Tab Roulette

Seven Day. Ice Cream Day. And two days past the holy day of serpent suppression in Eire. 

This fits moderately well with the first tab of ‘Hawgin’ day. Some time ago I ran across and article [Link] in the Daily Mail entitled “Going to church can make you more popular and appear trustworthy, study finds.”

Now the Daily Mail is a bit of a rag as in both the tattered and bloody senses, somewhat akin to the expose conspiracy tabloids of supermarket necessity. But it set me to cogitation on an aspect of a subject I have wrestled with for years, namely the nature of organized religion and its relationship to actual religion.

I have numerous colleagues and acquaintances who attend services at churches on differing temporal spectra. Several cite the role in the lives of themselves and others in the association with other humans. Most are intelligent enough to refrain from rabid evangelism; that seems left to innocent (?) bairns dropped in the neighborhood by adults with some form of insecurity driving their irresponsibility. The worst they demonstrate is a smug arrogance that their life style is perfect. And strangely, for them, it may be because the only meaningful measure of perfection is functional. If these people are joltless in their lives then that may indeed be a form of perfection.

But these organized religions have ulterior purposes other than actual religion. Most evident is the survival of the organization itself. But this study from the Santa Fe Institut, noted for its work on complexity and emergence, indicates why organized religion is so successful in Amerika. Simply put the organized religion place offers a means for the insecure – which ultimately is a synonym for human – to alleviate their insecurity. And that is a powerful attractant given that something like 0.9 of all human behavior, at least in Amerika, is driven by insecurity. 

It may also offer some insight into why the “Nones” are increasing in number. From my observations of Millennials/GEN Ys, I have noted that their insecurities are somewhat different from Boomers and GEN Xs’. The working hypothesis is that (possibly) because of social media, the GEN Ys are much less concerned with the approval of the wider community and much more concerned with the approval of first and second friends. The population numbers seem to support this. The expected numbers of first and second friends is approximately band-sized while the expected number of FaceScroll “friends” is approximately community sized. 

What follows from this is rather strange. It seems that organized religion has almost nothing to do with personal religion for a surprising fraction of people. This is not easily confirmed. The metrics are unclear, but this would explain quite a bit about how our society behaves as an organism.

Next, an article [Link] entitled “Six charts that illustrate the divide between rural and urban America.” It’s one of those academic, semi-(pseudo-?) scientific things that presents some statistics but never quite gets around to looking at motion. This is a popular subject area right now because of the ‘revolution of the red necks’ in the last POTUS election. So both political sides are busy justifying their positions and banking their insecurities. 

What I found amusing about this article was what wasn’t said. For example the authors claim that most of the new job creation is occurring in cities (high population density) but that jobs in the boonies (low population density) are more enduring. This presumably means longer half-life or some such. 

But what was glaring obvious was that these two have to be related. As a bit of background, we live in an age of “apathetic feudalism”. I won’t go too deeply into this but it basically says that of all the candidates for a job, the one who is minimally qualified will get it because that minimizes salary cost. It also means that job holders are very mobile to try to move to better paying jobs and any commitment to staying is counter-survival. It also tends to explain automation.

So in a high population density area, there are more jobs and hence more movement. And hence more vacancies. And perhaps more truly “new” job creation. And the opposite in low population density areas. So the mean occupation time of any job is longer in low population density areas than in high. Which rather makes the authors’ presentation lacking a bit.

Tish. I could drone on but enuff fer neuw.

Not My Read

Five Day. Last of Gym for the week. Probably. Listened to a Linux Link podcast episode. Discovered no notes so this may be a limited repetition. Maybe.

Needed new SSD for a lapbox. Tried two different on-line sources. Too much bureaucracy. Waiting is for more patience or a better environment.

Ran across an article [Link] entitled “The 8 Books Neil deGrasse Tyson Thinks Every Person Should Read” which is sorta self-explanatory. I looked at the list:

  • “The Bible”: “To learn that it’s easier to be told by others what to think and believe than it is to think for yourself.”
  • “The System of the World” by Isaac Newton: “To learn that the universe is a knowable place.”
  • “On the Origins of Species” by Charles Darwin: “To learn of our kinship with all other life on Earth.”
  • “Gulliver’s Travels” by Jonathan Swift: “To learn, among other satirical lessons, that most of the time humans are Yahoos.”
  • “The Age of Reason” by Thomas Paine: “To learn how the power of rational thought is the primary source of freedom in the world.”
  • “The Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith: “To learn that capitalism is an economy of greed, a force of nature unto itself.”
  • “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu: “To learn that the act of killing fellow humans can be raised to an art.”
  • “The Prince” by Niccolo Machiavelli: “To learn that people not in power will do all they can to acquire it, and people in power will do all they can to keep it.”

and was rather amazed at how few I had read. So naturally, I have to make mumble-comment.

And yes, I have read The Bible. At least some of. It’s so full of inconsistencies and things that seem unrelated to religion that I have to wonder about the authors. But I suppose it is a good indoctrination to the nature of organized biblical religion.

I haven’t read the Newton. I did read Principia though.

Read some of the Darwin. Not my sort of thing. No equations. Similar for some of the others. Either not my thing or never tried. Have read Sun Tzu. Several times. Need to vigorously add the caveats that one should read the Griffith translation and NOT the Clavell. The latter is tripe and garbage and is a disservice to Sun Tzu.

Not sure if I am disappointed or not. Probably not. This list likely explains why Chicken Man is so good at outreach. And so many other academics aren’t. And he definitely has a stronger toleration for garbage than I do.

Social Medium

Yesterday I had to motor to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City of the Hill – second of the week – for the annual inspection of my visual sensors by my Opto-physician and his staff. Aside from the usual grrr brrr of less than enjoyable tests, I was a bit betaken by their forms of address to me. The staff always address the hamsters (a bit more than lab rats but not much more) as Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. but the arzt himself addressed me by “Doctor.” 

As I said I am betaken by this. Most communities in the Yankee Republic are such that the majority of “Doctors” in the community are physicians and dentists; secondarily thumpers of holy writ. Huntsville – the reason why it is a Shining City – is one of the exceptions. Most of the “Doctors” in Huntsville are actual nerds of the technical perversion and not medicalists or justicers or divines.

Usually the exceptions are college towns and while Huntsville has more than its share of real (as opposed to for-profit diploma mills masquerading as real) colleges and universities. But those “Doctors” are a minority. The majority are the folks who work for the Yankee Army or NASAl or one of their contractors. So the social order is different from most places.

Those “most places”, the ones where the Doctoral population is dominated by the medicalists, is rather exclusionary and elitist. Under no circumstances are the other doctorate holders – except maybe the divines – ever called “Doctor.” The reason (excuse?) for this is always Unity of Command, to appropriate the Army term. And the society of these towns is rather exclusionary. The medicalists only associate with themselves except for business and superstition. It’s rather formal and stuffy.

It’s similar at college towns except the formal stuffy ones are the faculty.

But in Huntsville its rather uncomfortable for the medicalists and academics and divines because the Techno-nerds are the doctorate majority. And they are generally more open and unstuffy. (I’m not sure what the opposite of stuffy is here.) And it makes for a much more open community.

But it does confuse the devil out of the staffs. So they end up getting stuffy to protect themselves from the heresy or lese majeste (not sure which.) And are thus a bit entertaining.

And we often get some intriguing cross-discipline fertilization.

But then I came back to Arab and was once more a minority.

Which Reality?

One day, and back to gym. Rather dragging podcast, an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” interviewing some muslim journalist who alternated between being boring and strident but did trigger some association with something my colleague Magnetic Inductance Force said

“people who believe that society is reality”

and prompted some cognition.

Following on the heels of yesterday’s blot on thinking, I take as a given that different people tend to think in different ways. In effect, that they have different realities. For physicists, reality is physical; for mathematicians, math is reality; for biologists, biology is reality. And for justicers, law is reality and for physicians, medicine is reality.

But for most people, the ones who are not educated (but likely, if young, have a college diploma,) and EXTRO bogs, reality is society. Only occasionally does something other than friends, family, neighbors, and community intrude and briefly, usually denied, have an aspect of reality. It has been offered that this is why people told they are going to die turn to superstition.

The sad thing is that while none of these things is right (accurate?) none is wrong either. All are different pieces of reality. But for some reason, most of us seem unable to consider meaningfully any totality of reality. Part of that inability is ignorance; we are long past the time when any person can learn and know everything. So some of it is just plain not knowing.

The social reality people are the saddest. They have the shortest, thinnest view of reality, the part that is purely “made up” by humans, having almost nothing to do with Nature at all. In fact, usually in staunch denial of Nature. A reality of emotion and superstition and hormones.

Equally sad is that it is almost impossible to alleviate this sadness. Most of these people are incapable of dealing with any other reality, and the ones who are capable are almost all uninterested. One has to wonder just how inaccurate the “Sapiens” naming is?

Under many circumstances this can be abided. These people can be avoided and ignored. But when they decide to try to eliminate the other realities, which they deem trivial or heretical because they cannot understand them, they move the species closer to extinction.

Which may not be all that bad.

In Search of Thought

Seven Day. Moderate. Actually emerged from Castellum SCP to perambulate in a light jacket. If this be winter, summer will be death. 

I have been thinking lately about thinking. And yes, that does seem somewhat recursive. This emerged (?) from thinking about outreach and why some people (LOTS of people) refuse to learn. (And no, I will not go down the trail of mumbling about how universal college makes the entire population stupid and vapid and boggish. Even if it does.)

Anyway, the question arose from my personal distaste for most outreach efforts. I deplore the need to dilute and wrangle science to present it to disinterested, unlearning bogs. But I had to confront that perhaps the obstruction is that different people think different ways?

So I did a bit of a literature search – as much as I can do absent any library but my own – RSIC is too far away and slowly discorporation and the Greater Metropolitan Arab library is largely inferior to my own. (Actually, I suspect it is entirely inferior except for its rather quaint War of Southron Independence collection.)

I started with the dictionary – the on-line one built into Linux, of course – and borrowed a couple of (fairly) contemporary definitions:

profession n 2: an occupation requiring special education (especially in the liberal arts or sciences)

discipline n 1: a branch of knowledge; “in what discipline is his doctorate?”; “teachers should be well trained in their subject”; “anthropology is the study of human beings

Both of these are taken from something named “WordNet” and dated 2006.

Profession is rather a misused word these days. It seems to have been appropriated by everyone who has a job and wishes to establish that they have some merit thereby or therein. Any argument or discussion of this outlook is clearly on a kneeless slope. What constitutes special education and how much. Is on-the-job training adequate? (In past days of this so-called republic, physicians and justicers obtained that education on-the-job.)

Similarly for discipline. Is what a bog has learned just by existing (I hesitate to evoke the “living” discussion.) a “branch of knowledge”? And does someone who obtains a degree in some academic discipline but never uses that knowledge have a discipline?

Are craftspeople and manual laborers professionals? Clearly plumbers and carpenters are paid for their specialized knowledge. But is knowledge education?

None of this maundering gets at our basic question. I know from experience that I think differently than the majority of humanity. But do I have a discipline; am I a professional? 

Since I do think differently from almost everyone else there seems little chance that I can persuade them to my point of view. So I must be satisfied with whatever I think and try to avoid their wrath for my being different. In that context, I can associate profession with education in one or more disciplines. And having obtained that education it seems congruent that the difference in thinking is implicit. 

That rather sounds like “Bippity Boppity Boo”, doesn’t it? Perhaps it is. Or perhaps it is actuality. Perhaps the actual test of education is whether one thinks differently from the mode? If one thinks thusly then one is educated; otherwise one is not educated.

This still does not quite address what is a professional. This seems equally subjective. Perhaps it is a matter of education? If one has an education, is one paid for using that education? And if so, is one then a professional. And what of those who have a diploma but neither special education not apply it to their work? 


None Smaller

Five Day. Survived all sorts of grrr brrrr. Trip to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill. Sickly FD SCP. Crazy motorists. Suicidal motorists. Media Arrogances.

Below the liquid -> solid phase change temperature (at atmospheric pressure) of Dihydrogen Oxide this morning. Bitter. And biter. Listened to more of the latest Linux LUG podcast. Failure. Useful information not dense enough. Off to the digital compost pile. And the search resumes for decent podcasts.

This leads me to a bit of mumblage. A week or so ago I ran across an article [Link] entitled “Is Atomic Theory the Most Important Idea in Human History?” by Carlo Rivelli. Rivelli is a physics essayist of some note.

The problem with these types of outreach is that they tend to be rather declaratory rather than discussive. I have to admit to finishing the article rather unconvinced that the idea of atoms is the most important humans have ever had. I also have to admit that I don’t have a different candidate, just that I found Rivelli’s presentation unconvincing. But it did prompt me to spend some time the last week considering atomic theory.

Incidentally, this absence of convincing is common to outreach articles. I am not sure why. I suspect it’s a mixture of academic arrogance that collegiate scientists think their word should be taken as epiphinal and inability to actually present the science in a form that bogs will comprehend (much less want to read,) and the author thinks is degenerate enough. 

Is degenerate a threatening word? Should I have said diluted and mangled instead? This is fundamental to outreach. If the bogs were nerds and could learn science then there would be no need of Dick and Jane for Adults.

The atomic theory is simply that matter is made up of atoms. (We don’t know what dark matter is or whether it exists but if it does it likely will either not me atomic or will seriously bash our ideas of atoms.) This should be inherent to anyone who got through high schule. Awake and aware, that is. Which probably excludes the jocks and to-be greeks.

What isn’t said very often about the idea of atoms is that it gives us a weird sort of closure. What atomic theory imposes is that if we take a piece of matter and successively cut it in half and throw away one half, at some point we can’t do this cutting any more. In nerd terms, there is an irreducible minimum amount of matter that cannot be subdivided. 

This means that there is some lower bound on small. Below this limit we may not go. Or know. AT least based on the presumption of atomic theory. 

Is this important? Yes, it is. Is it important to bogs who live in a social reality? Not at all.

And are these bogs human? Ah, now that’s a good question. Because it’s not as easy to answer as the one about atomic theory.