The heat is back, for a few days at least, and while I generally prefer winter to summer – yes, why do I live in Alibam? – I generally do not like too much winter. Especially when I want to do something outside, such as traveling. This has always struck me as one of the primary differences between the old Confederacy and the rest of the Yankee republic. Southrons have a bit of a bunker mentality. They tend to hunker down and hide in the winter where their Nawthern – actual Yankee – cousins get out and experience the solidity of dihydrogen oxide. And since the invention of air conditioning, the summer bunker mentality has deepened as well although sometimes I wonder if the outside thing grew out of a search for wind, or breeze, at least. The Nawthern cousins on the other hand, have the same kind of summer bunker mentality, at least during the droop of the day, unless they live far enough Nawth that the day never droops but just gets to shirt sleeve levels.
One of my colleagues, Total Angular Momentum Magnetic Inductance, pointed out an article [Link] to me on the physics of writing. The article is a prepublication thing and sadly is poorly researched. It claims this is the first work done on the physics of writing, or more specifically, how pen, ink, and paper interact to permit writing. The simple fact is that the research on this goes back many years but since the Renaissance, has not been considered cutting edge enough for first rank journal publication. But in my years I have seen several articles on aspects of the subject.
This is not to say that the article is unwanted or unwelcome. To the extent that we can assess, based on trust compromised journalism, it will be worth a read when it gets published. Notably, and indicative of the poverty of excellence of journalism, the date of publication is unmentioned.
I have to admit, and compromise my colleague’s privacy, that both of us are students of pen-ink-paper coupling. For us, the mundane near afunctionality of ball point pens is a venue for telephone notes or checking off items on a grocery list. That list itself is written on good paper, with good ink, using a good fountain pen. And that is the butt plate of the spear. But articles such as this promises are welcome and valuable because as much as we may want to be scientific about this, we are faced with the constraints of doing no better than consumer social science, if those modifiers do not compromise the basis. The problem is that one cannot actually build one’s own pen, paper, ink. One may approximate building one of these with sufficient dedication, but regardless one is left with more a matter of finding the best combination from available commercial products adjusted by individual writing capabilities. Simply put, the latter means that some people have better ‘hands’ than others. Much as with piano players, some people can write beautifully with a BIC on a first grade pad while others can only scrawl on hand laid semi-parchment with the best pigment ink from a masterpiece of the fountain pen art.
My personal penmanship is further compromised by about half of my writing being equations, prompting my usual complaint that equations are something that can be written better and fast they they can be keyed.
Speaking of availability, I note [Link] that the Amazing Kindle Fire is outselling every tablet except the iPud. This prompts the question of what it is about tablets that prompts humans to want to be slaves? Yes, the educated can free themselves, as they always tend to have, but the bog cannot, and the marketplace seems to be degenerating into a question of who do you want for master: Apple or Amazing? I have to admit to feeling rather Vermontish about this, when I am not wondering just what makes the tablet so wonderful? One of my colleagues Spin-Total Angular Momentum reports that the KF is a good piece of work but we soon come to the hypothesis that whatever it is that makes a tablet addictive cannot be communicated. Living the the meth county of Alibam seems striking macabre at such instants.
On a more substantive note, [Link] boffins from U Birmingham have unearthed artifacts indicating the human departure from Africa occurred 100 KYA instead of the 70 KYA previous thought based on genetic analysis. This immediately raises questions having to do with miscegentaion incidence and just how smart can homo sapiens really be, especially in social organizations?