Larval Form?

Almost to week out. Had a good constitutional this morning other than having to avoid runners. And noting that the phenomena I noted as an undergraduate on the campus of the Black Warrior in the latter ’60’s for women’s derrieres apparently applies these days to mammaries and sports bras. Insofar as I could tell in the uncertain light, fractal harmonic oscillation seemed exhibited. Ditto for pony tail,although I have observed that phenomenon previously at gym and so noted. I think?

Anyway, I ran across this cartoon: [Link]

yesterday and being a only slightly used grandparent was brought to some consideration of thee presented idea.

My immediate thought was that this was a bog cave, and not in the Platonic sense. Why is the grandfather evading the question. The presented conjecture is that he is a bog who cannot discuss any basic reality picture. Ergo, he is a poor role model and less than a paradigm of humor.

Clearly the lad has been exposed to some bits of biology and while I am not a biologist – although I did enjoy much of my two semesters of undergraduate biology courses; the labs were rather lame and seemingly pointless and uneducating – I feel fairly confident that I could make a reasonable stab at the question without running screamingly to either my study or the consultation of biologist colleagues.

And that answer would be along the lines that finger puppets are not larval forms but rather dwarfed descendant offshoots of hand puppets who have evolved to lesser magnitude due to a constrained environment. I am unsure of whether I would introduce Homo Florensis into the discussion. Probably let that one take care of itself.

And I would sit back and await any grrr brrr from the daughter or the lad’s teacher.

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Reddy Snowatt

From one stress to another. Now I am having to contend (?) with house repairs and the weather is worsening. I ran across this cartoon: [Link]

yesterday and was first amazed at the wisdom of the brother. This kid is destined for greatness either positively or negatively and the result is stochastic given our ignore-it-and-it-will-go-away Amerikan attitude towards parenting. The biological production of a child is a biological process; it’s built into our DNA and bodies. Parenting is a matter of intelligence and social responsibility and we totally ignore that.

And no, I am not talking about Nazi-era imposed sterilization. But I am talking about licensing parents. With examinations. And if they have a child without a license, they go to jail. After all, you can’t drive a motorcar without a license. And the rationale is public safety. So why do we let people have children and raise them without a license? Isn’t that a bigger risk to public safety?

And then I noticed the matter of the “electric snowman”. The whole Beetles avant garde aspect aside, electric snowman? Is this a matter of laziness or child development? Somehow the picture of a white plastic (?) snowman figure on a browning lawn strikes me as somewhere between absurd and mournful, perhaps all at once. I realize that, despite the joyful bleats of Repulsian climate change denialists, that snow is becoming less common, but a fake snowman? Somehow it seems horribly Veblenesque and pathetic. I suppose I can accept, if I don;t have to see too long, those clearly plastic inflatable holiday figures, but a fake snowman.

Yes, I made snowmen as a child. It was not fun. And perhaps because of that they were not very good although I thought it because we had no coal living in Nawth Alibam with the Tennessee Valley Authority. Is that why we now have electric snowmen? So that the children are relieved of a punishment exacted by nostalgic and insecure parents? Makes sense in a way.

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Outreach Goodness

My opinions on science outreach are fairly obvious to the (few) readers of this blog. I consider it a perverse frenzy of current popularity that is characterized by Sturgeon’s Rule, that 0.9 of everything is crap.

crap n 1: obscene terms for feces [syn: crap, dirt, shit, shite, poop, turd]; 2: obscene words for unacceptable behavior; “I put up with a lot of bullshit from that jerk”; “what he said was mostly bull”

Happily that also implies that 0.1 is not.

I have to advance that I do not find much of the 0.1 that is written by actual academics; they seem unable these days of composing. But I did run across an excellent bit of outreach this weekend in the form of this cartoon, [Link]

And I still contend that the best children’s science book I know of is John Lewellen’s The Boy Scientist, Simon and Schuster, 1955. That date in itself is a condemnation of the current madness.

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Cloud William

One of my colleagues, Current Density Magnetic Inductance, and I have been carrying on a discussion on nerd eBooks for some time. My colleague, who is much more comfortable with the evil-that-is-Apple is happy with his iPud but he is quick to declaim that this is the only Apple box he owns – now. He has used Apple desk box in past in the office – i.e., use or quit – environment. He is also frank enough to admit that the iPud is too expensive for general use as a collegiate eReader and indeed has capabilities that are difficult to control from the podium. To say nothing of its total failure, along with other computer devices (maybe) as note taking instruments.

Anyway, I ran across a raft of articles yesterday on the educationalists’ indictment of the states’ science education (?) programs. Simply put, the triangle of grade density was awfully squatted and NOT inverted as one would like. Nonetheless, the result was expected and so I picked on one article, this one [Link] from Scientific American, which is actually one of the better although it is somewhat chest tightening to admit that. Scientific American, which is still rather slumish compared to its glory days in my youth has had a few singular instances of improvement lately and I have to admit to actually considering a subscription. At least I let them send me a trial issue – not yet arrived – to permit a scathing kritik.

Recognizing that any grading system other than ‘my state continues, yours becomes non-existent’ is arbitrary and subjective, [1] the grading damnation is summarized by one of those graphics that we seem to do so well while being miserably inept at effectiveness,

I have a somewhat conflicted position of noting that Alibam received a “D” that puts it far above dead last or dead last but one, the usual position of our state in such lists.

I also found this statement

“The study identified four main factors: an undermining of evolution, vague goals, not enough guidance for teachers on how to integrate the history of science and the concept of scientific inquiry into their lessons, and not enough math instruction.”

as worthwhile and almost telling.

The first factor is clearly the result of boggish mysticism that has been resurgent in recent years. Short of simply shipping off the children of the asurvival deluded to separate classes on creationist mysticism and pseudo-science, I see no way to do anything substantive about this lemming rush until the nation collapses into true third world status and the children of these children will once more see education and science as avenues to longer, better life.

The vagueness is a direct result of the current climate of political and social correctness and excessive governmental direction. Why should one risk one’s life, liberty, and health when the Yankee government and every splinter educationalist terror cell shouts one down as racist, genderist, or even mediocre, the latter being accurate but basically nor dismissable.

Guidance on history and inquiry may be fixable in the doctrine but not in the implementation. By extension this is the root problem: today’s educationalists who ‘teach’ science, in the mean, have inadequate knowledge of science to be anything more than a Kindle on ‘verbalize’ mode. You cannot be effective teaching what you do not know and understand.

The last has been a problem with our educationalist system almost since the founding of the republic. If anything, our maths education has not progressed since then. We still spend ten years or so teaching arithmetic and then try to cram some higher maths into the maelstrom that is high shule.

Much of this cannot be fixed but some attempts can be made:

  1. Certification of teachers must follow degree. All high shule teachers must have degrees in the discipline they teach.
  2. Algebra needs to be introduced in third grade; Calculus taught in grade five before adolescence has its endocrine holocaust.
  3. No religion permitted in shules. (Yes, this one is moonbeams but it follows logically.)
  4. Definition of curriculum must occur at the local level. (Yes, this results in a lot of failure but we see from history it is better than what we have now under the Soviet system.)

Rotted fruit on sale in the lobby for a reasonable price plus a janitorial surcharge.

[1]  The one cited is, admittedly, subjective, but it is not arbitrary!

Auschwitz – the lunch room

There are time when I am glad to be an ORF. Getting up time is one of them, knowing that the only reasons I have to get up and scurry about to go someplace are not due to the servitude of employment. Meal time is a mixed bag but this week it has been largely positive, largely because of the ponderous inertia of the Yankee government and the predation of social engineers.

The primary cause of this joy was the announcement by the Yankee government, via the news media in my instance, of changes to the shule lunch regime. I came to reflect on the government’s, and social engineer’s, perversion of resistance is met with greater punishment rather than any type of kritik. The new regime is supposed to be healthier with more whole grains, vegetables (including catchup?) and less fat and sodium.

This despite test data from pilot shules that indicates the students will just not eat what they don’t like and thus instead of eating “healthy”, eat less, presumably making matters worse at home but on the ledger of government – good, parents – bad, a profit. (I regret I can’t find this reference. Mea Culpa.) There is even counter information on the obesity war front, a study [Link] indicating that shule junk food is NOT a substantive factor in causing obesity. Unfortunately, like the War on Drugs and the Global War on Terror, (and Vietnam,) any body is that of the enemy.

Sadly, the shule lunch program has always been a playground of social engineers and religionists. If the Yankee government can receive any credit for its heavy handed ways it is for relieving shule children of the confusion and stress of being subjected to one religionist doctrine at shule and (probably) another at home. This was not without some benefit, at least for the nerds. I recall in elementary shule being subjected to prayers at both the start of class and at lunch time. The former were standardized with variations but the latter were often delivered by one of the do-gooders and their deviations from our parents’ formulae gave the attentive, perceptive, and cognitive – nerds, in short – something to muse on over lunch.

The food at lunch was also a matter of social engineering. The elementary shule I attended was an old mill shule and had a long tradition of educating (training?) of grubby children fated to follow their grubby parents into wage servitude in the cotton mills. They were generally unprepared and under-responsive to the influx of children parented by ‘rocket scientists’. The best tried and did their best in the face of chronically inadequate budgets and college educated parents demanding what they considered minimum standards 10 dB above the shule’s previous best. The lunch room was not part of the best.

Children and parents alike uttered complaints about food that was unpalatable and unhealthy to thirty and forty years veterans of ladle and steam table. The requirement to clean one’s adult sized tray was confronted as criminal, making enforcement all the more strict. Criticize a bigot and you create a martinet. The lunch room prayers were abandoned after a Yankee army Judge Advocate General type descended on a faculty meeting and talked about criminal sanctions and what it was like to run a shule under martial law. Disgruntled, the do-gooders abandoned the practice entirely rather than dilute their rants.

The effect on the food was nil, largely due to the juju of the great god Budget. As a result, a class split occurred. The mill kids pretty much continued to eat the prepared food, but the rocket kids began to mostly eat brought lunches. There was a great contrast between green institutional plastic trays and colorful lunch boxes, with a few brown paper bags offering contrast. The ‘eat it all’ rule still held but brought lunches tended to have everything wrapped and even the girls had pockets in those days. And all in obedience to parental guidance that some of the food was to be saved for afternoon recess, or while waiting for bus after shule.

So I am glad now that all I have to do when I eat lunch is contend with the instructions form physicians, and FD SCP, and the battle to find foodstuffs across several grocery stores. Preparation is a joy compared to those days of childhood because now, at least, the only do-gooder that bothers me is my own conscience. But I know, deep down, that the kids are still stressed and strained at lunch in shule, and no wonder they eat too much or too little.

One of the strengths of homo sapiens is that we always teach our children the wrong things by intent and the right things by error.

Lemmings and Luxury

A rather nice session at gym this morning. The educationalist absence continues and being tuesday the overall density if decreased. The amusement was rather good as well, being a combination of science podcasts and the galgenhumor of the ongoing partisan suicide in the District over the debt ceiling. In the first instance some amusing pieces about the mechanics of coral structures and the intelligence of parrots, who I was reminded do not sing but make ‘other’ noises, and in the second a lot of noises but all joined in the backlash to be expected against political parties in general when the cost of living skyrockets and an even worse depression seizes the circulatory system of the nation.

In that light of partisan lemmings, I have a couple of articles that seem to be paradigms of things likely soon to be dusty memories. First, I see a PEW article [Link] about the ownership of eReaders and Tablets. The graphic

is telling. I have to admit to sufficient economic ignorance as to whether these fractions are consistent with pricing expectations. After all, eReaders run 0.33 – 0.5 of the cost of a tablet. Perhaps more pointedly, the curve possibly indicates a saturation of the tablet market?

What is not told is what is the overlap. How many own both? All we can say from this is that somewhere between 0.12 and 0.2 of Amerikan adults have the capability to read eBooks (if we exclude conventional boxes.) Since only 0.5 of that same demographic read books, which gives us a lower limit on the bog fraction, that puts the eBook fraction at double those bounds, 0.24 – 0.4, which seems a bit at odds with the claim of selling more eBooks than pBooks by some retailers. Do I sense the aroma of rattus Norwigica?

Next, I ran across an article [Link] about a study at the campus of the Black Warrior that indicates that children between the ages of 7 and 10 years of age who suffer from Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder cannot be entrusted to cross streets safely. Apparently the problem is that while the children look both ways as prescribed by doctrine, they underestimate either time of transit of time to collision with oncoming motorcars. This implies poor spatial comprehension or poor temporal comprehension, or both. Such acomprehension is common in humans, as evidenced by the shoddy driving skills exhibited by adults resulting from poor estimation of velocity and distance. In addition, symptoms of attention deficit are common in adults driving motorcars, so this carry over could be explanatory of why driving is so unpleasant and risky these days.

What do these have in common? They are things studied that will be faint memories after the collapse of the national economy next week, things to be viewed in future as luxuries no longer affordable.

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Stupidity Tolls

We are now well and truly into the weekend, and the recuperation continues. Not as rapidly as I should wish but positive (?) at least. Since I have been a bit distracted this week, the tabs are not as cluttered as usual but even with the abomination and travesty that is Firefox 4, there are a few and I shall assay a subset of those this morning here in the wasteland of the weekend.

First, I note an article about a shul in Chicago that does not permit brown bag. [Link] The excuse given for this tyranny is the shibboleth Obesity, that what children will bring from home will be bad food and so it is forbidden, unless they have some medical or other condition that may invoke attorneys, and the students are all issue institutional foods. If the reportage is to be credited, much of this goes uneaten and discarded, so at least we may rest assured that the students are not obese. They may be starving, they will perform poorly in class, but bureaucracy is served.

In my day, the issue was whether all students got something to eat, not if it was bad or too much. This is another reason I am glad that I am no longer young. There is too little rationality in the shuls today, too much blind obedience to rules even when it breaks things. Is this the modern theocracy?

We were not permitted soda pop in our brown bags or steel boxes but if we decanted it into vacuum flasks no notice was taken. I always wondered if the loss of carbonation was the redeeming factor or just some respect for not asking too hard questions? As I recall, I seemed to always get sweet tea – this is the old Confederacy after all – or Hawaiian Punch, a new thing in those days and no questions asked about sugar and obesity. Soda pop was something you got on Saturdays at the movies, not something you drank every day. I recall I had cousins who got soda pop every day and never finished college or had regular employment in later years and I wondered if this was the result of too much parental permissiveness?

I recall I did not really like shul lunches. When I attended Lincoln elementary I recall they had the most wonderful cornbread on Fridays, but also the most terrible tasting pinto beans (vegetarian lunch as a Protestant sop to the church of Rome) and a clean-your-tray policy, so the situation was definitely conflicted. In high shul I found the cafeteria food unseasoned and tasteless, except for sugar, and hence fell back on the bag route.

In college this was not practical, and the tray line was a true selection rather than a ration issue so I came to abide institutional food for the nonce as a necessity. But I still have a dread of certain chains of cafeterias to this day. Morrison’s is poison and bitters but Luby’s is to be sought out.

Nonetheless, I find this dictat of the shul to be overweening; my HARA response is that if you demand that, then let us argue it in court with bar surrogates. But I suspect that most parents just breathe a sigh of relief at being relieved of one more thing of parental responsibly. How long until the social engineers force us to surrender our children and most of our income to crèches? Stalin would be envious.

Next, there is the matter of cowboy poets. [Link] This needs little dignifcation. While I do not care for the poetry itself, I do intensely dislike the waste of the taxpayers time by politicians arguing about scarlet fish. In conclusion, I advocate once more that politicians be banned from holding public office; indeed, that anyone be banned from serving more that one term of political office in their lifetime – until everyone has had a turn. The great evil of the nation today is political parties.

And lastly, I turn my attention once more to the scouts. [Link] Charges have been placed that the boy and girl scouts are genderist. Duhhhhhhhhhh! This is ore for social correctness engineers? Last I noticed the scouts were designed genderist – you have the boy scouts for children of the male configuration and girl scouts for children of the female configuration. That seems genderized to me. So do not now come out and say that the programs of activity are different. If you start out acknowledging that the children should be segregated on the basis of plumbing and glands and even mind functionality, then don;t start bleating about differential activities. The bridge is crossed and you can’t go back without paying the stupidity toll.


I ran across this cartoon [Link] this morning:

which struck me as very much the way science fairs are now in the Yankee republic.

In Greater Metropolitan Arab, which is a bedroom community for Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill, and has a population of technical people (~0.08 of adult population) who would be happy to judge a science fair, none have been invited to be judges in the last decade.

You can guess what projects get picked by a combination of a bank vice president, a real estate agent, and an accountant.

See! It’s not just Every-Child-Left-Behind.

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Epiphany – Can Opening

Yesterday FD SCP and I compelled ourselves to go to MalWart to purchase a few things that it is easier to procure here in Arab at the MalWart (that combination is becoming ever increasingly redundant.) One of the items sought was a canned foodstuff that it is easier to buy locally than in Huntsville. Sadly that proved not to be the case when the basic tenet of the assumption leading to the decision was violated.

Under democratic circumstances of robust marketplace competition we could have purchased the canned foodstuff from the manufacturer of our choice. Under the circumstance of MalWart tyranny we had a slightly different choice, that of either forgoing the foodstuff or procuring it under MalWart branding. Since we did not propose motoring elsewhere for a can of foodstuff, we opted to purchase the MalWart inferiority and made note in our shopping list client that in future canned foodstuffs of a desired branding that was not MalWart were to be purchased in Huntsville where some miserable semblance of a democratic marketplace still persists – weakly.

But what is the real meat of the matter occurred after we had returned to our domicile and I was storing the can of foodstuff in the pantry. I noticed that unlike the usual brand purchased this can lacked a pull tab opener. Epiphany struck! This was the great leveler!

It may be recalled, at least to those who are not first time visitors to the blog, that I commented previously on the differences in skill sets among grandparents, parents, and children. One of these, especially bemoaned by those who fail to comprehend the nature of technological evolution of society, was that the current generation have not, in the main, learned to use a can opener because the cans of foodstuffs they open have pull tabs.

But now I see that there is a major variation on this situation. If they or their parents purchase MalWart branded canned foodstuffs the children are more likely to learn how to use a can opener because the alternatives are to get a parent/grandparent to open the can, or starve.

So does this mean that MalWart is a dinosaur?

No Wonder No Education

OK, it’s Punday but I shall attempt to not do so here. I got a link yesterday, via the Sigma Xi eLetter I believe to a New Yawk Times article [Link] on the nature of learning. This is the first article I have seen out of them this year that justifies their claims to be leader among mediasts. And sadly, it comes almost concurrent with the announcement of the cessation of the tree edition of the newspaper.

The theme today is not to blather about whether this or any other magazine can long survive with only a web presence behind a paywall. All of the statistics I see on this lead me to believe the answer is a resounding NO!. Nor am I sure that the tablet computer vector be much more viable. For Rome it was drinking wine out of plumbum beakers, for Amerika is it drinking news information not from newspapers – as the newspapers would have us believe? Part of the problem of being a good as well as successful historian is keeping objective enthusiasm.

The article is about learning and it tends to refute, negate even, much of what we hold as the instrumentality of learning. For example, learning is not best achieved by singular concentration in a structured environment. Instead it is better to daart here and there on various topics and subjects and in various locales.

This fits with my experience. Every time I tried to study in a structured environment – such as a desk – I had trouble concentrating or absorbing information. Most of my studying as an undergraduate was on my bed, even working problems assigned as homework in nerd courses, which were the majority after Freshman year and almost exclusivity after Sophomore. The only time I sat at desk was when I had to type (key on a typewriter) because it was an electric typewriter and I didn’t have an extension cord. And when I went library, I usually sat on floor or curled on an empty bottom shelf in the stacks. Studying in library commons didn’t work and I only visited there when I had to read reserve material for some bog course.[1]

Similarly, the stuff about students being visual or hearing learners, or about teaching style is challenged to be so much overinflated stercus – foamed moose muffins in the parlance of one television realist characterization – that is statistically unsupportable. What seems to count is engagement not mode.

This also fits with my experience. If the material is interesting, encompassing, then it is easy to study and learn, even if the concepts are difficult. Quantum mechanics came easily to me, perhaps in part because it had to be unimaginative and unillustrative, but the niceties of polhodes and herpolhodes seem to keep evading me despite thirty years of specializing in classical mechanics. Similarly, enthusiasm and technique were seldom discriminators of effective lecturers.[2] My memory is that the most effective were the ones who laid the material out and it was somehow engaging. This sounds remarkable more like communication than teaching.

All this not only indicates why our Amerikan educationalist system is failing, but is an indictment of its instrumentality. The article, without saying so explicitly, indicates that the regimentation systems of bureaucracy, such as Every Child Left Behind, and both fashionable and traditional educationalist recipes are counterproductive and antieffective. If anything learning seems to be Helleresque, an inherent Catch-22. Regimentation must come from within. It can be taught and guided but it cannot be imposed from without. Lincoln’s words come all too close “Democracy imposed from without is the sternest form of tyranny.”  The authoritarianship of modern public shuls is revealed not only tyrannical but counter-survival. If anything firemen on New Yawk subway cars are more productive and beneficial to society in Amerika than are almost all of the educationalist instrumentality.

In retrospect I see my own great good fortune. Public shuls in Huntsville were in a state of barely contained chaos during my developmental years. That atmosphere of spinning plates on sticks was responsible for one of the best learned graduating classes in the history of the Yankee republic, largely because we had parental support and desperate teachers who most often had degrees in their fields with only second class educationalist credentials. Once freed of even that stultifying atmosphere I was largely able to develop my own learning skills and walk a path of my own choosing; the campus of the Black Warrior even then was a football party shul that had little appreciation for nerdery. In retrospect I attained the self-teaching goal of the research doctorate early so that graduate shul, while undistinguished did not involve a learning epiphany or bris.

And this gives me a picture of H**l. It is today being young and under the control of the modern Amerikan educationalist instrumentality.

[1]  Actually, I may owe my survey of philosophy course professor an apology here. His course was not exactly a bog course but it lacked the maths and such of technical courses. Still it did satisfy the four Ts, so it was at least a geek course. And he put stuff on reserve at library that could only be accessed by visiting the undergraduate reading room and siting at massive oak table reeking of venerable tradition while enduring the burbling murmerage of a large room clogged with bogs.
[2]  I avoid the word ‘teacher’ here because that is a term that has become associated with the educationalists of primary and secondary shuls. I have memories of teachers who were more effective than others but I also have the nagging suspicion that the system prevented even the best of them from really being teachers. Hence I prefer the collegiate terminology.