Darkness Falls?

Well, the Huntsville Weather Beavers maintained their chain of underestimating the temperature minimum again this morning. I am sitting her typing – and retyping  – in and around the shivers and bone moans.

I did make it to gym this morning and evidently the new year has really begun and the temperature is to moderate because the gym was crowded – for 0500 – for a change. Not necessarily welcome but not too unpleasant despite the hate antics of the weight bouncers. 

FD SCP departed this morning for her employment in Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill, hopefully marking the end of the season of cuttings. Since July she and I have had six between us. Sometimes I am convinced being ORF is harder than working. Certainly that was why she was in a rush to depart. That and some time away from SCP.  And drips.

The inauguration looms and already the temperament of the nation has changed from comfortable grumbling to veiled violence threats. I don’t know whether I want a time machine to go back to the ’50’s or a cryogenic chamber to hide for a century or so. I suspect the former; better the information and health desert of the past to the information and health wasteland of the future.

I was once told that a particularly nasty Chinese curse is “May you live in interesting times.” I now know one worse: “May you live past a golden age.”

Media Dangerous

We once more have a MASSIVE FAIL on the part of “local” media. In particular, the Huntsville Weather Beavers at the local television studios have missed morning mimimum temperatures by over five degF.

Lots of bad results from this.

Dangerous results. And their incompetence is putting people at risk.

We have to wonder if this is some sort of plot to make people think these winter storms aren’t as bad as they really are? Or worse, some attempt to make work for local plumbers?

Anyway, stern condemnations of these weather beavers.  http://www.waaytv.com/weather/ http://www.waff.com/weather  http://whnt.com/weather/

Overestimating the minimum temperature when that temperature is below the phase change point is borderline criminal.

Climate and Weather – Nawth Alibam

Alibam is reeling in a winter onslaught. The Repulsians are ranting about the falsity of climate change – global warming – as they sit before their fires stoking the Carbon Dioxide glut.

Bogs. Denialist Bogs, at that.

One of the characteristics of weather is that over a long period of time it is approximately Gaussian distributed. What is often called a “Normal” curve except that’s a misuse of both the word “normal”, which properly means either orthogonal or of finite area and is most often used in place of the term “modal” which is evidently beyond the comprehension of the people who misuse “normal.” 

Or they are too lazy?

Anyway, if the weather has a Gaussian distribution, then the likely occurring temperatures are largely described by the standard deviation. And the standard deviation is largely determined by climate. Further, that standard deviation is directly proportional to the average temperature.

So if the average temperature goes up, the standard deviation goes up, which in turn means more occurrences of higher temperature.

But ALSO, more instances of lower temperature. So as the planet heats up there are more instances of high temperature – “hot” days.

AND, more instances of low temperature – “cold” days.

So feel no sympathy for all those Alibam legislators down in Muntgum who are snowed in (because Muntgum doesn’t need snow plows.) They’re the ones who refuse to do anything about climate change because it would deplete their pork and graft funds.

Meanwhile, I’m going to complain about both the weather and the climate. 

And the schmucks.

Mind of Nerd

I might have entitled this Mind of STEM Nerd or even Physics Nerd. But yesterday I had to take FD SCP to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill for some circulatory system ameliorations and by chance of vertical copulation the day actually turned out to not be crushingly painful.

Not for FD SCP. But she got the anesthesia and so was out and cared for most of the time.

Normally this is done in a facility that incorporates the world’s largest, nastiest, most nauseating waiting area ruled by medicalist Gestapo. This waiting room is so unpleasant it makes a Soviet-era Russian bus depot seem comfortable, sanitary, salubrious, and palatial. All courtesy of the Shining City’s largest hospital and their mistreatment of responsible adults.

The last time I had to occupy that waiting room, several months ago, it was for eleven hours and I came very close to having to be admitted to hospital for physical and nervous collapse. It often reminds me of the old Chicago stockyards supporting the slaughter houses. 

But while FD SCP was directed to this facility, that was erroneous – surprise! surprise! – and we actually went to a quite pleasant – relatively – day surgery facility that actually doesn’t abuse the demanded responsible adults. And we only had to stay six hours!

But in the process I got to thinking about how Nerds and Introverts look at the world and society. We think differently. In fact, it may be argued that Intros are smarter because of the way Extros try to kill us by denying there are such folks. It’s not as brazen as harvesting us for body parts like elephants or rhinos but it’s blatant and painful. So to survive, we have to out-think the Extros?

I reflected on an article [Link] I had seen in Physics Today, which is itself an EXTRO gush journal for the American Physical Society. It used to have useful articles but evidently it is now run by public affairs types and is rather a pseudo-nerdy physics equivalent of something like Time magazine.

Anyway, the title of the article is “The image of scientists in The Big Bang Theory” and it strains the trust of any physicist who actually watches the program. The article is very positive and up-beat on the whole thing, quoting,

“The Big Bang Theory is the finest and best fictional portrayal of scientists in any current media—and a series that is carving out a place for itself in the annals of television comedy.”

but it actually has some serious veracity problems.

The biggest problem is that none of the STEM principals talk like real STEMs. Yes there is a bit of techno-babble that has some roots in actual STEM, but the characters do not act like STEM Nerds. Rather, they act like Geeks who are pretending to be STEMs which is pretty close to what the situation is. Actors are often Geeks and in this case it’s painfully apparent to any actual STEM. 

The most glaring thing is that the humor is false. The number of instances of actual STEM Nerd humor is less than 0.01 of the total. The jokes told are usually of the Geek variety akin to “X walks into a bar….”. This is a blatant necessity that the producers of the program ignore out of necessity. Real NERD Stem humor would be unintelligible to 0.98 of the population. And hence unfunny. And thereby, no success as a TV program.

Ditto the discussions among the principals. They are Geek discussions, not Nerd discussions. They’re about collecting rather than doing. Yes, they have STEM stuff injected but it’s injected as Geeks would. 

Not that the program isn’t worthwhile and beneficial, but it isn’t really about STEM and STEMs. But one of its benefits is showing us how NERD STEMs don’t think.

Bog Light Nonsense

Well, swapped fog for rain this morning. And a still wind. So quite chilling. And worse foretold.

In the darkness I mused on another misuse of words by Bogs. Why do they pervert the word “light”? They use it to mean a lamp. And that rather bothers me since light is a wondrous thing and a lamp is merely a machine to generate it. And poorly at that. Which is what the Bogs evidently speak?

This perversion is almost universal and a sorry bit at that. It proclaims our absence of smarts. Which is accurate.

Bog Weather Nonsense

Raining this morning. And Bogs bitchin’ this morning at gym about the weather getting “cold”. 

Stupidity. Disgusting even if we know we can expect no better from Bogs. 

Cold is not a thermodynamic or meteorological quantity. It cannot be measured. It can, however, be observed since it is a sensation. If a person shivers observers can observe that person to be “cold”.

I discount here the noun form that refers to a viral infection. Clearly not what the Bogs are misusing. And the natter on it is a separate matter. 

The term “hot” is a bit different. It is ambiguous in the sense that its proper thermodynamic meaning applies to all conditions above absolute zero – zero degK. 

Otherwise it is not meaningful and thereby a useful word to Bogs since it is another sensation that can talk about as if it were a measurable.

Duhhhhhhhh.

Warm is essentially the same as “cold” and hence no further nattering.

No wonder we are a third world nation.

Fog Fiction List

One day. Legal holiday. Back in my youth this wouldn’t be so but evidently things are so bad that the proles and serfs need all the slack they can get.

Second day of fog. Most enjoyable. I sit and look at how the light gets dispersed and try to figure out the phase function and from that the distribution of particle size. Loads of fun and lots better than what the poets talk about.

Ran across an article [Link] on LifeHacker entitled “10 Books You Pretend to Have Read (And Why You Should Really Read Them).” It rather bemused me. First of all I have not claimed to have read a book that I hadn’t read since I was in high schule. And then I did read one of those synopsis books. That was because it was an assigned book, usually from “English” class, and hideously unreadable.

So I was moved to comment on the list, which is rather strange, partly in what’s on the list but mostly what isn’t.

1) Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

I admit I haven’t read this book. In fact, I don’t remember the author and have no memory of ever having heard of the book. 

2) Dune by Frank Herbert

Read this one when it first came out. Horrible. At least in comparison to Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land” which came out the same year but superior to the first Tolkien book which was also popular that year. Probably indicates I have a great distaste for fantasy. Technically, I can’t even call this science fiction; Herbert has too strong a mystical streak. Some of his other stuff is much better.

3) Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

I actually read it. Also horrible. And if there was any humor in the book it eluded me.

4) Foundation by Isaac Asimov

Read this five or six times. Masterpiece. Of course by itself it’s an incomplete story. You have to read all the Foundation books. 

5) Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Another one I have never heard of.

6) 1984 by George Orwell

Read this one. Overlong for the story. Very British. And it wasn’t even assigned in a course.

7) Last and First Men and Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon

I read them and didn’t like. Discovered Stapledon wasn’t for me. A bit too much “Golden Age.”

8) The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett

Passable. Some of her other works much better.

9) Dhalgren by Samuel Delany

Superb. Wonderful. A juvenile for adults.

10) Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

Another one I haven’t heard of by an unknown author.

About half of these are by unknown (to me) authors, and several of the rest are almost orthogonal authors. Why no Heinlein or Anderson? Is the list deliberately chosen to be of lesser authors? I don;t know who built the list but they are definitely suspect.