Scout Monopoly?

Not much garrumphing today. Gym is over for the week and next week will be short courtesy of the holy day on Mundane day. So I shall have to extend my walking alternative one day and be cheated of a bit of money by the gym administration. Such fraudulence is common with these folks, they keep taking off on any holiday they can. Evidently the idea that a gym is supposed to be available 24/7 is alien to their sense of greed.

That’s one of the reasons I rather enjoy my walks in the park. The only thing I get reminded of organizationally is the incompetence of the city (?????????????) government of Greater Metropolitan Arab and how decrepit and haphazard the place is kept. The only real negative is the spider webs and the yahoos speeding on nearby Arad Thompson road with nary a police presence. In my short constitutional period I often count ten speeders which rather makes me wonder why this safety hazard is so studiously ignored?

On a more nasty tone, I see that the boy scouts of Amerika are harassing a start up effort, the Hacker Scouts, on some trumped up contention that they – the bsa – “own” the term scouts. Stercus Tauri! Someone should tell the Girl Scouts and sic some militant feminists on their sorry fundaments.

I have to admit that I was a cub and boy scout when I was a bairn and even then the whole thing was dated and withering. And it seems to have further withered, stuck in some kind of arch conservatism of Victorian ethos instilled by Baden Powell. And they have the chutzpah to assert that they own the word scout. Perhaps they need a visitation from the Yankee army and marines? That would be less painful, I suspect, than from the Girl Scouts.

And they have chosen to pick on an new organization that is everything good that they are not. Contemporary, engaging, active, and relevant. And by all indications, effective. So someone needs to give them a good bracing and explain about sharing, especially with those who do things better than you do. Perhaps you can learn from them.

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Arrogant Ineptitude and Fruit

I fail to comprehend why Saturday is the most nasty day of the week. I suspect some of it is a hold over from working days when Saturday was the only day that one could – sorta- do the business things that couldn’t get done during the work week because we left before anything needful was open and got home after it was closed. Of course there were places that weren’t open on Saturdays and we had to not do business with them and laugh when the local conscript parents lamented how the folks who worked in Huntsville didn’t patronize Greater Metropolitan Arab businesses enough. Another of the paradoxical joys of government-by-real-estate-agent.

Of course that hurly burly requirement is no longer extant now that retirement permits us to patronize Greater Metropolitan Arab businesses during the “work” week, not that we need to patronize them since we aren’t working, which is another paradox that evidently grows out of the arrogance of perceiving oneself as necessary, but somehow the hecticness seems to still pervade the day even with the absence of requirement.

But now to tabs: the first relates a survey [Link] that indicates the “rich” prefer Apple IT goods over Megahard and Gooey and …. Not that the survey seems to capture the actually rich but just the well-to-do, at least as I understand the metaphor. Translate that into Apple has snob appeal. I suspect it’s also a matter of arrogance – again. The well-to-do, like the managers I discussed yesterday, have a lot of confidence arising from being well-to-do. Folks who think they make more money because of their abilities often have confidence slopping over into arrogance. It’s one of the steps towards overt slavery and one of the best reasons for the existence of the guillotine.

But I also suspect that a lot of folks who buy Apple junk are letting the tail wag the dog. They would like to present the facade of being successful because they think that will get them promoted and hence they adopt Apple junk. In both cases, however, part of the appeal is that neither the wanna-bes or the actual well-to do want to learn how to use IT. There are two reasons. First, they can’t admit that they don’t know something commonplace, and nothing is more commonplace than IT. It’s like agriculture was two generations ago and automobiles one generation ago. The second reason is that they can’t even assay to learn because then they would demonstrate that they can’t.

Now there’s no shame, at least for most folks, including nerds, that they can’t learn something. I, for example, have very poor mechanical skills. If I can’t get something built or fixed using naive bruteness, I have to hire someone to do it. I can change light bulbs but not well. But arrogant folks who have to maintain a facade of competence cannot be seen to not be able to do something, especially if it is a common skill. They have to rely on crutches – Apple IT junk, e.g. – or make the excuse of being too busy to have time to do something simple. Their time has to be spent on complicated things that they can do and the common cannot. Hence that television commercial from the other day.

But this cements what Apple is, a manufacturer of second rate IT junk that is mostly facade – bling – and too little capability. But it is nice to know that both they and the arrogant well-to-do exist. Because that’s part of Amerika.

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Arrogant Fructose Rot

Friday again and once more past the gym thing. Of course this was the first week I could do gym in a while because of the confinement so the cessation is not unalloyed.

I did get to do a bit of surfing yesterday, in and around errands, and discovered that the academics at Michigan State U and U Akron had devised a testing scale and instrument for workplace arrogance.[Link] The reportage implication is that this can be used to get managers to reduce their arrogance.

I realize from watching the pablum that passes for television programming these days that managers are stereotyped as arrogant and this is viewed as the great tyranny of the workplace but as is typically the case with entertainment, warpage exceeds accuracy.

First of all, there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance and the position of the line depends on the organizational society and culture. What outsiders view as arrogance is often just slightly overblown confidence. Confidence is a key factor in advancement in many workplaces. It is viewed as reflecting competence, which is often a specious correlation but in the complex workplace environments of today most executives are incompetent technically but can recognize confidence. This ineptitude and its accompanying insecurity is one of the primary reasons why executive salaries are so large.

As a result, testing instruments and even subordinate reviews are largely irrelevant as behavior modifiers. If they are negative, most managers will reject them as petty or bitchy. Managers know that promotions and bonuses are approved from above, not below. Indeed, in most workplaces, subordinate reviews are morale tools to delude the subordinates. So if anything, a testing instrument for arrogance is more likely to make conditions worse than better.

There are managers who are neither arrogant nor incompetent. They seldom rise above middle level because they know how incompetent and asocial their own bosses are and refuse to go to the dark side. Nice guys don’t finish last; they  finish in the middle.

And while we’re on the stupidity azimuth, a Gallup Poll reports that 0.48 of sample population consumes at least on soda pop a day. [Link] Almost all of those soda pop are sweetened with fructose which converts much more readily to fat in the body than other sugars. And that happens despite what the fructose industry propaganda on the electromagnetic audio-visual receiver claims.

Advertising is de facto anti-accurate!

This would seem to be the modern equivalent of Romans drinking wine in lead tumblers, the lead dissolving in the wine and staying in the body where it wrecked all sorts of damage and eventually leading to the barbarian invasions and the fall of Rome. If that logic seems a bit whacked, it is, in the spirit of the idea that soda pop is a staple food.

I have noted however, that really bad junior managers with excessive hubris tend to drink a lot of soda pop, mostly the diet kind that uses another type of sweetener that does rot the mind. Of course this is a chicken-egg situation. Did the soda pop rot their minds and make them bad managers or did being bad managers with rotten minds move them to become addicted to soda pop.

If you can’t get a good boss, at least don’t drink soda pop with stercus sweeteners.

Striking Shards

Once more into the lees of the tabs, the grunge of the week. Today is dawned and not a bad day portending, it seems although the weather beavers are foretelling of dire weather over the darkness tonight.

This strikes at once of the ambiguity and arbitrariness of the division of time. We count days from midnight to midnight even though day is associated with the light period and night with the dark period. But why not count from noon to noon? Somewhere there is an answer to this question that is not pontificated prevarication.

Anyway, I have several articles to bash upon left until the lees of the week. First, I notice that the campus of the Black Warrior is having a ‘Knap-In’ 0900-1700 Friday, 11 March through Sunday, 13 March at the The University of Alabama’s Moundville Archaeological Park. [Link] The ‘knapping’ refers to the impulsive dressing of stones to produce flakes, blades, hand axes, and projectile points. This is considered some AmerIndian (‘Native American’) social activity by the socio-politically correct at the campus, typically prevaricative since it quite ignores that there are technically no Native Americans since the AmerIndians migrated to the Americas, primarily along the Bering Land Bridge and that stone knapping was done all over the planet.

Despite this lie-of-social-justice (that is redundant, isn’t it?) the event is worth attention if not attendance. Getting past the unctuous superiority of the rhetoric, knapping is a craft of considerable challenge and even if only observed is thought provoking and instructive. Additionally, a visit to the site is itself rewarding given the opportunity to view the mounds and the artifacts in the museum, especially the Duck Bowl. Just watch out for crowds and screaming bairns.

On a less instructional and enjoyable azimuth, I note an article [Link] in the New Yawk Times about the decrease in density of blogging among the young. The reason for this is tellingly revealed in the language of the article,

“Like any aspiring filmmaker, Michael McDonald, a high school senior, used a blog to show off his videos. But discouraged by how few people bothered to visit, he instead started posting his clips on Facebook, where his friends were sure to see and comment on his editing skills.”

‘Discouraged by how few people’ is the telling piece of the damnation. The author admits, somewhat guardedly that he does not know what a blog is, but more tellingly, he does not know what blogging is and is about.

I have commented this previously, but this provokes me to try again. The folks who write blogs to make money by drawing people to their blogs to buy stuff or look at advertisements or even get paid to blog as mediaists are not bloggers. Blogging is person. It is a form of journaling that bloggers (true bloggers) perform on the internet because of it connection to them and the convenience thereof. There is also an aspect of altruism mixed with exhibitionism that includes sharing with anyone who wants to read.

Commenting is another matter. Some of the best blogs I know of permit no or only controlled, enrolled commenting. Most comments I get on this blog are somewhere between illiterate rubbish and actual linguistic sewage, not counting the false comments that are of commercial, and hence, not blogging, form.

So the situation described by this article is that people who were not blogging but were writing on the web have ceased because they were not bloggers. Simply put they wanted attention and lacked altruism. They were not bloggers.

More worrisome perhaps is that these folk are primarily young and the indication is that their generation is missing some crucial aspect of comprehension. I am not sure whether this is surprising or not. But it does agree with my observations of the generation that is so incompetent they cannot handle money. This merely indicates that they have nothing more meaningful to say than Facebook tripe-chatter and are perhaps too lazy to think of anything that meaningful. But that might be cruel and accurate so we can’t say that.

Meanwhile, since it is sundae, I note that Anonymous has not only whacked Westboro Baptist Church, [Link] but that their instrumentality is too oblivious to internet to have noted it, except the IT guys who are apparently chained to servers in the third sub-basement? What dies this say about the nature of religionists?

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Mistunneled Vision

I have always been one of those out-of-the-box physicists, mostly in terms of what I am interested in and how I look at modeling. Back when I was in graduate shul, when I knew enough to try things but not enough to do them always on my own – or always know when to ask for help – this exasperated the more doctrinaire of my professors because it got in the way of their carefully laid course plans.

The amusing thing about this, of course, in those days, was that the ones who were most anal about following their course plan were the ones who were the most anti-establishment and counter culture. I actually worked on a model trying to associate the length of hair with tolerance of variation in methodology. Simply put, the shorter the haircut the more understanding the professor tended to be. Evidently those who want to be adored cannot abide not being obeyed?

I went through graduate shul wanting to work on molecular structure quantum mechanics when no one in academe thought that was worthwhile – everything that needed to be done had been done by Roald Hoffman and there was no point in wasting effort on something that wouldn’t get published. And when I got out of graduate shul I gradually developed into working on dissipative systems in association with working for the Yankee army so I missed all the opportunities to do the work since, much of which I dreamed about as a graduate student.

One of the things I found out was that this attitude is accurate in the sense that if you do something out of the ordinary in physics, you probably can’t get it published in a physics journal. Most of what I did over the years in physics was snooted away by the physics journals so I ended up publishing in other journals.

Now I find out that physicists don’t do literature searches in non-physics journals. So they end up going and doing things that have been done before and published in other fields, b ut when they do it, if physics is ready, they publish in physics journals and it is great. As one of my colleagues commented the other day, “when non-physicists collect stamps, it’s called stamp collecting; when physicists collect stamps it’s called philately.” This refers to Eddington’s quote about physics and stanp collecting.

I saw two examples of this the other day. First, an article [Link] in the New Yawk Times about a burned out particle physicist who is studying the mechanics of cities. Not an unworthy activity but it completely ignores that physicists and modelers have been working with city planners (and the like) since I was in graduate shul, probably before, and doing similar things. But the results had to be published in city planning journals and so physicists can’t find these earlier works because they don’t exist.

The second is a fellow at Clark U who has looked at how different Platonic solids pack. [Link] (This is to the journalist article but it contains a link to the actual paper.) Think styrofoam peanuts here, in a box, and the question is if you fill the box with peanuts, how much of the volume of the box is not peanuts?

The problem here is that this work has been done before. Years ago, back in the seventies when there was a technical explosion in packing materials, the Yankee government, especially the military services, did a lot of work on how to pack stuff. Their interest was in protecting content from shock, vibration, corrosion, soldiers, ….. but a big piece of answering that had to do with the fraction of volume occupied by packing materials, to say nothing of how that volume changed over time, which is a dimension not addressed in this paper.

The problem, of course, is that this work never got published in Physical Review, or any other physics journal. Not that it was classified and hidden from the godless communists, but that the editors of physics journals didn’t think this was physics so it got published in engineering journals, and as we all know (?), engineers can’t do science. In fact, non-academics can’t do science. But today, this is physics and it gets published in physics journals.

Apparently one of the problems of overpopulation is that while you have lots of people having good ideas, many of those ideas are old ieas reinvented and untraced. Because of our tribal prejudices.

“Not with a bang, but a whimper.”

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Pooper Scooper

Earlier this week I ran across an article [Link] discussing a master’s degree for science akin to the MBA. At first I thought this was some type of sick joke but as I continued it became obvious that the sickness was not humorous but actual.

My problem with this starts with the MBA. I have had to deal with a large number of people who have this degree. Almost all are thucks. That is, they have incompetence in equal measure with ambition and expectation of achievement and asentient adoration. As such they have an absence of both skills and knowledge to do anything with but an excess of ego and arrogance. I have yet to see any MBA do anything constructive except by accident. That is, I have seen them make such a mess of things that we were forced to reengineer and reorganize to correct the mess that a better organization resulted, albeit after much suffering and loss of productivity and morale.

Part of my problem with them arises from a fundamental observation that the Sloan philosophy that good managers may be trained without any knowledge of what they are supposed to manage is void and destructive. Yes, mediocre managers can be trained, and they can indeed make profit if that is the metric. If the metric is a strong, vibrant organization, I have yet to see one who is so developed who is more than mediocre and abided. A far better path is to take a competent member of the organization who has the necessary technical skills of whatever discipline the organization practices and educate and train that individual as a manager in a craft fashion – apprentice-journeyman-master. Not only do you get a bigger crop of mediocre managers, you actually get some who are good to excellent.

In the environment I have worked in, MBAs have never done better than mediocre because they not only have the shul arrogance of divine anointment, but a total lack of technical skills. So my question is how does a master’s degree in being a professional scientist make sense? First of all, the master’s degree in science has only made sense for almost a century only in an industrial context. In a real research environment, all it does is qualify one to be a super technician in the same way that a bachelor’s degree qualifies one to be a junior techhnician. [1]

No, the only value I can see in such a degree is in some peripheral job that no real scientist wants to do and which is a waste of his time and capabilities. And definitely somewhere where humanity, especially scientists who have real work to do, can be sheltered from their arrogance and uselessness.

[1] This is not the case with engineering. In that environment a master’s has great meaning whereas a doctorate is almost always a limitation or a call to exceptionality.