Awesome display of foundational documents

Thought bubbleAt the Willennar Genealogy Center in Auburn, Indiana, they just set up a display of 4 documents about the foundations of our government. They’re on loan from The Remnant Trust based in Texas. A lot of the credit goes to Caleb who has a History Degree and is incredibly excited about the opportunity.

One document is a copy of the Magna Carta from approximately 1350. The original Magna Carta was released in 1215. This illuminated manuscript also includes Statues of the Realm and Register of Writs. It influenced the American Bill of Rights and Constitution.

A second is a copy of the proceedings of the Pennsylvania General assembly dated 1777 that includes a copy of the Declaration of Independence as well as negotiations with Chiefs of the Six Nations.

The third is a first edition of the first official printing of the U.S. Constitution after Connecticut (the 5th state) ratified it in on Jan. 9, 1988. It was printed before the Constitution became effective March 4, 1789.

Last is the Journal of the First Session of the United States Senate Held in New York City March 4, 1789. It includes seventeen amendments to the constitution proposed by the House of Representatives that were rejected and 12 passed by the Senate of which 2 were not ratified by the states and the rest became the Bill of Rights.

The Senate journal also contains the first address of President Washington to Congress, the first rules of the Senate and other legislative works. It also contains the tally of the votes for each of the candidates for President itemized by state.

One thing I read that was interesting in the Pennsylvania Assembly document was the terminology of the mechanics of legislative negotiation. The notes said things like “Ordered, That the said bill do lie on the table.” This language is probably the origin of the more familiar phrase “tabled the bill.”

From an entry dated Wednesday February 26, 1777 P.M. “The Speaker laid before the House two letters which he had received from Congress, recommending divers regulations for the well being of the United States, and therewith enclosed regulations of the prices of the necessities of life, adopted by the New-England States, together with the following Declaration of Independence, published by Congress, which the Congress requests to be put on record. Thereupon

Ordered, That said Declaration of Independence be put on the Minutes of this House ; and that the same be entered among the Records of the State, when an office for such purposes shall be established.

The said Declaration follows in these words. ” …

The declaration text is listed including all of the signatories organized by state. Then is the text “In CONGRESS, January 18, 1777.
Ordered that an authenticated copy of the DECLARATION of INDEPENDENCY, with the names of the MEMBERS of CONGRESS, subscribing to the same, be sent to each of the UNITED STATES, and that they be desired to have the same put on RECORD. By Order of CONGRESS, JOHN HANCOCK, President.”

The documents will be on display until the end of July so they arrived just in time for July 4.


I had to take down my dome yesterday. It had been collapsing more and more the past few weeks. Finally, I had to take it apart because it was getting dangerous to the neighbors.

Here’s an old picture with a crimson clematis. I have used it as a trellis for several years.

Dome with clematis

This year, one clematis was covered with dozens of huge blossoms. After a large rainstorm, the weight was too much and the dome started collapsing.

Although domes are aesthetic, they can have a problem: if one part fails, the rest has stress that leads to progressively more severe destruction.

It was only a matter of time until the dome collapsed. I wanted to ignore the warning signs and now I have a pile of broken wood behind my house.

I didn’t ever plan to take it apart. Now I’ve got to make sure my tetanus vaccination is up-to-date. The wood has dozens of nails that can’t be removed. I’ll have plenty of opportunities to get cut as I break it down.

Although I titled this “Down,” that is only in contrast with the movie “Up” written by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson and Tom McCarthy.

I’m leery of watching Disney movies. The studio is quite heavy-handed with movie scores. The studio uses the music to push the audience to feel the best mood for a lucrative box office.

“Up” had a scene with the characters Carl Fredericksen and Russell talking about Russell’s dad and ice cream. It was very emotional, but in a subtle and poignant way. It immediately struck me how, in those scenes, my feelings were genuinely tender. There was no orchestral music swelling in the background.

No one demanded that I have the correct feeling. Just the situation, dialog and facial expressions carried the mood. I think this is a sign of excellence by the directors Pete Docter and Bob Peterson and the team that put the movie together.

I could be really sad about the dome being gone. After all, it was really a source of pride. However, I don’t have any Hollywood “true story” tragedy music playing in the background. I can feel whatever I choose and I choose to be glad that I had it while I did.

The world is big, but it isn’t so big that we can’t hurt it

A green thought bubble
I’m binding my poetry into books. I’ve got two books so far of 300 poems. My books of the next 300 will be done soon. I’m working all day tomorrow, so it’ll have to wait until I get home. I love my velobind machine.

I had forgotten that back in 2011, when I would write a poem, I might write a one page meditation about the poem.

Reading them again is like meeting myself a second time. Some feelings are the same, some are less familiar.

One quote I found:

“The world is big, but it isn’t so big that we can’t hurt it.”

All of the shouting about climate change misses the point. We’re hurting our planet. The exact mechanism doesn’t really matter.

Animals are suffering. Plants are suffering. The oceans are suffering. The land is suffering. The air is suffering. People are suffering.

The planet is suffering and we’re to blame.

Software heresy: Identifiers with whitespace

A green thought bubble
Identifiers should have whitespace in them.

As best as I can tell, the reason whitespace is forbidden is tradition; no one has considered the possibility since the beginning of time. If a sequence of whitespace were identical to a single space, the problem cases are not too difficult to solve.

In C and C++, the problem case involves declaring a variable. This case is so stereotyped that solving it universally would not be difficult. The problem has a type name followed by the name of a variable. One solution would use the longest matching type name and then use the rest of the text as the identifier name.

class fish { }
fish red fish, *blue fish,
typedef char *red herring[];
red herring for hounds;
red herring &mackerel;

A language that allows whitespace in identifiers would have more descriptive type names and variables names. Camel case and Hungarian-like notations would be unnecessary. Detailed semantic information could be included in identifier names.

Operating systems, loaders, linkers, assemblers etc. that aren’t capable (yet) of handling spaces in identifiers can easily have the symbols with whitespace mangled so that they don’t burp. However, languages such as Scheme and Haskell are difficult to apply this extension.

Heresies like this need to be promptly stamped out.

A Great War: Scorched Earth

The first phase of a great war has begun: Scorched earth.

The jungle has been filled with unfriendly foes. Our allies started the first round. Everything in sight near the base’s borders has been killed.

The round up of the enemies has taken its awful toll on the jungle closest to the base.

No one has returned (yet). It’s a race between the foes and friends to see who will seed combatants first. I may have to invest in some mercenary reinforcements and plant interlopers where death is currently holding our vain hope.

A second front of the scorched earth campaign took down vines covering the foliage unchallenged. They had been hiding horrific mines planted with the help of enemy canine patrols. They were attacked with two or three salvos. Nothing but remnants have been left behind.

The second phase of the war has already started: Decimation.

Hint of a disease prevention treatment

A green thought bubbleI was reading a science news website and found “Global research team cracks bacteria transmission codes to combat drug-resistant strains.” I did some research related to the article and found “Exploiting Quorum Sensing To Confuse Bacterial Pathogens.”

The quorum sensing paper describes a novel way to prevent bacterial disease. It reports that many bacteria grow innocuously until they reach a certain population (quorum). After there are enough, they signal each other to activate. It is only until that activation that the bacteria cause harm.

The idea is: if you could block the signal that causes the activation, you could prevent diseases.

The most clever aspect of this style of treatment is that it doesn’t kill the bacteria. It would give the bacteria no evolutionary advantage to develop resistance to the new drug.

The way resistance normally develops, as I understand it, is that a conventional antibiotic kills bacteria. If a bacteria has a mutation that makes it less likely to be killed, the mutation gives the resistant bacteria an advantage and become more common. This leads, for example, to VRSA and MRSA.

By stopping the bacteria without killing them, there’s no advantage to resist the drug.

LaSarre, B., & Federle, M. J. (2013). Exploiting Quorum Sensing To Confuse Bacterial Pathogens. Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews : MMBR, 77(1), 73-111. doi:10.1128/MMBR.00046-12

The price of gas is flat

I keep track of how much I pay for gas. As you can see from the graphic, it’s really variable. However, the past 10 – 12 months, the price has been unusually stable. The red line is a 30 sample moving average.

The numbers for this graph comes from what I’ve actually paid for gas.  Most of the purchases are in the Northeastern Indiana area.

Several online sources blame the great recession on a sharp rise in the cost of energy.   A flat cost probably has the opposite effect of stabilizing the economy. One reason would be that it allows more effective planning by businesses that are dependent on energy prices.

An analysis of the factors leading to this price stability would be interesting to study.

A graph of the prices of gasoline from 2004 to 2017

(The gap between 2009 and 2001 is due to the loss of the file containing that information. I’ve attached a PDF with the same graph.)