A 2000 year old computer

Nova: The 2000 Year-Old ComputerDecoding the Antikythera Mechanism (first aired on American PBS television network in 2013)

“It re-writes the history of technology.”


The Antikythera Mechanism Research Project

Jo Marchant explains: In search of lost time

Hillary Clinton-approved email server

I love this parody.  It’s a humorous advertisement for your own mail server:

Do you run a government agency but hate complying with the law?  Then you need DC Matic, the Hillary Clinton-approved email server!

credit: Written and performed by Remy.  Video directed and edited by Meredith Bragg

What’s Hillary hiding?  Classified emails?  Sure.  Evidence of her negligence in Benghazi that led to the murders of US citizens?  Of course.  Security breaches via assistant Huma Abedin’s Muslim Brotherhood connections?  Probably.  No, the ticking time bomb in this server is bribery.  Maybe treason as well.  She’s hiding written evidence of her deals that traded State Department help in exchange for large donations to the Clinton Foundation and large fees for speaking engagements by Bill Clinton.

Putney Swope and Barack Obama

Today’s laughably corrupt Obama regime is life imitating art. Which art? Cinema. Whacked-out cinema. Farce. Namely, 1969’s Putney Swope:

Both Swope and Obama were elected to office by fools who suffer from chronic white guilt.

In 1969, Putney Swope announced:

The changes I’m gonna make will be minimal. I’m not gonna rock the boat. Rockin’ the boat’s a drag. What you do is sink the boat.

In 2008, Barack Obama bragged:

. . . we are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.

Mr. Obama is trying to transform America, alright. Transform it from a prosperous capitalist economy governed by a constitutional republic to a bankrupt socialist economy governed by a corrupt tyrannical dictatorship. Barack is following Putney’s credo, “What you do is sink the boat.”

YouTube subtitle humor

Here’s a funny video that’s supposedly an Iranian negotiator recounting the stupidity of Messrs Obama and Kerry:

The sardonic subtitles were added by Madison McQueen. (She apparently is the granddaughter of actor Steve McQueen.)

The best line:

I’ve had tougher negotiations over a falafel sandwich!

I first saw this sort of humor in a video clip taken from a biography of Hitler: United broke Hitler’s guitar, too!.

I like this sort of humorous subtitling. And I like its message: Obama and Kerry are fools.

Wanna see jitterbug? Wanna hear rock & roll?

Check out this video:

The tune, “Slow Down”, is performed on piano and sung by its composer, Larry Williams. He was from New Orleans (of course). The tune, ringing with ninth chords, was released on disc in 1958. I think that the dancers are from a 1950s Hollywood rock & roll movie. Larry also composed Dizzy Miss Lizzy, Bad Boy, and Bony Moronie — classic rock tunes, all. He was born in 1935 and died on this date, January 7, in 1980.

In the mid-1950s, Williams inherited star billing from Little Richard (who’d forsaken rock and roll for religion) at New Orleans’ record label Specialty Records.

While Williams was alive, the Beatles paid their respects by admirably covering Larry’s Dizzy Miss Lizzy, Slow Down, and Bad Boy. I’m amazed that Larry Williams isn’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Extra credit assignment: Compare and contrast the Beatles’ cover of Slow Down with Larry Williams’ original. This clip includes the fab four wailing in Liverpool’s Cavern Club: (If YouTube has taken down this video clip, you can hear the same recording with groovy rock and roll clips (sorry — requires Flash) from 1950s America and early Beatles. Sorry for the Flash format.)

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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695

Joni Mitchell, Jaco Pastorius, et al on YouTube

I’m delighted to discover that the video of Joni Mitchell’s classic Shadows and Light concert (1980) can be viewed in full (1h 13m) on YouTube. Supporting players are Jaco Pastorius on bass, Pat Metheny on guitar, Michael Brecker on sax, Don Alias on drums, Lyle Mays on keyboards, and The Persuasions. It’s among my favorite videos of a concert performance.

Jaco Pastorius 1987
Jaco Pastorius

Jaco was a Fort Lauderdale kid who began playing in rock bands around town in a variety of clubs: She, The 4 O’Clock CLub, The Village Zoo, The Flying Machine, The Button, Bachelors III, Ocean Mist . . . When I first heard Jaco in the early 1970s, he was playing bass for straight-ahead local rock bands. He graduated to more jazz- and fusion- related music and put his unique fretless Fender bass stamp on Weather Report. I’ve heard bass players tell me that they tried to imitate Jaco’s technique, but gave up trying; they claim that Jaco changed what it meant to play electric bass guitar. Jaco’s friend Pat Metheny, who plays a beautiful lead guitar in this concert, is a University of Miami music school graduate.

Jaco seemed to still have his act together when he played this concert. Wikipedia has a good Jaco biography. He had a rapid rise to the top followed by a quick ride back down again. I had musician friends c 1984-87 who were torn up watching their friend Jaco dismantle his life. This Warner Brothers recording artist and Down Beat Hall of Fame member was sleeping on park benches and shooting baskets in a local public park.

Michael Brecker and Don Alias died a few years ago.

This is a classic performance by master musicians who were at the top of their games. Too bad it couldn’t last forever.

FCC may fine NBC for Miley Cyrus “Bangerz” show

According to Rolling Stone magazine, the FCC is considering disciplining NBC for airing an indecent performance on July 6, Miley Cyrus’ “Bangerz Tour”. I watched it. It was provocative, but artful. Bertolt Brecht would have loved the production: live dancers against rear-projection oversized animation with creative costumes and lighting. I loved it. Some of the images, such as Miley riding a giant “Mr. Wiener”, were sexually suggestive.

Click to stream or download full 862 Megabyte video performance

The concert (recorded in Barcelona) reminded me of Madonna’s shows twenty-five years ago. Both performers have acceptable contralto voices, energetic dance skills, and assemble exciting Brechtian spectacles. I love the costuming and choreopgraphy. Shocking? “Bangerz” pushed the limits on prime-time American TV, I suppose. But that week on television, the atrocious performance by the Brazilian football team was truly shocking.

I’d prefer that the FCC take no action on this. They have enough serious issues on their plate already. Censoring art is, in my opinion, a slippery slope for any government agency . . . and I think that this production can be labeled “art”. Here’s the full show (862MB H264 1h 25m mp4 video file, 720 x 404 pixel) for download or streaming:

Miley Cyrus Bangerz show in Barcelona
Click to stream or download full 862 Megabyte video performance

You’ll need a fast Internet connection to smoothly stream this. You might be better to download the file and then play it locally with a good video player such as VLC.

Is it Miley’s performance or just modern low distortion recording technique that for the first time makes John Lennon’s “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” lyrics (at 44m 35s) sound so . . . so . . . clear, logical, and complete?

What do you think?

How are modern integrated circuits manufactured?

I’ve worked with integrated circuits (I.C.s) since the 1960s, but haven’t been involved in their manufacture — only their application.

Haswell wafer
Intel Haswell wafer with a pin for scale
photo: Intel Free Press
Today’s integrated circuit manufacture is a high stakes capital intensive business whose players use trade secrets to maintain their market advantage. I’ve never been inside an I.C. “fab” (factory), so it was a treat to find an hour-long presentation by an industry manufacturing engineer on YouTube. The technologies used at nano dimensions are mind-boggling.

Here’s the excellent presentation, in full:

The speaker mentions that lithographic imaging of the mask is now being done at 193 nanometer (nm). As you can see, we’re well above visible light and on our way to x-rays(!). Here’s the electromagnetic spectrum in that region:

Click for full-size
graphic by: Shigeru23

The presentation is aimed at the layperson and is filled with surprises. For instance, one gigabyte of semiconductor memory can be produced on a flat substrate within the diameter of a human hair. I give it two (gloved) thumbs up.

Frontline’s United States of Secrets

On Tuesday night, PBS broadcast a powerful Frontline two hour long piece about the NSA’s snooping into citizens’ electronic communications. They subtitled it “How the government came to spy on millions of Americans”. The second part will air next Tuesday. Watch it.

us of secrets screenshot
Click to stream or download 475MB MP4 video (1hr 56m long)

Read PBS’ webpage about this Frontline program and the NSA.

Pushing the limits of road bikes

These guys perform tricks that look impossible . . . on a road bike. Fantastic riding from England. The 6-minute video is beautifully photographed and edited.

Youtube videos: Road Bike Party 2. All tricks were performed on one bike: The Making Of Martyn Ashton’s Colnago C59 Disc. Postscript: Martyn broke his back last September when he fell ten feet during a demo. His legs remain paralyzed. His mates helped him finish the video.

Ed Snowden speaks at SXSW

Snowden-ScreenshotEdward Snowden spoke on Monday at South By Southwest via live Internet video. Presumably he was in Russia. His true location was obscured by a chain of seven proxies, which caused the audio quality to suffer from multiple echos. The best audio/video recording that I’ve found is this YouTube video. Mr. Snowden participated in a panel discussion of Internet privacy, security, and infringement of U.S. Constitutional rights.

The panel pointed out that not only is the NSA trampling on our right to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, but so are commercial entities such as Google and Facebook. Seizing everything from everybody is clearly a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The panel agreed that end-to-end encryption is the only way to ensure privacy.

When will intelligence chief James Clapper be indicted for lying under oath while testifying to Congress?

Math and The Simpsons

Last December, mathematician Simon Singh spoke to Google employees about the role of math in The Simpsons.

simpsons-higgsThe math references in The Simpsons episodes are only a few seconds long but contain timeless questions. Mr. Singh tells about them as well as math references in Matt Groening’s Futurama in this entertaining YouTube video, which was recorded at a recent Google gathering.

Mr. Singh discusses Math and Futurama in his office.

Technology and submarine warfare

If necessity is the mother of invention, war is its father. Both automated encryption/decryption and radar technologies blossomed during World War Two. An excellent documentary on YouTube tells the see-saw story of Germany’s WW2 U-boats. The keys to neutralizing them were code breaking and airborne microwave radar.

imageThis 2-hour 34-minute video shows that the German submariners’ fates swung from invincibility to doom, as the Allies deployed various defense technologies.

I was surprised to learn how ineffective the U.S. Navy was, early in the war, at defending our own shores. The U-boats sank 400 merchant ships near our coastline! Apparently we have Admiral King to blame for these staggering losses. He was at the time in charge of defending our eastern shore. Always an Anglophobe, he distrusted the decrypted German Naval messages that were provided to him by the English codebreakers.

If, like me, you’re fascinated by the relationship between war and technology, watch this video.

Detailed report of WW2 use of radar to detect U-boats