I have read that some men never have children but instead parent a community. This seems special to me. Reproduction is automatic, programmed, but fostering takes smarts.

North Alabama should be in mourning today over the discorporation of Bill McCorkle. It probably won’t, reflecting how much it has rotted.

Bill was the parent of North Alabama’s STEM Nerds. He saved the Army Lab from mediocrity after John McDaniel was ousted. And proceeded to make the technical life of the community healthy and strong.

Bill was a better leader than a manager. He showed us why real leaders are necessary. And what false leaders aren’t. And a lot of engineers and scientists and technicians and clerks owe their success to him.

But with his passing, and that of Dick Rhodes and Rex Powell, an era is fairly well closed. An era of self-responsibility and integrity and actual technology creation. Sic Transit Gloria Mundi.

Now we are firmly entrenched in a period of rewarming piddle to make weak tea, of “managers” who value “Yes” more than integrity. Of continuing failure until the community collapses and we go back to being a sleepy hick cotton town.

You are already missed, Bill.

Things I HATE about the Internet 1

I buy stuff on-line. Almost everyone does. Except maybe the luddites and the very senior ORF who don’t computer. And the merchants I buy from know what I bought obviously.

So why do they send me advertisements for products that aren’t available in my size?

Point in case: Amazing this morning sent me an eMail advertisement of shoes similar to some I have bought previous. They know my size, which happens to be a Narrow. Of the six shoe variants offered in the advertisement, NONE are made in Narrow width.

To plagiarize Laugh-In, Amazing gets the Fickle Finger of Stupidity award for the week. 

One step closer to the Junk folder.

Photon Pop Guns

One Day. And in the midst of petrol shortage. So no gym until I can determine how much petrol I can access. So onto the stationary this morning for a bit of muscle bashing. And I forgot to pick up my MP3 player so much time to cogitate. In this case on my early days working for the Yankee Army.

I was hired to be a High Energy Laser (HEL) chap. Didn’t know much about lasers beyond my coursework on quantum mechanics and optics but I was game and anything nerdish would be preferable to the farce that was my job with a local defense contractor. What I got for work assignments would have insulted a college sophomore. And the management was ranged from tepid to insipid to blatantly incompetent. Not politician incompetent mind you but of a level that any self-respecting technical organization would regard as shameful and debasing.

The Yankee army was much better. Not that 0.9 of the managers weren’t incompetent but none were as incompetent as what I had seen in that defense contractor. 

Anyway, the YA was trying to build a tactical laser cannon, as well as decide whether it wanted to do so, and I settled in to learn about being an Army laser nerd. The hot topic then was propagation through the atmosphere and for HEL it’s non-linear. So since I was a bright young grad student type I didn’t know any better so I got assigned to work on propagation. The alternative was lab work on making test zappers into light bulbs – manufacturable – and evidently my lab klutz limitations had preceded me.

The reason I was thinking on this was I saw an article [Link] yesterday on how the YA was planning tactical laser cannon tests next year with deployment in about five years. I recalled similar rhetoric in the mid ’70’s of the last century. And when I looked at the pictures of the field unit

I was struck by the resemblance to

that similar things were said about 40 years ago. 

So I have to wonder what else may be similar?

College Revisited 2

This is the second in a series (???) dealing with college. The first one, whose title I had misplaced mentally (Senior Moment?) was about the Freshman Fifteen, which I my case was a negative Twenty-Eight. This one is based on an article my colleague Chad Orzel published in Forbes [Link] entitled “Four Things You Should Expect To Get Out Of College” The four are:

Subject-Specific Knowledge

Learning Skills

Adult-ing Skills

Personal Relationships

I’ll address each in turn.

Subject-Specific Knowledge: This one strikes me as self-evident. Except possibly to GEN Ys who seem to be only concerned with making grades, getting course completion ticket punches, and grasping that bit of (ersatz) sheepskin. As I’ve mumbled many times college was a wonder to me because for the first (OK, maybe second) time in my life I wasn’t imprisoned in an information deprived environment. What’s amazing is that I didn’t stay in that environment and that’s a matter of its evil side. And my master’s adviser who was more interested in giving speeches to the faculty senate instead of mentoring or teaching. 

Learning Skills: This one I identify with. I’ve mentioned several times how the public schule system of Nawth Alibam’s Shining CIty on the Hill did such a stercus job of preparing me for college. Heck, I couldn’t even take notes. I didn’t know how and no one taught me. I am now entertaining the conjecture that no one of my “teachers” knew so they were in the boat of most contemporary “teachers” who know how to teach but nothing to teach. But I also have this other conjecture that the schule administrivia thought it was obvious and simple.

Happily, I got some help from a kind upper classman and that coupled with my own problem solving abilities got me where I am today. No thanks to the Huntsville Schule System. Which also failed to teach me how to compose. The term papers and essays I had to write were ad hoc and totally untaught. And stercus. I learned to write the same way I learned to take notes. Except in this instance it was lab reports. 

Adult-ing Skills: Chad sez this is about “managing time and activities outside of a purely academic context” and that makes some sense although I see it as more of a survival skill than a maturity skill. I also learned this the hard way. I got into a wonderful information rich environment for the first time since I was four years old and learned to read, and ended up being the victim of entropy. When I ended up with one-something GPA the first semester I woke up and analyzed my situation, implemented my analysis, and made Dean’s List second semester.

I think part of Chad’s take on this is that college students, the go off kind, are in a self-discipline/reliance by themselves mode for the first time in their lives when they go off to college. So they need to prepare for this – something else my parents and the schule system missed – and be prepared to learn, Which was something I was and did, and now look back at that first semester failure as the start of adulthood. But not from the standpoint of managing self that Chad talks about so much as from the standpoint of doing a real world, consequences are mine, analysis, implementing the results, and thereby building confidence in my abilities. And that latter is the victory. 

Personal Relationships: To me, this is the adulting bit. This is part of the go off thing. When you are in college the teachers are not going to rescue you nor are your parents handy. You have to handle your own relationships and stay alive and seemingly free. This is the hard thing for INTROs. EXTROs have different problems but they don;t have to solve them, just hide. INTROs can’t run away because they are already away and any intrusion is a challenge. Heck, parents are a love-hate relationship from conception on for INTROs. 

Analysis isn’t very helpful with this because most people are EXTROs and they are bat-stercus crazy. Also mean and evil and have numbers on their side. So personal relationships for INTROs are mostly about pain control. And that can only be learned from pain. I enjoy summer term most. Much more dense informationally. Also less entropy and distraction. The campus was fairly empty and in those days one could go out on the Quad at 0200 and not be beset by the security polezei as a terrorist plotter. Great INTRO environment. Except for classmates and whatever berserker assigned as a room mate in dorm, an INTRO only had interaction desired and initiated. And no GREEKs or JOCKs to terrorize you.

Personal Relationships is something you have to learn for yourself and it’s continuous. But college is when you need to learn it because by the time you have a career job it’s too late and you will be a failure. That’s the INTRO mistake, too often. Learn to control those EXTROs or they will crush you.

Boggy Ground

Six Day. The beginning of another nasty period. Petrol pipeline ruptured and now we are in a petrol crunch until repaired and resupplied.

On that dismal azimuth, I see numerous article [Link] on how to roll back iOS10 to iOS9. Seems Apple has pulled a MegaHard. Another thing to make me glad I use Linux.

I have to compare this to the motorcar situation. Back when I finished undergraduate university, everyone – almost – drove Detroit motorcars aside from a few commuters who had opted for Beetles and the like. By the time I had been in graduate university for a couple of years the exodus to furrin motorcars was in full fervor. Now we have a new marketplace (compared to then) based on another fairly static situation. 

But the thing that tickles my brain is the diversity. And within that diversity, all the motorcars look alike. As one of my colleagues, Magnetic Inductance Force, puts it, “All crossovers look like dead garden gnomes.”

So when does the Detroit of OS fall apart?

Reflections of Failed Mediocrity

Five Day and shuck of gym. I am experimenting with extending my visits to five per week and this has been the first full week of that number. The only down was my lack of adequate podcast planning. Today was ad hoc and a bit sad.

Otherwise, I note that this has been a wonderful for corporate terrorism. Largely in the cellular telephone environment. Specifically:

  1. Samsung has successfully deployed a million Improvised Pyrotechnic Devices (IPDs aha Fire Bombs) making them the most successful terrorist organization yet and bringing new meaning of second rate to Al Quaida and ISI?; and
  2. Apple has introduced a tepid telephone that offers to replace a $5 pair of ear buds with a $160 pair of earbuds. Makes the monopolists of the Nineteenth century look humanitarian.

Elsewhere, the nation remains bent on rapidly Making Amerika A Failure, mostly through idiotic politics.

On to the daily misery!