Broken Internet

OK, can we get back to some semblance of modality now?

FD SCP and I survived dawg sittin’ although I am still suffering from a bit of allergy reaction that – again – puts me in mind of both Lester Sprague DeCamp’s “Lest Darkness Fall” and the Gahan Wilson cartoon about life being better without dogs. Not that I really credit the latter, not after something like 15 KY of communality. But I don’t think I would pick dogs large enough to send me to hospital by nudging me and not large enough to ride. But the DeCamp bit still applies.

The cold front was again enjoyed this morning as I constituted through the park. And I managed to take the MP3 player with me this morning so I had a bit of a diversion as I attempt to increase my duration. The penalty is paid in the small of my back.

Speaking of which, I ran across this cartoon: [Link]

just yesterday and I was struck by its accuracy. Except for the last frame, of course. Let us face it, Gooey may be backed by a bunch of high tension pseudo-engineering, but it reflects a web that is predominantly bog and whack content.

Nonetheless, I do use Gooey, primarily Gooey Scholar, to help me survey what is going on in my micro-disciplines of research and thought. Of course, internet did not really exist when I was in graduate schule so from the get-go of internet and internet search, the pickings in my field(s) were extremely slim to nil and often whackoid stercus. Of course some of the people who put out that stercus hold that my stuff is stercus. And that volume has waxed and waned over the years as the search capabilities evolved and the internet rotted.

Yes, I am going to proselyte a bit that there was a golden age of the internet and it ended with Amazing and all the other internet commerce biggies beginning. The internet used to be about information. That’s why it was called the information revolution. Now it’s just about internet stuff and money. Yes, the revolution flopped. The new feudalism has arrived.

But to return to the cartoon, when I do technical searches on the stuff that I am doing research on, I get very few responses. And almost all of them – more than Ivory soap stats – are myself or people I know. Newness is the exception. And Gooey is almost useless. Because it tries to offer up money sites and that at least makes for a sort of galgenhumor. Like Stalin’s comment about capitalists. But there are other search engines that do better. At least in terms of not offering to sell me stercus. Stercus information maybe, and in small quantity, but not good and services.

But I haven’t broken Gooey. Simply put Gooey broke Gooey. Or rather capitalism and greed and all that good human stuff broke Gooey. And I feel not at all sad.

, , ,

Academic Alienation

I am not very amenable to guidance counselors. This morning I ran across this cartoon: [Link]

and it brought a review of (unrelated) memories.

When I was in high schule we had a guidance counselor. At least that was her title. I am not at all sure what she did. What she did for me was quickly apparent. I would go to her and say “I want to do” thus and such. She would say “No, you can’t do that. It isn’t a good thing to do.” The not good things included skipping senior year for early admission and such like.

When I got to college they assigned me an advisor, I met with him twice. I should mention that in those days you were not allowed to register without an advisor’s signature on your course list. The first time I met with him, before first semester, he told me what I should take that semester. The second time I met with him, start of second semester, I told him what I wanted to do and he gave me the “no, that’s not a good idea.” The third semester I forged his signature on my course list and skipped seeing him. I did go to the advisement building, which was the physics building and as a major I could enter any time and the scheduling by name ordering did not apply, and I could swipe a course list form. And figuring out the form was standard, the next time I swiped enough for twice my undergraduate semesters. So I went through the last three years of undergraduate school without seeing an advisor.

Not that he cared. I never heard a peep about advisor again until I registered for degree my senior year and the dean’s clerk asked if my triple major was approved by my advisor. By that point I lied smoothly having already been admitted to student honor organizations for all three majors and having an acceptance letter to graduate schule in my briefcase,

Not that I didn’t get advice. Mostly from upperclassmen and then from faculty. And my hearing of the advice was uniform: take everything you can; learn everything you can; and hold yourself to a high standard. And that worked. Well. Until I got a job and discovered that politics and socializing were more important in some environments than being smart and knowledgable. But that has nothing to do with guidance counselors.

So what do they really do other than vertically copulate students?

, ,

Fourth of You Lie

Today is “we have worked up our courage and now we’re going to tell the poor, the women, and the not-us what we have gotten them into” day. It’s the anniversary of the day the founders got their courage screwed up, probably by use of ethanol mixtures, and announced to the general populace, or at least the minuscule bit of the populace within ear shot and with slack time to attend, what trouble was descending on their heads.

Of course that independence didn’t apply to the poor, women, and people-property. None of these folks could vote. Not that voting was that common in those days. So that is one thing that we can celebrate as tradition: the ineffectiveness of elections.

It somehow seems appropriate that today is when one of my colleagues, Magnetic Inductance Force, shared an article with me. [Link] The article claims that if one reads the periodical “Linux Journal” then one is identified by the Yankee government’s National Security Agency as an “extremist” and accorded extra surveillance attention. I also read the journal but do not subscribe. Somehow I doubt that distinction is significant in differentiating the amount of attention applied by the NSA.

Apparently, people who use Linux and/or support FOSS, and perhaps open access and actual democracy are considered by the Yankee government to be extremists, which is apparently an intermediary state between traitor and terrorist? I am unsure of whether to be proud or amused.

Obviously anyone who expects some privacy and takes effort to preserve it – as in using TOR – is immediately suspect, if not guilty.

Now tell me again what we have to celebrate today?

, , ,

Rejecting Good Sense Day

Today is the anniversary of “aw stercus! what have we done” day. Having signed the declaration of independence yesterday, the congress took today off to reflect on having told George#3 to cease and vacate the premises and whether they actually wanted to broadcast this to the public (and George!) or burn the document and slink off to being subjects (serfs/slaves) of tyranny. We might even call it “screw up your courage to the sticking point” day since the steeling oneself to do the tyrant an injury theme is apt.

Not that we have much to be thankful for today since their government has evolved to the point where it is more of a tyranny than George’s.

Nonetheless, I also reflected on the morning’s podcast, an episode of the English Ubuntu podcast, perhaps a fitting activity for contemplation on this day. Why does a country that gave us such oppression also do so much better at podcasts?

Anyway they interviewed some developer (coder) fellow who was bitchin’ about the Ubuntu SW store. I was amused to consider, after he listed a long set of complaints about how the SW store was NOT developer friendly how every developer I know of, who throws his SW out for general use to a wide public, has complained about how the system is not developer friendly. I have to admit to something of the sort myself. Most of my SW is nerd SW and it is very cruncherish. My favorite user interface is a text input file that you point the SW at and it read it, crunches numbers, and outputs a file of results.

And I only share SW with people who come to me and say that they have need of my methodology and may they have a copy? And if they come back and complain about the methodology in a constructive sense then I will discuss with them, but if they say either (a) it doesn’t work or (b) can I add something, I reply that they are free to make changes as they wish so long as I get cited properly.

Obviously, when someone puts a SW out on a storefront and you use it, you are not going to be able to modify it. You have to have source code for that and most of these chaps program in other languages than the few I know. (And they usually don’t know those.) So if the SW works I will use it and if it doesn’t work I will pitch it, unless I paid for it, and then I ask for reimbursement, and if it sorta works I will probably complain, but don’t expect me to answer why it doesn’t work questions if I don’t have source code.

Not that I really want to read your source code.

But when you give the SW away to folks who don’t pay or code, the man-in-the-street, Windows or Apple mindscrubbed, user, why would you expect anything constructive when the SW doesn’t work for them. Next you’ll be expecting your food to talk to you about how delicious it will be.

, ,

More Summer of Discontent

I am coming to dislike mundane days. That is rather discouraging. Most of my adult life I liked the first day of the week (Yes, I do operate on ice cream day being the last day of the week.) Yes, there were exceptions when I knew in advance that mundane day held some nastiness like a business trip or a medicalist visit or some such. But by and large I liked the promise of mundane day, of a week ahead to do something and not just be a vegetative member of society.

But now I am coming to dislike all days. Even the ones that offer an upcoming good, or perceived good. I am sure it is age, and being retired. ORFs are tolerated speed bumps of society that will shortly be hustled off to a burial park or a mason jar. The best that we can hope for is a studied indifference on the part of society. The worst is active harassment and pain.

But the worst is not doing anything constructive. I don’t count volunteering or being a greeter at MalWart. Those are definitely not creative. Except maybe for those people who not only didn’t create in younger life, but were destructive.

INTERMISSION: courtesy of Arab Electron Uncooperative. Another thing to dislike. They used to only go out unannounced on ice cream day mornings. When all the mystics were in services. Not now. It’s stochastic and diabolical.

Enough negativity. Go kill a giant or invent happiness or overdo exuberance. For me.

, , ,

Money Morals

Back to week in and not a well portended one. Rain returns just when FD SCP has arranged to get Castellum SCP repainted. Or so the weather beavers foretell. Of course they showed that visibility chart – the one prominently labeled “FOG” – this morning with none of the visibilities less than a mile. So much for any hope of weather beavers – and bogs? – understanding basic atmospheric optics.

The gym was pleasantly sparse this morning and the obnoxious weight bouncers were late arriving so I was able to depart before they went into their territorial troglyditism. The podcast, an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas”, was about a debate among politicians/economists, none Canadian, on the topic of whether the rich should be taxed. This was educational, if not informative, in a negative sort of way. First of all, I am now entertaining the hypothesis that all politicians and economists are sacci sterci – pokes of poo – especially the economists. The idea of testability of theory is entirely wasted – except as a perversion – on economists and economic theory. I fear the latter has to be lumped in with religionist doctrine as stationary photons.

Second, the whole thing was another of those nonsense farces conducted because of percentages. Third, it ignored the whole question of cheating in any substantive fashion. And lastly, it was an utter waste of time which was beneficial since it distracted me from my pain and perspiration. I suspect this was the only benefit extracted from this debate.

Debates are another farce. They settle nothing and are based on total artificiality and absence of test. As such they are highly appropriate to both politics and economics because both of those are the same. But they are not appropriate to reality and real human problems. Which both politicians and economists actually have no interest in and avoid as much as possible and sabotage when they cannot.

Hence into the day.

, , ,

Physicist Failure

Horrible day yesterday. FD SCP had me out cleaning the aft proch and my sinuses are agonizing. The walk in the park was an actual relief this morning. And the weather beavers have mentioned precipitation in the afternoon, or so I may hope.

But I did have opportunity to continue cogitation on the matter of lectures and learning, so I suppose I shall have to take up a recent grrr brrr about lectures. [Link]The contention is that learning is not effective in the lecture format and things have to be made more interactive. My immediate, and enduring, response to this is that it is an extro conspiracy promulgated on the idea that students have to be placated for professors to get paid. Rather like the teach to the test thing in the public schules.

First of all, only the extros participate in these “voting” things. Intros do not. They come to class, they listen, maybe take notes, they go home, read the book, work the problems, and think. But the thinking takes time. There are some things that I got told in freshman physics class I still think about today. And occasionally they give me insights. So the idea that learning occurs only in class is an olla sterci – a crock of feces. Yes, some learning occurs in class, but most of it, including almost all of the insight, occurs later, often much later, out of class.

I have mentioned previously a math methods class on Green functions that took me over thirty years to “fully” realize.

Extros don’t do this way. They don’t go home and read the book nor do problems. They think doing problems is for intros and geeks and nerds. Which they are afraid of becoming. And they don’t think about stuff once the course is over. And they don’t want anything but a good grade so they can get a diploma and have a wonderful career. Working for a nerd.

At least in the mode. There are exceptions. But most of these people are not going to become STEMs. They don’t think enough. And socialization is too important to them to spend time understanding.

I have mentioned Chad Orzel’s taxonomy before. It applies here, in resounding fanfare! The purpose of the lecture, in STEM at least, is to tell the student what is important so they can read the text, do the problems, and think. And learn. Notice that distinction? The learning is out-of-class. And afterwards. So yes, the lecture is ineffective if the metric is in-the-class learning.

But the metric is orthogonal to the reality.

Do the physics. Drop the ball!

, , , ,

Cuneiform over Computers

I am beginning to hate summer already and it is barely here. I am entertaining the conjecture that I dislike temperature (and sinus) extremes. And this is not at all helped by FD SCP going off on a home improvement campaign. I now identify with both William Tecumseh Sherman’s troopies and the residents of Gawjah.

As promised, I now return to the matter of computers in lectures. A recent study at Michigan State U indicates that the mere presence of computers in a lecture hall is a major distraction and prevents learning. So it’s not just if you are using a smart (sic) cellular telephone or lapbox or slab but if the guy on the other side of the hall is.

But before I advocate that the students be permitted to police themselves – academics have to at least give the impression of being in a situation of permitting disobedience – we need to consider how we respond to this. Some objections have been made that since the cellular network is now used by most colleges to warn students of shootings and other common events like pep rallies and anti-war protests, some liability may incur if cellular telephones are banned. What is most often missed here is that only one such device need be activated since a lecture (or seminar or whatever) is a gathering and there are all sorts of schemes for providing that linkage. So all cellular connection save one designee is feasible and possible.

If we take this with the mounting evidence that learning does not occur when notes are taken electronically but are learned when they are written down. IOW, digital – NYET!; analog – DA! Feel free to change that last to whatever language you want to. This now takes on a bit of an ethical complexion. Given that colleges are accepting payment for lectures in anticipation of some learning, or, at least, a diploma, it becomes necessary that some effort be expended to encourage learning and perhaps even actual thinking, although the latter is problematic at party schules such as the campus of the Black Warrior.

It thus becomes insufficient to just ban electronic devices (in the main) from the classroom. It is also necessary to lead the students back to the paradigm of pen + ink + paper. Notebooks are preferred, at least for the mechanically inept who seem unlikely to master the intricacies of the three ring binder. And given the abandonment of teaching cursive on the part of the public schules, it would seem that some remedial instruction in penmanship – suitable de-genderist – be instituted.

This should not be difficult. Most colleges have been around long enough that they have had instructions for students on notetaking and if they don’t some sort of mutual support can likely be arranged. If nothing else we might find this a useful activity for the Ivy League schules, who, as we all know, invented writing back in the Pre-Cambrian era.