Real Strength

Yesterday was quite harrowing. My first physical after aging into Yankee government oversight and much leaping through burning hoops and other pains. To be continued next week. Funeral not to follow, regardless. And the constitutional this morning was fair, a bit depressed even because I had to return to my usual “The Pen Addict” porcast as the diversion. My previous experimental samplings of “Probably Science” and “Professor Blastoff” were highly undiverting, unentertaining, and unscience, the former spending rather too much time on exterior defecation and Hitler’s dementia and the latter on primary sexual organ cancer self-screening. Not that the latter isn’t of importance but it isn’t my idea of a science podcast. I should mention that both of these were recommended by POPULAR SCIENCE magazine and were the only ones on their list I was unfamiliar with. Overall grade for PS: C-; mostly because they missed the best science podcasts for some strange reason that I have been unable to get an answer to. I should also mention that my subscription was quite discounted and when it expires will probably not be renewed. I have to put PS in with SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN for satisfying Sturgeon’s rule with an exponent between one and two.

I was rather relieved however, to note an article [Link] about research done by the Max Planck Institut for Darwinian Biology. The study claims that humans traded off muscle strength for mental strength (intelligence) as they evolved. The study is based on muscular comparisons with other primates.

Yes, reverend, animal comparisons. Since we humans are ANIMALS! Including cheerleaders. And debutantes.

I find this rather entertaining and amusing. It seems to explain a lot. First of all, the true measure of humanness is smarts not strongs. Our perverse engagement with spectator sports and macho and all such is nothing more than insecurity and primate envy. From this it is clear that nerds, and geeks, are the actual humans and the bogs are degenerate lees of the gene pool. And algebra rejection is a form of denial.

But I still have to think to figure out politicians since they seem to have neither type of strength. Perhaps our attitude in Alibam is accurate that electing politicians keeps them off the welfare rolls?

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Academic Smarts

Once more into week in. And off to a good start. The podcast, an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” on modern idolatry, one of my favorite rants, was passable, and I managed to endure the obnoxious density of weight bouncers. So it seems meet that I clean up a few aging articles this morning.

First, the wonks at fair Hahvahd claim that they have observed monkeys doing maths. [Link] No mention if the monkeys are students or staff. And the purpose of all this is somehow related to something called Weber’s Law which has to do with magnitude and difference of two stimuli. Evidently these wonks have never heard of Rayleigh’s criterion.

Another study, [Link] this one out of Purdue, looks at the relationship between trailer parks and tornadoes. Seems that tornados are most likely to touch down in the boundary regions between urban and rural areas, which is where trailer parks tend to be built. Perhaps this is a good indication that we need to start building traler parks in the middle of cities and housing developments? It would at least improve the quality of news reportage, depriving it of all those toothless, obese people who live in trailers. Except after flood and hurricanes, of course.

Next, a pair of articles. The first, from U Colorado, [Link] presents some pretty compelling argument that Neandertals were smarter than Sapiens. The second, from U Michigan, [Link] speculates that Neandertals had develop boil-in-bag cooking. This latter is rather more exciting than it seems since boiling is commonly pegged to the period after sedentaryness when basketry and pottery were developed. Taken together the two make an impressive argument for the mental superiority of Neandertals. So why did they die out? The obvious conjecture is that they were so disgusted with having us as neighbors they just gave up and died.

That’s a good start for Monday.

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Scientist Intelligence

Not a bad morning so far. A bit nippish but nowhere as heat deprived as the middle and aft end of the week, Or at least that’s what the weather beavers foretell and I suspect they are being optimist and misleading. The gym was pleasantly sparse although the podcast was a bit dull.

So I was in a very good situation to consider an article [Link] sent me by a colleague, Magnetic Inductance Force, about how natural scientists are more intelligent than social scientists. I am not sure of this, personally. It seems to me rather like comparing one type of fruit with another. Are biologists less intelligent than physicists because they can’t do maths as well? Are biologists more intelligent than economists because what maths they can do they get right? I am not sure.

From what I have seen, intelligence quantification is somewhat arbitrary and subjective. Not to mention that intelligence itself is poorly posed and worse defined.  It seems rather like measuring the mass of a proton with a postal balance.

Having worked with other STEMs, and I think I can, on an individual basis, extend the appellation to include social scientists, I know that their smarts – I shan’t call it intelligence – is different from that of natural scientists. In facts, mathematicians are different from physicists from chemists…….. So there.

But I am still not convinced that bogs are actually intelligent. Or even sentient.

Chaotic Stupidity

Mundane day is back. And joyously! No noise pollution courtesy of the city parents, and the gym was delightfully sparse. The podcast was another episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” series on secularity and it was quite good, finally getting around to the advancements in society being directly the result of increasing secularity and the inherent controlling nature of organized religion. And the evil (?) of fundamentalism. There was even a bit of humor about the latter which is rather refreshing for one who lives in the religionist pig pen of the old Confederacy. They even talked about how the obsession with end times is a direct fallout of reconstruction.

On a more intriguing azimuth I ran across an article [Link] about the half-century anniversary of the beginnings of the study of chaotic behavior. Unlike James Glick and others I am not quite comfortable with calling it Chaos since the origin of the term is non-STEM. I also had to reflect that much of the original maths development, especially with the classic logistic differential equation, was simply bad maths. That was always a problem for me, on the one hand the finite difference maths types talking about error propagation and instabilities of too large a step size and the chaotic behavior folks talking about BOOM! behavior at step sizes far beyond the stable. Why, I wondered, couldn’t they get their stories straight?

Also intriguing is an article [Link] about an academic study that indicates human intelligence has decreased since the reign of Victoria. This is another brick in the wall that suggests that technology makes us stupid. Not that we didn’t know that, but it is nice to have it made sorta official.

Now we just have to wait for the politician to pass legislation that makes it illegal for us to not be stupid.

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Gripe Sermon

OK, it’s the back side of week out, I am up at least an hour early because of the perversities of the Yankee congress and its necrophilic affair with daylight savings time, so I may as well share my absence of good feeling and will by getting about the matter of disposing of old tabs.

First, some of the wonks at fair Hahvahdd have put motors on truncated toothbrushes and turned them loose in a circular enclosure.[Link] They find

“These guys make their discovery using BristleBots, simple automatons made from a toothbrush head and a cellphone vibrator motor.  Put a few of these into a circular enclosure and they wander around at random. But when Giomi and co increased the number of BristleBots, they began to self-organise into things like swirling swarms. The transition from disorder to order is triggered only when the density reaches some threshold.”

This is, according to the reportage, a simpler and stranger explanation for the behavior of group animals like ants and termites. My immediate thought is what is the mean distance between collisions? As the number of brushbots increases, the number of collisions per time increases. Now if the bots begin streaming, moving in the same direction, then collisions between them transfer less energy and are less disruptive, so the stream tends to maintain itself. But that’s just the mental flatulence of an SCP. The wonks at Hahvahd will likely come up with other, better thoughts.

Next, we have a lovely article [Link] with the title “Bunnies implicated in the demise of Neanderthals”. One of my colleagues, Magnetic Inductance Force, directed me to this article via his FaceScroll page. I, like he, was bemused by the title. Were neandertals like children in being unable to eat cute animals?That seems charmingly implausible. We like to think of neandertals as cartoon Georges, half of whose practical uttered vocabulary is duhhhhhhhhhhhhh. The thesis of the boffins, at least according to the journalism, is that neandertals were unable to hunt small animals. The problem with the thesis, as seems to be so often the situation with anthropology and hence why it may not be a science as they seem to now be claiming, is that it is untestable, at least to my simple viewpoint. Lacking an an actual neandertal no test would seem possible.

It did occur that neandertal characteristics tend to display often in general and flag officers, so I considered asking my colleagues who are such to try rabbit hunting. But upon cogitation that seemed doomed to failure. First of all one could not gather enough cooperative general officers to do a herd hunt, and since all of these fellows have agile aides, they would likely send them off on solitary hunt. So once more the thesis seems untestable. The one colleague I asked of this admitted that he did enjoy rabbit but also confided one should hunt them with a shotgun firing steel buckshot so that the shot could be easily found and removed to preserve one’s teeth. This display of canniness did not bode well for the thesis.

Next,following along on my earlier tirade about college, is an article [Link] about the PhD glut. Easter Island vindicated! If you exceed the carrying capacity of the environment, starvation ensues and lots die. I ain’t gonna harp on this too long since it’s just the recognition of what I have said many times before. But I will reiterate that a PhD shouldn’t be a career move, it should be a calling.

And while on education, a lovely article [Link] entitled “Online courses need human element to educate”. This one also fits with my tirades. It’s simple, if the teacher and students don’t engage there is less information exchange and no motivation to understanding. That’s the problem with those megaclasses in bit halls. No engagement. And it’s worse on-line. But I fear money will out and good people like this author will get squashed like squirrel road kill on the street in from of Castellum SCP.

Speaking of road kill, I ran across, via Lifehacker, this article [Link] in the New Yawk Times about a new enumeration that “cataloged some 42,500 Nazi ghettos and camps throughout Europe, spanning German-controlled areas from France to Russia and Germany itself, during Hitler’s reign of brutality from 1933 to 1945.” If you, strangely, are a holocaust denialist, your position just got a bit more tenuous – vapid even – and nekulturny.I do want to emit the plug that this is about political ideology, not per se nationality.Most countries have done death camps. Here in Amerika we had Andersonville and some Yankee counterparts. So its not localized, it’s specific, as in species.

Finally, some work out of U Washington [Link] that while we Amerikans are living longer we are more miserable in our seniorness than other nation’s citizens. The blame is put on lifestyle errors. I have to say this one didn’t surprise me. Seniorness is often a matter of an absence of comfort. And I know that it’s all I can do to change my lifestyle to accommodate the instructions of medicalists – when they don’t conflict, which is TOO often because of absence of coordination and integration – much less adopt any gratuitous changes. But I do have to ask why we did (and are doing) such a poor job of communicating these health dishabits. No one tried to tell me these in  youth, and if they did they never said why. So the health boffins were rather like Catholics, preaching without testability but also not evangelizing.

Have a good sundae. Time to break fast.

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Hot Intelligence

Gad, I hate weekends. Especially sundaes when the christianist pseudo-shabat closes everything down and I am stuck in a vacuum of activity. It is at times like this that I empathize with the tin woodsman.

Speaking of which, I noted an intriguing article [Link] that argues that human intelligence is the result of coping with climate change. Not an implausible hypothesis but one that is less than obviously testable. Of course, we have spent much of the intervening 2-3 MY trying to negate that intelligence. Witness the climate change denialists today. Of course, there is a rather charming reverie of climate change denialists back then arguing that primates had no need for intelligence. Nice to know that the repulsians have been around so long.

For that matter, what positive contribution can the repulsians advance other than nominating Lincoln?

More particularly, this raises the question of how intelligence plays out in an overcrowded environment. That is, as climate change builds to the point where much of the environment, and thereby society and civilization, collapses, will intelligence do any good?

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Belief and Bludgeons

Yes, I know it’s mondae but the accidental (?) juxtaposition of article ether in the void has produced something quite unmondaeish. Which sounds vaguely Welsh to me. Anyway, the subject this morning is belief and it is not very flattering to the species.br /br /First, there is an article [a href="http://www.scotsman.com/the-scotsman/scotland/witchcraft_fear_lead_to_the_death_of_teen_court_hears_1_2040616"Link/a] frae th Scotsman about an adolescent being tortured and drowned because his brother by wedding thought him a witch. No report on whether the skull was dressed to serve haggis in but the deed was decidedly dark and demented, which seems to go rather muchly with belief. br /br /The coroner reported that the discorporated lad, 15 years of age, was pummeled with hammer, chisel, and metal bludgeon 101 times. The accuracy of the number is questionable given that there seems likely little resolution between strike sites.br /br /It is instances like this that make the death sentence seem meet. The murderer needs to be relieved of his burdens as much as society needs to be protected from him. Keeping such a monster alive is no imitzvah/i. br /br /Next, we have an article [a href="http://www.redorbit.com/news/technology/1112450498/file-sharing-established-as-a-religion-in-sweden/"Link/a] that indicates the guvment of Sweden has officially recognized the kirk of Kopimism which holds that copyright is a sin and that information copying is a sacrament.br /br /Gee, first a story about the depravity of belief that makes you wonder if humanity is worth its intestinal contents and then the next story restores your admiration for the appellation of the species. This has to be one of the wisest things I have heard in a year of sundaes.br /br /And lastly, I have an article [a href="http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/1865-research-development-science-economy.html"Link/a] that tells me that Amerikans think science and scientists are going to rescue the nation from its doldrums.br /br /Nice sentiment, but impossible if we keep getting politician choices that are all bad. I don’t care how good our science is, and it has been slipping in recent years, so long as our choices for elected officials are either people who lack the smarts to know they can’t do the job or people who lack the moral fiber to admit to themselves they can’t do the job, we are not going to be able to solve anything.br /br /Perhaps the whole Lucky Star thing was right? What we need is a Council of Scientists?br /br /div class=”zemanta-pixie”img class=”zemanta-pixie-img” alt=”” src=”http://img.zemanta.com/pixy.gif?x-id=d02e1706-691d-8214-b248-686d6d65097e” //div

Missing Digits

Strange day yester. Had to go eat strange foodstuffs for social reasons and my metabolism is still in an uncollapsed state. So the prospect of blogging this morning is both enticing and offputting.

First off, my attention was drawn to an article [Link] about the Wonk Shul’s Collective Intelligence Center, which contrary to first inclination is neither about hive minds nor borg. The article is one of those insipid puff pieces put out by academic publicity offices that is intended to totally camouflage any reality such as the slow disintegration of the academic environment or whether any actual work is being done. It is the highest example of academic autarky.

Near as I can tell, collective intelligence is the ‘intelligence’ of a group of humans. But it has very little to do with actual intelligence so the use of the term is highly ambiguous and probably deliberately misleading so that grant monies can be obtained. The thesis of the article is one that is politically/socially correct and dripping of social engineering dogma, that collective intelligence is directly proportional to the number of women in the group.

I am the last one to debate the merits of women in working groups, or any other organization not requiring some uniquely male solidarity, such as a football scrum or a sperm donors’  organization. But that does not mean that I have surrendered my criticality. What is conspicuously missing in this article is any form of quantization. And if ever there was something that Kelvin’s advice applied to it is group composition mechanics.

For example, one of the questions I would like answered is how does collective intelligence change as the woman fraction changes from zero to one? I have no intention of waiting. The wonks do not respond to the rest of the Yankee republic.

Meanwhile, physicists at U Pennsylvania have published some work [Link] on the formation of coffee ‘rings’ that has plenty of quantification. Sadly, there is no mention of the effect of coffee on collective intelligence, which we all know is considerable and cries out for quantification as well as study. There is a bit of surprise to this work inasmuch as the same group has done nothing with chocolate.

And lastly, an article about a Yankee republic legal ruling that computer code cannot be patented unless it has a minimum level of complication. [Link] I have to admit the article is not very clear which is at least partly the result of trying to decipher the ruling and translate it into human language.

No wonder the wonk shul is putting out such nonsense, since they can’t patent it, it isn’t worth anything but publicity.

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Quantum Ideas

Last night was an adventure in banality, at least in terms of the audio-visual electromagnetic receiver. I did a lot of channel surfing, interspersed with fits of preventative reading, before I finally punched the relief button on the remote and retired to bed. The aflavorality of the evening can be epitomized by some program, the low budget kind with non-actors and distressing conversations with video cameras. One has the feeling that such are the product of some combination league of women’s voters and garden club, equipped from Big Lots with technological failures, and scripted while on an overdose of diuretics. The program that sealed the paradigm revolved around a pair of hobos who wandered about trying to cheat locals out of supposedly valuable junk. The whole thing was horribly stream of consciousness, which was incidentally almost void of cognition but long on adrenaline and angst and somehow cunningly the legacy of William Jennings Bryant.

In that rather anti-blackbody light spectrum, it seems fitting this morning that I encounter a New Yawk Times article [Link] by some ambiguously credentialed academic from the Land of Golden Earthquakes entitled, “The Elusive Big Idea”, which deals with the damnation of our society with its inability to embrace anything meaningful. I found a couple of statements worth quoting,

“We live in a post-Enlightenment age in which rationality, science, evidence, logical argument and debate have lost the battle in many sectors, and perhaps even in society generally, to superstition, faith, opinion and orthodoxy. While we continue to make giant technological advances, we may be the first generation to have turned back the epochal clock — to have gone backward intellectually from advanced modes of thinking into old modes of belief. But post-Enlightenment and post-idea, while related, are not exactly the same.
Post-Enlightenment refers to a style of thinking that no longer deploys the techniques of rational thought. Post-idea refers to thinking that is no longer done, regardless of the style.”

and

“There is the eclipse of the public intellectual in the general media by the pundit who substitutes outrageousness for thoughtfulness, and the concomitant decline of the essay in general-interest magazines. And there is the rise of an increasingly visual culture, especially among the young — a form in which ideas are more difficult to express.

This rings all too resonantly in the vastness of our emptiness. Those who declaim that algebra is useless after high shul have won; the nation is a society of banal irrelevancy lacking the natural honesty of lower animals while being equally void of intelligence. The bogs appear to have won and are dragging the species towards the cliff with the awareness of lobotomized pond scum.

One of the first responses to this is a memory of the evening news from last that talked about the huddling of candidates for the (modern) republican party nomination for chief executive. Clearly they are capable of thought, but do any of them have any neurons not warped by mindrot? Is this the demise of democracy in America, not due to any conquest by jackbooted fascists but by the collapse of choices for leadership in the thought stopping that is the political party in Amerika? Has the choice been reduced to an ineffectual, wastrel on the one hand and neuronegative culturepaths on the other?

My roving eye gathers in an article [Link] announcing the 100th birthday anniversary of the Rutherford model of the atom. Memories of sophomore modern physics in the dusty, pipe decorated classrooms of Galilee Hall on the campus of the Black Warrior arise, ideas of the quest for the ideas of quantum mechanics and relativity ameliorating the splinters in buttocks from the seemingly antebellum desks and the burning of one’s sinuses from the dust that can never be eradicated from the joints between the warped boards of the floor and the acrid stench of paper mill that connects too strongly with the note taking that often overwhelms thought.

But then I regress to J. J. Thompson’s ‘Plum Pudding’ model of the atom and its connection to our modern society,

where thought are mostly banal and irrelevant to reality but interspersed are a few bits of sweetness that complete the fiction.

There is, however, hope. I note work at U York, [Link] a place whose mental sweetness is that of Roses, and a reminder of existing indication that gravitational singularities – black holes in the  vernacular of the masses lacking ideation – leak. The degeneration of human cognition does not have to be irreversable. At some point we may realize that we are indeed a society of stupidity and decide that we need to better ourselves by actually using the most expensive organ of our body.

Maybe.

My last saccade included an article [Link] about ten things Linux users do not understand.

  1. “This program has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down.”
  2. Blake Stowell.
  3. Office suite upgrade for $149 plus.
  4. The registry.
  5. Antivirus software.
  6. Install software then reboot.
  7. Darl McBride.
  8. Operating system upgrade for $149.
  9. Defragmenting a hard drive.
  10. Why everybody isn’t running Linux.

The very statement is a self-evident example of the current problem. Of what is on the list, I find that only two do I not understand and those are both people whose names I do not recall having read before. This personalityism is part of our perversion, the modernization of the great man theory writ small and mindless.

Oh, and I understand why everyone isn’t running Linux. See above. It’s too big an idea for those who ideate not.

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Mind Terrorism

OK, now that we have dealt with the angst of space journalism, it being week out the time is approaching that we need to have tabs cleared so they can be restocked. I know this is a neat metaphor but it just doesn’t work as well as I would like it to.

I ran across this picture

on IO9 [Link] and it struck me as indicative. On the one hand it captures the sheer joy and impression of lighting off a BIG rocket/missile. On the other it depresses one with the neolithic nature of lighting off a BIG rocket/missile, a thread in the last blot. Simply put, we need to be out there and we need a better way, starting with a propulsion system that doesn’t rely on wasting chemical energy in such an archetypically wasteful fashion.

So enjoy the emotions of the photo.

Happenstance: I came across an article,[Link] actually a teaser to an article barricaded behind a pay wall, on the physical limits of intelligence. This is one of those frustrating blips that one is never sure whether the frustration is due to the shoddy writing of the periodical or intentionally frustrating to get one to may an impulse buy. Simply put, the supposed limits may be bunk since they refer to mechanisms not used in the brain. This may be the case of too simplistic a model.

Still, it does raise the matter of ‘hundreds for SCIENCE but not a penny for SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN!’ I pay something over a hundred Yankee government dollars annually for a subscription to SCIENCE. Actually, it is a membership in the American Association for the Advancement of Science but the only benefits of membership are the subscription to SCIENCE and lots of ‘give us donations because we are cute, starving scientist society’ duns. They aren’t as bad as those commercials on the electromagnetic receiver, the ones with the body resonant poignant music and the big eyed canines and felines in durance vile, but given the supposed objectivity of science they are pretty bad. The association does have an annual meeting but that costs kilodollars to attend and if you aren’t a member of one of the secret inner societies you’re only a shlub on a bad vacation.

Now SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN has a subscription fee that is a lot less but then, so is the quality of the articles. After all, the articles in SCIENCE, not the drek filler in the front, is written by scientists with all the clumsy authenticity and accuracy that they can put into it. SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN on the other hand is written by journalists with all of the censorship and miscommunication that has become their hallmark in this age of information. It’s a case of you can uy a five dollar suit that falls apart after a week or a five hundred dollar suit that lasts a lifetime – longer if they don’t bury you in it. But regardless, it’s still a suit and it doesn’t fit right.

Next, pushing the same string, there is an article [Link] about research at Ohio State U indicating that air pollution disrupts and diminishes cognition. This is not surprising, it’s one of those things that is now made official by academics giving attention to it, rather like terrorism not existing until the Yankee government declared Global War on Terrorism. We have known for years that living in cities and around factories decreases life span and makes people make fun of the intelligence of those who don’t live in cities or around factories.

The intriguing thought here is that this is all natural. Living around noxious chemicals – heck, noxious anything including kin-by-mating – diminishes intelligence. It’s a survival mechanism. But it’s still a stupid thing to do and truly befitting of our human wisdom, or lack thereof.

Next, there is research from Notre Dame U [Link] that indicates that free radicals may be of value in abating or delaying the growth of cancer. Free radicals in this case are not terrorists who won and got to write the history books (like some of the founding fathers?) but organic molecules with something, usually a hydrogen atom, ripped off. This is another piece of the growing indication that antioxidants are not good dietary supplements and may cause more harm than good, which is good news for those of us who distrust any medicinal or pseudo-medicinal ingestion.

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