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.”




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.



Contradictory Parentage

Wherefore it being Seventh Day and the tabs upon the browsers being numerous and slowing, it is discovered that it be timely to prune back a few by inflicting them upon the righteous rationals who frequent the blog.

I told you I disliked (hated) winter; it doth have a nasty effect upon my cognition, and this last week of warmth contrasted to the previous has tilted the spins of sensation into new orientations.

The initial point [Link] is entitled “Why Aren’t There More Smart Americans?” which, as we may infer from the title (a rarity with contemporary journalism, but the editors of this periodical are more subtle in their villainy,) dabs away at the question of the stupidifying of Amerika. I quote:

He says that one reason the US lags behind other countries is a political culture in Washington in which too many leaders are ignorant of and hostile to basic science. 

The he is the fellow referenced in the article. I hesitate to say anything about him because I have never heard of him before.

Let us talk a bit about the matter, however. The primary reason that the Critters of Congress are anti-science (both parties) is that they are arrogant, stupid, and unaccountable. Amerika has succumbed to a Dictatorship of the Parties, to paraphrase the Russians a bit. The arrogance manifests in a belief that Amerika is unassailable and that scientists are irrelevant nuisances. 

This is abetted by the parents of Amerika. Simply put, contemporary parents do not want their children to be smart; they want them to be socially integrated but adored. Geeks and nerds have, in one generation, become invisible pariahs. Because their parents want them to be socially modal. 

This contrasts rather amusingly with the second point [Link] which describes efforts to legislate a right to repair. On surface this seems completely alien to our legislative serfs of capitalist oligarchs. But when we consider the coming disasters of climate change with widespread poverty, death, and suffering, it makes sense to give those oligarchs a boost in a savagely curtailed marketplace.

Thirdly, and oddly contrasting, [Link] is an article entitled “Half of Americans think young people don’t pursue STEM because it is too hard.” This completes the cycle of the blot. Parents want their children to be social integrates, but they also want them to be successful financially. And those two have come into opposition. To be successful these days means to study business or STEM, and only old money is successful in business; the rest are serfs. And the thought is right: STEM is hard. Because it requires lots of mental activity opposite to being a social drone. 

So parents are doing their own children in.