Darkness Falls?

Well, the Huntsville Weather Beavers maintained their chain of underestimating the temperature minimum again this morning. I am sitting her typing – and retyping  – in and around the shivers and bone moans.

I did make it to gym this morning and evidently the new year has really begun and the temperature is to moderate because the gym was crowded – for 0500 – for a change. Not necessarily welcome but not too unpleasant despite the hate antics of the weight bouncers. 

FD SCP departed this morning for her employment in Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill, hopefully marking the end of the season of cuttings. Since July she and I have had six between us. Sometimes I am convinced being ORF is harder than working. Certainly that was why she was in a rush to depart. That and some time away from SCP.  And drips.

The inauguration looms and already the temperament of the nation has changed from comfortable grumbling to veiled violence threats. I don’t know whether I want a time machine to go back to the ’50’s or a cryogenic chamber to hide for a century or so. I suspect the former; better the information and health desert of the past to the information and health wasteland of the future.

I was once told that a particularly nasty Chinese curse is “May you live in interesting times.” I now know one worse: “May you live past a golden age.”

Media Dangerous

We once more have a MASSIVE FAIL on the part of “local” media. In particular, the Huntsville Weather Beavers at the local television studios have missed morning mimimum temperatures by over five degF.

Lots of bad results from this.

Dangerous results. And their incompetence is putting people at risk.

We have to wonder if this is some sort of plot to make people think these winter storms aren’t as bad as they really are? Or worse, some attempt to make work for local plumbers?

Anyway, stern condemnations of these weather beavers.  http://www.waaytv.com/weather/ http://www.waff.com/weather  http://whnt.com/weather/

Overestimating the minimum temperature when that temperature is below the phase change point is borderline criminal.

Dismal Deterioration

Once more into Ice Cream day. And once more into the abyss of excessive colding. Nasty cold front pushed in by the dread Polar Vortex, the latest in not-a-such-broom and dripping temperatures this evening. And I am sitting in my study shivering. At least partly from the refrigerated V-8 juice I just finished.

So as I clip articles for my files, mostly via a wonderful note-taking app called KeepNote, [Link] which is the best such I have ever found. And still quite incapable of actually taking lecture notes with, of course, but adequate for my daily information saving needs. Anyway, as I do this I shall sally onto a bit of blogging.

First, an article [Link] entitled “Android Marshmallow on PC Falls Flat.” The title is sufficient; the article merely assures the lid of the coffin is secure. This cements what I had suspected after purchasing a ChromeBook a couple of months ago, that Chrome/Android is a sadly neutered desktop environment. And yes, I use browsers a lot, but several and simultaneously, depending on their strengths and weaknesses. But I also need other clients. And therein lies the problem. So once more the conventional Linux desktop is validated.

Second, another article [Link] entitled ““I Don’t Think We Can Stop It:” The Future of Automation and Job Loss” that addresses something I have blogged on previously, that the idea of universal (or even majority) employment is becoming increasingly specious and just flat wrong. This seems likely to be the greatest threat to capitalism since the Great War. How do we continue to only allow a model based on everyone doing something productive and payable? Even if we ignore the poor and tell them to eat cake, the death machines will not be long in coming. And it seems equally unlikely that the rise of the robot – Czech (?) for “worker” – will be reversed by self-aware capitalists. 

Another thing that makes me glad to be ORF.

And lastly, an article [Link] entitled “The Crisis in Physics Education” that expounds further the problems with STEM teaching that I blogged about yesterday. Simply put,

“Of all school subjects, Physics has the most severe teacher shortage, followed by math and chemistry.  There are large surpluses of biology and earth science teachers.

Only 1/3 of all high school physics teachers have a degree in physics or physics education.

Almost 1/3 of all high school physics teachers have taken fewer than 3 college physics classes.

90% of middle school students are taught physical science by a teacher lacking a major or certification in the physical sciences (chemistry, geology, general science or physics). 

Our local and regional school districts have had substantial difficulty finding and retaining qualified physics teachers. 52% of New York City high schools do not even offer physics.”

And, of course, this problem is primarily the doing of the education establishment. It is not that there are not a lot of college educated physicists out there. There are more physicists today than there have ever been. But the system is so tied to the idea of certification that this shortage exists. Between physicists who are unwilling (unable) to spend the time being certified and the unwillingness of schule systems to hire anyone lacking a certificate, the children have been hung out to dry. 

This problem could be solved simply. The schule system could hire a non-certified teacher but only for a specific time, about five years. So hire graduate students to teach half time while they finish their coursework and give them the option of leaving after a couple of years or working on a certificate. But I somehow doubt the schule systems are smart enough to even try this, much less pull it off. So one more example of Amerika becoming Third World State.

I have to be direct. I enjoy teaching but I never wanted to make it a career. The instrumentality of schule, especially K-12, are mind killers. Teaching outside a university takes too much time, destroys research opportunities, and generally turns one into a blob. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who can thrive in that environment, but not me. I suspect this is becoming more common as universities become more factory-like and as dismal and oppressive as K-12 systems. But there may still be something to Amerika worth saving. If the educationalists will save themselves?

Marine out of orbit

Spent much of yesterday in the precincts of the medicalist community of Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill. FD SCP was having a bit of day surgery and I got to enjoy the overweening discipline, false manners, and communication inabilities of that community.

Admittedly, communicating in the Huntsville area is extremely difficult for the medicalists, largely because of the high fraction of STEM Nerds. Medicalists tend to throw their communications over the wall, in the metaphor, with an ambiguity that is typical of Bog communication. And generally ignore the effects of that communication except for disdain and criticism of the Boggerate for that ambiguity. 

Unfortunately this strategy is an even more abysmal failure for the Nerd segment since they – rightly – recognize the communication and deliberately ambiguous and contradictory and largely ignore much of it as noise.

But I heard last evening that John Glenn had discorporated and so I gave that some cogitation. First I reflected on the reaction when he went into orbit. I was at schule at the time and the reaction among the teachers and staff ran from “wonderful, amazing” to “pay attention, this is BIG history.”

The reaction among the students ranged from “so what” to “finally, what took them so long to do something simple like this?”

Growing up in Huntsville, that latter was common. We tended to consider the whole space race a slow motion farce. Some of that was misplaced, a lack of understanding of organizational paranoia, but a lot of it was valid. And this brought me to the commonalities between the medicalist community and NASAl.

Both are autocratic, their way or be punished. Except in NASAl’s case, it seemed the punishment was meted out regardless of how you did something. Management was hideously insecure and violent. Spawned a lot of domestic abuse. Huntsville used to have more social workers than a city thrice its size. Divorces and battery. Also employment for a lot of those divorcees. 

And NASAl really hated astronauts. Would have much preferred their own civilian folk to military test pilots. Too independent and concerned for themselves. Not serf enough for the organization. So they got treated like chicken stercus.

And Glenn showed how you beat NASAl at its own game. You made it big and then made them be nice to you in exchange for giving them publicity. Because public approval was the only way to keep the politicians out of micromanagement. 

Anyway, Glenn was a good troop. And properly disrespectful to false authority.

Shrouded Environment

In the mornings, FD SCP sets the audio-visual electromagnetic monitor to WHNT. I walked by it this morning when their weather beaver was proclaiming “dense fog” in some location. And then he showed a visibility map that had NO fog on it.[Link]

And I mustered up my will power and didn’t smash the monitor. Mostly because I knew that doing so would not end the weather beaver’s lies.

How can we trust these chaps if they are continually telling lies about such simple things as the visibility state? 

Life in America today – nothing but lies from corporate organizations.

Arrogant Incompetence

What is it about FedEx delivery-people that they can’t leave deliveries at the designated place but just dump them on the first spot of the property they come to?

And never bother to tell anyone they have dumped the package?

Primary reason I won’t buy – by choice – from businesses that use FedEx.

Science Starvation

One Day. Back to gym after a week’s absence fretting over petrol shortage and FD SCP. Mostly the latter, which did not get on her nerves like the former. I have to keep reminding myself this is the same woman who, early in our union, greeted me one Six Day morning when I returned from breakfast with colleagues that the refrigerator had failed and what were we to do?

The podcast this morning was an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” entitled “Science Under Siege.” [Link] It was not particularly effective since halfway through it veered off into a rationalization of the value of science to society. Since I have already been concerned about the politician’s war on science, this was rather a waste but the difference of viewpoint sparked some cogitation.

Democracy -> Intellectual Rationality -> Faith Denial -> Failure of Democracy

Democracy can only continue so long as its members will adapt to each other and construct negotiated solutions.

Governments have two choices: adapt or invest in overwhelming military infrastructure that become the government.

The Battle of Ignorance versus Knowledge is over; the Battle of Ignorance versus Ignorance has just begun. (With apologies to Tolkien.) 

Religion needs Tyranny and Ignorance to survive.

Hopefully things will look better once I have broken my fast.

Star Trek is far away; Star Wars is upon us.