Growth of the early Internet, node by node

Network diagrams are a popular way of visualizing social and corporate relationships. Network theory has been used to model telecommunications performance and especially, the Internet. Communications networks increase in value as the number of connections increases. Metcalfe’s Law attempts to quantify the increased value.


Make America Porcine Again

The title links to an evergreen post via the University of Michigan Map Library blog. I keep returning to it, eight years after my first glimpse.

I wish Big Think had better URL persistence, but I was able to relocate one broken inline link, National Porcineographic: Portrait of America as a Young Hog. It was written by Frank Jacobs for Strange Maps.


Mount Fuji Asian art exhibits at the Smithsonian

I have been fond of ukiyo-e woodblock prints for many years. My favorites haven’t changed: Hokusai for nature and Utamaro for portraits. My favorite Hokusai work continues to be the first I ukiyo-e I ever saw, his Wave. Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji: Under the Wave off Kanagawa is a beautiful digital reproduction!

I submitted a comment, an inquiry. No surprise there!

If possible, I hoped you might be able to answer a question, Mr. Kaplan. I viewed the enlargement of the image above, and noticed a graphic in the lower left corner, on the black matte surrounding the image. What is it? is it used for photographing and digital reproduction?

Asian art line-up

The Freer and Sackler Galleries of the Smithsonian Museum of Asian Art have a fine line-up for the entire year. The current exhibits are a series of Japanese spring-themed art with more Hokusai as well as Kabuki and contemporary works.

These are the next exhibits on the schedule:

  • Art of Darkness: Japanese mezzotints
  • Perspectives: Ai WeiWei
  • Shadow Sites: Archival and contemporary archaeological and aerial photograhy
  • Worlds Within Worlds: Imperial paintings from India and Iran

I wish I could visit, and see each one.

An underground passageway

The Smithsonian Institution has two museums of Asian art. I was surprised as I read about the history and design:

The Freer Gallery of Art opened to the public in 1923, and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery… in 1987. Both are physically connected by an underground passageway, and ideologically linked through the study, exhibition, and sheer love of Asian art.

I am particularly curious about that underground tunnel. That was a truly inspired idea!

Sometimes art museums are intimidating or cold. But this sounded fun, friendly, welcoming:

You can go wireless in the Haupt Garden (check out Asia on Google Earth while you’re at it) right outside our door: try something new, and when you’re done, come inside and take a fresh look at something old.


Chemical Heritage

This aluminum necklace was on display at the Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) in 2010. A description of the exhibit is still available in a mostly image-free post about Atomic Age jewelry. Peruse additional wonders from the Chemistry and Fashion: Making Modernity exhibit.

No Moore Chemical Heritage

Sadly, CHF was absorbed by the Science History Institute in 2018. The collections can still be viewed in person, at the former location of the CHF Museum on 315 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. You can still read about the illustrious past of the Chemical Heritage Foundation here. I have (mostly) found new source links for the in line URLs below.

nterested in the legacy of Gordon E. Moore and his famous observation about the growth of technology? Read the original publication that introduced Moore’s Law, Understanding Moore’s Law: Four Decades of Innovation, that includes the original article written by Moore in 1966, and observations by Moore and others in 2006 when the book was published by (the now defunct) Chemical Heritage Foundation Press, to commemorate 40 years of Moore’s law. The Science History Institute kindly keeps an electronic version of the full text (PDF) available for online readers.

IgNoble to Nobel pipeline?

I first wrote this post in 2010. Andre Geim won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics. (Geim is actually a chemist, not a physicist, thus the relevancy here, if one wishes to be fussy; I do.) In the span of ten years, Geim went from winning an IgNoble prize for levitating frogs with magnets to the Nobel Prize for introduction of an extraordinary carbonate, graphene.

During the 2000 IgNoble Prize ceremony, Harvard physics researcher and teacher Roy Glauber was present on the stage with Geim, as a long-time member of the IgNoble committee. Just a few years later, Glauber won the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physics! It is hardly enough to establish any sort of trend or correlation, but if this sort of overlap continues to occur, it might be something to look into.


Ode to Joy

 I am very fond of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, (from the Ninth Symphony) both instrumental and choral versions. My father played it often on Deutsche Grammaphon Gesellschaft cassette tapes. I played some appalling adaptations that were probably a travesty of the original, arranged for solo beginner flutists (flautists?) too. 
I finally read a translation of the German chorus on YouTube a few years ago, and was stunned by the catholic, ecumenical words. (There was no mention of Jesus, which tends to put me off of a lot of traditional religious music. When Jesus is mentioned, it just reminds me how the music isn’t intended for me, if you know what I mean). As a result, I have grown even fonder of Ode to Joy, and often sing along. That is probably an even worse travesty…

A few days ago, there was a new question on Musical Practice & Performance StackExchange, about stage position of choral soloists, particularly for Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis (a lengthy work written for Roman Catholic Mass) which made me think of Ode to Joy last night. I don’t know the answer to the Music StackExchange question. Yet I found a pleasant entry on the subject from National Public Radio online, from nearly six years ago. The following is a summary of the key points, along with my own asides, of course. At the end there is an NPR recording of 50 seconds of Ode to Joy.

* Verbatim excerpts are quoted in green font with grey shaded background, the rest is mine.

Transcript ‘Missa Solemnis: A Divine Bit of Beethoven’, NPR (12 February 2006)  

Beethoven was nominally Catholic but did not attend church regularly.
God, however, interested Beethoven a lot. Beethoven read books about Eastern religions and revelations of the divine and of nature. He was particularly fond of, and often quoted to friends, this phrase of Emanuel Kant:The starry skies above and the moral law beneath. Beethoven also evoked the divine with three aphorisms which he said were from ancient Egypt. 
I was thinking that the first sounded somewhat like something Donald Rumsfield said. These were the sayings:

  1. I am that which is. 
  2. I am all that is, that was and that will be. 
  3. No mortal man has lifted my veil. He is solely found, himself, in all things owe their being to him alone. 

I can’t figure out the meaning of the third. It has lost something in transcription or translation, probably.
The most surprising thing in Beethoven's Missa Solemnis is the last movement... That culminating section of the Roman Catholic Mass is a prayer for peace. The last words arearedona nobis pacem ... (give us peace) 
The God that Beethoven intimates in the Missa Solemnis is not strictly Roman Catholic nor even Christian. Rather, He is pantheistic and all-encompassing, yet not tangibly present in our physical world.

Divinity is beyond, in the stars. Humanity is here on Earth. 

NPR offers a brief recording from Missa Solemnis‘Dona Nobis Pacem’ from Agnus Dei, which I found rather nerve wracking and over-wrought. But the link is there, for those who may be interested.
Beethoven's mighty Missa Solemnis comes down to an unanswered prayer. Whether God has heard us, we don't know, but we do know that in the distance the drums of war are still beating.  Did Beethoven ever provide an answer to this unprecedented open ending? I believe he did. His answer is the Ninth Symphony. The famous choral finale of the Ninth Symphony is based on Schiller's Ode to Joy, written at a time of revolution.

Those words and Beethoven’s music, call for humankind to bow to the Creator regarding the heavenly, the celestial. 
For answers, turn to one another.

In the Ninth Symphony, Beethoven proclaims that as comrades, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, we can unite to celebrate Joy, the beautiful daughter of Elysium. And that the path to peace is bestowed not from above but from within us and among us in universal brotherhood here on Earth. Man, help yourself. 

That was Beethoven’s reply to the unanswered prayer of the Missa Solemnis


Compressed data for prayer, anagrams and digital rights management

I found an oddly contemporary-looking New York Times article that is in fact, quite vintage for the Internet. It begins with a review of a most peculiar e-commerce company:

doing business with may require a leap of faith.

– Compressed Data: Beaming Prayers to God’s Last Known Residence
via The New York Times Online, 31 August 1999.

The Internet Fraud Watch for the National Consumers League was deluged with complaints about fraud on the Net, having received 7,700 last year and 6,000 through the first six months of 1999.

If they only knew what was to follow, in less than ten short years.

Digital rights management

The next article was about a new “pact” between Adobe and Xerox, to address the needs of companies

…seeking a way to prevent the rampant piracy that has plagued the digital music industry from overtaking digital publishing. The technology, called Content Guard, is to be announced at the Seybold 21st Century Publishing Conference in San Francisco.

When was the last Seybold 21st Century Publishing Conference, I wonder? Not for awhile. The proposed approach seems so straightforward! It would be

integrated… with Adobe’s existing PDF format for distributing documents on line… publishers that have agreed to adopt the technology, include Thomson Learning, the National Music Publishers Association, and Haymarket Publications, a European business publisher.


Content Guard was expected to be superior as a form of digital rights management software, as it was

based on an industry standard: Java, an Internet programming language developed by Sun Microsystems.

I just received my n-th zero day patch for Java last week. Yet Java lived up to this part of its promise, and still does:

The flexibility of Java would allow users to read Xerox protected documents [and non-Xerox protected documents too] on various types of software operating systems using any of the standard Web browser programs.

I don’t think Adobe had fully enabled the following functionality in PDF’s viewed with Adobe Reader until much later; I have rarely seen it used, even though it is available:

Publishers, corporations or individuals could specify who had access to the document, set a time frame for protection and even designate the type of authentication (like a password or a fingerprint) needed to read the document.

Adobe introduced these features in 2009, with the exception of fingerprint authentication for most of us, for digital signatory and general purpose security rather than digital rights management purposes.

Anagrams for free

I’ll end on a more positive note, rather than gloomy nostalgia. The wonders of natural language processing were just emerging into the larger population.

The letters that form the name Boeing can be rearranged to spell “big one.” Time Warner can be converted to “mean writer.” And the title of Rupert Murdoch’s sexy London tabloid The News of the World is an anagram for “tender, hot flesh — wow.” These are just a few of the possibilities in business anagrams, a game being played by office workers throughout the English-speaking world.

The language in the following paragraph caught my attention for several reasons. First, the exact and accurate wording, to “contact the server”, would be uncommon now in a daily newspaper.

To play, contact the Internet Anagram Server at, which provides immediate answers, or another site called Anagram Genius Server at, which gives a more considered response and replies by e-mail after a few minutes or hours, depending on traffic volume.

Then there’s the reminder of the absence of web apps, as the requested anagram is sent by e-mail, in minutes. Or hours.

At no charge, these sites will attempt to create anagrams from any word or phrase, not just company names. But somehow there’s a special mischievous thrill…

Emphasis mine. If you want to find out what that thrill is, read the New York Times article, linked above. I only hope that the New York Times will remain extant, rather than joining so many worthwhile news and information services, preserved for us only through Internet archives.

I’m sorry. I tried. Gloom won.


Amazon Archival

Well-capitalized Seattle start-up seeks Unix developers

Well-capitalized start-up seeks extremely talented C/C++/Unix developers to help pioneer commerce on the Internet.  You must have experience designing and building large and complex (yet maintainable) systems, and you should be able to do so in about one-third the time that most competent people think possible.  You should have a BS, MS or PhD in Computer Science or the equivalent.  Top-notch communication skills are essential. Familiarity with web servers and HTML would be helpful but is not necessary.

Expect talented, motivated, intense, and interesting co-workers.  Must be willing to relocate to the Seattle area (we will help cover moving costs).

Your compensation will include meaningful equity ownership.

Send resume and cover letter to Jeff Bezos:

mail:            be…
fax:             206/828-0951
US mail:         Cadabra, Inc.
                 10704 N.E. 28th St.
                 Bellevue, WA  98004

We are an equal opportunity employer.

“It’s easier to invent the future than to predict it.”  — Alan Kay


What once was old

Ever heard of Telex?

I have. It’s old. Or was. Not anymore. Telex is the term being used to describe an experimental system for proxy-less access to the internet. It is based on that mouthful of a word, “public key steganography”.

I first saw the topic mentioned while reading an InfoSecIsland post earlier today. This is a comment from the University of Michigan researcher who developed Telex:


The Tree of Life

This is a beautiful hand-woven silk carpet. Solveigh told me that it represents the Tree of Life.

Mrs. Solveigh Calderin is a nice Scandinavian woman I met on the Internet. She seems to know a lot about fine wool rugs and carpets. I found the image (above) on her website the other day.

This is NOT a sponsored endorsement! The Tree of Life is, well, it is symbolic of everything. While highlighting the good. It has been on my mind recently, as Rosh Hashanah was a few weeks (okay, months) ago.


Beauty of the Sea

Via an article by G.W. Bowersock in the New York Review of Books.

Details of the exhibit are available directly from the Met, including a video about the discovery of the mosaic and a feature story, published by metmuseum dot org on 23 September 2010.


This is a spectacular Roman mosaic, now on exhibit for those within hailing distance of Manhattan and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I love mosaic art, modern and ancient. The image above is one small part of a larger collection found in Lod, Israel in 1996. It was created in 300 A.D.

I’m certain that I’ve seen this mosaic in classics texts. While the discovery may not be recent, the traveling exhibit is. It will be open through 3 April 2011.

Footnote: Does the mosaic image seem crooked to you? Perhaps it is a figment of my imagination (or astigmatism). Could it be due to parallax effect when the image was clipped and/or cropped?