The Good of a Pen

Five Day. Last day of gym under the new schedule. And an intense hope the weekend will actually be enjoyable.

The first morning of BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! Bundled up like Nanook. Southrons and heat are nasty but Southrons and not-heat are just plain pathetic. Even more pathetic than Clinton-Trump supporters. 

The podcast this morning was the second half of an episode of Linux Luddites. Passable. Consumed the time well. But not much in the way of ideas. So my mind wandered to the subject of writing and then to pens.

I sometimes listen to Brad Dowdy’s “The Pen Addict” [Link] podcast, mostly when walking. He sometimes has useful things to say about pens. But mostly he waxes adoringly on Field Note paper. Not that it isn’t good paper but pocket notebooks aren’t real notebooks. At least in my frame of reference.

Which brings me to note taking and composition and writing. One of my colleagues, Force Spring Constant, gave me an Economist article entitled “The Comeback of Cursive” [Link] about why cursive is making a comeback in schules mostly because – they claim – of push-back from Common Core and the extra-office existence of corporate serfs these days. Neither seems a good reason but then humans almost never do things for good reasons. Mostly they glandular. 

I have nattered on writing and note taking previously so I won;t compete with a search of the blog site. And get to the marrow. How do I rate a pen?

Importance 1: How well does the pen put into on the page? This is primarily about the interstices of the pen. Does it skip? Does it drag? Yes to either question is failure. And the pen ends up next the telephone to write down pointers.

Importance 2: How well does the pen feel. Is it comfortable both at rest in the hand and while writing? No to either is a fail.

Importance 3: Is the pen painful in any way? Is it unendearingly ugly? Or nastily garish? Depending on the depth of 1 and 2, a Yes may be a fail. But not usually. This is a distant 3.

The problem is that we can assess these with opposite order of ease. A glance and a touch answer 3, A bit of manipulation and test writing answer 2 and much of 1. But a new pen does not perform like a developed pen. So sometimes we buy and then amass at the telephone. 

So when someone tells you they buy pens for visual appearance or cheapness, you know they are a BOG. Pity them. Perhaps they will abstain from reproduction. 

ORF Trek

The fiftieth anniversary of “Star Trek” is upon us.[Link] As is the fiftieth anniversary of my being a college freshman. 

Start Trek was one of two television programs my “band” watched each week. Calling it a “band” was optimistic because we seldom numbered ten, much less twenty-five. But we were a group of nerds and geeks beset by a Greek EXTRO society and instrumentality so the bonds were fairly tight.

Mostly we were entering freshmen and majoring in STEM stuffs. And a few chose not to default to the ground state of residing in dorm. SO twice a week we formed up after third meal (which was often only second for several of us who were late sleepers or had stiff schedules,) and walked off campus to two of our number’s apartment to watch, respectively, “Start Trek” and “Laugh In”. Both of these had great impact on me over the years. I still find almost no humor comparable to R&M – sometimes Monty Python – and all the later Treks are inferior to the original.

And that has nothing to do with the captain character.

What Laugh In taught me was to be critical and cynical and disrespectful of the establishment. 

What Star Trek taught me was to strive for the unattainable. Star Trek was about making the universe fit for everyone, not just the wealthy and powerful and beautiful. Equity, not Evolution. And definitely not government. 

But organization was necessary despite its evils.

But only worthy of loyalty when it was not being evil. This was the Vietnam era after all. 

We are further than ever from that ideal. The amazing thing is that it could be thought of and a television program made about it. 

It’s one of the things that make me glad to be ORF. 

The young today are pretty sure they’re serfs. And not doing very much about it. So Star Trek stays a fantasy. 

The whichness of code

Five Day and a bit of an adventure already. In keeping with my want of challenging my earlier analyses and assumptions, I took myself off to gym this morning. Previously I had ceased on Four Day because of feeling burned out rather than a lack of hours of availability as on the Bog “weekend”. So I went off this morning and aside from needing a bit more preparation for what podcast to listen to, it went well.

The podcast was more of that “Chips on Everything” series on the internet. Decidedly bottom drawer. Not obscene or anything, just rather low quality. 

Which gave me occasion to reflect on a rather surprising television advertisement I saw recently. While I try to ignore advertisement because of their inherent vacuity of trustworthiness, this one actually provoked some thought. It was an insurance advertisement touting the “technology of its app”. In actuality, its app is actually less capable than some of its competitors, but what good it did was to raise the question of whether code is technology?

To start with, I feel inclined to semi-cite the historian James Burke who did some marvelous television programming about information networks. That isn’t how it was portrayed but that’s what it was and it was only saved by Burke’s historyisms. One of which is that we humans tend to mistake engineering for science, technology for engineering, manufacturing for technology, and so forth.

But this is a bit of a different problem. Is coding technology? Technology is almost always a material thing like an electronic circuit (e.g., a CPU) and not a social activity. Thus social media is an interaction network facilitated by technology. But it isn’t a technology itself despite the statements of Bog Journalists. (Is that redundant? Probably.)

So what about coding? Is a steering wheel technology? No. It’s merely a means of controlling the operation of a technology. A tiller would work similarly and did in the early days of motorcars. So in the sense of controlling, code is not a technology. But what about embedded code? I have a microwave over – an appliance – that can be “programmed” with a simple heating/not-heating pattern. That pattern is empowered by the technology. I could stand about and do it myself, manually as it were, one step at a time, and I have done that in times past with simpler devices, but is it technology? Is complication technology? I think not. Embedded code does not have a separate existence from the actual material technology.

Code has a literature aspect, It is written, composed. Perhaps even in a functional sense, semantic. But is it technology. Clearly paper and pen and ink are technologies. And in my opinion, much more intriguing and worthwhile than most electronics. I can create many thing that are independent of what paper and pen and ink I use but that is not so of code. Code has no meaning outside of its material interaction. (I am excluding NERD coding here. Crunching science numbers is independent of its material but it is still not technology.)

I am not done with this but as of now I am of the conjecture that code is not technology but it is related. It is functional. But I suspect it is nothing more than a special kind of manufacturing process.

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.