Shell Game

Just when I start thinking humans may have some positive characteristics and be worth continuing, I run across an article [Link] that is horribly damning.

It seems some eco-geek at Clemson U, undergrad, I believe, wanted to figure out a better way for turtles to cross the road. No, this isn’t some sort of joke, and I think that they actually used the term incorrectly, probably meaning tortoise rather than turtle. But this student got interested in this matter because of some course assignment and put a (fairly realistic) toy tortoise out in the oradway to observe motorist behavior.

Quite frankly, I expected a general trend of people to avoid the beastie since I do. But I was inaccurate. Something in excess of 0.02 of drivers actually redirected the motorcar to hit the tortoise, which is a sufficient fraction given traffic density to account for the general decrease in the local tortoise population.

This is sick. It is sick in the same sense that the shooting in Connecticut is sick. And it is fundamentally human. And we seem unable to cope with that aspect of humanness.

This is probably one of the great tests of Jains, whether it is moral to kill a killer?

Think about that next you are motoring, or mowing lawn, or even cleaning up. When does killing life become evil?

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Cold and Drool

We come to ice cream day, the christianist pseudo-shabat, which is appropriate since it portends to be a cold day. My Firefox weather add-in indicates that it is 28 degF in Greater Metropolitan Arab right now and the temperature will rise to all of 45 degF. This is a mixed bag, if accurate. We are starting off at lower temperature than yesterday but we have the carrot of higher maximum than yesterday.

Speaking of yesterday, FD SCP drug me out to go shopping for a new motorcar for her. This was not a pleasant experience. I was repeatedly whelmed by blatantly incompetent salesmen (no women?) who project greed and fraud, when they are not mentally drooling. I suppose I am spolied by having bought my last few motorcars in Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill where the salesmen are used to dealing with techies and knowing that appearing stupid and boggish will cost them a sale. But FD SCP wants to obtain service for her motorcar here in Greater Metropolitan Arab and the dealer we finally settled on is the least worst of a horrible lot. At least statistically.

It may be asked why I would choose to live in a town of such blatant and bottomless incompetence, what with salesmen who mentally drool and city governance by real estate agents. The reason is simple; the distractions may be safely ignored leaving one to concentrate on important stuff, like physics. Knowing that the salesmen are incompetent and venial and cheats means that one can safely ignore their noise and decide whether the inflated price and inferior good are good enough to not waste more time over. And knowing that the city government values only people who do not live in the city means that one is free of concern over city politics and machinations. Sometimes, if the evil is small enough and inept enough, it is better to ignore it into a corner than consume one’s substance eradicating it.

This is the rule in small town Amerika, especially here in the hinterland. In fact, compared to Atlanta, Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill is similarly corrupt and competence-shy. I have long hypothesized that this differential of competence, if not greed and fraud, is why the young get attracted in such numbers to the cities, and why so many of them die young – in the cities. Cities have always been death mills of the young, going back to their beginnings. The competence draws them in and the greed takes them apart.

The other nasty piece of this, of which I have been reminded several times this week, is the idea of ‘cold’. Cold is nonsense, like the multipliers of less that have become fashionable in advertisements. There is no such thing as cold except in the minds of humans who should know better but apparently naturally drool between the ears. But since it seems fitting both in terms of our theme and in keeping with the weather, we shall discuss cold.

The human body is a heat engine. The heat is essentially a waste product like feces and urine. Since it is produced (approximately) continuously, it must be disposed of in the same fashion. The rate of heat transfer from the body to the environment depends on several factors including both the body and environment temperature. If the temperature difference is too low, our body retains heat and be become ‘hot’. This piece makes a bit of sense. But if the temperature difference is too great, then heat is pulled out faster than efficiency permits and we experience some metabolic stuttering that we interpret as ‘cold’. The most obvious of this is shivering which is as attempt by muscles to increase the body’s generation of heat.

So ‘cold’ is not only a purely human, unphysical thing, but manifest evidence of the prevalence of boggishness among humans.

Which brings us to the key question: is the mental drool of salesmen also manifest evidence of boggishness?

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More Rot

I just ran across an IO9 article [Link] entitled “The Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs of 2012”. The problem is that most of what is listed aren’t science. Some aren’t even stamp collecting. I suppose this vindicates James Burke who sez that most humans don’t know science from engineering from technology from manufacturing from advertising, but it grates me that an otherwise good site purblished such stercus.

Besides, it’s a list and I can’t avoid lists.

  1. NASA’s Curiosity Rover Lands on Mars – this is engineering. What Curiosity has to do on Mars is science, but building it and getting it there isn’t. Journalism fail.
  2. Artificial DNA Brings Us Closer Than Ever to Synthesizing Entirely New Forms of Life – this is a weak maybe. It’s definitely on the borderline between stamp collecting and technology.
  3. Computers Learn to Recognize the Content of Images for the First Time – this one is definitely not science. Anything that has to tell you it’s science – like political science – isn’t.
  4. Ancient DNA from Denisovans Sheds Light on What Made Homo sapiens Successful – strong maybe. Biology is hard to tell since it does so much that isn’t science.
  5. Physicists Detect the Long-Sought Higgs Boson – again, weak. Not because it isn’t science, but because it’s just validation of a theory. It’s even questionable if it’s a discovery.
  6. Researchers publish ENCODE, the “Encyclopedia” of DNA – this one is ambiguous. Is the publication science? Maybe. If it’s original. But if it’s an encyclopedia then by definition it’s not. Journalism fail.
  7. Researchers Create a Mammal Entirely from Stem Cells – again this is biology and on the boundary between science and engineering.
  8. This Electronic Implant can Dissolve Inside Your Body – definitely engineering.
  9. The First Study to Examine What Happens to Women Denied Abortions – surveys are not science. Their use may be.
  10. Spaceflight Goes Private – emphatically NOT science. Maybe engineering but mostly politics and greed.
  11. The Environment is Falling to Shit, and People are Taking Notice also definitely NOT science. Maybe diffusion of ideas; but definitely politics and stupidity.
  12. Autism Symptoms Were Reversed in Mice – even though this is biology, it seems to be science.
  13. A Working Tractor Beam – science, but not obviously not engineering.
  14. The World’s Most High-Tech Condom – engineering, pure and simple.
  15. The Most Comprehensive Face Transplant in History – medicine. Which means it almost certainly isn’t science and maybe not engineering.
  16. There Is More Water Than We Thought in the Solar System. – science bordering on stamp collecting.
  17. A Virus That Creates Electricity – not a breakthrough so far as I can see. Maybe science, but it’s biology so it’s hard to tell.

Not many breakthroughs in the list. Maybe a bit more science. IO9 gets F–.

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Extreme Rot

Week out has arrived, not that it very obvious this week with the holiday and confusion. And next week portends to be almost as bad. But there are still tabs to ‘hawg, so let us be at it.

First, an archaeologist for the Israeli Antiquities Authority sez that the christianists have it all wrong. [Link] (No, Qadgop, I am not making this up.) Seems that they have the wrong Bethlehem. It’s not the one near Jerusalem, it’s the one in Nawth Israel near Nazareth.

So does this mean that all those folks who made pilgrimages – ala Chaucer – to Bethlehem-near-Jerusalem for edification and inspiration and forgiveness of sins or whatever, didn’t? Is the medium really the message? Is the map really the territory. Are Moscow opera company sets real buildings and villages?

I am not sure whether this is a laugh or cry or mixed state situation.

Speaking of mess-ups, I note [Link] Peter Higgs has called Richard Dawkins a “fundamentalist”. I have never met either but since they are celebrities among nerds and scientists, I have some informational knowledge of each. Dawkins is a biologist who is a better known these days for his militant atheism and anti-religionism than his biology. Higgs is the guy whose name got stuck on the mass propagator. His militancy extends to disliking ‘his’ propagator called the “god particle”.

Would Maynard G. Krebs say that “god is heavy!”?

Quite frankly, I don’t find this to be news. Any nerd who has observed Dawkins knows he is a fanatic and fanaticism is a boggish thing normally associated with religion or sports, not that one can often tell the difference among bogs. But for Dawkins to exhibit such behavior immediately makes his qualifications suspect.

But I am also tempted to observe that this does seem to be a bit of the difference between science and stamp collecting.

Lastly, I ran across a list [Link] of “The 10 must-see geek movies of 2013”. This source is one of those who has problems distinguishing accurately between geek and nerd so the list has to be taken a bit liberally. After all, most journalists are bogs and hence understand neither.

The thing about this list is how alien it is. Nothing on it leaps out and grabs my attention. Too many of what are on the list are remakes of not-that-old but bad genre movies. How many times can one make a “first” Superman/Batman/… movie? Apparently infinitely because the geeks who are almost bogs but want to overcompensate will go in great numbers. The same folks who do not appreciate such wonders as John Carter or the Monarch of the Moon.

Also, I am almost fundamentally skeptical of how a movie can be made of Ender’s Game. I am not a fan of Card, he has too many logical inconsistencies that are unresolved. But I did enjoy EG enough to finish it and I fail to see how the subtleties can get translated to the low standards of plot and script extant today.

So is the theme of the blot evident?

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WalMart WasteLand

The weirdness continues. Starting with the word “weirdness”. Whatever happened to i-before-e-except-after-c? The opinions I have heard from colleagues put most of the blame on the congress and their partisan antipathy. One even commented that he wished things would heat up a bit so a couple of them would do each other in and promote some cooperation for survival.

As unpleasant and attractive as that was: violence is always nasty and abhorrent; but if politicians use it on each other isn’t that like microbes competing in a decomposition pit? Can we really get upset over that? Only, it seems, if our wallets and consumerism are being decreased.

Yesterday I ventured out to the local MalWart, only because my list was mixed between foodstuffs and other stuffs, which meant I would have to go two places otherwise. Besides it was 0630 and the other grocery stores were no open. In case I have not mentioned, one of the reasons that the businesses of Greater Metropolitan Arab are hurting so much is that they keep too restricted hours. Almost nothing opens before 0800 and almost nothing is open after 1700. So much for catering to the majority of folks who work in Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill and aren’t in town during open hours.

The MalWart is an exception. It isn’t open 24/7 but it is open more than most other places, including city hall and the senior center. Heck, the senior center has fewer operating hours than any of the banks. But the problem with going to the MalWart early is that is when they restock – ayeh, makes no sense, why don’t they stock at 0200 like everyone else in the ‘real world’? – and the restockers are belligerent. Evidently all of them are evening people who aren’t allowed to do their job at the decent hour of 0200 and hence have to take out their frustration on the early riser who come needing foodstuffs at 0630.

The worst are the bread restockers, who are not MalWart employees and hence feel no compunctions about maiming and killing customers. After all, they are the customers of their customer and hence scum and filth. Sadly, as is usual, I needed a loaf for FD SCP, who prefer Amerikan sliced white bread. It was almost my last turning point, being located near the front and the aisle was crammed with three competing restockers and wheeled trays of mediocre bread.

I entered bravely, meeting the walking dead gazes of the bread zombies with bared teeth and a firm grip on the buggy. My intent was tacit but not their submission, which was a slow awakening of their own risk, with gutteral noises of submission. The desired loaf was obtained and I wended my way to the solitary check out queue and thence to home to break my fast.

Sometimes I think we would be better off as an extinct species.

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Worthless Gifts

Strange day yesterday. Actually observed bursts of snowing and FD SCP and I motored in and around Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill. Trying weather and trying errands. Only good side was a low density of people. Apparently returning to work took priority over package returning/exchanging/whatever.

Not warm this morning. Somewhere very close to the liquid -> solid dihydrogen oxide temperature. Gym happily low in occupation and I did fairly well – no excessive or unusual pains. The podcast was an episode of the Linux Action Show, which I cannot recommend and am strongly considering dropping because of the profanity and the egregious and execrable banter. And the information is decidedly peripheral to my interests.

I noted on the ticker stream at gym this morning that the folks in Newtown have asked that no no more ‘gifts’ be sent. Evidently they have their fill of kitsch and stuffed dolls. I am never quite sure how to interpret such givings, whether they are deliberately useless or serve some function for the giver. Both, I suppose, in keeping with the nature of much reality.

Although I have to admit that a vision of the Newtown garbage dump full of expensive fluff junk strikes me as poignant of what happened there. But was that the intent? Somehow, having scant respect for bogs, I cannot entertain such planning on their parts.

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Memories of Days Past

OK. There is a heavy haze out there. I can’t get a line-of-sight at least a kilometer long to be able to guesstimate the optical density and thereby determine whether this is really a fog or not.

The SCIENCE podcast this morning was the yearly review podcast, which is almost as useless as not having one, which, as I mentioned earlier, is the foretelling for the next two weeks. May have to listen to a few backed-up In Our Time podcasts instead. And the number one of the year was the “discovery” of the Higgs (Higgses? number uncertain.) That’s sad, that something telling to bogs had to be the big one. Makes me wonder if the paywall is rotting the editors’ minds?

And FD SCP arose early so we vacated the whole package thing quickly and moved on to meaningful things like contemplating naps or projects.

I reverted to scanning tabs emergent from folders, an information thing that is sometimes emergent. And came up with a few cartoons that evoke memories of earlier holidays.

First, [Link]

a righteous parable. I do not recall when I discovered that Santa brings unwanted stuff, but my first clear memory is of football pads and helmet. And the repeated denial of a chemistry set, almost until puberty set in. I am unsure of the unopenable thing, packaging was still cardboard when I was a bairn.

I recall that summer after I got the helmet and pads being enticed by my father to go try out for the neighborhood childish team. Happily, I was rejected and never looked back. But I still missed the chemistry set.

Second, [Link]

the adult curse. I think I was in college when I learned the techoid’s christmas secret – the best presents are the ones you build yourself.

But the best christmas present I ever got [Link] was

I got the whole set of kits at one time. That chistmas lasted six months and got me in lots of trouble. I haven’t been the same since and have been trying to recapture even to now.

Of course, organic chemistry is good too.

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