Into the Abyss

Fifth day again. No gym. Off to park for constitutional. Air almost pleasant. Podcast diverting a bit from the aches and pains of walking but not really engaging nor memorable. Only staunch negative was a couple of people who drove in and left their lamps engaged so that high intensity photon streams were periodically flooding my peripheral vision. A bit of laser reply reminded them of their manners.

The calm (otherwise) and the photon streams gave me occasion to consider a topic I mentioned earlier in the week, of whether there is some competition between science and religion. I stated at that time that I didn’t see much between personal religion and science but there might be between organized religion and science. I have formulated a preliminary observational conjecture since.

Organized religion is characterized by the organization espousing a collection of doctrine and dogma that transcends the individual. Even denominations that claim to encourage individuality tend to have some organizational rules. In some cases, especially in the old Confederacy, there are denominations whose doctrine/dogma express daily life/experience in mystical terms characterized by continual interventions by the deity to take action directly beneficial to the good/worthy denomination adherents. 

I find myself exposed to this daily, usually in one of two forms. One is people who babble about this, talking about how they survived a shopping trip to the MalWart as a direct intervention of the deity. The other is television news whose coverage often takes the form of some obese, neotenous Southron, hair in foam rollers if female, unbarbered but hacked if male, who babble similarly, usually associated with some phenomenon of Nature.

In all the cases I have considered, the survival can be adequately explained by simple science, probability theory, and statistics. No physical laws are violated in the creation of this imagined (?) miracle. Of course, if the deity is devious and cany then there would not be but this still raises the question of the perception. I have learned not to discuss this with the claimant because the vast majority have closed, violent minds. 

This is where, I conjecture, there is actual competition between (organized) religion and science. It is related to religion only in its prescription (and wrangling?) by the organization. The doctrine/dogma espoused also denigrates science and establishes an inimical dichotomy. 

Further cogitation and observation is indicated.

The good of the few outmasses the good of the many?

Mundane day and back to gym. Summer is either officially here or eminently so. It has been such for several weeks now here in Nawth Alibam and this week promises to be more like August or September than June.

But the politico-fascists are still in denial mode as the death toll from heat stroke mounts. It must be amazing what goes on in the heads of politicians, especially with respect to morality and ethics.

On which note I have taken such of the grrr brrr to remove the Confederate States of America battle flag from its staff in Charleston. This is supposedly to honor the nine religionists who were gunned down by a GEN Y whacko. Evidently the religionists’ social group finds the flag objectionable.

I have a few problems with this. First of all, why the battle flag? The only reason I can come up with flying the battle flag rather than the national flag is if the staffing is to honor those who died serving in the war. (Actually, I can come up with another reason which is insecurity in the Yankee government but that I suppose is best not mentioned?) If that is the case then the matter seems rather clear. The best figures I can get are that about 600K soldiers – Union and Confederate – were killed on the battlefields. And those soldiers died settling, at least superficially, whether slavery would be legal in Nawth Amerika.

And this flag is somehow repugnant to a social group. And we want to remove it to honor 9 dead. By dishonoring and abandoning 600K?

Is this the new maths? Or just politician maths? Or just Yankee politician maths?

I don’t really care that much whether the Carolinians staff the Confederate battle flag or not. But I do care if they cease their display honoring resolute soldiers in response to the deranged actions of a single aberrant human and the misplaced emotions of a single social group.

Or is that how we behave in modern Amerika? Facade or function? Honesty or pretense?

I’m not at all sure I want the answer. 

What is Them?

OK. Almost to week out. Gym week is over and I sallied forth this morning to the park for constitutional. First time in a while with no discomfort other than the usual stiffness. Quite muggy and calm there. I found my forearms and brow sheened with a thin dihydrogen oxide (plus impurities) layer, the kind that you never want to drive on since it is just the right thickness to totally fraculate friction. 

The podcast was dull but at least diverting enough to let me transcend the ache of stiffness. Walking is different from machine exercise. And I got to think about some other bits.

Since OPM is so fraculated, why don’t they put Eric Shinseki in charge? Its not like he has much to do and if he can get them up to the level of incompetence of the VA that would be at least a 100 dB improvement. 

I did run across a neat article [Link] yesterday. It’s about a study at a New Yawk U about why the vast majority of Amerikans dislike “atheists” more than terrorists, pedophiles, and rapists. Turns out it’s insecurity although the academics don’t phrase it that way. 

I should comment on why the quotes around atheist. That’s because a lot of christianists consider anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their specific belief structure and organization to be an atheist. I have had evangelical protestant politicians tell me that Roman Catholics are atheists. So some care needs be taken to determine whether the “atheist” referred to is someone who does not believe in deity or is just someone not of their sect/denomination/cult. 

Getting back to the insecurity, evidently the problem with atheists is ideological; that is, it is related to the idea of someone who knows they are going to die and accepts that. Evidently christianists do not like to be reminded they are going to die because they have slyly evaded thinking about such by immersing themselves in religious doctrine/dogma/…

Of course they can’t stand up and protest that atheists make them admit that they doubt their own tenets and beliefs, so they sidestep by claiming that atheists are immoral and evil and should thus be beheaded or some such. Never be accurate when inaccuracy is easier. It’s more a bog thing than a religionist thing. Maybe. 

This does, of course, lead us to ask whether religionists can be trusted to be accurate on any subject and if so, how one can observe the difference. Rather destroys the trustworthiness of their religion-ness, doesn’t it? 

Now the question is whether this offers any insight into the insanity of society. We have a modern idea that people who are mentally unsound, unable to cope with reality, are sick and have to be treated. Except when that lack of reality is religion. Based on the standard definitions of psychology and medicine, something like 0.75 of Amerikans are mentally whacked.

And I’m one of them so it may be something we humans drag along with us naturally? The World seems to NOT Wonder.

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.