Absence Assortment

A middling morning. Back to low temperatures, for a week the weather beavers promise and we know how their promises are worth a Continental banknote. The gym was actually pleasant this morning mostly because schule is desessioned so the educationalists and most of the weight bouncers are unpresent. The harassment and bullying were almost zero. Only the staff was being oppressive and frightening.

As is my usual I listened to an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” podcast, this one dealing with Albert Schweitzer. My memories of Schweitzer are from childhood when I read a rather saccharine children’s biography of him, revisiting when the Yankee government issued a stamp commemorating him. I was vaguely aware of his musical ability.

The podcast claims that the current generation do not know him and based on the rest of the podcast I am sure I did not either although I recognized his name. I was unaware of his academic accomplishments, thinking him a physician who went off into the jungle. Although not assessed, he was clearly fleeing towards something, probably a rebellion against European society and culture. Instead, the podcast was much more interested in talking about his opposition to nuclear weapons, an activity that made him a smear target of the Yankee and other governments, a situation I could not help – mysef – comparing  to Snowden. Both were  (are) portrayed as puppets of the Russians. I was also bemused to listen to the characterization of his behavior towards native Africans as natural albeit authoritarian by the natives and racist by Americans. Somehow that seems to fit with what I have seen of most racism monologues. Racism seems to be more a smear accusation than any actuality, at least in most cases. And it certainly is devoid of any scientific validity, which rather supports the slanderous and bullying aspect.

In that regard, I listened to an episode of the Marketplace Technology Report that reported (!) that the Management of Target (the chain store) was not only negligent but incompetent in the recent data breach. It seems that they invested in security software prior to the incursion that lead to the breach and that this software alerted them to the incursion. Which was ignored entirely by management.

It would seem that firing parties are definitely in order. Once this becomes common knowledge I doubt Target will survive the litigation. It’s one thing to claim being outwitted, another to own up to actual negligence and incompetence.

And hence into the week. I shall try to enjoy it. 

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Rainy Day Mutterings

Since it is rainy, and I don’t really want to stir, clearing a few tabs seems a useful endeavor leading up to breaking of fast. First, I have to note a very entertaining article [Link] criticizing Apple and Gartner for being unable to do analysis. I don’t care too much about Apple, at least so long as I have any other choice in products, or can somehow eke out existence without the product, but eviscerating Gartner appeals to my hunter side.

Back when I worked for the Yankee army I had to deal with Gartner numerous times, all identically flawed and unpleasant. The company seemed to be outside evolution. It made the same mistakes and somehow garnered the same exorbitant profits for giving bad advice. They used the same one-model-fits-none-but-we-apply-to-all approach and after I while I understood why – it always assured they had something nasty to say about everyone’s operations. So its not that they are averse to analysis, just only within their money-making model that applies to no one but somehow makes them lots of money.

I recall that we used to think leeches were only bad because they not only sucked blood but spread diseases. Medical practice has since found valid uses for them of benefit but I am not holding my breath that Gartner will ever be found to be of any benefit. I have evolved the conjecture that they have the solitary merit of antagonizing subordinates thus permitting executives to appear benevolent when they relax or suspend the irrelevant and wasteful recommendations of Gartner.

Next, I came across an article [Link] about how MegaHard is offering piddly sums to XP users to switch to a newer Winders. Let’s see, if I go to a MehaHard store – none in Nawth Alibam, incidentally – and buy a new computer with a newer Winders – read W8 in all its don’t-work for a couple of kilobucks, Yankee tender, then MegaHard will give me a hundred bucks rebate. And that’s a deal? No wonder they are losing marketspace. [Link] And don’t know why. Could it be that they have spent so long with Winders being the (almost) only OS that when lots better comes along they can’t see it.

Wasn’t there a children’s fairy tale about an emperor and his clothes?

Private Killing

Another wonderful day in Greater Metropolitan Arab where we have ample demonstration that pickup trucks are a vanity since the correlation between owning one and having poor driving skills is VERY high, almost deterministic. The season “Spring” is nearing and the city guvmint is busily out scraping roads with inappropriate equipment to frighten homeowners that they may be stranded while the city repaves a few streets, all unannounced as to schedule. In the interim driving is akin to walking on a gravel path.

At gym this morning I listened to the SCIENCE podcast which is becoming shorter and shorter and will soon become useless as a diversion from perspiration and pain. It did however give a good counterargument to the noxious idea of corporate aristocrats privatizing science. Seems that the Gooey web site for tracking influenza, which started out mediocre, has become steadily worse. The best indication of influenza infestation is still the center for disease control which is a Yankee government apparat.

The reason the Gooey influenza site is failing is simply that Gooey is a for-profit corporation. Capitalism in action, as it were, and that action is contrary to good scientific practice. In fact, the whole thing seems to be a cornucopia of bad science and bad capitalism, not that the latter may not be redundant.

First of all, what Gooey is doing is closed off because, naturally, it’s corporate secret. Which means it ain’t science since there is no review or test. Second, there appear to be bad assumptions about the nature of things which can only be inferred since, as stated, all the real mechanics is hidden away. And thirdly, it seems that Gooey keeps changing the rules for how it builds it data set that the influenza site searches WITHOUT telling the influenza site people how it changes the rules!

The inference, if not conclusion, is that closed science isn’t really science and private ownership of science becomes not-science. So part of the road to Amerika becoming a capitalist aristocracy is the abandonment of science.

Ceramic Catafalque

I can recall when all bathrooms had ceramic tiles. Some were completely tiled. And they were a rectal pain of chronic proportion to maintain what with the grout getting dirty and moldy and the tile itself getting dull with a film of that hermaphroditic chemical we call soap. Today, the only tile in my bathroom is a linoleum that has the texture of tile.

The same can be said for all of my computers except my cellular telephone and tablet. (Yes, I have a tablet. It’s a rare 7.5 cm one that I never use and hence constantly needs charging, but I have one.) And yes, I do have Unity and Gnome 3 installed on a couple of machines but I also have conventional GUIs as well that get used in other than experimental mode. And those experiments are long gone and the tile GUIs reside from laziness to remove them.

But I am confronted this morning with the question of whether the tile GUI or Megahard is dead? If the former, then someone needs to tell Canonical because April fast approaches. If the latter, then we should go rent a back hoe on the theory that dead horses are a health risk and should be buried (or turned to pet food) sine die.

Is seems [Link] that Mozilla has ceased work on a Metro version of FireFox. Which means that the W8 tile GUI is irrelevant. Or that W8 is irrelevant. Or that Megahard is irrelevant. Hence the question.

Mozilla, it may be remembered is the organization that checked Megahard’s visions of a thousand year reich. They did this by making Internet Explorer a back woods buffoon. A village idiot. And since then MegaHard has shown an amazing talent for parading sans clothing.

In many ways, Mozilla is the true champion of FOSS, not Canonical. I can easily see spending $50 on a FireFox Fone, knowing that in short order its app store will rival or surpass Android’s. I cannot see paying $300+ for an Ubuntu phone and having to wait for apps that really work with the small screen. Apps that will probably have to be written by Canonical since they have micturated all their volunteer coders by micturating on them.

The tile GUI works on the small screen just like chicklet keys worn on a calculator. But neither work scaled up. Someone tell Canonical that.

Moral Prevarication

Somewhat belatedly, I noticed over weekend that the CVS drugstore chain has announced they will cease to purvey tobacco. What makes this noteworthy is that this is proclaimed as a morality matter. Which is intriguing since organizations not only don’t have morals, they almost always also don’t have ethics.

The reason given for this withdrawal from the marketplace is that tobacco causes all manner of diseases. So far, accurate. But if they are ceasing to sell tobacco because it causes diseases that kill humans, why are they continuing to sell foodstuffs that are laden with salt, fats, and other ingredients that cause diseases like obesity and heart disease and such? Have they decided these are not fatal or are morally (?) acceptable diseases? And what about homeopathic remedies that don’t cure any diseases? How can they justify such morally since they have discontinued selling tobacco on a moral basis?

I rather suspect that the profit of tobacco is marginal to their business and the demographic askew to their business model. In effect, they don’t want to sell tobacco because it doesn’t make them enough money and the people who buy tobacco don’t spend enough overall in their stores. Which is obviously a quite moral basis of decision. Not enough profit and the wrong clientele has always been fundamental to Amerikan social morality as reasons for exclusion, persecution, and abuse.

Isn’t it nice to know that greed and evil are still rampant among Amerikan corporations?

Shack Sag

I didn’t watch the superbowl, nor am I watching the olympics – vicarious athletics is not my thing; I find them neither entertaining nor educations and hence unworthy of my time and attention span. So I missed the Radio Shack commercials on their reorganization. But I have read about it on-line. And frankly I am bemused.

The dying of Radio Shack is not new. Radio Shack is essentially a child of the great hobby time of the ’50’s and ’60’s. Despite a few Lafayette and Allied stores, who mostly sold kits, Radio Shack was the electronic hobby store, an offshoot of Tandy’s leather working hobby store. It was the place an amateur or small scale professional electronics person, mostly not educated electronics engineers or technicians, went to get parts and the occasional assembly. Except for soldering irons and hand tools they were not a tool store but when you were building an amplifier or a controller of some sort they were the place to go when you suddenly realized that your design was wrong and you needed a major change in componentry.

At this point it should be pretty evident that what made Radio Shack successful was its effective uniqueness. So long as society in Amerika was hobbyist, at least in the hinterland, and there was no competition, Radio Shack was a success. In a sense they were an ideal Amerikan store since most of what they stocked had their name on it and that was the only place you could get it. And the only distance buying was through a store, for something available but not locally stocked.

Sadly the electronics hobbyist thing stuttered. The first strong sign, the first nail in Radio Shack’s coffin, was the transistor radio. That was the first thing wanted by lots of folks that was cheaper to buy built than as a kit or project. By the time that the digital computer became a manufactured thing, and Radio Shack did away with their named line of computers, the lid was hammered down strong. Radio Shack no longer had uniqueness, except for aging electronics hobbyists.

Now, Radio Shack is one among many of electronics retailers who are absent loyalty. Since they no longer warrant the goods they sell – the manufacturer does that – the only loyalty is to the lowest local price. And with the internet and UPS, local is national. At least.

So Radio Shack isn’t going to get well. At least not unless it becomes unique again, and does so where it has no effective competition, and there is no sign that their management knows this or can make it happen.

RIP, Radio Shack.

Lacking Flashlight

Since today is schwarz freitag it seems fitting to discuss an article [Link] I saw the other day on ordering groceries on-line. I should warn that the article is hemistercus. It only applies where it will do harm, not good.

The idea is that while one is waiting for one’s subway connection one can use one’s smartphun to order groceries that will be delivered later.(?)

Based on my (now dated) trips to large cities, never pleasant, I noted that people on the subway will do anything they can to avoid any type of social interaction with anyone else. They apply make-up, read books, abuse themselves, listen to music – until they are knifed or shot by those nearby of differing musical tastes, and eat. The whole idea of the smart phone/tablet as entertainment device is uniquely oriented to this demographic, thus punishing all those people who live not in large cities and ride not subways. Except maybe the Amish and Mennonites? Or do they just not know they’re being punished?

So perhaps using your itty bitty decadent misuse of electronics device to purchase foodstuffs is not orthogonal. But it is a bad idea. It’s MalWart and its job destruction – three for every two created, and at lower pay and worse conditions – writ cosmic. If you go to a large city, in the residential areas, you find lots of dinky small grocery stores. These are never chain businesses. They’re individual. And they are in the business of selling city dwellers, usually on their way home from work, enough groceries for tonight’s supper and tomorrow’s breakfast. And the city dwellers visit these stores every day because they don’t have room in their dinky kitchens to store more food.  And lots of people are employed running these little stores. Because they are labor intensive.

And this scheme wants to put those people out of business. To save those subway riders ten minutes. On a path they have to take anyway from the subway station to home. And eliminate their safety net by destroying those little stores on individual’s blocks. And that’s only part of the evil.

They will only implement this in the big cities. And maybe the dense suburbs. But not out in the sparse hinterland where people have to drive a whole day, getting there and back, to get to a grocery store. I live in a relatively dense area and I have to drive an hour plus to get to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill so I can buy the groceries I need. I can’t buy many groceries in Greater Metropolitan Arab. No tofu, no TVP, no granola, or bagels – not that Huntsville’s bagels are all that good, no fresh meat, especially unbrined dinosaur descendants. Just beer and salt laden snack foods and bog stuffers in Greater Metropolitan Arab. Ask for No Salt Added in WalMart and they call the constabulary and have your charged as a domestic terrorist. It’s un-MalWart to net consume five grams of sodium per diem.

But there is a hope. The grocery business is paper thin overhead. So they have cutthroat competition and are continually introducing new products. And advertising isn’t enough to sell new products, at least to all but the slime moldest of bogs. You have to let the consumers touch it on the shelf to enable a purchase. So maybe this thing will be localized. And make living in big cities even more unhealthy. And dangerous.

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Corporate Bubble

Cowardice. That’s me. After yesterday, and the temperature lower today, I did not assay forth to the park for morning constitutional. Instead I sneaked an ansatz on the stationary bicycle in my study here at Castellum SCP. In the process I save a few minutes not enwrapping myself in clothes of the exterior and motoring across and back. Not much but enough to do a bit of Solstice Holiday shopping.

And then I snuck a few emails in and came to a rather startling epiphany: focused advertising is a social fiction!

 You know of what I speak, the promised benefit (????????) of internet civilization that merchants will know what you want to buy – even when you don’t know it yet – and only offer you advertisements of resonant and relevant things and services. You know, all those ‘especially for you’ sliders on Amazon? And it’s all a prevarication!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My realization started with Amazon, who can’t separate out the occasional – few – things I order for FD SCP from the vast majority that I order for myself and always offers me more in the FD SCP bin than the SCP bin. An artifact of my eclectic tastes and the sparsity of the marketplace, I thought. But the precipice obtruded courtesy of on-line shoe stores that are continually sending me eAdvertisements for shoes that are not available in my size. And if there is anything these merchants should know, it is my size since there is ZERO variance in their records!!!

But then looking at emails from merchants proclaiming that these goods are “special” for me pushed me into the abyss and realization. The whole thing is an elaborate maskarovka! (And yes, that may be redundant, my Russian isn’t that social.) Yes, they do some analysis on what I have bought before, even just looked at, but it isn’t very good analysis – which puts me in mind of the pompous asses who run INFORMS these days. Simply put, all the vast data processing and mining and analysis that is supposed to personalize internet society is largely a fiction, especially once you get a standard deviation out from the mode. It probably only looks convincing to bogs whose cognitive faculties rival slime mold’s. But certainly not that of rational people like geeks and nerds.

In one sense this is quite comforting. All that spying by corporations is obviously superficial, low hanging fruit, and propagandistic. In other words, its advertising and hence utter overt falsehood. Deliberate, evil, inaccuracy. So what they tell you they know is far from any actual semblance of what you are.

But that is also scary because it indicates that if they decide you’re a borderline terrorist or schule berserker then the decision will almost certainly be a false positive. Which means a massive inflation of the phase know as “Punishment of the Innocent” that is part of any project. The epitome of this, right now, is the O’BamaCare web site. The politicians vertically copulated it but that is being covered over with histrionics over STEM malfeasance. It’s an old management trick: keep sacrificing virgins until the people quit looking at the priest.

Enough. Gotta see if there’s a frost or not.

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I can’t feel my nose

A most challenging morning thus far. The temperature is in the 30’s (degF) this morning for the first time since last winter, and the weather beavers are foretelling that tomorrow we may be below the phase change from liquid to solid dihydrogen oxide.

I was off this morning, trying to take my constitutional in the park but I became rather chilled and had to abandon the effort about half-way through. I fear Antarctica is not for me.

Similarly, I note [Link] that the new iPhun 5C is not selling at all well. In fact, it appears to be a bomb or whatever the bogs are calling a failed product this week. That is singularly unintriguing however. What is intriguing is that the reason (?) cited is that the phone is so “cheap” and slime moldish that

“You can’t use the iPhone 5C to make your friends feel bad about themselves”

There is a certain fit to this argument. After all, Apple has established itself as being an elitist product and has developed a rather vacuous clientele – in the main – that have (or are willing to spend) overmuch money for questionable functionality and seem – again, in the main – to lack adequate mental faculties. This represents a rather considerable fraction of bogs and some geeks, who display symptoms of a disease that may be best characterized as hurtful and me-ish. Think ‘valley girl’ but absent the genderism.

I have to admit that I do not fully comprehend the Apple phenomena. I suspect it is like swimming; it cannot be comprehended unless one does it. Successfully. More appropriately, the same can be said for urinary tract infections and that may be a more valid analogy. But it does raise the question of whether the Apple infection can be cured short of nuking the Apple campus?

On a related note, I found an article [Link] – rather splashy and misleading – about some work by Jawgah Tech wonks who had determined that the bladder evacuation time of mammals has a mean of 21 seconds. The catch is: plus or minus 13 seconds. A fact unmentioned in the article. I had to go to ArXiV to read the actual paper, which is only an extended abstract. Dull, but somehow it seems to counterpoint the Apple iPhun thing.

I have to admit to conducting some personal experiments after finding this article. Mostly when FD SCP is out of the area. The 21 seconds seems to be right on for normal daily urinations, but I have found that some urinations greatly exceed the findings of the learned Oglethorpians. Morning urinations upon arising from slumber are considerably longer, greater than a minute in all cases. And urinations after motoring to/from Huntsville are over 40 seconds. I wonder if I should contact the authors? I wonder if I should contact Apple?Of course I should only do the latter if it would make them feel bad.

Not that I consider Apple a friend. Friends have to be human, ofter all, which is something that bogs evidently don’t understand these days. But anyone who is in the business of hurting humans, even bogs, needs to feel bad about it.

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