Many historians credit the cracking of the German Enigma code by English mathematician Alan Turing with eventual Allied victory in World War II. At the very least, this breakthrough turned the tide of the war and saved untold thousands of lives.
After the war, Turing went on to invent the Turing machine, which is considered the basis of all modern computing.
For his accomplishments, in 1952 Turing was convicted of "gross indecency" because he admitted to having a gay relationship. Just that -- he loved a man. The punishment for that crime was either a prison sentence or chemical castration. Turing chose castration. Two years later, at age 41, he committed suicide.
If you don't know about Turing's contribution to our freedom and our current ability to communicate via the internet, consider the reasons for why he has been relegated to obscurity -- why Quentin Tarantino will likely never make a movie based on his life. Why we don't have a "Turing Day" or a Turing monument on our national plaza near other World War II honorees.
(The Bombe decoding machine created by Alan Turing to crack German Enigma code.)
In an effort to remedy this injustice, last month computer programmer John Graham-Cumming started an online petition to campaign for Alan Turing's recognition. The petition swiftly drew more than 30,000 signatures, including those of scientist Richard Dawkins, actor Stephen Fry, author Ian McEwan and philosopher A.C. Grayling. Now, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has issued a posthumous apology for the "appalling" treatment of Alan Turing.
According to an article by Hilary Whiteman for CNN Europe, Brown stated "He truly was one of those individuals we can point to whose unique contribution helped to turn the tide of war. The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely."
During an August concert in Bucharest, Romania, singer/performer Madonna featured Roma musicians and a Roma dancers in her show. Roma people are often called Gypsies, though their preferred name for themselves is Rom or Roma. However, when during the concert Madonna paused to speak out against the way these people are discriminated against in Eastern Europe, she was booed by thousands in the crowd of 60,000.
According to the 365Gay article reporting on this incident, "There are officially some 500,000 Roma in Romania, but the real number could be around 2 million." Roma were among those singled out for internment and slaughter by the Nazis during World War II.
(Gay activist steps between pair of police horses to be interviewed during New York demonstration in 1971; photo by Grey Villet, from Life photo archives.)
The National Black Justice Coalition has issued a statement celebrating the recent American Psychological Association (APA) declaration that "health professionals should avoid telling clients they can change their sexual orientation". NBJC Interim Executive Director Dr. Sylvia Rhue commented: "This report is a long overdue repudiation of the 'reparative therapy' movement that is based in fear, error, discarded psychoblunder from the 1950's, and bad theology. The 'ex-gay' movement has done untold damage to thousands of people."
In a related story, the Denver Post reports "Focus on the Family will shed its controversial 'Love Won Out' program for transforming homosexuals into heterosexuals because of budget troubles."
(Image from Philips Habitat Lighting.)
In conservation news, Utne Reader reports "European researchers recently sought to stem the mortality rate of birds migrating over the North Sea, where lights from oil and gas rigs can distract and disorient the fair-feathered travelers. After finding that blue light and green light are much less disconcerting to birds than the red and white lights favored by these sites, the researchers worked with a Dutch oil and gas company to swap them out."
(Sun in Hands, photo from Stopped Time, Part 5 series.)
Every year the Sunlight Foundation has a contest called Apps for America, seeking web applications whose purpose is to enhance the usefulness and transparency of government data. Clicking on the line above will give you a list of all this year's applications. Below is an abstract of the list and brief description -- for more information, check out the Sunlight Foundation. (The three applications in bold at the top are the winners this year.) Be sure to bookmark this fantastic resource and pass it on.
ThisWeKnow -- ThisWeKnow sheds light on what the government knows about every community
DataMasher -- DataMasher lets you take state level data sets and mashem
GovPulse -- The Federal Registry at your fingertips. Over 1,000,000 pages finally accessible. View, explore, search, locate and take the pulse of your government.
Data.gov Catalog Dashboard -- A look at the Data.gov Catalog
Jobs In The USA -- Statistics of importance to the American Worker including stimulus money impacts.
Fund Flows -- Visualizer for comparing government procurements by geographic area.
GovStats.org -- Understand US Government economic statistics through easy interactive charts
USASpendingwatch.net -- Adding Political Context to USA Federal Spending
loquake -- location based earthquake lookup
House Scoreboard -- Just how representative is the House?
Jobless -- Compare jobless rates by region over time
DataRemix -- A community documented catalog of public data sets and developer tools
Pattrends -- Getting trends out of patents
Local Recovery -- Find out how much Recovery Act money has been spent at your current location
Wiki MapMaker -- Making custom, dynamic maps for Wikipedia
simpler/gov -- Simpler/gov is a platform that connects people and data. It is available to every local government that wants to share data and connect with the public.
Refugee Flow -- Uses Hans Rosling's Trendalyzer Software to Display Time-Series Asylum Grantee Data by Country Against GDP Per Capita Values and Freedom House's "Civil Liberties" Scores
Local Spending -- Find out how much federal money is being spent at your current location...
Budget -- Explore the federal budget.
Quakespotter -- Earthquakes rumble across a 3D globe. Tweets and maps pinpoint the action. Donations carry the day.
Superfund Finder -- Have you ever wondered how many Superfund sites are located near your home, your work, your loved ones? Now with Superfund Finder you can find out with help from data.gov, Google Maps & geolocation support in Firefox 3.5, iPhone & Android mobile browsers.
Geodata Explorer -- Visualize census data at a neighborhood level
Maps for America: EPA Edition -- Explore the relative chronic health risks, hazard levels and toxic release volumes across the country. Maps for America combines population, toxic chemical release reports, and chemical toxicity into easy to navigate maps.
Data-Gov Wiki -- Our Data-gov Wiki is the delivery site for a project where we investigate the role of linked data in producing, processing and utilizing the government datasets found in data.gov.
Congressional140.com -- Integrating top contractors for each congress member's state.
Goodness500 -- Goodness500.org ranks the largest companies in the world based on corporate social responsibility.
WaterGoodness -- WaterGoodness.org is a free website shining a bright light on America’s waters, both what flows from your tap, and your local bay/lake/pond/reservoir/river/ocean/stream. We show a mix of government and crowdsourced water quality data on a Google map.
SpendTrend.us -- Use SpendTrend.us to easily search government contracts for spending trends.
UsaOpenGov -- Provides help in identifying and fixing crippled data and APIs
yourCPI.com -- yourCPI.com produces visualizations of custom consumer price indexes (CPIs). Its custom CPIs are generated by mashing up demographic groups' average expenditures with consumer goods' price changes.
Eureka Invention Generator -- Eureka generates random inventions by analyzing the word frequencies of US patent application abstracts.
Disasters Map -- Maps, history and real-time comments to the natural disasters with Twitter and Capitol Words.
AHDI Calculator -- AHDI Calculator is a web-based application support expert user formulate the AHDI for their sake of research and improve the advance concept mining of AHDI to discover new social indicators
Employment market explorer -- Employment Market explorer is tool designed to help people understand local employment market, giving them a chance to compare local, regional and state unemployment rates and analyze the labor market dynamics.
Data.gov Time Machine -- new and interesting look for any historical data - time series in dynamic
GreenSpace Map -- GreenSpace Map is a web based and mobile application that allows the user to identify all of the EPA Featured Environmental Interests sites relative to a specifed location.
Fedtastic -- Fedtastic is a dynamic portal to government information referenced in the data.gov catalog and other sources.
Bernie - The Federal Register Watcher -- Post community comments on new Federal Register items, and keep track of your favorite agencies with Atom Feeds.
Quake Alert -- Find out which friends might be affected by recent earthquakes. See the Google Maps mashup and opt-in to receive Facebook notifications.
AlexLIb -- AlexLib is a KM/research tool which permits the user to create an ontology to search data.gov and everything else on the web at the same time. The search bot is a web page which only requires refreshing the page to (re)search.
typologies of intellectual property -- An interactive visualization of intellectual property.
D.C. Historic Tours -- Free Tour Planner of the Nation's Capital
MAICgregator -- MAICgregator is a Firefox extension that aggregates information about colleges and universities embedded in the military-academic-industrial complex (MAIC)
Top Dangerous Mines -- A website showing a real-time list of the most dangerous mines in the US based on recent earthquake data.
FlyOnTime.us -- Find the most on-time flight from one city to another.
FBI Fugitive Concentration -- Play Concentration with photos of FBI Fugitives
(By Maira Kalman from her "Can Do" column.)
And, finally, I can never say enough good things about Maira Kalman. We are now lucky enough to have her publishing a blog at the New York Times called "And The Pursuit of Happiness". Pursue your own happiness by reading her.
(By Maira Kalman from her "I Lift My Lamp Beside The Golden Door" column.)
[Hat tip to Calico, commenter at Dykes To Watch Out For, for the lead about Alan Turing.]
Friday, September 11, 2009