Saturday, April 30, 2011

Biomimetic Robot

A biologically inspired robot:

Biomimetic Robot

Robotic Lobster
Robotic Lobster

Robotic Entomophagous
Robotic Entomophagous



The examination of nature, its models, systems, processes, and elements to emulate or take inspiration from in order to solve human problems:

Biomimicry (or Biomimetics)

Note: There are other terms used to refer to Biomimicry; e.g., Bionics, Bio-Inspiration, and Biognosis.



A Taiwan-based manufacturer of smartphones which initially made smartphones based mostly on Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system software, but in 2009 it began to shift its core focus away from Windows Mobile devices to devices based on Android OS, and in 2010 to Windows Phone OS:




Windows Phone

A mobile operating system developed by Microsoft that is the successor to Microsoft's Windows Mobile platform:

Windows Phone

Windows Phone features a new user interface, based upon Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 design system, codenamed Metro. The home screen, called the "Start screen", is made up of "Live Tiles". Tiles are links to applications, features, functions and individual items (such as contacts, web pages, applications or media items). Users can add, rearrange, or remove Tiles. Tiles are dynamic and update in real time - for example, the tile for an email account would display the number of unread messages or a Tile could display a live update of the weather.

Several features of Windows Phone 7 are organized into "hubs", which combine local and online content via Windows Phone 7's integration with popular social networks such as Facebook and Windows Live. For example, the Pictures hub shows photos captured with the device's camera and the user's Facebook photo albums, and the People hub shows contacts aggregated from multiple sources including Windows Live, Facebook, and Gmail. From the Hub, users can directly comment and 'like' on social network updates. The other built-in hubs are Music and Video (which integrates with Zune), Games (which integrates with Xbox Live), Windows Phone Marketplace, and Microsoft Office.

Windows Phone 7 uses multi-touch technology. The default Windows Phone 7 user interface has a dark theme that prolongs battery life on OLED screens as fully black pixels don't emit light. The user may choose a light theme instead, and can also choose from several accent colors. User interface elements such as tiles are shown in the user's chosen accent color. Third-party applications can be automatically themed with these colors.

Users input text by using an on-screen virtual keyboard, which has a dedicated key for inserting emoticons, and features spell checking and word prediction. Users may change a word after it has been typed by tapping the word, which will invoke a list of similar words. Pressing and holding certain keys will reveal similar characters. The keys are somewhat larger and spaced farther apart when in landscape mode. Phones may also be made with a hardware keyboard for text input.

Windows Phone 7 features a version of Internet Explorer Mobile with a rendering engine that is "halfway between IE7 and IE8".

Internet Explorer on Windows Phone 7 allows the user to maintain a list of favorite web pages and tiles linking to web pages on the Start screen. The browser supports up to 6 tabs, which can all load in parallel. Other features include multi-touch gestures, a streamlined UI, smooth zoom in/out animations, the ability to save pictures that are on web pages, share web pages via email, and support for inline search which allows the user to search for a word or phrase in a web page by typing it. Microsoft has announced plans to regularly update the Windows Phone 7 web browser and its layout engine independently from the Windows Phone Update system.

In a demo, Microsoft said that users will be able to stream YouTube videos from the browser. Clicking on a video from the mobile YouTube website will launch the video in a standalone app and will also add the YouTube video to the Music + Video Hub.

A future version of Internet Explorer Mobile based on Internet Explorer 9 is also in development for the Windows Phone OS and includes better HTML, CSS and JavaScript standards support, as well as hardware acceleration.

Partnership with Nokia:

On 11 February 2011, at a press event in London, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Nokia CEO Stephen Elop announced a partnership between their companies in which Windows Phone would become the primary smartphone operating system for Nokia. The event was largely focused on creating “a new global mobile ecosystem”, suggesting competition with Android and iOS by saying "It is now a three horse race". Integration of Microsoft services with Nokia’s own services were announced specifically that Bing would power search across Nokia devices, and an integration of Nokia Maps with Bing Maps as well as Nokia’s application store being integrated with the Windows Phone Marketplace. The partnership involves "funds changing hands for royalties, marketing and ad-revenue sharing", which Microsoft later announced was, "measured in billions of dollars." [source:]



The fourth (latest) generation of cellular wireless standards, with peak data rates of up to approximately 100 Mbit/s for high mobility such as mobile access and up to approximately 1 Gbit/s for low mobility such as nomadic/local wireless access:


4G is the short name for fourth-generation wireless, the stage of broadband mobile communications that will supercede the third generation (3G).

Carriers that use orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) instead of time division multiple access (TDMA) or code division multiple access (CDMA) are increasingly marketing their services as being 4G, even when their data speeds are not as fast as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) specifies. According to the ITU, a 4G network requires a mobile device to be able to exchange data at 100 Mbit/sec. A 3G network, on the other hand, can offer data speeds as slow as 3.84 Mbit/sec.

From the consumer's point of view, 4G is more a marketing term than a technical specification, but carriers feel justified in using the 4G label because it lets the consumer know that he can expect significantly faster data speeds.

Although carriers still differ about whether to build 4G data networks using Long Term Evolution (LTE) or Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access WiMAX, all carriers seem to agree that OFDM is one of the chief indicators that a service can be legitimately marketed as being 4G. OFDM is a type of digital modulation in which a signal is split into several narrowband channels at different frequencies. This is more efficient than TDMA, which divides channels into time slots and has multiple users take turns transmitting bursts or CDMA, which simultaneously transmits multiple signals on the same channel.

When fully implemented, 4G is expected to enable pervasive computing, in which simultaneous connections to multiple high-speed networks will provide seamless handoffs throughout a geographical area. Coverage enhancement technologies such as femtocell and picocell are being developed to address the needs of mobile users in homes, public buildings and offices, which will free up network resources for mobile users who are roaming or who are in more remote service areas. [source:]


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Iran–Contra Affair

A political scandal in the United States, came to light in November 1986 during the Reagan administration; senior Reagan Administration officials secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran, the subject of an arms embargo with the hope that the arms sales would secure the release of American hostages being held by the Lebanese Shia Islamist group Hezbollah, and allow U.S. intelligence agencies to fund the Nicaraguan Contras:

Iran–Contra Affair

The scandal emerged when a Lebanese newspaper reported that the U.S. sold arms to Iran through Israel in exchange for the release of hostages by Hezbollah.


Iran Payment Found Diverted To Contras; Reagan Security Adviser And Aide Are Out


Washington, Nov. 25--President Reagan said today that he had not been in full control of his Administration's Iran policy, and the White House said that as a consequence up to $30 million intended to pay for American arms had been secretly diverted to rebel forces in Nicaragua.

At the same time, the President announced that two men he held responsible--Vice Adm. John M. Poindexter, the national security adviser, and Lieut. Col. Oliver L. North, a member of the admiral's staff--had left their posts.

With the Administration already in turmoil over the earlier disclosure of clandestine arms shipments to Iran, and with speculation rampant about a major overhaul of the White House staff, the President's statement seemed to deepen a sense of disarray. By all accounts, Mr. Reagan now faces the most serious crisis in his six-year Presidency.

Shultz to Control Policy

The State Department, meanwhile, said Secretary of State George P. Shultz had been given control over future Iran policy, authority that apparently met his condition for remaining in office. State Department officials, including Mr. Shultz, have said they were left in the dark on much of the Iran operation.

Mr. Reagan stunned legislators and ranking Administration officials by announcing in a televised session with reporters that he had not been "fully informed" of some details of the Iran operation and that Admiral Poindexter and Colonel North were leaving after "serious questions of propriety had been raised."

Inquiry Still Under Way

Mr. Reagan said that, "although not directly involved," Admiral Poindexter had "asked to be relieved of his assignment" and would return to Navy duties. Colonel North, the President said, "has been relieved of his duties on the National Security Council staff." Colonel North was widely reported to be the central figure in the Iran arms deal.

After Mr. Reagan's announcement, Attorney General Edwin Meese 3d said the Justice Department was still investigating how Nicaraguan rebel forces, known as contras, received "somewhere between $10 and $30 million" paid to "representatives of Israel" funneling the arms to Iran.

Israeli and American sources said today that a Saudi arms dealer played a central role in financing the Iranian purchase of arms transferred by Israel to Iran on behalf of the United States.

And in its first official comment of the Iran affair, the Israeli Government said it had transferred arms to Iran at the "request" of the United States and did not know that some payments for these weapons were channeled to the Nicaraguan rebels.

In San Jose, Costa Rica, and in Miami, spokesmen for the Nicaraguan rebel coalition said they knew nothing of secret transfers of funds to their organization arranged by Colonel North.

'Only Colonel North Knew'

"The only persons in the United States Government that knew precisely about this--the only person--was Lieutenant Colonel North," said Mr. Meese. "Admiral Poindexter did know that something of this nature was occurring, but he did not look into it further.

"C.I.A. Director Casey, Secretary of State Shultz, Secretary of Defense Weinberger, myself, the other members of the N.S.C. none of us knew.

"The President knew nothing about it until I reported it to him," Mr. Meese told reporters in the packed White House press room. "I alerted him yesterday morning."

Later the Attorney General said a third person aware of the diversion of funds was Robert C. McFarlane, former national security director and a central figure in the plan to send arms to Iran. Mr. Meese said Mr. McFarlane was aware of the scheme in "April or May of 1986 at a time when he was no longer in the Government."

Asked why Mr. McFarlane failed to say anything to Mr. Reagan, Mr. Meese replied, "I don't know."

No Comment Available

Mr. McFarlane was reported to be out of the country. At his home in nearby Bethesda, Md., his wife said he would have something to say on Wednesday. Admiral Poindexter and Colonel North were unavailable for comment.

Some members of Congress expressed disbelief at Mr. Meese's account. "Surely someone else had to be involved," said Representative Jim Wright of Texas, the Democratic leader.

Mr. Reagan said that he would name a commission to examine the role of the National Security Council staff, which directed the Iran operation, and that the Justice Department would undertake a full-scale investigation of how the money was handled to determine whether Federal crimes were committed in channeling money to the contras at a time when Congress had barred military aid to them.

Unanswered Questions

The Administration's account, admittedly incomplete while its investigation continued, left several questions unanswered, among them these:

Whose idea was it to use money from the sale of arms to help the contras and who authorized the Israelis to make the deposits?

How did the Israelis get $10 million to $30 million more than the arms were said to be worth? Or were the arms worth more than the reported $12 million?

Which Israelis handled the transactions and the deposits? Were they officials or private individuals?

Did other American officials know of this plan to aid the contras?

When did the Admiral Poindexter decide to resign and why? When did he first mention it to White House officials?

Among those mentioned as successors to Admiral Poindexter, Administration officials said, were Secretary of the Navy John F. Lehman Jr., Max M. Kampelman, chief United States arms negotiator at Geneva, former Senator John Tower of Texas, Brent Scowcroft, head of the National Security Council under President Ford, and Paul Laxalt, the retiring Nevada Republican Senator and a close friend of Mr. Reagan.

In the meantime, Alton G. Keel Jr., Admiral Poindexter's deputy and a longtime Government official, was named acting head of the National Security council. Mr. Meese said President Reagan would name a permanent director "as soon as possible."

Asked if Colonel North would be prosecuted, Mr. Meese replied, "We are presently looking into the legal aspects of it as to whether there's any criminality involved."

Mr. Meese answered with a quick "no" when asked if it would be appropriate to name a special prosecutor to examine the matter until the Justice Department completed its review.

Administration officials said Mr. Meese had questioned Colonel North in the Attorney General's office on Sunday. The day before, the Marine officer was questioned at length in his office by Justice Department lawyers, officials said.

Details of Transfer Unclear

Details of the way the funds were siphoned to the contras were not clear, but Mr. Meese said that with Colonel North's knowledge, $10 million to $30 million collected by Israeli middlemen for the military equipment was transferred to Swiss bank accounts set up by the rebels.

The funds "were just provided to the contras through this bank account and that was the end, so far as we know of anyone in the United States Government knowing anything about what happened."

By all indications, the Israelis overcharged for the arms and the additional money was placed in the back account of the contras. But it was left unclear if the plan to overcharge was made at the request of United States or Israeli officials.

Perhaps the clearest explanation of the arrangement came from Mr. Wright, the new House majority leader, who said that Mr. Meese had told Congressional leaders at a private briefing this morning that Israel and the Iranians had negotiated a price. The deal struck was greater than the cost to the United States Government.

Wright's Version of Flow of Funds

Mr. Wright described the transaction this way: The arms were sold by the Israelis to the Iranians for $19 million, after which the Central Intelligence Agency reimbursed the Defense Department for $3 million, covering its costs. Of the remaining $16 million, Mr. Wright said, about $12 million was placed in a Swiss bank account for the contras and Adolfo Calers, a contra leader, drew the money.

Mr. Meese said "this was all done during a period when the funding was not being provided by the Congress" for the contras.

Asked if there had been any violation of the law, he replied; "That's something we're looking at in the present time, because it depends on two things: Precisely what was done, and precisely who did it in terms of what people who are United States officials or United States citizens actually participated in and what their conduct was. That's what we're still looking at.

"We haven't had a chance to interview everyone."

Mr. Meese said the scheme to divert money to buy arms for the contras came to light last weekend during a Justice Department investigation of documents relating to the arms sale. He attributed the money transfer and the apparent breakdown of checks and balances to a system of "compartmentalized" information where "a lot of people did not know certain things that were going on that were being done by others."

Pressure on Reagan

Longtime supporters of President Reagan, convinced that he would resist appeals that he overhaul his staff to end the furor over dealing with Iran, began a campaign last week that resulted in the departure today of the two key foreign policy operatives, aides and other Reagan confidants said.

Those familiar with the effort said that it had come about out of near desperation on the part of some who believed that the Reagan Presidency was being seriously damaged by internal bickering and disarray.

Today Mr. Reagan, wearing a grim expression, told reporters in the White House press room that he had asked Mr. Meese last Friday for a "complete factual record with respect to the implementation of my policy toward Iran." The report Mr. Meese prepared, after extensively questioning Colonel North, led Mr. Reagan to conclude that he "was not fully informed of the nature of one of the activities undertaken in connection with this initiative."

"This action raises serious questions of propriety," Mr. Reagan said.

Mr. Meese said Israel paid the C.I.A.--the agent for the United States Government--about $12 million for the arms sent by the Defense Department. In turn, he said, the Israelis sold the arms to the Iranians at a far higher price, with the difference placed in the Swiss bank account for the contras.

"All of these transactions that I'm referring to took place between January 1986 and the present time," Mr. Meese said.

After how he discovered the actual transfer of funds, Mr. Meese replied:

"In the course of the review of documents, we came across a reference to the possibility of differences in amount between the funds being paid by Iran and the amount of the actual weapons--that was one thing.

"And secondly, there were some references to this in one particular document that we found. While it didn't reveal the whole situation, we then found that as the basis for proceeding further and discussing with one of the participants what this all meant and that how this got started."

Mr. Meese did not identify the document, but in a comment to reporters during the briefing, he said there had been a "thorough review of a number of intercepts." Intercepts is Justice Department jargon for the results of electronic eavesdropping, and the possibility was raised that the transcript might have included such eavesdropping.

Mr. Meese found that all United States funds and property "were accounted for."

Mr. Meese said the first United Sates-sanctioned arms shipment to Iran took place in 1985 without Mr. Reagan's knowledge and was approved by the President only after the fact. In all, there were at least three shipments of United States arms to Iran, he said.

Brief Appearance by Reagan

Mr. Reagan devoted less than four minutes this morning to his surprise disclosure, and he left Mr. Meese to take the questions.

Mr. Reagan, following his statement, refused to answer questions. He seemed tense, almost angry. Asked if anyone else in the Administration would be dismissed, he curtly replied: "No one was let go. They choose to go."

Mr. Reagan then walked briskly out of the briefing room.

source: Iran Payment Is Found Diverted to the Contras; Two Reagan Men Are Out,
The New York Times.



A label given to the various rebel groups opposing Nicaragua's Sandinista Junta of National Reconstruction government following the July 1979 overthrow of Anastasio Somoza Debayle's dictatorship:


Although the Contra movement included a number of separate groups, with different aims and little ideological unity, the Nicaraguan Democratic Force (FDN) emerged as by far the largest. In 1987, virtually all Contra organizations were united, at least nominally, into the Nicaraguan Resistance.

From an early stage, the rebels received both overt and covert financial and military support from the United States government through CIA, initially supplemented by the Argentine dictatorship of the time. At other times the US Congress wished to distance itself from the Contras and withdrew all overt support.

The term "Contra" comes from the Spanish contra, which means against but in this case is short for la contrarrevolucion, in English "the counter-revolution" (for more information see


Zyklon B

A pesticide infamous for its use by Nazi Germany to kill human beings in gas chambers of extermination camps during the Holocaust:

Zyklon B

Zyklon B is a cyanide-based poisonous gas which interferes with cellular respiration. Specifically, it prevents the cell from producing ATP by binding to the one of the proteins involved in the electron transport chain. This protein, cytochrome c oxidase, contains several subunits and has ligands containing iron groups. At one of these iron groups, heme a3, the cyanide component of Zyklon B can bind, forming a more stabilized compound through metal-to-ligand pi bonding. As a result of this new iron-cyanide complex, the electrons which would situate themselves on the heme a3 group can no longer do so. Instead, because of the new bond formed between the iron and the cyanide, these electrons would actually destabilize the compound (based on molecular orbital theory); thus, the heme group will no longer accept them. Consequently, electron transport is halted, and the cell can no longer produce the energy needed to synthesize ATP (source:


Ashkenazi Jews

The Jews descended from the medieval Jewish communities along the Rhine in Germany from Alsace in the south to the Rhineland in the north:

Ashkenazi Jews (also known as Ashkenazic Jews or Ashkenazim)

The following photo of a Jewish couple illustrates the apparent difference between an Ashkenazi (man) and a Jewish from Middle East, Central Asia and Caucasus (woman):

An Ashkenazi (man) and a Jewish from Middle East, Central Asia and Caucasus (woman)
(image source:



The areas of Germany along the middle and lower Rhine in Germany between Bingen and the Dutch border:


Rem: Rhine is one of the longest and most important rivers in Europe, at about 766 mi (1,233 km); it flows from Graubünden in the eastern Swiss Alps to the North Sea coast in the Netherlands.


Nazis March into the Rhineland

High above the town of Berchtesgaden in southeastern Bavaria, Adolf Hitler spent many hours in solitude at his mountain retreat with its magnificent views of the Alps and the valleys below. It was here that the Führer came to contemplate the future of Germany and to make all of his big decisions.

Sometimes he mulled things over for weeks or even months. But once the final decision was made, it was utterly unshakable and no one could ever convince him to change his mind.

On Friday, March 15, 1935, Hitler departed his mountain retreat and returned to Berlin. He immediately convened a Cabinet meeting and also assembled members of the Army's General Staff. He then announced a major decision he had just come to – Germany would openly defy the military limitations set by the Treaty of Versailles and re-arm.

No one in the room objected or voiced any concern. After the announcement, Nazi legal officials quickly set to work drafting the necessary laws, while Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels worked with Hitler to compose the actual proclamations to be read to Nazi Party members and the German people.

On Saturday, March 16th, the Cabinet and Generals met once again and listened to Hitler read the finished proclamations, after which all of those present gave a hearty 'three cheers' for the Führer. The proclamations were then announced to the world by Goebbels at a hastily called press conference.

The press was told the Führer had decided Germany was going to reintroduce military conscription (compulsory enrollment) and build a new Army consisting of 36 divisions, totaling 550,000 men.

This was actually a flagrant violation of Part V of the Treaty of Versailles signed by Germany back in 1919 after its defeat in World War I. Breaking the Treaty was an affront to Germany's former World War I enemies, France and Great Britain.

Everyone waited to see how they would respond to the news. Some of Hitler's more cautious Army generals thought there might even be an immediate military attack by France. But absolutely nothing happened, except for a few diplomatic protests.

Hitler, for the first time in his career, had gambled against Germany's old enemies and won. He knew France was suffering from serious political in-fighting and that Britain was in the grips of an economic depression. He wagered that the two countries, given their internal problems, didn't have the stomachs to respond militarily. And he was right.

But Hitler still found it necessary to soothe the jangled nerves of the world's democracies and Germany's next door neighbors. On May 21st, two months after the conscription announcement, he appeared before the Reichstag in Berlin and delivered a conciliatory speech. "Germany wants peace...None of us means to threaten anybody," Hitler declared. He then announced a thirteen-point peace program containing all kinds of promises such as: Germany will respect all other provisions of the Treaty of Versailles including the demilitarization of the Rhineland; Germany is ready to cooperate in a collective system for safeguarding European peace; and the German government is ready in principle to conclude pacts of non-aggression with its neighbors.

Hitler's method of diplomacy in dealing with the gun-shy Western democracies was thus established. His original bombastic announcement was usually made on a Saturday to catch the other governments off-guard. It came in the midst of an ongoing action, or after the fact, and was followed by a conciliatory speech full of reassuring promises.

Between Hitler's gambles, there would be a considerable lapse of time, during which he returned to Berchtesgaden, contemplating his next move like a chess master pondering all of the potential outcomes.

Hitler's next big move in the game of international diplomacy didn't occur until a year later and it would be one of the biggest risks of his entire career. Beginning at dawn on Saturday, March 7, 1936, three battalions of the German Army crossed the bridges over the Rhine and entered into the industrial heartland of Germany known as the Rhineland. This demilitarized area included all territory west of the Rhine River extending to the French border as well as a portion east of the river including the cities of Cologne, Düsseldorf and Bonn.

At 10 a.m. that morning, Hitler's Foreign Minister, Constantin von Neurath, summoned the ambassadors of France, Britain, and Italy, and handed them a lengthy memorandum stating that the German government had "restored the full and unrestricted sovereignty of the Reich in the demilitarized zone of the Rhineland."

This was another gross violation of the Treaty of Versailles.

At noon, Hitler appeared before a hastily called Reichstag assembly, accompanied by several visibly nervous Army generals. The six hundred Reichstag members in attendance had no idea what was happening. As soon as Hitler informed them that German troops were on the march into the Rhineland, they jumped to their feet amid wild cheering for the Führer and shouts of 'Heil!'

When they calmed down, Hitler solemnly promised: "First, we swear to yield to no force whatever in the restoration of the honor of our people, preferring to succumb with honor to the severest hardships rather than to capitulate. Secondly, we pledge that now, more than ever, we shall strive for an understanding between European peoples, especially for one with our Western neighbor nations...We have no territorial demands to make in Europe!...Germany will never break the peace."

Once again, the whole world waited to see how the French and British would react. German troops entering the Rhineland even had orders to scoot back across the Rhine bridges if the French Army attacked. But in France, the politicians were simply unable to convince their generals to act, and were also unable to get any British support for a military response. So they did nothing. The French Army, with its one hundred divisions, never budged against the 30,000 lightly armed German soldiers occupying the Rhineland, even though France and Britain were both obligated to preserve the demilitarized zone by the Treaty of Versailles and the subsequent Locarno Pact of mutual assistance.

It had been a tremendous gamble for Hitler, one that might have cost him everything if his troops had been humiliated by their old enemies. Later, Hitler would privately admit: "The forty-eight hours after the march into the Rhineland were the most nerve-racking in my life. If the French had marched into the Rhineland, we would have had to withdraw with our tail between our legs, for the military resources at our disposal would have been wholly inadequate for even a moderate resistance."

Some of Hitler's top Army generals had gotten cold feet during the maneuver. Only Neurath, his Foreign Minister, had calmly assured him: "You can risk it. Nothing will happen." Hitler would never forget the fearful behavior exhibited by some of his top generals during his first military venture. As a result, their cautious advice would often be ignored in the future.

In the Rhineland, German Army troops marching under the Swastika banner were met by German priests conferring blessings upon them and women tossing flowers into their path. In Cologne, the people went wild with joy. Inside Cologne's Catholic Cathedral, Cardinal Schulte even praised Hitler for "sending back our Army."

A few weeks later, on March 29th, a nationwide referendum was held in which 99 percent of the registered voters in Germany went to the polls and gave a 98.8 percent "Ja" vote approving Hitler's reoccupation of the Rhineland. The Führer had reached new heights of popularity.

After this victory, Hitler once again went back to his mountain retreat at Berchtesgaden to relax and ponder his next move. Meanwhile, in Berlin and throughout Germany, preparations were underway to host the coming Summer Olympics. For the Nazis, the Berlin Olympics would be an opportunity to show off the New Order to people from all over the world. It would also be a chance to impress everyone with the natural superiority of Nazi athletes.

Source: Nazis March into the Rhineland,

Copyright © 2001 The History Place™


The Holocaust

The genocide of European Jews during World War II, a programme of systematic extermination by Nazi Germany throughout Nazi-occupied territory:

The Holocaust (also known as The Shoah)

The Holocaust

A World in Turmoil: An Integrated Chronology of the Holocaust and World War II (Kindle Edition)

A World in Turmoil: An Integrated Chronology of the Holocaust and World War II


Sunday, April 17, 2011


A being with both biological and artificial (electronic, mechanical, or robotic) parts and body:


Origins [source]

The concept of a man-machine mixture was widespread in science fiction before World War II. As early as 1843, Edgar Allan Poe described a man with extensive prostheses in the short story "The Man That Was Used Up". In 1908, Jean de la Hire introduced Nyctalope (perhaps the first true superhero was also the first literary cyborg) in the novel L'Homme Qui Peut Vivre Dans L'eau (The Man Who Can Live in the Water). Edmond Hamilton presented space explorers with a mixture of organic and machine parts in his novel The Comet Doom in 1928. He later featured the talking, living brain of an old scientist, Simon Wright, floating around in a transparent case, in all the adventures of his famous hero, Captain Future. In the short story "No Woman Born" in 1944, C. L. Moore wrote of Deirdre, a dancer, whose body was burned completely and whose brain was placed in a faceless but beautiful and supple mechanical body.

The term was coined by Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S. Kline in 1960 to refer to their conception of an enhanced human being who could survive in extraterrestrial environments:

For the exogenously extended organizational complex functioning as an integrated homeostatic system unconsciously, we propose the term ‘Cyborg'. Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S. Kline

Their concept was the outcome of thinking about the need for an intimate relationship between human and machine as the new frontier of space exploration was beginning to take place. A designer of physiological instrumentation and electronic data-processing systems, Clynes was the chief research scientist in the Dynamic Simulation Laboratory at Rockland State Hospital in New York.

The term first appears in print five months earlier when The New York Times reported on the Psychophysiological Aspects of Space Flight Symposium where Clynes and Kline first presented their paper.

A cyborg is essentially a man-machine system in which the control mechanisms of the human portion are modified externally by drugs or regulatory devices so that the being can live in an environment different from the normal one.

A book titled Cyborg: Digital Destiny and Human Possibility in the Age of the Wearable computer was published by Doubleday in 2001. Some of the ideas in the book were incorporated into the 35mm motion picture film Cyberman.


Maxwell Maltz

An American cosmetic surgeon and author of Psycho-Cybernetics (over 30 million copies sold) which is a system of ideas that he claimed can improve one's self-image:

Maxwell Maltz (1899-1975)

New Psycho-Cybernetics

Psycho-Cybernetics, A New Way to Get More Living Out of Life



The interdisciplinary study of the structure of regulatory systems which is closely related to control theory and systems theory:


Cybernetics, Second Edition: or the Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine

Definitions of Cybernetics [source:]

There are many definitions of cybernetics and many individuals who have influenced the definition and direction of cybernetics. Norbert Wiener, a mathematician, engineer and social philosopher, coined the word "cybernetics" from the Greek word meaning "steersman." He defined it as the science of control and communication in the animal and the machine. Ampere, before him, wanted cybernetics to be the science of government. For philosopher Warren McCulloch, cybernetics was an experimental epistemology concerned with the communication within an observer and between the observer and his environment. Stafford Beer, a management consultant, defined cybernetics as the science of effective organization. Anthropologist Gregory Bateson noted that whereas previous sciences dealt with matter and energy, the new science of cybernetics focuses on form and pattern. For educational theorist Gordon Pask, cybernetics is the art of manipulating defensible metaphors, showing how they may be constructed and what can be inferred as a result of their existence.

Cybernetics takes as its domain the design or discovery and application of principles of regulation and communication. Cybernetics treats not things but ways of behaving. It does not ask "what is this thing?" but "what does it do?" and "what can it do?" Because numerous systems in the living, social and technological world may be understood in this way, cybernetics cuts across many traditional disciplinary boundaries. The concepts which cyberneticians develop thus form a metadisciplinary language by which we may better understand and modify our world.

Several traditions in cybernetics have existed side by side since its beginning. One is concerned with circular causality, manifest in technological developments--notably in the design of computers and automata--and finds its intellectual expression in theories of computation, regulation and control. Another tradition, which emerged from human and social concerns, emphasizes epistemology--how we come to know-- and explores theories of self-reference to understand such phenomena as autonomy, identity, and purpose. Some cyberneticians seek to create a more humane world, while others seek merely to understand how people and their environment have co-evolved. Some are interested in systems as we observe them, others in systems that do the observing. Some seek to develop methods for modeling the relationships among measurable variables. Others aim to understand the dialogue that occurs between models or theories and social systems. Early work sought to define and apply principles by which systems may be controlled. More recent work has attempted to understand how systems describe themselves, control themselves, and organize themselves. Despite its short history, cybernetics has developed a concern with a wide range of processes involving people as active organizers, as sharing communicators, and as autonomous, responsible individuals.


"a science concerned with the study of systems of any nature which are capable of receiving, storing, and processing information so as to use it for control"-A.N. Kolmogorov

"Cybernetique= the art of growing"--A.M. Ampere

"the science of control and communication in the animal and the machine"-Norbert Wiener

"the art of securing efficient operation"-L. Couffignal

"the art of steersmanship"; "deals with all forms of behavior in so far as they are regular, or determinate, or reproducible"; "stands to the real machine-electronic, mechanical, neural, or economic-much as geometry stands to a real object in our terrestrial space"; "offers a method for the scientific treatment of the system in which complexity is outstanding and too important to be ignored"-W. Ross Ashby

"a branch of mathematics dealing with problems of control, recursiveness, and information"-Gregory Bateson

"the science of effective organization"-Stafford Beer

"the art and science of manipulating defensible metaphors"-Gordon Pask

"Should one name one central concept, a first principle, of cybernetics, it would be circularity."-Heinz von Foerster

"a way of thinking"-Ernst von Glasersfeld

"the science and art of understanding"-Humberto Maturana

"Cybernetics: when I reflect on the dynamics of observed systems and on the dynamics of the observer-whence 'creative cybernetics': when I project the dynamics of a system I would like to observe"-from announcement of 1987 ASC conference in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois

"the ability to cure all temporary truth of eternal triteness"-Herbert Brun

Commentary: I developed this list of definitions/descriptions in 1987-88 and have been distributing it at ASC (American Society for Cybernetics) conferences since 1988. I added a few items to the list over the next two years, and it has remained essentially unchanged since then. My intent was twofold: (1) to demonstrate that one of the distinguishing features of cybernetics might be that it could legitimately have multiple definitions without contradicting itself, and (2) to stimulate dialogue on what the motivations (intentions, desires, etc.) of those who have proposed different definitions might be. While the list as a tool for this purpose has probably outlived its usefulness, I continue to want cybernetics to be talked about as a dynamic set of ideas, a dynamics that is realized in dialogue among humans. That is, I want the label "cybernetics" to attract people who have an interest in both the subject and practice of conversation, and in creating the "new" out of this form of dynamic interaction. I want this irrespective of whether their interests are in electronics, life, society, or mind, and whether they come from science, art, or politics. My own contribution at this point is:

"a way of thinking about ways of thinking"; "offers a vocabulary for talking, and hence thinking, about the dynamics of relations and behavior"; hence the 'cybernetician': "a craftsperson in time"-Larry Richards

Saturday, April 16, 2011


An organ that connects the developing fetus to the uterine wall to allow nutrient uptake, waste elimination, and gas exchange via the mother's blood supply:


[image source:]



The Christian doctrine that there is a time limit for repentance from sin, after which God no longer wills the conversion and salvation of that person:



My Empire

A city building game with an ancient Greco-Roman theme, developed and published by Playfish and was released in via Facebook in May 2010; it became the inaugural winner of the Social Network Game category at the 2011 BAFTA Video Game Awards:

My Empire



A proprietary mobile operating system running on the Linux kernel, initially developed by Palm, which was later acquired by HP:



A mobile operating system, also known as a mobile OS, a mobile platform, or a handheld operating system, is the operating system that controls a mobile device or information appliance—similar in principle to an operating system such as Windows, Mac OS, or Linux that controls a desktop computer or laptop. However, they are currently somewhat simpler, and deal more with the wireless versions of broadband and local connectivity, mobile multimedia formats, and different input methods [source: Mobile operating system].

Friday, April 8, 2011


A natural light display in the sky, particularly in the polar regions, caused by the collision of charged particles directed by the Earth's magnetic field:






A particular shape formed of three vesicae piscis:




Note: Sometimes a Triquetra is drawn with an added circle in or around it:





It occurs twice a year, when the tilt of the Earth's axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun, the center of the Sun being in the same plane as the Earth's equator: