Barbed Wire Baby Doll

Yesterday was a wasteland. I spent the day downloading my Uberbote data and trying to find a program that would import the data file. Three gags later I am only highly frustrated. 

“Whom the Gods would kill…

While I’m in such a mood it seem appropriate for today to be Mundane day. I shall not catalog the negatives and the positives are either nonexistent or so microscopic as to be lost in the noise but let me say that at the moment, dementia looks rather attractive.

On which azimuth, I noted an article [Link] that asserted that Mattel is going to produce a “talking” Barbie. And no, this is not one of those pre-recorded things. This Barbie will supposedly “converse” via some AI-in-the-Cloud connection. Needless to say the article was more than a little negative, mostly about privacy. My concern is do we really want our daughters to have “real” “Imaginary friends”? Norby stories aside, I am unconvinced that robots are good for children. No, not the Nipponese robots that destroy Tokyo ones. Those are OK. Not that girls seem to really like them. 

SCPdatter had all sorts of Barbies. Most of them are still here and still in their boxes. SCPdatter wasn’t too big on plating with Barbie. She preferred something more warm and fuzzy. Which Barbie isn’t. 

Several years ago Detroit experimented with a motorcar that talked to you. It told you when to shift gears and use the blinker and change the lubricant and refill the petrol tank. It was an abysmal flop. Never got past first stage customer testing. 

Maybe that’s why I don’t think much of Puppet Master Barbie? With apologies to RAH.


Liberal Uselessness

Thor’s day and the end of gym for the week. And liquid is falling from the sky. Is that an event that needs be shared with chickens? Obviously I am in strange mood today and perhaps I can blame it on the expedition yesterday to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill/

I recently ran across an article [Link] of statement by four college presidents trying to justify the existence of “liberal arts”. I found it telling that one of them flatly stated that the studies (?) in secondary schule were adequate for adulthood.

It seems strange to me that high schule is adequate for anything. When I attended it was an information desert combined with a harassment Tartarus. I feel that I learned more in one semester, certainly one year, in college than I learned in four years of high schule. And it was overall useful stuff.

My strongest complaint is that in neither did I learn syntax nor composition in the classes that were supposed to teach that. The nature of the failures were surprisingly consistent: abysmal teaching; inadequate and irrelevant information; and too much distraction. I’ll take each in serial.

Let me start by saying that the teachers were not bad people, nor ill intentioned. They were overall good people with good intentions. But they were not good teachers. That is, in my taxonomy, I didn’t learn from them. That’s what makes them bad. In many cases I liked them but I didn’t learn what I needed.

Second, what they were trying to teach me on syntax and composition wasn’t what was needed. Drawing pseudo-Feynman diagrams of sentences is not useful, nor is writing essays. I have never been called on to write an essay, nor any other type of literary article. I have written novels, short stories, journal articles, books, and theses but never any literary poof. So what they were trying to teach was almost entirely orthogonal to need and want.

Lastly, what they were trying to teach was too little. Too much of it was literature, reading and discussing stories and novels that I would never have read if not compelled. Almost entirely these works were boring and unengaging, and largely irrelevant to either education or entertainment.  It is not that I dislike reading; I was going to the (public) Carnegie library thrice a week and chewing throuigh six to eight books a week but they were books I picked not forced upon me. That’s my chief indictment of the liberal arts; it’s stuff I don’t want forced upon me.

I did learn syntax and composition. Some was learned in college writing nerd stuff and afterwards writing more nerd stuff. But so far as I am concerned liberal arts is what people who can’t do study in college.

Green Beer and Antipathy

Today is supposed to be the name day of Saint Patrick. I have to admit to being unable to comprehend this occasion. I can comprehend that the person did all sorts of wonderful things in Ireland for the sake of the Church of Rome, but I fail to see how that translates into non-religious parades, river dyeing, and green beer consumption. Happily since I have little Irish DNA, I have a convenient reason to rebuff the orgy. But I am still not grokking.

On which azimuth I ran across an article [Link] about how African-American graduates of high quality (?) colleges receive fewer and lower paid job offers than European-American graduates of the same colleges. This appears to be one of those academic befuddlement things or, possibly, academic legitimization. 

It seems that part, at least, of what we have here is a failure of tolerance. The nation seems to have grown tired of tolerating “minorities” without reciprocal tolerance. This seems to be the social theme of the times. European-Americans are supposed to be tolerant of African-Americans who by maintaining a separate social construct decline to reciprocate that tolerance. The same seems to exist for numerous religionist communities but especially the Muslim. Anyway, what I observe is an increasing reticence to tolerate others (who are different) if they do not reciprocate that tolerance.

This seems strangely Christianist. An application of “do unto others”. I fear this is how feuds fester. Friendship rebuffed or ill returned often leads to animosity and violence. It signals a failure of social cohesion and the ascendancy of a collection of inimical communities. If so, then we have to ask how this is related to a governance by two imiscible political parties? Symptom or cause?

The world wonders. 

Bonsai Gardening

Once more into week in. Gym was survivable, the population was sparse and the podcast, an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” dealt with (human) parasites. There is a certain thrill to knowledge of yucky things that are maybe good for one. Rather like obligatory reproductive activity?

I ran across an article [Link] this weekend out of Michigan State U that debunks the idea that one can devote 10 K man-hours (MH) to learning something and become a master at that thing. This work establishes that one has to have talent for this thing or those 5 MY are wasted. I now feel much better that I abandoned juvenile athletics as quickly as possible, much to the disappointment of my parents. I have always contrasted the original assertion, now proven conditional, with the idea that one needs to change “jobs” every five years.

I was fortunate in that my parents did not “force” me to do many learned activities. My father wanted me to do sports but I was so abysmal that he quickly subsided. My mother was more determined with ballroom dancing. I still cannot dance to this day despite three summers of lessons as an adolescent. Nonetheless, I have always viewed this as a form of child abuse and was always careful with SCPdatter to help her do things she wanted to do, that I considered worthwhile, and not force her to do things I thought she should do. Other than schule work, of course. Now that I am a grandparent I fear she is morphing into a helicopter. With bumpers. Revenge of the species?

I am not sure it matters much. Children must find their own paths in life. They will be alienated from parents regardless of our acts. But I still fell more comfortable letting children make up their own way. And that’s probably as best as it can be?


No Ice Cream

I started out a blot this morning and then the system overloaded and quite frankly the to-do of getting back up has struck a cord of ennui. So no blot for now. Maybe later when the glucose level is back up.

Carry Burden

It occurred to me that one of the overlooked differences between Hunter-Gatherers and Sedentaries (as in us,) is that while both worry about what they carry, what they carry is entirely different.

Hunter-Gatherers (HGs) worried about their possessions, not their consumables. That’s because when they moved from one place to another, which they did too frequently, they had to carry everything or throw something away. So what you owned was a difficult decision; what you consumed wasn’t.

For Sedentaries, the opposite is the situation. We worry about what we consume because that’s what we have to carry. Admittedly, that carry is primarily from store to motorcar and from motorcar to residence, but we still have to carry it. On the other hand, we don’t move ourselves very often and when we do we engage a relocation service of some sort. The only time we worry about what we have is when we run short of storage room, usually because we want to buy new stuff and we suddenly discount older stuff. 

So where HGs worry about possessions, we Sedentaries worry about consumables. 

It would be nice if we could claim that this concern meant we really weren’t slime mold brained consumers but it really just confirms it.


Forward to the Past

Spring may have arrived! I got to go execute constitutional in the park this morning. Dihydrogen oxide fell most of the night and was still when I left Castellum SCP but the volumetric rate of fall was small and I only got wetted below the rain coat, a rather horrible thing from the Maine Guide Store with fleece lined sleeves. Nasty things. Horrible to put on and take off. Whoever designed should entertain a firing party for one volley. 

Anyway, the podcast was an episode of “Linux Luddites” that I initiated yesterday in gym and had time left over so I continued it as I maneuvered puddles on the path. And reminded myself repeatedly to refresh the accumulators in my head lamp. Anyway one of the things they were discussing was the ethical dimensions of FOSS and mentioned the good old days of mainframes. This prompted my attention span – time to the matter.

I first encountered main frames as a freshman. My previous experience had been limited to standardized tests, mostly the ACT/SAT sort of thing. Gathering rather redolent of cattle at the slaughter house. No expectation of any resolution. Perhaps the basis of all adolescent rebellion in my generation. I clearly recall taking an aptitude test at an induction call-up and being whispered about, inveigled to enlist in officer’s training and then told to go home because of hypertension.  Somehow that chain epitomized the wgole standardized test in society thing.

I should probably also warn that as an ORF I am not as accepting of change as I used to be. Although I am not sure I was very much that way. I have always been a late adopter of all but nerd tech. When the HP-35 came out I wanted one enough to sell my nonexistent children. But I stopped short of buying one because my TA stipend wouldn’t cover that and food and somehow eating seemed a bonny addiction. So take what comes with a bit of ‘grano’.

Computers were better in those days. We used them for real work, crunching numbers on all manner of reality things. I spent a lot of senior year time doing molecular structure calculations and drawing graphs by hand. And typing my senior thesis on my typewriter. No word processing on mainframes!

And no cellular telephones. The only mobile phones were radio phones which were almost nonexistent and tied to motorcars. But we had CB radios and they were better than cellulars since we could talk car-to-car and didn’t have to know who we were calling. And if we were late for dinner then we took our admonition.

The only thing I really think is great is the digital camera. All we had then were film cameras and one pretty much had to have considerable skill to be a wake-maker with those. And no matter what, you had to wait for the picture. Of course, it was on paper, but that made it somehow more memorable and important, and besides the pictures were always better than they are now, a result of photographer talent and training. 

I am not sure we were not more productive in those days. Yes, it took us a long time to write/publish stuff and we didn’t “communicate” as much but somehow the publications were better, especially better written, and the communications were memorable and important. We didn’t call home to discuss the grocery list. 

I don’t know that things were better then but I do know they were more satisfying. The food was better, we didn’t obsess over weather, and we didn’t have our lives run by our pocket boxes.

Selah. So sayeth an ORF writing a blot. Fundamentally contradictory.