Rolling Over

Back to the boundary and not bad so far. Slept in and had a nice constitutional at the park. Now I can sally into the tabs and get a bit of a leap on week out..

First, a report [Link] on “crazy” ants. Evidently they act a bit like squirrels with fleas and like to electrocute themselves in computers. And they seem to be yet another invading ant species. The only good mentioned so far is that they attack the previous invaders. Where are all the murmicologists when we need them? And airborne rangers with flame throwers? (Gratuitous reference to that GREAT Containment Era SF movie THEM!, one of those classics that is so horrible and awful that it is great. No wonder Fess Parker had to take to wearing a coonskin cap after that line about pajama belts.)

It has been a bad summer for ants, like last year. Had to have the pest control tech in to spray the sink areas. This is one insect I cannot be a Jain about.

Isn’t it wonderful that we can have access to English newspapers so we can read about what is happening in our state/region/country. What has gone wrong with the journalists in Amerika?

On which azimuth, I noted an article [Link] about a PEW poll of GEN Y information blathering on FaceScroll. I would like to find one of these younglings who is erudite and sentient and cognate enough to explain to me why this apparently anti-survival behavior? How can they give any of these blabber typers a security clearance? Or maybe they don’t. I understand that GEN Ys don;t like to work for the government. Responsibility and endurance and all that. Just when I think we are falling apart some ray of hope emerges. The civil service may once more become the haven of the nerds and geeks.

On a more intriguing azimuth, it seems [Link] that the FaceScroll (in England at least) has crested and is now losing hosts. (Is there any dissension that FaceScroll is parasitic?) Seems that some are concerned over security leaks – clearly not GEN Ys – but more are disgusted with the inept advertising.

Zut! So am I. And there are all sorts of wonderful add-ins that negate the kibitzing. Although occasionally I do visit the FaceScroll with a simple browser just so I can be entertained by the three-stooge-antics of their advertising. Perhaps we need to have a contest to identify which of the poobahs at Gooey are most stooge-like. The Moe association is so obvious we’ll have to exclude that one.

On reflection, I can hypothesize that the quality of the advertising is actually better than the quality of what Sturgeon’s rule of people write on the FaceScroll. ‘Nuff said.

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Mundane Glories

Busy days. Yesterday off to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill. No staff call. Too many absent, but still had errands and food acquisition to perform. And today I have a round of medicalist activities that will be disrupting of modal activities.

The gym has been sparse this week. Evidently schule is either desessioned or eminently so and so the educationalists are unpresent, which is a boon. Except for the bullies who come more for entertainment than improvement. Yesterday’s podcast was an episode of the CBC’s “Quirks and Quarks” and it was more like nothing and neutrinos because nothing stuck. Today was an episode of “The Linux Action Show” and it was horrible. And the disturbing thing is that it is the best of the Amerikan linux podcasts. At least it is shy on profanity but the social overhead is very high and the commercials are diuretic, or at least laxative. Still I did get a couple of  things to follow up on so not a total loss.

While I’m on that azimuth, I ran across a review [Link] of Ubuntu 13.04. Th author describes it as “a new definition of pain”. I briefly installed U 13.04 on my Precision Laptop but couldn’t get it to talk to the built-in Broadcom wireless abd soon blew it away in favor of Manjaro which fixed its repository lock problem in the last release. Manjaro is an ArchLinux derivative and lacks a software manager although it does now have a GUI client for its package manager. But the absence of a way to do updates was an eject condition despite its stellar conversation with the wifi. I found the problem in the wiki but their fix didn’t take and so I had abandoned Manjaro to try other distros, all with little joy. But in the interim an incremental release was posted and it fixed that problem.

Enough about Manjaro. Back to Ubuntu. When I had U 13.04 on the machine, operating with a wifi dongle or a CAT5, I noticed that it seemed to be rather buggy and not do some things. At the time I attributed that to the cancer that is Unity. But when it refused to install the Broadcom drivers workably, I blew it away and fell back to the LTS U 12.04 which was not buggy and did install the driver better but still not completely functionally. For some reason the beast would cohabitate with the access point for five minutes or so and then drop.

I have to admit that what the author has to say about Ubuntu and Canonical is close to my own views. That’s one of the reasons I am looking at Manjaro. I have this feeling the Canonical may crumble in the near future. And then I will probably have to find a different flavor of Linux.

Why do I think of John Wilkes Booth – Sic Transit Gloria Mundi – when I think about Shuttleworth?

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Public Science Flops

Back to modal. Maybe. I can’t call it normal since I am not convinced the metric is normalizable in counting its manifestations. But I did get to rise on time this morning, motor out to gym, do the routine, and motor back. And so forth. The podcast episodes were the usual science fare and none of it stuck very well. There was a bit, too much I fear, about the sense of taste in cockroaches and an informative bit about how itching works. And there was a TED talk about memory rewrite in humans which was, sadly, a TED talk. I fear I find these theater more than information.

On which notes, I saw an article [Link] about how the Moundville park is commemorating Trail of Tears. I have to admit to a bit of puzzlement how this is anything more than a Socially/Politically Correct exercise. The Trail of Tears dates to the reign of Andrew Jackson in that strange period between the Second War with English Tyranny and the Second American Revolution. Moundville was essentially an abandoned site by that time. The only connection evident is that of AmerIndians.

I don’t disapprove of the idea. Indeed, I rather support it although I have my doubts of it having any telling effect. We live in an age that has trouble remembering the Bush administrations, much less what happened almost two hundred years ago. I see no way that this can help the boggerate comprehend something as complicated as the Trail of Tears.

Sadly, this seems to be the way of organizations today, including educational and preservational organizations. They seem to almost be ignoring what they are supposed to do as organizations. And that, in this case, is sad. Moundville is a wonderful case study of the good and bad that was AmerIndian civilization of its day and the Trail of Tears is a wonderful case study of many things ranging from inter-societal interaction to government ineptitude.

I also found an article [Link] about a rather strange statement by Neil deGrasse Tyson.

“I’m old-school with the big traditional TV and movie series, so I’m old-school Star Trek. I’m partial to the old crew, Captain Kirk. and I never got into Star Wars. Maybe because they made no attempt to portray real physics. At all.”

I have to admit that I have never been a great fan of Tyson. While I acknowledge that as the head of a planetarium he has to be a showman first and a physicist second, I have never cared for his showmanship. To me it doesn’t work as purveying public science instruction. But then I didn’t like Sagan for the same reason.

But I do agree with his assessment. Original Star Trek is still the best for me, and not just for the physics. And I don’t like Star Wars. It’s a bad fairy tale. And it condones slavery and conquest. Which Tyson didn’t mention. So maybe he is more likable than I thought.

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Forgetful Day

Today is Memorial Day, the Yankee government’s hostile take over of Decoration Day that we observed in Alibam in my youth.[Link] This gives rise to several questions.

First, while I have no problem with reflection on the deeds and service of the nation’s military, why do we have two days for such? We also have Armistice or Remembrance Day, now rebranded as Veterans’ Day (and misspelled, but that is a matter of the ignorance of bogs which is a necessary part of the YG getting way with this travesty but rather something else.)

Second, given we have two holy days for the military, why is it that we cannot/will not/do not make mention of those who were originally memorialized? Today will go by with no meaningful discussion of the Second American Revolution; this fall Veterans’ Day will do by with no meaningful discussion of the Great War. Why?

Have we become a society incapable of having a history? If this also part of the pln of government, or an artifact of the information age. Does only the now, the War de Jour, matter?

And why do we have holy days anyway? This one will be little more than an inconvenient Monday off day for most. The ceremonies that we conduct to honor our military will be sparsely attended and pay scant attention to anything but spun sugar platitudes. No mention will be made of the losses, on both sides, of the war this day was set aside for. Is this so we will not see the now, of tornado and bomber raids, as the less than pin pricks they really are?

And no one, save the straggling few Daughters of the Union or Confederacy, and the Sons of similar orders, now few and almost forgotten, will do what is supposed to be done, the decoration of graves in demonstration of the real theme of the day.

And so all we have is another emptiness, an abused, mistreated, excuse for a day off from work. And we are so asentient that we cannot even perceive this and ask why we do such. And what we should do.

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Oppression Walking

It’s ice cream day and quite warmer tha yesterday. I had to drag out a late fall jacket and hat for my constitutional yesterday. I only recently restarted these walks. I don’t try to do them in winter. Too many days with morning temperatures at 40 degF or lower. So I have to limit myself to sprint through fall when the mornings are warm enough but also cool enough. And, of course, I have to time them for after the road barricades are opened but before the park fills with bogs.

I find myself wondering how Darwin did so much walking. I have never been to his garden so I don’t really know how long the path is but I have to think it is longer than the path in our rather kitschy park – more on that some other time. And he would walk enough rounds to have to have a lap counter. I find myself aching after the second lap although I kid myself that is a winter’s inactivity rather than modern weakness.

On the subject of modern weakness, I noted something rather amazing this week. [Link] The subject was the new Yankee government minister of state talking about the International Religious Freedom Act. I was quite impressed:

“With this measure, the U.S. government made a bold statement on behalf of those who were oppressed, those who were persecuted, and those who were unable to live their lives at the most basic level, for the simple exercise of their faith. Whether it be a single deity, or multiple deities, or no deities at all, freedom to believe — including the freedom not to believe — is a universal human right.”

I was unaware of the existence of this act, indeed, I suspect everyone in the old Confederacy either doesn’t know or denies out of fear. On reflection, I have to wonder if the harassment, excused as evangelism, of the local religionist organizations is persecution? It seems amazing to someone living in Alibam that the Yankee congress passed such a law. And I am of the strong hypothesis that the Alibam delegation voted nay.

That’s part of living in Alibam. Religious freedom, ala Lester Sprague DeCamp, is license to prosecute all those who are not members of your particular religionist organization. And all such organizations seems mostly local. But we somehow transcend the stupidity much of the time so I suppose I should be happy in the triumph of human cooperation. And greed.

On which note, I reflected this morning on a discussion we had on Wednesday about the latest Tolkien cinema. As I walked about the path I reflected on its kitschy nature and from there considered what would happen in Greater Metropolitan Arab is someone went off on a quest ala Tolkien. No one would be about to mow grass so after a month or so the city government would start fining the absent for overlong lawn. And if the quest stretched past property tax day then that would be fined and the questee would return to find his/her property sold off at auction.

This seems to epitomize modern society. Government and organization seem to have destroyed adventure. All we have now is waiting for the heatdeath.

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Back to the Harem

It’s ring day, even though that’s not what the guys who named the day had in mind, but for we moderns Saturn is less about being a deity and mostly about being The ringed planet.

That change of outlook is part of what I want to mumble about this morning. I ran across an article [Link] about why there are so few women in STEM disciplines. Back when I was a student this wasn’t a big thing. We still had the vestiges of the old ideas about male-female occupation differentiation and feminism was viewed as being a particularly egregious offshoot of hippieism. I recall as a graduate student at the campus of the Boneyard I ran into several feminism buzz saws with my Southron attitudes. Not from the feminists themselves, but from the faculty who were already poisoned with social and political correctness.

None of that had been present at the campus of the Black Warrior. Part was because I was only taking nerd courses after sometime in sophomore year. While I heard a few moans of female discrimination about entry level courses, especially in maths, for some reason, I never saw much in my own courses. The attitude was perform or depart and I thought this a good philosophy.

This article evidently doesn’t. It’s based on a thesis and quotes

“the STEM dropouts were students who had legitimate interest in the fields, and who may have pursued the majors to completion had they not perceived an unwelcoming and dissatisfying culture. The STEM majors, on the other hand, were intensely dedicated and goal driven; most of them planned to become researchers or professors from a very young age and were not willing to let obstacles get in their way. That is, often times the STEM majors were unhappy with the STEM culture, yet had such a strong end goal in mind that they were willing to disregard their feelings about their courses, and sought out welcoming environments in other disciplines to compensate for their experiences in their major.”

Somehow the idea that we have to compete for rare things, like good jobs or academic positions – I have blather enough on that subject to not whack it more here – has become bad?

I find I have a lot of difficulty understanding this. I hear a lot about how women are “underrepresented” in STEM. No one blathers that they are underrepresented in automobile mechanicery or such. It is only in the “good” fields for some reason. Yet all the statistics show that more women than men are finishing college with degrees. why are we not worrying about men being excluded? Is it that feminists want all the good jobs to be reserved for women, to return to the good old days of matrilearity when kings got sacrificed every year?

Competition is part of human nature. It’s in our biology. It’s how we survive. I don’t have to apologize for it, but we as a society do need to be sentient and recognize it. That competition carries over into society. There is competition in the workplace. Back in my day there were all sorts of preferential programs for minorities. Women and other got paid extra for just being there and couldn’t be held accountable for competence. And the programs were Ivory soap failures. Much as we dislike it, competition is what works for humans.

And no, I don’t like it either. I entertain the delusion – sometimes – that nerds are better and should be given preference. But I don’t want to implement it because it would be a disaster. If nerds want to be successful, they need to learn to compete. So why shouldn’t women?

Intriguingly, I think women nerds know this even when they are sprouting feminist ideology. Agnostics in red beanies?

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Ancient Histories

Survived another ‘week’ of gym. Got to sleep in this morning. Almost feel rested. And just in time to celebrate.

Today is the birthday anniversary of William Whewell, the daddy rabbit of modern science. Admittedly, he was a bit of an anal retentive. His view of science was that the scientist had to be widely and deeply educated and trained, quite at odds from he and his contemporaries who made it up as they went. I always suspected it was more that he was an information junkie and wanted everyone else to be the same before he would grant them respectable notice. He was also down on accidental discovery. And he had the thought, firmly held that science and religion were easily reconciled and that the state of science was stationary.

But at least he got past the arrogance of the Restoration crowd, Newton and Boyle and Young and the like. In fact we can argue that Whewell was the first historically attended nerd, given his problems with women. No, nothing out of the ordinary. In fact totally ordinary and archetypical, at least from the nerdish standpoint.

I also read, in a rather poorly supported article, [Link] that the Gates of Tartarus, or Plutonion, has been found. Just another cave with psychoactive gas seepage, evidently.

Intriguingly, the original shrine was destroyed by Christianists in the sixth century CE – with some aid from an earthquake. Of course by then the ruler of the “underworld” had become the villain.

And lastly, we have a lovely rant [Link] about the evils of fast food restaurants, in particular, McDougal’s. Sadly the rant is one pony, whipping only on the calorie overages and totally ignoring more subtle things like fats and sodium. Ah well, what do we expect from modern journalists? Accuracy? Depth? Completeness? Probably as little as we expect from modern corporations in general.

Of course there’s nothing actually new here, just a rehash to fill page space and sell papers. Of course given the numbers of folks who eat at fast food restaurants we have to questions what difference any honesty and integrity make and whether the species isn’t already doomed to extinction?

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Napkin Notes

Yesterday was rather taxing. Too much of Nawth Alibam’s Shining CIty on the Hill – and its less than competent motorcar drivers. The sad thing is that they estimate their skill by how well they survive and not by how well everyone survives. And the intriguing part is where does the difference arise? In Greater Metropolitan Arab the opposite is the case; most of the drivers are concerned about general flow, except maybe during rush hours when they do try rather heartily to kill themselves and all those they collide with.

The other day, I ran across [Link]

this cartoon and it struck home.

Well, not literally. My father never wrote notes on napkins or otherwise, and my mother would have summarily executed us on the spot for doing so. But the behavior has become part of my behavior after I became an adult. At least chronologically.

Back when I was in shule this was not a problem since I always had a notebook or several with me, and in the early days of working I had a briefcase or a notebook. And I never did this at home because the place was littered with notebook and notepads. But when I went out to restaurants or socially such were not really smiled upon. So I wrote on what was available, which were usually paper napkins. And despite the folk tales, one never writes on table cloths. You have to pay exorbitantly for them or lose the information and regardless you incur the unhappiness of the proprietor. I have been banned from several restaurants before I learned the lesson. Besides the rise of chain restaurants has killed off table cloths.

Those places that use paper place-mats are good. The place-mats are usually blank on the backside so one can turn them over and have much writing space. Of course that means the meal orts end up on the table and make the bus boy unhappy but they don;t have banning privileges.

After I got to the point where I couldn’t carry a notebook because I was a manager, I took to carrying those special 7.5 x 12.5 cm^2 cards in a leather pocket case. These are not very good for real note taking because they are too elegant. Now that I am ORF I carry a very nice Japanese spiral bound pocket pad. It works quite well. Apparently the Japanese understand this much better than we Amerikans.

Some people try to take notes on their cellular telephones. I don’t because it is klutzy. One has to use a keyboard, one can’t do maths or diagrams easily, and the medium is too low resolution. But then the same is almost true of real computers as well. That may be what is destroying our society and civilization. Not only are the bogs a calculate but the nerds can’t write stuff down. And without stuff written down, things don’t happen.

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Pedaling, not Driving

Two day and the gym still moderately sparse. And while the podcast episodes today – Science – were not particularly sticky – except Smolin’s discourse on time – I did come to a couple of pre-Wednesday realizations:

  • Corporations are Predators;
  • Adverticement is Falsehood; and most significantly,
  • Consensus is NOT Causality.

That’s all, folks!

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Chaotic Stupidity

Mundane day is back. And joyously! No noise pollution courtesy of the city parents, and the gym was delightfully sparse. The podcast was another episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” series on secularity and it was quite good, finally getting around to the advancements in society being directly the result of increasing secularity and the inherent controlling nature of organized religion. And the evil (?) of fundamentalism. There was even a bit of humor about the latter which is rather refreshing for one who lives in the religionist pig pen of the old Confederacy. They even talked about how the obsession with end times is a direct fallout of reconstruction.

On a more intriguing azimuth I ran across an article [Link] about the half-century anniversary of the beginnings of the study of chaotic behavior. Unlike James Glick and others I am not quite comfortable with calling it Chaos since the origin of the term is non-STEM. I also had to reflect that much of the original maths development, especially with the classic logistic differential equation, was simply bad maths. That was always a problem for me, on the one hand the finite difference maths types talking about error propagation and instabilities of too large a step size and the chaotic behavior folks talking about BOOM! behavior at step sizes far beyond the stable. Why, I wondered, couldn’t they get their stories straight?

Also intriguing is an article [Link] about an academic study that indicates human intelligence has decreased since the reign of Victoria. This is another brick in the wall that suggests that technology makes us stupid. Not that we didn’t know that, but it is nice to have it made sorta official.

Now we just have to wait for the politician to pass legislation that makes it illegal for us to not be stupid.

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