Rules of Civilization

Rule: If using a + (Phillips) or – (name?) screwdriver, make sure the blade is slightly larger than the screw slots.

Rule’: For # screwdriver, make sure the bit (blade) just fits the “hole”.

Rule”: If an Amerikan in a furrin country, use a hammer.

Search the Third

Seven Day; Ice Cream Day. The day when I ‘hawg’ tabs, which I have done, but it took a while for some to finish their cognitive “rise”. 

I noted one article [Link] that linked epilepsy and religion. It wasn’t a very definitive or instructive article but the association got me to think about how advertising is related to religion.

Most religions are about making conditions better. Most of them are long term games where if you subscribe to the religion (with money and time and substance,) then things will be good after you discorporate. And if you don’t, they will be bad.

Some of them say if you associate with them now, you’ll be better soon. Cured of disease or given money. 

So they are rather like advertising. Promises with no enforceable guarantee. And they are after the same humans, the ones who don’t want some form of reliable proof. 

There is some evidence that both a in hard times. The number of people who regularly attend the services of organized religion (and pour money into their coffers,) has gone down by about a third in the last twenty years or so. 

This is evidently not so much a wholesale epidemic of rationality and skepticism as a disillusionment with the whole miasma of organization.

Similarly, I saw an article [Link] entitled “‘People aren’t spending’: stores close doors in ‘oversaturated’ US retail market” this morning. Notably, it was in the Guardian, which is a related bit that I will try to comment on, and dealt with how the big chain stores: Macy’s; Sears; Penny’s; are shuttering stores in large figures this year. 

Coincidence? I have to wonder. In both instances could it be that the constraints of organization are impositions people don’t want any more? Sure, part of it is the internet, offering anytime access. Either of stores that sell similar goods but are bit, rather than brick, built, but part of it is space-time. Maybe.

Churches spent the last twenty years or so getting bigger. But they needed a lot of people to attend services (and plump down money,) to stay afloat, so if they were successful, and they were, then the little churches went away from being too small.

This is basically why humans have organization in the first place. Back when we were all Hunter-Gatherers living in social organizations – bands – of 25-50 people, we lived on a bit of a knife edge. If our band was hit by a bad illness and ten people died, the band fell apart. Too many lost hands and skills and roles. 

So we got more organized: tribes, then chiefdoms, and then nation-states. The organization as a whole was more survivable but now people didn’t know each other and they couldn’t make decisions about their own lives. And not too long on they had to give up being mobile and adopted agriculture and bigotry and tyranny. Or perhaps I should say unrequited tyranny. And people, the few who refused to adapt, were either killed by the majority (or its instrumentality,) or they went and hid from the organized lifestyle. 

That’s sorta how America came to be. Nice Failed Attempt. Or attempts?

Anyway, when the churches and the unspecialized stores get bigger, their numbers go down. When I was a boy growing up there was a Sears store in every town. Might only be a catalog store where all you could do was order and receive but it was there. Similarly there were lots of little churches, a couple in every neighborhood. And everyone attended. Because of the other-than-organized benefits. 

Nowadays it’s an hour’s drive on a divided highway to the nearest Sears store, which is going away. Yes, we have a local Sears store in Greater Metropolitan Arab but I have only been in it when FD SCP wants a new washer/dryer or freezer. And that’s because they’re the only reputable merchant of such in town. I consider it notable that they only sell touchable goods. That is, stuff you won’t buy out of a catalog or on-line. You have to touch it first. Appliances, lawn mowers, tools. All trustworthy. No clothes or such.

In a way, churches and stores seem to be compromised by being in the middle. There are goods and religious services available on the web which is at once both local and more concentrated – a few server farms and distribution centers who knows where. But it’s also the unavailable and unadapting. I used to have a neighbor, now discorporate, who was RC. He went to mass on Saturday night and in the next town where there was an RC church. I asked him once whether he was RC because of when he could go to services or the other way about. He was wise enough not to weaken our friendship by answering. 

So there are signs that the churches (organized religion) and stores have overextended themselves – too restricted in space-time. Far away and seldom open. Part of it may be what they offer: too restricted; too inflexible. 

Or it may just be that cat videos and freedom from sales tax is enough for most people?

But I have noted hopeful signs of rationality increasing. Recently, the last year, there have sprung up advertisements (commercials in the main,) that pretend to be news interviews. Usually these are folks selling some emotional service such as house refinancing and alarm systems. Horribly, evilly wrong and false. But they also seem now, in the last few weeks to be receding. So is this a case of people seeing through their Snidely Subterfuge that scrams evil and sham and fraud? An increase, probably temporary, of rational skepticism, or a response to egregious political prevarication and false facts that have burned many?

The World Wonders.

More Search

I thought I had hammered the coffin lid a bit yesterday but this morning I find it still needs a bit of bashing.

I have a browser tab of site addresses I try to visit every day. Periodically I add a site; spasmodically I delete a site, usually when their stupidity becomes too noxious. One such on the cusp is the “Huffington Post” which combines mediocre journalism with rectal cerebration. 

The main reason I go there is that some of their articles give me some insight into the nature of contemporary bogs. Usually I spend less than a minute on the site because such nuggets are as rare as platinum nuggets in the septic creek behind the outhouse. 

But this morning I ran across an article [Link] entitled “Spring Deals: Lowest Prices On TurboTax, Bowflex Power Rod Gym And Samsung’s 8-Series Quantum Dot TVs.” Note that this is an imaginary article. It is really an advertisement. Which leads us to our tirade.

This is a type of advertisement that exceeds the at-least-one-prevarication standard. In this instance several-fold. FIrst of all, the journalist and the site editor claim this is an article. Prevarication Number ONE.

Next it offers to sell – at substantially reduced price (Prevarication Number TWO) – things that I really want to buy because I need them either physically or socially or emotionally. SO what are these things?

  • An income tax client. Why should I want one of these? First of all these income tax clients are for Bogs who are too mentally deprived to know that (1) you can get better, cheaper done on line, often free, and (2) that if you’ve got to use such a client you really need to hire someone who knows what he/she is doing to do your taxes. I could also say something about this client isn’t available for Linux, mostly because Linux folks have good sense not to fool with such Stercus, but I shan’t.
  • A home “gym”. Another trap for Bogs. First of all it’s neither a gym nor a particularly useful workout device. You get better using your feet on and off the ground. But that’s not the point. Things like this sell to people who don’t exercise and buy this to balm their guilt. The manufacturers of such know that and make them so that they fall apart in a year or so of sitting about coated with dust. Most either never make it out of the box (unassembled) or get banished to the nastiest corner of the garage because HVAC floor space is to valuable for something unused except as a mind flush.
  • Samsung Quantum Dot TV. This is the most astounding and laughable of the three. First of all, it’s made by a company that has made cellular IED a watchword. I understand they received an award from Homeland Security for improving job security. Next, it’s a “Quantum Dot.” This is a masterpiece (?) of advertising. All dots are quantum. Heck, SCP is quantum. We are all quantum. Even dark energy. Whatever it is. And a TV? This has to be another Bog attractant. Who needs a new TV? Lots of people but rarely. I have a couple of TVs and both are over five years old. Don’t use them that much. And the GEN Ys aren’t using TVs. Well, maybe the porn bogs who do a lot of sports porn. Which sort of fits with the “home gym” thing. People who get their endocrine systems churning over athletic stuff that they don’t do but watch. That’s what makes it porn. 

There’s more stuff buried in the advertisement masquerading as an article but the point is made. A Congress of Lies. And that metaphor has nothing to do with the national council of the inept, unhonest, and uncompetent. A collection of salamanders is called a congress. And that’s what advertising is all about: the dinosaur brain that we all inherited from our lizard forebears. 

In Search of Manufactured Good

As might have been expected I have been considering advertising recently. 

This is not unexpected. We are immersed in an atmosphere – fairly toxic – of advertisement these days. So naturally to notice and think upon.

I freely admit that I am not the demographic. Mostly I am too old for advertisements other than those for burial insurance, medicare goods, or treatments thereof. And courtesy of the sitting congress we can expect those to diminish with the funding for medical matters.

I am also moderately sentient and observant. Advertisers hate nerds for the same reason district attorneys do. We question and analyze and generally find the contradictions that compromise everything.

Also, I am the one who first declared that every advertisement contains at least one prevarication.

So I might as well proceed.

It is not that I do not expect manufactured goods to have limitations and even defects. But I have Willis and Geiger clothing that I have owned for almost thirty years – obviously – that is in better shape used than things I buy from their successors today.

Willis and Geiger was a company of great quality; it made aviator jackets for the Yankee Navy going back to when they got their first airplane with wheels. And they maintained that quality until they were bought by another company to reduce its competition.

That’s an indicator of the nature of the contemporary marketplace. It’s stressed. Every day old companies are going away because their management made the wrong decisions on a learned time scale too slow for modern competition. Or they are made irrelevant by the rapid changing wants of humans.

This stress gets reflected in the advertisements. Evidently some advertising types have enormous difficulty presenting the product. If the product isn’t presented then the “rubes” have no visual association and can’t be trusted to actually buy what the advertising is pushing. So a lot of advertisements have these vignettes where they present the product but one gets alienated a few seconds into the vignette wondering why the people in the advertisement are acting in such a strange way. Result: net loss to the manufacturer since people who see this and note the cockeyedness are not positive about the product.

A somewhat bigger problem seems to be an inability to distinguish one’s product from its competitors. This is especially the situation with motorcars. In effect, all motorcar advertisements are identical except for a brand + product that is indistinguishable from its competitors.

Another problem is making some claim that fails the “so what” test immediately and the audience is left trying to figure out the strategy of explicit, apparently intentional, failure. May work in England but not in the Yankee Republic.

Lastly, promises. Given the environment we live in these days, especially governmental, the baseline is that any positive statement is a prevarication and any negative statement is a threat. So how does this incentivize?  

My speculation is that we may have reached the point where the marketplace is running on a form of inertia. People have been ducking advertisements for years. Ad blockers in browsers have now reached the point where the use of an ad blocker blocker by a web site cuts into its traffic. Never mind paywall, ad wall wall seems to be a crypt construction. Meanwhile lots of people seem to operate on a buy-the-same-old-thing until they get fed up with its wrongs and then experiment with random selection. This seems to explain why companies repackage their goods ever couple of months. 

What makes the latter intriguing is that it upsets the cross diffusion flow. For years companies have leveraged the marginal populations that give up on one product and go to another. Since most products are staples of imagination if not actuality, the advertising emphasis is on capturing these changers. The problem now seems to be that this population has become immune to the advertising. Maybe.

Meanwhile, the companies continue to be oblivious to any idea that quality may be a better strategy than whackadoodle advertisements. 

Shannon Wept

Six Day and DIhydrogen Oxide falleth. I started to key “from the sky” and then berated myself the concept, the illusion of Rayleigh scattering and simple gravity. But is gravity simple. We used to think so but now?

But regardless, no walking this morning. I had to content myself with a bit of grind on the stationary bicycle and thus my thoughts have scant grounding in the abused Nature. Nonetheless, some few neurons have done handshakes and now I have reason to wish the weekout out.

I ran across an article [Link] in the news rag of the campus of the Boneyard earlier this week entitled “Illini Republican bake sale has flawed reasoning.” That was not the accumulation point; the totality of politics is an epitome of flawed reasoning. In effect, it is a super renewal of such, a progression from one instance of flawed reasoning to another, in both serial and parallel, and evidently unbounded except at nil.

Rather, the gathering was a picture (photograph) that accompanied the article

The article is clearly written by someone who has scant tolerance for Republicans and is highly critical, in places insultingly so, of their efforts on campus in general and in this particular.

I find the matter intriguing. When I was a student at the campus some forty-five or so years ago, Republicans were in scant evidence. So I have to ask – unanswered – if their presence today reflects some tolerance of diversity unpresent in my day? I find this question difficult because I arrived on campus to find a student union whose walls were still smeared with human feces after a student occupation in protest of the Vietnam conflict. This protest was met with considerably different means than that a Kent State.

As a graduate student I had much more to worry about than protest and injustice. The demands on graduate students – assistantships, courses, qualifying exams, research – were unjust enough to engage almost all my capacity. I might be in agreement with some perceived (and possibly actual) wrong but I had scant attention nor time to assess their worthiness much less participate.

But this poster caught my attention because I was unsure of how to decipher it? Was this some attempt by the Party of Liberation to recover its roots and appeal to a base other than the rich and disgruntled? Or was it an act of taunting condescension? I thought not because even in college politicians are developed enough not to enrage too many minorities.

I was also confused by the script. It seems to indicate some degree of artistic capacity which seems antithetical to politician.

The bottom caveat was surprising in that it was the same as it was in my day. Evidently these student organizations are bound by the U not to exclude anyone who cannot pay and no means of determining that is provided. Hence the “suggested”. But the idea of bribing (?) women seems the most telling. Is this effort no more than the frantic efforts of unloved pseudo-conservatives to bribe women into their fold? Or is it some strange and easily misconstrued attempt at sincere recruitment.

The actual text of the article provided little insight. If anything it struck me as being a typical political rhetoric of denigrating the opposition without any inkling of any merit on either side. I have seen this before in student protests: the logic has failed and all that is left is the trajectory of poo.

But it is still a commanding bit of photography.

Sitting with FIre

Four Day. Overslept this morning. Too much grrr brrr yesterday in Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill. And I tried out a new Linux podcast this morning and since only one sample, too sparse to comment.

So I fall back to stored ideas and in this instance take up a communication from a colleague, Magnetic Inductance Force, who in turn passed on a request from a colleague of his, Displacement Current Magnetic Field, that I consider the matter of conversations. His postulate, which I have edited a bit for my comfort of presentation, is

“older folk’s conversations tends to lean toward the weather, ails and their medications; younger people tend to discuss girls, sex, sports and education; not necessarily in that order.  It occurred to me that when we get older our priorities drastically change in that we have already been educated enough to know all we need to know about girls, sex moves very close to the bottom of our priority lists and we realize that we can no longer be able to hit a baseball out of the park and win the World Series or catch the winning touchdown pass and win the Super Bowl.

If the Simple Country Physicist is open to suggested subject matter, I think he could expound on his and come up with an extremely interesting, if not entertaining synopsis.”

I ain’t a quantum inclined to think that I can do the word-that-may-not-be-said (at least by me,) be entertaining, nor synopsize but I am always happy to mumble. Having asked for a blot on conversation, we shall see where this lepus leads us (with apologies to that grand old mathematian Lewis Carrol.)

My first surprise in starting this blot was from the dictionary. I often consult the dictionary when I begin a blot to see what the Bogs think a word means. In this case, the Nerd got a bit of a culture shock. The first definition was:

Conversation  n. [OE. conversacio (in senses 1 & 2), OF. conversacion, F. conversation, fr. L. conversatio  frequent abode in a place, intercourse, LL. also, manner of life.]   1. General course of conduct; behavior. [Archaic]      [1913 Webster]

while the second was:

conversation  n 1: the use of speech for informal exchange of views or ideas or information etc.

which indicates that the common usage of the word has changed in the last century from behavior to information exchange. The surprise was that I was comfortable with the latter but not with the former. But I found this fit in with what I knew about people mechanics.

Humans, as in homo sapiens, have been around about 0.2 MY. There is considerable debate as to (a) whether homo neandertalensis had language, and (b) when sapiens developed language between 0.2 MYA and 50 KYA when the Great Cultural Explosion occurred.  We do have some indications from observation of recently existing Hunter-Gatherer bands that language is fundamentally human. [Link] Borrowing from moderately trustable journalism,

She (the researcher) found that the daytime conversations focused mainly on complaints and criticisms about social relationships, economic concerns, jokes, and included a small percentage of stories. Evening conversations around campfires, however, centered on storytelling. “At night, people really let go, mellow out and seek entertainment. If there have been conflicts in the day, they overcome those and bond. Night conversation has more to do with stories, talking about the characteristics of people who are not present and who are in your broader networks, and thoughts about the spirit world and how it influences the human world. You have singing and dancing, too, which bonds groups,” . Wiessner (the researcher) suggests that imaginative firelight activities spurred the cultural and social evolution of human ancestors.

The latter speculation seems trivial. From my observations, something that any good scientists is incapable of suspending, even under threat of discorporation, conversation is largely about social dynamics. Who gets to speak first indicates the nature of the group. What gets discussed and what branches spring up similarly.

In my experience, conversations mostly takes two forms

  1. What have I/You/We done/experienced/want to do; and
  2. What do I want to know that I am ignorant of.

The latter has a spectrum from gossip to actual useful information.

So, at least at this superficial level, it seems that Displacement Current Magnetic Field’s query is approximately answered that the two types of conversation are the same (within the biform taxonomy) but differ in content because the two age cohorts have done/experienced/want to do different things.

This raises a question that has dogged the study of humans since at least the invention of history circa 500 BCE, which is more important, the commonalities or the differences. This is still, and likely will remain, a significant question. When I was a student in college, back when television was monochrome and dinosaurs graced the dinner table every Ice Cream Day, anthropology (and the other “social sciences”)were coming down off a high of generalization. The taxonomy of Fried-Strange was a useful tool for characterization and analysis of social organization. Since then it has largely been abandoned and spurned because of its generality and denigration of social individuality, the victim of social constipation. 

Should we recognize and respect individual differences? Of course, otherwise we have no friends and live in a Hobbesian social environment. But, as I believe Mandelbrot said (maybe?) “Counting grains of sand does not tell you very much about the shape of coastlines.”

The counterpoint to taxonomy of conversation is that I am interested neither in matters medicalist as discoursed by Bogs since it is vacant of cause and effect beyond the anecdotal nor in the sharing of pornography, either reproductive or athletic. What counts most in conversation is that it be with people you want to associate and exchange information with.