Human Failure

One Day. Back to gym. A rather dismal session overlain with a podcast about the rot of American (including Canadian) society.

This got reinforced as I tried to get out of the motorcar park at the gym onto the highway.

We seem to have given democracy away for consumerism capitalism.

Driving skills and abilities are almost non-existent. People cannot stay in lane, signal turns or lane changes, or even turn without occupying two or more lanes. And not just the people driving (?) pickup trucks. All manner of motorcars. They can’t even stop at a STOP sign properly.

Ignorance has replaced knowledge as the desired state of humankind. People are proud of their ignorance and insecurity and resist thought and knowledge like some sort of plague worse than Bubonic. 

Money is the only measure of esteem. 

Accomplishment has become meaningless, if not actually criminalized.

We no longer have a society, a civilization, or a nation-state. I am not sure what it is but it makes a noyau look good.

Scientists and Other People

I am not a great fan of SCIENCE (the journal;) I am a practitioner of Science. Or so I tell myself.

The former is primarily because SCIENCE (the journal) is one of the last bastions of Victorian propriety. It (arguably with NATURE) are the premiere journals of science. It is also dedicated to respectability and stodginess. SCIENCE is not where one will publish the next great thing in Physics. (The last great things were Relativity and Quantum Mechanics.) 

But occasionally they slip up and publish something strange. Such is an article [Link] entitled “When you’re the scientist in the family.” The author is apparently a biologist and he seems to have never gotten the idea that biologists do different things than physicists or chemists or geologists. 

The article is either about horror or humor, and I can’t tell which it is. I suspect both.

To give a sample, here are his major headings:

  • Playing fast and loose with the definition of a work day. 
  • Flippantly saying “do something in the lab for, like, 10 minutes” when you clearly mean “do something in the lab for an indeterminate length of time.” 
  • Easily remembering scientific facts and figures, alongside a frustrating inability to remember useful information at home.
  • Making fun things not fun. 
  • Going to graduate school. I am so, so sorry.

You’ll have to access his article (outside paywall) to see his filler. But I can respond a bit in my usual snarky muddling fashion.

I never played fast and loose with the work day. At least once I got out of graduate schule and got married. Spouses are precious and any sacrifice is never too big.

My employer always played fast and loose with the work day. FD SCP and I worked at the same place; she enumerating legumes; I doing rabbinical physics. What’s rabbinical physics? Think Einstein at the Patent Office. The physics that matters is not done at work. So during the work week I did what was needed for the employment and the rest of the time – as I was able – I did real stuff. And occasionally they actually overlapped.

Nor have I done stuff in lab since I married. That phase of my life ended with a master’s degree and the realization that I was a maximum klutz. They talk about mad scientists destroying the world. Never about klutz scientists doing so. They should. That’s the real threat. But the temporal aspect is accurate. Science knows no schedule, which is one of the reasons I became a manager so I could counteract the accountants and Sloan graduates and project managers who had been programmed that all work stayed on schedule and budget. Simply put, anything not made in a factory isn’t and sometimes more than that.

The problem with remembering home information is that it is cast as important (patently false) and it isn’t engaging. My trick was to write it down in a small (pocket) notebook and lose the notebook. Eventually I grew out of the latter. Part of the problem is also that if you’re a theoretician the lab is between your ears and inside a (bigger) notebook. So thinking crowds out the home information.

As to fun, there is no more bigger fun than figuring some twist of reality out. That’s one of the primary differences between bogs and nerds: what is fun. So in my mind this complaint is a contradiction since the two funs are immiscible.

Finally, graduate schule is a necessary evil. Yes, it’s a horrible environment that ought to be banned under the Geneva Convention.  Slavery and Abuse almost unending. But it’s the best way yet to learn how to science. And yes, it does change you mind and temperament. But if it didn’t we’d all still be shaving our heads in circles and talking to imaginary friends. As adults. 

Sometimes I think the problem is not the science nerds but all the other folks. But all it takes is one thought of FD SCP to dismiss that idea. It’s just that some folks are Bosons and some are Fermions and that’s ok until you try to mix them.

Neither Brown nor Flashman

Four Day. Survived an expedition to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill. But this morning I am reaping a muscular whirlwind in the form of aches and cramps of muscles. Oh!, the joys (!) of ORFdom.

Which put me to mind of the accidental juxtaposition of ether waves in the void, in this instance a combination of a news mention on the electromagnetic visual receiver at gym and a relation by one of my colleagues, Displacement Current Magnetic Field. (No audio on the receiver at gym because it would detract from the loud yakking of the educationalists and the sound of concrete floors splitting when the weight are bounced.) I was trying to listen to an episode of “Linux Voice” but it was deader than the road kill armadillo of this morning’s trip. (Not mine kill, someone else’s but I had to look at it in the halogen glow of the street lamp.)

The subject at hand is high schule. I have to admit that I had high hopes for high schule. I was rather tired after nine years of public schule and its continual information throttling, the martinet demands for regimentation in learning with no compromise for anyone but the slow learners whose catering reduced the burden on the educationalists.

Sadly, I found high schule was worse. Not only was the information throttled but the regimented pace was slowed to that amenable to the jocks and cheerleaders. And to add to that, the incompetence imposed by the educationalist curriculum shone through brightly. Except for a few teachers who had real degrees and (in the main, working towards) educationalist certification, the teachers were an unlearned and insecure bunch. (I have observed that I was fortunate to have any teachers with actual knowledge. The adamantine norm these days is educationalist degrees only.) It wasn’t until I got to college that the throttling abated and competence returned, and then not completely. Happily, I found that the lecturers and perfessers of nerd subjects were highly knowledgeable and happy for students to ask meaningful questions and go beyond the lectures and textbooks. And when they couldn’t answer a question, they would find an answer and share later. 

But I understand that too is gone in the conversion of colleges from learning communes to training factories. And it seems to not phase the young at all; they seem happy in their programmed ignorance and are clueless to the cause of their dismal failures.

Anyway, after I read the grr brr this morning about night people outnumbering morning people 2:1 and this was part of why college students were incompetent, I reflected on this, and found an actual article. [Link] It had the one saving grace of decrying the usual educationalist policy of educationalists first and students last, and do thing that help the fewest number while bullying everyone.

Which is the meat of this discussion: the high schule culture of bullying. The “teachers” bully the students, not to learn but to be good serfs. And the students bully each other. My colleague related how he was bullied because of his heritage. I ran across another article [Link] about religion bullying when schules permit religion activities. In my experience this bullying occurs regardless. When I was in high schule you got bullied if you attended a different church than the bully did. Blatant, violent them-ism.

What is so evil about this is that in many cases the bullying is based on what the parent believe, not the bullies, but is amplified by them because they have no basis of comparison. If parents make some off hand comment about Jews because they had to pay a late payment on a loan, junior amplifies that in an Auschwitz. And the educationalists approve of this because it aids their program of imposing obedient serfdom.

Gad, I am glad to be ORF and free of such tyranny. But I weep for the young.

Zombie Feast

Once more into Week Out, now on its back side, and Day Seven. And somewhat a special Day Seven in the realm of Social Reality because of the religionist adoration of a zombie Jewish boy. At least that’s the contemporary terminology which I use because I’m really going to natter about social reality. 

The idea for the natter grew out of a cartoon [Link] from the Union of Concerned Scientists. 

That scientists would be concerned is itself a bit of social reality and reinforces that we humans are embedded in a society – however much many of us would like not to be! 

But what bashed away at my neurons was the context of the cartoon: the fiction – called alternative facts – so often espoused, invented even, by politicians. This led immediately to the source of the contention – journalists – who are themselves the originators of similar fictions in the social reality delusion of fair debate and discussion. Which led to wondering what the attraction of these alternative facts are?

My initial concern was that I had scant understanding of either politician or journalist (I did date a journalism major briefly in undergraduate school and I have been interviewed many times.) But I do have some knowledge of managers and so I can take the relationship of manager to scientist and extrapolate a bit – with acknowledged uncertainties – to politician and journalist.

This may seem a bit whacked but from experience I know that managers, at least of nerds, have to balance social and physical reality, the latter being much simpler than the former. Simply put, there are times when social reality demands something unobtainable in physical reality and some balancing is necessary lest one kill off one’s work force. 

Not that there are ever any members of that work force that such an event would not be beneficial in some manner. 

As a matter of courtesy to those who are not scientists, a fact is something that is confirmed by experiment or observation by agreement of several trained and trustworthy observers. That’s pretty close to Boyle’s usage, which he developed to dispute Hobbes who I suspect Boyle would have liked to place in his air pump and subject to its partial vacuum. 

(I am not going to discuss vacuum here now. Maybe later.) 

With that at rest, we can proceed to the matter at hand. Since managers have to balance the demands of social reality with the actuality of physical reality, we may extrapolate their actions to those of politicians and journalists. In doing so, we see immediately that Alternative Facts, when paired with (Actual) Facts, form pairs and hence alternatives. 

This is implicit in journalism with its celebration of the delusion that all situations are open to “fair discussion”. Clearly discussion is quite different between social and physical reality. In the latter discussion is limited to the experimental or observational data. 

But this also reveals something about politicians and why they “invent” these alternate facts. It clearly gives them some means of balancing within social reality, perhaps even while not killing constituents with physical reality that cannot be suspended. 

Having thus addressed the “how” of the matter, we can turn to the “why” of the matter. This seems simple, if cynical. The politician has schemed and cheated his/her way into high office to exercise power and if they do not have room for their own choices then they have no power. 

Hence, as we have argued previously, we may explain this behavior by insecurity. 

The question quite remains as to whether government without these alternative facts is possible?

Curmudgeonics

Six Day. No gyn. Or more properly, I did my exercise bit at home since the gym pulls its trick of being closed whenever it can. No wonder it is having money problems. The only place with fewer open hours than it is the Senior Center, which only exists for the purpose of making the town conscript parents look good.

The seniors know better.

Which brings me to an article [Link] that I ran across this week entitled “The smartphone is eventually going to die, and then things are going to get really crazy.”

The indication that the article is a load of stercus is its use of the term “smartphone’. So called “smartphones” aren’t. But it is indicative of how much journalists and advertisers prevaricate that they’ll call them such. And it is indicative of how brain handicapped most humans are these days that they accept the terminology.

There are basically two arguments in this article. The first is that the functional capability of the computer has been getting steadily smaller and in the near future it will be small enough to be surgically implanted. The second is that the cellular telephone will whither away.

The problem with the first is the fallacious contention that a cellular telephone has the functional capability of a real computer. Have you ever tried to write code on a cellular telephone? Or do real work on a slablet?

The actuality is that since some fraction of the human species does noting actually constructive and has too much leisure time. (Sturgeon’s Rule probably applies here.) As a result they have to be entertained and the so-called progression is really one of stripping away the stuff that people who do constructive things need to make the box smaller. First it was the progression from main frame to desk box, then desk box to lap box. and then lap box to slablet (hand box?) Slablets have moderate utility, available only when they are augmented with keyboard and mouse-equivalent. And an argument may be made that because cellular telephones may be used for worthwhile communications, they do have a limited tool function. We will remember that.

It is very easy to tell when a cellular telephone is used for important, constructive communication. The person using the device gets away from other people. 

One of the key components of the foretold miniaturization is artificial intelligent agents. I have to admit I tried one for a couple of days. That was how long it took me to figure out they are not useful in doing work. They are useful in being entertained. 

The problem is that these implantable devices will be dependent on something other than tactile input and eye blinks are even less robust than thumb tapping. The latter may work all right for tweets and the former for quadriplegics, but not for real work by working people. 

So the whole claim that computers are gonna only live in people’s heads is probably a bunch of swamp gas derived from one too many advertising business luncheon. It may be accurate for those who do nothing constructive but they have to be abided anyway to keep the gene pool robust. 

Since the introduction of slablets, the number of desk and lap boxes has declined. Until a couple of years ago when it stabilized. That number will go down some more, largely because many of those boxes are relics in profit greedy businesses. But they will still be the means by which constructive things are done. So they won’t go away.

There is a possibility, small, that “smartphones” may go away. Lots of folks who do and have no use for texting or anything but audio conversation are reverting to talk only cellular telephones. They may actually be the enduring instrument. 

But the cutting edge of future surgery is probably more for those who don’t than those who do. 

The March of Progress?

Back when I was growing up, back in the transition from monochrome television to polychrome – all cathode ray tube mind, no flat screens in sight – and dinosaur descendants went from being whole birds to selected parts – the undesirable ones converted in school lunch mystery meat – we had celebrities and authorities.

And they were distinct people.

Celebrities were people who did nothing productive. They were either entertainers or play boys/girls. And they got a lot of press coverage because ordinary people who did things thought they were glamorous and so press coverage equaled lots of sales. 

Authorities were people who did things and knew how to do them. They were either knowledge works, academics in the main, or political appointees, but never politicians. And they got no press coverage unless they won a big, independent award or the government got in deep stercus and called on them to do a rescue.

And we were taught that it was alright to look at celebrities but not to be one because they did nothing. And they didn’t know anything except how to act or play.

And in college we were taught – not sure why then, probably youthful arrogance? – that appeal to authority was an invalid argument. That means if we argued “X is TRUE because authority Y sez it is” we were full of stercus.

IOW, don’t trust anybody without testing.

Nowadays, we have celebrities who are treated as authorities aren’t supposed to be. And authorities are ignored, if not vilified. And the politicians are dead set against admitting anything is wrong, and if it is, they call on celebrities to rescue them. 

Because publicity is all that matters? Or because celebrities are the only people trusted?

How did this happen. How did we turn inside out and rot at the same time?

The World Wonders?

Loudness * Smartness = Constant

Five Day. Last day of gym. Not quite fun. First the air temperature was rather lower than I like and hence a bit colding. And a pair of rather noisome and (loudly) noisy women who have begun to attend the last couple of weeks were so boisterous that they drowned out the podcast I was listening to. The current hypothesis is that they must be educationalists since they seem to lack “indoor voices” and are only capable of loudness. 

Not that the podcast was really all that engaging. An ostensible Linux podcast consumed by the rather unengaging and offputting natter of some wanna-be writer whose connection to Linux was never established. Why is it that American podcasts are so inferior to those from England and even Canadia? 

Speaking of inferior, I had occasion to reflect this morning on the discorporation of Sokrates. A sterling example of what evil befalls when democracy (or any form of government?) fails. The unchecked rule of the majority is seldom a good thing being one of the things most likely to bring on collapse and extinction. When you start consuming your own outsider will quickly come to your aid, usually in a fashion detrimental to your well being. 

This is not to say that there is not competition in any viable society, but when the competition becomes too intense it turns into self-destruction and while that may please those who want to make large changes in society we need to not forget that any society larger than the individual has an inherent fragility and that any society shattered wrecks far worse destruction than if the society had never existed.

And while we have skated over the edge before we need to keep in mind that the tighter and faster the forces binding the society, the more fragile it is. 

Which leads us to the question of whether the people who lead societies do not abandon their smarts as a prerequisite for that distinction?

Like those educationalists who are so busy being loud that they are unaware of what is transpiring about them?