Marine out of orbit

Spent much of yesterday in the precincts of the medicalist community of Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill. FD SCP was having a bit of day surgery and I got to enjoy the overweening discipline, false manners, and communication inabilities of that community.

Admittedly, communicating in the Huntsville area is extremely difficult for the medicalists, largely because of the high fraction of STEM Nerds. Medicalists tend to throw their communications over the wall, in the metaphor, with an ambiguity that is typical of Bog communication. And generally ignore the effects of that communication except for disdain and criticism of the Boggerate for that ambiguity. 

Unfortunately this strategy is an even more abysmal failure for the Nerd segment since they – rightly – recognize the communication and deliberately ambiguous and contradictory and largely ignore much of it as noise.

But I heard last evening that John Glenn had discorporated and so I gave that some cogitation. First I reflected on the reaction when he went into orbit. I was at schule at the time and the reaction among the teachers and staff ran from “wonderful, amazing” to “pay attention, this is BIG history.”

The reaction among the students ranged from “so what” to “finally, what took them so long to do something simple like this?”

Growing up in Huntsville, that latter was common. We tended to consider the whole space race a slow motion farce. Some of that was misplaced, a lack of understanding of organizational paranoia, but a lot of it was valid. And this brought me to the commonalities between the medicalist community and NASAl.

Both are autocratic, their way or be punished. Except in NASAl’s case, it seemed the punishment was meted out regardless of how you did something. Management was hideously insecure and violent. Spawned a lot of domestic abuse. Huntsville used to have more social workers than a city thrice its size. Divorces and battery. Also employment for a lot of those divorcees. 

And NASAl really hated astronauts. Would have much preferred their own civilian folk to military test pilots. Too independent and concerned for themselves. Not serf enough for the organization. So they got treated like chicken stercus.

And Glenn showed how you beat NASAl at its own game. You made it big and then made them be nice to you in exchange for giving them publicity. Because public approval was the only way to keep the politicians out of micromanagement. 

Anyway, Glenn was a good troop. And properly disrespectful to false authority.

Mirror Image?

Two Day. Last day of schule? Density actually up a bit at gym. Unusual for a two day. Otherwise, not bad. The podcasts were passable albeit a bit tedious and unmemorable. 

But I did note an article [Link] yesterday entitled “Selfie fans regularly overestimate how attractive they are, scientists find” that gathered my attention span. I am a bit bemused by this selfie thing. It is not, to my domain, the land of speedbumpia portrayed by the media of selfie addicts obstructing passage and causing collisions. I also have to admit to having tried it on myself for both investigation and obtaining photographs for icons on various web sites. There is considerably more art and skill to this than portrayed by the media, which is consonant with my experience with photography.

There is also the matter that while the camera sensor in cellular telephones is quite good, the optics are RUBBISH bordering on STERCUS. 

This article, from U Toronto, asserts that there is a component of egotism. That is unsurprising. Nor is the academic sense of priestliness, that information is gossip until sanctified by a gowned scholar. The form of the egotism is. The intro claims that selfie takers consider themselves more attractive than those who view their work, which raises anew the question of art.

But what was telling was deeper in the article:

When all was said and done, both groups – the selfie-takers and non-selfie-takers – reported themselves more attractive than they were rated by the outside group, though the selfie-takers were off by a greater degree

Seems to control for this the wonks did two sets of photos – selfies and otheries – and submitted them to an independent (?) group to review. And they found everyone had a better view of themselves than others do.

And here I thought that was a well established character of human nature. If we all didn’t think we look better than we do the suicide rate would be close to 1.0.

So I am mulling whether this nulls the whole exercise. Is there any science here? Maybe. But probably not new.

Name Recognition

One day. Back to gym. Getting back to usual. Modal? Still not much distance but have the resistance half restored. And am listening to podcasts again which helps keep heart rate down.

Podcast today was the usual, an episode of the CNC’s “Best of Ideas”, this one called Stuffed about the increased stercus in our diets since the Reagan era began. So much for deregulation being good for the country. Makes for an interesting outlook, blaming the Obesity Epidemic on the Gipper. Still there seems less harm/risk in trusting the White House to an actor instead of a businessman.

Especially when the latter is a Nazi.

I ran across an article [Link] entitled “African-American men with historically black names live a year longer.” My first thought on seeing this was whether it should be considered racist. Yes, I know that I have discussed how racism is scientific garbage and the Yankee government uses it as a means of control but this was about work done by an academic and since they are the most sensitive about the falsehood, they think they are immune to it.

It’s basically a statistical article and the only possibly racist aspect of it seems to be the list of “historically black names.” I have to admit that I expected names like Chaka to be on the list – original African names – but it was a mixture of bible derived names or names vaguely muslim. Historical in the sense of mid-Nineteenth century to mid-Twentieth. None of these individualized (?) names with extra syllables or vowel swaps. I suspect that distinction is important but I don’t mean that as criticism. I have enough problems mispronouncing words in the dictionary so it’s my problem.

Anyway, the text says one tear but the example bar graph looks more like three years. One year is so small compared to the standard deviation that it’s hard to credit. Three is more than three times as credible. The joy of an “S” curve. 

I won’t elaborate but what seems rational to me is an argument that at the time these names conferred status which is something all people want. In fact, that’s why the extra syllables and the vowel shifts. Mothers trying to help their children. I have to wonder if it helps. And what about Euro-Americans? How about some data on that?

I heard this morning that John Medicine Crow had passed. Last (?) war sachem of the Crow. Somehow I doubt he’ll be interred in Arlington but I like to think Marse Robert would have approved of such.

Dren Book

I ran across this article [Link] this morning while going through my RSS feed accumulator. It’s entitled “Why Batman Is the Ultimate Lightning Rod for Nerd Rage.” It also prropagates a grave albeit too common inaccuracy.

I have to admit that I have been trying to read the book that the article is about. It is a truly remarkable piece of scholarship. The author should be a professor in some endowed university somewhere. Unfortunately this situation is part of what dooms the book.

Basically the book is TOO long. It is one of those books that would have been better as a 35 slide POWERPOINT presentation. AS is, it is completely overwhelming and trackless. Not that it doesn’t have a track. It clearly does. But the track is beyond human comprehension in less than several years of scholarship just on that.

It also has a horrible flaw. It claims to be about nerds. But the author has nerds and geeks swapped. To demonstrate this, I cite a REGISTER article [Link] entitled “What’s the difference between GEEKS and NERDS?” I quote from the article:

    Geek – An enthusiast of a particular topic or field. Geeks are collection oriented, gathering facts and mementos related to their subject of interest. They are obsessed with the newest, coolest, trendiest things that their subject has to offer.

    Nerd – A studious intellectual, although again of a particular topic or field. Nerds are “achievement” oriented, and focus their efforts on acquiring knowledge and skill over trivia and memorabilia.

    Both are dedicated to their subjects, and sometimes socially awkward. The distinction is that geeks are fans of their subjects, and nerds are practitioners of them. A computer geek might read Wired and tap the Silicon Valley rumor-mill for leads on the next hot-new-thing, while a computer nerd might read CLRS and keep an eye out for clever new ways of applying Dijkstra’s algorithm. Note that, while not synonyms, they are not necessarily distinct either: many geeks are also nerds (and vice versa).

Note the difference here: Geeks are collectors; Nerds are achievers. And by that achieving a collection is not Nerdish. 

So if you take the book and replace “Nerd” with “Geek” in every instance at least that distraction will be alleviated.

But I doubt whether it can be read as entertainment even then.

But I hope I am wrong because the author is deserving of some reward for the magnificence of his scholarship.



Fifth Day. No gym. Air temperature 31 degF. So no constitutional, just a bit of a pedal on the stationary unicycle. (Only one wheel.)

One of few positives of pedaling is that I get to read. And think quite a bit differently than during constitutional. So this morning I thought about the matter of science books. This was fostered by an article [Link] about how good this year’s crop of science books are.

February and already bragging on the year? Seems a bit hubraic.

First of all, I want to distinguish between books of science and books about science. The former are mostly textbooks or collections of papers or lectures. The latter are popularizations written for the “public,” often by non-STEMs, such as journalists. That right there makes them suspect.

Reading a book of science is hard. It’s a learning effort. If it’s about a new method or discipline – at least to you – then you’re learning the basics or even advanced stuff. Reading a book about science is hard because you have to figure out what’s accurate and what is meaning-spoiling-simplification. But it’s not a source of learning, at least is you are a STEM.

The wonderment here is that these books about science sell at all. They are generally unsatisfactory to STEMs and discussions with my colleagues indicate that the probability a STEM will buy a popularization scales approximately as the distance of the topic from their own field and endeavors. IOW, physicists don’t read popularizations of physics. 

But the questions is, do the non-STEMs? Obviously there is a great difference in expectation between the number of copies of a trashy novel sold and the number of copies of a serious (?) non-fiction book sold. Lowered expectations. So a best selling science popularization has several orders of magnitude sold than a book of socially acceptable pornography.

Which brings us to another distinction: porn. Books of science are not pornographic, even medical textbooks. Books about science are porn because they offer readers vicarious inclusion in the lives and deeds of STEMs. This is probably why so many academics write popularizations. They are thereby porn stars of a sort; they offers readers opportunity to emulate the authors’ lives.

But I don’t think STEM porn is really very popular, and not because of iys lack of veracity. More a matter that STEMs just aren’t sexually engaging. Even with other STEMs.

Not Children’s Toys

Two day. Rain seems passed, at least for this morning. Gym denser than yesterday, which is anomalous. Weather overload?

Today was science podcast day and it was a bit strange. The Guardian Science podcast was an interview with some failed physicist turned magician who had written a popularization about biology. Passing strange. 

Also listened to several bits about the gravitational wave detection. Happy to hear that the “discovery” nonsense was a stupidity of some publicist at LIGO. (Why isn’t it LIGWO?) No mention of Weber. Probably a boon?

Anyway, I heard the audio version of the detected gravitational waves. Immediately taken back to Forbidden Planet. Sound was very electronic music. This will probably spawn all sorts of conspiracy theories, especially since the cost of LIGO is being talked about.

Much grr brrr on the monitor about the fight over supreme court justice nomination. Have we descended to the level of depravity where the politicians actually believe they are more important than the nation? Apparently. 

Almost makes me yearn for a military coup. 

Differentiation 201

Ice cream day. Off to park for constitutional. Less wind speed than yesterday so less cooling. (Is “cool” as a social noun meaningful? “Cooling” has thermodynamic – reality – meaning but not “cool”, nor “cold”. Language is implicitly whacked?) 

I reflected on the difficulty of telling geek from nerd. It is relatively easy to tell bog from either, for example when I arrived at park this morning there was a pickup truck already present. The truck sported as ad hoc pole with a Confederate battle flag attached. This combination identified its owner/driver as a bog with 0.99 confidence (minimum.) 

While bog – geek and nerd differentiations are relatively simple, those between geek and nerd are less so. Sometimes it takes time and observation to distinguish talk from do. But yesterday while I was reviewing tabs, I came across an excellent differentiation example. I quote:[Link]

“We often use old sci-fi movies as reference points for our own hopes and fears about our present reality. That computer interface is so Minority Report, we might say. That food is something out of Soylent Green. That building is so Jetsons. It’s imperfect, but it’s a shorthand to talk about the way that the world is changing, for better and for worse.”

which is admittedly taken a bit out of context – addressed a bit below.

One moderately robust differentiator rests on a bit of language usage. In contemporary usage, “sci-fi ” usually refers to video, either television or cinema while “science fiction” usually refers to print, either periodicals or books, including eBooks. The quote above is clearly about sci-fi although at least one component, “Soylent Green”, is based on science fiction in the form of Harry Harrison’s “Make Room, Make Room” book. I will refrain from quality comparisons at this juncture.

As a rule subject to a sliding scale, Geeks watch sci-fi while Nerds read Science Fiction. In my analysis this seems to be related to what I call NERD STEM Writing. Nerds who are STEM have to compose as part of their doing. Geeks do not. This is a bit strange. One would think that those who talk would also write but for some reason they do not, in the main. There are, admittedly, exceptions but the exceptions tend to be “professional” people such as justicers, medicalists, and the like. 

I am told this carries over to cosplay, which I am only observationally familiar with since it was in its early diffusion when I was unstaid enough to participate. Graduate schule tends to damper one’s social life and my expression of counter-cultureness was miniatures war games.

Anyway, supposed.y Geeks tend to wear costumes of video characters while Nerds wear costumes of literature characters. I grit my teeth over that last since saying there is a “science fiction literature” demeans science fiction. To me literature is old, uninteresting books mandated as a wellfare project for literature geeks who can only survive so long as universities and public schules waste time and resources on them to the detriment (?) of their customers/consumers. I add the question mark since I once knew a regimental sergeant major who “loved” literature and constantly read and reread these academic behemoths. He was, I suspect, a striving literatureist who was insufficient in some aspect to be a public parasite. But nonetheless a righteous human.

As a result, there is a replication of the bog/geek+nerd phase differentiation at cosplay events. The majority, the geeks, are attired as sci-fi video characters and all know who the other is. But the minority, the nerds, are attired as science fiction characetrs and are mostly known only to other nerds so the Geeks are doing the Bog think of asking “who is that weirdo supposed to be.” 

I can attest to this by happening to be on TDY to a conference being held in a Yankee city where a cosplay convention was also being held. I was attired in twill trousers and a tweed jacket and a rep tie and while returning from a latrine (entropy transfer!) wandered through a group of cosplayers and was asked who I was supposed to be? Struck for once with a flash I told them I was attired as Richard Ballenger Seaton, a statement that brought great puzzlement from the geeks and admirational recognition from the nerds.