Stray in gym this morning. And the podcast episodes not at all bad. Although a SCIENCE segment on the nature of Chinese censorship of social media was most revealing. And encouraging. Paternalistic, but encouraging. Which fits with the better aspects of Chinese society. 

I ran across this cartoon: [Link]

recently and it rather reminded me of why I am quite happy, as an ORF, not to have to talk to politicians very often. What they see as important – usually their re-election – and what I see as important are pretty well orthogonal. And they really don’t want to talk about my interests.

Also, the nature of our speech is different. Politicians talk a lot with very little content. My speech tends to be the opposite: little talk, lots of content.

Mundane Maunderings

I had barely retired last evening when the electron potential became indifferent. From the sound a transformer got whacked, possibly an afterblow of the storms of late afternoon. Mostly wind, no dihydrogen oxide fall that I noted. Uncomfortable night as a result, and then this morning the noise of snorkel lorries outside. Finally te potential difference was restored just as I was leaving for gym.

Fair session there. Unpleasantly reminded next Mundane day is a holy day, at least for the gym staff. But the educationalists and weight bouncers were restrained. And the podcast, an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” on color, third in a series, finished off that horrible glob of boring. I say again, there are seven colors and all the rest either aren’t or are shades. And purple is a shade even if it will get you discorporated. . 

This is obviously a foul time for the infliction of organization, whether that be a gym staff that doesn’t want to be present, which would be all right if they would issue key cards,or the Greater Metropolitan Arab Electron Uncooperative which might oughta be called the Incompetency? 

I suppose I should be grateful that they got the power restored as rapidly as they did. After all, it was only about eight hours. 

Now I go to see the damage in the electro-thermal temperature reduction cabinet. 

STEM NERD Writing 5

Better. There was wind this morning. So the constitutional was a bit nicer. And I had occasion to consider composition some more. Following on the previous blot it occurred that some cogitation had to be put onto examinations.

Examinations in college are a bit different than those in high schule and previous. They tend to be rather a bit more formal and seldom take less than the whole class period. (Yes, in some of those weird two hour classes there would sometimes be a one hour exam, and always the second half of the class. Evolution in action.) They also tend to be a bit more frenzied. After all, in college there is no one demanding that the majority pass. You are on your own to survive. 

At this point I should invoke Chad Orzel’s taxonomy: type 1 courses are those where you read the text before class and discuss what you read in class; type 2 are where you go to class to learn how to read the text after class. Type 1 courses are basically composition courses: essays and the like; type 2 courses are basically problem solving, some theorem proving, courses. Their exams are a bit different. Exams in type 1 courses generally have a composition component, either an essay or answers to discussion questions where composition is graded. Exams in type 2 courses tend to be problem solving courses where elaboration of steps is critical. This latter is still composition, at least in the nerd sense, but completely different from the former. 

Obvious differences in the two tend to be physical. Exams in type one courses were written in what were – in my college days – called “blue books”; a booklet of 8-12 ruled pages, about 6″ x 9″ with a blue paper cover. The cover usually was printed with the college name and designated places for student and course name. Exams in type 2 courses were written in “green books”; a booklet of 8-12 pages ruled on front, gridded on back, about 9″ x 12 with a green paper cover, similarly printed. Type one exams were usually written in ink, usually BIC ball points in my day; type 2 exams were always written in pencil. And one always carried a separate eraser. I was partial to Pink Pearls.

Part of this difference is that maths – problem exposition – need more white space than words. Also maths had to be checked whereas words were graded in part on neatness.  

The point, since I have done rather a drunkard’s walk here, is that exams were a primary influence on composition. They were similar to note taking except that the information had to originate between the ears. But the same skills that one had to develop in note taking were in play here as well. 

STEM NERD Writing 4

Not a bad morning. Decent if a bit too high temperature and absence of wind in the park but constitutional was bearable. And the podcast was endurable. But it did put me back on the subject of composition and mindlessness but along a different azimuth.

Back when I was in high schule, I was asked to make the halftime public address announcements for the schule band at (American) football half time. I had never done this and actually did not care for any form of athletics but especially spectator sports. Not that I minded the effort of athletics but I disliked the vicariousness of the spectator aspect, the contrived, artificial, meaningless importance of the competition, and the noxious festivity. It was therefore fitting in later life that mu daughter would be a cheerleader.

But I did like the band. Not the marching part. That detracted from the music but it often seemed that the only reason the band existed and music was taught at all in high schule was because of athletics. So I agreed. I then took very exacting notes of what I needed to cover and wrote myself out a script. And when the appointed time came and I was at the microphone, which I discovered had a noticeable latency, I discovered that I could NOT read my script. My handwriting was too poor for me to read it with divided attention.

I did learn from the experience. Primarily to make sure my legibility matched the attention I could afford. And I never tried to announce again. In fact, as soon as I got to college and saw how evil marching band could be, I walked away from that. Leave nonsense like announcements at spectator sports events to bogs, extro bogs at that. With good legibility.

But that lesson with legibility did take root and over the years had to be integrated in the whole idea of composition. In effect, that was the seed of the two part system of composition that I evolved. Write for content and key (type) for legibility (presentation.) Because two different aspects of mindfulness are needed and they should not be mixed.

But high schule never ceases to make me glad I am old.

Political Health

Once more to the edge of week out. This morning a fair constitutional. The weather was clement is a bit muggy and depressing but this after all the month of Augustus and that makes it a downer.

I noted last night an advertisement on the electromagnetic audio-visual receiver of the Democrud candidate  for guvnuh. Several azimuths. The usual political prevarication about jobs. But immediately a challenge over the state’s failure to do adequately in health care, the KEY failing of the state dermatologist and his Repulsian masters. But then he had to blow the WHOLE ting and talk about lottery. Lottery? In a bible thumper state? Has Tartarus had a phase change?

Still, I have high hopes that he can be elected just so he can stall some of the nonsense coming out of the state’s council of thieves. It has become embarrassing how hard they are trying to reinstate chattel slavery. Especially of women. 

Now I expect a lot of christianist harassment and nonsense in this state. It’s the price we pay for clean air. No, I can’t defend the logic but we do have good air and we do have nasty religionist fanatics. I await them any day starting to do head choppings. 

But I don’t like being dragged back into the nasty days of religionist totalitarianism. I know we have been a third world state in Alibam for years but this is getting really bad. 

I also find it amusing that the choices for guvnuh are two has-been physicians. But I do think we are in greater need for care of cancer in the state than acne.

MahJong GUI

Well, I survived the gallop to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill. And the gym was pleasantly sparse this morning. More seniors than educationalists or weight bouncers. Not that any of us seem inclined to much converse this early in morning. Those who rise that early do not waste time in idle noise.

The podcast was an episode of Linux Luddites and the criticism of Canonical, Mark the Mokita, and the abomination that is Unity was delightful, putting my mind to consider the question of tile gui versus the conventional windowed ala Xerox SPARC gui.

I should comment that I do use a tile gui. Or rather, more of an icon gui. Evevry day. After all I do have a “smart” cellular telephone. It is not smart except in the definition that refers to the sensation of a wound. And it is rather painful. The gui is unpleasant, inefficient, and difficult, to say nothing of persistingly contrary. I liken it however to the gui of my HP calculators.

The form factor is quite similar. Even the modern calculators have better keys than the touch pad. I do not try to program either. It is enough struggle to get them to do waht I want without consuming my attention span away from matters of real worth. That, fundamentally, is the problem of til gui. They are so difficult to use that one must be mindful and thus one cannot have other thoughts than working the gui. Such a thing is quite all right for a motorcar or a main battle tank but not a tool. So it fails and thus do all tile gui seem to fail.

I was reading an article the other day on Make Use Of. I don’t have the citation because the article was worse than ground tarrantula hair. The thesis of the article was that everyone should use Winders because the majority did. It was an exaltation of being an asentient, irrational herd nebbish over any degree of individuality. The journalist was definitely a Katarina and I had no desire to spend any time and attention span further.

Is KDE/XFCE/LXDE/MATE/CINNAMON/… perfect? No, but they all are vastly superior – small number divided by zero – to Unity/Metro/Gnome3.