Diet Mumble

I note that having brought the foodstuffs industry to heel on the matter of trans fat, New Yawk City is now bashing them about sodium chloride – salt in the common vernacular, but chemically one of a class.

The real villain is the ionized sodium, not, per se, the chloride ion. It seems that sodium ion (one lost electron) is the most potent of water structuring agents. Evidently lithium is too small, and potassium and the later alkalies too large – in the one case not enough room to accumulate water molecules in the first layer despite the greater ‘surface’ charge density, and the others too large and hence too low ‘surface’ charge density to add many layers. Sodium represents the right combination of charge and ‘surface’ area to attract the greatest number of waters around itself in a heel-to-toe fashion with the negative ends of the water molecules pointing at the sodium ion. A cloud of waters, arrayed around the sodium and in layers, is a detrimental, in many cases, ordering of water. It makes moving the water require more energy as does breaking up the glob.

Just how effective is sodium at tieing up water. Well the atomic weight of sodium is about 23, which means that a mole of sodium has a mass of about 23 g, while water has a molecular weight of 18, so a mole of water has a mass of 18 g. Now rough experimental measurements indicate that a half gram of sodium adds about a half kilogram of water.  That’s about 0.167 mole of sodium and 56 moles of water for a ratio of about 333, which is an approximation of the number of water molecules a single ion of sodium will hang onto.

Now the Yankee government sez citizen-consumers should only ingest about 2-2.5 g of sodium per day. Take off a half gram for what’s in the water you drink, and you are left with 2 g. Divide that over three meals and a snack, say 0.5 g per each. Now try to find a meal with that small amount of sodium. If you eat at a restaurant, you just about can’t unless its a health place. If its a fast food place, forget it! Heck, most hamburgers served have more than a day’s limit.

So, for once, I am siding with the Yankee urban liberals. Living longer to say accurate things about them is the best revenge.

Warning Order

Blogging will be sparse, with high probability, tomorrow through the weekend. FD SCP and I have to go and participate in matriculation rituals of our personal instantiation of the next generation.

I will be traveling with my IBLT but given the varieties of road travel, lodging wireless uncertainty, and what laughingly passes for foodstuff purveyed by commercial restaurants, in addition to Medieval ceremonials and underpaid, inept academics exerting their brief moments of autarkic tyranny it likely to be a random walk with lots of slow transition states antithetical to my wants.

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Jalop Lament

What is it about so many drivers of pickup trucks that they do so with such ineptitude and sloppiness?

Is it because the vehicles are beyond the capacity of humans to direct, or because the drivers have been programmed by too many television action dramas with unreal visual effects, of is it that the drivers suffer from a congenital and/or environmental inadequacy of both intelligence and good sense?

Why is it that these drivers and their vehicles are incapable of staying in lane, or of parking in less than two lined spaces and often three or four? Why is it that continuing to move towards one’s goal with the occasional brief period spent actually somewhere on the road and not striking someone or something is considered not not only acceptable but excellent? And this from people who are not serving military on a mission.

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Academic Journalism

 do know what boobs are also know what Coach isOne of my conceits is reading, or, at least, skimming, the on-line versions of the campus newspapers of my Alma Materi. This is rather had for the campus of the Black Warrior – the Crimson White – and the campus of the Tennessee – the Exponent – because they keep disappearing. Evidently campus journalism in Alibam does not run to the campus newspaper, or perhaps it is the Internet thing?

Anyway, the newspaper of the campus of the Boneyard is a plugger and I read more of it than of the others just from density of availability.

The conceit here is that I read some of the pieces in the newspapers to try to observe the nature of the academic environment. In some ways it has greatly changed, automatic coverage of jocks and Greeks as the epitome of campus celebrities seems to have slacked, but in others it has not. I was therefore attracted to an article by Ms. Colleen Loggins [Link] on campus (female) fashion. The specifics have changed a bit but not the broad strokes.

In her article Ms. Loggins deals with six fashion practices that she is critical of:
Awful trend one: UGG Boots  Yes, I actually know what UGG boots are, and I think they are accurately named, obviously bedroom slippers dignified for outside wear. But I also recall Clarks Desert Boots, Earth Shoes, and Hush Puppies. All seem to point up a commonality – that college students will invent any excuse for being comfortable.
Trend two: Coach I also know what Coach is. I own a couple of Coach belts and I once bought FD SCP a purse for a birthday present. The commonality here is that college students seem to focus on a few hideously expensive things to make a statement with. I suspect it’s also a matter of doting parents overspending on their college attending children.
Trend three: Leggings I know what these are because FD SCP wore some a decade or so ago. Are they back in fashion? Back when I was an undergraduate one of the amusements of young nerds was to watch the coeds walk from the back, observing the harmonic motion of their buttocks (derriere). If the dimensionality of the motion was one or less the coed was too skinny, if the dimensionality was greater than about 2.5, too fat. Leggins make this observation much easier and more accurate. I wonder why women wear them?
Trend four: boobs hanging out I do know what boobs are, thank you. This was not too much of a problem in my day as while bralessness was just getting started, no woman would dream of showing cleavage except in a ball gown. The issue then was the female umbilicus. That was when bare midriffs had come into fashion in sports/leisure wear and whether a coed could display her navel was a matter of great debate. I can recall professors sending baremidriffed coeds back to their dorms to cover up. And, of course, none of the Greek coeds would go around braless or midriff exposed. Such was not ladylike.
Trend five: Jumpers I had to ask FD SCP what a jumper is, and it turns out I know what it is but not the name. It’s the chic version of a mumu. And contrary to what I thought, FD SCP tells me it is not just a sach with head and arm holes cut.
Trend six: formal shorts with tights I know what shorts are, but formal shorts? Do they have a satin ribbon down the outside seam? Back when I was an undergraduate this was not an issue because coeds could not wear shorts on campus except on weekends or traveling to/from home. Definitely not to class. And panty hose were just coming in, much to the disgust of Greek hormone minions whose idea of a Saturday night fun was drunk and sloppy. Tights were something the beatniks in the Arts department wore to dance class.

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My opinion of politicians and politics is not concealed from the readers of this blog. I tend to view them as necessary evils and so long as they are not curtailing our periodically throwing them out and installing some diametrically opposed band of thieves officials who unmake a substantial part of the fettering of the previous bunch I can usually abide them and their own fettering. In short, I heartily subscribe to the idea of micro-revolutions frequently over infrequent blood lettings.

But I find myself these days with a bit of disquietude these days about political fanaticism. Fanaticism is a very ugly thing to me, and I have great familiarity with it having matriculated at the chief fanatic shul of Alibam, the campus of the Black Warrior. I seldom fail to be thankful that I did not pursue any graduate education there. Just yesterday one of my colleagues, Current Density Momentum, pointed out the U. S. News ranking of physics departments. The physics departments of Alibam Polytechnic Institut (my father’s alma mater,) and the campus of the Tennessee were tied for the ranking of ninety-fifth in the Yankee republic; the campus of the Black Warrior was unranked. This, of course, casts poorly upon the current administration of the campus of the Tennessee inasmuch as they are engaged in dutifully following the University system board’s guidance to turn the campus into a party shul fanatic wormball imitation of the campus of the Black Warrior. Rather reminds one of those difficulties years ago with that fellow who wanted a parking place reserved for him at every campus building.

Silly President, don’t you know that only YHWH and the head football coach get that kind of preferment?

But that is not here. As is my want, Tuesday is science podcast day at gym, and among the things I listened to – and I regret I can’t recall the podcast to cite – they discussed the current administration of the Yankee republic initiative to extend broadband throughout the nation. This grabbed my attention since I have been prattling the last few days on the information differences between city dudes and country hicks.

Anyway they were interviewing some pundit who quite obviously had been part of the election apparat of the current chief executive but didn’t get pulled into the administration. It was not clear whether this was because he had the good sense not to be part of the administration or the administration had the good sense not to include him? Given the nature of his remarks I am leaning towards the latter. The fellow was prattling on about the administration’s Internet initiatives and how they are only going to succeed if they ignore all the government rules and regulations about such, and he said something like,

“It you’re not connected, well, then nothing else is important.”

And immediately my attention was riveted.

Beg pardon, this is a (modern) democrat administration, isn’t it? Aren’t these the folks who whine and cry about how (modern) republicans break the laws to govern? I am against fettering more than most, and my opinion of justicers is evolutionally somewhere between pond scum and toe fungus, but those rules and regulations are the product of government and government should be fettered by the same rules as the citizenry-consumerate. Or is this some of that (modern) democrat aristocracy of the inner party, serfdom for everyone else thing?

I was rather glad that this was an audio podcast because I really didn’t want to see what this guy had pained on his chest in adulation of the current chief executive, who obviously gets a reserved parking place at every building. It was very educational. I did not really appreciate that the inside-the-beltway bunch could have this type of fanaticism.

But the extend broadband effort was much more tepid than I would have expected. The statement was a bit stinging as it implied that we out here in the hinterland are sitting about having meaningless sexual congress and picking our noses as we wait for the current administration to bring us truth, justice, and enlightenment – and that if the whole thing is a failure it’s no great deal since it’s only the useless hinterland that is lost and it’s a wasteland now anyway. Gee, what’s next? Gifts of smallpox laced blankets? Forced removals to Oklahoma?

I admit I am an introvert, and probably a bit Asperger’s, and I like being able to communicate by ‘net. But I hate robot telephone machines and if I pick up the phone and there’s one on the other end I hag up unless it’s a necessity. And the primary reason I buy stuff on the ‘net is because MalWart has driven the retail business in Greater Metropolitan Arab into oblivion and unless I can make do or will do, with the stercus that MalWart unloads on its consumer slaves, that is my only choice too many times.

We have a society out here in the hinterland and it is based on people, not electrons and bits. And I like it better than the 24/7 connectivity of the coastal urban liberal. I tried that back when I was in the service of the Yankee republic, and I have a word for that type of connectivity: a coffle.

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Identity Evolution

In the wake of all the grrr brrr over MegaHard taking a header, I had some divergence to consider my memories of how we defined ourselves computerly in years past. Back in the dark days of the infolithic age when computers were made out of rocks, we defined what we did with computers by what computer we had: Atari; Commodore; Radio Shack; and then: IBM; IBM clone; and Apple.

We tend to lose sight in all this that what made the transition from the first group to the second was spreadsheeting: first Visicalc; and then Lotus 1-2-3; and then its clones, including EXCEL. It took several years for the other core clients: word processing; data base; and briefing charts. Notably, in those days type of computer IBM (& clones) and Apple were indistinguishable from their associated OS. In fact, for several years until IBM stuttered badly, the DOS made for and sold by IBM was considered superior to the almost undistinguishable MegaHard labeled product.

The advent of the clones gave us a distinction for a while as we talked about which brand: IBM; Radio Shack; Wyse; Zenith;…. that we ran DOS, and if adventurous, WINDOWS, on. Somewhere in that period we moved on to describing ourselves in terms of which processor we were using: 8086, 80186; Clipper (the first one); 80286, …..  This all fell by the wayside when we began to use GUI OS, either Apple or MegaHard, and computer identity was defined by the OS we used. Also, because of the difficulty of using the GUI, coding ground to a halt and the small base client industry evaporated. This was when Megahard seized that market. Up to that point WordPerfect was the master of word processing – it’s still better than WORD, and NASA’s dBase (they were the original developer) succumbed to better structuring. But MegaHard had EXCEL and POWERPOINT, which were better than their competitors because of macros and equations (and other necessities), respectively.

So we began to define ourselves in terms of which OS and office suite and browser we used and this situation was solidified by the concpt of the managed desktop and IT fascism. This was a critical change as it moved us from being adventurous and growing to being reactionary and defensive. And with that sedentaryness, crime – or what we were told should be seen as crime – came into prominance. We went from searching for tools to learning how to use appliances. We shifted from generating results to sifting information. And increasingly, we define what we do and be, computerly at least, by how we sift, and for the few who do, generate, and the tools we use to do that with.

Scant surprise then that while we may still talk about the OS we use on our desk and lap boxes, we don’t talk about the OS on our mobile appliances. All we care is that they work with our lap and desk boxes adequately and do what we want to do. In this environment it is not at all clear that who produces the OS and the clients is even a relevant question any more.

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Dust Bunnies

Clean up of some of the outliers once again. First, I note that MegaHard had a bad first quarter of the year. [Link] They were down compared to first quarter last year.

This is a bit major. It’s the first time MegaHard has taken a decline in sales. They give an excuse of the global recession but that doesn’t quite sound right. Could it be that the fiasco of VISTA has finally come home to haunt, complemented by the changing nature of computer users. That is, users increasingly define themselves in terms of what they do on a computer and what clients they use to do those things.[1] As a result, what OS you use is not defining, especially now with virtualization making cross OS clientage more common.

I read in Matt Asay’s blog/column [Link] that this dip is due to MegaHard buying its dominance in the netbook (itty-bitty-lap-top) market at savage cost in revenue, a sort of economic empire overterritorializing. I can’t pose a cogent argument against this, especially since the MegaHard dominance in netbooks is illusory since with the possible exception of Dell, who loads UBUNTU on one of their netbooks, I cannot find anyone who abides the Linux installed by the OEM anyway. So the real numbers of netbooks running something other than Windows are not observable from manufacturing and sales statistics. Indeed, since MegaHard is taking a hit on Windows on netbooks to the point of pricing Windows netbooks less than Linux netbook it only makes sense to purchase a Windows box and do the mind transplant in the time honored fashion for Linux users.

On a close sheaf of that bundle, it seems that it is relatively simple to shoehorn the Apple OS onto that Dell netbook. [Link] This is especially titillating given the recent tantrum pronouncements from Apple executive management (see earlier blot) that Apple doesn’t do netbooks. As before, I am not sure what their ‘air’ series is if not mediocre netbooks. If anything that particular Dell with the MAC OS is a boon for MAC users. They get their OS and clients of choice on a box considerably more capable than what Apple offers for several times the quantity of official Yankee government portraits of dead presidents.

Speaking of boons, it now appears that there are some health benefits to being a weight lifter. [Link] Other than the rather dubious, traditional advantage of permitting old jocks to carry around bigger beer bellies, it now seems that moderate weight training is actually good for you in reducing blood pressure. Afterward, not during, of course. Just don’t celebrate by going out and celebrating that reduction with all sorts of fatty, salty foodstuffs.

Nexy, while we’re on jocks, some research at Temple University [Link] seems to give some insights into their violent inclinations. Seems that they found similar inclinations in band geeks and math club nerds who also stay after shul under less tightly supervised circumstances. It isn’t at all clear how that is a causative, unless it’s a matter of having to repress natural behavior all day long is compensated for with a pendulum swing of violence. I’m also sorry, but that’s not quite enough insight and understanding. Quite frankly, there is no way a band geek or a math nerd is as intimidating and frightening as a jock. I don’t shudder around the other nerds and the bogs at the gym now, long past high shul age; the jocks are still intimidating and they talk about violence consistently. My anecdote trumps your academic study.

Although I do have to admit that a jock with a belly wider and deeper than his shoulders is not quite as frightening as it would be without the belly. But then if it wasn’t for those bellies how we would recognize the athletic heroes of yesteryear? After all,  nerds can be recognized by their eyeglasses and their pocket protectors, and those are lifetime observables. Perhaps old jocks should be required to wear athletic cups and garish helmets, and cheerleaders carry pompoms so that they can be adored in seniority as they were in high shul?

[1]  Tasks and tools? On a computer? But those things are supposed to be appliances, aren’t they?

Web Town and Country

One of my esteemed colleagues, Force Spring Constant, sent me a link to this Wall Street Journal article [Link] on the boon of the eBook. I find little to argue with Mr. Johnson, the author, about on his visions of what an eReader and eBooks should be about and accomplish.

I have prattled previously on what I want in an eReader: 1200 dot-per-inch (pixel-per-inch) screen a full 20 cm x 30 cm, lots of memory, fast processing, lots of storage – many books, and the robustness of an HP-35 calculator. But what riveted me here was the beginnings of what Mr. Johnson had to say,

“I was sitting alone in a restaurant in Austin, Texas, dutifully working my way through an e-book about business and technology, when I was hit with a sudden desire to read a novel. After a few taps on the Kindle, I was browsing the Amazon store, and within a minute or two I’d bought and downloaded Zadie Smith’s novel “On Beauty.” By the time the check arrived, I’d finished the first chapter.”

What grabbed me was this vista of the emerging difference in the Yankee republic, although re-emerging may be a better term, between the 0.51 (ish) of the population that resides in cities and the 0.49 (ish) who live in the country (or, at least, not in the cities.) This is not a new division, the distinction between town and country, between dude and rube, swell and hick, is as old as the beginning of sedentaryness and the abandonment of hunter-gatherer life for agriculture and husbandry. But it is returning in this century in an informational form.

For city people, the ‘net is always there, always accessible as they go about their daily existence. It is everywhere and always. For country people, the ‘net is in certain places, and is only accessible when they are in those places. Despite the advertisements of all the cellular providers, their networks are not ubiquitous, their support not legion, everywhere. For country people, the ‘net is discrete and often sparse.

This has important social, even cultural, differences for town and country. Town people live in the equivalent of a lush, verdant environment; country people live in a desert. Town people view information appliances, like eReaders, as dippers for all they need to do to obtain information is to dip from the fountain; country people view information appliances as canteens that have to get them from oasis to oasis with no source of information in between. What we want our appliances (and tools) to look like is as different as a canteen is from a dipper.

This also has an impact intellectually. How town people see idea/actualization like (e.g.,) ‘Web 2.0′ is entirely different from how country people see it. One sees an ubiquity, a foundation; the other sees a localization, an appendage.

Fundamentally, this is a rich-poor thing, but not based on individual resources. Rather, the metric is of density of people. Where there are many in tight confines, colligative economics makes ‘net come to the people. Where there are few, colligative economics permits only that people come to the ‘net.

Now, anyone want to speculate on whether our elected crooks officials can understand this?

IBLT Coordinates

One of the amusements that I have a perversion for is characterizing organizations in terms of their ‘natural’ coordinate systems. Some organizations appear to have no natural coordinate system, such as the internet, but a bit of study reveals that while it is scaleless, it does have a coordinate system that is arc-and-node (edge-and-node in some parlances) and the two subcomponents have their own interesting characteristics. Military organizations, on the other hand, are rigidly Cartesian and rectilinear officially, but arc-and-node unofficially. The difference in the two has to do with node correlations since one is informational and the other social.

Hence my interest [1] was captured by a ‘blog’ [2] by Information Week minion journalist Michael Hickins. [Link] He quotes the COO [3] of Apple,

cramped keyboards, terrible software, junky
hardware, very small screens, and just not a consumer experience, and
not something that we would put the Mac brand on quite frankly. And so,
it’s not a space as it exists today that we are interested in, nor do
we believe that customers in the long term would be interested in. It’s
a segment we would choose not to play in.”

and he goes on to rather lambaste the fellow for being duplicitous and prevaricative since Apple already makes netbooks (itty-bitty-lap-tops) under some Neuvo Cuisine Rapide alias.

I cannot and shall not improve on his death of a thousand cuts, but I shall weigh in on his claim that netbooks have “terrible software”. My IBLT, an HP-2133 that has has been freed of the bounds of HPs penchant for good hardware and poor software, does admirably, as well or better than my desk box. That is due to be spaying (neutering?) the SLED distribution that came on it (I can only rationalize that decision on the grounds that all other choices from HP were MegaHard stercus) and transplanting SUPER UBUNTU (that’s a version, not a new super hero). As a result, I now have access to the same clients on my IBLT that I have on my UBUNTU deskbox. And I don’t have to put up with the intellectual artery hardening that is the MegaHard and Apple OS.

Incidentally, the natural coordinate system of Apple is either a prolate or an oblate ellipsoidal. Those are the rather strange coordinate systems that act almost spherical at long distances, but are almost whacked in close. The only uses I have seen for this was some special problems in Electromagnetic theory and a single case in molecular Quantum Mechanics (the hydrogen molecule ion, which consumes a chapter in a couple of John Clark Slater’s books; the other uses are occasionally found in textbooks – not John David Jackson’s as I recall but I may be mistaken – usually Russian, as it gives them an opportunity to show off their drawing skills honed over the long winters.) And, of course, describing the Apple organization.[4]

[1] No, not quite the “I” word, not the gerund indicating a state of general enfoldment for everyone except the epsilons of our ‘Cowardly Evolving World’, but a matter of personal attraction and consideration and hence Jesuitically acceptable under my own rules.
[2] Yes, I am harping on that old thing that it almost certainly isn’t a ‘real’ blog if a journalist is writing it, and it definitely isn’t a real (no quotes) real blog if the blogger gets paid for it. Perhaps we need a special term for paid (pretend) bloggers? How about ‘jorgers’? Or ‘blogists’? Hmmmmm.
[3] COO = Chief Operating Officer, which translates to me as the chief administrative lackey who has been given excessive power in generally mucking up the performance and effectivenesss of an organization in the strident and screeching (think spoon lip on the base of an aluminimum saucepan, both of the cheapest possible manufacture and retail price) apologia, an autark of the most tyrannical and negative bent. Also, an ACRONYM pronounced in a manner to indicate association with city street pigeons whose most positive contibution is fecal matter underfoot.
[4] Physical connection. Some species of apple have two seeds corresponding to the elliptical foci.

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