Pursuit of the Intellectuals, Chapter Eleventy-eleven

Back yo week in. Decent session at gym although the podcast, an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” dealing with the religious concept of “chosen” was a bit disturbing. One might almost take it as an admission on the part of the religionists that they know what they are doing is superstition and mysticism, that by adopting some irrational beliefs they have to somehow exalt themselves as justification (or shield?)

But on the other hand, the weight bouncers weren’t that obnoxious and harassful today.

On the subject of NSA privacy intrusion, my colleague, Magnetic Inductance Force, sent me this cartoon: [Link]

(or at least its link,) and it does seem to represent the situation rather well. Although I do have to admit that my first thought had been whether if there were a next panel, the bald fellow would be wearing the clip board about his nick?

Anyway, I fear this is a good representation of the boggerate. This is the same bunch who think wireless refers to cellular telephony. And given this level of knowledge and understanding it is rather easy to see how the NSA, and the administration, perhaps, would feel insecure with people who do know what broadband is and USB and CD and Linux…. So why not keep your eye on them. Governments have always mistrusted, watched, and discorporated intellectuals.

Although it is a bit distressing to consider people who know a bit about IT as intellectuals. Not that they aren’t good people, but intellectuals? But perhaps that is the azimuth of the times. Philosophy, or so my colleagues foolishly expound, is rather irrelevant and a waste. Arts are only of value if they have monetary value. And science is something to be denied and harassed. I sometimes wonder if politicians wouldn’t like to pass a law making literacy (and calculacy and computancy) a felony punishable by discorporation. Except for politicians. And maybe capitalist oligarchs?

Anyway, we shouldn’t forget that the NSA wouldn’t be doing this without the approval of politicians.

, , ,

Patriotic Computing

Not a bad day so far although the weather beavers are foretelling a return to typical temperatures. The walk in the park was passable, temperatures were up a bit and so the experience wasn’t as brisk. And the podcast episode was fair although it did stir my righteous indignation a couple of times so I may have to excrete a blot on the matter of pens at some time.

For now however, I feel compelled to mumble about the Yankee government’s National eSpionage Agency’s labeling of Linux folk as “Extremists”. My colleague, Magnetic Inductance Force, who admits freely to the perversion that is FaceScroll but mitigates by noting he also is ORF and hence has need of some relatively mechanistic (and obvious) means of social contact with old acquaintances. I have to agree that the other, now more popular, social networking “places” don’t quite make enough sense to use commonly.

I conjecture, probably inaccurately, that at least some of this is about length of expression. After all, we are mostly ORF and hence seniors and thereby garrulous. Further, we have lived long enough that we have used up a lot of our hurry, and wish we had used up our wait, so why limit ourself to High Noon Gary Cooper style of communication. My colleague and I have commented several times how inadequate FaceScroll is that it doesn’t offer a decent (or any) equation editor. How can one maintain social contact with old acquaintances and colleagues if one can’t math?

One of the articles [Link] I was sent contains a few snippets of code that indicate what key words the NSA is supposedly watching for to identify “extremists”. I quote:
“word(‘tails’ or ‘Amnesiac Incognito Live System’) and word(‘linux’ or ‘ USB ‘ or ‘ CD ‘ or ‘secure desktop’ or ‘ IRC ‘ or ‘truecrypt’ or ‘ tor ‘)”
I have to admit that I was greatly relieved once I saw this. If the Yankee government was paying special attention to Linux folk then I would be rather concerned since we are a relatively small number and easily overwhelmed by the might and force of the YG. But if they are targeting people who use words like “Linux” or “USB” or “CD” … then the fraction of population being targeted is considerably larger than the number of folks who work for the YG. In fact, the only person I know and am conscirously sure of who does not use the term “USB” is my year+ aged (post partum) grandchild. And maybe my nonagenarian parent. Although she does surprise me. So I would feel safe in estimating this captures at least (modulo) half of the population of the Yankee republic. Even of the old Confederacy.

I also received a puff piece [Link] from the Electronic Freedom Foundation along the lines that it is a citizen’s duty to be targeted by the YG and use TOR to assure our freedom and privacy. Once I got over the initial humor of considering whether a Fermion can actually be free unless alone I decided the point was valid. I am not at all sure this will be understood by bogs, especially bogs who are adherents of political parties. At least democruds and repulsians. But I am not sure they know the words anyway. That’s one of the joys one obtains when less than half the electorate adhere to a political party. They tend to get excluded from the mode. Now if the same will just occur for religionists.

, , , ,

Broken Internet

OK, can we get back to some semblance of modality now?

FD SCP and I survived dawg sittin’ although I am still suffering from a bit of allergy reaction that – again – puts me in mind of both Lester Sprague DeCamp’s “Lest Darkness Fall” and the Gahan Wilson cartoon about life being better without dogs. Not that I really credit the latter, not after something like 15 KY of communality. But I don’t think I would pick dogs large enough to send me to hospital by nudging me and not large enough to ride. But the DeCamp bit still applies.

The cold front was again enjoyed this morning as I constituted through the park. And I managed to take the MP3 player with me this morning so I had a bit of a diversion as I attempt to increase my duration. The penalty is paid in the small of my back.

Speaking of which, I ran across this cartoon: [Link]

just yesterday and I was struck by its accuracy. Except for the last frame, of course. Let us face it, Gooey may be backed by a bunch of high tension pseudo-engineering, but it reflects a web that is predominantly bog and whack content.

Nonetheless, I do use Gooey, primarily Gooey Scholar, to help me survey what is going on in my micro-disciplines of research and thought. Of course, internet did not really exist when I was in graduate schule so from the get-go of internet and internet search, the pickings in my field(s) were extremely slim to nil and often whackoid stercus. Of course some of the people who put out that stercus hold that my stuff is stercus. And that volume has waxed and waned over the years as the search capabilities evolved and the internet rotted.

Yes, I am going to proselyte a bit that there was a golden age of the internet and it ended with Amazing and all the other internet commerce biggies beginning. The internet used to be about information. That’s why it was called the information revolution. Now it’s just about internet stuff and money. Yes, the revolution flopped. The new feudalism has arrived.

But to return to the cartoon, when I do technical searches on the stuff that I am doing research on, I get very few responses. And almost all of them – more than Ivory soap stats – are myself or people I know. Newness is the exception. And Gooey is almost useless. Because it tries to offer up money sites and that at least makes for a sort of galgenhumor. Like Stalin’s comment about capitalists. But there are other search engines that do better. At least in terms of not offering to sell me stercus. Stercus information maybe, and in small quantity, but not good and services.

But I haven’t broken Gooey. Simply put Gooey broke Gooey. Or rather capitalism and greed and all that good human stuff broke Gooey. And I feel not at all sad.

, , ,

Academic Alienation

I am not very amenable to guidance counselors. This morning I ran across this cartoon: [Link]

and it brought a review of (unrelated) memories.

When I was in high schule we had a guidance counselor. At least that was her title. I am not at all sure what she did. What she did for me was quickly apparent. I would go to her and say “I want to do” thus and such. She would say “No, you can’t do that. It isn’t a good thing to do.” The not good things included skipping senior year for early admission and such like.

When I got to college they assigned me an advisor, I met with him twice. I should mention that in those days you were not allowed to register without an advisor’s signature on your course list. The first time I met with him, before first semester, he told me what I should take that semester. The second time I met with him, start of second semester, I told him what I wanted to do and he gave me the “no, that’s not a good idea.” The third semester I forged his signature on my course list and skipped seeing him. I did go to the advisement building, which was the physics building and as a major I could enter any time and the scheduling by name ordering did not apply, and I could swipe a course list form. And figuring out the form was standard, the next time I swiped enough for twice my undergraduate semesters. So I went through the last three years of undergraduate school without seeing an advisor.

Not that he cared. I never heard a peep about advisor again until I registered for degree my senior year and the dean’s clerk asked if my triple major was approved by my advisor. By that point I lied smoothly having already been admitted to student honor organizations for all three majors and having an acceptance letter to graduate schule in my briefcase,

Not that I didn’t get advice. Mostly from upperclassmen and then from faculty. And my hearing of the advice was uniform: take everything you can; learn everything you can; and hold yourself to a high standard. And that worked. Well. Until I got a job and discovered that politics and socializing were more important in some environments than being smart and knowledgable. But that has nothing to do with guidance counselors.

So what do they really do other than vertically copulate students?

, ,

Fourth of You Lie

Today is “we have worked up our courage and now we’re going to tell the poor, the women, and the not-us what we have gotten them into” day. It’s the anniversary of the day the founders got their courage screwed up, probably by use of ethanol mixtures, and announced to the general populace, or at least the minuscule bit of the populace within ear shot and with slack time to attend, what trouble was descending on their heads.

Of course that independence didn’t apply to the poor, women, and people-property. None of these folks could vote. Not that voting was that common in those days. So that is one thing that we can celebrate as tradition: the ineffectiveness of elections.

It somehow seems appropriate that today is when one of my colleagues, Magnetic Inductance Force, shared an article with me. [Link] The article claims that if one reads the periodical “Linux Journal” then one is identified by the Yankee government’s National Security Agency as an “extremist” and accorded extra surveillance attention. I also read the journal but do not subscribe. Somehow I doubt that distinction is significant in differentiating the amount of attention applied by the NSA.

Apparently, people who use Linux and/or support FOSS, and perhaps open access and actual democracy are considered by the Yankee government to be extremists, which is apparently an intermediary state between traitor and terrorist? I am unsure of whether to be proud or amused.

Obviously anyone who expects some privacy and takes effort to preserve it – as in using TOR – is immediately suspect, if not guilty.

Now tell me again what we have to celebrate today?

, , ,

Rejecting Good Sense Day

Today is the anniversary of “aw stercus! what have we done” day. Having signed the declaration of independence yesterday, the congress took today off to reflect on having told George#3 to cease and vacate the premises and whether they actually wanted to broadcast this to the public (and George!) or burn the document and slink off to being subjects (serfs/slaves) of tyranny. We might even call it “screw up your courage to the sticking point” day since the steeling oneself to do the tyrant an injury theme is apt.

Not that we have much to be thankful for today since their government has evolved to the point where it is more of a tyranny than George’s.

Nonetheless, I also reflected on the morning’s podcast, an episode of the English Ubuntu podcast, perhaps a fitting activity for contemplation on this day. Why does a country that gave us such oppression also do so much better at podcasts?

Anyway they interviewed some developer (coder) fellow who was bitchin’ about the Ubuntu SW store. I was amused to consider, after he listed a long set of complaints about how the SW store was NOT developer friendly how every developer I know of, who throws his SW out for general use to a wide public, has complained about how the system is not developer friendly. I have to admit to something of the sort myself. Most of my SW is nerd SW and it is very cruncherish. My favorite user interface is a text input file that you point the SW at and it read it, crunches numbers, and outputs a file of results.

And I only share SW with people who come to me and say that they have need of my methodology and may they have a copy? And if they come back and complain about the methodology in a constructive sense then I will discuss with them, but if they say either (a) it doesn’t work or (b) can I add something, I reply that they are free to make changes as they wish so long as I get cited properly.

Obviously, when someone puts a SW out on a storefront and you use it, you are not going to be able to modify it. You have to have source code for that and most of these chaps program in other languages than the few I know. (And they usually don’t know those.) So if the SW works I will use it and if it doesn’t work I will pitch it, unless I paid for it, and then I ask for reimbursement, and if it sorta works I will probably complain, but don’t expect me to answer why it doesn’t work questions if I don’t have source code.

Not that I really want to read your source code.

But when you give the SW away to folks who don’t pay or code, the man-in-the-street, Windows or Apple mindscrubbed, user, why would you expect anything constructive when the SW doesn’t work for them. Next you’ll be expecting your food to talk to you about how delicious it will be.

, ,