Not a bad morning so far. The gym was only moderately crowded and the weight bouncers were only moderately harassing and intimidating and the educationalists were actually rather restrained. The only negative, per se, other than the non-absence of the previous two categories, was the podcast, an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” about Moses Znaimer’s ‘Ideacity’. [Link]

‘Ideacity’ is a technology (???) conference that bills itself as TED for Canadia. It live up to that if TED stands for ‘Technological Entertainment for Dummies’, which is what the American TED conferences are, a bunch of bogs and not-quite-geeks trying to be nerds. And failing. 

This episode definitely obeys Sturgeon’s rule squared: 0.99 crap. In the duration of podcast I heard exactly one accurate thing – the issue of big data, corporation, and individual privacy – and a lot of blatant inaccuracy. And that’s across three presentations. The one with the robot loaded with a human was egregiously a failure. Makes me hope that I just die and turn to goop. Easily the most horrible representation of Singularity I have experienced.

And I had to listen to some other bog prattling about how wonderful GEN Ys are because they are digital. If they’re so digital why can’t they do anything? Why do I, a GEN X nerd, have to continually be doing IT support for GEN Ys who can’t even understand how to interface with a wifi access point? Or format a hard drive. Or add memory to a computer. Yes, they’re good at using digital appliances like FaceScroll and Twatter but where is their technical competency? So far as I can tell they’re just as bad, in the same proportions, as GEN X. Bogs are bogs whether they are analog or digital. And almost all aren’t helpful.

Another sad thing? This episode is the first of four. I will sample one more. And if it’s the same pile of pony poo, with a pony so small that the like hasn’t been seen in millions of years, then the ERASE button on the MP3 player comes into play. Happily. Ridding my attention span of digital rubbish. Rotting digital rubbish. That will never turn to peat. 

In other news – HA! – the aerosols are back. When I got to gym the wind was quite refreshing but it evidently slacked while I was perspiring, and being bored/alienated/harassed/…, and when I emerged, there was a stiff haze. Might have been a light fog but I don’t think so. Luna was quite visible, which shouldn’t be if there were fog, with an aerosol scattering halo that (approximately) doubled its radius. Very attractive. Almost pure pony. So I thought about Debye potentials and Diran Dermendjian all the way back to castellum SCP.

I was also put in mind of a cartoon: [Link]

that I ran across earlier. Fun, I fear, for nerds at least, needs to be brief, punctuated. Otherwise it cloys and ceases to be fun. Like that podcast. 

Color Stupidity

Back to week in. A few educationalists around gym but not really obnoxious. And the weight bouncers were actually civil this morning. The failing was the podcast, an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” about color and it was not. Rather it was a rather boggish thing, alternating between frustrating boring and wrong headed to downright painful and wrong headed.

It was very non-Newtonian and I am the opposite. Human vision has seven colors: Red; Orange; Yellow; Green; Blue; Indigo; and Violet. All the strange named colors like teal or puce or khaki are shades of one of the seven, or an admixture. Neither white nor black are colors, for opposite reasons, White is the combination of the seven and black is the absence of the seven.

And it rather grates on me when some ferd fails to adhere to this. But I contained myself this morning. I did not utter profanity over the podcast, nor hurl the MP3 player against the wall. I waited for the podcast to end and then I took great joy in erasing it.

I do not purchase paint; FD SCP has that responsibility. And so long as she does not tell me the (improper) name of what she has purchased I can abide it. I prefer to shop for clothing on-line since the stores are full of salespeople who utter this stercus.

I can abide motorcar salespeople when they use strange names for shades and allege that gray is a color because the whole process is so painful that the rule of greatest pain dampens all others makes their color pain mute. Also I do find gray soothing. My favorite weather is fog. I have always found it quite inspirational. And uplifting. I rather dislike high insolation days because the light level is irritating, if not painful.

And I noted as I deleted the podcast that next week I shall have to listen to another episode on the same subject. I fear I am now hoping for a long week.

STEM NERD Writing 3

One of the pleasant things I have been doing this week out is returning to listening to the “Pen Addict” podcast. [Link] I received an email this week that claims new episodes are forthcoming from a different casting service so I can unignore my small stash and listen again. I have to admit to being a bit amused that I have to actually admit to enjoying the ‘cast, horrible grammar and all. It is definitely quite different from the other podcasts that I listen to. Neither science nor computers.

And while the podcast I listened to this week out was a disjoint oleo, triggered by my thoughts on the Greeks of the campus of the Black Warrior, I had occasion to reflect further on my own writing efforts in my undergraduate years. I have already mentioned how I took up notetaking as a freshman. That it was new to me and something I had to learn hard and fast. This seems important, or, at least, significant, since it seems to explain much of the difference in my outlook than those expressed on the porcast.

I am, of course, aged more than the podcasters. This may be significant. Back when I was an undergraduate we did not have the resources afforded students today. No syllabus, or Powerpoint slides, on keyed notes. All we had was the textbook(s) and labs – in the nerd courses – and the lectures. That was it. So our notes were very important. They recorded what the lecturer thought was important. And his/her explanations and examples and illustrations. The mappings of the textbook material into our minds, at least in a pseudo-maths sense. So notetaking was a critical and crucial aspect of survival and success. One either mastered the process of converting what was seen and heard into ink on the page or one left for Vietnam. It was that simple, at least for men. I am unsure of what the women did. Or the Greeks. Other than put fungus cream on their feet.

Anyway, I have noted in the podcast that much discussion is emitted about writing angles, and pen colors, and line widths and such like. I finally realized that this was all symptomatic of the current craze with mindfulness. Given the depth of entertainment immersion these days such is not bad but it tends to make matters of mindlessness – unawareness – either nekulturny or anathema. But that is what makes the difference here.

If one is going to do notetaking well (or compositional writing,) then one cannot be mindful of the writing or its instruments. Pen/pencil and paper must be extensions of the hand. There must be no phase shift, no impedence in information flowing from eye and ear to brain to hand to paper. Pen and ink and writing must not be noticable – mindful. They must be part of the body, unnoticed until end of class when the hand cramp and inky fingers – if any – are resolved on the way to next class.

That mindlessness carries over. When I had an essay or term paper – few – of lab report or research paper of thesis or journal article – many – to write, that notetaking mindlessness was continued. The flow from brain to paper was direct and unimpeded by the non-physiological instrumentality. I typed poorly and could not compose and type at the same time. I would compose and write failry well. So all my career, i have composed/written first and then transcribed the writing to essay or article via typewriter or computer. I still do this almost always.

And as a result all this stufff about writing angle and line width and such is submereged into whether the pen is unminded or not. If not, the system is broken. If so, then it works. The rest is peripheral.

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Vacuum Stupidity

Dragging. Too much yesterday. And I didn’t get much done. Which leads me to reflect on the events.

My first graduate student, a master’s student, closed the loop after more than thirty years. Not from – I hope – any alienation, just no overlap of spatio-temporal coordinates. And it was a good reunion and he told me all he was doing and had done. And I tried to stay pretty quiet but I knew from the beginning that this wasn’t about me. But he was a good student – hard working and hard thinking – and one cannot ask for more and seldom gets half so much. But I could tell that he was struggling with some insecurities; insecurities that what he was doing now was worth while and befitting. And as such things often are, his concerns were ,isplaced and overamplified.

But that interaction went way further into the evening than I am want to go and so I was too tense and burdened with my own lateness when I got home. And discovered an email from a colleague who was clearly disjoint over the failure of his current management to do something simple like pay the cellular telephone bill for the organization. Which either indicates a failure to communicate or that the Yankee government really is morally bankrupt. So I suspect a mixed state. With a large dose of inside clerk not getting around to a task that is obvious but of different priority to inside and outside folks.

In any organization, there are several differentiating taxonomic states. A common one is inside/outide folks. The in/out refers to contact beyond the organizations. Insice folks mostly only talk to folks inside the organization, and visa versa. But what is important is both think they are important and !!!!! the others aren’t.

Most of us think garbage collectors are unimportant. And they think garbage makers are nuisances. But our lives would be enormously more complicated without garbage collectors and they wouldn’t have jobs without us. Not that they couldn’t find other jobs, of course.

This sounds like we are are all irrational and unobjective. And we are. But that is part of human nature. And basic conservation of capabilities. We can’t be rational about everything or objective about everything and still be human. Mutually exclusive. And that’s where managers come in.

One of my colleagues, used to be senior to me, had a saying “Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity” written on his chalk board. He claimed it was to remind him. What he didn’t say was that he had to be reminded becuase he really didn’t want to believe it despite ample empirical experience of a supportive nature.

That’s why we call ouyrsleves homo sapiens. We aren’t. Wise that is. But we are conceited and insecure and those make for bursts of what passes for abysmal stupidity. But it isn’t real stupidity because it isn’t persisting. It’s rather like Dirac particles being “created’ from the quantum vacuum foam. (How’s that for a mind bender phrase?) We might call it Dirac stupidity except it would be a horrible insult to a rather arrogant but otherwise smart fellow. So let’s call it vacuum stupidity. Because idisrupts everything else, and then goes away leaving an eery silence.

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