Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Five Quotes from Asimov

And, as usual, the quotes are provided but not the source - the book, the essay, the speech, the year? These are things I'd really like to know! [Having sad that, these quotes certainly do sound like Asimov].

The true delight is in the finding out rather than in the knowing.


Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.


Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.


Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what's right.


People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.

Respects and Mutuality

From Oman Observer: Respects and Mutuality

Majid Said al Suleimany -
FOR people to respect you — you must respect yourself first! Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers! — Isaac Asimov The desire to write grows with writing! — Desiderius Erasmus In all my articles I keep hammering on the same point and focus always — It is in the offices and in offices dealings — where people are at their worst forms — and how they actually behave, act and interface with each other!

I'm not sharing the entire article, just the first paragraph. I thought it was interesting that knowledge of the works of Isaac Asimov extends even to Oman!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Regular blog postings begin on DECEMBER 26, Monday.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Ugly Little Boy - free audio book

Check out this website via your computer:

Perhaps Isaac Asimov’s most famous novella, certainly one of his best, Lastborn (aka The Ugly Little Boy) is in the public domain and narrated by the wonderful Gregg Margarite!

Lastborn (aka The Ugly Little Boy)
By Issac Asimov; Read by Gregg Margarite
2 MP3 Files – Approx. 1 Hour 35 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: The Drama Pod
Podcast: November 2011
ETEXT from
A scientific experiment or not, the patient was her responsibility … and all the more
so for having died so many centuries ago! First published in the September 1958 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction.

From this website you can also download a PDF of the story.

Mother Earth, by Isaac Asimov

From Headed for Alien Territory (a fun blog)

“Mother Earth” by Isaac Asimov
December 16, 2011

The Book: “Mother Earth” by Isaac Asimov. Originally published in May 1949 by Astounding Science Fiction, the story was read in the anthology 3 from Out There published by Crest Books in 1959.

The Setting: A distant planet. Earth. In the distant future.

The Story: Planets colonized by Earthmen tell Earth where to stick it. Earth gives them the finger and takes the long view. Political intrigue, war, and robots.

The Science: This is what happens when you don’t blog for a long time. Let me go check the book…. Ah, okay. SO. Working from home. In the outer planets, the population is very spread out. Everyone has a lot of room. More than that, everyone is crowd averse. So non-family interaction is usually done by “community wave” which involves projecting a 3D hologram thingy of oneself to a common location to interact with other 3D hologram thingies and get business done. Sounds like the internet to me! Just more cumbersome. And it would, I think, discourage trolls.

The Reaction: I recall being bored and kind of confused by this even as I read it. I had trouble keeping characters straight and I wasn’t sure what was going on most of the time, or why. Not Asimov’s best.

The Cover: See above.

Etc: Oh. Hi reddit. Nice of you to stop by. And here I thought most of my traffic came from panicked high school students who didn’t read their assigned Bradbury stories.

Next Up: Secret of the Black Planet by Milton Lesser.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Foundation Trilogy from BBC Radio

You need to go via computer to this site to listen to BBC Radio's version of The Foundation Trilogy.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

New laws of robotics to be explored at upcoming confab

From Smart Planet: New laws of robotics to be explored at upcoming confab
The pace of innovation in robotics in recent years has been stunning, with robots performing many tasks requiring some degree of human intelligence, from assembly to driving cars to flying aircraft. Robots are also interacting with humans on an increasingly sophisticated level.

n fact, the pace of robot innovation is far outpacing any legal and moral implications that may arise from machine interactions. There hasn’t been a lot of progress on this front since the time Isaac Asimov first published his “Three Laws of Robotics” in 1942:

1. “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. “A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. “A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.”

As we rely on robots for more and more of the tasks of business and society, there needs to be a legal framework to address the legal and moral questions that may come up. For example, if a robot injures somebody, or if a questionable or ethically challenged decision is left to a machine. It’s a wide open frontier, legally.

To start the process of building such a framework, the University of Miami School of Law announced it plans an inaugural conference on legal and policy issues relating to robotics. The event, dubbed seeks submissions for “We Robot” (a play on words on Asimov’s I, Robot), will be held in Coral Gables, Florida in April 2012.

The aim of the conference is to host presentations on “reports from the front lines” of robot design and development, and “encourage conversations between the people designing, building, and deploying robots, and the people who design or influence the legal and social structures in which robots will operate.”

Conference organizers seek to explore the role of robotics to examine how the increasing sophistication of robots and their widespread deployment everywhere from the home, to hospitals, to public spaces, and even to the battlefield disrupts existing legal regimes or requires rethinking of various policy issues.

Of course, hopefully things won’t go too far the other way, and the robotics or artificial intelligence industry gets overrun with lawyers and mandates.

The call for papers is still out, but topics to be covered will likely include the following areas:

* Effect of robotics on the workplace, e.g. small businesses, hospitals, and other contexts where robots and humans work side-by-side.
* Regulatory and licensing issues raised by robots in the home, the office, in public spaces (e.g. roads), and in specialized environments such as hospitals.
* Design of legal rules that will strike the right balance between encouraging innovation and safety, particularly in the context of autonomous robots.
* Issues of legal or moral responsibility, e.g. relating to autonomous robots or robots capable of exhibiting emergent behavior.
* Issues relating to robotic prosthetics (e.g. access equity issues, liability for actions activated by conscious or unconscious mental commands).
* Relevant differences between virtual and physical robots.
* Relevant differences between nanobots and larger robots.
* Usage of robots in public safety and military contexts.
* Privacy issues relating to data collection by robots, either built for that purpose or incidental to other tasks.
* Intellectual property challenges relating to robotics as a nascent industry, to works or inventions created by robots, or otherwise peculiar to robotics.
* Issues arising from automation of professional tasks such as unauthorized practice of law or medicine.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Time keeps on slipping into the future

Sorry for the dearth of posts recently...I've been working on a project, wanted to devote all my time to it, and kept telling'll be done today so I can get back to blogging here tomorrow.

The next day it was... okay, it's definitely going to get done today....

Well, today it is done... so back to posting here on a daily basis tomorrow. (With the first post appearing tomorrow afternoon while I'm watching football!)

Thanks for your patience.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Waldorf Astoria Park City | New Amenities, New Dimensions

Another article in which someone ascribes a quote to Isaac Asimov, but doesn't tell from whence it comes! So frustrating!

After traveling to The Waldorf Astoria Park City last week, I was reminded of an old Isaac Asimov quote: "Life is pleasant — death is peaceful — it’s the transition!" This saying returned to me as I saw so much of this resort in a positive transition.

Of course, there was no sawdust or construction inside the hotel, but the restaurant renovations combining new gastronomic concepts, a new golf course moving from concept to construction, and a new lobby boutique, expanded the hotel’s ambiance with an even happier, pre-holiday anticipation. To get the sense of what is happening here, it’s important to know a little hotel history.

The Waldorf Astoria Park City is the first ski resort added to Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts. The property has 175 guest rooms, suites, and wholly owned residences, and is ski-in/ski out, with a gondola adjacent to the hotel. The units all have exceptional views of ski slopes or the Wasatch Mountain Range. The resort is also home to the exceptional 16,000-square-foot Golden Door Spa, only one of five in the world.

Last year in 2010, The Waldorf Astoria Park City was purchased by Talisker, a privately held 25-year-old Toronto-based international real estate company. Talisker is the largest mountain real estate and resort operating company in Park City, Utah and has already developed three of Park City’s significant family-oriented residential communities — Tuhaye, Empire Pass and Red Cloud — collectively called the Talisker Club. In the summer of 2008, Talisker acquired Canyons Resort, then in 2010, the Waldorf Astoria Park City, so that now, the Canyons and the Waldorf Astoria Park City are also part of the Talisker Club enclave.

The newer Talisker brand coupled with the well-seasoned, traditional Waldorf Astoria’s has produced a new group of amenities: three restaurants, one retail, all opening within the next two weeks. They will include Slopes by Talisker, a renovated restaurant, with a new restaurant concept; Crave Café, a new eatery located off the main lobby; Scoop, a new poolside option; and Palette, the new lobby boutique. All are slated to open in mid-December 2011. And, in late 2013, a new 18-hole Gene Bates Signature Golf Course will be completed. It will be built around the hotel, with the Waldorf being the midpoint between the first nine and the last nine.

Book this hotel now with confidence! Personal Service. Best Rate Guarantee. 100% Luxury Hotels. Book Now! "These new interior and exterior options combine to create a greater sense of "living well" the mantra associated with our Golden Door Spa, and living well means to us, living well outside and inside," said Kerry Hing, general manager. "Outside, with skiing, hiking, golfing, biking, fly-fishing, and hot-air ballooning, and inside, with the creation of new dining options. For example, Slopes is a new restaurant concept. John Murcko our chef, and our Executive Chef is Clement Gelas, will use ingredients that are less heavy, often without butters or cream, and full of nutritional balance. Executive Chef Gelas was previously the Club Chef at Tuhaye Table Café, which is part of the Talisker Club. Both executive chef and chef understand how important vegetarian and vegan choices are now, and are interested in bringing these ideas, as well as more traditional, yet still healthy, fare to the table. Slopes will pay special attention to dietary needs and preferences of our guests — and that will include gluten free also."

On a personal note, I met Chef Gelas and had dinner from his personally prepared sampling menu. There was something for everyone, from the most avid vegetarian and non-vegetarian alike: warm olives, house made goat cheese, roasted Squash Soup with Rockhill Gruyere and Burgundy Truffles. Then the second course, Waguy Beef Salad, cucumber, herb salad, pickled harvest green beans; third course, a palate cleaner, Green tea sorbet, Gin fizz Cappuccino; then, local Elk, Garlic-Eggplant caviar, Bulgur "risotto," with Cardamom jus; finally, dessert, a Ginger-Lemon Verbena Creme Brulee.

The beef salad was a personal favorite, as it had as an ingredient some small, yellow female cucumber flowers. They were picked at a time when tiny cucumbers were at the base of this striking yellow flower. I lingered over those cucumber flowers as I had never seen them or eaten them before. They seemed like such an unexpected harbinger of early summer in the darkening days of late November.

Slopes will have 120 seats indoors and additional outdoor seasonal seating with views of the pool and outdoor courtyard. It will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and will also feature an extensive wine program created by Talisker’s Director of Wine & Spirits Sean Marron.

The other new eating venues are Crave Café, a quick snack/coffee/take out lunch item venue. In addition, a selection of freshly prepared meals will be available for guests who would like to enjoy a meal in the privacy of their own suite. Crave Café will be located off the main lobby, and Scoop, a poolside area where guests can enjoy drinks, gelato, and ice cream. Finally, a new luxury boutique, Palette, will be located in the hotel lobby. It will specialize in designer apparel, accessories and gifts for men, women and children, and is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

The Waldorf Astoria Park City lies at the base of The Canyons Talisker’s ski resort with over 100 ski trails. These Waldorf amenities will be open soon after the winter ski season at the Canyons opens Friday, November 25 at 9 a.m. So, for those anxious skiers who could care less about Black Friday shopping, they can finally indulge in their sport, on white Friday, 2011.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Daring Fireball Quote of th e Day: Cult of ignorance

From Daring Fireball: Isaac Asimov: Cult of Ignorance
There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge”.

I can't tell you where Asimov said this, as the person doing the quoting didn't give the attribution. Very likely he got it from somewhere else - I saw this a couple of days ago on a Flickr account, but surperimposed over a pic of Asimov himself - still without info on where it came from

Why is it important to know where it came from - the essay collection or the book?

Because it might not be from Asimov at all!

Yesterday, a blogger for the Los Angeles Times got in a dig at Sarah Palin, saying she'd credited basketball coach John Wooden for saying something he never said. But within the body of this snarky little article, the author did point out that *several* people have said Wooden said, what Palin quoted. So, gee, Palin found a quote she liked, saw that it was credited to John Wooden, and quoted it herself.

And now she's taking the flack because "she" misattributed it?

So, I'm sharing the quote here...but I'll be looking for it in my reading of Asimov, and I'll let you know what I find.