Which Kind of Electrons?

The great stressor looms. Today is the last day of week out and then we enter the week of the worst stress of the year. Not good. And then winter sets in for real.

I feel old.

On which azimuth, my colleague Mass Momentum, posted this article [Link] on the FaceScroll. It is a fairly balanced (?) discussion of the grrr brrr about electronics versus pen/paper/books for note taking and learning. Its chief advantage to me was to offer some new perspectives on the problem. Happily these perspectives tend to support the hypothesis I have been developing for some months.

My concern is a bit larger than what is portrayed in these articles. My concern is about learning and composition. To me learning means not only what I get out of "books" – information sources – but also research, and composition includes note-taking but also report writing and the like.

We humans are visual folks. Comes of being hunter-gatherers for mega-years. We are not ASCII people. When we dream we don’t see written pages. All right, sometimes when I dream I do see written pages, or printed pages, but they are memories not mind constructed things. When we dream we mostly see images, maybe with sound and smell but definitely with images. This is the rationalization for video instruction.

The problem is that the computer/slab screen has too low resolution. That’s why the race to what is called a retina display. One to one mapping of screen pixel to eye sensor.

My hypothesis is that composition is all about mindfulness. That is, awareness. The opposite of this is called mindlessness – unawareness, if you will. I picked the names because I read a bunch of article about the benefits of mindfulness that screamed "STERCUS!" because it wasn’t balanced in terms of the down side of mindfulness and the benefits of mindlessness. There are some things that we cannot do if we are mindful of them but perform easily if we are mindless of them. This is patently obvious to most people so if you don’t get it, get assistance.

Anyway, the hypothesis is that for composition to work we have to be mindful of what we are writing (thinking) but mindless of the writing. Note that writing has two components here, one is the expression of the information of our thinking in ASCII (or diagrams or symbols…) and the other is the generation of a physical representation of the information – characters on paper, e.g. So we have to be mindful of the first but mindless of the second. Yes, I know that is simple but it’s still an hypothesis.

This reduces learning/note taking to two considerations:

  1. You can’t draw diagrams or maths with a keyboard; and
  2. You can’t be mindless of key presses.

Both of these are conditionals. The first is admittedly false but only for drawing programs unsuited for the ASCII component of note-taking. The second may be true for everyone but professional typists and/or GEN Ys. More work is needed on this. Film at Eleven.

Art and Current

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! No, the air temperature isn’t that low, it’s just that there was a wind and my heat capacity starved corpus couldn’t take a full constitutional. So I stopped one lap short and fretted until the misting cleared on my eyeglasses. I knew things were marginal when I robed myself but I went anyway because the worst constitutional is better than the best stationary bike ride.

In some ways still better than yesterday. At least I didn’t have to exchange wet clothings for dry. But there is still a bit of shiver to my bones. Not that I am not a bit happier than in past days, which seems strange since next week is marathon dental week when I have to visit two different dentists.

Perhaps the exhilaration is due to the news [Link] that room temperature superconductivity has been achieved. Maybe? I can recall when John Bardeen and company got the Nobel for superconductivity. And John asking the President of the U if that meant he got a second free (didn’t have to pay for) parking place. Showed what was important. No prizes, but certainly relief from nasty, mind destroying, bureaucratic trivia. I sometimes conjecture that civilization is likely going to be the cause of the extinction of humanity.

And the first "art" has been discovered. [Link] At least until some older is found. But this is an incised sea shell that is 0.5 MY old. Yep. Mage-year! And it wasn’t marked up by homo sapiens. No, homo erectus did the deed. Which sorta indicates that art is way easier than science. The ranking of politics is still out, but my guess it will ultimately be ranked with miscegenation and genocide. Not that either of those really make any sense, but then neither does politics.

That’s enough. Going back to enjoying the feeling because with the holidays onrushing I know that feeling won’t last long.

Heat Hate

The expedition to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill was successful in that I both survived and returned alive to Greater Metropolitan Arab. On the down side I was reminded that the year is closing out and next week’s expedition will be the last until after the holiday is passed.

As in kidney stone passed.

On the bright side, one of my colleagues sent me a link to a cartoon:

which captures several dimensions. First, it is rather how I feel about winter in general and why I cannot take constitutional in park. I am not sure how much of it is surviving too long and how much is chemicals in my blood and body that reduce my heat capacity, but both are clearly factors. It is hard to walk when you are shivering so hard you cannot stay erect. And I experience that at an absurdly high temperature.

The second is that cold is a sensation. It is not a thermodynamic metric. It cannot be measured and we can therefore, per Lord Kelvin, not really know anything substantive about it. That however, gets at its nature. Sensation is often something we cannot know except by experience. It is orthogonal to any understanding beyond the observational. Beyond the binary – Ising – observation of its presence/non-presence, it is not objective. Hence the idea, the actuality, of too cold is purely subjective, and needs best be accepted as such. Criticism and judgment are inappropriate, destructive. But that sadly is the nature of humans. Somehow we can only be happy sometimes if we are making others unhappy.

And that is why winter is such a human thing.

Shoes and Gum?

Better. Air temperature higher this morning. My aft porch wireless thermometer informed me fifty-five degF, so I assayed a constitutional in the park. It did not tell me that dihydrogen oxide was falling but that was endurable. In fact, it was a ‘frog-boiling’ rain, the kind that gets you wet but you don’t realize it until just shy of soaking. But even then pleasant and most satisfying. May actually make the day worth while which will be a marked improvement for the rest of the week.

Which, of course, raises the question of whether sundae is first or last day of the week. I will ignore the question of keeping since that makes saturn’s day eve the first day of the week and thus counts days from dusk rather than midnight or dawn depending on whether one is nerd, geek, or bog. I consider sundae the end of the week since I worked for many years and in that frame mundane day is the start of work so the start of THE week. And I will plead that I am too old to change and even that there is no need to.

But shabbat commences at dusk on Freya’s day and not at dawn on sundae like the evil christianist evangelicals maintain.

The podcast was an episode of the "Linux Luddites". Since the gym was closed on Thor’s day for employee goof-off and I would modally have listened to a Linux podcast on Thor’s day, I started listening on my stationary bicycle on Thor’s day morning here in my book clogged study. And I just stayed with it each day.

Intriguingly, none of the Linux podcasts I listen to particularly instructive and, at best, marginally insightful, but they are mostly well done. Somehow the Brits are much better at podcasts than Americans. Ditto Canadians are better. Which raises the question of why are Americans so inept at podcasting? I don’t have an answer to this question but I will place some cogitation-time against it. Film at Eleven.

But I was led down a herring track by a comment about the unipurpose of Unix clients. The track was a consideration of the dichotomy of Unix monotasking and Ian McGyver-Alton Brown multitasking. This is fundamentally the difference between the sedentary (leading to agricultural and maybe civilization) and hunter-gatherer lifestyles. The latter could not afford monotasking implements unless they were in a situation of temporary sedentaryness. This follows by the absence of any means of transport other than their own bodies. So anything you carried about with you had to be either fundamental to survival or a multitasker. I am not at all sure anthropologists and paleontologists and archaeologists have that in consideration when they mumble about HGs.

So why do we moderns have our fascination with multitaskers? We can fairly readily afford the burden of monotaskers. Indeed, many of our multitaskers are associated with restricted transport. I myself carry a Victrionix (R) super-tinker because it does much of what I want and I am willing to accept its inefficient and ineffective nature. That is, monotaskers are always (almost) more effective and efficient than multitaskers. This is implicit to the concept.

But it doesn’t answer the question.

I sometimes think that we have some genetic predisposition to multitaskers. We get a feeling of satisfaction from the facade of efficiency. But I think it transcends that. When I look at the monotaskers I would need to carry to equal the bits of my multitasker, I am discouraged by the jangling mass and volume.

On the other hand, I carry at least one pen as well. And the pen, arguably, is a monotasker. This is a bit ambiguous and illustrates the nature of the discussion. I can wrote various things with the pen as well as do maths and even draw or sketch. But the same may also be said of the bits on my multitasker knife. So the discussion is muddled from the get-go.

Again, cogitation-time is indicated.

But the day has begun well. For a change.

Not Dripping but maybe Drooping

This is second try for the day. Some computational evil swallowed the previous and I am too desolate to try to recreate. So this is a second try. If it fails, despair. Especially given this is continual headache season. Not helped by dripping requirement.

One of my colleagues, Magnetic Inductance Force, has been sending me cartoons and in the sundae spirit I will beat on those a bit. First, [Link]

this struck me on two azimuths. The first was the absolute bogusness of the maths. What is it about all media displays of maths that they are so obviously whacked. Is this why the Simpsons don’t do such? And most gratingly, where is the differential under the integral? Oh, my headache.

The second was the accuracy. FD SCP does difficult calculation – beyond my capacity – every time she dons clothes. I don’t. And that gender differentiation seems universal. At least among homo sapiens. 

Which brings me to some work [Link] that sapiens has been miscegenating with neandertals for about 54 KY instead of the 36 previously thought. Long enough to have lost some of the neandertal DNA. Which bring up the question of what dangers does that loss expose us to? 

And it seems worthy to note this on sundae when the mystics and superstitionists are off to services and the myth of vacuum creation. Which does explain why this gender differentiated behavior. All of the make fashion sense was in that rib.

The second cartoon [Link]

is also notable for its accuracy. My room wasn’t that way as a teenager since my other was a fiend about order and if I wouldn’t order things she would as a punishment. And a horrible punishment it was. But now I know that such room disorder is the sign of a truly ordered mind and I endure. As do most of my colleagues.

From whence surely came some work at U Arizona on steering lightning bolts with laser beams. [Link] The only problem with ths is that it is only academically new. I recall reading science fiction books on this as a teenager. And no credit given so far as I can tell. So much for academic integrity. 

That’s enough. Selah. I’m going to enjoy the not dripping for a few minutes.


Good Addiction

Fawg! Real fawg! Not that stercus uttered by Weather Beavers when there is enough aerosol to see but the visibility is several miles. Real can’t see five point something football fields (American, that is) fer the white goop, not the red. Driving to the edge of Scant City, where it went away, was a lovely exercise in last-man-on-Tellus emotions. 

And the podcast! An episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” consisting of a lecture by A. C. Grayling on liberties.And incidentally, how the relgionists will always cheat and enslave us. But excellent mundane day fare. Which gave me cause to contemplate whence I go with with the new book.

Which led me once more to think about maths and bogs. In keeping with the old saying that “there is no royal road to learning”, there is no special maths escalator for bogs. Or anyone else. But I am entertaining the conjecture that the problem is that bogs are unable to embrace maths because that would make them not-bog and they are unwilling to abandon their current pathetic lives. I ran across an article [Link] entitled “Are we all really THAT BAD at math?” and immediately found a lovely case study of bog and maths. I was particularly taken with some of the article:

“Oddly enough, I got my best grades in math and science. It was mostly because I was a quick formula memorizer. I could plug and chug with the best of them. But there was very little practical application for what I “learned.”

Ask me how to calculate the cosine of a right triangle or, well, to do pretty much anything I learned in calculus, and I’ll give you a blank stare. Heck, just ask me why I would need to do those things, and I’ll give you a blank stare.”

Yes, there is no practical application because you haven’t learned enough. The memorization is inescapable. Until you can learn enough to actually work real problems all you are going to get is memorization and fake problems. That hopefully reinforce the memorization. Expecting to do anything with high schule maths is about like seeing a picture of a screwdriver and expecting to assemble a motorcar. Or a plasma cannon. 

So blame part of it on the constricted hose of high schule – public education in general – education. You aren’t going to learn much maths in high schule. Maybe the equivalent of one semester in college. And then, if you’re a bog, you’re going to avoid that. I forget how many bog seniors had deferred college algebra – a course most nerds place far beyond in college – and suddenly found themselves mousetrapped into a no-graduate situation. Several even offer pittances to take the tests for them.

The only way you learn maths is the way you learn anything. You have to go beyond. If you stick with what they teach in public schule then you are doomed to be an ignernt bog. And yes, that is maybe redundant. I find it amusing that bogs embrace athletics and practice (learn) for a lot more hours than they are in class. But ask them to put in extra hours on maths or science and they act like you want to neuter them. As if learning athletics is somehow exalting? Other than endorphins, of course.

So don’t cry to us when you fail, bogs. You did it to yourself. With help from your parents, who are just you a bit older and not wanting you to be better than they. And teachers who don’t know any more than they present – if that – and don’t want you to know more than they. And a schule system that is more interested in good order than good people. The only road to STEM is doing more than the system provides. Mediocre schules produce mediocre people. Bogs, in other words. And all schules – public at least – are mediocre. So it’s up to you. 

Creativity Sought

Halfway through week out. Saturday was a medium day. And the temperature this morning was almost high enough for a constitutional. But I stayed home on the stationary bicycle and listened to the remainder of an episode of “The Pen Addict”. The podcast has improved a bit recently. A couple of weeks’ alternates made me receptive that they hosts have cleaned up their grammar a bit; there are still egregious errors but the frequency is down. On the negative side they still can’t get the RSS download files named right and I have to download and manually rename so overwrite doesn’t bite me. And the fire seems to have departed the whole thing. Or maybe its just doldrums of a static marketplace?

I have found out part of why I miss the constitutional. Some work at Stanford [Link] indicates that walking generates creative thinking. I suspect I put this in the academic affirmation pile. After all, Darwin was a great proponent of the creative benefits of walking. But then biologists and psychologists are not always very cooperative. So I now have to consider if I want to try to retime my constitutional or not? Or reposition? And is there any indoor place to do so? At least in Greater Metropolitan Arab. 

While we’re on creativity, I ran across this cartoon:[Link]

some time ago and have been slowly, mentally, masticating it. Or its ideation. I have finally settled on the conjectures that this is all about bogs and how they aren’t nerds or geeks. Although, as we know geeks tend to have all sorts of whackadoodle ideas – that’s part of their endearing charm – but they seem to have an extra strong capacity of disbelief suspension and can revert to rationality upon need. 

But it also rings to me of how whackadoodle our education system is choking off the flow of information to students so that they have to wait until college to really learn anything. And maybe not then in modern factory colleges. But I was impressed that the cartoonist had some inkling of just how complex magnetism is. Most people think it is simpler than electricity, all because of paper and iron filings.

OK. That’s it for now. Since I’m trying to write another book I have to save some creativity mana for it. More later if I get depleted.