Journalistic Science

Mundane day. Week in. Summer has arrived with the desessioning of schule and the disappearance (happily) of the educationalists and their loud, shrill conversations of bog blather. Are there any INTRO educationalists or have they all been driven out by the EXTROs?

Speaking of which, what is the worst sort of Fruit Fanboy? The kind who pretends not to be. I ran across such in this article, [Link} extoling how “scientists use MACs”.

Really? Not to my experience. But then, I’m a physicist, which is sorta a scientist, who used to design missiles (one up from rocket science?) and served as a laboratory chief IT manager. (Cats are easy, try engineers who all want to be different and ignore the rules.) The Yankee army of occupation said these folks had to use Winders boxes. What OS did they want to use? LINUX.

I found out that I did too but had to wait for retirement and out from under the velvet thumb. Sorta.

I have used all three OS: Winders, OSX, Linux. And the choice, in my mind, is easy. Linux is best. Mostly because it doesn’t reduce the user to a chattel.

But I have the freedom to choose. In the main, people associated with big organizations have to use whatever the organization wants them to. Unless they can show they can’t do their work with that choice.

That mostly means Winders. It’s cheaper, at least if you invest in the MegaHard management model and can’t afford to get out. Venus Fly Trap. Quicksand.

Nowadays there are some Linux shops. Not many, but the number is growing. It’s really cheaper. Especially if you have a computate workforce. Which takes in most nerds. Not all. The artsy fartsy ones still want Apples. It’s a religion thing. The good side is they don’t cut off heads. Unlike too many religions.

And I know that the control OS at CERN is Linux. Seen the screens. Hard to mistake an Ubuntu logo for a MAC. Except by fanboys?

And by the way, since when does NASA run CERN? Or is this some tin foil hat thing we don’t know about?

Anyway, that’s enough. Just quit trying to feed us stercus.

Expert Lie

Fifth day, the day of Freya. Why so many days named after Norse imaginaries? Is it because the days really get wonky that close to the poles? 

Anyway, off to the park for a constitutional. Managed the requisite number of laps but still at a reduced speed (same distance – obviously! – but more time.) Can’t say much about the podcast. Except diverting from most of the discomfort. But that let me cogitate on the meat of the matter today.

As I have stressed repeatedly, nerds think differently than the whelming ( stifling? nauseating?) bogs. Geeks also but to a lesser extent. One aspect of this is to view all advertisements (commercials) as implicitly prevaricative. Said and said, but I want to mumble on a related matter today.

I recently read Harry Collins’ “Are we all scientific experts now?’ It was recommended by one of my nerd STEM periodicals and since I have been arguing with some colleagues who have become infected with politician’s disorder lately I wanted to expand my landscape.

Collins is an English (British?) sociologist and what he espouses is a taxonomy (four states) of expertness. The book is written for a bog audience so there are no real details or references, just a list of relevant (?) sources at the end. I won’t elaborate the taxonomy because it is a worthwhile book if not taken too seriously. It falls into the category I call meta-physics, which means not physics but might be if a physicist had done it and had insights. No maths, not even stats.

Put simply, the nerd (STEM?) view of experts is the same as advertisements. If someone tells me X is an expert that statement is immediately labeled as a prevarication and the scam is immediately sought. The idea of expert is most strongly espoused these days in two circles: legal and advertising. The latter is obvious; the former is a scam. The idea is that an officer of the court (in violation of his/her oath of honesty and integrity) deploys an “expert” to influence the jury (at least in common law environments.) The credentials of this expert are entirely legalistic and antithetic to STEM and nerdery. A nerd is not an expert; they either know or know not, to paraphrase Yoda. And passing them off is a falseness.

That’s the nerd view of experts.

Enough for today. 

Anti-Sturgeon’s Rule?

Thor’s day. Gym almost vacant. Wonderful!!!!!!!!!!!!! Listened to two episodes of the Ubuntu England podcast which is quite kulturny but almost void of usefulness. Excellent diversion. They were doing a bit of listing the most important things about the podcast and I immediately thought that the best parts are those that have been discontinued, such as the Wing Commander sketches.

But this also led me to think about situations that obey (?) an opposite (sorta) of Sturgeon’s Rule. The latter states that 0.9 of everything is crap. The opposite would seem to state that 0.9 is good and this is indeed a mantra of management. I can remember a time when we said that we wanted to drive away the bottom 0.1 of our work force each year to improve the organization.

But then I got to thinking about whether there are situations where the bottom 0.1 is what’s important. A couple of examples spring to mind. The first is maths. While maths – pure maths, not the applied stuff – is very hierarchical, a critical component of maths as a value to society is how the applied portions get passed on to the rest of society. As maths oriented as physicists and some other STEMs are, they are NOT maths wonks. 

And what is critical is 0.9 of the applied maths pass on is done by the bottom 0.1 of maths wonks. 

The other example is rubbish collectors, septic tank and sewage workers and such like. The position is lowly and the work often oderous but these 0.1 of the work force are absolutely necessary to keep the rest of us from rotting in our own waste.

So sometimes it IS the bottom 0.1 that is most important.

Perhaps we should call that Shad’s rule? After all Sturgeon’s rule is named for Theodore Sturgeon but a sturgeon is a rather high level fish while a shad is a trash fish.

I am open to alternative suggestions.

Entitlement and Tolerance

Thor’s day and sparse in gym. Listened to an episode of “The Linux Luddites” that actually had some potentially useful data embedded, not just blather. But I still had attention span-time enough to think on the matter of entitlement and tolerance.

Item: A group of christianists held a “biblical marriage” rally at the county courthouse over the weekend. Heavily covered in the newspaper (lots of free advertising for religionist organizations) and local television (‘look at the dinosaur brains in the next county over”.) Since they were supposedly peaceful (doubtful) they probably were no worse than the usual nonsense going through on US-431,

Item: Big story on the FaceScroll about some muslim woman who caused a row on airplane because she wanted her own, unopened, can of body rot soda. (So much for the validity of religionist dietary restrictions!) 

It occurred to me that both of these are relgionist entitlements. And that’s ok so long as your entitlement doesn’t penalize me. In any way.

But when it allows religionists like these to be intolerant of others and deny them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, it crosses the line from entitlement to harassment or persecution. And that infringes my entitlement to be neither harassed nor persecuted. 

In some cases, it’s a hate crime. 

So how do we get our stercus together and find the right way to permit (e.g.,) religionists to enjoy their entitlements without destroying my entitlements?

Tolerance isn’t easy and especially for people who have sinfully repressed their intelligence.

Mammoth Prevarication

Two day and back to gym. The lateness is due to the holy day yesterday which was a bit irritating: abuse of the meaning of the day with speeches appropriate for veterans’ day but NOT memorial day. And nary a mention of the Second American Revolution that motivated the holy day.

The podcasts today were scienceish and the one that caused the greatest irritation was an interview with some journalist who had written a book on de-extinctioning animals. I should comment that the author’s tone was actually quite practical if not quite direct enough for me. So pray do not take my comments as plagiarism.

The attraction of “de-extinctioning” animals, of bringing back extinct species, usually dinosaurs (Jurassic *.*) or woolly mammoths (cuddly plush toy) is a mixture of guilt (for vertically copulating the ecology,) romance (self explanatory,) and insecurity. It’s fundamentally a boggish thing and it is the deepest, most odoriferous, stercus tauri.

What can maybe be done is to grow one (or a few) almost/near animals based on modifying genetic material. But any animals produced from this are neither biologically nor ecologically those vanished animals. Genetically they are inexact and they will not be a species except as biological curiosities and P. T. Barnum exhibits. Take mammoths. They are herd animals. To bring them back we have to recreate their ecology (terraforming, in effect) and re-establish their herd social structure. Lots of animals, not just mammoths required. They have to be genetically mammoths, which they won’t be except approximately. And there won;t be enough genetic diversity for them to continue.

So all they’ll be is a continuation of a species going extinct. And when they go we’ll be even more depressed and guilty.

Better we figure out how to reverse out own headlong rave to extinction.

More than Memory

Mundane day. Also the holy day of Memorial. We are supposed to exalt the memory of those who have been slain in battle. At least the ones wearing uniforms. The non-soldiers are not relevant here. 

It’s a very misused holy day. As originally construed it was all about the second American revolution, the so-called American civil war. In those days everyone who served was either a volunteer (at least on the Confederate side) or accepted a bribe to substitute for someone who was being enslaved. That’s one of the contradictions of this war. The Union – Yankee – side had to compel some men to serve. And since the war is propagandized as being all about ending slavery in Amerika, forcing men to serve in the army – itself a form of slavery – is somehow compromising and contradictory. Of course there were also social compulsions on both sides, but supposedly – and we shall never know for sure otherwise – most of those who served were volunteers.

And honoring those who felt strongly enough to die in combat for their ideal – Nawth or Sowth – is laudable.

Perhaps it is. I can see two sides. Yes, organization has its benefits. Civilization and all that. And we’re going to die anyway so why not do so in a rush of endocrine secretions? Of course, one can ask why one should die for a parasite? That’s what organizations are. They take substance and put it to other uses. Including their own continuance. So there is an overhead. Thermodynamics applies.

The rationale for organization is that it benefits the members of the organizations. Is killing them a benefit? Maybe if they are discorporating of some horrible, painful disease, but does life qualify as such? So if organizations are beholding to us for their existence and are selfish in the process, just what and how much dedication do they deserve from us? 

I admire that those who died, at least purely idealistically, believed enough in their organization to discorporate for it. I am not sure about their rationality, however.