Tar Strokes

Heard yesterday and this morning that Florence Henderson and Fidel Castro have discorporated. Musing on this I was struck with the thought that both got rather a rough deal.

Ms. Henderson was a gifted actress but got damned with her maternal role on a nauseating family situation comedy. Zero depth, zero creativity. Horrible fate for an actress.

Mr. Castro was a gifted leader who got damned by the Capitalist Oligarchy of Amerika because they didn’t like him sacking their puppet in Cuba.  Walled in. Reviled. 

Two character lessons that we seem doomed to repeat.

Brisket Thursday

Off to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill yesterday in spite of the petrol shortage. FD SCP had to have her eye cut upon. Obscured lens. So I did the little-old-man drive thing, to the annoyance of the petrol grasshoppers, to the city.

I went through this myself earlier in year and it was a nasty, tedious business. This conversion to day surgery substantially increases the pain and discomfort of the victims and the cash flow of the cutters. Of course with the hospitals once more a place of discorporation, this also reduces the cutters’ liability as well.

So I got to sit about and be the responsible (????) adult responsible for all the ash and trash that the medicalist community wants to get rid of as fast as possible.

But the affair was not without a bit of humor. I got to experience a blatant example of “Secretarial Arrogance.” This is the phenomena whereby direct and usually unshared singleton reports take on the importance of their employer. It used to be most obvious in the personal secretaries of executives who adopted the command prerogatives of “their” executive. The term has been generalized to any subordinate who assumes the authority – real or imagined – of their superior.

In this case the example was the “assistant” of the cutter. This assistant emerged once the surgery was over with the mission of relieving the cutter of the nasty, odious task of dealing with the victim’s friends and family. The assistant did this in the most stilted and legal Teflon (R) fashion possible which unfortunately struck me as horribly humorous. Like watching some silent movie comic aping a pretentious oaf. And while the cutter in this instance is pretentious, he isn’t an oaf. 

I suspect the closest association is with a Kosher butcher. A Kosher butcher has to be a Rebbe, essentially. Which is rather an overkill for someone who dismembers discorporate animals. This is why a lot of cutter jobs can be done by robots. Daniel Olivaw, M. D. Accepting the pretentiousness of a Mesopotamian emperor is part of the price we pay for medical care. Not in this case would a butcher do, of course, since we rather don’t want discorporation or dismembering, but the education analogy is not inapt.

Anyway, the assistant had assumed some of the pretension and I was struggling not to roll on the floor in frame shaking mirth. So I redirected my laughter into incessant questions to see how far the arrogance could be stretched. Not very far as it turned out. So there is hope for the assistant. As a real human, that is.

Meanwhile the petrol shortage is still worrisome and has the benefit only of diverting us from the upcoming catastrophe on Tuesday.


Occasionally a Good prevails

I ran across this article [Link] about the bigot Chief Justice of the Alibam Coven of Justicers being sacked again, this time for royally messing up the state’s standing with the Yankee government and vertically copulating the standard of living in Alibam.

As one of my colleagues, Magnetic Inductance Force, proclaimed on the FaceScroll, for once the Sokratic Good emerged.

And I am AMAZED.

This is, after all, Alibam where the standard of government and politics is mostly unadulterated evil.

The Chief Justice was typical of Alibam political office holder, too immature to cope with his own insecurity. Hence his evil.

Sic Semper….

The Good of a Pen

Five Day. Last day of gym under the new schedule. And an intense hope the weekend will actually be enjoyable.

The first morning of BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! Bundled up like Nanook. Southrons and heat are nasty but Southrons and not-heat are just plain pathetic. Even more pathetic than Clinton-Trump supporters. 

The podcast this morning was the second half of an episode of Linux Luddites. Passable. Consumed the time well. But not much in the way of ideas. So my mind wandered to the subject of writing and then to pens.

I sometimes listen to Brad Dowdy’s “The Pen Addict” [Link] podcast, mostly when walking. He sometimes has useful things to say about pens. But mostly he waxes adoringly on Field Note paper. Not that it isn’t good paper but pocket notebooks aren’t real notebooks. At least in my frame of reference.

Which brings me to note taking and composition and writing. One of my colleagues, Force Spring Constant, gave me an Economist article entitled “The Comeback of Cursive” [Link] about why cursive is making a comeback in schules mostly because – they claim – of push-back from Common Core and the extra-office existence of corporate serfs these days. Neither seems a good reason but then humans almost never do things for good reasons. Mostly they glandular. 

I have nattered on writing and note taking previously so I won;t compete with a search of the blog site. And get to the marrow. How do I rate a pen?

Importance 1: How well does the pen put into on the page? This is primarily about the interstices of the pen. Does it skip? Does it drag? Yes to either question is failure. And the pen ends up next the telephone to write down pointers.

Importance 2: How well does the pen feel. Is it comfortable both at rest in the hand and while writing? No to either is a fail.

Importance 3: Is the pen painful in any way? Is it unendearingly ugly? Or nastily garish? Depending on the depth of 1 and 2, a Yes may be a fail. But not usually. This is a distant 3.

The problem is that we can assess these with opposite order of ease. A glance and a touch answer 3, A bit of manipulation and test writing answer 2 and much of 1. But a new pen does not perform like a developed pen. So sometimes we buy and then amass at the telephone. 

So when someone tells you they buy pens for visual appearance or cheapness, you know they are a BOG. Pity them. Perhaps they will abstain from reproduction. 

Cleaning out tabs. Ran across one [Link] entitled “Coding is not ‘fun’, it’s technically and ethically complex” and was a bit offput by it. I noticed the author is located in Italy so this may be an Italian/European thing.

The guy is railing against the fun/easy thing being propagandized by a lot of Geek Leaders. Notably Fruit Folk. The article states that

“Unfortunately, this rosy portrait bears no relation to reality. For starters, the profile of a programmer’s mind is pretty uncommon. As well as being highly analytical and creative, software developers need almost superhuman focus to manage the complexity of their tasks. Manic attention to detail is a must; slovenliness is verboten. Attaining this level of concentration requires a state of mind called being ‘in the flow’, a quasi-symbiotic relationship between human and machine that improves performance and motivation.”

which is largely Stercus Tauri. (To use an Italian language.)

Yes, programming is rather strictly grammatical. In fact it is the strictest in a grammar sense but there is still plenty of wiggle room to abuse the grammar. The reason for this is fairly simple. Compilers aren’t very smart. The strictness has to do with the conversion of conversation – code – into executable.

Second, the mind set isn’t that uncommon. When I was an undergrad, almost all STEMs learned how to code. (The notable exceptions were biologists and boundary people like anthropologists and psychologists.) So unless the author thinks STEM skills ate rare, coding mindset isn’t uncommon. Disciplined, maybe, but not uncommon.

Is it fun? It is for me. Yes, it is frustrating but when the code runs there is an adrenalin rush that is indistinguishable from fun. It’s also soothing and enveloping. A sort of womb thing.

Ethically challenging? Is this one of those science fiction “Is there a God?” things? If you’re a back-to-nature kill off the human rave to hunter-gatherer levels arealist than maybe, but not otherwise. At least based on the author’s arguments. Which are sparse and vapid.


Freedom and Stupidity

There has been a bit of a row this week about some professional athlete who declined to rise for the national anthem. It seems that he is not a furrin national but is protesting some inequity having to do with the flag?

The furor has been diverse. Some of the media applauds his support of some idea of equity, perhaps even tolerance. Another part of the media is intolerant of his behavior and apparently wants to punish him nastily. The populace is similarly divided with the added factor of being distraught at some or all of the media, quite ignoring that the media is always motivated by money.

This led me to the matter of freedom and thence to democracy. Democracy, of course, like all organizations, including governments, is opposed to freedom. And unlike other forms of government, at least in degree, democracy is self-consuming. The path of democracy is one of preventing the majority from destroying the minority. This obviously has great implications not only for this incident but for the Yankee republic in general as we pursue our death throes as a nation.

I see no reason to restrict freedom except when its practice injures someone else. That’s a nice statement that is almost impossible to implement above the personal conscience level. The problem is what constitutes injury. In this instance, we have to ask how remaining seated during a musical performance harms anyone else. 

Obviously, all those who protest the act consider themselves injured. So we come down to a matter of measurement. Which organizations are amazing incapable of. Almost all organizational measurement is the lowest of hanging fruit. Difficulty is only executed if survival is blatant. IOW, the teeth of the lion are enumerated only as the jaws close.

There is also the question of help and harm. The act was supposedly motivated to help the minority. So how do we measure the relative merits. How many lollipops distributed to poor children justify one execution?

And why is life imprisonment more acceptable than execution?

And I shan’t even touch the nonsense of celebrities. 

Humans deserve their self-created Hells.

Towers dropped from Ball

One Day. Back to gym. CBC’s “Best of Ideas” podcast. Episode about “Single Personality Disorder” and the DSM.

Almost immediate failure of credibility.

The talking head – a psychiatrist? – who built the program and interacted with the host, blew her credibility early on by using Galileo Galilei’s house arrest as an example. Not that it may not be such but she claimed the reason for the house arrest was Galileo espousing a “NEW” idea. 

Emphasis on the NEW part.

And it is generally accepted these days to be absolutely inaccurate. 

The story is also pretty involved. As any emergence of human society has to be. And historians fail knowing they will, perhaps the only discipline other than scientists who know so ab initio.

A reasonable starting point is Bruno. The guy who was excommunicated and then burned to death by the Church of Rome. In those days this was variously seen as right and proper or horribly cruel. In actuality it is how organizations naturally behave if there are no controls on them.

And the Church of Rome had few controls on it in those days. And not many in these.

And Bruno said things the church didn’t want said. And he alienated all the other organizations that could protect him – governments and religionist organizations alike.

So he got cooked for disobeying.

Similarly for Galileo. Except that by this time the church had gotten a bit more careful. Mainly because the other organizations had gotten a bit more powerful.

So they charged him with saying things he wasn’t authorized to say. 

Not that what he said was wrong, mind you, but that he didn’t have permission to say them. 

And they locked him up for that.

And we still have this today. Edward Snowden, e.g.

But his incarceration – Galileo’s – wasn’t for what he said but that he said without permission.