Toes and Tiles and Togetherness

I fear that it is once more that time of week when tabs have to be brutally dealt with. For one thing, the browser keeps turning into a digital rock (digilith?) or digital mist (digimist? enough Hunnish compounding already!) Isn’t it bad enough to be living in the hinterland where broadband is anything but and no one seems to care except the users?

Speaking of caring, it seems that tree hugging is an inherently human activity after all. Courtesy of some work by Case Western Reserve U folks in Ethiopia, fossil evidence of a still (partly?) arboreal humanoid contemporaneous with Australopithecus Afarensis has been unearthed, [Link] The bones, highlighted in the figure,

indicate that this (unreported name) humanoid had a spayed great toe suitable for better grasping of limbs and trunk of tree. So while afarensis was doing the ground pounding thing this cousin was still doing the Tarzan thing. The dating on all this is approximately 3.2 MYA so it seems that our differentiation into conservationists and planet despoilers has taken a long time to get to the current sorry state.

On which note, I should say that the Dogwoods are in bloom here at Castellum SCP although I expect them to mostly be washed off in the rain this weekend. Rather early as I recall for this?

While we’re on blooming, next is a rather amusing piece from PC World (they’re still around?thought they got hit by a meteorite years ago?) about how the Linux desktop is booming. They report visitation fractions by Linux users of between 0.014 to 0.25 with the fraction increasing in correlation with the nerdiness of the site. No data given on LOLFELINE sites – and no comments about either the sites or the compounding. But what is treasurable about the article is a quote,

Post-PC? Not Quite.

Yes, Linux is a longstanding leader in the server world, and its Android derivative is now a leader in the mobile world too, though you can keep all the silly “post PC” hogwash.

Desktops will be with us for a long time to come, and as long as they are, a fully alive and fully free desktop Linux will have a rightful place among them.”

Maybe there is a reason for this rag to still be around if they are actually saying such sensible things. Of course, if they are then the bogs aren’t reading there.

On which note, I found another article [Link] proclaiming that the combination of the demise of WXP and the release of W8 with its tile GUI METRO was an opportunity to lead Winders serfs to freedom (and Linux.) What is impressive here is what isn’t said. The Linux community has been alienated by Tile GUI for over a year now with Gnome 3 and Unity, and the forces of righteousness have used the natural voting environment to elect new code that emulates Gnome 2 and the golden desktop of last year. Isn’t it amazing how the determination of ambitious, self-righteous, greedy organizations can wreck such havoc and destruction in such a short time. Wait until you get to see what MegaHard can do!

Anyway, yes the old desktop, which we are assured is not dead, at least for those who still have work to do, is still around for those who are willing to abandon the wasteland of time and effort and productivity that is the Tile GUI and actually learn how to use a computer. Yes, I admit that I do proselyte the occasional Winders user to try Linux, but only under appropriate circumstances. Simply put, that user has to already be showing grave signs of being micturated with Winders and is more interested in being productive and effective than in being socially subjugated to Big Brother.

And yes, there are distros that are intended to ease the transition and delay the need to do real user stuff like command line bashing and adding repositories and fixing glitches but I operate on the philosophy that I want to make it seem easier than I described. This has the advantage that fewer see the Attack Rabbit of despair and run away, never to leave their Winders womb again. Instead they decide they are better humans than they thought if they can survive the travails of Linux, even if it is Mint of one of those other cotton candy padded distros.

And while we’re on that subject, a study from Yale U indicates that “A person’s mere presence in a room can add 37 million bacteria to the air every hour.” Given that we have more microbial cells in and on our bodies than we have body cells, this is not really a surprise. But the reason I liked the article was a quote (again,)

“All those infectious diseases we get, we get indoors.”

which is rather instructive. It explains all sorts of things from why life expectancies are shorter in cities than in the hinterland, despite the difference in medicalist attentions, and why civilization, in general, is bad.

Although with the pollen the way it has been the last few weeks indoors is not all that bad in terms of minimizing allergy reactions. But it does raise the question of why we should bother to cover our mouths when we cough?

Cloud William

One of my colleagues, Current Density Magnetic Inductance, and I have been carrying on a discussion on nerd eBooks for some time. My colleague, who is much more comfortable with the evil-that-is-Apple is happy with his iPud but he is quick to declaim that this is the only Apple box he owns – now. He has used Apple desk box in past in the office – i.e., use or quit – environment. He is also frank enough to admit that the iPud is too expensive for general use as a collegiate eReader and indeed has capabilities that are difficult to control from the podium. To say nothing of its total failure, along with other computer devices (maybe) as note taking instruments.

Anyway, I ran across a raft of articles yesterday on the educationalists’ indictment of the states’ science education (?) programs. Simply put, the triangle of grade density was awfully squatted and NOT inverted as one would like. Nonetheless, the result was expected and so I picked on one article, this one [Link] from Scientific American, which is actually one of the better although it is somewhat chest tightening to admit that. Scientific American, which is still rather slumish compared to its glory days in my youth has had a few singular instances of improvement lately and I have to admit to actually considering a subscription. At least I let them send me a trial issue – not yet arrived – to permit a scathing kritik.

Recognizing that any grading system other than ‘my state continues, yours becomes non-existent’ is arbitrary and subjective, [1] the grading damnation is summarized by one of those graphics that we seem to do so well while being miserably inept at effectiveness,

I have a somewhat conflicted position of noting that Alibam received a “D” that puts it far above dead last or dead last but one, the usual position of our state in such lists.

I also found this statement

“The study identified four main factors: an undermining of evolution, vague goals, not enough guidance for teachers on how to integrate the history of science and the concept of scientific inquiry into their lessons, and not enough math instruction.”

as worthwhile and almost telling.

The first factor is clearly the result of boggish mysticism that has been resurgent in recent years. Short of simply shipping off the children of the asurvival deluded to separate classes on creationist mysticism and pseudo-science, I see no way to do anything substantive about this lemming rush until the nation collapses into true third world status and the children of these children will once more see education and science as avenues to longer, better life.

The vagueness is a direct result of the current climate of political and social correctness and excessive governmental direction. Why should one risk one’s life, liberty, and health when the Yankee government and every splinter educationalist terror cell shouts one down as racist, genderist, or even mediocre, the latter being accurate but basically nor dismissable.

Guidance on history and inquiry may be fixable in the doctrine but not in the implementation. By extension this is the root problem: today’s educationalists who ‘teach’ science, in the mean, have inadequate knowledge of science to be anything more than a Kindle on ‘verbalize’ mode. You cannot be effective teaching what you do not know and understand.

The last has been a problem with our educationalist system almost since the founding of the republic. If anything, our maths education has not progressed since then. We still spend ten years or so teaching arithmetic and then try to cram some higher maths into the maelstrom that is high shule.

Much of this cannot be fixed but some attempts can be made:

  1. Certification of teachers must follow degree. All high shule teachers must have degrees in the discipline they teach.
  2. Algebra needs to be introduced in third grade; Calculus taught in grade five before adolescence has its endocrine holocaust.
  3. No religion permitted in shules. (Yes, this one is moonbeams but it follows logically.)
  4. Definition of curriculum must occur at the local level. (Yes, this results in a lot of failure but we see from history it is better than what we have now under the Soviet system.)

Rotted fruit on sale in the lobby for a reasonable price plus a janitorial surcharge.

[1]  The one cited is, admittedly, subjective, but it is not arbitrary!

After the Day

OK. We have survived National Stress Day, aka Thanksgiving, and are fully committed to National Consumerism Day and Alibam Pagan Mysticism Day. FD SCP and I are supposed to observe our obligatory overeating and family friction today, which rather gives us an superior excuse to evade the joys of Schwartz Freitag.

I still have a few tabs to clean up from before our gallop, and this is a good one. Seems medicalist academics at Northwestern U have determined that teenagers will die younger than they should.[Link] Evidently this is not just a matter of adolescent angst, but a combination of bad eating habits and bad living habits. Perhaps good news is that this means they will have less time to suffer in the torture of the coming collapse due to global climate change. Starvation is not a good way of discorporation.

Next, and in keeping with our emergent theme, we have work [Link] from U Kent that indicates that sedentary humans have smaller mouths than those of hunter-gatherer humans. (Gee, and we though those big jaw uglinesses were just Neandertals and pituitary over-secretion afflicted.) But that petiteness comes with a price, teeth problems. Some amount of our teeth problems, and incidentally the income of orthodontists, arises from this crowding. And here we thought it was all just modern diet with lots of sweets and stercus.

And finally, academics at Arizona State and Colorado U have developed an agent based simulation – why is it that academics can’t grasp the distinction between a model and a simulation? – and used it to add to the growing data stream indicating that Neandertals were not done in by Sapiens but just miscegenated into oblivion. Undoubtedly after a bout of overeating. Of course this is also supported by the earlier mentioned small mouth thing since these would have all been hunter-gatherers and large jaws would have been the norm for both species.

Anyway, if you are reading this you have survived the statistically most stressful day of the year in the Yankee republic and can now settle down to the frictional aspect of the holiday if you were host, namely the interminableness of leftovers. Hail Miracle Whip!

Food and Frolic

OK, having offered our coins of cognition on the matter of government, let us turn to the serious business of paring down the tabs that have accumulated this week.

First, the cooking cabal at fair Hahvahd have been at it again. [Link] They now peg the dawn of cooking to 2 MYA and homo erectus. What is chilling to consider in this is that cooking may have propelled us along the road to intelligence but has it left us with all manner of nasty residue? One has only to sample the programming on the Travel channel and the Food network to view some of the most depraved eating behavior. Is this the the price we have to pay for intelligence, and not very good intelligence at that? I am particularly appalled by that chap who attempts to make overeating a competitive affair. Somehow it offends to reduce species survival to overindulgence.

And with such abysmally bad food at that. Nothing these folks ever gorge on is much more than burnt roadkill. But perhaps that is quintessentially human? Perhaps we started with the combustive equivalent of roadkill? Who better than the sots at fair Hahvahd to tell us?

Next, the folks at U Florida tell us that fingernails (toenails) came about something like 55 MYA during a period of global warming. [Link] Somehow we have to harbor the suspicion that some coevolutionary leap of lice occurred at the same time.

The folks at CERN seem to not be satisfied with not finding gravity, but now have delved into the climate change thing. [Link] Seems that they have published some work on the mechanics of gamma rays on ionizing atmospheric molecules which in turn serve as nucleation seeds for clouds, which moderate temperature. It occurs that this effort should meet with bitter disagreement by the (modern) repubgnants who screechingly deny any human interaction with climate.

No word on their political position on hurricanes taking out the Eastern seaboard.

Next, in a bit of an elevation for English ancestry, boffins at U Oxford and Edinburgh have determined that the settlers of antediluvian England did not arise from neo-agriculturists but from hunters of Mammoth. [Link] This seems much more politic and soothing to English sensibilities. Being tagged as a nation of Turkish farmers is rather degrading. After all, such would have been industrious, constructive, and practical whereas Mammoth hunters are coarse, brutish, and destructive. Some might detract from this by noting that such fits admirably with the historical English temperament. I suppose one might conceive of Henry Tudor returning home after a day’s hunt to brag about a bag of two Mammoth and a saber toothed wife.

Lastly, we have a potpourri of surveys, some of them actually academic and hence of merit, that indicate that religion, or at least affiliation with a religionist organization, is the cause of criminal incarceration. [Link] The surveys indicate that among the populations of prisons throughout the Yankee republic, people who are not affiliated with a religionist organization are strikingly underrepresented compared to the general population. The article stops short of concluding that such religionist organizations, and their propaganda, could be the cause of crime.

I however, from experience, can attest that having to interact with some of the members of these organizations is indeed criminal. Their respect for the rights and ideas of others is absent to the point of tyranny, at least in the main.

I shall refrain from hypothesizing that such arrogance of righteousness translates into antisocial criminal behavior.

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Miscegenetic Whopee

Now that we have beaten the religion drum, it is occasion to turn to the reduction of tabs. A new version of Chrome was pushed out this week and it has been behaving decidedly strangely on my primary desk box. For some reason it will not support the quantity of tabs that it did previously.

At any rate, I noted an article [Link] that is shy of the so-what test. This work, done at U California, posits that homo sapiens exiting Africa were able to survive in the wider world by crossbreeding with homo neandertalensis (and others?) and thereby acquiring genetic resistance to diseases native to the wider geographies. What makes this research actually worthwhile is not its originality – this idea has been around as long as the controversy over whether there was miscegenation – but actually offering some genetic indications ofthe dirty deed and its beneficial result. Incidentally, this also adds a bit to the rapidly accumulating data substantiating the nasty.

So we come down to one of the basic differences between religion and science. The former smears crossbreeding as negative, the latter extols its benefits as well as its weaknesses. Remember that in services, if you attend, that not all declaimed by pulpit pilots is accurate.

Next, the Yankee government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has declared that 2011, only half don, is one of the most extreme weather years in history.[Link] And their basis for determining this is money. Nothing like doing record keeping in made-up, non-physical units. Demonstrates part of what is wrong with the Yankee republic these days.

By the way, could you tell us how you set a monetary value to humans and their mental activities? Or is the government busy reducing everyone who isn’t a politician to chattel status.

And lastly, it seems that the climate may take another turn. Courtesy of the Yankee government’s National Solar Observatory and the Air Corps, there seems to be some level of confidence that we are entering a period when Sol will have fewer sun spots. [Link] The last time we went through a period like this we had a so-called mini ice age, the Maunder Minimum. So we may be going from very warm conditions o very cool ones. We’ll have to see whether this is a short term salvation and a long term disaster or not.

One of the attraction aspects of this is that I had to find it in an English news source. Does that indicate the level of climate denial in the Yankee republic. Maybe the citizenry already are chattels? The population of the district indicates so.

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Three Stooges Monday

Back to the gym! The week is officially begun. The weather beavers are forecasting rain for most of the week and right now thw weather is decidedly springish – as in season and not Young’s modulus. The podcasts this morning were an episode of CBC’s “Best of Ideas” and a couple of what used to be “Future Tense”, but isn;t any more and isn’t near as good. The new newsreader is way to suavey and deboner. as one of my undergraduate colleagues, “Smiling John” Angular Momentum liked to say.

The Ideas podcast had a good piece that somehow grabbed my attention. They were interviewing one of what the Canadians call “Native Peoples” – as if the Amerinds evolved in the Americas – an Ojibway, who was relating how when he was a boy living on reservation his grandparents got a television. What is riveting is that he had never seen caucasians/Europeans before and his first sight of them was Three Stooges episodes on the television. He said he is still in fear of ‘white people’ coming up and hitting him.

I can’t say that I disagree too much. We late arrivers from Europe have not been noted for being particularly nice. Of course, one of the reasons we got away with being nasty so easily was because the Amerinds had pretty well killed themselves off just before we arrived. That’s not an excuse but it is a reason.

Anyway, speaking of which, I note an article [Link] about work from the Yankee government’s National Exposure Research Laboratory, which incidentally has nothing to do with wearing rain coats – and nothing else – in public places, that indicates that the presence of amoeba in the nation’s water supply is increasing. We tend to forget about amoebic diseases so this looks like a prescription for a die-off if we aren’t careful. Of course Amoeba are big, compared to molecules of dihydrogen oxide, so we can filter the beasties out but then what do we do with them?

Naegleria fowleri amoebas, like these, can glom onto nerve endings in the nose of an exposed individual and motor along them into the brain. There they can trigger encephalitis, a nerve infection that is quickly lethal. Feeding cups on their surface are where they take in bacteria from the environment or bits of tissue while living within a human host.

This is what comes of spending tax money on stuff that doesn’t work instead of things that do work, and are important, like cleaning the drinking water and collecting the garbage.

On a similar azimuth, I note [Link] that the TED folks have started a series of mini-eBooks to augment their videos. Has anyone actually ever watched one of those videos all the way through? Most are incoherent and the remainder telegraph so strongly that you can punch out halfway through. And all I have to pay for the videos is the overhead of bandwidth-download time and my viewing time (plus a bit of wear and  tear on the equipment.) So I doubt I will run out and buy the appropriate eReader so I can pay for these eBooklets. And the only format supported is Kindle. So much for this being a progressive product.

Sometimes the way society pretends to advance makes me want to go move onto that Ojibway reservation.

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Flu and Foam and RFID

Ayeh. I was unpresent yesterday. Had to motor to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill to procure foodstuffs and exchange cognition with some colleagues. Along the way, at the Kroger, I acquired an influenza inoculation – FD SCP had been counseling (that does sound a bit more positive than nagging?) me to get one and the technician administering the injections was unengaged when I walked past so I took advantage of accidental juxtaposition of ether waves in the quantum foam. (More on this later!)  She was a bit alarmed that I had a negative reaction to a previous inoculation but subsided when she found out that was back in 1970.

Unlike that time, I did not have a temperature rise of about 2 degK while walking from the site of medical ministration to my automobile, and I do not suspect the distance or air temperature had anything to do with same. Anyway, I completed my shopping for items unique to both Kroger inventory and my wonted culinary practice and departed.  The ache in my shoulder awaited my return home. And that distracted me from catching up on my under-accomplished activities, such as this blog.

Prior to that, at gym, I had continued with listening to science podcast episodes. The CBC “Quirks and Quarks” reader is back but not the parasitic English aristocracy that does “In Our Time” and I delayed a partial break of my enforced fast, reminding myself that these fools should watch their actions lest they fall out of favor by absence. The high light of this was a segment of a discussion between Sir David Attenborough and Dr. Richard Dawkins, the darling of Amerikan Republicans and Religionists (is that redundant?) The text is available, [Link] but rather fails miserably to convey the depths of emotion and nuance. Of course some of that might just be the rarity of being exposed, here in Alibam, to someone who can actually enunciate the language. Certainly the on-going political orations, now sliding rapidly into deep negativism and assault of character, are characterized only by twang and shrill atonality. But then one has automated answering programs for local enunciation excellence.

While on such, I observe [Link] that infection with a particular viral strain of the common (?) cold has been correlated (associated?) with obesity in children. One rather suspects this is the cause of great rejoicing in the Chief Executive’s mansion as an indication that obesity is a disease. Unlike their socio-political programs, of course. I have to wonder between disease and genetic mutation whether there is any aspect of human variability and activity that is actually human controlled? This certainly makes one wonder how long the so-called justice system can continue in its present mode of intense and fundamental self-denial of what is not conscious and overt.

On which note, I see [Link] that recyclage bins in Cleveland are to be fitted with RFID tags so that marauding (they surely do not keep a ordered scheduled route) recyclage collection wains can automatically and remotely note which households place their bins in the verge at the appointed temporal coordinates. The brilliance of this scheme is astounding, at least for government. This way, to not be shunned (?) by local government, residents would at least have to place their bins by the roadway and having gone to the trouble to do so one might as well fill them with the infinitely variable miscellanea of recyclage.[1]

Of course in Alibam, the average resident, who considers recycling unAlibamian and somehow less respectable than sexual self-abuse, would just remove the RFID chip and permanently attach it to a rock or concrete slab in the verge so that neither recycling nor carting of the bin would interfere with his/her vicarious rush to extinction of the species. Not that recycling in the current voluntary, unenforced way is much more constructive.

And lastly, it seems that the Quantum Gravity boffins at U California, Davis have come up with some theory that indicates

“several different quantum gravity theories all predict the same strange behavior at small scales: fields and particles start to behave as if space is one-dimensional.”

We immediately note this is doing quantum foam one better. After all a foam is nothing more than a means of filling three-dimensional space with two-dimensional thingies. This seems to be saying that when we get down to the scale of the “Planck-length”, actually Planck hypervolume, the structure of space (maybe space-time?) just peters out. Rather like those broken threads in shirts that have been worn too many years but are now, of course, exceptionally comfortable. If, also of course, SCPdatter didn’t make off with all of them when she was a teenager This at least is better than the old picture of what is inside the Planck hypervolume, shrugs and the legend from old maps – “Here Be Monsters” which is amazing like the hole in the closet where the shirt used to be. Now the hanger, an essentially one-dimensional thingie. is left swinging from the rod, still shirtless but the hole is no longer so empty.

[1]  The term arises from the common practice, an epitome here in Greater Metropolitan Arab, that the only actually recycled recyclage is that for which the recycling contractor can obtain a profit. Everything else goes to land fill. And local governments, such as the real estate hag-ridden one here in GMA, not only acquiesce but do so conspiratorially to avoid the wrath of the electorate.