in the population of the US/Canada and Western Europe shows that this works.  

The 'bad-news' is that we live on a planet with finite resources and until and unless we mend our unsustainable ways we will, in pretty short order, correct ourselves out of existence.  

Nature (natural selection) doses not give a hoot about how fancy humans are and instead treats us just like any other organism:   If we insist on behaving like an opportunistic bloom we will crash just like all opportunistic blooms do.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Shouting In Anger

A Hindu saint who was visiting river Ganges to take bath found a group of family members on the banks, shouting in anger at each other. He turned to his disciples smiled and asked,

'Why do people shout in anger shout at each other?'

Disciples thought for a while, one of them said, 'Because we lose our calm, we shout.'

'But, why should you shout when the other person is just next to you? You can as well tell him what you have to say in a soft manner,' asked the saint.

Disciples gave some other answers but none satisfied the other disciples. Finally the saint explained:

'When two people are angry at each other, their hearts distance a lot. To cover that distance they must shout to be able to hear each other. The angrier they are, the stronger they will have to shout to hear each other to cover that great distance.

'What happens when two people fall in love? They don't shout at each other, but talk softly, because their hearts are very close. The distance between them is either nonexistent or very small.'

The saint continued. 'When they love each other even more, what happens? They do not speak, only whisper and they get even closer to each other in their love. Finally they even need not whisper, they only look at each other and that's all. That is how close two people are when they love each other.'

He looked at his disciples and said,

'So when you argue do not let your hearts get distant, Do not say words that distance each other more, Or else there will come a day when the distance is so great that you will not find the path to return.'

Friday, September 13, 2013

Distance Between Points In Five Dimensions

Distance Between Points In Five Dimensions

You can compute the distance between points in one dimension by just subtracting their coordinates and taking the absolute value of the result.  Here is the formula for the distance between two points 'a' and 'b' on a line.

$$distance( a,b ) = \sqrt{ (a-b)^2 }$$

This formula generalizes to multiple dimensions.  In two dimensions it is the famous Pythagorean Theorem if you think of a line connecting the two points as the hypotenuse of a right triangle.  Here is the formula for the distance between two points in the plane:

$$distance\left( \left( { a }_{ 1 },{ a }_{ 2 } \right) ,\left( { b }_{ 1 },{ b }_{ 2 } \right) \right) \quad =\quad \sqrt { { \left( { a }_{ 1 }-{ b }_{ 1 } \right) }^{ 2 }+{ { \left( { a }_{ 2 }-{ b }_{ 2 } \right) } }^{ 2 } } $$

For purposes of going beyond two dimensions I am going to drop the square root and instead write it as distance squared. This is the general formula that we get:

$${ d }^{ 2 }\left( \left( { a }_{ 1 },a_{ 2 },\quad ...\quad a_{ n } \right) ,\left( { b }_{ 1 },b_{ 2 },\quad ...\quad b_{ n } \right) \right) \quad =\quad \sum _{ i=1 }^{ n }{ { \left( { a }_{ i }-b_{ i } \right) }^{ 2 } } $$

The above formula is just the sum of the differences between the individual coordinats squared.

On to five dimensions:  

Suppose you and your friend each pick five numbers at random.  Also suppose once you pick a number you may not pick it again.  Additionally suppose that you do not pay attention to the order that the numbers were picked.  

One way to make sense of far apart the two picks are is to think of each group of five numbers as a "5-Tuple" or a point in five dimensional space and then figure out how far apart the two points are.  

There is a problem with this idea if you did not pay attention to the order that the numbers were picked.  To see this consider the two '5-Tuples' (1,2,3,4,5) and (4,2,3,4,5).  These are different points in five dimensional space and their distance apart depens on the order you assign the numbers from the set {1,2,3,4,5}.

One way to deal with this is to consider all the possible choices for the value of the 5-Tuple.  This amounts to all the permutations of five objects.  There are 120 such values.  To figure out how far apart the two picks are you could consider pairing up each of the 120 different values of one of the picks with each of the 120 different values of the other pick.  This gives 120x120 or 14400 different pairs.  If you add all these up and divide by 14400 you get the average distance between any two pairs of 5-Tuples.

So here is a python program that will compute this.  In this program I call one of the 5-Tuples the "drawList" and the other 5-Tuple the "pickList".  Also you need to include the library named 'itertools' in order to get the function that creates a list of the various permuatations of a list.

Don't Forget To "import itertools"
And here are the results when the three different pairs of 5-Tuples are input.  You can see the values in the "__main__" proedure of hte program.

You could also take the square roots of these numbers to see numbers that are the same scale as the original values.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

2013 MS 150 Bicycle Tour


Saturday, a beautiful day for a bike ride.  I averaged about 25KPH for 120K. I even met up with Evana from the Gym and we rode together to the lunch stop.  She was doing "The Century" so that was where I was on my own.  The new bike was like riding on a cloud.  It still take energy to move the pedals around but it is a very 'sweet' ride!

Here are the stats for Saturday and some pictures from Saturday:

 04:51 .... hh:mm Time rolling along the way
119.90 .... Kilometers traveled
 24.70 .... Kilometers Per Hour Average
 36.90 .... Kilometers Per Hour Max (some pace-line :)

Oh yes ... by the way ... it is not too late to make a contribution to this year's ride.  My online MS Society web page is If you do not want to do an online contribution then feel free to mail me a check made out to The National MS Society and I will turn it in.  My mailing address is:

Zach Cox 
708 Davidson Street
Raleigh, NC 27609

Saturday Morning Start

Saturday Morning Lunch Stop

Saturday Afternoon Rest Stop With PICKLES!

Saturday Afternoon Last Rest Stop

Saturday Afternoon At The End Of The Ride

Sunday was a beautiful day, just a bit warmer but not too much so.  Evelyn was not volunteering today so I drove myself over to the ride and was ready go by 7:30am, the ride started at 8:00am.  This day, as is usual for Sundays, there were plenty of pace-lines and I did hook up with one that was traveling around 33kph (20mph).  The result was that I got to the lunch stop at 10:30am and then after lunch found myself all alone on the course.  This was not too bad except for the intermittent head winds. Another bit was that I decided not to swap out my new bike seat and I did pay for that decision during the last third of today's ride.  Here are the stats for today and then some pictures.

 04:46 .... hh:mm Time rolling along the way
118.42 .... Kilometers traveled
 24.80 .... Kilometers Per Hour Average
 46.70 .... Kilometers Per Hour Max (down the off ramp :)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Longer Ride On The New Wheels

A Longer Ride on My New Wheeles

I did a 'Neuse-River-Trail-Ride' today on my new bike; here are the stats:

02:39 ... hours : minutes total riding time
55.18 ... kilometers
20.70 ... kilometers per hour average
41.40 ... kilometers per hour maximum (there was this little hill)

I started at Anderson Point Park and rode up to Falls of the Neuse Dam (the end/beginning of the Neuse River Trail), ate my banana and PBJ, filled up my water bottles and rode back to the park.

The bike preformed flawlessly, as expected.  The motor was a bit worn out at the end of the 2 1/2 hour ride, but I'll put this down to this ride following a 45 minute work out in the gym this morning and a one hour bike ride yesterday and a one and one quarter hour swim yesterday.

This was a good tune-up ride for the MS150 which is weekend after next.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Short Ride on Some New Wheels

A Short Ride on Some New Wheels

My good old LiteSpeed-Tuscany was 14 years old last March.  The Shamino 105 9-Speed parts are only available on EBay these days.  And I was not opposed to hunting down some new shifters so I could get it running again.

However, each time I go to the bike shop they recommend that for the price of replacing all the components on my old LiteSpeed I could probably go a long way toward a new bike.

So on Sunday I took my old LiteSpeed over to the bike shop and left instructions to see what they could do about the shifters.  They promised to call today and they did an the discussion went pretty much like it alwasy does.

However today I dedcided to go with the new bike option: A Giant Defy Composite I.  The link is the 2014 11-Speeds and mine is a 2013 10-Speed with a compaq double chain ring.  All the parts are Shamino Ultegra (sweet).

The ride is a bit stiffer than my old LiteSpeed and the handle bars on this bike are wider, which takes some getting used to.  The gear-inches are really close.  I loose a little on the top end and a little on the bottom end but I really can not tell much difference.  The weight is almost exactally the same as the LiteSpeed.

Before purchasing it I did do a 'ride-around-the-neighborhood' of the All Star Bike Shop At Quail Corners.  And when I got it home I transferred my lights, odometer, frame pump, and bell over from the LiteSpeed and went for a twilight spin on the greenway about 20 kilometers in one hour.

I love my old LiteSpeed but I expect once I get used to the new bike I will like it as much if not better.  The parts and feel of the bike really do represent a quantum leap as far as bikes go.

Here are some pictures.

Leaving The Bike Shop

Front View

Side View

Rear View

My Old Litespeed

Side View With All The Extras Moved Over

Front View With All The Extras Moved Over

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Retrospective Precognition And My Fall Education Plan

Retrospective Precognition
My Fall Education Plan

Retrospective Precognition: When you see, think, hear, or read something and your realize that you were thinking about just this idea some time in the recent past and are astonished that now you are seeing the same idea in a completely unrelated context.  You wonder if somehow what you were doing in the recent past either presaged your current experience or perhaps subtly influenced your behavior to steer you into the present circumstance where the overlap with recent experience occurs.  

A couple of years ago I read a very good biography of Alfred Tarski "Alfred Tarski: Life and Logic".  I really enjoyed the anecdote about his article in the June 1969 Scientific American "On Truth and Proof". 

Recently I went as far as to purchase an original copy of the June 1969 Scientific American and began re-reading the article.  The article is available at Scribd.COM.  Of course I did scan the Scientific American pages into a .PDF file and am reading it on my tablet device and have carefully put back in the shipping materials the original magazine.
The other day I open my email and see the new MOOCs offered this fall from Coursera and I found the course that I started last fall but never completed is offered again this fall: "Introduction to Mathematical Thinking" by Keith Devlin.

So, I signed up for the course (again) in hopes that I will have time to get through the whole thing this time. When watching the preview video on YouTube.COM I notice another course that is referenced in the closing panel of the video: "Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy" by Hannes Leitgeb and Stephan Hartmann. This course had already begun so I signed up for it too an started catching up on the lectures.

I am very impressed with Dr. Leitgeb and the style and content of his presentations.  And then, when he started the lecture on 'TRUTH' I had my moment of Retrospective Precognition.  He was going through Tarski's 1969 article in Scientific American, with, of course lots of very well stated content that does enhance the original article.

This motivated me to (via some of the links in the lecture) to chase down and order the newest edition to my library: Tarski's "Logic, Semantics, Metamathematics: Papers from 1923 to 1938". This book is the 1983 version translated (with added notes) by Tarski.

This book goes very well with my current 'new-book' Moore's "Zermelo's Axiom of Choice".

So my fall education is well mapped out now.  All I have to do is stick to my MOOCs and my new books and I will be fine.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Woot --- 102K Bike Ride

Woot! 102K Bike Ride

A beautiful day for a ride.  I did my "Four Bridges Ride".  I left around 8:30am and rode over bridge-1 to Beaufort then up NC101 to cross the inland waterway (bridge-2) then crossed the Harlow Canal and turned left toward Newport NC.

Once in Newport NC I crossed over the Newport River on old US70 and turned left on Higgs Road.  I took Higgs Road, crossing US70 bypass and on to NC24.

I turned right on NC24 and rode down to Cape Carteret NC and turned left onto NC58.  Once on NC58 I crossed bridge-3 onto Emerald Isle.

I continued up NC58 to Atlantic Beach and turned left on to the Atlantic Beach - Morehead City causeway and crossed bridge-4 and made my way back to Fisher Street. I got back at 1:30pm (about five hours elapsed time)

Here are the details:

 04:24 ... HH:MM - Total Time Rolling
101.54 ... KM ---- That's 100K
 23.00 ... KPH --- Average Speed 
 55.60 ... KPH --- Max Speed (coming down one of those bridges ;)

As far as average speed goes I averaged exactally 23kph for each of the four hours of the ride.  I felt a bit hot and tired between Emerald Isle and Atlantic beach (the 4th 23K leg) but when I stopped at a store on entering Atlantic beach had a piece of banana and a Mountain Dew it picked me up for the last 10K back to Fisher Street.

Here is a graphic of the route.

Friday, August 16, 2013

A Nice 43K Spin Around The Neighborhood

A Nice 43K Spin Around The Neighborhood

Yesterday dawned grey, overcast, cool, breezy and rainy and stayed that way throughout the day.  The rain was not intense but I still decided not to do a 'rain-ride'.  I seem to get plenty of those when they can not be avoided so I'm ok not actually seeking them out.

Today dawned grey, overcast, cool, breezy and dry and so far has continued that way.  This is perfect bike riding weather.  In some direction there will be a bit of a tail wind and in others a bit of a head wind but on balance great.  No sunshine, temperature in the high 60's and not a lot of traffic on the roads.

I did my now very familuar 'Three Pennisular Ride', here are the stats:

01:55 ..... hh:mm
42.70 ..... km
22.70 ..... kph
57.10 ..... kph (Woah! A Nice Tail Wind Crossing The AB Bridge :)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

About Email Forwarding - And the Balkanization of Discourse


There is nothing worse than having to scroll down through layers and layers of email addresses till you finally reach the content.

I recall back in the 1990's when all the 'Net' was brand new getting an email forward where you could NOT easily cut/copy/paste inside the email program and I even enjoying looking at the 'Forward-Chain'.

I would search down through the email addresses of the various groups looking for the thread among them.  So in the single "FROM" address field of top group searching the multiple "TO" addresses of the previous forward for that name and so on thus establishing a long winding trail from the original sender to me.  

Of course it would be possible that each person in each "TO" group to forward the email to their own group so you could imagine that from the original sender this great branching tree graph of email addresses growing out from the original sender.  

As time went on and you got more and more folks in your email address book you would get the same email forwarded from different friends thus noticing that the 'branching-tree-graph' was multiply connected and thus not really a tree but a tree graph with cross linked nodes.


Needless to say it did not take long for some college kid to figure out way a neat way to cut through all this and put up a single site where you could post and share content among your friends instead of sending email forwards.  And that guy's name was Mark Zuckerberg.  And thus 'Social-Networking' was invented.

So in some sense Google+, Facebook, Twitter and other social networks can be thought of as the next generation of email forwarding without all the excess email addresses getting in the way.  


Now a days you get 'Recycled/Tweaked' email forwards (and Social Network Posts) all the time.  Someone will get some content from way back and edit it a bit and send it along (or post it on Facebook) and it may 'go-viral' (i.e. it will be reposted, shared, forwarded all over the place.) 

You see this content in your email inbox or social network thread and think ("I saw that weeks/months/years ago!").  If the content if viral enough you then collect some key words associated with the content and visit: and, again, if the content is viral enough you can validate whether or not it is baloney or real.  Whenever I see content that is clearly viral and perhaps a little bit 'Too Good' I immediately hit is up with  

Some times I am surprised to learn that the content is correct, but most of the time it is just a re-tread of something from the past that has been tweaked for some item that applies today.  Over the years I've become pretty good at spotting baloney and just plain reworked content.  

Just recently there was a real tear-jerker of a post about a teacher describing some guy who was from a home where is mom died and how she initially did not like the kid but then took him under her wing and he turned out to be this major doctor when he grew up.  

I could not resist ""'ing and found out that the original story came from RedBook Magazine back in the 1960's and that the original author really resented her story being put into email and social media posts with a bit of tweaking.  So I posted a comment to that effect and a link to the item.  The story was still nice but total fiction.

When growing up our parents would say, "Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see!". As we got older we would rejoin, "What about what you read!".  Reading in our family was considered the loftiest mental activity you could engage in.  I think mom and dad must have had a long discussion about this rejoinder and came back with, "Check the author and see if it is a reputable source!" 

All of this was very good advice for kids growing up and teaching themselves thing outside of school by reading.  This advice is just as good (if not better) these days with just such things as 'viral-tweaked-stories' and 'instant-news-cycles' and 'anybody-can-publish-anything' books.

Sadly we see in our current national dialogue ways of craftily and carefully pitching your message to avoid it being 'fact-checked' for validity.  I find some of the most useful places to check stuff out using the 'Net' are places like Wikipedia, and Snopes.COM and FactCheck.ORG and MediaMatters.ORG.  

However as far as progressive/liberal content goes; because I am a progressive/liberal person I have a harder time fact checking that type of content. Many times find myself thinking, "Wait a minute, you just put a 'Fox-News'ish spin on that!" and when I see that I try to correct such crap instantly.  Going down the conservative-rabbit-hole, as a progressive and liberal thinking person, in my opinion, is to 'Join-The-Dark-Side' in its worst form. 


In modern times with dedicated cable news TV channels and radio stations and Internet web sites you can very easily watch, listen-to, and read content created and circulated by folks who think pretty much just like yourself.  In the process of doing this it is very easy to create a US-vs-THEM paradigm that automatically excludes ideas generated by folks outside your 'reading/listening/watching' group.

This type of thing, this 'tribal-mentality' is responsible in our history for just such things as differing-tribes, differing-nations, differing-religious-groups.  When the planet was geographically segregated it was viewed as just the way things were.

As the planet shrinks under the influence of increasing population and ubiquitous information sharing (i.e. the Internet and Instant-New-Cycles) this tribal mentality does not somehow disappear but instead we see niches and methods popping up all over the place to continuously reinforce our tribal nature.

In some sense we are battling against our our built in nature.

And in a very real sense we can see horrible outcomes of re-inventing tribes.  The terrorist acts of 11 September 2001 are a very good example.  The rise of the ultra-right-wings: (neo-conservative, christian-evangelical and tea-party groups) in the Republican party is another excellent example. 

The results are clear and are ongoing in Washington DC with the stalemate between the legislative and administrative branches of government.

The left-wing had similar movements back in the late 1960's associated with the war in Vietnam and later with groups associated with the environment.