Thor’s day. Survived the expedition to Nawth Alibam’s shining city on the hill. Many fools in motorcars. Struck me that it is good dueling is not legal or there would be a lot of discorporate drivers in the city. More than once yesterday I felt some schmuckula had put my life at risk because they were too lazy to drive properly. I especially liked the fellow trying to turn on Bob Wallace who blocked one lane of traffic until he could do so. Absolutely refused to reverse his position and let traffic flow. I would have gladly held coat to deal with him.

I am struggling with a broken install of Wheezy that won’t upgrade. Problems talking to the network. Unhappiness is the order of the day. Hopefully shy of nuke and pave.

Nothing witty to say since yesterday didn’t turn up anything mentionable.


Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Hubble

Two day. Nicely sparse in gym. The podcasts, science day, were all too concerned with the twenty-fifth anniversary of Hubble. I can’t get too worked up I fear. It’s a nice thing to do from a science standpoint but not a part of science that I do work in. Which means it is about as alien to my concerns as the Gobi desert is to Alibam. 

I was taken by one thing. They interviewed some staffer who was an astrophysicist. That part makes sense. But what he talked about was that before Hubble he couldn’t explain to his aunt how what he did was good for anything. 

That’s a question we all get from relatives. What do you do? and What good is it? If the relatives are nerds or geeks they have little problem accepting, if not understanding, your answers. If they’re bogs no answer will be illuminating, edifying, or satisfactory. I learned a long time ago not to really care. It upsets elders to be shrugged at when they say they don’t get your answer but if you’re the black sheep it actually helps. And if you are a nerd in a family of bogs, you are a black sheep. I’m not sure of the opposite. 

The problem that is a paradigm of explaining science to bogs is epitomized by the Hubble. All they think of is the pretty pictures. I have even heard politicians complain about how all that Hubble (and NASA) does (do) is produce pretty pictures to impress the proles. But most of the bogs do like the pictures – as do the geeks and nerds – but never care about what the Hubble really does. And what good it is.

That’s the fundamental problem of outreach as it’s called these days, of explaining science to bogs. They can’t understand because they don’t want to learn. Ain’t interesting. (Yes, I used the “I” word.) So all telling them what science is, is just irritating and frustrating them. You have to give them circus, not symposium. 

Sadly Hubble is the astronomical equivalent of Hunter-Gatherer elders sitting on the prairie waiting on the dire wolves to eat them. With the demise of the shuttle, no more service flights. So what circus do we have coming up to offer the bogs? Not, I think, the Webb telescope. 

No wonder science is failing in Amerika.

Unengaged in the Head

Mundane day again. Week in. And not very satisfying so far. Gym was moderate and the only weight bouncer was the polite one, so that was marginal. The equipment is still ratty and unmaintained so using it is a crap shoot in hurting oneself. The podcast was a CBC “Best of Ideas” episode about some Pennsylvania’s architecture and it was at best marginally diverting.

Have to motor shortly to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill. Medicalist appointment. That’s probably why the day seems so dark. 

Film at Eleven.

And the Evil

While we’re in the good-bad mode, I noticed an article in Slate. [Link] They give Alibam first place (for the week) in working to enslave women. Not surprising. Except that normally this sort of thing would be an ordered list of the states on how they uphold civil rights. The list would have Alibam and Missip battling for last place.

I suspect the state got this because of the activity of the Council of Thieves to reduce women to chattels by abolishing their right to choice. 

TheoFascism is the excuse, I suspect.


The Bad, the Good, and the Good

Once more to the edge of week out. Ice cream day. And I did get to go for constitutional in the park. Which was a bit inundated/flooded from the rains yesterday. Not badly but there were places whee I had to concentrate on my trajectory. I didn’t quite finish the podcast episode, mostly since I missed yesterday, but the loss portended to be minimal. A good diversion but not really informative. 

But I did run across some articles that were and since it is ice cream day it seems meet to clear some of them out. 

In the category of bad is a study [Link] out of U California that indicates that even moderate, continual consumption of fructose sweetened soda cause increase likelihood of heart disease. Like fall down in the middle of a bottle, discorporate sort of thing. Another reason to avoid fructose. 

The next falls into the category of good. It seems [Link] that McDougal’s has closed 350 stores – nobody wants to call them restaurants for fear of regurgitation – in the last two years. Seems even the happy box kids don’t want to go there any more. What is amazing is that the bogs can actually get a bit rational (?) in this?  Nah. Gotta be something else. Better taste? Not hard. Anyway, it won’t likely be any improvement. The nature of society seems to be every worst food and the niceties of climate change (no law yet in Alabama forbidding the phrase but give the council of thieves in Muntgum a chance to finish making abortion a felony and they’ll likely do so) portend it getting worser. Glad I’m old.

Last, it seems Megahard is losing money also. [Link] Seems the bogs aren’t buying PCs and therefore MegaHard is cash arid. What happened to their corporate addicts who just threw money at them? Have those corporations ditched PCs? Or switched to a good OS? I doubt it. Could it be that the tablet is a better fit with what humans want for home use than a computer? Do they do any intelligent composition? Do they create code? Do they crunch numbers of meaning? Consistent NO! Standard deviation zero. And which of them want a MegaHard tablet? Evidently no one who has money to spend on a tablet. MegaHard doesn’t seem to even be able to give away its tablets. Which doesn’t generate cash flow either way. 

Now the day is brighter. New version of Debian out. To Systemd or not? Hamlet had an easier time. But at least Linux boxes are still selling. As are nerd boxes. Some things can’t be done on a tablet. Unless you turn it into a box. Selah.

Murder by Management

The wrath of the weather beavers has returned. Horrible storms, which I missed or decayed faster than predicted. But no constitutional, so I am discontent even if it is not winter.

One of my colleagues, Magnetic Inductance Force, sent me link [Link] to this cartoon:

which rather illustrates a geek (nerd?) paradigm I was unsure still existed. 

As I have previously described in my youth we didn’t have calculators, we had slide rules. The day of the calculator did not dawn until, I believe, 1971 when Hewlett Packard (a very nice nerd hardware company until ruined by the likes of Carly Fiorina!) introduced the worlds first nerd calculator that would fit in pocket, the HP-35. 

Of course this calculator was not something that a teenage geek (nerd) would carry since its price was about two months of graduate student teaching assistant (TA) pay. So one could only buy such a thing in summer when one could live in a tent and scrounge food instead of buying food and paying rent. But cheaper calculators were to be introduced and today most geek calculators have prices o($100). 

The phenomena was the same. The idea was that guys who carried maths crunchers, whether slide rules or calculators, couldn’t get dates because no self-respecting high schule/college girl (sic) would date them. This was more fable than fact. The actuality is that most geeks (nerds) were impractical in their expectations and too insecure and fearful of rejection to even ask. 

What I had wondered was if girls (sic) were more assertive these days. Evidently not or this cartoon would not work. What I do know is that the wonders of the Reverse Polish Notation calculator have ebbed enormously. Part of this is due to the industry and conniving of Texas Instruments who have set themselves to be the calculator company of high schule students and Hewlett Packard has been destroyed by false managers. Yes, they still make a few calculators but they are as urine useless as their computers. This is a matter for Kaddish. The emperor is dead and all we have is chaos.

On the other hand, I had wondered if the era of the smart (sic) cellular telephone had done in the geek (nerd) calculator. I have several HP emulators on my cellular telephone and they do well enough for on-the-fly crunching. And when I need to really crunch I can haul out my HP-35. And weep at the glory that was once Hewlett Packard.

Collection and Collective

It occurred to me the other day, while arguing right-of-way with a bumpkin that Greater Metropolitan Arab is one of those places where driver run STOP signs if no one else is using them.

I didn’t have any problem getting to the park this morning but then no 4-way STOPs along the way. The weather was a bit off. Air temperature in mid-40s and a mild wind. Just enough to be cooling. My ears are just now recovering sensation. The podcast was an episode of “The Pen Addict” which should stretch through the week out.

The thought trail I wandered off on this morning was “what makes us have these nit noid special interests?” I am not talking about our disciplines; physics is not nit noid except to asentient bogs. Nor am I talking about things like cooking which are peripheral to survival. Rather I mean things like an addiction to pens or notebooks or calculators or slide rules or collecting pins or stamps or coins. We rationalize these activities, especially the collections, as a form of wealth accumulation although almost universally they prove to be anything but. Beanie Babies being a case in point. 

It would be nice if we could say this was a by-blow of intelligence but that ain’t so. Several animals collect stuff. I have read that crows collect ‘shiny things’ and that pack rats collect something, I am unsure of the qualifier. So this behavior cannot be simply a matter of high overhead brains. But since it manifests in many, if not all, humans it must have some beneficial aspect. 

It seems to be related to whatever drove us to abandon hunter-gathering and adopt sedentary agriculture. Clearly hunter-gatherers were limited in what collections they could have. Maybe a favorite rock or two so long as they were capable tools or unburdensome jewelry, but no stamp albums or ceramic figures in glass cases. 

An aspect of this has to be some form of us-them. There is clearly an aspect that whatever one does in this special way has to distance one from the mass but also have some (few?) colleagues so that comparisons and critiques are possible. Unique collections or interests are often viewed as a form of insanity, which incidentally is clearly a social and not a physiological illness, but as soon as there are a few who do this thing it enjoys social tolerance if not acceptance. It’s a bit like religion: if one does it, it’s terrorism but if two (or more) do it, it’s a church. Which is intriguingly a complete reversal of how religion should be. 

Selah. For now.

Universal Deflation of the Workplace

Thor’s day and done with gym for the week. Much gnashing of atmosphere last night that I slumbered through. And the gym was blissfully sparse this morning. The only weight bouncer was the polite one. I listened to a pair of Ubuntu podcasts from England which are moderately distracting if not actually enlightening and they occasionally snipe at Canonical and Shuttleworth. Large targets.

There’s not much worth blogging in the article channels so I am going to make do with a cartoon; [Link]

that I ran across some time ago. This doesn’t just hold for grad students or even just academia. I found it held for the Yankee army as well.

The graph is self-explanatory to anyone graph literate and they can explain it to the bogs. The mechanics here are that by sundae night one is sick of week out and one’s mind is abuzz with stuff to do but one knows one has to go to work Mundane morning and so with tosses and turns in bed with ideas and then arises harshly sleep deprived. Then one goes to work and immediately the organizational bureaucracy and administrivia and the friction of co-workers and bosses and minions assails one and all the great ideas get smothered in a din of mind noise and nerve annoyance.

That’s what civilization and modern life is ALL about.

Sex and Marriage

No dihydrogen oxide falling. But I did oversleep a few minutes. Still got to gym on time if a bit frantic and the place was a bit crowded for a two day. As usual the podcasts were diverting but not memorable. Although the Guardian’s primary topic of the statistics of sexual activity was moderately illuminating. But, as always, failed to get to the real nature of humans. I suspect we prevaricate more on sex than anything else, especially to ourselves. Denial or insecurity I suppose.

Along that azimuth, I noted an article [Link] that talked about marriage by starting with a startle bit about the Southron Baptists advocating early marriage. Since Southron Baptists are among the most whackadoodle of the Southron theo-fascists my attention span was focused. The article claims that the church is pushing this because more young people are having congress prior to marriage. If we are to credit the latest English sex survey (covered in the Guardian podcast) the fraction is O(1.0). 

I should comment that I was raised in a Southron Baptist family and am the black sheep in part because I am not. Southron Baptist, that is. Or any other organized religion. 

When I was a kid, the Southron Baptists had pretty much abandoned their predestination origins. In fact, I didn’t find out about that until I studied American history after college. Instead, they were pretty much anti. They were against ethanol, drugs, sex, dancing, homosexuality, …. At least officially. It was also common among the members to indulge in at least one forbidden activity. 

My problem with the Southron Baptists, and almost all organized religion, is that they don’t want to have discussion. They don’t want to discuss, they just want to pronounce. A characteristic they share with the Muslims is an emphasis on – nay, demand for – obedience. And it has to be blind obedience. No asking the good questions like why is the deity so insecure that he wants prayer? At least the laudatory stuff that comes across as the most shameless suck-up. Baptists don’t discuss that stuff, at least with the outer circle and since I have never been part of the inner I don’t know if they do or not.

I have given up on testing. At least with religionists. They can’t handle it and are in adamantine denial. For the most part. But most go to the extreme of not discussing the fundamental questions that get paved over with the macadam of ‘holy scripture’. And without the freedom to discuss anything as rational adults, they don’t qualify. At least in my taxonomy. 

I am in favor of marriage. If it’s done right it’s a very constructive symbiosis. All the data indicate that the more mature the participants the higher the probability of success. And nothing is more wasteful than failed marriage except capitalists. 

And I don’t object to religion organizations having some role in formalizing the activity. That formality provides a much needed aspect of inertia, not that any religionist would likely use that idiom. But I do object to their autarchy and rule making. Marriage is hard enough without destructive constraints. Maybe the bogs need them. But I doubt it.