Weak Stuff from Weak Slaves

The chamber of thieves, aka the Alibam legislature, is working on legislation to make texting while driving a crime.[Link]

Big Whup! This bill is nothing but window dressing.

The bill proposes a fine of 25$ * i for the ith conviction and two license penalty points per conviction.

Noise level stuff especially since the constabulary won;t be enforcing the law except as an add-on. That is, unless you have a wreck or something while texting, you’re immune.

The problems with this are manifold. Studies have consistently shown that texting is one of the two most dangerous cellular telephone things you can be doing while driving. The other is using a smart phone or any other screen tap phone. But the distraction of anyone in the motorcar using a cellular phone at all is third.

So what we should have is a requirement that the constables have to make this a primary enforcement law, and the penalties need to rise to 30 days * i license suspension for the ith conviction.

Or the council of thieves can get around to requiring all motorcars (and trucks) in Alibam to have automatic cellular suppressors installed tied into the transmission. And annual inspections to be able to operate.

Bad law is worse than no law!


Low Hanging Loris [1]

Is it possible for any Repulsian politician not to be a whack? Just when I thought the last of their fruit-and-nut medleys had dropped out of the (sack) race, one removes his icing and plumbs new depths of whackness.

Can we amend the ballot to have a box entitled “None of the Above”? I am beginning to wonder if we would not be better off with a bare bureaucracy and no elected politicians.

[1]  One of those neat words that is both singular and plural.

Atomic Astonishments

Hectic day yesterday and now the weather beavers are imposing precipitation on us. How’s that for blaming the messenger? One of my colleagues, Current Density Magnetic Inductance, sent me an article [Link] yesterday that details – poorly, it is in a bog rag – some work at U New South Wales – do they have the same hideously unpronounceable place names except perhaps in an argot of Aboriginal and Welsh? – where they constructed a transistor with a single Phosphorus atom as the central core.

This is hailed as a Moore’s Law transcender. Sadly, it is at least the third such transcendence claim I have read in the media this calendar year. All for different pieces. And approcaches. And all laboratory experimental rigs nowhere near manufacturable. So don’t put off buy a new computer for better processing. Unless you don;t want to get stuck with MegaHard’s new security insecurity that makes the system much more likely to break.

On a more pleasing note, researchers at the Italian National Institut of Nuclear Physics have managed to generate (grow?) a hydrogen nucleus with one proton, four neutrons, and a Lambda particle. And it only took them 49 years! I will have to admit that I am going to have to get a new book on nuklear physicks and study up on this because when I last took a course, as a senior in undergraduate shule, I learned that you couldn’t stuff that many other particles (neutrally charged, of course) in a hydrogen nucleus. The poor wee bumpkin would get a belly ache and evacuate. Of course this one does that but after the interminable period of 1E-10 seconds. That’s almost as long as the attention span of a bog not viewing pornography or meaningless athletic competitions.

But it’s probably not very good for making CPUs. Can’t play much of a game of free cell in that time.


I recently added a Smithsonian (the public periodical of the Institution) RSS feed to my accumulator. Yesterday I caught sight of an article on whether gadgets were coming to market too fast. [Link] The article is a bit of a pot pourri which is somewhat unusual for this periodical. Their articles lack both technical depth and detail, in general, but they are not frivolous. This one was rather a bit shabby, like the lint on a dust mop.

The good news is that there is competition in the marketplace. Apple has not yet destroyed everyone else in the corporate world. But the bad news is that there is competition in the marketplace. And as a result there are lots of products coming to (and going out of) the marketplace and too many of these gadgets are either trivially derivative, but have the advantage that they work, or are still in a transition state that we used to call shop queens when I was working for the Yankee army. Lately, when I buy a new gadget over the internet, it takes me longer to get it minimally functional than it did to ship to me. And I tend to select the cheapest, and thereby usually slowest, mode of shipping.

I have commented earlier that there is a large body of data, so much that it counts as common knowledge, at lest among geeks and nerds, and hence needs no citation, that the older we get the less likely we are to adopt new things. I have learned that this is not due to any decrease in adaptability but rather that adaptability seems to be a conserved quantity and as we age the medicalists consume an increasing fraction of our adaptability. So we have less available to accommodate toys.

This goes beyond that reassignment, however. Too many of these gadgets are not properly documented. Even the on-line pdf of the unincluded manual is inaccurate and too often inadequate. But beyond that, too many do not function as either described or advertised. So one has to set off on a voyage of discovery that is frustrating and often seems to end in gadgets being reboxed and hidden away since one gets past the warranty period before one gives up on getting them to do what was claimed of them.

The other thing that concerned me was how were people paying for all these gadgets? I know a few people, almost all SMUGs, who always have to have the latest that grabs their attention. These folks have a new phone every quarter or so and never seem to use anything for more than the minimal function. And they are forever losing phone numbers because of SIM death.

But it occurred to me that this is almost a religionist strategy. No gadget will be on the market long so there is really no point in using it for very long because once it malfunctions it cannot be repaired. Spare parts are as common as dinosaurs. So one buys a gadget, trusting in the propaganda promises and once one’s patience with its infidelity is exhausted, once more express unquestioning faith in the dogma of technology and replace it with a newer gadget that also will not work.

Another aspect of conspicuous consumption.

Market Service

That almost ideal of days, a rainy winter sundae, seems to be upon us. We shall see. And in the province of shall see, it is time to peer into old tabs and eradicate them either immediately or after snide commentary.

On which note, this article [Link] indicates that Apple continues to lose market share in the tablet azimuth. The article claims “Apple’s market share in the tablet arena dropped from 64 percent in Q3 to 57 percent in Q4, with Amazon nabbing a 14 percent share.” Since we don’t know Amazing previous take, the comparison is incomplete which implies that the survey firm is being less than objective and altruistic. And I am sitting here amazed that I actually used the words “firm”, “objective”, and “altruistic” in connection. Must be due to the soothing effect of the precipitation?

I feel rather conflicted on this. After all, it is a matter of which master the possessors – given the nonsense of modern licensing it is less than clear that one can own a tablet, especially an Apple one – serve? As is so often the case with modern society and corporations, terminology is inverted. Vendors used to offer service; now they claim that to assure they are serviced with cash flow. Modern licensing and contracts are one form of the current slavery. And that neither political party in the Yankee republic will even acknowledge it is an indication they are as much slaves of corporations as the citizenry. 

Next, via NASA through the Scientific American, [Link] indications that we may not be able to blame soccer moms (and their mommy vans) for global climate change. It seems that the cause may track back to the end of the last cold phase when we humans began to seriously experiment with sedentarism. And, of course, agriculture, which was necessary when we killed off all the animals for a day or so walk around. 

I cannot help but be reminded of that quote of the first Lord Wellington, “if there is something of which I know nothing, it is agriculture.” Not necessarily believable given the period and his profession, but it seems that we are again presented with some new information about an old subject. And we shall get to observe how wildly the politicians deny that farming is part of the reason the species may be doomed.

On a more enjoyable branch, the same disreputable rag offers us a guest blog [Link] speculating on the role of beer in that sedentary process. Sitting still started so we could have more possessions, stuff, Burns’ ‘gear’, and that leads us down a path where beer could occur accidentally and then drive us to the cultivation of wheat. Not completely digestible but definitely palatable. The story, that is.

Regretfully, it is still a bit early for me to do beer. Never has been one of my morning libations.

And lastly, a lovely article [Link] on why the Gnome folks have wondered off into some sort of la-la land and have ceased to pay attention to what users want? Is this some sort of corporate greed or merely artistic fascism? It is often hard to tell, especially in our modern world. The good news is that it is recognized and numerous contraries efforts are under way. But it seems strange that we can unify over how out GU Is work and not over our own freedoms?

The Magnificance that is Grundy

Sometimes time seems to burn the mind, as if the mind can actually perceive the ratcheting of time. Quantum Mechanics seems to tell us that time, like space and momentum and energy, is discrete. We usually think of those chunks as being Planck units (go look it up on Wikipedia,) but these are expectation values at best. Or at least so my inaccurate view of QM has to be.

Along that line I was rather engaged by an article [Link] about the blob that ate Grundy. As related by the journalist, and hence to be taken with a large vial of NaCl tablets close at hand, Grundy was a small town in the Old Dominion. A coal town. Dirty and dingy and poor as only the towns of miners can be. Mine owners live elsewhere where they cannot see the dirt and dinge and poverty and rot.

Then the Yankee government intervened and the law of unintended consequences took over. The YG spread around a lot of money to fix the flooding and the sickness that goes with, and to rebuild the infrastructure. But most of the private businesses just took the cash and ran, and the town collapsed.

In physics there are some systems that are Markovian and have only one state they can transition into, the not-there state. A balloon is such a thing. Look at it too hard and it ceases to be a balloon, becoming just a wet ruptured pseudo-condom.

All that is left of Grundy is a MalWart. I shan’t belabor the cmparison of MalWart to a condom or a ruptured balloon. I will note that its track record is to destroy three jobs for every two it creates. Mathematically this is wonderful. It is a convergent geometric progression. It converges to zero.

I cannot help recalling a science fiction short story I read once about a future archaeological dig at a motel. As is common with archaeologists a great deal of effort was spent explaining why this large edifice had to be for  religious purposes. But what really stuck in mind, captured in one of those Planck phase volumes no doubt, was the significance of the pointing of the toilet paper. That, and a frank admission that the purpose of the roll of paper was unknown and would likely remain so.

I find it helps to adopt that outlook when I think about MalWart.

Rut Maintenance

Ah! Freya’s  day. And after a hectic week it actually feels halfway soothing for a change. But I still have the nagging agony of tab disposaphobia. Take for example a report from the “Economic and Social Research Council” [Link] that Occidentals and Orientals see their environments differently. Evidently Occidentals tend to look at key features, the eye region of faces, e.g., while Orientals tend to take a more holistic view, the whole face, e.g., so that both are uncomfortable mentally around the other. And this behavior is cemented by entry into puberty.

Sadly, this pronouncement, which tends to explain a great deal about the oft noted differences between East and West, is not supported well on the causitive level. Is this purely environmental or does it have a genetic component? Why is it? And are these questions beyond the grasp of ‘social scientists’?

I cannot help but think that I had an Oriental as an adviser in graduate shule. This probably explains why he abided me.

Next, an article from the Economist [Link] about research at U Texas on how exercise is cannibalistic. Vision of the “worm who ate his own tail” emerge. The technical term is autophagy, which

“name is derived from the Greek for “self-eating”, is a mechanism by which surplus, worn-out or malformed proteins and other cellular components are broken up for scrap and recycled.”

Obviously the process is controlled in some fashion otherwise it would have run itself into complete destruction on myself and quite a few other people I see at gym. In which instance the image that may be more appropriate is the folks in a lifeboat after a sinking. Breadfruit anyone?

This seems to be a common theme in biology of organisms needing to prune themselves of badness and this capability deteriorating in old age and eventually resulting in discorporation.

I have to wonder if the same is true of social organisms as well? And is it time for us to prune the political parties?

And lastly, just when you think that the SOPAites are going to reduce the internet to a mindless pile of capitalist stercus, I read that the wonk shule on the Charles is going to offer free versions of their courses on the internet and certify the studious! In a sense this is not surprising because the cost is minimal and certainly provides them a leg up on becoming the internet college overlord but it also offers something else. The blatant, neon signage, arc illuminated searchlights across a cloudy sky, impact is an assault on the costs of second class education. This threatens everything from the internet diploma mills through land grant state colleges. If you’re too poor and/or dull to get into one of the ‘GOOD’ shules then why settle for second best? Admittedly, one will then miss out on all the official partying, tail-gating I believe it is now called, associated with not watching a meaningless collegiate athletic game, but one can always substitute a home brewed version and avoid the wasteful expenditures of tuition, books, and subsistence.

That is the second thing. The second, perhaps even third rank, of Amerikan colleges have degenerated into training factories run for the flow of Yankee currency rather than actual education since the Great Patriotic War. The internet colleges are blatantly about collegiate mercantilism. And now this is threatened at its rotten foundation. By offering second class access to its actual educational efforts, MIT is offering a choice between a second class, unvalidated education and a second class training program whose validation is increasingly irrelevant while socially intransigent.

Who knows, this may actually be where the next Einstein comes from. Tightly managed colleges have never been good at developing genius and colleges today are so tight they can get sweat out of a dime.

Never forget: education is about diversity of knowledge and integration; training is about depth and differentiation.