Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


January 30, 2013

Random Thoughts: The world has changed

CROSSVILLE — Is it any wonder we hear often that people don’t communicate well? Could it be because words keep changing meanings? Remember when gay brought to mind the image of a happy, light-hearted soul? When you gave aid to someone in trouble?

Years ago our family was traveling and we stopped for some ice cream. My sister and I were horrified when our father ordered his with dope on top. In his early days dope was the syrup used for ice cream sundaes.

Could it be that today we have a raft of new technical terms? We google, tweet and twitter today but tomorrow it may become something else. It is hard to be cheerful about getting older when you face the changes.

Try to even imagine that Walmart handles more than a million customer transactions each hour and they have already built up data approximately 167 times greater than all the books in the Library of Congress. Facebook has 40 billion photos and YouTube users upload 48 hours of video each minute!

According to the January Boston Magazine, about 90 percent of the world’s data has been created in the last two years! In 2012 world computer users created an average of 23 billion gigabytes of data each day.

This is referred to as Big Data and Boston has created a space they call Hack/Reduce where any who want access to all this data can turn. This “hackspace” contains 1,000 computers and is free to as many as 200 hackers who sign up for using the space.

Google, Inc. is an American multinational corporation that provides internet related products and services. It was founded by Stanford University students Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

First incorporated as a privately held corporation just 15 years ago on September 4, 1998, it was offered to the public in August 2004. Since then Google’s profits have increased annually. Just last week it was reported that earnings pushed Google stock up.

Their mission statement was simply to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. They also had an unofficial slogan, “Don’t be evil.”

Yes, the world has changed. Google’s CEO Larry Page said in a conference call with USA Today’s reporter Jon Swartz, “In today’s multiscreen world, we face tremendous opportunities as a technology company focused on user benefit.”

One of those tremendous opportunities has come from governments around the world. The Associated Press reports that in the last 6 months of 2010 Google received 21,389 requests for information on 33,634 of its users. That was up 17 percent from the prior year.

During that time period subpoenas made up 68 percent of the requests from the U.S. government. Other legal requests included search warrants.

If all this information is mind boggling there is much more to come.

A British team is experimenting with DNA, our genetic building blocks of life. They are out to prove that DNA can be used as a physical storage tank for data.

Will wonders never cease or will all this energy end up being so much trash? Only time will tell.

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  • LION AND THE LAMB: Four ways to demonstrate opposition

    Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan mention in their book, “The Last Week,” that Roman-occupied Palestine during the first century was under the control of Pontius Pilate who lived in the coastal city of Caesarea. Each year at the beginning of the Passover observance when Jews celebrated their liberation from Egypt, Pilate feared that they might be getting ideas about revolting from Rome, so he would come with additional soldiers on horses to beef up the Roman garrison in Jerusalem. 

    April 15, 2014

  • WE THE PEOPLE: Is it (new) party time?

    The Democratic and Republican parties are toast, according to Joe Trippi. The Republican Party is coming apart at its Tea Party seam. Democratic candidates struggle to celebrate President Obama’s health care successes, while responding to criticism of his failed promises, e.g., government transparency.

    April 15, 2014

  • TIDBITS: I found it at the library

    I have such fond memories of going to my local library as a child, searching through shelf after shelf and finding a book that would make me a Little Princess in World War II England, or bring me along as Nancy Drew solved the Secret in the Old Attic.

    April 14, 2014

  • STUMPTALK: The reason words have meaning

    If words did not have accepted meanings we would not be able to communicate effectively and civilized society would not exist.

    April 14, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Do we really believe in democracy?

    The recent Supreme Court decision, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, is in a long line of debates about power in a democracy. Should power be in the hands of all the citizens or should it be in hands of those who have greater wealth and social position?

    April 8, 2014

  • We the People: Public education or business opportunity?

    A month ago, we followed the money trail left by a ‘think tank’ to the major sources funding an attack on our traditional, locally controlled public schools. We saw that a handful of billionaires provide major support to many organizations lobbying for change.

    April 8, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Just another government lie?

    There is a vault located in Fort Knox, Kentucky. It was built in 1936 and encased in 16 cubic feet of granite and 4200 feet of cement. The door is made of 20-inch thick material that is immune to drills, torches and explosives.

    April 7, 2014

  • GARY'S WORLD: The chance to speak your mind

    Are you tired of hearing people complain about the way things are run in Cumberland County? Or, do you like the way the county government is run and operated in our beautiful county?
    Are you happy with the way things are, or would you like some change?

    April 3, 2014

  • LION AND THE LAMB: Digging beneath the headlines

    Our media have been focusing on two important events that have taken place overseas during the last several weeks.

    April 1, 2014

  • WE THE PEOPLE: SNAP, health and work

    A recent letter from Representative Diane Black to me states that she voted for the farm bill (with $8 million in Food Stamp (SNAP) benefit cuts) because she, like me, is a supporter of food stamp benefits for Tennessee families who qualify. That’s a lot of families, as most recipients are families with children and the elderly. Now, recall that there was already a major cut to the food stamp program back in the fall. But for some Republicans, that was not enough.

    April 1, 2014

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