Huer would do better

Mixed bag. The density of weight bouncers and educationalists in gym was up a bit, perhaps a portent of summer schule? And having been gone a while they had to make up with noise and harassment, which was heavy. Add to this that the podcast, an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” was literary and hence BORING! and that the weather is percipitous, not a good start to week in.

I have been staring at an article [Link] for some time about the commercial availability of a hover cycle.

I have to admit to a bit of coveting. Since I grew up on Adam Strange comics I have to admit to a certain fascination with personal flight. The best way to do this is the Buck Rogers method with an anti-gravity device to get weight to a minimum and then using a low level propulsion to get lift. The flying car thing isn’t attractive, mostly because of how bogs drive land vehicles and the matter of how does one pull to the verge in instance of malfunction? And the Adam Strange rocket pack, ala Rocketeer, bring up the question of roasted buttocks.

But a hover cycle appeals. It would only be a fair weather thing, and it has the promise of flying in permitting one to hop over obstructive motorists. But the price is too steep, even the deposit would be too steep. A kilobuck or so would be about all it would be worth since it really can’t be used for anything but recreation. Which is probably why I don’t have too many recreational vehicles My estimation of value s much less than the price tag.

So maybe the day just got better thinking about all the money I am going to save by sticker shock.

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Is it nap time yet?

It seems that pollen irritation season has arrived. Much unpleasantness and mucus – yes, Qadgop, the two are different, at least for humans – this morning. The temperature was a bit low but I bundled up and assayed a constitutional at the park, which was doable mostly because of the slow wind speed during.

Nothing springs to mind to blot upon this morning so until I have some  mental flatulence, silence prevails. And I can spend the time watching the first episode of the new COSMOS that I had to record since it came on after my time of retirement. Sometimes having Early Riser mutation is a bit of a rectal pain. But speaking of which the Coccyx is acting up this morning which indicates too much sitting so I may not.

I spent a part of yesterday morning trying to pre-order the COSMOS DVD on the National Geographic web site. Bombed four different browsers and never seemed to complete the transaction so I just defaulted to Amazing and found their price ten percent less than NG’s. And then this morning NG sent a confirmation email. So someone is going to get a COSMOS DVD as a Solstice present.

But I will probably not buy anything on the NG website again.

Internet Value 2

Not a very fun night. Got moderately unwarm. The weather beavers once more overestimated the minimum temperature. They have a long way to go in rebuilding trust. A VERY long way. And apparently no effort in that direction.

The brrrrrrrrrrrrr gave me occasion to contemplate the value of the internet some more. From its beginning – once it got out of the direct control of the Yankee government – it has engaged in commerce. In fact, even accessing it is a matter of commerce. So the question must be addressed: is internet commerce beneficial?

Note that this is not an efficiency question, nor it is a cost question. Efficiency in the marketplace has always been a question relevant to suppliers not demanders. Customers are never efficient, only gullible. And any savings enjoyed – apparently – by customers is irrelevant since only profit is a meaningful metric.

On this basis it is very hard to make a telling argument that internet commerce has social value. There were marketplace transport arcs and market nodes prior to the internet. If the internet were to go away these or equivalent arcs and nodes would reappear. So the transport aspects of the internet are not relevant to the question.

Except, from the standpoint of centralization. In much the same way as MalWart, excessive centralization is a negative. It depletes communities of their survivability by destroying their local economies and it makes them fragile when disaster occurs by removing local concentrations of goods and services. So in this sense, the internet is an overall negative. At least from a commerce standpoint.

We do have to consider whether the diversity of goods offered on the internet is a good. This is a bit denser. Unless the thing offered is a survival thing, the diversity is irrelevant. And we have to argue that if that survival thing had not been available in the local marketplace pre-internet, then those who needed it would have found a conventional source or lived elsewhere. But since it is now available on the internet, it adds to the increased fragility of the local environment and hence is actually a negative.

In summary, the internet of goods is a negative value. So our search has to proceed.

Foul Fuss

Back edge of week in. Not shivering. Got my morning constitutional on stationary bicycle. Coward. Craven. ORF. Didn’t really want to get up this morning except that bed and body had become inimical.

It thus seems a worthy time to take up a matter I have been contemplating for some time, this antipathy – hatred? – of breaching the walls of the holy day (????????) of Thanksgiving.[Link]

I have read that Thanksgiving is THE GREAT AMERIKAN HOLIDAY, even bigger (?) than Winter Solstice/Newtonmas/Quanza/Chanukah/Christianist Calendar Diddling. At least emotionally? Certainly not financially. The amount of money blown by the citizenry on the hothouse custom of gift giving – an inherently wasteful activity – is amazing. And nerds and geeks seem to not be immune. But this murmerage is about Thanksgiving.

This is one of those mythical things. Thanksgiving is supposed to be about the (European) settling (conquest) of Nawth Amerika, of peaceful engorgement, and maybe even giving noble savages gifts not (?) impregnated with European disease microbes that have scant immunity to. It quite ignores that the primary reason the European hippies were able to establish a foothold on the land was because of earlier European visitations that had left microbes behind. And being hippies they couldn’t even feed themselves without help from the locals. And from what I can read the feast was more about control and morale than anything else with the visiting natives providing more than they received. (But that seems inherent to gift giving?)

I have never liked Thanksgiving. What purpose does the Thankfulness serve other than assuaging guilt? Not that we Amerikans don;t have tons of guilt. It permeates out lives: how we raise our children; our marriages; and our workplaces. And I shan’t even mention government nor organized religion in any further depth. As a child Thanksgiving meant decamping to my parents’ home town with a bounty of food that suffered greatly from the transport and dealing with too many people of too little common interest and civility in a too small house. Once I got grown it meant motoring to my parents’ home and partaking of the same cooking and various digestive analgesics. And unwelcome socialization. My best thanksgivings were the ones at the Campus of the Boneyard where I didn’t have to socialize.

So why the grrr brrr about stores being open? I used to have a hard enough time finding counter-agents to Thanksgiving cooking that I had to either remember to purchase preemptively or suffer. It was even worse on the rare occasions when I was fortunate enough to be TDY on Thanksgiving and finding a food store. Not that I would necessarily want to work in those stores, which has nothing to do with the day but with the business. One of the reasons I went STEM was because I hated business. And from what I can tell, so do most of humanity.

I am told that there are families where the gathering is positive. Evidently it is a bog/extro thing. The only thing I can recall enjoying about Thanksgiving was left over turkey with Miracle Whup on sliced bread and that was a day after thing. I once I discovered turkey rolls in the grocery the whole need for the observation of the holiday went away. Sadly, the turkey roll seems to have disappeared, probably as part of a bog/extro plot?

Anyway, I will endeavor to be quiet and dutiful amidst the discomfort and social torture. But only because of being outnumbered.

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Silly Season Already?

Marginally better this morning. No arguments thus far, with humans or computers. The weather has been a bit episodic ranging through mist to fog to cloud bursts, and as seems usual on Tuesdays, the podcast episodes were mostly flat and grits. The only bit of attraction, and that compromised by poor recording – why is it that the bigger the organization doing the podcast, the worse it’s sound and organizational quality? could it be that they don’t really care? – was an NPR bit on how supplements are bunk. Now all I have to do is recall this for about six months as I go through the rounds of visitations with the physicians who have me taking supplements.

The blogging problem yesterday was my own fault. My attention slipped. Several of the add-ins, including the blog editor, ceased to work on FireFox with version twenty. I have a copy of FF 19 on my hard drive and a web page bookmarked with instructions on how to install, and the update checking in FF is turned off. But the update manager doesn’t pay any attention to that and so I have to look at the update lists and uncheck FF updates. When I don’t forget like over the weekend. Mea Culpa.

Anyway it took me about an hour to get my ducks linearized and another half hour to get the restoration effected but by then I had to translate location. Alas, the joys of Life and Linux.

One of my colleagues, Magnetic Force Inductance, sent me an article link [Link] about some work by academics in the Land of Golden Earthquakes that indicates GEN Y have a fixation on social consciousness. I have to admit to taking this cum grano. If you go back and look in the literature every generation exhibits social consciousness when they are in college. But then they get out of the campus and life gets competitive and the social consciousness tends to be less important. So I am not expecting a second hippie infestation. I am hoping that the study is at least partly accurate, that GEN Ys want employment that is socially meaningful because as they come to dominate the work force maybe they will force organizations to change for the better. Not that I expect to see whether this comes about, but the idea is pleasing.

And then on a more serious note, or at lest, more credible (?), I ran across an article [Link] claiming that silly naming conventions in Linux were detrimental. The journalist thinks that this sort of frivolity puts off customers. Customers? Does Linux, except for evil corporations like Red Hat and Canonical, have customers? Linux isn’t about customers, it’s about good sense. And the marketplace definitely isn’t about good sense, it’s about greed and conquest. So I have to wonder why anyone would give a commercial journalist any attention on the subject of Linux? Maybe it’s humor? Galgenhumor?

And while we’re on silly names, has the fellow bothered to wander the aisles of a MalWart lately and look at the names of products. Almost never does the name have anything to do with the products purpose or usage. And they seem invented to be catchy and more than a bit immature. So before you accuse the Linux community of overusing silly names, clean up your own house first.

Gad, that came across as overbearingly christianist. I guess there have to be good bits almost everywhere? And I am reminded of something Neils Bohr said:

“There are some things so serious that you have to laugh at them.”

Keep your powder dry and your bayonet shiny, the British are acting up this day.

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Capitalist Jungle Safari

I had occasion yesterday, after my medicalist engagement, to accompany FD SCP on an expedition to a Sam’s Club. We do not have such in Greater Metropolitan Arab, nor even in Marshall County. There are two, perhaps three, in Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill.

The first thing that struck me was how much nicer the staff was to couples than to unaccompanied men. Usually I visit the SC on my own and it is rather like wandering through an ice cube tray, if one can imaging one large enough. (I hope that metaphor is not too exotic and reactionary for any passing GEN Y.) Since I normally visit as a solitary man, my ambulations are very hunter in nature. I go to where the things on my list are with no rubber necking – alright, very little. With FD SCP present, we ambulated in gatherer nature and so I was exposed to an order of magnitude more information than normal.

This led me first to contemplate the differences between SC and MalWart. Volume is the most obvious. In MalWart the most common thing is the individual item/container, although admittedly that is a sometimes ambiguous taxonomic state. In Club S the most common thing is, barely modal, a container of containers. I was reminded of the ditty about the chap at the fish cannery on cannery row, about not being able to can a can. It’s an alliterative nonsense for those unfamiliar.

This led me to compare the MalWart with the department stores of the Communist countries during Containment. The commonalities were astounding. Somehow they can operate at opposite ends of the spectrum – blatant, overt capitalism and worker paradise socialism – and end up almost the same. Both are stocked with lots of a few things. The differences arose in the absences rather than the presences. In MalWart you can usually get what you want so long as what you want is desired enough by other customers. If you deviate too much from the mode of the distribution, then what you want will not be available because it will not sell fast enough to satisfy capitalist demands. In a People’s Cornucopia you can get what you want so long as it is on the list of things to be manufactured and the manager of the factory had enough made that month.

I hope that difference is clear.

Anyway, upon arriving home I spent about as long unloading and stowing goods as we spent buying them, mostly because I had to make several trips to and from the motorcar. Somehow that seems punishment for the effort?

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Homo Shoppingensis

Oh what a beautiful day! So far things have been less than positive. First, the weather beavers were over-optimistic, missing the morning low by several degF below the phase change of dihydrogen oxide. Hence I had to not only unplug the block heater – an invention that needs to be enshrined with the flush toilet and dental floss – but I had to manually scrape enough ice off to stave off the constabulary. And then I had to turn about and return to get my MP3 player. And then the podcast, an episode of the Ubuntu podcast was grits.

Speaking of which, I ran across a National Geographic article [Link] yesterday entitled “Sex With Humans Made Neanderthals Extinct?” While this is light years better than their program Redstone Hillbilly Engineers, I was a bit startled at the abruptness of the wording. Not displeased, mind you, just surprised that a magazine would be so forthcoming. Even one noted as paving the way for Playboy and Penthouse.

The article, which is rather dated as such go, is about the mapping of  Neandertal DNA and the emergent hypothesis that neandertals disappear by being merged into contemporary sapiens. Comforting, at least to the non-religionists, that the concerns about cannibalism have been replaced with the acceptability of miscegenation. For the religionists, however, it brings a new worry to the aspect of the chosen of god.

This however, is not my chief consideration this icy morning, but rather a comment made by a colleague Normal Angular Momentum about ‘going shopping with her husband being like hunting with a game warden.’  I was rather unsure of what this meant since I have been out in field with game wardens and I found their presence to be beneficial.

Based on her response, which was more about chaperones at teen parties type of situation comedy, which of course has a basis in ‘real’ life or it would not be humor, I came to the hypothesis that she and her husband were displaying human behavior.

Sapiens has been around for a fairly good period of time, the current estimate – this is science and not bishopry here – is about 200 KY. [Link] For most of that period, until the end of the last cold phase and partly into the period following, say something on order 10 KY, or 0.05 of the total, we were hunter-gatherers. As is often the case in human social organizations, function was divided along gender lines with males predominating as the hunters and females predominating as the gatherers.

The relevant behavior here, in summary, is that hunters hunt until they find the minimally acceptable game that they can kill while gatherers have to survey all of the available vegetation and select the most suitable. This behavior, which has been ingrained into humans over 0.95 of their existence, and is still with us, carries over into the shopping activity.

If a man goes out to purchase (e.g.,) a suit, he looks at and tries on suits until he finds one that is minimally acceptable to his requirements and purchases it. If a woman goes out to purchase a suit, she looks at and tries on all the suits that she can find and then selects the best one to purchase. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with either approach although both have strengths and weaknesses. The difficulty is that are different and the can cause the adherents of each approach to clash.

The best way to avoid this clash is that developed by our ancestors. Make a list of the items to be shopped for, divide the list into things that may be minimally acceptable and those that have to be optimal and separate the shopping accordingly.

That way you can prepare for Newtonmas-Solstice with a minimum of stress and conflict.

Sterile Delivery

Lovely day yesterday – much downfall of dihydrogen oxide droplets – with more of the same and decreased temperatures foretold by the weather beavers for today. Under these conditions it seems meet that some weighty topic needs be dealt with in a frivolous manner.

I noted [Link] this week a PEW poll on the so-called ‘tablet revolution’, a term that smacks of contemporary history denial and branding egoism. The tablet is not much more than a (small) step in the on-going electronics revolution that began with the development of quantum mechanics and was instantiated by Marconi. Of course this consideration quickly reduces modern bogs to somnolent boredom and they do not spend money when they are asleep, perhaps the only time they don’t unless they are unemployed and out looking for a donation. The shape of modern society is the pseudo-poor who have funds to survive but not to enjoy (?) the lifestyle they covet. Self-control and will power are as alien to modern bogs, and many geeks and nerds, as polio.

Thus, in a modern world where budgeting and investment are the slaves of "oooh! shiny!" losing the (admittedly brief and shallow) attention span of the Amerikan plebe is directly loss of revenue. And thus any attempt to communicate, however misguided and ill posed, must be titillating and inaccurate.

Departing that for the moment, I was taken by a statement in the PEW blurb,

"Eleven percent of adults now own a tablet computer. About half get news on it everyday, and three in ten spend more time consuming news than they did before. But contrary to what some in the news industry hoped, a majority say they are not willing to pay for news content on the devices, according to the most detailed study to date of tablet users and their news consumption habits."

What is gathering is not the 0.11 of the population who own a tablet, a statement mostly of the effectiveness of Apple’s mind subjugation with its overpriced but flashy/shiny toys, but the statement that a majority will not pay for news.

The ambiguity of the statement, indicative of either poor composition skills or the modern Barnumism, if not both, needs be dealt first. It is unclear whether the majority refers to the 0.11 who possess a tablet of the approximately 0.055 who obtains ‘news’ on it. As we have learned in freshman physics, those factors of two are pesky but sometimes critical. Especially, in that context, for gravity. [1]

Regardless, in terms of a comparison with the television advertising market, either figure is in the order-of-magnitude range, and the comparison would seem potentially apt given that the tablet is mostly used for entertainment rather than constructive work. Conspicuously, the majority of modern Amerikans pay for cable but unless they ante up for premium channels offering athletic violence or simulated gratuitous reproductive activity, that payment is not generally associated with any particular content. Hence, ‘news’ programming on television is not generally regarded as something one pays for. Certainly the majority, who have either grown up with cable, and whose absence is a large fraction of the constitution of pseudo-poverty, or actual broadcast television, consider both local and network news programs as quid pro quo freebies offering information in exchange for carry-over attention span for commercials.

The point is that while Amerikans may have been willing to perceive and pay for printed news, they are generally unwilling to pay for audio-visual news. And the fraction who are willing to pay for printed news is decreasing daily. Indeed, as commented previously, the means for newspapers to continue to survive is by offering news not provided by local and network news programming, notably local gossip and trivia. So the intriguing aspect of the PEW statement is the hint of amazement that humans will not spend money on news content but will spend it on games and other apps or services. But not for news – news on television is sans price, and apparently, also on the tablet.

[1] OK, it is Friday, and while that’s not a pun it is a groaner.

The Hammer Returns

Warmer this morning, and didn’t have to look forward to rushing off to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill to contend with the driving asanity and purchasing foodstuffs in and around a staff call. Also, obtaining an influenza inoculation.

The latter was a bit entertaining. Last year I got my influenza inoculation at a grocery store and it took all of five minutes. This time I went to a different grocery store and it took about fifteen minutes. Astounding variance in response times! This will bear more investigation since the whole influenza inoculation thing has migrated from the province of medicalists to retail establishments, including MalWart, and so has become less of a pilgrimage, ala Chaucer, and more of the equivalent of Jiffy Lube or some other rapid lubrication exchange business. I should also note that the change in competence level is commiserate with that migration. Back when I got inoculations at a physician’s office or a health department campsite I was assured of a reasonable level of competency in the administration of the injection. Now one is happy if one’s bruising and soreness abate in a week. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I got the inoculation in Huntsville rather than here in Greater Metropolitan Arab where last year it took me a month to recover from the by blows of the injection. Where do these people get trained, at the local motorcar body shop trade shul?

Anyway, I learned this morning at gym – blissfully sparse in population – that Steve Jobs has discorporated. I shall miss him, he was quite Freudian, one of those people you alternated, often rapidly, between liking and disliking. Such people are rare. Usually one develops an intense and growing dislike for corporate techies that is alleviated with humor only when they physically or technically or informationally fall hard on their faces in public. Jobs did this so deliberately that it was endearing in a way, much like one can identify with the cuteness of hedgehogs if one doesn’t have to deal with them physically.

But what is most intriguing about Jobs was his talent for selling gold plated stercus. I have never understood the Siren Song of his products, most of which I find unsatisfying, irritating, and frustrating in their incompleteness, that are so attractive – enslaving – to bogs and luvvies. This could be likened, uncomplimentarily, to a used motorcar salsman, but we should have to amend the model to a used motorcar salesman who build his own motorcars from near scratch. The creativity cannot be ignored, nor dismissed, even with the resulting tyranny.

Now back to wondering about neutrinos. One has to wonder why we should expect them to have the same ‘limiting’ speed as photons? After all, their force interactions are different.

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