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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 23 declined, 4 accepted (27 total, 14.81% accepted)

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Submission + - Ada and Her Legacy

nightcats writes: Nature has an extensive piece on the legacy of the "enchantress of abstraction," the extraordinary Victorian-era computer pioneer Ada Lovelace, daughter of the poet Lord Byron. Her monograph on the Babbage machine was described by Babbage himself as a creation of...

“that Enchantress who has thrown her magical spell around the most abstract of Sciences and has grasped it with a force that few masculine intellects (in our own country at least) could have exerted over it”

Ada's remarkable merging of intellect and intuition — her capacity to analyze and capture the conceptual and functional foundations of the Babbage machine — is summarized with a historical context which reveals the precocious modernity of her scientific mind:

By 1841 Lovelace was developing a concept of “Poetical Science”, in which scientific logic would be driven by imagination, “the Discovering faculty, pre-eminently. It is that which penetrates into the unseen worlds around us, the worlds of Science.” She saw mathematics metaphysically, as “the language of the unseen relations between things”; but added that to apply it, “we must be able to fully appreciate, to feel, to seize, the unseen, the unconscious”. She also saw that Babbage's mathematics needed more imaginative presentation.

Submission + - Another State Legislature Targets Tesla

nightcats writes: New York joins the growing list of state legislatures aiming to shut down or at least restrict Tesla's business model:

The bill, which would restrict Tesla's ability to sell cars directly to consumers, moved out of the Assembly Codes Committee on Wednesday, one of several necessary steps on its way to a full vote.

Most of this legislation is driven by lobbying from traditional auto dealers working aggressively to protect their business model against an innovative but threatening incursion. Those dealers claim to have the full support of the Cuomo administration. For those keeping score, NY joins Texas and New Jersey in its efforts to keep product that is good for the environment as far away from consumers as possible.

Submission + - Statue of Apollo Discovered in Palestine

nightcats writes: A 2,500 year old statue of the Greek god Apollo has been discovered by Palestinian fishermen.While Trekkies may object that this is all merely a trick, an energy projection of the being from Pollux IV (see season 2, Who Mourns for Adonais), it does appear an actual creation of those Greeks who worshiped that alien life form.

Submission + - The 140 Character Wisecrack

nightcats writes: While I was writing this little reflection on aphoristic humor and the web app made just for it (Twitter, what else) — something interesting happened that's recorded in a footnote to the piece.

... it sure does help to follow some actual hackers. I follow Anonymous @YourAnonNews — these folks suspected the hack of the AP twitter feed within seconds, before it was even confirmed as a hack by AP. So while the stock market was going into its temporary panic-collapse, I already knew the true story. How many brokers and hedgies do you imagine follow Anonymous?

Submission + - Bill James (1984) on the Meaning of Data

nightcats writes: At, Craig Calcaterra quotes a nearly 30-year old piece by the original baseball sabermetrician Bill James, on the meaning and use of computer-generated data. Worth pondering by geeks and non-geeks alike:

There is, you see, no such thing as “computer knowledge” or “computer information” or “computer data.” Within a few years, everyone will understand that. The essential characteristics of information are that it is true or it is false, it is significant or it is trivial, it is relevant or it is irrelevant...Computers are going to have an impact on my life that is similar to the impact that the coming of the automobile age must have had on the professional traveler or adventurer. The car made it easier to get from place to place; the computer will make it easier to deal with information. But knowing how to drive an automobile does not make you an adventurer, and knowing how to run a computer does not make you an analytical student of the game.

Submission + - "Brute Force" Aimed at WordPress (

nightcats writes: This morning I attempted to login into the WordPress admin area and received the message, "Wordpress administrator area access disabled temporarily due to widespread brute force attacks." An inquiry with my webhost providers revealed that "There is a an active brute force attack against WordPress sites across the internet and this is creating issues with the network and servers." I was advised to login via FTP with the following changes to the .htaccess file, replacing "xxx" with the IP address:
Order deny,allow Deny from all Allow from x.x.x.x

Submission + - From Spirituality to Quantumality (

nightcats writes: "I'm on a campaign to introduce geeks to a non-ideological and non-spiritual form of inner life that makes sense and can be personalized. One recent effort in this vein is "The Trouble with Tardigrades" (titled after the famous Star Trek episode); another is a piece in which I offer a meditation on a river seen from within the Earth's mantle. The following is from the tardigrade piece:

DNA is one of those phenomena of Nature that can be experienced (and therefore conceived) both materially and ideationally. That is, we can see it as “stuff” — physical molecules composed of nucleotides — or as information, data, cosmic thought. In fact, it appears essential to equally maintain both perspectives on DNA; just as physicists need to work with the phenomenon of light as both photon particles and wave-forms. Even casual observers like myself are aware that the DNA of all life-forms that we know about is defined as much by its peculiar shape as by its chemical composition. That is, a relative abstraction such as shape (the famous double-helix) is as definitive to the DNA of an organism as a planet’s orbit — its relation to other spatial bodies in its movement through the space-time continuum — is to its existence within a galaxy. Nature abhors entropy.


Submission + - A Proposal to Mental Health Professionals After the Death of Aaron Swartz (

nightcats writes: Hours after learning of Aaron Swartz's suicide, I wrote this piece calling on mental health professionals to create a network accessible to hackers, activists, and social visionaries like Swartz. Comparing his suicide to that of Turing more than 5 decades ago, I conclude that we just can't wait for society to change; we must create a lifeline for those who would change it:

My personal feeling is that people like the late Aaron Swartz are those who push civilization out of its potholes of stagnation and complacency and inner death. They press us forward, outward; they can usually see a horizon of change even amid a society’s deepest night. We who work or have worked in the fields of compassion and psychological support owe them our presence and our commitment. I am ready to sign up.

Open Source

Submission + - 3 Good Models of Online Development (

nightcats writes: "I've written a post about modern web development, which arose from an adverse employment experience with a big-time corporate IT company who shall remain unnamed. The 3 models I identify as exemplary sources of inspiration and innovation for modern web development are: (1) gaming; (2) porn; and (3) open source. Consider, for example, porn:

Believe it or not, a lot of the innovation in stuff like Flash video, javascript, moving GIF images, general image quality and multimedia page design has been driven by porn. The best porn sites — the ones that succeed with their audiences and with their, um, bottom lines — usually reside at the leading edges of online tech.



Submission + - Opening Pandora's Nano-Box` (

nightcats writes: Inventors strive to discover what technology can do for humans; corporations seek the profit potential in it; the scientists portrayed here ask what it's doing to us. Nanotechnology — specifically nanoparticles — are with us, among us, inside us already — in toothpaste, chewing gum, food, clothing, medicines. Their ability to pass through blood-brain barriers and immune defenses presents both possibility and peril. From the article: "As a society, we’ve been here before—releasing a “miracle technology” before its potential health and environmental ramifications are understood, let alone investigated."

Submission + - Ask SD: Project Scope and Length for MLB Robot Ump

nightcats writes: "The League Championship Series (LCS) of baseball are upon us, and numerous sports media pundits, armies of fans at comment boards, and TV people are openly debating the possibility of robot umpires coming to the MLB, to either replace or enhance the human umps' work on the field. Question: what kind of project are we reasonably talking about here; what would the scope and length be from planning/design to user testing/implementation (presumably in a spring training/minor league setting)? What kinds of hardware (video scanners, touch-sensitive bases/foul lines, etc.) and software would be required?"

Submission + - Portrait of Binney (

nightcats writes: This New Yorker article contains a portrait of crypto-mathematician Bill Binney and his ThinThread NSA program, which he claims had the ability to detect and forerstall the 9/11 attacks, had it been in place instead of the Trailblazer program, which withered on its vine during the Bush years.

Submission + - Next Spam Craze: Finger Lengthening Products (

nightcats writes: "It turns out that all those penile lengthening schemes and products that have filled our spam bins for so long are completely misplaced: what we men really need are finger-lengtheners:

The longer a man's fourth or ring finger is compared to his index finger, the more likely he is to be judged attractive by women, according to a new study.


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