Computing Genius And WW2 Hero, Alan Turing, Will Be On U.K.’s 50-Pound Note

❝ Alan Turing, the father of computer science and artificial intelligence who broke Adolf Hitler’s Enigma code system in World War II — but who died an outcast because of his homosexuality — will be featured on the Bank of England’s new 50-pound note…

❝ Turing was just 41 when he died from poisoning in 1954, a death that was deemed a suicide. For decades, his status as a giant in mathematics was largely unknown, thanks to the secrecy around his computer research and the social taboos about his sexuality. His story became more widely known after the release of the 2014 movie The Imitation Game.

The Turing commemoration is the U.K. government’s latest public reevaluation of the genius who was convicted of homosexuality under “gross indecency” laws in 1952. By the time he died, Turing had been stripped of his security clearance and was forced to undergo a “chemical castration” regime of estrogen shots to avoid serving a two-year prison term.

The treatment of non-conformity by “polite” society over the centuries ranged from indecent to inhumane and cruel. Those who offended political pop culture and religion both – with their sexual preference – received the worst of it. Admitting narrow-minded stupidity of this sort is typically accompanied by “not on my watch” hand-wringing. And not much more. Still, the admission is part of the process of sorting out the dross remaining in our cultural brain.

Tim Howard — heroes do not necessarily triumph


Click to enlargeAP Photo

Tim Howard’s stunning performance against Belgium in Tuesday evening’s epic last-16 contest in Salvador was the talk of the US yesterday after his remarkable, bloody-minded refusal to let the ball past him in the 90 minutes of normal time captured the hearts of sports fans Stateside.

But its true significance may take years to gauge because the preformance, and the reaction, may prove the tipping point which confirm the US as a real football force, establishing the sport as a real rival to American football and baseball.

Howard may have eventually succumbed in extra-time but as the New York Times put it yesterday morning: “All around the country, from coast to coast and through the nation’s belly, sports fans of every kind were inspired by the performance of a soccer goalkeeper. In a loss.”

Howard’s performance was the best statistically by a goalkeeper at any World Cup since 1966. The Everton man made a record 16 saves according to Fifa, starting as early as the 40th second when he denied Divock Origi after the Belgian striker broke through. That was one of four stops in the first half but it was after the break, when Belgium turned up the heat, that Howard came into his own and the American captain transformed into a footballing Captain America. He made eight saves in a gripping second period to keep Belgium at bay – leaping high to paw away two Origi efforts, while using his feet and legs to block a series of low strikes.

It was only with substitute Romelu Lukaku running at a tired American defence in extra-time that his resistance was broken; Lukaku, his team-mate at Everton last season, set up Kevin de Bruyne before lifting one over Howard himself. If Lukaku’s first action at the end of the match was to embrace Howard, it is a feeling shared by millions of Americans.

The goalkeeper’s heroics went viral on the internet in the hours that followed, with the hashtag “ThingsTimHowardCouldSave” inspiring pictures of the 35 year-old rescuing Bambi and the swimmer from Jaws. US vice-president Joe Biden tweeted: “Proud that our guys, just like our country, never gave up. Tim Howard – most valuable player in the World Cup.”

RTFA for more details about the whole team. We’re getting there. Nice to see we can catch up with the rest of the world in an area with social value. Lifetime sports can be a passion for spectator as well as participants.

Thanks, Mike

German parliament called to hold session on U.S. spying

The German parliament will hold a special session in November on alleged U.S. spying that included monitoring of mobile phone communications of Chancellor Angela Merkel, the chancellor’s party said Monday…

There have been calls for a special parliamentary investigative committee on the spying accusations, with some deputies demanding to summon whistleblower Edward Snowden to act as a witness.

Germany’s Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger told local media on Monday that the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office will have to consider the possibility of interrogating Snowden as a witness if suspicions on the spying prove correct and a case is opened…

German newspaper Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported on Sunday that U.S. President Barack Obama was aware of the alleged monitoring of mobile phone communications of Merkel years ago, but the claim was denied by the U.S. side.

The German government has voiced its anger at possible U.S. intelligence’s tapping of Merkel’s phone, saying it would be “a serious breach of trust” if confirmed.

High-ranking representatives of German security services as well as the chancellery will travel to Washington this week to seek clarifications of widespread spying allegations, German government spokesman Georg Streiter said on Friday.

Some members of the German Parliament want to offer Snowden asylum in Germany – adding to the list of nations willing to do so. “Christian Ströbele of the Green Party has proposed granting asylum to Snowden in Germany – or providing him with witness protection, at the very least. “He’s an important, but vulnerable, witness…”

It’s understandable why every failing church from the Vatican to fundamentalist Protestant sects looks to the United States to be their bastion against change. We are the last best hope of preservation through hypocrisy.

We condemn those nation-states which support violence against our country in the name of regime change – and pile on sanctions, fund guerilla bands and bandits doing exactly the same in other lands. We condemn spying by other countries on political and commercial entities within our borders – and lead the world in the use of technology to spy on every other nations’ political leaders and corporate commanders.

Your political party lies in your choice of weapons: words or guns


Click for dream vs reality

An American child grows up in a married household in the suburbs. What are the chances that his family keeps a gun in their home?

The probability is considerably higher than residents of New York and other big cities might expect: about 40 percent of married households reported having a gun in their home, according to the exit poll conducted during the 2008 presidential election.

But the odds vary significantly based on the political identity of the child’s parents. If they identify as Democratic voters, the chances are only about one in four, or 25 percent, that they have a gun in their home. But the chances are more than twice that, almost 60 percent, if they are Republicans.

Whether someone owns a gun is a more powerful predictor of a person’s political party than her gender, whether she identifies as gay or lesbian, whether she is Hispanic, whether she lives in the South or a number of other demographic characteristics…

In 1973, about 55 percent of Republicans reported having a gun in their household against 45 percent of Democrats, according to the General Social Survey, a biennial poll of American adults…Gun ownership has declined over the past 40 years — but almost all of the decrease has come from Democrats…Unfortunately, the question on gun ownership was dropped from the 2012 national exit poll…

White voters were substantially more likely to own guns than Hispanics or blacks. But white Republicans were more likely to own guns than white Democrats…And based on demographic inertia, the differences seem likely to grow over time…

It might seem strange that ownership of a single household object is so strongly tied to voting behavior and broader political attitudes in America. But America is an outlier relative to other industrialized nations in its gun ownership rates. Whatever makes this country so different from the rest of the world must surely be reflected in the differences in how Democrats and Republicans see the nation.

Did you grow up with cowboy movies as the most important entertainment in your life? Or did you read Mark Twain? Did you grow up with parents who believed heroes were more important than teachers? Was a weekly visit to the library as important as the Saturday afternoon serial at the neighborhood movie theatre?

As television took over more entertainment from movies – and became every family’s babysitter – did first-person-shooters establish ethical standards overruling Mr. Rogers or the Science Guy? One of the smallish factoids in Nate Silver’s post is that gun ownership rates are inversely correlated with educational attainment.

I don’t pretend to know the whole answer. I grew up with both sides of this dialectic. I do know that I came to a turning point before I was twenty years old and walked away from the gang that owned half of my few friends. I returned to time spent with books and music, reflective thought, conscience – and independence from a society I considered corrupt and intellectually lazy.

A decision worth making.

My kind of hero


Lance Corporal Tasker and Theo – in action, better days

A bomb-sniffing army dog who died in Afghanistan on the day his handler was killed has been honored with Britain’s highest award for animal bravery.

Springer spaniel mix Theo was posthumously awarded the Dickin Medal on Thursday at a London ceremony.

Theo worked for five months in Afghanistan with Royal Army Veterinary Corps Lance Cpl. Liam Tasker, searching out roadside bombs.

Tasker was killed in a firefight with insurgents in Helmand Province in March 2011. Theo suffered a fatal seizure hours later at a British army base, likely brought about by stress.

The soldier and his dog were brought back to Britain on the same military flight.

Since 1943 the Dickin Medal has recognized wartime gallantry by animals, from carrier pigeons to a World War II commando collie.

No surprise to me – Lance Cpl. Tasker’s mom said she’s certain the dog died of a broken heart.

Hero of the day – 52-yr-old bus driver catches falling girl


 

Keyla McCree crawled out of her bedroom window and was dancing atop an air-conditioning unit when she lost her footing and plunged towards the concrete below.

She was saved by a neighbour who had looked up when he heard the girl, who suffers from autism, singing above.

Steve St Bernard, 52, a bus driver and fellow resident at Coney Island Houses building in Brooklyn caught the girl in his outstretched arms…”I just prayed that I’d catch her,” Mr St Bernard told the New York Daily News. “I was right underneath her…”

Witnesses told police that the child had pushed aside the accordion closure that held a newly installed air conditioning unit in her apartment.

She crawled out through the empty space around 2pm and astonished onlookers as she sang and danced a routine on the ledge.

Mr St Bernard heard the commotion and went to help

The girl walked away unscathed but her rescuer was treated for a torn tendon in his left bicep.

RTFA for the details. The important part was that an ordinary guy, a bus driver, heard the commotion – saw what the danger was – and stationed himself to help the little girl if the worst happened.

It did. And he saved her.

New Yorker jumps to save subway rider – and get to work on time

A New York grocery clerk, fearing he might be late for work, jumped onto city subway tracks to haul an injured passenger to safety after he fainted, authorities said.

The victim was taken to a local hospital after his rescue on Sunday by Carlos Flores, who said he leaped to save the man so he would not be late for work.

I was thinking, if he gets hit I can’t go to work. It’s Sunday. I can’t miss out. It’s a time-and-a-half day,” Flores was quoted as saying in the New York Daily News.

A Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokeswoman said the incident, while heroic, was dangerous.

“We do not recommend that people jump down to the roadbed,” spokeswoman Deirdre Parker said on Monday.

This dude is entirely too honest.