Absence of Choice

Now that the Mutt has secured sufficient delegates to assure his nomination we commence on the actuality of the campaign for chief executive. As a result, it seems fitting that we cast some attention to the baggage that accompanies as a result of political parties. For example, despite any inclinations of the candidates the platforms will include:

  • The Democruds will be opposed to defense by either individuals or the nation; and
  • The Repulsians will be opposed to any religious or reproductive self-determination.

What may be instructive is to cast that in terms of a commonality:

Both Repulsians and Democruds are PRO-SLAVERY!

Consider that as you decide how to exercise the franchise. If there is no meaningful choice then freedom is already dead.

Improvised Incompetence Devices

Yesterday I ran across an article [Link] that attempted to explain the popularity of pickup trucks as individual motor vehicles. It failed, almost an archetype of what journalism is these days, failure and inaccuracy. But it did get me to cogitating on the question and I think I have a conjecture.

For the benefit of the religionist smugs out there who don’t understand what a theory is, let me offer the following model. If I have something on order one (1) sigma of confidence then it’s a conjecture; if two (2) sigma it’s an hypothesis, and is three (3) sigma it’s a theory. Bear in mind that means a theory is more certain and more accurate than 0.9 of all eyewitness testimony in a courtroom. So please don’t play that lame “it’s just a theory” bowel movement game. (I’ll discuss the ramifications of bowel movement games in another blot sometime.)

Anyway, the observation is that pickup trucks are inordinately hard to drive. In effect, there is less difference in the drivability of a semi trailer truck rig and a pickup truck than there is in the drivability of a pickup truck and a limousine. In effect, pickup trucks can no more be maneuvered in traffic than a truck thrice as large and hence must be maneuvered around. Since they are smaller and more numerous they represent a grave threat to the public welfare. (Which leads us to question how one is allowed to own one for not-businesses purposes?)

Given that pickup trucks cannot be driven well enough not to be a menace to be avoided and compensated for, it strikes that this makes them attractive to people who cannot drive competently or who cannot be bothered to drive competently due to mental or ethical laziness or those who are just plain pathologically apathetic about presenting a menace to society. Because a pickup truck cannot be driven competently the failings of these drivers will not be obvious and they will not be blamed, at least as severely. So in effect, for most people who drive pickup trucks – I am tenatively excepting those who use them for business – driving a pickup truck is a diversion from or camouflage of their own ineptitude, incompetence, or pathology.

The only thing not considered here is those folks who are so insecure in their driving that they want a fortress for a vehicle so that when they are in that wreck they know is coming, they will be injured less than they injure. I am not sure whether this qualifies as driving incompetence or just plain cravenness.

Anyway, if you see a pickup truck on the road, you may safely assume, as a matter of operational practice, that it is driven by a sociopath or a dolt and if this be proven wrong, be thankful no greater injury was sustained.

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Listerine Employment

OK, back to week in. Gym this morning was off, I suppose a combination of shule desessioning and the holy day yesterday. The introduction of a early (0430? – for most) class seems to be keeping the educationalists and weight bouncers distracted and at least they are quiet except when filing through the gym to the reserved room when they are epitomes of loudness, rudeness, and all that is evil about exercise bogs. Besides that only the dedicated seniors doing cardio approved stuff – we are too old for these silly classes. Just get the work done and move on.

Speaking of moving on, I see [Link] that MegaHard has joined Canonical, Gnome, and Apple in adopting a tile GUI absent of real eye candy. Now we have a majority of desk box users who have reason to feel betrayed and abandoned. The only thing satisfying about this is that it strongly indicates that MegaHard is in dire straits. The most frightening thing is that if MegaHard falls will it take the desktop marketplace down with it? Never mind that this is all oriented towards the smart(?) phone/tablet marketplace. Will it compromise using computers to do real work for those of us who are not only concerned with distracting our attention spans from productive effort?

This brings to consideration the multiple aspects of work. Why do we have a Listerine, love-hate relationship with work? Why is it at once both the thing that most defines us and the thing we hate the most (at least most of the time?) Whatever happened to the Puritan (guilt and religion) work ethic? Did it get lost along with civility, manners, and altruism in the onrush of hedonism? Did the combination of Vietnam and the race to Luna exhaust us as a society? How did the Hippie rejection of Capitalism turn into the Consumerist slavery to Capitalism that seems to define our society today?

Certainly that is the definition of society today. People driven to have stuff which drives them to go into debt for a diploma they do not need (in most cases) that assures they have to take a job they will detest so they can go further into debt for the latest electronic gizmo that is functionally indistinguishable from the last five they bought, none of which have worn out but all contributing to their dissatisfaction and dissolution? And why, as the lotalty of organization to employee has disappeared has organization’s demands for employee loyalty increased exponentially? Can we no longer have either an arm’s length job or an existence outside wage slavery?

I think how happy I am not to be young and forced to work at what lacks fun. It was bad enough in my heyday when I had to do lots of things I detested some of the time to do what I enjoyed the rest of the time. Now too many only have the former which takes all of the time.

Some days it seems an extinction event might be a mitzvah.

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Lost Respect

Today is Memorial Day, the official Yankee government holy day that suppresses Decoration Day and substitutes something that seems somehow less in too many dimensions. Originally Decoration Day was a day dedicated to the decoration of graves of Civil War veterans, mostly those killed in service. I draw that distinction because the American Civil War was a transition from the days when 0.8-0.9 of all casualties were the result of improper sanitation and illness rather than wounds obtained in actual combat to the present when the ratio is essentially reversed. Somehow it seems typically military that those in authority thought so little of their mission as to excuse such hygene casualties for the sake of mission.

Decoration day was an extension of a Southron tradition where a day is designated for relatives and friends to decorate the graves of the deceased. This date varied a bit by locale and since most graveyards were church administered the day was selected by minister or elders. The significant thing is that before the grave could be decorated it had to be cleared of trash and incursive vegetation. This work was considered to be critical. To neglect it was a slight to the dead and highly honored no matter how irrational. And during this period of effort one was supposed to bend one’s mind to the deeds and character of the ones buried there.

This contemplation or reflection carried over to Decoration Day. It was originally intended to keep people mindful of the sacrifice of the soldiers in preserving the Union and ending (?) slavery. The actual decoration was an afterthought.

Sadly, too much of this has been lost. Now the vast majority do no work except to amuse themselves. Many do no decoration except to observe some politician lay a wreath on the audio-visual electromagnetic receiver. Only a few, mostly themselves living veterans, actually contemplate the sacrifice.

I am not dissatisfied that we have extended the observance from those who fell in service to those who served in war, but I am with the sterility and artificiality of the present. Somehow our failure to suffer a bit seems to belittle what these soldiers did. It raises question if we still deserve the Union?

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Physics Loaf

This  is going to be rather a strange one. For some reason I got to thinking last night – in my sleep – of the four elements.[Link] For convenience I will simply refer to these in the modern terminology of:

  • Earth;
  • Air;
  • Fire; and
  • Water

and ignore the minor (?) variations among different societies.

But what I was thinking about was how these theories came about. I knew I had never been exposed to any meaningful presentation of the origin of these theories, all similar and hence either so compelling that the theory was developed somewhere and was then universally adopted by others once exposed, or independently developed by many societies and thus somehow fundamental to human or social nature.

Then, for some reason, prodded by my unconscious mind no doubt, I began to consider the nature of bread. [Link] Bread is an almost common staple of civilization. Even Asia, with its dependence on rice, makes some bread. And flour dates from 9K BCE which is not out of line with the four elements theories, so far as I can tell.

The idea thus is that bread is the basis of the four elements. Earth is flour, water is water, air is yeast, and fire is fire. That can probably be dressed up, or torn down, by an academic, indeed it may be an old theory I haven’t heard of, but that’s the idea.

I won’t go to the beer adjunct.

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In light of the recent bit on hypertension and hunter-gatherer bands I got to cogitating on the latter a bit. Supposedly bands are egalitarian. This does not mean that they don’t have leaders; there are always brash extroverts who make too much noise with too much ego and are easier to abide, when it isn’t dangerous, than to kill. And there are always introverts who stay in the background until the extroverts lead the band into danger and they step froward to dispose of the extroverts and lead the band to safety.

So I have been considering the ‘hazing killing’ of a Floridas A&M drum major in this context.[Link] Originally marching bands were small affairs, about the right size for a hunter-gatherer band, with a small “b”. There was also the Band with a capital “B” that was 2-4 times bigger and reflected the spouse and goods exchange pool. The Floridas A&M band is larger than the latter but it shares some aspects of the hunter-gatherer social organization.

First of all, we have to recognize that a marching band is relatively egalitarian. Yes, there is a band director who has authority, but that authority has to be largely limited to academic matters. If the hand gets too heavy ways are found to dispose of the director. And a drum major, as the grade indicates is more of an administrative than a command figure.

Now a marching band is clearly not a hunter-gatherer band in that it does not exist primarily for food gathering, but it does exist as a way of life and since many of its members are on scholarship, survival is definitely a part of band culture. So a marching band will share some social traits with a hunter-gatherer band.

And that includes a very strong, well defined, us-them, in-group/out-group behavior. So a new member of the band is not really a member until accepted as such. And because membership carries survival responsibilities, unlike the boy scouts or a professional society, loyalty and culture sharing must be firmly demonstrated before real membership is accorded. And until this is accorded the newcomer is a pariah or worse.

So despite all the grrr brrr about inhumane treatment and racial prejudice, which is only inaccurate in terms of misunderstanding what humane means and how the race boundaries are drawn, what seems to have occurred here is natural and beneficial. Not legal, mind you but those laws are the laws of a different organization that has no regard for the needs of other organizations. That is the nature of organizations; they only respect others that can hurt them badly. Organizational cooperation is strictly survival and pain avoidance.

So if you are an administrative newbie among a band of performers you cannot be effective and retain your welfare if you are not accepted as a member of the in-group. In such circumstances, risk of loss of life is acceptable, and in this instance, unfortunate. But then we all do stupid things for short term goals.

But we don’t do a very good job of understanding being human.

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A Health Too Far

One of my colleagues, Mass Angular Momentum, sent me a link to this article [Link] that I had noted but not yet read. Given his indication of relevance to me I quickly read and began to cogitate.

The article detail – all too shallowly, but it is journalism, after all – work out of U California on incidence of hypertension among hunter-gatherers. Notably, they find it is largely absent.

As my colleague observed, this is not surprising. The hunter-gatherer existence is, or at originally, was free of most stresses. Yes, they might stress over being able to find food or romance or whether to switch from H&G to making blanks for tools, but they were largely spread over the group and less frequent than the stresses of civilized life. Speaking logistically, the more people in the area, the more interactions and the more stress.

Also, we cannot discount diet either. There have been studies indicating that a pattern of gorging followed by starving is more healthy than constant adequacy. One suspects it is hard to deposit barnacles on the plumbing if they are periodically serving as food reserves.

But I cannot help worrying about the reliability of the data. Since the end of exploration on Tellus, there have been no hunter-gatherer bands not corrupted by some contact with civilization, the observer effect if nothing else. This is strengthened by the pictures in the article of hunter-gatherers attired in civilization clothing. These folks are not leading a pure HG lifestyle and lacking controls impossible in human studies reduce science from experiment to observation. And falsifiability is impossible.

It is also a bit of a trivium. We cannot recapture the HG lifestyle for numbers of people. If any of our own stream to join the few HG bands we shall destroy them in a situation akin to that on the news last night of scaling Everest. The magic of consumerism is that it destroys everything. It is indeed the red blob.

We could, of course, kill off 0.99 of the population of Tellus, somehow eradicate the survival guilt of the remaining 0.01, and return to a hunter-gatherer existence. Maybe. But there would be no returning. It would be a one way trip since we have largely destroyed the resources that permitted us to leave that life style for civilization.

As for me, I volunteer to be part of the 0.99. I am past the age of 45 and hence living on borrowed time for a hunter-gatherer. Besides, physics and physicists are as irrelevant to being a hunter-gatherer as being a physician or banker or plumber.

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