Monday, September 11, 2023


9/11 2001

No man is an island
Entire of itself. 

Each is a piece of the continent 
A part of the main. 

If a clod be washed away by the sea Europe is the less. 
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.

Each man's death diminishes me 
For I am involved in mankind. 

Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls...
It tolls for thee. 

John Donne, 1624

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Declaration of Independence, 1776

Gadsden flag.svg

The Gadsden Flag, 1775

The United States of America
a democratic republic

now & forever 


Tuesday, August 22, 2023




This year's Meta Connect is now scheduled for September 27, 2023.

Meta Connect will have the latest news about Meta's Metaverse.  News may include information about QUEST 3, and possible "pro" versions of their headset.

They will also probably announce new applications and games, and promote Horizon Worlds and Horizon Workrooms. Horizon Worlds may get an update to their (currently underwhelming) tools for building Worlds.

It would not be surprising if there is a lot more information about Meta's work in AI.  They have been announcing important research results regularly, and have been positive about "open source" AI.

FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google) has now given way to a new shorthand: "The Magnificent Seven, (TM7)" (Meta, Amazon, Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Tesla, Nvidia -- Facebook is now Meta, Google is now Alphabet, Add Microsoft, Tesla and Nvidia, subtract Netflix) which now comprises the darling movers of the market.  The total capitalization of TM7 is (as of today, according to Bard)   about $10.5 Trillion Dollars. Meta is about $580 Billion. At its peak, a few weeks ago, TM7 had a market cap of more than $13 Trillion Dollars.

The conference may be accessed virtually.  It usually contains a keynote, a technical keynote, specific topic sessions, and a live talk by Carmack. (Carmack is no longer as active at Meta, and it would be a surprise if he is there again this year.)

In past years it has been possible to watch the keynote in the Quest 2, in Horizon Worlds. Disappointingly, that was mostly just a 2D screen in a (3D Virtual) theater, and it was easier to watch on a 2D computer screen.  It would be great if Meta created a full 3D 360 experience for the keynote, and for sessions dealing with games and other inherently 3D topics.

For more information:


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Saturday, August 05, 2023




There are hints that the iPhone 15 will be announced on Sep 13, 2023, available for preorder on Sep 15, and available a week later.

There have been hints that the iPhone 15 would have dual cameras to enable 3D photos & videos. Other hints suggest 3D may be delayed to an iPhone 16, to wait to evaluate the response to the new Apple Vision Pro (AVP).

It should be noted that with AI it is now possible to
  • take a 2D photo or video,
  • create a depth-map,
  • extrude the 2D+depth-map,
  • recapture that in a 3D camera in an editor like DaVinci,
  • and get a 3D photo or video from a 2D source (without a physical 3D camera).
Apple's Lidar could even create the depth map itself, without AI. Currently each step described above is separate, but with an API this could be automated. -- Nevertheless, personally, I still believe a good (real) 3D camera is a better way -- for now.

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Friday, June 23, 2023




Apple has now released the SDK for VisionOS, the operating system for the Apple Vision Pro (AVP), the new XR headset from Apple that was announced at WWDC and will be available next year.

The AVC is priced at about $3,500.   Apple's reveals, and other reports, suggest the headset is more advanced in its technology than any other headset yet -- that actually exists. (Other companies have at least 6 months to catch up!) 

The demonstrations and videos from WWDC (still online!) also suggest, however, that the current software ecosystem for the AVP is not well advanced, but that Apple has a very ambitious, and well thought out plan, for the future. They are courting developers!

The headset, appropriately named "Pro" is clearly intended for developers at this point, and not for consumers. It does not matter how many they sell in the mass market; the important metric is how many developers take it seriously.

Here is the link to more development information from Apple:

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Monday, May 01, 2023




"DIPLOMAT" - starring and Executive Produced by Keri Russell is a terrific new series on Netflix.

Keri Russell
At the 2007 Hampton's International Film Festival, with "August Rush"
Photo by Eric Roffman

The story is interesting and exciting, surprising and well crafted, the acting by Keri Russell and everyone in the cast is excellent, the script, especially the episodes written by the Creator, Show Runner, and Executive Producer, Debora Cahn, are sophisticated, witty, and fast moving.

Keri, as Kate Wyler, is the new Ambassador to the UK, an out-of-water post for a speech-hating, gown-aversive, protocol-suspicious, war-wise operative, struggling with a troubled marriage, and on a short list to replace the current Vice President. She is suddenly in the middle of an international crisis with a global nuclear war looming if she, or the US, or the UK, or France, or Russia, or, well, anybody, gets it wrong.

I strongly recommend the series! Season Two was just greenlit today, and I'll be waiting eagerly.

Ever since August Rush (missed Disney and Felicity), we've been following Keri.  

In the Americans, she pulled off the remarkable feat of making a cold blooded, Russian, anti-American assassin and spy, not just believable, but simultaneously sympathetic. You rooted for her safety at the same time as you despised her treachery.

At the time, I said she'd be the perfect Lady Macbeth.

In Burn This, she was excellent on stage. And having now seen Diplomat, I continue to hope she'll take a summer off and do the Scottish Play in some summer theater!

Here are some of our stories on Keri Russell's projects:

BURN THIS - 2019

THE AMERICANS - 2015 & 2014


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Friday, March 31, 2023



"Fallen Leader: A Cautionary Tale"

In a land where the stars and stripes unfurled, An exPotus, a man who once led the world, Caused chaos and strife with words as his sword, A tale of a leader who ignored the accord.

He incited a riot with fiery speech, Led people to storm, to break and to breach, A leader, they thought, who would fight for their cause, But in the end, it revealed all his flaws.

A porn star he paid, a scandal unveiled, To silence her story, so it would be curtailed, The hush money flowed, but the truth always finds, A way to emerge and expose these binds.

Indicted he was, as the courts stepped in, To reveal the transgressions, the lies and the sin, His power diminished, his legacy stained, For consequences must follow when rules are disdained.

Classified documents he refused to return, Breaking trust and the protocols that govern and churn, Security at risk, he disregarded the cost, For his own selfish reasons, the lines he had crossed.

A cautionary tale of power and pride, Of a leader who faltered and pushed truth aside, Let us learn from the past, and vow to do right, To uplift and unite, not to fracture and fight.


Write a rhyme about an exPotus who incited a riot, who paid off a porn star and was indicted and who refused to return classified documents

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Wednesday, March 22, 2023




One possible solution (at least part of a solution) for compensating creators of the content used in Generative AI systems, would be a Consortium, sort of what is done for music by ASCAP, that would moderate the passage of content from creators to AI collections, and payments in the other direction.

Among the dangers of the present lack of a system is endless litigation over IP rights and value; and the threat that distributing content without compensating creators will destroy the entire ecosystem of new content creation.

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Having de-existified gays, transgenders, books in schools, and women who need a life-saving abortion, RINO's like DeSantis are taking aim at Climate Change, (crop freezes and global warming) by limiting weather thermometers to temps between 40 and 85 degrees.

(Fortunately, so far, the report of a weather thermometer restriction to eliminate frosts and heat waves by arresting thermometers, remains a joke.).

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Monday, February 06, 2023




In response to some questions inspired by the recent Chinese Weather/Spy balloon incident, ChatGPT had some responses that are worth noting (about ChatGPT itself, unrelated to the actual balloon incident).

First, in doing some algebra it made a very basic error. This calls into question using Chat GPT for math. At the very least, as in public school arithmetic tests, you must ask GPT to "show your work." so it can be checked. (One more piece of evidence that "black box" answers from AI can be risky.)

Also, when the error was pointed out to ChatCPT, it very politely apologized. It did not, however, perform or show a re-calculation of the answer.

It is very interesting that, from the prompt, it went back to its answer, checked that, confirmed it had made an error, showed the correct algebraic expression, and apologized.  It has self-knowledge.

Second, when information was missing / false in a prompt, ChatGPT  made assumptions about what was meant. Sometimes ("black box warning" again) it may not be explicit or correct about its assumptions. In this case, it explicitly corrected the error, very politely.

Third, although not shown here, because it was a tedious process, I began with a simple question that required a multistep calculation.  ChatGPT at each step explained in words how to do the calculation, but needed one or more separate prompts to get it to actually do the calculation for that step.

Fourth, (FYI), I also tried Wolfram Alpha. Because it does not sustain a multi-step conversation as well as ChatGPT, and other limitations, getting the answer from Wolfram Alpha would have been much more cumbersome, requiring separate queries for each part of this kind of "research".

Below, prompts and responses related to the "errors" are flagged in red.



does a helium balloon at the ground support the same weight as the same balloon at 60000 feet?

No, the weight supported by a helium balloon at the ground will not be the same as the weight supported by the same balloon at 60000 feet. At high altitudes, the atmospheric pressure is lower, which means that the balloon will have to work harder to support the same weight, due to the decrease in lifting force. This means that the weight supported by the balloon will be less at 60000 feet than at the ground.

if the balloon has a non-rigid shell, so it expands as it rises, so it displaces more air, will it still support less weight, or will the expanding radius compensate for the thinner air?

The weight supported by a non-rigid balloon that expands as it rises will depend on a number of factors, including the balloon's initial volume, the rate at which it expands, the material of which it is made, and the ambient temperature and pressure.

In general, as a balloon rises and the atmospheric pressure decreases, the balloon will tend to expand and its lifting capacity will increase. However, the expansion of the balloon will also increase the amount of air it displaces, which will generate additional drag. The net effect of these two opposing forces on the balloon's lifting capacity will depend on the specific circumstances, and it may not be possible to say definitively whether the balloon will support more or less weight at higher altitudes.

1- Using average temperature, pressure, and composition of air at 60000 feet, and 2 - average composition of air at ground level with a temperature of 15 Centigrade and normal summer air pressure, what is the weight of a 100 foot radius sphere of air in kg and pounds.

The weight of a 100 foot radius sphere of air can be calculated using the ideal gas law:

PV = nRT

where P is the pressure, V is the volume, n is the number of moles of gas, R is the gas constant, and T is the temperature in kelvins.

At sea level, with a temperature of 15 °C and an average atmospheric pressure of 1013 hPa, the volume of a 100 foot radius sphere would be approximately 7,068,393.14 cubic feet.

At 60000 feet, the average atmospheric pressure is approximately 26.5 hPa, and the average temperature is approximately -56.5 °C. Plugging these values into the ideal gas law gives us a volume of approximately 7,068,809.91 cubic feet for a 100 foot radius sphere of air at this altitude.

To convert the volume of air to weight, we need to multiply the number of moles of air by its molecular weight (approximately 28.97 g/mol). This gives us an estimated weight of approximately 2,062,475.53 kg or 4,556,065.05 pounds for a 100 foot radius sphere of air at sea level, and an estimated weight of approximately 2,062,688.13 kg or 4,556,499.67 pounds for a 100 foot radius sphere of air at 60000 feet.

It's important to note that these calculations are based on ideal conditions and theoretical assumptions, and in practice, the weight of a sphere of air may vary due to changes in atmospheric conditions, local weather patterns, and other factors.

Again, using the same values, and assuming ideal conditions, if a round balloon has a radius of 100 feet at an altitude of 60,000 feet. what would the radius of the balloon be at ground level if the outside is completely flexible and adjusts to the different air pressure. What would the weight of that sphere be in pounds and kg?

If a round balloon has a radius of 100 feet at an altitude of 60000 feet and its outside is completely flexible and adjusts to the different air pressure, its volume would increase as it descends to ground level. Using the ideal gas law, we can calculate the new volume and radius of the balloon.

At sea level, with a temperature of 15 °C and an average atmospheric pressure of 1013 hPa, the pressure inside the balloon would be approximately 26.5 hPa. Using the ideal gas law, we can calculate the new volume of the balloon:

V2 = V1 * (P2/P1) * (T2/T1)

where V1 is the volume of the balloon at 60000 feet, V2 is the volume of the balloon at sea level, P1 is the pressure at 60000 feet, P2 is the pressure at sea level, and T1 and T2 are the temperatures at 60000 feet and sea level, respectively.

Solving for the new volume, we find that the volume of the balloon at sea level would be approximately 21,206,429.74 cubic feet. To find the new radius, we can use the equation for the volume of a sphere:

V = (4/3) * π * r^3

Solving for r, we find that the radius of the balloon at sea level would be approximately 114.57 feet.

To find the weight of the sphere of air at sea level, we need to multiply the number of moles of air by its molecular weight (approximately 28.97 g/mol), giving us an estimated weight of approximately 6,187,426.59 kg or 13,639,981.08 pounds.

It's important to note that these calculations are based on ideal conditions and theoretical assumptions, and in practice, the weight of the sphere of air may vary due to changes in atmospheric conditions, local weather patterns, and other factors.

since PV = nKT and V1 = nKT1/P1 and V2 = nKT2/P2 isn't V2 = V1 * (P1/P2) * (T2/T1) which is different from your formula: you wrote V2 = V1 * (P2/P1) * (T2/T1)

You're correct, I apologize for the mistake in my previous answer. The correct formula for the volume of a gas at a new pressure and temperature is indeed:

V2 = V1 * (P1/P2) * (T2/T1)

where V1 is the initial volume, V2 is the final volume, P1 is the initial pressure, P2 is the final pressure, T1 is the initial temperature, and T2 is the final temperature.

Thank you for pointing out the error, and I hope this clarifies any confusion.



Using the approximation that air is 19 % Oxygen, 78% Helium and 3% carbon dioxide, what is the average molar mass of the air

The average molar mass of air can be calculated by finding the molar masses of each of the components and then averaging them based on their volume or mole fraction.

The molar masses of each of the components are:

  • Oxygen (O2) = 32 g/mol
  • Nitrogen (N2) = 28 g/mol (assumed to make up the majority of the remaining volume, though it's not specified in the approximation given)
  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2) = 44 g/mol

The mole fraction of each component can be found from the volume fraction, which is given as 19% O2, 78% N2, and 3% CO2.

The average molar mass can then be calculated as follows:

Average molar mass = (19/100 * 32 g/mol) + (78/100 * 28 g/mol) + (3/100 * 44 g/mol) Average molar mass = approximately 28.9 g/mol

So, the average molar mass of air in this approximation is approximately 28.9 g/mol.


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Tuesday, January 24, 2023




As the Fed has increased its rates, Credit Cards have generally followed suit, raising their interest rates.


Credit cards that were once reasonable, may now charge rates of 20% and more.  If you have been late just once, your credit card rate can go to 30% and more.  That means in about 3 years you pay as much interest as the amount of the original balance! 1! 2! 3! That is absurd.

If you pay your bill in full each month, there should be no interest on the amounts you charge during the next month.  Be sure to check that!

Some credit cards are now offering loans on your available credit at a much lower rate than the usual, regular credit card interest.  CHECK THE FINE PRINT!  But it might make more sense to buy a $10,000 item, say, on an 8% loan, than on an 18% credit card, and it might be billed the same way !?!?!

Terms, rules, and rates on these loans and credit cards vary dramatically, and often change, so research before you take a new card (if you can figure it out from the fine print in the loan agreement), and check the interest disclosure on the monthly statement every month if you have a card already.  It can help to have more than one card: use the card with the least current interest.

In some cases, your credit rating may improve if your average usage of available credit goes down. So, contrary to what you might expect, taking out a new credit card and spreading (the same level of) expenses over more cards, can sometimes improve your credit, by increasing your available credit while not using more of it.

Charges keep changing. Research and awareness are important to manage them! The ideas here are just a few suggestions of issues to consider.

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Tuesday, January 03, 2023




Update> Feb 6, 2023 >>  Defaulting on the debt would be terrible for the US. Caving in to budget reductions to pass the debt bill would be terrible for the US.

If there are just a few Old Republicans left in the House of Representatives, they should unite with the 212 Democrats to pass the debt bill. Better, if they join the Democrats that voted for Jeffries as Speaker of the House, form a coalition in the House, and create a moderate, pro-democratic, pro-republican, pro-American leadership for a coalition Speaker of the House, we can create a Congress capable of passing the laws that will help the US and Americans prosper.

Jan 3, 2023

The United States does not have a two-party government. There are currently at least three parties in government:

(1) the Mainstream Democrats, led by President Biden; 

(2) the very conservative, right-wing Republicans, led by Kevin McCarthy; and 

(3) the Extreme Right,  anarchist, anti-democratic, anti-republican faction represented by GOP characteristics (Greed, Obstruction, Prejudice), currently opposing McCarthy in the vote for Speaker of the House.


There are several other parties in the US.  There are the independent and progressive Democrats, who have been supporting Biden to pass moderately progressive legislation.  There are the conservative Democrats, who have also been supporting Biden so that moderately progressive legislation could pass.  There is also the "Old Republican Party", that believes in a republic and democracy. They are mostly business (including international business) friendly, socially conservative, and supportive of the military. They are currently not a strong force in the current “Republican” party.


In addition to specific parties, there are also interest groups for every demographic, and every geography. The interests of the coastal states tend to be more international, more technical, and more social welfare supportive than the interior and southern states.


Many democratic countries have coalition governments. For much of US history, there have been coalitions which grouped themselves into two "Party"s .  Sometimes a Party would split, creating a year or a few years with a significant minor Party.

The "Republicans" are having trouble managing to create a working Party coalition. They could split into two Parties.

Right now, to create a House of Representatives that can function to support the needs of America, the Old Republicans should form a coalition with the Democrats to elect a Speaker of the House.

If there are six or more Old Republicans left in the House of Representatives, they should unite with the 212 Democrats that voted for Jeffries as Speaker of the House, to form a coalition in the House and create a moderate, pro-democratic, pro-republican, pro-American leadership for  a coalition Speaker of the House. 

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