Bog Rot

A dark and stormy night. Well, not that stormy. But precipitous. I arose about 0230 to observe the eclipse and all I could see was overcast and the refraction of street light in the droplets on my glasses. So I returned to bed and almost failed to arise. Gym was blissfully sparse, the present weight bouncers were civil, and the podcast episodes, especially the SCIENCE one, were up to expectations: SCIENCE was deep and exacting; NPR was boisterous and slippery; and the Guardian was romantic.

But in and around that I got to spend some attention span on morning – early morning – television and the rather higher density of advertisements. Or am I just jaded later and don’t notice the nasty things.

Anyway, I have been reading several articles lately about how modern life, i.e., the internet, is causing us to become more stupid as a society. I have been ready to credit this somewhat since it is now almost impossible to have intelligent discourse with a GEN Y old enough to have a “smart” cellular telephone. They are ignorant, defining smart in terms of what they can find with their phone, quite ignoring the fundamental untrustability of the the internet.

It may be argued that this is not surprising. With the rise of social networks, bogs have become boggier, if such a plague is possible, and even geeks have become less avid collectors. I have even been accused of paranoia for not accepting as canonical that the internet is eternal and eternally available. Living in the hinterland reassures me daily that neither is accurate.

But having observed early morning commercials with even more egregious prevarication and inaccuracy than later commercials, it occurred that this is less a matter of fooling somnolent individuals than preying on the ignorance of the GEN Ys. I intend to do an informal survey but my testing hypothesis is that they are orthogonal to these flaws and errors. And there is likely nothing we can do but resolve ourselves for the collapse.

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One Day Start

Back to week in. Good session at gym. I missed the rain, which occurred after I arrived and ceased – temporarily – before I exited. There were not too many weight bounders although a couple of rather bullyishness and the podcast episode, one of the CBC’s “Best   of Ideas” dealing with the battle of York, was adequate if a bit thin. The context, as is usual with this podcast, is more than a bit sob sister and shy of historical depth and breadth. More was made of the eccentricities than the dynamics. But it was a diverting almost-hour away from the tedium of exercise.

I am still not back up to speed and have not had time to acquaint myself with external events, which based on the viewing with FD SCP of the weekend news programs, are somewhere between nonexistent and banal. The similarity to the period preceding the War to Make the World Safe for Democracy continues. As does the grrr brrr that has been expected about the climate change exterminating humanity. But the denialists still persist in Amerikan governance. So if we are doomed, why blather?

The weather beavers are mongering a last (??????) cold snap and freeze this week. Amazing how humans can ignore science and bend observation to their own purposes.

Film at Eleven.

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End of Days – Sorta

Today is the end of support by MegaHard for Winders XP. It may also be the day marking the beginning of the end for MegaHard but that is not only uncertain, but likely improbable. Nastiness tends to stay around. I noticed an article earlier – lost when my other deskbox imploded – that some storage barrels of stercus several centuries old had been found and still had the odorus sterci – the olfactory punch of poo. MegaHard may not be several centuries old. nor all that nasty as corporations go today, but they still have magnum odorus.

The onslaught on XP will not be immediate, but it likely will come. Low hanging fruit and all that sort of rot – language rot, that is. I was marveling this morning after listening to science podcasts how abused the American English language is, and how facile Americans are at abusing such. I find it very disturbing when scientists, who should be speaking with care and precision, utter misuses and catch phrases like illiterate valley waifs. So there will be no shortage of low habgubgf fruit for the evildoers to rob and plunder.
I mentioned yesterday the issue of money instiututions. I feel moved to reiterate. If your money institution is not forthcoming that they are using a trustworthy OS, and tell you which one, then they almost certainly are using XP and should not be trusted. Sadly, since the vast majority of money inistitutions are still using XP – I have heard numbers as high as 0.8 of all ATMs are still XP driven – there is no easy answer on how to find a trustworthy money institution. And unfortunately, the use of a mattress safe is neither wise nor practical. Too many organizations, the Yankee government included, do direct deposit. Add to this the arrogance and cupidity of the bankers who manage these organizations and the risk becomes a necessity to assume. But you can reduce your exposure by not using ATMs. Unless they have a Penguin sticker. The new ones are Linux driven, but  they are few. The money organizations with technical savvy will advertise that in short order. 
The same goes for other organizations, including chain stores. If a store or business establishment won’t tell you what OS their money hardware is using, caveat emptor.
As for me, I am going to continue to use XP for the clients I still need to use. But I disabled wifi on all those machines and limit their interaction with the external world to printers and USB sticks. And I am doing more with money these days – pictures of dead politicians. Stores may not like it but if they complain I’ll spend it elsewhere. Be an offensive consumer!

In Praise of Foot Stupidity

Yesterday, FD SCP drug me out into Greater Metropolitan Arab on a grubbing expedition. What we needed were nose tissues (I don’t blow my face with them so I decline to call them facial tissues,) but we ended up several other places including a place that used to be a rather poor furniture store (Yes, I know that is almost always redundant) and now purveys kitsch and gibble. It’s one of those places where people try to sell their old junk and/or stuff that no real store would. And as one might expect on a Saturday, all manner of folk were present and I was given a chance to reflect on the nature of contemporary Southron feminine ugly. In fact I made up a short check list:

  • Big Hair, indifferently and infrequently washed;
  • Big Gun; masticated with exaggerated jaw movement and voluminous smack; and
  • Big Flip Flops.

I might also add Big Scent, preferable cheap and a bit astringent, but that is not a universal.

I should also comment that the human foot is a matter of Freudian beauty. That is, it is a love-hate situation. A foot may be very attractive, especially if it lacks wear, bunions, corns, ……… It is also unattractive if dirty, unless the viewed is an adolescent boy in rut, in which case the state of the foot is irrelevant. The fascination women have with footwear is common knowledge. What I do not fathom is the current fascination with uncomplimentary – ugly – footwear. I am abashed that any women dressed in business attire but wearing canvas shoes is ever taken seriously. Dressed like a geek or nerd, yes; like a “professional” bog, no.

But the flip flop is even worse. I entertain the conjecture that the reduction in birth rate is the direct result of the flip flop being fashionable and popular. I also entertain the conjecture that that popularity is some conspiracy. Or an elaborate joke.

This is one of the things that make me happy to be ORF. I would hate to be young and vigorous and so deflated and nauseated by the display of feet, male or female, in flip flops on a dense basis.

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Unfit to Continue?

Not a bad constitutional. A bit lacking in atmospheric heat but not enough that I was engulfed in my exhalant. After the incessant rain yesterday and the foretold torrents tomorrow, the absence of dihydrogen oxide was not unpleasant. The podcast episode, one of “The Pen Addict”, was mostly angst rather than actual content, so I was able to turn my attention span to a question that occurred last evening:

Is Evening Television News Worthwhile?

Let us consider.

It seems reasonable to consider the local and national (network) news programs separately, for reasons of content if nothing else. The national news is strictly news, or what the network propagandists choose to call news, whereas the local news is part news, again selected by propagandists, weather, and athletics. The national news is smooth and elegant. News of a complete state’s population being extinguished in a nuclear fire storm is delivered with a beaming smile on a face of perfect cosmetics and conspiratorially composed coiffure. The local news is Klutzy. Banal banter is frequent, often inappropriate and irrelevant, and smiles fail frequently. The acting is definitely amateur theatrical.

The problem is, for the national news, that too much of the speech is propagandist slant and cant, often blatantly so at least to the non0bog, and a point of view so contrived and alien that one begrudges the time and attention that must be given it in hope of some scant real atom of news data. Given the news services on the internet, the answer to whether national television news is worthwhile is a fairly resounding “NO”.

The local news is a bit more redeemed. Some of the local news: schule closings; or the lynchings of local politicians; is worthwhile to some. And it may be argued that everyone in the community has some need that is partially and occasionally satisfied. The weather, despite its inaccuracies, is also, at least, local, and thereby has some merit, especially in seasons when the weather can bite and maim. And the sports rubbish has some interest to the deltas and epsilons, I suppose.

Of course, the local weather is available on the internet from these folks, but we must not forget that if their television presence goes away, so does their internet presence, so at least those gullible enough to use the advertised services and products need to watch. I am unclear on how we can instill a compulsion to do so in those people however easy it is to find them among the boggery.

We should also not overlook the amusement value of the outrageous statements and grammar mishaps on the local news. Mostly these occur on the bimbo side of the news desk but occasionally the weather beavers get the taste of rubber shoe heel. I suspect the jock journalist does similar but I lack the strength and stupidity to actually listen to such. Besides, I have to hide the hard objects in the room lest I necessitate the replacement of the audio-visual receiver from damaging impact. Projectile regurgitation can at least be easily removed from the instrument although the carpet requires service attention.

This is a bit perplexing. The evening news has long been the Amerikan equivalent of daily rituals to the lares and penates. Indeed, one may argue that the aforementioned bimbo side of the news desk is often an initiate of Vesta. But times change. The custom basically dates from the post-Great Patriotic War proliferation of television, not something initiated with the adoption of sedentaryism. So abandoning it will not be something serious like abandoning evening dental hygiene. After all, there is the internet and newspapers.

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Thorian Candor

Survival, somehow. Actually, yesterday was not bad. The traffic was quite light in Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill; the Memorial Parkway was not a parking lot as it usually is when I try to traverse it. And the reduction in density seemed to quench the occurrence of Kamakazi drivers. It was a bit warm but I was able to buck up and not engage the temperature reduction mode as I returned to Greater Metropolitan Arab. And the gym was quite sparse this morning although the podcast, an episode of “The Linux Action Show” reviewing Cinnamon 2, was poor at best. Between sciency gibble that threatened to precipitate projectile regurgitation and a review that was almost completely incoherent as well as incomprehensible, I had attention span wandering and a touch of mind nausea.

I noticed some congress critter mumbling something about criminal charges against General Motors and my first thought was that the confress critter needed a better joke writer. Criminal charges against an organization? In Amerika? Pray do not insult my limited intelligence. What are you going to do, lock up the buildings in jail? Threatening a corporate oligarch with corporate fines just jacks up the price of goods. If you want to make the organization quit doing stupid shit to citizens, and that makes a deal more sense than extracting a monetary punishment that will cost more to collect that it amounts, then form firing parties and conduct a ritual decimation of the executives. After the YG does that a couple of time corporate amerika will play rather more nicely than it does now.

And speaking of punishment, I note that the so-called sitcom “How I met your mother” has concluded. No sadness here. What is it about New York (any big city) show that is supposed to be funny that it isn’t? Do people who live in cities actually think these are funny? If so, another reason not to live in cities. I have to admit to having watched the show a few times. The best I can say is that it is better than spectator sports. But funny? That it is not. I shall not comment on anything else: plot; actors; stories;….; that would be redundant. Failure is all pervasive.

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Two Thought

The temperature increasing is. But the density in gym was quite low, even for a Two Day. And the podcasts were passable. Better than last Two Day although the SCIENCE podcast is too short. And I learned that the mud slide out in Washington (the state) was a disaster because of real estate agent greed and county government collusion. Gee, that sounds like Greater Metropolitan Arab.

Which led me to reflect on the failure of the civil legal system and the rot of society. If someone does you wrong without actually committing a criminal act, it can’t be made good. It can only be made to give you an inadequate amount of money. You lose an eye or limb on the job due to employer negligence? All you get is a paltry sum. No new eye or limb. That’s what we call justice in Amerika.

And the criminal side is worse, since if an organization does something illegal, they don’t lock management up – not that that would be adequate – they just fine them a bit. Organizations get the rights of citizens with almost none of the responsibilities. And they get to own congress critters.

But on reflection, maybe that’s better than the code of Hamurabbi?

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An awful night! Sinus drainage/blockage rather disrupted my rest. I didn’t succumb to slumber until about the time FD SCP retired. And then the educationalists were back this morning, albeit a bit restrained for some unobvious reason. Perhaps hung over or exhausted. One always wonders if there is some secret beach somewhere where educationalists go on spring break to pretend to be young.

The podcast was also a bit blah, one of those culturally correct Canadian things talking about the customs and superstitions of their descendants of Clovisites. It was basically a series of recitations of “stories” that were both mystical and logically inconsistent and contradictory. So I had plenty of attention span to divert to considering an article [Link] sent me by my colleague Magnetic Inductance Force.

The article is an actual real article, that is, a refereed article out of a real refereed periodical and not some poo mind defecated by a “journalist”. It’s a physics article about some research on how to improve test grades in freshman physics courses. The course in particular is what we used to call Freshman Physics with Calculus – I think. It’s basically freshman physics for science majors and a service course for engineering majors. The motivation for improving test scores is, I suspect, primarily the latter. Test grades are a survival thing for science majors so pimping tests would be counter-Darwinian.

Three test groups were formed: practice tests; practice tests plus homework; and practice tests plus homework and tutoring. The bottom line is that tutoring doesn’t help. That’s not surprising to me since we have known for a long time that tutoring is primarily useful in learning the subject matter, and, with a good tutor, improving confidence. Those two then make for better test grades. And, of course, practice is important which is a thing usually lost to students who spend too little time doing problems.

This latter applies regardless of major. Nerd majors have too many problems to work to work them in a thoughtful fashion, and Bog majors tend to mostly take type one courses where there are no problems, only memorization. So they have no idea problems need to be worked nor how to work them.

The nastiness of this effort is resounding. First and foremost, the article is published in a physics journal. Not many other disciplines read physics journals, especially educationalists. Unless they are physics educationalists, which is a horrible thing to even contemplate. But the authors obviously saw no reason that these results needed to be shared outside the physics community. That’s the first nasty. It’s hubris of the rankest sort.

And the second thing is that not only is it redundant, it’s redundant of work done at the same U. Back when I was a student at the campus of the Boneyard, we did an experiment with the Keller course format that essentially found the same results. And the experiment was documented. Does no one do a literature search any more? Or go to the library?

This is Eddingtonian physics at its purest.

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Grad Coding

The day looks fair to middling. It is a sundae after all, and being an ORF that is usually the worst day of the week what with mystics and superstitionists running about and abrogating the Constitution. It is also a bit on the low temperature side, somewhere at or in the thirties degF. But I assayed a constitutional in the park and had it not been for a too brisk wind, the constitutional would have been delightful. The podcast was the last part of an episode of “The Pen Addict”, which I listen to mostly to make other horrible podcasts endurable. I was upheld this morning with such a collection of grammar abuses as to make my head tingle. And not just from the sensation of cold.

I also have occasion to celebrate since this is an anniversary date of having my gall bladder extracted. I suppose this is the ORF version of a piercing?

I ran across an excellent cartoon: [Link]

yesterday, and it immediately took me back to my days as a doctoral candidate at the campus of the Tennessee.  Since I was doing a theoretical research, a lot of coding was involved. As I have mentioned previously I was working full time for the Yankee army and doing graduate schule in and around. Part of that in and around was to do dissertation coding and work coding in parallel, at least during duty hours. My schedule was to get up early – for those days – and go to the computer center at the U – this was in the days when all the computers were mainframes – and pick up runs, drive onto post, stop at the lab computer center, pick up runs, and then drive to the building where my office was where I immediately went to cafeteria for breakfast. Then I could get an hour or so of work in before the bogs and married-with-bairns arrived. I made a couple of trips to the post computer center during the day but a bit after the bogs and marrieds left, a half hour or so to clear traffic, I would head for campus. Earlier it had been to attend classes but at this stage classes, except mandatory seminar attendance, were past and I went instead to the campus computer center where I worked until shy of midnight. Thence home for a bit of sleep and hygiene before repeating.

The coding was not textbook ideal. After all, this was research code, not organizational operation code. In all likelihood, no one else but me would use it. In fact, that was almost certain since the attitude of my adviser was that coding was irrelevant – he was a horrible coder and our strongest words were about him staying away from my punch cards – so the code was mine and no one else was involved. That was how it was in those days. No group coding hugs, no library of old code. A grad student wrote his own code or dropped out.

And because of that, the commenting was non-existent, or nearly so. I made the natural assumption that what the code did was obvious and all I commented was sections, and then with terse labels. Only things that took lots of mind molting got lots of comments and those usually referred to a notebook location that meant nothing to anyone but me. I never counted the lines of code. Instead we counted pages of code. That was easier and counting was a bit of whimpery. Excellence was fewer pages, not more.

Those were wonderful days. All the code was in FORTRAN; no useless and intrusive GUI garbage to worry about. All you cared about was getting numbers out. Of course plotting was a pain and the body ached from long hours on computer center furniture, all of which was cast off from anywhere and everywhere. Even the Salvation Army and the Good Will wouldn’t have taken that furniture. They’d have burned it. Food was something one ate after submitting a BIG run. Always fast food because there were fast food places five minutes drive – maximum – from campus. And the campus cops, the night shift anyway, all knew and were known by the coding grad students so STOP signs were more suggestions than constraints.

Going to work was good. It was about the only break I got and the primary reason for sleep and hygiene. Going to see adviser was painful, mostly because the rhythm would get broken with new directions, or even writing a paper. But that’s a story for another blot.

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