two years, 350 years

Feb 15th, 2010 Posted in history, science | no comment »

Yesterday marked two years of the current incarnation of this site. While this hasn’t exactly been the most verbose blog in the world, if nothing else it has at least served as a good sharing place for stuff that I’ve found interesting.

A fitting way to mark the last couple of years of publishing here is to look at the Royal Society, which has marked nearly 350 years of publishing scientific papers by highlighting 60 groundbreaking articles on its Trailblazing web site. They range from a 1666 paper on blood transfusions between dogs to a 2008 paper on engineering against global warming. Also included is a paper describing Benjamin Franklin’s famous kite experiment.

a new park, an old tragedy

Nov 12th, 2009 Posted in history | no comment »

On July 17, 1944, a munitions explosion at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine here in the Bay Area killed 320 sailors, most of them African American.  In the aftermath, 50 African American sailors were convicted of mutiny for refusing to work under similarly unsafe conditions at the nearby Mare Island Naval Shipyard.  The ensuing uproar, including a legal appeal by then-NAACP chief counsel Thurgood Marshall, led to an investigation of the Navy’s practice of assigning menial or dangerous tasks to minority sailors, and eventually resulted in the official desegregation of the United States military.  On October 29, 2009, President Obama signed the 2010 Defense Authorization Act, which among other things elevated the existing Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial into the nation’s newest national park.   This will enable the National Park Service to enhance the site’s mission to preserve the memory of both the tragedy and its military and civil rights legacy.

the wall between us all must fall

Nov 9th, 2009 Posted in computers, history, music | no comment »

…is a line from a 1993 Living Colour song, and a sentiment that was likely on the minds of many Germans when the Berlin Wall finally did fall, 20 years ago today.  The anniversary is being noted by newsoutletsall… over… theworld.  If you get a chance, check out the excellent movie The Lives of Others, which deals with the spying that the East German Stasi did on its own citizens prior to reunification.  Today, Germans can request to review any files that the Stasi compiled on them, which is no doubt a chilling experience.

And an interesting computer science problem, it turns out.  The Stasi made a hasty attempt to destroy many of their records through shredding and old-fashioned ripping paper up by hand.  Software is now being used to recreate the original documents from scanned images of the pieces.

Meanwhile, the fall of the wall and the demise of Communist governments across Eastern Europe inspired a lot of optimism in early 1990s music.  Classics include:

“Right Here, Right Now” by Jesus Jones

“Wind of Change” by the Scorpions

“Crazy” by Seal

Finally, as with all such significant historical events, people are still debating what the real outcome of it was.

happy belated…

Oct 27th, 2009 Posted in history | no comment »

…10th anniversary to ratogi.net, which I just rediscovered was registered as a domain on October 1, 1999.  Enjoy  a serving of your favorite confection in its honor. 🙂

that word does not mean what you think it means…

Oct 12th, 2009 Posted in history, tech | no comment »

Here’s an interesting article about the real Luddites.  The modern use of the word refers to people who are anti-technology.  Actually, the original Luddites were against the wholesale replacing of people (in particular, themselves) with technology and other cost-cutting methods in the “new economy” of early 19th century England.