Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Successful Imitation of Alan Turing

“Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.”  The take-away line from The Imitation Game states the theme.  The plot is the quest to build a computer that can decipher enemy communications and win a war.
 
Even with the Bombe, much work was done manually and brainually.
This grid shown in the movie is not the Banburismus of Turing.
Scholars complain about the historical inaccuracies. It is easy to do.  This is not a documentary. The film is a drama about one man’s achievement of what experts considered impossible.  That much is absolutely true. Commander Alistair Denniston held neither expectation nor hope for success.  The film dramatizes his disdain for the codebreakers. And it is drama, rather than the unemotional grinding out of intellectually difficult, yet ultimately routine, work. 
 
10,000 people worked there,
80% of them women.
Contrary to the movie, Joan Clarke’s team working on the Naval Enigma had early successes.  In the movie, by mid-1941 Denniston was not the only one enraged by Turing’s lack of progress.  In real life, by then, decipherment of Naval Enigma traffic allowed fleets to be redirected around U-boat packs. Lost tonnage shrank. But it is true that not all intercepts could be acted on. The Ultra Secret by F. W. Winterbotham (Harper & Row, 1974) broke that story long ago. 

Writing in Turing: Pioneer of the Information Age (Oxford, 2012),  B. Jack Copeland acknowledges that Cmdr. Denniston built Bletchley in the early years 1937-1939, though he proved unsuited to the task of managing 10,000 and getting their needs met by arguing for more money and more people. Also, it was late in 1941 when Turing and many others wrote to Prime Minister Winston Churchill, not Turing alone in mid-year. Such quibbles satisfy historians, but do not change the impact of the story.

You can buy a real one.
Some fetch a 6-figure price.
(They also sell replicas - and are not alone in that.)
http://enigmamuseum.com/
In real life, although the Turing-Welchman “Bombe” could and did reveal the settings of the Enigma machines, much of its output had to be checked by hand. In fact, Clarke and Turing spent long hours working together in Hut 8. They continued to do so after they broke off their engagement. And they met each other's parents after they announced their engagement. Turing apparently did not meet them before, as in the movie. 

Moreover, different than the portrayal, it was common for all of the cryptanalysts to continue work on the previous day’s cipher traffic until the next round of communiqués arrived.  They knew of stock phrases - such as ending each message with "Heil Hitler" - because that was long since a basic tool of diplomatic and military cryptanalysis: date at the top; "Your Excellency"; etc.

Turing called his manual labor “Banburismus” after the long sheets of paper made in Banbury.  But Turing called Clarke’s method “Dillyismus” after Dillwin Knox, the World War One cryptologist who revealed the Zimmerman Telegram.
 

Soon to be an eBook from
http://www.bletchleyparkresearch.co.uk
Before going to the theater, I intended to watch the film as a story in the abstract, not as a documentary.  That was very hard to do.  I read Andrew Hodges’s booklet biography of Turing when it came out in 1999.  (The film is based on his recent and greatly expanded biography, Turing: The Enigma; Princeton, 2014). Ahead of seeing the film, I researched Joan Clarke and wrote about her for the E-Sylum maillist of the Numismatic Bibilomania Society.  My research into her work continues. Having her numismatic bibliography, from an obituary in the BNJ, I submitted a proposal to the ANA.

http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk
From Wired, “How Designers Recreated Alan Turing’s Code-Breaking Computer for Imitation Game,” by Angela Watercutter, November 21, 2014 here
"Turing produced the design for the Bombe, building on the design of the original Polish Bomba which had been produced by Marian Rejewski in 1938. The Bletchley Park Bombe designed by Turing, was refined by another Bletchley Park codebreaker Gordon Welchman and actually built by engineer Harold Keen who was based at the British Tabulating Company, not at Bletchley Park."
 
A snippet of what displays on
the devices
given to visitors to
perhaps the most computerized park in the UK.

Among those who complain about the film is Dr. Sue Black whose blog is "Cheeky Geek" here.
In a scene stolen from the future,
a tank crushes an (empty) Tommy helmet.
A biography of Joan Clarke's work is this article by Lynsey Ann Lord which is extracted from a University of St Andrews honours project. (Clarke finished all three triposes examinations and qualified for an M. Sc. in addition to her B.A. in mathematics.  She received neither because Cambridge did not grant degrees to women back then.)
      
Joan Elisabeth Lowther Murray [nee Clarke] (1917—1996) cryptanalyst and numismatist is listed in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography here

Lord Stewartby (Bernard Harold Ian Halley Stewart), one of her collaborators in the coinage of Scotland, wrote the obituary for the British Numismatic Journal Vol. 67 No. 13, pg 162-167. (Online here.)  In 1986, Joan E. L. Murray was granted a BNS Sanford Saltus Medal for her research. 
He is not really Turing and it is not really his Bombe
but it was still a good movie.

The Secret Lives of Codebreakers: The Men and Women Who Cracked the Enigma Code at Bletchley Park by Sinclair McKay. New York: Plume (Penguin Group), 2012. (Originally published in the UK as The Secret Life of Bletchley Park (Aurum Press).) His retelling of the capture of Enigma wheels from the U-110 has some inaccuracies. The book says very little about Joan Clarke, though quite a bit about Mavis Lever (later Batey), who also worked on the Naval Enigma.

The Ultra Secret: the first account of the most astounding cryptanalysis coup of World War II – how the British broke the German code and read most of the signals between Hitler and his generals throughout the war by F. W. Winterbotham, New York: Harper and Rowe, 1974. This book broke the story. It is not from the viewpoint of Bletchley Hall, and has no mention of Turing.

Engima: How the German Machine Cipher was Broken, and How it was Read by the Allied in World War II by Wladyslaw Kozaczuk, edited and translated by Christopher Kasparek, University Publications of America, 1984 (Warsaw: Ksiazka I Wiedza, 1979).  Polish mathematicians had begun a theoretical analysis as early as 1932. The Turing-Welchman Bombe was an extension of the Polish Bomba; it was not Turing's universal machine
.

ALSO ON NECESSARY FACTS

Monday, December 29, 2014

Getting Published: Advice to a New Author

Happy Holidays, Richard!
I wrote two books because
the publisher found me.

As an author myself - magazine articles, mostly - I have no special advice for you about publishers.  I do know people (and know of many more) who published on their own via Amazon and Kindle.  I helped as best I could with reviews.  As enthusiastic as I was for my friends and comrades, apparently our preferences are not shared by millions of others.

Some years back, when we had an Internet, but no Worldwide Web, I attended a seminar on self-publishing.  The advice was to consider all of the work involved, and then decide which tasks you want, and which you will farm out.  

Most authors want the publisher to do everything. For that, they get a small advance, which the sales never cover, and that's the end of it.  For some very few, the deal works out, and they sell much - and write more: J. K. Rowling,  Dan Browne, …

Some few more people we never hear of actually make money by self-publishing.  They arrange for an editor, then for a designer, and for a printer (or Web host nowadays), a distributor (again the WWW), and advertising agency and publicist.  They go on talk radio, or they meet with local fan groups (science fiction, gardening, whatever), arranging their own fees and payments (when possible), and travel plans.
 
One Installment in a Seven-Year Run

The basic truth is that you get paid for work. The more work you do, the more you get paid for.  But division of labor means that some other people probably can do it cheaper, faster, or better. So, you buy what you prefer not to do for yourself.

They saw one I wrote for someone else
and wanted one of their own: easy sale.
Think of eBay.  You want to get rid of a bunch of junk?  Take it to the Goodwill. End of story.  You want to get paid?  You need a Paypal account, shipping bags and boxes, and labels and tape. And you need UPS or FedEx or the Post Office.  And you have to hassle with returns, complaints, and scammers.  Some people find all of that a lot of fun and very financially rewarding.  Most people just go to the Goodwill…  And there you find other people buying up stuff to sell on eBay.

If you believe in what you have created, then perseverance will be your only road to success.  If you want a publisher, you need an agent.  Finding an agent means sending out lots of chapters… 
Write about what you know about.

As a writer of magazine articles, my path has been similar to the ones I hacked through in door-to-door sales. I just contact one editor after another, and pitch a story until I make a sale.  

Sincerely Yours,
Mike M.

ALSO ON NECESSARY FACTS

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Love Actually Quote-Along

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema "Ritz"downtown Austin hosted a screening of Love Actually for Christmas night.  In the grand tradition of Rocky Horror Picture Show the theater provided props for us.  We fanned ourselves with faces of three of the males leads: Billy Mack, Jamie, and David.  Also, the best lines were put up on the screen and turned to red as they were spoken. ("Try to do it in the voice of the character." Colin Frissel leaving at the airport was the winner there.)  Lyrics to songs also flashed by and we sang "All You Need is Love" and "Christmas is All Around Me." The Alamo gave everyone pennywhistle recorders to play for the wedding.
We fired off party poppers  when our various favorites got their kiss. 
We waved little Union Jacks when the Prime Minister
made us proud to be British.

A purple devil emoticon appeared to remind us to 
boo Mia, who suffered additional insults.
The interactions with the movie allowed us all to break many Alamo Drafthouse rules.  Because they serve beer and wine with the food, controlling the audience requires draconian enforcement of No Talking During the Movie.  Also, if your cell phone goes off, you are out the door without a refund.  That well-known stricture allowed us to yell to Sarah to shut off her phone.

Everyone likes going to the movies.  Star Wars, Star Trek, Tolkein, Die Hard, two remakes of Pride and Prejudice, they were all fine for what they were. The Love Actually quote-along was our best theater experience. 

ALSO ON NECESSARY FACTS
Valentine's Day: Love and Money
Love, Loss, and Redemption in Atlas Shrugged
Bringing Philosophy to Athens: Aspasia of Miletus
Dagny Two Point Oh

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Merry Newtonmas!

"Nature and nature's laws lay hid in night;
God said, 'Let Newton be' and all was light."
Alexander Pope

Godfrey Kneller's 1689 Portrait
  Sir Isaac Newton was born on December 25, 1642. He invented calculus.  He established physics as a unified study of both terrestrial and celestial motion. He also offered a new proof of the Binomial Theorem (also called "Pascal's Triangle").  He presented an algorithm for rapidly finding square roots.  He invented the reflecting telescope.  He demonstrated that "white" light is comprised of colors.  He was President of the Royal Society, the national scientific association of Great Britain.  He was elected a Member of Parliament to represent Cambridge.  As Master and Warden of the British Royal Mint, he rescued Britain's economy from imminent disaster.  Any one of Newton's accomplishments would have left a historical record.  He did them all – and more.

Celebrating December 25 as “Newtonmas” is a complex field with many point sources.

Newtonmas enjoyed air time on The Big Bang Theory episode “The Maternal Congruence” on December 14, 2009. Richard Dawkins suggested it in The New Statesman for December 13, 2007.  That article did not celebrate Newton but only hurled projectiles at the traditional Christmas story.

Half Penny Tokens from Middlesex 1791
On December 16, 2011, USA Today carried a feature by their Religion columnist, Kimberly Winston, “On Dec 25 atheists celebrate a different holiday”. That article identified some of those independent beginnings. 
"I just made it up back in the 1990s as a joke, just to promote items we were selling," said Michael Shermer, executive director of the Skeptics Society… "Everybody was giving me a hard time for calling our party a Christmas party so I said, 'Alright, I am calling it Newtonmas.” … Matt Blum, who wrote about Newtonmas in a 2007 post on Wired magazine's GeekDad blog, says his high school physics teacher marked Newton's birthday with experiments and "physics carols."(USA Today article here)
 However, Winston erred in claiming that an “1892 issue of Nature magazine bestows the carol credit on some Victorian-era English scientists.”  That article was about Japanese physics students.  “A New Sect of Hero-Worshippers” (Volume 46. No. 1193. Page 459. 8 September 1892) is available from the publisher for $18 if you are not a member, or can be found in Google Books. 

According to the article, three students at Tokyo University started Newtonmas in their dormitory before 1890.  “But as the undergraduates developed into graduates and assistants, the professors themselves were drawn into the field, a more suitable assembly hall was found in the University Observatory.”  By 1890, the Newtonkai (Newton Association;  = kai = “all”) was moved to the Physical Laboratory. There, they played games symbolic of great mathematicians, physicists, and astronomers: Newton’s apple, Franklin’s kite, a naked doll for Archimedes …
Replica of Newton's Reflecting Telescope
Moreover, Nature injected editorial doubt into the report.  Nature maintained that few scientists would know that Newton was born on December 25, 1642, (Old Style), accepting the date as January 5, 1643.   
Celestron 130 EQ Newtonian 
I offered Newtonmas in a radio script for WKAR-FM East Lansing in the early 1980s (1982-1984).  In that script, I built up the imagery of a little boy born in a small village across the sea who would grow up to bring light to the world.  When I cited the poet, I emphasized the word Pope – and then announced that Sir Isaac Newton was born on December 25, 1642, the same year that Galileo died. 

Over the years, I sometimes sent out "Newtonmas cards" to our friends, most of whom we knew from college classes in computer science and related fields.  Our physics professor, Alan Saaf, occasionally called the McDonald’s Quarter Pounder a “Newton Burger” (1.0 N ~ .224 lb-f). I do not recall Dr. Saaf ever saying “Newtonmas” but he could have.
UK 1 Pound Note 1978-1982
When USA Today’s Kimberly Winston asked me about my inspiration, I confessed that it was a lark. She asked me about the present popularity and, frankly, I pointed to Kwanza which is an invented holiday, and also to Festivus from the Seinfeld comedies. We are allowed such bagatelles in our culture now. We could not have done this in 1642.


ALSO ON NECESSARY FACTS

Thursday, December 18, 2014

America Surrenders to North Korea

December 24, 2014.  Many doubts remain about who hacked Sony and why.  It may be that an insider with a grudge was located and turned by North Korea.  Perhaps some other explanation will satisfy whatever facts are established.  

On September 12, 2012, U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens was killed by terrorists.  At first, reports were that he died when a spontaneous street demonstration turned violent.  The demonstration was supposedly in response to the satire, The Innocence of Muslims. That turned out to not be the case. While the film drew some street demonstrations and sanctions by governments, the death of Ambassador Stevens was wholly unrelated to the film. 

Moreover, the President did not stand tall and proud for freedom of speech back then.
The Obama administration asked YouTube to review whether to continue hosting the video at all under the company's policies. YouTube said the video fell within its guidelines as the video is against Islam, but not against Muslim people, and thus not considered "hate speech".[73] Ben Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union said of this, "It does make us nervous when the government throws its weight behind any requests for censorship."[82]
73. Google Has No Plans to Rethink Video Status, The New York Times, September 14, 2012
82. Activists troubled by White House call to YouTube, Politico, September 14, 2012  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Innocence_of_Muslims
"The Evidence that North Korea Hacked Sony is Flimsy" (from Wired here).
"Expert: Here's Why North Korea Probably Did Not Hack Sony (from Business Insider here.)
"Did North Korea Really Hack Sony?" (from Bloomberg here.)
"Graham Cluley, former senior technology consultant at Sophos and author of the security blog grahamcluley.com:  "It’s a bit like asking if I think Belgium was involved with the Sony hack. Why would you think North Korea is involved? The idea appears to only have popped up in a story in Re/Code a few days after the big, public reveal of the attack. The hackers hadn’t mentioned it. Sony executives received an e-mail a few days before the attack that said 'you just need to pay us.' When the message with all the skulls came up, there was no mention of the movie. If stopping 'The Interview' was the point of the attack, why wouldn’t they mention it? I just don’t get it. When have we ever heard of state sponsored cyberterrorism putting skulls on people’s screens?" "Did North Korea Really Hack Sony? Cybersecurity Pros at Odds" (On Yahoo News here but originally from the Christian Science Monitor.)
"The film was available for rental on Google Inc's Youtube site as of early Wednesday afternoon. Microsoft Corp and Sony itself are also showing the comedy, the studio said, a day after agreeing to release it at some 200 independent theaters." -- Reuters here for 24-Dec-2014  

And lest we forget, Iraq did not seek to buy uranium (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niger_uranium_forgeries)
In that case, CIA analyst Valerie Plame was exposed by journalist and CNN pundit Robert Novak, perhaps in retaliation because her husband Joseph C. Wilson refused to endorse the Administration's claims on the subject.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plame_affair)

… and who really shot President John F. Kennedy?
Below is the previous version of this blog article.

We do not let our own government prevent the expression of ideas.  To surrender to North Korea over The Interview is to give up everything important about America.  The general lack of outrage in this country is a sad commentary on how far we have slid since September 11, 2001. 




In 1735, New York newspaper publisher John Peter Zenger criticized colonial governor William Cosby.  Cosby sought an indictment for libel, but the grand jury refused to indict.  So, the governor turned the attorney general who did bring charges.  The petit jury took ten minutes to return a verdict of not guilty.




The Interview is a comedy. Even if it were serious, it would make no difference in the issues.   The world stood behind Salman Rushdie  in 1988 when the Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini, as Supreme Leader of Iran, issued a fatwa for his execution.  The book, Satanic Verses, was banned in countries with significant Muslim populations.  If The Interview is banned in North Korea, not much can be done.  But the world at large – and the American political press in general – seems unconcerned about the consequences of letting North Korea be the lodestar of our moral compass.
 
Kim Jong Un is the target,
but these guys are always funnier.
My Fellow Americans was a 1996 comedy – with two deaths – in which the vice president of the United Sates attempts to kill two ex-presidents.   Wag the Dog was a 1997 dark comedy where a Hollywood producer creates a phony war to help the  president deflect the nation’s attention from his sexual indiscretion with an underage girl visiting the White House.  Truth and fiction can be difficult to differentiate; but if it is perfectly acceptable to make a comedy about American presidents – and it is – how can the First Secretary of the Workers Party of Korea be above ridicule? 



Here is one gauge of how unclear the general thinking is on this.  On December 17, CNN afternoon anchor Brook Baldwin interviewed Kurt Loder from Reason magazine and CNN’s own media critic, Brian Stelter.  Loder was clear and consistent, of course.  Baldwin and Stelter sort of thought that maybe this could be kind of inappropriate to make a movie about killing “a world leader.”  Reason’s Kurt Loder pointed out that whether the story’s plot is appropriate is totally irrelevant. 



Six months ago, North Korea called the movie “an act of war" (CBC here, for example). The press release supposedly came from an unnamed source within the government of North Korea, cited in an official communiqué first by Agence France-Presse.  That was quoted by news channels in Canada and Australia, and by Yahoo news and Huffington Post, on June 25, 2014.  Not much was said in mainstream media. Not much (if anything) came from the conservative or liberal political media (except HuffPo).  As Sony Pictures, the major movie theater chains, and the American people and our government all compromised the basic principles of our political constitution, then North Korea won this war,



Congress should show this film – and link arms to sing “God Bless America” after the credits roll.

[Added December 20, 2014:  Yesterday, President Obama delivered a cogent message.  Among his many points were that we should not censor ourselves "for fear of offending the sensibilities of somebody whose sensibilities probably need to be offended." From the 2:27 mark.]



ALSO ON NECESSARY FACTS

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Awesome Austin Foods at the Wheatsville Co-op

Handcrafted food delivers more than the ingredients.  The ineffable qualities of passion, care, intensity, and self-actualization are the charms that release satisfactions beyond mere flavors.

Robert brews a cup of Third Coast Coffee
“Our shop is tucked away in the Tejas Business Park on S Congress Avenue, a half mile south of Hwy 71. We invite people to come try coffees, tour the shop, and buy some beans for home use. While we’re not a coffee shop, we’ve always got coffee brewed for tasting. We’ve also always got a selection of coffee roasted for pickup, or if you know exactly what you’d like, you can call ahead to request it. We’ll roast it on our next shift and set it aside for you.”  

Third Coast offers a dozen roasts and blends including the Kerbey Lane House Blend popular with Austinites at all five restaurant locations. 

Austin Gelato Company is owned and operated by partners and proud Texans Alan Gwinner and Stephanie Ray. Refugees from the corporate world, they learned the art of making genuine Italian gelato from a genuine Italian gelato master, Stefano Tarquinio of Rome’s renowned Al Settimo Gelo gelateria. Alan and Stephanie handcraft their gelato and sorbetto treats the authentic Italian way, with no shortcuts, mixes, additives or anything that’s just plain unnatural.”

“We never use pre-made mixes, additives or artificial flavors and we locally source whenever possible. For example, our low-temperature pasteurized, non-homogenized milk comes from a family-owned dairy just up the road (I-35, to be exact). The hard-working bees of Austin's own Good Flow produce our wildflower honey. Our organic, fair trade-certified sugar comes from Wholesome Sweeteners, headquartered in Sugar Land, Texas. Our pecans are from Swift River Pecans, on the banks of the San Marcos River. And the coffee in our Espress-Oh! is freshly roasted by our friends at Kuxtal Coffee and Tea, in the Hill Country west of Austin.”

Erin is half the team at Yellowbird. They make Habenero (regular and hot), Serrano, and Jalapeño versions.  

They win awards. The Austin Chronicle granted them a “Special Variety” honor in 2013. On October 14 of this year, Yahoo’s Dan Gentile called them one of the sauces “that could dethrone Sriracha.” 

In addition to Wheatsville, they garnered placement at Royal Blue, an upscale convenience store with several locations in downtown Austin.  They also wholesale to consumers.  

SRSLY (Seriously) Chocolate is available in several flavors.
At SRSLY chocolate, We start with dried, fermented cacao beans from the Conacado cooperative in the Dominican Republic.. …  After harvest, the cacao pods are fermented. This crucial step begins to develop the chemical compounds that we perceive as chocolate flavor. …  Upon arrival, the beans are inspected and graded before roasting. Roasting is a crucial step in cacao's journey to chocolate. A "low and slow" approach is taken by us to properly tease out the bean's flavor.
”  

Available in Austin, Dallas, and San Marcos,
and now in Tallahassee
at Bread & Roses and New Leaf co-operatives.
  

They are happy to fill wholesale orders by mail
ALSO ON NECESSARY FACTS

Saturday, December 13, 2014

100,000 Page Views

This blog earned its 100,000th page view on December 10.  The Google metrics are somewhat questionable. I read through all of the numbers provided individually and found many more that were popular, but not listed.  Also, it is hard to understand why so many hits come from France, the Ukraine, Russia, China, and Malaysia.  Perhaps hackers automatically probe all blogs looking for weaknesses.
Many of my Objectivist comrades visit, as I post out-takes, or cross-link articles from here to Rebirth of Reason, Objectivist Living, and the very popular Galt's Gulch Online.  Unfortunately, from what I can tell by the metrics, they seldom have read more than the target link, even though most of the articles here close with "Also on Necessary Facts" (sometimes "Previously on Necessary Facts").  I also get some traffic from Michael "wintercow" Rizzo, professor of economics at the University of Rochester (New York), who writes the Unbroken Window blog. A few more viewers come in via Organizations & Markets.

Although "Alongside Night" jumped to first place this year, historically, the top post had been "What (if anything) did Dorothy Learn?" The conclusion to the famous 1939 movie version of The Wizard of Oz still leaves people around the world wanting to know.

The other subject of perhaps truly wider appeal that did not make even the top 30 this year was "Firefly: Fact and Value Aboard Serenity."  A libertarian friend recommended the series on the Objectivist Living discussion board.  I found it favorably reviewed on the Atlas Society website.  I got the disks from the library; and we both enjoyed the series. My ex enlightened me about Joss Whedon. From there, I found more works, such as his Astronishing X-Men issues; and I understood why the "Serenity" page won so many looks.  (We just watched Season One of Buffy the Vampire Slayer last month.)

I created the Score by dividing the Days into the Views. I figured that about One per Day was good.


Title
Date
Views
Days
Score
27-May-14
1856
195
9.52
13-Sep-14
388
89
4.36
20-May-14
362
202
1.79
1-Sep-13
792
461
1.72
23-Nov-14
32
19
1.68
13-Aug-13
781
479
1.63
6-Jan-12
1329
1056
1.26
24-Oct-14
60
48
1.25
19-Aug-14
122
113
1.08
10-Aug-13
510
482
1.06
9-Jan-14
344
333
1.03
3-Jul-13
500
519
0.96

Personally, I have my own favorites.
  • Newton versus the Counterfeiter  (This version of my book review was rejected by the Ohio State University Law Journal because I missed their cut-off for timeliness. The ANA granted me a Heath Literary Award for my biography of Newton's tenure as warden and master of the British Royal Mint.  So, when Thomas Levenson's book came out, I was enthusiastic and placed several book reviews.)
  • The Big Whimper of Modern Philosophy   A group of academic philosophers spin essays based on popular television shows. As a fan of "Big Bang Theory" I believe that it was over their heads.
  • Sergei Magnitsky  His death (murder, actually) was a brief news story and generated some bills in Congress.  It was one of many rocks in the road of Russian foreign relations.
  • Laissez-faire Criminology   Asking rhetorical questions while praising sleeping policemen.
  • Visualizing Complex Data and Knowledge Maps  These related essays display some of the many ways to organize information.
Over all, topics on this blog ride a wide range because it is my alternative to paid work.  As a technical writer, I enjoy delivering information about products and services to the clients and customers of those who hire me.  Here, I write for myself.  Many of the posts fall under a few rubrics.
  • Numismatics: The Standard of Proof in Economics, Informing Economics, Money as Speech and Press,… 
  • Graphic design and typography: Creative Genius, Art & Copy, Start the Presses, … and others…
  • Astronomy, Physics, Biotech; the History and Philosophy of Science: Seeing in the Dark, Monsters from the Id, Science in the Middle Ages, Misconduct in Research
  • Criminology: The Fallacy of Fingerprinting, Shifting the Paradigm of Private Security, Security in the 21st Century, Integrating Criminologies, Minimizing the Likelihood of Bad Cops, Junk Science in the Courtroom
  • Nerd Nation: Big Bang Theory, Numb3rs and NCIS;  Educating the Gifted, Where All the Children are Above Average; Liberal Education and Sociology; the Dragon's Lair store here in Austin.
  • Cities: Megacities, City Air Makes You Free, etc.
  • Austin culture and foods
Some necessarily cross the demarcations. John Jay Ford and William Sheldon perpetrated their crimes within the field of numismatics. Similarly, misconduct in laboratory procedure is one of the causes of false convictions. So, I have a different site, entirely, CSI:Flint (2011) which I created for a "Super Science Friday" session for middle schoolers visiting the University of Michigan.