In the Storm

Kudos to the Greater Metropolitan Arab Electron Uncooperative for doing what they traditionally do when it rains – bug out. At least twice last night.

But since the electrons were unflowing I had opportunity to do some cogitation and I have thunk on a few things:

This year’s Nobel Prizes – perhaps we should call this the year of the “Glowy Gadget” since both the physics and chemistry prizes were awarded to people who built gadgets that involved glowing. I know they gave Bardeen and company a Nobel for the transistor but I am less sure of these;

People in Motorcars Aren’t – it occurred while driving back from gym this morning in the rain that one of the reasons people drive so abominably towards each other is because they don’t consider people in motorcars to be people. Instead these are motorcars with people in them. So what they are interacting with is a box on wheels, and not a people. This will require more thinkum.

Since the potential failures played merry ned with the computers, that’s it for now.

Day of Tempests

A hydrated morning thus far. And the weather beavers foretell great tempests this evening into the morrow. So I have crossed my phalanges that the Arab Electron Uncooperative does not do its usual bug out when foul weather emerges, 

Today is the holyday of Christopher Columbus and the supposed discovery of the Americas. Which seems a bit ridiculous, as well as having the aroma of evil, given, in the first instance the arrival of homo sapiens in the Americas thousands of years prior to Columbus, to say nothing of all the Europeans who got here before him, and in the second do we really want to exalt the nastiness that Columbus was and brought with him? But I am informed that today is now also a holy day of native peoples in the Americas which is also nonsensical since no humans evolved here and calling them native is exaggeration. I much prefer the Canadian ‘First Peoples” since that clearly avoids this bureaucratic septic tank. 

On which azimuth the podcast this morning was an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” dealing with the myth of Eve (and Adam, but peripherally.) I have to admit to having been bemused, especially with the rather whacked religionist propaganda. It seems rather obvious that Eve is a heroine who saved humans from the trap of Eden – a kennel, at best – and the complacent asentience of Adam. 

That’s after we suspend disbelief on a story that is so full of holes it makes Swiss cheese look solid and adamantine. The tenor is so obviously agrarian that we have to wonder what happened to all the hunter-gatherer precedents? And what cultural or social structure the tale was crafted to combat? 

Enough. Let us leave it that the story is like Star Wars, a fable of good and evil that quite ignores which is which.

Out Takes

No falling. Dihydrogen oxide, that is. Almost pleasant in park. And trying a bit of variation in podcasts. Since it is the back side of week out and I have been receiving rather a bit of cartoons lately it seems meet to dispose of some.

First, this one [Link]

from Magnetic Inductance Flux. This one rather struck me as how almost all humans operate. But the second thing was that all the leading-up bad habits were things that we have “bought” into. They only hurt us if we let them by our bad practices. We don’t have to consume (unhealthy) process foods; we can minimize or negate their intake. But we don’t and thereby we become co-conspirators with the manufacturers and sellers. So the primary difference between these things and the furrin group is that we don’t have to cooperate. So does that justify response? Seems so, at least from Augustine’s point of view. Definitely a just war. 

I was rather taken by this one: [Link]

because its all about life. Life, so far as I can tell, is a chain of glitches. You get over most of them; some modify your existence; and eventually one of them kills you. But several intriguing questions are promised: if glitches are discrete, what are their mechanics?; and do they accumulate to a catastrophe and if so, what is its landscape? These are both maths questions so for those of you who think algebra is something never used after high schule, please calmly shut down your computer and run terrified – shrieking at the top of your lungs – out of your room and into the street where the constabulary can assist you to the nearest fool farm. 

The next: [Link]

struck me with the obvious association of puffed wheat cereal. I recall a period with all manner of commercials about the wheat being shot from guns, which was rather a conceit, which is what Halloween is these days. I have never consumed puffed wheat cereal although I did consume puffed rice cereal as a bairn, especially in the form of cookies formed of a mixture of margarine, marshmallow puff, and the cereal. This was the ’50’s after all when modern was more important than healthy – see the first cartoon – and probably the origin of most of our consumer habits today I have not consumed cereal since adolescence when Lactase ceased to be secreted by my corpus, which makes me the rare non-mutant in Amerikan society.

Lastly, this cartoon: [Link]

which is a classic of a bygone age but still captures the social and physiological reality of television. Selah. One cannot improve on this relative perfection.

Proceed forth to pseudo-shabbat services – or not – as one desires. Or not. 

Nerd STEM Writing 6

As I have already noted, my undergraduate notetaking was primarily a matter of a Campus of the Black Warrior notebeek and a BIC Stick pen. The notebook looked rather similar to the left notebook pictured here:

except that it was 11″ x 8.5″, college ruled with right and left one inch margins. The margins were dead space, not really crossable in the stress of lecture nor of much value for annotation. The paper was thicker than what one finds in notebooks today and not perforated. Tearing out was risky and seldom done except to exchange bits, like contact information. The covers were heavy cardboard, similar to the covers on a Doane notebook and bore the logo of the campus.

The BIC stick had a yellow body with a black or blue cap that indicated the color of the ink. The ink was mediocre and smeared making the pen very left-hand unfriendly in a day when there were no left-hand notebooks. Accordingly, most lefthanders just reversed the notebooks which led to a bit of polarization of who one borrowed notes from. It was critical that one not write on the back side of the paper so that it would blot the facing page and one soon learned to skip the first page of the notebook. 

This smearing led to the first experiment, which was to find a better pen. The engineering students had to take a course in mechanical drafting their freshman year and this led many of them to use their Rapidiograph pens for note taking since they had reduced need of them after the course but could not resell the equipment unless they flunked out or changed college. Many of us adopted this practice. The pens [Link]

bore a superficial resemblance to a fountain pen. The primary differences were “nib” and ink. Rapidiograph pens used India ink which was quite permanent once dry but had a high fraction of solids that necessitated frequent cleaning and ink flushings. The “nib” was a wire with a plastic “stopper” on the back. It rode in and on a tube projecting out the front of the pen. When one pressed down on the paper the “nib” rose up and the stopper ceased to cover the tube and ink could flow out. 

We found that a good compromise was to use fountain pen ink instead of India ink. This reduced the frequency of cleanings and flushings. This pen also occasioned one to carry a bottle of ink about – Parkek Black Quink (R) was the ink of choice – so that one could refill between classes. 

The other experiment came about because of exams. I have already mentioned exam books. Generally Type 1 course exams were taken in ink whereas Type 2 course exams were taken in pencil. About my junior year the EAGLE 20 was introduced on the campus:

This was the first – to my knowledge – 0.5 mm lead (graphite) pencil. It’s a piston (pusher) pen that accommodates one lead – advanced by the colored twist knob – and has no eraser. As a result one had to carry a tube of lead and an eraser – my choice was usually a Pink Pearl – and the combination of ink and lead pretty well moved us to carry briefcases. Knapsacks were out of favor except among the ROTC majors eager to deploy to Vietnam. 

This may sound like an increased burden for writing what with ink and lead and eraser but the burden actually went down because now one only had to carry one mechanical pencil instead of a dozen wood cased pencils and a sharpener. And the lead lasted much longer than a point on a wood cased so less time was spent in exams on having a legible line. 

Modern Sadism

A moderate morning. Dihydrogen oxide fall is predicted for the whole week out, at least sporadically. I caught it on the last lap of my constitutional, Only moderately soaked. And it did reduce the heat in the atmosphere a bit.

Since it is week out I suppose I should do a bit of tab ‘hawgin’. So first off, the Boston Globe, courtesy of IO9, has discovered something that I have been commenting on since before the blog. [Link] That is, that we are producing too many irrelevant Ph. D.s. I shan’t review the horrible journalism but I will comment that it seems to epitomize the state of journalism in Amerika that it took them a generation to find what we have been talking about in the nerd community on the subject. And after something of order twenty-five years this is what they consider news?

Sadly, this is not a solitary event. last night I heard the chief news reader on national news program declare that the Texas Ebola patient had been released from that hospital emergency room. When did I first comment on this based on a web article? And this schmuck has the chutzpah to declare this to be BREAKING news? Is this stupidity, laziness, or corporate manipulation? Or a mixture?

While we’re on this azimuth, I ran across a Register article [Link] entitled “No one wants iOS 8 because it’s for NERDS – dev”. I was bemused and not minutely astounded. What is up with Apple? Last week I saw a bit on FaceScroll where they were quoted as saying that their users were too stupid to fix the ShellShock defect, and now they say that their users are too boggish to even want to update their OS? This confirms a lot of what I have always hypothesized about Apple slaves users but for the corporation to boast about their users’ incompetence so openly? Is this an anti-intellectual thing? Or is Apple successful only for its sadism? The latter makes more sense based on my own experiences with their hardware and software. Evidently where MegaHard is venial Apple is depraved.

On that note I am going to go out on the aft porch to sit and listen to the fall. Perhaps that will cheer me up.

To Hug or not To Hug?

Once more into the boundary. Gimping a bit. Seems I abused the plumbing in hairy region number two at gym and thing are a bit tender and biting. So this morning’s constitutional was a bit longer than usual. But I didn’t fall down or wander off the path. Quite.

The weather was clement if not enjoyable and the Friday Freyas were gathering. That’s my name for them. I have never held converse with them. They are a group of young women who run/jog – I decline the third obvious term – once a month (it seems like) on a friday. I am unsure of their number but it is of order ten  And they are quite aggressive, taking up the width of the road. And intimidating all but the most chauvinistic of motorists. If I am late and encounter them on street I stop and engage safety flasher until they pass. Happily they are not harassful except when running.

Which puts me in mind of an article [Link] in Washington Post about hugging. It is a con article (as in pro and con, not as in confidence scheme) and the second I have seen. The other was in, I believe, the Saturday Evening Post in the late ’50’s. At least it was in one of the magazines my parents subscribed and were part of my omnivorous reading. 

I have seen pro articles. They were written in the late ’80’s, early ’90’s, primarily for managers to encourage them to treat their employees as humans. 

As an introvert I am not a great fan of hugging. As a child I got hugged at all family gathering by female relatives unseen except at these gatherings. They were less familiar to me than the nurse at my physician’s office. Men did not hug in those days. It was taboo and emasculating.  

I do not mind being hugged – and hugging – people I know. Being a relative does not make one known, nor remove from suspicion. I attribute my ambivalence to relatives to those hugs. 

Until the late ’80’s, there was not much hugging in the workplace. But then the management fashion embraced it as a show of something and being a young manager – or, at least, a new manager – I had to learn how to do so. It was not natural and I never did it well. It did have two benefits. My father and I learned how to hug each other; he never did that when I was a child, at least that I can remember. And I wooed FD SCP. Who gave me ample reason to hug and be hugged.

But as the ’80’s became ’90’s the whole thing of sexual harassment emerged and managers had to not touch employees without permission, except in demonstrable medical emergencies. And most managers I knew would not do so under any circumstances given the horror stories of the penalties exacted on some managers by employees who claimed – rightly or wrongly – harassment. Happily this mostly applied only to new employees and hugging was still acceptable if initiated by the employee. 

Now that I am ORF I don’t have to worry about that any more. Mostly. I am still uncomfortable with men hugging but the only ones who do that are people I have shared great ordnance with. And we are clumsy at it. I enjoy hugging FD SCP and I have to hug my mother. But gingerly. Some aspects of ORFdom are cruel. 

Return from Modality

Well, I survived the weekly – usually – expedition to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill. Wasn’t all that bad. Turns out the schules were desessioned for autumn dissipation. What does one do on an autumn dissipation? Do parents take leave from employment and the family – in a loose sense – travel somewhere? And if so, where? The mad holiday (in the vacation sense) just before schule resessioning is traditionally a beach trip although since the Alibam Council of Thieves Legislators mandated that it was one’s duty and obligation to visit the state’s coast and enrich the whacked tourism “industry” I have noted a healthy sense of rebellion.

For that matter how can tourism be an industry? What do they manufacture? And if the visit is so rewarding why does it have to be mandated? Is this a case of the politicians’ lords and masters having money invested in these properties and they are failing and capitalists cannot be allowed to fail lest our culture be destroyed? And what does that say about Alibam culture?

Back when I was a child in public schule we had a desessioning this time of year. It was to permit the farm kids to stay at home and pick cotton. But as cotton faded away and machines to pick cotton because cheaper and more efficient than humans, that holiday went away. This makes it the opposite of a real holiday which is created to exalt some saint or savior and this one went away to exalt the passing of a capitalist dinosaur. For which matter, are capitalists the new dinosaurs? How can we have any progress without a marketplace? 

Anyway, the traffic was light in Huntsville and I was able to execute my planned activities efficiently – in the main. And I even had occasion, during and after, for cogitation.

I read somewhere, I am not sure where or by whom but I think A. Bertram Chandler, that ‘ethanol is a poor crutch but a pretty fair staff.’ It occurs to me that we have rather too many people in the old Confederacy for whom religionism is a crutch. And a goodly number of them are politicians. Or is that another politician prevarication? 

And it occurred last evening as FD SCP and I were semi-watching the electromagnetic audio-visual receiver – me dividing attention to read a new book on the history of the scientific revolution and she to nap – that the best boggish metaphor for the multiverse is New Yawk City constabulary programs. By my count there are eight or ten different multiverses of the New Yawk Police Department on the eyebox. Which is probably a richer demonstration than any physicist could come up with, even on controlled substances that whack the mind. 

Selah. I have need of attending to my appearance this day in fulfillment of the guidance of FD SCP.