Brain Things

On the cusp once more. Off this morning to the park for constitutional. Slack wind, but I was able to eschew a hoodie or jacket so long as I was generating waste heat. Some of that heat came from mentation. I noticed yesterday – but failed to load the article – that someone has put an enormous amount of RAM on a memory stick. This led me to consider the nature of the ‘information revolution’.

Back when I was recently out of grad schule I did a bit of a blunder. There was a problem I was interested in and before I went to work on it I did a literature search. In those days literature searches involved consulting abstracting services and getting librarians to run computer searches for you. And looking through the compilations of likely journals. So I did all that and went ahead and worked the problem, which took three years from start to getting the author copies of the journal article in my hand, and then a couple of months later I got a letter pointing me to an obscure – to me – journal where the problem had ostensibly been solved. It hadn’t, not really, analytically, but it shook me. 

This was how things were done then. We had a shortage of information and had to work hard to get it. Paper was the norm. Computers were rare and closeted. Searches had to be performed by trained people. And storage was minuscule. The first mainframe I programmed on had 16 Kb of RAM. All hand built with a soldering iron. 

Today, it is easy to do searches, and we don’t do them. Just go ahead and do the work. That’s easier than trying to figure out what has been done before? And we can store all of this information. And Sturgeon’s rule applies to the Nth power because most of it is crap. Are there any cat photographs with captions that aren’t crap. Fundamentally? An we take photographs so we don’t have to remember the occasion. But we have dutifully recorded and saved it, probably never to look at or even recognize again. Information hoarding has become a form of denial?

Which angst brings me to a reprise of some work I commented earlier. I ran across a new article [Link] that put a bit of a different spin on things. I quote:

A new study found ‘no significant difference’ in the number or quality of moral and immoral deeds made by religious and non-religious participants. 

The researchers found only one difference – Religious people responded with more pride and gratitude for their moral deeds, and more guilt, embarrassment and disgust for their immoral deeds.

That first part is repetitive. It is and was telling that religion has no impact on immorality. So the claims that religionists are moral and atheists and secularists are immoral is so much propagandist stercus tauri. But the second is new and equally damning. It goes very far to explain the reason for religionists: guilt.

Guilt is a common thing. It is in the kitbag of almost every mother and not a few fathers. It is widely used by incompetent managers, and the parents are probably as well. And it works but not because it  is used, it’s effective because it brings a chemical rush when the deed that generated the guilt is forgiven. Guilt, simply put, is an opiate, at least metaphorically. But it is chemical. Not moral, not spiritual, but purely physical. Religion, at least this aspect, is all about the effect of chemicals in the brain.

Which explains the commonality of religion. It’s programmed into humans. 

So are humans an appliance of religion? More cogitation is required.

No Area under the Integral

Back to regularity? This week has been the pits, mostly because I had to go to Huntsville on two day for a gum cleaning. Happily that went well with no new unhappiness. So I did the food acquisition while I was there and cancelled the usual Woden’s day gallop. Which I sorely missed, both in terms of networking and activity. So yesterday was a real DRAG. Higher order, maybe velocity magnitude to the third power or so. But this morning was back to usual.

I won’t say normal because I don’t like the way too many misuse the word. My dictionary tells me that the definition of normal is:

   1. According to an established norm, rule, or principle; conformed to a type, standard, or regular form; performing the proper functions; not abnormal; regular; natural; analogical.

But my problem is that no one seems to know what that established norm/rule/principle is. Nor can they show me in wirting. So the viable hypothesis, while admitting we can’t prove a negative, is that the norm/rule/principle doesn’t exist and this usage of normal is one of those social delusions.

To me normal either means the normal, that is perpendicular, to a surface or curve, or a function that is normalizable, that is, has finite area. There: simple testable rule/principle. And norm only makes sense in those terms. 

On which azimuth, I ran across an article [Link] on the “Convergence” of the Linux desktop. I read this article because my outlook on the Linux “Desktop” is rather normal to convergent, in the orthogonal sense, that is. If I compare Gnome 3, Unity, KDE, XFCE, and LXDE, among others, I don’t see what I consider to be convergence. Turns out the use of the term is worse than that, rather misusing the term desktop, to include slabs as well as boxes. 

Stercus Tauri. And not very respectfully. I am not given to abiding ferds nicely. And this is very ferdish

First of all, I don’t like the association of desktop with computer device. What is on my screen is not a desktop. For one thing, it isn’t big enough (even with a 24 in screen) nor, and most importantly, it isn’t horizontal. My desktop is the top of my desk, it is horizontal and it is about five ft by three ft. And I put physical objects on it. None of that applies to my deskbox. Which is why I call it a deskbox. And because it is a bunch of boxes: CPU/RAM/HD box; screen box; key box; mouse box;….. Similar for a lapbox. And I have a ‘smart’ cellular telephone that is smart in the sense of unpleasant neural sensation. And I have recently purchase a tablet, which is not in the sense of oral medication, but is commonly used in the sense of a bit of rock with symbols incised. Which is another horrible metaphor but that’s what happens when we let bogs name things.

Not that geeks – especially – or nerds are really any better, just different. And we nerds at least declare – strongly – when we are going to name things ridiculously. 

But this “Convergence” thing is evidently the idea that we are going to use the same OS and GUI on all of I visual information presentation devices. That is, boxes and slabs. And maybe the electromagnetic audio-visual receiver? And that idea is rot. As I have been saying for quite a while. So reading an article that says this is important to Linux is essentially impossible because the thesis is so flawed as to be unsuspendable. So the article is bad fiction. 

I do not make phone calls on my boxes. I do spreadsheets on my boxes. I do calculator on my phone slab. I do word processing on my boxes. I don’t on my phone slab. Simply put I don;t do the same things on slabs as I do on boxes. And visa versa. About the only thing I do on all of them is check email and maybe use a browser. Bog things.

But I use different email clients on the boxes and slabs. Because I can’t use Thunderbird on my slabs. And since I have bought a tablet I have found that the email client I use on my phone won’t work on my tablet. That doesn’t mean it won’t execute; that means it won’t work. It’s a thermodynamic thing. Like a free expansion. The code/app/client runs but no work gets done. But I have found that an email app that didn’t work on the phone does work on the tablet. 

Another bit of data that indicates – consistently – that the different visual presentations are not the same and that “Convergence” is a bunch of corporate propaganda. And the corporate bull has been fed too much stool softner. 


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. 

Inverse Volume

To the edge. Edge of week in, that is. Gym week is over so this morning after arising and abluting I set out for the park for a constitutional. As seems to now be the mode on Freya’s day, the parking lot was full of young suburban women’s motorcars, monstrous to hulking SUVs that today, with a fog emerging, loomed like the aliens in a C SF movie. 

Are there any more A SF movies? I cannot recall any in the last few years.

Anyway, the walk was fair. Accompanying the aerosols was an absence of wind, else the optical barrier would like not have formed. The wee particles of water encapsulated dust and microbes would have collided and their numbers diminished below the perceivable. But the absence of wind made for a warm walk, and a fast one, relatively speaking, and hence I was one starting-to-ache ORF when I finished. 

The podcast is the start of an episode of “The Pen Addict” [Link] which has moved to new quarters but still suffers the same grammar egregiousness and has added a rather nasty problem with the naming of the podcast episodes. Magnetic inductance force  mentioned this to me and I have discovered it is rather a nuisance of the second water. Not as bad as recalling the times for medicine doses but requiring continued modification to keep from losing information. 

Speaking of losing, I ran across a cartoon [Link]

over the last weekend and my attention span finally returned to it.

I should remark that I did carry a knapsack (Army surplus) in my grammar schule days but by the time I was in high schule I had switched to a briefcase. And I continued to carry a briefcase through my working years. Only recently have I ceased except when I am on a gallop or such and need to take along more than I want to keep up with unbundled. 

But the behavior of note is the same. Briefcases (and packs) do accumulate gibble. I was recently going through a messenger bag that I received as a gimme for attending some conference, which I attended for social reasons – to show that the Yankee army was a supporter of the discipline – and discovered several other gimme items and notes from the conference that I had mentally (and physically) misplaced. 

Perhaps I should also remark that the obvious nonsense about having more stuff in the bag than its exterior volume reminds me of one of Robert Heinlein’s later novels, whose title eludes me at the moment. There is something about a structure that is larger on the inside than the outside that evokes mystery and not a little evil. 

Briefcases, on the other hand, can be quite good, and even serve as an effective anti-mugger device. 

Phones and Phonies

 Less air heat this morning. Again took hoodie, again deferred donning, but considerable more cogitation on the matter. And reload of week out podcast worked so while the usual grammar glitches not as discorporate as the one yesterday that went straight to the bit bucket. I was also pleased to see that the park had had most of the trash removed, but the ugly spray painted booth boundaries were still present. I shall probably never truly be able to understand the contradiction of government establishing a green space and then mistreating it continually. But it’s probably more about the internal contradiction of government than any actual sentient conspiracy.

On which azimuth, I note [Link] that the Apple slavemasters seem to be losing their popularity with college students.

 “a fresh survey from the US found only one in ten college and high school students plan to purchase the Apple Watch, while one third plan to purchase the new iPhone.”

Although I am not sure I consider those fractions particular devastating? I know a few people who have iPhones and I can’t say too much good about any of them. A few are relatives and the less said there the better. After all, relatives and neighbors aren’t selectable; they’re assigned, if you will. Only friends are and only a few of mine have the devices. And they’re all either bogs or artsy geeks, the kind who would have been into sustainment in the ’60’s but have dropped it now because it’s a lost cause. But I’m not sure if this shows me to be mostly exclusionary or moderately diversified? I suspect the former since iPhone users tend to appear asentient most of the time and are seldom intelligible, often talking about things no one else comprehends or cares about. 

And yes, all of the politicians I know fall into that bin except a few who still have Blackberries.

At about the same time, I ran across an article [Link] on the FireFox Fone. F3? The review is a bit discouraging. On the good side the device is inexpensive, at least to Amerikan sensibilities. But it is evidently a horrible piece of hardware and all the bitching is about that so the question of whether FF is a good phone OS is lost in the shuffle. Which is disappointing since I would like to know whether I should look in future to replace my Android with something a bit less bloody and capitalist. Which, of course, also lets out anything pushed out by Canonical. But a Linux phone would be neat, the thing Android was supposed to be but isn’t. But an FF phone might be that bit of moral unobtanium? Can’t tell from the article. Which is not too compromised since you have to go to a furrin third world country to buy one. For some reason they aren’t selling them in Alibam. Despite it being third world. Courtesy of politicians and capitalists and repulsians. 

I was reading Rick Potts’ “Humanity’s Descent” yesterday, trying to get past the really offputting start, which is so much baby talk that one doesn’t dare read it until at least two hours after a meal. Anyway the book was relating how in the Permian age, none of the animals actually ate the plants, they either ate dead plants – rotting, that is – or other animals, and I couldn’t help thinking about how well that describes Alibam. We’ve got the politicians who exist on road kill (or the natural equivalent) and the capitalists who eat the other animals, figuratively, at least. I have colleagues who tell me it is this way in all states but Alibam is just more open about it. 

Not sure if that is due to honesty or stupidity.

And since it is Sundae, a bit of uplift. I read in SCIENCE [Link] about a New Yawk U study that indicates that “Religious and nonreligious people are equally prone to immoral acts.” Don’t want to crow but this would seem to indicate that religion has no substantive effect in making people more moral. That is, i religionists and secularists are equally immoral, then religion would appear to be ineffective in preventing immorality. 

This is one of the clubs that the mystics use to beat up the secularists, especially the atheists, claiming they’re egregiously immoral because they aren’t superstitious. And irrational? And now it’s proven to be false and inaccurate, which seems to generally describe the religionists. The organized ones, at least. 

I have to admit that this is just official academic confirmation of something we have observed for a long time. Religionists are no more moral in their everyday lives than anyone else, at least in the mode. One rather suspects they behave on pseudo-shabbat because they are watching each other and they gossip a lot. 

Lost Hammer

Into the boundary once more. Survived the gallop to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill for a bit of staff call and pillaging of the grocery emporia. Returned safely just in time to monitor the evening “news” programming on the electromagnetic audio-visual receiver and was enlightened of a feud – with litigation – between the lord high mayor of Huntsville and the city’s foremost slum developer. And the argument is over ethical misconduct! Which is not only itself humorous but is intensified by the fact that a legal resolution is being sought. Gad!, makes the La Brea tar pits seem trivial in contrast.

Not uncomfortable this morning and the gym was not too noisome. Being Thor’s Day I listened to Linux podcasts, these episodes being ones of the “UK Ubuntu podcast”. One of the delightful discussion topics was whether Canonical/Ubuntu is discorporating? And this was an old podcast circa U 13.10 release. The response was mixed wth a tenor of functionality winning out over ergonomics and rationality. IOW, U server is pretty good.

I recently ran across this cartoon: [Link]

and it seemed somehow relevant. Perhaps it was the closing lament that it is hard to run FOSS projects if no one wants to participate. Evidently all the organizational administrative and management groups have vacancies exceeding applicants and the pedestrian geeks are leaving faster than Rattus Norwegicus the Titanic.

So how can you run FOSS projects if you have no volunteers? Answer: abandon FOSS and become MegaHard or Fruit. 

Since it is now past the release of U 14.04 and Canonical has not gone away, the matter has not been as revolutionary as it seemed back then. But it did give me occasion to consider my own experiences. I started out in Linux with a market survey. I first tried Scientific Linux and found it rather too stiff. So I took up Ubuntu. And then Canonical introduced Unity and I rediscovered hate, loathing, and nausea. So I switched to Kubuntu and Xubuntu. And began to have other problems which are still unresolved as to cause. 

And then Canonical decided to abandon the hinterland. The elimination of an update ISO was the tipping straw, to mix metaphors. So now I use other distros, both Debian based and one supposedly a derivative of U but somewhat neutered (or is it spayed?) And both are supposed to be rolling release so I hope to avoid the practice of Nuke And Pave that was too often the only viable option with Ubuntu.

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi. And hopefully no Canonical troopers shooting through knotholes in Casterllum SCP.

STEM NERD Writing 4

Not a bad morning. Decent if a bit too high temperature and absence of wind in the park but constitutional was bearable. And the podcast was endurable. But it did put me back on the subject of composition and mindlessness but along a different azimuth.

Back when I was in high schule, I was asked to make the halftime public address announcements for the schule band at (American) football half time. I had never done this and actually did not care for any form of athletics but especially spectator sports. Not that I minded the effort of athletics but I disliked the vicariousness of the spectator aspect, the contrived, artificial, meaningless importance of the competition, and the noxious festivity. It was therefore fitting in later life that mu daughter would be a cheerleader.

But I did like the band. Not the marching part. That detracted from the music but it often seemed that the only reason the band existed and music was taught at all in high schule was because of athletics. So I agreed. I then took very exacting notes of what I needed to cover and wrote myself out a script. And when the appointed time came and I was at the microphone, which I discovered had a noticeable latency, I discovered that I could NOT read my script. My handwriting was too poor for me to read it with divided attention.

I did learn from the experience. Primarily to make sure my legibility matched the attention I could afford. And I never tried to announce again. In fact, as soon as I got to college and saw how evil marching band could be, I walked away from that. Leave nonsense like announcements at spectator sports events to bogs, extro bogs at that. With good legibility.

But that lesson with legibility did take root and over the years had to be integrated in the whole idea of composition. In effect, that was the seed of the two part system of composition that I evolved. Write for content and key (type) for legibility (presentation.) Because two different aspects of mindfulness are needed and they should not be mixed.

But high schule never ceases to make me glad I am old.