Grace Hopper on “Late Night with David Letterman”


Google has dedicated a doodle to her 107th birthday:
Grace Hopper's 107th Birthday Google Doodle

Howard Aiken and Grace Hopper designed the MARK series of computers at Harvard University. The MARK series of computers began with the Mark I in 1944. Imagine a giant roomful of noisy, clicking metal parts, 55 feet long and 8 feet high. The 5-ton device contained almost 760,000 separate pieces. Used by the US Navy for gunnery and ballistic calculations, the Mark I was in operation until 1959.

The computer, controlled by pre-punched paper tape, could carry out addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and reference to previous results. It had special subroutines for logarithms and trigonometric functions and used 23 decimal place numbers. Data was stored and counted mechanically using 3000 decimal storage wheels, 1400 rotary dial switches, and 500 miles of wire. Its electromagnetic relays classified the machine as a relay computer. All output was displayed on an electric typewriter. By today’s standards, the Mark I was slow, requiring 3-5 seconds for a multiplication operation.

via Howard Aiken and Grace Hopper – Inventors of the Mark I Computer.

She also was responsible for development of COBOL and more importantly all programming languages that humans could read that could be translated to computer readable assembly language:

She is probably most celebrated for her pioneering work in the development of COBOL, one of the first programming languages that could work independently of a particular machine, but we should perhaps thank her most for her popularisation of the word ‘debugging’ – dating from an anecdote when an actual moth was found in a computer she was working on, and that was slowing down its processes.

via Grace Hopper: Computer scientist’s 107th birthday marked with Google Doodle – News – Gadgets & Tech – The Independent.

It really was a revolution: coding using plain english.

Rear Admiral Grace Hopper was interviewed by David Letterman about her groundbreaking work…

Letterman: “How did you know so much about computers then?”

Rear Adm. Hopper: “I didn’t. It was the first one.”

Watch the interview to see computer technology explained in plain english.

Atlas Scrooged: Stossel says don’t give money to poors. Doesn’t mention volunteering.


Happy Holidays! Let’s celebrate with John Stossel suggesting we step over the homeless scammers begging for your money… ladies and gentlemen! (this steaming pile of Fox News jerks courtesy of Wonkette)

The best case for giving money to the homeless was laid out to me by a college  friend who is/was a self described “bleeding heart” who maintained she would always gave homeless people money whenever she could. She just wanted to help ease a homeless person’s pain. If she knew they were in pain (even from withdrawal) and that money would help them in anyway, she wanted to do that. That showed real compassion. Quite often, the homeless person does really want some food or coffee and you can buy them that if you don’t want to give them cash. fine.

Stossel’s whole pretend homeless schtick was so dehumanizing, reductive, childish and unprofessional, then to see that resident moron Doocy ask Stossel “what it felt to be like to be homeless” was one of the worst things ever. Stossel was out there for a small part of the day. He felt what it was like to be a hairy ticket scalper or a kid who skipped school on Halloween dress up day. He did not learn what it felt to be homeless.

To be fair to the (g)libertarian Stossel, you do get better holistic bang for your buck giving to charities that have established programs. But no one disputes that. But the best bang for your buck is giving your time to the homeless and Stossel never mentions that! It’s a whole choice between giving and not giving.

I’ve volunteered with The Doe Fund’s Ready, Willing and Able…it’s an awesome program. I also volunteer with Covenant House PA here in Philly. Another awesome charity. And yes, Charity Navigator is excellent, before I started walking in the PanCan walk a few years back, I checked them through that site. As someone who does pass up giving out money on the street, I find giving time is much better. Go do something about it.

‘Race-Themed’ Newspaper headlines


Alyssa Rosenberg comments on the ‘Race-Themed’ USA Today Headline:

USA Today found itself the subject of the news this weekend thanks to an unfortunate headline on a story about the weekend movie box office. “’Holiday’ Nearly Beat ‘Thor’ as Race-Themed Films Soar,” read the tagline on a story about The Best Man Holiday, the follow-up to the 1999 movie The Best Man. In a marketplace where African-American audiences are dramatically underserved, it’s amazing that analysts are still surprised when romantic comedies and family dramas with African-American casts perform well.

But even more telling was the idea, implicit in the headline if not in the piece itself, that a movie with a non-white cast must necessarily have race as its primary subject. By extension, the suggestion is that the lives of people of color are inflected first, and perhaps only, by race, rather than by gender, sexual orientation, class, love, ambition, jealousy, rage, or even pure, manic-pixie spontaneity. And the idea that culture about characters of color is necessarily about race also creates the assumption that stories about white characters are inherently deracinated. Some white people, like Jews, are exempt from this, and the recent spike in Boston movies has put more Irish-American characters and Irish-American humor to the fore. But for the most part, the experiences of white characters are treated like they’re neutral, rather than representative of their whole race, or revealing in some ways of the pathologies and problems of various subsets of white America.

what she said.

Let’s start “Both Sides Do it PAC”®©™ to rival “No Labels” in uselessness


I just saw a “No Labels” commercial on Liberal TV aka MSNBC, with a message from two guys who literally had labels before and after their names. Jon Huntsman and Evan Bayh were on the TV telling me about how “No Labels” pushes for common sense solutions that don’t make sense on paper or in reality and assembling self-righteous bi-partisan rudderless “gangs of some number less than 12 but more than 4” to play at solving problems. Which means they are really vague about what they are going to do and really wrong about what to do and really wrong how to do it. The “No Labels” mantra: “Both Sides Do It” so if we don’t act like we are from “Both Sides” and got elected to represent that side…”No Labels” wins! The “It” in “Both Sides Do it” being something the Republicans have done to stop President Obama from winning anything. Then the people without Labels tell us how Washington should work: everyone make a deal, screw your base and judge against the labeless razor: if no one is happy and a deal is made that deal is the best!

Get it? Elections don’t have consequences, Labels do! And only bad consequences come from Labels!

I didn’t vote for “No Labels” and neither did anyone else. I voted for people with some sort of party affiliation (or non-affiliation), platform promises and promised attempts at initiatives. Those things are all labelled. I don’t know when labels got to be such a bad thing. But now they are because Huntsman and Bayh said so.  Huntsman’s the guy who didn’t get that Republican nomination because he didn’t understand that the label: “black President’s ambassador to China” wouldn’t help him out in the primary. Bayh’s the guy who quit because of partisanship (things looked bleak for Dems and he thought he would lose) just as the craziest Republicans running for the US Senate added “forcible rape = no preggers” to their 2012 platform.

So I figure, some of us bloggers need to get into this biz. Let’s just start “Both Sides Do it PAC”. We can get on Sunday Shows, Morning Shows, evening shows and all we have to say is: “Both Sides Do it!”. There are so many people I can recruit to this new PAC, and I can be ambassador to blacks, we can sprinkle some other people of colo…oh wait, “No labels” amiright? I’m a real flag pin I mean real American! I can feel America getting less label-y and more one sides-y already.

You think I am being snarky? You just labelled me! See “Both Sides do it!”®©™.


MSNBC’s O’Donnell embarrasses himself & has-been Anthony Weiner

They used to be such good friends!

They used to be such good friends!

Let me tell you this joke about “The Last Word” on MSNBC: A Boston guy asks a New York Guy “what’s wrong with you?” no comedy ensues.
That’s how I would describe this if I could: a bad joke… I can’t call it an interview.
Lawrence O’Donnell had Anthony Weiner on his show, and both of them seemed awful. Weiner should have walked off and O’Donnell should have had one of the other still viable (polling in top 3) NYC Mayoral candidates on his show. See if you can sit through this garbage:

I don’t turn on a news show or political analysis show to see a grown man be berated over some personal ish. I sincerely hope that he’s not doing this to spur ratings. He has some solid insights on the workings of the Senate and what it takes to get bills passed and how the sausage gets made. Not sure if that’s too popular, but hope it’s more popular than this.

Thankfully, congress will vote on Syria


President Obama will seek congressional approval to begin military action against the Syrian government.

This is how President Obama arrived at the decision to undergo the correct process of going to war:

In a two-hour meeting of passionate, sharp debate in the Oval Office, he told them that after a frantic week in which he seemed to be rushing toward a military attack on Syria, he wanted to pull back and seek Congressional approval first.

He had several reasons, he told them, including a sense of isolation after the terrible setback in the British Parliament. But the most compelling one may have been that acting alone would undercut him if in the next three years he needed Congressional authority for his next military confrontation in the Middle East, perhaps with Iran.

If he made the decision to strike Syria without Congress now, he said, would he get Congress when he really needed it?

“He can’t make these decisions divorced from the American public and from Congress,” said a senior aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the deliberations. “Who knows what we’re going to face in the next three and a half years in the Middle East?”
[…] Even as he steeled himself for an attack this past week, two advisers said, he nurtured doubts about the political and legal justification for action, given that the United Nations Security Council had refused to bless a military strike that he had not put before Congress. A drumbeat of lawmakers demanding a vote added to the sense that he could be out on a limb.

“I know well we are weary of war,” Mr. Obama said in the Rose Garden on Saturday. “We’ve ended one war in Iraq. We’re ending another in Afghanistan. And the American people have the good sense to know we cannot resolve the underlying conflict in Syria with our military.”

[…] Mr. Obama’s backing of a NATO air campaign against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in 2011 had left a sour taste among many in Congress, particularly rank-and-file members. More than 140 lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats, had signed a letter demanding a vote on Syria.

Moving swiftly in Libya, aides said, was necessary to avert a slaughter of rebels in the eastern city of Benghazi. But that urgency did not exist in this case.

Indeed, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Mr. Obama that the limited strike he had in mind would be just as effective “in three weeks as in three days,” one official said.

Thanks to UK Parliament and the 140 Democratic and Republican representatives that signed a letter demanding a vote, many of them recently elected or non-leadership voiced opposition to the President engaging Syria without congressional debate and vote.

The most disconcerting thing is this reaction from his foreign policy team:

Beyond the questions of political legitimacy, aides said, Mr. Obama told them on Friday that he was troubled that authorizing another military action over the heads of Congress would contradict the spirit of his speech last spring in which he attempted to chart a shift in the United States from the perennial war footing of the post-Sept. 11 era.


The resistance from the group was immediate. The political team worried that Mr. Obama could lose the vote, as Mr. Cameron did, and that it could complicate the White House’s other legislative priorities. The national security team argued that international support for an operation was unlikely to improve.

This surprises me and probably a lot of the American public, but this is inside the beltway conventional wisdom for “both sides”:

That’s the liberal opinion. Waging any sort of war is not an administrative action. It is always a cost proposition. When the US wages war, we will lose money, create destruction, lose American soldiers and foreign innocents and will assume responsibility for post-war stability.

The precedent for going to war in this case is the constitution. Peter King has to know that and is arguing really that it’s better for a President to pretend the executive branch has no checks and balances.

Either way, we were too close to waging another war without congressional approval.