Half Failures?

Not bad so far. The weight bouncers were only moderately nasty and bullying, and the educationalists wee scant on the ground. And being 2 day the podcast episodes were scienceish and despite a persisting error on almost all vectors to commit one of Burke’s sins and confuse technology with science there were some moments of moderate good. 

The most notable of these was the Guardian science podcast which was definitely NOT about science, being an interview with some Israeli academic about his recent book on the historical development of homo sapiens, but entertaining and informative nonetheless. 

This put me in a mood to consider an article [Link] one of my clipping services found yesterday. The article is quite localized, dealing with an urban community in Wisconsin where half of the high schule freshmen are flunking introductory algebra. 

I have to admit that I did not perceive Wisconsin to be part of the downward race of Amerikan states to third world status. So this was a bit of a surprise and not a pleasant one. It is not unexpected. We have teachers who have inadequate knowledge of the subject they are trying to teach. We have parents who have told their children that algebra is something one learns in high schule and then never has any use for. And who have no maths skills themselves other than fingers and a calculator – algebraic, of course. And we have the children who are the second generation who have been told that trying is as good as learning. An Amerikan recipe for failure and inferiority to African failed states.

I have to admit to some alienation. I taught myself algebra out of my father;s navy correspondence course textbooks when I was about ten or twelve. After that trigonometry. And was thoroughly bored with high schule maths until a brief consideration of derivatives in second semester senior year. But first semester calculus in college was a visitation of epiphany!

Sadly, these supposed bright kids will not know such. Because they are already failures. They are acalculate and likely will remain so. They are almost certainly doomed to be the illiterate of our society. And all because of the way that educationalists and parents are vertically copulated. 

But the lesson in failure may do them some good. Maybe. But I have scant expectation that those few, pathetically few, who learn from their failure can transcend the barriers of broken educationalism and incompetent parenting.

Podcasts and Sturgeon’s rule

Crap morning. Oh the weather is fine. Lower temperature and the weather beavers keep making a deal that this is first day of fall since that season commences at 2200 hours. So not a complete day of fall; that is tomorrow. Only two hours today. What a load of stercus!

And the gym was pleasantly sparse. Not may educationalists nor obnoxious weight bouncers. But the podcast was a disaster.

I started out with an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas”. This one was the second component on Ideacity. And it was a real hair puller. I barely got through the first speaking, on quantum computing, and then the second, on telepresent robots, started raising all of yesterdays meals to the gorge, including the ones already defecated. The primary problem was the speaker who was one of those enthusiastic geeks who can curdle air with her evil. And this was the worst kind of evil. It was that evil that comes about when there is too much good. This speaker had no evil intent, only good, but it was so bubbly and exuberant and loud that it became evil and hurtful and something that could not be withstood. 

So I deleted the podcast episode off the MP3 player sine die and diverted myself by listening to the second half of last week’s “Linux Luddites” podcast episode. Nothing like snarking and cynicism to be balm to the festering wound of good rebounded. 

But the good that came of this was to once more consider the relationship of podcasts and Sturgeon’s rule. The latter holds that 0.9 of everything is crap. It doesn’t say how the crap is to distributed so too often the bogs, the few who know of the rule, think it means 0.9 of anything is crap. That is inaccurate. Podcasts are a case in point. 

Taken as a whole, that is the set of all podcasts, 0.9 are crap. But at the next level of inspection, individual podcasts, what we find is a spectrum. Some podcasts are 1.0 crap; some podcasts are 0.1 crap, or less. Although it is hard to get below 0.1 just on the general nature of human language usage.

The CBC’s “Best of Ideas” is a good podcast. Its crap level is about 0.3, mostly because it puts out a lot of stuff and excellence can’t be sustained that much even by the best. Today was one of those occasions when an abysmally crappy episode emerged. Most of the podcasts I listen to have low crap levels. They’ve been selected for that.

Not that I don’t listen to a lot of crap podcasts. We need to not lose sight that the purpose here is primarily to divert me from the unpleasantness of exercise. So another form of unpleasantness is acceptable and even welcome. 

But not when it is sickening and hurtful. And this one was. 

Life Physics

Another morning of inadequate wind speed. Comfortable so long as one moves but not stationary. Of course a constitutional in the park is ab initio and de facto kinetic. Rather enjoyable podcast this week out. The guest was not only knowledgeable and engaging but also not the usual pen/pencil/paper for the sage of pen/pencil/paper geek. Although the grammar was egregiously bad and hurt the mind sharply. Smartly, even, if I may assay a bit of a pun.

My colleague, Magnetic Inductance Force, sends me cartoons of what he – rightly, almost always, > 0.9 – perceives as mutual interest. Which usually mean physics and a few other nerdish practices. The first [Link]

is rather hurtful. Not, of course, for the tag line. We physicists admit we are rather immature. In fact, we brag of it in the gravest of insecurity since physics is really only done by the immature and to call a physicist mature is really a horrible insult.

No, what is hurtful is the “rubbing it in”. Prizes are largely irrelevant, negative even. They do no good for the recipient and they are embarrassing no end. How does one act? Falsely humble? We know what our strengths and weaknesses are and usually, what we have accomplished. And we don’t need some outsider to affirm that to everyone else. What do I care what you think? Thank you, RF!

But the Nobel is moderately acceptable. It lets you make a boring speech on physics to a bunch of bogs who have to sit through it nicely. So it is like a Scots’ confection. Very sweet. 

I noticed that the Scots have declined “independence”. Wonderful. Very satisfying. It is nice to know that among nations they are still one of the most rational, perhaps the most. This was an enormous display of rationality – not having to pick up all that boggish nonsense of getting along with others, and furriners at that, something better left to the English who are rather too stuffy to realize how unpleasant it really is – and charity, rescuing Great Britain from its own stupidity and incompetence. Absent the Scots the rest of the house of cards would soon collapse into children fighting in a sand pile over a plastic pail. Or the Bog equivalent thereof. 

And they, alone of all nations, know how to spell whisky. And make it. 

The other cartoon [Link]

is a bit more fun. It reminds me of a delightful seminar presentation I heard at an interdisciplinary conference on philosophy and the sciences. The seminar dealt with the idea of the vacuum. No, not a suck broom. Nothingness. This is a topic at the basis of science. We forget often that Boyle labored mightily on this matter at about the same time Newton was inventing fluxions and gravity and poking his eyeball. 

Of course that’s not what the cartoon is about. It’s about bogs and lectures and how their minds work. Or is it all children. The problem with schule, especially the oppressive public schules, is that what they present is what someone else has decided is important and MUST be impressed into the minds of the youth. And thereby it is in some degree rot and cancer and garbage.

For me, my years in schule were torture and pain until I got to college. Then I got to college and could, increasingly, ignore the unpleasant and useless and concentrate on what was pleasant and useful. I am told that is not the way any more, that even college is unpleasant and useless, and not just because it admits everyone. So one more reason to be glad to be old.

No More Democracy

I probably should applaud the arrival of the fall season but given that the denialists in the District have doomed us to the untender ministrations of the polar vortex once again, I am not so pleased. Besides, the summer was quite mild, frighteningly so. On which subject I ran across an article [Link] that included a list of the observables of denialism:

1) Cast doubt on the science.

2) Question the scientists’ motives and integrity.

3) Magnify any disagreements among the scientists; cite gadflies as authorities.

4) Exaggerate the potential for harm from the science.

5) Appeal to the importance of personal freedom.

6) Object that acceptance of the science would repudiate some key philosophy.

And I could not help but be impressed with how accurately this described Alibam politicians, especially the Repulsians. For example, we have two politicians running for Attorney General. In terms of campaign they are 0.9 indistinguishable but the democrud is being attacked by the repulsian as a liberal and a pedophile. Well, maybe not the latter, but that’s the rationality of Alibam politics: never chop logic when irrationality and filth throwing is possible. 

This is the problem with democracy in Amerika today. We have two parties. They are the only people who are allowed to run for office. And we want neither candidate. Oh!, and the parties represent less than 0.5 of the electorate. For all practical purposes, democracy is dead in Amerika; all we have is an oligarchy of the parties. 

On a humorous azimuth, I ran across this cartoon: [Link]

and I was quite taken with it. It seems, based on this, that I am not a bad example simply because I can find no one to emulate me. There is a kind of satisfaction in that.

Sadly, the same does not apply to politicians.

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.