Ice Cream day. Managed to survive this morning’s constitutional despite oversleeping. Why is it that that oversleep bit is so much more refreshing? Almost justifies the panic when one awakens.

One of my colleagues, Magnetic Inductance Force, sent me an article [Link] that likens membership in a political party to membership in a gang. Makes sense. Explains why politicians are so nasty and evil.

Some sort of concert in the park yesterday. Horrible noise. Would have preferred cats being vivisected in that regard. I know there are people who think that terrorism music but I don’t. At least is was in daytime and not after my retirement time.


Shannon Sags

Into week out. Got to venture into the park this morning but the indisposition limited my constitutional in magnitude. And the summerishness continues to intensify. Sometimes I am glad to be senior so I can get away from these annoyances sooner.

Speaking of annoyances, I ran across an article [Link] complaining about the inadequacies of Shannon’s information theory. The most intriguing thing about this is that someone thought it news. I can recall reading papers at conferences on how broken Ma Bell’s information theory was fifteen or twenty years ago. Apparently this is one of those cases of non-academics aren’t relevant or being too far ahead of the academic herd. I am going to continue to entertain both conjectures absent any stronger evidence than academic ‘bitchin’. 

The problem is that Shannon entropy counts encoded information only and that by counting characters only. The more letters in your alphabet, the more accessible states and hence the more entropy. And the statements “dogs eat” and “Spot ate” have the same entropy but oh, so different!, information content. 

If your dog is named Spot, of course. Otherwise it’s the same. 

So information is contextual and depends on how it relates to knowledge.

And Shannon information theory doesn’t do that. 

But it does explain a lot about why journalism is so bad.

Not with a Bang

I got to see how the country is discorporating this morning.

I went to MalWart early. At least for MalWart in Greater Metropolitan Arab. I had a list with four things on it, all foodstuffs. I had to go to ten different places to find two of the four. 0.5 That’s all. And that’s the rot.

Why not the rest? I can think of several reasons. One is that MalWart is a sham. It pretends to be a “super” store but actually it is a slightly large store with too much diversity. So only part of the density of states is present. That means limited selection. Only what they have. And don’t ask because they won’t know or care or get. 

The second is that MalWart is a paradigm of modern corporations. The retailers only stock things that sell enough. If a product doesn’t generate enough cash flow, it gets dropped. If a product doesn’t sell enough to retailers then the manufacturer quits making the product.

And we, the citizens, are left in want amidst what should be the greatest plenty in the history of humans.

If you like something and not enough other people in your town do, you won’t be able to get it. If you like something new and not enough other people around the country do, you won’t be able to get it.

That’s how the world ends. Not with a boom, or even a whimper, but with merchants saying you can’t have what you want because they can’t make enough profit on it.

What kind of capitalism is that?

Ideal Motorcar Law

I survived the expedition to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill with only a few close encounters of the stupid driver kind. This led me to muse upon the following:

Car_Cost * Car_Volume = fudge_factor * Driver_Schmuckness,

where the variables are self-explanatory except fudge_factor which is maths for constant-to-be-determined-by-technicians. The resemblance to the Ideal Gas Law motivates the name.

Worse today. Have to assay US431, Alibam’s answer to the Dixie Dieway.

Mammoth Prevarication

Two day and back to gym. The lateness is due to the holy day yesterday which was a bit irritating: abuse of the meaning of the day with speeches appropriate for veterans’ day but NOT memorial day. And nary a mention of the Second American Revolution that motivated the holy day.

The podcasts today were scienceish and the one that caused the greatest irritation was an interview with some journalist who had written a book on de-extinctioning animals. I should comment that the author’s tone was actually quite practical if not quite direct enough for me. So pray do not take my comments as plagiarism.

The attraction of “de-extinctioning” animals, of bringing back extinct species, usually dinosaurs (Jurassic *.*) or woolly mammoths (cuddly plush toy) is a mixture of guilt (for vertically copulating the ecology,) romance (self explanatory,) and insecurity. It’s fundamentally a boggish thing and it is the deepest, most odoriferous, stercus tauri.

What can maybe be done is to grow one (or a few) almost/near animals based on modifying genetic material. But any animals produced from this are neither biologically nor ecologically those vanished animals. Genetically they are inexact and they will not be a species except as biological curiosities and P. T. Barnum exhibits. Take mammoths. They are herd animals. To bring them back we have to recreate their ecology (terraforming, in effect) and re-establish their herd social structure. Lots of animals, not just mammoths required. They have to be genetically mammoths, which they won’t be except approximately. And there won;t be enough genetic diversity for them to continue.

So all they’ll be is a continuation of a species going extinct. And when they go we’ll be even more depressed and guilty.

Better we figure out how to reverse out own headlong rave to extinction.

More than Memory

Mundane day. Also the holy day of Memorial. We are supposed to exalt the memory of those who have been slain in battle. At least the ones wearing uniforms. The non-soldiers are not relevant here. 

It’s a very misused holy day. As originally construed it was all about the second American revolution, the so-called American civil war. In those days everyone who served was either a volunteer (at least on the Confederate side) or accepted a bribe to substitute for someone who was being enslaved. That’s one of the contradictions of this war. The Union – Yankee – side had to compel some men to serve. And since the war is propagandized as being all about ending slavery in Amerika, forcing men to serve in the army – itself a form of slavery – is somehow compromising and contradictory. Of course there were also social compulsions on both sides, but supposedly – and we shall never know for sure otherwise – most of those who served were volunteers.

And honoring those who felt strongly enough to die in combat for their ideal – Nawth or Sowth – is laudable.

Perhaps it is. I can see two sides. Yes, organization has its benefits. Civilization and all that. And we’re going to die anyway so why not do so in a rush of endocrine secretions? Of course, one can ask why one should die for a parasite? That’s what organizations are. They take substance and put it to other uses. Including their own continuance. So there is an overhead. Thermodynamics applies.

The rationale for organization is that it benefits the members of the organizations. Is killing them a benefit? Maybe if they are discorporating of some horrible, painful disease, but does life qualify as such? So if organizations are beholding to us for their existence and are selfish in the process, just what and how much dedication do they deserve from us? 

I admire that those who died, at least purely idealistically, believed enough in their organization to discorporate for it. I am not sure about their rationality, however.