Mind Rot

Five Day. Quite warming. Too much. Especially for Six Month. Off to park for constitutional. Had to shed clothes as soon as I started. Not all, of course. Have to observe the proprieties of an insecure humanity. Listen to more of the “Linux Luddites” episode. Still boring but I have given up on trying to cogitate originally in this warmth and instead satisfy myself with mere diversion.

That brings me to an article [Link] I saw earlier entitled “Is technology making us dumber or smarter? Yes.” The title is rather indicative of a poorer presentation that the article actually is. The sore point is the common misuse of the word “dumb” which actually mean incapable of speech and not unsmart. So the comparison is compromised and assinine from the get go except perhaps to the most bottom feeding of Bogs?

The article is about how we are misusing technology to enable the unsmart and unsmart the actually smart. If anything we are not dumb, the appearance of communication is orders of magnitude greater today than even twenty years ago, most of it false since it is the vacuous babblings of Bogs.

Sadly this is not a new thing. The unsmarting, that is. I have commented before about the generation of STEM graduates before me learned coding in the workplace, my generation learned in college, and the current generations doesn’t. They are dependent on canned software.

This mind cancer has now spread throughout the planet. Things we used to have to study to learn to do are now done by machines. Computers are not only misused, they are actively abused. The cellular telephone and the slablet are pornography, at best. Communication resources are dedicated to streaming inane gibberish passed, like diarrhea, as entertainment.

We can only hope the demise of humanity is swift and not very painful.

But I doubt it.


Service Feudalism

Lower air temperature today. Almost comfortable in park for constitutional. I reflected on the implications of the earlier discussed terrorism scenario and considered why we wait on constables?

This led to a consideration of our so-called “service society”. To give it a colorful (?) name, we live in what is increasingly a “Megahard IT” society.

The MegaHard IT model is used by almost all large organizations. It is based on the idea that workers should only work on their tasks. They shouldn’t waste time trying to fix their computer themselves. If their computer is futzed, they are supposed to call the IT people and wait for them to fix the computer.

This sounds nice on a superficial, Sloan schule case study basis, and it would be if we were task and machine operators on a factory assembly line. But it isn’t for knowledge workers. Or for an overworked, underfunded, understaffed IT shop.

The workers have to wait for the IT guy to arrive, wait for a diagnosis, wait for a fix. If they knew something about computers – and were listened to, the other problem of the MegaHard IT model, then less time might be spent and it’s wasted time anyway from the standpoint of the worker, who is the reason for all this.

As a manager I have a tough choice between wanting my employees to only know what I want them to know and have them tied strongly to the organization or learning as much as they can and risking departure. Burnout is a strongly possibility in both cases, incidentally. Rationality wins through for good managers who select the latter because it gives them a more capable suborganization (and organization as a whole) even if the worker moves on to a better job. That, incidentally, helps recruit good replacements.

Now let’s overlay that model on our society. It has become one where people are only supposed to know certain things and not learn anything more. This is reflected VERY strongly in our educational system: standardized testing; more and more restrictive disciplines; certification requirements. If something goes wrong, we call the right person/organization and wait for them to fix it. 

And that’s part of what makes terrorism possible.

We don;t live in a democratic society; we live in a feudal one.

Management Failure

Ran across [Link]

this cartoon. Normally don’t bother commenting on the obvious, but this one speaks to the orthogonality of management. The higher the more orthogonal. And antagonistic to analysis.

I say this because I always found that I learned more from my reports than from those I reported to. And I tried not to be that way.

End of the Future

Two day. Pun-ish? Foretold to be a good weather day. But any day I have to do medicalist things is compromised from the get-go.

Sparse at gym. Podcast – Guardian Science – was a long one about the Concorde.

I have to start by registering that this podcast was mostly about engineering and social matters. Money in particular, also politics. I rather dislike this type of fraud and deception. Science podcasts are supposed to be about science, not engineering. And I should expect a rag as good as the Guardian to have staff that know the difference.

But the thoughts that followed were more constructive. It struck me about halfway through the podcast that this was really about the end of an era. The obvious bit is the end of Imperial Britain and Imperial France. The less obvious is the end of the technology-makes-it-all-better era.

Up to this point, technology was without flaw. There was no down side. Technology would make life better by peripheral improvements in idealized society. No worries of pollution or unemployment or weapons of mass destruction. The end of Victorian stolidness and Whewellian absolutism.

No stigma of nonexisting the poor and glorifying the rich. No aspect of any flaws in society. Quite ignoring that only the very rich could afford to ride on this aircraft.

The end of simplicity and etiquette and knowledge-trumps-ignorance. 

And it was a failure. Not the airplane. It was wonderful. Really, full of wonder. Something we have little of today. All we have is the staid magic of ubiquitous electronics. While we choke in pollution and poison ourselves with toxic water. And government does nothing but facade.

Dismal day, isn’t it?

Death of Money

Sixth Day. Air temperature again below the L->S phase change temperature for dihydrogen oxide. Podcast download day. Survival for the gym desert. 

Getting old is not for the young. You have got to have used up all your altruism and empathy and such to be able to withstand, however briefly, the ills of age. Needless to add, I am still under the weather although at least now undergoing some treatment. 

In that frame of mind, it seems meet to eye a couple of articles. First, a nice article [Link] entitled “Stephen Hawking Says We Should Really Be Scared Of Capitalism, Not Robots.” Not that I haven’t hammered on this previously but Hawking says it a lot better, which we can probably being educated in England rather than the Yankee republic.

If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed. Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.

What struck a resonance was something unsaid but now rather obvious: the death of money.

If we go the route of complete inequality, then the serfs will have no money and the capitalists will have it all, so once we get past a transition period while the capitalists thin their own ranks, money become irrelevant.

If we go the route of equality, then money becomes meaningless except possibly for some bookkeeping purposes.

So money dies.

Is it good?

So much for the great storm. Horrid winds. Abounding rain. 

Slept through it. Only wind I saw was at gym walking in from the carpark and observing another patron struggling with a ‘brolly. And the downfall of dihydrogen oxide was moderate and only had the disadvantage of frawging the inside of the windscreen. 

The podcast was passable, an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” about Machiavelli’s “The Prince”. Much academic kritik and analytik. Not much rationality, I thought. No one seemed taken with the idea that Machiavelli was a wannabe. All the academics espoused the ideas that he was deadly serious or was being ironical. The latter holds more substance but overlooks his other works which were satirical and comedic, clear signs of someone who wants but cannot do. 

On another azimuth, I ran across a PEW poll [Link] about how Amerikans think about other Amerikans. 

The operant discriptors are : patriotic; honest; intelligent; selfish; and lazy.

Somehow I find patriotic and honest and intelligent to be somewhat immiscible. Being patriotic often requires one to be unintelligent and dishonest, especially to oneself. Selfish also contradicts these, although laziness and honesty are definitely orthogonal. So much in the way of contradictions.

For myself, I find my fellow Amerikans to be superficially patriotic, making an outward show but accepting no sacrifices. Happily there are enough exceptions that we may continue to send the young off to die (and be maimed) for the sake of elder politicians and capitalists. I find honesty to be plastic. We disobey any law that we seem unlikely to be punished for, speeding being a prime example. In fact, bad driving is the primary characteristic of Amerikans. As a nation we are arrogant, dangerous, and uncaring when we are guiding (?) our motorcars. And those who drive (ha!) pickup trucks are worse, true criminals of evil bent, sociopaths totally lacking any morality.

Intelligent? Hardly. Most of the population is acalculate; too many are acomputate, and despite the efforts of our schules, a few are actually literate. Most are driven to hedonism and pornography, especially the spectator sports variety. Canny? Perhaps, at least in a wannabe capacity. But intelligent? Too few. Amerika continues to be a country where ignorance is prized above knowledge.

Selfish? Definitely. In fact, it is the Great Amerikan Virtue. Consumerism is our religion, after, perhaps, pornography. And that distinction may be specious. What we have is more important that what we know or what we think. To the point that the latter are vanishing, embarrassing, and detested.

Lazy? Hardly. We are not intelligent enough to be lazy, at least as a population. Laziness requires thought and sense and we lack both. What we are is unengaged. We hate work and any activity that is not diverting and destructive of thought. Hedonism and sensualism are hallmarks of modern Amerika. 

But the rain is nice and offers some opportunity for cogitation.

Not a Debate

Saturn’s Day. Winter has arrived. At least by my criteria. Air temperature below cardiologist’s minimum. So no constitutional. Spent the equivalent effort – but not as good – on stationary bicycle. 

The ungood has two azimuths. First, it’s just leg movement aside from a bit of thrashing and, of course, breathing. Counter, it does get me a higher heart rate so maybe better from a cardiovascular standpoint. But second, it isn’t outside, among not good trees and a bit of Nature. That’s the biggie. My morale is hideously lowered by the absence of Nature.

On the reading side, I see that some to-do is being made of climate change debate. [Link] I won’t dwell on this. It’s not news. It’s been around. A lot of human-ostrich miscegenations and politicians are structuring the matter as a debate so they can sabotage any survival of the species. Sad but quite frankly, if we’re that stupid I don’t have much patience or energy.

Science ain’t about debate. It’s about understanding. 

Death ain’t about debate, either. It’s about being dead. 

The probability that nothing can be done to alleviate climate change increases every day we waste playing political games. Remember that when you have too many dead for funerals. Remember your politicians. And how they reduced the population.

Maybe to ZERO.