STEM NERD Writing 2

Higher temperature. But somehow more clement in the park for constitutional. Nagged by wondering where the “Pen Addict” podcast is going now that it has dropped out of sight.

When I went through high school in the Sixties, there wasn’t much writing in ink. We, or, at least, I, used a ring notebook with punched paper. I wrote mostly with a mechanical pencil that used large leads, about 2 mm or so. I am sure there were some inked essays and such but my memory of them is fuzzy, probably due to a fundamental dislike of essays. I dislike to read them – in the mode – and hate to write them. Probably because no one ever got across to me what they were supposed to do.

So all complacent in this, I went off to college. In reptrospect the whole thing of paper and writing was a vacuum. My parents didn’t think of it, and I didn’t think of it. And somehow the pundits who intruded with off-to-college advice missed it. Or maybe they told my parents that it would wait for classes to start and they didn’t tell me. Or I was oblivious.

Anyway, I got to college a few days before classes started. Part of freshman “orientation”. I was put in the nerd dorm. To this day I am unsure of whether that was to protect us from the bogs and extros, or them from us. Not that all of us were intros. I discovered early on that there were nerd extros and even nerd jocks. But they were few.

My roommate was a modal intro nerd. He was one of those transparent people who majored in pre-something in those days. Sometimes it seemed like half the male student body was majoring in pre-medicine or pre-law or both. And almost none of them were much more than nebbishes worried more about grades than learning. I honestly do not know what happened to this guy. He was a passing blip – thankfully. If he made a physician, which I doubt, I feel sorry for the profession and patients.

But he did perform one mitzvah. He lectured me on note taking. I did not take many notes in high schule. Mostly just assignment notes: lists of problem numbers, dates, that sort of thing. My memory and the text book were more than adequate. So I came to college as a notes neub.

Anyway, this fellow rather lecturing to a neub told me to go to the college book store and purchase a notebook for each subject and a BIC pen. I was told to buy textbooks at a private bookstore but evidently the notebooks were better at the college bookstore. My education had already begun; I was learning how to be a discerning consumer.

The notebooks were quite nice. They were spiral bound, heavy cardboard covers, and real 8.5×11 inch^2 heavy paper with real “college” ruling – lines so close together I often skipped. And I went off to class so equipped.

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STEM NERD Writing 1

A fair start to the day. Lower temperatures. Almost pleasant. And I listened to part of an episode of the “Pen Addict” [Link] podcast during my constitutional. One of my colleagues, Total Angular Momentum Magnetic Inductance, put me on this, which I share with another common colleague, Magentic Inductance Force, because we are all rather interested in pens and/or pencils and paper. The podcast started out as an attention diversion but after I commented a couple of times on the hosts’ grammar, it improved considerably and the podcast is – part of the time – enjoyable and informative.

I listen with some latency so the recent announcement of the podcast shifting (?) has caused some stress. And it has provoked me to reflect a bit on my own history with pens and writing and such.

So while this is not becoming a penphenalia blog, I am going to be doing some blots on the subject. Somewhere between reminiscence and history.

When I grew up, basically in the ’50’s and early ’60’s, I lived a pencil existence. We didn’t use pens much in schule. Even in high schule. But I do recall that I greatly disliked “wooden” pencils. They had to be sharpened. That meant you had to get up and walk over to the sharpener – a manual device in those days – and use it. I am not very mechanical. I have struggled all my life to learn to use tools, almost always unsuccessfully. In the Sowth this type of handicap is seen as gender incompetence. No male is tool incompetent.

Also, when you go to the pencil sharpener, people look at you. Not agood thing for an introvert in schule. Extro handle it naturally; intros get nightmares and contemplate suicide, or planetary destruction.

I recall getting my first mechanical pencil at about age seven. About the same time I got my first slide rule. It was a gift from my paternal grandfather. He was an insurance executive and got lots of pens and pencils given him and since this was an advertising pen I suspect it was a birthday gift of convenience. But successful and exciting and pleasing all the same.

It took the large – 2 mm? – leads of the day and had a clutch mechanism similar to those used in drafting pencils. The body was green plastic, a very warm feeling pen and not uncomfortable in my juvenile hand. I can’t recall what happened to it. Probably superseded or broken but the loss was emotionally decoupled so it could not have been traumatic. But that pen strated me on a road of NOT using wooden pens. The only time I used wooden pens after that was when I took those horrible standardized tests with the optical scoring forms for the selected answers. The ones where one had to use a “Number 2″ (what hardness is that?) “lead” (not graphite-clay mixture) pencil. The teachers were always pedantic about reminding of that I would have to go buy pencils specially for the exam. And abandon them as soon as the exam was over.

But I didn’t use a pocket protector. Never associated with anyone who used one until I went to work for the Yankee Army.

And there were pens along the way, but I don’t recall them. Pencils were the thing until I got to college. Film at Eleven.

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Return of the Jeddack

To quote someone whose name I cannot recall, "I’m back!" The last few days have been quite trying.

Sadly it has been such a blur that I can’t recall dates too well, but basically, I did an update on Kubuntu and did the required restart. That’s when things went from mediocre and annoying to flaming pit of Tartarus bad. Basically I got advised that the system couldn’t find the boot sector or several other sectors. I ran repair and finally, after a liter or so of perspiration, got the system to boot and immediately was confronted with the direst SMART warning I have ever seen. According to that, my hard drive was breathing its last.

This is not the first time this has happened. It’s the third. Once with Ubuntu running KDE and Unity, twice with Kubuntu running just KDE. So yes, the correlation is that KDE or some foible of (K)Ubuntu is to fault. Happily I don’t store anything on my OS HD in the way of data than I have to. (There’s also this thing under Ubuntus that the data drive periodically (?) loses its permissions and I have to reset them.) So I decided that I needed to expand the range of the experimentation.

I went into the corpus and extracted the old HD, still bright and shiny but with really RED SMART indicators and implanted a new, smaller HD. Incidentally, it is getting harder and harder to find small (100-500 Mb) hard drives. And I switched from Kubuntu to Debian Wheezy. Still running KDE because I do like my eyecandy. (Hey, I’m an ORF. I have an inalienable right to moose heads and antimacassars!) And that has been a bit of an experience.

I have always been told by colleagues that Debian is a somewhat stogy distribution favored by power users. The last few days have given me great insight into this. Or at least, more insight than I would have liked. The stogy is demonstrated by the lack of "APT-ADD-REPOSITORY" from the catalog of Python scripts. The distro also installed without either an app store or a discrete package manager. Right there about half of my vectors of working with repositories were in a null space.

Happily, I could add Synaptic and Apper is better than Manjaro’s Octopus (or whatever it’s called?) But finding repositories has proven to be harder than Livingston to find. And the version is a bit antiquated, at least compared to the Ubuntus. I can’t even install Typecatcher because the library won’t support it. And it is still using FF 17. Which is great because I want to use ScribeFire old version. Although I am using Blogilio now and it’s actually got spell check which I have NEVER seen before in any other distro.

I keep think of Goethe and his "That which does not kill us makes us stringer." Definitely applicable. I now have a growing appreciation of how the Ubuntus are for nebishes and wimps, and I don’t mean particles in the latter. Shuttleworth is definitely a democrud. One of the "I’m an aristocrat and everyone else is mentally incompetent" variety.

Anyway, maybe now I can get back to issuing some blots. They won’t be any better, but my Heinlein sense has been renewed.

On the Path

Gad! A day! FD SCP drug me across Marshall county and I rather feel like it was attached to a rope behind the motorcar. So I was in one of those do/don’t rise modes this morning. The constitutional helped although I was a bit distressed by a political sign pickup truck illegally parked too close to a polling place. That is a norm in Alibam, especially among Repulsians and this fellow is one of the most odious and nasty of that ilk.

But the podcast episode, one of the “Pen Addict”, [Link] was quite diverting. For once, the grammar was passable, which I attribute to a female guest setting a higher tone, but the word usage was abysmal. At one point the host was “blaming” pen and paper for ink bleed-through. Blame? Doesn’t that imply sentience on the part of something or someone? And isn’t it clearly not the pen nor paper since they aren’t sentient? So isn’t this about the human diverting blame from himself?

This leads me to wonder just how rational these people are. I hypothesize they are likely geek rather than bog, mostly because there is some degree of rationality in their deliberations. But evidently not when it comes to sentience?

This led me to posit to myself if we apply analysis to charity does that doom us? It seems quite probable. But if we do not apply analysis to charity how then do we execute it? Are the only stable solutions the two extremes? If so, the matter is another fitting critique of christianism on an ice cream day.

I also considered how the nature of writing differs in the STEM environment from the environment of the podcasters. What can we call their environment? It is not the consistent denialism and delusion of the boggerate. But it is not the environment of STEM. Cogitation seems to be mandated. Film at 11. (Metaphor.)

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Broken Society

Alas, now is the summer of our disservice. Yesterday was a foul day. The new part for my primary motorcar, necessary for my self-transport, did not arrive as promised by the warehouse and hence the date when I can retrieve the motorcar from the dealer’s maintenance shop is delayed. The fellow from the fencing company scheduled to repair FD SCP’s marvelous and recently purchased fence was totally unpresent. And the electrician to repair various things I am unpermitted to assay was late unto almost nil.

And because of the electrical work I had to shut down my deskboxes and I have still not gotten them back to minimum performance.

Happily the walk in the park was modestly pleasant, I had the facility to myself, no feral felines nor conscript parents – the latter are venomous and scabrous, you know, and the podcast did not trigger regurgitation.

On a brighter side I ran across an article [Link] that basically announced that W8 is one with Vister for inept incompetence. And MegaHard has already announced W9 for later this year.

Frankly, beyond the confirmation that MegaHard has gone whackers I am not greatly interested. But I was interested enough to view another article [Link] That indicates that Apple is also losing ground. It is almost enough for one to entertain, frivolously, that rationality is spreading.

This is one of those times when I am glad that I am neither a Winders nor an Apple user. I do still use a WXP client for my writing but that is only until the next version release of the client which is supposed to support Linux. With that I can consign MegaHard to the pit. Except for FD SCP’s sewing stuff.

So maybe there is some hope for the day after all?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Cuneiform over Computers

I am beginning to hate summer already and it is barely here. I am entertaining the conjecture that I dislike temperature (and sinus) extremes. And this is not at all helped by FD SCP going off on a home improvement campaign. I now identify with both William Tecumseh Sherman’s troopies and the residents of Gawjah.

As promised, I now return to the matter of computers in lectures. A recent study at Michigan State U indicates that the mere presence of computers in a lecture hall is a major distraction and prevents learning. So it’s not just if you are using a smart (sic) cellular telephone or lapbox or slab but if the guy on the other side of the hall is.

But before I advocate that the students be permitted to police themselves – academics have to at least give the impression of being in a situation of permitting disobedience – we need to consider how we respond to this. Some objections have been made that since the cellular network is now used by most colleges to warn students of shootings and other common events like pep rallies and anti-war protests, some liability may incur if cellular telephones are banned. What is most often missed here is that only one such device need be activated since a lecture (or seminar or whatever) is a gathering and there are all sorts of schemes for providing that linkage. So all cellular connection save one designee is feasible and possible.

If we take this with the mounting evidence that learning does not occur when notes are taken electronically but are learned when they are written down. IOW, digital – NYET!; analog – DA! Feel free to change that last to whatever language you want to. This now takes on a bit of an ethical complexion. Given that colleges are accepting payment for lectures in anticipation of some learning, or, at least, a diploma, it becomes necessary that some effort be expended to encourage learning and perhaps even actual thinking, although the latter is problematic at party schules such as the campus of the Black Warrior.

It thus becomes insufficient to just ban electronic devices (in the main) from the classroom. It is also necessary to lead the students back to the paradigm of pen + ink + paper. Notebooks are preferred, at least for the mechanically inept who seem unlikely to master the intricacies of the three ring binder. And given the abandonment of teaching cursive on the part of the public schules, it would seem that some remedial instruction in penmanship – suitable de-genderist – be instituted.

This should not be difficult. Most colleges have been around long enough that they have had instructions for students on notetaking and if they don’t some sort of mutual support can likely be arranged. If nothing else we might find this a useful activity for the Ivy League schules, who, as we all know, invented writing back in the Pre-Cambrian era.

Stercus Brick

I have long wondered why almost all GEN Ys spend so much of their time staring at their cellular telephones. I now understand. My IBM PC circa 1984 CE worked better, faster than my Motorola DROID. And connected to the internet better, which is not at all instead of seldom and randomly.

No wonder we are turning into a third world country: our manufactured devices are crap. No, crap squared!

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