Superstition and Slide Rules

Sparse. That’s the best thing about gym, when it occurs. Not many people. For some reason the bullies seem to go away and the good folk remain. Even the weight bouncers about today were good folk. And the cable feed went sowth about halfway through my session so the absence of distraction of the vapid sort was appreciated.

The Guardian science podcast was a set of interviews/discussions with psychologists who specialize in humans who suffer from delusions of alien abductions, vampires, ghosts, and such. There were even a few slights about religionist superstition. Well placed. Sadly there was no real discussion of how to rid society of these nut cases.

But the high point was a National Public Radio podcast about the slide rule.[Link] Sadly, the pony to poo ratio was very LOW. There was some museum curator from the wonk schule on the Charles who was prattling about the slide rule angst among engineer students taking exams. And the whole attitude was rather poor and frivolous.

I have discussed slide rule previously but it is worth visiting again. I got my first slide rule about seven or eight, as I recall. I make this point because by the time I got to college my slide rule, which I could not use openly without derision from the cool kids – the jocks and cheerleaders, was a comfort, not a source of stress. Rather the opposite. It was a familiar tool that I could trust without cognition.

I suppose if I had been handed one as a freshman, never having seen before, and told to learn immediately to crunch numbers there might be some stress. I do not take direction easily. It is evil. But none of the people I knew were uneasy about slide rules. Many of us had brown up with them. In fact, they didn’t bother to teach slide rule in high schule because so many already knew and the ones who didn’t were destined for bogdom anyway.

And I rather take exception to the implication that the slide rule disappeared overnight once the nerd calculator was introduced. Technocratic prevarication! Electronic calculators had been around for years but weighed and bulked their own table. The first portable calculators were strictly add/subtract/multiply/divide so they could not replace the slide rule. The first nerd calculator, the HP-35, introduced in 1972, was a replacement but was so expensive that no student, nor professor, could afford without a gifting. Only corporate nerds could afford them. I was working for the Yankee army before I got a nerd calculator issued me, and HP-55, and it was late in my graduate schule attendance before I could afford a personal machine, a TI that felt like a cheap occupied Japan imitation of an HP. My first personal HP was an HP-25 and it was a marvel and a delight. But I still had a slide rule in my center desk drawer when I retired. For some things it was faster than a calculator. Even an RPN. 

So as usual, NPR vertically copulated.

In Praise of Stupid?

What do you call an organization that shoots itself in the foot with a thermonuclear device?

Adobe.

How did they do this?

By discontinuing the Abode Acrobat Reader for Linux.

Yes, Linux is a small part of the total market. Maybe only as much as 0.5. But it is the growing part. Apple is essentially static; MegaHard is shrinking. 

No one debates the value of the PDF. But Adobe has now surrendered control of the PDF to the FOSS community, specifically the folks who write the Linux clients that read and write PDF. By removing their support to Linux of their vision of the file format they force Linux users to use other clients that create and read and manipulate the files. 

And if the few, the increasingly few, who use other OS don’t comply with what the FOSS community does, the universality of the PDF is gone. And the people who use PDF can’t afford that. 

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi. 

Marriage and Politics

Another morning of lowish temperature. Not as low as yesterday but low enough to provoke a search for heavier gym pants. The pair I had initially substituted for the summer ones were inadequate and being a shivering ORF I opted for more substance in the hope of lower thermal diffusion.

The podcast this morning was an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas”, the third in their coverage of a rather strange conference – aren’t they all, it seems? – called Ideacity. The subject of this one was contemporary mating rituals. There were three and they were all varying degrees of Extro which indicates once more how biased society is these days. The first segment was an economics academic prattling on the economics of modern (?) marriage. Sex barter. It reinforced my observational hypothesis that economists and economics are whacked. The tenor was decidedly that women endure sex for the sake of something — anything? – else. 

I subscribe to Wrangham’s cooking model of marriage: men stay around for the cooked food. And sex is mutual beneficial, it provides the women with offspring and the men with gratification. Not only does it make more sense, agree with my observations better, but anthropologists, in my observation, are less whacked than economists. 

The second segment dealt with social media courtship. The proponent was some sort of business analyst who kept prattling about her excellence at maths at what I took to be about the level of high schule algebra. Definitely teleological and not at all scientific. But at least honest trial-and-error correction approach and as close as they came to any aspect of Intro. She also did a better job of exploring the external versus internal dimensions of courtship. 

The last segment was a man who sold himself. On the stock market, not the meat market. The stockholders voted on his courtship. And his wife-to-be bought him. Blatantly Extro. Revoltingly so, in fact. Nauseating. At least to Intros. 

But then I thought about the upcoming election and the politicians courting the electorate. And all three of these folks came off amazingly honest and above board. No blatant lies. Like saving jobs that are going to be eliminated by the economy anyway – and wasting taxpayer funds. And doing things touted as benefiting the voters which actually sicken them and shorten their lives. 

So even the Extro tummy wobbles are better? It seems so. And there is cooked food involved that is edible. Unlike politician fare. 

Another datum indicating I should be happy to be ORF.

Fall Timing

Despite all my efforts to disrupt linear time progression the season seems to be changing. Not that I like summer but rather that I should like a bit more fall before winter makes me a slave of its vagaries. I went this morning to park and executed my constitution and found myself at the ragged edge of ‘cold’. Cold is, of course, a sensation and not a thermodynamic observable but that seems to have scant effect on bogs and even on SCP. I find that courtesy of the physicians, especially the cardiologist and his prescriptions of blood thinners, that I have no comfort range any more. 

Tomorrow is foretold to be a bit better, at least in terms of early temperatures if not daily maximum but sundae is foretold to be less warm than today through and through. I find it emotional to bundle up in a thick coat and coverings while the young bogs strut about in scant attire. Except for the women lacking skin dirt. They are at least amusing.

I heard last evening on so-called news program that the Yankee government weather service foretells that the ‘polar vortex’ should not be a problem this winter. Since it has already struck and the promise is from the YG, I invest negative confidence.

On the subject of negative confidence I had a negation of such this week. Wednesday, one of my desk boxes, running SolydK presented to me that it needed to do a version upgrade. Actually it warned me on mundane day, which was a nice courtesy, so I had two days of dreading. So at 0630 on Odin’s day, I engaged the updater, a piece of software that has not engendered much satisfaction, and hence trust, in me, gather my gear, and motored off to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill from Gab and Grab. I did so with an incipient plan to replace SolydK with Nexus when the upgrade failed and I was presented with a need to do a ‘Nuke and Pave’ install. 

I returned at 1130 to find the process till running and muttered under my breath about the joys of Oneonta Telephone Company’s DSL service. Finally at 1430 the process completed, I rebooted – from the command line as instructed – and got back an operating desk box! To say I was shocked would have only implied a lack of electrons. This was quite contrary to my previous experiences – three in number – with Canonical *buntu distributions – that have all resulted in catastrophic failures followed by a couple of days of return to modality.

A very pleasant surprise indeed. 

It also occurred to me while walking this morning why Liinux is superior to Winders – another reason, at least – Linux can read Windows files/partitions but not the opposite. Is this a hubris thing? Or just incompetence? The World Wonders.

Fashion or Function?

Across this cartoon: [Link]

I came. Which led me to a question I have been entertaining for a couple of months: why a smartwatch?

Minor complications: (1) everything a smart watch can do is done by your smone except it is uncomfortable to wear it on your wrist; (2) a smatch is in addition to a smone, not instead of; and (3) a smatch is as or more expensive than a GOOD watch. Pray note here that GOOD means my criteria and not those of a designer nor journalist nor pseudo-celebrity.

So far as I can tell, the only function of a smatch is to advise you when you need to extract your smone from your pocket. Assuming you carry your smone in a pocket.

I do not. I carry my smone in a holster on my belt. In winter it is hard to get to the phone because of jacketage and it is always hard to get to when in a motorcar because of the beltage. Hence if I am alone in vehicle I deposit the smone on the passenger seat, at least until it is projected onto the floor at the first under-prepared stop. 

The problem is the my watch is also covered by jacketage and I try not to look away from the roadway while motoring, especially in places like Huntsville where kamikaze and stupid are synonyms for drivers. 

Waiting is. 

Mouth Leather

Yesterday, one of my news subscriptions brought me this article [Link] entitled “FBI Director Comey Gives Apple and Google a Tongue-Lashing”. And I rolled out of my chair onto the floor laughing. Which I regret this morning because I am sore in places I would prefer not to be sore. 

I keep telling me that this fellow is a political appointee and political appointees and politicians are techno-schmucks. But this fellow now qualifies for being a real schmuck, if not a ferd, just by his so-called ‘tongue lashing’.

Let’s start in that order since it will be a bit clearer. The techno bit comes about because both OS phones have had encryption add-ins (apps) for some time. These are not built into the OS but since both OS are *NIX OS, adding on is rather simple and inherent. So the only distinction we can raise here is that the OS masters have added a capability that already existed as an add-on. This practice has a long history. It goes back to CPM and DOS and probably before that.

So bitching about ‘smartphone’ encryption is techno-stupid. But more important, since the capability has been around for some time, the esteem political appointee grand exalted kudzu of the FBI has demonstrated that he is a social stupid by chewing on folks for what has been established as acceptable. 

Privacy issue or no the sure result of this is that the nation’s, or at least the IT community’s, trust in the FBI has been serious eroded by this brazen display of incompetence. 

Chalk up another success for the antediluvian district!

Apple Fritters

This morning, while crusin’ FaceScroll, I ran across this:

I have to admit that I was rather taken aback by a company announcing that their customers are not smart enough to worry about security. Or how to use their computers. 

But then I took a breath and thought about the Apple users I know. Most of them are smart, but not in computer ways. That is, they have appliance smarts but not tool smarts. And they are entirely too comfortable with the Apple slavery thing. So that at least explains why Apple can say these things and not lose big fractions of its customer base. They know they are slaves and are happy with it. Except maybe for plastic phones? 

But are they really too stupid to use the OS are they just oblivious. The latter I think.