Monday Acclaimed

Back to week in, back to routine. AT least I hope so. Too much variation lately. And warm weather, another undesirable thing even knowing I live in Alibam. Cannot comment too much about the gym session this morning except to say that last week’s ‘vacation’ made things difficult this morning and my performance less than I like to accept, even for an ORF.

It was not helped by the Canonical folks yesterday. While I was off they released Ubuntu 12.04 and in a moment of weakness Saturday I downloaded the alternate ISO for XUBUNTU. And then I went and upgraded and lo!, the box would not let me login. So I got to scrub the hard drive and install from scratch which means I now have to bring the box back up to where I would like it and never to where it was.

It strikes me that reliability is undervalued by code jocks and that we don’t do a very good job of designing OS to be conservative. I recognize this and one of the things I do is keep a second HD to put the good stuff on, and back it up so that all I have on the primary HD is the OS and clients. But it is getting these tuned and remembering to do backups that bite my fundament.

Yes, there are backup programs but they are completely heavy handed and almost useless, rather like giving a truncheon to an epee user. Which leaves point backups and they are tedious and intrusive. I suppose I should quit Katarinaing and buclkle down and write my own, but maybe tomorrow.

Unpaid Nerdery

Yesterday, I ran across [Link]

and it put me in mind of rabbinical science.

The immediate question I get from mentioning this is “hunhhhhh?”  Most folks, including many contemporary academic scientists, have no idea what rabbinical science is, and those that do often consider it charlatanism or are fearful of it – and rightly so.

The starting point here is rabbinical. Rabbis may be considered to be the ministers of jewish religion. Unlike their equivalents in the christianist environment, they do not get paid for being ministers. It is a true calling, not a job. So rabbis have to have a job to have money to live on. Because of the dietary rules, many rabbis work either as butchers or in the meat industry. Some teach rabbi courses, of course.

Te idea of a rabbinical scientist is that this is a scientist who doesn’t get paid for being a scientist. He/she has a job for money and does science other when and other where. In post Great Patriotic War Amerika, this is sacrilege. Any competent scientist should be able to get grants or a job (last choice) doing science. The problem with this is they don’t usually get to work on what they are interested in but instead have to work on what they can get paid for.

Rabbinical science has a long and somewhat honorable tradition. Before the days of science warfare, almost all scientists were rabbinical, even the ones who taught at colleges since they were paid to teach. We have to remember that Mendel and Darwin and Newton and even Einstein were rabbinical scientists. Although Einstein ceased to be such one he showed his brilliance but this is more about the institutionalization of research than rabbinical science.

There are still some good rabbinical scientists out there today. Most of them do not want to, or cannot, pursue an academic career and don’t want to be restricted to working on what someone else wants researched. Of course there are lots of crackpots out there so it is hard for the bogs to tell them apart, and sometimes even the geeks. Hence the fear and loathing from academic scientists.

Fact being, most fundamental advances – breakthroughs as it were – in science come from rabbinical scientists. Of course, the crackpots are always declaiming that they have made a breakthrough so there is a lot of noise and not much signal on this, which is why the pinky extended, tea drinking scientists want to ignore them. Besides, if there really is a breakthrough their jobs might go away.

Stochastic Distribution

FD SCP and I are preparing for a gallop, which is why things are rather disjoint for the next few days.

Back on sheaf however, I note that Canonical has designated “Ubuntu 12.10 Codename Announced: Quantal Quetzal” [Link] I personally will be waiting a while, although I do intend to install the MATE remix of U 11.10 in the near future. I could however, not resist the following remarks:

  • A quetzal is a central american bird;
  • A quantal is an adjectival form of quantum, the adjectivization being required by Canonical’s rules of naming; and
  • A quantal quetzal is obviously a bird that has some aspect of quantum mechanics.

I am put in mind of Schrodinger’s cat except in this case the live/dead states are replaced by on/not on my box. I somehow suspect the probabilities of the states are not equal.

Unity ain’t.

Allergy Speedbump

Not much to relate this morning. Rather coolish this morning compared to last week and what is foretold for later this week, one more evidence of the increased weather variance from increased mean temperature (energy.)

Allergies have been hideous all weekend, and continuing this morning. Hard to be cognitive when you are looking at things through a veil of tears. Does offer some insight into the progress of humanity. If we have been plagued with the natural impediments of illness and infirmity it was not just the creation of a critical mass of relevant information that was necessary for any technological and social advance, but also means of freeing ourselves of the distraction of these petty and seemingly ubiquitous maladies.

Incidentally, I have come to the hypothesis that tear formation is emergent, an example of complexity, but I have not yet had occasion, or attention span, to develop a specific model.

The Novelty of Frustration

OK, week out is about over and it is time to prune tabs. FD SCP and I have been in a bit of a state of denial. We have to go over to Kennesaw for her annual sewing training there and we have been often enough that the novelty of everything except the horror and the frustration have about worn off.

Speaking of novelty, I ran across this article [Link] about folks at Delft and Eindhoven Us in the Nethelands looking for the ‘elusive’ Majorana fermion. I have to admit to some mixed reactions on this one. The ‘elusive’ label brought forth thoughts of rather inane royalist propaganda disguised as an adventure novel to say nothing of the rather questionable acting skills of Leslie Howard. But then the Howards, at least the English faction, have always been royalist and shady. The Majorana brought back memories of graduate shule and those moments of almost unendurable trivia made desperate when one needs to do something more fundamental than physics such as micturate or defecate or rush to another class or even anti-defecate or anti-micturate. And lastly, fermions, the most wonderful of particles, Nature’s introverts as it were and hence sharing a bond of temperament with most physicists. In fact, many physicists I know shape their lives on an emulation of the behavior of fermions.

What is special about these fermions is that they possess spin (or they wouldn’t be fermions,) but not charge. Thus in the somewhat specious taxonomy of opposites, they are their own anti-particles since an absence of charge can only be reversed into itself. I find myself taking mental exception with one of the article’s statements however,

The researchers have “produced quasiparticles that act like Majorana fermions: electrically-neutral particles that are their own antiparticles, such that if two collide, they annihilate.

Since their only internal observable, at least from the brief reportage, is their intrinsic angular momentum or spin, annihilation would seem to occur only if the two particles have equal and opposite spin. Since the research has only begun, at least according to the reportage, this question may not yet have been addressed. Of course, it seems likely that the particles must be created with equal numbers of opposite spin value, for energy composition if nothing else, and hence every other encounter is likely to be with an opposite. But if the like spun do not annihilate each other then perhaps these beasties may be concentrated by sequesterment? Absent that, it would be nice to know if the annihilation mechanism bridges spin sameness.

While we are on skepticism, I ran across an illuminated – in the Medieval sacred work sense – article [Link] on the statistics of opinion (?) of the population (sample, at least) on the subject of global climate change.

It seems that a reasonable fraction of the sample, which presumably is large enough to include a fairly representative fraction of bogs, is indeed concerned about global climate change. Except for those who consider themselves members of the repulsian political persuasion, which explains why the outlook is so whacked in Alibam. Here in Alibam, of course, even the democruds are repulsians in liberal’s clothing.

Next, I ran across this article, [Link] which argues that since MegaHard’s browser is slowly decomposing, FaceScroll needs its own browser to combat Gooey in their war to be the internet mental component in the same way that Apple controls the appliance mental component. As one who rejects the covert serfdom vehemently, I find the whole matter laughable in the sense of a poorly executed hanging – galgenhumor, as it were. The matter only matters, as it were, if one is concerned with controlling the gammas and deltas. From an economic sense this is worthwhile, of course, since these people pay large amounts of money for piles of poorly but cheaply produced crap.

The shiny Gooey browser is popular and has some good points although the much touted level of security are not one such. It is fast, and hence desirable for meaningless activity on the interned such as observing captioned photographs of uncooked felines. It is not however, very useful for actual work. There are plenty of faster browsers out there  but they suffer from a klutzy exterior lacking the economic resources of Gooey for cosmetic facading.

The intriguing, but unraised question is whether FaceScroll, given their penchant for changing facades for no apparent reason other than micturating clients, can actually pull off a browser even as unsuccessful of MegaHard’s?

Mental Odor

We come again to a thrilling Saturn’s day and I have already done one loop. The pollen is nasty out there as evidenced by the profuseness of water down my lower face. Of course some of it could be from horror and humor.

To start with, I note an article [Link] in the Register announcing “Battlefield Earth” as “the worst film ever.” Aside from anyone’s home movies, of course. I have to admit to not being surprised by this except that I can recall some movies in the ’50’s that were about as bad, or at least seemed so to my childish viewpoint. I saw most of them under one of two circumstances. The primary one was that the family had motored to the city where my parents had grown up to visit their parents and I got sent off to walk to the neighborhood theater to watch a movie rather than be present. I am still not sure if it was me being sent away or that I was not supposed to be exposed to the conversation.

I do know that my grandparents had no television and their reading material was limited to religionist tracts and reader’s digest condensed books, the latter well thumbed in the racy parts. So I suspect that my being sent to walk six blocks, each way, to a neighborhood theater where some horrible film noire flop was being shown was a combination of the two. I still don’t know why I wasn’t dispatched to the library which was no further away.

The other exposure was on weekend afternoons when there was nothing else on except country music programs, all off key and absent of tone. And not just because the television mas monaural and had a speaker the size of the one in a transistor radio.

But that “Battlefield Earth” is terminally bad is patent. The best actor in it, John Travolta, hit his peak portraying Barbarino in “Welcome Back Kotter” and decomposed after that. The book itself is an epic example of excruciatingly bad science fiction, making Captain Future look like literature worthy of a Nobel prize. Certainly when it comes to being a science fiction author, L. Ron Hubbard is on a par with all those guys who amassed thousands of rejection letters and zero acceptances. I shan’t comment on his religion.

But it is nice to have that recognized. And once more I have to wonder how come this wonderful news should be ignored by Amerikan media?

And while we’re on not mentioning the religionism, I note [Link] a study at U Missouri that refutes the claim that there is a “God Spot” in the human brain. This study indicates that the brain’s involvement in religion thinking is more widespread than just one spot.

The study was performed on a small sample of folks, twenty in number, who had all suffered brain damage. All of these folks were subjected to spirituality questioning and a correlation was found between amount of brain activity and the degree of brain damage. A positive correlation.

And while we’re on this direction, I also have to note reports [Link] from George Washington U and U Liverpool that Australopithecines actually walked differently than homo sapiens. I have to admit that I always wondered about this walking consistency across a couple of megayears. I get put into this mode every time I have to go to MalWart to purchase arch supports and hack my way through the jungle of foot ‘care’ products. The thought is that given what wonderful technology and medicalist expertise today for feet, why do we have so much variation in how people – just one species so far as we know – walk?

I realize a lot of that variation is due to the technology, shoes and flat surfaces, primarily, although we do have to give a modicum of credit to the slavery of fashion. For both genders, thank you.

Strange Trajectory

Yesterday I had a rather strange path to follow. About a week ago I got sucked into this FaceScroll subwebiary ‘Shulefeed’ that seems to be primarily oriented towards serving as an accumulation point – La Brea Tar Pit – for folks you knew in high shule. It is excruciatingly extrovertish and extremely stupid. The news articles are written, as one of my colleagues, Magnetic Inductance Force, put it “at the third grade level.” I think he was being charitable. So far as the journalism goes it is among the most excruciating;y slime moldish that I have ever encountered. It doesn’t even come up to the level of the articles in the Science News magazines we used to read in elementary shule that were written for elementary shule students. I became more enamored of my hypothesis that Gooey and FaceScroll are in a competition to be the slavemaster of the internet in the same way that Apple is slavemaster of internet appliances.

Anyway, I got called upon yesterday to vote for the ‘Webby’ awards. I do not vote for all categories, mostly because I do not understand what most of them are although they all seem to be boggish, extrovertish, and artsy-flatulent. I do vote for the science award and that is how I entered this strange path. Seven ‘web sites’ are nominated (????????) for each award, and I found that four of the science nominees could be eliminated on the basis of zero measure, including an ‘institut’ at fair Hahvahd. That left three: Gooey science fair; Wired; and Scientific Amerikan. Speak of a nightmare to select among. I almost closed the browser tab then and there in emulation of the expected presidential election. But I was a bit sagging that time of day and persevered in a moment of weakness.

I shortly eliminated Gooey. Their science fair is a Potemkin village of publicity hacking, part of their aforementioned competition with FaceScroll to be the brainwashing machine of the internet. I was then left with a choice between Wired and Scientific Amerikan, between a flagrantly extrovertish bog rag and a decomposing manure pile of classical format. Again my pointer hoovered over thee tab ‘x’. But then in a moment of weakness, firmly believing in the attempts to resurrect the once stalwart giant of Amerikan science reportage I voted for Scientific Amerikan. While Wired is flashier, it actually has a lower signal-to-noise ratio by a factor of over 2! Again, I am reminded of the upcoming chief executive election.

Then, by happenstance, I chanced upon a Scientific Amerikan article [Link] entitled “What does a Ph.D. in chemistry get you?” Admittedly, there are great differences between a Ph. D. in physics and a Ph. D. in chemistry, but generally less than almost every other discipline except possibly maths. The article is one of the roaring torrent that has begun to appear now that someone else bothered to calculate the probability of getting a faculty position given a Ph. D. To remind the bogs this probability is ~ 0.03. The author’s credentials are compromised upon discovering she (not the relevancy) is a chemist turned philosopher in a faculty position. And of course, philospohy is the exception in all this since it graduates the fewest Ph. D. per year, probably due to the dearth of research grants and demand for philosophy research.

But I was most taken with one paragraph,

“In fact, the thinning of the herd wherever it happens seems to put a weird spin on the process of graduate-level education. Education, after all, tends to aim for something bigger, deeper, and broader than a particular set of job skills. This is not to say that developing skills is not an important part of an education — it is! But in addition to these skills, one might want an understanding of the field in which one is being educated and its workings.”

that led me down a convergent trajectory in phase space. The question emerged almost immediately of whether the making of a PH. D. in this day and age is indeed an education.  I regret to report that the current hypothesis of the answer to this question is a resounding “NO!” I fear this is upheld by the paragon of modern PhuDery, Jorge Chaim, who now draws cartoons of the Ph.D. process.

I should comment that with few exceptions, obtaining a graduate education is a matter of exception rather than intent, at least in the non-Capellan disciplines. Clearly engineers, medicalists, and justicers are not educated. They are trained. In reflection the same goes for those in disciplined research.

To convey this, I have to go back to those hoary days when I was a graduate student. In those days, as now, the graduate student had to write a degree proposal that had to be accepted by adviser and department. When I started out in graduate shule I wanted to do some computational physics work on solids that would extend the Curie construction, which is named after Pierre Curie and has to do with the shape and form of ‘holes’ in solids. These are what bogs think of as holes, not absences of electrons as is usually thought of in solid state physics. To cur a long story short, I never finished the preliminary research nor the proposal because computers in those days were inadequate for the task.

I then sat down with my advisor and came up with a program that meshed with his funded projects and interests. This is the mode of things. Today graduate students look around at the professors, and bid to work for one based on a number of factors, including but not limited to existing research. Then they work on what is assigned to them and this tends to become their degree project. In essence, it is like being employed and indeed that is the metaphor used. So what is missing is the self-appointed exploration and it is this that compromises education into mere training.

This is the basis of the hypothesis. Absent the need to proceed on one’s own with only occasional mentoring from an adviser, the graduate student ceases to being educated and is now only trained in the tools and practices of the specific research project. The exception that led to the education has now been almost entirely eliminated. And we are the less for it. In fact, it is probably a major contribution to our lemming rush into third world status.

Out of Lane

Another Wednesday survived, along with an expedition to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill. I was somewhat distressed yesterday with the number of motorcar drivers who seem to thing that the dashed line down the middle of road was suppose to be under the middle of the motorcar. I noticed three which gave me opportunity to compile some statistics:

  • All three were expensive motorcars, high end techie-preppie cars; and
  • All three were using cellular telephone; and
  • All three had their vehicles under reasonable control.

Small standard deviations, obviously. The first factor points to money arrogance, the second to a combination of youthful idiocy and money arrogance; and the third argues that this behavior is commonplace. My conclusion is that the body shops – motorcar and human – of Huntsville will be enriched.

While I’m on this azimuth of blatant stupidity, I note an article [Link] about work at U California Davis indicating that forcing unready adolescents to take algebra in eighth grade is damaging to their egos.

I immediately wondered why they are unready. If we discount the incompetence of the educationalist instrumentality then unreadiness can only be due to a lack of capacity for maths. Accepting this as the case, do we not have an obligation to make it known to these children, and their parents, that they are handicapped and will not do very well in life? Is delaying this dose of reality really beneficial, which is what is implied by the article?

I have commented before that the vast majority of humanity is maths inadequate. I stop short of requiring a “B” or better in differential and integral calculus to qualify for the franchise although it does make for intriguing speculation if we did. The nature of politics would be vastly changed and indeed almost all of those who now derive their livelihood by holding political office would be unable to and have to find some honest employ such as shoveling out septic tanks.

I fear this is another instance of that boggish conspiracy that “you’ll never use algebra again after high shule.” It always puts me in mind of that short story, “The Marching Morons”, by its stark implication that the vast majority of acalculate must be born on the backs of the calculate minority.

But if we are going to perpetuate this nonsensical prevarication, why should we delay in enrolling its serfs? After all if we delay too long in getting students through something simple like algebra how will they find the youthful capacity to learn the calculus? Just pass out the Soma and let them get used to being gammas and deltas.