Racewalking the Tabs

Seven Day. Brief constitutional and then a motor to the Postal Orifice to retrieve mailings. Now engaged in the weekly chore of clippin’ and hawgin’ tabs. So I will kibbitz and goof a bit on a few.

First, an article [Link] entitled “You can’t buy kids’ books in some neighborhoods”. Not surprising. Reading is not on anyone official’s list of desired skills for churls and plebs. What they are interested in is slavery, it seems. Wage and mind, if not actually chattel since the latter would bear some burden of actual support. Like food and medical care and such. And it’s not just Repulsians. The Democruds are also that way in their own denial and evil.

You can’t buy children’s books in Greater Metropolitan Arab. The conscript parents are too busy trying to get chain fast food restaurants into town that they have no interest in the mental health of any of the citizens. 

Actually, you can buy children’s books at the library salvage store but only for short hours on Wednesday and Saturday. But no real book stores. Nor much of anything except corporate crud.

The Face of Amerika.

Next, an article [Link] entitled “Don’t run (and don’t laugh): The little-known history of racewalking “.  I had never heard the term until this article hit my accumulator. And it stuck out. Because when I was an undergrad, I racewalked. (The spell checker doesn’t know the word so my ignorance may be valid.) One of the reasons I did this was because I have “chicken knees” and racewalking style is natural to me. More natural than the assumption of modality that I adopt to avoid the social criticism. 

It wasn’t an actually sanctioned sport. After all, it didn’t bring in big money like (American) football. So we never got much above a club. And we could only compete OFF CAMPUS. So we wouldn’t embarrass the “good” people. You know, the Administration and the Greeks and the Donors.

But I’m still proud of it. Just wish I still could. It’s crap to be old sometimes.

Third, an article [Link] entitled “Algorithms can be more fair than humans”. To this I ask one question “Can algorithms extrapolate?” The point is that fairness isn’t always a relevant concept when we are in uncharted territory. The idea that this will never occur – social correctness – is a fallacy of modern society and our social hubris.

Enjoy services. If you go. Most don’t which is a sign for hope.

Mad Scientist Evil Machination 1

Device: An orbital high energy short pulse length super-radiant projector

Purpose: For those motorists who pull up past the “stop line” at STOP signed intersections. 

Effect: The projector trims the vehicle back to the “stop line” so the motorist is no longer breaking the law. 

Side effects: Of course the motorist will now have violated the littering ordinances since he/she will have put junk on a public thoroughfare. And the situation could get a bit messy if they have pulled up so that the passenger compartment of the vehicle is over the line?

Maker Mumble

One day. Back to gym. Sparse but with a couple of educationalists. The stalwarts. So school is resessioned. 

I find the behavior of educationalists a bit confusing, at least as much as engaging. Some years ago there were a half-dozen who came regularly at opening but now that number is halved and two, at least, of them are administrators.

One always wonders if educationalists are promoted administrator because of how good they are or how bad?

The podcast was an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” on creativity. The primary thing I gained from listening was that the academics trying to differentiate and measure creativity were severely limited in what they could observe and measure. The examples given were all word games played quickly. 

I have to admit that I found the basic ideas of these games unengaging and even repellant. Language is less than fully consistent, much less than maths, so these games fail to pass my so-what testing for creativity. Maybe like artists, but not like STEM nerds. Not that artists aren’t creative, but I don’t value their creativity very much. Mostly because it is so different from mine.

And yes, I am terrible at drawing, much worse at paining or sculpting. About all I can relate to artists’ creativity is when we share emotional experiences. The creativity and its experiences are VERY different, but there are some commonalities among the emotions. And some of the thinking. Not the subjects, of course, but some of the processes.

I tend to be slow. Some of my creative cycles have run more than forty years. Not constant, mind you, But the thread or theme or whatever has been that long. 

My first independent creation after I got kicked out of grad school took three years. 

So I am not a fast creator. Which probably has something to do with my disinterest in the games.

And why I mistrust the investigators.

Natural Opacity

Too much fun. Off yesterday to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill for another inspection by the eye cutter. Better than previous but at least one more to go through.

FD SCP made me sit through episodes of BONES last evening and for once I was engaged by something other than resonance with the Hogins character (well, that too.) The Bones character made the statement that there was no closure in life and we sometimes had to just proceed on emotional inertia (faith was the term used.) That provoked some thought about and may give rise in future to some blot.

Anyway, for now, I will continue to abide what passes for living.

On which azimuth, I ran across an article [Link] entitled “The World Depends on Technology No One Understands.” The article pretty well – meanderingly as bog journalists seem unable not to do – follow the title. This is not new. I see an article on this subject every few years going back to when I was a teenager and some guy propounded the idea in a SF pulp periodical. I forget who it was, maybe Campbell but more famously, Sir Arthur Clarke stated that

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

The implication is that magic may be learnt but not understood, at least by humans. I haven’t read anything on that by Rowling but then I don’t read much Rowling and only watch the movies on the audio-visual electromagnetic receiver and then when that’s the least bad.

Anyway, that captures part of the recurring theme of these articles. First, that ordinary people don’t understand technology, and second, that even the nerds who do understand one or more of the technologies don’t anticipate the interactions of those technologies completely. The latter is sometimes excused as unintended consequences.

The first lack of understanding isn’t new. It dates back to about the time that humans adopted an organization more complicated than the Hunter-Gatherer band. That’s band with a lower case “b”. And yes, that “B” or “b” makes a BIG difference organizationally. A big “B” Band is sufficiently large that some of its members (almost all?) don’t understand some of the technologies that members of the Band use. 

Almost immediately, we got to the point where specialization being efficient and survivable, there were technologies that no one in the organization understood except the users (or makers) thereof. And as human social organizations (society) became larger and more complicated, the number/fraction of people that understood any particular technology  became less and less.

The use of the word “complicated” is not only deliberate but essential. It involves technologies that most people, especially Bogs, who may also be characterized as people who don’t have to actually understand any technology, don’t know or understand, namely Maths and Complexity Theory.

I will NOT remedy that lack, mostly because my understanding of both is too small to teach and I am too old to put up with the frustration. 

Anyway, the idea is that as we develop more and more technologies, and fewer and fewer understand any but their own technologies (if they aren’t Bogs.) So we get surprised by unanticipated consequences, which are actually quite natural since they are the result of what is known as Emergence. And we probably can’t anticipate them because the humans who understand Emergence probably don’t understand all the technologies involved in the Emergence. 

So not only is not understanding Natural but doing anything about it is unNatural.

Maybe. Unless we develop (and control) AI?

So maybe we will make our own robot overlords?

Anti-lightening Monsters

Seven Day. Air temperature still unpleasant. Walk passable but not enriching.

Ran across rather an intriguing article [Link] entitled “New Life Found That Lives Off Electricity.” Even though this is a sciencey periodical some contemporary journalistic mispractice seems to sneak through. What is it about journalists that they think talking to Bogs means speaking inaccurately and even erroneously? This, of course, is a self-defeating question since no matter how simple one makes it the communication will fail because the Bogs are oblivious and self-consumed.

The subject of the article is not new life but newly discovered/understood instances of Tellurian life. This is NOT a different kind of life. This is NOT even life off Tellus. What is novel here is that these animals consume electrons either directly or via produced hydrogen. 

I have to admit to having to cogitate on this a bit, and still am. How can animals “eat” electrons and continue to be?

After a bit of moving electrons around in my head, I happened into the view – disliked immensely by both chemists and biologists – that chemistry (and thereby perhaps half of biology) is just about moving electrons about. (I had to take a bit of a ROFL break at this point thinking about what my physical chemistry professor, who claimed to disbelieve quantum mechanics and electrons and all that, would say.) But what I am continuing to mind much on is the hydrogen eaters. This is dependent on bare hydrogen nuclei floating about conveniently. As I recall my chemistry material, the natural concentration of such is pretty low. 

Anyway, I am now waiting for some Bog to expound the “electron diet.”

Maths Expounded

Day Four. Last day of gym for the week. Spent much of yesterday in Nawth Alibam’s Shining CIty on the Hill and in and around staff call and foodstuff acquisition I had occasion to reflect on my recent blot on the maths of terrorism.

So I thought I would do a bit of a word picture of a specific scenario, the one of greatest interest right now, 

  1. A group of citizens are gathered
  2. A number of terrorists arrive and either take hostages, begin executions, or both. (Note: these are executions. The terrorists are acting like an organizations so the humanity of the citizens is relevant only on its impact on those not present.)
  3. Somehow the constabulary is alerted.
  4. The constabulary marshals forces, and transports them to the locale. Then reconnaissance, analysis, and planning must occur before any substantive reaction.

A simple dynamical analysis of this indicates that the most significant time factor is the latency between the arrival of the terrorists and the constabulary being able to initiate ameliorative action.

This latency is not, in any sense, the result of any malice or incompetence. (Elected officials who “fund” the constabulary is a separate question.) If anything it is characteristic of the overall organization. A good part of it is deliberate to reduce casualties.

While some things may be done to decrease this latency, nothing presents itself that is able to substantially reduce the damage. 

To effect a substantial reduction, a change of dynamics is necessary. The most effective change, at least for this scenario (and many others,) is to require all adults of adequate physical and mental capability to be armed, trained, and qualified in the use of those arms.  

This does not eliminate casualties, but it does minimize them. It’s the only practicable way (found to date,) to reduce the latency to a minimum.

Yes, it’s an ivory tower solution and thereby not implementable per se. But a modified variant could be.