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Prof. Boerner's Explorations

Thoughts and Essays that explore the world of Technology, Computers, Photography, History and Family.

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Archive for January, 2011
Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoToday we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. launch of a chimp, Ham, into a suborbital flight. The completion of this and follow-up flights paved the way for human astronaunts to follow in the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo Projects. Our quest of space was triggered by the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik I in 1957. President Eisenhower took the control of the military and placed it into the hands of a new civilian agency. This agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), was to end the contention among the different military services for the recognition for space success; NASA would provide a single, integrated approach to space.

When President Kennedy called for landing a man on the moon, the wisdom of Eisenhower’s creation of NASA became clear. The technology for accomplishing this task was NOT available in 1961. Our computers were relatively crude and slow; they lacked both the ease of use by non-engineers and the programming languages to pull off this task. We lacked any way of communicating efficiently with the space capsule for voice, data, and biomedical monitoring. We also needed to develop new materials and systems for the human environments within a space capsule. In short, we needed to accomplish, perhaps, a century’s worth of scientific advancement in less than a decade!

BE024851 TMH 01/31/2011

Fortunately, the U.S. has already “pulled off” a similar feat during World War II in the Manhattan Project. The nation’s resources had been mobilized once in this century, so we knew that we could do it again. We mobilized our scientists, engineers, and manufacturers to attack these various problems. The resources of our universities were also brought to bear; this did not the extreme secrecy needs that the development of the atomic bomb had. When all was said and done, I stood proud when Neil Armstrong took that first steo on the moon in 1969. I was just as proud when the lifted themselves off the moon’s surface, docked with the command vehicle, an returned to earth.

Some of the drama of the space chimps was shown in the movie, “Space Cowboys”. But, let’s now explore the real story of this adventure…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 4236 Words ]
    

   

Quotations Related to NASA:

    

“NASA should start thinking about this planet.”
— Wally Schirra

“For quite some time, women at NASA only had scientific backgrounds.”
— Sally Ride

“At the end of our NASA careers, no one had a place for us in the military.”
— Wally Schirra

continue reading…

Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoOn the west coast of this great country, if someone says that they are going to “the City”, the name that comes to mind is San Francisco. It is like traveling to Paris, France, without leaving this country. But a Paris with many extras — cable cars, the Golden Gate Bridge, Haight-Ashbury, Fisherman’s Wharf, and numerous other sights unique to this city. Paris may have its Eiffel Tower, but “Frisco” has the Transamerica Pyramid. And while Paris is known for its unique neighborhoods (“arrondissements”), San Francisco has many neighborhoods that are just as unique. It is a visit to the world that is one hour away from me by plane!

But its origins is much more humble. Before the Spaniards, the local native American groups could be found here during certain seasons; when Sir Francis Drake first dropped anchor here, no local inhabitants were in evidence; it was not their season for this place. When The Spanish built their Presidio and Mission, the community was called Yerba Buena. In 1847, shortly before California became a U.S. territory at the close of the Mexican-American War, the name was changed to San Francisco.

San_francisco_in_fog_with_rays

And then the action really hit! The following year GOLD was discovered in Sacramento and the California Gold Rush was on. SF became the port of entry to the gold fields from the sea. Then, the big four (Charles Crocker, Mark Hopkins, Collis P. Huntington, and Leland Stanford) set about building the western half of the transcontinental railroad; the Chinese laborers entered through San Francisco and created Chinatown. Then, when San Francisco had grown into one the most sophisticated cities in America, the 1906 earthquake and fire wiped it out. It was rebuilt bigger and better. During the Great Depression, the most sophisticated bridge was built across the entrance of San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge. When World War II began, San Francisco became the west coast port from where troops left and returned from fighting in the Pacific Theater. Once returned, many settled in the San Francisco area. And finally, it became the center of the counterculture activities during the 1960s: the Summer of Love, the Gay Rights Movement, and other liberal causes.

Not a bad history for a seasonal home for some of our local Native Americans! But let’s get started with our exploration of the great city on the bay…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 4302 Words ]

   

Quotations Related to SAN FRANCISCO:

    

“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”
— Mark Twain

“San Francisco is perhaps the most European of all American cities.”
— Cecil Beaton

“There may not be a Heaven, but there is a San Francisco.”
— Ashleigh Brilliant

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Edited by Gerald Boerner

   

Commentary:

JerryPhotoIn 1944, as World War II was grinding on, The D-Day landings, the Battle of the Bulge, fight for Iwo Jima & Okinawa were ahead and years of fighting were expected, especially in the Pacific Theater. The USS Missouri, the “Mighty Mo”, was launched at the Brooklyn Naval Yard on this day in 1944. This would be the last Battleship to be built in not only the United States, but in the World. This Iowa-class battleships was equipped with 16” guns that could hurl a 2700 lb. shell 20 miles. Sea battles would be fought beyond the horizon!

This ship fought proudly in several wars and serve as the stage for the final surrender of the Japanese to end World War II. It would go on to fight in the Korean War and the Persian Gulf War. It served with distinction throughout these engagements. But there had been changes in naval warfare; the focus had changed from “ships of the line” of the days of the sailing vessels of the 18th and 19th centuries to the dreadnoughts , named after the HMS Dreadnought battleship, of the early 20th century. But during the inter-war years, the large Battleships were shown to be vulnerable to the new airplanes.

USS_Missouri_watching_over_USS_Arizona_-_Pearl_Harbor

Billy Mitchell had demonstrated in the early 1920s that these battleships could be sunk by bombs dropped from the air. This shocked the Naval establishment the viewed the giant gun platforms as the “showcase” ship. The British had the HMS Hood, the Germans had the Bismarck, the Japanese had the Yamamoto, and the U.S. had the Iowa-class ships like the USS Missouri. The aircraft carrier became more important, especially in the Pacific Theater and the efficacy of the submarine was established, especially during the Battle of the Atlantic. These subs would become even more important during the Cold War when they acquired nuclear power and the ability to launch long-range missiles.

But enough context. It’s time to start our exploration of the proud history and record of the USS Missouri…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 4184 Words ]
    

   

Quotations Related to BATTLESHIP:

    

“If we had less statesmanship we could get along with fewer battleships.”
— Mark Twain

“He’s going to the battleship? Well, I guess he’s getting mentally ready, huh?.”
— Bernie Bickerstaff

“The Melvin probably was the only destroyer to sink a battleship in World War II.”
— Jack Green

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Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoWe examine the life today of one of the legal geniuses that planted the seeds that today allows us to harvest the benefits for the common man (and woman). Louis D. Brandeis was just that type of advocate for the people, hence he became known as “the People’s Lawyer” and the “Robin Hood of the Law”. Although his poor eyesight made law school difficult under the gas lights of the 1870s, he paid other students to read the books to him; he graduated from Harvard Law School as Valedictorian with the highest GPA, a record that stood for eight decades!

Brandeis contributed several significant concepts to the legal profession that have real applicability today. He was a strong supporter for Freedom of Speech and the Right to Privacy. All one needs to do today is to look at the intrusiveness of government into our lives following 9/11 to appreciate this. And our privacy is further threatened by the many online social networks to which we belong to understand this. His advocacy for the Freedom of Speech enables the common man to question the actions of our government, in spite of the McCarthy hearings, HUAC, the anti-communist zeitgeist, and the search for threats to Homeland Security.

Brandeis_office_1916The other major contribution made by Brandeis was the “Brandeis Brief”. This changed how legal cases were argued in court. Previous to Brandeis, arguments were made based only on legal theory. Following the 1908 Muller v. Oregon case, legal briefs were supported not only by legal theory, but also by documentation and expert testimony. These are the techniques that have been used in support of environmental protection, consumer product and other important public and personal rights issues. As a Supreme Court Justice, he brought this activist zeal to the court.

But, now we need to proceed with our exploration of the life and contributions of the Honorable Louis D. Brandeis…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 4234 Words ]

   

Quotations Related to LOUIS D. BRANDEIS:

    

“If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable.”
— Louis D. Brandeis

“If we would guide by the light of reason we must let our minds be bold.”
— Louis D. Brandeis

“Neutrality is at times a graver sin than belligerence.”
— Louis D. Brandeis

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Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoThis day marks a rather somber event in the history of man — the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration in 1945. It shocked the world when the Soviet troops entered the camp and found the remnants of the prisoners barely alive. What’s more, they found stacks of dead bodies awaiting their fate in the crematoria. This represented a level of inhumanity unseen in the western world.

This camp was the first hard evidence of Nazi Germany’s “Final Solution” against the Jewish population. This camp was not just a holding area for prisoners to be worked hard, but it was a place where those not able to work were directed to the gas chambers to be immediately put to death. At Auschwitz, other prisoners were marked for medical experimentation by the infamous Dr. Mengele. Special trains were designated to carry Jews from western Europe out of Germany to Polish camps.

There are some ironies in this event, however. Stories abound of the atrocities of Joseph Stalin against his own military leaders. We have also heard of the harsh treatment of German Prisoners of War captured during Operation Barbarossa and against Polish citizens early in World War II. Finally, it is well-known that the Red Army left a trail of rape and pillage as they advanced to Berlin along the Eastern Front. So the Soviets were not without their blemishes.

Dachau_death_march

But before the western Allies (British and American Forces) were not blameless either. All we need to do is look at the “carpet bombing” campaigns carried out against German cities. While the Americans tried to carry out precision bombing campaigns during daytime hours, the British nighttime raids dropped all pretense of such targeted raids. The ultimate aim of these bombing campaigns were to instill fear and destruction upon the German people. This was especially evident in the near total destruction of Dresden. Not so blameless, were we?

But even all combatants in the European theater were guilty of some abuse of human rights, nothing approached that found in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. The destruction of millions of Jews and other “undesirables” was almost beyond comprehension.

Bot let us proceed with our exploration of today’s topic…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 4241 Words ]

   

Quotations Related to AUSCHWITZ:

    

“I made a mistake when I said there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz.”
— David Irving

“Auschwitz is a place in which tragedy cannot occur.”
— Edward Bond

“Humanity’s become a product and when humanity is a product, you get Auschwitz and you get Chair.”
— Edward Bond

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Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoAmerica was challenged by its new, young President, John F. Kennedy, who at his inauguration called for the U.S. to put a man on the moon and return him safely to earth by the end of the 1960s. This was a major escalation of the space race that began when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I in 1957. The scientific, engineering, and manufacturing resources of America was directed towards this goal. I remember the pride that I felt when that first man stepped onto the lunar surface.

This quest to conquer space was not always successful. Launch vehicles failed, New technological solutions needed to be tweaked. scores of personnel needed to be trained. And a whole new science, telemetry, had to be developed. There were accidents happened; the worst of these occurred when three astronauts died in their command module of the Apollo 1 in 1967. The was a major, if temporary setback for the program.

APOLLO 204 CREW TMH 01/27/2011

But this problem was solved and man eventually did walk on the moon. We did achieve the goal presented to us by that President whose life was also lost to an assassin. You should check out my series on the Space Race; it is found under the “Emerging Technologies” menu tab. Many different developments needed to come together to accomplish this great goal.

But now its time to start our exploration of the Apollo 1 Program…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 4141 Words ]
   

  

Quotations Related to APOLLO:

   

“He who commands an Apollo flight will not command a second one.”
— Wally Schirra

“At this point in my career, Apollo 13 is a million light years away.”
— Kathleen Quinlan

“Kennedy had made a mess in Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. He had to do something to look good. The Apollo program of going to the Moon was quite a goal.”
— Wally Schirra

continue reading…

Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoFor most Americans, especially those of the recent generation, think of India in terms of outsourcing, lost jobs, and movie production. For these generations, the world of Rudyard Kipling, Riki-Tiki-Tavi, British colonialism, and the caste system may be totally foreign concepts. If they have young children, the may have shown them “The Jungle Book”, but it is just like other stories from the Disney Studios.

These generations don’t realize that from the mid-1800s these lands of India were “star” of that empire. It was the land that practiced “weird” religious practices and had many strange customs. There was the caste system by which people’s fate in life was determined by their happenstance of birth. And when a man died, his wife was expected to throw herself on the funeral pyre!

This is the world that entered into the 20th century. On the surface, the society was seemingly ordered under the care of the British military. But under the surface revolution was brewing. For some, like Gandhi, this was a non-violent protest. But under other activists, this involved violent confrontations. In the end, when India and Pakistan were given separate lands in 1947 for the Hindu and Muslim populations, respectively, It would be left to leaders such as Gandhi, Nehru, and Prasad.

Nehru_Gandhi_1937We hope that once you have read this post that you will have a better appreciation of ths wonderful country. We need to remind ourselves that much of the Eastern knowledge from China to Western Europe came to us by way of India.

So, let’s proceed with our exploration of this topic…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 4144 Words ]
    

   

Quotations Related to INDIA:

    

“Europe is merely powerful; India is beautiful.”
— Savitri Devi

“I am always fascinated by India.”
— Gary Ackerman

“Cinema in India is like brushing your teeth in the morning. You can’t escape it.”
— Shahrukh Khan

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Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoThe anniversary of the first commercial, jet-based transcontinental passenger service opened new horizons. The Boing 707, the aircraft used in this service, evolved a pedigree that included both fighters (F-100) and bombers (B-52). The jet engines were a civilian version of those used in the military versions. This made for a reliable plan suited for the long distance routes to be flown.

This first transcontinental service was provided by American Airlines rather than their major competitor, United Airlines. Why? For one major reason — controlling interest in United was held by Howard Hughes and the airline made extensive use of the Lockheed Constellation planes that were not use jet engines; Hughes also controlled Lockheed! Thus, the availability for American Airlines gave them a choice of planes and, as a result, a competitive advantage over rival United Airlines.

Here we see the essence of the innovation dilemma. One needs to have a competitive idea or product AND a way to utilize that product before a BREAKTHROUGH service can be introduced. The enemy of such innovations is the restricted thinking that results from being bound by current business thinking.

John_Travolas_707-138B_(253799799)

It reminds me of the anonymous story told about why Xerox never became a “real” player in the computer industry. After all, they had the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) which developed the concepts that made the Macintosh such a success. So why didn’t Xerox take the computer market by storm? The alleged answer was: “The salesmen couldn’t figure out where to load the paper into the computer!”. THIS is an example of restricted thing.

Well let’s take a closer look as we explore the first transcontinental jet service…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 3798 Words ]

   

Quotations Related to AIRLINE:

    

“Airline travel is hours of boredom interrupted by moments of stark terror.”
— Al Boliska

“Running an airline is a normal job. Racing is more.”
— Niki Lauda

“I have to say that flying on Air Force One sort of spoils you for coach on a regular airline.”
— Ronald Reagan

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Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoI remember fondly that Super Bowl Sunday many, any years ago in that land far, far away. Well, maybe all that long ago (1984) or that far away (Riverside, CA) to be specific. But the impact of that 3rd quarter TV commercial was a landmark event in advertising history. And the introduction a few days later of the Apple Macintosh Computer by the Macintosh itself was frosting on the cake! A whole new world of computing had arrived.

I must confess that I was one of those guys who went bonkers the first time that I started playing with this little Mac 128K. It was cute and responsive. I had spent the previous 20 years working on mini- and mainframe computers. I has learned their command lines. I had punched up decks of program and data cards. And I had learned programming so I could get something done. But all of that was just plain old hard work compared with this cute little Mac and its GUI interface. Valhalla had arrived!

Mac_Design_Team

But improvements were needed. And they slowly came — more memory, a faster, more powerful CPU, additional connections for high speed, high capacity peripherals. But troubles were also awaiting. Apple went through periods where the seemed to lose their vision. The company’s success lead to financial “amateurism” the almost scuttled it. But, like the phoenix, Apple rose again to deliver new and innovative products the redefined what a computer was.

So, let’s jump into today’s exploration to see what happened to this cute little computer introduced on this day in 1984…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 4196 Words ]
    

   

Quotations Related to MACINTOSH:

    

“I think the Macintosh proves that everyone can have a bitmapped display.”
— Bill Joy

“My first Macintosh was a 128k machine which I upgraded to 512k the minute it became possible.”
— Buffy Sainte-Marie

“Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs founded Apple Inc, which set the computing world on its ear with the Macintosh in 1984.”
— Kevin Mitnick

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Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoYesterday we examined the Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade that established conditions for legalized abortions. That was in 1973. Today we examine the 24th Amendment, more significant that even a Supreme Court ruling that was ratified almost ten years earlier in 1964. The irony, if you will, didn’t come until almost 100 years after the end of the civil war and the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Why was a Civil Rights amendment still required in 1964 to guarantee access to one’s voting in federal elections (President, Vice President, Senators, and Representatives)? Were these rights not provided for by the Fourteenth Amendment? YES, but… During the Reconstruction Period following the end of the Civil War, there were groups in the American South (the old Confederacy) that did not want African Americans and Native Americams to gain equal rights, especially the right to vote.

Court Equal Justice

A series of “Jim Crow” laws were passed to put obstacles in place to prevent the exercise of these rights. One of the most effective techniques was the “Poll Tax” to prevent the poor from voting. It proved to be robust and escaped legal challenges. Following the campaigns of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the early 1960s.

So, let’s take a closer look at the 24th Amendment now…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 3562 Words ]
    

   

Quotations Related to AMENDMENTS:

    

“The right wing always mobilizes around constitutional amendments: the right to bear arms, school prayer.”
— Al Sharpton

“We didn’t pass any constitutional amendments that affected the executive branch while I was governor.”
— John Engler

“I believe if we introduced the Lord’s Prayer here, senators would propose a large number of amendments to it.”
— Henry Wilson

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