Mumbo Downo

One day, and back to gym. Still a bit below where I should like but recovery under way. Moderate density of people; the regular educationalists and a couple of weight bouncers were back, probably because spring desession is over. The podcast was an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” about two men who found each other in the Iran-Iraq Wat. It was not successful on many azimuths but it helped divert attention.

Yesterday was the Christianist Easter, the organizational appropriation of vernal equinox and Passover. As such, it seems fitting to mention an article [Link] dealing with the decreased religiosity of Amerika. I should like to attribute this to rational thinking but I am too much of a cynic to do so.

The tone of the article is quite civilized and its theme captured with a quote:

“Americans today are also less likely to believe that the Bible is divinely inspired with 22% of respondents agreeing with the statement that the Bible  “is an ancient book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts recorded by men” compared to the 14% who agreed with this in 1984 (a 57% increase).”

although I though the percentage was unnecessary and distracting. Other numbers are similar: decrease in church attendance/membership; decrease in non doubters; …

The only thing amazing about all this is the furor raised by the churchites over how their religion is “under attack”. Since when is desertion an “attack”? Apparently these people are uncomfortable with being American; unable to accept what freedom means.  But then, the removal of freedom is what most religions are about.

Third day. Gym population a bit increased. Unusual. Usually W < M. Waiting is.

Podcast an episode of “Quirks and Quarks”. Got tired of history podcasts. This one is almost a year (10 months) old so maybe I have enough stored away to get through the cast’s outrageously long summer holiday drought.

Another medicalist day. In fact, the week is such. Yesterday the ENT. Today the neurologist. Tomorrow the periodontist. Getting old is full of annoyances. And pain. All in the cause of living longer or better or alleviating the pain. 

The problem with all this intensity is that the unintended consequences are greater than the desire, intended consequences. “Que custodies custodientne.”

Film at Eleven.

The Domain of Imaginity

One Day! Air temperature almost 50 degF so balmy for March in Alibam. Gym sparse and only one weight bouncer. The podcast was a bit disconnected since it dealt with the future and zero marginal cost/ The latter caused the disconnect.

I made myself study economics and finance years ago when I had to learn to live with Yankee government accountants. And I found out zero marginal cost wasn’t even a holy grail. It was pure fiction. Why? Mostly because no one accounts for the true cost of anything.

What does a tree cost? No not what the lumber yard says, what it costs to harvest the tree, prepare it, AND grow a replacement tree. And what is the money value of that latency?

So zero marginal cost is more about fiction than fact. So the podcast failed at its introduction.

My attention wandered a bit until I saw a commercial on the monitor. I forget what the commercial was advertising; I tend to tune that out. But what gathered my attention was a subtitled claim that the people endorsing were “Real people. Not actors.”

I didn’t dwell but passingly on the crux that I have no basis to trust this assertion since I can neither test nor verify the claim. Instead I became fixated on what are “real people”? Is this a mathematical statement. Real as opposed to imaginary? And are humans actually real? Can’t the soul be thought of as mathematically imaginary, contributing to the magnitude but only creeping into reality when it interacts with another imaginary thing?

Humans are resultants of the Big Bang and Evolution. So shouldn’t “real” refer to our natural aspect? And if so, are we not immediately not-real as soon as we interact with other humans to distance ourselves from natural reality? So the only humans who are real are those who live alone, never interact with other humans, and only interact with nature. Does making a hand ax or a fire hardened stick make us unreal?

We can conceive of two realities: natural reality that we evolved in; and imaginary (?) reality that is society and civilization and such. But since we are the product of reproductive congress between two other humans, at least after we became homo sap, then we have always had an imaginary component. So how can any human be really “real”?

Then it occurred that almost all of us are inverted. We have long since gotten to the point where reality – Nature – is imaginary almost all the time and imaginity – Society – is “real” almost all the time. (It seems I have gone and invented another word.) So when the commercial says “real people” does it mean those who exist only in a social context?

And what of the statement “not actors”? Are we not all “acting” when we are interacting socially?

At least I can confirm this commercial upholds the thesis that all advertisement have a false component.

Matter Matters!

The foundation of civilization is trust. The currency of society is trust. If we cannot trust our fellow humans to behave then society becomes Hobbesian and collapses. If the organizations of civilization cannot be trusted than we collapse into individuals or, at best, hunter-gatherer bands.

The problem is usually the latter. Organizations have no morals, nor, usually, ethics. The larger the organization the less likely it is to have any driving force other than survival, quite ignoring that if trust in it is fully withdrawn it becomes vacuum.

This seems to be a lesson that humanity has largely forgotten, or, at least, squeezed out of its consciousness.

I got reminded of this in an article [Link] in the Register weekly eLetter this morning. It seems that Barnes and Noble is abandoning Great Britain and all the customers who bought Nook readers/slablets will be cheated of the eBooks they bought.

This is particularly appalling because Great Britain is the most likely place for B&N to stay afloat.

It’s also why I don’t buy any eProduct I can’t have possession of.

I expect that I will not be able to repair any actual device but then I don’t want to. I accept that it will fail and when it fails is at least partly stochastic. But I take this into account of how much I pay for it.

But software or an eBook? Sorry. If I can’t have a copy that I can store, no deal. If the government says I can’t have a legal copy then I wrestle with my morals to decide to either violate the law or I do without. Or in some rare instances, compromise my stance.

This doesn’t apply to services. They are inherently intangible. I don’t expect the phone company to give me a hostage. Bot for things, I either get a copy or I do without.

Yes, I store files in the cloud. But I also keep my own, local copies. On separate pieces of matter. In fact. the cloud copies are insurance for some catastrophic event that gets both the use and the stored item. And yes, I recognize that a catastrophe may be so widespread that the cloud vanishes. But it also likely vanishes me.

Only storing stuff in the cloud is like playing Russian Roulette with an automatic weapon.

And yes, I do have to trust banks and such like but it’s also a matter of trusting government and exercising my own vigilance.

That trust is sorely tried but I am a senior and can’t go live in the wilderness on my own. And I have to die anyway.

But trusting organizations like B&N to stay is delusion.

Lithic Warfare

Mundane Day. Back to Gym. Not too bad. Podcast a repeat of a twenty-five year old program on the impact of the Great Patriotic War on the children of fascists and religionists.

Not at all bad. In fact, better than I expected. But then it is quite old and reflects the standards of a previous generation of journalists. So better. Less EMO. More objective. Fewer glitches and errors.

But it did put me to mind of a recent series of articles (e.g. [Link]) about the find of a group of twenty-seven (?) skeletons in Kenya. What makes this particular is that this appears to be a massacre of a hunter-gatherer band. The size is almost classically right, and the skeletal remains indicate violent demise.

The anthropologists have labeled this evidence of war before agriculture. Which is the why of this blot.

Anthropologists and many artsy-sciencey types equate any evidence of violence above the singleton with war. To them, any after-schule or bar-room brawl is war. But this is not what those who actually study war think. Their thinking is considerably more rational and deliberate.

War is not, fundamentally, violence. It is about imposing policy. As such war without organization is nonexistent. Fights between criminal gangs may indeed by war but pick up fights are not.

Often the only way to pursue that imposition of policy is with violence. Largely because of contention. One side wants one policy; the other a different policy. Humans are fighters/fleers Violence will ensue.

Now let’s talk about primitive war. Those who are interested in filling my gaps can read the works of Turney-High. War emerges from hunting, so generally hunters double as warriors in simple social organizations (e.g., hunter-gatherer bands.) So maybe one-sixth of the band’s population may fight. (Assuming the band to be approximately one-third children, one-third young adults, and one-third “seniors – slanted more to the young adults – and evenly divided by gender.) So not a big fraction can fight but more so than in more “civilized” social organizations. 

War is rare. The risks are too great. Lose half of your hunter-warriors and the band starves. This puts a premium on raiding over pitched battles. Ambushes. 

Alliances are difficult. In fact, one of the main types of raiding may be bride stealing. There is some interaction among bands (incest avoidance appears to be VERY old) but military alliances? Logistically disfavored because of food deprivation. So alliances probable only in dire circumstances: overpopulation or nekulturny behavior. 

So this massacre is problematic. Much further thought is needed beyond the anthropologists amateur analysis. (Publicity grab?)

Also, we have to consider that this may have been humanitarian. If you do fight and a band is reduced to the point where it will starve from loss of hunters/gatherers, then killing the band quickly is actually a good deed.

Technology Trysts

Saturn’s Day. No constitutional today. Or likely tomorrow. Above the phase change temperature for dihydrogen oxide but below the cardiologist lower limit. So make do with stationary bicycle. No outside. No Nature. No uplift.

I ran across a cartoon: [Link]

yesterday that led to some cogitation. I have experienced this but I had not really explored the situation in depth. Now I am not completely technically illiterate. I can design most of a missile and even build some of the part myself although I don’t like to. I can make minor repairs on computer HW and SW. I could probably write a BIOS but again, I don;t want to. Nor do I want to learn how to do CUI coding. I am perfectly happy with comma delimited output.

But I am also not about to build a toaster or a television. At least not unless the apocalypse occurs and I am needed to restore civilization. I judge this eventuality to have probability O(0). But this does give some insight.

What I can handle in “hooking up” are tools but not appliances. Happily most appliances require no “hook up” beyond power plug and maybe time setting on a clock. The exception is TV stuff. When the cable tyranny went from analog to digital push and I had to upgrade, I tried seven (or nine?) times to follow the setup instructions. Complete failure. Finally called the office and had them send technician. Happily this was older fellow who shared that the instructions were “dead wrong bull shit” and fixed me up in ten minutes (two boxes to be set-up.) 

I am not too embarrassed by this. I have noted that the bogs are the opposite, which is probably why they exist. They can set up appliances but not tools. Much as I hate to admit CSPdatter has been known to buy new box rather than ask me to fix her old one. Otherwise she is a good person. Mostly. 

She is also a Winders person. But then so is FD SCP. Not everyone can be on the light side. To use a somewhat odious metaphor. But is still accurate. So I was not surprised to see an article [Link] entitled “No escape: Microsoft injects ‘Get Windows 10’ nagware into biz PCs” because it upholds my basic hypothesis that MegaHard is fundamentally stupid. Why do this? The last place you need to advertise is with corporate serf user organizations. But after a while it made some sense. Obviously, MegaHard has failed to sell WX to the corporate IT types. There is yet hope for civilization if this be the case!

I was, however, bemused by another article [Link] entitled “Microsoft finally has a proper way to opt out of Windows 7/8 to Windows 10 upgrades” which is highly confusing since it seems to contradict itself repeatedly and wander off as often. Probably the high standards of contemporary journalism. But I suspect that MegaHard may be backing off because too many of their serfs – corporate and individual – are running away to other OS. 

One has to be very sorry for MegaHard these days. After all Apple makes more money and LINUX has more installs. But we also felt sorry for Typhoid Mary even as we were putting her under glass. Those who spread evil, however innocently, cannot be permitted. Not that MegaHard is very innocent.

Makes me happy I run Linux. And sad that FD SCP doesn’t. And I have to care for her boxes.

Second Best

Two Day. Higher air temperature. Almost at the phase change point of ice to water (solid -> liquid dihydrogen oxide) when I motored to gym. Very sparse. Three patrons plus the clerk. Relatively quiet other than the noxious video track of hospital advertisements that are egregious examples of every advertisement is a prevarication. Unhappily most of my non-damaging counter-measures have been figured out and I am not resolved enough to sabotage the equipment.

However much it grates and annoys. 

Sad day for diversion. The Guardian science podcast was all about space stuff which is about as diverting as a hangover. And in much the same way. I fear my taste for space opera has rather sapped my attention span for things like hole boring on Mars. I won;t say it isn;t important but it isn’t engaging for me. And it isn’t my kind of science. If you’re inept at experimentation then experimentation isn’t really attractive. Rather like the chemistry of milk for those of us who are modal and lack any of the cattle herder mutations. After being forced to drink milk into adolescence one develops an aversion to milk.

Which means that those advertisements for lactose-minimized milk are not only nasty but nauseating. 

The weather beavers say tonight will be a repeat of Sundae night so that is another nasty/nauseating. And they are already making dire threats about next week. I do so hate winter.

Nothing of substance to mutter today. No great ideas bubbling up.

Film at Eleven.