Freya’s day. And I snuck one past the weather beavers. They foretold that the air temperature in Greater Metropolitan Arab would be 38 degF, which it may be but at 0500 this morning my heat pump external sensor said 41 degF and so I assayed a constitutional. This was a mixed bag. The parka I had to bundle in was heavy and so my back hurts a bit. But the snow – unforetold, mind you! – was very pretty and entertaining. The podcast was the first few minutes of an episode of “The Pen Addict” that mainly talked about how vertically copulated the Yankee republic is. 

Cannot argue with this. If anything, the states of the old Confederacy are a prime causation. As one of my colleagues, who asked to be unattributed, said

“Alabama and Mississippi are in a struggle to the death to be last.”

I can’t argue with this although I am envious of the statement. It’s one of those that’s obvious once it’s pronounced. I will probably be asked what last means so I will elaborate. In any of those lists of good/bad things about the states of the Yankee republic, they always list the fifty states in descending order. If it is a good metric (sorta?) then the first state listed is the most good and the fiftieth state listed is the least good; if it is a bad metric (again, sorta?) then the first state listed is the least bad and the fiftieth state listed is the most bad. And Alabama, along with Mississippi is trying to always be number fifty.

Why? I am not sure. Evidently it is something that the council of thieves and the guvmint think is necessary and desirable, like not having adequate medical care or schules. Those who subscribe to the Yankee guvmint’s race taxonomy claim it’s a racism thing. I personally think it’s more about greed and stupidity, but since I don’t pretend to understand I can’t claim my theory to be any better, But it ain’t fiftieth.

I also get asked why I continue to live here. That’s an easy one. Because I don’t have to work very hard to avoid things. I like to do things most of the population doesn’t, like think. So I don’t have to waste a lot of time dealing with thinking people. Of course, a lot – most – of the people aren’t very rational but that’s not all bad. Sort of like being stuck in permanent cosplay. And it’s relatively cheap to live here because there isn’t much to spend money on. Not that the guvmint and its masters aren’t trying to get your money but they do it in such putzish ways. 

Which is not to say it’s a bad place to live. There are still a few trees that haven’t been chopped down for export. And if Harry Harrison tried to write a DeathWorld novel about Alabama no one would believe it. 

So I’m going to enjoy the day. And do some experiements to help me find a working replacement for Ubernote. Film at Eleven.

Liberal Uselessness

Thor’s day and the end of gym for the week. And liquid is falling from the sky. Is that an event that needs be shared with chickens? Obviously I am in strange mood today and perhaps I can blame it on the expedition yesterday to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill/

I recently ran across an article [Link] of statement by four college presidents trying to justify the existence of “liberal arts”. I found it telling that one of them flatly stated that the studies (?) in secondary schule were adequate for adulthood.

It seems strange to me that high schule is adequate for anything. When I attended it was an information desert combined with a harassment Tartarus. I feel that I learned more in one semester, certainly one year, in college than I learned in four years of high schule. And it was overall useful stuff.

My strongest complaint is that in neither did I learn syntax nor composition in the classes that were supposed to teach that. The nature of the failures were surprisingly consistent: abysmal teaching; inadequate and irrelevant information; and too much distraction. I’ll take each in serial.

Let me start by saying that the teachers were not bad people, nor ill intentioned. They were overall good people with good intentions. But they were not good teachers. That is, in my taxonomy, I didn’t learn from them. That’s what makes them bad. In many cases I liked them but I didn’t learn what I needed.

Second, what they were trying to teach me on syntax and composition wasn’t what was needed. Drawing pseudo-Feynman diagrams of sentences is not useful, nor is writing essays. I have never been called on to write an essay, nor any other type of literary article. I have written novels, short stories, journal articles, books, and theses but never any literary poof. So what they were trying to teach was almost entirely orthogonal to need and want.

Lastly, what they were trying to teach was too little. Too much of it was literature, reading and discussing stories and novels that I would never have read if not compelled. Almost entirely these works were boring and unengaging, and largely irrelevant to either education or entertainment.  It is not that I dislike reading; I was going to the (public) Carnegie library thrice a week and chewing throuigh six to eight books a week but they were books I picked not forced upon me. That’s my chief indictment of the liberal arts; it’s stuff I don’t want forced upon me.

I did learn syntax and composition. Some was learned in college writing nerd stuff and afterwards writing more nerd stuff. But so far as I am concerned liberal arts is what people who can’t do study in college.

Orbis Diem

Today is 14 March 2015, a matter I shall return to shortly.

The fall of liquid dihydrogen oxide is less than yesterday but the air temperature is less so I got to amuse myself watching the moisture in my exhalation condense in front of me. But the puddles were smaller and my footgear less sodden than yesterday. My back, however, reminded me of my long winter’s absence. 

Back to the now. Today is being celebrated as “Pi Day” because the date can be written in MDY format as 3/14/15 (pi ~ 3.14159). This strikes me as a rather bogs-wishing-to-be-geeks sort of thing since it displays an abysmal disuse of maths. First, the dating convention (format) is abysmally boggish. Consider that in terms of numbers changing with the parametric passage of time MDY is medium/fast/slow. This is illogical, contradictory, and to appeal to the bogs, irrational. It is traditional which seems to be its only (specious) merit.

The other conventions DMY and YMD are fast/medium/slow and slow/medium/fast. Both are rational and logical. And notably under our current calendering system, neither admits a “Pi Day” easily. The closest and easiest is DMY for 3 January 2042. Note that this rounds properly which the bogs advocating today as “Pi Day” failed to do. If they had rounded properly then next year would have been the “right” (?????!!!!!!) year.

Similarly in YMD we could have chosen 2031 April 2. Same situation. 

Of course we also understand than Sturgeon’s Rule of the Bogs will NOT comprehend this explanation. Ever. 

My colleague, Magnetic Inductance Force, has offered a charming alternative. Since Pi (the number) is irrational then we can celebrate Leap day, 29 February in years evenly divisible by 4 but not by 100 ….., as Pi day (or E day, for that matter, but again, the bogs won’t get it) because that day is a fudge to an irrational number, namely the number of days in a sidereal year. Which is much better maths at least when compared to today as “Pi Day” in the MDY format. 

I ran across an article, [Link] entitled “Pi Day is silly, but π itself is mysterious and universal” that is itself a silly title but the discussion is not totally worthless. I suspect a lot of this party nonsense is the result of letting EXTROs be STEMs. Not that we ever excluded them in my day but we didn’t let them babble and gambol about like they do now keeping honest INTROs from getting real work done. 

That’s what one should do on a “Pi Day”, do real work. Not the stuff bogs do but expanding out understanding of reality. Which this “Pi Day” definitely isn’t!


Ice Lessons 1

Not a bad day so far. Despite the forebodings of the weather beavers, the ice giants have not yet laid their hand on Greater Metropolitan Arab. Although I can see their approach on the radar. But I did get to go to gym and courtesy of the weather panic – they also closed the city schules and Redstone again – I had the gym almost to myself. Actually I feared the opening clerk would bail but she actually arrived a couple of minutes early.

This closing thing has become mundane. And wimpish. I can recall driving across Redstone on ice to the aerodrome and then retracing my path when the flight was canceled. But then we were rugged and nerdy in my day. Nowadays it is boggish to be dainty and delicate.

Which brings me to the guts of my visit. I listened to the podcast and marveled that the local weather broadcasting station didn’t have their closed captioning engaged. Evidently the deaf are irrelevant on icy days? Or is this some religio-political crusade to purify the species? By the time I left I dropped the gym population from five to four. And that’s when the wonder struck.

As I checked out, I overheard a conversation from an obese bogette and the clerk about the weather. Ignorance gushed out of the former’s mouth. In seconds I was whelmed with this person’s lack of knowledge of the states of dihydrogen oxide, the mechanics of phase change, and the nature of friction. as she went about her unhappy business – I carefully held my comments – I was struck by a thought:

(an act of) Stupidity is to wager one’s life on one’s ignorance not killing one.

I don’t mean that as any indictment of this individual. I am sure she knows many things I do not, and they are probably more useful to her than the things I was struck she didn’t know. Rather, what this statement is, is a fundamental of life. One cannot know everything, so one must always make this wager. All of us. Even the nerds.

The trick, of course, is to make a rational choice of what one is ignorant of. Preferably also an informed one except that rather contradicts the ignorance part. Maybe?

It is rather a safe wager, at least in Marshall County, Alibam, that the person in question is an analgebraist. That is, she is one of those people who think that anything they are taught in high schule is useless and to be forgotten immediately upon matriculation. And no further education is beneficial. This is the natural extension state of those people who tell their children they’ll never use algebra after high schule, hence the name.

I mention this because that is why I held my comment. With probability of about 0.9 (hear that Sturgeon?) any comment about the states of dihydrogen oxide, phase mechanics, and/or friction would not only be wasted but incur wrath and possibly violence. So in this case leaving ignorance lie was an exercise in pain avoidance. Which somehow seems appropriate in a gym?

Selah. Wait for the slippery.

Snowphobia 2

The weather beavers foretell the end of (this) snow episode today. It has been tiring. But I am ready, more for an end to this travesty of a winter than anything. I don’t really mind snow. After all, it has to be (relatively) warm to snow. Its the ten+ degF below the dihydrogen phase point that I detest. It strains my health and my marriage. Not breakingly, more like defect enhancing. Sort of a Listerine thing. So I shall be happy to put that away for a few days.

Of course in the longer term, I give up the stress of frozen plumbing for tornadoes. Poor trade? I am unsure.

On being unsure, I ran across an article [Link] that some chaps at Cornell U have discovered (?) that there is less resistance to the phrase “climate change” than to “global warming”. This was particularly the case for Repro-denialists, less so for Demo-denialists and the unpartisan majority. 

I am not sure this isn’t sugar candy. It is increasingly evident that politicians are servants of their corporate sponsors and not of their citizen constituencies. The prevarications and propaganda claim otherwise but the rational observer sees otherwise. So while I don’t really care what you call the end of humanity on Tellus, the end state will not be changed. 

In a more relevant bit, another article [Link] is about work at Brown U that indicates that there are two different types of EXTROs. This differentiation is based on observation of behavior and brain scans. The article labels the two types as “people persons” and “go-getters”. The latter use more of their brains in some sense, although it is somewhat difficult to associate brain activity with EXTROs given their vast tendency to be bogs. And given the general distastefulness of EXTROs it is also hard to describe them as “people persons” when they radiate something that drives INTROs away. Sort of the mental equivalent of odor of skunk. 

But I think I can see the distinction. The alienation of “go-getters” is subtly different. The EXTRO pp are just off-putting; somehow false, facadish, and insincere, with a large component of can’t-do. On the other hand the EXTRO gg are self-serving, egotistical, and all talk but still can’t-do. But I may be missing something.

Ah well, anything that improves out understanding of EXTROs make avoiding and overcoming their inabilities easier. I am less certain that word wrangling will preserve the species. Especially since almost all of the Politico-denialists are EXTROs.

In Praise of Incompetence

Day three of snow. The mountain folk are now ignored by the lowlanders, especially those in Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill (not on the mountain!,) since their snow is well disposed. Ours is still upon us and we are reflecting poorly on a governance that spends enormous monies on holiday lights but nothing on clearing the roads. What pathology is this? 

I cannot say I am surprised at the council of real estate agents. After all, clogged roads are irrelevant to their interests – except perhaps flow of cash which is why they seek office. But I somehow expected better of the former civil servant now mayor. Is he bound and gagged in a closet in city hall to prevent him doing corps of engineers type stuff? The World Wonders.

At least the Arab Electron Uncooperative has not yet failed us. This is surprising. Usually they are utter cravens and drooling pensioners who pull the plug at the least sign of weather. Conditional kudos. 

Now, a bit of diversion. It seems fitting to start with a Register article [Link] that has the wonderful title “HAWKING ALERT: Leave planet Earth, find a new home. Stupid humans”. I particularly like the Stupid Humans part since it fits so well. It would be criminal to inflict the details on any politico-denialists or theo-fascists who might be reading – since Arab is predominantly populated with both of these degenerate types – but leave it be said that their type has made do-do too much in the wrong way and Tellus is about kaput. Not a new song but never tiring.

And on a lighted note, an article [Link] on how much a cloud (modal?) weighs. Well, masses, which makes a lot more sense. The boffins, if they be such, say a modal cumulus cloud masses 5E5 kg. Much bigger than the average airhead in Greater Metropolitan Arab. Probably not as large as the sum total of the masses of all the ferds and their pickup trucks in Arab. And sadly, they won’t float away to somewhere else. Or dump snow on the town. Instead they keep driving about on the snow and doing great damage with their pickup trucks. Not that I blame them except for their moral deficiency in driving while incompetent.

I have been cooped up too long and need to get out to relieve my humors. Not likely today according to the weather beavers.


Rot, Rotter, Rottest

A most enjoyable session at gym. I managed to sneak in and out before the roads iced up, and the constabulary went all Gestapo but not before the sunshine patriots, the educationalists and almost all of the weight bouncers decided to bunker in. So the gym was quite sparsely populated.

Sadly the podcast, an episode of the CBC’s "Best of Ideas" was blah and vapid. The subject was 3-D printers and done for a boggish audience who pays scant attention to nerdery. So it presented nothing new except a bit of history of science fiction coming real. And that is questionable. I have been around 3-D printing for 20+ years now and the technology and organizational aspects of them are old underwear, the kind that can be trotted out as new to the mentally impoverished.

But this vapidity gave me occasion to expend cognitive cycles on a commercial I viewed last evening on the electromagnetic audio-visual receiver. The commercial was a Tarzan piece by some corporation, whose identity is lost in irrelevance, about helping schules. Helping schules means selectively giving a few schules a token of money (compared to the cost of the commercial and air time) so the corporation can brag about giving back. Pennies on the Pound sort of thing, of course.

But what stuck with me was a throw away line:

"Fifty percent of all students are alienated to maths and science by the eighth grade"

That’s not exact but close enough.

My first thought at this was that money will have scant effect on this since it depends on adequate funding (obviously not met) to all schules (also obviously not met) with questing maths and science teachers ( patently not met but independent) who will use the money creatively to engage the students (almost an impossibility.) So the whole commercial was a grand prevarication. Goebbels would be proud!

The more I reflected on this, the more I recalled my own days in primary and secondary schule. Basically the same thing occurred, if not more so. In those days the teachers were willing – unlike today? – but woefully ignorant and hence ineffective bordering on incompetent, and the textbooks were horrible, insipid and inadequate, instilled with too little science and too much social nonsense. And the maths books were horribly simplistic and repetitive. Boringly, grindingly repetitive. So yes, by eighth grade most of use were completely alienated to public school maths and science.

That doesn’t mean we were alienated to maths and science in general. We grew up in a nerd town. Many of us had nerds for parents, and both human and textual sources of real information on science and maths. My parents were bogs with sparks of geekness but they provided me with lots of reading material (most not very good except my father’s navy correspondence courses’ textbooks.)

I am reminded again of that tweet of Neil DeGrasse Tyson,

Students who earn straight A’s in school do so not because of good Teachers but in spite of bad Teachers.

We probably have to add bad texts and bad parents to that list. Bad in this case means ineffective or weak or ignorant but not necessarily evil. Some teachers are evil these days since their pay is glued to not teaching well. But I think these are still the exception. The problem is that (1) teachers don’t know enough science and maths; (2) parents don’t know enough science and maths and they aren’t supportive meaningfully; and (3) the textbooks are terrible in so many dimensions. The worst of the latter is religionist politics and social moralizing, neither of which belong in science and/or maths texts.

So no wonder the kids are turned off. The problem is that this time it’s also at home. And from that there is no recovery except another dark age of misery and violence.

Buck up kids, you probably won’t have to endure being ignorant long.