Bad Writing

Strange morning. First of all the gym was strangely populated. I suspect this reflects this being the lass week before schule resessions. And the podcast, an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” was decidedly strange. First, I had to cycle through three episodes because the first two were repeats. Not sure how they got into the folder but they did. And the third was a lecture on journalism. All I can say about it is that I came to the realizations that:

Journalists act like they create stories; they don’t; all they do is ‘write” them.

And I ran across an article [Link] that is rather poor journalism. It doesn’t even tell me where the work was done although there is a link to the journal. 

Anyway, the article advances that children raised in religionist homes have difficulty telling real from imaginary. And when challenged they use their religionist beliefs to justify their delusions. 

What makes this such a neat article is that while we all – except maybe the deluded religionists? – that this is the situation and a common one at that, the academic officializing actually makes this something that can be discussed. Usually we accept that most religionists are deluded and going to do and say whackadoodle things but we never say anything about them because they usually resort to some form of violence when we do.

But now there is some hope of having a rational, perhaps even peaceful, discussion when this occurs and get these people to quit persecuting everyone else.

And if we can make that happen then there is hope we can persuade the journalists to do better as well,

Delusions of Romping

The weather beavers have been flashing their caps. My browser tells me 37 degF while my aft porch thermometer is several degrees higher. But definitely less heat than yesterday. The gym was pleasant except that the weight bouncers from last evening left their toys strewn about for ORFs to fall over. I have to wonder at how oblivious the management – if I can use that term – is to their liability. And the podcast episodes were fair to unmemorable. Even the coverage of the Georgia Tech bit on micturation was not well done.

This gave me some time to ruminate and I returned to consideration of this cartoon: [Link]

I was not permitted to romp in the leaf pile as a bairn. The idea was that it took too much time and effort to rake all the leaves for such to be willy nilly undone. I did sneak and romp, and then repile but the experience was wholly unsatisfactory. Perhaps I had had to wait too long and the emotion had atrophied? So I find myself in relative agreement with the older brother, not that I hate romping but that I find it an unrewarding activity.

I also find leaf raking an unrewarding activity. I find most repetitive activities to be unrewarding, although there are exceptions. But yard activities – mowing and raking and the like – are uniformly unrewarding. I was amused, briefly, by the novelty of a leaf blower but that waned rapidly, with no tail. And after some years of thought I finally realized that trees dropped leaves for millions of years before homo sapiens and did very well by it, so there was no reason I could see to accumulate leaves. In fact I could postulate several negative potentialities of doing so. So I quit. And the social contract of neighborhoods having eroded I suffered no shunning or cross burning. (This is the old Confederacy, after all.)

On which azimuth, I noted another article [Link] that was a bit of a polemic of suggestion algorithms used by merchandise sites. It was directed at sites that sell music files, or more accurately, permission to have and use music files, but the itchiness applies to any site that suggests or recommends product. I should comment that I studiously avoid music sites, mostly because of the limited range of my musical preferences, which are almost orthogonal to such sites and hence hardly worth the time and effort, but at least partly because I am ORFish enough to want a material deliverable. Perhaps I worked too long for the Yankee army?

Anyway, I get my music in the form of CDs from sites that still offer such. I find much more relevance here which leads me to suspect my tastes are dated and antediluvian to the young. Sad. They are missing so much good as I am sure ORFs have told the young for something of order a megayear. And then I “rip” my CDs and copy the files over to my music MP3 player. But I still have that CD even if it grows fuzz and rots and hence my brain is unfevered. 

But the suggestion algorithm thing applies generally. I run into it mostly on Amazon where it is usually amusing since it is highly polluted by things I purchase for FD SCP or as presents for other people. Since these latter fit easier, in some sense, with the algorithm’s data set, the suggestions are skewed strongly towards them. But I do wonder, anthropomorphizing, what the algorithm “thinks” of me. And, in exasperated or tired moments, how it can so easily be confused and deluded.

That, I fear, is the basic problem with humanity and civilization. We are deluded.

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Blonde, Blind Woman

Lately, the local television news programs have been showing a lot of sob sister reportage having to do with murders and other crimes. Lots of supposed victims weepily mumbling – barely coherently – about fairness and justice.

To quote Sherman Potter, “Moose Muffins!”

First of all, fairness is not objective. What I think is fair, is almost assuredly not what you think fair is, and niether of our thouts is stationary. Besides, life is not fair. It’s driven by all sorts of things ranging from “Nature” to “Society” none of which have any pretense of being fair other than in the lie.

Second, justice is also not objective. If anything, justice is only in the context of the organization. It’s a means to control the members of the organization. It’s not a right, it’s a constraint.

So can we have less of this bog babble? It’s almost as bad as the religionist stercus that is holy ground and can’t be id of, but do we really have to listen to bog delusions?

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Freedom of Religion

Earlier I ran across an article [Link] about a science-religion conference at CERN between particle physicists and academic theologians. The journalism is that everything was Pollyannaish.

It gave me pause to consider how such a conference would proceed in Amerika. First of all, it would get co-opted by politicians fronting for their corporate masters and espousing the religions of social engineering and capitalist oligarchy. The science representatives would likely be pseudo-celebrities such as talk show hosts and television journalism editors. The theologians would all be evangelicals of the most evangelical bent.

The outcome of the conference would likely be the stoning of at least two “science” wonks by strict constructionist bible thumpers who in turn would be exalted by the media rather than drug away in irons as the terrorists they are. But the media would still tell extravagant lies about how productive the conference was.

I am reminded that Lester Sprague DeCamp portrayed freedom of religion in Lest Darkness Fall as the freedom to persecute anyone of a different religious denomination. Added to that now is anyone rational?

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What Evil Lurks

Strange morning, at least thus far. The gym session was a bit unusual in that I listened to two episodes of “Techie Geek” podcast – one was very short – and there was a kerfuffle at the adjacent hospital, Scant City Memorial, involving a fire engine. The gym was quite low density and so the number of educationalists was low despite their bullying behavior.

In that spirit, and given I have to motor to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City of the Hill to do medicalist things, this blot will likely be a bit strange. First, an article [Link] about a study by academics of the persistence (and accuracy) of journalistic reportage of scientific papers. The academics looked at a group of initial papers that suggested further work for confirmatory purposes and led to second papers. They correlated these with the number of newspaper articles reporting these papers. The number of journalistic articles for the first setwas about an order of magnitude greater while those for the confirmatory articles was an order of magnitude (approximately) less. Yes, Virginia, that’s two orders of magnitude difference.

More important, perhaps, is that the interest level, as reflected by popular media coverage, reversed. In effect, the media played up the initial, potential, findings but largely ignored any confirmatory or clarifying findings.

OK, I know that despite their claims, these journalists are in business and that business is essentially selling attention gathering so people look at advertisements. But are none of the journalist profession’s (?) claims of objectivity and such meaningful? Based on this one study, apparently not.

It would seem that not only is all advertising propaganda and, to use the vernacular, lies, but the stuff written in newspapers and read on television is entirely selfserving and slanted. Evidently media and accuracy are orthogonal.

In closing, and keeping with the theme, this [Link] courtesy of the podcast, is an article on the words that will get you observed by the Yankee government secret police if you use them. So now you can be deluded and paranoid.

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Hubris Wednesday

OK, it’s Wednesday and it’s still a bit cool out there. Happily attendance, especially by educationalists down but weight bouncers steady. Although they have cleaned up part of their act.

THE Nobel prize was announced yesterday and a couple of Rus who worked with graphene are to be the awardees. I shall refrain from commenting what this says about the decrepit state of Amerikan physics; too much worrying about social correctness and not enough physics. Graphene is organic (as in chemistry meaning, not pseudo bogs’ food meaning) chemistry’s version of chicken wire and such an old joke, even when I was an undergraduate that I wasn’t sure at first how to take it seriously. But wjat may be most notable about the senior selectee is that he has also received an IgNobel and hence now has credentials rivaling Feynman.[Link]

Overall, despite the medicine award transcending the usual stamp collecting science cachet and having a bit of titillation for selecting the developed of in-vitro fertilization, the IgNobels are overall more interesting. [Link] For example, the physics prize is for showing that one slides less walking on ice when one wears one’s socks outside one’s shoes. Not as elegant as Einstein’s commentary on running in sand but definitely the sort of thing one has come to expect these days of Amerikan academic physics.

Of more practical use, and hence (?) in the peace pseudo-category which definitely doesn’t fit as a science, as we learned in the first hundred years of the Yankee republic but still can’t figure out how to fix the problem, is the ‘discovery’ that swearing reduces the intensity of pain. This, of course, falls into the category of academic confirmation of common knowledge and hence is eminently suitable for the peace award. Similarly, the chemistry prize is for demonstrating that oil and water do not mix, which is of vital interest to the food preparation industry who have ignorantly been making vinaigrette salad dressing for many years. Shaken, not stirred, I suppose?

And lastly, and evidently a real piece of physics but receiving the management award – this makes about as much sense as peace in that neither is a science except in name only – is a demonstration that the most efficient management strategy for an organization is to promote people in a random fashion. Evidently any studied scheme is less worthwhile. The important thing about this work is that it demonstrates the total autility of managers, which is a fact known by all managers but kept carefully hidden from non-managers for many years. As wonderful as this is for reinventing organizations, we are eagerly, breathlessly even, awaiting the correlation demonstration for politicians.

Also encouraging is news that Intel has come up with a new way to boot the ‘bios’ of individual computers. [Link] This appears to be an indication of yet another discontinuous information technology advance but since the formatting of hard drives is also changing next year it merely means delaying when you buy a new computer. The propaganda publicity release says this will speed up the computer boot which is accurate so far as it goes. It will indeed speed up the boot of the equivalent of the bios but it won’t do anything to speed up how fast the OS becomes usable. So unless you use Linux as an OS and boot it off a solid state hard drive, don’t expect any substantial reduction in that time to doing stuff. If you;re a MegaHard serf, invest in a coffee pot; that way you have something to do while your computer is becoming useful. Not that I am wholly comfortable with that latter word in conjunction with Windows.

Moral Microbes

Monday again, another weekend survived, another opportunity to accomplish something and fail, being satisfied with living and imposing one’s own chaos on the larger chaos that is reality and which in the end proves to be all the same.

This morning the podcast was an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas”, this one from March and dealing with the nature of morality. An excellent subject for early in the morning while social reality is still slumbering, or at least not fully awake and active at gym. I have always been intrigued by the admonitions of the establishment – usurious misers that they are – to the members to ‘clean’ the machines after use.

The excuse for this is sanitation and the implied social contract of not sharing illness among the population. The educationalist apparat is especially weak minded about this since their workplaces are a bigger breeding ground of sickness – physical in this instance – than toilets, sewer lines, hospitals, or slaughter houses. So while the fervor of using aerosol spray bottles full of antiseptic (? at least, toxic) solutions (at least when they commence spraying if not at the end,) is a useful signature, which coupled with their inability to have a conversation not inherently too loud and antisocial, for ascertaining, or at least inferring, their identity, the activity is of questionable value.

This does not mean that I belong unflinchingly, joyously in fact, to that cult of Nietzsche that holds that anything that does not kill us makes us stronger and hence we should expose everyone to every possible ill in the search for a broadly resistant gene pool. That theory may have held some substantial weight back before Jenner (and his unsung precursors) but nowadays there is sufficient hope for vaccine to moderate if not disestablish the idea.

Indeed, there are some microbes that cause sickness of such direness that some preventive sanitation is clearly indicated. But this prevention needs be done intelligently, which is a quality that the observant find doubtful in the average educationalist. One of the sad facts of microbiota is that some of the ones most destructive of humans are the least susceptible to the common run of antiseptics. And since any population of bacteria residing on the handlebars of a stationary bicycle or elliptical machine is in competition for survival, spraying with the garden variety antiseptics employed in gyms is often more likely to increase the population of destructive microbes than decrease it. [1]

So what is the moral thing to do? To spray or not to spray? Since most of the microbes actually live in a layer of biological film – water plus oils and secretions – on the surface (or in the vacancies in foam) of the machines, a better way may be to remove the layer, taking the good with the bad.

But the problem with morals is that they are much more a part of human delusion and programming than any deistic benefice. And as such they can only be morals is all of society agrees to them. Otherwise they are merely a source of disagreement, conflict, and atrocity. Which is what gyms are all too often.

[1] For those who need the explanation, if you kill off the microbes that are susceptible then that leaves less competition for the microbes that are not susceptible. And since the bad guys are the latter more than the former, you kill off good (not bad) guys and leave a free lunch for the bad guys.

Delusion Dandruff

Friday dawns once more and the sleep deficit brought on by four days of rising to exercise at gym has now begun to be leveled. Not that sleep deficit can really be retired but we are conditioned by society since childhood to think so and after taking it as given for so long the belief actually shapes our perception.

That delusion seems to be the subject of several articles I gathered from the feeds yesterday. First is work performed by nerds at U College London and U Manchester on the road system of Easter Island. [Link] It seems that they have some pretty substantial indication that the purpose of the road system was ceremony and not primarily for the transport of great stone heads as had previously been accepted. Of course since the great ugly heads were themselves thought to be related to mystical beliefs, the distinction is not at all different in substance. Regardless, the place is still a useful model of how a society lemmings off into extinction in the delusion of its religious beliefs.

Next, there have been quite a bit of comment on the science blogs about the Bradley Byrne pseudo-infomercials. An example is this one.[Link] I offer up this one since it makes a point of the seeming contradiction of an attack advertisement paid for by the educationalist apparat union about a politician supposedly supporting the teaching of scientific fact, in particular, the theory of evolution. Most of these blogs are some degree of biologist rant about how whacked can things be in Alibam that such nonsense can even be a political issue?

The answer, of course, is that whacked is the norm in Alibam. Science, and education for that matter, are tolerated only insofar as they enhance cash flow, which in turn can be spent on the organizations of religion – and, of course, pork contracts by the thieves in Muntgum. The delusion is, for once, two-sided. On the one hand the folks writing the blots are under the delusion that the rational and intelligent have to ultimately be in control in Alibam. Bad assumption, especially when it comes to superstition, which pretty well captures the political and religious aspects of this, since both are the product of irrationality. The other delusion, of course, is that of the folks in Alibam who subscribe to these irrationalities.

Lastly, researchers at U Innsbruck report [Link] that the magnetic fields commonly associated with ball lightning are sufficient to induce hallucination in humans. The implication is that ball lightning, which has quite strange behavior and is relatively poorly understood, is nothing more than neurons misfiring in the brain.

The wonder here is the delusion of delusion. I have seen ball lightning, and I am quite willing to consider that what I saw was imaginary. But I have also seen video of ball lightning and I am unsure of how such hallucinations can be embedded in video. So at best the work would seem to be only a partial answer. Unless, of course, cameras are in some way previously unrealized, sentient? But at least this is an easy delusion to handle unlike that pervading so much of the old Confederacy.