Thursday, June 29, 2023

Getting technical

TL;DR -- Technology covers a whole lot of territory. STEM is an universal theme. We looked at Bard of Google with respect to its abilities, in particular looking at the importance of knowing about computational lenses, truth engineering, and psychether. ChatGPT of OpenAI had little to say. 


We have had several posts on technology which covers a lot of area. It is the main focus for the future along with  human relations. Our interest now is the full scope. So, we are interested in science and experiments, including field work. We have looked at how rivers could be a boon and a bane during travel or from other aspects. Transportation is always of concern. The latest aspects of technology deals with STEM related work, especially those related to advanced computing

We will avoid the use of AI (and AIn't) and talk algorithms, instead, in their myriad of ways of being. Today, we spent time with Bard of Google. Earlier, we mentioned ChatGPT in several posts. While we were teaching ChatGPT about Thomas Gardner, a researcher was digging into the records at Sherborne Dorset. Those two bits of work will be integrated after a little more research. 

So, today's activity culminated work with Bard that had to do with three topics: computational lenses, truth engineering, and psychether. After some training, the final summary by Bard is found in this post: Bard rocks. Related posts can be seen on the Blog Archive for June 2023. 

If one overlooks the influence of current themes, there is a cohesion here. Bard also provided an example of how the three might be used in one context. Here is an attempt (by Barfd) at defining emerging concepts. 
  • Computational lenses are tools that allow us to view data through different perspectives. They can be used to identify patterns and trends that would not be visible otherwise. For example, a computational lens could be used to track the spread of misinformation on social media or to identify areas of bias in a dataset.
  • Truth engineering is the practice of designing and deploying technologies that can help us to identify and verify truth. This could involve developing new algorithms for detecting fake news or creating platforms for fact-checking.
  • Psychether is a field that studies the psychological effects of technology. It can be used to understand how our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors are influenced by the devices we use and the data we consume.
One of the issues related to the attempts at Bard (and ChatGPT and a number of other examples) revolves around a drive for "omniscience" which forces the mode of training against everything in order to be able to answer questions about everything. And, that will not work. We see it now with the problems related to the release of these models. The Large Language Model may allow nice interchanges with people, but it's based upon summaries and cannot handle details. 

As the saying goes, the devil is in the details. 

Did this choice have to be sustained? Well, it cannot be. But, switching to more locally derived data sets would allow some serious work to be done. We have already shown that. There will be more later. 

  • computational lenses deal with supporting major human endeavors with advanced systems as we have watched evolve over the past five decades. It is a metaphor with a particular focus in mind, namely human-machine interchanges. Other approaches that we have seen deal with things like computational physics where we have a twin relationship (twixt the object of the phenomenal world and its virtual/digital twin). Physics modelers and simulators abound as do many others, as we see in medicine. 
  • truth engineering was defined in a white paper at Boeing by John and was motivated by work in knowledge based engineering where very difficult design decisions were made with the support of computational resources. Engineering likes to use tradeoffs for the hard problem of balancing factors. The means for doing the work vary, but the viability of the process requires professional engineers in the loop who provide expertise and value judgment. Issues related to this concept are at the core of the discussion and experimentation with regard to machine-oriented decisions. 
  • psychether is a portmanteau created by John to suggest the importance of the ideas of Jung (MD, psychiatrist) and Einstein (Relativity), as they both were instrumental in their area of expertise with regard to grappling with universal issues, for resolving current dilemmas and to bring more attention as to how this may be the case.   

As noted, Bard was great. On the other hand, ChatGPT of OpenAI had little to say about any of these topics let alone attempt an integration. The purpose here was to use the terms in a conversational mode as allowed by the LLM in order to build coherent phrases as needed by the various viewpoints to which the concepts would apply. 

Again, our focus will be on technology with an undetermined, as yet, focus. My leaning is to advanced computing and its ubiquitous set of issues. 

Remarks: Modified: 08/08/2023

08/06/2023 -- We're getting GB XIII, 1 together. So, here is a summary of some tech work. Some of the material came from a session with ChatGPT. I marked these with italics, today, and added an image from the first search on Thomas Gardner. Notice, in the "Disclosure" there is my brief overview. This list is in reverse order by time. "psychether" was coined in the mid-1990s in a discussion. "truth engineering" was about 2000 when there was post Y2K efforts at defining the future. Y2K? Remember the fear of the 2000 rollover of the computer calendar. Then, "computational lenses" was about 2003 in reference to my work dealing with computational mathematics where we worried about the maintaining of accuracy and veracity through transforms needed for various algorithmic processes. The world is not homogeneous. The situation for the last was a presentation at a technical conference. 

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Zebulon Pike

TL;DR -- As we look at the period of expansion after the Revolution, we will try to identify those who were involved in the early period. Zebulon Pike is an example. We have mentioned him and will later, as well. But, let's catch up with some additional information. There is a pointer to Volume II of his notes dealing with his second excursion, to the west. One example was to find the source of the Arkansas River. 


We have mentioned Zebulon Pike (Memorial Day, 2022) as we were looking at the first Mission for American Indians in this area. Zebulon was through the area in the real early 1800s in his trek to find the source of the Arkansas River. He coined the term, "The Great American Desert", which many would see as they traversed the interior via the Trails

He also determined the headwaters of the Mississippi River. And, died early, 1813. In the journey into the Rockies, he attempted to climb the peak that was given his name. He and his party were taken captive by the Spaniards in the area. His notes were lost and never recovered. 

So, Zebulon Pike (Wikipedia, WikiTree) redid his journals by memory. These were collected into three volumes. We will point to each. His book was The Expeditions of Zebulon Montgomery Pike to Headwaters of the Mississippi River Through Louisiana Territory, and in New Spain, During the Years 1805-6-7. Zebulon did his rewrite by 1810. 
  • Volume 1 - Courtesy of Project Gutenberg. 
  • Volume 2 - with notes (1895). Of the Arkansas River period. Courtesy of Google Books. 
  • Volume 3 - Index, courtesy of Project Gutenberg. 
BTW, his family is  of New England. His ancestor was an opponent of the Salem Witch idiocy. 

Remarks: Modified: 06/27/2023

06/27/2023 -- Added link to Volume 1 and Volume 3.  

Friday, June 23, 2023

Winter won

TL;DR -- As we track New England folks across the country and back, we note that information becomes available continually. The Woodbury folks pointed to the Wyoming History Society and their article on the Pony Express in which we have an interest for many reasons. This new source has interesting graphics of which we provide two. One is of the Butterfield (southwestern) route. The other has details about the route through Wyoming as research for the 1960 look back. 


As we follow New England's influence away from the east coast, we have to consider that left coast which was also accessible by sea and the huge middle. A recent post looked at the excursion of Hernando de Soto through the southeast all the way to Boone's Missouri. Then, we had periods of time from Lewis & Clark's jaunt onward with trappers and fur traders leading the way. 

A major theme for our posts which were done after some research has always been rivers. Then, we had looks at people, including other cultures such as New Spain. When New England was the origin, we tracked down their information, if available, on WikiTree and Wikipedia. And, destinations were important whether Oregon or Texas or any other of the current States. 

We also looked at the work of other researchers. Recently, we became aware of Woodbury Historical Tours. These are cousins via the Cape Ann venture. But, there have been lots of other researchers that we paid attention to, such as those with the Jedediah Strong Smith's society. 

On Facebook today, the Woodbury's pointed to the work of the Wyoming Historic Society. Anyone going west in the northern U.S. went through that region. One reason was that the mountains of Colorado were too difficult. So those headed to Oregon or California went up out through Wyoming and then split. We have had many posts on the various trails. 

Butterfield route 
through the Southwest
What was interesting about the article on The Pony Express in Wyoming is its focus on accuracy. They mention, of course, Buffalo Bill Cody but just cursorily. What caught our attention was the acknowledgement that "winter won" with respect to the effort to establish the Pony Express (which we wrote of last year) as a northern mail route. 

At the time, the Butterfield southern route was in operation (see  map). In our post, we tracked down the principals, one of whom was of the Giddings family of Ipswich, MA (Ann's kin). Too, we noted some of the other players who ended up founding banks and other businesses. 
As we saw earlier, the Butterfield route stopped when the Civil War brought too much uncertainty. So, the effort was taken back to the northern route which Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) took out west in the days of the stagecoach. Ralph Waldo Emerson went out via train a little later. 

We will get more into detail, but the Pony Express did run in the winter. It took longer. The southern route was longer and arduous as it carried freight, to boot. We need to know of these enterprising people, many of whom were of New England stock. 

Let's just leave it with this map of the 1960 rerun. Plus, we will mention one of the founders: William Russell (Wikipedia, WikiTree) born in VT in 1812, moved as a kid to MO.  

Pony Express
Route through Wyoming

Remarks: Modified: 06/23/2023

06/23/2023 -- Reminder: research continues. Example open research topic.

Monday, June 19, 2023


TL;DR -- Over two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was announced in D.C., it was established by General Order in Texas in 1865. The day of the General Order (June 19th) is celebrated in a U.S. Holiday as of 2021. 


This day which has been celebrated for over hundred and sixty years in Texas was declared a U.S. Holiday in 2021. As is common with current technology, we provide links to various sites which have material about the context for the day. 

  • Texas[.]gov - Overview of the situation and the announcement's General Order.  
  • archives[.]gov - Original of the General Order. 
  •[.]edu - The Historical Legacy of Juneteenth.  
  • mailchi[.]mp - Related articles from the Tablet
  • bbc[.]com - Juneteenth: How the US holiday is being celebrated. 
Gen. Gordon Granger (Wikipedia, WikiTree) was given command of the District of Texas after the Civil War. His General Order No. 3, enforcing the Emancipation Proclamation, was posted in Galveston TX on June 19, 1865.

Remarks: Modified: 06/19/2023

06/19/2023 -- 

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Hernando de Soto

TL;DR -- The west was won, as Hollywood says? Well not. It was carved up, though. Looking at research about De Soto's early journey (1540s) along the Arkansas River can give us some insight into the nature of the events that followed three centuries later. As one would expect, multiple views are there for us to look at while learning about American history and the long reach of New England. 


We like to follow the activity, virtually, of the Woodbury Historical Tours and have had several posts. We have posted and commented at the Facebook site. These are cousins of Cape Ann and Gloucester which is comemerating their 400th this year. 

Disputed paths
research views
They showed the following map from the Georgia Historical Society's article on De Soto's travels in the southeastern U.S. Several things caught our interest. For one, we are talkin the middle of the 1500s. Too, this deals with New Spain's reach. Then, this is part of the deal that the U.S. got with the Louisiana Purchase. 

Finally, looking at the left of the photo, we see Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas. Not forgetting Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky, the Carolinas, plus Florida. Our view has been activity to the west of the Mississippi River. However, we will change that as up north of here, we will find Ohio and Michigan and other areas related to the great northwest. 

The legend in this view lists studies done about  De Soto. The U.S. founded a Commission in 1936. There were several reports. Let's look at one plus consider some of the human elements which are important to our studies. 
  • Final report of the United States De Soto Expedition Commission. This site is hosted at the University of Pennsylvania. The date is 1970. At some point, we can look more closely at the research. 
  • Soto, Hernando de, approximately 1500-1542. This page lists many sources for studying this person and his times. The following caught our attention. 
  • Scenes and Adventures in the Semi-Alpine Region of the Ozark Mountains of Missouri and Arkansas, Which Were First Traversed by De Soto, in 1541 (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co., 1853). Looking closely, we see that this deals with the travels of a geographer out of New England (its long reach is our focus). The following summarizes some of the personal details. 
    • Henry Rowe Schoolcraft (Wikipedia, WikiTree). Pick "Web presentation" which goes to a page at gutenberg[.]org's site where a book from 1853 is presented in a great format. 
    • The theme: Ozark Mountains of Missouri and Arkansas which were first traversed by De Soto, in 1541. 
    • Schoolcraft went to the area in 1816 and kept a journal. He provides fifteen chapters on his travels and turmoil. He spent three years doing his studies. 
    •  He provides more technical details (Mineralogy, Geology, and Mines; Geography; Antiquities and Indian History) in Appendices. 
Now, this is prior to the Missouri deal that also brought Maine into the Union. He got to St. Louis which was being set up as the headquarters for carving of the western land

As he travels, Schoolcraft references De Soto's work. Example: 

From the apparent vestiges in this quarter, I am of opinion that De Soto's "Tanico" must be located in this vicinity, and that he crossed the White river near this place. A march west of this point, over a hilly country, would bring him into the fertile valley of the Little Red river, or Buffalo creek—his probable Tula, where his people first tasted the flesh of this animal, and where he recruited his army for a new effort.

There are several things to note. For one, the White River that is mentioned can be thought of as related to Branson, MO. Most adults have heard of that entertainment area on the upper-west side of the Ozarks. Some mention Joplin in the same context. As the map say, "disputed paths" depicts the proper view, however we must not forget that this is real country of the U.S. settled, for the most part, after the Lewis & Clark expedition. 
One view
of many

Then, there are names given: Tanico; Tula. The image to the right provides some of these. The map is from the Georgia Historical Society's article. 

There is a lot to study and discuss. On a final note of the personal nature, the family of Schoolcraft's wife inspired Longfellow's poem about Hiawatha.  

 Remarks: Modified: 06/15/2023

06/15/2023 -- 

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Oregon, at last

TL;DR -- Oregon is right above California. We have looked at the lower State of late. Time to raise the focus to the north. Many people, for decades, got to the western State across the land. Some went by ship. Some even came down from Canada. 


Oregon Trail
Meaning, it's time to bring Oregon (see map, 1846) into focus through a few post. We have had many posts about Oregon and other western locations as well as about the trails that carried people to their destination. The Canadians were there first having come down from the York Factory under the auspices of the Hudson's Bay Company

For a good while, the upper boundary of the U.S. in the region was not settled. Early visitors from the U.S. were mountain men (trappers) after fur. Jedediah Strong Smith was in the region in the 1820s. 

Some arrived by ship from the east coast, especially after the Gold Rush moved north from California. We researched that with respect to the Barque Bostonian that wrecked along the Oregon coast in 1850 after leaving Boston in July of 1849 and arriving in San Francisco early the next year. 

Many posts were about the trails that early on went through Gardner KS. That lower traffic went by the location of the University of Kansas in Lawrence. The upper traffic sped up the trip a few days and was pioneered by the youngsters who were in a hurry. Rather than cross the river and head via land from Independence MO, the travelers went up river past St. Joseph MO to Nebraska and went west where they met those coming up from the lower trail. 

There are several subjects to touch upon. Many pioneers to Oregon were from New England. However, many of these travelers were new to the country and following Horace Greeley's advice to "go west" which he did himself. 

We recently saw this service advertised: Oregon Trail Genealogy

Remarks: Modified: 06/14/2023

06/14/2023 -- 

Friday, June 2, 2023

US, by comparison

TL;DR -- What makes American great? It's more than a dream. 


On Quora, an older post (from four years ago) gave five reasons for the successes of the U.S. Now, whether those successes represent epitomes can be discussed, in time. This post shows the graphics that were provided with the post which are fantastic. 

Why is the United States successful compared to other Countries? There were many answers, but this one gave these five reasons:

  • Geography - mentions waterways, such as the Mississippi River
  • Natural resources - land for food; minerals; etc. 
  • Isolation - water and Canada as buffers
  • Culture - settler culture, mainly European with English as a common language. 
  • Adherence to English Common Law - "An adherence to the common belief in the divinity of the individual and the respect of individual liberties, has kept the government of the United States from interfering with the development of American enterprise."
What makes American great?

We have touched upon all of these themes in the context of the 400 years of struggle and toil on this continent (as noted by President Lincoln at Gettysburg) and will continue to do so as we proceed with our organizational work and in the resulting research. 

We will grapple, too, with issues of this theme: What is the American Dream?

Remarks: Modified: 06/02/2023

06/02/2023 --