Thursday, May 19, 2011

why the hell can't blogger just leave my formatting alone?!?!?!

Apparently, one of the ways my obsessive-compulsive tendencies make themselves known is in formatting. I want my stuff to appear the way i intend it to appear, the way i slaved over making it (for some reason i like to compose my book thoughts in the same font, or a close proximity to, as the font the book was published in {yes, i know this is strange}, i'm one of those people that actually reads the little publishing note about the typeset {and i'm annoyed if a book doesn't have one}.)

I remember when i was young (high school and college), back in the early days of word-processing that it would take me a few hours to write a paper and then something like thirteen hours to format the damn thing (and that wasn't even due to my pickiness, it had to do with the fact that the programming wasn't set up to format the page for you so you had to set each margin, line break, page break, etc. yourself just so you could meet your teacher's expectations.

Now, it seems, i take that long re-formating my blog posts (usually in HTML) just so that it appears the way i originally intended, because blogger seems to think it knows better than me and inserts new line breaks, fonts, colors, etc.

Why can't it just trust that i know what i'm doing (even if i do type all my "i"s in lower case, and otherwise knowingly disobey rules, and even if what i have decided upon is a little hard to read). And god forbid i decide to add a word or something after i finally get the formatting right in its published form because then the process has to start all over again!

I think, since i am probably the only one reading this, that my opinion and vision should take the highest priority!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

E-books drive older women to digital piracy

The Telegraph
by Christopher Williams, Technolgy Correspondent 1:44PM BST 17 May 2011
One in eight women over 35 who own such devices admit to having downloaded an unlicensed e-book.
That compares to just one in 20 women over 35 who admit to having engaged in digital music piracy.
News that a group formerly unwilling to infringe copyright are changing their behaviour as e-books take off will worry publishing executives, who fear they could suffer similar a similar fate to the record labels that have struggled to replace lost physical sales.
The picture across the entire e-reader and tablet markets is even more troubling for the publishing industry. Some 29 per cent of e-reader owners of both genders and all ages admit piracy. For tablets the figure rises to 36 per cent.
The findings are part of the Digital Entertainment Survey, an annual assessment of consumer behaviour online by the law firm Wiggin.
The online poll of 1,959 consumers also found that the potential damage to publishing is likely to increase, as a quarter of those who admitted to e-book piracy said they would continue.
And the iPad and Kindle were both in the top three most wanted devices across all consumer groups.
The Publishers Association recently revealed the number of physical books sold fell by 3 per cent last year, and although consumer e-book sales grew strongly revenues were just £16m, compared to £3.1bn in physical sales.
Announcing the figures, the group’s chief executive, Richard Mollet, placed emphasis on preserving copyright protections.
"The innovation in the digital marketplace and the strength of British publishers’ export performance is only possible because of the robust and flexible copyright framework which underpins the UK creative industries," he said.
"Copyright ensures that authors, writers and researchers get rewarded for their talent and expertise, and that the publishers who support them see a return on their investment – particularly in their digital infrastructure."
Maybe the people over 35 are just more honest than those under 35 (although i have found that "kids today" don't even seem to realize that copying cds you don't own as wrong/illegal {at least when i do it, i know it's wrong} And that downloading book texts from sites like scribd is violating copyright (somehow, i am less likely to do that~although i do seem to reprint entire articles on my blog~is attribution enough?)

There are not a million stories in the naked city.

 There is only one story, but a correct translation cannot be unanimously agreed upon and no one can believe the ending, so it is in a constant state of being retold.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

now the year needs to expand

or just make a new calendar (after all if we are moving into a Post-Modern version of our language, why not a PoMo calendar...)

New York TimesPublished: May 3, 2011
How long is a year? Ask most people, and they’d say 365 days and not nearly long enough. The year, of course, is the time it takes the Earth to orbit around the Sun, a rate that is slowing fractionally each century. For many reasons, scientists need a more precise definition of the year than its length in days, yet the only unit of time defined in the International System of Units is the second, which is measured in oscillations of cesium atoms.
(i'm not sure i love this word, though

Recently, a task force of geologists and chemists proposed a new unit of measure called the annus — the Latin word for year — which would use the length of time between one equinox or solstice and the same equinox or solstice a year later. Because the Earth’s orbit varies in temporal length, the annus is keyed to the year 2000, which was 31,556,925.445 seconds long.Astronomers prefer to use the Julian year — which is 31,557,600 seconds long — and they, like some scientific journals, are not likely to adopt the annus. Many working geologists are objecting to the proposed abbreviation for annus, which is “a.” To the task force, the symbol Ma means mega-annus, or million years. But to geologists, Ma means “million years ago,” and 90 Ma, for instance, means a specific point in the Cretaceous period.
However this is resolved, we are left meditating on a remark made by a pair of geologists who note that a geological date like 90 Ma, or 90 million years ago, implies “before present.” Unfortunately, these geologists write, the present “is not well defined.” We know the feeling. We also know that whatever you call it, the year gets shorter and shorter the older you get.
(do you remember when the days, and weeks, and months, and years went by so slow you couldn't stand the wait?)but then, of course, all of our years will run out. . .

Someday the Sun Will Burn Out and the World Will End (but don't tell anyone)

The New York Times By DENNIS OVERBYE
Published: February 14, 2006

I've always been proud of my irrelevance.

When I raised my hand to speak at our weekly meetings here in the science department, my colleagues could be sure they would hear something weird about time travel or adventures in the fifth dimension. Something to take them far from the daily grind. Enough to taunt the mind, but not enough to attract the attention of bloggers, editors, politicians and others who keep track of important world affairs.
(is this anything like my raising my hand to argue with my high school teachers?)
So imagine my surprise to find the origin of the universe suddenly at the white hot center of national politics. Last week my colleague Andrew Revkin reported that a 24-year-old NASA political appointee with no scientific background, George C. Deutsch, had told a designer working on a NASA Web project that the Big Bang was "not proven fact; it is opinion," and thus the word "theory" should be used with every mention of Big Bang.
It was not NASA's place, he said in an e-mail message, to make a declaration about the origin of the universe "that discounts intelligent design by a creator."
In a different example of spinning science news last month, NASA headquarters removed a reference to the future death of the sun from a press release about the discovery of comet dust around a distant star known as a white dwarf. A white dwarf, a shrunken dense cinder about the size of earth, is how our own sun is fated to spend eternity, astronomers say, about five billion
years from now, once it has burned its fuel.
"We are seeing the ghost of a star that was once a lot like our sun," said Marc Kuchner of the Goddard Space Flight Center. In a statement that was edited out of the final news release he went on to say, "I cringed when I saw the data because it probably reflects the grim but very distant future of our own planets and solar system."
An e-mail message from Erica Hupp at NASA headquarters to the authors of the original release at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said, "NASA is not in the habit of frightening the public with doom and gloom scenarios."
Never mind that the death of the sun has been a staple of astronomy textbooks for 50 years.
Personally, I can't get enough of gloom- and-doom scenarios. I'm enchanted by the recent discovery, buttressed by observations from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, that an antigravitational force known as dark energy might suck all galaxies out of the observable universe in a few hundred billion years and even rip apart atoms and space. But I never dreamed that I might be frightening the adults.
What's next? Will future presidential candidates debate the ontological status of Schrödinger's cat? That's the cat that, according to the uncertainty principle of quantum physics, is both alive and dead until we observe it.
Apparently science does matter.
Dreading the prospect that they too may be dragged into the culture wars, astronomers have watched from the sidelines in recent years as creationists in Kansas and Pennsylvania challenged the teaching of evolution in classrooms. Never mind that the Big Bang has been officially accepted by the Roman Catholic Church for half a century. The notion of a 14-billion-year-old cosmos doesn't fit if you believe the Bible says the world is 6,000 years old.
And indeed there have been sporadic outbreaks, as evidenced by the bumper stickers and signs you see in some parts of the country: "Big Bang? You've got to be kidding — God."
When the Kansas school board removed evolution from the science curriculum back in 1999, they also removed the Big Bang.
In a way, the critics have a point. The Big Bang is indeed only a theory, albeit a theory that covers the history of creation as seamlessly as could be expected from the first fraction of a second of time until today. To call an idea "a theory" is to accord it high status in the world of science. To pass the bar, a theory must make testable predictions — that stars eventually blow out or that your computer will boot up.
Sometimes those predictions can be, well, a little disconcerting. When you're talking about the birth or death of the universe, a little denial goes a long way.
That science news is sometimes managed as carefully as political news may not come as a
surprise to most adults. After all, the agencies that pay for most scientific research in this country have billion-dollar budgets that they have to justify to the White House and the Congress. It helps to have newspaper clippings attesting to your advancement of the president's vision.
It's enough to make you feel sorry for NASA, whose very charter mandates high visibility for both its triumphs and its flops, but which has officers recently requiring headquarters approval before consenting to interviews with the likes of me.
The recent peek behind the curtains of this bureaucracy has been both depressing and exciting. So they are paying attention after all.
They should be paying attention, but I'm not looking forward to having to include more politicians and bureaucrats in my rounds of the ever-expanding, multi-dimensional universe (or universes).
I'll do it, but, lacking the gene for street smarts, I fear being played like a two-bit banjo.
I'm even happy to go star-gazing with Dick Cheney, if duty so calls, but only if he agrees to disarm
and I can wear a helmet.

I loved going to the planeterium as a child, one of the programs showed (what they imagined to be) the solor system's birth to death. The idea that it would all die out wasn't so much frightening as incomprehensible to me.I also remember being in church and finding it so hard to contemplate a never-ending eternity (like a ring that has no beginning and no end.) It hurt my brain and i was left in the void not being able to contemplate either ending or not-ending.Luckily it looks like i'll have 7.59 years to work it out...
In the end, there won’t even be fragments.