November 2022

This newsletter is a collection of things I have found in the last month that I enjoyed, found interesting, or simply wanted to share.

You can follow me more closely at my personal website or if you or someone you know is looking to buy or sell a home, you can point them to my real estate website.

Leave Some Space

William Shatner: My Trip to Space Filled Me With ‘Overwhelming Sadness’

I continued my self-guided tour and turned my head to face the other direction, to stare into space. I love the mystery of the universe. I love all the questions that have come to us over thousands of years of exploration and hypotheses. Stars exploding years ago, their light traveling to us years later; black holes absorbing energy; satellites showing us entire galaxies in areas thought to be devoid of matter entirely… all of that has thrilled me for years… but when I looked in the opposite direction, into space, there was no mystery, no majestic awe to behold …all I saw was death.

I saw a cold, dark, black emptiness. It was unlike any blackness you can see or feel on Earth. It was deep, enveloping, all-encompassing. I turned back toward the light of home. I could see the curvature of Earth, the beige of the desert, the white of the clouds and the blue of the sky. It was life. Nurturing, sustaining, life. Mother Earth. Gaia. And I was leaving her.

Everything I had thought was wrong. Everything I had expected to see was wrong.

[…]

It was among the strongest feelings of grief I have ever encountered. The contrast between the vicious coldness of space and the warm nurturing of Earth below filled me with overwhelming sadness. Every day, we are confronted with the knowledge of further destruction of Earth at our hands: the extinction of animal species, of flora and fauna… things that took five billion years to evolve, and suddenly we will never see them again because of the interference of mankind. It filled me with dread. My trip to space was supposed to be a celebration; instead, it felt like a funeral.

Father Time, Online

The Thorny Problem of Keeping the Internet’s Time

To solve the problem of time synchronization on the arpanet, Mills built what programmers call a protocol—a collection of rules and procedures that creates a lingua franca for disparate devices. The arpanet was experimental and capricious: electronics failed regularly, and technological misbehavior was common. His protocol sought to detect and correct for those misdeeds, creating a consensus about the time through an ingenious system of suspicion. Mills prided himself on puckish nomenclature, and so his clock-synchronizing system distinguished reliable “truechimers” from misleading “falsetickers.” An operating system named Fuzzball, which he designed, facilitated the early work. Mills called his creation the Network Time Protocol, and N.T.P. soon became a key component of the nascent Internet. Programmers followed its instructions when they wrote timekeeping code for their computers. By 1988, Mills had refined N.T.P. to the point where it could synchronize the clocks of connected computers that had been telling vastly differing times to within tens of milliseconds—a fraction of a blink of an eye. “I always thought that was sort of black magic,” Vint Cerf, a pioneer of Internet infrastructure, told me.

[…]

N.T.P. works by telling computers to send tiny, time-stamped messages to time-checking devices superior to them in a hierarchy. The hierarchy’s uppermost layer consists of servers that are closely connected to highly accurate clocks kept in tight synchronization with Coördinated Universal Time. The time then trickles, from strata to strata, to the machines at the bottom of the hierarchy, such as ordinary laptops. The protocol tracks the instants that elapse as a time-checking message is sent, received, returned, and received again by its original sender. All the while, a collection of algorithms—the “popcorn spike suppressor,” the “huff-n’-puff filter”—sifts through the data, singling out falsetickers and truechimers and instructing the clocks on how to adjust their times based on what the time-stamped messages tell them.

Just Be-Cause

The Art of Naming Military Operations

Churchill’s Rules:
1. Operations in which large numbers of men may lose their lives ought not to be described by code words which imply a boastful or overconfident sentiment,… or, conversely, which are calculated to invest the plan with an air of despondency… They ought not to be names of a frivolous character… They should not be ordinary words often used in other connections… . Names of living people–Ministers and Commanders–should be avoided…
2. After all, the world is wide, and intelligent thought will readily supply an unlimited number of well-sounding names which do not suggest the character of the operation or disparage it in any way and do not enable some widow or mother to say that her son was killed in an operation called “Bunnyhug” or “Ballyhoo.
3. Proper names are good in this field. The heroes of antiquity, figures from Greek and Roman mythology, the constellations and stars, famous racehorses, names of British and American war heroes, could be used, provided they fall within the rules above.

Links

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Thanks for reading. Have a great month,

Clay