I Finally Finished

In my old age I should know better than to struggle for twelve weeks to finish reading a book. My time on earth is rapidly diminishing and reading useless literature is not what I want to be known for. The book that almost broke my back is Alan Turing: The Enigma. I love the story of the Enigma. It is an important piece of WWII history. A machine invented by the Germans to scramble messages, it drove the British nuts. I saw the movie Imitation Game and loved the story. Following my rule that a book is usually  better than the movie I trusted my fellow reading club members that this was still true. Except, in this case the movie is infinitely better.

Who ever this author Andrew Hodges is, I will never read another of his works. This work is over six hundred pages of small print. The story could have been cut in half that amount of words and pages. True, trying to describe a mathematician’s work process and ideas is trying. None of Hodges’ descriptions of Turing’s early work while inventing the modern digital computer was understandable. The only way I was able to decipher what he was trying to say was by looking at Turing’s sketches of his early machine which contained a series of zeros and ones. It was then that I began to understand some of his gibberish. I learned to program an early digital computer using binary numbers which was the basis of the machine i learned to program.

This story convinced me that I abhor intellectual work and should refrain from reading it. I love good stories. I hate reading math books. Even a physics book is more exciting than a math book. Alan Turing was a pure mathematician and Hodges failed to tell his story in a simple understandable way. The last two hundred pages finally started to read well, but by then the story drifted away from math and toward the man and his life struggles.

I also like stories with short chapters. This work has boring with long chapters of a hundred pages or more. The chapters could be shorter. The author may have decided to cut some of them had he done so.

All in all, if you want to learn the story of the Enigma go see the movie “The Imitation Game.”

Five ughs.

Algorithm, the New Dirty Word


Since when did the word algorithm evolve into an evil demon? So often I hear of Facebook, and Twitter leaders refer to algorithms in an accusatory way. As if the word itself resides within the computer. I haven’t read anything about how the Silicon Valley gods have breathed life into computers. The lords at Facebook and Twitter have been caught with their pants down around their ankles and to weasel out of their dilemma they blame things on the mighty “algorithm.”

Here is the definition of algorithm:

a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer: a basic algorithm for division.”

So who is giving the computer instructions within the algorithm to screen conservative voices?  Certainly the computer does not have the intelligence to do anything by itself. I admit, the beauty of modern programming languages make it easier for a man to give the computer instructions, but once an algorithm process is defined it can only change if a man changes it. The lords may allude to artificial intelligence programs doing it, but I cannot buy that at this time. Artificial Intelligence or AI has been a concept floating around since before the eighties. Men keep envisioning a day when the AI computer will replace humans as workers. I remember when computer salesmen were selling us on the idea that we will have a computers on our desks and they will be able to  perform wonderful things. That was also in the nineteen eighties. Many of the things they promised then are just becoming useful to us today. My math says the “sell” took thirty-three years to become reality. I’ve seen some tremendous improvements in computers and in software during the years of my useful employment, but AI isn’t one of them. The closest application we’ve seen that uses AI is the self driving car. I applaud Google and Tesla for testing the self drivers on real highways. It is the only way they will ultimately prevail. What I don’t applaud them for is killing people during the test. The reason they have failures is that the sensors they install on cars are nowhere near the quality or comprehensiveness of the human senses feeding data to the greatest computer in the universe, the human brain. What I predict is that AI will not become a practical vehicle to replace humans in simple jobs for another thirty years.

The lowly algorithm is being used as a political ploy by the lords to sell a line of B.S. to a seemingly ignorant public. That is where the lords are getting it wrong, we aren’t ignorant. When Facebook screens content to prevent conservatives from having a voice they are denying us our Constitutional rights.

During the early twentieth century there were a number of mega-companies that got so big their lords felt they were invincible. Good old Uncle came to the rescue and filed lawsuits to break up their bigness. It seems to me it may be time for Uncle to kick into gear again and set some regulatory controls that will protect we the people from evil algorithms, or better yet the evil people who program the algorithms to do evil things.

LIFE 3.0

I just completed reading “Life 3.0, Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.”  This was not one of my better selections, but I read it to the end anyway. The subject intrigued me. I first heard the term Artificial Intelligence used some thirty years ago, and it didn’t hurt me to finally learn something about the topic. Artificial intelligence refers to super computers with programs that learn, and adapt quickly. The only real example of AI that I know of is the IBM computer that beat the world champion Russian chess player at chess.

Behind the scenes that I am familiar with there is an army of people developing software and hardware to think like humans. The current rage of robots need AI to exist. Author Max Tegmark is obviously a genius at AI. He teaches at MIT and writes about two miles over my feeble brain level. I thoroughly enjoyed the Prelude titled The Tale of the Omega Team. This is a well drafted story of robots gifted with AI, and how they develop into a force we don’t want to reckon with. When I began reading The Tale of the Omega Team the story was totally believable given the advanced level of today’s technology. The story hooked me into complete concentration, but as the narrative developed I began to suspect Omega Team was toying with me. It was. As Omega used its experiences to learn, he quickly adapted to become smarter and smarter surpassing his creator in intelligence. The story became more and more preposterous, but still very believable. The Tale of the Omega Team could very well become a TV series.

The last two chapters were also very engrossing. Tegmark’s discussion on consciousness is very insightful, and one realizes that making an AI machine into a real human requires consciousness. How to do that is another monumental task. The last chapter deals with the people who are currently developing AI. However, they agree that developers need a set of rules by which to guide themselves to keep from creating AI monsters.

The chapters in between the Prelude and Consciousness were so steeped in physics, philosophy, and mathematics that I found them about as exciting as I did during college reading my books on differential equations, and meta-physics. The physics discussions were so far beyond my comprehension that I could have skipped them and been just as satisfied. Most probably, that is because my knowledge of physics peaked in 1960, and the physics in this tome has developed since then.

I enjoyed reading this book, but I am glad I finished. Because of the level of difficulty I have to rate this book at three stars. However, I rate the prelude, The Tale of the Omega Team five stars.


Spacey Fiction


My book club finally started reading a new selection, and made my choice of books easier than ever. I asked the librarian for it, and was disappointed to learn that it was The Martian. The only pre-knowledge I had about this story I got from movie promos on TV. Since I don’t like Matt Damon unless he is playing Jason Bourne, the trailers did not impress me. I made a snide comment about the selection and my obligation to read every book the members are reading. She told me to skim it. “No,” I said, “once I start a read I suffer through it no matter how much I hate it.”

At home I put the book on the table, and walked away. Later, I walked by the book and decided to pick it up to read the first page just to get a feel for the story. That was the end of it for me. I never put it down again until bedtime.

The Martiani is the best book I have read in a long time. The premise was totally believable, the character was real, and totally funny. It takes quite a man to be funny when marooned on a planet eleven months from Earth. His attitude was one of survival, and he was expert at solving problems throughout. My background is in engineering and this story is loaded with heaps of technical jargon and science. All of it made sense and based on fact. This character put McGyver to shame.

Now that I love the story so much I will endure the movie to see if Damon did the story justice.

PSA-170507-Science Stuff

A friend shared this and it gave me a laugh so I’ll share it
with you. Hope you haven’t seen it.

Units Of Measure


1. Ratio of an igloo’s circumference to its diameter = Eskimo Pi

2. 2,000 pounds of Chinese soup = Won Ton

3. 1 millionth of a mouthwash = 1 microscope

4. Time between slipping on a peel and smacking the pavement = 1 bananosecond

5. Weight an evangelist carries with God= 1 billigram

6. Time it takes to sail 220 yards at 1 nautical mile per hour = Knotfurlong

7. 365.25 days of drinking low-calorie beer = 1 Lite year

8. 16.5 feet in the Twilight Zone = 1 Rod Sterling

9. Half a large intestine = 1 semicolon

10. 1,000,000 aches = 1 megahurtz

11. Basic unit of laryngitis = 1 hoarsepower

12. Shortest distance between two jokes = a straight line

13. 2,000 mockingbirds = two kilomockingbirds

14. 1 kilogram of falling figs = 1 Fig Newton

15. 1,000 cc’s of wet socks = 1 literhosen

16. 8 nickels = 2 paradigm

It Is a Plane, No A Car, No a Dri-fly


Ever since I was old enough to read Popular Mechanics magazine I have been fascinated by flying cars. There have been many concepts proposed over the last seventy years, and in the past few years there have been some working prototypes made and demonstrated. The video below is ones such concept demonstrator that might actually be practical.

Flying cars sound so great  when compared to sitting in traffic jams on six lane highways. Imagine what the traffic jam would look like if the same number of flying cars were involved in transporting people to and from their jobs as there are cars today. I think we would need to wear helmets while jogging for fear of being rained upon by falling debris. The number of mid-air collisions would be so great it wouldn’t be long before flying cars would be outlawed from urban areas. At least cars are restricted to well-defined roads and rules for governing movement on those roads like controlled direction, stop signs, speed limits, etc. Where would we put stop signs in the atmosphere, and if we did stop for one would we fall from the sky?

Drone technology is bringing us closer to achieving practical flying cars, and it won’t be long before we are faced with a completely new set of regulations regarding how we dri-fly.

Will Humans Become Extinct?

A news headline today featured Michael Moore saying Trump will cause humans to go extinct. Forgive me folks, but Michael Moore is a very large bag of wind. What will cause humans to become extinct is their fading memories. It seems that the young crowd in developed countries have forgotten what sex is really for. The result has been a bunch of young people screwing their jollies off without bearing children. The problem is so bad that countries have taken to importing immigrants, USA included, to save themselves. I’ve written about this before, and I will continue to write about it over and over. Sex is for procreation not for fun, although  there is a good bit of pleasure associated with it.

Michael Moore’s point is that Trump will cause worldwide havoc by his activity to abandon US participation in global warming committees. The plain and simple fact is that there is no credible evidence whatsoever to support man-made global warming and there is no measured trend indicating a rise in global temperature. Yes, there has been some melting of ice in the Arctic, but the ice has returned in cyclic fashion. Leftists spurred on by Barack Obama have been so thoroughly brain washed to believe that we will cause the earth to drown in the water resulting in the melting Antarctica that they even have the Pope convinced.

If Antarctica ice were to melt it would take well over a hundred years for it to become evident. I believe mankind is smart enough to save itself when it sees the water seeping into their lives.

Anyway, I will not be around in a hundred years to watch this phenomenon happen so it doesn’t bother me at all. All of my family is smart enough to live inland where the water will not affect them. Since the majority of crazies live on either the West or the East coast I recommend they wear life vests and scuba gear to bed.


In the same one hundred years, we will have depleted our fossil fuel supply, well maybe, and our shift to some unknown yet to be discovered power source similar to Lithium Di-crystals used to power the Starship Enterprise will have been discovered to save the day.

The need for power will spur men to find new sources of energy that will allow us to survive. At this time, there is still plenty of fossil fuel to supply our needs for the next two to five hundred years. I also expect some genius kid to invent a low-cost process to scrub excess CO2 from the air and thus prevent any overheating of the planet. All we have to do is to shift kids from studying banking and political science to real math and real science so we might stand a chance.

Remember Michael Moore is a number one source for FAKE news, and man’s need for energy will drive him to invent new ways to get it.



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