Most people are at least vaguely familiar with the early history of modern digital computers, particularly their importance in breaking the Nazi Enigma codes during WWII. Less familiar is the computing machines that preceded them.
In response to the need for more and faster computation, researchers developed a series of analog computers that did the job but were complicated and difficult to maintain. Inspired by (and in some cases actually using) the switches used to connect telephone calls, digital computers using relays were developed that used base 2 arithmetic. As useful as they were these relay computers would end up mostly being forgotten, replaced by machines based on vacuum tubes.
The Democrats have a litany of reasons why Clinton lost: Russia, poor whites, Bernie Sanders, etc. In truth, Clinton’s 2016 campaign failed for most of the same reasons her 2008 campaign did: a disorganized staff struggled to define a clear and persuasive message for their unexciting establishment candidate.
Instead of looking at the factors that caused Clinton to lose the nomination to Obama and addressing them, her campaign simply repeated everything. To no one’s surprise (but their’s, apparently) the results were the same.
Lock 54 on the original Erie Canal was sometimes called the Berlin lock for the nearest settlement, now called Lock Berlin. It’s east of Lyons, NY and west of Clyde, along Rt. 31. It was enlarged twice, with the final work being completed just before the Civil War. It was subsequently abandoned when the canal was rerouted in the early 20th century. A short section of the canal was left in place and thanks to the recent snow and rain it’s pretty much as full as it would have been when in use. The gates have long been gone but the photos below represent a view similar to what you would have seen when it was in use.
Out of the chaos of World War II came the greatest economic boom the world has ever seen. Fueled by a rapidly modernizing workforce, productivity increased in the years between 1948 and 1973. Then war in the Middle East and the oil embargo put a stop the boom and the productivity increase.
But it wasn’t just the oil crisis. The improvements in education, the transfer of workers into manufacturing and the move of women into the workforce had all peaked. Despite minor blips here and there the sad fact is productivity has not significantly increased since 1973, there’s simply no more improvement to be gained.
Countries that elected left-leaning governments tried electing right-leaning governments in hope of changing things. It didn’t work. The old ways simply don’t work and no knows what will. Keep this in mind as the year progresses.
Lancaster, Ohio was once held up as a shining example of what a small American city should be. Even in the 60s and 70s it kept going when other cities saw their industries shutter. But then the Reagan years began and private-equity financiers got involved. Soon Anchor Hocking, the local glass company that had mostly escaped the forces that created the Rust Belt, was awash in debt as those financiers used it to give themselves enormous paybacks. Today Anchor Hocking is a ghost of its former self, Lancaster is full of poverty and drug use and those who profited from all of it are very far away.
Despite all this, almost two-thirds of Lancaster voted for you-know-who in the election.
Back in 2013 I had the chance to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC. I took the opportunity to highlight the parts of the memorial that were associated with my dad’s service in the Navy.
They have a kiosk where you can look up someone’s service information. My dad entered his own.
He served in the Pacific Theater for most of the war.
Guadalcanal was the battle that resulted in his ship, USS Wasp CV-7, being sunk. He was one of many who survived.
Thanks to the efforts of the Navy, Marines and our allies we achieved a hard-fought victory. This memorial assures that they are not forgotten.
Today I visited one of the more overlooked parts of the Genesee River, the Lower Falls. It’s not quite as scenic (or as high) as High Falls and gets far fewer visitors. Unlike High Falls, however, it’s still an active hydroelectric site under the control of RG&E. Among other things it was once home to a small settlement, with a mill and other buildings that exist now only in bits and pieces.
Next to the Lower Falls site, is Maplewood Park. The park boundaries have been changed over the years, likely because of proximity to the steep cliffs of the river gorge. This structure was abandoned and placed well behind a fence. Nevertheless it gets lots of visits. I would have been one of them but I didn’t have the proper gear with me and thought it best to visit another day.
When I first encountered what we now call the Internet, it was called NSFnet and was run by the National Science Foundation (although references to the ARPAnet still abounded). Finding information or any kind of file was difficult at best unless you already knew where it was stored. My grad school was connected, as were most universities, but we didn’t have DNS set up so you actually had to use IP numbers to specify hosts to connect to. It was the opposite of user-friendly.
By 1992 the governing committee of the Internet realized it needed a better way to connect this growing network to its users. Among the contenders was the Gopher protocol that was created by programmers at the University of Minnesota.
Gopher did very, very well for a while, greatly exceeding Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web, one of the others proposed. Then the University decided to charge users to use Gopher. The rest is, as they say, history.