Sunday, July 28, 2013



(Jan 2005)(originally posted to RadioWebLog)

Theres something pretty
And something oppressive
That hits me on some summer mornings

When I see the dew hanging and spider webs drying
And hear the cars fire up and go

Then I remember old Mr Briesmeister
With his lunch box to the Case Works headed
50s morning sidewalked Racine

He’d been out six weeks
Going back with his rail road engineer hat,
And his apron bluejeans
To make tractors
Shoulders sagging
As he caught the bus

From the bus stop
In front of the yard

Where we would find a ball, A ball and a bat,
And play all day
Where the rabbit hole was the pitcher’s mound

Oh, then
The sound of Mrs Briesmeister wailing
She a German of precise petunias
With the one backyard our army couldn’t traverse

Mr Briesmeister coming back from furlough
Had a heart attack
Had to go to work for some steel-eyed reason and croak
On the assembly line
And the neighborhood ladies
Then sadly saddled up the walk
Struddle, coffee, empty space, tears

Come back to me in langour
Summer mornings still. -Jack Vaughan

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Fractalist

Born in 1924 from a family of noted European mathematicians, Benoit Mandelbrot had an early interest in maps, and began early on to study nature's rough terrains - phenomena beyond traditional geometry and its straight lines and arcs. In a long research and academic career, with much help from the first commercial computers that came about after World War II, he created fractal geometry.

In his memoir, "The Fractalist," partially completed before his death in 2010 (and finally compiled by family and colleagues), Mandelbrot tells the tale behind the tale - the one best remembered in his widely read "The Fractal Geometry of Nature."

He shows the excitement he found in his early evolution as a scientist, one who had Kepler as an idle. He writes: "I allowed my finger to be touched by a complicated set of gears that soon grabbed my body - and never let go." (This after Uncle Szolem gave him a reprint of a review of Zipf book.)

It is amazing how may paths crossed his: Paul Levy, Robert Oppenheimer, John Cocke, John von Neumann, Stephen Jay Gould ... more. All giving color to his narration. His quest was sincere, he seemed to have made friends. Ultimately, and not surprisingly, the book comes up a bit uneven. 

As I read this book I "took notes" and copped fractals from around the Web and put together an episodic type of book review on Pinterest. The page is called The Fractalist - Mandelbrot SetThe hunt for the fractal is somewhat episodic, or fragmentary. No one Eureka achieved, but a lot of interesting moments along the way. If you are interested in statistics, science, math or philosophy: Worthy reading. (I'd also take the opp to plug as a companion book "Introducing Fractal Geometry" by Nigel Lesmoir-Gordon, et al. which is a great graphic-novel style history and study of fractals.)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Big data podcast page

My podcast work seems to go diaspora. Here is an attempt well after the fact to try  and trawl  them in in fits and starts.- Jack Vaughan (Below, with Mark Brunelli at left.)(Photo: Emma Snider)

Big Data and Hadoop at TDWI 2013 - At the 2013 TDWI World Conference and BI Executive Summit in Las Vegas, speakers and attendees chewed over some of the meatiest trends and hottest technologies in the business intelligence and data warehousing market. With Craig Steadman and Scot Peterson.

Dr. Goodnight on Big Data, or I cover the waterfront - SAS LASR In-Memory Analytics Server software discussed by SAS CEO Jim Goodnight and Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Jim Davis discussed during an interview at waterfront hotel in Boston with SearchDataManagement.

Who put the doop in the Hadoop File System? - SearchDataManagement News Editor Jack Vaughan recently attended the Information Builders Summit 2013 User Conference in Orlando, Fla., as well as Red Hat Summit 2013 in Boston and GraphConnect Boston in Cambridge, Mass. With Mark Brunelli.

I cant stop talking about Hadoop - Just like #Java stood for > language, #Hadoop is coming to stand for whole style of #data #dev . #hadoopsummit with Maxine Giza. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Three dreams of heaven in life have I

I have three dreams of heaven in my life. Three dreams of heaven in life have I.

The first one was in '57 inside the Johnson Wax Building. Flip flop and frank Lloyd. Night and the watchman; linoleum, and shepherds tended flocks on clouds. Sky King was signing autographs. I wanna be there. 

For two set the wayback for '73 when I lived in New York For Yankees, era of  Mike Kekich and Fritz Petersen. But first go back further. A young boy travelling at night. There was this hospital all lit on a palisade. My father said: That is the hospital where Babe Ruth died. I transpose William Bendix nearing heaven, with strings. Later, getting ready to leave the city, with Watergate brewing...I had a dream that Heaven was Yankee Stadium, I was either talking with Babe Ruth or looking at his plaque in centerfield. In the field of play, with a monument in the ground rules.*

For number 3, not so much to heaven .. but the afterlife rather. I was getting a personal check okay'd at Calumet Market , a small old-style food supermarket in Brigham Circle; Max, who passed the judgment on checks, played the part of was Jehovah. Max was fair, but it was not easy to get him to ok a check, and that has been a model for my connection to the deity since that long gone time.

*Got to explain the prehistory on this Babe in heaven became ingrained. When I was a boy we were driving at night - part of a long trip. There was this hospital all lit on a palisade. My father said: That is the hospital where Babe Ruth died. I looked in awe. Maybe I found a jolt of connection to The Babe Ruth Story, with William Bendix. Was there a death bed scene? I can imagine one, with strings, soft focus. Angels humming. Chester A. Riley in the form of Babe Ruth going to paradise.

Read this in more prosaic form on

Sunday, July 21, 2013

My Twittter Critiquer on Taj Mahal in Boston July 2013


  1. I liked it when he said 'look at that pink sky' 'looks like a Maxfield Parrish painting.' Hey people stop, look and listen!
  2. Boston City Hall 7.20 He pays tribute to those girls with "critical mass in the backfield" Bluesman, tomorrow's Sunday!
  3. Boston City Hall 7.20 Taj recalls Hillbilly Ranch greats: The Lilly Bros.
  4. Live Boston-Taj: Do the still have the Hillbilly Ranch? "They (Mort Zuckerman) tore down the Hillbilly ranch!" R.I.P. JLWright.
  5. Boston City Hall 7.20 Yao Ming's got taste.. saw him in the cheap seats! Woking Blues?!
  6. Peaches in the summer time (one more day in magic brown bag) Apples in the fall Boston City Hall 7.20
  7. Boston City Hall 7.20 Hail to Elmore on closing TV Mama (the one with the Big Wide Screen).
  8. Boston City Hall 7.20 His 1st records transformative for me. Good this evening were Creole Bell, Queen Bee, more.
    1. Ed snapped this pic as we rocked into the mid evening clock at The Government Center. Thanks Mr Ahearn!
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  9. taj howlin wolfism: ride that horse
  10. with tajmahal at city hall! Ran up on tech genius ed scannell n son. has begun.
  11. Hot but fishing by taj was cool.
  12. talking about hot..taj said springfield in 47 was worst. Thats what my folks said bout sprinfield 52. Guess i fried n cried.
  13. with a feeling tajmahal at city hall! This is a mean old world. Try livin by yourself.
  14. Proven.: Boston strangler matches Di Salvos. Now i can continue living with measurably less mystery.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Man Who Knew Too Much



Important gears in the machine of the history of computing are sometimes connected, sometimes disconnected. The British Government created one of the biggest disconnects by burying its own pioneering World War II work behind curtains of information classification.

The Government shielded details of their war time work on the electromechanical Bombe computer and the Bombe-related programmable electronic Colossus* computer far past the time when these systems' underlying mechanisms were well known.  This resulted in a dark veil dropping over much of the work of Alan Turing, who studied at Cambridge and Princeton and who was a tremendously significant figure in Bombe and the ACE stored-program computer. People close to the story were well aware of Turing, however.

Turing is the subject of "The Man Who Knew Too Much- Alan Turing and the Invention of the Computer" by David Leavitt. Though pivotal, much of Turing's work was really part of the prehistory of computing, and Leavitt faces a difficult task in conveying the drama of Turing's life, which took place largely in the dark and dry halls of academia. He helped his people – Bombe cryptanalysis saved thousands of lives in W.W.II – but, as a homosexual in England in the 1950s, he was indicted, hounded out of government work, punished with barbarian pseudoscientific "fixatives" and driven to suicide.

The suicide and the hounding make any Turing story a tragic story. The author here struggles to convey the facts and suggest the meaning. David Leavitt's biography is all in all pretty readable, and he tries hard to effectively provide quick summation of a lot of difficult philosophical and mathematical research that comprised Turing's life work.  It is tough going. Turing worked from first principles - to a greater extent than necessary, some say. Turing studied under both John Von Neumann and Ludwig Wittgenstein, and this is not the stuff of a Vin Diesel movie.   Where the book has trouble in in the "big picture" stuff. Turing's computer work came after Bertrand Russell and before Howard Aiken, for what that is worth. His "Turing Machine" theory is an underpinning for modern computing, but a difficult topic that does not exactly jump off the pages here.

*British engineer Tommy Flowers applied for a loan from the Bank of England to build another machine like Colossus but was denied the loan because the bank did not believe that such a machine could work. He could not argue that he had already designed and built many of these machines because his work on Colossus was covered by the Official Secrets Act.


Fragmentary Ida Blues

#FragmentaryIda #blues #take1

Fragmentary Ida - was a bad backslider. 
but like a sentence fragment. I was partial to her.

Fragmentary Ida - Didnt have no heart -
in fact she was missing 
a suitcase full of parts.

Ida would come and Ida would go.
Which part would be missing -
you would never know.

Fragmentary Ida - came to me in a dream.
I was sorting through the hardware -
heard somebody call her name.

Late one night. Ida come home.
Boys are playing coon can,
coon can craps and poker. 

I was holding two eights.
and fumbling with the Joker.

She takes off her falsies puts them in the bureau.
She straps off her prostheic leg, 
now she's purring 'yoo-hoo'

She takes off her black wig,
one glass eye goes in the secretary.
with the good one she winks 
its past your bedtime honey

Oh Ida I dont know.
dont you think me lesser.
do I jump in the bed with you?
Or should it be the dresser.

Fragmentary Ida you will be together
on that wild judgment day
when eyes and arms and legs display
in clouds of pieces fully splayed
and parts roll round like thunder blades
and disunity's rent asunder, babe.

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