The Joys of Metropolis

The weather beavers seem bent on destroying us. Every day: thunderstorms. Beginning to make up for this year’s mild tornado season. More vegetables blocking streets this morning than last couple of days – and I slept through it!

Since it is ice cream day I need to ‘hawg’ some tabs so I’ll set in here. First, I note that a robot (sic) has been prototyped to construct hamburgers from components.[Link] I would have characterized it as a robotic assembly line, but that doesn’t sounds as sexual nor menacing as “robot”. And that’s what modern journalism is all about, isn’t it?

This isn’t surprising, I think. After all, the modern fast food restaurant is little more than an assembly line. The components – hamburger patties, lettuce leaves, tomato slices … are all formed elsewhere and shipped in so there is no actually food preparation other than the application of heat to the meat (and the taters.)  So automating this activity is eminently predictable, especially now that MacDougal’s workers are getting militant and demanding an actual livable wage.

On which azimuth, this seems a portent of the future where the fraction of the population that is unemployed/unemployable is greater than today and maybe very large. Exceeding recession numbers. So the question that arises is not the automation of services and such but how we are to engineer society to adapt to this. Do we just ignore these people and end up with a highly unstable situation, do we build large euthanasia facilities ala Nazi Germany, or do we get serious about figuring out (a) how to control population growth and (b) assure some sort of reasonable existence for the folks who can’t work either through being broken or absence of opportunity, the latter being the big deal.

Second, [Link] is some work out of Loma Linda U that indicates that humor can be a useful component in maintaining health and recovering from bodily whackedness. Again, not too surprising and again, the problem is that it has been and is ignored. In fact, the medicalist apparat seems opposed to humor. This is not surprising either. Telling someone they are whacked, perhaps unto discorporation, is not a time for humor. But humor absence during less intense periods is not beneficial. I can attest to this from personal experience. After I had heart attack and stents were inserted, I tried to find humor where I could to endure the hurry-up-and-wait of bureaucracy and treatment. The best response I got was stone faced silence. A couple of times I was directly criticized for being frivolous or disrespectful. And none of that improved my attitude or made me feel better.

I was forced to conclude that the medicalist apparat is not as professional as it should be. And yes, I know they are overworked, mostly with local and government bureaucracy. That doesn’t alter the fact that they aren’t doing their best.

But then no one does their best all of the time.

But I do have to conjecture that there are a lot of people working as medicalists not because they want to be good at what they do but solely because it’s a good job. Which is another reason we need to rethink how we manage society and the whole employment thing.

Sometimes it seems that society and civilization, irrespective of capitalist or socialist or whatever, means having lumpy carpets.

And I leave the correlation between hamburgers and medicalists as an exercise for the reader.

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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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Stupidity in Action

Warmer this morning, but not by much. It’s on the ragged edge of the solid-liquid phase change for dihydrogen oxide. My browser tells me 33 degF, which is now, three hours after I arose from my bed and motored out to Scant City for gym. I know it is not hot enough for me, especially with the wind leeching all my body heat.

The podcast this morning was a bit strange, an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” on war, peace, and public health. The folk interviewed were all medicalists of some sort and labored under the sorts of delusions about war that most such seem to. The program started with an interview of a nonagenarian academic who flatly refused to discuss war because it was so repugnant to her. I don’t fault her her dislike but I do detest the attitude. I believe it was Lord Kelvin who said what we could not measure we did not know. I have since found that there are many things that cannot be meaningfully measured, pain, for example, but I have learned that what we will not discuss and analyze binds us in a slavery of ignorance.

My studies of war have led me to the hypothesis that it is the direct result of organization. Bear in mind this is not about violence; humans are naturally violent and will be violent irrespective of organization. The easy way to get to this hypothesis is via Clausewitz, who can be misquoted as saying that “war is an extension of policy.” Policy is a characteristic of an organization. For an individual to have policy he/she must adopt some of the characteristics of an organization. From this we can infer that war is inherent, or derivative from, organization.

It is often cited that hunter-gatherer bands, the simplest human organization known. sometimes are completely peaceful. But invariably they also live in an environment where they never have to enforce policy outside the band. Hunter-gatherer bands who do wage (primitive) war also have to enforce policy outside the band. Variance zero.

In effect then, denying or ignoring war is a form of unhealthy and unrealistic denial. It will not go away if ignored, and by ignoring it we give up any hope of control or influence. And that is poor economy. We should not stop trying to control or prevent war but not understanding it and using resources to help sick or damaged people is a waste of at least some of those resources. It is foolishness.

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Last before

My browser says 24 degF while the thermometer on my aft porch reports 30 degF. I do know that I was taking my “cool down” laps after over an hour at gym – two sets of counter-capsulization exercises and sixth minutes of pedaling – I realized I still didn’t have full feeling in my face. And I have now been home for almost an hour and after a shower and several face ablutions in hot water I still don;t have full feeling, but gratefully the sinus ache has abated a bit.

It’s not just old age, it’s also blood thinners and hence low heat capacity.

Anticipation of the loveliness and warmth today was such that my morning staff call has been cancelled and hence I can defer departure for Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill a bit. Enough at least to post this bit of blot.

I ran across this cartoon: [Link]

the other day and it keeps reminding me of the nature of weather. In the winter it’s last freeze until the next one. In the spring it’s last tornado until the next one. And so forth. Nature of like and natural processes, I suppose. But it was much easier to deal with when the aches were less.

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Late Season Pilgrimages

Yesterday was a rather strange day. Normally Friday is a transition state between week in and week out. FD SCP does bustles about doing house things and I have to keep a low profile. In effect we have to transition from interaction state to another.

But yesterday the day commenced with me taking FD SCP to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill to have her cardiologist check the flow in her legs. They do this every year and periodically put stents in. As with almost all medical activities these days it involved long periods of tedious waiting and as with most, the activities were painful. More for her than for me although I find that medicalists purchase hideously uncomfortable furniture. But that opinion probably reflects my own shattered coccyx.

Part of the wait was due to the tardiness of the technician who actually administers the test. Evidently these people combine a rare azimuth of training with rather low pay creating a situation where they have no great incentive to be at work but are rare enough and cheap enough that replacement is difficult.

Anyway after a couple of hours of hurry-up-and-be-uncomfortable, we got to retread our way through the city and return to Arab, not to resume our interrupted want but to re-attire ourselves and depart for Gadsden to attend the funeral of my last, best aunt. I normally do not attend funerals. I have detailed the reasons previously, but this was a different situation. My presence, short of my own discorporation, was demanded for family reasons. I suffer these things for the same reason I suffered social requirements on the job, however much I detest and loathe them.

This one was a situation where I was unsure of whether to laugh or cry. Neither seemed acceptable in the environment. This was not one of those funerals to help the attendees come to grips with their loss. Rather it was a curtain call for the discorporate. The whole activity was orchestrated, choreographed by her. At least the minister knew her. Too often the minister press-ganged for these things has no knowledge of the person. And the contents were well done and not bragging, but they were scripted and directed.

I am uncertain if the immediate family got much closure with this. They are used to her and I hope prepared for the form. But I did find myself feeling sympathy for those who attended and did not find the solace they came for.

Then we packed up and returned to Greater Metropolitan Arab. I reflected how the day had progressed. It had started with a great uncertainty. Going to physicians who have cut on you and told you the cutting is not permanent always carries the uncertainty than another ritual slashing must be endured. That threat has been alleviated, at least for one year. And then we went, for social reasons, to a funeral. And it never got beyond that point.

Hence I am happy to be returned to a semblance of regularity today. My morning constitutional is complete, and well done, and now I may seek for a bit of reality amidst the artificiality woven by humans.

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Readin’ and Writin’ and Sanity

Another night of passing storms. At least this time the emergency management people didn’t summon the county from their beds for an illusory, probably imaginary, tornado in the east end of the county and hence irrelevant to 0.99 of the population except for the summoning. The only good I have seen of this is a hiatus in the water wars among Alibam, Gawjah, and the Floridas.

The down side is continued (repeated?) flooding over on the nawth-west of the state. Having been flooded I can posit that it is a form of home invasion much worse than fire or wind destruction. If the house is gone, in whole or part, that can be seen and dealt with, at least by those who are rational and can transcend their hormonal blinders. But a house flooded still has a warped appearance of livibility even while being a nasty sickness to be endured. And its repair is a form of red queen futility that grates in its slowness.

Meanwhile, I read that medical research at Rush U (no, I never heard of it either) has determined that reading, writing, and doing cerebration puzzles slows the progress of senior dementia. [Link] The latter part has been known for some time and represents a great delusion for many seniors I know. They buy the puzzle books – the other kind of pulp fiction – with pages of rectangular arrays of letters and such that they search for words among. I fear I am unconvinced this is actual cerebration rather than some use of innate and ingrained pattern recognition at the semi-intuitive level.

More importantly, i suspect, is the reading and writing part. We do neither as much as our forebears, at least the literate ones. One of the strange paradoxes of life is that as a larger fraction of the population is “literate”, there are fewer books read, and those of a lesser composition, and fewer things written. It cannot be explained just by a dilution of the standard of “literacy”.

This also seems to indicate to me a rather troubling liklihood, that with GEN Y reading almost no books and writing only gibble notes that we may expect that generation to display dementia even more rapidly than GEN X. Certainly that would explain much about their behavior?

More immediately I am concerned for my own mens sana. For once I can consider the great backlog of books to-be-read positively rather than as the choking space cancer FD SCP considers it. And I can rationalize all those games of mah jong and solitaire. Of course, as those who know me will attest, I have been bonkers since an early age and probably the womb.

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Insanity Apathy

Shule is desessioned. That was blatant this morning. No educationalists. And it was nice. Good, even. That’s one of the few boons of summer. The heat more than negates it. And we are already much hotter than I would like.

I listened to quite a lengthy podcast this morning on the new psychiatric rule book, the DSM I believe it is acronymed. This gave me rise to contemplate the nature of mental illness. I began to ask myself why is it that we have this supposed problem with mental illness?

I started by examining the two primary drivers of human behavior: insecurity; and denial. Both seem to apply here. From what I can observe about the treatment of mental illness, none are rapid and all seem to reduce the patient to the state of mental slime mold. So in effect, treatment for mental illness is slow and negates the individual. Both are ample reasons for denial. Perhaps even justified. Almost no ne, except the most inept of bogs wants to voluntarily be reduced to that level.

And because the treatment is slow and involves medicalist attention, it is expensive, which is another reason for denial.

So I have to accept the hypothesis that this hullabaloo will have no end result. For the same reason we don’t have a meteor patrol.

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Mundane Glories

Busy days. Yesterday off to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill. No staff call. Too many absent, but still had errands and food acquisition to perform. And today I have a round of medicalist activities that will be disrupting of modal activities.

The gym has been sparse this week. Evidently schule is either desessioned or eminently so and so the educationalists are unpresent, which is a boon. Except for the bullies who come more for entertainment than improvement. Yesterday’s podcast was an episode of the CBC’s “Quirks and Quarks” and it was more like nothing and neutrinos because nothing stuck. Today was an episode of “The Linux Action Show” and it was horrible. And the disturbing thing is that it is the best of the Amerikan linux podcasts. At least it is shy on profanity but the social overhead is very high and the commercials are diuretic, or at least laxative. Still I did get a couple of  things to follow up on so not a total loss.

While I’m on that azimuth, I ran across a review [Link] of Ubuntu 13.04. Th author describes it as “a new definition of pain”. I briefly installed U 13.04 on my Precision Laptop but couldn’t get it to talk to the built-in Broadcom wireless abd soon blew it away in favor of Manjaro which fixed its repository lock problem in the last release. Manjaro is an ArchLinux derivative and lacks a software manager although it does now have a GUI client for its package manager. But the absence of a way to do updates was an eject condition despite its stellar conversation with the wifi. I found the problem in the wiki but their fix didn’t take and so I had abandoned Manjaro to try other distros, all with little joy. But in the interim an incremental release was posted and it fixed that problem.

Enough about Manjaro. Back to Ubuntu. When I had U 13.04 on the machine, operating with a wifi dongle or a CAT5, I noticed that it seemed to be rather buggy and not do some things. At the time I attributed that to the cancer that is Unity. But when it refused to install the Broadcom drivers workably, I blew it away and fell back to the LTS U 12.04 which was not buggy and did install the driver better but still not completely functionally. For some reason the beast would cohabitate with the access point for five minutes or so and then drop.

I have to admit that what the author has to say about Ubuntu and Canonical is close to my own views. That’s one of the reasons I am looking at Manjaro. I have this feeling the Canonical may crumble in the near future. And then I will probably have to find a different flavor of Linux.

Why do I think of John Wilkes Booth – Sic Transit Gloria Mundi – when I think about Shuttleworth?

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Ancient Histories

Survived another ‘week’ of gym. Got to sleep in this morning. Almost feel rested. And just in time to celebrate.

Today is the birthday anniversary of William Whewell, the daddy rabbit of modern science. Admittedly, he was a bit of an anal retentive. His view of science was that the scientist had to be widely and deeply educated and trained, quite at odds from he and his contemporaries who made it up as they went. I always suspected it was more that he was an information junkie and wanted everyone else to be the same before he would grant them respectable notice. He was also down on accidental discovery. And he had the thought, firmly held that science and religion were easily reconciled and that the state of science was stationary.

But at least he got past the arrogance of the Restoration crowd, Newton and Boyle and Young and the like. In fact we can argue that Whewell was the first historically attended nerd, given his problems with women. No, nothing out of the ordinary. In fact totally ordinary and archetypical, at least from the nerdish standpoint.

I also read, in a rather poorly supported article, [Link] that the Gates of Tartarus, or Plutonion, has been found. Just another cave with psychoactive gas seepage, evidently.

Intriguingly, the original shrine was destroyed by Christianists in the sixth century CE – with some aid from an earthquake. Of course by then the ruler of the “underworld” had become the villain.

And lastly, we have a lovely rant [Link] about the evils of fast food restaurants, in particular, McDougal’s. Sadly the rant is one pony, whipping only on the calorie overages and totally ignoring more subtle things like fats and sodium. Ah well, what do we expect from modern journalists? Accuracy? Depth? Completeness? Probably as little as we expect from modern corporations in general.

Of course there’s nothing actually new here, just a rehash to fill page space and sell papers. Of course given the numbers of folks who eat at fast food restaurants we have to questions what difference any honesty and integrity make and whether the species isn’t already doomed to extinction?

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