The Gods Drive Mad

I am not a fan of air travel. It has all of the joys of traveling on an antiquated shul bus driven by an inebriated deaf mute with the perils of dealing with any avaricious organization. My most frequent metal image when dealing with airlines is an account of the train travel of an Auschwitz survivor to that camp.

I have faint sympathy for the problems that the airlines are experiencing today. Indeed, my only real concern about it is what it does to the CRAF.

But it is with great satisfaction, and a measure of rolling on the floor laughter, to see that a New Yawk lawyer is litigating Delta Airlines, one of those whose nostrils are too good for the air breathed by their passengers, for harassment and the like over a botched vacation trip. [Link]

Now I have almost as little patience for vacation travelers than I do for airlines; their demands for sybaritic treatment are worse than the yapping of lap dogs or the screams of infants, but there is a joy in seeing two acute rectal pains engaging in hair pulling and groin kicking.

Against Stupidity

The fundamental question is whether it is stupidity or just avarice? The matter at hand is global climate change.

Yesterday I received an email from an environmental action center located at an academic institution. I subscribe to this because normally they are relatively urbane. The message yesterday however, which dealt with the administration’s recently released plan on climate change, which does bear a striking resemblance to a band aid sans adhesive, was so strongly worded that I suspect the place will be visited by some form of the Yankee government’s secret police, probably homeland defense or the secret service.

Then this morning I read a polemic in the New Yawk Times [Link] claiming that our manifestly worst weather in the Yankee republic is the direct result of out national contributions to climate change. The only good thing I can say about the tenor of this article is that at least it is secular. I would have expected some mystical blather about our climate sins engendering the wrath of their deity. Said deity of course being masculine.

That there is climate change cannot be argued. We have rather striking evidence of such in the polar regions. It is not yet clear that the worsened weather in the Yankee republic is not due more to other effects; the problem is much more complex than it is portrayed to the public, a matter we suspect more of media and scientist arrogance than anything else. We also need to make note that part of the reason we see the weather as worse in this country is because our weather is so well covered by the nation’s traditional media. Of the triunity of local news broadcasts, weather is first and actual news is third.

This rancor serves us ill, and negatively. We do not need conflict but unified action – if we can rise above our petty self interests to achieve such.

Insight

One of my colleagues, Total Angular Momentum Coupling, and I have been jesting about the “dummy” books for Linux. The source of the jocularity has been my recent efforts to use Ubuntu Linux as a daily OS.

Before continuing with this thread however, I want to digress a moment to talk about textbooks. When I was a student, textbooks were monochrome. Ink was black, pages were white, and emphasis was a matter of font: italics; bold; underlined. When I was a senior I took a course in nuclear physics -really a schedule padder so I did not fall below 24 semester hours of coursework and become too unstressed – and the textbook had an insert in the middle of book with colored (!) illustrations, mostly cut aways of pieces of equipment and graphs.

The big, new thing in those days was boxes. Parenthetical expositions or examples were being put in boxes in the text. I especially recall Reif’s Statistical and Thermal Physics as the first book I noticed this in. In some cases key linear equations were boxed, a practice I regarded as decadent or dictatorial depending on mood. The idea that I should be told that a particular equation was especially important was always demeaning, as if I was considered incapable of making such determinations for myself.

Nowdays, of course, textbook are printed in at least two colors, often several, and have all manner of emphatic constructs from boxes to marginalia, all decrying how stupid and fundamentally incompetent the student is. In such an environment it seems wonderless that students learn nothing and education is one with the water closet.

The point however, for this diversion is the difference between Windows and Linux. My colleague had asked if I had purchased a copy of the “Linux for Dummies” book. I had responded that I had bought several Linux books but not the “Dummy” book as it was a poor investment. Such dialogs are massy; they have considerable inertia. But in the process, I had a bit of an epiphony about what consititues the differences between Windows and Linux.

Simply put, Windows is an appliance that may, with the greatest of effort, be beaten into the occasional use as a tool; Linux is a tool that may grudgingly be temporarily be conduced to be an appliance. If you want to use Windows to compute the energy levels of a hydrogenic monoelectronic atom, e.g., then you have a world of hurt getting a compiler installed and working; if you want to do this in Linux you click to install the compiler from a repository, write the code, and run the program from the terminal.

Part of this was the realization that Linux books – the relatively good ones at least that the editors have only slightly ruined – are monochrome (maybe a bit of gray shading in figures) and largely without boxes. They look like textbooks did in my youth, full of information that has to be drug out and digested. Contrast this to dummy books, which are more than wonderful at telling you how to use an appliance but not at all good at how to use a tool.

Choice of End

I am saddened to note the incidences of suicides among those in the military service of the Yankee republic last year. [Link] I regret the loss of any individual who could have contributed to the betterment of the species. Indeed, the regret is stronger for the loss of those who have already done such sacrifice and duty.

Beyond this, I am dismayed at the absence of meaningful discussion and reportage. I am unsure whether this is due to a profound abhorrence that we exhibit as a society about such thing, in the process giving the lie to our commitment to what democracy is and what human rights are, or some ulterior motive of the traditional media or the military itself. Certainly the military is loathe to discuss such, cloaking their own insecurities of their failure as leaders and humans and the just embarrassment this brings on the organization in the stultified dignity of consideration. The aethical commerciality of the traditional media on the other hand needs no comment other than to note it also serves as a cloaking factor as well.

The fact remains that suicide is a matter of individual human choice, as fundamental in its way as abortion is, and as much a matter of individual decision. Society may offer information and discussion fora for the matter but any coercion is inherently more repugnant and socially debilitating than the action itself. That such exists at all is an indictment of mankind’s addiction to religious superstition and perversions of social control.

Suicide is historically not uncommon in the military. Most are hidden by the actor or his associates as accident or false bravery. The environment of individual suppression and mission obsession is repressive and often devoid of hope. While this does not excuse either the organization or the individual, it does demonstrate that this type of captivity is alien to our basic nature.

Stupidity in Activity

I have been watching some of the commercials put out by people running for the Yankee congress. Given the impending primaries such are hard to avoid unless one turns off the television and just watches YouTube. SO perhaps the young are not too wrong after all.

And as dismal as these commercials are, they are better than some interminable ones, like those cancerous insurance commercials that don’t show the reptile, and the particularly inane ones of distonal pronouncements of wanting money now! Such do instruct us in why the people who think up and make these commercials live in large coastal cities – they need to be able to hide in the crowds to avoid sane people who would visit just retribution on them.

The things I do get from these political commercials is how disconnected they are from reality. The most egregious of these is the solitary woman running whose commercials have evolved into monologues of pure negativity. This is bad, that is bad. Her rhetoric seems more fitting for someone running for president of the shrews club than the Yankee congress.

Then there are those who wrap themselves in religious ignorance and perversion. Since such is the last refuge of a politician one has to wonder what they expect to accomplish if elected? Again however, nothing positive being offered – almost.

The award for lack of relevancy however goes to the retired physician. His one plank platform seems to be health care, and while health care is an issue, completely ignoring the economic situation, especially in a community that lives of cash flow from the Yankee government indicates a serious lack of insight into how the community functions.

The almost incidentally is that all of these candidates make grandiose promises of doing the right thing resoundingly well once elected. One has to wonder if they are deluded or just think the electorate is simple minded. There are more than 500 other folks in the congress who have agendas. Any fool who goes off without admitting that they will have to form alliances and compromise is going to fail and the average citizen is sentient enough to know this.

I have noted a rather modest commercial that does address the economic realitie of the community and refrains from excessive promises. I suspect this rationality will soon fall by the wayside.

But we can be proud that Nawth Alibam has political candidates every bit as corrupt and insipid as those running for the oval office.

Flush

It seems the WC is misfunctional. WC in this case stands for water closet, not a television channel or ant IT term. And what makes this rather difficult is that the WC in point is the one of the International Space Station. [Link]

The difficulty here is what does one do under these circumstances. While one may step outside and perform one’s metabolic business, the trip would be rather one’s last. Nor is this really one of those circumstances where one can use a convenient corner and how the aroma dissipates before anyone else notices. I also suspect old Mason jars are in short supply, to say nothing of Coca Cola bottles – long, I am told, a staple of Southron Ladies’ personal hygiene but somehow the mechanics of usage seem so distressing as to place in the category of questions one does not ask for fear of what the answer might be.

But this may explain why so many astronauts seem to have such a haunted look.

In a similar manner the New Yawk Supreme Court has gotten Dell for fraud. [Link] Seems they did a bit of cone-on bait and switch, offering customers no-interest loans and then hitting them with interest rates of 0.2 per annum. This certainly makes the plucky Texican company look like it has stared at the sun a bit too long. I also note that they have finally shown off their Eee clone. [Link] The box, other than having a shiny candy apple red top is not particularly interest provoking. But then Dell is pretty well the last of the majors – expect IBM – to roll out a clone. And the details are so sketchy that we don’t have much idea of how vanilla this box will be. In fact, we even have to question the wisdom of such a box right now other than organizational pride of place.

Clearly the early adopters sprang for Eees, and the the wait for a known vendor adopters bit when HP rolled out their Mini . So the question is are there enough late adopters and died in the wool Dell devotees left to make this worth while. Or are they counting on the red top to provoke migration?

Meanwhile, we stand, ear cocked, for the sound of water running in an “S” bend.

Speed of Information

How far is Alibam, at least Nawth Alibam, from New Yawk City? The answer is three days.

How do we come up with that? Well, the Huntsville Times published an obituary article of Ernst Stuhlinger, one of the Peenemunde Bunch who came over under Operation Paperclip with von Braun after the Great Patriotic War on Sunday. [Link] Stuhlinger, incidentally, was the boy genius of the group.

The New Yawk Times finally caught up this morning. [Link]

Really makes you feel like a third world country, doesn’t it?