Pseudorandom Bits

A backwater in the vast ocean of thought

  • Pseudorandom?

    The Web is made of bits. Here are some of my bits, added to those other bits. Bits of information, bits of my thoughts, bits of others' thoughts. Maybe they seem a bit random, but, who knows?

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Archive for March 15th, 2008

Go for the record?

Posted by Mike on March 15, 2008

As of March 6, 2008, Cedar Rapids is in its third snowiest winter at 59.1″.

The  snowiest was 1959-1960 at 62.4″.

Three-quarters of an inch and we’ll be in second place.  I say, go for the gold and get it over with! Global Climate Change (ha-ha) is to blame; either that or George W. Bush!

Typically, March has some good snow falls, though the recent days indicate that Spring may still arrive.

Try remembering all this in late July and August.

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Tired of Snow?

Posted by Mike on March 15, 2008

With the recent warmer days, it can be hard to remember the very cold and snowy days just passed.

Here are two cartoons for your enjoyment.

Who’s tired of snow?

At least…

Are your memories of the winter fading fast? Time to read a story of polar explorations…

Mawson’s Will: The Greatest Survival Story Ever Written, by Lennard Bickel. I’m suspicious of titles with “greatest ever” and the like, but this one could be. If Hollywood wrote the story, it would be dismissed as hokey. Unbelievable.

The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition, by Caroline Alexander. They just keep going and going… They also made one of the world’s all-time most difficult boat trips.

Four against the Arctic, by David Roberts. Six years stranded on an arctic island after your ship unexpectedly disappears while you’re on a short excursion. What do you do with the few items you have in your possession? (Skip the small section where the author meets 2 drunks in Russia while doing research;  contains profanity.)

These and many other accounts of great explorations await you.  Investigate Robert Scott, Roald Amundson, the Franklin Expedition, USS Polaris (not the submarine), Richard Byrd, Captain Cook (who once held the record for the highest northerly and southerly journeys), and many more not-so-well-known explorers.

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Franchise

Posted by Mike on March 15, 2008

Franchise” is a short story by Isaac Asimov. This is an appropriate short story for this year, even though it was published in 1955.

From the Wiki site: The story centers around Norman Muller, the man chosen as “Voter of the Year” in 2008. At first he is not sure he wants the responsibility of representing the entire electorate, worrying that the result will be unfavorable and he will be blamed. However, after voting he is very proud that the citizens of the United States had, through him, “exercised once again their free, untrammeled franchise” – a statement that is somewhat ironic as the citizens didn’t actually get to vote.

Since the story takes place in 2008, and computers are involved in today’s election process in many ways (polls, voting, fund raising, [dis]information dissemination, mailing lists, web sites, and so on), and that we have an important presidential election on the horizon, I thought that this would be a good story to re-read, or read for the first time if you’ve never seen it.

How would you like to be Norman Muller? How would you look at your responsibility in such a situation? Do you think we would ever move toward such a system? You might imagine Fidel Castro saying, “Story? Fiction? This is almost how we do it in my country!”

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