Good Books

If you are at all interested in anthropology or the lives of your Neanderthal ancestors, this novel will be an enjoyable read.  This reminds me somewhat of the old series called Clan of the Cave Bears, but it is much easier to read (and shorter). The author Claire Cameron acknowledges help from Yuval Harari and Ian Tattersall.

Perhaps this will be the first of a series.  I hope so.  I know I enjoyed it.  Thought provoking.  It is a “fast read” and holds your attention.  But caution is required, this is either adults only or at least older teens.

The book is about two women, separated by 40,000 years.

The Circle

The film The Circle is an excellent movie, in my opinion. It can be classified as “future fiction” rather than “science fiction”. It stars folks like Emma Watson. Tom Hanks, John Boyega, and Bill Paxton. It really feels like the Silicone Valley of now: fast. fresh and optimistic.

There are so many negative reviews about the film that I have begun to wonder it the critics are being led by the big tech companies that might feel it shows them in a negative light. The movie isn’t nearly as bad as “they” say. so I have begun to smell a rat.

Mick LaSalle of The San Francisco Chronicle praised the film’s timeliness: “What makes The Circle so valuable is not only that it’s showing us a ghastly possible path that the world may take. but that it articulates the mentality that could create and sustain it.”

It you enjoy movies with disturbing visions of the future, you should really make an effort to see The Circle. The ideas presented about privacy are important now, we must think about them, evaluate our own opinions, and not let financial motives of others push us in a direction we don’t want.

World Book Day

In honor of World Book Day on Sunday 4/23/2017, billionaire Richard Branson has put together a list of 70 “must-read” books. One of my recent most favorites is # 70!

Here’s the full list:

1. Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak
2. Tales of the Unexpected – Roald Dahl
3. George’s Marvelous Medicine – Roald Dahl
4. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
5. Oh, The Place You’ll Go – Dr. Seuss
6. Peter Pan – J. M. Barrie
7. The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling
8. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain
9. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
10. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams
11. Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stephenson
12. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
13. Jurassic Park – Michael Crichton
14. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea – Jules Verne
15. 1984 – George Orwell
16. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
17. The Quiet American – Graham Greene
18. The Dice Man – Luke Rhinehart
19. Shantaram – Gregory Roberts
20. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
21. Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World – Tracy Kidder
22. The Outermost House – Henry Beston
23. Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China – Jung Chang
24. Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege – Antony Beevor
25. The Right Stuff – Tom Wolfe
26. In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex – Nathaniel Philbrick
27. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
28. Travels with Charley – John Steinbeck
29. Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela – Nelson Mandela
30. Mao: The Unknown Story – Jung Chang
31. A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety – Jimmy Carter
32. No Future Without Forgiveness – Desmond Tutu
33. Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time – Dava Sobel
34. Mandela’s Way: Lessons on Life, Love, and Courage – Stengel
35. Limitless: Leadership That Endures – Ajaz Ahmed
36. Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World – Adam Grant
37. If I Could Tell You Just One Thing: 50 of the world’s most remarkable people pass on their best piece of advice – Richard Reed
38. Remote: Office Not Required – Jason Fried
39. Start With Why – Simon Sinek
40. 101 Reasons to Get Out of Bed – Natasha Milne
41. Letters to a Stranger: A publishing project in aid of MIND – Various
42. Self Belief: The Vision – Jamal Edwards
43. The Meaning of the 21st Century – James Martin
44. Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill – Matthieu Ricard
45. A Time for New Dreams – Ben Okri
46. A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking
47. The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution – Frank White
48. Beyond The Blue – Jim Campbell
49. Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think – Peter Diamandis
50. Ending the War on Drugs – Various
51. The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth – Tim Flannery
52. Big World, Small Planet – Johan Rockström and Mattias Klum
53. An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It – Al Gore
54. Necker: A Virgin Island – Russell James
55. Lost Ocean – Johanna Basford
56. Arctica: The Vanishing North – Sebastian Copeland
57. In Patagonia – Bruce Chatwin
58. Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster – Jon Krakauer
59. The World Without Us – Weisman
60. In-N-Out Burger: A Behind-the-Counter Look at the Fast-Food Chain That Breaks All the Rules – Stacy Perman
61. In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto – Michael Pollan
62. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal – Eric Schlosser
63. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption – Bryan Stevenson
64. Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg
65. Cosmos – Carl Sagan
66. Obama: The Historic Presidency of Barack Obama – 2,920 Days – Mark Greenberg
67. Little Wins, The Huge Power of Thinking Like a Toddler – Paul Lindley
68. Black Box Thinking – Matthew Syed
69. Winners: And How They Succeed – Alastair Campbell
70. Homo Deus – Yuval Noah Harari

So, print this “check list” and start reading! Ready, set, go….

and on the eighth day God said, “OK, Murphy, take over.”

New films

A couple of neat films have been released this week.

The first is short, about 6 minutes long, is from the American Museum of Natural History about human population growth over the last 200,000 years, called Human Population Through Time. It is a relaxing view.

Watch it by clicking here.

The other is from Leonardo DiCaprio as he explores the topic of climate change. This one is longer, about 1.5 hours, but I think it is well worth it. This is an excellent movie, in my opinion, and we should really thank Leonardo DiCaprio for the time and money he spent on this film.

You can see it by clicking here, to go to into YouTube

or even watch it here directly.

Some thoughts from October 2016


Random quotes from magazines.

Nature 20 October 2016 World View

It’s worth noting that a conscious superintelligent AI might actually be less dangerous than a non-conscious one, because, at least in humans, one process that puts the brakes on immoral behaviors is ‘affective empathy’: the emotional contagion that makes a person feel what they perceive another to be feeling. Maybe conscious AIs would care about us more than unconscious ones would.

There is a chance that the first superintelligent AI will be the only one we will ever make. This is because once it appears – conscious or not – it can improve itself and start changing the world according to its own values.

Science 21 October 2016 Science Lessons for the Next President

As the world warms, its oceans are swelling by an average of 3.2 millimeters a year; they have risen by nearly the height of a playing card since 1993. Some 40% of this increase stems from the physical expansion of water as it heats. The rest is mostly caused by melting mountain glaciers and retreating ice sheets in Greenland.

Because of regional geology, ocean currents, and shifts in gravitational pull caused by changes on Earth’s surface, such as the melting of massive ice sheets, the ocean does not rise evenly everywhere. Much of the East Coast is sinking as Earth’s mantle continues to adjust in complex ways to the disappearance of weighty ice age glaciers. …. These forces mean East Coast sea levels are rising at double the global rate, and at triple the average in Virginia and many points north.

Just a quote

“People worry that computers will get too smart and take over the world, but the real problem is that they’re too stupid and they’ve already taken over the world.” – Pedro Domingos in his 2015 book The Master Algorithm

Good Movies

In the days of old, I used to keep track of movies my wife and I watched. We would rate them and I built an Access database to keep track of them. That was back when you rented movies on CD — sometimes we would forget and rent the same movie over, so I wanted to help us keep track. But then Netflix hit and the CD stores moved away and I stopped updating the database. I do have some all-time favorites. The list below is just for fun, it is not necessarily a recommendation, it is more a sign of my OCPDness 🙂 I have purchased the CD version of some of these just to force someone to decide what to do with them when I die!

• 10,000 BC
• 2001 A Space Odyssey
• Absolute Power
• Close Encounters of the Third Kind
• Contact
• Ex Machina
• Meet Joe Black
• Melancholia
• Taken
• The Circle
• The Day the Earth Stood Still
• The Gods Must Be Crazy
• What The Bleep Do We Know
• Where To Invade Next (Michael Moore)

I went back and reviewed my Access database before writing this and must admit that lists of “favorites” are based on date. New things appear and old things loose their impact by sinking in memory. But if you never make a list of favorites, no one would know you cared! Remind me to add to this list next year!

“Every story ever told really happened. Stories are where memories go when they’re forgotten.” – Dr. Who

Good Movies

My current favorite movie is Ex Machina. I first heard about it last year and could never find it playing anywhere near here. It is a small budget film which rarely makes it to Monterey. We just bought the Amazon TV Fire Stick and found the movie free in Amazon Prime. Ex Machina was the first thing we watched on the Stick!

And I loved it…. yes, the movie and the Stick too. Meanwhile, this was written in Wikipedia.

Ex Machina is a 2015 British science fiction psychological thriller film. Ex Machina tells the story of a programmer who is invited by his employer, an eccentric billionaire, to administer the Turing test to an android with artificial intelligence.

Made on a budget of $15 million, the film has grossed over $38.2 million worldwide and received critical acclaim. The National Board of Review recognized it as one of the ten best independent films of the year. The film was also nominated for two Academy Awards; Best Original Screenplay and Best Visual Effects.

And it is 92% on Rotten Tomatoes!

If you like Science Fiction, are curious about the current Artificial Intelligence debate, like mysteries, or just like to find hard-to-find films, watch Ex Machina. I heartily recommend it.

Invite the world to surprise you by predicting what will happen!” – Anonymous

Santa Trackers

Yes, Santa Claus is getting ready to go. Rudolph and the other reindeer are getting last minute pep talks. By the way, did you know that both male and female reindeer have antlers? Yep. So Rudolph might actually be a girl! Go girl go!

Norad (North American Aerospace Defense Command) has been tracking Santa for 60 years now. They have the “official” web tracker. They were tracking before the internet was invented!!

The Norad Santa Tracker

But of course, Google has eyes over all the world too. So in case Norad goes down or gets too busy, you can check here too.

The Google Santa Tracker

Update late pm Dec 23.

I checked both trackers and discovered they show Santa starting at different times. I looked around and discovered that Norad starts tracking Santa at 7am GMT on Christmas Eve, and Google will be tracking Santa from 10am GMT on Christmas Eve.

Greenwich Mean Time is 8 hours ahead of Pacific Time: Norad starts 11pm Dec 23, Google starts 2am Dec 24.
So basically, he is already moving!

Super Harvest Blood Moon, a Total Lunar Eclipse, Sept 27, 2015


from National Geographic

On the evening of September 27, three separate lunar events converge. The total eclipse coincides with the full moon nearest the fall equinox, known as the harvest moon. What’s more, the moon is at its closest approach to Earth for the year, making it also a supermoon or perigee moon. That’s why it’s being coined by some as a Super Harvest Blood Moon.

This confluence has happened only five times since 1900. According to NASA, the last time we saw this celestial triple combination was in 1982, and it won’t repeat until 2033.

The most spectacular part of the eclipse will be the totality phase, when Earth’s shadow completely covers the moon and turns it an eerie red. The moon will dip into the deepest and darkest part of Earth’s shadow, or umbra, during the totality phase, which lasts as long as 72 minutes.

This weekend’s blood moon will be the last in a series of four lunar eclipses, dubbed a tetrad, over the last two years. That pattern won’t repeat for another 20 years or so.

Click the above link to learn even more about this unusual lunar event.

Below is the schedule for this eclipse in North America. Note that the moon doesn’t actually rise in the USA until after the eclipse has already started.

Pacific Zone
Begins: 5:11 pm
Moon Rise: 6:54 pm
Maximum: 7:47 pm
Ends: 10:22 pm

Mountain Zone
Begins: 6:11 pm
Moon Rise: 7:54 pm
Maximum: 8:47 pm
Ends: 11:22 pm

Central Zone
Begins: 7:11 pm
Moon Rise: 8:54 pm
Maximum: 9:47 pm
Ends: 12:22 am

Eastern Zone
Begins: 8:11 pm
Moon Rise: 9:54 pm
Maximum: 10:47 pm
Ends: 1:22 am

May you all have clear skys.

“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” John Wooden

Google’s Birthday

It seems like just yesterday!  Google celebrated September 7, 1998 (the day when the company was incorporated) as its birthday until 2005.  In 2005 Google changed the date to September 27 to make it coincide with the announcement of the record number of pages that the search engine was indexing.

No matter.  Google will serve cake this year with 17 candles! That means that most of the college freshmen this year will have grown up with Google search as a normal part of their lives. Amazing.

Here are a few more “birthdays” that have occurred in the past 17 years.

2001 Oct 23 – iPod
2004 Feb 04 – Facebook
2004 Apr 01 – Gmail
2005 Feb 14 – YouTube
2008 Spt 25 – DuckDuckGo
2009 Mar 29 – Twitter
2010 Apr 03 – iPad
2014 Mar 20 – Ello

What a prolific time period in which to be raised! I can’t imagine what is coming next. Cortana or Siri or some equivalent will probably get connected to our cars and then our robots! But if I can think of it, then that won’t be it! Something really new must be just around the corner…

Save Audio from Youtube

YouTube has been around a long time.  I am just now learning how to grab the audio part of a YouTube video so I can play it on my computer or iPad.  I do not profess to be smart about this subject, but for my own memories sake, and because I like to share, here is what I have found.

There are 2 websites that will grab the sound file for you and then download it to your computer as a MP3 file.  They are Peggo and TheYouMP3.  Both work fine, are free, and do not require registration.  I am not an expert on MP3 files, and so cannot tell if one site is producing higher quality than the other.  But I have opted to use Peggo.

You do not need to install any software.  Simply open both YouTube and the other site, say Peggo.  Find the video you like, copy it’s URL and then paste it into Peggo.  Then click the Download button, and in a few seconds you will have the MP3 file.  Simple stuff.



For memory sake:

In 2013, Amazon bought and then killed the free IOS app book reader called STANZA. If you had installed it before it disappeared, you can still use it. I am on IOS 8.4 and it still works fine. If you have it, be sure to use the catalog called TUEBL.

To add the Tuebl library to Stanza do this:

Open Stanza
Click on Get Books in lower toolbar.
Click the + symbol in the upper right corner or Edit if you already have a catalog.
Click “add a book source”.
Name ==> Tuebl
URL ==>
Make sure OPDS Catalog is highlighted
Click Save and then Click Done

To get a book from Tuebl, click on it, then work your way through the catalog.

Perhaps the Tuebl catalog can be added to other book readers.

I’m using currently iBooks, Kindle, Play Books and Stanza.

And if you just want to see the Tuebl book library without Stanza, go to

Ps. Tuebl stands for The Ultimate EBook Library 🙂