Raining Dogs and Tuna

Gad!, a mess! The scourge of winter is again descended upon the old Confederacy. And it seems like only a few days ago we were battling heat and tornadoes. Ah!, but wait, it was.

It snowed briefly yesterday afternoon late here at Castellum SCP, but then it switched back to rain, and then this morning it was cold but bearable with low wind speeds, but then returning from gym the falling dihydrogen oxide kept trying to change phases.

And the weather beavers seem to be foretelling a hard freeze tonight? And at gym I had to listen to the ferds on Reynard news network saying idiocy about the climate change thing. Well, perhaps, that is too much of an insult to idiots to compare them?

One of my colleagues, Mass Angular Momentum, sent me a link to an article [Link] on a discovery of evidence of blue water fishing 42 KYA. There is considerable discussion of whether these remains were immature, indicating they could have been brown water catch, so the grrrr brrrr over the addition of blue water fishing to the human repertoire continues.

For me, I have to consider some of the things discovered in analyzing Revolutions in Military Affairs and opine that the addition of blue water fishing would likely be driven by population density rather than technology availability. Given sufficient density to have over-fished brown water resources, or exceeding availability, society would have acted to develop technology to extend the range of fishing. But then that’s science and not anthropology. Or the guvnuh of the Floridas.

In a similar bit of discovery, [Link] Swedish boffins have some indication that canines were first domesticated in China, just south of the the Yangtze river. This raises the question of when did they cease to be wolves, before or after domestication? I should tend towards the latter because an undomesticated wolf is a wolf, but a domesticated wolf is not.

And yes, today was Science podcast day at gym but noting really adhered to consciousness or attention span. The only thing above the so-what? line was a discussion of risk that was good for mediaists but sadly thin otherwise.

Physica gratia ars

Well, it seems that winter has arrived with full complement here in Nawth Alibam. Rain arrived yesterday and will, according to the weather beavers, change over to show early tomorrow morning. What is worrisome is that the forecast seems to be very non-stationary – last night when I retired it was ‘no accumulation’, this morning at gym it was ‘no accumulation on roads’, where will it actually be? – and that the morning temperatures are projected to be into the solid phase (common) of dihydrogen oxide.

So yesterday I crawled about in the dungeons and tunnels of Castellum SCP double checking all the temperature sensors and their power supplies, and then I go out in the falling liquid phase to deploy the electron flow cabling for the block heater for the drive-to-gym motorcar. I am trying to decide whether to deploy the heated seat cushion as well in that vehicle.

Anyway, a good session at gym. Despite the shuls being resessioned there were few educationalists and even with their strident volume they could not quite drown out the podcasts I was listening to. I was also rather entertained by the display of their uvulae during rather unfeminine bouts of yawning. I fear I am showing my seniorness; my mother programmed me that everyone chewed with a closed mouth and covered that mouth when yawning or sneezing. Especially women. I recognize that this is a double standard but how can we trust educationalists with our children if they have no manners themselves. Last I checked even the Greeks used slaves from other Greek cities as teachers, not barbarians. Why even Phillip of Macedon hired Aristotle to educate Alexander and see what a mess that turned into.

Speaking of educationalists and barbarians, has a positive correlation, causality even, been established between being a coach and being a pedophile? Will this mean the end of all coached athletics? After the nonsense Saturday here in Alibam, we may only hope.

The podcast episode, one the the CBC’s “Best of Ideas”, was almost a snorer. It was one of those art interview things they do periodically and about all they do is convince me that art is counter-Descartian. That is, I know I exist because I think but all I can say about most art is that it has to be a nightmare, at best. I forget the name of this artist but he is one of those who doesn’t seem to like to do anything except glue other people’s stuff together. Not that I object to him playing about, that’s a matter of personal freedom and expression, but please don’t expect me to accept it as art.

The good side of the program was that it did get me thinking about what I think art is. Obviously, it has to cause some sort of constructive mental effect for me to consider it art. Revulsion, disgust, and boredom are not art. My colleagues who do art tell me it is an interpretation of reality, so I suspect that if I cannot perceive the reality, which has a rather particular meaning to a physicist, then it is not art and the artist has failed. Physics, of course, is the highest form of art since it is the closest to reality but physicists are not good producers of visual representation. Maths are better and quite good enough but not very effective with bogs and many geeks. For them cartoons and the like are important and strongly indicate why communicating science to bogs is so difficult.

They tend to not like art either, unless it is rendered on velvet, perhaps.

I do have to admit to rather referring literal art. As a result of working for the Yankee army for a third century and having to study a lot of history and the like to communicate with soldiers, I have a familiarity, a positive one, with military art, especially of the Second American Revolution. But I also find that I like abstract art if I can perceive the reality, such as quantum mechanics or relativity. Even if that’s not what the artist intended.

But a well crafted set of equations is still the best art there is.

Evasion of Extinction?

OK, it’s sundae once more and time to eradicate a few tabs that have managed to lurk all week. Admittedly there are a few that are even older but they are all conditional on some outside actions such as guidance from FD SCP. Being human and hence prone to see patterns where there are no patterns – an appropriate consideration for a sundae, is it not? – I perceive a bit of a pattern in these tabs.

First, an article [Link] about that master of anthropological charlatans, Jared Diamond, who attributes the (relative) success of the Dine (aka Navaho) to just the right amount of interaction. At the risk of making an improper analogy, this strikes me as saying that life arises on planets just the right distance from their star. Too close and no liquid water; too far away and no liquid water. Sort of like Goldilocks for the socially ignorant bog?

I agree that survival is all about balance, between fighting and fleeing, between adapting and maintaining, …. but the way this ferd blathers is enough to sour anyone’s stomach, including, I suspect, his own. No one who respects themselves can yatter this type of stercus.

Meanwhile, I learn that Linux packages seem to display predator-prey relationships. [Link] I immediately have my doubts since almost all predator-prey representations, such as the Lotta-Volterra equations, are flawed in mechanism. For example, reproduction, including that of mammals, is often represented as asexual, and prey discorporation only occurs by predation. Put in more boggish terms, the bunnies reproduce like amoeba and can only die by being eaten. For those of us who have had bunnies, guinea pigs, cats, or dogs as pets, we know the lie to these maths. But since I don’t have a copy of the article, and, quite frankly, my plate being full at the moment, I’m not at all sure I am going to chase it down.

On a macroscopic level, the number of journalists commenting on the erosion of Ubuntu continues to mount. [Link] Undoubtedly, another example of predator-prey mechanics is at work here, which rather confirms what we, the sentient ones, at least, have long suspected, that journalists are really predators. What is confusing about this is the stultus factor. The Unity GUI is clearly intended for a simpler environment and, being quite charitable, a simpler user who is unable to contend with the intellectual challenges of tunable eye candy. Which, in turn, leads us to acknowledge, that even folks with blond hair have intelligence even if it is camouflaged by vanity and an aversion to cognition.

Escaping the diversion for a moment, what is confusing in this mishmash is the success of Linux Mint, a distribution known for its simplicity of use. So is this transfer of use a simple matter of bog fashion perversion? Has Ubuntu been abandoned for Mint not because the GUI is mis-knapped (as I have commented earlier) but because Mint is suddenly the right combination of polka dots and lace frills? Or have the Mint folks, who are all not bogs, at least the vocal ones, really beaten Gnome 3 into a form of submission that is functional. If so, we can only hope that their disciplining of the Gui noyaux becomes widespread and pervasive.

In closing, I have noted, starting from data gathered in Sumeria when cuneiform was in use, that the harder it is to write something down, the better the composition. This got capped by a pre-print of an article on the syntactic composition of Facebook and a bunch of public domain emails. If nothing else they are enough of a condemnation of Every Child Left Behind to immediately fire every educationalist associated with syntax and composition and send them to forced labor camps. I am proud to say that we have bog college graduates who have less compositional ability than third grade nerds had in my day. Why proud? Because the extinction will progress quickly with less general pain. In fact, it is not clear that these folks can even feel pain given the amount they inflict on those of us who can compose and are spoon-on-saucepan discomforted by their writings.

In Search of Education

One of my colleagues, Magnetic Inductance Force, sent me a link to a Facebook discussion concerning the knowledge of the word ‘geas‘. The crux of the discussion was that MIF held the position that anyone with an education would be familiar with the word, but the other side was that only geeks who were addicted to Dungeons and Dragons, or some similar Swords and Sorcery genre game, would be familiar with the word.

I should comment that MIF is avowedly not a D&D player. He, and our psychologist colleagues, claim that most physicists are unable to engage in role-playing games involving mysticism because of the inability to suspend disbelief. Testability can be a curse, I suppose, and I have to agree that I personally find fantasy a babble that will divert from the horrors of air travel but has no other use, for me, at least, and is a horrible murrain upon this season of mysticism and consumerism.

He is however a nationally recognized player in the small community of seminar war games, and used to be active in his youth, he claims, pushing little pot metal armored vehicles and warships about on the floor of a large room, interspersed with periods of dashing about with metric steel tape measures, mechanical random number generators, and scoring tables. I have seen his collections of vehicles, which are impressive, but cannot affirm either his infirmity to rising from floor sitting or the decay of the game genre.

I also have to admit to finding myself rather intermediary in the discussion. The term came to my mind sometime in high shul courtesy of the science fiction (?) writer Andre Norton. I also recall encountering the term in sophomore english literature; the term is embedded somewhere in Norton’s Anthology of English Literature but I am not sure where. That was a course that I endured, especially the thespian readings of the instructors.

But the intriguing aspect of the discussion is what constitutes an education? Classically, it means a thorough exposure and inoculation of the liberal arts and sciences. That is, one needs to be able to be geeky but not necessarily nerdish of many subjects. IMHO, this forms a situation where knowing the word ‘geas’ is indicative of education, but not knowing it is not prima facie proof of absence of education. Simply put, both education and its absence is colligative. The key is the term ‘liberal’.

In this case, we do not refer to social engineer aristocracy, but to a relatively cavalier acceptance of the subjects and substances that comprise an education. One must have a broad collection of knowledge on several, preferably many, subjects and be able to use this in a facile, intellectually constructive, if not creative, fashion. Absence of education follows from this as either an absence of knowledge, or a knowledge that is too narrow or too shallow. It thus follows that geeks are almost assuredly educated but that bogs and nerds may not.

There is also the matter that education is not static. Anyone who ceases to learn after matriculation from either high shul or college is only transitionally educated, reverting to bumpkin status by degeneration. Also, education is not a thing to be possessed. This seems to be daily demonstrated by interminable ITT commercials on the electromagnetic audio-visual receiver that not only demonstrate the failing but whose self-evident syntax disasters demonstrate the incompetence of the institution itself. If anything is certain in these advertisements, the individuals claiming an education lack such.

I have commented previously that I hold the opinion that modern college curricula do not educate. They generally fail on the broadness and the requirement of learning. Too many these days are too narrowly informed, and those who were given liberal exposure were not made to learn the material or learn how to use it. The question of whether we are ceasing to be an intelligent species is deferred for a later blot.



The question that emerges is ‘how many toes does Mark Shuttleworth retain?’ [Link] I read, from a reasonably trustworthy source – it is English media after all – that Ubuntu has slipped from first to number four. In about as many months.

What fraction of Linux wonks recall the Edsel?

Perhaps a more humane question would be whether Shuttleworth has any bullets left so we know whether to prevent him trying to discorporate?

I used Unity, admittedly the U 11.04 version, last week and found it not just wanting but pathological. Yes, I am willing to admit that it might work on a tablet – although I am as yet unaware of any Ubuntu tablets for sale in the Yankee republic – but it does not work on the desktop for anyone who requires tools rather than appliances.

Yes, I am aware that there are those who say Unity is desktop/laptop functional. None of these have yet to pass the so what test. Most are less impressive than the Occupy nonsense. Some are just depraved.

One of my colleagues is an amateur anthropologist. That is, he is rather too scientific to get a paid job as an anthropologist, but he has degrees and practices. He gets paid to do engineering stuff, mostly from a scientific standpoint. One of the things he practices his knapping, the construction of stone tools from raw (?) stone. One of his terms is ‘poorly knapped’.

Simply put, Unity is poorly knapped. That is, it is a tool that is misformed so that it fights you whenever you try to use it. This is a surprisingly fitting description and I wish I had discussed this matter with him months ago.

The problem is one of modern life. In the old days, back when people made their own tools, if they misknapped a tool they would use it, hurtfully and poorly, until they had time to knapp a new tool that was better and then the misknapped tool could be discraded or formed into a smaller tool. If that one was misknapped the stone was judged flawed and discarded. Today we do not knapp tools; we buy them. And despite all the declarations that Ubuntu is free, one must still invest time. The result is that we are stuck with a misknapped tool until we can find a tool that is not and we can afford it.

The problem is increasingly one of not finding. This is good. Frustration at such is how people decide to learn to knapp so they can make their own tools. It’s a form of democracy and the whole Linux/PC communities need an infusion of that.

After the Day

OK. We have survived National Stress Day, aka Thanksgiving, and are fully committed to National Consumerism Day and Alibam Pagan Mysticism Day. FD SCP and I are supposed to observe our obligatory overeating and family friction today, which rather gives us an superior excuse to evade the joys of Schwartz Freitag.

I still have a few tabs to clean up from before our gallop, and this is a good one. Seems medicalist academics at Northwestern U have determined that teenagers will die younger than they should.[Link] Evidently this is not just a matter of adolescent angst, but a combination of bad eating habits and bad living habits. Perhaps good news is that this means they will have less time to suffer in the torture of the coming collapse due to global climate change. Starvation is not a good way of discorporation.

Next, and in keeping with our emergent theme, we have work [Link] from U Kent that indicates that sedentary humans have smaller mouths than those of hunter-gatherer humans. (Gee, and we though those big jaw uglinesses were just Neandertals and pituitary over-secretion afflicted.) But that petiteness comes with a price, teeth problems. Some amount of our teeth problems, and incidentally the income of orthodontists, arises from this crowding. And here we thought it was all just modern diet with lots of sweets and stercus.

And finally, academics at Arizona State and Colorado U have developed an agent based simulation – why is it that academics can’t grasp the distinction between a model and a simulation? – and used it to add to the growing data stream indicating that Neandertals were not done in by Sapiens but just miscegenated into oblivion. Undoubtedly after a bout of overeating. Of course this is also supported by the earlier mentioned small mouth thing since these would have all been hunter-gatherers and large jaws would have been the norm for both species.

Anyway, if you are reading this you have survived the statistically most stressful day of the year in the Yankee republic and can now settle down to the frictional aspect of the holiday if you were host, namely the interminableness of leftovers. Hail Miracle Whip!