Sundae Cherries

Whacked week out. This should be outer boundary but since tomorrow is a holy day, the celebration of labor by not-labor – yes, it is a Yankee government holy day; the conscript parents of Alibam don’t believe in not-labor, especially for the serfs and slaves – so tomorrow which should be the start of week in is only somewhat that. But today is still sundae so it seems fitting we may comment freely and rationally about irrationality and superstition.

But we can also expect things to be a bit of ‘hawgin’ because I need to trim some tabs away.

I ran across a rather intriguing article [Link] some days ago, entitled “Anthropology and Christianity”, which is apparently some sort of shill for a book on the subject. These are both subjects that interest me, partly because I took an anthropology track as an undergraduate and partly because my parents subjected me to all sorts of upliftment – not in the David Brin sense – as a bairn. The author’s tack, as might be expected, is that the two are diametrically opposed. Happily he does admit to being inaccurate. In fact, his summary is rather uplifting,

“When anthropologists today glory in their discipline’s rejection of faith they often have in mind a very specific form of belief: a highly judgmental, narrowly sectarian version of religious commitment that condemns the indigenous people they study as totally cut off from any positive, authentic spiritual knowledge and experience.”

This comes rather close to my own views, which is surprising since Anthropology in recent years has been on a denial-that-anthropology-is-science shtick. My thing is testability. If something is testable and you don’t/won’t test it then that is denial and mysticism and superstition. There are things that aren’t testable, either because of technology limitations or fundamental unsuitability and the latter at least are valid domains for arational faith.

Too many religionists, not just christianists, flatly demand that their beliefs not be tested. Some of this is insecurity; some is greed; some is something else, fear perhaps. Fundamentally I view all of these as bad reasons.

I also have a couple of cartoons to dismiss. First, [Link]

I was rather taken by this cartoon. It is one I follow mostly because of the brilliance of the artist. This seems to be rather a nicely done criticism of bogs. The misuse of “dumb” is a red flag.

This all follows from what I was blogging recently about bogs being shallow but wide ranging in their knowledge whereas nerds are deep but discrete (and not in the behavior sense.) Attention span is related to this. Bogs tend to have limited attention span-time for knowledge. This is largely why they are wide but shallow. Nerds, on the other hand, have great temporal depths of attention span which goes with their depth of knowledge.

The second cartoon [Link]

is related. It also refers to bogs, in this case particularly, to Amerikan bogs. These are the people who tell their children that they will never use algebra after taking the course in high schule. And despite the adolescent rebellion, they do take this to heart, and dismiss their minds, and the nation is third world when it comes to maths.  If it wasn’t for cash registers made in Asia, Amerikan bogs couldn’t do money. Not that they do it very well.

Which gets us to Adam Frank’s article [Link] in the New Yawk Times on science denial in Amerika. One more aspect of our national race for third world state. Or perhaps the “Marching Morons”? Although he doesn’t say it but it appears increasingly likely that that denial is going to get the species extinct.

And in closing, one of my readers has asked me to identify the science podcasts I listen to. Being somewhat lazy, I shall just list the week’s podcasts on a modal basis:

  • Mundane day: CBC’s “Best of Ideas”;
  • Two day: Guardian science podcast, science segments from NPR, and SCEINCE;
  • Woden’s day: CBC’s “Quirks and Quarks:;
  • Thor’s day: Linux podcast: either Linux Luddites or UK Ubuntu podcast;
  • Freya’s day, Saturn’s day; Sundae: “The Pen Addict”

I have some alternatives for when these are unavailable. I have not included the links to these since they are easily found with a bit of web search.

Go forth and find frozen yogurt, ice cream if you are a mutant.

Nasty Drunks

Yesterday was a bit stressing. Had to take FD SCP to see her cardiologist. Medium ungood. Artery stretchers indicated. And putting up with both our nerves and emotions.

And the walk in the park this morning was not quite pleasant. No wind and it was needed. And the new pen diversion podcast channel – same podcast, different organization – is quite less noisy, in the EE sense. 

I had occasion to consider another difference between bogs and nerds. This got provoked by some survey I was asked by the YAHOO org to do but had to cease early on due to retching. The subject was television content and yes, it is and was that bad. I do NOT watch many kinds of popular television. Quiz programs is one mostly because they are quizzes on things meritless and valueless. The popular guess-the-phrase game is one in point. How is this entertainment? Or even engaging. But on a bit of consideration it is interesting to most (many?) bogs but very few nerds. I suspect because it captures aspects that are life relevant to bogs but not to nerds. 

Anyway, the difference is knowing. Bogs know many things but almost all rather shallowly. That’s a basic definition of a bog. And much of what they know is inaccurate in the extreme. Even among the ones that know better. Or should. But nerds tend to more of an Ising model. They either have no interest in some “subject” and hence know almost nothing about it and openly admit such, or they are interested and have a rather complete knowledge of. As one of my bosses once put it, (slightly paraphrased) bogs are long pieces of narrow tape while nerds are combs. 

Along that azimuth, I noted an article [Link] about some work at U Kentucky that indicates that religious people – the article calls them spiritual which rather seems a pun – make nasty drunks. This seems to fit. I recall years ago reading a book that claimed that, in the mode, Chinese are nice drunks but Japanese are nasty drunks. Argument was that Chinese are argumentative when sober but Japanese are polite. So the ethanol releases the inner being. Many religionists are wearing facades, in my observation. They want to appear to adhere to the tenets of their religion but they have temperament problems. This often shows in their driving. Many christianists definitely do not practice their religion while piloting a motorcar. Especially those in pickup trucks. This may be excusable since pickup trucks really can’t be piloted anyway; they can only be survived. Maybe.

So the idea is that these religionists are just pretending and when they get drunk and their inner self comes out it isn’t anywhere near where they want to be seen. Which is comforting. Because it is at least real. It’s desirable to be a better person, and I respect them for trying but I can’t abide them imposing themselves on others. That’s just plain bullying. And it isn’t good nor right.

But it is part of the falseness of their religion.

I don’t watch religionist television either. Although that is admittedly hard on Sundaes. But that’s why we have DVD players.  

Lost Hammer

Into the boundary once more. Survived the gallop to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill for a bit of staff call and pillaging of the grocery emporia. Returned safely just in time to monitor the evening “news” programming on the electromagnetic audio-visual receiver and was enlightened of a feud – with litigation – between the lord high mayor of Huntsville and the city’s foremost slum developer. And the argument is over ethical misconduct! Which is not only itself humorous but is intensified by the fact that a legal resolution is being sought. Gad!, makes the La Brea tar pits seem trivial in contrast.

Not uncomfortable this morning and the gym was not too noisome. Being Thor’s Day I listened to Linux podcasts, these episodes being ones of the “UK Ubuntu podcast”. One of the delightful discussion topics was whether Canonical/Ubuntu is discorporating? And this was an old podcast circa U 13.10 release. The response was mixed wth a tenor of functionality winning out over ergonomics and rationality. IOW, U server is pretty good.

I recently ran across this cartoon: [Link]

and it seemed somehow relevant. Perhaps it was the closing lament that it is hard to run FOSS projects if no one wants to participate. Evidently all the organizational administrative and management groups have vacancies exceeding applicants and the pedestrian geeks are leaving faster than Rattus Norwegicus the Titanic.

So how can you run FOSS projects if you have no volunteers? Answer: abandon FOSS and become MegaHard or Fruit. 

Since it is now past the release of U 14.04 and Canonical has not gone away, the matter has not been as revolutionary as it seemed back then. But it did give me occasion to consider my own experiences. I started out in Linux with a market survey. I first tried Scientific Linux and found it rather too stiff. So I took up Ubuntu. And then Canonical introduced Unity and I rediscovered hate, loathing, and nausea. So I switched to Kubuntu and Xubuntu. And began to have other problems which are still unresolved as to cause. 

And then Canonical decided to abandon the hinterland. The elimination of an update ISO was the tipping straw, to mix metaphors. So now I use other distros, both Debian based and one supposedly a derivative of U but somewhat neutered (or is it spayed?) And both are supposed to be rolling release so I hope to avoid the practice of Nuke And Pave that was too often the only viable option with Ubuntu.

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi. And hopefully no Canonical troopers shooting through knotholes in Casterllum SCP.

Stray in gym this morning. And the podcast episodes not at all bad. Although a SCIENCE segment on the nature of Chinese censorship of social media was most revealing. And encouraging. Paternalistic, but encouraging. Which fits with the better aspects of Chinese society. 

I ran across this cartoon: [Link]

recently and it rather reminded me of why I am quite happy, as an ORF, not to have to talk to politicians very often. What they see as important – usually their re-election – and what I see as important are pretty well orthogonal. And they really don’t want to talk about my interests.

Also, the nature of our speech is different. Politicians talk a lot with very little content. My speech tends to be the opposite: little talk, lots of content.

Mundane Maunderings

I had barely retired last evening when the electron potential became indifferent. From the sound a transformer got whacked, possibly an afterblow of the storms of late afternoon. Mostly wind, no dihydrogen oxide fall that I noted. Uncomfortable night as a result, and then this morning the noise of snorkel lorries outside. Finally te potential difference was restored just as I was leaving for gym.

Fair session there. Unpleasantly reminded next Mundane day is a holy day, at least for the gym staff. But the educationalists and weight bouncers were restrained. And the podcast, an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” on color, third in a series, finished off that horrible glob of boring. I say again, there are seven colors and all the rest either aren’t or are shades. And purple is a shade even if it will get you discorporated. . 

This is obviously a foul time for the infliction of organization, whether that be a gym staff that doesn’t want to be present, which would be all right if they would issue key cards,or the Greater Metropolitan Arab Electron Uncooperative which might oughta be called the Incompetency? 

I suppose I should be grateful that they got the power restored as rapidly as they did. After all, it was only about eight hours. 

Now I go to see the damage in the electro-thermal temperature reduction cabinet. 

STEM NERD Writing 5

Better. There was wind this morning. So the constitutional was a bit nicer. And I had occasion to consider composition some more. Following on the previous blot it occurred that some cogitation had to be put onto examinations.

Examinations in college are a bit different than those in high schule and previous. They tend to be rather a bit more formal and seldom take less than the whole class period. (Yes, in some of those weird two hour classes there would sometimes be a one hour exam, and always the second half of the class. Evolution in action.) They also tend to be a bit more frenzied. After all, in college there is no one demanding that the majority pass. You are on your own to survive. 

At this point I should invoke Chad Orzel’s taxonomy: type 1 courses are those where you read the text before class and discuss what you read in class; type 2 are where you go to class to learn how to read the text after class. Type 1 courses are basically composition courses: essays and the like; type 2 courses are basically problem solving, some theorem proving, courses. Their exams are a bit different. Exams in type 1 courses generally have a composition component, either an essay or answers to discussion questions where composition is graded. Exams in type 2 courses tend to be problem solving courses where elaboration of steps is critical. This latter is still composition, at least in the nerd sense, but completely different from the former. 

Obvious differences in the two tend to be physical. Exams in type one courses were written in what were – in my college days – called “blue books”; a booklet of 8-12 ruled pages, about 6″ x 9″ with a blue paper cover. The cover usually was printed with the college name and designated places for student and course name. Exams in type 2 courses were written in “green books”; a booklet of 8-12 pages ruled on front, gridded on back, about 9″ x 12 with a green paper cover, similarly printed. Type one exams were usually written in ink, usually BIC ball points in my day; type 2 exams were always written in pencil. And one always carried a separate eraser. I was partial to Pink Pearls.

Part of this difference is that maths – problem exposition – need more white space than words. Also maths had to be checked whereas words were graded in part on neatness.  

The point, since I have done rather a drunkard’s walk here, is that exams were a primary influence on composition. They were similar to note taking except that the information had to originate between the ears. But the same skills that one had to develop in note taking were in play here as well. 

STEM NERD Writing 4

Not a bad morning. Decent if a bit too high temperature and absence of wind in the park but constitutional was bearable. And the podcast was endurable. But it did put me back on the subject of composition and mindlessness but along a different azimuth.

Back when I was in high schule, I was asked to make the halftime public address announcements for the schule band at (American) football half time. I had never done this and actually did not care for any form of athletics but especially spectator sports. Not that I minded the effort of athletics but I disliked the vicariousness of the spectator aspect, the contrived, artificial, meaningless importance of the competition, and the noxious festivity. It was therefore fitting in later life that mu daughter would be a cheerleader.

But I did like the band. Not the marching part. That detracted from the music but it often seemed that the only reason the band existed and music was taught at all in high schule was because of athletics. So I agreed. I then took very exacting notes of what I needed to cover and wrote myself out a script. And when the appointed time came and I was at the microphone, which I discovered had a noticeable latency, I discovered that I could NOT read my script. My handwriting was too poor for me to read it with divided attention.

I did learn from the experience. Primarily to make sure my legibility matched the attention I could afford. And I never tried to announce again. In fact, as soon as I got to college and saw how evil marching band could be, I walked away from that. Leave nonsense like announcements at spectator sports events to bogs, extro bogs at that. With good legibility.

But that lesson with legibility did take root and over the years had to be integrated in the whole idea of composition. In effect, that was the seed of the two part system of composition that I evolved. Write for content and key (type) for legibility (presentation.) Because two different aspects of mindfulness are needed and they should not be mixed.

But high schule never ceases to make me glad I am old.

Political Health

Once more to the edge of week out. This morning a fair constitutional. The weather was clement is a bit muggy and depressing but this after all the month of Augustus and that makes it a downer.

I noted last night an advertisement on the electromagnetic audio-visual receiver of the Democrud candidate  for guvnuh. Several azimuths. The usual political prevarication about jobs. But immediately a challenge over the state’s failure to do adequately in health care, the KEY failing of the state dermatologist and his Repulsian masters. But then he had to blow the WHOLE ting and talk about lottery. Lottery? In a bible thumper state? Has Tartarus had a phase change?

Still, I have high hopes that he can be elected just so he can stall some of the nonsense coming out of the state’s council of thieves. It has become embarrassing how hard they are trying to reinstate chattel slavery. Especially of women. 

Now I expect a lot of christianist harassment and nonsense in this state. It’s the price we pay for clean air. No, I can’t defend the logic but we do have good air and we do have nasty religionist fanatics. I await them any day starting to do head choppings. 

But I don’t like being dragged back into the nasty days of religionist totalitarianism. I know we have been a third world state in Alibam for years but this is getting really bad. 

I also find it amusing that the choices for guvnuh are two has-been physicians. But I do think we are in greater need for care of cancer in the state than acne.

MahJong GUI

Well, I survived the gallop to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill. And the gym was pleasantly sparse this morning. More seniors than educationalists or weight bouncers. Not that any of us seem inclined to much converse this early in morning. Those who rise that early do not waste time in idle noise.

The podcast was an episode of Linux Luddites and the criticism of Canonical, Mark the Mokita, and the abomination that is Unity was delightful, putting my mind to consider the question of tile gui versus the conventional windowed ala Xerox SPARC gui.

I should comment that I do use a tile gui. Or rather, more of an icon gui. Evevry day. After all I do have a “smart” cellular telephone. It is not smart except in the definition that refers to the sensation of a wound. And it is rather painful. The gui is unpleasant, inefficient, and difficult, to say nothing of persistingly contrary. I liken it however to the gui of my HP calculators.

The form factor is quite similar. Even the modern calculators have better keys than the touch pad. I do not try to program either. It is enough struggle to get them to do waht I want without consuming my attention span away from matters of real worth. That, fundamentally, is the problem of til gui. They are so difficult to use that one must be mindful and thus one cannot have other thoughts than working the gui. Such a thing is quite all right for a motorcar or a main battle tank but not a tool. So it fails and thus do all tile gui seem to fail.

I was reading an article the other day on Make Use Of. I don’t have the citation because the article was worse than ground tarrantula hair. The thesis of the article was that everyone should use Winders because the majority did. It was an exaltation of being an asentient, irrational herd nebbish over any degree of individuality. The journalist was definitely a Katarina and I had no desire to spend any time and attention span further.

Is KDE/XFCE/LXDE/MATE/CINNAMON/… perfect? No, but they all are vastly superior – small number divided by zero – to Unity/Metro/Gnome3.