Miscible Socially?

The weirdness persists. Today is the day after the labor holy day and so we return to our usual of working – or not – as we do. The gym was uncrowded; only a few weight bouncers and educationalists and they were not too badly behaved. The podcast was an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” which is normally a Mundane day listen but since this Mundane day was gymless and the lynchpin Two day podcast, an episode of the Guardian’s science podcast, did not emerge in the accumulator this weekend, a bit of shuffling was in order.

And yes, the SCIENCE podcast used to be lynchpin but when it was cut back from 40 minutes to less than twenty it failed to serve as lynchpin and got demoted to standby. It also got demoted from best science podcast for the same reason. Too little time to cover enough material, and what is covered is too often not of interest. This is a problem with science podcasts: overspecialize and greatly please a few but alienate the many, or be an oleo and be successful as an mediocrity. 

Anyway, the Ideas podcast was an address by the grand chief of the united tribes of Canadia. And no, that isn’t strictly accurate but that’s the marrow of the matter. The fellow speaking was the chief administrator (leader?) of the national organization of Canadian aboriginal tribes. That latter is probably offensive in some fashion but since no one has bothered to elaborate or enunciate the social niceties I will stick to accuracies.

This fellow made great efforts to distance himself from the Goyim. He spoke several times in what I have to presume is his milk tongue, although it did bear an amazing resemblance to German. And while he said lots of things, the better part of 40+ minutes, one thing caught my abiding attention span.

He said that the young people of the tribes were now technically knowledgeable, and as evidence of this he cited that they used social media.

I was a bit stunned with this. It seemed rather a nonsensical justification. Social media these days is basically designed for bogs. But then many of the people listening to him were bogs. And bogs probably think that using social media is technologically knowledgeable. Which it isn’t. Building a social media instrumentality is technologically knowledgeable, using it is akin to using a toaster or driving a motorcar. And given the nature of the gathering, the geeks and nerds probably want the statement to be made accurate and let it ride.

This latter is the more intriguing. All nerds know that bogs like to pretend to know things they don’t. It goes with their attention spans, discussed previously, and basic human insecurity.  But what is worthy of some consideration is nerds and geeks having bog colleagues/acquaintances/friends. Certainly it is modal that the families (and neighbors?) of nerds and geeks are predominantly bogs. After all, we fundamentally don’t get to pick our relatives (or neighbors.) We get stuck with them. 

Emphasis on the stuck. Think La Brea tar pit stuck. 

But friends do get picked, at least to a greater degree. And thus we find nerd/geek friends who are bogs. I have even known nerds/geeks who cohabitated with bogs. Often with benefit of legal and clerical formalization. And in many aspects the differences between nerds/geeks and bogs is less than the differences between the genders. And yes, that is a genderist statement. After all, boys and girls have different physiological plumbing. And, increasingly supported by experiment, mental plumbing. 

I have to admit to having bog friends. Myself. And that communication is difficult, at best. They are acalculate and mostly acomputate. And their syntax and composition skills, written or verbal, are very poor. They don’t know very much about anything but they do know about more things than nerds do. And that is the basis of their utility. Often the friendship rests on a balance of depth and breadth of knowing. And bogs know all about made up stuff like social rules and mores and the like. And they know all the stercus catch phrases.

So while they don’t know much about reality, they do have some utility. Even if they are riddled with inaccuracies and superstitions. But those can be amusing if they are the kind of bogs you can be friends with. Which establishes the tautology.

Not Day

Back to week in – maybe. Today is STRANGE holy day. Most holidays are associated with either a person, usually a politician like George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, or a pseudo-anniversary of mystic nature such as thanksgiving or christmas. But today is associated with some idealization of labor. Not work, per se, not force over distance and all of the thermodynamics baggage. But the people aspect. The sop to unions. 

I keep expecting it to get blown away. After all, the capitalist oligarchs have merged the observance of the birthday anniversaries of Washington and Lincoln into Linton day. And we are no longer allowed to observe the birthday anniversary of Robert Edward Lee for the birthday anniversary of Martin Luther King, which leads to all sorts of questions about when is it proper and canonical to merge holy days and when to replace one with another? 

So today is supposed to be all about not working. This is supposed to commemorate (?) working. I thought not-working was what was supposed to be done on shabbat? Or not done? Which gives us all sorts of insights into the impossibility of proving a negative. Unless we can recast it as a positive. Which also doesn’t work very well. Which is what we are/aren’t supposed to do today.

This makes for a strange holy day. We are supposed to do nothing. No parades. No political speeches, because listening to political speeches is VERY HARD work. It is also unclear if the politician delivering the speech is doing any work. In a thermodynamic sense it isn’t. It’s waste heat and a free expansion, sic. 

No religionist rituals. I won’t say the prayers are political speeches. Silent ones aren’t. Unless they are group silent prayers. So any group prayer is a political speech. Although the politicians would probably be a bit scandalized and irritated by that statement. 

No feasts or banquets. Not only are they alien to working but composing them and executing them is work. So no meals on the holy day. Naps may be permitted but only if they are completely spontaneous. Because planning and arranging is work. 

And no metabolizing. Nor micturation. Nor defecation. Because they all involve work. Nor breathing. nor cogitation. In fact, it would probably be appropriate to be dead. At least so long as no one does anything with the corpus. Because that would be work.

So now go not have a joyous holiday. Because joy is also work.

And it’s all right that the holy day was approved by the national council of thieves politicians. After all, what they do isn’t work either. In a thermodynamic sense.

Sundae Cherries

Whacked week out. This should be outer boundary but since tomorrow is a holy day, the celebration of labor by not-labor – yes, it is a Yankee government holy day; the conscript parents of Alibam don’t believe in not-labor, especially for the serfs and slaves – so tomorrow which should be the start of week in is only somewhat that. But today is still sundae so it seems fitting we may comment freely and rationally about irrationality and superstition.

But we can also expect things to be a bit of ‘hawgin’ because I need to trim some tabs away.

I ran across a rather intriguing article [Link] some days ago, entitled “Anthropology and Christianity”, which is apparently some sort of shill for a book on the subject. These are both subjects that interest me, partly because I took an anthropology track as an undergraduate and partly because my parents subjected me to all sorts of upliftment – not in the David Brin sense – as a bairn. The author’s tack, as might be expected, is that the two are diametrically opposed. Happily he does admit to being inaccurate. In fact, his summary is rather uplifting,

“When anthropologists today glory in their discipline’s rejection of faith they often have in mind a very specific form of belief: a highly judgmental, narrowly sectarian version of religious commitment that condemns the indigenous people they study as totally cut off from any positive, authentic spiritual knowledge and experience.”

This comes rather close to my own views, which is surprising since Anthropology in recent years has been on a denial-that-anthropology-is-science shtick. My thing is testability. If something is testable and you don’t/won’t test it then that is denial and mysticism and superstition. There are things that aren’t testable, either because of technology limitations or fundamental unsuitability and the latter at least are valid domains for arational faith.

Too many religionists, not just christianists, flatly demand that their beliefs not be tested. Some of this is insecurity; some is greed; some is something else, fear perhaps. Fundamentally I view all of these as bad reasons.

I also have a couple of cartoons to dismiss. First, [Link]

I was rather taken by this cartoon. It is one I follow mostly because of the brilliance of the artist. This seems to be rather a nicely done criticism of bogs. The misuse of “dumb” is a red flag.

This all follows from what I was blogging recently about bogs being shallow but wide ranging in their knowledge whereas nerds are deep but discrete (and not in the behavior sense.) Attention span is related to this. Bogs tend to have limited attention span-time for knowledge. This is largely why they are wide but shallow. Nerds, on the other hand, have great temporal depths of attention span which goes with their depth of knowledge.

The second cartoon [Link]

is related. It also refers to bogs, in this case particularly, to Amerikan bogs. These are the people who tell their children that they will never use algebra after taking the course in high schule. And despite the adolescent rebellion, they do take this to heart, and dismiss their minds, and the nation is third world when it comes to maths.  If it wasn’t for cash registers made in Asia, Amerikan bogs couldn’t do money. Not that they do it very well.

Which gets us to Adam Frank’s article [Link] in the New Yawk Times on science denial in Amerika. One more aspect of our national race for third world state. Or perhaps the “Marching Morons”? Although he doesn’t say it but it appears increasingly likely that that denial is going to get the species extinct.

And in closing, one of my readers has asked me to identify the science podcasts I listen to. Being somewhat lazy, I shall just list the week’s podcasts on a modal basis:

  • Mundane day: CBC’s “Best of Ideas”;
  • Two day: Guardian science podcast, science segments from NPR, and SCEINCE;
  • Woden’s day: CBC’s “Quirks and Quarks:;
  • Thor’s day: Linux podcast: either Linux Luddites or UK Ubuntu podcast;
  • Freya’s day, Saturn’s day; Sundae: “The Pen Addict”

I have some alternatives for when these are unavailable. I have not included the links to these since they are easily found with a bit of web search.

Go forth and find frozen yogurt, ice cream if you are a mutant.

Nasty Drunks

Yesterday was a bit stressing. Had to take FD SCP to see her cardiologist. Medium ungood. Artery stretchers indicated. And putting up with both our nerves and emotions.

And the walk in the park this morning was not quite pleasant. No wind and it was needed. And the new pen diversion podcast channel – same podcast, different organization – is quite less noisy, in the EE sense. 

I had occasion to consider another difference between bogs and nerds. This got provoked by some survey I was asked by the YAHOO org to do but had to cease early on due to retching. The subject was television content and yes, it is and was that bad. I do NOT watch many kinds of popular television. Quiz programs is one mostly because they are quizzes on things meritless and valueless. The popular guess-the-phrase game is one in point. How is this entertainment? Or even engaging. But on a bit of consideration it is interesting to most (many?) bogs but very few nerds. I suspect because it captures aspects that are life relevant to bogs but not to nerds. 

Anyway, the difference is knowing. Bogs know many things but almost all rather shallowly. That’s a basic definition of a bog. And much of what they know is inaccurate in the extreme. Even among the ones that know better. Or should. But nerds tend to more of an Ising model. They either have no interest in some “subject” and hence know almost nothing about it and openly admit such, or they are interested and have a rather complete knowledge of. As one of my bosses once put it, (slightly paraphrased) bogs are long pieces of narrow tape while nerds are combs. 

Along that azimuth, I noted an article [Link] about some work at U Kentucky that indicates that religious people – the article calls them spiritual which rather seems a pun – make nasty drunks. This seems to fit. I recall years ago reading a book that claimed that, in the mode, Chinese are nice drunks but Japanese are nasty drunks. Argument was that Chinese are argumentative when sober but Japanese are polite. So the ethanol releases the inner being. Many religionists are wearing facades, in my observation. They want to appear to adhere to the tenets of their religion but they have temperament problems. This often shows in their driving. Many christianists definitely do not practice their religion while piloting a motorcar. Especially those in pickup trucks. This may be excusable since pickup trucks really can’t be piloted anyway; they can only be survived. Maybe.

So the idea is that these religionists are just pretending and when they get drunk and their inner self comes out it isn’t anywhere near where they want to be seen. Which is comforting. Because it is at least real. It’s desirable to be a better person, and I respect them for trying but I can’t abide them imposing themselves on others. That’s just plain bullying. And it isn’t good nor right.

But it is part of the falseness of their religion.

I don’t watch religionist television either. Although that is admittedly hard on Sundaes. But that’s why we have DVD players.  

Stray in gym this morning. And the podcast episodes not at all bad. Although a SCIENCE segment on the nature of Chinese censorship of social media was most revealing. And encouraging. Paternalistic, but encouraging. Which fits with the better aspects of Chinese society. 

I ran across this cartoon: [Link]

recently and it rather reminded me of why I am quite happy, as an ORF, not to have to talk to politicians very often. What they see as important – usually their re-election – and what I see as important are pretty well orthogonal. And they really don’t want to talk about my interests.

Also, the nature of our speech is different. Politicians talk a lot with very little content. My speech tends to be the opposite: little talk, lots of content.

STEM NERD Writing 5

Better. There was wind this morning. So the constitutional was a bit nicer. And I had occasion to consider composition some more. Following on the previous blot it occurred that some cogitation had to be put onto examinations.

Examinations in college are a bit different than those in high schule and previous. They tend to be rather a bit more formal and seldom take less than the whole class period. (Yes, in some of those weird two hour classes there would sometimes be a one hour exam, and always the second half of the class. Evolution in action.) They also tend to be a bit more frenzied. After all, in college there is no one demanding that the majority pass. You are on your own to survive. 

At this point I should invoke Chad Orzel’s taxonomy: type 1 courses are those where you read the text before class and discuss what you read in class; type 2 are where you go to class to learn how to read the text after class. Type 1 courses are basically composition courses: essays and the like; type 2 courses are basically problem solving, some theorem proving, courses. Their exams are a bit different. Exams in type 1 courses generally have a composition component, either an essay or answers to discussion questions where composition is graded. Exams in type 2 courses tend to be problem solving courses where elaboration of steps is critical. This latter is still composition, at least in the nerd sense, but completely different from the former. 

Obvious differences in the two tend to be physical. Exams in type one courses were written in what were – in my college days – called “blue books”; a booklet of 8-12 ruled pages, about 6″ x 9″ with a blue paper cover. The cover usually was printed with the college name and designated places for student and course name. Exams in type 2 courses were written in “green books”; a booklet of 8-12 pages ruled on front, gridded on back, about 9″ x 12 with a green paper cover, similarly printed. Type one exams were usually written in ink, usually BIC ball points in my day; type 2 exams were always written in pencil. And one always carried a separate eraser. I was partial to Pink Pearls.

Part of this difference is that maths – problem exposition – need more white space than words. Also maths had to be checked whereas words were graded in part on neatness.  

The point, since I have done rather a drunkard’s walk here, is that exams were a primary influence on composition. They were similar to note taking except that the information had to originate between the ears. But the same skills that one had to develop in note taking were in play here as well.