Necessity of Life Celebrated

I am informed by my daily email from the Britannica folk that today is the birthday anniversary of Frederich Wilhelm Bessel who developed Bessel functions. 

As is well known, Bessel functions are necessities of life and are part of the reason that the acalculate are often constipated.


Is it what it is? Is that a palindrome? The answer is a resounding no! Even if one considers it a word palindrome instead of a (correct) letter palindrome, the question mark breaks the symmetry. And I shan’t even comment on the catch phraseness.

The answer to the question is also No! No thing is what it is. There is always higher and lower significance. But don’t tell that to the bogs. They likely won’t comprehend any of that and they will either low like cattle or be irritrated and show their swinish component. And if they do comprehend any of it, they will gore you like a bull. So just leave the bogs in their own pathetic little existences.

On which azimuth, I noted [Link] this weekend that a restart is being attempted with Dungeons and Dragons. Part of the come-on is a freebie volume zero. Back when I was a game player and a member of a game club, there were two major threads or streams: miniatures; and role-playing. The miniatures were then almost exclusively Great Patriotic War and Moderns, both ground combat, and Great War naval. The role playing was about 0.9 D&D and 0.1(-) Treveler. I was mostly a miniatures member. I tried playing a role-playing game once and was quickly disillusioned, bored, and thankfully, killed out; the gamemaster, a psychology graduate student, confided that I was too happy with my reality to want to escape, which also explained why I made a better gamemaster than a player.

I don’t think miniatures gaming is much any more. I can’t find any miniatures gaming in Nawth Alibam except fantasy stuff and not much of that. Not that I really want to get into it again. Crawling about on the floor, strewn with dyed lichens and sculpted, painted styrofoam with toy vehicles and a steel tape is rather a young man’s thing. Besides, I do enough now that FD SCP finds silly and weird without such an addition.

And on the azimuth of weird, I ran across [Link] a bit on a Pew survey on how religious groups are viewed. As far as I can tell the whole thing is rather subjective and perhaps visceral. The results are summarized in the table:

Since they don’t give population numbers we have to guess what the relative densities of these folks are and so the corrected – same excluded – stats seem more revealing. I am not sure whether to be bemused or amused. Probably both. It is amazing that Jews are most esteemed. Perhaps because they are perceived to be the most honorable without being fanatical. And I was surprised that intrusive, antagonistic evangelicals were in the middle of the pack. Are the unseen ones actually kulturny?

And atheists tied with muslims as being cold? Seems a bit of a sweet-sour mix. One thinks of atheists as being rather rational and muslims as berserkers, so maybe the whole thing is a folded distribution and these are the wings? And where are the freethinkers, the people that the evangelicals think are atheists but aren’t? Is this another case of whacked instrument? The probability is non-zero.

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Chosen for Inability

 Back into week in. Temperatures back to almost seasonal modal. Sparse at gym this morning and the weight bouncers were quite restrained. Or late. I am not sure which. The podcast, an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” dealt with the relgionist idea of being “chosen”. I won’t dignify this with much discussion since it is derivative from the question of the degree of interaction of the deity and peripherally with “free will”, but I did find the whole thing to be rather tiringly extro. 

Along that azimuth, I note [Link] that James Garner is discorporate. I am saddened. But the opportunity presents for me to discuss actors and acting a bit. In my taxonomy, evolved from personal observations, there are three types of actors: bad; good; and excellent (or great.) Bad actors’ acting is actually painful. But the difference between good and excellent actors is rather extreme. An excellent actor is absorbed by one, perhaps two roles. A truly excellent actor will only have one role and be unemployed (or bad) the rest of his existence. Carrie Fisher is a sterling example. She owned Pricess Leia and never did anything after worthy of attention.

Garner is either excellent or near excellent. His role as Charley the dog-robber was his great role. It carried the film and made the goodness of the other actors believable – most of the time. His role as the principal Maverick in the television series is near-excellent. Certainly the other actors are unmemorable. But the rest of his roles are poor things that are little better than cheap Halloween costumes. And, yes, I know that is at odds with the awards committees but it just illustrates that awards are stercus.

And while we’re on this rejection of delusion and false authority, I note [Link] that work at U Nevada Gambling indicates that students who do not do maths coursework from the get-go in college have a reduced probability of matriculation. My first reaction to this was to consider if this is another datum indicating the natural superiority of geeks and nerds over bogs? (Keeping with the initial theme. B])

But on reflection I recall how most of the people I ended up tutoring in maths were upperclasspeople. They were people who were majoring in “blue serge” stuff like journalism or education or home economics, among others, and had postponed passing college algebra until the end of their attendance. And that trivial course that I placed far beyond was indeed very hard for those people. Even with my tutelage, about half of them failed and left college sans degree. Which seems appropriate, for they were truly acalculate, not even at the maths level of signing an “X” for their name. 

That seems harsh, and would be considered socially unjust or racist or some such today, but these were not deprived people. They were not furriners or minorities or such, they were the chosen people of Amerika – Euro-American, Christianist, and at least middle class. And they couldn’t do sophomore high schule maths. So they didn’t deserve to matriculate, at least from a university that said they had to pass college algebra. You also have to be corporate to graduate and this was about as similar a circumstance as conceivable. 

But part of their problem was that they waited. And by waiting they became less adaptable, less able to learn. At least I hope that was the situation. They also suffered from a lot of arrogance, some so much that I refused to tutor them. Which got me in hot dihydrogen oxide with the tutoring people because they didn’t like being told the cream of the Greek community were asshats. 


I have tried to read economics books. The usual result is somewhere in the first third of the book I throw it to the floor, stomp on it, and take it to the used book store for credit. The problem is always maths.

Consider the following. Drag force ~ – (coefficient) * velocity^exponent where exponent is usually on [1,2]. In classical, Newtonian mechanics, the one-dimensional problem can be solved analytically but the two- and three-dimensional problems cannot.

Economics practice is equivalent to using the one-dimensional solution in the three-dimensional world just “because it’s soluble.”


Simple Models

Gad! Rather a hectic day yesterday but today seems to be starting better. No precipitation but a mediumness of fog. At least, I think the extinction coefficient through the clumps was one per kilometer or more.

I find I have a bit of catching up to do so I shall start with a cartoon: [Link]

that struck me as rather strangely relevant. FD SCP and I still subscribe to a "paper" newspaper, the Arab Tribune, [Link] which is delivered by the Yankee government postal service on Wednesdays and Saturdays. It is not really a newspaper, more of a gossip sheet. But we gave up on the Huntsville Times back when they couldn’t maintain reliable delivery.

And yes, I do get all sorts of information on the internet via a couple of different services and RSS feeds. But the primary reason I purchase the paper is that I won’t pay for an electronic newspaper. Not sure why, but I won’t. Perhaps it violates my mind model of the internet. The internet is supposed to be egalitarian; information is supposed to be free, whatever that means. But for me it means you provide me with material product or no pictures of dead Yankee politicians (and Andrew Jackson, of course.)

I suspect there is another reason. I doubt I would read the Tribune on-line. I read it now to get that task done. It takes me about ten minutes for ten (at most) pages. The reductionist would say one minute per page but I don’t read it all. Maybe a few news articles and advertisements but no sports and gossip. Unless FD SCP tells me to on the latter. But no sports. Which gets to why I won’t read it on-line. Once on line the gibble is going to increase and I won’t want to mostly pay for such. Maybe with a cafeteria system where I can pay for what I want which isn’t the gossip and the sports.

But what makes this strange is the question the kid asks. Not the asking part but the telling part. What kind of bairn is interested in news? I certainly wasn’t at that age and I don’t think my friends were. Nor was my daughter interested in news. I’m not sure she is not. Happily we haven’t ever suffered from that social activist mind rot thing.

The other cartoon: [Link]

that came to my attention did so because it is so deliciously mixed. It conveys the primary problem of communications between bogs and nerds. Bogs don’t so much use language as abuse it. And we nerds usually are slow replying because we have to compute the probable meaning and intent of the gibble the bogs emit. One example of this is the erroneous use of geeky when nerdy is the proper word.

The sad part is that the bogs are rather too dim to understand how they are "wrong" and hence will never correct their behavior. And, of course, we nerds know that we are "right" and have no need to alter ours.

Film at Eleven.

Return of the Jeddack

To quote someone whose name I cannot recall, "I’m back!" The last few days have been quite trying.

Sadly it has been such a blur that I can’t recall dates too well, but basically, I did an update on Kubuntu and did the required restart. That’s when things went from mediocre and annoying to flaming pit of Tartarus bad. Basically I got advised that the system couldn’t find the boot sector or several other sectors. I ran repair and finally, after a liter or so of perspiration, got the system to boot and immediately was confronted with the direst SMART warning I have ever seen. According to that, my hard drive was breathing its last.

This is not the first time this has happened. It’s the third. Once with Ubuntu running KDE and Unity, twice with Kubuntu running just KDE. So yes, the correlation is that KDE or some foible of (K)Ubuntu is to fault. Happily I don’t store anything on my OS HD in the way of data than I have to. (There’s also this thing under Ubuntus that the data drive periodically (?) loses its permissions and I have to reset them.) So I decided that I needed to expand the range of the experimentation.

I went into the corpus and extracted the old HD, still bright and shiny but with really RED SMART indicators and implanted a new, smaller HD. Incidentally, it is getting harder and harder to find small (100-500 Mb) hard drives. And I switched from Kubuntu to Debian Wheezy. Still running KDE because I do like my eyecandy. (Hey, I’m an ORF. I have an inalienable right to moose heads and antimacassars!) And that has been a bit of an experience.

I have always been told by colleagues that Debian is a somewhat stogy distribution favored by power users. The last few days have given me great insight into this. Or at least, more insight than I would have liked. The stogy is demonstrated by the lack of "APT-ADD-REPOSITORY" from the catalog of Python scripts. The distro also installed without either an app store or a discrete package manager. Right there about half of my vectors of working with repositories were in a null space.

Happily, I could add Synaptic and Apper is better than Manjaro’s Octopus (or whatever it’s called?) But finding repositories has proven to be harder than Livingston to find. And the version is a bit antiquated, at least compared to the Ubuntus. I can’t even install Typecatcher because the library won’t support it. And it is still using FF 17. Which is great because I want to use ScribeFire old version. Although I am using Blogilio now and it’s actually got spell check which I have NEVER seen before in any other distro.

I keep think of Goethe and his "That which does not kill us makes us stringer." Definitely applicable. I now have a growing appreciation of how the Ubuntus are for nebishes and wimps, and I don’t mean particles in the latter. Shuttleworth is definitely a democrud. One of the "I’m an aristocrat and everyone else is mentally incompetent" variety.

Anyway, maybe now I can get back to issuing some blots. They won’t be any better, but my Heinlein sense has been renewed.