Self-Education?

Five Day. End of Gym Week. Mixed Feelings. Glad to be rid of the drive, both motorcar and psychological. Finished listening to an episode of “Destination Linux,” a new (to me) podcast I have been sampling. Sadly, may be the last. Definitely an inferior product. Content C; Presentation F. If this is a destination, how do I change direction?

Not that it didn’t give me some thoughts and that’s why it’s in the “maybe” bin. But I had to sort them out from a rather Red Neck level of presentation, very shave-once-a-week gimmie cap Bog EXTRO type of thing. But I need to clarify a bit.

While I listen to podcasts at gym to divert my attention from the fundamentally abysmal boredom of exercise, I expect the podcast to be educational and (hopefully) a bit amusing. This one failed on the latter. In fact it was painful and grating. Sort of like those Jock harassment monologues Nerds had to endure in High School before they went on to college and the Jocks went to the trade schule. 

What is uncertain is the educational aspect. I can’t say I learned any facts but since the presentation engendered (how’s that for a nice Chaucerian word?) some cogitation the decision is in abeyance. Definitely, “Waiting Is.”

This is closest to the question of gaming on Linux. Not of much interest. I am quite content for my modest gaming requirements, mostly as head clearing breaks of the sort that used to distance me from other supervisors and managers who thought employee breaks were evil and cancerous. So I am ambivalent to the whole thing of pornographic gaming. 

That comment needs of explanation since all sorts of alarums just sounded in the cranium. Consulting the dictionary,

Pornography Por*nog”ra*phy, n. [Gr. ? a harlot + -graphy.]      3. obscene pictures, writings, drawings, motion pictures, videos, or the like intended primarily to cause sexual arousal and having little or no artistic merit; also, the content of such materials.

makes things clear(?) These games are a form of arousal. Heavy duty chemicals that politicians want to ban and usually fail only because someone points out doing so will kill them. (And other people, but that’s irrelevant to politicians.)

In a similar aspect, I am negatively ambivalent about “Convergence,” the Linux equivalent of Kurzweil’s Singularity which is itself a sort of techno-geek Rapture. The argument is simple. I like chicklet keys on my RPN calculator (and RPN over Algebraic is part of the argument,) and not on my keyboard where I prefer Cherry Blue switches. And I detest touch screens. 

This brings me to the pinnacle of all this Linux stuff. Simply put I don’t much care about The-Year-Of-The-Linux-Desktop. It’s rot and nonsense. Back when I was a neub (and still am skills-wise,) I thought I should advocate for it. But then I realized it was nothing but a mixture of insecurity (did I really make the right decision to switch to Linux?) and greed (keep the neubs’ boxes humming – for a large fee.) 

But after observing and noting that almost all Bogs want to submit to being mind dominated by large corporations so they only have to consume and feel – but not, never, ever, if possible, think – I realized that Great-Uncle George’s advice held true.

“If you lead a horse to water, you have two choices: leave him alone or drown the SOB. And if you drown him you have to do something with the body otherwise the Revenooers come after you for littering or pollution or animal cruelty or some such Yankee legal stercus.”

Despite being a JP, GU George was rather untrusting of the constabulary.

Anyway, I have had my year of the Linux desktop for several years now, and if someone asks I will share with them, but I ain’t into racial cleansing or chattel slavery. Mostly because it’s too much trouble. 

Now I gotta go do something constructive.

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Thought Provocations

Four Day. Safely (?) returned from a motor to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill for provisions and staffage. Survival. And a bit of epiphany?

One of the biggest academic problems of our age is finding a way to effectively do science outreach to apathetic Bogs. Not that there isn’t a lot of outreach by academics and the get a lot of mana points for it, at least internally, but their effectiveless is not very good. Briefly, it’s a Double Sturgeon (as in Rule) because its 99% ineffective (crap.) 

But yesterday in transit I came up with a way to make science outreach effective in larnin’ apathetic bogs. All that is necessary is to broadcast it and tell the Bogs that it is “Reality TV.” And they will watch and gossip about it. 

And the amusing thing is that it really is reality.

On a similar azimuth, a member of the Alibam Council of Thieves from Vestavia Hills has introduced a bill in the legislature to make selling a cellular telephone or “internet reading device” without a porn blocker illegal.[Link] And any adult who wants to disable the blocker has to register and pay a fee.

I am assuming an “internet reading device” is a slablet? 

Anyway, this grabbed my attention span when I heard about this on the local “news” broadcast out of Nawth Alibam’s …

First of all, I understand one of those legal rights organizations is already talking about litigating this as unconstitutional. May be, but what it came across to me is an example of how ignorant Alibam (All?) politicians are when it comes to science and technology. And maybe business, which they pride themselves in prostituting themselves to.

So let’s explore this bill. This member of the CoT wants all cellular telephones and slablets (?) sold in Alibam to have an unremovable addition to the software that blocks “porn” sites. No indication of how they’re going to define porn sites so someone is going to have to come up with a list of such, keep it current, and distribute it. 

Let’s also mention that Alibam is less than 1% of the National cellular marketplace. Definitely not a demographic heavyweight. 

So do we expect Gooey or Fruit (or any of the other cellular OS companies) to modify their OS? Chances zero to minus one. IMHO.

So they can pay a third party to hack the OS and add the capability? Chances similar.

At this point we have to ask what are the chances the CSP will just quit selling phones and slablets in Alibam. Pretty fair. 

Chances that each CSP will have a blocking client added to their devices? Pretty fair. Chances that extra-Alibam retailers will do so. Zero.

I should comment here that this brain trust of one from Vestavia Hills seems to think that everyone in Alibam gets his/her from a CSP. So he/she hasn’t thought about those folks who buy their phones over the Internet – unlocked or otherwise.

I should also probably mention that we have lots of people who live near an edge of Alibam who go across the edge to buy lottery tickets. I hope the connection is obvious?

OK, so let’s assume that somehow the CSPs in Alibam get a blocking capability in their phones. What happens next?

  • The Bogs are going to get in their motorcars and drive across the state line. Or go on Amazon. If they have a Geek friend. Or a child above the age of ten or so.
  • The Geeks are going to install Opera (browser) and engage the VPN. Blocker shortcircuited. This solution will also be done by the kids withing a day, probably an hour.
  • The nerds are going to root their phones and disable the blocker. And maybe install a different OS that doesn’t have blocker capability.  Or cobble an app that goes around the blocker. 

This may sound bad, but let’s think about the good side of this. It’s a form of outreach. It will incentivize people in Alibam, especially the kids, to learn how to hack a cellular or slablet. So the benefit of this law will be to increase the education level of Alibam citizens. 

I might also mention that the Yankee Congress is also encouraging this behavior with their idea of letting CSPs and ISPs sell customer data to all comers.

And who says Politicians aren’t helping their constituency? Maybe backwardsly and stupidly, but definitely helping. At least here in Alibam.

Rules of Civilization

Rule: If using a + (Phillips) or – (name?) screwdriver, make sure the blade is slightly larger than the screw slots.

Rule’: For # screwdriver, make sure the bit (blade) just fits the “hole”.

Rule”: If an Amerikan in a furrin country, use a hammer.

Search the Third

Seven Day; Ice Cream Day. The day when I ‘hawg’ tabs, which I have done, but it took a while for some to finish their cognitive “rise”. 

I noted one article [Link] that linked epilepsy and religion. It wasn’t a very definitive or instructive article but the association got me to think about how advertising is related to religion.

Most religions are about making conditions better. Most of them are long term games where if you subscribe to the religion (with money and time and substance,) then things will be good after you discorporate. And if you don’t, they will be bad.

Some of them say if you associate with them now, you’ll be better soon. Cured of disease or given money. 

So they are rather like advertising. Promises with no enforceable guarantee. And they are after the same humans, the ones who don’t want some form of reliable proof. 

There is some evidence that both a in hard times. The number of people who regularly attend the services of organized religion (and pour money into their coffers,) has gone down by about a third in the last twenty years or so. 

This is evidently not so much a wholesale epidemic of rationality and skepticism as a disillusionment with the whole miasma of organization.

Similarly, I saw an article [Link] entitled “‘People aren’t spending’: stores close doors in ‘oversaturated’ US retail market” this morning. Notably, it was in the Guardian, which is a related bit that I will try to comment on, and dealt with how the big chain stores: Macy’s; Sears; Penny’s; are shuttering stores in large figures this year. 

Coincidence? I have to wonder. In both instances could it be that the constraints of organization are impositions people don’t want any more? Sure, part of it is the internet, offering anytime access. Either of stores that sell similar goods but are bit, rather than brick, built, but part of it is space-time. Maybe.

Churches spent the last twenty years or so getting bigger. But they needed a lot of people to attend services (and plump down money,) to stay afloat, so if they were successful, and they were, then the little churches went away from being too small.

This is basically why humans have organization in the first place. Back when we were all Hunter-Gatherers living in social organizations – bands – of 25-50 people, we lived on a bit of a knife edge. If our band was hit by a bad illness and ten people died, the band fell apart. Too many lost hands and skills and roles. 

So we got more organized: tribes, then chiefdoms, and then nation-states. The organization as a whole was more survivable but now people didn’t know each other and they couldn’t make decisions about their own lives. And not too long on they had to give up being mobile and adopted agriculture and bigotry and tyranny. Or perhaps I should say unrequited tyranny. And people, the few who refused to adapt, were either killed by the majority (or its instrumentality,) or they went and hid from the organized lifestyle. 

That’s sorta how America came to be. Nice Failed Attempt. Or attempts?

Anyway, when the churches and the unspecialized stores get bigger, their numbers go down. When I was a boy growing up there was a Sears store in every town. Might only be a catalog store where all you could do was order and receive but it was there. Similarly there were lots of little churches, a couple in every neighborhood. And everyone attended. Because of the other-than-organized benefits. 

Nowadays it’s an hour’s drive on a divided highway to the nearest Sears store, which is going away. Yes, we have a local Sears store in Greater Metropolitan Arab but I have only been in it when FD SCP wants a new washer/dryer or freezer. And that’s because they’re the only reputable merchant of such in town. I consider it notable that they only sell touchable goods. That is, stuff you won’t buy out of a catalog or on-line. You have to touch it first. Appliances, lawn mowers, tools. All trustworthy. No clothes or such.

In a way, churches and stores seem to be compromised by being in the middle. There are goods and religious services available on the web which is at once both local and more concentrated – a few server farms and distribution centers who knows where. But it’s also the unavailable and unadapting. I used to have a neighbor, now discorporate, who was RC. He went to mass on Saturday night and in the next town where there was an RC church. I asked him once whether he was RC because of when he could go to services or the other way about. He was wise enough not to weaken our friendship by answering. 

So there are signs that the churches (organized religion) and stores have overextended themselves – too restricted in space-time. Far away and seldom open. Part of it may be what they offer: too restricted; too inflexible. 

Or it may just be that cat videos and freedom from sales tax is enough for most people?

But I have noted hopeful signs of rationality increasing. Recently, the last year, there have sprung up advertisements (commercials in the main,) that pretend to be news interviews. Usually these are folks selling some emotional service such as house refinancing and alarm systems. Horribly, evilly wrong and false. But they also seem now, in the last few weeks to be receding. So is this a case of people seeing through their Snidely Subterfuge that scrams evil and sham and fraud? An increase, probably temporary, of rational skepticism, or a response to egregious political prevarication and false facts that have burned many?

The World Wonders.

More Search

I thought I had hammered the coffin lid a bit yesterday but this morning I find it still needs a bit of bashing.

I have a browser tab of site addresses I try to visit every day. Periodically I add a site; spasmodically I delete a site, usually when their stupidity becomes too noxious. One such on the cusp is the “Huffington Post” which combines mediocre journalism with rectal cerebration. 

The main reason I go there is that some of their articles give me some insight into the nature of contemporary bogs. Usually I spend less than a minute on the site because such nuggets are as rare as platinum nuggets in the septic creek behind the outhouse. 

But this morning I ran across an article [Link] entitled “Spring Deals: Lowest Prices On TurboTax, Bowflex Power Rod Gym And Samsung’s 8-Series Quantum Dot TVs.” Note that this is an imaginary article. It is really an advertisement. Which leads us to our tirade.

This is a type of advertisement that exceeds the at-least-one-prevarication standard. In this instance several-fold. FIrst of all, the journalist and the site editor claim this is an article. Prevarication Number ONE.

Next it offers to sell – at substantially reduced price (Prevarication Number TWO) – things that I really want to buy because I need them either physically or socially or emotionally. SO what are these things?

  • An income tax client. Why should I want one of these? First of all these income tax clients are for Bogs who are too mentally deprived to know that (1) you can get better, cheaper done on line, often free, and (2) that if you’ve got to use such a client you really need to hire someone who knows what he/she is doing to do your taxes. I could also say something about this client isn’t available for Linux, mostly because Linux folks have good sense not to fool with such Stercus, but I shan’t.
  • A home “gym”. Another trap for Bogs. First of all it’s neither a gym nor a particularly useful workout device. You get better using your feet on and off the ground. But that’s not the point. Things like this sell to people who don’t exercise and buy this to balm their guilt. The manufacturers of such know that and make them so that they fall apart in a year or so of sitting about coated with dust. Most either never make it out of the box (unassembled) or get banished to the nastiest corner of the garage because HVAC floor space is to valuable for something unused except as a mind flush.
  • Samsung Quantum Dot TV. This is the most astounding and laughable of the three. First of all, it’s made by a company that has made cellular IED a watchword. I understand they received an award from Homeland Security for improving job security. Next, it’s a “Quantum Dot.” This is a masterpiece (?) of advertising. All dots are quantum. Heck, SCP is quantum. We are all quantum. Even dark energy. Whatever it is. And a TV? This has to be another Bog attractant. Who needs a new TV? Lots of people but rarely. I have a couple of TVs and both are over five years old. Don’t use them that much. And the GEN Ys aren’t using TVs. Well, maybe the porn bogs who do a lot of sports porn. Which sort of fits with the “home gym” thing. People who get their endocrine systems churning over athletic stuff that they don’t do but watch. That’s what makes it porn. 

There’s more stuff buried in the advertisement masquerading as an article but the point is made. A Congress of Lies. And that metaphor has nothing to do with the national council of the inept, unhonest, and uncompetent. A collection of salamanders is called a congress. And that’s what advertising is all about: the dinosaur brain that we all inherited from our lizard forebears. 

In Search of Manufactured Good

As might have been expected I have been considering advertising recently. 

This is not unexpected. We are immersed in an atmosphere – fairly toxic – of advertisement these days. So naturally to notice and think upon.

I freely admit that I am not the demographic. Mostly I am too old for advertisements other than those for burial insurance, medicare goods, or treatments thereof. And courtesy of the sitting congress we can expect those to diminish with the funding for medical matters.

I am also moderately sentient and observant. Advertisers hate nerds for the same reason district attorneys do. We question and analyze and generally find the contradictions that compromise everything.

Also, I am the one who first declared that every advertisement contains at least one prevarication.

So I might as well proceed.

It is not that I do not expect manufactured goods to have limitations and even defects. But I have Willis and Geiger clothing that I have owned for almost thirty years – obviously – that is in better shape used than things I buy from their successors today.

Willis and Geiger was a company of great quality; it made aviator jackets for the Yankee Navy going back to when they got their first airplane with wheels. And they maintained that quality until they were bought by another company to reduce its competition.

That’s an indicator of the nature of the contemporary marketplace. It’s stressed. Every day old companies are going away because their management made the wrong decisions on a learned time scale too slow for modern competition. Or they are made irrelevant by the rapid changing wants of humans.

This stress gets reflected in the advertisements. Evidently some advertising types have enormous difficulty presenting the product. If the product isn’t presented then the “rubes” have no visual association and can’t be trusted to actually buy what the advertising is pushing. So a lot of advertisements have these vignettes where they present the product but one gets alienated a few seconds into the vignette wondering why the people in the advertisement are acting in such a strange way. Result: net loss to the manufacturer since people who see this and note the cockeyedness are not positive about the product.

A somewhat bigger problem seems to be an inability to distinguish one’s product from its competitors. This is especially the situation with motorcars. In effect, all motorcar advertisements are identical except for a brand + product that is indistinguishable from its competitors.

Another problem is making some claim that fails the “so what” test immediately and the audience is left trying to figure out the strategy of explicit, apparently intentional, failure. May work in England but not in the Yankee Republic.

Lastly, promises. Given the environment we live in these days, especially governmental, the baseline is that any positive statement is a prevarication and any negative statement is a threat. So how does this incentivize?  

My speculation is that we may have reached the point where the marketplace is running on a form of inertia. People have been ducking advertisements for years. Ad blockers in browsers have now reached the point where the use of an ad blocker blocker by a web site cuts into its traffic. Never mind paywall, ad wall wall seems to be a crypt construction. Meanwhile lots of people seem to operate on a buy-the-same-old-thing until they get fed up with its wrongs and then experiment with random selection. This seems to explain why companies repackage their goods ever couple of months. 

What makes the latter intriguing is that it upsets the cross diffusion flow. For years companies have leveraged the marginal populations that give up on one product and go to another. Since most products are staples of imagination if not actuality, the advertising emphasis is on capturing these changers. The problem now seems to be that this population has become immune to the advertising. Maybe.

Meanwhile, the companies continue to be oblivious to any idea that quality may be a better strategy than whackadoodle advertisements.