Polarity in reading

I was reminded this morning, while scanning an Opensource eNews, that there are good O’Reilly books, the ones on computer stuff.

That is in contrast to the O’Reilly books from the demogogue of the name who abuses women and anyone else who disagrees with him.

Isn’t it wonderful that there is some redeeming social value to the name and product after all?

ROY G BIV

Well, I seem to have survived the “Great American Eclipse”. That’s quite a name. Indicates a level of imperialism that I don’t see as fitting any more. But I managed not to hurl massive hard things at the electromagnetic audio-visual receiver so FD SCP wasn’t too upset.

In fact, the whole thing was more than a shade (no pun intended) humorous. The idea of a nation-state owning an eclipse was the cherry. The ice cream was the composition and behavior of the NASA talking heads. And the nuts and fruit sauce were the social Bogs who made up the eclipse tourism. 

The NASA dialog was the most humorous stuff, a mixture of poorly composed science and worse composed guff. Happily the folks who were doing the actual work, the camera folk and such, were competent and not called upon to sully themselves with verbal stercus. 

Despite this odor the NASA presentation was still better than those put on by the local news folks. They tried earnestly but were whelmed by their toothiness. And a bit of ‘Aw Shucks’.

As the eclipse deepened outside Castellum SCP, I retired to the porch to watch the sky. Not the eclipse mind you – I have seen several eclipses previously but before I had mostly watched the body being eclipsed. 

I also have to own up that I prefer Linar eclipses since I don’t have to worry about retinal damage.

But this time I got to just watch the sky. That is, the atmospheric light.

And it was marvelous. In it rarity better than fog. 

And hence it is over and I have much that I saw to mull upon.

 

Sans Alice

One Day. Back to gym. The usual Best of Ideas podcast episode and the weight bouncers were not too intrusive. And for some reason, this season, the educationalists have been sparse. 

The episode was a Monck (sp?) debate about whether things are getting better or worse for humanity. The speakers were all academics from well endowed schules or journalists from secure publications, so the panel was decidedly biased on the prosperity side. Sometimes I have to wish for one of those obese southron women in pink foam hair rollers and a shapeless tent dress that the television journalists seek out to interview as a participant. And then I smile at the swooning of the other members at the crudity and irrationality. And modality if not actuality.

The poor may always be with us, but they do have the quality of fewer pretensions than the un-poor. But then the same may be said of elected politicians who have no pretensions of doing the most they can to harm the electorate and still be returned to office in the next election.

This brought me to a consideration of humor. I have noted in the wake of the Charlottesville massacre that the humor about the matter has fallen flat. I am still puzzling this. Humor by its nature is cruel; someone must be the brunt. But it is necessary for recovery and healing. If we cannot laugh at ourselves then we are on the short road to death and misery. Which seems to be something that has become increasingly popular these days. Too many seem to feel that they need to inflict misery on others; some even want to inflict it on themselves but these are rarer. 

What do we make of someone who wants to make other miserable? Do we consider them a saint or a maniac. An evidence of pathological defect or exalted liberation? I am not sure but I do worry about how these people can live with themselves when they find no merit in those around them. I can understand this in viewing parents or politicians or teachers but the whole of humanity save oneself? Is this the way the world ends?

If the world is getting better why is there so little humor? If the world is getting worse why does no one try to change things to the good? Oh, we have politicians who claim to be doing such but we know that politicians are contraries ala Amerinds: they do the opposite of what they say. 

I am forced to conjecture from this that the world is neither getting better nor worse, but is just waiting for we humans to exterminate ourselves so it can move on to a better time. 

Tower of Academia

Seven Day. On the morrow is promise that an evil monster will masticate, digest, and defecate the holy torch in the sky. 

All right, it’s ice cream day after all and something needs be done to remind the boggerate of their lemming behavior. 

I have seen two articles this week on the subject of writing. As is usual with the folks who write semi-academic articles, they confuse writing – the making of letters or ideograms or symbols on a view-able surface such as paper – with composition, the use of language to form mental information into a hoped-for communication.

The first article [Link] is a pseudo-review of a book by Steven Pinker on composition. (I have taken the necessary step of correcting the misuse lest my ire vibrate my brain into a darkness state.) The second [Link] is rather an interventional bit that says much the same thing, at least to someone who has worked at learning composition.

The first article can be summarized by

“For Pinker, the root cause of so much bad writing is a difficulty in imagining what it is like for someone else not to know something that you know. “

The second claims that what is missing is

“the use of narrative and tangible prose.”

Before getting into the middle of things, it seems best to meander a bit on the subject of communication. Communication is by far one of the most important things that humans do, as well as one of the most difficult. So we tend to do it poorly. 

The basic idea of communication is that we start with some information in our mind, turn it into information  in the encoding of language, speak it to another person, and that person turns the language into information in their mind, and responds by indicating understanding or non-understanding. This process is iterated until the two individuals have a reasonable confidence that they now share the information, in which case communication has successfully occurred, or that they do not share the information and either keep trying, or give up in disgust over the failure to communicate successfully.

This is a difficult proposition, fraught with danger, often resulting in war, famine, divorce, murder, or tooth disease. It is complicated by short attention spans, differences in word knowledge, and general inadequacy of mentation. 

The process becomes risky to the point of expected failure when the transmission of information is one-way. Since this is ice cream day, consider sermons. We know from observing the behavior of people who regularly listen to sermons (ostensibly – they attend services and sit in pews,) that almost nothing of that information has any effect on their behavior. This is largely due to the communication failing.

We can extend this to other one-sided communication efforts: schule instruction; television programming; political speeches. (In the latter case, the failure is carefully planned and executed.)

Composition is thus a horribly risky effort. It is inherently a one-way communication attempt. And if the composer does not take special effort to convey the information in a form that engages and is readily comprehensible to the reader, it is a failure from the get-go.

In effect, when one composes, one must tell a story that is good and is well done. 

Now let us return to our cited articles. Both are written by academics. Academics compose a great deal; that’s one the the ways they prosper. But that prosperity depends on how many compositions get published, not by how many people learn from their compositions. 

In other words, the majority of academics in the majority of their compositions do not care whether they communicate or not. They are not rewarded for the communication, only for the transmission. 

Can this be fixed? Probably not. Should it be fixed? Probably not. By that I mean that academics – in the main – cannot be taught to communicate composition-ally without breaking them as academics.

This does not mean that some academics cannot communicate composition-ally. I can think of several: Norman Cantor, Isaac Asimov; Ruel Churchill; to name a few. 

But by that token, news readers – or the folks who compose what new readers enunciate – and the like do need to learn this. 

Happily, this does not apply to all who have education. Being outside the academic environment does wonders for one’s ability to compose and communicate. 

But academics are probably a lost cause because if we teach them to communicate in composition we will have destroyed education as an organization. And we need that more today than ever. And we need educated, cognitive people in the general population to communicate. 

Yes, it’s a paradox but that doesn’t keep it from being good.

Amerika the Bodacious

Zarg. I was listening to a History Extra podcast about the Suez Canal debacle of 1956 (?) in gym this morning and I came to a rather startling revelation:

The Charlottesville Massacre was typical of Amerika – two (or more) sides balanced on a heated razor edge when a Bogosaurus with a Gimme Cap bursts on the scene. 

I will humor myself that anyone actually reading this blot can figure out what a Bogosaurus is. 

Ongoing Unpleasantness

One day. Back to gym. And the news seems full of grrr brrr about the to-do in Charlottesburg over the week out.

The morning podcast was an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” supposedly about peace. It wandered about the topic but did poorly. The discussants were all academics and they did a poor job. It always amazes me how heated academics (and some bogs) can get about things that are purely subjective and immeasurable. 

So with that preparation, I set to consider the current unpeace over the matter of memorials to Confederates.

I have to admit to being of divided opinion on this matter. Not, per se, over the statues, but over the question of the war itself and its role in our society.

The matter of human chattel slavery – the “peculiar institution” – cannot be dissected out. It is one of the great evils of humanity. Admittedly it is a knee in a curve of whether any human can own – as in property – any other life form? This is itself indissectable since half (or more) of the cells that make up each and every one of us is not a component of the human body. Our bodily tenants are greater in number than we are, each and every one. We studiously avoid the question of whether it is just and fair and humane to discorporate any life, much less those that inhabit our bodies that we liberally dose with antibacterial soaps and antibacterial medications – inside and outside. It is this denial of the matter of the life ecology that brands all of us who have one opinion or another of human abortion as bigots and shirkers.

Some inadvertent executions are unavoidable but I see no great rush to embrace Jainism, myself included. 

So how can we be expected to get along with other humans? Biological arrogance aside we are imbued with instincts, characterized by “Us-Them”, that assure we shall be ugly and mean and violent to each other.

I have to admit that things were different when I was growing up. John Singleton Mosby was as large a television “star” as Francis Marion or Zorro. I was an adolescent in high schule when the centennial of the war was observed. And “people of color” either participated or hid. It is not without note of pride that during this period my high schule was integrated – and much to our benefit and joy. I know no one I attended with, including myself, who did not benefit personally from this diversity. 

I recall considerable friction on the Campus of the Black Warrior when some of the Greek houses would celebrate their spring dances in Confederate imitation. The complaints and outrage were more about greek arrogance and hubris than adoration of a slave holding society.

America has always been about slave holding in some form or other, not all called such. Early immigrants signed away their freedom for years – indenture – to come to the “New World.” Factory and mining companies endebted their workers to a life of lost freedom – owing one’s soul to the company store. I went to schule with “Mill Kids” whose parents were so encumbered and only by the destruction of the cotton mill system were the children saved from such. Today’s capitalists have gone to the opposite extreme, renting workers for the minimum of pay and duration with no obligation for the life force expended. Slavery is not just chains; it is also failure to care.

I had to study the war, both as history and as military phenomena. This started in grade schule and continued through the War College. I highly recommend it as a means to appreciate how incompetent we humans are. The public schule bits were like fruit cake – mediocre baked goods ruined by tasteless, nasty nuggets of life. The military bits were better reading but a nastier lesson. Our public schules seem incapable of imparting any reality except that of the enslavement of the young, with their mental abuse included. Our military schules at least are a bit more forthcoming of the realities, partly to prevent their repeat, and if a repeat is necessary to minimize the reinvention of mistakes. The latter is much more optimistic of the intelligence and rationality of humans than the former.

For a species that is supposed to be wise, we seem unable to not do harm to others. That, to me, is the merit of these memorials. Not to commemorate past false glories but to remind us of the evil that we wrought and that we should not do it again. Yes, their sight is unpleasant to some; it should be unpleasant to all. But we should not dispose of these for that reason; no, rather we should retain them to remind us what not to do.

Yard Work

Seven Day. And since this is a day for hawgin’ tabs, I might as well blot a few.

First, an article [Link] entitled “Should We “Stop Equating ‘Science’ With Truth”?” This article is written by an evolutionary biologist and I found it rather nauseating and unengaging. I suspect this followed directly from the title, which is sickening and perverse.

There may be some substance to this article, but just the title is enough to stop one from reading it. It indicates some dementia but whether it is that of the author or its intended audience, I cannot discern.

Science is NOT about truth. Science is about understanding. Truth is a religionist concept that has been widely appropriated by human organization in an effort to subjugate the members of the organization. The legal aspect of organization is the most obvious in this regard.

Sadly, truth has become a commonly used word, mostly because most of humanity are bogs and bogs tend to be religionist. But it is still a perversion, especially when so-called scientists doing “outreach” use it improperly to try to communicate with bogs. Does this work? Never in my observation. 

While we’re picking on bogs and slave making human organizations, another article [Link] entitled “The science of why eyewitness testimony is often wrong.” Simply put, we humans are constantly rewriting our memories, to use computer jargon, which is in fashion these days. And because of this any human memory more than two picoseconds old is suspect and untrustworthy.

So much for the legal system. So much for eyewitnesses. It’s only redeeming value may be that humans are instinctively dishonest – survival of the fittest and all that – and thus pitted against the group. 

But is the group superior to the individuals that make it up? That’s another question. 

Thirdly, we have a lovely article [Link] entitled “Religious people ‘cling to certain beliefs’ even when they contradict evidence because they are overly emotional and irrational, study claims.”

Seems that religionists are basically bogs – they are overly emotional and irrational. This isn’t news, is it? 

Fact is, that many religionists/bogs are mentally whacked but because they are in the majority, they define the mental modality and this the “sane” of society are the commonly demented.

And we wonder why the human species is on the short road to extinction?