Futile Openness?

Another milder morning. Once more to the park for constitutional, but I had to share the path and that rather upset my concentration. Not completely, but more than I should like.

We sit on the edge of summer solstice and it seems a strange time to be thinking about schule, but I ran across an article [Link] entitled “College courses without textbooks? These schools are giving it a shot.” I should comment that the title is rather a bit of the contemporarily usual journalistic stercus tauri. One of the things that was learned in the early days of universities was that the students learn better if there is a textbook for every one and not just a “lecturer” reading out of his copy while the students take down his reading. Of course, that was before Gutenberg did the technology and manufacturing development of printing.

We have deviated from this model and in recent years are reaping the punishment of it with a generation of students who were issued schule owned book that were recovered and reused at end of term. So these students have no appreciation of the inertia of textbooks and display it in their lack of knowledge in later time. Another incidence of politicians economizing to destroy civilization.

But the textbooks referred in the title are those produced by the textbook publishing corporations of Amerika. I had occasion yesterday to visit the Barnes and Ignoble site with a discount coupon and was shocked. The inflation of textbook prices since my undergraduate days is a factor of about 20! I looked at some introductory texts that I paid $10-15 for and all were north of $250! No wonder the students dispose of their texts at end of term!

A more accurate way of describing the alternative being explored is open source materials which may include texts. It is another bit of a program I have seen growing in recent years to offer alternatives to hideously expensive textbook and learning materials. I strongly support any such efforts. 

Sadly, I have been unable to find any support among my collegiate colleagues. They seem addicted to the bribes conveyed them by those publishers – outlines, syllibi, slides. They claim that the press of their duties precludes them doing a competent job of preparation. Evidently one more indication of the factoryization of college. 

I weep for the deprived students. They can no longer take notes for lack of cursive, thereby they cannot learn, the lectures are standardized and unengaging, and they discard their textbooks. No wonder they emerge from college as ignorant as they entered. We are out own enemy as Pogo sayith.

Evil About

Seven Day. Still. And FRAWGGY! One of those Frawgs that all you can see is most of the light from your head lamp scattered back into your eyes and some streaming particles in the flux. Distracting and distressing. Makes walking unsure. Especially for ORF. 

But on the smooth spots I mused on the evil that is the Internet. Mostly the access part, About how the poor don;t have access and the rich seem to only use it to stream video and suck money. Which probably – combined – accounts for the paltry good that is of and on the internet? Certainly if the Roinek Battle Flag wavers and the Religionist Terrorists had more presence there would be more evil and hence less good. 

So the question is whether the corporationist monopoly on internet access is itself inherently evil. It sure isn’t good. But it is unclear if government provision would be better in any real way?

Life was better before.

Sundae is a good day to plumb evil, there is so much about then. And all of it our own doing.

Divergence is the Ground State

Off again this morning to the park for constitutional. Air temperature eight degF less than yesterday. Better walking weather. 

Repeated the exercise of yesterday of listening to podcast but within a minute diverted by their discussion of “Convergence”, the new end goal of BIG IT. Megahard and Canonical, primarily.

It’s rubbish.

Smelly, stinky, nauseating rubbish.

The idea of convergence is in essence a race to the bottom. It’s the idea that the phonelet will be the computing – i.e. CPU and main memory – that one uses for all one’s computing needs. One metaphor is that this stays the same as one scales up the visual real estate.

I am not sure how this is supposed to work on the first scale up from phonelet to ‘real’ tablet but the scale up to lap or desk box is to dock the phonelet with the box. 

I admit this is a neat idea. But it’s flawed. Why would anyone cram a multi-processor (say 20-30 cores,0 especially one of the upcoming 3-D CPUs with special cooling into a phonelet. They’d be as thick as my first cellular, one of those Motorola Flip-Phones. Nice phone for the day but it was also a defense against muggers and terrorists.

And what about RAM? Most phonelets these days have 1-3 Gb of RAM. I want a minimum of 16 Gb and preferably 32 Gb in my desk box.

And how do we handle video? I want my lap box to be HD minimum and my desk box to be 4K minimum. How does a phonelet drive that or interface between its video driver and box’s?

By now I hope you perceive the ridiculousness of this. What I do on a phonelet – audio telephone calls and texts primarily with some eMail when I don’t have to pay for the data connection – isn’t what I do on a desk box. And that is the Achilles heel of Convergence.

If you do the same things on a desk box that you do on your phonelet, then convergence makes sense. Maybe. But if you do real work on a desk or lap box, Convergence is a Red Herring, a rat hole, a criminal diversion.

So please stop treating me like a schmucklet and drop this Convergence chatter. It’s annoying and diverts me from being constructive. Which you aren’t.

Which is why I am downusing MegaHard (zeroed except for support to Scientific Word) and Canonical (abandonment of ALL the ‘buntus.)

Freedom. Creativity. Happiness.

The Domain of Imaginity

One Day! Air temperature almost 50 degF so balmy for March in Alibam. Gym sparse and only one weight bouncer. The podcast was a bit disconnected since it dealt with the future and zero marginal cost/ The latter caused the disconnect.

I made myself study economics and finance years ago when I had to learn to live with Yankee government accountants. And I found out zero marginal cost wasn’t even a holy grail. It was pure fiction. Why? Mostly because no one accounts for the true cost of anything.

What does a tree cost? No not what the lumber yard says, what it costs to harvest the tree, prepare it, AND grow a replacement tree. And what is the money value of that latency?

So zero marginal cost is more about fiction than fact. So the podcast failed at its introduction.

My attention wandered a bit until I saw a commercial on the monitor. I forget what the commercial was advertising; I tend to tune that out. But what gathered my attention was a subtitled claim that the people endorsing were “Real people. Not actors.”

I didn’t dwell but passingly on the crux that I have no basis to trust this assertion since I can neither test nor verify the claim. Instead I became fixated on what are “real people”? Is this a mathematical statement. Real as opposed to imaginary? And are humans actually real? Can’t the soul be thought of as mathematically imaginary, contributing to the magnitude but only creeping into reality when it interacts with another imaginary thing?

Humans are resultants of the Big Bang and Evolution. So shouldn’t “real” refer to our natural aspect? And if so, are we not immediately not-real as soon as we interact with other humans to distance ourselves from natural reality? So the only humans who are real are those who live alone, never interact with other humans, and only interact with nature. Does making a hand ax or a fire hardened stick make us unreal?

We can conceive of two realities: natural reality that we evolved in; and imaginary (?) reality that is society and civilization and such. But since we are the product of reproductive congress between two other humans, at least after we became homo sap, then we have always had an imaginary component. So how can any human be really “real”?

Then it occurred that almost all of us are inverted. We have long since gotten to the point where reality – Nature – is imaginary almost all the time and imaginity – Society – is “real” almost all the time. (It seems I have gone and invented another word.) So when the commercial says “real people” does it mean those who exist only in a social context?

And what of the statement “not actors”? Are we not all “acting” when we are interacting socially?

At least I can confirm this commercial upholds the thesis that all advertisement have a false component.

Warmth and Frigidity

Freya’s day. Air temperature high. Thermostat reported external air temperature of 60 degF. So I lightly bundled and sallied forth to the park for constitutional. To discover that my headlamp batteries were almost depleted. And that a mist was falling/engulfing. The weather beavers will likely call this frawg but this is an area that they stand almost always in error.

To say nothing of the accuracy  of their minimum air temperature forecasts.

So I fell back on one of my secondary hand lamps and trod the (highly cracked and uneven) walking path. Happily most of the christmas lamps were extinguished so I was not exposed to that horror very strongly. And the mist was no more than a minor nuisance compared to the protests of my legs – joints and muscles. Sometimes the promise of “Make Room! Make Room!” is attractive.

Meanwhile, I reflected – very briefly – on an article [Link] reporting that Winders Movable, aka MegaHard Cellular OS, is doomed. Seems they are at 0.022 of market and are projected to grow no more than to 0.023 by 2019. Not engaging. Happiness actually. If trustable, which given journalism probably isn’t.

More engaging is the question of whether MegaHard will put this discorporate equine on medical support just to maintain their fiction? I am of divided mental argument on this one so I will bide my time and watch. 

The bad part is that the “other” category is even lower. So unless some sweeping dynamic emerges we can weep for the likes of the FireFox and Ubuntu phones. Well, maybe not the latter. Except as a George to MegaHard and Gooey’s dragons? Especially since I heard this week that Canonical is scoping down the permissions in their phone implementation as compared to desktop. So much for their claims of the phone doing all. The wonder, however, is that anyone continues to do volunteer work for canonical, They have shown themselves to be as fascist and evil as “Adolph” the Trumpeter.

I am also a bit peeved at Mozilla. They seem to have cut loose Thunderbird.[Link] This indicates a serious mental deficiency on the part of their management. The closest comparison I can make, that is appropriate, is the Oneonta Telephone Company. The latter is a small rural (?) telephone company that provides service to Greater Metropolitan Arab (Mediocre service, but service nonetheless.) Some time ago they decided to contract out their ISP business and concentrate on land line. This despite their land line business steadily decreasing by o(0.1) per annum and ISP business increasing similarly. Classic case of business schule mismanagement.

The Mozilla situation is similar. FireFox has been slipping badly lately but Thunderbird is still a mainstay of the desktop client market. It has lost a bit but mostly due to Mozilla’s lack of support than market demand. The same cannot be said of FireFox which continues to lose against Gooey’s product. Not as nice a case study but still an apparently blatant example of mismanagement..

I suspect there may be some actual evil here. Since ThunderBird is a mainstay of the market it seems reasonable that the FOSS community may take it up and do wonders, once more proving how inept the IT SW industry really is. So is this actually altruism in action? The World Wonders.

And doubts. Mozilla may not be as evil as Canonical or MegaHard but it definitely is an organization on the dark side.

Not that I like Star Wars metaphors. Mostly because I disapprove of those who support slavery. But since this is a slavery thing it seems fitting.

 

Eat Moog’s Food

The title is likely unknown to all but the most congruent. It refers to an idea expressed by Edward Elmer Smith, Ph. D., in “First Lensman” that all intelligent (?) species that have civilization have advertising. He didn’t say so but I have the impression he considered advertising the rust of civilization. That made civilization a pseudo-physical thing and that, and civilization, was key to Smith’s story telling.

One of my colleagues, Magnetic Inductance Force. who also reads Smith but is more mindful of the Skylark vector, claims, with some good empirical analysis, that

“Every Advertisement is a Lie.”

This is clearly improvable since it requires an infinite sample but so far the finite sample standard deviation is zero. That is, no advertisement examined has not contained a factual inaccuracy.

The reason I offer this is that last week another colleague, Force Spring Constant, made much at discussion of a bit of grrr brrr of the death of the internet. The cause of the grr brr was the recent inclusion in the Apple OS of code to permit the blocking of internet advertisements. The thesis was that most internet information propagators are funded by capitalists who pay to have their advertisements on internet sites and documents and the negation of these advertisements would abolish the financiality of the internet.

At the time I poo-pooed the idea, not as irrelevant, but antediluvian. This was patently one of those publicity grabs practiced by the Apple community where they take some topic that is quite dated in the context of the not-Apple universe and ressurect it as if it is new because it is now being considered by Appleites. This is somewhat akin to information only being validated once it has been examined by academics; all others are irrelevant in their examinations.

And such it is. The AdBlock (trademark used as generic) matter is quite old in internet terms. I believe the debate over the financiality was conducted in the Mozilla arena several years ago, five at least. (I am too lazy to go look up dates but I know I have had ad-blocking add-ins for at least that long.) The general consensus was that ads on the internet were a nuisance and nuisances may be swatted, if not squashed. Consider the sales of mosquito repellent.

In my case the decision was a bit more deliberate. I learned to code in a time when compilers were included with the mainframe. When a new compiler came out you got it automatically if you were up to date on your hardware payments. So software is inherently free. That was reinforced in an academic environment where you had access to lots of folks NERD code. It wasn’t until the PC came along that SW had a price and by that time the outlook was instilled in habit and Nature. Hence the Amerikan attitude to SW piracy. Hence folks who write SW to make money are evil and deluded.

When I got to the internet, which was in its not quite early days – I started out with Netscape and an Earthlink account (the latter being the primary source of recognizing evil capitalists on the internet.) So the sense of the environment was that information is free. No price. And to this day I consider paywalls to be evil and I avoid them. Except for really important things like refreed NERD journals and in that regard I am used to paying subscription.

So advertisements on the internet are either nuisance or irrelevant. The rare exception is when I want to purchase something and I see an advertisement for that very thing. The probability of this is vanishingly small, better than observing a proton decay, but still so small as to be irrelevant to any consideration. So disposing of advertisements on the internet is a public health (mental, in this case) activity, rather like spraying for mosquito’s prevents malaria and other nasty diseases. Notable also that neither mosquito nor advertiser are liable for their damage and hence have no claim to humane or civilized consideration. Except maybe to a Jain? And then there is the question of whether capitalists are actually living.

And if the web site goes away? So what? The internet today is much larger but less well populated than in those days. It is clearly an evolving environment. And not suffering very much except at the hands of capitalists. My observation has been that the web sites that I return to have not gone away. That means my blocking ads has not done them in. So ads really are a nuisance and not the financial mainstay of the internet.

Despite what cracked Appleite journalists claim. One more datum of their whackedness.