40 years of “standard architecture” personal computers

I hadn’t remembered the anniversary, but Extreme Tech reminds us that 40 years ago, the Intel 8086 chip came on to the market – and things have never been the same since then.  (Image below is courtesy of Wikipedia.) Forty years ago today, Intel launched the original 8086 microprocessor — the grandfather of every x86 CPU ever built, including the ones we use now. This, it must be noted, is more or less the opposite outcome of what everyone expected at the time, including Intel. . . . Initially, the 8086 was intended to be a stopgap product while Intel

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Sounds great, but there’s a catch

There was seemingly great news from the Federal Reserve today. Americans’ wealth surpassed the $100 trillion mark for the first time in early 2018, as rising home prices offset the hit to households’ assets from a stock-market swoon in the first quarter. Household net worth—the value of all assets such as stocks and real estate minus liabilities like mortgage and credit-card debt—rose by 1% from the previous quarter, or more than a trillion dollars, to a record $100.768 trillion, according to a report released by the Federal Reserve on Thursday. There’s more at the link. Zero Hedge provided this graphic breaking

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The war in Ukraine and its lessons

Courtesy of a link at Cdr. Salamander’s place, I came across this article by Col. Liam Collins. The situation in eastern Ukraine might best be described as “World War I with technology.” Venturing to the front line today, you would quickly learn the two greatest threats facing Ukrainian soldiers are snipers and Russian artillery. Unlike in 1915, however, soldiers on 2018’s “Eastern Front” receive text messages on their phones telling them their cause is hopeless and they must regularly attempt to avoid being spotted from an unmanned aerial vehicle. The fighting in Ukraine during the past 2½ years provides great

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Not the Moodiest of Blues

I’ve enjoyed the music of the Moody Blues, particularly their original seven albums, for many years.  I was therefore intrigued to learn that an early version of their song “The Story In Your Eyes“, slightly extended from the one that was released and with slightly different vocal patterns, had been recorded in 1970.  It languished unremembered until 2008, when it appeared on the remastered version of their album “Every Good Boy Deserves Favour”.  It’s different enough that it caught my attention, so here it is. How young they were then – and how young I was . . . innocents

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On the road today

Miss D. and I are visiting friend and fellow author Alma Boykin today, and speaking to her high school class about Africa and its post-World-War-II history.  She likes them to get a feel for how things really were, rather than the sanitized, skimmed-over pablum served up by their textbook, and pulls in outsiders with experience to discuss such things.  It’s kinda fun. Blogging will be light for most of today, although I’ll try to post later this afternoon, travel permitting.  Meanwhile, please amuse yourselves with the folks in the sidebar. Peter

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New York in 1911 – history captured on film

I’m obliged to The Last Tradition for publishing the link to this footage of New York City in 1911, which has been very nicely restored.  For history buffs, it makes fascinating viewing. It’s sobering to think that everyone in those images is dead by now.  I wonder what they would have said if they could have foreseen World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, and so on?  Those storm clouds would not have been even a shadow on the horizon in 1911 . . . I wonder whether, 107 years from now, someone will be viewing video (or

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Two perspectives on the prospects for societal breakdown in the USA

I’ve written a number of articles on various aspects of emergency preparedness.  I’m by no means an over-the-top zombie-apocalypse “prepper”, but I believe that a certain amount of common-sense planning and basic preparations for an emergency should be part of everyone’s lifestyle.  Nevertheless, I don’t think most of us seriously expect the society within which we live to collapse, or even to suddenly degrade, to such an extent that it can be described as “the end of the world as we know it”. Two recent articles propose different, and rather more worrying, ways of looking at that possibility.  They certainly

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Yes, our civilization can fall, too

Borepatch embedded a very short, but very interesting analysis by Kenneth Clark on why Rome fell.  It’s only two and a half minutes long, and well worth that much of your time to watch it. Our modern civilization can fall, too, and in a surprisingly short time.  It’s happened right before our eyes multiple times over the past half-century.  Think of the Soviet Union in the late 1980’s, or Venezuela over the past five years.  It could happen even to the USA or Western Europe, if enough of the storm clouds gathering over either economy were to let loose.  (Think

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Back from the road

Miss D. and I headed down to Fort Worth today for a little official business, plus some “us”-time.  It’s two-plus hours from here to there, so it’s no trouble to go down and back in a day. The official business didn’t take long, so we looked for something interesting to see when we were done.  We ended up at the Texas Civil War Museum.  It has a large number of exhibits about the lives and equipment of regular soldiers on both sides, with emphasis on the (named) individuals who owned many of the items on display, including a surprising number

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