Post-July 4 Reading: What You May Have Missed This Week

July 5, 2013
As our continuing Friday public service, here are some stories you might have missed while your attention was elsewhere.

Have you recovered yet from yesterday's festivities?

If, like us, you spent the day tending the pork shoulder in the smoker, marching in a parade, enjoying a picnic, playing baseball or soccer, fishing, watching the fireworks or all of the above, chances are you didn't have the time or the inclination to search the Internet for anything besides keeping up with whether friends and family were having more fun than you were (or saying they were). So as our continuing Friday public service, here are some stories you might have missed while your attention was elsewhere.

Right here on ControlGlobal, we reported on Project Gemstone, the Fieldbus Foundation's new initiative to "make the digital fieldbus automation experience easier than conventional analog control systems in every conceivable way." 

Our bloggers have been busy too. While the rest of us were following President John Adams' suggestion to celebrate July 4 with ". . . pomp and parade, with shews [shows], games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other . . .," our cybersecurity guy, Joe Weiss, took on the ungrateful role of Cassandra, pointing out the continuing absurdity of the NERC-CIP approach to securing the electric grid.

Meanwhile, Greg McMillan shared more of his vast quantity of process control knowledge with his "Effect of Controller Dynamics on Loop Performance" post on his Control Talk blog.

Our white paper librarian has also been busy. Two postings you won't want to miss:"The Field Instrumentation Technical Handbook," a useful collection of physical constants, tables and information no engineer responsible for field instrumentation should be without; and "Finding, Measuring and Closing Safety Integrity Gaps," which discusses how modern process safety management goes beyond functional safety to keep your plant continuously safe and profitable.

Meanwhile, our friends at ISA continue their efforts to keep process automation junkies' skill sets up to date. Here's the July schedule of training opportunities.

In the outside world, there’s a good deal of hoo-ha about the news that the National Security Agency has access to everybody's online data, what is says it's doing with it, what it's really doing, and what all this means. The concerns are justifiable, but the problem and its solutions are, alas, much more complex than "stop evil government spying." Here's an outline of the larger "Big Data" problem from tech blogger Shelly Palmer

Big Data is only one of the technical disruptions rocking our world. This article from our friends at The Journal discusses how the confluence of big data, cloud computing, mobile devices and social media is changing the face of manufacturing—including the process industries.

All work and no play make a #pauto pro no fun. In the interest of restoring your work/life balance, here is some non process news.

Our colleague Brian Wright from Sustainable Plant is a collector of infographics, those slick, well-designed highly visual pieces that tell a big story in a few words and pictures. Here's one on "The Most Influential People Made in the U.S.A."

This week is also the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, ironically fought July 1-3, 1863, just 87 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The press has been full of all sorts of features about it. One of the moving ones is this photo essay from The Atlantic. It's a mix of photos of the real deal and from a reenactment that took place last week on the site.

The crucial difference in the photos, of course, is that the "dead" reenactors get to pull their faces out of the dirt, get up, go home and go back to their real lives. Those dead soldiers in the black and white photos—not so much.

This battle is labeled as "the high water mark of the Confederacy." It was the Confederacy's last, best chance of winning the war, and the Army of Northern Virginia came very close to pulling it off. It was a much nearer thing than we tend to remember. History is written by the winners, but sometimes the losers' voices are just as eloquent, if not more so. Consider this little meditation on Pickett's Charge by William Faulkner, one of the finest writers of the 20th century, a native of Mississippi.

"For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it's still not yet two o'clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it's all in the balance, it hasn't happened yet, it hasn't even begun yet, it not only hasn't begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armistead and Wilcox look grave yet it's going to begin, we all know that, we have come too far with too much at stake and that moment doesn't need even a fourteen-year-old boy to think This time. Maybe this time with all this much to lose than all this much to gain: Pennsylvania, Maryland, the world, the golden dome of Washington itself to crown with desperate and unbelievable victory the desperate gamble, the cast made two years ago."
— William Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust

Although the quote is lurking in my copy of the book somewhere, this was sourced from Before It's News.Com

And finally, two bits from our resident humorist Joe Kaulfersch. "Who Wants to Marry a Software Engineer" and a math riddle.