Winter makes me Stupid?

The hatred of winter continues. Not much sleep last night. Up every two hours to adjust taps. And I bailed on gym this morning after looking at the thermometer. Nineteen degF at 0330. So I pumped the stationary bicycle for two-thirds of an hour. And listened to science podcasts. And discovered that European space wonks can’t design harpoons. Which is no big deal since I can’t either. 

Speaking of which there was a bit on the Face Scroll yesterday that struck me as fiction. Maybe. Claimed to be snippets of an interview with a NASAite about first, why did the Yankee government waste money going to a comet, and then when informed it was the Europeans, why we didn’t get there first. The doubt arises from the perceived rightness of the whole thing, a parody of the very nature of Repodenialist, an oleo of arrogance and bottomless insecurity. Makes one think of joy-labor camps and rubber hoses. And jackboots. 

One of the things I dislike about winter is a continual headache. Most of the time its a dull ache that can be ignored with the least diversion but when I hurt elsewhere or try to think, a very unpolitician thing, it comes back to the fore. Now, I read [Link] that a drug, named Modafinal, that makes smart people stupid. The first question is why? And the second is do politicians cook this or make it naturally? I suspect the latter. If its a genetic thing then perhaps we can develop a medical test for identifying people who secrete the drug and bar them from any responsible occupation. Sort of the ultimate social handicap?

In other news, it seems that a California court has ruled that Gooey search results are free speech. [Link] If so, then why is the code and the algorithms proprietary? Shouldn’t they be freely available for the product to be free speech? And why do we have to put up with all those ads and purchased priority placements? Doesn’t that make it not-free? I know that California is strange but this seems just outright odd and wrong. And does this decision extend to all search engines? Or all lists? And if the search results are free speech how does this impact the European restriction of permitting forgetfulness on Gooey? 

No wonder most politicians are justicers.

Uncommon Maths

I still hate winter. Although last night was a bit less stressing. Perhaps acclimatization? Or trusting that the weather beavers were accurate in foretelling an abating? Anyway already some indication of that. So perhaps I can retrieve my mind.

On which azimuth I noted an article [Link] on Common Core maths. Something called the box method. It utilizes something called the “box” method that I have to admit to shaking my head at for quite a while. Then I realized that the “box” method was what I was already doing, but only by comparing it to their presentation of the classical method that I learned in elementary schule.

I have to admit that I use that classical method for many years until I got to college, became somewhat calculate – maths literate – and adopted a system called chunking that seems to be a more robust version of what these folks call the “box” method. I also have to admit that almost no one that I know uses chunking and those who do not cannot understand how it works and tell me when I try to explain it that it gives them headache.

I actuality first espied chunking when I had to use an abacus in a maths lab once. It’s fairly easy in that context. Also if one is used to doing Taylor expansions. Which is how I do roots of numbers. Also, roots of polynomials but that is even more esoteric.

Anyway, based on this, I can immediately see two problems with this approach to arithmetic. First, renaming the method distances the publoc educationalist apparat from the maths community. I suspect this was on purpose so that the educationalists wouldn’t have to answer for their evils. And secondly, I doubt that the method can be taught to the majority of primary schule educationalists much less that they can teach it to their charges. So a double – multiplied – probability of failure!

On the positive side, it seems that humans have a natural grasp of probability. [Link] But evidently it is only primitive peoples. Not those educated in Amerika. From my experience. 

Why Stop Them?

This has been a rough week. In addition to the usual Wednesday trip I also had to go to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill to remedy the recall of my motorcar – some problem with its politician – airbag. And this morning – and forecast all week out – the temperature is too low for me to visit the park. I am resigning myself to the arrival of winter and the cessation of my constitutional for the duration. That does not mean I shan’t be perspiring and exerting, but on the not quite satisfactory stationary bicycle instead of the outdoor path. I am considering a midday excursion but some reconnaissance will be necessary to make sure the AO is not overrun with terrorist bairns and hausfrauen. 

The problem with all this activity is that it is not my modal activity and hence the aged corpus is unused to such and reacts negatively both to the new activity and to the absence of the old. I feel rather like the fellow who was sat upon by a pachyderm but gently. One would prefer to avoid the distinction but failing that, that a full blown sitting occur and put one from one’s misery. 

One of my colleagues, Magnetic Inducatance Force, sent me a cartool [Link]

which seems a wellspring of insight on motherhood and management, which are two not quite different fields of endeavor. I fear that I can only offer kritik on the former subject since I fail its physical but positive information on the latter since its physical does not include a gender check except by the incompetent.

The motherhood issue is why interrupt an activity if one (a) knows what it is and (b) is nondestructive. I can understand the interruption is one has a headache or a sleeping bairn or some such but arbitrarily? On the management side there is a further issue, which is whether the activity contributes to the purpose and function? In my experience an occasional catharsis is useful in regenerating vigor and productivity and screaming is much less destructive than explosive pyrotechnics. The latter, of course, is part and parcel of the missile development business. One of the more rewarding as well. Especially when the test dummies can be effigies. 

I am going to skulk away to some rest and hope that I can recharge my batteries sufficiently to run in circles and scream and shout.

Superstition and Slide Rules

Sparse. That’s the best thing about gym, when it occurs. Not many people. For some reason the bullies seem to go away and the good folk remain. Even the weight bouncers about today were good folk. And the cable feed went sowth about halfway through my session so the absence of distraction of the vapid sort was appreciated.

The Guardian science podcast was a set of interviews/discussions with psychologists who specialize in humans who suffer from delusions of alien abductions, vampires, ghosts, and such. There were even a few slights about religionist superstition. Well placed. Sadly there was no real discussion of how to rid society of these nut cases.

But the high point was a National Public Radio podcast about the slide rule.[Link] Sadly, the pony to poo ratio was very LOW. There was some museum curator from the wonk schule on the Charles who was prattling about the slide rule angst among engineer students taking exams. And the whole attitude was rather poor and frivolous.

I have discussed slide rule previously but it is worth visiting again. I got my first slide rule about seven or eight, as I recall. I make this point because by the time I got to college my slide rule, which I could not use openly without derision from the cool kids – the jocks and cheerleaders, was a comfort, not a source of stress. Rather the opposite. It was a familiar tool that I could trust without cognition.

I suppose if I had been handed one as a freshman, never having seen before, and told to learn immediately to crunch numbers there might be some stress. I do not take direction easily. It is evil. But none of the people I knew were uneasy about slide rules. Many of us had brown up with them. In fact, they didn’t bother to teach slide rule in high schule because so many already knew and the ones who didn’t were destined for bogdom anyway.

And I rather take exception to the implication that the slide rule disappeared overnight once the nerd calculator was introduced. Technocratic prevarication! Electronic calculators had been around for years but weighed and bulked their own table. The first portable calculators were strictly add/subtract/multiply/divide so they could not replace the slide rule. The first nerd calculator, the HP-35, introduced in 1972, was a replacement but was so expensive that no student, nor professor, could afford without a gifting. Only corporate nerds could afford them. I was working for the Yankee army before I got a nerd calculator issued me, and HP-55, and it was late in my graduate schule attendance before I could afford a personal machine, a TI that felt like a cheap occupied Japan imitation of an HP. My first personal HP was an HP-25 and it was a marvel and a delight. But I still had a slide rule in my center desk drawer when I retired. For some things it was faster than a calculator. Even an RPN. 

So as usual, NPR vertically copulated.

Identical but for Lies

Once more into the boundary between out and in, and once more adult supervision. FD SCP has ended her work week and I am already smarting under the onus of her projects. The park was a bit low in warmth this morning but not from a wind. Not quite comfortable and the necessary bundling seemed excessive for what the thermometer proclaimed. I tried out a new Linux podcast and was disappointed, which probably contributed to the ill ease. Not that it is a bad ‘cast, just that it is a style not amenable fully to me. 

On those azimuths, several thoughts. I have been watching the political races in Alibam increasing in heat. I have a great interest in the guvnuh race since it is really a good versus good failing and being evil race. The latter is the incumbent who found ways to grease the pockets of cronies but not provide medical care. That latter is still a repudenialist tactic, of taking an opponent’s good and making it seem bad. This is particularly the case with the attorney general race. If we go on positive aspects – what the candidates are for – then the two are indistinguishable to a confidence level of 0.95 which is the standard statistical goodness for bogs. 

I should comment that the bogs don’t understand that – heck!, I don’t understand it fully but that’s because statisticians are a special subspecies of nerd – but the parrotage they are taught in college stats classes – and then promptly repress – is o.95 (or 0.05 which is the same) confidence level. And I will insert the snideism that that confidence level is on the posing of the situation, not its actuality. At least, not always.

But getting back to the attorney general candidates, the two are essentially the same on what they are; the difference is in what they say the other is. The incumbent is claimed to be incompetent and the toady of monied interests – what politician isn’t? – while the challenger is claimed to be incompetent if elected because of – good political logic here – twisting good things done into evil and bad. We can only worry if the same goes of the incumbent. 

I don’t expect my concerns to be resolved. An article [Link] in IO9 shows the restrictiveness of state voting laws:

Alibam is notably one of the most restrictive states. In fact, voting in many ways is more restrictive than in the days of poll taxes when money was openly paid to purchase votes. 

The real lesson is about society. Individual voters are well aware that they are being deceived and prevaricated. But they vote for the evil anyway because with the partisan system there are no alternatives. And in Alibam, there is really no difference between the parties. Except which lies they throw about each other.

Sleep and Such

Once more into the boundary of week out. The outer boundary. And another pseudo-shabbat. So we have to endure all manner of superstition and mysticism on the media but tomorrow will be mundane day and we may resume a modal trajectory. The temperature was not as low as threatened by the weather beavers but whether that was the usual, not-polar-vortex, weather or just being early. Sometimes the temperature continues to fall after Sol becomes visible due to increased wind. 

I did a bit different this week out. Finished a podcast episode of “The Linux Luddites” rather than the usual to provide both variation and incite cogitation. The noise was definitely more amenable. Less self-discussion of the nonsense and stupidity being uttered. But the learning material was quite different.  And the thought processes.

Noted an article [Link] that claims that seniors get adequate sleep but don’t feel it is enough. Hockitus non est! Been that way since I was in my fifties. And haven’t had a dozen good night sleep since heart attack. I am of the opinion it is about brain chemistry although the article says naught along that azimuth. So my discontent is unabated.

I was rather befuddled that the O’Bama would name a justicer as tsar of Ebola. I can see not laying the duty on a medicalist but why not a nicely fascist military guy? The kind who can order firing parties unblinkingly. If history teaches us anything it is that the rule of law functions negatively during epidemics. For the bogs, that means that being strictly legal during epidemics gets more people killed. Of course that may be the administration’s intent. They may think the country needs to lose a sizable fraction. And a lawyer can have all the nice paperwork drawn up to implement martial law and firing parties and all that, all nicely legal. And they can probably find military guys to do the dirty deeds and leave the tsar to bleed?

After all, the black plague was the womb of modern democracy, wasn’t it?