Outreach Failure

Off to park for constitutional. Air temperature lower ’40’s degF, so on the lower edge of cardiologist’s permitted range of exercise temperatures. 

This consideration gave me association to reflect on Outreach. I have to admit that I am not a fan of Outreach for its own sake. Gratuitous Outreach is, IMHO, almost always going to fail. Mostly because the most probable targeted individual will be bog and bogs do not willingly nor happily learn. So you will be better off talking to a rock or tree than to a bog. 

They don’t hit back. Bogs have a tendency to violence for the most inconsequential reasons. Look how many participate in meaningless public demonstrations designed to hurt someone else. Nothing constructive is expected or will happen but something destructive always does. So outreaching to bogs is almost assured to cause one pain for no reason. As my great-uncle George said, “don’t poke sleeping bears.”

They aren’t going to be your friend and you may get eaten.

Of course, if your aim is to get eaten that’s another wrinkle.

But sometimes Outreach is necessary or unavoidable. I got to see one of those occasions this week when the cutter who did FD SCP’s surgery was compelled to outreach to me. Yes, compelled and “to me.” The hosting hospital made him do it and I was the family member/responsible adult (sniggers and baldfaced laughter, obviously) present. And he failed miserably. I came away convinced the fellow was an arrogant putz, maybe ferd, and an incompetent poseur. 

What did he do wrong? Several things. First, and most serious, he didn’t understand the need for trust in Outreach. Second, Outreach fails unless the person touched learns something. Cutter – I’ll call him that since that is essentially what his name is – failed on both of these accounts. He didn’t impart any trust to me and all I learned was that FD SCP was out of surgery and alive. 

I already knew what the surgery was for and what the procedure would be and its instrumentality. After all, FD SCP and I have been down this road a half-dozen times already and I had done my research of preparation.

But since Cutter gave me the Speaking-To-Slime-Mold level of Outreach, he went under. He failed in his chance to embody trust in me by getting me to learn something. And he was the one damaged.

No wonder he doesn’t like to do Outreach. He got damaged. All because he wasn’t professional enough to learn how.

Those who refuse to learn run the escalating risk of dooming themselves to ignorant discorporation.

So if you have to do Outreach, make sure you aim for trust and do it by seeking learning. Try to force an engagement with the target. Find a way to make them ask questions. If you can’t do that then learn to live with your incompetence.

Hurts Talk

I had occasion yesterday to come to consider the nature of human communication. And yes, this was a result of my weekly pilgrimage to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill. Which was abbreviated and amodal because of seasonal sinus drainage. Headaches and nausea. Neither of which inspire communication effort.

Anyway, I came to reflect on conversations between an adult and a child. Leave aside for now the ones where the adult tries to ‘reduce’ to the child’s assumed level and the conversation is an abysmal failure because of the artificiality and deception. No, consider only honest conversations.

These conversations are generally failures because of differing world view and a mutual absence of interest. Such conversations fail quickly and are difficult with increasing magnitude over time. And this is for modal children (adults) who don’t suffer any communication disability such as Autism spectrum. For them communication is much more difficult.

It struck me, mostly because all of my communications (verbal, at least) yesterday were with bogs. Nice people all, insofar as I could tell with brief conversation, but bogs nonetheless. And then it struck me how like adult-child conversations these were. And no, I am not going to say which side was adult or child. Not relevant and highly distracting.

But what it reminded me is the enormous world view differences between bogs and geeks and nerds. Talking with a bog is much like talking with a slightly mentally disabled child. One can’t talk maths because they deliberately forgot what little they learned immediately after high schule. Nor can one talk about reality because bog reality is social while nerd reality is rational. At least in the main. There is some overlap but usually not much. And the density of interest is almost always different. What bothers bogs is almost always nuisance parameters for nerds (see! math speak,) and what bother nerds is irrelevant to bogs until it kills them. 

Further, what interests bogs is highly voyeuristic while what interests nerds is participatory. Again, that maths handicap, at least in part. So there is this fundamental impedance mismatch. Which brings us back to the model of adult-child conversation. 

And perhaps some insight into why nerds have so much problem with society. 

Cold Times

I do not like this kind of winter. No, not right now type – tomorrow type. And it all comes down to the lower phase change of dihydrogen oxide. That’s not actually the lowest but the popular lower, the liquid to solid (or visa versa) phase change. And whether I can drip faucets enough to forestall that phase change. In PVC pipes that will – deterministically – rupture if the change occurs. With twenty-something degF below the phase change point.

Oh, the humanity of it all. Oh, the stress!

Nothing I can do about now except prepare to engage the drips (trickles) this evening but I figure on already being pretzeled, at least mentally, by dusk.

Along which lines, I ran across an article [Link] earlier about some psychology work at Fairfield U. Now, I have to admit to never having heard of Fairfield. Somehow associates with Medfield and Flubber, which is probably the inaccurate association. Anyway, the research indicates that if we want to remember something we need to not take photographs of it. There’s a bunch of mumbly about cataloging – translated into my terminology – differences between brain and shoe box (or cloud.) I have to agree to the extent that no one bothers to put enough metadata on photographs – most bogs don’t know how – to properly recover memory. But I am not convinced that brain memory ordering is all that orderly.

There is also mentioned the matter of dividing attention span between the thing itself (das ding? and taking the photograph with attention divided between the image (as opposed to the thing) and the camera. So how important is data redundancy and longer exposure time. Given the brain keeps rewriting memories, which is why the whole trial system is almost always bunkum, that attention division may be important.

I have to admit to being a bit conflicted here. This same kind of discussion, less the sciencey stuff, occurred when writing and record keeping came in. There were all sorts of dire predictions of loss of memory capacity and capture speed because we could write stuff down. And they proved to be accurate, probably because of that divided attention span or just plain adaptability and laziness. The history of humanity is one of increasing laziness – and gear collection, which is related since much of that gear is “labor saving tools or devices.” And at least until the rebellion against the robot overlords comes about, we aren’t going back.

And now writing skills are deteriorating. Grammar is rotting without producing any product other than mind stench when we try to read the words. Compare a modern work to one from mid Twentieth century – Churchill, e.g., – or mid Nineteenth – Chamberlain, e.g. – and the rot is more evident than a sagging shanty in the old Confederacy. And penmanship is keeping pace. I read pen and ink and notebook reviews by afficianados – mostly GEN Y or late GEN X – and none are in cursive. Its all block printing. Not even Fractur! (Humor!)

And it occurs that much of this can be blamed on images. Why bother learning how to describe a scene when you can take a photographs, or a sequence of them? Never mind that the nuances, the emotions, the spice of them is not just missing but orthogonally absent, its easier and doesn’t involve as much effort. Communication is energy demanding so why bother. Just make a video and keep the emo hidden, or denied.

The absence of heat isn’t just the weather.

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Nature of Lieing.

What makes a lie? How big does it have to be? I don’t know of any system to measure lies? That’s one reason science doesn’t talk about truth and lie except in simplifying thing for bogs.

It seems to me that lies have to be considered absolute. There is no situation, no value of N such that if you make a promise to N people and the promise is false it’s not a lie but for N+1 people it is.

Similarly, if you make a promise to N people and the promise is false to one (1) person, then the promise is a lie.

So let’s get past the political rhetoric. The chief politician lied. All politicians lie. All humans lie. What is sad is that too many of us fell for the lie.

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Jargon Stream

Hectic weekend, what with the dowager maternal parental element in hospital and the precipitation. And still recovering from oral surgery myself. Gad! I am coming to hate mashed potatoes.

So as a diversion I shall clear a few tabs. First, a rather deepening article [Link] from the Tsar of Tsmart Ass, Alan Alda. The article is an admonition from Alda, who is doing some sort of popular science program on PBS, that in dealing with the public scientists not use “jargon”. Since I wanted to make sure the ramifications of the word, I looked it up

Jargon 1. Confused, unintelligible language; gibberish. “A barbarous jargon.” –Macaulay. “All jargon of the schools.” –Prior.  [1913 Webster]

I have to admit that after reading this and trying to place it in Alda’s context, I was quite confused. Then I realized that I had to put this in the frame of a communication model. The confusion is not on the part of the scientist but the other side of the conversation.

The point is that the folks on the other side, when one is talking to the “public” are mostly bogs, hence lacking any knowledge of the discipline. But my colleague went on to say that the hard part is not learning this, it’s obvious to anyone who observes, but rather the hard part is knowing what words to use. He claims, and I agree, that a certain minimum commonality of terms is necessary for any effective communication and if one side lacks those words, communication is impossible.

I am not sure why this is so unapparent to Alda.

On a rather less frustrating azimuth I see [Link] that the Google Glasses are being implemented to take photographs with a wink. I have to admit that I consider this whole Google Glasses think jargon. Why would anyone other than a voyeur want them? And if they take photographs with a wink how do they tell it from a blink? And does this mean that society will evolve into something where everyone appears to have palsy?

I shall admit to being ORF. And I am slowly warming to my barked shin (smart) cellular telephone, especially in dealing with situations when I am distanced from a real computer. I am also increasingly alienated by the shitty nature of the software and the opacity of the OS. I find it rather crippling to have to go find a REAL computer to find out how to make my phone do what I want it to.

And it is hideously time consuming. With my desk boxes I only lose time when the power is out or I need to do a system reboot. With the barked shin phone I seem to spend a quarter of my time fiddling with unruly software and another quarter charging it. Is battery technology really THAT bad?

And followingly, an article [Link] on the most reliable box to run Winders on. Seems the result of the study, small data set, is an Apple lapbox. In fact, only lapboxes were considered. Strange. That restriction, that is, lapboxes are much less reliable than desk boxes. But then consider that the primary issue of recovery is not so much the OS but the user. Hence, given the elitism of Apple and the uberboggish nature of their user demographic, that an Apple box is reliable is no surprise. And that the average Winders user cannot recover is the same. That’s one of the reasons we call using Winders serfdom – ignorance is exalted.

And lastly, I see [Link] that Winders Ate is being rescued – by Linux. Seems that the KDE folks, who have rescued Linux from Canonical’s Unity and Gnome’s Gnome Tile GUIs, are developing a version of KDE for Winders. BOOYAH! This is a true mitzvah. Not that MegaHard or most of its serfs will recognize it as such, of course. But at least it offers a means for Winders users who can do so or have access to a wizard get some relief from the insanity that is whatever MegaHqard calls its tile GUI today.

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Multiverse – Multivapid

Not at gym this morning. The weather beavers have foretold all sorts of direness and FD SCP has commanded my localization until such time as she relaxes. Not that I blame her. I wasn’t keen about roaring home – maybe – a few moments from now and finding irritation, either damage to the castellum or, more probably, an absence of electric potential courtesy of Arab Electron Uncooperative’s absence of dependability. 

But as the storm edge approaches, I find myself reflecting on various other matters. First, an article [Link] describing a kritik of some of the current multiverse grr brrr. Not new, I fear, but also not too loudly propagated given the current perversion of trying to force large quantities of spayed/neutered science on an uninterested boggerate. In my mind it comes back to the discussion we used to have when I was in graduate shule about how big a stochastic event has to be to split a universe. We never quite reached any stability on this matter because we were struggling with the whole conservation of mass-energy thing. Nowadays we sorta sweep that one under the rug with some mumblage about locality and information.

The multiverse idea is a popular one with science fiction writers, or at least was. I suspect it still is even though I don;t find many contemporary authors who can command my attention span – time sufficiently strongly for me to put them on the regular read list. But the fiction part of all this is fairly damning, that of communication and or travel between universes.

I have mentioned before that I don’t approve very much of the current efforts to popularize science for the masses. My primary objection is that they aren’t interested and all that is being done is annoy them. I have recently learned that too many of the authors of these works are incapable of story telling and their books are worse than boring, they are unengaging. I am reminded of the old saw about not trying to teach some skill to an animal because it is not only doomed to fail but annoys the animal.

I have no objections to having some works available for the interested, but they need to be well written and engaging and not forced on the public. And access for communication would also be good, again on an availability basis. That’s the opposite of what we have now. We have a social pressure for scientists to do “outreach” always in the form of a badly composed book or a structured presentation. Boring! Ineffective! Off-putting! I don’t see things changing, shy of some nasty extinction, but that doesn’t mean we can’t illuminate the stupidity.

Which is part of the problem with this multiverse stuff. Yes, it’s possible, but it’s almost surely irrelevant in the boggish sense. We aren’t going to go for vacation in the next universe but three and we aren’t going to exchange email with the alternate us in universe thirty-seven who married the other girl friend. Probably.

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And it Rings Poorly

Can machines be smart? I ponder this question from time to time, usually after reading some science fiction (as opposed to SF or scifi or even fantasY,) but this time the cognition is prompted by the class of objects know as smart cellular telephones. These include the iPhoney, the Android, and the Winders. Of these two are clearly the smarts only of the slavemasters Apple and MegaHard but there is some ambiguity in the Android instruments so some consideration is warranted. For the other two we can simply acknowledge that a shackle cannot be smart.

It occurred however, that I might not be understanding the word smart properly, so I activated my trusty (LInux) dictionary client and inquired the meaning.
   1. Causing a smart; pungent; pricking; as, a smart stroke or taste. [1913 Webster]
   2. Keen; severe; poignant; as, smart pain.       [1913 Webster]
   3. Vigorous; sharp; severe. “Smart skirmishes, in which many fell.” –Clarendon.      [1913 Webster]
   4. Accomplishing, or able to accomplish, results quickly; active; sharp; clever. [Colloq.]      [1913 Webster]
   5. Efficient; vigorous; brilliant. “The stars shine smarter.”      –Dryden.      [1913 Webster]
   6. Marked by acuteness or shrewdness; quick in suggestion or reply; vivacious; witty; as, a smart reply; a smart saying.      [1913 Webster]
   7. Pretentious; showy; spruce; as, a smart gown.      [1913 Webster]
   8. Brisk; fresh; as, a smart breeze.      [1913 Webster]
Clearly I was indeed mistaken. The first and second meanings do apply to “smart” cellular telephones. They do cause a bad taste in ones mental mouth as well as pain. I also find mine highly frustrating in that it does everything I ask so poorly and incompetently. That fits with definition 3 since my expectations are casualties of the encounter.

Definition 4 applies in that the phone is relatively fas and gives me results. I often find those results inadequate and incompetent but that evidently has nothing to do with being smart. Definition 5, which is the one I was assuming, is clearly not applicable. I am at least a little bit brilliant, enough to recognize in others usually and I consistently find no brilliance in my phone. And damned little in the programmers. Nor can I attribute vigor or efficiency to the device. It does some of what I ask of it and never any more. In the same sense definition 6 clearly does not apply. Witty or shrewd it is not; if anything, the opposite. It is however, pretentious and showy both in its own appearance and the nonsense of how so may people use it as a display rather than an appliance. And lastly it is not at all fresh. It is stale and crotchety and cranky and moldy, at least in terms of being smart.

I do have to ask myself if the phone is “smarter” than most bogs? The answer is a resounding Yea! But that is a matter of a significant component of humanity trying very hard to expunge its own intelligence.

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