Despite my respect for the Skin Walker of Alibam, telling Greek (college fraternity/sorority) folks to NOT discriminate is rather like telling Sol not to shine. Not that I condone their exclusions but we need to learn how to distinguish between “racism” and “otherism”.
Once more into the boundary between week in and week out. No gym this morning so I had to content myself with a constitutional and I was reminded by the defacement of the park grounds that the local circus is occurring tomorrow. I believe they call it a community fair but it seems a negative way to build community, degrading the public facilities – which are not very well maintained under the best of circumstances – and offering the usual unhealthy and destructive amusements. I suppose we have to abide such things so that the politicians will have some false good to brag about but it seems altogether too much of a punishment and waste.
On which azimuth I noted [Link] that the US News & World Report published their college ratings. The journalist stated that Alibam did well but if these comments about the state’s colleges are positive and exceptional I would hate to see his journalistic output on the results of Yankee cavalry raids in Alibam during the recent unpleasantness. I was particularly nauseated by the comments about the campus of the Tennessee. Apparently the only thing worthwhile about the schule is a history scholarship endowed by some television pseudo-celebrity.
Do people really put any credence in this review? Not the journalist’s, I know his is stercus, but the one by USN&WR? I hope not. Selecting a college should have to do with a lot of things, none apparently evident to the authors of the USN&WR report.
And while we’re declaiming rubbish, I note [Link] that the Winders Ate interface, ala MegaHard, is not accessible to business apps. The journalism makes this sound rather nasty, and I suppose it is, but it is also rather unsurprising. MegaHard, and Canonical, for that matter, have made it rather clear they are uninterested in further association with their established user bases. Yes, I know that makes no business sense, but it is patently evident, so if MegaHard is abandoning the business user, and, for that matter, corporate clients, then why should they be catering to their needs? Of course, I am told by most of the corporate folks I know that they are going to pass on W8 and hope for something functional in W9. Some are even already making Linux noises although, of course, they will not be using Ubuntu and Unity.
Lastly, I saw an article [Link] that recommended setting one’s motorcar air system on “recirculate” to reduce exposure to driving pollutants. I hate to tell them, U Southron California, that the recirculation doesn’t work well when the windows are rolled down. Or do the windows on motorcars not “roll” down in the land of golden earthquakes? But then I live in Alibam where we have trees and such, unlike California where evidently such are only found in public parks and the lawns of private estates?
I don’t dispute the argument, just that it seems a bit at odds with how things are, at least here in the hinterland of the old confederacy. I typically only run my air system minorly. In the summer in the middle of the day and in the winter at the edges, depending, obviosuly of whether I am adding or removing heat to/from the interior of the motorcar. And California, I am told, has a more clement climate than Alibam.
Perhaps these academics are hard up for publications?
Lived through the motor to and from Huntsville – I think. Actually, the density of crazies was less than usual but those few made up for it in intensity. Is it possible they deter each other?
On the azimuth of deterrence, David Attenborough, Knight, has come out and announced that humans should limit their reproduction to one child per couple.[Link] Alternately, license each human absent any genetic deformities with a license for half a child. The license bit is mine, not his, but it rather fits with his tenor. If we don’t start taking efforts to reduce the population we are going to be in a bad way. And yes, I know that’s a theme I struck some time ago before discovering striking it did no good. In a world dominated by bogs, extinction of the species by overpopulation seems a foregone conclusion.
So perhaps there is some merit to the crazies, at least the ones who go out and discorporate lots of folks in a fit of violence? Or perhaps issue hunting licenses like we do for deer? If we can’t be rational then we have to either accept extinction of find some other means to reduce overpopulation. And nuclear war certainly isn’t a good answer.
On a more positive note, I ran across an article [Link] with the lovely title “Linux is clearly the superior operating system”. I am not sure what else can be said other than it is accurate. And the journalism is actually passable.
And it struck me the commonality of these two. It’s absence of rationality. Overpopulation will extinguish us, so have fewer children. Linux is a better OS, so use it.
But the bogs don’t. Do either. Maybe that’s why they are bogs?
Back to week in. The gym was loaded, moderately, with educationalists and weight bouncers but they weren’t overly noisy. And thankfully because the podcast was rather less than engaging.
So I turned my attention span more to consideration of the tool-appliance duality. The basic idea is that a good tool, and a good appliance, do one thing well. Screwdrivers – the dedicated kind – are good for tightening and loosening screws; ovens are good at generating heat in a semi-isothermal, controlled environment. This tends to fail a bit at the interface between tool and appliance. Is a swiss army knife, a McGyver knife, a tool or an appliance? To answer this we first have to consider what is the difference.
The primary difference between a tool and an appliance is that the tool is adaptable to different environments under human direction. An appliance imposes the environment of use on the human. So what about the knife? IMHO, the answer is both, which is why we are talking about the boundary. The swiss army knife has some adaptability to environment but some aspects it imposes on the human. So it’s a mixed state (or case.)
The distinction carries over to humans, a temperament, if you will, not covered by Meyers Briggs. Some people are good with tools but less adept with appliances. Some are the opposite of this, and it is thought this is the majority of humanity. Alternately, some people are adept at both and some at neither. The problem arises because society and civilization are somewhat indifferent to this temperament, and right now society is rushing head long away from tools towards appliances. Part of this is because the hidden masters are fearful of tool users and part is because of helicopter parenting and teach-to-the-test “education”.
The computer aspect of the electronics revolution that is a fall out of early twentieth century work on quantum mechanics is one demonstration of this. A lot has been written about this over the years but has only soaked into the consciousness of bogs recently. To introduce this, I cite a cartoon [Link]
I came across this weekend. The first thing that pops out is that the computancy of the family has nothing to do with hardware, which is the problem the senior has. Further, none of it has anything to do with making computers work, or even, much, with using them as tools. No one is repairing computers or writing software. All of these folks are appliance users, not tool users.
Back in the early days of “personal” computing, we built our own computers. From parts. Many of us built them using kits that prepackaged the parts needed and provided instructions on how to put the parts together. In a sense, in those days, building was more important than using, but still the only way one used a computer was by writing code – software.
In the period 1975-85, this changed from building a computer from parts to buying a product. You still had to come up with your own software a lot of the time and lots of people were learning how to write code. Most of the people who bought and used computers already knew how to code from using mainframes. But by the time the IBM PC (R) had been around a couple of years the paradigm had begun to change to one where one bought software to go with the hardware. The individual still had to work a bit to get the hardware to work together and with the software, and sales of compilers were pretty high, largely thanks to folks like Phillipe Kahn and Turbo Pascal. In those days everyone had a friend who could be asked questions and even help but there were few folks who made a living nannying computers.
Then Winders came along and all that began to change. Management schules preached that having employees who could fix and maintain their computers was inefficient, so organizations began to dumb down users. Only gamers and hobbyists and the like continued to have tool competency. Cottage industry sprang up to fix home appliance computers the same way they fix ovens and refrigerators. And computers evolved from adaptable boxes to fixed boxes to bricks, and no one could write code any more. People graduated from college with STEM degrees and couldn’t write code. Computer as appliance had arrived.
Now, I read articles [Link] about how kids can’t do homework because they don’t have computers. They have cell phones, but no computer and no internet access. Part of the latter is blamed on poverty but some is due to social norms that say computers are appliances and so internet access isn’t important. Another article, previously blogged, talked about people who can’t get their devices to talk to the internet under any but the most benign conditions.
We are making our own, digital, dark age. Mysticism and superstition and ignorance and illiteracy/acomputancy are growing like mold on old bread. And all because we have become afraid and disdainful of tool use. That may be the true story of why barbarians recur..
The Copenhagen Interpretation says that a state is not “actuated” until it is observed. This is the basis of the Schrodinger cat experiment (gedanken.) But this morning I was thinking about an opposite – states that inactuate or dissolve once they are observed. When I first awoke I was in a perfectly good state, moderately pleasant and lucid but not actually wakefulness. But as soon as I became aware of the state it went away. This is, I think, perfectly natural since I have experienced this many times before but this is the first time I noticed that once the state is observed it goes away.
On which note, I am returned from my morning constitutional, the park shared with a couple of young felines who I managed to not observe sufficiently to scare off or incite to defense, and a side jaunt to the Yankee government postal office in Greater Metropolitan Arab to retrieve mail from the past two days. Now I can proceed to the task of tab hawgin’.
First, an intriguing bit [Link] from IO9 about where people live in the Yankee republic. They present this map:
The idea is that half (approximately) of the population of the Yankee republic is concentrated in 146 counties. These are shown in blue shading, the rest of the nation’s counties are shown in gray shading. The only blue in Alibam is Birmingham.
The lesson to be learned from this is one does not want to live, nor probably, work, where there is blue. It is probably preferable to live in a state where there is no blue. And it also indicates where an enemy would target his missiles.
Next, the occasion of the introduction of Samsung’s (?) smart (??) watch this week has prompted some journalist at the Register to maunder about digital watches. [Link] I fear this article largely confirms my opinions of journalists as the species’ version of slime mold with brain cancer. I was particularly confirmed by his fanism – in public – of Douglas Adams and what he, and his mind slaves, call science fiction. Yes, but so was Captain Future and almost all SF movies. Even my colleagues who read Tolkien and Herbert agree that Adams’ stuff is recycled, reused, toilet paper.
But his extension of that condition to digital watches is nothing but nasty Adamsism. The digital watch is one of the epitomes of human civilization. It is efficient. One does not have to waste brain cycles decoding the angular positions of inefficient motor driven pointers. One need only read the Arabic numerals. And the thing will tell you morning from evening if one is sufficiently intelligent to comprehend the 24 hour military notation. Which may be the epitome of military contributions to human civilization.
And contrary to his diatribe about theater performances, the alarm feature is something not used by any but bogs, merely because there are not enough and they fail to convey adequate information. An alarm does little good if it does not include why the alarm is sounding. That’s why there are alarm programs for cellular telephones and computers. ReminderFox is perhaps the primary value of Mozilla.
My current watch, which I refer to as an ORF watch, tells me the time, in military format, in large enough letters that I can read it without my glasses. There is also a tiny light bulb so I can access it in the dark – much to the annoyance of FD SCP. And it tells me the month, day of month, and day of week. The manufacturer is a company named Freestyle and my only complaint of their product is that they come with rather nasty polymer bands that die in weeks, are hideously uncomfortable, and awkward to replace with a utilitarian stainless deployment band. I do have to take them to a jeweler’s for battery replacement but otherwise they are much better than any other watch I have ever had, including my high schule Acutron, which hummed soothingly.
Back to week in, albeit a day late. I have already fooled myself into thinking today mundane day, listening to an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” instead of science podcasts. But happily the educationalists and weight bouncers were sparse and unbullying – relatively – this morning.
One of my colleagues, Magnetic Force Inductance, reminds me that today is the ‘birthday’ anniversary of the “Lava Lamp”, and that gave me occasion to reflect on the device.
The device consists of several components: a transparent ‘bottle’;  two immiscible liquids, one transparent and the other opaque; and a light bulb, socket, switch, wire, plug. The light bulb was contained in the base and served two purposes: to illuminate the liquids; and to heat the liquids.
The two liquids had some special properties. The opaque liquid had to expand with temperature increase. This is different from water – liquid dihydrogen oxide, which does not expand with increasing temperature (and has the rare property of being less dense in its solid phase than in its liquid phase.)
The simple explanation was that the opaque liquid absorbed heat when it was at the bottom of the bottle – near the light bulb, expanded, became less dense than the transparent liquid, and rose. When it got to the top of the bottle it lost heat to the transparent liquid, became more dense, and fell. In effect this was a simple heat engine except that the thermodynamicist would object that no work is done.
One complication of this is that the heating is a bit more complicated than indicated. The transparent light doesn’t absorb much light so it is heated primarily by the wastage (heat_ of the light bulb. But the opaque liquid, in addition, absorbs light and is thereby heated throughout its volume. It loses heat, however, primarily on its surface to the transparent liquid (and the bottle) so the tuning does not have to be as fine as the simple explanation would indicate.
Lave Lamps were very popular when I was an undergraduate. I greatly enjoyed looking at them, mostly to think about the physics. Many people enjoyed looking at them after consuming drugs or ethanol. Or so I am told.
Anyway, happy birthday anniversary.
 The later versions used an actual bottle, complete with metal cap.
What does Amerika have in common with Egypt? As the joke goes, “denial”. From what I can observe, bog are maths denialists and politicians are reality denialists.
What do the two have in common? Obamacare.
To understand this we have to consider an area of maths called catastrophe theory. And no, this doesn’t have to do with sink holes in the Floridas or airplanes crashing in Birmingham or New Yawk. What they have to do is describe relatively rapid changes in conditions. Usually on a localized level. If we put that infunctional terms, a small change in one of the independent variables makes a big – catastrophic – change in the dependent variable.
I know the last paragraph is likely unintelligible to both bogs and pols, no commentary there on intelligence, so we’ll proceed to the case in point.
Obamacare mandates that (for most businesses,) any employee who works 30 or more hours per week gets health insurance coverage. And what the journalists are making big grrr brrr about is how many businesses are cutting employees back to 29 hours per week. There seems to be great surprise. And all the pols are denying any impact or importance.
Now let us consider this from the standpoint of catastrophe theory. There are two stable states for the employers when confronted with increased overhead cost (as applicable to this situation:) they can hire more people and cut everyone back to 29 or fewer hours per week; or they can fire some people and make the other work overtime. And the independent variable that determines which state is relevant? The unemployment fraction.
If unemployment is high and it’s easy to find employees the first state applies. If unemployment is low and it’s hard to find employees the second state applies. And even though the administration says the recover is going it’s still not enough to make it economically preferable to not hire new employees to avoid the cost of Obamacare.
And the NSA is more than welcome to read this blot.
Courtesy of my colleague, Total Angular Momentum Squared, the fourth, fifth, and sixth time derivatives of the trajectory are: snap; crackle; and pop.
Strange morning. More like fall than summer. Except that absence of educationalists. The podcast episode this morning was one of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” dealing with gender differences in humans. It’s a repeat but good enough to refresh my memory. And give me a few bits for thought.
I rather liked the statement that ‘in the medical community, gender differences are assumed and commonalities are exceptional; elsewhere it is usually the opposite.’ It seems to make sense but falls apart immediately, even without adding water. Oh, not the medical part. But here in the old Confederacy we still start out with gender differences as the ground state. We still hold doors, at least sometimes, for women. I don’t usually hold motorcar door for FD SCP but that a marriage thing. Or so I am informed by bogs.
Growing up in the Sowth I have continually taken heat when I get outside that environment. When I went to graduate schule at the campus of the Boneyard I was continually being berated for the way I thought about and treated women. That’s one of the intriguing things about this. It’s like “racism”. There’s no rationale, no reason, no excuse; it’s just evil and bad and to be ceased sine die. Which is part of what makes it so ridiculous. If you find someone who can’t do an integral and you find out they don’t know calculus, the first thing you do is to try to teach them calculus, not tell them to quit being ignorant and do the integration. But that’s the way it is with racism and feminism.
I have a colleague, Velocity Spin Angular Momentum, who lectures me about my depraved ways whenever we meet. If she gets off on the door holding thing I tell her it’s her fault, that I do it because my mother taught me to as a bairn and since she is a mother as well, it’s all the fault of mothers programming their children wrong.
And I still hold doors when it’s appropriate. And I decide when it is.
Much is made of the new finding that boys and girls (at some grade level) have equal maths ability. I have been claiming that for years. So far as I can tell the average woman may have more maths ability than the average man. But fewer women want to do maths than men do. Can’t say why but empirically that seems to be accurate. But on the average humans have a maths ability statistically equal to zero. Ayeh. Humans in the mode are ACALCULATE. It’s only exceptional humans that are good at maths. And so far as I can tell, there’s not a lot of gender differentiation among those few on that score.
But there is, at least empirically, a lot of gender differentiation among those folks on who wants to use their maths ability. Which leaves us with a bothersome question: why if we’re all smart are men doing it and not women?
I have seen complex systems and chaotic sytems but Huntsville traffic this morning exhibited emergent chaos.