Friday, September 26, 2014

red flashlight app HTMLonly alternative

These "red flashlight" and "astronomy flashlight" and "telescope flashlight" app's claim that they need to know WHAT about my identity and wireless connection and ...

So here is the minimum: a simple red HTML-only web page ( no 9-LED lamps )

It has a description ; if has some blank space ; it has a background colour ; it has a few paragraph and span elements to keep your browser content.  But they are empty.  Just non-breaking spaces.

Excuse me for no using a real Unicode hyphen above.

If you want a different shade of red, copy the page and alter the CSS style settings.  There is no Hidden JavaScript or 1-pixel iframe or FLASH or any other crap of any kind.

And wishing you clear night skies free of your neighbour's light pollution.

PS  Note that its extension is dot HTM to save you a keystroke after the keyboard "minus sign" nuisance in my URL.


I have added an alternative for those north of 25N as for which the trick is to hit F11 and then to use CTRL-minus and CTRL-plus to go from mostly red screen to a simple star chart for Lacerta and environs.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Open Command Window Here Win7

The old XP "Power Toy" Open Command Window Here became a menu option in the Windows 7 Explorer (the desktop file explorer for "Computer" or "Documents" etc.) but you must do more than Right-Click on a folder to Open Command Window Here — you must SHIFT-RIGHT-CLICK to be offered that super-user pop-up menu option.

The SH-Right-Click Open Command Window Here selection will open a cmd session on the selected folder as the presentworkingdirectory (sic).

But the 'w' key will also go to New !

If you peek at the HTML of this blog post you should see some of the worst HTML that a Google asset can generate.

Oh, had the web only embraced MIT Curl as Markdown+Styles+Scripts ! #MSS

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Observing left of Cygnus

Observing "left" of Cygnus and a bit "down" reveals first a prominent pair of stars and then a remarkable large triangle of stars.

What is lost when a culture no longer offers an OLD story about these ? Far from Deneb and Sadr, I would be happier with a story about Antares that preserved both its distance and its size relative to our Sol and, say, Betelgeuse.

What is most worrying is if we lose the habit of observing the night sky, whether we construct our own asterisms or follow the houses of constellations from The East or from The West or those of a sci-fi series gone viral or whatever.

Observing the night sky through a lens has aspects which would surprise ... whether "splitting" binary stars or learning to "SEE" faint non-stellar objects.

Arendt missed so much when she went after the telescope, mouthing the certainties that Heidegger had flung at his old master, Husserl. The sons of Husserl are a story so unlike the Heidegger story.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Jetty file server refresher

Jetty HTTP server has left MortBay for Eclipse and since version 9.1 there are some things that I needed to know when I looked to take a little Jetty refresher.

Over at jetty you will see this important note:

Demo Base

Since release 9.1.0, the jetty distribution does not deploy any demo web applications, so to see a more interesting demonstration of the server you need to run from the demo-base directory as follows:
> cd $JETTY_HOME/demo-base/
> java -jar ../start.jar  
Pointing a browser at http://localhost:8080, will now show a welcome page and several demo/test web applications.
What that meant in my case on Win7 when running cmd from my own jetty install directory 
cd demo-base
java -jar ../start.jar
which then gave me the full Jetty demo at

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Theism and consciousness in light of stellar astronomy

Theism should not take much consolation in the problems which philosophy and neurology face in accounting for the simple fact of consciousness.

Prior to quantum theory, the creationist could take shelter in theism because the evolutionist had no chemical explanation of a sun of solar mass "burning fuel" for billions of years.

But it was chemistry itself that was to receive a new foundation which would permit a nuclear theory of stellar 'evolution'. Neither the subsequent discovery of quasars or black holes or the hypothesizing of dark mater or dark energy have placed this stellar model in question.  Quite the opposite is the case.

The solar story is not trivial : the time for a photon to reach the surface of the Sun from a fusion event in the core of the Sun is astonishing ... as astonishing as the roughly nine minutes to reach the Earth.

With the Hubble use of Cepheid variable stars as a standard, the size of the visible universe became truly astonishing.

We can expect to be just as astonished by an account of the emergence or appearance of "what it is like to be a young crow observing an older crow accomplishing a task" in a universe that at one time did not have the form bird or the substance of individual birds let alone problem-solving birds or the observing of those performances.

The issue is not materialism or mechanism. The double-slit experiment involves no clear commitment to either, but the theories proposed do reveal some surprising mathematical affinities and some very high confirmation of experimental predictions.

Chemistry has no option to return to pre-quanta days and philosophy has no prospect of returning to the "rational soul" of Aristotle or Aquinas — nor is there any hope of animal souls being material while human souls are "rational". That ship has sailed off the end of a flat earth.

See: Thomas Nagel: Mind and Cosmos

Thursday, September 4, 2014

On variable stars and the rationality of theories

It is not yet 5 a.m. under a clear dark sky and I have made the decision to write this note rather than to do some star-gazing ( I have one of Al Nagler's "Televue Ranger" at my disposal here with a few of his lenses well-suited to it.)

I would like to defend the thesis that the extinguishing of intelligent life on the only planet with such intelligence in the only galaxy with such life forms would result in the demise of Cepheid variables as instances of a type but not variable stars as instances of a type. Nor would it have the consequence that there had, in fact, never been Cepheid variables. What is not clear to me is how to defend the claim that those variable stars would remain a suitable means to measure intergalactic distances in light-years or in AU ( astronomical units ) or in parsecs.

The need to defend the Hubble metric stars is in the interest of a far more important claim, to wit, that the quasars remain whatever they are or were, that magnetars remain a poor location for the re-emergence of intelligent life forms and that dark energy remains whatever it is.

The anecdotal side of this is my reading of the poetry of Alain Grandbois. His "├ętoiles" were not the stars of Galileo in much the same sense that Heidegger was arguing about with Husserl at about the same time and which was later repeated by Arendt late in her book, "The Human Condition".

Husserl began in astronomy, but by the time of Hubble's discoveries, Heidegger had him convinced that the Galilean viewpoint somehow perverted our relation to the heavens above ... perhaps not during daylight hours or when under heavy cloud, but certainly during clear moonless nights.

Not too long after Husserl's death, a Black Brandt rocket was sent aloft to determine a direction of a stellar x-ray source. Consider the possibility that this experiment and subsequent orbital parallax studies had revealed an unstable near-by star, that, say, Antares were in fact smaller than Betelgeuse and closer than Sirius. Suppose, further, that we were able to surmise that a minor cosmic event, a routine supernova, was about to wipe out this small home planet of intelligent life but that unbeknownst to us, it would also be wiping out not only the only such life in this galaxy, but also such life in any galaxy including any location since the Big Bang itself and, further, that due to a quirk of Dark Energy and cosmic expansion, that magnetars were about to become FAR more common, reducing any prospect for subsequent rational beings to evolve anywhere in this universe.

One motivation that I have for this line of musing is the thought that Strong AI has not brought philosophers to shift their view of theory makers closer to that of their view of computing machines, but rather it has helped to shift their view of us to one in which we are seen as closer to other mammalian species (specifically, cetacean and primate) and led us to puzzle over crows and octopi.

The theory of evolution and the new evidence for ubiquitous planets and a far higher number of brown dwarfs should motivate investigation by way of thought experiments as to why solving puzzles about ones more global, as-it-were, "wide" environment, suggests the rationality of theorizing for problem-solving beings.

The Japanese, prior to enforced contact with the Western powers, were content with their "River of Stars". Fording rivers in flood and bridging rivers were both major concerns in Japan, as was boating uneventfully across rivers. The star-river, our Milky Way, the "galaxy" of the Greeks, is a trope of sorts in a great deal of extant Japanese poetry. Given to poetry competitions, the Japanese thinker was not without problems to solve concerning the mention of stars in either linked verse or witty verse. Rules abound and these rules themselves made the tasks of poesis problematic.  Each time the practice became merely formulaic, something of a revolution occurred, and the very possibilities of the poetic praxis were re-thought through the emergence of a new poetic product, the last cycle, perhaps, having been that of the haiku of Shiki.

In my own work as a writer, I am beset with a scenario in which a cloud-bedecked planet is inhabited by those who do not know why sometimes the normally red fundament above glows strangely orange and why they perish of such truly horrible diseases although there are myths of happier ends in former times. These beings, we would say, would be inhabiting a planet in orbit about a centre of mass in common with a nearby red dwarf that, in turn, is in an orbital dance with a very unstable red giant that is about to shed its first outer layers in what we know to be a very common pattern in this universe.

[ to be continued ]