Bog Amerika 1

Inversion layer this morning, and a bit of fog, just enough to bring out the lemming death rush in the Bogs of Marshall County. But the gym was sparse in population, especially educationalists, and while the podcast episodes were mediocre and unmemorable, it was a fair session.

On which azimuth, I noted this sundae that the Pew folks and the Smithsonian, the American national museum paid for by English monies, have done a test to assess the science knowledge of the Amerikan public. [Link] I will discuss the survey results in a later blot. For today I want to talk about my taking the test, not as a part of the sample population but as an insight seeking effort. And, as it turns out a rather disappointing journey. [Link]

The test consists of thirteen questions, either true-false (in the vernacular) or multiple-guess. The questions were not really science questions in that they didn’t have anything to do with the substance of science, but rather dealt with factoids like which gas is most common in the atmosphere of Tellus. But I suppose these are the things one would expect a bog to be exposed to and perhaps learn.

Even given that, the questions were all pretty innocuous and placid with one exception. That question asked whether an electron was larger/smaller than an atom. The problem with this question, to me at least, was that I had to assume what they meant by size.

As it turned out, my assumption must have not been too bad because I got a full score – thirteen out of thirteen – correct in their frame. I have to admit that the questions were not all that challenging other than having ill defined context. If bogs primarily learn their science for mediaists then this may be a fitting ill definition.

But what was depressing was the distribution of scores. The web site gave me this bar graph

SmithsonianTest

Next: comments on the state of Amerikan knowledge as represented by this test.

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Only Mixtures Are Stable?

New week, at least in the frame or measure that the week starts on Monday. I suppose that is a hold over from religionist times – the dark ages – into the industrial revolution and the generality of not working in the home. The podcast this morning, as is usual on mundane day, was an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas”, dealing with the concept/actuality of secularism. It’s a series and the bits today were rather primarily concerned with trying to say that religionism and secularity are not orthogonal. Of course these are not scientists speaking and even if they were they would edit their vocabulary usage to accommodate bogs.

But while motoring back to Castellum SCP, I came to reflect that the reason they aren’t independent is because humans are rule breakers/avoiders/deniers. One of my pet peeves is people who pull up past the safety line at intersections. That’s a breaking of the rules expressed by law, hence somewhat arbitrary and self-serving of the organization at the expense of its members. This violation is widely recommended as a safety trade-off since it permits one abetter density of lines-of-sight. It also makes it difficult for anyone turning left at the intersection to avoid striking the motorcar pulled out.

This is the basic nature of humans, I fear. Breaking rules for their own benefit, rarely for anyone else’s. And the purpose of religion, in addition to “explaining” things people are too lazy to investigate rationally, is to limit this rule breaking for self’s sake. Sadly, the two aspects seem to get intermixed to the detriment of the good.

Simply put, it seems that humans are too self-interested, expect perhaps for that wee bit of biological programming that makes them sacrifice for offspring, a matter hated by almost all organized religions, to permit a rational social organization. Reason is not enough, emotion and endocrine secretions are necessary to bind society.

This all sounds like another monologue about bogs versus nerds, but this is coming from a different direction. Yes, it does lead to the distinction among the bogs and geeks and nerds, but it does not derive from that distinction. What it comes down to is that the large fraction of humans are going to be bogs and any society is going to have to be largely irrational. It’s somewhat of a third law of thermodynamics for humans – you can’t get out of the game. Or otherwise, society has to have all three types of folks to work.

So maybe we can eventually turn all this extrovertism around and get some rationality back?

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Wet and Snarky

Lovely night. Thunderstorms. Just enough to be awakening, maybe every ten minutes or so. But much rain. Soggy this morning. Also rather difficult on the head. Third day is supposed to be the worse for gum surgery and it is certainly feeling that way right now. Also, Ubernote is not working. I can see clips but can’t add to and so the tabs are backed up and I am loathe to add more.

Anyway, for now no expository blogging.

Apres Moi

Now is the spring of discontent. This may be Saturn’s day on the official YG calendar but for me is it is two day – second day after gum surgery and the epitome of ache and distraction. “This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.” And while Tellus may not end, my ability to apply attention span-time is impacted.

This is not helped by the weather beavers’ foretelling of rain all day.

On the good side at least I have no uncertainty of being alive.

On which azimuth, I noted an article [Link] in the Register that over half (barely) of the organizations they sampled lacked a plan to replace Winders XP. That’s with a looming end-of-life next calendar year.

Somehow I am NOT surprised. The problem comes down to Vista and Winders Ate. Both are banana peels. That is, once you have them installed all that is left is useless crap that is slippery on one side, tacky on the other, and generating accidents and spills without rhyme or reason. Add to this the relatively minor bit that you can’t upgrade from WXP to W7 and that almost all of the boxes running WXP aren’t brute enough to run W7 as other than a demonstration in slow motion and with fire alarms.

So some of the absence of plan is denial but a lot of it is just flat end-of-road. Anything you do and any direction you set out in will be painful and costly. In business, nothing is worse than being the best you can ever be.

I have to wonder how many of those are seriously considering Linux as an alternative? The bad part about end-of-life is cessation of security fixes. But if you run WXP in a virtual box in Linux then you get your security from Linux, especially if the WXP clients only talk to the internal network.

Of course you aren’t going to run Ubuntu 13.04. It seems the beast is perpetuating its woes without any improvements. [Link] The self-elevated Saint Mark of Canonical trumpets that his Unity GUI is natural and easy but that seems to be true only for geeks who work consecutively rather than cumulatively. And it is definitely alien landscape for WXP users of long standing, especially those who have been mind wiped by organizational IT Gestapo. They might be bale to switch to one of the derivatives with usable GUIs, but then we get into the question of whether Ubuntu hasn’t abandoned the Linux paean of running on old hardware or not?

I put U 12.10 on my dated Inspiron lapbox and it was like watching some miscegenation offspring of Plutonian molasses and liquid Helium. Yes, it booted faster than Winders but otherwise it was as snappy as ashes. I hate to say it but Ubuntu may have about run its course as number one. Canonical seems to be hell bent on reducing itself to a company of measure zero.

And on that note I must needs spread seed for the tree mammals and dinosaur descendants.

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Good Sex?

Yesterday was not the usual. And yes, I seem to have survived the medical procedures, at least thus far. Not sure my mental faculties are all that I should like them to be, but the aftereffects thus far are more the result of medications than procedure.

This leads me to contemplate an article [Link] I found about work from U Arizona. This work indicates that the success of modern homo sapiens is largely the result of miscegenation with other species of humans. And, yes, I know I have commented on this numerous times previously.

Anyway, what makes this cognitively attractive is not that it occurred, such is a matter of blatancy given recent efforts in genome mapping, but rather how it came about. The recorded history of humanity since around 500 BCE is replete with all sorts of proscription of miscegenation. In that paradigm, miscegenation is not reproductive activity between species, but between geographic and ethnic groups. When I was a bairn growing up in the old confederacy pink humans were not supposed to have reproductive relations with other shades of humans, or even with pink humans who were not denizens of the old confederacy.

That taboo is somewhat relaxed these days although not actually eradicated, hence the question of how did those ancient humans have the smarts to reproduce with different humans? Could it be that these attitudes towards miscegenation are an artifact of age and that it has only been since the invention of writing and civilization and such that enough people have lived long enough for these attitudes to emerge?

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Good Excuse

The blogging may be a bit sparse the next few days. Have to undergo some medicalist activities today and based on previous experience I expect to be compromised for a couple of days after.

The podcast this morning was an episode of The Linux Action Show and it was rather sad, and not in the sense of a pound cake. Other than that not a bad morning with the population low, especially educationalists.

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Life before Creation

Two day is science podcast day at gym and I have to admit that once more I walked away with scant recollection. But that was probably because the gym was sparsely populated and hence enjoyable.

This did however, give me some spare attention span-time to devote to consideration of a trail begun by the biologist blogger P. Z. Myers. [Link] He is rather critical of some work [Link] that advances, based on the “genome size” that life originated about 9 BYA (billion years ago,) which is about twice the age of Tellus. Myers claims that the authors cherry picked their data., which based on the graph displayed does not seem too implausible since I should expect there to be tons of near term data.

I have to admit to being sucked in on this by a “validation” of the model by looking at number of nerd publications and projecting back to an origin during the lifetime of Newton – when nerd journals were started, at least according to the history I learned.

My problem with this is that the model used is essentially linear, at least after being transformed via a logarithmic plot. Nothing wrong with such, that’s how one got through undergraduate physical chemistry in my day back before we have computers that did graphing and were small enough not to be enshrined in tech temples.

But I am a bit concerned about that linearity. I should like to see a detailed model that makes sense and is testable. So I may have to read the paper.

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