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Richard L. Brandt
Works at freelance
Attended Harvey Mudd college
Lives in Santa Cruz
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Richard L. Brandt

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When I Need Calm

I walk around the old house to the back yard and head down the ancient stone stairway that somebody built nearly a century ago. Thirty feet down, it ends in a short path my wife cut through wild mint, leading me to the summer-shallow river flowing calmly past my feet, still defying years of drought. The mint grows in profusion along the river bank, perfuming the air with its cool, sweet scent.
The banks of the long but narrow river are choked with redwood and bay trees, blackberries, wild sweet peas, ivy, miner’s lettuce, various grasses, the dreaded stinging nettle, and other plants I can’t identify, mixing with the pungent mint. The temporary summer greenery reaches over the edge of the river, trying to stretch past the life-choked land to find anchor in the sandy river bottom. Tree branches, broken from their trunks perhaps miles upstream in last winter’s chaos, now lay still along the banks. Some sprout new roots where their broken ends dip into the cool water. A few of them will reach the sand beneath the river and dig themselves in, a new tree being born. One infant bay tree stands upright, proud, alone in the middle of the river, a seedling planted into a crevice in a rock. It won’t survive the coming winter’s deep, rushing deluge.
Just a dozen feet in front of me lies an old oak tree uprooted in its prime four years ago and carried downstream by a river swelled to a rushing maelstrom fifteen feet deep by winter rains, finally abandoned near the bank opposite where I sit. Most of the year this 40-foot behemoth barely dampens its belly in a few inches of water, bleached nearly bone-white by the sun, looking like a giant, fossilized dinosaur, its skin cracked into scales by the hot sunlight pouring onto it through the long open-air window between the living trees on either side of the river. Someday, when the drought ends, it may again be lifted like an old boat and carried along its winding path toward the ocean several miles downstream.
The river is now calm and quiet. The water tumbling over barely submerged stones plays a soft, staccato music that drowns out all other sound simply by insisting on my attention. Sprinkles of sunlight dance in the turbulence as water collides with rock, splashes over it in tiny sharp waves and settles again into a calm sheet of glassy movement. Nearly invisible eddies of swirling water pass by, followed faithfully by the surprisingly sharp oval shadows they cast onto the rocks at the bottom of the shallow river. 
A blue dragonfly sails above the water, lands on a rock that reaches above the surface to the sunny air, then silently takes flight again on its journey upstream. A small fish touches the ceiling of its world in search of a speck of food flown to the river by the gentle breezes of mine, a brief connection of two worlds. Then it swims away, unaware of my presence. I breathe deeply. For half an hour I am calm.
Then I stand, pick up my sneakers and once again hear the cars rumbling down the highway on the other side of the house. I walk back up the stone steps, return to the driveway between my house and the road, and watch the cars rush nervously by. I think about the fact that the southern edge of Silicon Valley is on the other side of the small mountain range on which I now live, just 30 miles from my door. I remember that it used to be the place I most enjoyed visiting.
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Richard L. Brandt

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Apple likes to complain that Google's ads are biased. But it uses Google ads to promote its iWatch on sites in Europe. 

The problem is that a European company already owns the trademark for the term "iWatch." So it's suing Apple for its Google ads.
A trademark holder in Europe is angry that Apple bought Google ads for the term “iWatch”
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Richard L. Brandt

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So do you really think the GOP hates solar because it's too expensive? Why, then, are they willing to subsidize nuclear power? Perhaps because it's promoted by huge wealthy utilities with money to give to campaigns, as opposed to the much more distributed solar business?

New, conventional reactors being built at customer expense in South Carolina and Georgia will have to charge well over twice the prevailing and projected market price of electricity in New England.

A bill from the office of Gov. Paul LePage, would have exempted “small modular reactors” from the referendum process Maine requires for other nuclear power plants. (It did not pass.)

However:  LePage has vetoed legislation that would have added a surcharge amounting to less than one-tenth of a percent to Maine electric bills. He asserted that the legislation “unilaterally selects solar above other solutions that have proven to be more cost effective.”
Two unusual bills promoting nuclear power were introduced in the Maine Legislature this session. One, from Sen. Eric Brakey, R-Auburn, would have fast tracked Maine’s path to a reactor using thorium to create a uranium isotope different from those that fuel nearly all of today’s power reactors. The other, from [...]
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Richard L. Brandt

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"The surface appears to be divided into irregularly shaped segments that are ringed by narrow troughs, some of which contain darker materials."  

I can't wait until we figure out what created the plains and troughs and what those "darker materials" are. Within my lifetime, please!
In the latest data from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, a new close-up image of Pluto reveals a vast, craterless plain that appears to be no more than 100 million years old, and is possibly still being shaped by geologic processes. This frozen region is north of Pluto’s icy mountains, in the center-left of the heart feature.
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Richard L. Brandt

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I'm re-posting a story I did for IBM. Purely self-serving. I want to write more articles about what IBM is doing with cognitive computing. If you view and share this article enough, I might convince the company to let me write about some of the more advanced stuff they've got in the works. Thanks.
Learn how Chef Watson can help any home chef discover and create new recipes.
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Peaches, mangoes, cherries, cantaloupe, and strawberries.
They're good for you.
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Richard L. Brandt

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Use #IBM   #cognitivecomputing   technology to find every #tedtalks  video on any topic. 
The new discovery tool creates a super mashup mix tape of TED speakers expounding on any term you might want to search for.
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#contestalert   for tech folks

OK, this posting is NOT self-serving. If you have an idea of how a #cognitivecomputing  application can improve your community, you can enter a contest that may get you $50k in services from #IBM  in order to build it.

HERE'S SOME HELP GETTING IDEAS: An example of how on Austin entrepreneur uses #IBMwatson  to help people people find social services.

Read the latest news and information on Watson, including trending stories from IBM and beyond.
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good idea
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Richard L. Brandt

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Let's face it: We either become an extraordinarily militarized country, with guns in schools, stores, churches, theaters, malls, etc., etc., or we make background checks stronger--and make gun buyers take a course in gun safety. Many guns in these recent shootings were just bought in gun stores without adequate background checks.
Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez opened fire at a Chattanooga military-recruitment office before moving to a Naval Reserve center, where he killed four U.S. Marines.
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+Richard L. Brandt I am a long-time critic of Canadian Firearms laws for being too restrictive, my primary stance has been once licensing (with training and background checks included) has taken place, much of the other law is unnecessary.

This leads to two statements regarding US Laws:
1. They vary dramatically from state to state
2. Training/Licensing would (IMO) solve most of the problems around idenitified dangerous people purchasing firearms (just pull their license)
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Nukes vs. iPhones

It's a rare day when I find myself agreeing with Pat Buchanan. The professed desire “to help democratic institutions in every region in every nation on earth," he said, "is a formula for permanent war." (The article linked to below was first published in 2005, republished today in Medium.)

Even worse, we don't really try to help every democracy on earth. We try to "save" countries that have something crude and black to sell to us. 

I remember the day that the W. Bush administration conceded that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq after all. A radio interviewer asked some right-sitting pundit if the invasion was a mistake. His response was something along the lines of, "Well, we've removed a monster dictator. In my book, any time we do that, it's a good thing."

I thought at the time, "Yeah, wait until you see what the country gets instead." Create a power vacuum and the most aggressive elements of the society fill it.

It was the same problem when the U.S.-backed Shah of Iran was removed from office. 

Meddling in other countries' affairs is a dangerous business. We really only do it for the business of oil. Conservatives so often say we cannot afford alternative energy, but they do not count the cost to the environment (in real dollars as we try to clean up the mess that oil and coal leave behind, much of it with taxpayer money) or the health of ourselves and our children, or the deaths and maiming of thousands of Americans and millions of civilians from war, or the birth of thousands of new terrorists who hate us for our greed and self-righteous wars. Or the amount of money we pour into the military every year to fight those wars.

President Obama has negotiated a treaty with Iran that many criticize. The government there is duplicitous, religiously zealous, vengeful and aggressive. But part of the deal opens trade with Iran. That doesn't often work for a country long isolated from the "free world." But before 1979, Iran was wealthy and trading with the west. The Iranian people would like that again. To keep it, they will have to insist that their government allow inspections of nuclear facilities.

"Maybe Iran and America's government don't like each other but Iranian people love ... American products," said the owner of a cellphone store in Tehran. "This could be a new beginning for both of us... Everyone wants an Apple phone — Iranians like good things."

I'll bet many of them would like them better than their own nukes.
(I wrote this on February 14, 2005, but it’s as true now as it’s ever been)
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+Bobbi Jo Woods Oh I wasn't even referring to your comment, just replying to Kee.
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  • Harvey Mudd college
    Mathematics, 1973 - 1976
  • UC Santa Barbara,
    Biology, 1976 - 1978
  • University of Delaware
    Journalism/engineering, 1980 - 1981
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November 11
Other names
Richard L. Brandt
Journalist, book author
Left San Francisco. Decided to write my books living among the redwoods in the Santa Cruz mountains.

Books include: 

Bragging rights
National Magazine Award; Deadline Club Award; Washington Monthly Award; Atlantic Monthly Award; Computer Press Association Award; Acer/Boston Computer Museum Awards; Knight Science Journalism Fellow (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); Science Journalism Fellowship (American Association for the Advancement of Science); Maggie Awards (Western Magazine Publishers Assoc.)
journalist/book author
  • freelance
    journalist/book author, 2001 - present
  • Tabor Communications
    Managing editor, Green Computing Report, 2012 - 2013
  • Business Week magazine
    correspondent, 1981 - 1995
  • Upside magazine
    Editor in Chief, 1995 - 2000
    Editor, 1999 - 2001
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Santa Cruz
San Francisco - Ontario, California - Wilmington, Delaware - Detroit, Michigan
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Somewhere near Santa Cruz...
Richard L. Brandt's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
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Google, Facebook, and Amazon don't sell networking switches. And they never will. But they've forever changed the way others sell them.

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A decade ago, physicists suggested that certain properties of light can twist into a one-sided loop – now there's proof

Smart TVs Are a Great Idea. Too Bad TV Makers Are Ruining Them | WIRED

There's no reason smart TVs can't be great. But first they need to evolve into something we'd actually want to use.

No, Jeb Bush Won’t Be a Realist

Bush could hardly be making his agreement with his brother's policies more obvious.

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Both Marriott and AT&T used technology to steal from their customers - so what are the lessons?

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I’m starting a tech hub at Medium.

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A delegation of conservative members of Congress paid a visit to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet melt today.

G.O.P. Rivals Question Rubio's Ignorance Credentials

“Any questions about the authenticity of my ignorance are deeply offensive to me.”

The climate change deniers have won

Scientists continue to warn us about global warming, but most of us have a vested interest in not wanting to think about it

Chuck makes the best chocolates on the planet. Period. He uses the top ingredients in everything he makes. We've bought a dozen different items at least. Our favorite is the chocolates in a chocolate box. How can you lose?
Quality: ExcellentAppeal: ExcellentService: Excellent
Public - 2 years ago
reviewed 2 years ago
1 review