Monday, May 28, 2012

Out on a limb

I was just going over the posts that are getting visited. One from 2009 is there. Why? Will try to find out, but its subject dealt with going out on a limb, as we see many people do. Either this risky behavior comes about through not knowing possible consequences or not caring about these if they are known. Of course, there are other possible reasons.

Aside: finance is supposed to not have that latter attitude, especially when dealing with other peoples' money. Yet, they very much did (we have not learned the lessons).


Anyway, SpaceX was successful in their first attempt which is remarkable and very much interesting to our discussions (so expect more on this). For this shot, there wasn't really a 'limb' per se, at least, not one as large as one might think. They had accomplished several test shots with the rocket and module. Also, a whole lot of thinking (and coordinated work) went into the attempt. The payload could have been lost without much sacrifice. Then, NASA made sure that they could approach the ISS in a controlled manner. Too, the final approach was to the point of being within grasp of the robot arm. Making an approach, under remote control, would have been problematic (we'll address these types of things under 7oops7). As well, the environment on the module was tested on earth, yet those boarding wore oxygen masks.


I have to admit; I wasn't paying attention to the SpaceX activity. I will henceforth. The last time I paid a little attention to NASA was last year when the shuttle program was stopped. Then, there was a lot of discussion about what was next, some of which I participated in having an interest in design and test.

That the future is being defined by private interests, with NASA's money in part, will be something to look at closely. Of course, a lot is being written about this stuff, from all sides. Yet, the theme is applicable to all of the blogs related to this one (7oops7 and Fedaerated).


In short, we'll look at differences between government (the common weal) and business (private ownership and profit) as they pertain to program decisions. SpaceX plans to have people on board within the next few years. One thing about NASA is that the engineering was very conservative (for one thing, a relaxation in a decision process along all types of axis would not be done). Also, ever seen by-gosh and by-golly instances, generally?


SpaceX, on a quick review, seems to have things in hand. We can congratulate them on their success in this case and then look to their future efforts. Of course, they are one of many companies who will be attracting attention. New world, indeed.


Government might be the big mama and worry overly about safety and a bunch of other things. We, as a society, usually don't put people into dire straits (wait! is that so?). Naturally, risk is always there; we cannot cut things to zero for anything complicated. Yet, there is the notion of cowboy that some engineers like to cast about (general comment, not particular to any one company) which likes to bask in the glory of risky behavior (and its rewards). Look. Is not that what the jerks on the Street argue all the time? No risk, no gain? Anyway, another thing that companies do is cut (ah, in many cases, to cut to the quick and to the point of in-effectiveness -- wait, it's inherent, anyway, that we'll have to work to be effective).

Sometimes, it comes down to the three bear story: just right for the situation. However, we do not have 20-20 vision looking forward, despite the fact that a lot of what we see is a re-play (to be explained, in due time). In fact, we do not have 20-20 in reverse, either.


The beauty offered by SpaceX's effort is that it deals with engineering. Nice (the original focus of 7oops7). Too, decisions related to business are going to come up again and again. Great (that to which 7oops7 morphed).


06/16/2012 -- The landing culminated a voyage that went without any big hiccups. Can't say beginner's luck as much thought and preparation went into the event. Yet, it was a first attempt (test, if you would). Modelling, by itself, is not sufficient to cover the bases. How much of a base needs to be covered is a thing to determine; it'll be larger when people are aboard. The thing was not pure private money, as NASA is bellying up. Now, let's consider whether a private company (other than non-profit) can carry out a mission for a long period of time without penny-pinching, or extorting, in order to fill the pockets of those who claim to be 'capitalists' (and so, on top of the evolutionary heap -- give me a break) needing their payback. Ah, so much to consider here. Again, congratulations to the teams involved for a job well done.

Modified: 06/16/2012

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Either / Or

Context: See Tru'eng anewfocus going forwardmathematics.


Of course, we'll have to give a nod (actually, many) to Kierkegaard's thinking on the subject. He has been mentioned before, this same context.

One has to wonder what Soren would think of the modern concept of memes. We'll look more closely at one way the idea has been used on the web (The Daily Meme -- it's nice to see the attention, some, of course, still criticize the notion).


First, though, here are a couple of posts that deal with the subject. Both of these are from the early part of 2012. Hitchens features, to boot.

  • It is or it is not -- One thing that attracted people about Hitch was the breadth of his grasp of what had been said (written) about these topics (over time and cultures). Of course, Hitch had his own twist and was able to reign (in the mix). As in, most had to be removed (or remove themselves) from his presence in order to regain their critical mindfulness (that is a story to tell). Essentially, the theme is choice. Some choices seem to be more 'smart' (whatever that is) than others; definitely, we're more aware now of the cultural influences. Not forgetting, mind you, the nature (genetic) part of things.
  • Blind or delusional -- How to know which is which? A stack of credentials and a large collection of accolades? Ah, is that so? Success by an accumulation of money (oh yes, we see that thing raise its head a lot)? Of course, we always can fall back to the 'proof of the pudding' argument. Which is? The eating (somewhat). Now, with this, we get down to an operational mode. One might say, arguing from effectiveness. Our problem is that money accrual seems to have taken on immense importance (it's easy to see why, folks, as we have always been lame at evaluating hot air - which money is, even with its purchase/power qualities). 

By the way, the attempts at evaluation are meme-based (we'll have to characterize this further).


The existence of 'truth engines' is a fact, both in a natural and a memetic sense. In the former, we hope that science can help us learn how this works so as to be put to use for the benefit of all (not the favored few). In terms of the later, all sorts of questions abound (just look at the criticisms of the use of memes -- understandable, I have talked how it allows a look at what is really metaphysical without seeming to do so). Yet, that the meme has properties that are amenable to our poking around (after all, we do 'read' them -- naturally, the metaphoric scheme has computational flavor -- as we process these things) needs to be addressed. We'll put some attention there.


06/25/2015 -- ACM Communications had an article (Created Computed Universe) that suggest that our computional prowess ought to lead to agnosticism rather than to anything else. Of course, my initial remark: So many modern minds conjure and contort in order to introduce what is not much different than what some knew many millennia ago in the desert.

01/05/2015 -- Renewal, see Context line.

11/03/2014 -- Related to this are questions like: is math created?

01/22/2013 -- The site referenced in a below Remark took down my comment about dreaming of Hitch (ah, can't believe that he's in heaven?). Yeah. So, here it is: Hitch (in one, he was scrunched in a public place (as if not wanting to recognize the new reality tht flowed around him), as I walked by him, he grabbed my notebook (as in EOJ material), and started to browse it; later, he and my college roommate visited me at my desk talking about a new school that they were involved in -- perhaps Hitch saw the peripatetic need, at the same time, Hitch sized me up, and I showed him the writing on the wall which is there for all to see, after they left, my whole work area went through some type of transformation, I had met several people there after they went to the wider expanse).

12/13/2012 -- Is it time to move beyond the Turing Test?

11/08/2012 -- Wonderful new blog: Engineering Memes.

08/04/2012 -- Nice look at either/or. We'll start to look at why 'decidable' is going to be an important concept. Nods to Turing.

06/20/2012 -- Yes, Hitch, and his new friend, again.

Modified: 06/25/2015