Why We’re Ignernt

Few people think they are stupid. It’s part of how humans are made. If we think we are stupid, we cower down and don’t try. Besides, Bogs, especially the Extros, are pretty well incapable of thinking that much. They’re like Schrodinger’s Cat if Schrodinger had died just after starting the experiment. If you can’t observe something, you can’t collapse the wave function.

But there is a special kind of stupid and it seems to be infesting our society. It’s the stupidity of ignorance – ignernce in Alibam speak. Basically this is a condition of being ignorant and happy with it. Knowledge is a bad thing because then we become aware of our own shortfallings and we can’t admit to that because it would mean that our society is flawed and even failing.

Part of that is the nature of our schules. One primary symptom is that we have ceased to pretend that the public schules have anything to do with education. All they are is a training camp for social serfs coupled with a lot of mumbo jumbo of educationalist delusions and careerism. All that is taught is obedience to Extro Bogism and how to maximize the educationalists’ pay checks. 

Hence I was a bit bemused by an article [Link] entitled “One in three physics teachers at England’s secondary schools don’t have a degree in their subject.” The clear implication is thet two-thirds of the people teaching physics in England’s public (as we would call them) schules have actual degrees in physics. 

But not here in Amerika. Here [Link] in Amerika we have half that fraction. Why? Well, simply because no one in authority has any interest in teaching Amerika’s children anything but obedience and therefore any physics is unimportant to their goals. Never mind all this rot about STEM Education. There isn’t much of the latter in our public schules today and the colleges are rotting away fast in their headlong rush to become factory profit centers. And STEM? Why bother? Amerikans are too lazy and stupid to learn STEM stuff and compete. Or at least that is what I get from the educationalists I am exposed to and even the students I sometimes interact with on college campuses.

Ain’t saying this is all of why we Amerikans are becoming a nation of pond scum, but it’s a big part.

Once more glad to be ORF. 

Civilization Mechanics

Nasty rain yesterday late. What I have observed the weather beavers to call “pop up” rain. Quite worrisome. Gutters overflowing. And no rain five kilometers away. The sort of thing that delights insecure religionists (redundant? !) who labor mightily to find some reason for the deity to have cause such waterfall at that space/time coordinate.

I have to wonder at the hubris of that labor. 

As I was off on constitutional this morning, just down the road next Castellum SCP, I took note of the undrained water and the soft gurgling in the ditches. And how I fretted over the overspill and what rot it might cause. And hence to think on the physics of civilization.

The thought train goes something like this: physics is about motion; humans are primarily about society; society is primarily about civilization; and civilization is about organization(s). So what may be said about the motion of civilization?

I have commented previously about that Sundae evening back when I was a bairn, back when television was monochrome and its transmission was strictly by disturbances in the ether. In those days Sunday evening television was dominated by this rather staid nasal fellow called Ed Sullivan. I say called because I doubt that to be his name. Surely his mother was not Southron enough to have a child named Ed? Probably Edward or some such, since Edward (Ed) is not a name found in scripture. 

(Side question: If we can name a child Jesus, why can’t we name a child Yahweh?)

Anyway, Mr. Sullivan was the vocal integrator of what was called a variety program, which was a potpourri of staggering different – and usually aentertaining – demonstrations. I only recall one such clearly which was of a long table with many vertical rods attached to it and some fellow, ostensibly an entertainer, who spun dinner plates on the rods. I found this demonstration riveting but, of course, not entertaining since it was so impressive I should never have to see it again. 

Nor was it enjoyable, per se. What it was, was life changing. It was one of the remembered factors in convincing me to become a STEM nerd. Not particularly to understand the rigmarole of plate spinning as entertainment, that was orthogonal. But what the mechanics – the motion – of a plate spinning on a rod was. 

The metaphor has been useful over the years, in many ways. Now it seems applicable to civilization. One of the characteristics of our civilization is that the governments are run by politicians. Not people who have capabilities or education to run governments mind you, at least for democracies (or dictatorships,) but politicians. And in democracies, the primary concern of politicians is not running the government, but being re-elected to their office (or elected to “higher” office.) 

Apparently politicians are rewarded (or entertained?) by holding office rather than for running the government. Hence, the politicians are, in effect, ambivalent, if not apathetic, to keeping the plates spinning. Evidently broken plates do not preclude politicians from re-election. 

Hence, civilization is a progression of broken plates and deterministically doomed since someday, all the plates will be broken at the same time.

But the politicians will be enriched.

False Queue Skipping

Recently I have been seeing a lot of advertisements on the Electromagnetic Audio-Video Receiver advocating cellular telephone applications that let one order food or beverage. They all claim that this eliminates waiting in queue.

This claim is rather a heavy prevarication and misrepresentation.

Under certain circumstances, the claim may be accurate but probably not. The reason for this is simple logistics and producability.

Let us consider two factors. First, the capacity the store has for producing their product. This product – food – cannot be produced substantially in advance because that diminishes it. The other factor is how busy the establishment is.

If the store has more capacity than customers, then a line does not form. If a line forms, demand has exceeded capacity to produce and thereby supply.

Now, if you telephone an order when a line has already formed, which customer do you think they will prepare product for? The customer lined up and about to leave if he/she has to wait too long, or the customer who isn’t present yet? 

For those who can’t figure the answer for themselves, it’s the former, the customer queued up. 

So if you use this application, the process will occur as promised if the store has slack capacity but otherwise, plan on standing in queue. 

A more intelligent strategy might be to plan to purchase this product when you know there will be slack capacity available. Life is about survival, which is about adaptability. 

 

Solemn Torture

I have been subjected to entirely too much graduation grrrrrr brrrrrr this week. None of this is from the graduates themselves; all of it is from their friends (so claimed) or family (also so claimed.) 

I have been subjected to several graduations in my life, about equally divided between being a participant and a spectator. One thing in particular is common to all of them: their conclusion was the only good part of the affair. All were painful, boring, and torturous.

I find it instructive that the only conversations I have ever had about graduations experienced were all horror stories. All were too long, void of any positive emotion, wracked with negative emotions such as pain, agony, suffering, fear, and boredom. 

To put this in context, the only graduation I HAD to attend was the one for a doctoral degree. In effect, no attendance, no degree. That university took the hooding ritual rather seriously. And treated my playing Paper-Scissors-Rock with the tail end guy from the medical school (seated next me) with humor. Hence I conclude that graduations are rather a Listerine affair for students and faculty.

The only good graduation I had was for a master’s degree. I had to relocate before the ceremony to a different graduate school and was excused. After all, a master’s degree is not very important. Cracker Jack prize, I suppose.

I have also had to attend numerous graduations of relatives. All of these were “mandatory social obligations”. Aside from the two for SCPdatter, which were partly pain avoidance, I was able to rechannel courtesy of a book. And she accused me of bringing such with me. 

Except for the one in August in an unconditioned gym where a relative suffered heat stroke. 

Over the years I have formed the hypothesis that graduations are “mother things”. The only people who seem to ever want to go to a graduation are mothers. 

This does not engender strong confidence in adulthood being accorded the child. 

I have never heard a graduation speech that was worth my time. Nor that said anything memorable. 

The good thing I can say about such I discovered this morning while perusing LifeHacker.[Link] A memorial concert – held separately and of voluntary attendance – would have been fine. I like John Williams’ music but not enough to endure any more graduation for it. So I have something to be thankful for about graduations. 

I shall also remember not to accept an honorary degree from Fair Hahvahd. Not that I have any expectation of such. 

Perhaps we can start a new ceremony? Perhaps one where we offer graduates mothers a spa visit if we can skip the ceremony? 

Nasal Drip

Today is “Red Schnozola” day. Or some such. Evidently rather a big thing in the Mother country. Has something to do with feeding starving children. Given I live in Alibam and the average elector believes in starving children – they are fanatically and insanely “pro-life”, which is anything but – so I contributed yesterday when I was in Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on theHill purchasing OTC medications at a Walgreen’s.

I should perhaps comment that this is a matter of necessity. We have no Walgreen’s in Greater Metropolitan Arab because the city conscript parents are only interested in attracting new residents and unhealthy businesses – like fast food/fast death franchises – to town. Their efforts have been highly successful: the mean number of obituaries in the Arab “news” rag have been steadily increasing and the mean age has been steadily decreasing. The effort seems to have hit a snag however, since some of the fast food emporia are themselves in danger of starving. 

I suspect their next act will be to contract out the school meal service to a fast food place, especially now that the fascists have a majority in the Yankee Congress. Or perhaps I should say the militant, capitalist fascists to differentiate them from the rabid, people’s paradise fascists. 

I also note that today is the fortieth anniversary of the “Star Wars” thingie.[Link] I call it a thingie not because it is a thing in the sense of matter but because I am never sure just what it is. Anyway, I know I do not like it because it is rather an outrageous lie. The story is supposedly about a peoples’ fight against government tyranny but is made ridiculous for the absolute acceptance of slavery. So inherently and destructively contradictory. But it persists because of the Bogs. Or at least that sounds good although there are more than a few Geeks who recycle their micturations and are advocates of the idiocy. 

Meanwhile, I also noted that one of those militant, capitalist fascists has physically assaulted a reporter.[Link] Now I acknowledge that too many reporters are too aggressive and irritating but not to the point of beating them. Of course, given the flavor of politician in question it is probably noteworthy that the reporter in question was neither discorporated, permanently crippled, or cast into prison awaiting execution for lese majeste.

And Monday is a day of memory for those who served in the military. All this rather makes you wonder why?

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.