Media Dangerous

We once more have a MASSIVE FAIL on the part of “local” media. In particular, the Huntsville Weather Beavers at the local television studios have missed morning mimimum temperatures by over five degF.

Lots of bad results from this.

Dangerous results. And their incompetence is putting people at risk.

We have to wonder if this is some sort of plot to make people think these winter storms aren’t as bad as they really are? Or worse, some attempt to make work for local plumbers?

Anyway, stern condemnations of these weather beavers.  http://www.waaytv.com/weather/ http://www.waff.com/weather  http://whnt.com/weather/

Overestimating the minimum temperature when that temperature is below the phase change point is borderline criminal.

Climate and Weather – Nawth Alibam

Alibam is reeling in a winter onslaught. The Repulsians are ranting about the falsity of climate change – global warming – as they sit before their fires stoking the Carbon Dioxide glut.

Bogs. Denialist Bogs, at that.

One of the characteristics of weather is that over a long period of time it is approximately Gaussian distributed. What is often called a “Normal” curve except that’s a misuse of both the word “normal”, which properly means either orthogonal or of finite area and is most often used in place of the term “modal” which is evidently beyond the comprehension of the people who misuse “normal.” 

Or they are too lazy?

Anyway, if the weather has a Gaussian distribution, then the likely occurring temperatures are largely described by the standard deviation. And the standard deviation is largely determined by climate. Further, that standard deviation is directly proportional to the average temperature.

So if the average temperature goes up, the standard deviation goes up, which in turn means more occurrences of higher temperature.

But ALSO, more instances of lower temperature. So as the planet heats up there are more instances of high temperature – “hot” days.

AND, more instances of low temperature – “cold” days.

So feel no sympathy for all those Alibam legislators down in Muntgum who are snowed in (because Muntgum doesn’t need snow plows.) They’re the ones who refuse to do anything about climate change because it would deplete their pork and graft funds.

Meanwhile, I’m going to complain about both the weather and the climate. 

And the schmucks.

Bog Weather Nonsense

Raining this morning. And Bogs bitchin’ this morning at gym about the weather getting “cold”. 

Stupidity. Disgusting even if we know we can expect no better from Bogs. 

Cold is not a thermodynamic or meteorological quantity. It cannot be measured. It can, however, be observed since it is a sensation. If a person shivers observers can observe that person to be “cold”.

I discount here the noun form that refers to a viral infection. Clearly not what the Bogs are misusing. And the natter on it is a separate matter. 

The term “hot” is a bit different. It is ambiguous in the sense that its proper thermodynamic meaning applies to all conditions above absolute zero – zero degK. 

Otherwise it is not meaningful and thereby a useful word to Bogs since it is another sensation that can talk about as if it were a measurable.

Duhhhhhhhh.

Warm is essentially the same as “cold” and hence no further nattering.

No wonder we are a third world nation.

Dismal Deterioration

Once more into Ice Cream day. And once more into the abyss of excessive colding. Nasty cold front pushed in by the dread Polar Vortex, the latest in not-a-such-broom and dripping temperatures this evening. And I am sitting in my study shivering. At least partly from the refrigerated V-8 juice I just finished.

So as I clip articles for my files, mostly via a wonderful note-taking app called KeepNote, [Link] which is the best such I have ever found. And still quite incapable of actually taking lecture notes with, of course, but adequate for my daily information saving needs. Anyway, as I do this I shall sally onto a bit of blogging.

First, an article [Link] entitled “Android Marshmallow on PC Falls Flat.” The title is sufficient; the article merely assures the lid of the coffin is secure. This cements what I had suspected after purchasing a ChromeBook a couple of months ago, that Chrome/Android is a sadly neutered desktop environment. And yes, I use browsers a lot, but several and simultaneously, depending on their strengths and weaknesses. But I also need other clients. And therein lies the problem. So once more the conventional Linux desktop is validated.

Second, another article [Link] entitled ““I Don’t Think We Can Stop It:” The Future of Automation and Job Loss” that addresses something I have blogged on previously, that the idea of universal (or even majority) employment is becoming increasingly specious and just flat wrong. This seems likely to be the greatest threat to capitalism since the Great War. How do we continue to only allow a model based on everyone doing something productive and payable? Even if we ignore the poor and tell them to eat cake, the death machines will not be long in coming. And it seems equally unlikely that the rise of the robot – Czech (?) for “worker” – will be reversed by self-aware capitalists. 

Another thing that makes me glad to be ORF.

And lastly, an article [Link] entitled “The Crisis in Physics Education” that expounds further the problems with STEM teaching that I blogged about yesterday. Simply put,

“Of all school subjects, Physics has the most severe teacher shortage, followed by math and chemistry.  There are large surpluses of biology and earth science teachers.

Only 1/3 of all high school physics teachers have a degree in physics or physics education.

Almost 1/3 of all high school physics teachers have taken fewer than 3 college physics classes.

90% of middle school students are taught physical science by a teacher lacking a major or certification in the physical sciences (chemistry, geology, general science or physics). 

Our local and regional school districts have had substantial difficulty finding and retaining qualified physics teachers. 52% of New York City high schools do not even offer physics.”

And, of course, this problem is primarily the doing of the education establishment. It is not that there are not a lot of college educated physicists out there. There are more physicists today than there have ever been. But the system is so tied to the idea of certification that this shortage exists. Between physicists who are unwilling (unable) to spend the time being certified and the unwillingness of schule systems to hire anyone lacking a certificate, the children have been hung out to dry. 

This problem could be solved simply. The schule system could hire a non-certified teacher but only for a specific time, about five years. So hire graduate students to teach half time while they finish their coursework and give them the option of leaving after a couple of years or working on a certificate. But I somehow doubt the schule systems are smart enough to even try this, much less pull it off. So one more example of Amerika becoming Third World State.

I have to be direct. I enjoy teaching but I never wanted to make it a career. The instrumentality of schule, especially K-12, are mind killers. Teaching outside a university takes too much time, destroys research opportunities, and generally turns one into a blob. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who can thrive in that environment, but not me. I suspect this is becoming more common as universities become more factory-like and as dismal and oppressive as K-12 systems. But there may still be something to Amerika worth saving. If the educationalists will save themselves?

STEM vs. Art?

This has been the December from Tartarus. Too many medicalist appointments – and some yet to come. Too much not-December weather – as in, too d**n colding. And then a couple of days ago while cooling my heels waiting on FD SCP’s medicalist appointment – and trying to ignore the abuses of the staff wrecked on the consumers – which is another subject – I ran across an article [Link] entitled “The focus on maths and science doesn’t add up. The arts must be in the equation.” 

My initial thought was “Stercus! Another irrelevant arts teacher moaning again.” I wasn’t quite wrong.

The article was out of the Guardian, and like so many British newspaper articles and so few Amerikan, it was worth reading. The thesis was a bit mixed: a melange of too much STEM for too little gain; too little arts; and too much oppression of the teaching staff.

Which seems to indicate that the situation in England is similar to that in the Yankee republic.

Before continuing, I reflected on my own experiences. All of the STEM teachers I had, save one, were at best mediocre and the mean was abysmal. My chemistry teacher was one of those people who had a real chemistry degree and no certification and shortly after I graduated left for a real chemistry career since he got booted for no certification. This was a common situation when I was in public schule. The good teachers weren’t certified teachers and the bad ones were. Probably why I identify so strongly with Chicken Man’s statement that “good student learn in spite of bad teachers.”

So I have a bit of a disinterest in the bleatings of certified teachers; if they can’t teach worth a hoot what does it matter if they are put upon? Other than basic human decency, of course. Oh, there may be an occasional good teacher in the bunch but when the place is a toxic waste dump what can you do?

I also noted while I was in undergraduate college that the teachers most likely to flock to summer schule for advanced education were the bad ones who were only in it for the money.

I recall I had to take some arts courses in schule. I started out with lots of wannabe and little canbe. And I ended up pretty well hating the whole thing. Got very painful. The only good thing was it taught me lessons about disappointment and inability. Hard lessons, in several meanings of the word.

I need to qualify some of that. I have met some good students and a few good teachers in recent years, largely courtesy of American Physical Society outreach programs. But they are rare. And many are parochial – RC – the protestant schules don’t even try at least inferring from their absence. Which is a mixed bag of expectation affirmed and reversed. 

I stop short of thinking that humans who can do STEM are born that way and don’t need anything other than some access to information and opportunity. The ability of the schule system to deter and destroy even the best student is undeniable. But one keeps hoping they have some positive quality. 

And I have to ask the question: if you can’t teach STEM passably, what makes you think you can teach arts successfully? That’s not rhetorical or associative. Since I am soiled goods with respect to arts education I would like some meaningful – not low hanging irrelevant fruit – data. 

Nor do I expect any improvement in the public education (or private for that matter) system. Those who are living in fear of their lives are seldom open to anything other than Hobbesian survival. 

On a more positive note, real education in Amerika has always been rare to vanishing. We are the triumph (??????????) of capitalism and the self-made human. Education, on the other hand, is all about being happy and competent in one’s life. And the two are diametrically opposed and always have been. 

So why should it change now?

Messiah Munch 3

While it’s ice cream day, I may as well pick on Lifehacker a bit more. Yesterday I ran across an article [Link] entitled “The Anti-Science Craze Driven by Millennials.” Actually this is on Gizmodo but it’s part of the same current so it shares the responsibility.

This article appears to be about the GEN Y (Millennial?) equivalent of being Republican. That is, ignorant, inaccurate, denialist, and outright prevaricative. In this case it’s also science which the Republicans are also quite keen on exterminating with prejudice.

Basically, it presents some survey analysis that indicates GEN Ys consider “organic” foods to be beneficial but gene modified organisms (gmos) to be detrimental.

The problem is that they are hideously inaccurate.

First of all, they use “organic” improperly. I won’t belabor the Nerd definition but I will present a Websterish definition

“Of or pertaining to compounds which are derivatives of hydrocarbons; pertaining to, or denoting, any one of a large series of carbon-containing compounds which are related to the carbon compounds produced by biological processes (such as methane, oils, fats, sugars, alcohols, ethers, proteins, etc.) and include many substances of artificial production which may or may not occur in animals or plants;”

The GEN Ys evidently use a definition sold to their minds by the grocery industry of foodstuffs produced without antibiotics or other additives – except the ones they aren’t told about.

Simply put, all foodstuffs are organic. Heck, people are Naturally organic. 

It is unclear if these are the same people who think “chemistry” and “chemicals” are dirty, nasty poisonous terms. How they can stand their own existence is unclear.

The other inaccuracy is GMO. Almost everything foodstuffy is gene modified, mostly be selected breeding. For example, with the exception of some museum stocks, ALL corn, including ALL commercially available corn, is GMO. And it has been since before Europeans got to the Americas the easy way – across the Atlantic.

Ditto for rice and wheat and most grains.

This would be a marginally acceptable, barely tolerable, situation if the schmucks could learn the error of their ways. But they seem unable to do so. And not just because they’re adolescents. Apparently permanently mentally adolescent, in fact, as Boyle defined it.

Messiah Munch

This may be a new series. As we enter the Winter Solstice Holiday season, it seems worth while to offer up a series – maybe – of commentaries on aspects of the holidays.

The nattering this morning is about an article [Link] from the Daily Mail entitled “How boys’ toys ‘are putting girls off tech jobs’: Just 11% of Christmas presents linked to science and maths are listed as suitable for girls.” I can’t argue too much with the thesis since I am rather befuddled at the genderism here. Is there an algorithm to distinguish boys’ and girls’ STEM toys? Are they color coded? Or is the advertising prevarication of the toy indicative?

I do know that Sturgeon’s Rule seems to apply here. I continually review STEM toys and am of the opinion that 0.9 of them are CRAP! Not fit for any child. They either lack any teachable substance or are manifestly unengaging or worthless. In particular the sense of risk and repeatability is vacuously absent.

Most of what I see are one-time use toys which are almost certain to be failures because the whole idea is that the toy should require some effort and failure-learning. So either these lack the failure component or are only effective for the small fraction who do things right the first time.

And the parents are so Bog that they don;t understand the absence of A. C. Gilbert and the American Basic Science Club.

One more paving stone in the road to third world nationhood.