Gripe Sermon

OK, it’s the back side of week out, I am up at least an hour early because of the perversities of the Yankee congress and its necrophilic affair with daylight savings time, so I may as well share my absence of good feeling and will by getting about the matter of disposing of old tabs.

First, some of the wonks at fair Hahvahdd have put motors on truncated toothbrushes and turned them loose in a circular enclosure.[Link] They find

“These guys make their discovery using BristleBots, simple automatons made from a toothbrush head and a cellphone vibrator motor.  Put a few of these into a circular enclosure and they wander around at random. But when Giomi and co increased the number of BristleBots, they began to self-organise into things like swirling swarms. The transition from disorder to order is triggered only when the density reaches some threshold.”

This is, according to the reportage, a simpler and stranger explanation for the behavior of group animals like ants and termites. My immediate thought is what is the mean distance between collisions? As the number of brushbots increases, the number of collisions per time increases. Now if the bots begin streaming, moving in the same direction, then collisions between them transfer less energy and are less disruptive, so the stream tends to maintain itself. But that’s just the mental flatulence of an SCP. The wonks at Hahvahd will likely come up with other, better thoughts.

Next, we have a lovely article [Link] with the title “Bunnies implicated in the demise of Neanderthals”. One of my colleagues, Magnetic Inductance Force, directed me to this article via his FaceScroll page. I, like he, was bemused by the title. Were neandertals like children in being unable to eat cute animals?That seems charmingly implausible. We like to think of neandertals as cartoon Georges, half of whose practical uttered vocabulary is duhhhhhhhhhhhhh. The thesis of the boffins, at least according to the journalism, is that neandertals were unable to hunt small animals. The problem with the thesis, as seems to be so often the situation with anthropology and hence why it may not be a science as they seem to now be claiming, is that it is untestable, at least to my simple viewpoint. Lacking an an actual neandertal no test would seem possible.

It did occur that neandertal characteristics tend to display often in general and flag officers, so I considered asking my colleagues who are such to try rabbit hunting. But upon cogitation that seemed doomed to failure. First of all one could not gather enough cooperative general officers to do a herd hunt, and since all of these fellows have agile aides, they would likely send them off on solitary hunt. So once more the thesis seems untestable. The one colleague I asked of this admitted that he did enjoy rabbit but also confided one should hunt them with a shotgun firing steel buckshot so that the shot could be easily found and removed to preserve one’s teeth. This display of canniness did not bode well for the thesis.

Next,following along on my earlier tirade about college, is an article [Link] about the PhD glut. Easter Island vindicated! If you exceed the carrying capacity of the environment, starvation ensues and lots die. I ain’t gonna harp on this too long since it’s just the recognition of what I have said many times before. But I will reiterate that a PhD shouldn’t be a career move, it should be a calling.

And while on education, a lovely article [Link] entitled “Online courses need human element to educate”. This one also fits with my tirades. It’s simple, if the teacher and students don’t engage there is less information exchange and no motivation to understanding. That’s the problem with those megaclasses in bit halls. No engagement. And it’s worse on-line. But I fear money will out and good people like this author will get squashed like squirrel road kill on the street in from of Castellum SCP.

Speaking of road kill, I ran across, via Lifehacker, this article [Link] in the New Yawk Times about a new enumeration that “cataloged some 42,500 Nazi ghettos and camps throughout Europe, spanning German-controlled areas from France to Russia and Germany itself, during Hitler’s reign of brutality from 1933 to 1945.” If you, strangely, are a holocaust denialist, your position just got a bit more tenuous – vapid even – and nekulturny.I do want to emit the plug that this is about political ideology, not per se nationality.Most countries have done death camps. Here in Amerika we had Andersonville and some Yankee counterparts. So its not localized, it’s specific, as in species.

Finally, some work out of U Washington [Link] that while we Amerikans are living longer we are more miserable in our seniorness than other nation’s citizens. The blame is put on lifestyle errors. I have to say this one didn’t surprise me. Seniorness is often a matter of an absence of comfort. And I know that it’s all I can do to change my lifestyle to accommodate the instructions of medicalists – when they don’t conflict, which is TOO often because of absence of coordination and integration – much less adopt any gratuitous changes. But I do have to ask why we did (and are doing) such a poor job of communicating these health dishabits. No one tried to tell me these in  youth, and if they did they never said why. So the health boffins were rather like Catholics, preaching without testability but also not evangelizing.

Have a good sundae. Time to break fast.

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