Neither Brown nor Flashman

Four Day. Survived an expedition to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill. But this morning I am reaping a muscular whirlwind in the form of aches and cramps of muscles. Oh!, the joys (!) of ORFdom.

Which put me to mind of the accidental juxtaposition of ether waves in the void, in this instance a combination of a news mention on the electromagnetic visual receiver at gym and a relation by one of my colleagues, Displacement Current Magnetic Field. (No audio on the receiver at gym because it would detract from the loud yakking of the educationalists and the sound of concrete floors splitting when the weight are bounced.) I was trying to listen to an episode of “Linux Voice” but it was deader than the road kill armadillo of this morning’s trip. (Not mine kill, someone else’s but I had to look at it in the halogen glow of the street lamp.)

The subject at hand is high schule. I have to admit that I had high hopes for high schule. I was rather tired after nine years of public schule and its continual information throttling, the martinet demands for regimentation in learning with no compromise for anyone but the slow learners whose catering reduced the burden on the educationalists.

Sadly, I found high schule was worse. Not only was the information throttled but the regimented pace was slowed to that amenable to the jocks and cheerleaders. And to add to that, the incompetence imposed by the educationalist curriculum shone through brightly. Except for a few teachers who had real degrees and (in the main, working towards) educationalist certification, the teachers were an unlearned and insecure bunch. (I have observed that I was fortunate to have any teachers with actual knowledge. The adamantine norm these days is educationalist degrees only.) It wasn’t until I got to college that the throttling abated and competence returned, and then not completely. Happily, I found that the lecturers and perfessers of nerd subjects were highly knowledgeable and happy for students to ask meaningful questions and go beyond the lectures and textbooks. And when they couldn’t answer a question, they would find an answer and share later. 

But I understand that too is gone in the conversion of colleges from learning communes to training factories. And it seems to not phase the young at all; they seem happy in their programmed ignorance and are clueless to the cause of their dismal failures.

Anyway, after I read the grr brr this morning about night people outnumbering morning people 2:1 and this was part of why college students were incompetent, I reflected on this, and found an actual article. [Link] It had the one saving grace of decrying the usual educationalist policy of educationalists first and students last, and do thing that help the fewest number while bullying everyone.

Which is the meat of this discussion: the high schule culture of bullying. The “teachers” bully the students, not to learn but to be good serfs. And the students bully each other. My colleague related how he was bullied because of his heritage. I ran across another article [Link] about religion bullying when schules permit religion activities. In my experience this bullying occurs regardless. When I was in high schule you got bullied if you attended a different church than the bully did. Blatant, violent them-ism.

What is so evil about this is that in many cases the bullying is based on what the parent believe, not the bullies, but is amplified by them because they have no basis of comparison. If parents make some off hand comment about Jews because they had to pay a late payment on a loan, junior amplifies that in an Auschwitz. And the educationalists approve of this because it aids their program of imposing obedient serfdom.

Gad, I am glad to be ORF and free of such tyranny. But I weep for the young.

Zombie Desert

I was a bit surprised this morning when I was catching up on my reading to find an article in Scientific American that added a bit to my previous blot. I found a highly correlated version on-line [Link] and I quote from it:

“Smith’s actions send a clear message to scientists that we should produce results which are convenient to political narratives, rather than which accurately reflect reality. “

Smith, incidentally, is a politician and the quote is to be taken either satirically or as galgenhumor. The reality referred is physical reality, not social.

I think part of the message is also that politicians who annoy scientists tend to lose either body parts or mana points, both of which are detrimental to their continued reign. Hence either attacking or ignoring science and scientists, depending on their personal ignorances and their partisanship.

This is also why they pick on scientists who work for the Yankee government because they can intimidate that organization’s political appointees and thereby abuse the scientists without self-damage. 

The question out of all this is whether Scientific American really has gotten this much better?

Zombie Feast

Once more into Week Out, now on its back side, and Day Seven. And somewhat a special Day Seven in the realm of Social Reality because of the religionist adoration of a zombie Jewish boy. At least that’s the contemporary terminology which I use because I’m really going to natter about social reality. 

The idea for the natter grew out of a cartoon [Link] from the Union of Concerned Scientists. 

That scientists would be concerned is itself a bit of social reality and reinforces that we humans are embedded in a society – however much many of us would like not to be! 

But what bashed away at my neurons was the context of the cartoon: the fiction – called alternative facts – so often espoused, invented even, by politicians. This led immediately to the source of the contention – journalists – who are themselves the originators of similar fictions in the social reality delusion of fair debate and discussion. Which led to wondering what the attraction of these alternative facts are?

My initial concern was that I had scant understanding of either politician or journalist (I did date a journalism major briefly in undergraduate school and I have been interviewed many times.) But I do have some knowledge of managers and so I can take the relationship of manager to scientist and extrapolate a bit – with acknowledged uncertainties – to politician and journalist.

This may seem a bit whacked but from experience I know that managers, at least of nerds, have to balance social and physical reality, the latter being much simpler than the former. Simply put, there are times when social reality demands something unobtainable in physical reality and some balancing is necessary lest one kill off one’s work force. 

Not that there are ever any members of that work force that such an event would not be beneficial in some manner. 

As a matter of courtesy to those who are not scientists, a fact is something that is confirmed by experiment or observation by agreement of several trained and trustworthy observers. That’s pretty close to Boyle’s usage, which he developed to dispute Hobbes who I suspect Boyle would have liked to place in his air pump and subject to its partial vacuum. 

(I am not going to discuss vacuum here now. Maybe later.) 

With that at rest, we can proceed to the matter at hand. Since managers have to balance the demands of social reality with the actuality of physical reality, we may extrapolate their actions to those of politicians and journalists. In doing so, we see immediately that Alternative Facts, when paired with (Actual) Facts, form pairs and hence alternatives. 

This is implicit in journalism with its celebration of the delusion that all situations are open to “fair discussion”. Clearly discussion is quite different between social and physical reality. In the latter discussion is limited to the experimental or observational data. 

But this also reveals something about politicians and why they “invent” these alternate facts. It clearly gives them some means of balancing within social reality, perhaps even while not killing constituents with physical reality that cannot be suspended. 

Having thus addressed the “how” of the matter, we can turn to the “why” of the matter. This seems simple, if cynical. The politician has schemed and cheated his/her way into high office to exercise power and if they do not have room for their own choices then they have no power. 

Hence, as we have argued previously, we may explain this behavior by insecurity. 

The question quite remains as to whether government without these alternative facts is possible?

Machine Meander

Five Day. And the monthly meeting of the Marshall County Linux SIG at the seat of the county. Which seems appropriate given the rump discussions that dominate the meeting. This morning was a lengthy discussion of strategies for installing new software on different distributions.

The operant word here is “new”. Unless you’re using a bleeding edge distribution version – like Debian testing – you are probably going to run into a bit of falling dominoes or even a trustability issue. So if you are running a Debian derivative, that’s you. 

The problem is mostly a mixture of latency and weirdness, hence a situation akin to Quantum Mechanics but without the canonical neatness. And thereby the need for strategy. If you’re hankering for a nifty new client then the chances are you are gonna find a bit of trouble. First, you are probably going to be confronted with a dependency that isn’t available for your distro yet and when you go to install it find it has similar dependencies. Hence the dominoes.

Or its been neatly packaged in a repository, usually a ppa, and your distro has a bit of stiff nose and won’t accept the repository’s credential. So the dependencies are available – maybe – but your package manager steadfastly denies you download. 

The most common strategy is the bide your time and wait for a kernel update. Then the veils will part and the newness stands revealed. Maybe. 

That’s a long introduction for the main mumble. I ran across an article [Link] this morning entitled “A Not-So-Fond Farewell to Windows Vista.” As the title indicates, it’s a bit of a natter about the stercus-like quality of Vister.

I can’t really disagree with much of what’s said, mostly because I had given up on Winders by the time Vister came out, and I haven’t touched any of the later Winders versions since except to bash FD SCP’s boxes. Which has improved enormously since she ceased using Swedish Sewing Clients. 

I also can’t disagree with the authors slings and arrows mostly because I only use Winders these days to run one client and I do that on a box surrounded by a moat. 

I’ve outlined in past my progression: WFWG was all right; W2K was acceptable; WXP was endurable; but the thread was cut there. And picked up by Linux. 

So all the warts and cancers of W7 and beyond are things I deal with at arms reach and can always walk away from. Which is probably something the author can’t for reasons of money or addiction. So I try for sympathy.

It’s hard. I know these people are suffering but if they can’t or won’t help themselves? It’s a challenge. 

But at least MegaHard hasn’t gotten to the point of having armed thugs drag you away from your box.

I rather wish there was a moral here but I can’t really come up with one except a bit of sympathy. And a recognition that there is a lot of suffering in life and we make some of that for ourselves. With help from large organizations. 

Nail Wanted

Four Day and the Arab Electron Uncooperative is up to their usual spring tricks, shutting down the potential difference without warning and blaming it on the weather or suicidal squirrels.

This seems to be the attitude of lots of organizations these days. Democracy of human citizens seems to be replaced by Oligarchy of corporate entities.

This antic of Arab Electron Uncooperative seems trivial but it’s in the same ballpark as United Airlines yanking people off planes at random or the Alibam Council of Thieves assassinating the state executive.

If we look at the positive side, I am sure Arab Electron Uncooperative did this to provide better potential difference. Just like United would have if they had picked some mother traveling with children and yanked her off while leaving the kids on-board.

And of course, the Alibam Council did in the Guvnuh because he suddenly began acting like a Socialist and worrying about the good of the citizens and if that was allowed to continue they might be held accountable for their own apathy and misdeeds. Not that he was doing anything they and any number of his predecessors hadn’t but it was a nice excuse to fool the Gamma and Deltas. 

Still, I shouldn’t hold the electron cooperative to a higher standard. I expect nothing from a politician except theft and prevarication. I expect nothing from a corporation but prevarication and shoddy goods. So why should I expect more from a public corporation that doesn’t pay any attention to the public because it’s a monopoly?

No reason, evidently. 

But it does look more and more like civilization is going to fail because of social atherosclerosis and not war.

Vipers in Voice

One Day. Back to gym. And the educationalists were relatively demure in their decibelage this morning.

The podcast this morning was an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” (surprise! surprise!) entitled “Simile and Science Part 1”. It was a turn off almost immediately because of noxious simile.

They started off interviewing a cosmologist at the Perimeter Institute. And in the first minute of talking he used the word “truth” and I went into irretrievable doubt and disgust. I hate to admit that, but even when I know they are doing outreach I really get brain torqued when I hear a scientist use the word “truth” in relation to science.

That needs a bit of clarification. It has to do with all the baggage – nasty and reeking – that the word has attached to it. Especially here in Alibam.

First of all, truth has almost nothing to do with accuracy; it is primarily about loyalty, as in being “true” (loyal) to something. And that is diametrically opposite to science. Science is fickle, it is loyal to accuracy and only for so long as the accuracy holds. A theory is abandoned almost immediately another of greater accuracy emerges. That’s the way it is supposed to be – true to accuracy, not to a dogma or doctrine or model. 

So one can talk about being true to science but not to any manifestation of it. 

Now let’s talk about the connotation. Truth is revealed. It transcends science. And is much less. Science is tested; truth is untestable and the idea of that is anathema. Truth cannot stand being tested. Or at least the human aspect of truth cannot. And therein lies the rot and stench.

Truth is fundamentally, in this aspect, which is the most common in Alibam, religious. It is revealed to humans by the deity. Or so other humans claim. But it is supposed to be divine. And that’s where it begins to rot. Because it can only exist in the mind of the human it is revealed to. It cannot be communicated. So the only humans who know truth are the ones the deity has revealed it to. And they cannot pass it on. So it’s an exceeding rare thing. Makes gold seem common.

The word has been taken over by the justicers. They want people to tell the truth. Which humans are incapable of. Because humans rewrite their memories every time they visit them. So there is no truth in the Law or legal activities. Although it is the primary aspect of their theater. Which exists primarily to convey the prevarication that the law is about justice.

Wrong. It’s about punishment and obedience. Crowd control. Subjugation. Control. Which have nothing to do with truth.

But scientists are supposed to be dedicated to understanding and accuracy. They admit to inaccuracy in every aspect of science and work very hard to minimize it. And when they use the “T” word, they corrupt it. Just to speak in outreach. 

The Angular Momentum of Peas

Seven Day. The end of week out. And it never has sufficient speed for me. There are times when I wished time had a speed of more than one second per second. Television is a wasteland, reminiscent of an abandoned coal mining town in West Virginia or a rust belt factory town in Michigan. 

During the week I listen to podcasts at gym to divert my attention from the drops forming and flowing on my forehead. They make the wasteland recede except for the overly LOUD educationalists and the screaming grunts of the weight bouncers. The former are adamantine and shrill sandpaper on a black board, which are as notably absent from the schules as is education. The latter are punctuated and bear the stench of modern body corruption.

But on week out the gym is effectively closed and I have to make do with home effort and since that means, at best, an outside constitutional when I can listen to podcasts, or in high winter and summer, both of which seem to be expanding, an inside spin on a stationary bicycle. There I mostly make do with reading. The current book is a survey of the metaphysical foundation of “modern” science. It’s a Dover book which tells us it is both good and dated which we knew since such topics are beyond the capabilities of the contemporary. 

I also read TIME magazine, mostly during meals when FD SCP reads a bosom ripper. I read TIME to balance out my RSS feeds with some exposure to the Boggerate as portrayed by slowly failing journalists of incestuous mutual admiration. No, not in the sexual sense, rather like contemporary celebrities who are great and wonderful because they are celebrities. These are journalists who are great and wonderful because they are journalists. One of the articles in the current issue – 10 April of this year – is an editorial about the robotization of jobs. Strangely, journalism is not mentioned but dentistry is. One has to wonder why?

The issue also had an article about podcasts. I fell on this like a chicken falling on a bug. But I discovered the bug was one of those that squirts hydroquinones out its fundament. Burning Horror! The article featured 36 podcasts. The number of any interest at all? ZERO. It also pointed at an article [Link] entitled “The 50 Best Podcasts Right Now.”

I have been reading TIME for years. I started back in graduate schule to get a sort of intelligence briefing about what was going on in the imaginary world beyond the walls of grad schule. AFter grad schule I kept reading for much the same reason. One useful thing was their movie reviews. If a movie got a rating of five (the maximum) or one (the minimum) I might go to see it. The rest, two through four, were discarded. The system worked because of the prejudices of the reviewers. 

The podcasts TIME recommends are worse. Of there list of fifty “BEST” podcasts, I found none that I would investigate further or even download for a test. There are a couple, from NPR, that I have listened to in past but dropped because their quality is too inconsistent. Most of what is on their list is the same sort of mind rubbish and rot that is on the television networks. 

So what’s a good podcast? I am not sure. It’s like art. If I like it, it’s good. If I don’t like it, it may be good. And I admit that much. But for TIME to offer nothing seems suspiciously like a temporal erosion (cancer?) of their movie reviews. (That I quit paying attention to when I married.)

My good podcasts start with what I listen in gym:

One Day – CBC’s “The Best of Ideas”; it’s a bit bloody liberal but that’s a refreshing counterweight in Medieval Alibam;

Two Day – The Guardian “Science Podcast” and the BBC’s “Science Hour”. I used to listen to the NPR science snippets but they disappeared over the Solstice holidays for some reason. 

Three Day – The CBC’s “Quirks and Quarks”; this used to be number one in science podcasts but has lost ground to the Guardian “Science Weekly”

Four Day – The UK Ubuntu Podcast and the start of an episode of “Late Nite Linux” or “The Linux Action Show”

Five Day – The rest of that latter episode

In addition, we have the best American podcast, Garrison Keeler’s “The News from Lake WoeBeGone”, and the BBC’s “In Our Time”, arguably the best podcast period. The WIlliamsburg people used to have a good podcast but it became a long commercial for them and rotted. 

Two other comments: one thing the TIME people aren’t going to mention is that, in the main, Amerikans are stercus at podcasts. The Candanians and the Albions are much better. I can’t speak to anywhere else because I stick to podcasts in good English. In particular, the American news and entertainment media is abysmal when it comes to podcasts. Too many are built on personality first, last, and throughout and are treated as commercials for the media. Their learning value is negative, in the main. I haven’t sampled them all, obviously, but I have a confident standard deviation of zero.

The other thing is that the TIME people don’t know anything about podcasts either and they don’t care. Demonstration: in that article I mentioned? ZERO RSS links. People who like podcasts use podcast accumulators (TIME: whats that?) and that means RSS links. One more sign Amerikans don’t get podcasts very well.

Exceptions to the above: NPR and those podcast producers who do specialty podcasts like Jupiter Broadcasting. 

Other side of the EQUALS sign: don’t pay any attention to national branded media when you go looking for podcasts.