Colding the Past 2

Greater Metropolitan Arab is warming up. Air temperature 7 degF up from 4 degF when I arose. And because the city government has decided the streets are undrivable, rubbish collection has been delayed one or two days – ambiguity here – the rubbish contractor has been featherbedded.

Meanwhile the Greater Metropolitan Arab constabulary has declared all the city roads drivable, which suggests either some political shenanigans or an outright rupture with the politicians. If the latter we may only hope it spreads nationwide. 

Also, the Arab Tribune, the city newsrag, has declared the Arab City Government to be stochastic, or so I have been told by my colleague Magnetic Inductance Force. This is truly amazing. I had no idea our conscript parents were intelligent enough to act in a probabilistic fashion.

Meanwhile, I am informed by the national media that the Deputy Fuhrer was school Monday by an AA Baptist minister. What amazed me was the stochasticity of a Yankee evilgelical attending services, even on a pseudo-holiday. And the advisory board of the Department of the Interior has resigned en mass.  Maybe there is still some good in society?

Meanwhile, I am contemplating particle movement at absolute zero of temperature. Seems appropriate somehow.

Also meanwhile, another colleague, Mass Magnetic Field, has declared that Alibam is CLOSED. He failed to mention that the only people dissenting with this are the idiots who are converting motorcars to coffins on the motorways.


Colding the Past

Three Day and the depth of discontent. Almost makes me envy Shakespeare and the dearth of thermometers. 

The prize for most accurate weather forecast goes – once more – to the Yankee Government’s National Weather Service. They predicted a low of 5 degF and are only one degF too high. The weather beavers at Nawth Alibam’s Shining CIty on the Hill blew it big time with a prediction of 9 degF! Way to go WAFF! [Link]

This will resound a bit sour given the general attitude in Alibam towards the Yankee government, but clearly this is a demonstration that said Yankee government not only can do things right but better than the redneck Repulsian denialist evilgelicals of Alibam. The ones who want to keep their graven idols of civil war “heroes”. That statement doesn’t mean that  I do not acknowledge either their military abilities nor their patriotism, but I somehow doubt that most of them would happily accept the mantle and train of culture hero. 

This brings up the question of how we separate the evils of individuals and society from the biology of survival, especially when we come to their interactions. One of the things Thoreau teaches us is how difficult it is to cast away society and we should remember this when we condemn members of past society. Castigating the more egregious practitioners of social injustice is largely misplaced; those we should be condemning are the forgotten who started the practice and made it a part of their society. 

Of course, we also have to accept a lot of social collapse if we do. 

The lesson that we fail to learn from history and the present is that we cannot dissipate our evils by condemning those who practiced those evils in the past. We have no way of going back and rectifying such, not that we should if we could. If we are to blame anyone it is those today who continue these practices; they are the only ones we can do more than ground our hormones over.

As to be expected with such low air temperatures, the air is relatively dry and my sinuses are sharing that experience with the rest of me. Enough. Selah. If the day warm from this Fimbulwinter abates I may return.  But in the interim I need be gird my loins to venture out and place the rubbish bin on the verge in anticipation that the contracted rubbish lorry will make its rounds this day. Given the whiteness of the streets and how that white will become ice under the first pressure of a motorcar and the density of idiocy in Greater Metropolitan Arab, that icing seems a certainty and hence the folly of my task.

But such is part of marriage and society.


One Day. And already weirding. First of all, it’s the holiday of Martin Luther King 2. Also – in Alibam – the holiday of Robert Edward Lee. Both are somewhat abandoned. The Yankee Government is observing the former and all the folks who have that connection are unofficed today. But the schools are also in session and given the usual touchy-feely of schools, that seems to indicate some negation. But the silence over the state holiday is intriguing? Perhaps there is some tippy-toe among the state politicians?

It is also a day of weather weirding. For some reason, this winter seems to be a season of two stage colding aggressions. Two weeks ago, there was such and today is the interbellum between the latest. As such, I went off to gym. Air temperatures barely less than the liquid->solid phase change of dihydrogen oxide. A glorious temperature foretold not to be attainable after today until Freya’s day, at least with any persistence. So a week of shivering and discontent portends.

Two weeks ago, FD SCP and I bunkered in and we probably will again this week but we are trying to do so less. The acclimatization (or is it aweatherization?) is difficult. (I despair of using words like acclimatize and incur the wrath of climate change denialist redneck Repulsians and since Alibam is a snake pit of such…) And unpleasant. In fact, existence under these conditions is unpleasant. And stressful. So why not venture out into the lowest strata of Tartarus and end one’s existence more rapidly?

The podcast this morning a gym was a bit enlightening. It was an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” interviewing the author of some philosophical novel about imbuing dogs with sentience and speech and (possibly) humanity. The narrator and author prattled on for fifty minutes in the most positive of words about the work, none of which inspired in me any positive thought about reading the work. It did, however, illuminate me on the intellectual depths of borderlike Bog-Geeks. The only good part was the occasional utterance of absolute Bog ignorance. 

This led me to contemplate what would be needed to “Make Amerika NOT AWFUL”? Since one of the activities that people will be practicing today is preparation for the possibility of snow on the morrow, I naturally hit on the matter of bread as an awfulness.

Simply put, bread in Amerika is AWFUL. It is sliced white bread that lacks both taste and texture. It is the penultimate symbol and actualization of our mediocrity and failure as a nation-state. Amerikan bread, at least the pre-sliced white species, adds nothing to either food or society. The kindest thing that I can say about it is that at least it does not breed disease carrying insects. Sadly, that is a statement of its value as a foodstuff.

Why is Amerikan bread so abysmal and AWFUL? Simply put, because it is made in factories by Capitalists and the citizens don’t care. These two conditions are self-supporting, or perhaps, self-destroying would be a better term?

And no, I do not eat such bread. If I cannot find good bread in any store, I will make my own. Or I go without. I do not frequent restaurants that serve mediocre bread.

Which Amerikan slice, white bread is far below. 

So one way that we can Make Amerika NOT AWFUL is to get rid of this cancerous excuse for bread. That would serve two purposes: it would make citizens of Amerikans again; and it would abase the false gods of Capitalism – the other form of Evilgelical.

Now I am off to make Sourdough toast that I shall smear with Maple Butter. It being winter, after all. And perhaps, maybe, reduce the general discontent.

Reinventing Stupidity

Seven Day. And foretold by the weather beavers to be the day we leave dihydrogen oxide phase changes behind for a while. And may thus cease to stress out over damages to our household plumbing. Houses in Alibam are not built for colding weather. Or ice. 

Another thing that needs to change in response to Climate Change. Which is unlikely given the preponderance of Repulsian denial-ism in the Old Confederacy. 

On an equally dismal – and comparable – azimuth, I ran across an article [Link] entitled “Research reveals ‘shocking’ weakness of lab courses.” This comes from Cornell U – once host to Feynman – about how their introductory physics labs don’t teach physics. 

What is shocking to me is how this nonsense is getting dredged up once again. 

I started doing learning physics labs back in high schule. That was in the sixties (of the last century) when science was a big deal, even approved by Repulsians and Democruds, because we needed to keep the Red Hordes at bay. In many ways, Containment was a vastly superior life style than today even with hiding under one’s schule desk exercises. And fear of nuclear destruction. 

Anyway, high schule physics lab was largely a joke, mostly because of the turn over of faculty and the meagreness of equipment. But those lessons stood well with time. Two of the problems with physics learning labs are the equipment: highly specialized; hideously expensive; and not very instructive; and faculty interest. No one gets tenure for dedicating one’s career to introductory physics labs. It’s a ticket punch, not a career definer.

When I went to college I found more and better equipment, almost all of it older by I by decades, and lab teaching assistants who were more concerned with students not killing themselves than meaningful learning. 

Supposedly the purpose of introductory physics lab is supplementing what is taught in the course. That fails. First of all, the only people who may benefit from the lab – long term – are science majors, physics majors in particular. And they are the minority. Because if you try to teach an introductory physics class for physics majors the legume enumerators hang you out to dry. So you have to have a course that services (the academic variety) engineers and other science discipline majors as well as provides a blast off for physics majors.

So the majority know they aren’t going to benefit from the labs and that their task is to endure the labs to pass the course and move on. And the physics faculty have to accommodate this to survive. 

Let me also interject that introductory physics lab is unique, or, at least, was in my day. Yes, it was paced to the lectures, but the stuff taught in introductory physics is the same as taught in high schule physics just more so. So what the labs will show is already well known, so little learning opportunity and little learning. Just more endurance.

The next learning lab course – “modern” physics – is better in having stuff to actually learn but, at least in my day, wasn’t tracked to the lectures. Why? Because there was only enough equipment for one set per experiment. So the lab schedule was a staggered progression. One team got to do the experiments in sync with the lectures but everyone else was out of sync. 

The team thing is another contributor. It’s a Taylor thing. Teams are good for getting work done but they’re lousy for learning or doing really original stuff. Why, because the EXTROs want to get things done and they run the teams. In fact, even in a team of two, learning doesn’t happen. Learning is an individual activity to varying degree and physics tends to be overpopulated with INTRO Nerds. 

When I was in Grad Schule, study groups were a big deal at the Campus of the Boneyard. I tried a couple. Didn’t work. Because of the EXTROs. Turned out the study groups were encouraged because of the flunk out rate of EXTROs and how emotionally engaging they were with the administration.

The last coffin nail is time. Labs have to be scheduled. College teaching is all about floor space. And not everyone learns at the same “speed”.

So why do we expect learning labs to work? Because of the administration? Because the faculty did it? Because they didn’t learn either but think they should have? 

If we’re realistic, we shouldn’t expect anything more out of introductory physics labs than that it will “wet the feet” of students who will get introduced to real research labs in a few years. And won’t be total klutzes about it. 

Physics is about reality. Apply that reality recognition to learning labs and quite rehashing their ineffectiveness every ten years or so. So I can quite having to read the same tripe every decade. Figure out it’s a socialization process like lectures and homework problems. And take Latency into account.


Word Misuse

An article this morning about Ancient Beringians [Link] served as the seed crystal for this blot nattering about the common misuses of certain words:

Native Americans – No Such Animal. Humans are NOT Native to the Americas. They did not evolve here. They all emigrated here starting about 20 KYA. So calling the humans living here before the arrival of Columbus “Native Americans” is erroneous, inaccurate, and probably insulting? The uncertainty lies in the inconsistency and ambiguity of what is complement and what is insult any more.

Natural Meat/Food – Sheer Idiocy. Anything that exists, including virtual particles in the vacuum, are inherently parts of Nature and hence Natural. For those who want a simple scheme, if something is made up of atoms, it’s Natural. (So are other things, but we haven’t figured out how to make foodstuffs out of dark matter.) (And if we could, we likely couldn’t digest it since its chemistry would have to be non electro-magnetic.) (Which would not keep corporations from selling it as zero-calorie foodstuffs.)

GMO – This is the ubiquitous norm. All living matter is Gene Modified. There is NO SUCH THING as Non-GMO! Why? Because mutation of gene structures occurs continuously and since gene structures have been around for in excess of a BILLION years, all gene structures around today are modified from the original.

Organic – A substance (foodstuff, e.g.) is Organic if it is primarily comprised of covalently bonded carbon atoms. The term is currently widely used in an erroneous and inaccurate way to imply the foodstuffs have not been exposed to “toxic” chemicals, which erroneously include pharmaceuticals. It’s an egregious Bogism that reflects the inherent inability of Bogs to learn or think well. 

There are probably more such words that are reduced to garbage by people who have difficulties with using their brains. In some cases, it is unclear that they even have such. In other cases, it is clear some people just misuse their brains. This is common among the population segment at the union of math blind and thought-dead who are incapable of understanding maths or science and hence invert the merits of things like vaccines and herd immunity. 

Selah. (Still ambiguous.) Enough ranting against the march of the moronic.

Into the Annum

Well, survived New Year’s Day. Sorta. And last night. Down to 7 degF here in Greater Metropolitan Arab. Have a renewed appreciation of bunkering. 

I recall when I was in grad schule at the campus of the Boneyard that this mild weather would not deter me from motoring into campus. And that heightened by the depth of gray snow and ice. But a graduate student who ducks out on weather will not be a graduate student long. In those days there was no concern for graduate student safety. Indentured servants reminiscent of the early days of the Colonies.

I quickly learned that the catalogs that Sears, Roebuck sent out were regional. What they sold in the Midwestern catalog and stocked in the Urbana store was not what they sold in the Southron catalog or sold in the Huntsville store. Or the Tuscaloosa store. What is a winter coat in Alibam is an early fall coat in Illinois. Even central Illinois. The only southron tradition I could maintain from undergrad days was Hush Puppies, and that by swapping my pigskin loafers with acid burned holes over the toes for fleece lined pigskin boots. 

Neither of which, evidently is still made. That was in the days before compression athletic shoes became ubiquitous. Weejuns were popular on the campus of the Black Warrior but I had to walk too much for such slog booties. Leave them to the Greeks with terminal foot fungus from eschewing socks.  Hush Puppies were a trustable brand for all types and widths of shoes.

Sadly, that seems to be gone. They are no more trustable than local television stations. And purvey about the same amount of stercus. Physical and Informational.

Since I have been bunkered, diversion has been at a premium. Much of it stercus. I can claim that I have watched no sports pornography, so the success of the pornography team of the campus of the Black Warrior was a surprise this morning. And I spent less time thinking on than typing this sentence. I would have enjoyed being in NOLA, but for the temperature and a Mufeletta and some Blackened VooDoo. But I understand the latter is deceased, and with the town loaded with porn fanatics, access to food also problematic.

One result has been greater attention to some of my incoming emails. The Amazing folks sent me a link [Link] to  “100 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books to Read in a Lifetime.” I went and looked. Sturgeon’s Rule appears to apply: 0.9 Crap. Maybe a bit less. I have to admit to being prepared for 0.5 given that the list included superstition and magic, and 0.5 of what was left given the use of SCi-Fi instead of Science Fiction. But it wasn’t even that good. Admittedy there is some good stuff, some Asimov (Happy Birthday Anniversary!) and Clarke, but no Smiths, e,g, No Beam Piper. …

Too much recent stercus. Which is redundant. The golden age is past and Science Fiction is almost as rotten these days as journalism. But not yet as rotten as politicals. 

Which is good because it means I can get most of my escapism reading wants from Alibris. Would that I could get will power and attention span as easily.

I can also admit that I made no resolutions last evening. The subject has become a matter of bemusement. I realized years ago that I needed to examine my habits and such continually, in and around thinking up new things. And there was no reason to delay correcting or altering my behavior: if you wait the nail rusts and bends when you strike it. Besides, how many of those special resolutions evaporated with the hangover?

Which leads me to also admit that I imbibed not last evening. When you are on the edge of shivering to pieces, ethanol is a poor choice. I did consume a solution of the wash water of ground coffee beans. It was good, both to my taste and olfactory senses and a bit to my temperature deprived alimentary canal. 

Which leads me once more to misused words. Coffee is a plant, or so I understand. How then do we call the solution resulting from roasting and pulverizing the beans of the plant and then subjecting the powder to a hot rinse with dihydrogen oxide? Coffee? Seems inaccurate and inappropriate. Nectar of Coffee? Better, but still not very accurate. Tincture of Coffee? Better still and more accurate if we accept a third meaning. 

Selah. Which is itself of doubtful meaning, which seems fully appropriate for this blot.

New Year, Same Ills

1/1/2018. And no joy to be seen. Or, at least, felt. 

The air temperature here in Greater Metropolitan Arab is reported by the local weather station as 11 degF and that agrees with my own air thermometer. 

The situation is degraded by the local news programming on the electro-magnetic audio-visual receiver. FD SCP is watching WAFF [Link] and their presentation wins an award for being banal, nauseating, and self-serving. 

First, they covered some shooting incident at some dive in Nawth Huntsville last evening. Lots of dire pronouncements but no real content.

Second, they spoke to motorcar care and usage in these low temperatures. This actually began last evening. And is hideously self-serving since it is too late for people to implement almost all of their guidance and there are likely few stores open that could provide goods and services. 

Third, the weather beaver has been prattling on about other effects of the weather. Sadly, almost all of this has to do with wind chill and rapid on-set hypothermia. Nothing on first aid thereof. Little on preservation of property and humans, Nothing on cabin fever and allied ailments.

And all of this is presented with the usual unctuous tomes and the occasional, totally inappropriate, grin. I can’t say smile, although that is clearly the attempt, because the presentation is so overdone and inappropriate.

At least they haven’t yet announced someone’s discorporation with a smile like they do on national programming. But I suspect they will have the opportunity before the week is out.

And no attempts to allay the politicians denials of climate change by declarations of it’s colding today and hence no global warming. Except, of course, neither knows what colding means and its difference from cold. 

Somehow, life was better with meteorologists in two-tone wing tips like H. D. Bagley, news writers who knew syntax – and used it – and news readers who knew to look unhappy when they were reading bad news. 

Meantime, I have to tend the Lars and Penates, which today, and most of the week, means dripping taps.