Humings? Off to the cliff!

Ok, time to get serious or no ice cream for me today.

First, an article [Link] about some calculation of when homo sapiens is going to go extinct. The argument, which I can’t follow very well from the reportage, is that there is some probabilistic total number of humans that can live before we go away. Yeah, that’s why I have problems with this one. But I think its the presentation rather than the idea. I have similar concerns but mine are founded in two things: available resources; and extinction events. There are only so much oxygen, water, ….. on Tellus, in the solar system, in the galaxy,….. and when it is used up we, and life as we know it, ends. And it doesn’t have to be exhaustion, just scarcity enough to tip us into the void. The extinction event thing is more direct but harder to confront since the probabilities are small at any time. So we happily go along being bogs, in the main, and assuming that will be solved by a nerd in someone else’s lifetime. And not inconvenience us.

That may the the scariest source of extinction of all.

On a different azimuth, I found an article in WIRED [Link] that argues we need to change our computer usage from GUI to “conversational interface”. Ala Star Trek. The article is amazingly, to me, at least, frank about the difficulties, turning them into values in several cases. But I can’t suspend my disbelief. I spent several years trying to use dictation word processing software. It never had an accuracy better than 0.1. On a VERY good day. I quit repeatedly because I couldn’t afford the time waste.

My concerns about this all turn on vocalization. Language is complex, full of things with fuzzy meanings. I don;t think we are going to be happy limiting ourselves to baby talk to deal with computers. Besides, there are lots of things, some of those 18 click chains the article mentions, that I can do better and faster with clicks than words. And there is accent. No one thinks they have one. And while we may all be able to learn to machine talk, can we keep it up when we are sick or distressed or emotional?

Nice idea. Maybe it will work with the next dominant species.

Speaking of which, i see [Link] that 0.2 of the population of the Yankee republic, as estimated from assumedly representative sample populations, afirm they have “no religion”. That doesn’t mean they are atheists. It just means they don’t associate themselves with a religion organization or brand. Yes, I know religions don’t talk about branding outside the inner circle. But they;re a business and that means branding.

What’s missing from the stats is the demographic of nerds versus bogs. I know the folks here in the old Confederacy are less likely to have this state, but I would like to know what fraction of that 0.2 are nerds and geeks.

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National Insecurity

It is not “officially” week out and I have to begin cleaning out tabs in the overloaded browser. I start by noting that a Linux group in Spain has filed suit against MegaHard over its monopolistic UEFI. [Link] I have to admit to ambiguousness on this. Not that I do not applaud the righteousness of the effort. After all, MegaHard implemented this BIOS change as a sort of “Hadrian’s Wall” to keep the Linux barbarians out of its domains while it could still command the obedience of hardware manufacturers. Very definitely not a fair play however much MegaHard tries to dress up the gaping security weaknesses of Winders with its bleats of security.

The only security involved here is to assure MegaHard dominance of the computer environment.

I am told by colleagues who have to contend with the needs for both Winders access and a real OS every day in an organizational environment that the Linux UEFI solutions have limited space of solution. In bog talk that means they don’t work all the time on all boxes. In this regard the most intriguing (thought I was gonna use the “I” word, didn’t you?) bit is that here in the Yankee republic the approach has been to try to find non-confrontational ways to deal with the UEFI speed bump. This recognizes that as MegaHard diminishes in importance and influence, UEFI isn’t going to go away and so we are better off learning to teach it to sing than vainly try to make it go away.

Evidently the Europeans are taking a different approach, the beat MegaHard with a truncheon until they make nice approach. Based on history we know that this will be more an annoyance than a transformation. MegaHard has been beaten by the Europeans numerous times before, minorly altered its behavior for a pitifully short duration, and paid a trifling fine. There is no reason to expect anything different this time about.

We do have to ask the question of when in MegaHard’s deterioration it decides to abandon Europe? Right now the answer is probably never given that China has made Linux, or, at least, Ubuntu, its national OS. I expect them to approach the UEFI nonsense by writing their own, especially since they own most of the computer/tablet/cellular telephone factories. Then they can enjoy the double dividend of offering two models: one with their booter, at reduced price, or UEFI, with a surcharge for capitalist stupidity and greed.

Meanwhile, I read in the Register [Link] that the box market is expected to shrink while the tablet/”smart”phone market swells. This is news, already. If I have read this once in the last two years I have read it a hundred times. How many hack journalists are making a living rehashing this tattered doily? This one does have value added, seemingly the difference between Amerikan and English journalism. I quote,

“IDC forecasts a five per cent drop in sales of desk-based computers between 2012 and 2017, portable PC growth of at least 19 per cent, tabs soaring 174.5 per cent and smartphones rising 109.9 per cent.”

This seems to confirm that the question we got asked in the bairn days of the PC, “what is the value added of these hideously expensive toys?” has died a palsied death. Not because it has been answered but because it seems that while one isn’t being entertained on the devices, one may actually do a bit of work. Productivity, it appears, has become irrelevant.

Of course, I have to agree, that if all you are ever going to do is fuzzy feeling, blue serge suit stuff, then tablets and smutphones are adequate for the bogs. Actually, this is heartening. Deskboxes are supposed to go down only 0.05? That’s of order annual sales fluctuation. Perhaps HP and Dell need to rethink their MegaHardesque abandonment? And HP can clean up its act with lapboxes if there are still growth to be had. Maybe. Only if HP gets real management that cares about something other than profit taking.

This also portends that home computers may only get used for things they should be used for rather than being a social status statement. But what seems more likely is that the baby will get discarded with the gray water and our capacity to actually do and think will be reduced, both in homes and in the workplace. It seems these days that the thing we can have the greatest confidence in is that Amerika will do it wrong.

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Breeding Neurosis

Boundary of week out. Gym completed for the week. Maybe. And today was sleep in day. Which was semi-successful given the joys of sinus ache and tooth discomfort. So I can spend some time whacking articles.

Before I begin that, I should comment that I use the OLD Scribefire as a blog editor. The new one just flat doesn’t work. It won’t spell check – and I really need that feature – and it won’t post – which makes writing a blot rather a masturbation. There are a few blog editors out there, but most of them don’t work very well. The official KDE blog editor, Blogilo, also won’t post or spell check, and no one in the  Ubuntu/Kubuntu community seems to care to fix it. But what really fries me is that the spell check in FireFox isn’t a learning engine. Oh, you can add words to it’s vocabulary, which is a good thing given my proclivities, but when I misspell a word, it manages to offer me lots of inaccurate choices.

For example, I misspelled gym as gyn, and of the six or so offerings, none was gym. Hunh? Who composed that algorithm?

Anyway, bitchin’ over. On to the real poo.

I ran across a nice article [Link] about some work by bone diggers from Washington U and the Chinese Academy of Science on some 0.1 MY old homo sapiens bones. Seems one of the skulls shows indication of a deformity that can be rather conclusively associated with inbreeding. Now I am not going to make any snide comments about Chinese precursors. I have lots of respect for them. They are humans and have the same strengths and weakness of all humans. OK, maybe more strengths. And fewer weaknesses. Other than being as incapable as we are of dealing with too many people in a rational fashion.

A lot is made of our “incest taboo”, but it had to come from somewhere. After all, taboo isn’t a genetic thing normally, it’s social. And it is almost planet wide. And yes, the ancient Egyptian tyrants practiced inbreeding but they were pretty careful to exercise alternating generation of inbreeding and outbreeding. And even then they had plenty of problems.

Anyway, the bottom line is that humans – homo saps – all over Tellus had to mate with close kin and have whacked children, but not too many, or too badly whacked, and learn that you needed effective birth control to copulate with kin. So the inclination to enjoy some slap and tickle with siblings isn’t uncommon. And that is what is the poo today.

We have effective birth control. And safe abortion techniques. But we are perverse in our avoidance of incest. It’s a social no-no and often a legal chasm. Lots of abortion laws have a special clause for incest. In many ways it’s the only reason for abortion agreed by all.

So the question arises as to why we are this way? We understand – well, at least the geeks and nerds do – the risks and pitfalls of genetic defects of this type. But we still react like neuronegs to the very idea. Why? And we need a better answer than “Because” or “It’s filthy”. Or we’re never going to be an adult species.

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Meaningful Criteria

This has already been a bit of a strange day. Today is again near phase change, but offering greater end temperature. What makes it strange is that today’s podcast, an episode of “The Techie Geek” ran out after a bit more than a half hour. This is way short and I had to cast about for something else to listen to for the last third of my session. So I ended up listening to an episode the the Guardian’s science podcast and about all I can recall of that was an interview with the authors of a book on Newton and chronology bashing.

Which got me off to thinking about all this grrr brrr about the nine justicers of the Yankee republic and the matter of same gender marriage. This was primed not just by all the rot uttered on national news programs this week but also by two articles, one [Link] decrying the absence of scientific study of homosexual family life, mostly by the age old gem of denouncing sociology, psychology, and political science as stamp collecting with prejudice. How political science got into that list eludes me. Not only does it fall into the category of any-discipline-that-sez-it’s-a-science,-isn’t, but I am not at all sure what the relationship is between homosexuality and political academia, except individual inclination?

The second article [Link] about how any decision by the nine justicers will impact Alibam where the general attitude towards the homosexual is filtered through rabid religiousness and often with a rope over a tree limb. This fails to display anything except the journalistic dark side of Alibam.

What gets left out of all this discussion is any rationality. The black robed nine are not supposed to be rational, although they will claim it, just legal. But the fact remains that almost all of this is boggish stercus tauri. Simply put, mating (reproduction) is a biological interaction/relationship; marriage is a social interaction/relationship. The first fellow barely got it right that one of the primary purposes of marriage is to provide material support for the raising of children. Everything else is primarily social prevarication and overcomplication.

One other factoid: marriage is not, per se, about generating children, but raising them. That’s post birth. By such qualification, any marriage absent children isn’t really a marriage. Anything differing from that observation is social and/or religionist poo. So all this stuff about elaborate cereminies and elaborate clothes and elaborate rituals is just that, extraneous, unnecessary, superfluous elaboration.

It also needs be noted we can have these elaborations so long as we do not lose sight of their ornamental, afunctional nature. And any discussion we have about marriage and sexual orientation needs to get rapidly beyond, and dismissive of, these geegaws and to the meat of the matter, which is the raising of children. In that regard, SCP’s opinion is that it does not matter what the composition of the household is, so long as it includes children being raised by the other members of the household.

Selah.

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Auschwitz Education

Another lovely spring day with waking temperatures around the liquid -> solid phase change of dihydrogen oxide. At least it may be lovely once the rotation of Tellus as insolated the sky. But a quiet day at gym absent all the educationalists and with the into-the-week fall off. I didn;t count cars when I left this morning but less than yesterday.

The podcast today was an episode of the CBC’s “Quirks and Quarks” and about all I can say about it is the nothing was abiding. The only bits I recall are about animal mating, one about a competition between male and female fish, newly discovered, intended to reject inferior males, on the female part, and to impregnate as many females as possible, on the male part; the other about crickets with infirmity – parasites – being rejected as mates, except for ones near death who put all their energy into sounding well and fit rather than becoming such.Somehow both these evoked visions of male bogs in Las Vegas.

But I did notice a bit on the electromagnetic audio-visual receiver about the teenage geek who sold an app to Yahoo and this led me to contemplate shules and educationalism. I have commented previously on the low information density in public shules, less today than when I was a bairn. But after hearing a murmur about kids who consistently ace aptitude tests and sag at course grades, it hit me that the information rate is also low. Then it occurred to me that public shules are designed for bogs, that the recognized high achievers at these places are the brightest bogs, a sort of Hitler’s Germany ideal, and that the geeks and nerds are excluded. Which indicates the real danger of high shule drop out numbers, not so much that bogs are exiting but that nerds are as well from under stimulation and antipathy to standardized testing. We can always handle some reject bogs, after all they are only going to swill beer and watch spectator athletics on television, but loss of nerds is a danger to the continuance of the species and the nation.

The point is that nerds, and often, geeks, do not become educationalists. So the folks charged with teaching the young not only do an abysmal job of it, but they are averse to dealing with nerds and geeks. So they basically ignore them unless there is some opportunity for oppression and punishment.

I then had occasion to put this into the context of a recent bit of Alibam legislation, a repulsian punishment of the democrud educationalist association, that permits children in “failing shules” to be moved to better shules along with their share of the educationalist trough. I won’t go into the politics of this. A lot of it is about getting religionist mysticism back into the curriculum and distancing kids from liberal social engineering, hence making them even more troglodytic than their parents. But what occurred is that for nerd and geek kids, all of the public shules are failing, and abysmally. Sadly, I doubt that they will be permitted to exit. After all, if they did, then they could learn and the educationalists would have no one to torture and oppress.

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Prize Booby

What a nice day! I walked out to get into my motorcar to go to gym and discovered that snow, that wonderful special form of solid dihydrogen oxide precipitation, was falling. Not in great numbers or density mind, the flakes were fat and discorporant, melting even from the minor heat of the windows of my conveyance, but observing them was enjoyable, and safe, given the density of traffic at that time of morning.

The gym was blessedly empty. When I departed the number present decreased from eight to seven, with two being staff. And one of the staff and I opened. Absences may be attributed to spring break from shule even if that is inaccurate and it does not feel at all like spring. One of my colleagues, Mass Momentum, using the occasion as an excuse is on the gulf coast of Alibam and righteously shrewing about climate change and that he can’t do anything except read and shiver – indoors. But he does have a reason, in his senior dotage he has become a conservative politician with all of the perversions of mind and body therein appertaining.

Speaking of which, I noted an article [Link] in the economist about the proliferation of scientist prizes. This is the practice, started by Nobel, of awarding money to some scientist for some past “discovery”. The system is completely arbitrary, irrational, and often political or social. The selection authority is always either a political organization or a committee of past awardees.

I have to admit to a cynical outlook on such. I rather discount that these prizes do any real good. Anyone motivated by such is in science for the wrong reasons. The selectees are almost always past their prime so the money does little good other than perpetuating whatever they have been doing. It does assure that they will enjoy continued employment at some academic institution who wants them for prestige and cash flow. Universities are always vocal to prospective students of their prize winners that the students will never have class from.

Of course the bogs accord these folk recognition, celebrityhood comparable to a minor player on a mediocre soap opera. But the problem is the selections. Some, a few, are righteous selections, scientists who have done good, perhaps great, science and unquestionably deserve the recognition. But most selected are in the pack and one has to wonder why some better – patently – were passed over and how these were pulled from the mob to momentary eliteness?

Also, based on my experiences and those of colleagues, I view discovery in science to be a mixture of Whewellism – the boy scout attitude of the Victorian age that the intellectually prepared scientist triumphs – and plain old ordinary random chance, in about equal parts. So the recognition is more about recognizing the winner of a lottery than a Mentor of Arisia.

Will my disapproval stop it? Absolutely not. It is the nature of humans that we must exalt some of our number over the rest to satisfy some inner need for such. That’s why we used to have kings and autarchs and they could make prize giving extravagant and crippling.

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Morality Agonistes

Back to week in, an since it is some kind of shule break, there were no educationalists at gym this morning. Evidently they only need exercise when they have to actually interact (?) with students. The weather is miserable, morning starts all at or below the liquid -> solid dihydrogen oxide temperature, and there was some evidence of VERY diffuse snow in my motorcar lamp beams as I drove back from Scant City.

The podcast episode was one of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” dealing with morality and science and I have to admit that it continued in their current current of whackedness. All of the morality tests they advanced were boggish, extrovert, and flawed. Some were so heavily flawed as to hurt one’s jaw. For example, one gave the choices of one doing nothing and a runaway locomotive car would (probability one!!) kill five track workers, or throwing a bystander under the car and killing one.

First of all, based on history, I think the probability of throwing a human on the rails in front of locomotive car is one, but of stopping the car is rather small, perhaps 0.01. So the outcomes of the two choices are kill five or kill six. Given reality, the proper answer is to do nothing but yell and scream and try to warn the track workers. If throwing a body across the tracks will stop the car, then the moral thing is to throw oneself on the tracks, not the bystander.

As I say, whacked. In fact, depressing.

I have to admit that I have always had difficulty understanding these bystander take action things. The either-or tests, like this one, are always warped and alien. Unreal. But then I suppose the questions are posed for bogs and not for rationals? More confusing are the legal matters. Evidently some places have laws that if you do not kill yourself trying to make an accident worse they will send you to jail. How is this not suicide, which is also legally punishable.

So the question of the day is which are more whacked, politicians who make laws or morality psychologists who pose these unreal questions?

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