Surviving Weather Men 2

Let us speak of ships and sealing wax. Or more properly weather and probability. Everyone hears the probabilities from the weather beavers but they never bother to tell you what they mean by it, so it’s almost a useless thing.

What is amazing is how dumbfounding it is for nerds who know – at least intellectually – about probability and find out what weather beavers mean.

There are basically two definitions of probability: temporal and spatial.(Time and Space) 

If you stand in one spot and observe from second to second (or minute to minute….) whether that spot is sunny or shadowed and write that down, at the end of an hour or a day the fraction of time that the spot is shaded (ratio of time shaded to total time spent observing) is the probability of being shaded. That’s temporal probability.

If you run about from spot to spot and observe whether that spot is shaded or sunny, and write it down, then after you have run to many spots, the ratio of shaded spots to the total number of spots is the probability of being shaded. That’s spatial probability.

Now what about weather? Well, it’s a combination of spatial and temporal. If a weather beaver says there is (e.g.,) a 60% probability of rain then what that means is that over a day’s time and the total area of the forecast (which is usually the “viewing area” for television weather forecasts,) there are six chances out of ten of rain falling somewhere and somewhen. 

What it doesn’t mean is that there’s a 60% chance you will get rain. It doesn’t work that way. Nor does it mean that 60% of the people in the “viewing area” are going to get rain. It just means that there is a 60% chance that somewhere in the viewing area will get rain. 

It’s maths, folks, and the weather beavers figure you are incapable of understanding maths and if they try to explain it to you in a meaningful manner you will get bored and do the channel flip thing. And then they lose money. 

Incidentally, the bored thing doesn’t depend on whether you get maths or not. Because talking about maths simply bores those who don’t get maths because it’s blah blah and bores those who do get maths because what is being said is too simple. 

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Surviving Weather Men 1

When the weather beaver on the local television news talks about fog, he/she really isn’t.

Fog is an atmospheric aerosol formed of water particles, usually with a dust nucleus, for which the visibility – can you see a black telephone pole against a cloud background – is one kilometer (0.6 Imperial or American miles.) 

An atmospheric aerosol formed of water particles for which the visibility is greater than one kilometer is a Haze.

You can also tell a fog by the size of the three-dimensional halo around a street lamp although this only helps if it is dark so that (a) the street lamp is lit and (b) you can see the halo. 

An ice fog is an atmospheric aerosol formed of water particles that have frozen so that technically they are ice particles. 

For some reason, weather beavers (TV meteorologists) like to call all atmospheric aerosols fog, possibly (?) because they think the technical distinctions are too complicated for their viewers. 

Human Failure

One Day. Back to gym. A rather dismal session overlain with a podcast about the rot of American (including Canadian) society.

This got reinforced as I tried to get out of the motorcar park at the gym onto the highway.

We seem to have given democracy away for consumerism capitalism.

Driving skills and abilities are almost non-existent. People cannot stay in lane, signal turns or lane changes, or even turn without occupying two or more lanes. And not just the people driving (?) pickup trucks. All manner of motorcars. They can’t even stop at a STOP sign properly.

Ignorance has replaced knowledge as the desired state of humankind. People are proud of their ignorance and insecurity and resist thought and knowledge like some sort of plague worse than Bubonic. 

Money is the only measure of esteem. 

Accomplishment has become meaningless, if not actually criminalized.

We no longer have a society, a civilization, or a nation-state. I am not sure what it is but it makes a noyau look good.

Scientists and Other People

I am not a great fan of SCIENCE (the journal;) I am a practitioner of Science. Or so I tell myself.

The former is primarily because SCIENCE (the journal) is one of the last bastions of Victorian propriety. It (arguably with NATURE) are the premiere journals of science. It is also dedicated to respectability and stodginess. SCIENCE is not where one will publish the next great thing in Physics. (The last great things were Relativity and Quantum Mechanics.) 

But occasionally they slip up and publish something strange. Such is an article [Link] entitled “When you’re the scientist in the family.” The author is apparently a biologist and he seems to have never gotten the idea that biologists do different things than physicists or chemists or geologists. 

The article is either about horror or humor, and I can’t tell which it is. I suspect both.

To give a sample, here are his major headings:

  • Playing fast and loose with the definition of a work day. 
  • Flippantly saying “do something in the lab for, like, 10 minutes” when you clearly mean “do something in the lab for an indeterminate length of time.” 
  • Easily remembering scientific facts and figures, alongside a frustrating inability to remember useful information at home.
  • Making fun things not fun. 
  • Going to graduate school. I am so, so sorry.

You’ll have to access his article (outside paywall) to see his filler. But I can respond a bit in my usual snarky muddling fashion.

I never played fast and loose with the work day. At least once I got out of graduate schule and got married. Spouses are precious and any sacrifice is never too big.

My employer always played fast and loose with the work day. FD SCP and I worked at the same place; she enumerating legumes; I doing rabbinical physics. What’s rabbinical physics? Think Einstein at the Patent Office. The physics that matters is not done at work. So during the work week I did what was needed for the employment and the rest of the time – as I was able – I did real stuff. And occasionally they actually overlapped.

Nor have I done stuff in lab since I married. That phase of my life ended with a master’s degree and the realization that I was a maximum klutz. They talk about mad scientists destroying the world. Never about klutz scientists doing so. They should. That’s the real threat. But the temporal aspect is accurate. Science knows no schedule, which is one of the reasons I became a manager so I could counteract the accountants and Sloan graduates and project managers who had been programmed that all work stayed on schedule and budget. Simply put, anything not made in a factory isn’t and sometimes more than that.

The problem with remembering home information is that it is cast as important (patently false) and it isn’t engaging. My trick was to write it down in a small (pocket) notebook and lose the notebook. Eventually I grew out of the latter. Part of the problem is also that if you’re a theoretician the lab is between your ears and inside a (bigger) notebook. So thinking crowds out the home information.

As to fun, there is no more bigger fun than figuring some twist of reality out. That’s one of the primary differences between bogs and nerds: what is fun. So in my mind this complaint is a contradiction since the two funs are immiscible.

Finally, graduate schule is a necessary evil. Yes, it’s a horrible environment that ought to be banned under the Geneva Convention.  Slavery and Abuse almost unending. But it’s the best way yet to learn how to science. And yes, it does change you mind and temperament. But if it didn’t we’d all still be shaving our heads in circles and talking to imaginary friends. As adults. 

Sometimes I think the problem is not the science nerds but all the other folks. But all it takes is one thought of FD SCP to dismiss that idea. It’s just that some folks are Bosons and some are Fermions and that’s ok until you try to mix them.

Techno-Evangelism Failure

Seven Day. Nasty rain last evening; piddly rain this morning. Lower temperatures which I shall not criticize. I am ill inclined to embrace the heat of Alibam summer. 

Still in the mode of hawgin’ tabs and a rather odious one came to my attention yesterday [Link] entitled “A Window Into the Linux Desktop.” The title is at once a come-on and a nasty disappointment. It demonstrates at once the inherent independence of the Linux community and the stupidity that Linux advocates can exercise in promoting the OS.

The fellow that wrote this is patently a dinosaur of the DOS days of MegaHard, back when the only OS choices for a desk box were DOS and CPM (and whatever Amiga had.) His answer to the needs of a new convert to Linux is in essence a screen filling terminal. 

If that is what he wants, I do not gainsay his choice but I consider his offering this to potential adopters and “neubs” as evidence of mental defect. In both mine and the general experience the chief speed bump to such folk is not the GUI desktop but the command line. We are now into a second (third?) generation of Winders “users” (serfs?) and so the command line is as alien to them as thought is to a brick wall. Heck, I know Winders IT guys who use command line no more often than once a week and their achieved goal is usually that their users never use it. 

So offering potential adopters what amounts to nothing but an full screen command line is repellent and probably nauseating. Making people sick is not going to make then adopt the cause. 

There is a stubborn streak of insecurity in the Linux community that manifests itself in rabid evangelism of the OS. I succumb to it occasionally when my brain is engaged on real things but as soon as I can consider my actions the nonsense becomes recognized.

On a quantified basis of measurables there is no question that Linux is superior to Winders. Boot time, through put, internet utilization, … all show Linux superior to Winders. 

But people do not adopt an OS – at least among the Bogs – on rational grounds. They will only change when they are forced to or think the change their own. And evangelistic efforts are neither. 

A more effective path would be to recognize that people do not define their computer usage by the OS but by what they do. For nerds and many geeks, this is activity oriented; for bogs it is client oriented. So if one wants to espouse one OS over the other, one needs to demonstrate that it does activities or clients better. 

And let the user decide on his/her own adoption. It works for intelligent churches, why not for techno-religion?

I have said before that I still depend on Winders for one program. Linux has nothing to equal it. But for every other activity, I use Linux. Simply put the clients are equal or superior to those of Winders and my activity is improved thereby. 

We can’t expect Winders users to be this sentient and rational but we also can’t herd them like cats. 

Passion for Poverty

Getting started on tab hawgin’ early. Looking at articles that I pushed into a clipping cleint some time ago but haven’t finished digesting or gone snarky with.

This blot is about an education analysis article [Link] entitled “Why the most successful students have no passion for school.” The study was performed evidently – in New South Wales, so the nature of the schooling is likely different from that in the Yankee republic. Especially from how it is done in the Old Confederacy. And very different from Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill in the ’50’s and ’60’s when I attended public schule.

The study claims that the best students have no passion for schule. That seems evident from the title but it seems also that the title is rot. 

It seems that the determination of “best” is based on grades. That’s not a bad metric but it is low hanging and incomplete. And the determination of passion is based on the answer to a multiple guess question:

    (a) school has done little to prepare me for adult life when I leave school

    (b) school has been a waste of time

    (c) school helped give me confidence to make decisions

    (d) school has taught me things that could be useful in a job

asked to 15 year old adolescents. It’s this question that precipitated my cogitation on this article.

I have to admit that age 15 is shrouded a bit in a whole lot of years and experiences and thoughts. That age approximately corresponds to when I entered high scule as a sophomore. 

It’s also when I pretty well registered dissatisfaction and disappointment with high schule. Because of the same information rationing that I had hated in previous grades. But what is most troubling is my assessment of how I would have answered this question. 

When I was in high schule, I was there because it was necessary. Most of that necessity was the role defined by my parents and society and a little bit was an awakening anticipation of college. But none of that had anything to do with being adult. That wasn’t anything overtly talked about in those days. 

There was a thread of schule being a waste of time but that primarily came from people who did poorly on grades and learning and wanted to be on their own. And those people didn’t like Intros so their outlook was alien.

Schule wasn’t about confidence. I don’t ever recall hearing that word in schule or from my parents. And jobs weren’t mentioned. Except for the disabled kids. Who were untouchables. 

So I am unsure how I would have answered the question. I know I wouldn’t have left it unanswered because we were lectured before every multiple guess test to guess if we didn’t know. Don’t leave any blanks. That was hammered into us. 

 

The article reports that the passion-best correlation was “almost zero.” This is a lot worse than random choice. Why? I know from reading that kids today are indoctrinated to be job and career oriented – and not care about learning. So based on kids aping and amplifying their parents’ prejudices and gripes, I can see where (A) might get short shrift. 

I did fairly well in schule. My parents expected – demanded? – good grades and I got good grades until I got accepted into college. My last semester in high schule was a complete disregard of playing nice.

The reason for this is that if you got good grades you got more opportunities to learn than if you blew off. Not much admittedly, although my library trips were conditional on grades, but little is better than none. And the high schule textbooks did good to last me a month before they were sucked dry. Although I do have to admit that boring subjects didn’t get sucked as dry.  But once I got a motorcar the library standard retreated and once I got admitted to college, knowing I couldn’t not graduate shy of criminal activity, I quit overachieving on the tests. 

So the passion for schule was really a passion for learning and giving the facade of liking schule was a way to more learning. 

So I have to wonder just how close to reality this study ever came?

Fallen Grace

Sometimes the good guys lose. Big time. Head tap and unmarked grave bad.

So I was a bit distressed when I saw a couple of articles [Link] [Link] about FireFox. One tries to soften the blow that Mozilla is ceasing to support FireFox for older CPUs, the other tries to justify why not only FireFox but all browsers but Chrome are worthy of survival. 

I can recall when FireFox, or much else, was naught. The internet was owned by MegaHard’s internet explorer with a market share of 0.98. Millions still use internet explorer and are unable to recognize that it was, and is, an odoriferous semi-solid blob of stercus deposited by a tertiary syphilitic pachyderm. In those days MegaHard had all the attitude of Der Fuehrer had the Allies failed. 

And then Mozilla laid low the maiden and rescued the dragon. 

And the world was made a better place. For one thing, its entropy was increased by the profusion of browsers that came forth in the wake of FireFox. Which is probably an irreversible thing. I doubt the internet marketplace has the directiveness to roll back that much entropy. 

If nothing else, the Yankee Government (and lots of furring governments for their citizens,) has seen to that. No, not by law, by practice. Despite much effort and incidentally, money wasted on hiring shill game IT contractors instead of educating their organic folk, many Yankee government site will not work with the modern incarnation of internet explorer or FireFox or Chrome. I know, becuase I have to use a really simple root kit browser to interface with the YG site to manage obligations. The only other sites I have to use this browser with are banking sites, which rather indicates just how customer friendly these sites are.

In fact, the YG site I visit most often says that one needs to use not only internet explorer but a version unavailable for years.

Of course, running Linux, the true Grail – at least for now – of operating systems, I can’t run internet explorer except in WINE and the YG is schizophrenic about my choice of OS. Ain’t democracy wonderful? But so long as I keep the browser simple, one step above the command line, the YG site performs as its designers intended.

And totally explodes with any of the mainstream browsers.

Hence another reason not to worry about a religious transformation to the one, true browser. Because that browser can either work with government and money sites, or it can work with all the rest. But not both so long as we maintain a free market system. (Sorta. But that ain’t my laxative target this blot.)

I am not too worried about FireFox going away. For one thing, there are lots of branches. I have three on this box: Ice Weasel; Cyberfox, and Pale Moon. No, they aren’t fully FireFox compatible, but for lots of things, like getting a version of FireFox that isn’t neutered by Mozilla, that’s good. 

And yes, I still use FireFox for some of my browsing. Why? Because it feels good. And it is reasonably trustworthy.

Those are two things that are wrong with Chrome and to a lesser extent, Chromium. They don’t feel quite right and they fail often and optimally inconveniently.  And I have a couple of branches, notably SlimJet, which is 10dB better in implementation than Chrome. 

And I have another half dozen or so browsers installed. Some are just for testing but most are there because the computer is a tool not an appliance and I may need to deal with some activity on the internet that needs the characteristics of a particular tool. Which is why I also have TOR. (And no, I’m not going to rant about that realty (land and building) agency that thinks that they are advertising themselves when they are really advertising TOR to ever computate person on the other side of a receiver.)

Heck, I know kids in schule who write their own browser as a coding project and keep using – and tweaking – it for years. Causes no end of migrane for information security noids. 

So no, I’m not going to worry about the code developers setting up a monopoly. For one thing, it wouldn’t be a monopoly of code developers, it would be a monopoly of free market capitalists who seem programmed to drive things to monopolies. But code developers can’t agree enough to only make the one true browser. And even if the Bogs were told there was only one, the Nerds and Geeks would know otherwise. 

But I am still saddened watching Mozilla wither away because it just can’t get things right. That’s not new. Read Greek Tragedies. The Great Hero has to die a hero’s death; he (usually) can’t change to not be a hero and survive as a not-hero. Being a Hero is a death sentence and Mozilla is a Hero. In some ways, more than Roger RamJet.