The Good of a Pen

Five Day. Last day of gym under the new schedule. And an intense hope the weekend will actually be enjoyable.

The first morning of BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! Bundled up like Nanook. Southrons and heat are nasty but Southrons and not-heat are just plain pathetic. Even more pathetic than Clinton-Trump supporters. 

The podcast this morning was the second half of an episode of Linux Luddites. Passable. Consumed the time well. But not much in the way of ideas. So my mind wandered to the subject of writing and then to pens.

I sometimes listen to Brad Dowdy’s “The Pen Addict” [Link] podcast, mostly when walking. He sometimes has useful things to say about pens. But mostly he waxes adoringly on Field Note paper. Not that it isn’t good paper but pocket notebooks aren’t real notebooks. At least in my frame of reference.

Which brings me to note taking and composition and writing. One of my colleagues, Force Spring Constant, gave me an Economist article entitled “The Comeback of Cursive” [Link] about why cursive is making a comeback in schules mostly because – they claim – of push-back from Common Core and the extra-office existence of corporate serfs these days. Neither seems a good reason but then humans almost never do things for good reasons. Mostly they glandular. 

I have nattered on writing and note taking previously so I won;t compete with a search of the blog site. And get to the marrow. How do I rate a pen?

Importance 1: How well does the pen put into on the page? This is primarily about the interstices of the pen. Does it skip? Does it drag? Yes to either question is failure. And the pen ends up next the telephone to write down pointers.

Importance 2: How well does the pen feel. Is it comfortable both at rest in the hand and while writing? No to either is a fail.

Importance 3: Is the pen painful in any way? Is it unendearingly ugly? Or nastily garish? Depending on the depth of 1 and 2, a Yes may be a fail. But not usually. This is a distant 3.

The problem is that we can assess these with opposite order of ease. A glance and a touch answer 3, A bit of manipulation and test writing answer 2 and much of 1. But a new pen does not perform like a developed pen. So sometimes we buy and then amass at the telephone. 

So when someone tells you they buy pens for visual appearance or cheapness, you know they are a BOG. Pity them. Perhaps they will abstain from reproduction. 

Freshman Weight Amassing

Four Day. End of gym week. Which has been unusual for the quota of Linux podcasts. Finished up that episode of “Linux Luddites” from last week on Woden’s Day and heard an Ubuntu podcast episode this morning. So all sort of thoughts about Linux but none mature enough for a blot. Film Whenever.

But I did run across as article [Link] entitled “Five Tips for Avoiding the “Freshman 15″” the other day and since this is off-to-college time and I have to mumble whenever that occurs, here’s one.

The tips are:

  1. Avoid snacking during class: 
  2. Skip the sugary energy drinks: 
  3. Use smaller plates in the cafeteria: 
  4. Make time for exercise: 
  5. Limit alcohol consumption: 

The article adds some dialog to this but if you want to read go visit the original. I cite and quote but try to stop properly short of plagiarism. And as claimed, I have to add my comments and memories. So here they are:

Avoid snacking during class: Snacking during class? Do you want to get kicked out? Absolutely no drinking nor eating in class. Double that for labs. I recall one guy, who like me didn’t get lunch because of a 1100-1200 class and a 1200-1500 lab came in munching a candy bar – this was before energy bars or even granola. If he had finished it in the hall he would have been fine but he walked into lab eating it and instantly got banned from the building. He ended up having to change majors, got drafted, and generally had a sad fate.

Skip the sugary energy drinks: The only sugary drinks in those days were everything: soda, lemonade, tea. Even coffee usually. But they weren’t billed as energy drinks. And while I knew people who drank soda, I didn’t. Well, maybe once or twice a term. To be sociable. Tea was another matter though. 

Use smaller plates in the cafeteria: Plates? College cafeterias were just that in my day. No salad bars. Lines. Pastel green plastic trays instead of plates. And the green hue made all the food look a bit nauseating. And the selection was limited to A or B and only if you were early on and all of the good choice had been gotten. More Later.

Make time for exercise: Exercise? Who had time? Oh yeah, the jocks and the goof-offs and a few smart guys but for me it was grind, grind, grind. My exercise was getting between classes. And scurrying in labs. I recall second semester fresham year I had labs every afternoon but Friday. And on Saturday you trudged to town to get necessities not sold in the supe store.

Limit alcohol consumption: Ethanol? Some in chemistry lab but it was denatured with methanol so if you drank it you went to hospital. And then Vietnam. To get drinking ethanol you had to know someone of age and a motorcar. I didn’t. So my celebrations we sweet tea or the occasional soda.

Now let’s grind on the Freshman Fifteen which is the weight – pounds are a measure of force – that a lot of Freshmen gain these days from being too sedentary and dissolute and overeating. My Freshman weight gain was a negative 28 pounds. Yep. Went home end of spring term 28 pounds lighter than when I entered the previous August. Too many classes back-to-back across lunch time. Miss lunch more days than you don’t and too many suppers with yuck cafeteria swill and racewalking from the liberal arts side of campus to the NERD side and you’ll drop enough weight to look a bit like a cancer or concentration survivor. The bad part is the panicked parents when they pick you up – no car, remember – and freak out that you’re discorporating of some horrible disease.


Holes and Wholes

Tough week. Joys of Seniorness. Makes one understand the attraction of soma. 

Low air temperature this morning. Barely above the minimum. Off to park. Not a really vigorous constitutional. Sore and stiff. Marvels of modern medical chemistry. New podcast. So far, about 16 minutes, all a lovely rant about the perfidy and dishonesty of corporations. Just my sort of thing. A bit of profanity but not egregious. We’ll see how it develops.

On the subject of aching and sore, I recently ran across an article [Link] in the student newspaper of the campus of the Boneyard entitled “Academic Senate approves general education requirement for U.S. Minority courses.” Yep, a required course for all undergrads on minorities. 

I’m not against such in principle, especially down here in the old Confederacy where the general attitude is that slavery will return any minute and the minorities will be back to being properly behaved. But I do have strong objection to the continued propagation of the anti-science dogma of “race”. This has been bankrupted almost as often as the “pro-life” movement as bunk and filth. Mental filth, that is. So given the way these courses are done, I have no doubts that all the inaccuracies and evil will be incorporated in the course as matters of goodness and light.

I also expect that the engineering and science students will likely view this as yet another noxious ticket-punch to be obtained. Not that I don’t think the learning would hurt them if done properly. But I have scant doubts that it will not be proper and that it will only disengage the nerds and geeks, who are themselves the most critical and consistently ignored minority.

And what about women? Are they a minority? And how is that supported given that over half the population of the nation is female by birth if not choice? And what about introverts? Another ignored minority. Because this blatantly is an EXTRO course.

So pray tell me how the evil is being reduced here?

While we’re on the soapbox of self-service, I noted another article [Link] entitled “There’s a surprisingly awesome reason for the holes on the top of pen caps.” This article is about BIC Sticks, those el cheapo pens that are basically a plastic barrel around an ink cartridge with a cheaper cap to keep from wasting ink on your clothes – since very little of it gets into the notebook. 

Alright, I have to admit I used these as a freshman. Mostly because I was told to by that kind (?) upperclassman who told me about note taking. He considered the BS to be a paragon of reliability. And it is. Sorta. Not. It stutters but that’s because it’s a ballpoint. And gels and roller balls hadn’t been invented in those days. SO the choices were pencil (not very permanent,) ballpoint (not dependable,) drafting pens (also not very dependable,) and fountain pens (expensive and harder to use.)

I admit I used pencil, not for note taking, but for homework problems and tests. Except the EXTRO BOG course tests that required ink. And I eventually got around to adopting the fountain pen. It’s the best of the four. Then and probably now. But people don;t know how to take notes these days. Because they are stupid, their parents are stupid and ineffectual, and their public school teachers are largely incompetent and self-serving. (Gee, does that mean public education is a corporation?)

But the BS sorta works. It works better with Type 2 than Type 1 courses. Because there is a lot more of picking up and putting down the point. Which minimizes the stuttering.

That’s not what the article is about. It’s about how the big hole in the BS cap prevents choking when the cap is swallowed. (It also lets some ink get through which is a compromise of the cap’s function but heck, this is a marketing thing, not a safety or functionality thing.) Now we have to ask what kind of folks swallow pen caps. The only ones I have known have been slime mold level EXTRO BOGs. The kind of people that you know upon meeting that their parents are religionist fanatics who should have used Planed Parenthood but instead passed on their slime mold genes to posterity. In my day the dregs of the jocks and Greeks. The ones who have to be told when to shower and shave.

I’m not sure about these days but given the greater fraction of the population who attend college – one result of the commercialization of “education” – I suspect there are a lot more of these folks, fractionally, than in my day and hence the bigger hole in the cap of the BS is desirable to the college administration in reducing the number of caskets shipped home to parents.

It also begs the question of how hard do they have to train these students to be able to use a BS? Do they have to take a special freshman class in it? Are there PowerPoint slides? Do they get graduation credit?

The World Wonders.

Puts that minority course in a new light, doesn’t it? 

Major Psychology

One day. Back to gym. Not bad. Passable podcast episode on C. S. Lewis. Intriguing arguments never used by most old Confederacy preachers and christianist. And hence, incorrect because they are the only. 

I ran across an article [Link] entitled “What does your college major say about your personality? ” This is sort of a Bose Condensation type of argument from psychologists. But what gathered my attention was a categorization by major:

  • Science students scored high for openness and extraversion, and medium for neuroticism
  • Engineering students tended to have medium levels of neuroticism and conscientiousness, and low openness scores
  • Arts/humanities majors scored high in openness and neuroticism, and low for conscientiousness
  • Law students were highly extraverted, rated medium for neuroticism and conscientiousness, but scored low on openness and agreeableness. Economics students ranked similar
  • Medical students also scored high on extraversion, but were highly agreeable, too
  • Psychology students rated high for neuroticism and openness

I cannot refrain from making comments.

  • Physicists: extroversion? Not in my experience. Open? Yes. But extrovert? Only among those who specialize in outreach. Which does not say they are not smart, but they don’t get along with the majority. And neurotic? Being physicist means being different, especially from the BOGs. So what is that if not a perceived neurosis?
  • Engineer students are intense, or were in my day. 
  • Arts and humanities students are moved by inner truths that involve much social meandering, especially with drugs.
  • Law students are cunning and crafty and overweeningly ambitious. Winning and money are root.
  • I can’t speak to actual medical students since medical schools tend to be segregated – for a reason. Pre-meds are worse than pre-laws for asociality (except for self-service) and ambition. 
  • My cousin, a psychology professor, told me that most students studying psychology were “physician heal thyself.”




Book Gouging

Seven Day. Fair. At least so far. Air temperature about the same as yesterday so off I go to park. Halfway through first lap the rain portends. Plow on! But at a slightly – old man – pace.

I have been experimenting with a numbered week system. Hence the days are numbered rather than named. It works well for me, mostly because I don;t have to interact with bogs about it. 

Speaking of boggery I ran across an article [Link] in The Daily Illini, the campus rag of the Boneyard, on the subject of textbook prices, “The reason for the rise: College textbooks see price increase”. The basic bottom line is greed and pain avoidance. Evidently the textbook manufacturers up the prices of textbooks every year – and bring out new editions – to keep their stockholders off their cases. 

So a classic example of evil corporate greed. 

But what gathered me in was a claim that textbooks ‘ cost increased faster than other things. So I made a comparison. Basic text books cited: ~$300 Yankee. 

Back when I was a Freshman, comparable – maybe – textbooks were about $15, maybe $20. The first textbook I paid $50 for was in graduate schule. I say maybe because textbooks in those days weren’t full of color and crap like books today. My basic chemistry text was half the mass of its current equivalent. SO from a materials standpoint there is a significant difference.

If we ignore that the ratio of today price to then price is ~ 20.

When I was a freshman, hamburgers in greasy spoons cost $0.5. Today they cost $5. So a ratio of 10. (I have discussed the hamburger model of money previously.)

Based on this simple comparison model, textbooks have increased their price twice as fast as hamburgers and since hamburgers represent the economy…

Time to fix the problem. Starting with the professors and lecturers who abet the publishers.

College Recalled 1

Ran across this: [Link]

This was second (?) time around. These sorts of things were springing up starting in the ’60’s. Except the they were called co-ops. Commune was a bit too containment for Alibam.

We called ours a kibbutz

kibbutz n 1: a collective farm or settlement owned by its members in modern Israel; children are reared collectively

Of course, being the ’60’s, when the BIG NEW technology was birth control medications – and lasers!, of course! – avoiding children was paramount. Mostly because you can’t get through grad schule with kids.

I think we got the idea from some physics kibbutz in Israel. 

Waste and Corruption

Thor’s day. Also that quaint Amerikan holiday that has grown to be as horrible and painful – almost – as the religionist season – which follows hot on its heels. EXTRO extravaganza of hate and loathing and STRESS!

Went to the park this morning for morning constitutional. Air temperature up within range. Horrible! Ugly. Nasty! Each year, in a fever pitch of wasting the public purse, the conscript parents of Greater Metropolitan Arab, dominated by the evil real estate gang, mount hideous lamp arrangements in the park and downtown. The latter is moderately ignorable since no one is downtown after 1700 hours.

But the park as illuminated this morning in the most hideous and wasteful of arrangements. Some were even hung from living trees, desecrating them. A horrible experience. I was completely unable to do anything except feel a biting wind and the ache in my limbs.

No joy. No satisfaction. No communion. Just evil ugly light patterns.

In an equally (?) nasty article, [Link] I read about a survey by state of the books (?) read by high schule seniors. The summary:

I recognize few of these, especially the more read, at least in this counting. That does not surprise. The books mandated fro schule reading are not ones that I sought when I was in such subjugations. And I have tried heartily to rebel since.

The result for Alibam is instructive. First of all, it isn’t a book. It’s a play. That is included in the senior literature textbook. So in effect, the book most read by Alibam high schule seniors is their state issued literature textbook! I fear this confirms my fears. Alibam is now in actuality a third world state. Our children do not read unless compelled. And that compulsion is evil.

Not that I dislike MacBeth. One of Rattle Lance’s better works. Lots of family murder and such. Very fitting for today.

But it is still depressing that seniors in high schule are so whipped.