Amerigoslavia

I am often surprised by the apparent perversity of humans. No, I am not just speaking of sexual antics here but perversion in a broader sense of destructive behavior. One of my colleagues, Velocity Spin, has been regaling me with the praise of a journalist and in a spirit of testing whether she is not quite as whacked as she often seems, I have added her podcast to my accumulator as replacement for the MakeUseOf Technophilia podcast whose merits I descried in an earlier blot.

The journalist is in  the employ of MSNBC, so I had to go to an MSNBC web site to obtain the podcast URL for its RSS feed. I do not frequent such sites often, having a low level of tolerance for stupidity and vapid coding, so I was a bit bemused by how the links for the podcast feed were handled. There were three hot spots for subscribing for different devices:

  • iTunes;
  • Zune: and
  • everything not an iPod or a Zune.

Of course the Zune thing is there because it is an MSNBC web site. Is Zune even made any more?

Anyway, in my mind, once I subtracted out the MS foible, this reduced to Apple iPod, and everything else. And I proceeded to contemplate this. I should comment that this is not the only place I have seen this sort of differentiation but for some reason this morning, this one stuck.

Back in the bad old days of the Containment Conflict, aka The Cold War, we used to bemoan the fate of the poor Yugoslavians who being under the Communist tyranny instead of our benevolent Capitalist tyranny were cursed with having only one offering of any commodity. And in many case zero offerings of indispensable things like nose wiping papers impregnated with “lotion” or toothpaste with two colors of stripes built in. We bemoaned this as a tyranny of absence of choice. And, of course, it even extended, begrudgingly, to the Russians whose GUM department store (and bakeries) seldom had anything and what they had was one of a kind. This absence of choice was proclaimed as an absence of freedom. And we used to extend our sympathy to the poor deprived wights suffering under the yoke of Communism and renew our commitment to Amerika, Capitalism, the Nice Jewish Carpenter, and the goal of freeing those “poor people”.

And now I am exposed to evidence that we do this to ourselves. At one time MegaHard had a Lanchestrian monopoly on browsers with Internet (User) Exploiter. Now we are doing it with Apple poo. Tablet is a synonym for iPud, at least when it comes to advertising. The iPod is a synonym for MP3 player, at least for bog music and podcasts. Which raises the intriguing question of how do bog podcasts come about? More to the point, what makes us lemmings rushing to generate thing monopolies like this?

I should clarify, at least for any straying bogs who happen on here, that since I am a user of FOSS – Free and Open Software Systems – hence Linux, I do not use iTunes. Simply put it is too slow and too clutzy. So I use an MP3 player that acts like a USB stick rather than a microwave oven of noise. And I have to have a URL to download podcasts, or music, should I ever be inclined that way – different perversion – to go into my accumulator. Such, in my warped Containment Era programmed mind, is the nature of Freedom. Or perhaps, just choice and self-determination. But then I don’t hang around bogs enough to listen to them brag about what they can do with an iPod.

Not that I brag about what I can do with my MP3 player, since any of my nerd/geek colleagues can do the same. It’s a matter of our shared delusion of competency. Competency that bogs don’t have but think they do until they talk to us and run away like they have seen the Atomic Hand Grenade. Screaming. In fear!

But that doesn’t answer the question of why people do this sort of thing. Why do some products become choices – like automobile brands and models – and others become monopolies – like iPods? I don’t understand how we inflict this on ourselves.

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Listerine Employment

OK, back to week in. Gym this morning was off, I suppose a combination of shule desessioning and the holy day yesterday. The introduction of a early (0430? – for most) class seems to be keeping the educationalists and weight bouncers distracted and at least they are quiet except when filing through the gym to the reserved room when they are epitomes of loudness, rudeness, and all that is evil about exercise bogs. Besides that only the dedicated seniors doing cardio approved stuff – we are too old for these silly classes. Just get the work done and move on.

Speaking of moving on, I see [Link] that MegaHard has joined Canonical, Gnome, and Apple in adopting a tile GUI absent of real eye candy. Now we have a majority of desk box users who have reason to feel betrayed and abandoned. The only thing satisfying about this is that it strongly indicates that MegaHard is in dire straits. The most frightening thing is that if MegaHard falls will it take the desktop marketplace down with it? Never mind that this is all oriented towards the smart(?) phone/tablet marketplace. Will it compromise using computers to do real work for those of us who are not only concerned with distracting our attention spans from productive effort?

This brings to consideration the multiple aspects of work. Why do we have a Listerine, love-hate relationship with work? Why is it at once both the thing that most defines us and the thing we hate the most (at least most of the time?) Whatever happened to the Puritan (guilt and religion) work ethic? Did it get lost along with civility, manners, and altruism in the onrush of hedonism? Did the combination of Vietnam and the race to Luna exhaust us as a society? How did the Hippie rejection of Capitalism turn into the Consumerist slavery to Capitalism that seems to define our society today?

Certainly that is the definition of society today. People driven to have stuff which drives them to go into debt for a diploma they do not need (in most cases) that assures they have to take a job they will detest so they can go further into debt for the latest electronic gizmo that is functionally indistinguishable from the last five they bought, none of which have worn out but all contributing to their dissatisfaction and dissolution? And why, as the lotalty of organization to employee has disappeared has organization’s demands for employee loyalty increased exponentially? Can we no longer have either an arm’s length job or an existence outside wage slavery?

I think how happy I am not to be young and forced to work at what lacks fun. It was bad enough in my heyday when I had to do lots of things I detested some of the time to do what I enjoyed the rest of the time. Now too many only have the former which takes all of the time.

Some days it seems an extinction event might be a mitzvah.

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The Day of

Arrived we are, to express in the manner of Yoda, who we cannot refrain from noting in the original bore an amazing resemblance to the most trusted of Amerikans, Walter Cronkite, himself the last, or at least last best, of the mediaists trusted by the general populace, and hence a fitting countenance model for the last remaining grand master of Jedi, the single pebble of good(?) in a flood of evil(?).

The night being endured, perhaps even some modicum of slumber accomplished after too long listening to the rumble of tummy and twisting to find comfort abed until such was all used up and only discomfort was left in that mush of mattress, sheets, and pillow. One could not arise too early. Parents took some delight in laying abed late, for reasons unplumbed except as some gesture of Dickensian evil until one is oneself a parent – more later – and so one has to stay abed until there is adequate brightness outside the windows.

The mandate that nothing may be done until all are assembled is somehow unspoken, uncommunicated, appearing as some emergence in complexity of family, at once timeless and unquestioned. Time is not spent clothing oneself, somehow the thinness of sleepwear is concomitant with shivering, whether from anticipation or disappointment.

The gear and stuff falls into two categories: gear from Santa; and stuff from family. For some reason, perhaps the practicality of absence of wrapping paper, the former must be appreciated first. Herein lies the great excitement and disappointment. I well recall the latter when I received my first bicycle. I had not asked for a bicycle and had no desire for one. But Santa, in his organizational stereotyped wisdom had brought me one and I dutifully, with only minor visits for medical attention, learned how to ride it. But having learned, and learning my inadequacies of execution that defied correction, I then rode it seldom. For a period I rode it to shul until my parents discontinued the practice fearing the crossing of the four lane between home and institute. Eventually it rusted away or something.

One christmas, obviously at my father’s prodding, I received the archetypical Red Ryder BB gun and received stern lectures from both parents about not shooting out my own or my younger brother’s eyes. Worry was unnecessary. The action was so stiff that I never fired the things more than three or four times before tiring and putting it away. Besides, my desire of where the BB should go, and where it did were so at variance that the dismissal was pleasing. My efforts understanding the algebra and trigonometry of trajectories in my father’s Navy correspondence course texts were more fruitful and more enjoyable.

The pinnacle of presents was a chemistry set. It took five years of asking before it finally showed up under the tree, and then with lectures more stern than those with the BB gun. In years to come I would come to understand that the BB gun was understood, the chemistry set was beyond both of my parents’ experience. It too was a disappointment. The whole thing smacked of recipes and absence of understanding. But it had the effect of prompting a new form and set of questioning and in that regard it was worthwhile. And once I got to freshman chemistry and things began to fit together, it formed the penultimate memory of christmas goodness.

Once the gear was at least touched, the second act began, an alternation of opening packages. This was less disappointing. Expecting no glee, one was only occasionally surprised. And occasionally some small thing, expected to be lost amidst the expectations, was a burst of influence. It was in this theatric that the books would come that had been requested and increasingly alien to parents’ experience and knowledge. Somehow the increase in trust was undiscussed and ignored.

Following this ritual of avid consumerism, breakfast had to be consumed, a strange mixture of Southron ‘brains and eggs’, a concoction that now brings shudders to the physiques of physicians and unremarkedly then had to be eaten with jelly or jam. Bacon and cinamon rolls, the latter a modern aspect provided by the magic of a cardboard can of industrial dough disproduction, completed the menu. The ravages of puberty made themselves felt, disliked but not understood, with the ravages of disengagement of lactase production. The tummy rumbles of the day had begun.

The bridge of the day had to be spent trying gear out, often with semi-frantic visitations of the medical chest on the wall in the bathroom, while my mother prepared the traditional feast of turkey and marshmallow candied sweet potatoes and green bean casserole cooked overnight and other concoctions that assured that a second night of rumbling would be assured. Well did we understand the admonition of the poem.

But once this was over, a window of opportunity opened that was the actual holiday. There were days, even a week before the information vacuum that was shul had to be reassumed, but parents had routine to return to and so one was freer to pursue the books and learning things that had crept through the filters of parental supervision.

But that’s another story.

Xartoon Xmas

Somehow we have had an explosion of carton traffic today. Or rather, a condensate of cartoons in a ‘cool’ state, presuming they are bosons, which we may argue quite well, I think. Anyway, first up is [Link]

I am aware of NeoPlatonists, but this is clearly a NeoZenonists response to the thievery of the chirch of Rome. My question is where do the infinity of patterns come from? And are they really infinite since after 2359 hours almost all are unseeable by the human eye?

The second [Link]

is a sterling, perhaps even adamantine, commentary on our consumerist pathology. Although I do have to admit to having encountered a few bogs who only display characteristics of being ‘alive’ when they are acquiring gear.

The third [Link]

the social obligation theme I earlier blogged about. It also raises the ethical question in this day of enial of global climate change of what constitutes ‘gift wrapping’ since every reputable sandwich shop I knw of, wraps their hoagies/torpedoes/subs/grinders/… in paper that nowadays is decorated with branding. Og for the glory days of yesteryear, of brown butcher’s paper and large white horses transporting christianist justice.

On an equally pithy azimuth, [Link]

we have a rather damning indictment of what is invalid about our legal system. Rather puts the lie to the who jury-witness thing.

OK, I’ve been nasty about enough of our society’s shibboliths. Wait for the next Scopes trial. Selah.

Hydro-optical Trajectory Tracing

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?

Not Parking Lot Thunks 1

Bit off today. Not in Huntsville waiting for the Earth Fare to open. Have other responsibilities here in Greater Metropolitan Arab.

As I was passing through to take seed out for the dinosaur descendants and the tree mammals, I noted out of corner of vision solid angle that some consumerist advertisement was being displayed on the audio-Visual electromagnetic receiver. The genre was the uncultured excessively monied consumerist thing that seems to be rather popular with all the bogs who are incapable of advancing their quality of life. (Which I suppose is not surprising, its why feudalism was so successful for so long. If you can keep the have nots admiring the lifestyles of the haves instead of wanting to do something of their own then society can be brainlocked.)

I somehow immediately thought of Thorsten Veblen and his writings on conspicuous consumption and then on Tolkein and his writing on odious creatures like Orcs.[1] From this I came up with the following for those people who conspicuous consume for the sake of attention, they can be called

Veblenorcs.


[1] Per the Oxford dictionary: Orc – noun (in fantasy literature and games) a member of an imaginary race of human-like creatures, characterized as ugly, warlike, and malevolent. Origin: late 16th century (denoting an ogre): perhaps from Latin orcus ‘hell’ or Italian orco ‘demon, monster’, influenced by obsolete orc ‘ferocious sea creature’ and by Old English orcneas ‘monsters’. The current sense is due to the use of the word in Tolkien’s fantasy adventures

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Bottoming Out

We come to the dragging derrière of the week, sundae. The night was full of storms and the portent of whirlwinds but somehow castellum SCP survived once more. The new portent is of a wasteland of a day stretching before me replete with lack of will and absence of distraction. What no one bothered to tell me about becoming a senior was that your concentration went too.

So once more I turn to cleaning up the tabs that have sunk to the bottom of the queue unremarked and see one last time if they are remarkable. The task seems easier on sundae, as if the absence of intensity permits some communing that is desperate and grasping.

The first thing I note is more evidence of the earlier settling of the Americas. [Link][Link] A settlement of pre-Clovis humans has been found near Austin in the former Republic of Texas by researchers from Texas A&M U.. Or I should say, the remains of a settlement. This site dates back 15 KYA which puts it about 2KY prior to Clovis. As scientists do, there will be many discussions and arguments among archaeologists for years to come over whether the site is pre-Clovis or early Clovis.

The first question is why are there archaeologists at an ‘ag and mech’ (agriculture and mechanics) shul? Is archaeology a new trade? (“Yeah, dude, I got a minor in HIVAC and a major in southwestern archaeology!“) The second question has to do with how this fits into the data about when homo sapiens actually colonized the Americas and how did they get here? The sea rote is looking increasingly more attractive as the entry date moves back putting more years before the opening of the gap between the Cordillerian and Laurentide ice sheets about 12 KYA. Of course that dating of the gap may be off too, since there wasn’t anyone to observe and document it there.

I am not knowledgeable of knapwork (projectile points, choppers, hand axes, ……) but these really do look less developed than a lot of Clovis knapwork I have seen.

Next, the Russians who got the Nobel for graphene can sober up. Seems that the silicon analog has been discovered and offers yet more potential for purposeless consumer electronics. [Link] The strongest comment that bubbles up first is ‘ain’t surprised’. Unlike the way science journalism implies these days, most physics and chemistry nerds do actually study the periodic table and learn of its quantum mechanics. This is not the expectoration from the vacuum of creativity that public affairs bogs portray. We all, the nerds at least who paid attention starting in high shul to the chemistry lectures know the silicon lies immediately under carbon in the periodic table and hence has similar outer shell electronic (read chemical, read quantum mechanical) behavior. If anything we would expect the two-dimensionality to be more pronounced in silicene since the pair of l = 1 (angular momentum quantum number = 1, which indicates a “p” for principal spatial distribution of charge probability) is less tightly bound due to the inner shell shielding.

But I have to admit I ain’t taken with the name. After all, Silicene alludes over into ‘Silly Scene’ all too easily and offers all those jocks taking remedial freshman chemistry a butt to whack.

Finally, another piece of indication that the human sense of smell is quantum mechanical in operation. [Link] The noteworthy thing about this article was the poor literature review; the vibrational mode theory of smell was around back when I was a graduate student, which was a LONG time before 1996. But then, we expect that sort of behavior from the folks at the shuls on the Charles. They have a long history of declaring themselves first and ignoring all those who came before. Its how you get big bucks from rich bogs.

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