Woden’s day and I have to admit it was a bit nasty. The gym had rather too many, or at least, too obnoxious, weight bouncers, and the podcast, an episode of the CBC’s “Quirks and Quarks” was a Q&A program and hence mostly flat. And full of grating simplifications.
Which puts me in mind of how does one “dumb down” the right amount to talk to bogs and children, recognizing that the two are at least partly distinct. After all, some of the children will become nerds and geeks, but they still have an abysmal lack of experience – uncorrected for bogs – and thus lack reference points for many things. I also have to admit to an emotionalist, in-the-moment effect of having to respond rapidly without the time to do a proper job. But then, why are so many written popularizations so frigging bad?
In such a frame of mind, I was happily greeted by an article [Link] in Smithsonian’s RSS feed about the recovery of twelfth century Plantagenet poo from the ruins of the castle Saranda Kolones on the island of Cyprus.
Cyprus is the opposite of a swimming pool. It is still an attractive nuisance, that’s why everyone wants to control it and why the poo is there, but instead of being a body of water in a back yard, it’s a backyard in a body of water. As such it has enormous value in control of the Mediterranean. That’s why Richard Plantagenet built a castle there in 1191 CE as part of his holy quest to secure Jerusalem from the evil, heathen Mohammedans. And having done that, promptly sold the island – how’s that for ROI? – to the new King of Jerusalem.
But in that brief interim, Richard, and his noble minions, too time to place their nether regions upon the castle’s latrine and leave something of value for science.
The first thing one notices is that the facility is based on an intriguing model of human anatomy. Nonetheless, what was found in the poo was indeed a pony of value to various disciplines. They particularly indicated the presence of intestinal worms in at lest some of the folks who contributed to the sample. So we can add intestinal and rectal disease to the list of things that the crusaders had to enjoy in addition to the crusade itself and heavy armor in the desert.
One can also contemplate that this may be the most important thing done by this particular Plantagenet?
It’s ice cream day and once agin time to get ruthless in purging tabs. And me without any Black Drink.
First, a survey of Winders Ate users [Link] not only indicates that the majority of users ignore the Tile GUI (nee Metro) and just pretend its a debased form of W7. In fact,
the only folks who predominantly use the tile gui are the slabists. And while this is, or is rapidly becoming, the new majority, it still seems rather foolish on MegaHard’s part to micturate their established customer base.
I have to reflect on this a moment. The wisdom that one doesn’t run off existing customers in seeking new ones is well established. It follows that only in times of great change will ignoring this wisdom be wise. So do we have such a time of great change? The answer is a resounding maybe, and the scope of that maybe reveals the magnitude of the risk being taken by MegaHard and Canonical.
If they are right then they have the advantage of maybe establishing a common computer interaction across box sizes and forms. Note critically here that this assumes desk and lap boxes will still be around. The disadvantage is that in leaping they find the mist concealing the chasm and doing a Wile Coyote. And the whole gamble is on the margin since they are having to bet the bog boxes will still be there. But they have alienated the big box users in the process. Sic Transit Gloria Mundae?
Next, on a related matter, a study [Link] from U York proposes that humans evolved upright stance and motion because of the terrain of Africa. Previous theories proposed the development was due to climate change and the reduction in available trees for us to cower in. Or is that cavort? If so that cavorting may give some insight into typical christianist behavior during sundae services.
If the picture of terrain in the article is representative I would have to support the hypothesis. This is not terrain for four legged locomotion. But how representative is it? As usual, even for the Brits, the journalism sags woefully.
And lastly, the old bit about sapiens eating neandertals has been surfaced again by researchers at a Spanish U. [Link] This is not a new thing. It’s one of two major theories of how neandertals went away, the other being reproductive. That theory has enormous weight these days as a result of mapping of sapiens and neandertal genomes that demonstrated that except for the purest of African human lineages, all modern sapiens are about 0.15 neandertal.
I shall not offer the rather obvious and hideous sexual innuendo. But the cannibalism theory is claimed to be strengthened by finding gnaw marks on neandertal bones that match sapiens dentition.
Given what I have seen of human behavior – sapiens’ – I would not be greatly surprised if both theories are accurate.
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?
OK. There is a heavy haze out there. I can’t get a line-of-sight at least a kilometer long to be able to guesstimate the optical density and thereby determine whether this is really a fog or not.
The SCIENCE podcast this morning was the yearly review podcast, which is almost as useless as not having one, which, as I mentioned earlier, is the foretelling for the next two weeks. May have to listen to a few backed-up In Our Time podcasts instead. And the number one of the year was the “discovery” of the Higgs (Higgses? number uncertain.) That’s sad, that something telling to bogs had to be the big one. Makes me wonder if the paywall is rotting the editors’ minds?
And FD SCP arose early so we vacated the whole package thing quickly and moved on to meaningful things like contemplating naps or projects.
I reverted to scanning tabs emergent from folders, an information thing that is sometimes emergent. And came up with a few cartoons that evoke memories of earlier holidays.
a righteous parable. I do not recall when I discovered that Santa brings unwanted stuff, but my first clear memory is of football pads and helmet. And the repeated denial of a chemistry set, almost until puberty set in. I am unsure of the unopenable thing, packaging was still cardboard when I was a bairn.
I recall that summer after I got the helmet and pads being enticed by my father to go try out for the neighborhood childish team. Happily, I was rejected and never looked back. But I still missed the chemistry set.
Evidently Canonical realized the depths of its sin and has managed to fix some of the problem. Anyway, my RSS accumulator, RSSOWL, is once more talking to browser so I am moving back to modality in terms of accumulating tabs. Sadly that also means I have to move back to modality on how I hawg tabs.
Starting off this morning, a study [Link] out of Hebrew U on how humans can unconsciously solve maths problems. I have to admit that this is no surprise to me. I have been solving maths problems in my sleep and during other activities, especially recreational activities such as reproductive interactions and beer drinking, for years now. I have to admit that my memories of early years are fuzzy, at least partly because until college I didn’t encounter that many maths problems that didn’t succumb quickly. I attribute this mostly to the rather incompetent nature of maths education in public shules. But doing maths unconsciously is natural and common, but at least now we have an academic validation of what I suspect has been common knowledge among nerds for centuries.
Similarly, [Link] but perhaps more originally, the wonks are saying that projectile weapons may have been developed/invented by early sapiens much earlier than previously thought. The technology of hafting, mounting a projectile point on a stick, has been pushed back from 0.3 MYA to 0.5 MYA. Somewhat intriguingly, the researchers actually cobbled together a weapons test rig that the Greeks might have been only slightly derogatory of to test their theories. [Link] Sadly, now they are asking rather strained questions about whether this gave sapiens a superiority over neandertalensis that resulted in extinction.[Link] Sadly because it starts with pushing genius back a period of 0.2 MY and then intimating that sapiens was so inept to take 0.5 MY to kill off neandertalensis. Technically brilliant but militarily klutzy. Which may be interpreted as indicating that sapiens was much nerdier in times past.
On which note, a Stanford U academic has announced that sapiens is indeed steadily getting stupider.[Link] Now all we have to do is figure out what critical mutation occurred 0.5 MYA to kick in right after we invented the spear to make us so boggish as to take until 30 KYA to dispose of neandertals. Rather begs for a dose of Lysenko-ism, doesn’t it?
But it is rather intriguing to think about a time when all of the species were nerds. I suspect the bog mutation was all that kept us from going extinct long ago if that be the case.
One of the cornerstones of modern physics is the Heisenberg uncertainty principle which describes the micro-granularity of space, which has been under a bit or reinterpretation as a limitation on measurement. I suspect this is a result of inadequate attention paid to classical antecedents. Sadly, there is no such description of history and hence all sorts of nonsense emerge from its depths.
There are two types of books: those written by people who actually practice the discipline of the book’s subject; and those written by those who are ignorant of the discipline but are arrogant, ignorant, and/or wanting money. I probably should qualify that to (supposedly) non-fiction books because all fiction is pretty well written by “professional” writers.
The books written by practitioners have the merit of relative accuracy, diluted only by down talking (baby talk) but the negative of not usually being very engaging. They are written in reality, not in bog. The books written by “professional” writers are usually engaging – or they don’t get published – but highly inaccurate.
At least this is some of what went through my mind yesterday when I got an eAd from Barnes and Ignoble that included a book entitled [Link] “The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace”. I immediately wondered whether the author, his agent, or the editor’s publicist came up with that title. I then wondered if the folks who read this sort of thing are really so simple as to credit the title. And I wondered how a supposedly professional historian could defecate such an egregious title.
Get me not wrong. I have considerable respect for Hiram Ulysses Grant, renamed Ulysses Simpson Grant by the Yankee army. If he had not broken VIcksburg, the Union could not, in all likelihood won the war. In the drooling over Meade’s passive triumph at Gettysburg we tend to forget the importance of the West, as it was called then. And so on from there. But the idea that Grant was obscure is a mis-service and a diversion. Grant was a promising officer until the matter of the missing pay chest sent him into disgrace and self-imposed, dipsomaniacal exile as a pseudo-civilian.
Of greater magnitude is the idea that Grant was the solitary savior of the Union. Stercus Tauri! One can make as good or better case for a dozen others, including Abraham Lincoln. I suspect this is some pet peeve of the author writ large in absurdity that will escape only bogs. I have not read the book, nor do I plan to. I fear the title has polluted the waters to much.
Tis Freya’s day and something slithery is missing in the belfry. Yesterday was a bit exhausting with a medicalist examination – periodic – and all sorts of dashing about in Huntsville. So I am a bit flagged this morning.
I did however, note an article [Link] detailing the discovery of lithic spears dating to 300KYA. This would make the oldest spears known. It is not clear if these were true throwing spears or just stabbing spears. The distinction, and date, are somewhat important in their relationship to the emergence (?) of war.
Of course, there is the question of whether war was separately emergent or a consequence of the evolution of organization?
Yesterday was a bit of catch-up since much of Wednesday was spent in Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill. One of the tasks – delightful – was to go through two days worth of comics. Several of grab and two that seemed worthy of notice.
that evoked memories of a similar event in my own childhood.
The Huntsville Electron potential difference company had to replace a transformer near our house. I wheedled the transformer from them – my piece of street, as it were. But what I did was to harvest the transformer wire and use it to make an electromagnetic gun that shot iron bits, nails from my father’s stash, and got me into rather a bit of hot water because one of then blew a hole in the dry wall and embedded in the exterior brick. Loud noise. My mother came running in and made louder noise. She pulled the wait-till-your-father-gets-home thing that is supposed to be punishment in and of itself. He looked at the damage and told me to be careful to stay out of the way of such things lest I kill myself. End of admonitions and punishment.
Is it any wonder I found shule tedious and boring until I got to college?
is a pretty accurate description of conditions when I was a bairn. We had only one telephone and it was a wall phone, in the kitchen, which made for great difficulties when I got to be a teenager. This may give some insight into my thoughts about cellular telephone usage.
None of the cars had seat belts until I was in college. When I started work there was still a lot of discussion about why anyone would want to use one and that the government mandate was fascism. I religiously used mine, mostly because as uncomfortable as they were (and are), they are less uncomfortable than sitting on them.
And we had only three stations that we could reliably receive through an aerial. Cable was still decades away. And we had to go outside and turn the aerial by rotating its pole to switch from the Huntsville station to one of the Birmingham stations. And if there were thunderstorms, they would fuzz out. And that was the choice, to stay home on Saturday morning to watch cartoons or go downtown to see the kid’s movie special which was usually two “B” action movies and three cartoons.
And we were solidly middle class, not poor. The poor were people who lacked motorcar or indoor plumbing. We still have some of that kind of poor in Alibam, in Marshall county. But we also have homeless and those who work two jobs and can’t feed or clothe their children.
I have not commented lately about my experiment with Unity in Ubuntu 12.04. The short report is that I abandoned Unity as a perversion of pedophillic proportion. At the suggestion – gentle persistent arm twisting – of one of my colleagues, Speed of Light Vector Potential, I installed the KDE (Kool Desktop Environment?) GUI. I can report that I find it at least as rewarding as XFCE and perhaps more so. There are some arcana that are not adequately documented, and there is some friction between the Unity bits and the KDE bytes, but overall, it is a massive improvement.
But because of that I find myself in the instance of having two boxes with tabs to be cleared, so this is the secondary, at least for a while. The first item is some excellent photography of the recent transit of Venus made by the astronomy folks at the campus of the Black Warrior [Link] There’s also a rather amusing picture of the gathering of people on the observation roof of Galilee Hall. I am not sure whether the picture is there because of the PR folks or because of outreach, which I commented on earlier today. I was fulfilled to note that the nature of these gatherings has not changed in the almost fifty years since I became an undergraduate at the campus. Most of the folks there are thrill seekers with the men generally under dressed for the occasion – and clearly not physics majors – and the women overdressed. I suspect this gathering was typical of summer gatherings when the campus is somnolent, the Greek societies are in hibernation, or, at least, abandonment, and people will turn out for any diversion. Even at the physics building.
Back when I was a student the physics building was paired with Foster audiotorium for class registration. People were supposed to go to Galilee to see a faculty type to get their course form approved then wander across University Avenue to Foster to “pull” IBM 5081 cards for each class and course. Times to come to Galilee were scheduled by initial of last name and a signed course form was required for admittance to Foster. The name schedule was rotated slightly each term to “assure” equality of access. Of course, I soon found that any signature would do and even though I had registered a physics major and had free access to Galilee, I usually skipped that step and went immediately to Foster. Not that it mattered after my sophomore year. Once the mandatory artsy-fartsy courses – english syntax and literature mainly – were out of the way, I didn’t have much competition for a seat in the classes I was taking. The average students didn’t want to atke a challenging, useful course, just an easy one.
Nowadays I suspect they do it all on-line. I have no idea how people get the easy TAs and faculty. I’ll have to ask. Registration is not one of the things that prey on my mind these days.
I also recall summer term as the best of the three. Fall was ruined by all the football fanaticism and the drug abuse. I know that goes with attending a party shule but it was still nasty and I alsways felt like I was wasting money a bit. Spring was better but there was still too much inebriation and stupidity. The only down side of summer was the influx of all the public shule teachers taking classes for certification renewal or advanced education degrees. Happily they kept to themselves and pretty much stayed around the education college. Not too many in the haunts I walked.
The other good thing about summer was you could actually do stuff. No one got in your way in you spent much of the night sitting on the quadrangle, and you could almost always get plenty of access to the observatory or the mainframe (no desktops of laptops in those days!) And when you weren’t in class there weren’t millions of bogs around getting in the way and making noise and playing dominance games. So you could study or just think. Thinking was rare on the campus of the Black Warrior. Only a few even tried and they had problems with the noise of all the rest.