Exaflops, Zettaflops, Yottaflops and the Xeraflop

72  bar steady 29.65 1mph SSW dew-point 53  Beltane, sunny and warm

             First Quarter of the Flower Moon

Sometimes the language surprises even those of who try to keep up with technological innovation.

“An American military supercomputer, assembled from components originally designed for video game machines, has reached a long-sought-after computing milestone by processing more than 1.026 quadrillion calculations per second.

The high-performance computing goal, known as a petaflop — one thousand trillion calculations per second — has long been viewed as a crucial milestone by military, technical and scientific organizations in the United States.

“The next thousandfold goal is the exaflop, which is a quintillion calculations per second, followed by the zettaflop, the yottaflop and the xeraflop…”

Their Lawlessness Got out of Hand

57  bar steep fall 29.94  7mph  ENE dew-point 52  Beltane, cloudy and cool

                       Last Quarter of the Hare Moon

Can this possibly mean what it says?  “While cities are hot spots for global warming, study finds people in them emit fewer gases.”  Washington Post, 5/29/2008   In this same vein I watched part of a National Geographic Program on an outlaw biker gang, the Mongols.  The narrator made this surprising statement, “Their lawlessness got out of hand.”  Hmmm.

When I travel by car, I spend more time picking reading material, movies and audiobooks than I do clothing.  This will not surprise some of you who know my fashion sense, late sixties college student unregenerate, yet it always surprises me. 

Each trip has a theme.  Don’t know when that started, but it helps me make decisions on the road and to deepen the experience.  This trip to Denver, in addition to the obvious theme of tribal initiation (the bris), nature writing and trees will occupy my time.  Not hard to figure out where this came from.

My first nights stay is at the Arbor Day Foundation in Nebraska City, Nebraska.  I’m taking along a book I bought awhile back called Arboretum America.  It tells the story of trees in the history of the US.  Also a book of nature writing.

The Things They Do

65  bar steady 29.95 0mph ESE dewpoint 30 Beltane, sunny

           Waxing Gibbous Hare Moon 

“Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time.” – E. B. White

To underline the suspicion note in the EB White quote I gleaned articles from today’s news stories.  The ones who govern us on the basis of that 50% + 1 majority do some strange things.  And so do their spouses.

“Cindy McCain, whose husband has been a critic of the violence in Sudan, sold off more than $2 million in mutual funds whose holdings include companies that do business in the African nation.

The sale on Wednesday came after The Associated Press questioned the investments in light of calls by John McCain, the likely Republican presidential nominee, for international financial sanctions against the Sudanese leadership. ”

“…woman accused of booking clients for a high-priced call girl ring pleaded guilty Wednesday to money laundering and promoting prostitution in the federal probe that brought down former Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

Temeka Rachelle Lewis, who worked as a booking agent for the Emperor’s Club VIP, is the first defendant to admit guilt in the case that led to Spitzer’s resignation.”

“WASHINGTON (AP) – Hold on, NFL. Spygate isn’t over. Not if the “incensed” Pittsburgh Steelers fan in Congress has anything to do with it. Sen. Arlen Specter on Wednesday called for an independent investigation of the New England Patriots’ taping of opposing coaches’ signals, possibly similar to the high-profile Mitchell Report on performance enhancing drugs in baseball. “What is necessary is an objective investigation,” Specter said at a news conference in the Capitol. “And this one has not been objective.”

The Pennsylvania Republican was unforgiving of his criticism of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, saying that Goodell has made “ridiculous” assertions that wouldn’t fly “in kindergarten.” The Senator said Goodell was caught in an “apparent conflict of interest” because the NFL doesn’t want the public to lose confidence in the league’s integrity.”

“Can Bob Barr become the next Ron Paul?

Mr. Barr, a former Republican congressman from Georgia who on Monday announced his candidacy for the Libertarian Party nomination, certainly hopes so. It is a prospect that could give Senator John McCain’s campaign fits, threatening to siphon critical Republican votes away from him in important battleground states.

The situation is purely speculative. But Mr. Barr is keeping close to the script that has had Mr. Paul, a Texas congressman, drawing votes long after Mr. McCain became the presumed Republican presidential nominee.

Mr. Barr is trying to tap into the fervent band of followers who were attracted to Mr. Paul online and donated generously to his campaign by hiring the same Internet firm that ran Mr. Paul’s Web site. And he is hoping to spread his message to those fans, by running online advertisements on their Web sites, proclaiming: “Advance liberty? Learn more about Bob Barr!””

“The U.S. government has injected hundreds of foreigners it has deported with dangerous psychotropic drugs against their will to keep them sedated during the trip back to their home country, according to medical records, internal documents and interviews with people who have been drugged.

The government’s forced use of antipsychotic drugs, in people who have no history of mental illness, includes dozens of cases in which the “pre-flight cocktail,” as a document calls it, had such a potent effect that federal guards needed a wheelchair to move the slumped deportee onto an airplane.

“Unsteady gait. Fell onto tarmac,” says a medical note on the deportation of a 38-year-old woman to Costa Rica in late spring 2005. Another detainee was “dragged down the aisle in handcuffs, semi-comatose,” according to an airline crew member’s written account. Repeatedly, documents describe immigration guards “taking down” a reluctant deportee to be tranquilized before heading to an airport.

In a Chicago holding cell early one evening in February 2006, five guards piled on top of a 49-year-old man who was angry he was going back to Ecuador, according to a nurse’s account in his deportation file. As they pinned him down so the nurse could punch a needle through his coveralls into his right buttock, one officer stood over him menacingly and taunted, “Nighty-night.”

Which is More of A Health Threat: Al-Qaeda or Homeland Security?

1  64%  25%  1mph WNW  bar29.97  windchill-1  Winter

            Waxing Gibbous Crescent Moon

OK.  This is interesting.

 Which is more of a threat to your health: Al Qaeda or the Department of Homeland Security?

“An intriguing new study suggests the answer is not so clear-cut. Although it’s impossible to calculate the pain that terrorist attacks inflict on victims and society, when statisticians look at cold numbers, they have variously estimated the chances of the average person dying in America at the hands of international terrorists to be comparable to the risk of dying from eating peanuts, being struck by an asteroid or drowning in a toilet.

But worrying about terrorism could be taking a toll on the hearts of millions of Americans. The evidence, published last week in the Archives of General Psychiatry, comes from researchers who began tracking the health of a representative sample of more than 2,700 Americans before September 2001. After the attacks of Sept. 11, the scientists monitored people’s fears of terrorism over the next several years and found that the most fearful people were three to five times more likely than the rest to receive diagnoses of new cardiovascular ailments.”

The article goes to identify roughly 10 million people affected by the, what else to call it, fear-mongering of the Department of Homeland Security.  Can anyone say Committee of Public Safety?  I agree with the article and the physicians that the health consequences to individuals are significant and in themselves alarming; but, I believe the larger health problem is that of the body politic.  10 million voters with a fear of terrorism so significant that it affects their personal health represent a voting bloc, a demagogues paradise.  Now let me see, have we had anyone playing the terrorism card in recent elections?

Going to the Walker Art Center tonight to see the TEAM, a group of performance artists who have a work called, Heartland.  I’ll let you know how it was. 

Obama and Huckabee

16  85%  26%  omph S  bar 30.07 falls windchill 16  Yuletide

               Waning Crescent of the Cold Moon

                         Iowa Caucus Night

Oh, the political junkie in me is humming tonight.  Obama takes Iowa.  Huckabee takes Iowa.  Who knew all these folks wanted Iowa in the first place?  It would have been fun to be in Iowa tonight. 

If you’ve never submitted yourself to the pleasures of an Iowa subcaucus evening, you haven’t lived politically.  The DFL here in Minnesota adopted the Iowa subcaucus process.  In three hotly contested elections I subcaucused in Minneapolis.  It’s sort of the political version of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.  How many gender neutral, pro-labor, anti-gun McCarthy voters are there?  If there are a few left over for a viable caucus, who can we cut a deal with to get  more for our issue?  It’s wild and if there are a lot of people it’s exciting.  Horse trading and dickering at a fast clip.

It also makes tallying up winners an interesting process as Wolf Blitzer kept saying all evening.  In the end CNN counted the total of Iowa state delegates each candidate got, created percentages and called their winners.  The more sedate Iowa Republicans took straw votes and went home.  Much easier, but not nearly as much fun.

What does this mean for the race as a whole?  Well, Hilary doesn’t look inevitable anymore.  Obama is far from having it locked it up, but, as a commentator on CNN said (not poor bewildered Wolf Blitzer), if he carries two predominantly white states, Iowa and New Hampshire, black voters will flock to him and quite possibly away from Hilary.  They won’t want to stand in the way of the first black president.  By February 5th, a quick time in politics, it may done since AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, GA, IL, MN, MO, NJ, NY, ND, OK, TN & UT primaries plus New Mexico, Idaho and Kansas Democratic primaries are on Tuesday, February 5th.

That would mean the general election race would begin that night and last until November.  What does that mean for an election process usually compressed in the days following Labor Day?  Don’t know.  Anyhow, lots to keep us junkies up nights until then.

Christians Sued for Use of Allah

22  82%  25%  0mph ENE bar 29.95  windchill 22  Yuletide
                  Waning Gibbous Cold Moon 
My brother Mark sent me this one.  He’s on his way to Malaysia this week to renew his Thai visa.
From a BBC Online article: 
Malaysian row over word for ‘God’ 

(Religious freedom is guaranteed under Malaysian law)

“A church and Christian newspaper in Malaysia are suing the government after it decreed that the word “Allah” can only be used by Muslims.In the Malay language “Allah” is used to mean any god, and Christians say they have used the term for centuries.

Opponents of the ban say it is unconstitutional and unreasonable.

It is the latest in a series of religious rows in largely Muslim Malaysia, where minority groups claim their rights are being eroded.

A spokesman for the Herald, the newspaper of the Catholic Church in Malaysia, said a legal suit was filed after they received repeated official warnings that the newspaper could have its licence revoked if it continued to use the word.

“We are of the view that we have the right to use the word ‘Allah’,” said editor Rev Lawrence Andrew.”

Here’s my reply to Mark:

Thanks for sending it over. Irony comes to mind. After all, the so-called Abrahamic religions all claim to worship the same God, so why wouldn’t the names be interchangeable? Stupid also comes to mind.

And Mark’s back to me just moments ago: 

“Indeed. A Muslim lawyer was complaining in the Malyasian Star, a local paper, that the Muslims were being way too sensitive. Indeed, I read further that the Catholic paper is suing whomever gave that ruling. The lawyer pointed out that Al means the and lah means God in Arabic. It seems futile and yes, dumb. The God of the Jews, Muslims and Christians is the same. It seems especially dumb to have the dispute around Christmas, but there you go.”