Amerikan Failure

Lower temperature of air this morning. Gym sparsely populated. Podcast, and episode of “Big Think” was mediocre, which is a substantial improvement over the past two weeks.

Not the subject but put me in mind of our education system. I am now of the hypothesis that it is a failure. At least the public schule system in Amerika. The situation is that less and less is taught to fewer and fewer.

The basic idea of public education is simple and, on the exterior, good. Provide an affordable environment where the young of the nation are taught what they need to survive and participate in society. The promise of success is intellectually and observationally fallacious. Success cannot be guaranteed. The appearance of success can be guaranteed with money, at least in a capitalist environment.

There has always been disagreement of what needs be taught in public schule. Even reading and writing and maths are debatable. And are. Sturgeon’t rule of parents are antagonistic to any literate level of maths, even algebra, which I consider preliterate. And writing is is dis-fashion these days. Which explain the ignorance and failure of students’ composition.

In fact ignorance and failure are the general characterization of the students. The only things they are required to learn is what is on the standardized tests, which determine funding of schules and faculty. Much, not all, of the faculty are careerists solely. Those who decline to learn are rewarded with promotion on social justice grounds quite ignoring its effect on mind programming of the entire student population. There is no incentive nor freedom for students to learn anything. Except the standardized tests. 

The grades on these tests are falsehoods, indicative of wrongful measure. Graduating students with high marks cannot do college work nor once out of college, do real work. 

It is not that idealism and a sense of right are absent from the educationalist system, just sorely depleted and suppressed. The apparent problem is over-regulation, the result of several centuries of natural progression. If a rule is good, a hundred are better. And an asentient population is more complaint than a rational one. Nebbishism is encouraged both actively and passively.

Can it be changed? Not without disaster, I fear. So we may as well write off the nation if not civilization and the species as a whole.


Days Past Remembered

Back to Mundane day. Passable at gym. Sparse population. Few educationalists or weight bouncers. Podcast was passable, an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” on the evils of the processed foods industry. Firing parties needed for the executives. 

Down side was getting tailgated by some schmuck who illuminated his long distance beams continually. Out me in mind of adolescents whose parents should have frequented Planned Parenthood. And the need for parent certification prior to insemination. As a prerequisite. 

Which put me in mind of the time of year. Schule initiation. The public baby sitting service of Greater Metropolitan Arab commenced a week or so ago and several colleges, including the Campus of the Tennessee have commenced fall term. And I made the rounds of several office and schule supply stores to stock up on paper goods only available this time of year. But the media is overwhelming with all sorts of nonsense. I noted this cartoon: [Link]

yesterday and compared it to my freshman days. For one thing, there was a lot more variation in noses.

As I recall I had to go to campus (Black Warrior) for a 2.5 day “orientation” during the summer. Of this I recall almost nothing except being overwhelmed. And then about this time of year down to move into the actual dorm I would reside in. Registration was a bit painful, mostly because of having to deal with an adviser who kept telling me what not to do but was unforthcoming of what to do. The actual exercise of jostling in a gymnasium for IBM 5081 cards for each course was novel and easy if one divorced oneself from any social entanglement. See! Physics even then.

I was fortunate to have a junior (class) roommate who was arrogant, pseudo-sophisticated (wanna-be Greek,) and eager to impress his knowledge as a cadge to his insecurity who told me how to buy books and more importantly, how to take notes. This latter, I understand, is now a lost art, one with the classical Egyptians’ gold alloys. So I knew to trot off to the “Alabama” book store (not affiliated with the university – its book store was the “Supe” store) to purchase books and at least one notebook per course (extra for lab courses,) and plenty of pens and pencil leads and erasers (Pink Pearls.) Highlighters were just coming in then and I never cultivated the obsessive underlining that is too many people’s substitute for learning. In those days we got actual lectures and learning those was the key to grades. Not the textbook. Except for problems. And I found out about Schaum’s Outlines. 

And I di lots of things wrong. One was to not discipline myself with outside activities. Like guest lecturers and such. No problem with social activities. Didn’t have many of those. Saturday morning walk (no car permits for freshmen) to downtown Tuscaloosa to purchase necessities (and a non-cafeteria meal.) And mandatory (?) attendance at home football games. 

One of my colleagues, Magnetic Inductance Force, sent me this link. [Link] to an excellent essay/monologue on being a freshman. I rather wish I had something akin in my day. But I also acknowledge that I probably wouldn’t have hearkened to it. Mental overload. Until at least Thanksgiving. Maybe Solstice.

Wish I could go back and do it again.

Proper Description

Not bad this morning. Air had more speed and hence more convective cooling. Thought: cooling is a word of reality; cool is not. Overall enjoyed the constitutional. Only minor aches.

Ran across this cartoon: [Link]

and was rather pleased that – for once – this cartoonist made some sense.There is a word for “remotely competent”. It is “mediocre. And it describes about two-thirds of humanity. Which may include almost all bogs. A few are not at all competent. And a few geeks are not competent.

But I found myself in complete agreement with the last statement. 

Underwater Basketweaving

The air heat is returning. Muggy in park. Less rain than the previous night but still wetted. And I had to shuck down for my constitutional.

I am experimenting with leaving the MP3 player at home. Listening to the noise inside my head rather than the noise in my ears. So far a reasonable success.

One of the things I contemplated was an article [Link] I ran across entitled “9 College Courses That Will Have You Geeking Out And Rethinking Your Major.” It’s patently written by a bog with geek envy who doesn’t know the difference between geek and nerd. Not unusual. Most bogs don’t know and could care less. All they care about is that they aren’t. Sort of like not being pariah, I guess?

But some do suffer from geek envy. These are the ones who tend to become low end all-talk-no-do geeks who frequent comicon type events, usually out in the boonies because they can’t get in the big ones, but are too clueless to do cosplay. 

The courses listed reflect this. Most of them are either service courses along the lines of the old “physics for poets” or they are things that real nerds study on their own because they don’t have money enough to waste on actual courses on the stuff that won;t be on the qualifying exams. This author has no idea what quals are.

Anyway the list is:

1. Street-Fighting Mathematics – Massachusetts Institute of Technology – This is quintessentially a “go to the library and pull the reading file” sort of thing. Not something a real nerd needs to sit in class for. Even if the professor is desperately seeking return-to-youth.


2. Science from Superheroes to Global Warming – University of California, Irvine – This one makes the most sense in an outreach sense. My only concern is what is the ordering?


3. The Joy of Garbage – Santa Clara University – this one strikes me as a revenge of the nerds sort of thing. The course for the sustainment crazy bogs who refuse to learn any real science.


4. Maple Syrup: The Real Thing – Alfred University – Again, go read an article or two in the library.


5. Knot Theory – Williams College – This is NOT the real stuff. It’s a Boy Scout course. And that’s what you do: buy a book and practice. With real rope and twine.

6. Advanced Kitchen Chemistry – Massachusetts Institute of Technology  – More go to library and read. 


7. Farside Entomology – Oregon State University – This one is doubly whacked. Cartoon animals? What vale does it have except for the guy who developed it. Sounds like a course Donald Trump would teach.

8. Rockets and Instrumentation – University of Washington – Problem I have here is what do these guys know about the subject? If it were offered by a college where they do rocket science nearby, yes, but U Washington?

9. Cyborg Anthropology – Lewis & Clark University – I stumble on the question “Are cyborgs/androids human?” This is a question that dates back at least to Rossum and it hasn’t been answered. 

This looks suspiciously like not enough students are taking the available service courses, like Physics for Bogs, and the department has been told get more service students or be closed. If that’s the state of the college, it needs to be closed and good riddance.

Sudden Realization

I was wrestling with the problem of balancing maths with words yesterday when it struck me out of the blue what was wrong with the Star Treks.

Not that there isn’t a lot wrong with them but they are a lot better than the Star Wars.

No slavery, for one thing.

Anyway, it struck me that if you were going out exploring new places and societies that you needed a ship’s mathematician.

Not a chief science officer. Maths isn’t science. Real maths that is, not applied stuff. And perhaps more important, science isn’t maths. Partly yes, but scientists who think like mathematicians aren’t scientists. 

So you need a mathematician for the way he/she thinks and uses maths.

While it smacks of a shtick ala “Jews in Space”, you need mathematicians on exploratory space ships in addition to scientists.

I only recall one science fiction story about mathematicians in space and it isn’t this. It was written by Isaac Asimov and it was a Lije Bailey murder story about who killed the old mathematician? Not at all the same thing.

Amateurs versus Nerds on Writing

Ice Cream day. And falling (as opposed to scattering) dihydrogen oxide being absent I assayed the park for a constitutional, which was essentially at my wanted, model rate. I was also able to listen to an episode (partial) of “The Pen Addict” [Link] where they were discussing made-to-order pens in terms of some pros and cons that I found inadequate. Hence this morning’s commentary.

The downside of special made pens are twofold. First, if it doesn’t work right, it never will so all is wasted. Hence there is a significant probability of not only wasted monies but crushed expectations. Not as badly as a child who becomes a justicer or used car salesman but close. The second is that if it works and works well it will be a great disappointment in future when you discover it cannot be replaced and when it dies, as everything except perhaps protons must, you have lost a valuable part of your existence. Rather like having a child discorporate before you. So getting a special made pen is rather a bigger gamble than the podcast protagonists indicate.

This consideration also led me to consider – again – the nature of NERD STEM writing. Writing is, and continues to be, a crucial and fundamental part of my daily activity. It is that way for most of my colleagues. And there are some characteristics that I have noted. 

  • Those who write as part of their professional activity eschew ballpoint pens.
  • Most use some sort of gel or roller ball pen but the truly serious use fountain pens and almost all of those eschew cartridges for bottle.
  • Pen appearance is the least important feature; comfort of writing, ease of mindlessness, and inking are crucial. 
  • Quality of pen is important, as measured by longevity and reliability. The ideal pen should last a lifetime. 
  • Ink is selected primarily for its mechanics – flow, cleaning – and optical contrast. Brightly colored inks are almost only used for grading student papers, not for serious writing.
  • Notebooks are gauged on how well they take writing with the preferred pen (or pencil in a few cases.) 
  • Serious writing is first done by hand and then transferred to computer. Some write complete manuscripts, others outlines only, before transferring and some delegate the transfer to students or staff (if trusted.) 

Probably more but I am sagging. Selah.