For Mr. Trump, It’s STEM, Schwem, Whatever…

In response to a question about whether state-sponsored hacking against an American political party should go unpunished, Donald Trump grew expansive, giving his typically thoughtful perspective on science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and (even) epistemology:

“I think we ought to get on with our lives. I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of computer [sic] has made it where nobody knows exactly what’s going on.”

So much for contemporary science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – why bother with STEM when ‘nobody knows exactly what’s going on’ anyway? Perhaps one thought that science and technology made America the most advanced country in all the world, indeed, made her a world-historical place committed to study and exploration.

But then, Trump knows because he knows that no one knows – under his view, our problems aren’t just educational; honest to goodness, a theory of knowledge, itself, is pointless.  It’s one big muddled scene.

Casting this last point as Trump’s attack on epistemology gives him too much credit, of course.  Saying nobody knows what’s going on has a more practical value for Trump, and is merely a pose: he insists that the truth is indeterminable whenever he wishes to evade responsibility for his own lies.

We’d best hold to our educational pursuits in spite of Trump’s suggestion, and hold as tightly to the conviction that in so many matters, truths – and the lies contrary to them – are determinable.

And the Internet was Born: The Creation of the ARPANET

Bridget Galaty has produced a fine documentary on the ARPANET, an early packet-switching network.  Ms. Galaty is a 12th grade Video Cinema Arts (VCA) student at Denver School of the Arts (DSA) – a public, magnet, arts school within Denver Public Schools (DPS).  Her work here, and her other videography on her YouTube channel, is excellent.

Goodbye, VCR

Embed from Getty Images

There’s a story over at Quartz about the end of videocassette-recorder production. Ananya Bhattacharya writes that

Japan’s Funai Electronics, which makes its own electronics, in addition to supplying companies like Sanyo, will produce the last batch of VCR units by July 30, Nikkei reported (link in Japanese). The company cites difficulty in obtaining the necessary parts as one of the reasons for halting production.

See, The last VCR will be manufactured this month @ Quartz.

What was once so important to so many has withered in a world of the DVD and Blu-ray. Of course, technologies will come and go, but compelling creative works, of original words and pictures, will prove evergreen, and as desirable a generation from now as a generation ago.

So What’s Pokémon Go?

It’s two things: a game one plays with one’s smartphone (as CNET explains in the video embedded above), and a reworking of an old set of characters in a new format.  The original characters were interesting to millions before, and remain interesting, making their revival in a new format a good bet. 

If the characters hadn’t been compelling to a previous generation, and were not still interesting to this generation, the prospects for Pokémon Go as a merely technical offering would be limited.

Not any message will do. However appealing to a few, there’s not, after all, a wildly popular Android and iOS version of sheepshead.

The trick is picking the right content (or message) from the past, still of interest to people now, and matching it with a medium of the present.

See, aditionally, How to Pick Pikachu as Your Starter in Pokémon Go:

NASA Tests New Rocket Engine

NASA enjoyed a successful test of a heavy rocket, and both the federal agency and private enterprise are pushing ahead with rockets powerful enough to support a mission to Mars.

A booster for the most powerful rocket in the world, NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), successfully fired up Tuesday for its second qualification ground test at Orbital ATK’s test facilities in Promontory, Utah. This was the last full-scale test for the booster before SLS’s first uncrewed test flight with NASA’s Orion spacecraft in late 2018, a key milestone on the agency’s Journey to Mars.

Via NASA.

SpaceX Tests a Capsule’s Ability to Hover

Eight SuperDraco thrusters, positioned around the perimeter of the vehicle in pairs called “jet packs”, fired up simultaneously to raise the Crew Dragon spacecraft for a five-second hover, generating approximately 33,000 lbs of thrust before returning the vehicle to its resting position. This test was the second of a two-part milestone under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The first test—a short firing of the engines intended to verify a healthy propulsion system—was completed November 22, and the longer burn two-days later demonstrated vehicle control while hovering.

Via SpaceX at YouTube.