Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) was France’s most celebrated mathematician and physicist and religious philosopher.  He was a child prodigy who was educated by his father.  He worked on conic sections and projective geometry and he laid the foundations for the theory of probability.  In 1642, at the age of 18, Pascal invented and build the first digital calculator as a means of helping his father perform tedious tax accounting.  Pascal’s father was the tax collector for the township of Rouen.  The device was called Pascal’s calculator or the Pascaline or the Arithmetique.  Pascal continued to make improvements to his design through the next decade and built fifty Pascaline machines in total.  Read more and see pictures at

Our country is named after the Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci.  He was an Italian merchant, born in 1454 in Florence and employed by the Medicis.  They sent him to look after their ship-outfitting business, which operated out of Seville, about the time Columbus made his first voyage.  In fact, the business had a part in outfitting Columbus's third voyage.  Vespucci finally outfitted his own voyage in quest of the passage to the Indian subcontinent that had eluded Columbus.  He sailed in 1499-- even years after Columbus first landed in the West Indies.  Vespucci made two voyages between 1499 and 1502 and possibly a third one in 1503.  During his first voyage he explored the northern coast of South America to well beyond the mouth of the Amazon.  He gave names like "Gulf of the Ganges," and other Asian place-names he knew about, to the things he saw.  He also made significant improvements in navigational techniques.  During this trip he predicted the earth's circumference to within 50 miles.  But the big breakthrough came on Vespucci's second trip.  And that was the realization that what he was looking at was not India at all, but an entirely new continent.  He verified the fact by following the coast of South America down to within 400 miles of Tierra del Fuego.  And who wrote Vespucci's Christian name on the maps?  We were given our name by an obscure German clergyman and amateur geographer named Waldseemuller.  Waldseemuller was a member of a little literary club that published an introduction to cosmology in 1507.  In it he wrote of the new land mass that Vespucci had explored:  I see no reason why anyone should justly object to calling this part . . . America, after Amerigo [Vespucci], its discoverer, a man of great ability.  The name stuck, and when a second land mass was discovered to the north, the names North and South America were applied to the two continents.  John H. Lienhard

The Qin dynasty was brief in duration (221-206 BCE) but very important in Chinese history.  Despite its brevity, the Qin dynasty left important marks on Chinese culture.  In fact, the name "China" is derived from the name Qin (“Ch’in” in former Romanization systems).   The Qin empire unified China for the first time in its history.  Qin did more than just found a dynasty in China: they brought a continent together.  Gabriel Peralta  Read about legalism, the Terracotta Army in Xi'an, and The Great Wall of China at

Paraphrase from Even the Dead, #7 in the Quirke series of novels by Benjamin Black (pen name of John Banville)  I'm not well-read.  I'm a magpie--I pick up bright scraps and store them away.

The Man Who Invented The Computer is Pulitzer Prize winning author Jane Smiley’s fascinating story of the invention of the first computer.  The story follows the parallel tracks of the development of four different computers and their inventors in the US, Great Britain, and Germany set against the backdrop of World War II.  The core thread tells the story of John Atanasoff, a young associate professor of physics at Iowa State University, who, frustrated with the tedium of solving complex mathematical equations, scribbled what would become the foundation of modern digital computing on a cocktail napkin in a roadside bar.  Atanasoff’s ideas were later found to have jump-started the development of the ENIAC, which usurped the title of “world’s first electronic digital computer” from Atanasoff’s ABC computer.  ENIAC’s creators, John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert, went on to patent their invention in 1964.  Meanwhile, in Great Britain, Thomas Flowers and Alan Turing were part of a group charged with the task of creating the world’s first code-breaking computers, only to be forced to destroy their inventions, as well as evidence of their existence by a cautious (or paranoid) Winston Churchill.  And in Nazi Germany, Konrad Zuse embarked on a Fellini-esque adventure to spirit his state-of-the-art Z4 computer out of Berlin.  A controversial 1973 patent infringement suit decision ultimately invalidated Eckert and Mauchly’s 1964 ENIAC patent, finding that “Eckert and Mauchly did not themselves first invent the automatic electronic digital computer, but instead derived that subject matter from one Dr. John Vincent Atanasoff.”  This landmark decision was buried by the news of the Watergate “Saturday Night Massacre.”  The judge’s decision in Honeywell, Inc. v. Sperry Rand Corp was not appealed, thus placing the invention in the public domain.

Thomas the Rhymer, the famous thirteenth century Scottish mystic and poet, once met the Faery Queen by a hawthorn bush from which a cuckoo was calling.  She led him into the Faery Underworld for a brief sojourn, but upon reemerging into the world of mortals he found he had been absent for seven years.  Themes of people being waylaid by the faery folk to places where time passes differently are common in Celtic mythology, and the hawthorn was one of, if not the, most likely tree to be inhabited or protected by the Wee Folk.  In Ireland most of the isolated trees, or so-called 'lone bushes', found in the landscape and said to be inhabited by faeries, were hawthorn trees.  Hawthorn is at its most prominent in the landscape when it blossoms during the month of May, and probably the most popular of its many vernacular names is the May-tree.  As such, it is the only British plant which is named after the month in which it blooms.  As 'Thorn' it is also the most common tree found in English place names, and the tree most frequently mentioned in Anglo-Saxon boundary charters.  It has many associations with May Day festivities.  Though the tree now flowers around the middle of the month, it flowered much nearer the beginning of the month, before the introduction of the Gregorian calendar in 1752.  The blossoms were used for garlands, and large leafy branches were cut, set in the ground outside houses as so-called May bushes and decorated with local wildflowers.  The leaves were eaten and were commonly referred to as bread and cheese, the blossom and berries were made into wines and jellies, and decoctions of the flowers and leaves were used to stabilise blood pressure.  The strong, close-grained wood was used for carving, and for making tool handles and other small household items.  Probably its greatest practical use to people has been as hedging.

Nominative determinism is the hypothesis that people tend to gravitate towards areas of work that fit their name.  The term was first used in the magazine New Scientist in 1994, after the magazine's humorous Feedback column noted several studies carried out by researchers with remarkably fitting surnames.  These included a book on polar explorations by Daniel Snowman and an article on urology by researchers named Splatt and Weedon.  These and other examples led to light-hearted speculation that some sort of psychological effect was at work.  The idea that people are drawn to professions that fit their name was suggested by psychologist Carl Jung, citing as an example Sigmund Freud who studied pleasure and whose surname means "joy".  A few recent empirical studies have indicated that certain professions are disproportionately represented by people with appropriate surnames, though the methods of these studies have been challenged.  One explanation for nominative determinism is implicit egotism, which states that humans have an unconscious preference for things they associate with themselves.  An alternative explanation is genetic: a person might be named Smith or Taylor because that was originally their occupation, and they would pass on their genes to their descendants, including an aptitude for activities involving strength in the case of Smith, or dexterity in the case of Taylor.  Before people could gravitate towards areas of work that matched their name, many people were given names that matched their area of work.  The way people are named has changed over time.  In pre-urban times people were only known by a single name, for example, the Anglo-Saxon name Beornheard.  Single names were chosen for their meaning or given as nicknames.  In England it was not until after the Norman conquest that surnames were added.  Surnames were created to fit the person, mostly from patronyms (e.g., son of William becomes John Williamson), occupational descriptions (e.g., John Carpenter), character or traits (e.g., John Long), or location (e.g., John from Acton became John Acton).  Names were not initially hereditary; only by the mid-14th century did they gradually become so.  Surnames relating to trades or craft were the first to become hereditary, as the craft often persisted within the family for generations.

A TANK AWAY FROM TOLEDO On May 28, 2017 we visited the Akron Art Museum and the main branch of the Akron-Summit Public Library.  They are across the street from each other, and as it was a Sunday, we parked free in a ramp with an entrance directly into the library.  The art museum opened earlier than the library so that was our first stop.   I especially enjoyed Bach Chord by William Sommer, an American Modernist painter.  Sommer spent most of his life in Summit County near Brandywine Falls.  Sommer was an acknowledged leader of the "Cleveland School," a group of Cleveland-based artists who were active from the teens through the mid-1940s.  He continued to paint until his death in 1949. Hart Crane dedicated his poem, Sunday Morning Apples to him.  I saw a puzzling pink bagel (?) sculpture by Claes Oldenburg, but no--it turned out to be an "Inverted Q."  The main branch of the Akron-Summit County Public Library is a welcoming place with good light, good signage and friendly staff.  No computers were working, so we contented ourselves with reading books, newspapers  and magazines.  Issue 1716  May 31, 2017  On this date in 1819, Walt Whitman, American poet, essayist, and journalist, was born.  On this date in 1997, Inês Murta, Portuguese tennis player, was born.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

An Interview With Sam Garrett Translator of Herman Koch’s The Dinner by Claire Cameron  “IF YOU KNOW only one language, you live only once,” goes the proverb.  Fluency in another language grants us two unique perspectives: an insider’s view into a new place, and an ability to see how our culture influences our thoughts.  “Language is never neutral,” says Sam Garrett, translator of Herman Koch’s The Dinner.  “It shapes our world.”  An American writer and literary translator, Sam Garrett has lived in Amsterdam for more than 30 years.  He is fluent in Dutch, but also has a writer’s command of English.  The Dinner was published in the US by Hogarth (February 2013).  It won the prestigious Dutch literary prize, the NS Publieksprijs; was shortlisted for the National Book Award in the UK; and has been published in 20-plus countries to widespread critical acclaim.  The narrative of The Dinner is shaped around two couples eating a five-course meal at a high-end restaurant.  The luxurious setting might sound polished and polite, but the reason for this meeting is anything but.  The Netherlands is shuddering in the aftermath of a horrifying act against a homeless woman.  Despite a nationwide appeal, the criminals have yet to be identified.  As the aperitifs descend on the table, we realize that these four are the parents of the perpetrators, two 15-year-old boys.  As parents, they alone know the truth.  However, grainy footage of the incident from a security camera has been posted on YouTube and there is reason to suspect that the person who uploaded the video recognized the boys.  During the course of the meal, the couples must decide if they should try to protect their children’s identity or turn them in.  The Dutch have a noun, a word that is difficult to translate into English, that implies belonging or spending time with loved ones in a comfortable atmosphere, usually with good food and drinks at hand:  “gezelligheid.”  It could be said that The Dinner is the dark underbelly of gezelligheid, the seemingly civil conversation at the next table actually concerns a moral question from your worst nightmares.  An unsettling novel, The Dinner explores a shifting Dutch liberal sensibility.  In an increasingly financially and racially polarized country, an anti-immigrant sentiment has reared up and homelessness is more prevalent.  The conversation among the characters shows a range of reactions, some extreme, to a country and a culture that is changing.  Read the interview at

My Dinner With Andre, 1981 film  Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn starred and also wrote the script for this movie, which is about two men having dinner in a fancy restaurant and discussing life.  Yes, that’s the entire plot.  Even for a minimalist plot, surely their conversations are highly thought-provoking topics.  Mainly this debate is about between Andre’s spiritualistic and idealistic worldview and Wallace’s pragmatic humanism and his practical-realistic worldview.  Andre and Wallace are two different men, one eccentric and the other a settled type.  This movie is considered to be a cult classic among independent cinema critics and filmmakers for its philosophical meaning and minimalist style due to its insightful talks about life, the human condition, religion and communication.

The Evenings, 1947 novel  by Gerard Reve  This is the first English translation, published in January 2017, of the famous Dutch novel.  It is a novel about boredom--tedium-- monotony--ennui.  You’d think that with such a subject the book would be, well, boring.  It isn’t.  Remember the TV series Seinfeld?  Pretty much nothing happened in each episode, yet, it was entertaining.  Seinfeld is often described as being “a show about nothing”, since many of the episodes written by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld are about the minutiae, the small humdrum matters, of daily life.  It’s same in this book.  As author Tom McCarthy explains in an article about his favourite books in which nothing happens, the lack of an exciting plot, “creates the perfect blind spot in which a hundred events can take place, and everything can be said.”

Since its publication in 1951,The Catcher in the Rye  has spawned catchphrases, book-banning campaigns, unauthorized sequels, and untold millions of padded high school English class essays.  Before writing The Catcher in the Rye, author J.D. Salinger was in talks with Harcourt, Brace and Company about potentially publishing a collection of his short stories.  Salinger suggested they publish his new novel instead.  His editor, Robert Giroux, loved it—but Giroux's boss, Eugene Reynal, thought that main character Holden Caulfield was crazy.  Before Harcourt, Brace's rejection, Salinger had his short story "The Boy in the People Shooting Hat" turned down by The New Yorker, who wrote to him saying "it has passages that are brilliant and moving and effective, but we feel that on the whole it's pretty shocking for a magazine like ours."  When Salinger finally finished The Catcher in the Rye, he drove to New Yorker Fiction Editor William Maxwell's house and read him the story from start to finish.  As for "The Boy in the People Shooting Hat"?  It essentially became chapters three through seven in The Catcher in the Rye.  In 1949, Salinger was set to publish "The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls" in Harper's Bazaar, but withdrew it before publication.  The story, which is about the death of Holden's older brother, was donated to Princeton University on the condition that it not be published until 50 years after Salinger's death, in 2060.  But in 2013, it and two other unpublished stories were scanned and leaked online.  Daniel Kolitz

Vannevar Bush (1890-1974) was an American engineer, policymaker and science administrator, known primarily for his work on analog computing and his political role in the development of the atomic bomb.  In 1945, in the article As We May Think (the paper was originally written in 1939, but was originally published in the July 1945 issue of the magazine The Atlantic Monthly) Bush proposed a theoretical proto-hypertext system (an electromechanical device, called memex), which has influenced the development of subsequent hypertext and intellect augmenting computer systems.  In his view, as an engineer and scientist, the answer was to be found in harnessing technology to provide a sophisticated mechanical solution to the problem.  Bush's idea should be viewed from the historical perspective of microfilm technology developed prior to 1945, as Bush was involved in the development of this technology and directed creation of a photoelectronic microfilm rapid selector at MIT during 1938-1940.  Extrapolating from the technology of his time, Bush described a new kind of device which was a sort of mechanized file and library.  He called it a "memex" (from "memory extender"):  A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility.  It consists of a desk, and while it can presumably be operated from a distance, it is primarily the piece of furniture at which he works.  On the top are slanting translucent screens, on which material can be projected for convenient reading.  There is a keyboard, and sets of buttons and levers.  Otherwise it looks like an ordinary desk.  See illustration of a memex at

Ten of the 15 fastest-growing large cities were located across the South in 2016, with four of the top five in Texas, according to new population estimates released May 25, 2017  by the U.S. Census Bureau.  Conroe, Texas (near Houston), was the fastest-growing large city (population of 50,000 or more) between 2015 and 2016 at 7.8 percent, making its growth rate more than 11 times the nation’s growth rate of 0.7 percent.  Some of the other fastest-growing cities were:  Frisco, Texas (6.2 percent); McKinney, Texas (5.9 percent); Greenville, S.C. (5.8 percent); and Georgetown, Texas (5.5 percent).  “Overall, cities in the South continue to grow at a faster rate than any other U.S region,” said Amel Toukabri, a demographer in the Census Bureau’s population division.  “Since the 2010 Census, the population in large southern cities grew by an average of 9.4 percent.  In comparison, cities in the West grew 7.3 percent, while cities in the Northeast and Midwest had much lower growth rates at 1.8 percent and 3.0 percent respectively.”  Four cities in the West—Bend, Ore.; Buckeye, Ariz.; Lehi, Utah; and Meridian, Idaho—were among the top 15 fastest growing.  Only one city in the Midwest, Ankeny, Iowa, topped the list while no cities in the Northeast were among the nation’s fastest growing.  The statistics for the time period  between July 1, 2015, and July 1, 2016 cover all local governmental units, including incorporated places (such as cities and towns), minor civil divisions (such as townships) and consolidated cities (government units for which the functions of an incorporated place and its parent county have merged).  While the overall list of the 15 largest U.S. cities did not change since 2015, Columbus, Ohio, surpassed Indianapolis, Ind., becoming the 14th largest city in the United States with a population of 860,090.   New York remains America’s largest city by a wide margin.  Its July 1, 2016, population of 8.5 million makes it more than twice as large as the next largest city, Los Angeles.  Los Angeles remains the second-largest city, with a population of about 4 million.  Despite a population loss of 8,638, Chicago remains the third-largest city, with a population of 2.7 million.  Phoenix, Ariz., had the largest numeric increase of any city, by adding 32,113 (about 88 people per day on average) between 2015 and 2016.  Release Number: CB17-81

The Longwood Gardens Fountain featuring 750 jets in changing patterns comes alive with five-minute shows set to music.  Since its 1914 Garden Party debut, this Italian-style outdoor theatre has expanded from its simple original fountains to the 750 jets that create the rainbowed curtain of water you see today, while playing host to more than 1500 performances throughout the years.  Find out more about the Open Air Theatre  See also Summer Spectacle May 27-September 30, 2017 with gorgeous pictures at  Issue 1715  May 27, 2017  On this date in 1933, the Century of Progress World's Fair opened in Chicago.  On this date in 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge opened to pedestrian traffic, creating a vital link between San Francisco and Marin County, CaliforniaWord of the Day  silly season  noun  1.  (idiomatic, journalism)  A period, usually during the summertime, when news media tend to place increased emphasis on reporting light-hearted, offbeat, or bizarrestories.  2. 

(idiomatic)  A period of time, as during a holiday season or a political campaign, in which the behavior of an individual or group tends to become uncharacteristically frivolous, mirthful, or eccentric.

Friday, May 26, 2017

A half-century ago, a girl and brother ran away to New York City from their suburban Connecticut home.   And the Metropolitan Museum of Art hasn’t been the same since.  If visions of Claudia and Jamie bathing—and collecting lunch money—in the Met’s Fountain of Muses bring up fond childhood memories of your own, you’re among the legions of readers who grew up loving E.L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.  The classic children’s book turns 50 in 2017, and the tale of the Kincaid siblings spending their days wandering about the paintings, sculptures and antiquities, and their nights sleeping in antique beds handcrafted for royalty, is as popular as ever.  The 1968 Newbery Medal winner has never been out of print.  (The same year, her debut novel Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth received the Newbery runner-up honor; Konigsburg is the only author to ever achieve the dual literary feat.)   Elaine Lobl (E.L.) was born in Manhattan in 1930, but grew up in small-town Pennsylvania. She earned a degree in chemistry from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, and married industrial psychologist David Konigsburg in 1952.  Elaine became a stay-at-home mother of three, and while living in Port Chester, New York, decided to start writing.  “When we were in grade school, Mom would write in the morning.  When the three of us kids would come home for lunch, she would read what she wrote,” says Paul Konigsburg, 62. “If we laughed she kept it in.  If not, she rewrote it.”  The Konigsburgs never lived in New York City, but the metropolis always provided a cultural respite.  One institution in particular served as both babysitter and source of inspiration.  “Mom took art lessons in [the city] on Saturdays, so she would drop all three of us kids off at the Metropolitan,” says Paul.  “I was the oldest, so I was in charge, and I had three rules:  One, we had to see the mummy.  Two, we had to see the knights in armor.  And three, I didn’t care what we saw."  Konigsburg’s most famous work—she wrote 18 additional kid’s books—had multiple inspirations.  In an “Author’s Message” published in a 2001 “Mixed-Up Files” issue of the Met’s Museum Kids magazine, Konigsburg recalled seeing a single piece of popcorn on a blue silk chair behind a velvet rope at the museum and musing that someone snuck in at night for a fancy snack.  In October 1965, Konigsburg found a more specific inspiration—one that set the mystery at the heart of the book in motion.  At the time, the New York art world was obsessed with the question of whether a sculpture purchased by the Met for $225 was actually a work by Leonardo da Vinci. (It is now believed to be a da Vinci from 1475.) Konigsburg reimagined the statue as “Angel,” the could-be-a-Michelangelo that captures Claudia’s imagination and leads her to the mansion of the titular Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.  As in real life, the fictional heiress purchased the statue for a few hundred bucks.  And though Frankweiler—and her exchange of the truth about the statue for an account of the kids’ adventure in the museum—isn’t based on a real person, her desire for mystery and excitement rings true for anyone in search of an adventure of their own.  Patrick Sauer  Read more and see graphics at

Three Sentences that Cost Your Business Time, Money, and Grief, book review by Jennifer Miller  January 30, 2017  “You can’t change horses in mid-stream.”  “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”  “This time is different.”  How many times have you heard these (or similar) sayings tossed out at the conference table when you’re making an important business decision?  These sentences are short-hand for cautionary tales when it comes to decision-making.  Rather than hash out the many reasons why we don’t want to change direction, instead, to save time, we trot out an aphorism that quickly sums up the logic of staying the course.  Tried-and-true adages can save us time when making decisions.  But when the sentences are merely clichés uttered without fully considering the ramifications, they can quickly become very expensive sentences.  These sentences, if not carefully examined, have the potential to cost business people a great deal of time, money and grief.  That’s the main premise of a new book by Jack Quarles, called Expensive Sentences: Debunking the Common Myths that Derail Decisions and Sabotage Success.  Quarles, who spent decades in the business world as a procurement professional, used to make his living helping companies save money.  As he worked with his internal partners, Quarles noticed that certain phrases (like “It’s too late to turn back now”) were often accepted at face value.  There wasn’t any investigation into if, in fact, these statements were true.  Often, they ended up being false, but the damage had already been done.  Over the years, Quarles started to notice themes to the many statements people made.  He started to think of these statements as “expensive” sentences that fall into one of three categories:  We are stuck in our current situation (we believe in false constraints).  Someone or something is special (and that uniqueness prevents us from making a different choice).  Something is scarce (there is not enough of something we want or need).  Read more at

What is the difference between stork and crane?  There are 19 species of storks, while cranes include 15 species.  Storks are carnivores, but cranes are more adaptive with omnivorous feeding habits.  Storks build up large platform nests on the trees and rock ledges, but cranes build their nests on shallow waters.  Female stork lays three to six eggs in one breeding season, while female crane lays only two eggs in one season.  Storks prefer more dry areas, whereas cranes like to inhabit wet lands.  Storks are mute, but cranes are highly vocal.  Most of the storks are migratory and travel long distances, while cranes could be either migratory or non-migratory.

April 23, 2017  Linguistic experts believe Icelandic language spoken by 400,000 may be at risk.  The language is being undermined by widespread use of English for tourism.  Experts also say many new computer devices are designed to recognize English but they do not understand Icelandic.  The people of the rugged North Atlantic island settled by Norsemen some 1,100 years ago have a unique dialect of Old Norse that has adapted to life at the edge of the Arctic.  Icelandic ranks among the weakest and least-supported language in terms of digital technology--along with Irish Gaelic, Latvian, Maltese and Lithuanian--according to a report by the Multilingual Europe Technology Alliance assessing 30 European languages.  See pictures including a law book penned on calf skin in 1363 at a museum in Iceland at

The US Supreme Court ruled on May 22, 2017 on how to interpret the patent venue laws, and the controversial business of "patent trolling" may never be the same.  In a unanimous decision, the justices held that the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which handles all patent appeals, has been using the wrong standard to decide where a patent lawsuit can be brought.  The 10-page Supreme Court ruling in TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods enforces a more strict standard for where cases can be filed.  It overturns a looser rule that the Federal Circuit has used since 1990.  The ruling may well signal the demise of the Eastern District of Texas as a favorite venue for patent lawsuits, especially those brought by "patent trolls," which have no business outside of licensing and litigating patents.  The TC Heartland case will affect the entire tech sector, but the parties here are battling over patents on "liquid water enhancers" used in flavored drink mixes.  TC Heartland, an Indiana-based food company, got sued by Kraft Foods in Delaware, then sought to move the case back to its home turf.  Neither the district court judge nor the Federal Circuit would allow such a transfer.  Congress last re-codified the patent venue law in 1948, and it updated the general venue laws at the same time.  In that year, the general venue law was liberalized to allow a lawsuit to be filed where a defendant corporation "resides or is doing business."  Several years later, the US Supreme Court considered whether a more liberalized venue rule should apply to patent cases.  In a 1956 decision called Transmirra Products v. Fourco Glass, the high court held that, in patent cases, the stricter rule, 28 U.S. Code § 1400, is the "sole and exclusive provision controlling venue" for patent infringement cases.  Such lawsuits can only be filed "where the defendant resides, or where the defendant has committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business."  Joe Mullin  Read more at

A Google artificial intelligence program defeated a Chinese grand master at the ancient board game Go on May 23, 2017, a major feather in the cap for the firm's AI ambitions as it looks to woo Beijing to gain re-entry into the country.  In the first of three planned games in the eastern water town of Wuzhen, the AlphaGo program held off China's world number one Ke Jie in front of Chinese officials and Google parent Alphabet's (GOOGL.O) chief executive Eric Schmidt.  The victory over the world's top player--which many thought would take decades to achieve--underlines the potential of artificial intelligence to take on humans at complex tasks.  Wooing Beijing may be less simple.  The game streamed live on Google-owned YouTube, while executives from the DeepMind unit that developed the program sent out updates live on Twitter (TWTR.N).  Both are blocked by China, as is Google search.  Google pulled its search engine from China seven years ago after it  refused to self-censor internet searches, a requirement of Beijing.  Since then it has been inaccessible behind the country's nationwide firewall.  Cate Cadell  Read more and see picture at  Issue 1714  May 26, 2017  On this date in 1805, Napoléon Bonaparte assumed the title of King of Italy and was crowned with the Iron Crown of Lombardy in Milan Cathedral, the gothic cathedral in Milan.  On this date in 1830, the Indian Removal Act was passed by the U.S. Congress; it was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson two days later.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

May 19, 2017  For 152 years, the San Francisco Chronicle has reported on—and photographed—every aspect of the city, including, of course, the evolution of Silicon Valley into the center of the world’s tech industry.  This area, south of San Francisco, earned its moniker in the early 1970s, after silicon chip manufacturers proliferated there.  It’s since become synonymous with breakneck economic growth and youthful billionaires, and has some of the most expensive housing in the country.  The technology it created or helped create often generated eye-catching photo-ops and headlines:  a giant Macintosh at the 1985 MacWorld Expo, or the front page of the January 1, 2000, issue: “Y2-OK: New Year Rolls In Smoothly.”  From semiconductors to microprocessors, personal computers to phones, garages to sleek campuses‚ the industry has always been driven by ideas and long hours. Today, it is easy to forget just how quickly these changes have become part of daily life—but old photos from the Chronicle seem to put it all in perspective.  The newspaper also captured the standout personalities and products of these times of innovation and invention:  Steve Wozniak, beaming at the “Apple II Forever” conference in 1984, San Francisco’s first coin-operated library computer, and April Fool’s gags at Sun Microsystems.  The images, captured on film, often in black and white, are also being brought into the digital age, alongside the millions of others that comprise the Chronicle’s photo archive.  Negatives and prints are gradually being scanned, and some of the best are being featured in the Instagram account SF Chronicle Vault.  The physical photo archive resides in the basement of the historic Chronicle Building at Fifth and Mission streets in the heart of San Francisco.  There are about 3 million negatives, 1 million hard-copy photos, and 1.5 million digital photos.  The old photos and negatives have been organized over the decades by subject and year, and in other ways by archivists, including current head librarian, Bill Van Niekerken.  The archive is as old as the Chronicle:  152 years.  The use of photos, however, wasn’t common until after the turn of the 20th century.  Anika Burgess

May 10, 2017  Books Recommended by This Year's TED Speakers:  the much-buzzed-about conference generated a gargantuan list of intriguing book recommendations by Jessica Stillman   TED is one of the world's premier cultural events, providing not just a chance for the thousand or so attendees to hear from some of the smartest people around, but also opening up this knowledge to millions of learners around the world through the event's wildly popular online videos.  The event's world-class speakers also regularly recommend books for further reading from the stage, and this year's event, held recently in Vancouver, British Columbia, was no exception.  Load up those shelves or e-readers with everything from history to poetry to sports memoirs and you're all set for summer.  Find a fraction of the list at

William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898) was arguably Britain's greatest statesman and the most significant Anglican layman of the last two centuries.  Four times Prime Minister, four times Chancellor of the Exchequer and a Parliamentarian for 63 years, few politicians have achieved as many lasting reforms as Gladstone.  He was a pragmatic political leader with an incessant concern with history, literature, the classical world and theological dispute and was a voracious reader.  Gladstone lived in the village of Hawarden in North Wales, a few miles from Chester.  He was eager to make his personal library accessible to others and with this in mind founded Gladstone’s Library in 1889, donating 32,000 of his own collection.  After his death the library became the national memorial to ‘the grand old man’.  Today it serves as residential library and meeting place dedicated to dialogue, debate and learning.  A hub of social interaction with 26 bedrooms, a varied programme of courses and events, conference rooms and free daily tours.  Gladstone’s annotated books are freely available on the library shelves, along with 200,000 books, journals and periodicals on a wide range of topics including Theology and Victorian Studies.  Some of the books here are 400 years old; some are original first editions; some are as recent as this month; all are here to be used.  Anyone can join the library (free of charge) as a Reader and can use the Library from 9am-5pm Monday to Saturday.  Tours of the Library are held at 12 noon, 2pm and 4pm Monday to Friday and at 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays.  The peaceful setting and relaxed atmosphere provide the ideal getaway.  Get away from the daily routine and put aside time to read, reflect or write.  Gladstone’s Library has 26 comfortable rooms, most en-suite and all are equipped with a work station and Roberts radio.  See pictures at

The easily accessible yet sufficiently remote location of residential Gladstone’s Library, which was bequeathed by former Prime Minister William Gladstone and offers guests the opportunity to 'sleep with books', is such that the switching off process for a Londoner begins upon stepping off the train at Chester station.  Once aboard the number four bus, mobile phone signal dwindles on the 40-minute journey across the Welsh border as a bustling town centre gives way to fields and eventually the pretty, quiet village of Hawarden.  The grand room with mezzanine level that houses them contains desks for working at, and squishy armchairs too, but the cosiest room for curling up in has to be the Gladstone Room, filled with big comfy sofas, Persian rugs, candlesticks, original windows, board games, puzzles, newspapers, an honesty bar, a roaring open fire in winter, and shelves of contemporary fiction if reading up on the Reformation of the church isn’t your bag.  It’s quirky and eccentric, with just a touch of the charmingly shabby—like hanging out in your favourite bookshop.  The small team of very friendly staff recognise repeat visitors, and guests are welcomed by name on arrival.  A ‘Glimpse’ tour—also open to members of the public—gives an overview of the library’s history, and well directed (silent) tour of its main room.  Amazingly, the library has been residential since it first opened in 1904, this having always been Gladstone’s intention, but gained far greater prominence as a retreat for writers in the last five years or so.  Since 2000, 590 books have been written or researched here, including by well-known authors such as Naomi Alderman.  Several annual festivals are held these days, and there’s a writer in residence.  Its popularity is international, with guests coming from across the globe to visit this unique escape from the fast pace and distractions of modern life.  If you want to venture out, the Gladstone family, still very much involved in their ancestor’s bequest to his community, also own a well-regarded pub in the village.  The library’s original ethos is remarkably progressive; Gladstone wished for his books to remain in North Wales and not be outsourced to Oxford or London, and, a great believer in the transformative power of education, for them to be publicly available.  Rachel Cranshaw  See stunning pictures at

A bill empowering the president to appoint the next Register of Copyrights, which would effectively remove jurisdiction over the position from the Librarian of Congress, sailed through the House of Representatives 378–48 on April 26, 2017 and will now continue to the Senate.  The Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act, also known as HR 1695, was introduced on March 23, 2017 and would make the Register—who has traditionally been appointed by the Librarian of Congress—a presidential appointment, with the advice and consent of the senate.  The Register would serve a ten-year term limit renewable by another presidential nomination and Senate confirmation, as the Librarian of Congress since the passage of the bipartisan “Librarian of Congress Succession Modernization Act of 2015.”  Recommendations for the position would be made by a panel consisting of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President pro tempore of the Senate, the majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate, and the Librarian of Congress.  The bill would also authorize the president to remove the Register of Copyrights with notification to both houses of Congress.  HR 1695 amends 17 U.S. Code § 701, which previously provided the Librarian of Congress the power to appoint and direct the Register of Copyrights, and did not set term limits for the position.  An earlier bill, the Copyright Office for the Digital Economy Act, or HR 890, was introduced in the House of Representatives on February 6, 2017.  HR 890, introduced by representatives Tom Marino (R-PA), Judy Chu (D-CA), and Barbara Comstock (R-VA), would establish the Copyright Office as a separate independent agency of the legislative branch, as well as incorporating the changes specified in HR 1695.  The Copyright Office has been located within LC since its creation in 1897.  On May 2, 2017 a bill containing language nearly identical to that of HR 1695, the Copyright Accountability Act (S 1010), was introduced in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  The bill was sponsored by Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and has been championed by music industry professionals.  Lisa Peet  Read more at

Back in 2012, Twitter decided to honor Do Not Track, which is basically an honor system for web tracking.  When browser users had a Do Not Track setting enabled, any service that honored DNT wasn't supposed to track that person.  Twitter will no longer honor Do Not Track settings.  Twitter is dumping its support for Do Not Track (DNT), changing how it shares user data with third parties, and holding any web browsing data it collects for a longer duration—all to better aid in ad targeting, of course.  But at the same time, Twitter is giving users more control over what kind of user data can be used for targeted advertising, as well as more transparency about the information it collects about you.  The privacy features are active now, but the new privacy policies that dump DNT, change data sharing policies, and hold your data longer don't come into effect until June 18, 2017.  Ian Paul  See also  Issue 1713  May 24, 2017  On this date in 1595, Nomenclator of Leiden University Library appeared, the first printed catalog of an institutional library.  On this date in 1626,  Peter Minuit bought ManhattanWord of the Day  Mancunian noun  A person raised or living in the city of Manchester, England

Monday, May 22, 2017

A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg  TOPONYMS, words derived from places
sybaritic  (sib-uh-RIT-ik)  adjective  Devoted to or relating to luxury and pleasure.  After Sybaris, an ancient Greek city in southern Italy noted for its wealth, and whose residents were notorious for their love of luxury.  Earliest documented use:  1619.
dalmatic  (dal-MAT-ik)  noun  A loose, wide-sleeved outer garment worn by some monarchs at their coronations and by deacons, bishops, etc. in some churches.  From Old French dalmatique, from Latin dalmatica vestis (Dalmatian garment) since these garments were originally made of Dalmatian wool.  Dalmatia is a region along the Adriatic coast of Croatia.  That’s also where Dalmatian dogs got their name from.  Earliest documented use:  1425.
sardine  (sahr-DEEN)  verb tr.  To pack tightly.  The verb form developed from the tight packing of the sardine in cans.  From French sardine, from Latin sardina, from Greek Sardo (Sardinia).  Earliest documented use:  1895.
frieze  (freez)  noun  1.  A decorative horizontal band, as on a building.  2.  A coarse woolen fabric.  For 1:  After Phrygia, an ancient country in Asia Minor, noted for embroidery.  Earliest documented use:  1563.  For 2:  From French frise, perhaps from Latin frisia (Frisian wool).  Earliest documented use:  1418.
pierian  (py-EER-ee-uhn)  adjective   Relating to learning or poetry.   After Pieria, a region in Greece.  In Greek mythology, Pieria was home to a spring that was sacred to the Muses and inspired anyone who drank from it.  Earliest documented use:  1591.
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From:  Andrew Pressburger   Subject:  Sybaritic  The first time I encountered this word was in my high school days in my native Hungary, studying a poem “To the Hungarians” by Daniel Berzsenyi (1776-1836), a poet of the Hungarian Enlightenment.  He was the first to successfully introduce classical metres and themes in Hungarian poetry.   His activity as a poet was discovered by chance, and he became known through the efforts of Ferenc Kazinczy, a leading advocate of Hungarian enlightenment that eventually culminated in the Revolution of 1848 and the resulting War of Independence.
From:  Alexander Nix   Subject:  sybaritic   "History is all explained by geography." - Robert Penn Warren, novelist and poet (24 Apr 1905-1989)  Your thought for the day is excellently and humourously illustrated by Tim Marshall in his book Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need To Know About Global Politics.
From:  Alex McCrae   Subject:  frieze  To this very day a major issue of contention in the world of classical antiquities rightful ownership remains the British government’s purchase and subsequent removal of what are familiarly known as “The Elgin Marbles” many decades ago, long prominently displayed at The British Museum in London.  The “Marbles” in question represented a huge trove of Golden Age of Athens (circa 450 BCE) exquisitely carved marble figurative sculptures, many removed from the Parthenon (Temple of Athena) atop the Acropolis, including scores of free-standing sculptural works, plus a 92-panel high-relief white marble horizontal frieze depicting legendary battles between the Lapiths and the Centaurs. 
From:  Stefan Bucek   Subject:  Frieze  The iconic arches that lined the roof of the old Yankee Stadium were known as the frieze.  When the stadium was renovated in the 70s, the frieze was reproduced only on the outfield wall, but when the new stadium was built across the street just before 2010, the frieze was restored to its rightful place on the roof that surrounds the field.  I had a conversation a few years back with a sportswriter here in California, and when I used the word “frieze” in respect to Yankee Stadium, it was a sign to him that I was a genuine Yankees fan!

Eight new pieces have been installed at The University of Toledo's 12th annual Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition.  See pictures at  Artists receive stipends for the sculptures which be on display for the next year.  Nearly 120 sculptures have rotated since the exhibit began, and 11 have become part of UT's art collection.  Toledo Blade  May 18, 2017

An artwork by Jean-Michel Basquiat has sold for a record $110.5m at auction in New York.  Sotheby’s said the sale of Untitled on May 18, 2017 in Manhattan was an auction record for the artist.  It also set a record price for an American artist at auction.  The 1982 painting depicts a face in the shape of a skull.  The piece was purchased by noted Japanese collector and entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa after a 10-minute bidding war.  He said he plans to display the painting in his museum in Chiba, Japan, after loaning it to institutions and exhibitions around the world.  See picture at

What do a teleprompter, thermos, hoover, aspirin, and videotape have in common?  They were once trademarked but lost their legally protected status because their names became too generic.  Google won't be joining that list any time soon.  Google defeated a "genericide" lawsuit May 16, 2017 that claimed Google should no longer be trademarked because the word "google" is synonymous to the public with the term "search the Internet."  A US federal appeals court sided with Google in a case brought by a man who bought 763 domains with the term "google" in them.  The court ruled that Google still retains its trademark even if the term "google" has become known for searching the Internet.  One reason is because Google is a search engine and a whole lot more.  "Even if we assume that the public uses the verb 'google' in a generic and indiscriminate sense, this tells us nothing about how the public primarily understands the word itself, irrespective of its grammatical function, with regard to Internet search engines," the San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.  The court noted that trademark loss to genericide occurs when the name has become an "exclusive descriptor" that makes it difficult for competitors to compete unless they use that name.  The Google trademark dispute dates to 2012 when a man named Chris Gillespie registered 763 domain names that combined "google" with other words and phrases, including Google filed a cybersquatting complaint under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy and claimed trademark infringement.  Google prevailed, and an arbitration panel ordered the forfeiture of the domains.  Gillespie then sued in a bid to invalidate the trademark.  David Kravets  See 23-page opinion DAVID ELLIOTT, an Individual; CHRIS GILLESPIE, an Individual, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. GOOGLE, INC., a Delaware corporation, Defendant-Appellee, No. 15-15809 D.C. No. 2:12-cv-01072- SMM at

Not content with patenting the marvellous invention of a paper bag, Apple decided that ordinary pizza boxes simply weren’t up to the job in its white and shiny world.  Behold the circular, Apple-approved pizza box to end all pizza boxes.  Published in 2012--with one box apparently signed as a mark of respect on the death of the Apple founder, Steve Jobs--the patent says that the new and improved circular pizza receptacle’s invention is credited to Apple’s head of food services, Francesco Longoni.  It was intended for use in the company’s Caffè Macs and the new Apple Park cafe.  The patent describes a “container that is structurally stable enough for containing an item in a variety of applications and is also environmentally friendly”.  It has holes in the top to allow moisture to escape, apparently to keep pizzas from getting soggy so workers could take them back to their pods.  The concentric rings, the patent says, support the base of the pizza while providing an air gap between it and the base of the box.  The lid clips into the bottom, and the side wall integrity keeps the whole thing from getting crushed under the weight of hungry eyes as you trundle back to your desk.

Cloud Computing, who was unraced as a 2-year old and was making just his fourth career start, overtook Classic Empire with a strong closing kick to win the 142nd  Preakness Stakes by a head on May 20, 2017 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md.  Classic Empire placed second and Senior Investment finished 4 3/4-lengths back in third.  Cloud Computing, who was held out of the Kentucky Derby, covered the 1 3/16 mile distance in 1:55.98.  Keith Sargeant  Issue 1712  May 22, 2017  On this date in 1570, the first atlas, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, was published with 70 maps.  On this date in 1804, the Lewis and Clark Expedition officially began as the Corps of Discovery departed from St. Charles, Missouri.  On this date in 1819, the SS Savannah left port at Savannah, Georgia  on a voyage to become the first steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean.  On this date in 1826,  HMS Beagle departed on its first voyage.