Hallowing Modernity

All Hallows Eve. I think. It has gotten to a point where one can no longer trust the calendar folks to accurately appoint the holy days what with all the silly little – and too big! – governments deciding they don’t like when a holy day is supposed to fall and autarchically move it to when it is least objectionable to them. All hallows tends to suffer that latter a lot and I expected it this year, anticipating that the local conscript parents would decide they wanted to advance the date. Or rather, what I think is the date.

But they have apparently not changed the date, nor caved in to the overstated influence of the educationalists and tonight seems to portend the observation of the event. The observation will not generally take the form of religionist service however, but of the rather trite and ill pursued custom of door knocking and candy collection. This has sadly (?) sagged since my day when mothers constructed their own, home made, treats and then left fathers to dispense them as they escorted the youngest of the offspring in door rounds. And the rounds were very limited in those days. I never called at more than ten houses so that I could get home for the rest of my homework, any test drills, bath and bed. And the treats were strictly rationed at such a low rate that some would have putrefied before they were dispensed. Mothers mothered in those days.

Now, insofar as I can observe, the whole practice has degenerated into misuse or overuse. Because of fears of candy terrorism, treats today must either be obtained under the strictest of supervision of children and adults or taken off to hospital to be X-Rayed, a service to be passed on to my medical insurance for hidden payment of labor hours and wear-and-tear on equipment. The overuse arises from adolescents who contend to gather as much candy as possible, which I somehow doubt is rationed. It seems now that the religionist organizations have gotten past their antipathy to the church of Rome, the protesting ones at least, and decided to adopt the day anew as a means of controlling the risk they perceive to offspring. Isn’t it wonderful when biology – animal nature – overwhelms superstition and mysticism?

The podcast this morning was an episode of CBC’s "Best of Ideas" dealing with complexity. [Link] I have to admit that this was a very frightening episode. I have become aware that BOI is all about ‘Luvvies’ but have not yet inured myself enough to distance myself from the horror that ‘Luvvies’ so often – almost always – are. [Link][Link] Just when I was beginning to think of alternatives that would let be cut this episode short in consuming my gym time, a truly frightening thing occurred. One of the pundits, this one a politician turned academic, which is itself inherently and implicitly frightening, demonstrated a superficial knowledge of what complexity is. For brief moments I held a false hope that the boffins would yet arrive and recover civilization and sanity but then that hope shriveled up like a gastropod on a griddle. Yes, they had heard of complexity and had been exposed to the concepts but they chose to ignore them for the sake of communicating with the bogs – or, at least, seeming to.

No mention of extensivity or emergence, no consideration of interaction as perspective. Instead, homilies misformed from earlier misunderstanding and absence of testing crawled and hobbled out of their mouths like monsters in some parody of an Easter parade. Finally I was able to focus on the macabre humor of the sincerity of the thing and actual enjoy some of it in the same fashion that there is a whacked thrill dating back to our dinosaur genetic predecessors at being frightened.

But the real fun is yet to come. I have installed a laser radar tracking system outside Castellum SCP and have stocked up on organic, high fiber, zero gluten, minimum sugar treats should any actually brave this night.

Newsrag Menses

We have once more exhausted week out except for the ardor of getting through pseudo-shabbat (at least here in the old Confederacy) where the football-christianists are either going to attend services today (except for a few adherents of the church of Rome who did mass – the religious mass, not the reality mass – last night) to express gratitude for success and/or express contrition – real or feigned – for their excesses yesterday during the collegiate voyeurism stage of their worship and thursday and/or friday during the junior high/high shul voyeurism stage. There may even be a few who have some deep sins committed either because their patron team lost or were inflicted upon friends/acquaintances who were in such straits. Then, cleansed of imaginary but solidly emotional psychological conflicts, they can gird their system for the games this afternoon and tomorrow evening.

I mention this because the Register [Link] drew my attention span to the comet Elinen, which had many irrational fears associated with it, most the result of absence of rationality and any meaningful knowledge of physics. I especially liked the nonsense tidal effects. Sir Isaac would be proud of how the bogs have become literate.

Of course, it is not too unpleasant to consider a comet striking Tellus and selectively extinguishing those who harbor such nonsense. Then rationality intrudes and we consider how that selectivity might occur – gathering all such into one spot? – and how unlikely that would be, and, of course, how we would function as a society without those folks to do all those asentient repetitive activities necessary for society and civilization to operate, even as poorly as it does now?

I also find it amusing that I have to read this in an English newsrag. Are Amerikan journalists unable to recognize or recount such stupidity of the masses?

Next, I note, courtesy of the Telegraph, [Link] that the OPERA neutrino experiments are ti be repeated. What is noteworthy here is that this actually constituted news. Of course the experiments were going to be repeated, and elsewhere as well. Again, too much football and health destroying snacks is probably to blame. Duhhhhh!

Next, shifting gears a bit, I found an article [Link] from the Register entitled "Windows XP and iPod: A tale of two birthdays". The tone of the article is how-bad-XP-is-and-how-great-iPod-is. Absolute baldertrash!

Simply put iPod is one of the modern chains on the society of humans, binding people who could lead better lives otherwise to iTunes which is a large component of the fiendish tyranny that is Apple. It is a narcotic of the worse sort. Further comments are not needed here on this but I must state a feeling of vindication in our recent ejection of the English tyranny from our ground at point of bayonet. Apparently all journalists have a certain quantity of stupid blather permitted them – yes, American journalists seem to be almost entirely such – and this is a rare example of English nincompoopery seeping into an otherwise trustworthy newsrag.

On the other grasping appendage, however, Winders XP is arguably one of the three greatest OS (versions) in history based purely on its volume in user population – duration of use space. In fact, XP may be first, in magnitude of volume, in this metric. My figures have some uncertainties. And it most certainly is not discorporated, courtesy of the recurring stupidity of MegaStone, which raises the question of whether stupidity is a corporate renewal. (OK, it’s a not good maths joke.) Yes, VISTER was an abomination of biblical proportions but evidently nothing compared to the tile GUI being rolled out in Winders Ate in imitation of Apple and Canonical by MegaStone. Evidently the desk/lap box marketplace has become so aprofitable that the OS primes are going to kill it off and bash consumers with entertainment monoliths.

I suspect this means a long and continued life expectancy for XP despite its divorcement. After all, a significant of PC users are still living with Winders LXXXXVIII (Isn’t Roman numerology wonderful? The original 3-D additive manufacturing.) and all manner of malware despite about a decade of abandonment. If the day of the desktop is truly done, and I credit that as nothing more than advertising, then why waste substance on Edsels?

Further, it seems [Link] that HP may have had a bit of an attack of sanity, deciding to hang onto its manufacturing appendage after all. The cynical would say that they couldn’t find a juicy enough offer and are stuck with a white pacyderm, but I suspect that it is more that the death of the desktop is one with other erroneous pronouncements of demise. Especially for HP that still retains a modicum of its original flavor as a nerd manufactury and still enjoys popularity of its boxes among such folks who are willing to pay a premium for robustness and durability. On the other hand, however, given HP’s recent management trajectory, rationality likely won’t last the quarter.

Lastly, a team of intrepid wonks has discovered a species of giant amoebae living in the Marianas trench.[Link]

Perhaps we can induce them to rise up and infest the football-christianists? Or even drag them down into the depths of the trench where their irrationality is irrelevant?

Sundae Numeracy – go to services and count footballists.


I ran across this cartoon [Link]

yesterday and was deeply impressed of how well it represents the absence of vitality and spirit from the Repulsian candidates for chief executive candidacy. Perhaps also the level of intelligence as well?

Not that I can say anything better about the Demoricrat incumbent. Perhaps the vampire metaphor would work better there? Or a face sucker?

Failure Modes

The weather beavers failed! All sort of dire portentions of dihydrogen oxide phase changes and nothing of the sort this morning! So since it is week out and the football christianists will be engaged in their worship in lemming-like intensity, it seems fitting to do a bit of a scan of the tabs for failure.

We start with the lovely things that the corporate rip-offs, Forrester and Gartner, had to say this week about Linux being slime mold, or better, using a term I heard this week in a podcast, "bone eating zombie snot worms"/ Apparently, once more, these firms have profoundly demonstrated their complete absence of understanding of matters informational outside of a ledger. Yep, pseudo-economists, mostly from the standpoint that they don’t pretend to understand anything more mathematical than arithmetic, which should be refreshing but somehow is actually macabre. It’s sort of like having an australopithecine as CEO. Anyway, some blogger has made some fairly good comments, [Link] that have given me some confidence that the human species is not all blessed with haggis-fer-brains. I particularly liked the elegance of

"It was pretty clear that folks from firms like Forrester and Gartner weren’t clued in entirely about what Linux is, how open source works, nor did they have any vision for the future."

I would comment however, that I don’t really care if Linux dominates the world. I do care that MegaHard and Fruit not dominate the world because then I might have to turn my own brains into haggis to put up with the tyranny and neuronegative environment. Actually, I don’t want the great asentient/aintelligent masses of humanity to embrace Linux. Canonical has already shown us how bad that would be with the stupidification of Ubuntu. The new 11.10 release is another campaign of putting cellular telephone GUI on the desktop. One of my colleagues likened this to going back to the 600×400 resolution that we had in the days of the IBM PC.

To be fair, I have decided to give Tile GUI an extended trial. I have to follow FD SCP off to a sewing class in Peachia in a couple of weeks and the lap box I have decided to take has U 11.04 installed so I can try to get through the period using Unity instead of the fall back. If that works out – if I get through the period and haven’t regressed to the fall back, or become a dipsomaniac, or otherwise done myself a harm, then I may install U 11.10 on and try comparing Unity and G3. Film at 11.

Besides, it’s one of those dinky ultraportables that don’t have much screen resolution but are bigger than a netbox and so I don;t spend half my time wiping nose grease off the screen. Also, FD SCP will use it to check her email and having warned her that Winders Ate is going to be MegaHard’s imitation I am avid to obtain her reaction. Hopefully they will not involve medicalists.

Next, I have to make note of a wonderful article [Link] by one of our lesser lights here in Alibam – between the ears, that is – who claims that the new state immigration law is an embarrassment. Blow yer nose and engage your neurons, the folks in Alibam don’t think so, and in a state paraphrase of Richard Feynman, what do we care what anyone not in Alibam thinks? We only care what you think because you haven’t the good sense to use your neurons instead of your vocal cords, or in this case, phalanges.

Yes, we admit that we – and the old Confederacy – lost the war, but having been conquered we expect the conquerer to obey his own rules which the current administration isn’t. It’s bad enough that these politicians have to oppress nerds but now they can’t even follow their own rules? And then they let their parasites loose on us to cause harm and pain? So, embarrassment? Only over the failure of the Yankee government to live up to its responsibilities.

And lastly, for this blot at least, I note an article [Link] in an Australians newspaper about a new (?) Discovery channel program whose first episode is about

"British physicist Stephen Hawking explains why he thinks the universe was not created by a god."

Hopefully not opposite a football game. After all, you know someone won’t watch. Even in Alibam where we expect everyone to watch.

Fair Autarky

The boundary beckons, Freya day is upon us. This is my day to sleep in, till 0517 this morning since I do not have to motor to Scant City to gym, nor rouse FD SCP, an und4ertaking thrice as daunting as the whole expedition to gym. The weather beavers have foretold a rather coolish day that is supposed to strain our heat adapter metabolic systems but when I ventured forth to spread seed for the descendants and successors of dinosaurs the temperature was clement and no precipitation.

Speaking of clement, I note, amazingly, in Scientific American an article [Link] of contrast of the recently discorporated Steve Jobs. I have to admit that SA has been a bundle of surprises lately. I may actually have to redo the decision criteria of subscribing. Nonetheless, It is refreshing to find the open/free software community no longer isolated in their assessment of Jobs. Yes, he accomplished a lot, but as most conquerers do, he left a lot of suffering and damage. The article lauds his relaxation in recent years. I fear I view it as becoming more practical rather than more compassionate. The openness of Apple hardware and software is that of the autarkys of classical Greece. Yes, serfs/subjects may have truck with the outside universe but only under the conditions and with the permission of the autark. Owners of the iPad may have any app in the store on their device but every app in the store must pass examination, initial and continuing, of the autark.

The kindest thing I can say about Jobs is that his products stressed the discussion of what is the difference between tool and appliance. Much of this lies along the intent and application azimuths. What may be an appliance to one may be a tool to others depending on how the thing is used. A microwave oven may be an appliance to the home food preparer – I hesitate to use even the term ‘cook’ for someone who opens a package, stirs in dihydrogen oxide, places in microwave, and then dispenses onto plates – but if an engineer uses it to make aerogel is it then a tool? Similar questions may be asked of all Apple products as they can about most information technology.

I personally do not find them toolish; Apple products do not permit me to exercise creativity but this is not the situation for all humans. I can write good articles (better than these blots, at least) with a good, well made and balanced, fountain pen and good paper with the right absorption characteristics, but not on computer. I can draft on paper and then transfer but there are people who can write well at the keyboard. I suspect it is the highly mathematical and symbolic nature of my thought that have to be converted to the limits of ASCII for the computer environment. (As anyone who has used an equation editor knows, it is rather like building a machine to thread a needle so one may reattach a button.) So I am willing to admit that others may use such while carrying on my own whining.

This, of course, brings us to the matter of fairness, another consideration of Jobs, computers, and even society as a whole. The subject is a matter of great discussion these days as the dream of capitalism experiences what may be a heat death. Fairness is inherently subjective if for no other reason than the inability of humans to perceive in totality. Too often, we are satisfied with only our own point of view and declaim fairness in that perspective solely. But what differs now is that the forces of democracy are shifting, in no small part due to information technology, and one practical, if unfair, formulation of fairness is the rule of the majority. If most of the people can agree on what fairness is, then that may indeed become the implementation.

We may only hope that the concept of minority rights does not get lost lest too many of us have to sip hemlock.

Memories of Past Stereotypes

The weather beavers seem quite taken with themselves this morning. A cold front is moving in although not yet felt since this morning was considerably warmer than yesterday’s and great trepidations are foretold for those venturing to motor. At least for this time of year. No foretellings of thin coatings of ice but just of rain in some degree.

I for one am glad to see the coolness return. Perhaps it is an artifact of not going through mental puberty (but perhaps right into mental senility?) that I want the season characteristics to mirror the structure of my youthful existence. Coolness is supposed to commence immediately upon the sessioning of shul, and hotness is not supposed to commence until the desessioning. This follows from the absence of air conditioning in shuls when I was a child and the stolid pace of information presentation was not enhanced by the sensations of perspiration and arms sticking to laminated desk surfaces. Warmth, at least uncontrolled warmth, is acceptable in summer to make one appreciate the total illogic bordering on insanity of lawns while one attempts to mow such in fulfillment of legal and parental requirements and being doubly miserable in the process. But not in shul. There one is supposed to have no distraction, including raucous and violent bogs, from the acquisition of knowledge. The obstruction of educationalists and the neuronegative is barely endurable without the persecution of temperature.

The punishment of summer and the illogic of summer chores is contrasted with the deferred pleasure of visiting the Carnegie library, always to my memory, air conditioned and abundantly unwarm because of the absence of people. Even as I child I recognized that the majority of humans, even in Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill with its respect for education and density of the college educated, were either not readers or did not frequent the library. I have never grokked the social stigma of reading library books bu I recognize its existence and now in age realize that it has perhaps more to do with thinness of the collection than the thickness of one’s personal wealth to be expended on personal books. But as a result the library, despite the frenzy of children’s reading programs that always seemed unnecessary when I was a child, was always deliciously cool and one’s hands did not stick to the books nor one’s bare legs in the shorts all parents mandated for children in those days did not stick to the linoleum of the floor. Today, of course, parents would scream in indignation if their children were permitted, much less required, to sit on floor and hands degreased to painfulness by hand sanitizer stick not to books.

But thinking of such a stereotype made me receptive to an article [Link] in the student rag of the campus of the Boneyard. The subject is stereotyping of students by the discipline they study. Happily there is little social engineering liberal stridency to detract from the ideas of the article. Can the discipline of study be identified by appearance and/or mannerisms of the student? My experience tends to lead me to a resounding ‘maybe’.

Back when I was an undergraduate, some students’ disciplines could be recognized by their appearance and behavior, suitably modified by their state of Greek affiliation. In general the Greeks were more presentable of appearance than the GDIs. But the Greeks, at least the men, were heavily weighted to business, pre-law, and the occasional society per-medicalist students. And, of course, the organization itself mandate a dress code more stringent than that of the university. Beyond this, one could always recognize business majors easily because they always dressed neatly, had perfect haircuts, and always wore leather tassel loafers sans socks unless they were wearing suit and tie. Arts students were the exact opposite although not so diskempt as to wear a bedsheet instead of actual sewn clothes. Both groups were distinguished by a total aversion of contact with the other and no arts students were ever Greeks unless it was an arts honor fraternity.

Jocks could be recognized by their starched clothes since they had a provided laundry service in the ‘ape’ dorm and hence did not their own laundry and by the strange hours of being seen. Pre-law and pre-med students could be identified by looking almost like business majors but not hiding on the business side of campus or being unwilling to associate with anyone else except jocks or Barbies. The two could be distinguished by pre-med students taking nerd courses and being obsessive about grades instead of learning. Nerds could be identified by their generally neat appearance, even the ones with long hair, but comfortable footwear and a slide rule and/or computer cards. A briefcase – not a backpack – was a clear sign of a nerd but not uniform. Engineer students could be distinguished from science students by the brand of slide rule – engineers carried POST rules whose case clipped to the belt while science students carried K&E rules that literally had to be carried – and whether they were seen on engineering row or science row. After sophomore electives were exhausted nerds did not get far or often from their home halls.

Mathematicians were almost impossible to recognize because of their great variability. Theoretical physics students might be confused with art students and experimental physics students confused with chemistry students. Biology students generally had a trailing odor or decay and preservative which probably accounts for its female popularity only with education majors who took only three or so courses and could avoid any serious handling of meat. Women, as always, were more difficult to associate than men, mostly because of intergender appearance competition. Most women in those days studied liberal arts – english and journalism primarily – education, home economics, and nursing so that aside from the latter two appearance was often unremarkable. Nursing students, who were rarely seen because of hospital hours, were always identifiable by the trace aroma of disinfectant and home economics students by the aroma of burnt foodstuffs.

Life’s Triad

Where have all the educationalists gone? Here it is Wednesday and only one educationalist in gym. Besides that the temperature was nice although the weather beavers have already begun pronouncing D&D for the remained of week in.

Wednesday is CBC “Quirks and Quarks” day and this episode finally got above the yechhhhhhhhh mark. Intriguingly it is a pre-vacation episode. The memorable thing was an interview wiwth some marine biologist who had written a bog book – self-avowedly – whose prime message seems to be that life in the ocean consists of three components:

  1. Eat;
  2. Avoid getting eaten; and
  3. Reproduce.

I was struck by how well that describes all animals, including we humans. It is so good in fact that I can’t come near and am going to go purchase foodstuffs. When the market opens. Which has something to do with all three of the above, although not so much number three since I am an ORF with raised (but not glazed) children and scant opportunity/inclination for more. Besides, why have children if you have a low probability of being alive to raise them?

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