Desktop Dilemma?

Five Day. Gym schedule changes. Mostly because of discriminatory managerial practices. But with Repulsians in the Catbird seat no way are they going to let one bring a religionist discrimination charge against a capitalist.

One of my colleagues, Magnetic Inductance Force, called my attention to Canonical’s on-going reinvention this morning on the Face Scroll. Seems they are moving the window buttons back to the right side!

This is amazing! After all the grrrrrrrr brrrrrrrrrrrrrr they made about how the buttons were more efficient and superstitiously anointed on the left side, they have the chutzpah to move them back. This completely tops the abandonment of Unity, the planet’s second most disliked (read: hated) desktop GUI which they claimed on rollout to be the first coming of the techno-stupid Messiah.

I shortly recalled a discussion on a special podcast of “Late Night Linux”, the successors of the superb “Linux Luddites”, that at its best struggles to be mediocre.[Link] The podcast was devoted to this post collision Ubuntu (it had to have narrowly missed a gravitational singularity?) and was mercifully short. But it did bring up a useful topic: does the Linux desktop matter?

The babble from the invisible talking heads – that’s what an audio podcast is – was that what counted – fiscally – was cloud and IOT, which we might better categorize as delusional placebo and internet-of-spythings. If all we count is immediate cash flow then that statement was accurate. But if that was all that mattered we would still be living in mud brick hovels, sacrificing every third born infant to some bull headed pseudo-deity.

The question unasked by the babblers has to do with what the Linux desktop is used for? Or perhaps better, who uses the desktop and to what purpose?

Yes, most of humanity uses the internet via slablet using either aborted, neutered Linux (Android) or pacifier iOS. The nature of these OS implementations are such as to make any kind of creative activity one geometric point shy of impossible (the smallest infinity less one is finite, that’s the definition – maybe?) The vast majority of the users of these devices are parasitic consumers in the sense that while they may pay for access and service, they do not add anything to the substance of human knowledge or civilization.

The people who add to knowledge or add to civilization mostly use the desktop. That’s because the desktop is a tool and these productive, creative people are tool users. 

The desktop is like a hospital or a university or the Large Hadron Collider. Most people don’t need these things except occasionally. But they are the things that keep civilization – and humanity – going and growing (maybe) and not going extinct. 

The point being that a hospital with staff is a building without effect. A university without staff is buildings without effect. …

That’s why the desktop is important. Not for the man-in-the-street, for the man (or woman) who creates the means to streets.

Fallen Branch

Three Day. Off to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill. Much dashing about. So late for morning informational ablutions. So while plumbing the depths of FaceScroll, I came across this [Link]

I found this tree rather amusing, mostly for the choices of branches. As with most such amateur attempts at graphical taxonomy, the entertainment is in what is left out rather than what is put in. Among these is the branch of NERD STEMs.

First of all NERD STEMs tend to use Linux because of its capabilities and freedoms. Depending on their depth of interest in computational “science” (used here figuratively since anything that has to tell you it’s a science, isn’t,) they may use either Debian or Arch branch. Only the ones who operate in tight control environments use institutional Linux. I shall not dignify this matter with further comment.

As a rule, NERD STEMs want a non-hassling Linux distro. Geeks may want to wonk about with bit bashing but Nerds generally see the distro as a tool and want it to be tool-like: well behaved and trustworthy. And not in need of repair. But sometimes in need of modification.

NERD STEMs may be theoreticians, experimentalists, or intermediates. Some disciplines, such as biology tend to be almost exclusively experimentalists. 

Theoreticians tend to be primarily concerned with maths. That means that they will generally have several computational algebra clients on their box. No point in wasting time bashing maths for analytical solution when the box can do it. They also like graphs so they will have a couple of instant graphification clients. 

Experimentalists tend to be concerned with numbers. That means they will have some high tension (as in electricity) statistical clients and and maybe some electronics design clients and CAD/CAM/CAE clients. They also have statistics and graphing clients to crunch the experimental numbers.

Intermediates are the intersection/union of the two previous.

Nerds write code. Mostly they write in FORTRAN and NERD PYTHON. They don’t care about GUI stercus once they get to graduate schule. All that matters is numbers. And pictures of numbers. Not pretty box art. 

Enough. The branch for STEM NERDs is probably orthogonal to the sheet of the picture above.

And maybe that’s a good thing.


Music Messiah

One Day. And I got reminded I am ORF at gym this morning. And not by the polite weight bouncers – all one of them. Rather, the podcast was a episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” about Jewish Canadian talk fest about the nature of the electronic revolution. AS is often the case, the focus isn’t on what’s important like field theory or quantum mechanics or even manufacture and design of the electronics. No, it was about the social aspects and that was a resounding mental thud for me. 

Yes, I care about the parasitic nature of contemporary organizations, especially the corporate ones. And yes, Facescroll and Gooey and such are the evil pretender or some such superstitious thing. And I care that human slavery is being reinvented by everyone from greedy entitleists to politicians to whizz wizards. 

But I’ve heard it all too often and climate change has already gotten too far, so what difference does it make how the species ends? 

And then I ran across an article [Link] entitled “Apple Just Killed Off 2 Iconic Products, And People Are Super Sad.” Turns out Apple – one of those corporate slavemasters – is killing off two of its lower end (as in cost/profit) offerings. And they’re both MP3 players.

OK. The news flows – I call them that because they span a range from a torrent, as in SMS news bulletins, to a diffusional creep, as in television broadcast news programs that seem to always be hours out of date – have been full the last few years with the demise of the MP3 player. (I do watch the local weather foretelling, mostly so FD SCP and I are on the same (erroneous) sheet.) 

I have commented on this previously, mostly about the so-called demise of the MP3 file because its copyright has discorporated, but this blot is more about the players.

The demise of the MP3 (/OGG/…) player is supposedly because everyone is using their cellular telephone to stream music. And so the dedicated MP3 player is irrelevant.

I feel like taking my claymore to the tertiary STD infectee who claimed that. Mostly because the type of stercus caput (that’s fecal cranium for the Bogs) that says such a thing is the same type who says all one needs in the way of a knife is named Swiss Army. So I’ll give him a Swiss Army knife against a claymore any day. And when I clave him from the nave to the chaps, I won’t have to listen any more?

The Swiss Army knife is exemplified by the MacGyver stories. More the original ones than the current farce on the television. Not that it isn’t entertaining, but it’s not congruent enough with the book. Like most remakes. Like ALL remakes?

Anyway, I see folks at gym with ear buds – those wired raisins one sticks into one’s ear canals – plugged into their cellular telephone trying to get it to play music. And when they finally waste enough time to get that to work they have to figure out how to secure that cellular telephone on the short leash of the ear buds. Most of them spend more time wrangling with the hardware than exercising. 

I have a dedicated MP3 player. It acts like a USB stick when I connect it to my deskbox. So all I have to do is tell my RSS accumulator which podcasts to download and then I use the file manager – usually one that supports two panes – to drag and drop the podcast files onto the mp3 player. And then I put it in a pouch attached to a neck strap, attach the earphones – not earbuds, I see no reason to irritate and inflame my ear canals – and I’m ready to go off to gym and spend less than a minute queuing up the podcast of the session. 

So on the one side we have cellular telephone and ear buds that doesn’t work well but does lots of other stuff not well too and on the other we have a dedicated player and ear phones that work very well.

A classic instance of the Swiss Army Knife paradigm. We can even express it as maths:

number of things it can do * how well it does each thing = constant

For the acalculate, that means the more things you can do with one tool, the worse those things will be done.

If you want to walk around unencumbered with a multitool for emergencies, carry a Swiss Army Knife. If you are in the emergency business, you carry a toolkit. 

That’s why the MP3 player is repeatedly declared dead; because Bogs can’t understand why they are useful and most journalists are Bogs.

And what about music? I have a separate MP3 player for music. Why? Because what I listen to isn’t available on those streaming services.

Book Bullying

This one is out of train. After ending the last blot I shifted over to reading eMail, which is a rather depressing thing. Too many ads and such these days. One such was from the Barnes and Ignoble folks who were pushing “back-to-school reading”. I presume this is what they think the parents of bairns going back to primary and secondary schule should be buying from them for the bairns to read and become educated. The Arab Tribune, aka Gossip Stercus, recently published a back-to-schule issue that included similar materials.

This took me back to my own days in the schules of Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill. And my reading assignments.

Pure Cow Stercus. Patties. Common in the fields that then had not been paved over with houses and (now) decaying stores. 

That was a bit too much flow. 

When we were kids there were still fields, inhabited either by cows or cotton. We stayed away from the latter because the boll husks were nasty wicked sharp. We played in the former because we could have stercus flinging contests. It was educational. We learned that the more you worked cow stercus, the more aromatic it became. And we learned the embarrassment of being hose down by parent in the back yard.

But the start referred to the books we were assigned to read in schule. Absolute utter odiferous bowel solids. 

There may have been a time when those books were popular and entertaining. But once they became “literature” all the enjoyment was strained or distilled or bleached out of them. At least for me.

Writing is a rather special form of communication. It is problematic and risky. When we talk to someone we have communication when the two (or more) people convey their mutual understanding of the information.

Not so with books. Books are a shot in the dark. And as with most shots, they miss. And thus the imposition of a mandatory read of a book that misses is at the least bullying and at the most torture.

I do not recall a single assigned book in schule, public and college, that was communication. They were all somewhere between bullying and torture. The only except was in seventh grade when some science fiction story, cleverly hidden under a Saturday Evening Post copyright (that you founding grandfather!) was included and not assigned because the “teacher” thought it inappropriate.

I read it anyway. And it was the only thing I read in schule that year I enjoyed and appreciated.

Not to say I didn’t read a lot. And good stuff. Just none of it assigned.

Seems a fit description of what is wrong with public education, doesn’t it? 

I sorrow for the bairns, still being bullied by the educational (???????????) instrumentality after all these years. No wonder they are alienated by schule.

And no more educated than I. But I do wonder how effective they will be.

Language And Dirty Water

Seven Day and the atmospheric temperature, at least in the turbulent mixing layer, is considerably less than yesterday. So the constitutional was almost pleasant. Except for the unhappy joints and muscles, of course. 

It has been a good week for articles, perhaps the few competent journalists getting their licks in before silly season really sets in. Although given the grrrr brrrr arising from within the beltway, it is unclear that the silly season has not become perpetual?

On the geeky side, I noted an article [Link] from the Register talking about which language is the most popular at this time. I probably should warn those of the crimson neck club, most fanatics if not matriculates of the campus of the Black Warrior, that the discussion here is about computer programming languages and not what they are supposed to speak and write. 

The discussion seems to revolve around Java and Python. I have to admit that I am illiterate in both languages although I have a text – somewhere – on nerd (as opposed to geek) python that I hope to actually learn someday. Maybe. Probably not. 

Some discussion of both these aspects seems poised on the nib of my electronic pen. First, it is EXCEEDINGLY difficult to do coding if one uses Winders or AppleOS. Linux is the most useful GUI OS (although it doesn’t have to be GUI) because it is still firmly bound to its “command line” roots. This is at once, as is usual, both a strength and a weakness. The strength is that it is at least an order of magnitude easier, perhaps two, to write and run code on Linux than on Winders or AppleOS. It’s rather like being horribly thirsty and in the one instance being in a rain forest and in the other in a desert. Think Great Lakes versus Sahara. 

The weakness is, of course, that this connection to the reality of the OS and computing is rather offputting, frightening even, to those Bogs who can neither really use a computer as anything more than a means to view pornography or visit a social website. They seem – often – unable to comprehend that that same OS is easier to maintain and fix when they vertically copulate it. Insecurity will be the rope that hangs humanity, to paraphrase Joseph Stalin.

My cynicism about Python also flows from this ease of access. My “milk” computer language was FORTRAN, an adventure that I have related previously in this blog. The reason I am ambivalent about Python comes down to the fact that FORTRAN, PASCAL, and LibreOffice CALCBASIC, are quite adequate to fulfill my coding (and crunching) needs. So Python is a nice to have but not a survival thing so far as I can tell.

Needless to say, none of my languages, which also include FORTH and LISP and MODULA and ADA, are even listed on the popular language list. Somehow that seems rather fitting, very Seventyish, very Fonzy even. The whole idea of popularity and programming language seem antithetical. Back in the days when we still drove Amerikan motorcars and fixed them ourselves and women dressed up to leave the house, people who could write computer code were NEVER popular. Except to the smart girls who knew that STEMs got paid better than jocks who weren’t quite good enough to play professionally and didn’t beat their women and children because they weren’t professional porn stars. (Yes, I know the pronouns in that last are ambiguous; it’s deliberate. Think about it.) The thing, as those of us who went back to our tenth or fifteenth high schule reunion learned, is that nerds have better lives, in the mean, than the popular kids. 

Speaking of better, and changing the subject a bit, I see [Link] that the British National Health Service has decided to quit paying for scripts for homeopathic concoctions. Sadly, this doesn’t seem to be purely scientific, more a mixture of scientific and fiscal. But even then it does give the Brits a Kudo for doing a right thing even if it is for mixed reasons.

This will probably be ignored inside the Beltway. None of the partisan types will be happy with this. What the partisan types want is to do away with actual medications – for everyone but themselves and their obscenely wealthy donors – because the tax revenues should not be spent on citizens, just on rich donors – and political office holders, of course. So any exposition of rationality and sanity will not be appreciated in the district.

Amusingly, the same occurs in different arcs in Britain. [Link] Seems there is some distress over how real English is being polluted and abased by Amerikan English. This, sadly, is not really new. I don;t think the Brits are as paranoid about this as the French and the Germans, both of whom have government-academic councils dedicated to maintaining the purity of essence of their language. (The Bogs probably didn’t catch that reference to either the novel or the movie based on it.) These councils do wonderful work. The Germans have been trying since before the Great War to get “th” out of every word except “throne”, which is why we have perpetual arguments over Neandertal versus Neanderthal. I shall refrain from mentioning the French efforts because they seem a combination of Looney Tunes cartoon and hydrophobia. (The old ones from my bairnhood, not the politically correct sterilizations of today.)

Surprisingly, our elected guano (as in bat stercus) mental officials seem oblivious to this, probably because, in the one case, their disdain of the grammar abuse of the electorate, and in the other, their ignorance of the grammar abuse of the electorate, preclude any awareness. The elite of the district are incapable of communication so any alteration of language is orthogonal.

Enough. For now. I am tired of churning low hanging, almost rotted fruit. I need to leave a bit for later. And for the elephants to get snockered on. 

Orf Arf

Five Day. A day of falling dihydrogen oxide and briefly perhaps, a diminution of temperature of the air. FD SCP has decreed today a day of unconsciousness, for herself, at least, and so being constrained to a consistent attempt at silence, an opportunity to ‘hawg’ tabs is presented.

When I first retired from the employ of the Yankee Army of Occupation, I underwent some biological changes. These have been pretty steadily down hill, which I rationalize by living far beyond the two-score-and-five that men lived when we were hunter-gatherers. Some of these changes are easy and some are difficult. The latest two are getting used to putting eyeglasses on to read after most of a lifetime of taking eyeglasses off to read and learning to decouple defecation from micturation. And, of course, I wonder about the biological aspects of these.

Anyway, I ran across an article [Link] that claims that Old Flatulences awaking early may be a survival mechanism to counteract adolescents who stay up late and rise late. (Ain’t no retireds among Hunter-Gatherers; retired = discorporated.) I went through this change when I retired, going from having to drag myself out of bed at 0530 to rouse the bairn to schule and motor myself and FD SCP to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill for employment, to where I arose just after 0300 and try as I might, couldn’t stay abed much past 0400.

The question I ask is whether the change – among hunter-gatherers – occurred for protection of the band against others or so that the population of the band could be maintained. If the Old Flatulences are awake they’ll put the dampers on the young flatulences’ reproductive amusements. 

The next article [Link] meshes with this. It claims that we sapiens did out the neandertals not because of our smarts or such but because we got adopted by dawgs and they didn’t. How does this fit. Well, dawgs are sunshine animals if they can be. If there’s a nice fire after mealtime then a dawg will curl up and nap, and they sorta like to do it with old flatulences who will spoil them a bit with choice bits of mastodon. During the day they want to associate with the young flatulences but once the planted has revolved out of line-of-sight to Sol, it’s old guy time. So reinforcement?


Legal War

While at gym, which was pleasantly sparse, I had occasion to listen to an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” dealing with war. The panel of talking (un)heads was composed of folks who labeled themselves as philosophers.

Normally I am well inclined to listen to philosophers – the real ones, not the religionist noisemongers who pretend to be such – since they have nothing to offer but rationality. But this morning their arguments rang poorly and absent of tone.

The panel kept trying to talk in terms of “just” war and “fairness”. The problem is that this is utter rubbish (the odoriferous kind) in everyday discussion, much less in discussing war. It was only with the greatest of derision that von Clausewitz was mentioned and then he was shrouded (as in burial shroud) as a philosopher.

Let me be clear, “fairness” and “justice” are completely arbitrary terms. There is no objectivity to them. They are also terms that have been appropriated by the law advocates, mostly to prop up their own brutal alternative to Hobbesism. What is meant by justice is exacting some horrendous, arbitrary, and often excessive penalty for violating some law, which is itself totally arbitrary and made-up. The legal instrumentality is only cosmetically interested in the concerns of the citizenry but assume the mantle of providing them justice and fairness as a means of controlling that citizenry and thus assuring their own continuance.

The basic premise of law is fundamentally biased towards the organization. Back when we were hunter-gatherers in small organizations (25-50 folks,) this bias was balanced by the close human ties inherent to such a network. But in the context of civilization and nation-states, law is unbridled and tyrannical without balance or counter.

On which note, the whole idea of “just” war is itself biased and unbalanced. It is fundamentally based in religionist dogma. The idea of just war was developed when Christianity was becoming the christianist organization, and reflects that process. It also continues – and legitimizes? – the concept of religious freedom as freedom to persecute those who do not belong to your denomination/belief group. This not only puts a premium on organization but fully legitimizes slaughter and tyranny against everyone for merely believing differently.

Consider the justness of roasting Bruno.