In Praise of Incompetence

Day three of snow. The mountain folk are now ignored by the lowlanders, especially those in Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill (not on the mountain!,) since their snow is well disposed. Ours is still upon us and we are reflecting poorly on a governance that spends enormous monies on holiday lights but nothing on clearing the roads. What pathology is this? 

I cannot say I am surprised at the council of real estate agents. After all, clogged roads are irrelevant to their interests – except perhaps flow of cash which is why they seek office. But I somehow expected better of the former civil servant now mayor. Is he bound and gagged in a closet in city hall to prevent him doing corps of engineers type stuff? The World Wonders.

At least the Arab Electron Uncooperative has not yet failed us. This is surprising. Usually they are utter cravens and drooling pensioners who pull the plug at the least sign of weather. Conditional kudos. 

Now, a bit of diversion. It seems fitting to start with a Register article [Link] that has the wonderful title “HAWKING ALERT: Leave planet Earth, find a new home. Stupid humans”. I particularly like the Stupid Humans part since it fits so well. It would be criminal to inflict the details on any politico-denialists or theo-fascists who might be reading – since Arab is predominantly populated with both of these degenerate types – but leave it be said that their type has made do-do too much in the wrong way and Tellus is about kaput. Not a new song but never tiring.

And on a lighted note, an article [Link] on how much a cloud (modal?) weighs. Well, masses, which makes a lot more sense. The boffins, if they be such, say a modal cumulus cloud masses 5E5 kg. Much bigger than the average airhead in Greater Metropolitan Arab. Probably not as large as the sum total of the masses of all the ferds and their pickup trucks in Arab. And sadly, they won’t float away to somewhere else. Or dump snow on the town. Instead they keep driving about on the snow and doing great damage with their pickup trucks. Not that I blame them except for their moral deficiency in driving while incompetent.

I have been cooped up too long and need to get out to relieve my humors. Not likely today according to the weather beavers.


Inside the Moat

Under siege. Castellum SCP is surrounded by an inordinate, for Alibam, depth of crystalline (?) dihydrogen oxide. And we have the firm assurance that the government of Greater Metropolitan Arab will not do anything to allay the situation. Oh, the constabulary have closed the roads but nothing will be done to clear them. Except perhaps hang lights on street poles. After all, not many people will be coming to look at houses to buy while the streets are closed so there is no reason to expend effort or money.

This is what comes of having a government of real estate agents. No concerns for the safety and welfare of the citizenry.

I have heard it advanced, I think by Greater Metropolitan Arab’s token Democrat, that this is actually a civic betterment effort. The idea is that despite the roads being closed, the town’s extreme ferds and nincompoops will get out in their pickup trucks, which they cannot steer not guide competently absent weather, and discorporate themselves thus cleansing the gene pool. This conjecture has several flaws. First, it assume that even real estate agents have human scruples. Also, that these ferds and nincompoops haven’t already reproduced. Both assumptions are specious.

And the whackadoodles who support the chief bigot with pseudo-coherent tracts in the local newspaper continue. The question they studiously avoid is when does denying people liberty and the pursuit of happiness become tyranny?

A good topic for thought on a day like today, because no matter how hard humanity tries, the evil in us cannot be alleviated, much less eradicated.

Quest for Books

Off to gym. Clear roads. Low density, zero weight bouncers and educationalists. Why does this correlate strongly with schule being desessioned? Podcast, an episode of CBC’s “Quirks and Quarks” was a hash of over-records so I had attention span to give to other things.

Observed on electromagnetic audio-visual receiver: Texas is still using prisons as asylums so if you are going to be mentally ill and/or a veteran, don’t do it there. 

One of my colleagues sent me a link to this picture

on the FaceScroll. This is a picture of the sowth side of the courthouse square of Huntsville. That was in the ’50’s or so when Huntsville wasn’t sure whether its future was continuing to do cotton or to embrace rockets and missiles and technology. 

The focus thing here is the building labeled T T Terry’s. I am not sure what all they sold here but I do know they sold public schule textbooks. Every year, I think in August, my mother and I and later, my brother, would go to the store to purchase out schule texts for the session. I am not sure of the economics of the matter; I think the state set the prices of the books. What I remember most clearly is a great unruly mob  of parents and bewildered, often evil, children rioting in place in a hot – horribly hot – building. I do not recall any rational system to the queuing except crowd dynamics. I do recall people, usually women, fainting and occasionally being trod upon. I remember a cacophony of unhappy, often violent talking, seldom paired in conversation. 

The people would inch their way to a long counter, attract the attention of a sales clerk, and state their requirements in terms of schule grade. Then the clerk would scurry off into the stacks and return with a stack of books. I do not recall the payment process but I think it was a separate queue and cash only; I do recall the difficulty of carrying the stack back out through a squirming, unhappy press of those not yet served. People movement was totally outside the care of the merchant. As were any injuries of customers. And, I think, any injuries of employees. I believe one of the clerks died of heat stroke one year.

By the time I was in high schule this system was long gone, replaced by a schule based system. But once I got to college I got to reacquaint myself with the process albeit at the Alabama Book Store at the campus of the Black Warrior. 

I also recall a more leisurely process in the summer of buy back. This was a less subscribed system since the fall exercise was so onerous, parents bent considerable effort to identify some acquaintance who had a child a year advanced so that a private deal could be struck for books. 

I also recall this was long before highlighters, those fiber pens with slightly glowing (?) inks for accentuating segments of text. In those days all we could do was write in margin or underline. I never did this. I think I was admonished by my mother not to as it diminished the value for buy back and was unfair to the next user of the book. At any rate, to this day I only use highlighters on photocopies that I will not pass on to others. Mostly I use sticky notes these days although I find that their glue deteriorates in a couple of years and my books, especially the ones that I disagree with, get rather fat.

I was asked once which was worse, highlighting or underlining. They are both horrible, in my opinion. Underlining is horribly distracting and highlighting is overwhelming visually. Both are anti-productive since I almost always find that what others think important isn’t. 

But I do still have a great affection for good book stores and libraries and I suspect some of that comes from T T Terry’s.

Schmuck and Milk

Now is the winter of our discontent stuck unrelieved in phase changes! Off to gym this morning. Sleet spitting. The kind you can’t see but can hear, which is a bit of intriguing (ah ha! thought I was going to use the “I” word, didn’t you?) physics but frictionally is more a boogeyman than ISIS. But evidently effective since I was the only person at gym for the first half hour or so except the clerk who opened.

The podcasts were distracting if not engaging, science episodes from several sources but none much more than pain avoidance. And so I issued forth to return to Castellum SCP and discovered the sleet had changed to snow. Not much snow but snow nonetheless and hence a bit of challenge frictionally. Still I had no difficulty until I entered the city (???) limits of Greater Metropolitan Arab. Suddenly the road went from almost black to almost white. Still no problems so long as I went straight. The problem was pickup trucks (and their drivers) who know they can’t drive on the stuff and do anyway. Probably because they know they will wrangle anyone else except armored cars.

We really need to entertain two classes of road closings: no motor vehicles and no trucks. Because the trucks are the danger. They can’t be steered or skidded and their drivers are, 0.9 or more, incompetent and macho. (Why do those two things go together? Is it basic human insecurity?)

Anyway after avoiding – barely – three collisions with unpredictable pickup trucks on one road, I managed to get only a byway, heavily white but at least absent of trucks, and thence home.

I have to wonder how heartily those three pickup truck drivers are bragging of their driving prowess and complaining about wimpy motorcars causing baring their way? One can only hope they discorporate prior to reproduction.

Just to offer a bit of real blogging, I dredged up an old article [Link] about how schule Food Gestapo discontinued chocolate milk and the total milk consumption was cut in half (approximately.) Putting aside my natural nausea over the subject – sometimes lacking any of the Cattle Herder mutations can be irritating, to say nothing of a bit flatulent – I consider this a paradigm of social engineering and do-gooder management. It falls into the category of good intentions -> catastrophe, which must be the result of disobedience so efforts must be intensified and strengthened. This, of course, leads in this instance to the epiphany that if the children eat nothing then the obesity problem will be solved. The grave digging problem won’t but that isn’t part of the program so no fault, no blame.

It also reminds me that without pain there is no pleasure and without evil there is no good. Which is why there are so many incompetent managers.

But I still don’t know why there are so many incompetent pickup truck drivers.

Rot, Rotter, Rottest

A most enjoyable session at gym. I managed to sneak in and out before the roads iced up, and the constabulary went all Gestapo but not before the sunshine patriots, the educationalists and almost all of the weight bouncers decided to bunker in. So the gym was quite sparsely populated.

Sadly the podcast, an episode of the CBC’s "Best of Ideas" was blah and vapid. The subject was 3-D printers and done for a boggish audience who pays scant attention to nerdery. So it presented nothing new except a bit of history of science fiction coming real. And that is questionable. I have been around 3-D printing for 20+ years now and the technology and organizational aspects of them are old underwear, the kind that can be trotted out as new to the mentally impoverished.

But this vapidity gave me occasion to expend cognitive cycles on a commercial I viewed last evening on the electromagnetic audio-visual receiver. The commercial was a Tarzan piece by some corporation, whose identity is lost in irrelevance, about helping schules. Helping schules means selectively giving a few schules a token of money (compared to the cost of the commercial and air time) so the corporation can brag about giving back. Pennies on the Pound sort of thing, of course.

But what stuck with me was a throw away line:

"Fifty percent of all students are alienated to maths and science by the eighth grade"

That’s not exact but close enough.

My first thought at this was that money will have scant effect on this since it depends on adequate funding (obviously not met) to all schules (also obviously not met) with questing maths and science teachers ( patently not met but independent) who will use the money creatively to engage the students (almost an impossibility.) So the whole commercial was a grand prevarication. Goebbels would be proud!

The more I reflected on this, the more I recalled my own days in primary and secondary schule. Basically the same thing occurred, if not more so. In those days the teachers were willing – unlike today? – but woefully ignorant and hence ineffective bordering on incompetent, and the textbooks were horrible, insipid and inadequate, instilled with too little science and too much social nonsense. And the maths books were horribly simplistic and repetitive. Boringly, grindingly repetitive. So yes, by eighth grade most of use were completely alienated to public school maths and science.

That doesn’t mean we were alienated to maths and science in general. We grew up in a nerd town. Many of us had nerds for parents, and both human and textual sources of real information on science and maths. My parents were bogs with sparks of geekness but they provided me with lots of reading material (most not very good except my father’s navy correspondence courses’ textbooks.)

I am reminded again of that tweet of Neil DeGrasse Tyson,

Students who earn straight A’s in school do so not because of good Teachers but in spite of bad Teachers.

We probably have to add bad texts and bad parents to that list. Bad in this case means ineffective or weak or ignorant but not necessarily evil. Some teachers are evil these days since their pay is glued to not teaching well. But I think these are still the exception. The problem is that (1) teachers don’t know enough science and maths; (2) parents don’t know enough science and maths and they aren’t supportive meaningfully; and (3) the textbooks are terrible in so many dimensions. The worst of the latter is religionist politics and social moralizing, neither of which belong in science and/or maths texts.

So no wonder the kids are turned off. The problem is that this time it’s also at home. And from that there is no recovery except another dark age of misery and violence.

Buck up kids, you probably won’t have to endure being ignorant long.

Stone Food

Once more to ice cream day and the back edge of week out. And the weather beavers are foretelling more periods of solid dihydrogen oxide. Why does winter become a synonym for phase change? With liquid good, or, at least, acceptable, and solid is bad, or unacceptable? 

Speaking of which, I got an article [Link] from a colleague, Total Linear Angular Momentum, about Paleodiets. This fellow claims to be gluten whacked, and is tepid on paleodiets. He isn’t the type to be a fanatic but he claims that there are merits. I don’t disagree greatly but I do tend to agree more with this article that looks at the risks and uncertainties involved in composing these diets. 

Simply put hunter-gatherers ate what was available in their area. There is a feast-famine thing. This is reflected in how we gorge ourselves with foods. Logic dictates that HGs ate what they could when there wasn’t much and were selective during times of plenty. And they had favorites and preferred those over broccoli. 

But we don’t know what those favorites necessarily were, and perhaps more importantly, a lot of the stuff the HGs ate isn’t around any more. Simple example: go to the grocery store and ask for Goosefoot. It’s a veggie, not the feet of birds. And you can’t get it.

Which brings me to my point. Since a paleodiet is impossible in a rigorous sense, the most important part of diet is rationality. First of all, diet is what you eat, not what you eat for the next week. Weight control is important for moderns, wasn’t on the attention span for HGs. Second, are you eating healthily? That’s a trick question since it depends on what you think and what your medicalists think. Valid knowledge is key here, as well as rational thinking. Not the opinions of friends and colleagues necessarily. 

Diet isn’t just something you do. It has to be managed. And not by the advice of television personalities or paid motivationists. Ultimately you are responsible and that means be adult. Accept that you won’t do it right but keep trying. Consult reputable nerd tomes and if necessary, a graduate dietician. 

Next, starve yourself occasionally. Once a month eat half rations and fast over the weekend. Water only. And once every month or so have a gorge meal. That’s a key aspect of the whole paleo thing.

Stay away from manufactured foodstuffs as much as possible. Ditto chain restaurants. If nothing else that will cut your sodium and fat intake and make a critical difference in being healthy. 

Don’t accept others’ opinions and ideas without research. 

And exercise. Not for sculpting or speed, just for well being and endurance. 

And don’t trust any of this without researching reputable information sources.


Life in Alabama 10

The Greater Metropolitan Arab Constabulary have closed the roads. This presumably falls under maintenance of good order although if we bother to think about it solid dihydrogen oxide is much more ordered than the liquid form.

I quite realize that’s rather horrible physics humor but I could not resist. Even though yesterday was punday.

FD SCP has the electromagnetic audio-visual receiver engaged on one of the Huntsville channels which is treating the coating of the roads with solid dihydrogen oxide as a major news event. I must admit that it does exceed much of their coverage and definitely the Academy Awards. I find myself horribly disinterested in the least mediocre performance of some contemporary actor I am unaware of and who acted (loosely used) in some moving picture I haven’t seen and have scant desire to see.

I have had to come in here and blog lest I throw something hard at the EM A-V receiver and destroy it in my disgust. Yes, the pander of the talking heads is that bad. It was entertaining for a few minutes, the nonsense they sprouted about dihydrogen oxide and the profound demonstration of their abysmal ignorance, but after they started repeating themselves, either in desperation or mis-founded self-confidence, I was moved to transfer momentum to the monitor.

All I could ask for is the appearance of some politico-denialist or religionist terrorist so I can ignore them. Not that we are shy of those in Marshall county but they are at least kept a bit more under control in Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill.

Also, the imagined image of Arab’s finest in a car chase of someone violating the curfew is highly entertaining. Bumper armageddon on ice! Based on observation I am conjecturing that both constabulary and citizenry have sufficient good sense to bunker in.

Climate Change, it’s what’s for life these days.