Thursday, February 2, 2023

ChatGPT

TL;DR -- As promised, we are getting technical. And, given our long time and wide expanse related to life on these shores (and beyond), that covers a whole lot of territory. We have started to look at ChatGPT as a representative of the most modern of approaches (take that with a grain of salt). Actually, we see lots of weaknesses which have been brought up before. Was this a waste? Not really, as we need failures to learn. This is not a failure so much as a work in progress that has further to go than they thought would be the case. Except, their mission statement now mentions the uncertainty. 

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We are focusing on technology as the major theme for research. Roots Tech is an example of an application of technology. We haven't attended, as our interest are with the deeper issues. Say, with DNA, the whole of the technological basis plus the computational lens required to support all of the various ways of making interpretations. Computing in general? The whole of the framework that provided support for development as we seen that ubiquity is more than mere presence. No science is done without some type of artificial routine kicking to action. 

Our daily lives? About the same thing. For good or bad, that's our world. 

I have been listening to discussions about OpenAI. Other than noting that Musk provided some of the funding and that Microsoft just put their dollars on the line, I have merely touched upon the foundational aspects. NNs go back a long way. The mathematics involved in these new approaches goes back even further. What's new? Hardware is one thing and is far beyond what was thought possible. Software and those in-between modes has a very interesting history, too. 

ChatGPT is from OpenAI and will tell you that when it uses 'I' to express itself and try to explain its ways. Don't expect depth, yet. As an article in The Atlantic noted, it's a toy now. But, some are trying to use it as a tool (several APIs are provided). That raises hackles for good reasons. For a few years now, even the brainy have weighed in with their dread of these approaches. On the other hand, the marketing view has grown to be worse than unsustainable, as hype eventually eats up all of the oxygen in a room. But, how long that will play out is, per usual, unknown. But, it gives us two sides to watch as things evolve. 

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Except, technology needs the middle way which we are up to. Lots to explain there, but systems development is a good example. From the top, we have various demands that get studied, and decisions can be made as to coming up with a product (applies across the board). This is a top-down position that is always the one of power, not necessarily of truth. Make it happen, we see the Star Trek captain saying; or, he uses something of that ilk. 

BTW, expectations come this way and are very hard to control, let alone try to manage rationally. It's apparent always, especially given the news ability to harp. On the other hand, it is from this side of things that we get the systems management and all of those creative things dealing with function and form. We will go into examples of this as we go along. 

But, at some point, things have to happen. Arm-chair quarterbacking will not get a game won. Thank God for the industry of engineering which gets thing done. But, before that, we need the basic knowledge that comes into play (science is both top-down and bottom-up). At the same time, we need the one with the abilities to actually do something with their hands, with or without tools. 

Getting a system done requires lots of abilities. And, a system will get (usually or hopefully) to the state where it does what and how as is realizable. Does that state necessarily agree with the earlier thoughts coming from the top-down crowd? If you think yes, well, that is not the usual case. The middle is where adjustments get made for the bottom-up to be driven by management while those above figure how to get their views allowed (aligned) with actual potentials and not marketing dreams. 

One might say that this is old-time management science. Well, yes, in a sense. The new perturbator? The computer brings whole new classes of issues that need attention. As it becomes more capable, so too does the computer's problems rise. That's our current situation where we see, on the horizon, looming changes which may or may not have desirable results. 

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ChatGPT was released for public use and comment back in November of 2022. We watched, mainly, but knew that we had to get involved so as to make our own assessments. Yesterday was the first exposure which started analysis with respect to the work involved, past, current and future. We found it shallow, to the extreme. That comes from the approach which we can discuss. The interface is polite in its verbiage and strives for a 'neutral' position in its responses. 

A huge reminder is there: this is an AI system created by OpenAI and has known limits. We will get into that, but they say that all of the training data comes from before 2021. Okay. There is more that they ought to acknowledge; the input data is a hodgepodge. How will such formulate into a coherent view seemingly willy-nilly? Oh, patterns. We can immediately show that mathematics is not just about patterns; nor, is science of that ilk when done at its core. 

Don't expect creative output, of a valuable nature. Though, I might add, ChatGPT can feed into the graphic generator which comes up with pretty pictures. In case this is not known, the training results in a composited model(s) from which one can obtain what is a photo. Say, of people, and it gives one a 'fake' person. What is the accomplishment? There is not reality behind that. 

Wait, there could be which we will explain, at some point. Actually, what we are suggesting would be a type of analytic stance of benefit. One thing that alarms people is that we can get 'fake' video which is a series of photos. As noted by the discerning eye, the morphs needed are not very sophisticated. That is, one can see the effects of mods that generate behavior through incremental changes to the underlying structure, say a face getting its lips moved to look as it speaking. 

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ChatGPT, 2 Feb 2023
Our first attempt ended in some errors, as did today's. Yesterday, we were testing its knowledge of itself which it handled very well, in most cases: I am ChatGPT created by OpenAI and only know what the trained data allows me to know. Nothing more; I do not reason (yet). 

I pulled some of the log from queries related to Thomas Gardner. Before this, there had been queries related to similar themes. 'Query' is my question; the response follows. Notice that it was in a 'terse' mode which is nice. Then, I asked for a 'verbose' answer to the prior question. 

Query: Who is Thomas Gardner of Salem MA?

The specific Thomas Gardner of Salem, Massachusetts you are referring to is unclear. "Thomas Gardner" is a common name and there may have been multiple individuals with that name living in Salem, Massachusetts. Could you please provide additional context or information to help identify the Thomas Gardner you are inquiring about?

Query: Thomas Gardner married to Margaret Fryer. He died in 1674. 

I apologize, but with only this limited information, it is difficult to determine the specific Thomas Gardner you are referring to. The name "Thomas Gardner" and "Margaret Fryer" were both common during that time period and there may have been multiple individuals with those names in Salem, Massachusetts. If you have access to any additional details, such as birth dates or occupation, it would be helpful in identifying the Thomas Gardner in question.

Query: Did you read about Roger Conant?

Yes, I have knowledge of Roger Conant. Roger Conant was a colonial leader and one of the founding fathers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Born in England in 1592, he immigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1623 and was an early leader in the colony, serving as governor of the settlement at Salem. Conant was a key figure in the establishment and growth of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and played an important role in the early history of the colony and the development of New England. He died in 1679 at the age of 87.

Query: Thomas Gardner was the lead before Roger Conant of the expedition that settled Cape Ann in Massachusetts in the 1623/24 timeframe? 

Yes, that is correct. Thomas Gardner was the leader of the expedition that established a settlement on Cape Ann in Massachusetts in the 1620s, prior to the arrival of Roger Conant. Gardner led a group of settlers to Cape Ann in the early years of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and the settlement he established there was one of the first permanent English settlements in the area. Roger Conant later became governor of the settlement at Salem, which was located near Cape Ann, and played a prominent role in the early history of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Query: Verbosely, please.

Thomas Gardner was a colonial leader and one of the early settlers of Massachusetts Bay Colony. In the 1620s, he led a group of settlers to establish a settlement on Cape Ann, which is located in present-day Massachusetts. This settlement was one of the first permanent English settlements in the area and was established prior to the arrival of Roger Conant, who later became a governor of the settlement at Salem and played an important role in the early history of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Gardner was a visionary and a pioneer, who saw the potential of the New World and was willing to take risks to make it a reality. He played a key role in the establishment and growth of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and helped to lay the foundation for the development of the region. Despite the challenges he faced, Gardner persevered and helped to build a thriving community on Cape Ann.

Today, Thomas Gardner is remembered as one of the early settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and as an important figure in the early history of New England. His legacy serves as a testament to the bravery and determination of the early settlers who helped to shape the American landscape and lay the foundation for the growth and development of the nation.

On the last? It's not quite right, but then it is a composite from several sources. This type of approach might appear to be of interest but is not. Debatable, of course. 

Now, we will get to the specifics, but the training data set was large and came from the internet: pages, sites, books, and such. What a heap! Right? That would confuse anyone. 

There is so much to discuss. We got it to say that the training set was a subset and not just the whole mess. After all, the internet is a mess, for several reasons and of various types. One thing that sticks out is that the 'domain' aspect of life has been ignored. That is, architecture with respect to this type of technology is very weakly evident, perhaps nonexistent. 

One failure, last night? I suggested to the thing that we and it make errors. Right. But, to know how to assess its errors, we need details related to 'provenance' in the proper sense. And, ChatGPT admited that it cannot specifically respond to anything that would be like a 'footnote' request. Alas. ... On trying to respond to that, the system crashed (red text, emphasized - several times). On getting things going again, I was told that I had exceeded the number of queries per hour. Oh well, it and I were in sync ;>). 

So, I was thrown out and the party ended. 

Remarks: Modified: 02/05/2023

02/05/2023 -- There is a lot to this. We will focus on GPT3 which is that which ChatGPT invokes for its content. Too, Google has a player, too: LaMDA (remember fall 2022 and claims of sentience?). 




Tuesday, January 31, 2023

The Americas

TL;DR -- As we noted early last year, we have technology as a focus similar to another group's concentration on honoring research in biomedical fields. This post is about a biological thrust which has a couple of themes. One is that technology cuts across the board. We can use IEEE as an example of touching everything. Too, the post recognizes the life work of a Thomas Gardner descendant. 

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We have mentioned New Spain several times, in the context of the United States. But, considering the extent of the U.S., there were other cultures, such as France, the Netherlands, Sweden and others. This will be a recurring theme due to perseverance of families through time until now. 

And, New Spain also is associated with most of the Americas outside of the U.S. and Canada. That might be the result of the usage of the Spanish language in much of the Americas. According to one source, there are 280-million English speakers in the American Continents compared to 418-million Spanish speakers. This is attributed to Spain being the first conqueror. New England did not conquer so much as slide into the area. 

Our last post mentioned the NEHGS which had a history and genealogy focus. These two utilize technology which is one of our interests. Of late, DNA studies have become more used. These types of results are becoming more frequently used in proving heritage. 

That is a biological focus which then leads to the use of technology, for supporting disciplines of the various sciences, and its mathematical understructure. And, so, we get back to computing and its contributions and plagues. We do this for several reasons which ought to become apparent through time. 

Natural History Museums (say Smithsonian, New York, London, and others) provide information about our world the study of which involves many disciplines, as we see with the Departments at Universities. Curators play a key role. Some in computing have brought this function to bear, say handling knowledge in terms of what a website might present. As with everything, interpretations differ as to what a curator does. The need seems to be recognized according to the rhetoric of the time. 

This post deals with the study of wildlife biology as it has grown over the past 150 years or so. We wanted to point to an example via the journal of the Mexican Association of Mammalogist. The first issue of Therya, Vol. 14 honors a New Englander who descends from many families, including that of Thomas Gardner, of Cape Ann and Salem. We had a post about him, earlier: Alfred L. Gardner, Ph.D.  

Note: Before going on, a technical aside is necessary. We, in the U.S., have benefited from awareness that can contribute to security and such. The 'wild west' start of the internet was a little perturbing to many. The marshals that came to town to clean up were varied, but they have helped. The below article is available via the DOAJ's website: https://doaj.org/about/. However, we point directly to the organization's site for convenience, though it does not use HTTPS. This blog (and its main site) put that into place a while ago for several reasons including Google's nudging. But, mostly, the push came from issues of FTP's security.  

The image shows part of the table of contents from the journal. There is the declaration of the Special Issue. Then, we have a listing of several of the articles, many of which have to do with Dr. Gardner's work. Not all are listed, but this quarterly publication is over 180 pages in length. 

The abstract (Special Issue in Honor of Dr. Alfred L. Gardner) provides links to 'full text' versions of the article (PDF or HTML) and gives references for the material in the article. One of the many publications of Dr. Gardner was Mammals of South America (2008) which is the first of three volumes. Our title suggests the integral aspect of the Americas, north and south. This is a subject needing more attention in terms of the long reach of New England. 

It might be helpful to point to information about Mammalogy (Wikipedia, Journal of Mammalogy, Encyclopedia of Life) which is part of Zoology, the study of animals. "Theria" is a subclass of the mammals. 

Incidentally, this post continues a major theme. An analog can be found via IEEE.org which involves the ubiquitous type of technology that which enables computing and everything else, in part. We need material sciences, as well. 

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Forgive our focus on the 'artificial' when the subject of the post is nature and life. One curating task deals with establishing and preserving knowledge of provenance, through time and situations. Just now, I asked Google to give me something like this (asking ChatGPT about the provenance of its content). Got one interesting bit from The Atlantic: ChatGPT Is Dumber Than You Think (it's a toy, not a tool). Well, this type of thing will be a continuing theme (AIn't and more). 

Oh yes, Roots Tech is right around the corner. We have not paid much attention to that, except for using the various tools (love Family Search). But, it has been on the table for a while to address issues related to this type of thing. And, re-evaluating DNA (let's cut the hype) will arise at some point; for this topic, I am going back 100 some years to describe how computing in its current form came about; DNA work is heavily reliant upon computing; there is no theory for this (just practice); do we need a theory? Chemistry and its theory? Again, look around. Everyone is chasing a "theoretical" basis. Guess what? They all eventually get to computing. So, there it is. Computer science has no basis, at all. Of course, other computing labels have come up, like computer engineering. But, we're talking more than mere labels. Wait, ChatGPT appears to be shallow due to something similar? Stay tuned.  

Remarks: Modified: 01/31/2023

01/31/2023 --


Monday, January 30, 2023

U.S. and AI

TL;DR -- Our technology focus will be regular with a lot of areas to cover. As we do this, we need to define the areas of focus which principally will be about computational approaches that have come about in the past 1/2 century. In one case, AI, we can look at the decades and mark the changes, some of which were related to progress and others were known as static periods. But, in every case, something as left. The earliest AI efforts left us with user interface capabilities that we take for granted. We use a map showing opinion as an example of several issues needing attention, now and later. 

-- Preview (Hint? See Remarks 01/31/2023): 

As we go along, technology's impact increases, both for the good and the bad. Observing technology and its ways is an example of humans and their learning ability. This is a simple review of a complicated affair, but we all know of the long trek to ourselves. Perhaps, it's not a moment-to-moment deal, as the demands of life can loom hot and heavy, whether it's some of the time or most of the time. No one ever has no 'looming' though one might tout their proper attitude of detachment, or not as inattentiveness is problematic, too. 

Get the drift, yet? Some use the academic experience (in toto: from childhood - usually kindergarten but this can start at home; through the early grades which some see as more of social orientation than not; then those higher ones leading to the diploma that will be a companion throughout your life - some of those who don't get this far recoup with the GED certificate; and, onward, through undergrad, then grad, and then postgrad - where we shuffle people into categories related to their benefit and ours - as in, cultural contributions - the gamut); done?, nope, as we have life-long learning. Too, let's consider the autodidact, please. 

What we are doing here is, in part, where history and genealogy come together (take the 1834 start of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, as an example) . We mentioned the 'academic' experience above, but what of the 'real-life' learning that is necessary. Some call this common sense. One AI (let's point to a general page, Wikipedia) project has worked to building a system (see Cyc) with this characteristic for a few decades, now. So, we will get more into that below. 

--- Intelligence: 

But, our learning is not rote where we follow what we learned (say, as a computer might - it's called programming which is the core of AI with some clever extensions thrown in that look smart when the related behavior is observed). We, humans, need our judgment which might be a wrong term to some. But, other words apply such as being able to evaluate, make decisions, interpret in all sorts of situation, and a long list of other things. Through history, we saw lots of examples, again, both good and bad, of human creativity (another aspect that will be on the agenda) in action. 

In knowledge matters, there is a bifurcation that is taken for granted. Some might say 'book' versus 'street' learning. But, it's not that split. This has to deal with whether the mode is real (as in, what science provides when done right) or fiction (which is what 'fiat money' is, for an example - think of that and the ways people can lose so fast becomes more amenable to being understand). For the latter, we have had decades now of highly creative Sci Fi put upon the population and its requirements for adult sanity. 

--- Technology:

Given that we are talking technology, knowledge comes to fore. Cutting short the proper discussion, and in the context of the last paragraph, we can talk too types of 'if' statements, as in if this then that. We have the power via mathematics and logic to keep this type of thing to a 'pure' state dealing with truths that are not grounded (a huge philosophical problem). Using an old mind, Einstein (and others), with respect to physics (the queen of science?), have said: that where math deals with physics, it is not math; where physics deals with math, it is not physics. 

It's almost a particle/wave type of deal. Or, think phases of nature (ice and water is a good one for the winter in most of the U. S.). Operationally, we might thing of brain sides. That old idea is still being used by some studying consciousness. There is a balance that effective people attain for these two, especially when one sees more than a mere bifurcation as we deal mostly with multi-factored problems. 

Nothing is easy. And, we got to the 1950s, let's say, using our own faculties (that honed by life and education) and facilities (that which we create - artifacts of various types) in known ways. We can look at history to see the changes along these lines. BTW, faculty/facility became more of an issue, of late. 

Ignoring that we could say that our own faculties include facilities. Yes, but that involves something having to do with our human abilities. For now, let's keep facilities as artificial, as we see with AI. We will go into depth about what this is and how it came about. Too, we want to explain how we see angst and its opposite (lots of ways to characterize this) boiling up (say, the recent discussion related to ChatGPT (which is one of several examples). 

Turning that around, we have enthusiasm (or exuberance thinking back to the Head of the Fed usage) on the one hand and extreme dread on the other. What gives? Okay, this was mere attention getting which we will get back to. 

--- US and its roles: 

We are talking the U.S. and its roles in all of this. Believe it or not, that is how the leadership has been exhibited; there is nothing that says that the focus has changed. The U.S. can be considered an experiment. Now, that brings up what has happened and why over the 400 years (going back to the original time for a whole lot of families). History tells us some of it. We see information emerging due to the web (computing contribution to us - and the source for a lot of that which has been in the news with regard to machine learning). A blog is an example as it can convey new information. Social media has too many examples for a quick look. Facebook/Meta can be used for this. We have a page on FB; to Meta or not to Meta is a choice having serious philosophical implications. 

In any case, the computer changed the whole context with respect to how we learn, what we ought to learn, even to the extent of determining what is real or true (we will bring up truth engineering). Everywhere, there are new things to consider: automatic cars; robot surgeons; addictions exhibited by folks who drive with their noses to a droid or such; ...

Then, people have more ability to express themselves. We always had that; with the internet, the bounds have been loosened. The past decade saw a lot of this being discussed (say, influence that is more than we might have expected). But, of late? It's even more differentiated. 

We have what are called 'bots spouting off' which is what we would use for a human, perhaps. It has been going on awhile, and we have paid attention. But, students submitting papers through this means raised the awareness, generally. Call to chat with a company; you get a 'virtual' assistant. Get on some people move; it might be driven by software (to be nice) that is heavily biased due to its learning experience. Someone wrote: death by math. But, then, we had 'death by test' when technology firms were allowed to shirk responsibility. This was a few decades ago, that the problem arose. 

-- The gist and its example: 

Finally, to the gist, of this. We like maps and have used them. Our last post had two maps.  A little snap is given below. But, this next image is from a creative mind. When? Well, FB pushed it to me. I went to look. Guess what? There was an interesting collection, but ads abounded. I steer away from those. Even the glorious PInterest had it wrong. Again, getting the drift? Lots and lots of adults have pushed out stuff under their name which is plagiarism. We cannot have that. Except, I read things that I like, lots of times. Then, I go look. Who wrote this? Well, my search gets us back to our stuff. I just laugh. A proper analysis would show by time the provenance and precedence. 

Now, maps in our sense, usually have been to date, deal with our good world of nature which is Euclidean, it is said. But, there are many other ways that technology is going to have us using 'maps' some of which have been used here, too. But, sticking with variations on looks at our planet, here is the map from today's browse with no indication of its history. 

Per usual, I went to look. It's from 2011 (Dan Abramson - Funny or Die), yet, references to it now do not recognize the source. Hence, one query? Will we handle this type of issue better in the future? We really need to. 


"How a New Yorker sees the U.S." (my paraphrase) is what the caption says. There are lots of these funny maps available on the web with more coming all of the time. In fact, some of these are quite information as they show how attributes change by the 50 States (here two are missing). 

But, this opportunity allows us to mention interpretation, again. Doing that right is key to a peaceful society. Well, it's one of several things that are needed. But, the computer makes it more imperative in ways that we have not really discussed, adequately. Of course, those of the States that are mangled in this map might take offense. There is some humor. And, we can have these be both funny and educational. 

--- Our focus is truth engineering (context, computational modes and their influence): 

Another lesson, of the many, is that I had to go dig and find the original which is something that I do by habit and curiosity. Plus, we have a long tradition of honoring those who first elaborated a thought, or proved a theorem, or was first in any number of other examples. Is there a way that we can facilitate this type of thing? Even provide a means to build confidence? Well, as a hint, you will note that we have used 'portal to truth' on more than one occasion. We cannot have solutions without knowing the problems and solution possibilities. 

We mentioned using maps. The image shows a few; many of our maps come from other sources such as Wikipedia. And, given that we are talking at specifics of computing, expect to see lots of charts. For the most part, the descriptions of technologies and their use will have some relevance to the work of the Thomas Gardner Society, Inc. 

The future, since technology is now a constant companion, will require other than our normal modes. 

---  Summary: 

This post is about a problem that will only grow worse over the next few years as we try to untangle knots put into place over the past couple of decades. That is, this is true according to a view with decades of experience behind it. Many see no problem or do not want to have their views updated. But, the issue of concern is that the longer we do not take the responsibility to be mature with regard to all aspects of computing, the more gnarled things will be. The best analog is the economy (who can say that it's not a shambles, at the moment?). That's not politically motivated, at all; no, we can talk lessons not learned almost from the beginning with the interpretative conflicts even before the Brits went away. 

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Note: this post will be edited, soon; expect minor changes which will be noted. If anything is to be dropped from this view, it's new location will be specified. We are getting into a long-term discussion from which will come sets of experiments and more. Levels of technical details will increase so that the lower ones have the appropriate mix as required by computing. At the upper end, we deal with our lives as humans. Again, the motivation is truth engineering which is 20 years old, with its first manifestation dealing with what was called a 'computational lens' (not optics of the medical variety, solely). 

About the depth, we will use Tullio Levi-Civita's view on what was called the absolute differential calculus. But, there are plenty of other authors of this time, and before, that we will be referring to. As we work, we can lift the information out. 

Why? How? Einstein said to explain things to your grandmother. No excuses allowed about not being able to do this. AIn't will be a theme, partly; mainly, expect a bust of this soon enough. In the meantime, watching the current playground (with its messy sandbox) will be of interest to those who think of the future. 

Remarks: Modified: 01/31/2023

01/31/2023 -- I’m writing a post for the TGS, Inc. blog with a topic of The Americas where I will note the journal of the Mexican Mammalogists and their nod to a U.S. mammalogist. But, in doing so, I was addressing the perils of technology as noted by my last post and stopped to ask Google a question. Why? I like giving Google long queries.

So, query: Asking ChatGPT to tell the provenance of something that it wrote.

This deals with a category, not phrasing for some text response. Too, the thought that we need to trace the source of what we know has always been there. Unfair usage without attribution is the height of stupidity, is it not? Yes, Quora, you allow this.

So, Google gave me a lot of stuff. I picked this one. For one thing, I am mad as hell at The Atlantic for screwing up its New England heritage. Talk to me, people. So, I have been buying the New Yorker. Much better. BTW, the Atlantic, what happened to the real Caitlin, as in Flanagan?

Anyway, I got this: ChatGPT Is Dumber Than You Think (Dec. 7, 2022). Gosh, do I need to give them another chance? ‘shallow’ is used. And, ‘lacking depth and insight’ is not a wrong assessment.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

France, again

TL;DR -- We read, recently, of the Founding Mothers of New Orleans which deal with ladies brought to the New World as punishment. It was in an article in American Ancestors (of the NEHGS) that we read. On looking further, we are reminded to take time to learn more of New France whose presence up north was the major focus. Conflict there provided a training ground for the necessary talent that would later split the U.S. from the Brit overview. 

---

We have only mentioned New France a few time, in the context of the north. Say, the French-Indian War which was the training ground for the Revolution? Or, Hector St. John who came here with the French effort but drifted south and was caught by the British in the Revolution? He was taken back to England, eventually got back to France to get his heritage, and returned to live his life our in the U.S. 

Recently, the American Ancestor (of the NEHGS) published an articles on the ladies who were brought over to the New Orleans area in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. A professor at Penn who researched the subject and published a book: Mutinous Women. Wikipedia, and others, provide more information. It has our interest, in part, since the events are before the French-Indian affair. Too, it deals with New France about which we have a lot to learn. Too, this occurred during troubled time, say not long after the witch events

The recent article looks at one ship. There were others ships; some have used casket girls for the group which ought to get more attention. Some can be seen as "Founding Mothers" of the U.S. An earlier group was referred to as the "King's daughters." 

Using the Wikipedia map to show a comparison, the extent of New France was quite large, a huge part of the Louisiana Purchase of the later time. New England pales being shown side by side. 

One thing to consider will be the split twixt New Spain and New France in areas where the Mississippi River was not providing the separation. 

Remarks: Modified: 01/25/2023

01/25/2023 -- 

Sunday, January 22, 2023

U.S. hills and valleys

TL;DR -- New England has a long reach, as we have noted time and again. But, it also is the origin point for lots of movement that went north, south and west. We look at how names for places came about in New England. This will carry further as we review how the country filled. 

--

We do this post for several reasons. One is to familiarize ourselves and our readers about New England, given the 400th is now being observed by Gloucester in MA and Portsmouth in NH. The New England Historical Society updated, recently, an article with the title of  "HOW THE NEW ENGLAND STATE NAMES CAME TO BE" which had this interesting map. 

Another reason was that several names came from those used by American Indians. For Massachusetts (MA), the name refers to the Great Blue Hill whose elevation is over 600 ft. Looking at that geographic site brings up the subject of comparative heights, not only in New England but in other regions. 

Let's take a look at the numbers remembering that those of the east went west. And, we know that the heights are much more in the western areas. But, what about other areas of the country, such as the South. We will also take a look at the middle parts that trekkers going west had to pass through, as the interior of the U.S. was filled? 

As we proceed, we will consider the highest point in terms of mountains. For Massachusetts, this would be Mount Greylock at 3,489 ft. Looking north, Vermont's name is for the Green Mountains as they were marked on a map by Samuel de Champlain (of New France). The highest peak in that State is Mount Mansfield at 4395 ft. Before moving on to another region, New Hampshire was named for an old English county. It's highest peak is Mount Washington at 6,288. 

Moving on and looking at New England south, we change a little for reasons that are apparent soon. For these States, let's list its highest point plus a prominent city to indicate the differences: Georgia 4,784', Atlanta 738'; Virginia 5,729', Charlottesville 594'; Maryland   3,360', Frederick 302'. 

Virginia stands out, being the home of both Presidents Washington and Jefferson. We have done a few posts on the area and will continue as we move toward the 250th of the Revolution. The focus of the conflict moved south as time went along. Too, we mentioned the Cumberland Gap and Boone several times as we looked at the migration that picked up after the Revolution. Both Atlanta and Charlottesville are fairly high as they touch on the plateau of the Appalachians. Frederick features in the Gettysburg battle which we will get back to and was on the middle route out of the east to the west. A few posts ago, we looked a Ohio as a destination from that area and New England. A continuing theme will be the areas east of the Mississippi River.  

Elevation,
Kansas
Leaping west, let's look at few States that were on the route. First, though, the image is an elevation map of Kansas which we looked at in December in terms of traffic and events through the period of the Frontier Century. Think back to those times which we have covered in several posts. But, as the map show, there is serious elevation change from the east to the west. The amount of change is almost as much as those peaks of the east. In Kansas, that is, as definitely getting to Denver brings in a new level that exceeds the east. 

The complaint in the age of the auto is that Kansas is flat. Well, it's not. That's illusion; plus, the car is doing the work in order to allow lazy evaluations. Why say that? Expectations and interpretation are huge issues with how technology influences us. We'll get back to that theme, regularly. 

But, here are the states in that area (same format as above): Kansas 4,039', Kansas City 909'; Arkansas 6,581', Little Rock 335'; Oklahoma 4,974', Oklahoma City 1,198'; Missouri 1,772', St. Louis 466'; Texas 8,751', Fort Worth  653'. 

Tying back to the former list, note Texas's highest peak. That is due to the fact of it being almost beneath Denver. Kansas City is higher than St. Louis and Little Rock as it is on the Missouri which flows down to the Mississippi. Oklahoma is even higher. Forth Worth, south of Oklahoma City, is lower as it's on the route of water going to the Gulf of Mexico. Why look at this? Remember, water was either a boon or a bust. We see it now. But, then, it either helped the movement or was a hindrance. Just look around at bridges and consider traffic if they were not there. We see that from time to time as bridges collapse, through accidental damage or neglect (a topic to bring up, as well). 

Click image
for interactive map
So, we're right in the middle. Those considering ancestors who went on, yes, it was a lengthy and hard row to hoe. But, many made it. Lots were buried along the way. Some were lost forever. 

To wind things up, we look at the highest peaks in the western continental U.S. with a map. The query could be, how many are over 12,000 ft? This site has 178 rows showing that we have many over 12K and 13K and 14K. This does not include Alaska. 

As we consider this overview, note the dots and then look at the trails which smartly tried to stay away from the impossible. Or, the dots aren't impressive? Consider this, the State of Nevada which has only two names on this list has over 130 mountains that are over 10,000 ft. Notice, there is no north-south Interstate highway in Nevada. The red dots had a huge influence on how this system was designed. 

The Dwight D. Eisenhower System
of Interstate and Defense Highways

The 400th commemorations and the 250th will allow us to get familiar with our country from stem to stern and left to right. Ought to be fun. 

Remarks: Modified: 01/25/2023

01/25/2023 -- Added link to New France. 

Sunday, January 15, 2023

American dream

TL;DR -- John W. Gardner, of Stanford and the west coast, represents several things about the U.S. He is the second (or first) generation of his family. His life was exemplary. We have mentioned others of the same background (as in, immigrant after the early start) in posts over the years. So, we will make this a category as we proceed preparing for commemorating the 250th, starting in 2024 with the attempt in Boston to use the Harbor as a tea dispensing device. 

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We already have several posts in this category; there will be more. This post will list a few below. 

Today, we will look at John W. Gardner. He represents several things which we will expand up. First, though, his name got our attention as we were looking at an organization, in his name, that has been supporting social issues. There was not much in terms of biography with family specifics. We found his father and mother. He died when John was young. His mother has been referenced by several names, so we will look at that further. One report had her name as Marie Burns. One Census had a different name. Second, he is of the west, having been born in LA. He went to Stanford. His father had been born in England, we surmise after seeing him referenced as an English gentleman. 

Third, John's life? He founded Common Cause after several roles in the U.S. government. For instance, he was Secretary of H.E.W. under President Johnson. We are being brief now as John had a remarkable life and served humanity several ways. He had two daughters with his wife of 65 years who he met at Stanford. She was from Guatemala. 

Now, his organization reminded us of the Gairdner Foundation that we wrote of early last year. We have a task of finding this type of representative organization to write up specs for our future. 

But, back to the "American dream" which is an important topic. Let's start with a list of posts where we can address this theme more thoroughly. Of course, John (Wikipedia) will be there. 

It turns out that the 250th and the 400th are of the same timeframe, as in the revolution start and the commercial colony inception. That makes things interesting going forward with respect to the span and scale of research. 

Remarks: Modified: 01/17/2023

01/17/2023 -- Correct the link to  Common Cause. Added link to H.H.S. (Health and Human Services) which was H.E.W. (Health, Education, and Welfare) until May 1980 having been established in 1953.  


Friday, January 6, 2023

Charles Thomson, Secretary of the Continental Congress

TL;DR -- As we move to the 250th of the U.S. start, technology will be causing huge influences never seen before. Some of this will be good, some not. We will not know immediately. In the meantime, everyone using technology will be working to hone their mature use, for the most part. Philosophizing here? Not really. This is a looming reality. We can learn from the past, in many ways. Technology will help us, somewhat. Charles Thomson is a good example of what we can focus on. He was with the mythical crowd for years, in the background. Oh, sounds like work? Too, he came as an Irish orphan (his father died on the boat coming over right when they spotted the land around Baltimore MD). He then met the tests of the New World and came to be where the myth makers were pondering how things were, ought to be, and would be and such. Not really, it was chaos as we can imagine. Maintaining life and limb through such times. Or now. As Paine wrote: These are the times that try mens' souls ... 

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This post is imperative, categorically so. Why? We all have heard of the American Dream and whether it is alive or not. Or, did it ever exist? Or, what ought it be? Well, the 400ths allow the opportunity. The upcoming 250th (split from the Brits) makes it even more important. 

Who is this Charles of the Title that we wrote about yesterday (Research and Learning)? Why write of him? The first motivation is that he was the Secretary of the Continental Congress during its years. Therefore, he was in the company of the big names of personalities that we adore. Who has heard of Charles? You see, he has no progeny. Some claim relationship. It's not clear how this will wash out. As you know, claims will not stand up without some sources whose provenance is legit. 

For me, I make no claims as I know when my ancestors came over (mid-19th century, post the Civil War). Too, having done this work of the TGS, Inc. now for a decade, I have a feel for the long reach of New England. Having lived outside of New England and the mid-Atlantic except for a few years, I can assess the long reach of New England throughout the middle part of the large landscape of the U.S. Too, looking at lineages, I have seen influences from outside of the locale, every generation, somewhere. The context is the extended family wherein we look at more than the thread that is of interest to the Hereditary Society Community organizations or DAR/SAR.    

Which gets us back to Charles? He's from Ireland. And, got his position through effort. Now, he came with his father and brothers. The former died on seeing Baltimore from sea. The latter ones? We will be looking into that, as we mentioned in the last post. Then, he has other family. The claims mentioned above are from a wide area. But, Charles was more than a clerk; he proposed a design for the Great Seal of the United States; he was a "Prime Minister" in a sense. He and John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence. 

During Charles' time, there were many families coming to the colonies. So, it is fortunate that we can consider the times, and his position as a recent arrival, and, at the same time, look at what the cousins of various sorts were up to. As with the 300th last century, we will see stories arise to awareness needing some type of handling. Then, print was slow to spread around. But, think of the books written; many were good; some not (in fact, the repercussions for some took a bit of time to settle down). Now? The internet will make it worse. So, like then, we see this as Paine wrote: These are the times that try mens' souls ...  Be prepared. 

Aside: we need to update the Albion's Seed post (from 2016, see link prior paragraph) in terms of generations (say, the fifth doing the Revolution). In the book, the early folks were seen as being of a reconnaissance era, making the way for Winthrop. Up to the 1700, we need to pull these generations together with a tag, as the inflow picked up in the 18th Century. BTW, we'll map to going-ons in Europe (especially, England) and elsewhere. Of late, our focus has been the remote frontier that was beyond the Northwest Territory until we got our sea mode (see Water and air) moving again. 

That's our intent. I call it 'truth engineering' as a necessity that's been too long ignored. Perhaps, demonstrating the need and benefit through our work might be the proper avenue, for several reasons. 

Again, Charles? The following was used in a Harvard article on him (Course of Human Events blog - November Highlight: Charles Thomson). There is a link with the graphic. 

Declaration of Independence
Trumbull's painting

This painting is well-known.  Thomson is standing behind the desk (according to the Harvard article). As said, no descendant can claim him. Relations? Sure. Of late, we see copies of this painting where the gents are identified with markers that identify a descendant. This also has been copied with a descendant being in the same chair/position (see Different scopes) as of their ancestor's location at the event depicted. In one instance, multiple chairs were filled, with many left vacant. 

Question, can the chairs be filled with extant ones as descendants? Well, no, we can use Charles as an example of one with no offspring who had offspring (recurrently til now). His children died young.

We will see situations where families either already know their pedigree or will find it out. There will be creative use of the information. We need to take it back to say the time of Rev. John Wise who wrote words similar to what's in the Declaration document, over 80 years before. 

Another thing to remember is that this was early on. Lots of turmoil and suffering were coming down the pike. 

Remarks: Modified: 01/18/2023

01/08/2023 -- Added a few links to supporting material. 

01/18/2023 -- Author is descendant? To be looked at further. Independence, IA - Bulletin Journal: Charles Thomson, an American patriot