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. 

Network of Ignorance

One Day. Back to gym and a right good episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” in their series on the War of 1812, specifically about the rather fumbling Chesapeake Incursion. But in and around I got to pay a bit of attention to the flickering electromagnetic audio-visual receivers and was prompted by the hullabaloo over the Naismith Pornographic Extravaganza know as March Insanity to consider some aspects of (b) things that are unpopular and important, and (c) things that are popular and unimportant.

These contrast to (a) things that are unpopular and unimportant, and (d) things that are popular and important.

I will leave sorting the four states out because I primarily want to talk about the relationship of the two states considered in the context of organization.

I am continually surprised at how inaccurate (or absent) is the average Amerikan’s knowledge (and understanding) of organizations. This isn’t just the so called man-in-the-street, which should be expanded to man-in-the-street-with-his-nose-in-a-slablet. It also includes the members of such organizations and all too frequently the people who manage these organizations. This seems to be one of those areas where we Amerikans value ignorance over knowledge. 

Some people – rather fewer than one may suppose – know that an organization is also a network that extends beyond the organization itself. But they do nothing with the knowledge. It’s rather like knowing the capital of Lower Umsquat. And they don’t use that network viewpoint to understand how their organization is and how it functions.

Hence the consideration of (b) and (c). Parts of the organization may be unpopular and important and are thus persecuted or dissolved by management and the organization suffers, falters, or collapses. Similarly, parts of the organization may be popular and unimportant and thus exalted or rewarded and thereby resources are wasted and important bit (and people) ignored and the organization suffers, falters, or collapses.

This is the situation with all organizations, including corporations and governments. I mention these two specifically because it is in these organizations that this lack of understanding can be most lethal. 

Corporations are organizations to gather money. They only gather money if people want (and buy) their products. And people usually only have to buy their products if they want to. Now, we live in an age of new. So many corporation managements think they have to be new to make money, forgetting that people like change best (that is somewhat instead of not-at-all) when it is their idea. And the corporations pretend to understand this by using advertising, which is equally broken. That is, unpopular and maybe important. We have lots of new corporations these days, often because old corporations lost track of their organization/network.

Similarly, people seem to miss that government is primarily supposed to practice the laws enacted by Congress as directed by the Executive and not forbidden by the Judiciary. It’s a maintenance organization in the main. The big thing, which people don’t understand, is you can’t call a fix-it guy when it breaks. 

Asimov proven again.

Tab Roulette

Seven Day. Ice Cream Day. And two days past the holy day of serpent suppression in Eire. 

This fits moderately well with the first tab of ‘Hawgin’ day. Some time ago I ran across and article [Link] in the Daily Mail entitled “Going to church can make you more popular and appear trustworthy, study finds.”

Now the Daily Mail is a bit of a rag as in both the tattered and bloody senses, somewhat akin to the expose conspiracy tabloids of supermarket necessity. But it set me to cogitation on an aspect of a subject I have wrestled with for years, namely the nature of organized religion and its relationship to actual religion.

I have numerous colleagues and acquaintances who attend services at churches on differing temporal spectra. Several cite the role in the lives of themselves and others in the association with other humans. Most are intelligent enough to refrain from rabid evangelism; that seems left to innocent (?) bairns dropped in the neighborhood by adults with some form of insecurity driving their irresponsibility. The worst they demonstrate is a smug arrogance that their life style is perfect. And strangely, for them, it may be because the only meaningful measure of perfection is functional. If these people are joltless in their lives then that may indeed be a form of perfection.

But these organized religions have ulterior purposes other than actual religion. Most evident is the survival of the organization itself. But this study from the Santa Fe Institut, noted for its work on complexity and emergence, indicates why organized religion is so successful in Amerika. Simply put the organized religion place offers a means for the insecure – which ultimately is a synonym for human – to alleviate their insecurity. And that is a powerful attractant given that something like 0.9 of all human behavior, at least in Amerika, is driven by insecurity. 

It may also offer some insight into why the “Nones” are increasing in number. From my observations of Millennials/GEN Ys, I have noted that their insecurities are somewhat different from Boomers and GEN Xs’. The working hypothesis is that (possibly) because of social media, the GEN Ys are much less concerned with the approval of the wider community and much more concerned with the approval of first and second friends. The population numbers seem to support this. The expected numbers of first and second friends is approximately band-sized while the expected number of FaceScroll “friends” is approximately community sized. 

What follows from this is rather strange. It seems that organized religion has almost nothing to do with personal religion for a surprising fraction of people. This is not easily confirmed. The metrics are unclear, but this would explain quite a bit about how our society behaves as an organism.

Next, an article [Link] entitled “Six charts that illustrate the divide between rural and urban America.” It’s one of those academic, semi-(pseudo-?) scientific things that presents some statistics but never quite gets around to looking at motion. This is a popular subject area right now because of the ‘revolution of the red necks’ in the last POTUS election. So both political sides are busy justifying their positions and banking their insecurities. 

What I found amusing about this article was what wasn’t said. For example the authors claim that most of the new job creation is occurring in cities (high population density) but that jobs in the boonies (low population density) are more enduring. This presumably means longer half-life or some such. 

But what was glaring obvious was that these two have to be related. As a bit of background, we live in an age of “apathetic feudalism”. I won’t go too deeply into this but it basically says that of all the candidates for a job, the one who is minimally qualified will get it because that minimizes salary cost. It also means that job holders are very mobile to try to move to better paying jobs and any commitment to staying is counter-survival. It also tends to explain automation.

So in a high population density area, there are more jobs and hence more movement. And hence more vacancies. And perhaps more truly “new” job creation. And the opposite in low population density areas. So the mean occupation time of any job is longer in low population density areas than in high. Which rather makes the authors’ presentation lacking a bit.

Tish. I could drone on but enuff fer neuw.

Shannon Wept

Six Day and DIhydrogen Oxide falleth. I started to key “from the sky” and then berated myself the concept, the illusion of Rayleigh scattering and simple gravity. But is gravity simple. We used to think so but now?

But regardless, no walking this morning. I had to content myself with a bit of grind on the stationary bicycle and thus my thoughts have scant grounding in the abused Nature. Nonetheless, some few neurons have done handshakes and now I have reason to wish the weekout out.

I ran across an article [Link] in the news rag of the campus of the Boneyard earlier this week entitled “Illini Republican bake sale has flawed reasoning.” That was not the accumulation point; the totality of politics is an epitome of flawed reasoning. In effect, it is a super renewal of such, a progression from one instance of flawed reasoning to another, in both serial and parallel, and evidently unbounded except at nil.

Rather, the gathering was a picture (photograph) that accompanied the article

The article is clearly written by someone who has scant tolerance for Republicans and is highly critical, in places insultingly so, of their efforts on campus in general and in this particular.

I find the matter intriguing. When I was a student at the campus some forty-five or so years ago, Republicans were in scant evidence. So I have to ask – unanswered – if their presence today reflects some tolerance of diversity unpresent in my day? I find this question difficult because I arrived on campus to find a student union whose walls were still smeared with human feces after a student occupation in protest of the Vietnam conflict. This protest was met with considerably different means than that a Kent State.

As a graduate student I had much more to worry about than protest and injustice. The demands on graduate students – assistantships, courses, qualifying exams, research – were unjust enough to engage almost all my capacity. I might be in agreement with some perceived (and possibly actual) wrong but I had scant attention nor time to assess their worthiness much less participate.

But this poster caught my attention because I was unsure of how to decipher it? Was this some attempt by the Party of Liberation to recover its roots and appeal to a base other than the rich and disgruntled? Or was it an act of taunting condescension? I thought not because even in college politicians are developed enough not to enrage too many minorities.

I was also confused by the script. It seems to indicate some degree of artistic capacity which seems antithetical to politician.

The bottom caveat was surprising in that it was the same as it was in my day. Evidently these student organizations are bound by the U not to exclude anyone who cannot pay and no means of determining that is provided. Hence the “suggested”. But the idea of bribing (?) women seems the most telling. Is this effort no more than the frantic efforts of unloved pseudo-conservatives to bribe women into their fold? Or is it some strange and easily misconstrued attempt at sincere recruitment.

The actual text of the article provided little insight. If anything it struck me as being a typical political rhetoric of denigrating the opposition without any inkling of any merit on either side. I have seen this before in student protests: the logic has failed and all that is left is the trajectory of poo.

But it is still a commanding bit of photography.

In Vacuum and in Tearfoam

Five Day and rid of gym – maybe – for the week out. Sparse this morning. Perhaps anticipation of the delayed spring desessioning of schule in Marshall County?

I have to wonder if this is some slip of the local schule management or if there is some coordination to stagger the loosening of delinquents and pre-delinquents? I know the Huntsville schules were desessioned this week, an absence I was quite thankful of braving the streets of Nawth Alibam’s diggingest city. When my parents moved to the metropolis from the discorporating city of Gadsden in 1952 I was introduced to a situation where several key intersections/stretches of road – always VERY heavily used – were blocked or just torn up by the city street bashers. But what was most notable were the access denial signs that were enhanced (?) by the phrase “Digging for a Better Huntsville.”

In the intervening 60+ years of my personal observation and experience, they have yet to find this better – much less the “good”, if I may misquote Sokrates – and the hypothesis that nowhere in Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill is better is more than moderately tenable. The kindest thing I can say about road maintenance in Huntsville is that the city efforts make the Yankee Army’s on the Arsenal look good. Even with the repeated discussion of why good resources are being wasted on civilians?

On which azimuth, I noted this morning some grr brr in some of the science outreach journalism that the tardigrade possesses some protein that serves it in “the office of a moat” to protect it from drying out in arid and vacuum (ish) conditions.

I qualify that because IMHO the vacuum is an unreachable ideal. And I have to wonder if Boyle would be in agreement? I have two primary reasons for thinking this. One is that for a container to contain a vacuum – nothing – it must contain no matter. But what keeps the inner surface from eroding? And two, which I consider the more telling, how does one keep vacuum particles – those quantum mechanical ghosts advanced by Dirac – from popping up right in the middle of an experiment and rendering the vacuum null?

For that matter, is there some impossibility of nullifying a vacuum? Or is it just a natural thing that totally destroys our Babel tower of language?

Anyway, getting back to our azimuth, there is also a beastie, the Demodex, which is a parasite that lives on human eyelids, and also has an intriguing appearance:

The resemblance is apparent if one ignores the teddy bearness of the tardigrade and the fecal sac of the demodex. Whereas the tardigrade keeps itself from drying up via its protein barrier, the demodex is notable for discorporating when its fecal sac gets overfull and explodes (well, fails, by rupturing, I imagine, since I have not observed such.)

So is it not plausible that the combination of the two could provide the most entertaining cartoon programming since Moose and Squirrel?

On which note, I note that a real devotee of Science Fiction knows that the Original Spiderman was Robinson. 

Have a good Pun Day.

Sitting with FIre

Four Day. Overslept this morning. Too much grrr brrr yesterday in Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill. And I tried out a new Linux podcast this morning and since only one sample, too sparse to comment.

So I fall back to stored ideas and in this instance take up a communication from a colleague, Magnetic Inductance Force, who in turn passed on a request from a colleague of his, Displacement Current Magnetic Field, that I consider the matter of conversations. His postulate, which I have edited a bit for my comfort of presentation, is

“older folk’s conversations tends to lean toward the weather, ails and their medications; younger people tend to discuss girls, sex, sports and education; not necessarily in that order.  It occurred to me that when we get older our priorities drastically change in that we have already been educated enough to know all we need to know about girls, sex moves very close to the bottom of our priority lists and we realize that we can no longer be able to hit a baseball out of the park and win the World Series or catch the winning touchdown pass and win the Super Bowl.

If the Simple Country Physicist is open to suggested subject matter, I think he could expound on his and come up with an extremely interesting, if not entertaining synopsis.”

I ain’t a quantum inclined to think that I can do the word-that-may-not-be-said (at least by me,) be entertaining, nor synopsize but I am always happy to mumble. Having asked for a blot on conversation, we shall see where this lepus leads us (with apologies to that grand old mathematian Lewis Carrol.)

My first surprise in starting this blot was from the dictionary. I often consult the dictionary when I begin a blot to see what the Bogs think a word means. In this case, the Nerd got a bit of a culture shock. The first definition was:

Conversation  n. [OE. conversacio (in senses 1 & 2), OF. conversacion, F. conversation, fr. L. conversatio  frequent abode in a place, intercourse, LL. also, manner of life.]   1. General course of conduct; behavior. [Archaic]      [1913 Webster]

while the second was:

conversation  n 1: the use of speech for informal exchange of views or ideas or information etc.

which indicates that the common usage of the word has changed in the last century from behavior to information exchange. The surprise was that I was comfortable with the latter but not with the former. But I found this fit in with what I knew about people mechanics.

Humans, as in homo sapiens, have been around about 0.2 MY. There is considerable debate as to (a) whether homo neandertalensis had language, and (b) when sapiens developed language between 0.2 MYA and 50 KYA when the Great Cultural Explosion occurred.  We do have some indications from observation of recently existing Hunter-Gatherer bands that language is fundamentally human. [Link] Borrowing from moderately trustable journalism,

She (the researcher) found that the daytime conversations focused mainly on complaints and criticisms about social relationships, economic concerns, jokes, and included a small percentage of stories. Evening conversations around campfires, however, centered on storytelling. “At night, people really let go, mellow out and seek entertainment. If there have been conflicts in the day, they overcome those and bond. Night conversation has more to do with stories, talking about the characteristics of people who are not present and who are in your broader networks, and thoughts about the spirit world and how it influences the human world. You have singing and dancing, too, which bonds groups,” . Wiessner (the researcher) suggests that imaginative firelight activities spurred the cultural and social evolution of human ancestors.

The latter speculation seems trivial. From my observations, something that any good scientists is incapable of suspending, even under threat of discorporation, conversation is largely about social dynamics. Who gets to speak first indicates the nature of the group. What gets discussed and what branches spring up similarly.

In my experience, conversations mostly takes two forms

  1. What have I/You/We done/experienced/want to do; and
  2. What do I want to know that I am ignorant of.

The latter has a spectrum from gossip to actual useful information.

So, at least at this superficial level, it seems that Displacement Current Magnetic Field’s query is approximately answered that the two types of conversation are the same (within the biform taxonomy) but differ in content because the two age cohorts have done/experienced/want to do different things.

This raises a question that has dogged the study of humans since at least the invention of history circa 500 BCE, which is more important, the commonalities or the differences. This is still, and likely will remain, a significant question. When I was a student in college, back when television was monochrome and dinosaurs graced the dinner table every Ice Cream Day, anthropology (and the other “social sciences”)were coming down off a high of generalization. The taxonomy of Fried-Strange was a useful tool for characterization and analysis of social organization. Since then it has largely been abandoned and spurned because of its generality and denigration of social individuality, the victim of social constipation. 

Should we recognize and respect individual differences? Of course, otherwise we have no friends and live in a Hobbesian social environment. But, as I believe Mandelbrot said (maybe?) “Counting grains of sand does not tell you very much about the shape of coastlines.”

The counterpoint to taxonomy of conversation is that I am interested neither in matters medicalist as discoursed by Bogs since it is vacant of cause and effect beyond the anecdotal nor in the sharing of pornography, either reproductive or athletic. What counts most in conversation is that it be with people you want to associate and exchange information with.