Speed Matters

OK, no blot yesterday. FD SCP had me engaged in tasks that could not be denied. So I have a bit of tomato condiment today since we have crept into full blown week out.

First, the big news seems to be articles about the possible observation at CERN of neutrinos traveling in excess of the speed-of-light. [Link] This is rather a hot topic since  it would immediately make NASA’s day. There are all sorts of articles, of the journalistic persuasion, arguing all sorts of interpretations [Link][Link] so I may as well put my one-fiftieth of a Yankee dollar into the discussion.

First, let us recall that the constancy of the speed of light is a postulate that Albert Einstein made to get the maths to coagulate for special relativity. There are several measurements that support the postulate but we have to remember that it is after all a postulate. Second, since we are dealing with basic (I resist the urge to use the word ‘fundamental’ lest I be proven wrong decades hence, so much for confidence in the stability of the standard model) particles here, we are dealing at the boundary of quantum mechanics and general relativity for which, despite the mumblings and chest beatings of string and quantum loop gravity theorists, we do not yet have a combined theory of reasonably demonstrated validity.

So at least two things need to occur before we can move forward looking for a way to get to Alpha Centaurus in a day. First, the data from the CERN experiment needs to be scrubbed  for any errors or inaccuracies. And then the experiment needs to be repeated somewhere else. Independent replication is necessary no matter what the Madison Avenue wonks claim. And that is going to take time. So Waiting Is.

Meanwhile, the discussion on the nature of Linux seems to be getting much more dense. Article n the subject this week have varied between brutal and strange, and not in the quark sense. First, a article on the desktop [Link] that rather puts one in mind of a journalistic drunkard’s walk. Parts of it I heartily agree with, not that the author cares or it actually matters, in particular that Linux is going to vanquish either Winders or AppleOS. I have to rather suspect that matter had become the analog of the level of interest in small town Amerika of cricket scores.

The fact is that the keyboarded computer is an endangered animal. It will not go extinct I expect, but it will once more become a tool of work and cease to be an appliance of entertainment, replaced in that arena by cellular telephones and tablets. But as both the author and Torvalds have noted a division of the way needs to occur. The future of the desktop cannot remain wedded to the shackles of a GUI designed for those entertainment appliances. It’s rather like making a machinist work with gauntlets on all the time.

But the hope of those tools has to be Linux. We cannot expect MegaHard nor Apple to continue to build desktop OS when the entertainment revenue is elsewhere. So the only way we are going to have a viable OS for those who still toil is via Linux.

Not that the future is assured. It seems that MegaHard is trying to do a shutout of Linux. [Link] Seems that for W8 MegaHard is abandoning BIOS and going to UEFI which will only work with signed software. The plan is actually quite crafty. MegaHard will get the computer manufacturers to do the dirty so they can claim themselves innocent, a trick practiced by almost all genocides throughout history. I fear however, that I have confidence that the Linux community will find a workaround the megalomania of the planet’s leading paranoiacs.

And lastly, an essay [Link] from our old acquaintance Matt Asay that Linux is secular. Well said but not for the religionist bog.

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Freedom in Arab

Yesterday was a bit of a sink. Had to go do the semi-annual physical examination thing and that overwhelmed much of the day. The big news in Greater Metropolitan Arab is that the local educationalist apparat got pulled up short for prejudice. Seems one of those ‘rights’ watchdogs found out that there were group prayers before each high shul (American) football game, something that has been a legal no-no in this country since about the time I managed to escape high shul but conveniently and blatantly disregarded by the management and general populace, and offered them the opportunity to cease and desist before the watchdog ratted to the revenuers. Well, which branch of the Yankee government constabulary that is responsible for civil rights violations.

There has been considerable grrr brrr about this. The numbers are running 19 who think this is tyranny and sacrilege to one who think it might be nice not to be burdened with someone else’s beliefs. (To borrow a phrase from Mr. Jefferson.) I have blogged previously on noyaux but it seems worth revisiting for this occasion. Simply (and probably inaccurately) put, a noyaux is a social organization that is characterized by internal strife among the suborganizations except when the organization has an external threat.

Religion (religionism?) in Greater Metropolitan Arab, and indeed, much of the old Confederacy, is a noyaux.  We have a rather large number of churches. The number is somewhat less than the total population but greater than of any other type of business and almost greater than the sum of all other businesses. Each church is affiliated with some religionist denomination although in some instances they are the only affiliate. Each has its own doctrine and dogma which is different from all the the rest and superior to all of the rest. Competition exists among these churches to have the most members, which leads to a rather intriguing marketplace.

But despite all of this competition, which can get rather nasty, these churches can band together against external threats. All are christianist and protestant so both the church of Rome and Judaism are external and lumped in with atheists, agnostics, free thinkers, deists, Muslims, Buddhists, ……. It is not that Greater Metropolitan Arab lacks any of these folks, merely that they have no rights in the religionist aspect of local society. Which includes not having to be burdened by other religionist beliefs that they don’t ascribe to. And being unable to reciprocate with their own.

Sometimes absence is part of freedom.

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Wave Trees

The strangeness of the season continues. Despite the cool morning temperatures and warm shading to hot afternoon temperatures, this morning at gym an educationalist engaged a fan. Now I have no objections to others blowing air past themselves, but pray not past me. With all the blood thinners in my system temperature regulation is chancy at best. I glanced over my shoulder and observed who had done this nekulturny deed – etiquette is to ask everyone in line of blow if they mind but etiquette does not apply to educationalists – and observed that the individual had the age and physiognomy indications of a middle age thyroid condition and I decided to keep my peace and shrug into my hoodie since whoever lives with this educationalist has a lot worse time with thermostat tag.

Anyway, that wind interaction got me to thinking about an article [Link] I had seen the other day. It was a national public wireless blurb about some folks measuring sound levels in a national park. Since it was a journalistic product the assumptions on what were irrelevant were pretty crippling, like the omission of the credentials of the researchers. The tenor of the piece, which is pretty sob sister, is about human sound intrusion on nature. But what it got me to thinking about is the old saying “If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to listen, does it make a noise?”

Now from a classical standpoint, this is utter nonsense, but in a quantum sense it has some implications, at least if we suspend some of our disbelief. The idea is that this gets to the very heart of the Copenhagen interpretation that unless an observer is present the wave function does not collapse and the tree may not make noise in falling. This may seem a bit far fetched but consider the following thought experiment: observer 1 walks through the forest and observes an upright tree; at a later time observer 2 walks through the forest and observes the tree falling and making a noise therein; and yet later observer 3 walks through the forest and observes a fallen tree. Now repeat the experiment without observer 2.

The thing we have to suspend disbelief on is that the tree cannot actually be a quantum system, and if we do so then the question makes quite a bit of sense. The folks who are doing the research at the national park are not, per se, observing tree fall, but they do have to include three fall noise in the natural component of what they are studying, so they are in effect observing the noise of the tree fall.
But unless they see the tree falling in concert with the noise…..

So the question is still as good as ever.

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Tonin Tuesday

I have to admit to disliking this time of year; it’s when I get a draining of the sinuses and it is rather hard to maintain a positive outlook on reality when that reality has the taste of mucus.

I noted an article yesterday [Link] about some work at U Cambridge that links serotonin levels with control of anger. Apparently when the concentration of serotonin is low, control is diminished as well. This rings rather accurate, most folks who have had anesthesia complain of frustration and alienation. Of course if you have surgery and are incarcerated and swaddled for a while, anger is a natural response.

Speaking of folks who have anger as a natural response, another article [Link] about work at U Haifa indicates that exposure to LED light bulbs (more blue light!) reduces melatonin levels and thereby messes up the body’s clock. According to another article [Link] on partisan (?) statistics, Tea Party members are twice as likely to not want to give up their incandescent light bulbs as the national average. Sounds like it might be a case of ‘tried it, made me angry, gonna take my toys and go home.’

Now I am not a fan of these new light bulbs. The flicker in the florescents gives me a migrane, and the LEDs have too much sticker shock built in. But I would gladly live with that if we could do away with political parties. They definitely reduce my serotonin level.

Patent Overload

We have apparently reached that portion of the year when the boundary between summer and fall becomes uncertain and insecure, when it is long sleeve shirt weather  one day and short sleeve the next. The weather beavers are displaying enormous variance in their projections often from hour to hour, definitely from day to day.

I noted yesterday an article [Link] about the current chief executive signing a new patent reform act. It did not seem to get much play although it did get mentioned on one of the news casts this morning that I espied at gym. When I examine what the act does it seems rather too little, perhaps too late. It is supposed to accelerate the processing of patent applications, which does not engender much confidence in the system increasing stability. And other than that it is not at all clear what benefit there is other than perpetuating government for the sake of business.

From one perspective the problem with patents is much like the problem with laws. We simply have too many. I have commented previously that we have enough laws on the books that everyone violates at least one each day with probability one. The result has been that the constabulary has become completely haphazard and the legal system subjective. We are almost at the point where bribery would actually improve the efficiency of the system.

So while we also have too many patents, the problem there is not absence of application but excessive application. Much is made of the crustless sandwich patent which happily is not applied very much, otherwise we should see hired guns invading family kitchens to make sure that [arents do not send their children off to school with paying a few for removing the crusts. Only in those places where children are required to eat cafeteria lunches would sanity be maintained?

This seems to be the way of large business organizations these days, litigating and counter litigating over conflicting patents. In a word of Edsel technology increasingly distinguished by Potemkinism, look and feel patents seem to be the rot that consumes Amerikan commerce. It would seem that what we need are not faster patent reviews, which are going to be shoddier and produce more of this sort of thing, but fewer patents. If the chamber of thieves would just reduce the duration of a patent to half, with no extensions, then this would abate considerably. And perhaps in the process Amerikan business would get back to business and away from diversion.

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Word Association

I ran across this cartoon [Link]

and it triggered my own musing on LOL.

I suspect it serves a purpose in text communications, but it has become rather trite and hackneyed. That apparently is not a dissuasion for the bogs of GEN Y? 

I also tend to associate LOL with ‘loll”,


Loll  1. To act lazily or indolently; to recline; to lean; to throw one’s self down; to lie at ease; as, to loll around the house on a lazy summer day.  2. To hand extended from the mouth, as the tongue of an ox or a log when heated with labor or exertion.  3. To let the tongue hang from the mouth, as an ox, dog, or other animal, when heated by labor; as, the ox stood lolling in the furrow.

and from there to the idea of decapitation.  Somehow that also seems to track with bog overuse, especially the absence of brain function.

I never cease to be amazed that almost all of us have a better self-image than that perceived by those around us.

The Pervasiveness of Guilt

No blot yesterday. FD SCP had me on a constrained trajectory doing stuff for her so my attention span didn’t get anywhere near this editor. As a result, I have a bit of catching up to do today.

First, I may as well be one with the mob. Seems the folks at the Hahvahd-Smithson Center fer Astrofizzie have found a planet orbiting a double star. [Link] There is no clear statement of whether the planet orbits around both stars or around each successively (sorta). This is evidently a rather big deal with the Star Wars sect since it confirms some aspect of their dogma.

On a different sky, it seems that the MegaHard militia will change the Blue-Screen-Of-Death in W8. [Link] I recently commented on how W8 is following in the footsteps of Gnome 3 and Unity by turning itself into a cellular telephone GUI, but this is a bit different. I have to quote from the article

“The Windows 8 BSOD still features the traditional white text message on a soothing blue screen, but has been updated to read: ‘Your PC ran into a problem that it couldn’t handle, and now it needs to restart.'”

Although it clearly wasn’t meant this way, I have to take this a a superb example of galgenhumor. Let’s start with the “soothing blue screen”. Soothing the BSOD is NOT. It is jarring, intimidating, frustrating, frightening. I have known it to reduce executives to quivering slime mold and tranquil, staunch clerical folk to berserkers, absent the woad except around the eyes. No one is unaffected by it. Even the most caustic and cynical of ubernerd experiences a moment of uncertainty as they reboot.

Sadly, this is part of MegaHard’s perfidy. In almost all instances the message should be that “We have vertically copulated and our OS has backed itself into a corner and fallen into a well (or the La Brea tar pit, or quicksand, or an active volcano) and the only way we can proceed is if you, the stupid but biddable user, will reboot and let us start over.” If we parse this we get: MegaHard did a bad job of writing the OS, it has crashed under its own built-in faults and defects, and you, the human, has to rescue both of us from getting nothing done.

It’s almost always the result of a deliberate flaw in the tool, a deliberate omission from the appliance. And in those instances when it isn’t the fault of the OS, it is because something in the hardware has gone wrong and unless you know a very great deal about what the screen has to say, it won;t help you fix the hardware, so you are vertically copulated. Occasionally, very occasionally, it results from some human thing, like dumping hot coffee on the motherboard and causing a major rupture although this is rare. Usually when a human does something like this you don;t get BSOD, you get black cloud of smoke.

This is why I walked away from Winders. Well, except on FD SCP’s boxes and that is because she does this computerized sewing thing that only executes on Winders, and then only certain flavors (although I do have to admit to thinking of them as quarks distinguished by differences in strangeness – physics humor!) and I can’t try using WINE or a virtual machine because the software licenses cost more than a baby delivery but for myself, give me Linux or give me something other than Winders. (With apologies to Patrick Henry.) Since changing to Linux I have had no, that’s zero, instances of the equivalent of the BSOD. Yes, my OS has turned to jello but it was my fault, not its. But if I don’t dink with the interstices, it works fie. The GUI may be obnoxious, but then so will be Winders.

And lastly, we have a lovely piece [Link] that raises the question of whether the humans who styaed at ‘home’ in Africa may also have been part of the miscegenation mashup? No wonder the religionists rail and shout so much on the matter, it’s programmed into us and is a fact of existence.

On which note, I go to do other things.

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