Good Men Be Silent

This is rather nerdish. I note on Lifehacker [Link] that Antonio Ereditato and Dario Autiero have been forced to resign from the OPERA project by a vote on “no confidence”. If the reporting is to be believed, which has to be taken as a premise.

This is heinous. It is not the way to reward honesty and integrity. More importantly, it is not good science practice. At the risk of being accused of Racism, it is even Fascist.

Toes and Tiles and Togetherness

I fear that it is once more that time of week when tabs have to be brutally dealt with. For one thing, the browser keeps turning into a digital rock (digilith?) or digital mist (digimist? enough Hunnish compounding already!) Isn’t it bad enough to be living in the hinterland where broadband is anything but and no one seems to care except the users?

Speaking of caring, it seems that tree hugging is an inherently human activity after all. Courtesy of some work by Case Western Reserve U folks in Ethiopia, fossil evidence of a still (partly?) arboreal humanoid contemporaneous with Australopithecus Afarensis has been unearthed, [Link] The bones, highlighted in the figure,

indicate that this (unreported name) humanoid had a spayed great toe suitable for better grasping of limbs and trunk of tree. So while afarensis was doing the ground pounding thing this cousin was still doing the Tarzan thing. The dating on all this is approximately 3.2 MYA so it seems that our differentiation into conservationists and planet despoilers has taken a long time to get to the current sorry state.

On which note, I should say that the Dogwoods are in bloom here at Castellum SCP although I expect them to mostly be washed off in the rain this weekend. Rather early as I recall for this?

While we’re on blooming, next is a rather amusing piece from PC World (they’re still around?thought they got hit by a meteorite years ago?) about how the Linux desktop is booming. They report visitation fractions by Linux users of between 0.014 to 0.25 with the fraction increasing in correlation with the nerdiness of the site. No data given on LOLFELINE sites – and no comments about either the sites or the compounding. But what is treasurable about the article is a quote,

Post-PC? Not Quite.

Yes, Linux is a longstanding leader in the server world, and its Android derivative is now a leader in the mobile world too, though you can keep all the silly “post PC” hogwash.

Desktops will be with us for a long time to come, and as long as they are, a fully alive and fully free desktop Linux will have a rightful place among them.”

Maybe there is a reason for this rag to still be around if they are actually saying such sensible things. Of course, if they are then the bogs aren’t reading there.

On which note, I found another article [Link] proclaiming that the combination of the demise of WXP and the release of W8 with its tile GUI METRO was an opportunity to lead Winders serfs to freedom (and Linux.) What is impressive here is what isn’t said. The Linux community has been alienated by Tile GUI for over a year now with Gnome 3 and Unity, and the forces of righteousness have used the natural voting environment to elect new code that emulates Gnome 2 and the golden desktop of last year. Isn’t it amazing how the determination of ambitious, self-righteous, greedy organizations can wreck such havoc and destruction in such a short time. Wait until you get to see what MegaHard can do!

Anyway, yes the old desktop, which we are assured is not dead, at least for those who still have work to do, is still around for those who are willing to abandon the wasteland of time and effort and productivity that is the Tile GUI and actually learn how to use a computer. Yes, I admit that I do proselyte the occasional Winders user to try Linux, but only under appropriate circumstances. Simply put, that user has to already be showing grave signs of being micturated with Winders and is more interested in being productive and effective than in being socially subjugated to Big Brother.

And yes, there are distros that are intended to ease the transition and delay the need to do real user stuff like command line bashing and adding repositories and fixing glitches but I operate on the philosophy that I want to make it seem easier than I described. This has the advantage that fewer see the Attack Rabbit of despair and run away, never to leave their Winders womb again. Instead they decide they are better humans than they thought if they can survive the travails of Linux, even if it is Mint of one of those other cotton candy padded distros.

And while we’re on that subject, a study from Yale U indicates that “A person’s mere presence in a room can add 37 million bacteria to the air every hour.” Given that we have more microbial cells in and on our bodies than we have body cells, this is not really a surprise. But the reason I liked the article was a quote (again,)

“All those infectious diseases we get, we get indoors.”

which is rather instructive. It explains all sorts of things from why life expectancies are shorter in cities than in the hinterland, despite the difference in medicalist attentions, and why civilization, in general, is bad.

Although with the pollen the way it has been the last few weeks indoors is not all that bad in terms of minimizing allergy reactions. But it does raise the question of why we should bother to cover our mouths when we cough?

Riligionism Freedom

Yesterday, I received confirmation of something that I had hypothesized for a LONG time. The state of Alibam, and indeed, much of the old Confederacy, is religionisticly fanatic. The Gallop folks published [Link] this summary:

The surprises here are small. Utah is more fanatic than Alibam. OK. I’ll accept that. There are parts of some Alibam cities, in Birmingham particularly, where there is a general atmosphere of foreboding, but not the down town area. Salt Lake City on the other hand feels like one should be accompanied by a squad of recon Marines and unmanned aerial vehicles. Reminds me of some of those documentaries of Nazi Germany and the sweeps for intellectuals, LGBT, and Jews. Except in this case it’s everyone who isn’t a particular strain of Mormon.

One of my colleagues, Magnetic Force Inductance, reminded me of what Lester Sprague deCamp said in Lest Darkness Fall, that ‘freedom of religion is the right to persecute everyone who isn’t of your religious persuasion.’ Certainly that perversion pervades the left hand list.

And I wasn’t surprised by the inclusion of Oklahoma. I’ve been there enough to know that in some ways it is just as perverse as Utah or the old Confederacy. But it has a fieriness that comes of living in a much more marginal environment.

I can almost rationalize the old Confederacy. They lost, the infrastructure burned to the ground by Sherman and his imitators, the governments stolen by Yankee gangsters and native capitalists, and troops stationed to maintain their legal culture. But it has been a century and a quarter and the paranoia needs to be dissolved. Needs, but isn’t, and I suspect won’t. Too much of the power structure of the new Sowth is built upon this persecution, too many politicians and preachers hold their social and organizational status because of the hate they spread like cheap balm.

I cannot say much for the states on the right hand list. I have visited most and can say from experience that they have their own versions of distrust and enmity. More than one are alienated to strangers. And the District is in grievous need of tons of Preparation H. So as bad as the religionism is in Alibam, it at least is the evil that I know and can, much of the time, live with.

But at least my hypothesis has been strengthened by data.

It’s in there somewhere?

Back when I was an entering freshman in college I must have projected naivety since a kind upper classman delivered some advice to me about note taking. Among the bits was an admonition to take notes because the act of writing would help me remember and I would have the notes for later reference. I took this so much to heart that I had almost all of my notes with me, unread in years, when they burned in the great fire of ’01.

What I did not learn until later was that you have to look at what you are writing. I have since learned that we may visualize what we are writing but more so we speak it and thus looking at what we have written adds a stronger visual sensory component to the memory.

I had occasion yesterday while visiting my periodontist to make use of this, interrupting the hygienist in the midst of film removal to write down an instruction so that I could remember it after I left the facility.

But I also came by a bit of a question. The current generation, the so-called GEN Ys, do not write. They lack both training and developed ability. Only those who have had calligraphy as a hobby know any cursive. But they do key, and so the question arose in my mind as to whether keying is as effective as writing for remembering?

I can think of arguments both ways, but I tend towards keying being less effective simply because almost all of the GEN Y can key without looking at what they are keying. So no strong visual sensation to enhance the memory.

I also suspect that no font, no matter how striking, can be as effective in provoking memory as writing. All writing, despite the best efforts of first and second grade teachers, is individual. So all writing is different, and at the same time, because it is ours, clearly ours. We recognize its shape even if we have problems deciphering it. At least I do, supposedly the result of too much education and not enough precision in forming letters, but actually, in my Id, I know it is a lack of discipline on my part.

So while I know not, and would like to know, I suspect that one of the penalties of abandoning writing is reduced memory. That seems a strange thing to say given the same complaints were raised as occurring when writing was adopted.

Shining Education

This may shape up to be a bit of a rant. I ran across an article [Link] on entitled “Huntsville best-educated of Alabama’s metro areas, with 20,000 residents holding engineering degrees”. This claim is based entirely on engineering degrees.

If you read on there is a grudging consideration of baccalaureate degrees, in which instance Madison county comes in second to Shelby county. But no meaningful reportage on graduate degrees, and the article finally degenerates into a pep rally for U Alibam in Huntsville.

The first question that pops is simply “Are engineers educated?” The classical answer, ala Capella, is a resounding NO! I don’t know about these days but engineering students do not take many liberal arts courses and those they do take are service courses ‘tuned’ to engineers. When I was an undergraduate my associates who were studying engineering took a syntax course largely oriented to writing reports and correspondence, sort of a business shule type of course but for geeks, a literature course, which was widely hated, and a psychology course oriented towards technical workplace dynamics. That was it although I might say I did envy them the latter course in later years.

Not that what we had to take in the nerd disciplines was much better. I had to take two supposed syntax courses that were devoted to reading boring contemporary novels and writing irrelevant essays about same, and two literature courses that were devoted to reading Norton’s anthology of English literature, and writing term papers. All four were considered endurance races. It was not until I got to working for the Yankee army that they made me take an intensive 40 class hour course on syntax for technical writing that I had a worthwhile syntax class in the collegiate environment/level.

We did have more choice, a freedom that I gather is now severely reduced by the evolution of curricula. And I can say that I do not regret many of my choices. It is rather the required courses that I regret.

But to answer the question of whether engineers are educated, we first have to consider if a college degree in any form is an education? The answer to that is a resounding NO!, putting the lie to all those diploma mills and overgrown night shules that advertise their diploma equates to an education.

An education is not a college degree, but can one be educated without a degree. Certainly that is almost a nay in our contemporary society where the college degree is perceived as a necessary salvation from poverty and drudge labor. Sadly, that also is a myth and delusion. Almost all jobs requiring a college degree do not need one. They need more than high shule, yes, but anyone who has begun the road to education in attending college is almost surely wasted in 0.99 of all jobs today because the jobs simply do not need the intangibles and creativity of the educated. All they require is specialized training that college now offer as part of their industrial perversion.

So what this is all about is jobs that pay well, not education, and Huntsville is certainly a leader. In my experience engineers (and scientists) have more fun in their jobs than anyone else. Pay is not the only reason. Fun is also important. And while there are engineers (and scientists) who are such for the money, they are generally mediocre and quickly shunted into dead ends or administrative activities.

So a better question is why do we have to propagate such diversions and delusions? Why do we talk about education when we really want to talk about money? I do not know the answer to that but I do know it is a mixture of being a money based society and being a society period.

It’s not a bad metric, just irrelevant to the claims.

Mein Klumpchen

Despite having several medicalist engagements this week, I am trying to revert to something more modal in activity. As a result, I start this morning with an article [Link] that indicates that young people are not so much abandoning traditional information channels as they are diffusing into the new ones.The work was done at U Gothenberg and dealt with a test population of 9-24 year olds. Quoting from the article,

“people in this age group do watch TV and listen to radio and recorded music somewhat less today than 30 years ago. The same trend can be observed for reading, especially when it comes to educational textbooks and nonfiction. However, children and adolescents still use traditional media more than the internet. In fact, schoolchildren (age 9-14) spend a whole 75 percent of their media time on traditional media; for the age group 15-24 the proportion is 60 percent.”

My question is, if this is the case, why can’t people this age write or speak intelligently? Is absorbing information the only thing that is important? Surely not or the social web sites would have foundered at inception. But cursive is a dying, if not dead, skill – although I do admit my cursive to be legible even to me sporadically – and their grammar and composition is as bad. And the latter transcends the argot differential of ages. Yes, I used terms as a ynglng that my parents and adults could not understand but I worked very hard to obey the rules of syntax. Our young seem to have discarded that practice as irrelevant and antiquarian?

And in a related article, [Link] a PEW poll claims that, contrary to Wired magazine, the web is not dead. Evidently the PEW folks have some fundamental misunderstanding of what the internet is since they claimed the Wired argument that

“Web was “in decline” and “apps” were in the attendance because they provided “simpler, sleeker services” for the growing number of people using mobile devices such as smart-phones and tablets.”

has been disproven by the cloud. Where do the PEW folks think apps are acquired?

As I recall the Wired article ended up claiming that the web was dead in much the same way that God is dead. Living things evolve and the web/internet/cloud/bit sea may not be biological, is definitely not intelligent nor sentient, but it does evolve because biological entities are tightly coupled to it informationally.

But at least this gives a GOOD object lesson of how seriously to take PEW polls.

Questionable Sermonology

One of the by blows of probability theory is that sequences tend to occur. One of the perversities of human sentience is that we tend to see patterns, even when there are no patterns. Today seems to be the convolution of these two.

First, courtesy of MakeUseOf [Link] we have a lovely plot

derived from the Wall Street Journal, the one that is impolite to everyone who doesn’t have a chair on the exchange, of newsprint and toilet paper use over a short period of time (in human terms.) MUO seems to think  this special even though they miss a rather important matter, the amount of newsprint (as in newspapers) that is used as toilet paper. Their figures for tissue, which includes nose wipes as well as anal wipes, as thus degenerate.

If one recalls the novel Moscow Farewell, the ‘tagonist spends some time describing how newspapers are avidly sought to serve as toilet paper because of the inability of Soviet Communism to build a toilet paper that can withstand both the Russian winter and worker’s bowel contents and also be soft. At least compared to news print. Of course, the ink is antiseptic, making it popular for the ad hoc delivery of infants outside the precincts of hospitals. I keep expecting a panegyric on the demise of Western civilization due to this health hazard implied by eNews and tablets.

Next, from the same source [Link] I note “Bring Windows Up To Speed With Auslogics BoostSpeed 5 [Giveaway]”

and have to raise the question of why is it that one is always running into this genre of offers in conjunction with Winders, but seldom for Apple OS, and NEVER for Linux. One is occasionally presented with some web article advancing some tweaks to “speed up” or “streamline” Linux of Apple OS, but they are rare and NEVER associated with a commercial product.

One is therefore forced, unless one is a bog, to hypothesize that Linux and Apple OS do not need to be accelerated because they are of adequate velocity inherently and implicitly. The implication is that Winders is either inherently and implicitly slow, or suffers from some malady that results in slowness. The derivative implication is that the second possibility is due to bogs, since the demographic fraction of Winders users who are bogs is orders of magnitude larger than the corresponding fraction for the other two OS. This is further supported by the sales statistics of these products that indicate their customers are 0.99+ bogs.

And lastly, the grrr brrr about the “failure” of the Disney cinema based, too loosely in some opinions, on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom novels [Link]
leads us to one of the great unanswered questions of modern SCIENCE (fiction), namely

If Martian women are oviparous, why do they have mammaries?

Thus endeth the sermon.