Tonin Tuesday

I have to admit to disliking this time of year; it’s when I get a draining of the sinuses and it is rather hard to maintain a positive outlook on reality when that reality has the taste of mucus.

I noted an article yesterday [Link] about some work at U Cambridge that links serotonin levels with control of anger. Apparently when the concentration of serotonin is low, control is diminished as well. This rings rather accurate, most folks who have had anesthesia complain of frustration and alienation. Of course if you have surgery and are incarcerated and swaddled for a while, anger is a natural response.

Speaking of folks who have anger as a natural response, another article [Link] about work at U Haifa indicates that exposure to LED light bulbs (more blue light!) reduces melatonin levels and thereby messes up the body’s clock. According to another article [Link] on partisan (?) statistics, Tea Party members are twice as likely to not want to give up their incandescent light bulbs as the national average. Sounds like it might be a case of ‘tried it, made me angry, gonna take my toys and go home.’

Now I am not a fan of these new light bulbs. The flicker in the florescents gives me a migrane, and the LEDs have too much sticker shock built in. But I would gladly live with that if we could do away with political parties. They definitely reduce my serotonin level.

Patent Overload

We have apparently reached that portion of the year when the boundary between summer and fall becomes uncertain and insecure, when it is long sleeve shirt weather  one day and short sleeve the next. The weather beavers are displaying enormous variance in their projections often from hour to hour, definitely from day to day.

I noted yesterday an article [Link] about the current chief executive signing a new patent reform act. It did not seem to get much play although it did get mentioned on one of the news casts this morning that I espied at gym. When I examine what the act does it seems rather too little, perhaps too late. It is supposed to accelerate the processing of patent applications, which does not engender much confidence in the system increasing stability. And other than that it is not at all clear what benefit there is other than perpetuating government for the sake of business.

From one perspective the problem with patents is much like the problem with laws. We simply have too many. I have commented previously that we have enough laws on the books that everyone violates at least one each day with probability one. The result has been that the constabulary has become completely haphazard and the legal system subjective. We are almost at the point where bribery would actually improve the efficiency of the system.

So while we also have too many patents, the problem there is not absence of application but excessive application. Much is made of the crustless sandwich patent which happily is not applied very much, otherwise we should see hired guns invading family kitchens to make sure that [arents do not send their children off to school with paying a few for removing the crusts. Only in those places where children are required to eat cafeteria lunches would sanity be maintained?

This seems to be the way of large business organizations these days, litigating and counter litigating over conflicting patents. In a word of Edsel technology increasingly distinguished by Potemkinism, look and feel patents seem to be the rot that consumes Amerikan commerce. It would seem that what we need are not faster patent reviews, which are going to be shoddier and produce more of this sort of thing, but fewer patents. If the chamber of thieves would just reduce the duration of a patent to half, with no extensions, then this would abate considerably. And perhaps in the process Amerikan business would get back to business and away from diversion.

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Word Association

I ran across this cartoon [Link]

and it triggered my own musing on LOL.

I suspect it serves a purpose in text communications, but it has become rather trite and hackneyed. That apparently is not a dissuasion for the bogs of GEN Y? 

I also tend to associate LOL with ‘loll”,


Loll  1. To act lazily or indolently; to recline; to lean; to throw one’s self down; to lie at ease; as, to loll around the house on a lazy summer day.  2. To hand extended from the mouth, as the tongue of an ox or a log when heated with labor or exertion.  3. To let the tongue hang from the mouth, as an ox, dog, or other animal, when heated by labor; as, the ox stood lolling in the furrow.

and from there to the idea of decapitation.  Somehow that also seems to track with bog overuse, especially the absence of brain function.

I never cease to be amazed that almost all of us have a better self-image than that perceived by those around us.

The Pervasiveness of Guilt

No blot yesterday. FD SCP had me on a constrained trajectory doing stuff for her so my attention span didn’t get anywhere near this editor. As a result, I have a bit of catching up to do today.

First, I may as well be one with the mob. Seems the folks at the Hahvahd-Smithson Center fer Astrofizzie have found a planet orbiting a double star. [Link] There is no clear statement of whether the planet orbits around both stars or around each successively (sorta). This is evidently a rather big deal with the Star Wars sect since it confirms some aspect of their dogma.

On a different sky, it seems that the MegaHard militia will change the Blue-Screen-Of-Death in W8. [Link] I recently commented on how W8 is following in the footsteps of Gnome 3 and Unity by turning itself into a cellular telephone GUI, but this is a bit different. I have to quote from the article

“The Windows 8 BSOD still features the traditional white text message on a soothing blue screen, but has been updated to read: ‘Your PC ran into a problem that it couldn’t handle, and now it needs to restart.'”

Although it clearly wasn’t meant this way, I have to take this a a superb example of galgenhumor. Let’s start with the “soothing blue screen”. Soothing the BSOD is NOT. It is jarring, intimidating, frustrating, frightening. I have known it to reduce executives to quivering slime mold and tranquil, staunch clerical folk to berserkers, absent the woad except around the eyes. No one is unaffected by it. Even the most caustic and cynical of ubernerd experiences a moment of uncertainty as they reboot.

Sadly, this is part of MegaHard’s perfidy. In almost all instances the message should be that “We have vertically copulated and our OS has backed itself into a corner and fallen into a well (or the La Brea tar pit, or quicksand, or an active volcano) and the only way we can proceed is if you, the stupid but biddable user, will reboot and let us start over.” If we parse this we get: MegaHard did a bad job of writing the OS, it has crashed under its own built-in faults and defects, and you, the human, has to rescue both of us from getting nothing done.

It’s almost always the result of a deliberate flaw in the tool, a deliberate omission from the appliance. And in those instances when it isn’t the fault of the OS, it is because something in the hardware has gone wrong and unless you know a very great deal about what the screen has to say, it won;t help you fix the hardware, so you are vertically copulated. Occasionally, very occasionally, it results from some human thing, like dumping hot coffee on the motherboard and causing a major rupture although this is rare. Usually when a human does something like this you don;t get BSOD, you get black cloud of smoke.

This is why I walked away from Winders. Well, except on FD SCP’s boxes and that is because she does this computerized sewing thing that only executes on Winders, and then only certain flavors (although I do have to admit to thinking of them as quarks distinguished by differences in strangeness – physics humor!) and I can’t try using WINE or a virtual machine because the software licenses cost more than a baby delivery but for myself, give me Linux or give me something other than Winders. (With apologies to Patrick Henry.) Since changing to Linux I have had no, that’s zero, instances of the equivalent of the BSOD. Yes, my OS has turned to jello but it was my fault, not its. But if I don’t dink with the interstices, it works fie. The GUI may be obnoxious, but then so will be Winders.

And lastly, we have a lovely piece [Link] that raises the question of whether the humans who styaed at ‘home’ in Africa may also have been part of the miscegenation mashup? No wonder the religionists rail and shout so much on the matter, it’s programmed into us and is a fact of existence.

On which note, I go to do other things.

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Spaghetti Eastern – the Cool and the UnCool

Kraken day again. And the coolness of yesterday – a thankful change – is abating. But with week out intruding it has become time to begin to clean out tabs and emit a potpourri of blog flatulence.

As I was frequenting a computer information web site the other day – figuring out how to mount hard drive #2 during boot – I came across an article on the forthcoming Windows 8. [Link] Now I don’t pay a lot of attention to Windows any more, mostly dealing with FD SCP’s machines – she has to use Windows because of her sewing engagement but that software is still wedded to WXP and V. I did have to upgrade her to W7 on her latest desk box, more because the refurb I had back stocked for her when I deployed her previous came with W7 installed and I was being sorta lazy. Anyway, since all she does on her desk box is the usual email/browsing/notes/spreadsheets stuff and some data management for the sewing, and the latter are mostly third party clients not coded in Sweden by the sewing machine manufacturer and hence more widely compatible, generally no problem other than the general frustration of W.

Since Mozilla has moved to a rolling update cycle and their products – FireFox and ThunderBird in my case – don’t work right most of the time because the add-ins I use are fractured if not decomposed I have been having nightmares about FD SCP’s sewing software. This software is in the same anal retentive category as CAD clients and some proprietary database systems in that it has a dongle. So I am not permitted, by grace of righteous paranoia, from trying to get that software running in WINE or in a virtual machine running W of some flavor so that I could do maintenance more easily. But because the software costs more than the machine, even with W included, I don’t get to play with it. So I have to try to do maintenance on her W machines without whacking her sewing clients which themselves are whacking W so that we have to go through major commotion every six months or so of disinstalling the sewing clients so I can reinstall W and then she can reinstall the sewing clients.

Anyway, the article – yes, back to that! – indicates that W8 will have the same whacked tiling metaphor that Unity and G3 have. I think it can be turned off, which is more than G3 and Unity do, but that isn’t stated very explicitly. Now I have to admit that this tiling stercus may work acceptable on cellular telephones and bog tablets but on a work box? Or is work no longer the reason we use a computer. Have they become merely appliances of entertainment? Have we evolved beyond the keyboard and mouse?

I realize that it will likely be some time before the sewing machine coders get near W8, unless they decide to skip W7. After all, the folks who do computer sewing are not IT wonks. But I do fear that when this tiling nonsense finally hits FD SCP’s sewing machines she is either going to take it in stride (which will be a surprising outcome) or comes to pieces and I have to be the glue gun (the likely outcome) and I have already rejected this tiling for as long as I can get away with. In fact, I am busy now setting up a machine with Mint on it. Just so I can keep G2. And I have my experimental box running XFCE, which is not as good but may devolve to my option.

But Windows serfs don;t have those choices. Not that I think MegaHard will cut off their senior base wen they are slipping in market share so many places. But the lemmings are definitely loose in the IT world.

On the subject of tablets, I also ran across an article [Link] purporting to poll on whether tablet android is a success or failure. This also struck me as some editor needing filler and wanting to snag unwary bogs. Let’s see, android tablets are now what, 0.2 of market share? Assuming that cumulative sales are a meaningful representation of that quantity, which is a bit doubtful, and the (free) android app marketplace is something like 5 times as large as Apple’s for its iPud? And since HP committed seppuku with its tablet isn;t android all that stands between Apple and the total collapse of free civilization? Isn’t just asking the question a bit heretical – ‘those who watch over Israel’ – in its formulation? Or is it that the editors of this particular rag are closet fruitphiles?

And no, I haven’t really bought a tablet since I haven’t really gotten a meaningful list of what I am going to do with it, especially since I found out the clients stutter once one gets out into the bandwidth desert that is the Amerikan hinterland, but its on my maybe-gonna list. Right after the price for capability gets below my sicker shock level.

The whackedness of this particular eRag is further demonstrated by an contemporaneous article [Link] entitled “Five future technologies I can’t wait for”. The problem is that these are all current technologies that are in some stage of a manufacturing and deployment process. So either the folks who do these articles don’t know what a technology is, which would not be surprising given the advice of James Burke, or they don’t understand deployment, which would also not be surprising of pseudo-geek journalists (or politicians), or they are just flat out prevaricating. I leave the selection as an exercise to the reader.

Lastly, there is an article [Link] from Inside Higher Education (that’s a warning!) from an academic entitled “When do you stop being cool?” Leaving aside the obligatory physicist whine about what cool is, which falls into the same stupidity category as fraction slower, we can accept that cool is a social concept that transcends real measurement.

The thesis is that at some point in the aging process, one ceases to be ‘cool’. Speaking as a physicist, introvert, and nerd, who tries very hard to practice Feinman’s dictum of not caring what anyone else thinks, I have only alienated exterior interest in coolness and its perception by others, especially bogs who are likely asentient to begin with. Besides, physicists are, manifestly, over-the-hill by 30 so the perception of cool by others is highly unlikely since we have been hidden away doing great deeds for the decade prior.

However, given that the author is a luvvie in discipline and most of her students are bogs – except for the occasional nerd entrapped by the elective requirements of degree – one can understand concern for cool. After all, as an educator – as opposed to an educationalist – one has to be concerned with engaging the attention and interest of students and that does require a certain degree of cool. Happily in physics, the subject itself is cool, and anyone who doesn’t think so needs to drop or be satisfied with a ‘D’ or ‘F’. But things aren’t that way on the luvvie side of campus. (And they are increasingly not that way on the nerd side, much to our detriment and the destruction of our civilization!)

The question I like to pose to folks who bring up things like this are a choice question: would you rather stay as you are or be young again but know what you know and have to start over in society at an age appropriate place? Those with smarts and intelligence always opt for retention of sameness. Besides, it is possible to retain cool – and exaggerated self-doubt.

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Job Training

Normally, I am not a fan of the Wall Street Journal. It is arrogant, referring to everyone as ‘Mister’ regardless of the ‘correct’ form of address, and they operate on the snide fiction that the only worth of anything is monetary. Nonetheless, I stumbled across an article [Link] the other day about the poor track record of the Yankee government in running ‘jobs programs.’ Since I worked for Yankee government for over three decades and got exposed to some of these programs, my attention span was captured and some cogitation occurred.

In my experience there are two types of government ‘jobs programs’, the distinction being whether the jobs being trained for are/are not government jobs. My experience with the latter is less, and primarily as an observer, so I’ll retire that type first. In this type of ‘jobs program’, the government sets up some sort of training program for the young and/or unemployed for some perceived job in the private sector. These are usually craft type of jobs, which is at the root of a large part of their failure. The interaction with the private sector is the other.

The Yankee government usually does not conduct these programs itself, but pays someone else, a state government or a training corporation, to conduct them. Since the figure of merit is usually number of people put through the program and not number of people put through the program who get a job using the training and keep the job for five years or so, the incentive is to graduate a lot of people. Since the money is fixed, this translates into less training. And this tends to make the folks who get the training less competitive in the market.

The other difficulty is the interaction with the market organizations. In the good programs, the Yankee government has surveyed corporations to identify what skills they have need of, but usually doesn’t obtain any commitment of how many folks they will hire. So it’s strictly a wish list. Oh!, and they usually don;t ask the unions if they will accept the credentials. So it’s also a crap shoot and the dice are loaded.

Anyway, combine the two and maybe 0.1 of the folks who graduate from these programs are working at what they were trained at five years later.

The other type of ‘jobs programs’ are the ones run by the Yankee government to fill its own needs. These appear to do better, largely because it is harder to flunk out. You have to commit a crime while you’re in the program is about the only way. And learning is largely optional.

There are basically two types of programs: those that tack on top of degree programs – intern programs – and those that are for jobs unique to government. The former have hideously high standards of entrance and somehow manage to produce abysmal workers. Unless you’re in the top 0.1 of your class in a university rated by the Yankee government as being in the top 0.1 of national universities, you don’t get picked for the program. So the people who get picked are smart enough to know that they can get a job anywhere they want and what the Yankee government will pay is the least they can expect. So they get through the program with the minimum of effort – which is VERY minimum – and go work elsewhere as soon as they can. The program is a ticket punch for the resume. And the only ones who stay are those who are so bad they can’t get jobs elsewhere.

The programs that prepare folks for unique government jobs are pretty good. They will take anyone who walks in and doesn’t have too much of a criminal record. Flunk out is pretty high but the folks who get through do pretty well because they know this is the best they can do. Evolution in Action. But the fact remains that the jobs these people are after are not nice but are critical. So if you do good you have a good chance of getting promoted and keeping the job. And if you don’t you either go to jail or you get transferred somewhere that even the living is nasty.

Are they worth it? Not from the Wall Street Journal’s point of view. But we have to remember that is a parasitic point. And they do hire a lot of folks from Yankee government intern programs. Brer Rabbit anyone?

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Math Malady?

The transition is already annoying. Temperature range is too much, cool, almost cold to August acclimated sensitivities, in the morning but too warm, hot, in the afternoon. Apparently the “Quirks and Quarks” folks are back from vacation since an episode downloaded saturday. We’ll see if they’re still good enough to retain; anyone who can be gone that long has to be very good or their get a much longer vacation.

The episodes today were science stuff. The primary one was the SCIENCE podcast which primarily had to do with Australopithecus Sediba and making new elements. The relationship was hard to avoid even though the quality of the content was less than desirable. The question keeps recurring of what is the intended audience? Nerds, geeks, or bogs?

This is not a hard question for most science podcasts. They are clearly aimed at the high end of bogs and the low end of geeks, but SCIENCE is a bit of another animal. But it is very frustrating at times in its dilution of information. Today was one of those times.

The message presented was that A. Sediba is a mixed bag of human and ape features that sets up the entry conditions for genus homo, but the rhetoric behind this message didn’t do a very good job of substantiating, leading to the question of who the podcast is aimed at. I suspect the problem is that the folks doing the podcast aren’t nerds and the dumbing down seeps in from them. Not that they don’t do a very good job of making the podcast a lot less talking down than a lot of other science podcasts, like the ones from public radio.

The matter of nerds communicating nerdery to bogs is a big topic of discussion these days that I tend to view in a somewhat jaundiced, cynical lens. Back when I was a bairn, this sort of thing wasn’t discussed very much and it was very well done. The latter may explain the former because today the thing isn’t done well at all and it is unclear why.

When I was reading those nerdery-to-young-human books, they didn’t come across as talking down. Yes, some of them did but they got discarded quickly and were ineffective. But there were plenty of good ones that talked simply but straight. Some were written by nerds but most were written by folks who we might think of as geeks today. What made them different appears to be that they wanted to write these types of books and they were good at it. The latter seems a given in that even then publishers wouldn’t publish if it wasn’t good, although sometimes I think modern publishers may have lost this as well? What I can’t estimate is the former. Do the folks who write this stuff really want to or is it just a job? I tend to lean to the second theory.

Nowadays this seems to have gotten lost. I see lots of propaganda that nerds, all nerds, have some social obligation to evangelize nerdery to the heathen bogs. It smacks all too much of the worst types of religionism. But more particularly, it is wrong headed. The premise is that any nerd can engage any bog. Most nerds I know fail in engaging other nerds. And a poor engagement is, IMHO, worse than no engagement at all. So I mostly keep my vocal apparatus unengaged.

I did notice on the audio-visual electromagnetic receiver this morning a bit of a discussion about a shirt

with “Allergic to Algebra” on it. I am unsure of whether this is anti-nerdery or an admission of handicap. I rather hope the latter but I fear the former. This is entirely too fitting with the who Amerikan thing of you-won’t-use-algebra-after-high-school, which rather turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy (or handicap) because if you don’t learn algebra in the first place, you can’t use it. And with a current generation that can’t even make change, being acalculate is pretty much human, which is a reversal of what A. Sediba is supposed to have indicated.

Bad as it is to admit, this makes it almost seem that modern humanity is evolving away from intelligence. Maybe even sentience?

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Decade Theatrics

Back to the in week routine. Gym this morning and an episode of CBC’s “Best of Ideas”, this one dealing with the memories of a woman biologist who specialized in giraffes. Not modal in the least. And the density of educationalists low, making this a good session.

Frankly, after yesterday I needed some calm. Overall, I found myself identifying with the Doonesbury cartoon, which was the only one among my regulars who criticized the media for exhibitionism, which was extreme. I also came across a PEW poll [Link] that seemed not at all at odds with my own outlook.

I recall where I was that day, and how I felt. Since then I have been exposed to more data dealing with the human and organizational behavior. On the one hand there is much to be honored and respected, on the other much to be criticized and someday eliminated, especially the fascism that has grown up since.

Quite frankly, the sheer bulk of commonality on the audio-visual electromagnetic receiver yesterday was an insult to the memory of the day. By such extreme coverage and redundancy and cacophony, the events of the day and the deeds of the people were belittled and diluted.

This was disappointing but not disillusioning. If anything it was upholding of the basic absence of honesty and integrity, to say nothing of good behavior, of the Amerikan news media. The only thing upheld yesterday by their programming was their own greed and arrogance. But I would rather have had my opinions of that estate not be upheld; rather I would have appreciated some surprise from dignity and compassion, but there was none, only acting and falsehood.

So ten years in, have we forgotten? I think not. As a matter of interest I ran some comparisons of numbers. The loss of human life that day compares most closely, among my data set, to Pearl Harbor. The difference was the ratio of civilian to military. The numbers were much less than Gettysburg or Vicksburg, much greater than Lexington and Concord. The magnitude does not exalt or belittle the event. We cannot forget that everyone discorporates and most are innocent of guilt when they do. A count of deaths is not a measure of the enormity of the deed.

Nor is the amount of self-serving television programming. Memorials are best kept brief and intense, not droning and dulling. Ten years ago was an infamy, yesterday was an embarrassment.

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Lemming Lunges 2

Missed a few so there seem a few more low comments to evacuate.

First, the Emulate A Lemming of the Week Award goes to candidate for chief executive Resistance Packing Fraction for his statement [Link]

“The idea that we would put Americans’ economy at jeopardy based on scientific theory that’s not settled yet, to me, is just nonsense.”

This is what happens when we let a bog, and a politician, for that matter, twist things to his own desirements, for while this is what politicians and bogs do, it is still evil and lemmingish. No scientific theory/hypothesis (not that I expect a politician to grok the difference,) is ever settled. But what is rather nasty is the arrogance and selfassurance that permits him to tell us that climate change will have no effect if he ignores and denies it.

I was here in Alibam in April. I have seen the retreat of the ice at the poles. The issue of whether this is anthropocentric or not is a crafty diversion crafted by politicians so they don;t have to do anything, the modern equivalent of Nero playimg music while Rome burns. We can leave for the historians to settle whether soccer moms and the Fortune 500 cooked Tellus at some future date. We need to get to work on countermeasures that are robust enough to not be source dependent.

On a similar azimuth, we have a report of a survey from an untrustworthy corporate entity that half of all computers  have at least one instance of pirated software. [Link] So what? The problem, common to many advertisements as fiction and bogs as confusion, is the difference between value and price. At the moment of commercial transaction, the two are equal and the same. At all other times, they are unknown. Not different, just unknown. Its like Quantum Mechanics, until you collapse the wave function you don’t know what state the system is in. Until you have an honest open market transaction you know neither value nor price. So all this grrr brrr about intellectual property rights is nothing more than opportunism by organizations who want more profit.

The same as the folks behind those commericals that try to tell you the value of something while offering t for sale for less. Same kind of Lemmingism.

The journalist and the proponents of the survey, which is clearly in the service of those corporations, is that half of humans are thieves. I have to reject this premise on two counts. First, their means of arriving at is specious and aobjective. Second, all humans are thieves. Thievery is an accumulating state in a Markovian sense. So all it takes is one dishonest act, however unconscious, and one is a thief. And the label sticks. Forever.

And as to software? It clearly has zero price. The argument is that Free Software has no price associated with the software, although perhaps of accesing the software, and because that software spans the spectrum of software, by association all software has zero price. So stop and think what MegaHard and Apple are thieving from you. If you use their software.

On which note, it appears that the value of computers may be altering as well. A report by the Gartner folks, one of the principals among the untrustworthy of corporations, is that sales – market transasctions – of desktops and laptops (?) will be less this year than their previous forecast. [Link] Should we comment that both forecasts are stercus of the finest aroma? Probably not. 

The grrr brrr is expected. It is exactly the same situation as a couple of years ago with netbooks. When personal computers started there were desktops and that, like the color of the Model T, was the only choice. Then there were laptops, and netbooks, and tablets , and smart phones, and someone says that the higher priced items are doomed.

Moose Muffins, to quote Sherman T. Potter, AMC. People buy the tool/appliance that jibes best with what they need to do and how much money they can/will spend. And since most people only use their home and personal computing tools/appliances for mental short circuiting, the density curve shifts to cheaper, lesser devices. 

But since Gartner makes its living forecasting doom, they forecast doom. Maybe we can get them to manage Resistance Packing Fraction?

And lastly, we note [Link] that Homo Habilis may be on the way out and Australopithecus Sediba may be on the way in as the founding parents of humanity. This should make the creationists happy, now they have an ape in the family tree to direct their heretofore prevarications at. Personally I am elated, relieves some of the pain of having politicians as relatives.