Measuring Smarts

Sundae, aka tab closing day. Still in the midst of too much warm. But the opening comment is about dark and cold. Seems that in addition to getting the genome pumped with Neandertal DNA via miscegenation (to say nothing of Denisovians?) the humans who moved nawth also had to evolve a large brain and eyes.[Link] The authors argue that the lesser amount of photons led to the development of larger lenses, more receptive surface area, and more image processing capacity.

That buys easily but the contention that the increased brain size didn’t lead to more smarts seems entirely too weak and politico-socially correct. The matter is rather specious anyway since we still don;t have any meaningful metrics of smarts. If it were brain size the ‘real’ Neandertals would never have gone away (although I did see an intriguing argument that we sex fiended them away.) And if it were intelligence we would all have been done in by refuges from oppressive oriental tyrannies. Besides according to science denialist anthropologists and soceial engineering liberals – which may have a large overlap as individuals – we are all so diversely uniform these days that we never need to express any from of individuality or exceptionalness.

On which note, we have Matthias Kronberger [Link] who recently discovered a new kind of nebula. What is noteworthy here is that Kronberger is an “amateur”. I hope the appellation indicates an absence of pay rather than an absence of capability and knowledge. But certainly not an aspect of exceptionality. Boo Yah!

Gad what a glorious thing. I eagerly await a high resolution shot that can be used as wallpaper.

Next, a report [Link] of a survey by a survey corporation that indicates that folks who use MegaHard’s browser may be deficient in intelligence. I hate to say this but the whole thing smacks of untrustworthiness. No mention of sample size or testing protocols, just a graph.

There are two sets of sample data, supposed taken in 2006 and 2011CE. The old data are relatively unifrom except for folks using Safari being marginally less intelligent. The 2011CE data are less so. They indicate that people who are still using the older versions of MegaHard’s browser are a bit under-endowed. Also that folks now using Opera are over-endowed? So the interesting consideration may not be the absence of good thinkum among Windows serfs, but how did Opera users get to be so smokin’ thunkin’?

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Game Playing

OK, now that the management grrr brrr is a bit flattened, it is that time of the week when tabs need to be pruned.

The first article [Link] is a blot in SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN entitled “How to raise a science fair champ”. It is one of those fake journalist blogs that happens to be hosted in a rather specious and untrustworthy but prolific publication. The blot is based on interviews with the winners of the recent Gooey science fair. And I fear that my assessment of it is that it has the same scientific relevance as the society section of the Arab Tribune.

Do not get me wrong. I am all in favor of science fairs, although I think the current ones are vertically copulated. Back in my day I competed in every science fair I could, not for the competition bot for the opportunity to work on a project without parental disruption on the grounds that it was play time.

I did fairly well in several fairs but never good enough to get past state level. This was probably good.

In my day the folks who ran science fairs were very careful to get judges who were as competent as possible. Nowadays the judges are local community figures like real estate agents, bank vice presidents, and other similar science experts. One result of this is that the first level filter is the opposite of the higher level filters. Regional and above fairs are still judged by real science nerds who have science knowledge, skills, and training but the kids that get past the local level are judged by people who have business knowledge, skills, and training.

It turns out this does not matter. If you look at the correlation of science fair awards with publications for those kids who go on to actually become science nerds as adults, you find no strong connection. In my experience, the likelihood of a science fair participant turning into a good science nerd has nothing to do with whether they win prizes or not.

If you also look at the correlation between participating/not participating in science fairs and making a good science nerd, then there is a moderately strong connection. So what counts is playing the game, not winning. In fact, there is a body of data, largely anecdotal on the part of past winners, that indicates that winning is detrimental because expectation levels are prematurely set too high. The message to parents is to allow, encourage moderately even, your children to do science fair projects but do not play soccer parent on harassing them to win.

Next, on this avoidance of stupidity theme, I ran across an article [Link] that talks about how the new Apple OS (Lion) is broken. It seems that it is too hard for a newbie to learn. I can identify with this. Back when we had a two star with very deep insecurity, even for a general officer, I got a MAC plopped down in my office so I could exchange email with the senior leadership. Nic Claitu Barata. I got into a bit of hot water because I would check the email twice a day but otherwise the machine was a dust catcher. Entirely too alien to be as useful as my DOS machine.

On which note, I belatedly cast attention on the recent birthday anniversary of MS-DOS.[Link] This brings back memories of the good old days when all we had was command line, each programs had its own drivers, and real work could get done without worrying about the extreme overhead of GUI. For one thing code productivity was a factor of 10 greater because we didn’t have to waste effort for boxes. I strongly remember my rationalization for changing to Windows – the new WordPerfect for Widnows displayed the equations! Then as now the rationale for MegaHard to exist was clients written by someone else.

Of course it sorta seems fitting and proper that MegaHard had to buy MS-DOS. Says something about what is wrong with Windows. And based on these two articles, what is wrong with OS developers. Have they suddenly decided there are no more newbies, that all of humanity now understands how to be navigate an OS? Or is it that they have suddenly decided that they don’t care. We have Lion that is newbie antagonistic, Windows 7 is a quagmire, and Ubuntu has pushed out a new GUI that is so broken it has the functionality of an amoeba with a hernia. Are they trying to set the stage for WebOS?

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Herding Taxonomy

In recent years it has become fashionable in management jargon to describe the difficulty of people management with  herding metaphor. In this metaphor, various things – mostly animals – are likened to the difficulties of herding different types of human organizations. My rendition of this taxonomy is approximately:

  • Herding Cows – Herding Bogs (adults)
  • Herding Hogs – Herding Children
  • Herding Cats – Herding Teenagers/Geeks
  • Herding Amoebae – Herding Nerds

I have to admit that  I am not completely happy with this metaphor because the level of difficulty very much depends on the society and culture of an organization and two organizations with very similar purposes, functions, and mission can be widely different in difficulty of management.

Also, the usage is part of a resurgent trend to dehumanize organizational membership. As a rule, organizations are constantly striving to reduce their members to automata of the basest form, and too often the members of the organization are willing to accept this tyranny. Managers support this because they tend to identify more with organization than members and they always think the job is too difficult. This is not surprising given that most managers are managers because of a deadly mixture of ambition and incompetence.

Anyway, yesterday I had occasion to take the dowager maternal parent grocery shopping. She is currently recovering from drastic plumbing mods that limit her mobility and loading so I was simultaneously trying to maneuver buggy and keep her from exceeding operating parameters. I should comment that she is partly deaf and is very emotionally selective of what and when she can hear. Anyway, I expended more emotional and heat energy in that visit to MalWart as I do in a month of purchasing my own foodstuffs so I have added another state to the herding taxonomy:

  • Herding the electron in a Hydrogen atom – Herding a senior parent

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Tablet Thunkery

Gym is over for the week and I was permitted – by myself, admittedly – to sleep in this morning. But being an ORF, the permission was overturned by my bladder. So having voided and ablutioned and dispersed seed for the birds and squirrels, I come to a period when FD SCP is still abed but I can propound all manner of nonsense.

To initiate that I draw attention to an article [Link] entitled “Tablets are for people who hate computers”. I have to admit to being initially drawn to the article by the title and the contradictory idea I found therein. What does this mean? Are there actually people who hate computers, people who are not Luddites, detesting any technology more advanced than that of whatever period their minds are cemented into?

I have to admit to having a bit of problem with the word “Love”, at least in current, common usage. It seems rather too free, too diluted, to me. I hear people say that they “love” something and I immediately have the urge the ask them if they are willing to donate a kidney or their life for it. Given that they are often talking of something commercial I have my doubts that they will even understand the question so based on long experience of alienating mediocre acquaintances I try to resist the urge.

Having raised a daughter, I have come to expect such extravagant but vapid expression from children but I do dislike the educationalists and care personnel who teach these things, Certainly FD SCP and I did not. The rot had to come from the day care swamp, if not the public shuls. But I do have to consider if this is one more datum of indication of the neoteny of modern humans.

The question arises because of the idea that, as with anything used frequently, including other humans, that there exists a Freudian Love-Hate relationship, or at least, situation since having a relationship with a machine seems entirely too anthropomorphic. Somehow, hate seems to have more gradations than love. It may range from vague disquietude to active dislike to I-am-entitled-to-vengeance asanity. So why do I continue to hold my extreme view of the extremity of love? Perhaps because of the many years I struggled to discover it?

At any rate, what is meant by saying one hates computers. I regularly hate my computers, usually in the sense that they do something, usually in the process of an update, that is contrary to my wishes. This box, for instance, has developed a distressing habit of losing wireless  connection after an update. The condition started a month or so ago and while the remedy is simple – a reboot – it is vexing that whenever I download anything that I will have to spend ten or fifteen minutes doing repetitious administrivia I have never been successful at automating. But does that mean I want to take a sledge to the box? Not usually.

But I will acknowledge that there are bogs and the organizationally neurolaundered who do not have the capacity to cope with such and given the oft observed emotional fragility of these folk, I can admit that they may indeed harbor strong emotions against computers that do not always perform as desired. Anthropomorphism is, after all, embedded in humans at the coding level and despite the totalitarianism of our legal system, not overcome by mere laws of the third kind.

So is the thesis that tablets are for the computate challenged meaningful? I am not convinced. In that it appeals to my own conclusions about the majority of humanity being boggish and hence not really trustworthy with any tool above the level of the stick, a resounding YEA emerges. But I have to concede that my observations of tablet users is limited. Few of my immediate circle of colleagues and acquaintances uses a tablet as anything more than a contemporary PDA. They certainly do not spend hours with it playing video games or watching videos of unobservable content.  On the other hand, these are my colleagues and few, if any, are bogs, or even geeks. As I have stated previously, humans have certain bosonic characteristics and condensation is one of them.

So does this also apply to tablet users? Are they cliqueist? Is that why I have not observed such? ANd are they largely limited to large cities where the density of population permits them to have social geography? Is it worth venturing into city to observe? The answer to the last question is a resounding NAY!

But if I am willing to accept that there are people, even in large numbers, who lack the capacity to use boxes, can I accept that they have the capacity to use tablets? From what I have seen the mechanics of navigating tablets is much more complex than that of boxes. So can it be some innate animalistic behavior that bogs channel more adeptly than geeks or nerds? Is the tablet some sort of social instrumentality? Or is it just a healthy revolt against the tyranny of modern employment?

In the entwined words of two great masters – Heinlein and Yoda – Waiting is, I am.

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Experience in DisManagement

Yesterday was a bit strange in that in addition to staff call and provisioning (in the literal sense) I also went and visited an office supply company. Shul will be sessioning shortly and I have found that office supply stores tend to stock up in anticipation of selling all sorts of stuff to parents who labor under the delusion that stuff or gear [1] will actually make a difference in children’s learning. So this is one of the few times during the year that one has a reasonable probability of finding most of what one wants at an office supply store.

The problem is that office supply stores are rather like grocery stores in that they have a very small profit margin but unlike grocery stores their goods do not rot (as fast) and cost a lot more. Add to this that most office supply stores now are chains (this one was) managed by legume enumerators who want to show enormous profits as dividends to investors. As a result they emphasize the higher profit side of their business – selling electronics and support therefor – to the detriment of their primary business which is paper and clips and such.

I was a bit displeased to discover that this store had added bait and switch to their repertoire. In fact, given that the product in question had been nationally advertised, it might be a chain-wide thing. So when I was told that the item I wanted a half-dozen of had been sold out for days and no new shipment or back order or rain check, I was forced to make a decision on whether to take what I had found or walk away in indignation and make the chian use their labor money to reshelve the stuff I had already basketed. I grudgingly admit that I had scant sympathy for the arrogant clerk operating the register. He might be a wage serf but he was too smug in his organization’s perfidy to activate any sympathy on my part. But on the other hand, I did have stuff that I probably couldn’t buy any other time, so I caved and left muttering to myself.

My muttering eventually led me to be convinced that this business will likely fall to internet sales unless the cost of transportation skyrockets, which it likely will when we run out of petrol. The only people who buy electronics from these chains are neuronegative bogs and organizations who have equal intelligence, and their support sales are not much better demographically, mostly small organizations and people who still think CD/DVD drives are cup holders. Generally I prefer to buy this stuff on-line except for two factors. First, shipping costs on paper are HIGH, almost as bad as water. But If the price is halved I usually come out ahead. The second bit is more serious. There is a lot of really bad – read stercusful – paper being sold out there today and there is no way to feel paper on-line. So some physical contact is necessary to get part numbers and such of good stuff. Which is why I visit these places through the year and either buy a onesey or take a picture.

Which is probably why they are so arrogant and desperate? Maybe the Copenhagen guys are right?

Anyway, the happy news is that I got a reputable eAdvertisement this morning for the bait-and-switch item, twice as large for 1.5 the price and no shipping extortion.

But one of these days these chains have got to figure out that they need to mind their primary processes and quit neglecting them in desperate search of profit. That kind of denial does not engender endurance.

[1]  I will leave the differentiation of the two for a later blot. Impatient readers may consider it an exercise.

Electromagnetic Observation

One of the aftermaths of surgery last week is that I have been spending rather more time in sedentary inactivity. Partly because of a desire for background, partly because of how our society has evolved in the last half-century, this has increased the engagement time of the audio-visual electromagnetic receiver.

As a by-blow, I have realized – again – that there are some words that may be inquired but not declared. For example, one cannot say “This is fabulous.” without appearing utterly stuffed, pretentious, and whacked, whereas one can quite reasonably say “Is this fabulous?” Similarly “wonderful” is another such term.

And if someone on the receiver tells you something is fabulous or wonderful or a value, then with probability one that something is not fabulous, wonderful, or a value.

Incidentally this explains much of the development and behavior of bogs. Those people who are unable to perceive this are conditioned to believe the rhetoric to be accurate and social and thus they become the abysmally degenerate humans that they are. Indeed, we may even use this as part of the definition of bogs – people who lack a sense of cynicism, analysis, or skepticism.

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Lemmings and Luxury

A rather nice session at gym this morning. The educationalist absence continues and being tuesday the overall density if decreased. The amusement was rather good as well, being a combination of science podcasts and the galgenhumor of the ongoing partisan suicide in the District over the debt ceiling. In the first instance some amusing pieces about the mechanics of coral structures and the intelligence of parrots, who I was reminded do not sing but make ‘other’ noises, and in the second a lot of noises but all joined in the backlash to be expected against political parties in general when the cost of living skyrockets and an even worse depression seizes the circulatory system of the nation.

In that light of partisan lemmings, I have a couple of articles that seem to be paradigms of things likely soon to be dusty memories. First, I see a PEW article [Link] about the ownership of eReaders and Tablets. The graphic

is telling. I have to admit to sufficient economic ignorance as to whether these fractions are consistent with pricing expectations. After all, eReaders run 0.33 – 0.5 of the cost of a tablet. Perhaps more pointedly, the curve possibly indicates a saturation of the tablet market?

What is not told is what is the overlap. How many own both? All we can say from this is that somewhere between 0.12 and 0.2 of Amerikan adults have the capability to read eBooks (if we exclude conventional boxes.) Since only 0.5 of that same demographic read books, which gives us a lower limit on the bog fraction, that puts the eBook fraction at double those bounds, 0.24 – 0.4, which seems a bit at odds with the claim of selling more eBooks than pBooks by some retailers. Do I sense the aroma of rattus Norwigica?

Next, I ran across an article [Link] about a study at the campus of the Black Warrior that indicates that children between the ages of 7 and 10 years of age who suffer from Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder cannot be entrusted to cross streets safely. Apparently the problem is that while the children look both ways as prescribed by doctrine, they underestimate either time of transit of time to collision with oncoming motorcars. This implies poor spatial comprehension or poor temporal comprehension, or both. Such acomprehension is common in humans, as evidenced by the shoddy driving skills exhibited by adults resulting from poor estimation of velocity and distance. In addition, symptoms of attention deficit are common in adults driving motorcars, so this carry over could be explanatory of why driving is so unpleasant and risky these days.

What do these have in common? They are things studied that will be faint memories after the collapse of the national economy next week, things to be viewed in future as luxuries no longer affordable.

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