Rules of Civilization

Rule: If using a + (Phillips) or – (name?) screwdriver, make sure the blade is slightly larger than the screw slots.

Rule’: For # screwdriver, make sure the bit (blade) just fits the “hole”.

Rule”: If an Amerikan in a furrin country, use a hammer.

Search the Third

Seven Day; Ice Cream Day. The day when I ‘hawg’ tabs, which I have done, but it took a while for some to finish their cognitive “rise”. 

I noted one article [Link] that linked epilepsy and religion. It wasn’t a very definitive or instructive article but the association got me to think about how advertising is related to religion.

Most religions are about making conditions better. Most of them are long term games where if you subscribe to the religion (with money and time and substance,) then things will be good after you discorporate. And if you don’t, they will be bad.

Some of them say if you associate with them now, you’ll be better soon. Cured of disease or given money. 

So they are rather like advertising. Promises with no enforceable guarantee. And they are after the same humans, the ones who don’t want some form of reliable proof. 

There is some evidence that both a in hard times. The number of people who regularly attend the services of organized religion (and pour money into their coffers,) has gone down by about a third in the last twenty years or so. 

This is evidently not so much a wholesale epidemic of rationality and skepticism as a disillusionment with the whole miasma of organization.

Similarly, I saw an article [Link] entitled “‘People aren’t spending’: stores close doors in ‘oversaturated’ US retail market” this morning. Notably, it was in the Guardian, which is a related bit that I will try to comment on, and dealt with how the big chain stores: Macy’s; Sears; Penny’s; are shuttering stores in large figures this year. 

Coincidence? I have to wonder. In both instances could it be that the constraints of organization are impositions people don’t want any more? Sure, part of it is the internet, offering anytime access. Either of stores that sell similar goods but are bit, rather than brick, built, but part of it is space-time. Maybe.

Churches spent the last twenty years or so getting bigger. But they needed a lot of people to attend services (and plump down money,) to stay afloat, so if they were successful, and they were, then the little churches went away from being too small.

This is basically why humans have organization in the first place. Back when we were all Hunter-Gatherers living in social organizations – bands – of 25-50 people, we lived on a bit of a knife edge. If our band was hit by a bad illness and ten people died, the band fell apart. Too many lost hands and skills and roles. 

So we got more organized: tribes, then chiefdoms, and then nation-states. The organization as a whole was more survivable but now people didn’t know each other and they couldn’t make decisions about their own lives. And not too long on they had to give up being mobile and adopted agriculture and bigotry and tyranny. Or perhaps I should say unrequited tyranny. And people, the few who refused to adapt, were either killed by the majority (or its instrumentality,) or they went and hid from the organized lifestyle. 

That’s sorta how America came to be. Nice Failed Attempt. Or attempts?

Anyway, when the churches and the unspecialized stores get bigger, their numbers go down. When I was a boy growing up there was a Sears store in every town. Might only be a catalog store where all you could do was order and receive but it was there. Similarly there were lots of little churches, a couple in every neighborhood. And everyone attended. Because of the other-than-organized benefits. 

Nowadays it’s an hour’s drive on a divided highway to the nearest Sears store, which is going away. Yes, we have a local Sears store in Greater Metropolitan Arab but I have only been in it when FD SCP wants a new washer/dryer or freezer. And that’s because they’re the only reputable merchant of such in town. I consider it notable that they only sell touchable goods. That is, stuff you won’t buy out of a catalog or on-line. You have to touch it first. Appliances, lawn mowers, tools. All trustworthy. No clothes or such.

In a way, churches and stores seem to be compromised by being in the middle. There are goods and religious services available on the web which is at once both local and more concentrated – a few server farms and distribution centers who knows where. But it’s also the unavailable and unadapting. I used to have a neighbor, now discorporate, who was RC. He went to mass on Saturday night and in the next town where there was an RC church. I asked him once whether he was RC because of when he could go to services or the other way about. He was wise enough not to weaken our friendship by answering. 

So there are signs that the churches (organized religion) and stores have overextended themselves – too restricted in space-time. Far away and seldom open. Part of it may be what they offer: too restricted; too inflexible. 

Or it may just be that cat videos and freedom from sales tax is enough for most people?

But I have noted hopeful signs of rationality increasing. Recently, the last year, there have sprung up advertisements (commercials in the main,) that pretend to be news interviews. Usually these are folks selling some emotional service such as house refinancing and alarm systems. Horribly, evilly wrong and false. But they also seem now, in the last few weeks to be receding. So is this a case of people seeing through their Snidely Subterfuge that scrams evil and sham and fraud? An increase, probably temporary, of rational skepticism, or a response to egregious political prevarication and false facts that have burned many?

The World Wonders.

More Search

I thought I had hammered the coffin lid a bit yesterday but this morning I find it still needs a bit of bashing.

I have a browser tab of site addresses I try to visit every day. Periodically I add a site; spasmodically I delete a site, usually when their stupidity becomes too noxious. One such on the cusp is the “Huffington Post” which combines mediocre journalism with rectal cerebration. 

The main reason I go there is that some of their articles give me some insight into the nature of contemporary bogs. Usually I spend less than a minute on the site because such nuggets are as rare as platinum nuggets in the septic creek behind the outhouse. 

But this morning I ran across an article [Link] entitled “Spring Deals: Lowest Prices On TurboTax, Bowflex Power Rod Gym And Samsung’s 8-Series Quantum Dot TVs.” Note that this is an imaginary article. It is really an advertisement. Which leads us to our tirade.

This is a type of advertisement that exceeds the at-least-one-prevarication standard. In this instance several-fold. FIrst of all, the journalist and the site editor claim this is an article. Prevarication Number ONE.

Next it offers to sell – at substantially reduced price (Prevarication Number TWO) – things that I really want to buy because I need them either physically or socially or emotionally. SO what are these things?

  • An income tax client. Why should I want one of these? First of all these income tax clients are for Bogs who are too mentally deprived to know that (1) you can get better, cheaper done on line, often free, and (2) that if you’ve got to use such a client you really need to hire someone who knows what he/she is doing to do your taxes. I could also say something about this client isn’t available for Linux, mostly because Linux folks have good sense not to fool with such Stercus, but I shan’t.
  • A home “gym”. Another trap for Bogs. First of all it’s neither a gym nor a particularly useful workout device. You get better using your feet on and off the ground. But that’s not the point. Things like this sell to people who don’t exercise and buy this to balm their guilt. The manufacturers of such know that and make them so that they fall apart in a year or so of sitting about coated with dust. Most either never make it out of the box (unassembled) or get banished to the nastiest corner of the garage because HVAC floor space is to valuable for something unused except as a mind flush.
  • Samsung Quantum Dot TV. This is the most astounding and laughable of the three. First of all, it’s made by a company that has made cellular IED a watchword. I understand they received an award from Homeland Security for improving job security. Next, it’s a “Quantum Dot.” This is a masterpiece (?) of advertising. All dots are quantum. Heck, SCP is quantum. We are all quantum. Even dark energy. Whatever it is. And a TV? This has to be another Bog attractant. Who needs a new TV? Lots of people but rarely. I have a couple of TVs and both are over five years old. Don’t use them that much. And the GEN Ys aren’t using TVs. Well, maybe the porn bogs who do a lot of sports porn. Which sort of fits with the “home gym” thing. People who get their endocrine systems churning over athletic stuff that they don’t do but watch. That’s what makes it porn. 

There’s more stuff buried in the advertisement masquerading as an article but the point is made. A Congress of Lies. And that metaphor has nothing to do with the national council of the inept, unhonest, and uncompetent. A collection of salamanders is called a congress. And that’s what advertising is all about: the dinosaur brain that we all inherited from our lizard forebears. 

In Search of Manufactured Good

As might have been expected I have been considering advertising recently. 

This is not unexpected. We are immersed in an atmosphere – fairly toxic – of advertisement these days. So naturally to notice and think upon.

I freely admit that I am not the demographic. Mostly I am too old for advertisements other than those for burial insurance, medicare goods, or treatments thereof. And courtesy of the sitting congress we can expect those to diminish with the funding for medical matters.

I am also moderately sentient and observant. Advertisers hate nerds for the same reason district attorneys do. We question and analyze and generally find the contradictions that compromise everything.

Also, I am the one who first declared that every advertisement contains at least one prevarication.

So I might as well proceed.

It is not that I do not expect manufactured goods to have limitations and even defects. But I have Willis and Geiger clothing that I have owned for almost thirty years – obviously – that is in better shape used than things I buy from their successors today.

Willis and Geiger was a company of great quality; it made aviator jackets for the Yankee Navy going back to when they got their first airplane with wheels. And they maintained that quality until they were bought by another company to reduce its competition.

That’s an indicator of the nature of the contemporary marketplace. It’s stressed. Every day old companies are going away because their management made the wrong decisions on a learned time scale too slow for modern competition. Or they are made irrelevant by the rapid changing wants of humans.

This stress gets reflected in the advertisements. Evidently some advertising types have enormous difficulty presenting the product. If the product isn’t presented then the “rubes” have no visual association and can’t be trusted to actually buy what the advertising is pushing. So a lot of advertisements have these vignettes where they present the product but one gets alienated a few seconds into the vignette wondering why the people in the advertisement are acting in such a strange way. Result: net loss to the manufacturer since people who see this and note the cockeyedness are not positive about the product.

A somewhat bigger problem seems to be an inability to distinguish one’s product from its competitors. This is especially the situation with motorcars. In effect, all motorcar advertisements are identical except for a brand + product that is indistinguishable from its competitors.

Another problem is making some claim that fails the “so what” test immediately and the audience is left trying to figure out the strategy of explicit, apparently intentional, failure. May work in England but not in the Yankee Republic.

Lastly, promises. Given the environment we live in these days, especially governmental, the baseline is that any positive statement is a prevarication and any negative statement is a threat. So how does this incentivize?  

My speculation is that we may have reached the point where the marketplace is running on a form of inertia. People have been ducking advertisements for years. Ad blockers in browsers have now reached the point where the use of an ad blocker blocker by a web site cuts into its traffic. Never mind paywall, ad wall wall seems to be a crypt construction. Meanwhile lots of people seem to operate on a buy-the-same-old-thing until they get fed up with its wrongs and then experiment with random selection. This seems to explain why companies repackage their goods ever couple of months. 

What makes the latter intriguing is that it upsets the cross diffusion flow. For years companies have leveraged the marginal populations that give up on one product and go to another. Since most products are staples of imagination if not actuality, the advertising emphasis is on capturing these changers. The problem now seems to be that this population has become immune to the advertising. Maybe.

Meanwhile, the companies continue to be oblivious to any idea that quality may be a better strategy than whackadoodle advertisements. 

Network of Ignorance

One Day. Back to gym and a right good episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” in their series on the War of 1812, specifically about the rather fumbling Chesapeake Incursion. But in and around I got to pay a bit of attention to the flickering electromagnetic audio-visual receivers and was prompted by the hullabaloo over the Naismith Pornographic Extravaganza know as March Insanity to consider some aspects of (b) things that are unpopular and important, and (c) things that are popular and unimportant.

These contrast to (a) things that are unpopular and unimportant, and (d) things that are popular and important.

I will leave sorting the four states out because I primarily want to talk about the relationship of the two states considered in the context of organization.

I am continually surprised at how inaccurate (or absent) is the average Amerikan’s knowledge (and understanding) of organizations. This isn’t just the so called man-in-the-street, which should be expanded to man-in-the-street-with-his-nose-in-a-slablet. It also includes the members of such organizations and all too frequently the people who manage these organizations. This seems to be one of those areas where we Amerikans value ignorance over knowledge. 

Some people – rather fewer than one may suppose – know that an organization is also a network that extends beyond the organization itself. But they do nothing with the knowledge. It’s rather like knowing the capital of Lower Umsquat. And they don’t use that network viewpoint to understand how their organization is and how it functions.

Hence the consideration of (b) and (c). Parts of the organization may be unpopular and important and are thus persecuted or dissolved by management and the organization suffers, falters, or collapses. Similarly, parts of the organization may be popular and unimportant and thus exalted or rewarded and thereby resources are wasted and important bit (and people) ignored and the organization suffers, falters, or collapses.

This is the situation with all organizations, including corporations and governments. I mention these two specifically because it is in these organizations that this lack of understanding can be most lethal. 

Corporations are organizations to gather money. They only gather money if people want (and buy) their products. And people usually only have to buy their products if they want to. Now, we live in an age of new. So many corporation managements think they have to be new to make money, forgetting that people like change best (that is somewhat instead of not-at-all) when it is their idea. And the corporations pretend to understand this by using advertising, which is equally broken. That is, unpopular and maybe important. We have lots of new corporations these days, often because old corporations lost track of their organization/network.

Similarly, people seem to miss that government is primarily supposed to practice the laws enacted by Congress as directed by the Executive and not forbidden by the Judiciary. It’s a maintenance organization in the main. The big thing, which people don’t understand, is you can’t call a fix-it guy when it breaks. 

Asimov proven again.

Tab Roulette

Seven Day. Ice Cream Day. And two days past the holy day of serpent suppression in Eire. 

This fits moderately well with the first tab of ‘Hawgin’ day. Some time ago I ran across and article [Link] in the Daily Mail entitled “Going to church can make you more popular and appear trustworthy, study finds.”

Now the Daily Mail is a bit of a rag as in both the tattered and bloody senses, somewhat akin to the expose conspiracy tabloids of supermarket necessity. But it set me to cogitation on an aspect of a subject I have wrestled with for years, namely the nature of organized religion and its relationship to actual religion.

I have numerous colleagues and acquaintances who attend services at churches on differing temporal spectra. Several cite the role in the lives of themselves and others in the association with other humans. Most are intelligent enough to refrain from rabid evangelism; that seems left to innocent (?) bairns dropped in the neighborhood by adults with some form of insecurity driving their irresponsibility. The worst they demonstrate is a smug arrogance that their life style is perfect. And strangely, for them, it may be because the only meaningful measure of perfection is functional. If these people are joltless in their lives then that may indeed be a form of perfection.

But these organized religions have ulterior purposes other than actual religion. Most evident is the survival of the organization itself. But this study from the Santa Fe Institut, noted for its work on complexity and emergence, indicates why organized religion is so successful in Amerika. Simply put the organized religion place offers a means for the insecure – which ultimately is a synonym for human – to alleviate their insecurity. And that is a powerful attractant given that something like 0.9 of all human behavior, at least in Amerika, is driven by insecurity. 

It may also offer some insight into why the “Nones” are increasing in number. From my observations of Millennials/GEN Ys, I have noted that their insecurities are somewhat different from Boomers and GEN Xs’. The working hypothesis is that (possibly) because of social media, the GEN Ys are much less concerned with the approval of the wider community and much more concerned with the approval of first and second friends. The population numbers seem to support this. The expected numbers of first and second friends is approximately band-sized while the expected number of FaceScroll “friends” is approximately community sized. 

What follows from this is rather strange. It seems that organized religion has almost nothing to do with personal religion for a surprising fraction of people. This is not easily confirmed. The metrics are unclear, but this would explain quite a bit about how our society behaves as an organism.

Next, an article [Link] entitled “Six charts that illustrate the divide between rural and urban America.” It’s one of those academic, semi-(pseudo-?) scientific things that presents some statistics but never quite gets around to looking at motion. This is a popular subject area right now because of the ‘revolution of the red necks’ in the last POTUS election. So both political sides are busy justifying their positions and banking their insecurities. 

What I found amusing about this article was what wasn’t said. For example the authors claim that most of the new job creation is occurring in cities (high population density) but that jobs in the boonies (low population density) are more enduring. This presumably means longer half-life or some such. 

But what was glaring obvious was that these two have to be related. As a bit of background, we live in an age of “apathetic feudalism”. I won’t go too deeply into this but it basically says that of all the candidates for a job, the one who is minimally qualified will get it because that minimizes salary cost. It also means that job holders are very mobile to try to move to better paying jobs and any commitment to staying is counter-survival. It also tends to explain automation.

So in a high population density area, there are more jobs and hence more movement. And hence more vacancies. And perhaps more truly “new” job creation. And the opposite in low population density areas. So the mean occupation time of any job is longer in low population density areas than in high. Which rather makes the authors’ presentation lacking a bit.

Tish. I could drone on but enuff fer neuw.