Thoughts from the Neutered Internet

Seven Day, and once more into the breach of tab ‘hawg’in. So in a futile effort to share brilliance, or at least perversion, with the bog mass and thereby diminish their inherent squishiness of mind and behavior, a few meandering and apparently pointless natterings will be here presented.

First, an article [Link] entitled “Open plan offices flop – you talk less, IM more, if forced to flee a cubicle.” It seems natural that this was published in an English (well, actually, British) newspaper, the Guardian. After all, such criticism of business in Amerika would result in a great disturbance in the dark side of the force aka Capitalism. And then Morbius’ “One does not look upon the face of the Gorgon and live” comes into play. One has to wonder how different – better? – this country would have been in we had adopted a requirement that no company have more than a hundred members/employees and they had to own at least 51% of the company mutually?

Anyway, the dissatisfaction with bull pens or stock yards or whatever one wants to call the infestations of modular furniture makes eminent sense. It comes down to privacy. This may not be obvious since many people – not just Bogs – fail to comprehend that privacy comes in many flavors and azimuths. To INTROs, privacy usually means aloneness and modular farms are a manifestation of Tartarus on Tellus. This is one of the primary reasons for INTROs going bonkers and offing EXTROs. EXTROs, on the other hand, are actually similar, except that instead of aloneness, they want privacy for their in-group. Same thing, different scale.

It might be tempting to suggest that a commonly held privacy is during bodily functions except that some Oriental cultures dispense with sexual segregation as well as privacy screens. Flatulence can be shared across gender and individuality. But we all have some vein of prudery – thankfully. And we all have some need to distance ourselves from the unselected masses of humanity. Which includes the office place where we have no control over our colleagues, unless we are management and then we have scant and imperfect regard for that matter.

So dissatisfaction with being corn stalks in a row in a field is natural to humans.

Next, an article [Link] entitled “The scent of coffee appears to boost performance in math” is instructive if rather clumsily and errorfully written. Science journalists are apparently as sorry these days as news journalists. That’s “sad” as in pound cake.

The results of the reported study are best described by the words of the study director,

“It’s not just that the coffee-like scent helped people perform better on analytical tasks, which was already interesting. But they also thought they would do better, and we demonstrated that this expectation was at least partly responsible for their improved performance.”

than those of the article’s writer. Note the glaring discrepancy between the title and the actuality: analytical tasks, not just maths.

This may help explain why office workers drink so much coffee and the addictions of Millennials. If you have been poorly prepared by the education instrumentality for analytical activity, and have to perform such, you naturally seek help. Another incidence of Stupidity in Amerika. On multiple azimuths.

On a more joyous note, [Link] a “fake science” article has been published about how politicians use toilet paper based on their party affiliation. The intent was to expose the cancer of Capitalist publishing, especially in research. That goal seems to have been served although with – likely – zero effect. Greed is without guilt. Evil is self-forgiving.

What is more interesting is the original question. Rectum sanitation is a matter of grave but often ignored importance, especially by maiden aunts and elected officials. (The reasons for this are NOT to be construed to be identical!!!!!) In some parts of the planet, toilet paper is replaced by corn cobs or even the human hand, in which instance, polarity is crucial. One does not wipe with the “eating” hand. This factoid is the wellspring of some of the humor of this article, that politicians would consider each other “unclean” along party lines for hand polarity.

Seems a more rational distinction than the current situation in the District manifests.

I can also assure you that ALL Alibam politicians perform this function with their left hands, sans paper, because they are ALL “Christian Conservatives” and hence adhere to tradition and doctrine and dogma and intestinal parasites. As YHWH wrote in down in the King James bible. Personally.

Lastly, an article [Link] entitled “Does free will exist in the universe? (That would be a no.)”  It is written by a computer science guy, so we should expect that it will be better composed and accurate than if by a journalist but we do have to keep in mind the dictum that if a discipline has to tell you it’s a science, it isn’t.

The thesis of the author is that Free Will does not exist. His presentation is unconvincing. Primarily because he assumes the universe to be continuous, which it isn’t. Indications are that the universe is granular. Quantum Mechanics, the basis of the Electronic Revolution, which lets me read these articles and write this blot, is the epitome of granularity. Perhaps his most glaring, to me, at least, fumble with this is implying, at least to my inspection, that fracticality cannot be discrete. And what is amazing is that this comes from a computer “science” guy where everything is discrete.

The important question, however, is what does this have to do with free will. There is, I concede, an argument that free will is unlikely (on misunderstood) in a scaleless continuous universe. But the counter argument is that free will hasn’t been measured. And what we cannot measure we do not know, to paraphrase Lord Kelvin, who, as we all know on a Seven Day morning in Alibam, invented temperature and thereby summer misery. (An example of the granularity is that people in Michigan are concerned with winter misery.)

Free will, like time, is poorly understood. It primarily exists as a statement by philosophers, plagiarized by theologians, of duality, like the One and the Many, light and dark, men and women. It may exist outside our minds, as an actuality. One approach to such is that even with the progression of entropy, order emerges just by random combinations. Anyone who has played FreeCell on their computer known this from experience, although they probably didn’t think of it in terms of order and entropy.

Do I have Free Will? I don’t know, but I hope so. The whole Predestination thing is entirely too evil to accept.

Media Mun(dane)day

One day. And back to gym. Where all sorts of media matters came to attention.

First, I was reminded that nuptials among the tyrants of Albion are upcoming. What struck me was that the event was epitomized by the tyranny of pomp and the vacuity of circumstance.

On the other hand, we here in Amerika are nationally epitomized by the pomp of the toxic waste dump and the vacuity of promises.

Next, I listened to a podcast episode of an Indian (as in sub-continent, not American First Peoples) castigating his own for having sold out to what used to be called “the monied interests.” Happily he confirmed one of my own observations with the equation (in my terms)

Quality of Composition * Disintegrity of the Journalist = Constant

which if accurate often enough to let one identify false reportage. At least until the “monied interests” get hard up enough to hire journalists with actual composition skills and abilities.

Lastly, FD SCP made me watch “60 minutes” with her last night on the electromagnetic audio-visual receiver and I was rather taken by a vignette on a film being made about the “bridge builder” Francis. Taken, not by the film making, but what the fellow had to say that transcended the crap and self-furthering of organized religion. He actually got more down to the actual meat of religion and not the sugar fluff and ball gags that organized religion distributes.

I now have renewed hope for the “Pursuit of Happiness.”

 

Ante-Computian

On the subject of breakthroughs – see previous blot – I ran across this [Link]

and realized that I wrote my thesis before desktop computers. So step three was me writing out the draft by hand – YEA CURSIVE! – and then keying masters on an IBM Selectric typewriter-machine. 

Life was easier and harder back then. It was harder to build the keyed output; it was easier to get away with glitches. (There was a campus myth about a nasty committee member who got a manuscript enema.)

Also got my name added to an obscure (one can even say transparent) bit of physics. 

Stercus Sciencia

Seven Day. Lowered Air Temperature. Coming to the end of Oatmeal season. Sadly.

Also sadly is a rather egregious article [Link] that I ran across yesterday. It’s entitled “Seniors stick to fitness routines when they work out together.” It reports:

Older adults are more likely to stick with a group exercise program if they can do it with people their own age, a new study has found. Working out with peers of the same gender doesn’t seem to make a difference, which suggests that age-targeting but not gender-targeting should be considered when developing exercise programming.

The problem is that the researchers didn’t bother to look into individual temperaments very well. Specifically the differences between INTRO and EXTRO. As a result, this article comes across as pure EXTRO Supremism which has a component of INTRO blindness.

I am INTRO. That aspect should be obvious to the (few – humor!) regular readers of this blog. And I go to gym and exercise regularly.

But I don’t like crowds and if the gym has more than a certain density of people – regardless of age – I turn about and leave.

My modal behavior is to go to gym when it opens M-F. That’s 0400 Alibam time. I exercise for a about an hour by which time the gym is sufficiently crowded that I am feeling depressed and threatened. I sometimes go on weekends when the gym opens at 0800 (Six Day) and 1300 (Seven Day,) arriving as close to opening as possible and leaving after a shorter period. 

Because of the crowding. 

What these researchers are preaching (and that’s the level of credibility of their effort – mysticism and wand-waving) is that seniors want to clump. That’s the case if they’re EXTRO. INTROs also want to clump but their idea of a clump is two or three. But less often as well as fewer in number. And INTROs are repelled by larger numbers. Also gym group things like balance classes. Which the gym staff are oblivious to. Because they’re underpaid and largely ignorant. Because gym management doesn’t want to have to pay for knowledge. Which leads to a cycle of failure.

I have a few friends who are EXTRO. They like to do group exercise. And claim it is enjoyable (to them) and helps them exercise. That’s EXTRO persistence. Epicureanism. Endocrinism. But not INTROs. And that’s the rub.

Sadly, the work was done in Canadia. Disappointing to see they can have bad temperament habits like Amerikans. 

Cognitive Mutterings

The last couple of weeks have been fraught with thinking. It reached an apex this week when the comedian Bill Cosby was sacked for being male – agressively. Since the great (?????????????????) state of Alibam has been on the ropes for a couple of years over its Auschwitz style prison system – except there are very few Jews in the prison system; they seem to have a survival instinct that going to jail in Alibam is not a smart thing for a Jew to do – but is full of Good-Ole-Boys and AAs. The subject of distress is that the Yankee government thinks the state of Alibam abuses the prisoners and denies them adequate health care – mental and physical. So the state politicals are trying to ignore the general populace and white wash the problem before the Yankee government re-institutes Reconstruction.

I have to admit that I am one of many Amerikans who thought Bill Cosby better than most folks. He was a positive influence on schule integration by showing my generation that the AA attitudes of our parents’ and grandparents’ generations was crap. I also enjoyed his humor – the clean stuff I was allowed to listen to – more, in fact than that of Andy Griffith. Although the ranking of “What it was, was football” and “Noah” are even. To this day I consider football the most socially acceptable form of pornography and Noah’s attitude to the deity a masterpiece of patience in the face of bureaucratic juggernautry.

So what punishment should be meted out to a man who did so much good? From the standpoint of the legal system whose first rule is “someone has to be punished” and second is “justice is a fiction”, all of that is irrelevant. But the legal system is supposed to be the product and reflection of society. 

The combination of these, along with the Honorable (???????) Speaker of the House firing the house rebbe and the increase in diagnosed Autism Spectrum Disease diagnoses, led me to consider mental healthcare. For once, the information was coherent and constructive. In a flash of mental lightning I realize the folly of the whole thing.

Simply put, the reason Amerika has stercus for mental healthcare is because, according to the PEW people, 0.77 of the population (at least) are members of an organized religion. This means that they not only believe in a deity – which is probably hardwired in humans – but they accept the propaganda line of the organization without rational thought (in most cases.) So in a rational framework, these people are mentally ill.

Now since mental illness taxonomy is largely social in nature, if the majority of society are themselves mentally ill, then mental illness is considered to be mental health. And thereby, the politicians, who are deathly afraid of any healthcare expenses other than their own, don’t have to do anything since in effect all the mentally ill people in Amerika are de facto sane.

So the actual question we have to ask is whether the people labeled by the legal system as mentally ill are actually the sane one. Certainly this seems to be the case of the folks with Autism Spectrum Disease since (a) they can’t stand anyone who doesn’t have Autism (very much,) and (b) they are smarter and more creative than “normal” people. In fact, my observation is that the best the non-Autistic can do is caretake, thenthe ASD folks have to be the real engine of conservation and progress in human civilization.

It certainly isn’t politicians, justicers, and capitalists.

Now I’m going off to “help” FD SCP.

 

STEM Stupidity

Seven Day. Week Out. And frost once more upon the ground. Oh!, the joys of Climate Change and Global Warming. One of which is the ignorant shoutings of Repulsian stalwarts that such incidents definitively prove the absence of their effector. Never mind that these people are math blind and have no capacity to comprehend that the standard deviation of the temperature distribution is proportional to the mean temperature, they have to be right because they “feel” it to be right. Deity bless Amerika where Ignorance is king and knowledge is sinful.

On which note I feel the need to let loose some blot on a spate of STEM articles I have accumulated this week. First, an article [Link] entitled “Are Men Smarter at Science Than Women? Men Certainly Think So, Study Shows.” This article from the New Yawk Times proclaims that 

“Men were more than three times as likely as women to say they were smarter than the classmate with whom they worked most closely.”

The problem with the article, for once, isn’t the journalists. It’s the researchers.

Simply put, in the last twenty years I have read twenty studies that report the same results as here. Admittedly these results didn’t come out of a physiology department and that’s the damnation. They all came out of Management “Science” departments (or similar, including psychology) and they all informed us that men have bigger egos and more arrogance than women. That part was consistent, the primary variable was the nature of the workplace ranging from service jobs through executive suites.

So the problem here is one of lack of integrity and honesty on the part of the researchers. What isn’t clear is whether they failed to tell the journalists that their study was derivative and confirmatory or they failed to do an adequate literature search. Either way, they’re damned. 

Sadly, it’s also a symptom of our failure as a society. Because some components of society have decided they are underrepresented in an activity, the cure is to mandate leveling. The problem with this is it destroys creativity and internal self-respect. Yes, non-pink and non-male representation in many “professions” is different from the population as a whole. But no validated evidence has been presented to indicate that is detrimental. And organizational mandate to level has divided the workplace socially to the point of severe decrepitude. 

As a manager I recognize that diversity is good and increases the strength of the organization, but when I am making a personnel choice and I am told that I have to select X characteristics specifically, I am unable to acquire that strength. 

Are there managers who don’t do things honestly? Yes. Most of them. But they also cheat on the mandates as well. WHich makes the problem worse. 

This is a rotten tooth. The more it is prodded, the worse it gets.

Next, an article [Link] entitled “Lesson learned? Massive study finds lectures still dominate STEM ed.” This article claims that lectures are the dominant vector of STEM coursework and that they don’t engage students.

Again, not a new thing. I have read about as many papers on this in the last twenty years as I have the previous. And they all decry the ineffectiveness of lectures.

The question however, is what is the measure of effectiveness? Over the years I have spent some time in the classroom and I have discovered several things that aren’t talked about in these studies.

Most of the data is collected from “service courses”. Those are courses like the widely dis-loved “freshman physics” courses. They are taught in large auditoriums with hundreds and thousands of students and one lecturer/teacher and a few TAs. Maybe. These courses are a love-hate albatross for their departments. First of all, they are the primary source of existence and educational funding for the department because the (vast) majority of the students in the courses are there to satisfy a general degree requirements. Students who will major or minor in the discipline are a vanishing minority.

But these latter students are the ones who are really important to the department. For what should be obvious reasons. They are the students who, in the main, will be the STEMs of that discipline. 

The other students are transients. Many of them – more than in my day – are there only for ticket punch. They cannot be engaged. No matter what. 

We also have to consider the demographics of STEMs. STEMs are more likely to be INTRO than EXTRO. INTROs and EXTROs engage radically differently. So which way do we structure the course to engage? I won;t even belabor the other problems, like lecturers who are overworked and under-timed. The point remains that studies like these are almost always EXTRO Supremist, which is recognized by the actual practitioners as extinctionist. 

The lecture format isn’t perfect but it represents a compromise, perhaps the best one, between resources and student needs. 

Third, an article [Link] entitled “The Scientific Paper Is Obsolete.” The author argues that the scientific paper is obsolete because of computer software. And, no, this isn’t one of those let’s publish results on social media things. The argument is that the software is compromising the transmission of the information.

Not surprising.

In Galileo’s day, the same problem existed except that the maths of the day – infinitesimals – were contrary to the delusions of the religion organization. In Newton’s day the Royal Society attacked the problem by making people read their papers aloud to the meetings of the society. 

IOW, not a new problem. 

When I was a grad student, computers were not the desktop fixture of today. In those days we had to go to temples and present offerings to the computer-deity. And only the folks who knew coding AND computer maths could do so well. 

At one time I was writing code for most of the faculty in the physics department. And having to write the computer section of their papers. 

Research is supposed to be new. It isn’t scholarship. And yes, there were problems with repeatibility in those days. That’s why we published the code, so people could run two pieces of code in parallel and see how they crunched differently.

One of the problems is that of Babel. Too many languages. I write code in FORTRAN or BASIC, depending on the level of detail to the calculations. If I can do it in a spreadsheet, BASIC, housemother FORTRAN. Other folk write in other languages. And usually we can’t talk to each other.

What gets missed here is that as bad as NERD papers are, they do work. And no other method has.

When societies fail it is usually because “make it better” overwhelms “get it done.”

Saturnish Puck

Six Day and running the RSS accumulator to see what I may have missed this week in the Bogplace. The answer seems to be “not much.”

First, I ran across an article [Link] entitled “How Do You Make Beer in Space?” What was attractive about this was not the matter of beer in space, since I have no plans to journey there, but its claim:

“A cynic might say the reason Budweiser is trying to stake out territory on the fourth rock from the Sun is that its turf on the third is slowly shrinking. Last year, for the first time in decades, Bud was not among the top three best-selling beers in America. Sales have slumped for all industrial-scale brews, due in no small part to the rapid fermentation of craft beers.”

This is a mitzvah. I didn’t take up serious beering until I got to grad schule; as an undergrad I mostly made do with reagent grade ethanol “liberated” from a chemistry laboratory. As I recall that was 0.96 ethanol with the rest water azeotrope, so it had to be diluted not to do a Sherman on one’s mouth and esophagus. So beer was a welcome change. Except for the carbonation.

That’s why learning that the big, evil, capitalist brewering factories are failing is good news. They don’t so much make beer as soda pop with ethanol added. Beer for bogs. Maybe. If I can call it beer. Which makes my neck hurt to mumble about.

The other goodness was an article [Link] entitled “How Much Energy Can You Store in a Rubber Band?” It’s not a bad article. The theory is a bit annoying in its presentation, which tells me that the author probably has a lot of students sleeping in class. In fact, I fell asleep halfway through the first equation which probably indicates why I don’t abuse children in classrooms. 

Anyway, being in a snarky mood, I thought about how to do the experiment. Now, let me warn you: not only do they not let me lecture any more (except to graduate students and matriculates,) but I am a theorist and anyone can tell you that theorists are not very good at designing (or performing) experiments.

To perform this experiment you will need a kitchen scale, a long steel tape, a watch, and a rubber band powered balsa model airplane. When I was a bairn we could buy the latter all over but you may have to resort to Amazing these days?

  1. Assemble the airplane
  2. Weigh the airplane and note the weight
  3. Without winding the rubber band, launch the airplane with a flick of the wrist.
  4. Note how long it takes to land and how far it went.
  5. Retrieve the airplane
  6. Wind the rubber band, hold the propeller, and launch it again, releasing the propeller just as you flick your wrist.
  7. Note how long it takes to land and how far it went.
  8. Subtract the first time from the second time, and the first distance from the second distance
  9. Multiply the weight of the airplane by the distance traveled difference squared divided by the time difference squared, the acceleration of gravity, and a factor of two.

That’s the energy in the rubber band. Approximately.

The geeks and nerds will have noted that I neglected to talk about units. That’s left as an exercise.

Selah