Friday, December 9, 2016

Hoover, Herbert. American Individualism. Introduction by George H. Nash. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, [1922] 2016. ISBN 978-0-8179-2015-9. After the end of World War I, Herbert Hoover and the American Relief Administration he headed provided food aid to the devastated nations of Central Europe, saving millions from famine. Upon returning to the United States in the fall of 1919, he was dismayed by what he perceived to be an inoculation of the diseases of socialism, autocracy, and other forms of collectivism, whose pernicious consequences he had observed first-hand in Europe and in the peace conference after the end of the...

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Kurlansky, Mark. Paper. New York: W. W. Norton, 2016. ISBN 978-0-393-23961-4. One of the things that makes us human is our use of extrasomatic memory: we invent ways to store and retrieve things outside our own brains. It's as if when the evolutionary drive which caused the brains of our ancestors to grow over time reached its limit, due to the physical constraints of the birth canal, we applied the cleverness of our bulging brains to figure out not only how to record things for ourselves, but to pass them on to other individuals and transmit them through time to...

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Friday, December 2, 2016

I have posted an update to my trigonometry-intense floating point benchmark which adds Swift to the list of languages in which the benchmark is implemented. A new release of the benchmark collection including Swift is now available for downloading. Swift is a general purpose programming language developed by Apple for application programming on all of their platforms (macOS, iOS, tvOS, and watchOS). In addition, Swift has been ported to Linux, and is now developed as an open source project. Swift is intended as a successor to Objective-C as the main development language for Apple systems. Swift is intended to clean...

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Monday, November 28, 2016

I have posted an update to my trigonometry-intense floating point benchmark which adds Wolfram's Mathematica (or, if you like, “Wolfram Language”) to the list of languages in which the benchmark is implemented. A new release of the benchmark collection including Mathematica is now available for downloading. The relative performance of the various language implementations (with C taken as 1) is as follows. All language implementations of the benchmark listed below produced identical results to the last (11th) decimal place. Language Relative Time Details C 1 GCC 3.2.3 -O3, Linux Visual Basic .NET 0.866 All optimisations, Windows XP FORTRAN 1.008 GNU...

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Hertling, William. The Last Firewall. Portland, OR: Liquididea Press, 2013. ISBN 978-0-9847557-6-9. This is the third volume in the author's Singularity Series which began with Avogadro Corp. (March 2014) and continued with A.I. Apocalypse (April 2015). Each novel in the series is set ten years after the one before, so this novel takes place in 2035. The previous novel chronicled the AI war of 2025, whose aftermath the public calls the “Year of No Internet.” A rogue computer virus, created by Leon Tsarev, under threat of death, propagated onto most of the connected devices in the world, including embedded systems, and, with...

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Cashill, Jack. TWA 800. Washington: Regnery History, 2016. ISBN 978-1-62157-471-2. On the evening of July 17th, 1996, TWA Flight 800, a Boeing 747 bound from New York to Paris, exploded 12 minutes after takeoff, its debris falling into the Atlantic Ocean. There were no survivors: all 230 passengers and crew died. The disaster happened in perfect weather, and there were hundreds of witnesses who observed from land, sea, and air. There was no distress call from the airliner before its transponder signal dropped out; whatever happened appeared to be near-instantaneous. Passenger airliners are not known for spontaneously exploding en route:...

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Thor, Brad. Foreign Agent. New York: Atria Books, 2016. ISBN 978-1-4767-8935-4. This is the sixteenth in the author's Scot Harvath series, which began with The Lions of Lucerne (October 2010). After the momentous events chronicled in Code of Conduct (July 2015) (which figure only very peripherally in this volume), Scot Harvath continues his work as a private operator for the Carlton Group, developing information and carrying out operations mostly against the moment's top-ranked existential threat to the imperium on the Potomac, ISIS. When a CIA base in Iraq is ambushed by a jihadi assault team, producing another coup for the ISIS social...

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Gilder, George. The Scandal of Money. Washington: Regnery Publishing, 2016. ISBN 978-1-62157-575-7. There is something seriously wrong with the global economy and the financial system upon which it is founded. The nature of the problem may not be apparent to the average person (and indeed, many so-called “experts” fail to grasp what is going on), but the symptoms are obvious. Real (after inflation) income for the majority of working people has stagnated for decades. The economy is built upon a pyramid of debt: sovereign (government), corporate, and personal, which nobody really believes is ever going to be repaid. The young,...

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Some of the floors and the walls of one bathroom at Fourmilab are tiled with Jura beige limestone. This is a natural stone, typically with a beige/tan/light yellow colour, available in a variety of finishes, from rough to polished. The stone at Fourmilab is of the rough variety. The stone has texture and colour that varies within tiles and from tile to tile: if you're looking for consistency, look elsewhere. There are all kinds of details in the stone, including pseudofossils such as dendritic fractal mineral inclusions like the one below. While this looks like a fern or similar plant,...

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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Osborn, Stephanie. Burnout. Kingsport, TN: Twilight Times Books, 2009. ISBN 978-1-606192-00-9. At the conclusion of its STS-281 mission, during re-entry across the southern U.S. toward a landing at Kennedy Space Center, space shuttle orbiter Atlantis breaks up. Debris falls in the Gulf of Mexico. There are no survivors. Prior to the disaster Mission Control received no telemetry or communications from the crew indicating any kind of problem. Determination of the probable cause will have to await reconstruction of the orbiter from the recovered debris and analysis of the on-board flight operations recorder if and when it is recovered. Astronaut Emmett...

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Byrne, Gary J. and Grant M. Schmidt. Crisis of Character. New York: Center Street, 2016. ISBN 978-1-4555-6887-1. After a four year enlistment in the U.S. Air Force during which he served in the Air Force Security Police in assignments domestic and abroad, then subsequent employment on the production line at a Boeing plant in Pennsylvania, Gary Byrne applied to join the U.S. Secret Service Uniformed Division (SSUD). Unlike the plainclothes agents who protect senior minions of the state and the gumshoes who pursue those who print worthless paper money while not employed by the government, the uniformed division provides police-like...

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Monday, October 31, 2016

Casey, Doug and John Hunt. Speculator. Charlottesville, VA: HighGround Books, 2016. ISBN 978-1-63158-047-5. Doug Casey has been a leading voice for sound money, individual liberty, and rolling back coercive and intrusive government since the 1970s. Unlike some more utopian advocates of free markets and free people, Casey has always taken a thoroughly pragmatic approach in his recommendations. If governments are bent on debasing their paper money, how can individual investors protect themselves from erosion of their hard-earned assets and, ideally, profit from the situation? If governments are intent on reducing their citizens to serfdom, how can those who see what...

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Brennan, Gerald. Zero Phase. Chicago: Tortoise Books, [2013, 2015]. ISBN 978-0-9860922-2-0. On April 14, 1970, while Apollo 13 was en route to the Moon, around 56 hours after launch and at a distance of 321,860 km from Earth, a liquid oxygen tank in the service module exploded during a routine stir of its cryogenic contents. The explosion did severe damage to the service module bay in which the tank was installed, most critically to the other oxygen tank, which quickly vented its contents into space. Deprived of oxygen reactant, all three fuel cells, which provided electrical power and water to...

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Salisbury, Harrison E. The 900 Days. New York: Da Capo Press, [1969, 1985] 2003. ISBN 978-0-306-81298-9. On June 22, 1941, Nazi Germany, without provocation or warning, violated its non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union and invaded from the west. The German invasion force was divided into three army groups. Army Group North, commanded by Field Marshal Ritter von Leeb, was charged with advancing through and securing the Baltic states, then proceeding to take or destroy the city of Leningrad. Army Group Centre was to invade Byelorussia and take Smolensk, then advance to Moscow. After Army Group North had reduced Leningrad,...

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Wilson, Cody. Come and Take It. New York: Gallery Books, 2016. ISBN 978-1-4767-7826-6. Cody Wilson is the founder of Defense Distributed, best known for producing the Liberator single-shot pistol, which can be produced largely by additive manufacturing (“3D printing”) from polymer material. The culmination of the Wiki Weapon project, the Liberator, whose plans were freely released on the Internet, demonstrated that antiquated organs of the state who thought they could control the dissemination of simple objects and abridge the inborn right of human beings to defend themselves has been, like so many other institutions dating from the era of railroad-era...

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