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DesignFeaturedTechnology

When technology gets too smart

We cannot quite know what will happen if a machine exceeds our own intelligence, so we can’t know if we’ll be infinitely helped by it, or ignored by it and sidelined, or conceivably destroyed by it. — Stephen Hawking Technology is the collection of techniques, skills, methods and processes used in the production of goods or services or in the accomplishment of objectives, such as scientific investigation. Technology can be the knowledge of techniques, processes, etc. or it can be embedded in machines, computers, devices and factories, which can be operated by individuals without detailed knowledge of the workings of such things. The human species’ use of technology began with the conversion of natural resources into simple tools.

The prehistoric discovery of how to control fire and the later Neolithic Revolution increased the available sources of food and the invention of the wheel helped humans to travel in and control their environment. Developments in historic times, including the printing press, the telephone, and the Internet, have lessened physical barriers to communication and allowed humans to interact freely on a global scale. The steady progress of military technology has brought weapons of ever-increasing destructive power, from clubs to nuclear weapons.

Technology has many effects. It has helped develop more advanced economies (including today’s global economy) and has allowed the rise of a leisure class. Many technological processes produce unwanted by-products, known as pollution, and deplete natural resources, to the detriment of Earth’s environment. Various implementations of technology influence the values of a society and new technology often raises new ethical questions. Examples include the rise of the notion of efficiency in terms of human productivity, a term originally applied only to machines, and the challenge of traditional norms.

Philosophical debates have arisen over the use of technology, with disagreements over whether technology improves the human condition or worsens it.

Until recently, it was believed that the development of technology was restricted only to human beings, but 21st century scientific studies indicate that other primates and certain dolphin communities have developed simple tools and passed their knowledge to other generations.

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FeaturedPoliticsSpotlights

Bernie is blazing a new trail

During his first year in the House, Sanders often alienated allies and colleagues with his criticism of both political parties as working primarily on behalf of the wealthy. Bernard “Bernie” Sanders (born September 8, 1941) is an American politician and the junior United States Senator from Vermont. The longest-serving independent in U.S. Congressional history, Sanders caucuses with the Democratic Party and has been the ranking minority member on the Senate Budget Committee since January 2015. He is a candidate for President of the United States in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Sanders was born and raised in the borough of Brooklyn, in New York City. He graduated from the University of Chicago in 1964. While a student, Sanders was a member of the Young People’s Socialist League and an active civil rights protest organizer for the Congress of Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In 1963, he participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. After settling in Vermont in 1968, Sanders ran unsuccessful third-party campaigns for governor and U.S. senator in the early to mid-1970s. As an independent, he was elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont’s most populous city, in 1981. He was reelected three times before being elected to represent Vermont’s at-large congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1990. He served as a congressman for 16 years before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006. In 2012, he was reelected by a large margin, capturing almost 71% of the popular vote.

Bernie in the 60’s

A self-described “democratic socialist”, Sanders favors policies similar to those of social democratic parties in Europe, particularly those instituted by the Nordic countries. Sanders is known as a leading progressive voice on issues such as income inequality, universal healthcare, parental leave, climate change, LGBT rights, and campaign finance reform. He rose to national prominence following his 2010 filibuster against the proposed extension of the Bush tax cuts. He is outspoken on civil rights and civil liberties, and has been particularly critical of mass surveillance policies such as the USA PATRIOT Act, the NSA surveillance program, and racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. He has long been critical of U.S. foreign policy, and was an early and outspoken opponent of the Iraq War.

You know, I think many people have the mistaken impression that Congress regulates Wall Street. In truth that’s not the case. The real truth is that Wall Street regulates the Congress.

Sanders began his political career in 1971 as a member of the Liberty Union Party, which originated in the anti-war movement and the People’s Party. He ran as the Liberty Union candidate for governor of Vermont in 1972 and 1976 and as a candidate for U.S. senator in 1972 and 1974. In 1981, at the suggestion of his close friend Richard Sugarman, a professor of religion at the University of Vermont, Sanders ran for mayor of Burlington and defeated six-term Democratic incumbent Gordon Paquette by ten votes in a four-way contest.

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DesignFeaturedSpotlights

Visiting an artist in his studio

Most often, the term “artist” describes those who create within a context of the fine arts or high culture. People who use imagination, talent, or skill to create works that may be judged to have an aesthetic value. An artist is a person engaged in one or more of any of a broad spectrum of activities related to creating art, practicing the arts, and/or demonstrating an art. The common usage in both everyday speech and academic discourse is a practitioner in the visual arts only. The term is often used in the entertainment business, especially in a business context, for musicians and other performers (less often for actors). “Artiste” (the French for artist) is a variant used in English only in this context. Use of the term to describe writers, for example, is valid, but less common, and mostly restricted to contexts like criticism.

Art historians and critics define artists as those who produce art within a recognized or recognizable discipline. Contrasting terms for highly skilled workers in media in the applied arts or decorative arts include artisan, craftsman, and specialized terms such as potter, goldsmith or glassblower.

Wiktionary defines the noun ‘artist’ as follows:

  1. A person who creates art.
  2. A person who creates art as an occupation.
  3. A person who is skilled at some activity.

Artist is a descriptive term applied to a person who engages in an activity deemed to be an art. An artist also may be defined unofficially as “a person who expresses him- or herself through a medium”. The word is also used in a qualitative sense of, a person creative in, innovative in, or adept at, an artistic practice.

Most often, the term describes those who create within a context of the fine arts or ‘high culture’, activities such as drawing, painting, sculpture, acting, dancing, writing, filmmaking, new media, photography, and music—people who use imagination, talent, or skill to create works that may be judged to have an aesthetic value. Art historians and critics define artists as those who produce art within a recognized or recognizable discipline. Contrasting terms for highly skilled workers in media in the applied arts or decorative arts include artisan, craftsman, and specialized terms such as potter, goldsmith or glassblower.

Fine arts artists such as painters succeeded in the Renaissance in raising their status, formerly similar to these workers, to a decisively higher level, but in the 20th century the distinction became rather less relevant.

The term may also be used loosely or metaphorically to denote highly skilled people in any non-“art” activities, as well— law, medicine, mechanics, or mathematics, for example.

Often, discussions on the subject focus on the differences among “artist” and “technician”, “entertainer” and “artisan”, “fine art” and “applied art”, or what constitutes art and what does not. The French word artiste (which in French, simply means “artist”) has been imported into the English language where it means a performer (frequently in Music Hall or Vaudeville). Use of the word “artiste” can also be a pejorative term.

A quick cone at the Bi-Rite Creamery
SpotlightsTravel

Exploring San Francisco’s Cuisine

Although the Financial District, Union Square, and Fisherman’s Wharf are well-known around the world, San Francisco is also characterized by its numerous culturally rich streetscapes featuring mixed-use neighborhoods anchored around central commercial corridors to which residents and visitors alike can walk. Because of these characteristics, San Francisco is ranked the second “most walkable” city in the U.S. by Walkscore.com.

The culture of San Francisco is major and diverse in terms of arts, music, cuisine, festivals, museums, and architecture. San Francisco’s diversity of cultures along with its eccentricities are so great that they have greatly influenced the country and the world at large over the years. In 2012, Bloomberg Businessweek voted San Francisco as America’s Best City.

Food trucks are a source of ethnically diverse, and gourmet street foods, with concentrations of various trucks at regular times and places. Notable grocery stores, which often focus on locally-grown organic produce, include the Rainbow Grocery Cooperative and Bi-Rite Market. Johnny Kan opened one of the first modern Chinese restaurants, in Chinatown in 1953.

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The city is the birthplace of the local variety of sourdough bread, the Mission burrito, and steam beer. Fisherman’s Wharf has served local specialty Dungeness crab for decades. Food companies include Anchor Brewing Company, Boudin Bakery, the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company.

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FeaturedScienceTechnology

A closer look at distant nebulas

Emission nebulae often have dark areas in them which result from clouds of dust which block the light. Many nebulae are made up of both reflection and emission components.

An emission nebula is a nebula formed of ionized gases that emit light of various colors. The most common source of ionization is high-energy photons emitted from a nearby hot star. Among the several different types of emission nebulae are H II regions, in which star formation is taking place and young, massive stars are the source of the ionizing photons; and planetary nebulae, in which a dying star has thrown off its outer layers, with the exposed hot core then ionizing them.

Usually, a young star will ionize part of the same cloud from which it was born although only massive, hot stars can release sufficient energy to ionize a significant part of a cloud. In many emission nebulae, an entire cluster of young stars is doing the work.

The nebula’s color depends on its chemical composition and degree of ionization. Due to the prevalence of hydrogen in interstellar gas, and its relatively low energy of ionization, many emission nebulae appear red due to the strong emissions of the Balmer series. If more energy is available, other elements will be ionized and green and blue nebulae become possible. By examining the spectra of nebulae, astronomers infer their chemical content. Most emission nebulae are about 90% hydrogen, with the remainder helium, oxygen, nitrogen, and other elements.

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FeaturedTravel

Traveling abroad will change you forever

Travel is the movement of people between relatively distant geographical locations, and can involve travel by foot, bicycle, automobile, train, boat, airplane, or other means, with or without luggage, and can be one way or round trip. Travel can also include relatively short stays between successive movements.

The origin of the word “travel” is most likely lost to history. The term “travel” may originate from the Old French word travail. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the first known use of the word travel was in the 14th century. It also states that the word comes from Middle English travailen, travelen (which means to torment, labor, strive, journey) and earlier from Old French travailler (which means to work strenuously, toil).

Today, travel may or may not be much easier depending upon the destination that you end up at. Good thing there are plenty of options.In English we still occasionally use the words travail and travails, which mean struggle. According to Simon Winchester in his book The Best Travelers’ Tales (2004), the words travel and travail both share an even more ancient root: a Roman instrument of torture called the tripalium (in Latin it means “three stakes”, as in to impale). This link reflects the extreme difficulty of travel in ancient times.

Also note the torturous connotation of the word “travailler.” Today, travel may or may not be much easier depending upon the destination you choose (i.e., Mt. Everest, the Amazon rainforest), how you plan to get there (tour bus, cruise ship, or oxcart), and whether or not you decide to “rough it”. “There’s a big difference between simply being a tourist and being a true world traveler,” notes travel writer Michael Kasum. This is, however, a contested distinction as academic work on the cultures and sociology of travel has noted.

Ready for all climates

Ready for all climates

Authorities emphasize the importance of taking precautions to ensure travel safety. When traveling abroad, the odds favor a safe and incident-free trip, however, travelers can be subject to difficulties, crime and violence. Some safety considerations include being aware of one’s surroundings, avoiding being the target of a crime, leaving copies of one’s passport and itinerary information with trusted people, obtaining medical insurance valid in the country being visited and registering with one’s national embassy when arriving in a foreign country.

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PoliticsScience

Getting NASA back on its feet

Apollo set major milestones in human spaceflight. It stands alone in sending manned missions beyond low Earth orbit, and landing humans on another celestial body. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the United States government agency responsible for the civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian (rather than military) orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science. The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958.

Since that time, most US space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo moon-landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle. Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, the Space Launch System and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches.

The first person to stand on the Moon was Neil Armstrong, who was followed by Buzz Aldrin, while Michael Collins orbited above. The first person to stand on the Moon was Neil Armstrong, who was followed by Buzz Aldrin, while Michael Collins orbited above. Five subsequent Apollo missions also landed astronauts on the Moon, the last in December 1972. Throughout these six Apollo spaceflights, twelve men walked on the Moon. These missions returned a wealth of scientific data and 381.7 kilograms of lunar samples. Topics covered by experiments performed included soil mechanics, meteoroids, seismology, heat flow, lunar ranging, magnetic fields, and solar wind. The Moon landing marked the end of the space race; and as a gesture, Armstrong mentioned mankind when he stepped down on the Moon.

Apollo set major milestones in human spaceflight. It stands alone in sending manned missions beyond low Earth orbit, and landing humans on another celestial body. Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to orbit another celestial body, while Apollo 17 marked the last moonwalk and the last manned mission beyond low Earth orbit to date. The program spurred advances in many areas of technology peripheral to rocketry and manned spaceflight, including avionics, telecommunications, and computers. Apollo sparked interest in many fields of engineering and left many physical facilities and machines developed for the program as landmarks. Many objects and artifacts from the program are on display at various locations throughout the world, notably at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museums.

babel
DesignTechnology

Turris Babel Book Design

A brand is a name, term, design, or other feature that distinguishes one seller’s product from those of others. Brands are used in business, marketing, and advertising. Initially, livestock branding was adopted to differentiate one person’s cattle from another’s by means of a distinctive symbol burned into the animal’s skin with a hot branding iron. A modern example of a brand is Pepsi which belongs to PepsiCo Inc.

Here’s what we did for this project:

  • Printed on super thick card stock
  • Hand screen printed cards
  • Embossed for professional touch

In accounting, a brand defined as an intangible asset is often the most valuable asset on a corporation’s balance sheet. Brand owners manage their brands carefully to create shareholder value, and brand valuation is an important management technique that ascribes a money value to a brand, and allows marketing investment to be managed (e.g.: prioritized across a portfolio of brands) to maximize shareholder value. Although only acquired brands appear on a company’s balance sheet, the notion of putting a value on a brand forces marketing leaders to be focused on long term stewardship of the brand and managing for value.

Design: Studio Mut

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ScienceTechnology

James Webb Space Telescope

In contrast to other proposed observatories, the JWST telescope is the last big NASA astrophysics mission of its generation to be built. The James Webb Space Telescope, previously known as Next Generation Space Telescope, is a space observatory under construction and scheduled to launch in October 2018. The JWST will offer unprecedented resolution and sensitivity from long-wavelength visible to the mid-infrared, and is a successor instrument to the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope. The telescope features a segmented 6.5-meter diameter primary mirror and will be located near the Earth–Sun L2 point. A large sunshield will keep its mirror and four science instruments below 50 K. JWST’s capabilities will enable a broad range of investigations across the fields of astronomy and cosmology.

One particular goal involves observing some of the most distant objects in the Universe, beyond the reach of current ground and space based instruments. This includes the very first stars, the epoch of reionization, and the formation of the first galaxies. Another goal is understanding the formation of stars and planets. This will include imaging molecular clouds and star-forming clusters, studying the debris disks around stars, direct imaging of planets, and spectroscopic examination of planetary transits.

In gestation since 1996, the project represents an international collaboration of about 17 countries led by NASA, and with significant contributions from the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. It is named after James E. Webb, the second administrator of NASA, who played an integral role in the Apollo program.

adventure
DesignTravel

On the hunt for adventure

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. — John Muir

The Pacific Northwest, sometimes referred to as Cascadia, is a region in western North America bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and, loosely, by the Rocky Mountains on the east. Though no agreed boundary exists, a common conception includes the U.S. states of Oregon and Washington and the Canadian province of British Columbia. Broader conceptions reach north into Alaska and Yukon, south into far Northern California and east into Idaho and Western Montana, western Wyoming, and western Alberta, to the Continental Divide. Narrower conceptions may be limited to the Northwestern U.S. or to the coastal areas west of the Cascade and Coast mountains. The variety of definitions can be attributed to partially overlapping commonalities of the region’s history, geography, society, and other factors.

The Northwest Coast is the coastal regions of the Pacific Northwest and the Northwest Plateau (also commonly known as “The Interior” in British Columbia and the Inland Empire in the United States) is the inland regions. The term “Pacific Northwest” should not be confused with the Northwest Territory (also known as the Great Northwest, a historical term in the United States) or the Northwest Territories of Canada.

The region’s largest metropolitan areas are Greater Seattle, Washington, with 3.7 million people; Greater Vancouver, British Columbia, with 2.4 million people; and Greater Portland, Oregon, with 2.3 million people.

John Muir, master explorer

John Muir, master explorer

A key aspect of the Pacific Northwest is the US–Canada international border, which the United States and the United Kingdom established at a time when the region’s inhabitants were composed mostly of Indigenous peoples. The border — in two sections, along the 49th parallel south of British Columbia and the Alaska Panhandle west of northern British Columbia — has had a powerful effect on the region. According to Canadian historian Ken Coates, the border has not merely influenced the Pacific Northwest—rather, “the region’s history and character have been determined by the boundary”.

Definitions of the Pacific Northwest region vary and there is no commonly agreed upon boundary, even among Pacific Northwesterners. A common conception of the Pacific Northwest includes the U.S. states of Oregon and Washington as well as the Canadian province of British Columbia. This definition is often restricted further to include only the coastal areas west of the crest of the Cascade Mountains and Canadian Coast Mountains.