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In Praise Of Jeff Duntemann … An Ode To Fun, Easy-To-Read Programming Books

Posted by kristobaldude on February 19, 2011

02/19/11

Jeff Duntemann

Jeff Duntemann

Around 1998 I was working as an Electronics Engineer at a local slaughterhouse called IBP (now owned by Tyson Chicken) and it was there in the meager collection of reference books available that I discovered the book “Assembly Language Step-By-Step“, by Jeff Duntemann.  I was blown away.  Though it has been over 10 years since I read this book, if I

Assembly Language Step By Step, 1992 ed.

Assembly Language Step By Step, 1992 ed.

remember correctly, the way Mr. Duntemann explained these weighty technical concepts was by analogizing a great quest, like Homer‘s Oddyssey or the Wizard of Oz.  I would like to get ahold of this book again so I can re-read it with new eyes.

The author has a great writing style that is accessible to everyone – much akin to Isaac Asimov‘s non-fiction work.

Most are familiar with Asimov’s science ficition books (I Robot & Foundation trilogy being his most famous), but did you know that Asimov was also a very technically competent and prolific writer on everthing from the Bible to modern (40’s to 60’s era) science?  If you have not experienced Asimov’s flowing an easy-going prose I suggest checking out Isaac Asimov’s Guide to Earth and Space, Asimov’s Chronology of the World, and (my favorite) the out-of-print Asimov On Numbers.

If you are familiar with Asimov’s science “explanation” works, or the show “Connections” by James Burke then you already have some idea of the writing style of Jeff Duntemann.

Asimov on Numbers

Asimov on Numbers

Although assembly language as a prolific and practical programming system is practically obsolete at the time of this writing, I would still recommend Assembly Language Step by Step as an interesting read and one worth having in your collection.

~ Kristobaldude

Posted in .Kristobaldude's Posts, HISTORY, PROGRAMMING, SCIENCE | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Solar Eclipse Causes Fear For Indians

Posted by kristobaldude on April 26, 2010

Eric Hepperle, April 25, 2010

Total Solar Eclipse

Total Solar Eclipse

A total solar eclipse occurred on July 22, 2009.  This type of eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, and the apparent diameter of the moon is large enough to block out all sunlight.  It was visible in many parts of Asia including India, China, and Japan.

India has many superstitions surrounding solar eclipses. The Sanskrit story Mahabharata tells how the demon Rahu chases the sun and moon and tries to eat them and occasionally he does swallow them causing an eclipse.  For example, expectant mothers try to prevent births on a day of eclipse because it is believed by many that evil rays will cause birth defects.  These rays are also said to cause food to spoil and water to become undrinkable.

In ancient China, it was believed that a legendary celestial dragon devours the Sun and that banging of pots and drums would make the dragon leave.  Eclipses were very important to the Chinese as they were said to foretell disasters and the emperor’s future.

Eclipse - July 22, 2009 (China)

Eclipse – July 22, 2009 (China)

Asian and Indian astrologers had predicted “…a rise in communal and regional violence in the days following the eclipse” (Hazlewood).  Some foretold attacks by Kashmiri separatists or Al-Qaeda in India, US military action against Iran soon after September 9.  However, the Indian Rationalist Association denounced such foreboding predictions as an attempt by soothsayers and astrologers to increase their business and cash-flow. (Hazlewood).

In an effort to demystify the eclipse phenomenon, scientists chartered an airplane to give some Indians an opportunity to see the eclipse from 41,000 feet above the earth.  The cost to passengers for this privilege was equivalent to 1,600 American dollars.

Despite rainy and overcast conditions, thousands turned out to watch this rare spectacle, the longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century, lasting over 6 minutes.


Sources:

Hazlewood, Phil. “Solar eclipse pits superstition against science”. [Online] Available: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iJ9tZh4R3FEusQ1C_UQ7jxAyAU4g, 19 July 2009

Wikipedia, Solar eclipse of July 22, 2009, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_eclipse_of_July_22,_2009 (as of Apr. 24, 2010, 19:26 GMT).

The Associated Press. “Solar Eclipse Could Create Chaos.” MyFoxNY.com, July 20, 2009. http://www.myfoxla.com/dpp/news/dpgo_Solar_Eclipse_Could_Create_Chaos_mb_07202009_2688064

Azab, Ms. Maissa. “Solar Eclipses in History and Mythology.” http://www.bibalex.org/Eclipse2006/HistoricalObservationsofSolarEclipses.htm

Posted in SCIENCE, WORLDVIEW | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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