Ice Lessons 1

Not a bad day so far. Despite the forebodings of the weather beavers, the ice giants have not yet laid their hand on Greater Metropolitan Arab. Although I can see their approach on the radar. But I did get to go to gym and courtesy of the weather panic – they also closed the city schules and Redstone again – I had the gym almost to myself. Actually I feared the opening clerk would bail but she actually arrived a couple of minutes early.

This closing thing has become mundane. And wimpish. I can recall driving across Redstone on ice to the aerodrome and then retracing my path when the flight was canceled. But then we were rugged and nerdy in my day. Nowadays it is boggish to be dainty and delicate.

Which brings me to the guts of my visit. I listened to the podcast and marveled that the local weather broadcasting station didn’t have their closed captioning engaged. Evidently the deaf are irrelevant on icy days? Or is this some religio-political crusade to purify the species? By the time I left I dropped the gym population from five to four. And that’s when the wonder struck.

As I checked out, I overheard a conversation from an obese bogette and the clerk about the weather. Ignorance gushed out of the former’s mouth. In seconds I was whelmed with this person’s lack of knowledge of the states of dihydrogen oxide, the mechanics of phase change, and the nature of friction. as she went about her unhappy business – I carefully held my comments – I was struck by a thought:

(an act of) Stupidity is to wager one’s life on one’s ignorance not killing one.

I don’t mean that as any indictment of this individual. I am sure she knows many things I do not, and they are probably more useful to her than the things I was struck she didn’t know. Rather, what this statement is, is a fundamental of life. One cannot know everything, so one must always make this wager. All of us. Even the nerds.

The trick, of course, is to make a rational choice of what one is ignorant of. Preferably also an informed one except that rather contradicts the ignorance part. Maybe?

It is rather a safe wager, at least in Marshall County, Alibam, that the person in question is an analgebraist. That is, she is one of those people who think that anything they are taught in high schule is useless and to be forgotten immediately upon matriculation. And no further education is beneficial. This is the natural extension state of those people who tell their children they’ll never use algebra after high schule, hence the name.

I mention this because that is why I held my comment. With probability of about 0.9 (hear that Sturgeon?) any comment about the states of dihydrogen oxide, phase mechanics, and/or friction would not only be wasted but incur wrath and possibly violence. So in this case leaving ignorance lie was an exercise in pain avoidance. Which somehow seems appropriate in a gym?

Selah. Wait for the slippery.

Rot, Rotter, Rottest

A most enjoyable session at gym. I managed to sneak in and out before the roads iced up, and the constabulary went all Gestapo but not before the sunshine patriots, the educationalists and almost all of the weight bouncers decided to bunker in. So the gym was quite sparsely populated.

Sadly the podcast, an episode of the CBC’s "Best of Ideas" was blah and vapid. The subject was 3-D printers and done for a boggish audience who pays scant attention to nerdery. So it presented nothing new except a bit of history of science fiction coming real. And that is questionable. I have been around 3-D printing for 20+ years now and the technology and organizational aspects of them are old underwear, the kind that can be trotted out as new to the mentally impoverished.

But this vapidity gave me occasion to expend cognitive cycles on a commercial I viewed last evening on the electromagnetic audio-visual receiver. The commercial was a Tarzan piece by some corporation, whose identity is lost in irrelevance, about helping schules. Helping schules means selectively giving a few schules a token of money (compared to the cost of the commercial and air time) so the corporation can brag about giving back. Pennies on the Pound sort of thing, of course.

But what stuck with me was a throw away line:

"Fifty percent of all students are alienated to maths and science by the eighth grade"

That’s not exact but close enough.

My first thought at this was that money will have scant effect on this since it depends on adequate funding (obviously not met) to all schules (also obviously not met) with questing maths and science teachers ( patently not met but independent) who will use the money creatively to engage the students (almost an impossibility.) So the whole commercial was a grand prevarication. Goebbels would be proud!

The more I reflected on this, the more I recalled my own days in primary and secondary schule. Basically the same thing occurred, if not more so. In those days the teachers were willing – unlike today? – but woefully ignorant and hence ineffective bordering on incompetent, and the textbooks were horrible, insipid and inadequate, instilled with too little science and too much social nonsense. And the maths books were horribly simplistic and repetitive. Boringly, grindingly repetitive. So yes, by eighth grade most of use were completely alienated to public school maths and science.

That doesn’t mean we were alienated to maths and science in general. We grew up in a nerd town. Many of us had nerds for parents, and both human and textual sources of real information on science and maths. My parents were bogs with sparks of geekness but they provided me with lots of reading material (most not very good except my father’s navy correspondence courses’ textbooks.)

I am reminded again of that tweet of Neil DeGrasse Tyson,

Students who earn straight A’s in school do so not because of good Teachers but in spite of bad Teachers.

We probably have to add bad texts and bad parents to that list. Bad in this case means ineffective or weak or ignorant but not necessarily evil. Some teachers are evil these days since their pay is glued to not teaching well. But I think these are still the exception. The problem is that (1) teachers don’t know enough science and maths; (2) parents don’t know enough science and maths and they aren’t supportive meaningfully; and (3) the textbooks are terrible in so many dimensions. The worst of the latter is religionist politics and social moralizing, neither of which belong in science and/or maths texts.

So no wonder the kids are turned off. The problem is that this time it’s also at home. And from that there is no recovery except another dark age of misery and violence.

Buck up kids, you probably won’t have to endure being ignorant long.

Soda Rot

It is hard to write that gym week is over, since I only made it to gym twice this week. Temperature deficit syndrome, I fear. And the weather beavers are already crowing about the depredations we shall experience next week. Perhaps it is time to invest in a cave?

Of course on the bright side I did miss all the nastiness of the educationalists and weight bouncers at the gym.

Speaking of nastiness, Marshall county’s champion of tent erection, Mr. Ain’t Worthy, wrote a positively evil letter to the probate judge denouncing him for following the law. And the editor of the local rag saw fit to publish this piece of filth. On the positive side, I now have a greater understanding of the saying:

“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not themselves.”

Mr. Ain’t Worthy certainly seems to be a paragon of the idea that the primary threat to the nation is Christian Terrorism and political parties. 

On the other positive side, at least young impressionable people don’t read newspapers any more.

On the azimuth of evil, I noted an article [Link] about work at Johns Hopkins U that indicates that sodas with cola in them are linked to cancer. We have to wonder given, obesity, stupidity, and now cancer why the soda industry is allowed to poison the electorate. The answer is probably politicians and religionists?

I have to admit that while I did not drink much soda in my youth, I now enjoy it in my seniority. Maybe one bottle of artisanal soda every month or so. And no Fructose. It goes immediately to fat. And I only drink it late in the day when my mental capacity has been about used up. And since cancer is also caused by defects, it seems a reasonable risk. 

On the other hand, we have no good data that indicates that politicians or religionists cause cancer. But we can suspect it. 

Winter Sleep

Well, the weather beavers blew it again! So far this morning by 2 degF. Right now my thermometer reads 19 degF and yes, I have calibrated it so don’t be pulling that climate denialist thing of measurement variation. I do so love winter and I do so love the math bogs who think they know but do not.

No gym this morning. Failure of the will or some such. Or maybe it was heeding the admonitions not to test the icy (?) roads. Not for lack of confidence in my own skills. I have them courtesy of graduate schule in Illinois, but because Ivory soap of Alibam doesn’t but still has confidence they can drive. Which they can;t. Especially pickup truck drivers who can’t drive through an empty car park without messing something up.

Speaking of messing up, I ran across an article [Link] about some work at a French U whose name is even worse than the ones the Germans stick on colleges that a thirty minute nap can reverse the ills of a night of poor sleep. Poor sleep. That’s winter sleep. Sometimes summer sleep. Winter sleep is characterized by being too cold or too hot, both sensations, but valid in this context, and being up every two hours to prowl about the house checking that the drips are still flowing and life has suddenly not become a horror of water and plumbers. (Water is just yuck, plumbers are not.)

It’s almost a parody of old age. The whole going to micturate every two hours and stumbling about in between. In this case it’s impossible to avoid micturation every other trip or so but that’s a derivative side line to the inspection of drip posts. Not to mention the stress of that bihourly emergence and the joy of returning to a bed that seems still warm but in moments takes on the aspects of a "polar bear" plunge.

I really do not like winter. Mostly, I suspect, because it doesn’t like me.

Mundane Stupidity

Once more into week in. The gym was about modally populated for one day and the weight bouncers were in a medium harassment mode, mostly grunting viscerally whenever you had to near them. Made me think of the merits of pepper spray and recon marines.

The podcast was a bit of a downer. This episode of the CBC’s "Best of Ideas" was a Dalton Camp lecture from 2013 and the speaker was some journalist whose chief claim to fame seemed to be his drug addiction. Apparently that demonstrates something but I am unsure of what other than weakness and depravity. That also describes his talk which was billed as "the next big thing". I finished the podcast and he never said what "the next big thing" was. Mostly he rambled in a very good approximation of a verbal drunkard’s walk and said nothing memorable or obviously worthy of being selected to give the talk. Since this is a journalism talk I concluded that this was an accurate snapshot of the state of journalism today: incoherent, rambling, and ineffective to incompetent.

And yesterday I ran across this picture

in an article [Link] on the PEW poll that indicated the differences between the opinions of bogs and STEM nerds. I immediately thought about those experiments recently that indicated that most humans don’t like to think and will do themselves an injury to avoid thinking. So from the picture I had to consider if modern organized religion is a means to avoid thinking and hurt oneself. The indications are decidedly positive.

On which azimuth, I also have to include this cartoon: [Link]

that demonstrates how bogs will hurt themselves (and others) to keep from thinking.

Mundaane Intrusion

A sparse day at gym. Undoubtedly because public day care – that seems a more fitting descriptive than schule – is desessioned for the birthday anniversaries of Martin Luther King and Robert Edward Lee. . Only educationalists I saw were staffers. But the weight bouncers were essentially absent save the polite ones.

The podcast was an episode of the CBC’s "Besr of Ideas" entitled "Are Men Obsolete?" The discussion was about the trend for men to do poorly in modern society: failing in schule; failing in employment; failing in relationships. I kept wondering if men are failing then why do I keep getting confronted by cries that we need greater gender diversity in different environments, mostly the workplace. Could it be that the inept – bogs – are failing and that nerds and geeks are no good at relationships anyway.

Perhaps a better question would be "Are Humans Obsolete?"

Glad to be an ORF.

In Praise of Stupid?

What do you call an organization that shoots itself in the foot with a thermonuclear device?

Adobe.

How did they do this?

By discontinuing the Abode Acrobat Reader for Linux.

Yes, Linux is a small part of the total market. Maybe only as much as 0.5. But it is the growing part. Apple is essentially static; MegaHard is shrinking. 

No one debates the value of the PDF. But Adobe has now surrendered control of the PDF to the FOSS community, specifically the folks who write the Linux clients that read and write PDF. By removing their support to Linux of their vision of the file format they force Linux users to use other clients that create and read and manipulate the files. 

And if the few, the increasingly few, who use other OS don’t comply with what the FOSS community does, the universality of the PDF is gone. And the people who use PDF can’t afford that. 

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi.