Thinking Critically Can Save Your Life

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Learn to think critically.  It could save your life. All too often people base their knowledge on things they hear. Most of us prefer to be agreeable and conform with a behavioral norm created by those around us. Some people say “think wonderful thoughts and you’ll be happy”. Sadly, that doesn’t work when you’re on a collision course with a serious threat. Don’t kid yourself. When you are asked to evacuate because there is a fire that can’t be contained or your town is in the path of hurricane make certain you get out of the way. Your special belief that things will be OK will not save you from calamity. Don’t base your actions on old information like the baby boomers retiring to coastal locations in Florida as they ignore widespread flooding and hurricane activity.

Learn anything now on youtube.com Thinking critically can save your life
Learn anything now on youtube.com

When you learn to perceive of change and investigate conditions with an open mind, you’ll be able to make better decisions. That process of good decision making can save your life and help you to live with meaning rather than have some aimless existence.

You are blessed because you can learn whatever you want on the Internet for free. That education was something unavailable even 10 years ago. Go to Youtube.com. You can learn critical thinking, physics, math, chemistry, knitting, carpentry, plumbing, farming or robotics. It will cost you nothing so don’t waste your time doing nothing. Become an artist of any kind – dancer, writer, singer, choreographer, sculptor, musician. Start learning on the Internet now. YOUR TIME IS VALUABLE.

by Linda Kaidan

 

Local Government Code of Ethics: Why have a code of ethical conduct in the workplace?

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by Linda Kaidan

I have chosen the University of Western Australia as a model local government code of ethics. It standardizes principles, values and behaviors expected of both students and staff at this university. It is defined in writing in two documents. The first is the Code of Ethics and the Second is the Code of Conduct.

Who does this code of ethics apply to? It applies to full and part time employees and full and part time students as well as permanent and temporary staff. Visitors and contractors must also abide by this standard. In fact, all individuals present at this facility must assume the responsibility of following this code of ethics when undertaking any university business.  Those who do not abide by it are subject to discipline or dismissal.

The first part of the code focuses on equity and justice. It ensures that people will be treated fairly without discrimination. Its purpose is to prevent petty tyranny and the abuse of power. A just community is one where each and every member has equitable access to opportunities and resources.

The second ethical requirement is respect for people. Individual rights must be protected in order to maximize the potential of every person. Each community member must accept responsibility for their actions and behave with integrity. Each individual must accept social responsibility and act openly and honestly. Respect for others means resolving conflict with reasoned argument and respecting the listener.

The third ethical requirement requires that individuals do no harm. But they must also behave with courtesy and are expected to contribute to the common good.

I chose this as a fine example for a local government code of ethics because of its simplicity, clarity and impact. When each of us assumes responsibility for the common good, treats others with respect and behaves fairly, we can live and work in an environment that is sustainable and supportive and expect fair treatment and support from our peers.

Evolution of data and data analysis: A geographer’s perspective

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By Linda Kaidan

How has our technology evolved from basic data concepts to big-data concepts in just 60 years?

Examining the history of data evolution and Geographic Information Systems is an excellent way to understand the progress of data storage, management and data analysis as a whole. In the beginning data was stored as written records on paper. Throughout history maps have been significant in navigation as they continue to be today. In the 1950’s slide rules and mechanical calculators were commonly used for calculations. Many mapping applications were completed by teams of mathematicians performing spatial and geodetic analysis that today is being accomplished in microseconds.

In the 1950s, maps were simple. They had their place in vehicle routing, new development planning and locating points of interest. Early mapping did not have the advantage of computers. However, satellite and aircraft systems were early uses of computer technology. In the 1950’s a self-contained dead reckoning system was developed by government contractors. The first space programmers developed a navigation system that could function without external references. US government contracting companies engineered inertial commercial navigation systems in the 1970s. They were capable of computing present position, distance to waypoints, direction and heading without navigation input employing onboard self-contained systems (Wyatt).

Digital Equipment Corporation built the first user friendly computer in 1959, the PDP 1. They introduced the PDP-11/70 in 1975.  It was used to integrate satellite-derived data and imagery from remote sensing. It supported stereographic image analysis, aircraft sensor data and data analysis. In 1972 The Defense Mapping Agency began providing mapping, charting, and geodetic information in paper and electronic format to the US Defense Department (US Government Publishing Office).

ARC INFO offered a GIS system with a graphical user interface for desktop computers. ARC refers to line segments of map elements. Info refers to data stored in an information system. The first microcomputer based geographic information system was released in 1982. ArcView provided a PC based environment supporting a basic geospatial model. Geo-referencing mapped world geographic coordinate systems to digital map elements.

Data representation featured vector models of points lines and polygons mapped to georeferenced X, Y coordinates. Topological models were used to relate map elements to each other. Spaghetti models connected independent map elements layering them atop one another. Raster models store data that varies continuously such as aerial or satellite acquired surface imagery.

As early as the 1980’s ARC GIS systems have been put to use to map municipality data in layers of substructures. Municipalities maintain control of information regarding public utilities like water, electric and sewer operations and detailed location of buildings and other structures. Whenever excavations are made the dig safe program retrieves data from Municipal GIS systems to ensure that electrical lines, gas lines and other buried infrastructures are not damaged in the process.

ArcGIS stores data in proprietary files. They also used ORACLE’s relational database system. Unlike many technology companies which have fallen by the wayside, ArcGIS is available today as a cloud based software as a service (ARCGIS.COM). Today’s ARCGIS provides industry support to utilities by making GIS system design affordable to cooperatives and municipalities with limited budgets using data model templates for project implementation (EIS.COM).

Open source Geographic Information Systems data is available to all. This includes Landsat satellite imagery and Tiger Data. ArcGIS Online stores massive amounts of spatial data. GIS software is being developed using open source collaborative efforts and is available to the public free of charge (ERSI.COM).

ORACLE is the second largest software company in the world. It began offering the first database software employing highly structured relational modeling for data storage retrieval and analysis. Though nearly 40 years have now gone by since the company’s inception in 1977, ORACLE’s RDBMS is the most widely used RDBMS in the world.

Well-structured data based on relational modeling is essential for organizations like financial institutions including banks, consumer based organizations, and medical research companies. It will likely continue to be valuable for a very long time to come. However, with our ever increasing capacity to create, access and store data, what is popularly called Big Data is an ever growing and every increasingly important source of information.

Big Data can be well structured just as data stored in a relational database or unstructured like that found in a periodical, research paper or essay. Data can be stored in a user defined self-referential structures such as that supported by JSON or XML.

Where does Big Data come from? It may come from sensors in manufacturing facilities, elevator banks in the World Trade Center or from automated, self-contained agriculture facilities in isolated areas. It may even come from biometric data collected by sensors on our bodies. Mining and manufacturing operations monitor production and distribution processes with sensors. That data can provide real-time quality control and predict when maintenance is necessary as well as when malfunctions occur. The result is less down time and greater efficiency. When used properly, Big Data can answer important questions relating to safety, quality, efficiency and market trends.

Big Data can be analyzed in real time as it streams or after collection. Data Analytics is a relatively new science offering techniques to glean the most from ever increasing volumes of data. ORACLE defines Big Data by referencing:

  • Volume of data processed which can reach into the petabytes (1000 terabytes)
  • Velocity – the rate at which data is received and acted upon
  • Value – an ongoing discovery process fueled by business executives and analysts.  Determining value is a function of asking the right questions, identifying patterns, making perceptive assumptions, and predicting behavior.

Data Representation Structured Versus Unstructured

Files, Relational Models, Self-Defined and Unstructured Data all contribute to how data can be represented and stored. Commercial and scientific software often use proprietary product based files to store data. Photoshop uses PSD files, DOCX is a file format for MS Word and standard image formats include jpg and png.

Relational data is modeled and stored in relational databases like MySQL, SQLSERVER and ORACLE. Relational data is based on relational mathematics for data set mapping developed by Edgar F. Codd in the 1970’s.  Such databases are sets of normalized data organized by tables, records and columns. There are well defined relationships between database tables. Relational structures support communication, sharing, search ability, organization and reporting. Structured Query Language called SQL, offers easy access to data from programs and scripts (Techopedia).

Unstructured data may be impossible to fit into an RDBMS. Such data often originates in mobile, social, and cloud computing data feeds. Some estimates agree that 90 percent of the data that exists now was created in the last two years and most of this information is unstructured. Unstructured databases like NoSQL and Hadoop offer the opportunity to capture, store and analyze vast resources of unstructured data as it is generated and to use it for business intelligence.

XML data is a data format that supports both data and a definition of that data’s structure. That means it’s self-defining. XML format can be used by any individuals or organizations that want to share data in a consistent way and in a format that they define and choose. Clusterpoint Server is database software for high-speed storage and large-scale processing of XML and JSON data on commodity hardware clusters. It works as a schema free document-oriented DBMS platform with an open source API. Clusterpoint supports immediate search and access to billions of documents and fast analytics operating on structured and unstructured data.

JSON stands for JavaScript Object Notation. It is an easily readable and usable data-interchange format that machines can parse and humans can read and understand.  It is defined as a portion of JavaScript Programming Language, Standard ECMA-262.

Conclusion

Our ongoing data evolution began in the 50’s. We maximized its use to do amazing things like sending satellites to space and using those satellites to acquire and transmit geospatial information and meteorological information. As time has gone by, each generation of technologists has built upon the work of the last. We’ve created library upon library of mathematical functions, utilities and models that allow us to build systems that are more specialized, inclusive and integrated. We’ve created an amazing toolbox of wonders that will continue to grow as long as we do.  We have not only expanded our data and data analysis resources, we have new open source opportunities that allow us to share our data technology and further accelerate our learning process.

In such a short period of time we’ve become capable of monitoring and analyzing the oceans, climate, forest fires, epidemics, seismic events and financial catastrophes.  We’ve just recently heard about new quantum computers which are not binary but based on state. This multi-state structure supports more adaptable algorithms and enables us to solve problems millions of times faster, leading to solutions to previously insoluble problems. We’ve done all of this in just 60 years.

One challenge for the future will be to manage this ever increasing information torrent and to uncover some way to find and make use of everything we seek to discover. At the same time Big Data increases threats to both personal and corporate privacy. With every click of our mouse we give up information to parties unknown.

Linda Kaidan was a Principal Software Developer at Oracle Corporation. She’s also developed public utilities software at IBM and was a senior software design engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Kaidan has a BA in Geography from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an MS in Computer Science from American University. Early in her career, she worked as a cartographer at the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. Kaidan is the author of Surviving Climate Change: Decide to Live.

 

References

ARCGIS. Introduction to ARCGIS software. Retrieved from https://www.wou.edu/las/physci/taylor/es341/arcGIS_intro.pdf

bigdata-madesimple.com. A Deep Dive into NOSQL. Retrieved from http://bigdata-madesimple.com/a-deep-dive-into-nosql-a-complete-list-of-nosql-databases/

ERSI. GIS for Municipalities. Retrieved from. https://www.esri.com/~/media/Files/Pdfs/library/brochures/pdfs/gis-for-municipalities.pdf

GIS Geography. Landsat satellite imagery. Retrieved from http://gisgeography.com/usgs-earth-explorer-download-free-landsat-imagery/

JSON.org. Java Script Notation. Retrieved from http://www.json.org/fatfree.html

ORACLE. What is Big Data? Retrieved from https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiWxdj6zcHOAhUD8CYKHSFRAo4QFghGMAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.oracle.com%2Fbig-data%2F&usg=AFQjCNHEV30BwI3YrV3vtFymuVgqUUN9YQ&sig2=OQ9yGH9qyGiLXbPnOD_XAg

Porter, Claire. Little privacy in the age of big data. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jun/20/little-privacy-in-the-age-of-big-data

Techopedia. Relational Database (RDB). Retrieved from https://www.techopedia.com/definition/1234/relational-database-rdb

United States Government Publishing Office.  Defense Mapping Agency. Retrieved from https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/GOVMAN-1996-05-31/pdf/GOVMAN-1996-05-31-Pg233.pdf

Wyatt, David. Aircraft Flight Instruments and Guidance Systems.

Life Without Cash

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by Linda Kaidan

I’ve just watched Season 1 of Mr Robot – free on Amazon Prime. The plot revolves around a tiny group of hackers who bring world banking to a halt by rendering their corporate data inaccessible, encrypting it with a virtually unbreakable key. As a result, all the economies in the world go bust simultaneously and everyone is free of debt, but without currency alternative. Will chaos follow when there is life without cash?

Surviving Economic Crisis

This plot seems likely to occur in real life – possibly at any moment. New quantum computers are millions of times faster than those widely used today and probably very effective at breaking the most sophisticated computer security measures. Destabilization of major economies can also be driven by climate change disasters like coastal flooding, famine and disease.

Business Insider offers a solution that replaces our current monetary system with one based on water or energy. Since these are basic resources used by virtually everyone, this makes lots of sense. Global banking disaster can be prevented right now and we should not wait for the inevitable hacker or cataclysmic event to make it so.

Taking Charge of Economic Stability at Community Level

We don’t have to be passive onlookers in the economic stabilization process. We can be proactive on the community level by producing local energy in our villages, towns and cities, securing a reliable water supply through rainwater harvesting, recycling water and plain old living in the right place.

Smart early first century people like the Nabateans lived in the desert, but managed to support a thriving agricultural community by effectively harvesting rainwater and storing it in cisterns below ground. Today, desert residents in New Mexico generate sufficient water for their homes with only 8 inches of rain per year. They manage this miracle by harvesting and reusing just about all the rainwater they get, transforming their homes into tiny oasis capable of offering year round comfortable temperature, sufficient water even for flush toilets and producing lovely interior and exterior gardens.

In Herkimer, NY we have endless fresh water and a history of generating clean hydro, solar and wind energy. We are in an ideal location to become a stable, sustainable community should disaster strike. But we are not there yet. Let’s make our community independent and sustainable now so that we’ll have basic needs like food, water and energy covered even when chaos reigns.

 

Climate Change Survival

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Space shades can defend us from global warming
Space shades can defend us from global warming

Climate change survival is an attainable goal that requires the hard work of communities, industries, educational institutions and governments worldwide. In 1000 years, life on this planet will be extinct unless we make sensible changes to the way we live, starting now. One of the most eminent scientists on our planet, England’s Stephen Hawking, has told us that 1000 years from now our planet Earth will have an atmosphere quite similar to that of Venus if we do not take appropriate action. Continue reading “Climate Change Survival”

Herkimer Malicious Trespassing – More Ball Games [VIDEOS]

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Herkimer Malicious Trespassing
In Herkimer, group vandalism helps build team spirit and fill pockets.


Herkimer, Where Criminal Trespass is a Team Sport

Just when you thought it was safe to go out in your driveway again, the team sport of Herkimer malicious trespassing takes the field again.
If you read my previous post about The Ball, you’ll know that earlier this summer my neighbors called the police on me when I refused to return a ball deliberately kicked at me with great precision from across the street. It was kicked by a beefy teen, striking me on the back of my legs.
The responding Herkimer Village Police Officer, the pseudonymous Officer Heist, threatened to arrest me for Petit Larceny, duped by this very old scam. He accused me of intending to steal the worthless ball used to assault me, the one I’d already tossed into the neighborhood’s adjacent playing area. It was outrageous!

Ball Harassment Continues
Malicious trespassing in Herkimer is  a popular team sport. The innocent children whose ball the Herkimer Police leaped to defend have taken to vandalizing our car under the pretext of retrieving their (new) ball. The ball rolls into our driveway frequently, although the street is perpendicular to the driveway. A baller retrieves the ball, off camera. During his or her stay, our car is scratched or sprayed with acid. Repeat. Repeat. Obviously it’s at their parents’ instigation. These kids are probably paid in cash or drugs. The State Police appear to have clamped down on their parents following their abusive mob interaction with us in the street. (Herkimer’s Pleasant Avenue is a quietly sanctioned haven of drug trafficking, its workers flush with drug money.  There are signs that things far more heinous go on here, also involving children. )
I ordered one girl from my driveway the other day, telling her she was trespassing and not to return. She screamed “Don’t you ever talk to me that way!” As you’ll note from the video clip of her departure, she was quite indignant and circled her hand about her head, indicating that any defiance to her outrageous behavior was insane.  Politeness and respect are obviously strangers in her family. Sadly there is an arrogant expectation that my home is a public way to be used however and whenever my neighbors see fit.
Additional cameras have been brought on line. More are coming. We live as I did in Cote D’Ivoire West Africa, where each home’s a fortress, and anarchy prevails.

What I’ve Learned from Herkimer’s Officer Heist and the Pleasant Avenue Ball Harassment
Shrugging our shoulders in helplessness because, Hey! It’s just Pleasant Avenue, ill-serves us all. There are two underlying problems here. The most important is attitude. As a community, we must provide basic services, or we’re not a community. If we can’t do this alone, we have to ask for help. To be a successful community rather than one in name only, we have to change to an “I think I can and I will try” attitude. Too often when problems are discussed here, even the best of Herkimer’s people sigh, shrug their shoulders and say, “It’s Herkimer.” (At some point, perhaps the citizens of Gomorrah probably did the same.)

Herkimer is crime-ridden and  plagued by poverty. Many of the children on our street are very intelligent, but they are not engaging intellectually – their education is pathetically inadequate. Some are reading grade levels below what they should.  It’s obvious the school system treats them as pariahs and tracks them as such. At least one middle school student didn’t know what the Atlantic Ocean is. One doesn’t know what an ocean is. A very bright and likable neighboring 9th grader  is periodically made campfires from his homework assignments.  He correctly determined that Herkimer considers him social junk that his school’s job is keep him off the streets during the day. Like many kids in Herkimer, he’s filled with rage and hopelessness.

We can do better than this, Herkimer. If not now, when?

Linda Kaidan

Invest for success – Maximize your Herkimer investment!

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indexNow is the time to invest for success. Herkimer  real estate is still available at rock bottom prices as billions of dollars in local investment are being made.

 

Strong indication of economic transformation

Governor Cuomo’s Nano Utica initiative, a distance of 17.3 miles from Herkimer, is expected to create in excess of 4,000 world-class jobs over the next 10 years. It will contribute to New York State’s goal as a technology hub for nano-tech, education and economic development.

The long-depressed Herkimer economy has left a glut of low cost, rundown homes dating back to the 19th century. It appears prices have finally reached rock bottom. Unimproved homes on our street are for sale starting as low as 35K . A lovely garden and outstanding accessibility to country lanes, excellent shopping and medical services are within a 10 minute walk. When you buy an unimproved home, you can create just the space you want. It can be distinctive or neutral and you stand to increase your profit potential substantially.

History repeats itself

picture-uh=938bf6754657fa871855a8bf41ac2-ps=b18724e3b83e89Walnut-St.Brookline-MA.afterIn 1998, I renovated a 3-family home on Walnut St. in Brookline, MA. I was very charmed to find such an affordable home in upscale Brookline Village. I purchased the building for $210,000 in the mid 90s from an architect who needed to cash out. At that time it looked like a tenement, with rusty bathroom fixtures and walls coated in grime. The back hall stairs were sagging and the basement had a dirt floor. The roof itself alerted me to its need for immediate replacement dripping water into my morning coffee just after I moved in.

I spent about $90,000 on renovations executed by a general contractor and converted the 3 rental units legally to condominiums. Today – 16 years later – the property is worth a total of about $1.35 million. While I sold each unit after completing renovations, some of the condo buyers may have ended up profiting more than I did. For example, I sold the bottom unit for under $200,000. It is now worth close to $480,000 which is still a deal for this area where the average home is valued at $800,000.

Technology driving economy

Technology companies, historic charm and lovely landscapes are great contributors to a healthy local economy. The ingredients for investment success are the same as those in Boston and neighboring Brookline back in the mid to late 90’s.

  • a depressed real estate market –  Buying low means easy buy in with numerous choices.
  • a good location – I-90 accessibility, walk to commerce and nature, all within a 15 mile proximity to the burgeoning Marcy Tech area.
  • a healthy economy on the horizon – with billions of dollars being invested nearby it’s likely that the local property values will reflect new investment. What helped bring Boston back was the massive infusion of cash from expanding high tech and biotech firms.
  • Timing – Those who are on the scene first will likely reap the greatest rewards. If you wait too long, your chances will decline. And with the huge publicity and massive investment rolling into the Marcy Tech, I wouldn’t be surprised if groups of investors soon began quietly snapping up properties in Otsego and Herkimer counties.

New York City and San Francisco Bay have long been US high tech Leaders. New York is now extending its technology leadership to our Mohawk Valley. Consider being part of this success story.