Trickster Thunks

Lovely! The park was shrouded in something between a light mist and a heavy haze this morning. As one would expect from such the wind speed was quite small and so no strong cooling. Pray note the difference here between cooling and cool, the latter a thing I am never. The podcast was an episode of “The Pen Addict” (part of) and I got to share the AO with a pair of rather talkative and moderately loud young women. When did we start calling them females and not women? Am I missing something or is society whacked? Or both?

I started out a few days ago to write a blot about this cartoon: [Link]

but it got eaten partway through by the box. 

My favorite cartoon has always been the Wiley Coyote ones. I know they are “Road Runner” cartoons but I watch for the coyote. I like the old ones better than the new since the humor is better. The new ones are rather too heavy handed, reflecting a lack of sophistication among scripters, I suppose. Anyway, deterioration and rot regardless.

This reminded me that our contemporary society has a rather corrupted view of what is a hero. We tend to describe anyone who is a member of the constabulary, fire brigade, or military as a hero regardless of their exploits. I do not deny that they are admirable for their avocations but calling them heroes is a bit of an insult.

The idea of hero comes to us from classical Greece. It refers to someone who perceives some activity as evil and replaces it with something else which may be more or less evil. It is not so much about good and evil as making change and that change has its price.

So no, I don’t think of coyote as a hero. Nor do I think of road runner as such. The opposite. Coyote and Road Runner are about a status quo, a modal behavior. They are a parody of biological competition. The parody is that the road runner doesn’t get eaten and the coyote doesn’t starve to death. That’s a bit part of the cartoon aspect. 

Happily that cartoon treatment results in a pair of rather nice role models. The road runner is the quintessential bog. He demonstrates how to cope in society when you can’t do anything but exist. And the coyote is a nerd. He demonstrates the ultimate in never giving up, which is an ideal but also a challenge (untreated.) Since I am a nerd, I have always found coyote to be a role model. Imaginary, admittedly, but still a role model of perseverance. 

But I do wish there was a cartoon role model of rationality. That would be a true hero.

Different P

I just ran across an article [Link] entitled “Editors Are Trying To Fix Wikipedia’s Gender And Racial Bias Problem” and immediately thought “is it really a problem?” 

First of all, let me deny that I am being willfully themist. I do not deny that being them averse is without difficulty and loss. (I am using the more general term ‘themist’ as in us-versus-them because I dislike the misuse of the word sex for gender, as in sexist, and the continued perversion that is the basic idea of race. Been there, said that, move on.)

Rather, what I am concerned about is that we seem to suffer from a delusion these days that anything that can be thought of can be built and anything that is difficult is a problem. Both of these are unrealities fostered by the increasing ignorance of the boggerate and the false perception that looking up stuff on the internet is either knowing or understanding. 

One of the important things in nerdery is being able to recognize the difference between a problem and a parameter. Problem implies that a solution exists and the difficulty can be alleviated or, at least, replaced with a different difficulty. Parameter implies that the difficulty cannot be alleviated but is a condition that you have to learn to live with or walk away from.

There are different kinds of parameters. Conditional (or passing) parameters are difficulties that could be alleviated if some technology existed; permanent parameters are difficulties that cannot be alleviated with any technology. 

Do I need to say that us-versus-them is permanent? At least until we eliminate humans. So the choice here may be, at least shoudl be recognized as a possibility, that this Wikipedia “problem” isn’t and they gotta learn to live with the situation!

Unboot

I am in need of a bit of morale elevation. Been moodying for a week now. Not improved by the weather. And gym was a downer because the good arm bicycle was down for repairs which at the Scant City gym means never fixed or brought back on line nor replaced. I entertain the hypothesis that management there wants members to only life weight since they almost never fail or wear out. Never mind any concern for the wellness of the members, their only purpose is to keep up a cash flow to balance the losses of other “enlightened”management decisions and policies.

Hence I was rather brightened to read [Link] that the new Linux kernal – 4.0 – does not have to be rebooted after modifications. That’s very nice not just because it eliminates a grinding obligation that one really – REALLY! – needs to reboot and should be happy it’s not like Winders where you get a momentary box that says “REBOOTING!” and you lose what you have been working on for hours, but because it reduces the risk of the reboot failing due to bad patches. (Yes, I have had that happen enough to be in full attention and one is then confronted with whether to re-install or repave with a different distribution.)

I will be snide and comment that I fully expect Canonical to find a way to vertically copulate this.

Avoidance of Flop?

Two day. Not bright. Dihydrogen oxide falleth. And yesterday was frustrating at the minimum. And one of my blots disappeared. Some foible of the system, I think. Perhaps this one will fare better?

I ran across this cartoon: [Link]

a while back and its accuracy struck me. So far as I can recall, all of my fame has been encountered in strange places. The usual mode is a meet someone and after we have conversed a while they say something like “you’re the fellow who did thus and such.” Most often, “you wrote such and such paper.” 

I have always wanted to be the best at what I do. I suspect all of us want to do that. I have achieved what I have by seeking out things that other people are unwilling to do or at least not engaged in. At least in great numbers. And not things like cleaning septic tanks. That’s too important and I have a rather accurate estimate of how low my abilities are. But I have found that I can excel at things other people don’t care for or about and that is sufficient. Except when I run across someone who has done the same thing and we have mutual absence of respect for the other’s work. But that happens regardless of what you do. 

But I have to admit that I have not tried to toss a cow flop in a lot of years. Not since I was a bairn. And didn’t know to get a dried up one. They don’t hold together when they are still moist. 

And I did eat a couple of meals cooked over cow flops. I shan’t say where for legal reasons. But I can tell you that there is no taste of cow flop imparted to the food. 

WikiCongress

Mundane day and week in. Hopefully better than last week. And the week out. It started fairly well. The gym was sparse. the weight bouncers sparser, and the podcast, an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas”, dealt with Wikipedia. I found I already knew quite a lot but it was good to have an integrated refresher.

Evidently, most of the national versions are much less contentious than the American version. And despite the contention it is very productive and effective. So the question arises:

Why is Wikipedia so effective and the Yankee Congress NOT?

I suspect the answer is the fraction of politicians in the contributing population. Congress, obviously, is 1.0 politicians while in Wikipedia the politician fraction is < 0.01. As is, however, contributions from politicians, and their myrmidons, are generally the most contentious. And consume the most arbitration and editorial resources.

So why haven’t we done something to remedy this cancer? The World Wonders.

Perhaps if we structured the legislature as a Wiki we could get more – and Better! – done. 

One of the greatest worries of the founding fathers was that government needed inertia lest mob rule ensue and laws and such oscillate wildly and destructively. But doesn’t Wikipedia have inertia? So far as I can see it does.