On the Imprisonment of Electrons

One of my colleagues, an academic Velocity Spin Angular Momentum, has a tag line in her signature “No electrons were killed in the production of this email, but several were inconvenienced”. We have to expect humor like this from a feminist computer geek trapped teaching computers in a business college. 

I am reminded by it, however, that when we do things electronic, including saving emails, we are usually imprisoning electrons. Which led me to consider two matters in this regard.

The first, [Link] has to do with the relationship between updates and the recent WannaCry pogrom. I call it that because it was an organized execution of a social group. In this case, not Jews, or other religionists but, in a sense, atheists. 

Many of the aspects of computer geeks and nerds is that their attitude towards computers and matters computing has strong parallels to stupidstition and mythtrapping. They are a people set apart, exalted above the majority, and often disliked by that majority. As I have mentioned several times the difference seems to be that between a tool and a appliance.

The study bemoaned in the article talks about the faithful majority. It turns out what they are faithful to is not installing updates. IOW, their commitment to believing, no matter what, that their computer is an appliance and needs no maintenance, only replacement when it craps out.

All sorts of statistics are presented but they are not very convincing beyond some skillful artistic presentation. Apparently that minor difference is significant. Survival is once more razor thin. 

What bemused me about the survey is its bias. It is pro-appliance user. The attitude is that freedom from updates is something decreed by the deity. So their answer is the make updates unsensible. IOW, just sit back and let the deity take care of you. 

Very anti-vaccination, anti-soap, anti-knowledge, anti-freedom.

The bias extends to only including Winders users in their sample. This one is a bit smelly. The sample population is large enough that the probability of being comprised only of Winders users – no Apple, no Linux,,, – is vanishing small. Maybe not suddenly asphixiate when all the air in your room crowds into one corner but still so small as to prompt a special counsel.

And they all hate updating, to some degree. I understand that. I am almost always not thrilled by updates. The exception is when the previous update trashed something I need to use.  But I check for updates daily. Usually I let the update client in the OS do the checking but I don’t let it do automatic updating. Why? Because I have learned from experience that if X is updated and not Y at the same time, Z doesn’t work. So if X is in the update list and Y isn’t, the X update waits.

This is the situation in spades fro MegaHard. In the last twelve months they have released three (that I know of) system killing updates. They got fixed in a day or two (surprise! surprise!) but that didn’t help the pious who updated automatically and had to hire someone to bring their box back. 

Abandoning responsibility is a short road to loss of freedom. And maybe to gain of death. Think of updates as Listerine. Hate it, use it when it makes sense, and keep your teeth.

The second, [Link] is entitled “Ode to the Graphing Calculator.” It’s written by some tweener journalist who had to buy a “graphing” calculator in public schule. With lots of tears fro the pain and suffering of having to carry the thing and have to use it. Evidently finger enumeration is preferred.

I have scant sympathy except for knowing that what little chance this fellow had of learning any maths (and enjoying them) were vertically copulated (with mentally deteriorating STD) by the public schule system. Education by mandate is ineffective. And the public schules will never abandon it. 

So Tyson (“Chicken Man”) is right: “Good students learn in spite of bad teachers.” Or bad schule systems. 

I went through public schule in a different era. Parents held students and teachers responsible. And they were part of the process – regardless of whether the schule system wanted them to be or not. Fastest way to retire as a superintendent in those days was to get a dozen parents micturated. And the teachers were judged on how much the kids learned that the parents didn’t. None of this no science because we’re Conservative Reformed Shrub Druids. Kids were supposed to learn to analyze stuff for themselves. And make enlightened decisions. And standardized tests were a distraction, not a holy ritual. 

And we had no calculators. That’s an overstatement. The admin office had a tape adding machine. That was it. And from fifth grade on (ninth or tenth for most who did,) I had a slide rule. I got it as a Christmas holiday present from pushy parents (it was a fad that year) and I was precocious enough to learn how to use it on my own. Because my parents were at the taped adding machine level and wanted be to be more advanced. 

So I used a slide rule all through public schule. And all the way through college. And I drew graphs with graph paper and pencil and straight edge and French curve. I still do except I use a spreadsheet program. 

When I was a first year grad student the first battery powered portable (not fit in a pocket) calculators (four arithmetic operations) came into the marketplace. Only the rich kids had them; grad students didn’t have the coins. Food and rent and heat were higher priority. But we did have access to the schule’s Freiden calculators. No tape but you could crunch numbers and write them down preparatory to hand graphing,

About the same time, HP brought out their first portable nerd calculator, the HP-35. $375. That’s two months gross salary for a teaching assistant. So we still used slide rules.

When I was about to take my qualifying exams, HP brought out a third iteration, the HP-55. The Yankee Army of Occupation saw fit to issue me one for my work duties and allowed me to use it for other things not involving damage to the calculator like smashing nutmeats or loosening frozen machinery. I never used it in an exam. Why? Because it was too slow. Slide rule was faster. Risk avoidance. 

Years later I got a graphing calculator. Not a TI, which the author extols. Mostly because TI bought the standardize testing people. Not directly – baksheesh. That’s why the public schules adopted them instead of HP. That and the inability of the proletariat to learn how to use Reverse Polish Notation. That slowness of HP I mentioned? Still twice as fast as a TI because of RPN!

So no great love for TI. Lots of colleagues like. That’s fine. TI is like Unity to me. (See previous blot.) 

I never really learned to do graphs on a graphing calculator. Resolution too low. Only worked with nice functions. So when Lotus 1-2-3 came out I signed on immediately for “Instant Graphification.” I could mumble up numbers AND plot them. Pretty goodly. Especially if I had a laser printer. HP again. 

So I have no dog flesh in the graphing calculator thing. I prefer the number display. Got lots of calculators. One is a TI. Bought it to be able to converse with a colleague. 

HP isn’t as good as it used to be. My HP-35 (bought at a salvage sale) still works but the battery is goop and I have to stay withing reach of a wall. If it wasn’t an antique for my daughter to sell when I discorporate iot would be all I need except for vanity and whim. So I mostly use an HP-35S. And a couple of others. And despair of the demise of the calculator. The crap on my cellular telephone is not 90%, it’s 100%.

And I still think schule kids should have to learn to think and analyze and reason and decide. Not get tested on key pressing.

Another time I am glad to be ORF. And have a good calculator. And several good slide rules. And integral tables. 

So I may find the authors’ comments misplaced but not unattended. And bemoaned. 

Existence is Trying

Six Day. Week Out. No excursion to gym this morning because the capitalist poltroons are too money hungry to open at a reasonable hour. The only good is that it confirms the hospital proper is just as foul and incompetent.

As I was downloading Podcast Episodes this morning and moving onto my gym player, I came to reflect on things that are going away maybe, inspired by all the rot being emitted about the demise of the MP3. Presumably these are the same people who try to sell luxury paper plates. You know, the ones made of hand pressed paper with hand painted designs? Great market for such in Alibam. Or am I thinking about college athletic pornography souvenir plates?

My first thought was the supposed demise of Unity. As the one or three loyal readers of this blog know, and everyone else runs away from screaming in pain and horror, I am not a fan of Tile GUIs. In my mind, it is rather a toss-up whether Unity or the Winders X GUI is the worser. Certainly Gnome 3 has some redeeming value. And it is a bit offputting to me that Canonical has abandoned Unity for the latter. Is there actual rationality in the MegaHard of Linux? 

Of course, the actual MegaHard is not absent of rationality, at least the kind that is welded to greed and mental pathology. It’s the primary reason I keep rooting for ReactOS. 

I do not expect Unity to go into the night, quietly or otherwise. In a community that can support so many GUIs, including things like Budgie, Unity will continue. So when I found an article [Link] this morning about life after Unity I kept thinking that some group of dedicated independents would continue the GUI. That’s the nature of the Linux community; it turns stupidity and insanity into something constructive: the hope for humanity as it were. 

I personally do not like Unity. But I have other choices and I want to keep having choices. Which is why I detest MegaHard and their no choice dictatorship. Which is, in some sense, a mirror of Amerikan politics. Two parties, no choices.

Anyway, because I like choices I cannot (and do not) deny them to others. So I am in favor of Unity staying about so long as anyone wants to use it. (And yes, I am still micturated about Gnome 2 and about to be micturated about KDE 4.) 

Something perhaps similar is the current matter of public displays of Confederate veneration. I noted that New Orleans, the home of freedom of sin, is removing its Confederate memorialization statuary. I also noted [Link] that Alibam has gone the opposite direction and posted militia units and ambulance chasers around all such. The matter is deeply divisive and at the root of contemporary political differences.

As a matter of illustration, It takes me about twenty minutes to drive from my domicile Castellum SCP here in Greater Metropolitan Arab to the southronmost point of Huntsville just past the Whitesburg bridge across the Tennessee river and I will observe at least a dozen flagpoles flying the battle flag of the Confederate States Army. About half of these are private (?) residences but the other half are businesses. Apparently, in Alibam, displaying a battle flag improves cash flow. Clausewitz would marvel and write a chapter were he alive today?

I do not object to this so long as it does not restrict my freedom. It does. The people who do this tend to be insecure and express their insecurity with violence. And the constabulary, especially the politically elected kind, are loathe to even consider being in the area much less enforcing law. 

But it is basically amusing. Indicative, I fear, of the general distribution of rationality and intelligence in Alibam that the flag displayed would be a battle flag. Reason and a brief knowledge of history such as is supposed to be conveyed by the third grade in Alibam public schules would seem to show that the proper flag to be displayed would be the Confederate national flag. But for some reason that flag holds no attraction to these people.

In sum, The World Wonders.

Similarly, another thing going away is medical insurance. The politicians seem to now be back on their outlook that nothing is to be denied them but everything to their constituencies. Except those who are richer than the politicians. What doesn’t seem to occur to them is that taking away well being and life is a form of tyranny in the sense of disposing of freedom. The freedom to die is, happily?, not being infringed, and given the nature of the actions of government perhaps a good thing. 

On the positive side, we read [Link] of the first imprisoned birth of a Humboldt penguin chick  in a decade. The beast has been named Fluffy McFluffyface which not only displays some sort of strange naming custom in England but also the sad nature of many things including the rather nauseating and hemorrhoidal names being foisted on infants these days. It used to be that the offspring of the so-called “dirt poor” were blessed with names like “Smut” or “Phrobizher”. Now it seems universal, perhaps reflecting that everyone – except politicians – think they are “dirt poor.”

It is also saddening that a significant fraction of the population of several (too many) endangered species are inmates of zoos and torture corporations. So perhaps that discontinuance of medical insurance will be good for the planet?

 Perhaps the only reason humanity survives is for the humor value?

Make Religion Evil Again?

Today is Nation Religion Day here in Amerika. I am never quite sure if this means the nation’s recognition of religion in Amerika or a day advocating a national religion. I have to wonder in the latter case how long it will be before the nut brains figure out their particular sect isn’t it and start shooting.

Along which lines, I have always appreciated Lester Sprague DeCamp’s description of religious freedom as “the freedom to persecute people of a different sect than you.”

But now, courtesy of both the Yankee government and the Scalawag Alibam Guvment in Muntgum, this has been expanded to “the freedom to persecute anyone who is different from you.”

Evidently “love thy neighbor” only applies if the neighbor is an exact copy of yourself or the love is strictly carnal (and hetero?) 


Neither Brown nor Flashman

Four Day. Survived an expedition to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill. But this morning I am reaping a muscular whirlwind in the form of aches and cramps of muscles. Oh!, the joys (!) of ORFdom.

Which put me to mind of the accidental juxtaposition of ether waves in the void, in this instance a combination of a news mention on the electromagnetic visual receiver at gym and a relation by one of my colleagues, Displacement Current Magnetic Field. (No audio on the receiver at gym because it would detract from the loud yakking of the educationalists and the sound of concrete floors splitting when the weight are bounced.) I was trying to listen to an episode of “Linux Voice” but it was deader than the road kill armadillo of this morning’s trip. (Not mine kill, someone else’s but I had to look at it in the halogen glow of the street lamp.)

The subject at hand is high schule. I have to admit that I had high hopes for high schule. I was rather tired after nine years of public schule and its continual information throttling, the martinet demands for regimentation in learning with no compromise for anyone but the slow learners whose catering reduced the burden on the educationalists.

Sadly, I found high schule was worse. Not only was the information throttled but the regimented pace was slowed to that amenable to the jocks and cheerleaders. And to add to that, the incompetence imposed by the educationalist curriculum shone through brightly. Except for a few teachers who had real degrees and (in the main, working towards) educationalist certification, the teachers were an unlearned and insecure bunch. (I have observed that I was fortunate to have any teachers with actual knowledge. The adamantine norm these days is educationalist degrees only.) It wasn’t until I got to college that the throttling abated and competence returned, and then not completely. Happily, I found that the lecturers and perfessers of nerd subjects were highly knowledgeable and happy for students to ask meaningful questions and go beyond the lectures and textbooks. And when they couldn’t answer a question, they would find an answer and share later. 

But I understand that too is gone in the conversion of colleges from learning communes to training factories. And it seems to not phase the young at all; they seem happy in their programmed ignorance and are clueless to the cause of their dismal failures.

Anyway, after I read the grr brr this morning about night people outnumbering morning people 2:1 and this was part of why college students were incompetent, I reflected on this, and found an actual article. [Link] It had the one saving grace of decrying the usual educationalist policy of educationalists first and students last, and do thing that help the fewest number while bullying everyone.

Which is the meat of this discussion: the high schule culture of bullying. The “teachers” bully the students, not to learn but to be good serfs. And the students bully each other. My colleague related how he was bullied because of his heritage. I ran across another article [Link] about religion bullying when schules permit religion activities. In my experience this bullying occurs regardless. When I was in high schule you got bullied if you attended a different church than the bully did. Blatant, violent them-ism.

What is so evil about this is that in many cases the bullying is based on what the parent believe, not the bullies, but is amplified by them because they have no basis of comparison. If parents make some off hand comment about Jews because they had to pay a late payment on a loan, junior amplifies that in an Auschwitz. And the educationalists approve of this because it aids their program of imposing obedient serfdom.

Gad, I am glad to be ORF and free of such tyranny. But I weep for the young.

Zombie Desert

I was a bit surprised this morning when I was catching up on my reading to find an article in Scientific American that added a bit to my previous blot. I found a highly correlated version on-line [Link] and I quote from it:

“Smith’s actions send a clear message to scientists that we should produce results which are convenient to political narratives, rather than which accurately reflect reality. “

Smith, incidentally, is a politician and the quote is to be taken either satirically or as galgenhumor. The reality referred is physical reality, not social.

I think part of the message is also that politicians who annoy scientists tend to lose either body parts or mana points, both of which are detrimental to their continued reign. Hence either attacking or ignoring science and scientists, depending on their personal ignorances and their partisanship.

This is also why they pick on scientists who work for the Yankee government because they can intimidate that organization’s political appointees and thereby abuse the scientists without self-damage. 

The question out of all this is whether Scientific American really has gotten this much better?

Zombie Feast

Once more into Week Out, now on its back side, and Day Seven. And somewhat a special Day Seven in the realm of Social Reality because of the religionist adoration of a zombie Jewish boy. At least that’s the contemporary terminology which I use because I’m really going to natter about social reality. 

The idea for the natter grew out of a cartoon [Link] from the Union of Concerned Scientists. 

That scientists would be concerned is itself a bit of social reality and reinforces that we humans are embedded in a society – however much many of us would like not to be! 

But what bashed away at my neurons was the context of the cartoon: the fiction – called alternative facts – so often espoused, invented even, by politicians. This led immediately to the source of the contention – journalists – who are themselves the originators of similar fictions in the social reality delusion of fair debate and discussion. Which led to wondering what the attraction of these alternative facts are?

My initial concern was that I had scant understanding of either politician or journalist (I did date a journalism major briefly in undergraduate school and I have been interviewed many times.) But I do have some knowledge of managers and so I can take the relationship of manager to scientist and extrapolate a bit – with acknowledged uncertainties – to politician and journalist.

This may seem a bit whacked but from experience I know that managers, at least of nerds, have to balance social and physical reality, the latter being much simpler than the former. Simply put, there are times when social reality demands something unobtainable in physical reality and some balancing is necessary lest one kill off one’s work force. 

Not that there are ever any members of that work force that such an event would not be beneficial in some manner. 

As a matter of courtesy to those who are not scientists, a fact is something that is confirmed by experiment or observation by agreement of several trained and trustworthy observers. That’s pretty close to Boyle’s usage, which he developed to dispute Hobbes who I suspect Boyle would have liked to place in his air pump and subject to its partial vacuum. 

(I am not going to discuss vacuum here now. Maybe later.) 

With that at rest, we can proceed to the matter at hand. Since managers have to balance the demands of social reality with the actuality of physical reality, we may extrapolate their actions to those of politicians and journalists. In doing so, we see immediately that Alternative Facts, when paired with (Actual) Facts, form pairs and hence alternatives. 

This is implicit in journalism with its celebration of the delusion that all situations are open to “fair discussion”. Clearly discussion is quite different between social and physical reality. In the latter discussion is limited to the experimental or observational data. 

But this also reveals something about politicians and why they “invent” these alternate facts. It clearly gives them some means of balancing within social reality, perhaps even while not killing constituents with physical reality that cannot be suspended. 

Having thus addressed the “how” of the matter, we can turn to the “why” of the matter. This seems simple, if cynical. The politician has schemed and cheated his/her way into high office to exercise power and if they do not have room for their own choices then they have no power. 

Hence, as we have argued previously, we may explain this behavior by insecurity. 

The question quite remains as to whether government without these alternative facts is possible?