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. 

Training to be Stupid

Smashing day. I made it to park for constitutional but the rain was so nasty that I caved halfway through its wanted length. And I am still shivering a bit as I key. Of course part of that is FD SCP insisting, rightly!, that we not flip the thermostat from lowering to highing since the warmth is supposed to return today for at least the week.

I have to admit to disliking this period of the year. It mostly has to do with the master bathroom. This uncertainty period is a foretelling of winter conditions. One awakens and goes to bathroom to perform ablutions and lavations. It is cold. Yes, I know cold is a sensation but I can assure you that to SCP the bathroom is uniformly cold starting now and stretching into late spring. Cold and damp unto moldy feeling. I am reminded of my paternal grandparents’ basement where they kept home “canned” foods and grew, undesiringly, mold in great abundance. Rather the feeling of an effective but poorly done horror movie of the ’50’s. Of course much of that latter is redundant.

I try to abate the cold by using an electric “heater”. Why do all such convert electric potential to waste heat with an acoustic component? There has been an argument in STEM circles for years about whether this process is completely efficient or completely inefficient. Is the conversion to ordered electron potential different to disordered heat the ultimate in efficiency or inefficiency/ That depends on whether you are interested in conserving order or being warm. I, on the other hand, muse on the matter of the noise. Why is it? This tends to put me in a no-man’s land because I consider the process purely efficient – since efficiency depends on the desired result, which is warmth – except for the inefficiency (?) of the noise. 

Speaking of which, one of my colleagues, Magnetic Inductance Force, sent me a link [Link] to a TIME article written by a basketball player of Mohammedan persuasion. Given the density of religionist terrorism these days, I was pleased that the article was pro-rationality, at least from my perspective. The thesis is well expressed by a quote:

“Yet there seems to be a growing belief among college students, and some fearful parents, that being exposed to anything that challenges the comfort zone of beliefs might infringe on their rights.”

I quite understand this, living in the old Confederacy/ Insecurity is a mental cancer of Kudzuian proportion. It is well known that one of the primary causes of the fervor of evangelism (a form of religionist terrorism widely practiced in the Sowth by Protestants, so called because if you protest against their ranting they will try to discorporate you. It’s the Southron Christianist version of beheading,) is that the adherents of the particular denominations/heresies/delusions are insanely fearful of being exposed to any rationality or contrary information. In their minds the “word of deity” is unchallengable and any challenge must be negated. At whatever cost. Mostly to its source. Trying to have a rational discussion about religion with any of these people puts one at grave personal risk. Which is why such discussions are avoided. 

The problem is that these folks have to educate (so to speak) their children or themselves. The evil government (redundant in their view) makes them send children to schule or home schule and the Yankee government demands some standards that are in direct and dire conflict with their religionist dogmas. Further, if they and their children are ever to work as anything other than rubbish collectors then they have to have some education beyond high schule.

Pray note that I use the term education here aliterally. There is scant education any more. It happens in spite of the schules and increasingly, the colleges and universities. What they are really receiving is, in the main, training. In the public schules that training is uniformly and exclusively directed towards the questions that will be asked on the YG’s standardized examinations that cannily determine the pay of the “teachers” in these schules. And much of it violates these people’s “beliefs”, like the chattel nature of women and the evil of fluoridation and abortion and contraception. 

But rather than examining that information they are exposed to in a rational fashion, they respond by denial (yes, just like politicians who are often their role models,) and violence, either physical or social, if not both. 

And that’s why we are becoming a third world nation-state. 

The basketball player decries this and well. A good read. Better than this blot. Kudos to him.

Education is what occurs in spite of the teachers.

Weirding Way

2 Day. The electromagnetic audio-visual receiver projected that today is “National Coffee Day”. Blatant corporate arrogance? Does this mean that we can now recognize all holy days as propaganda and maskarovka? I shall nonetheless journey to Walker’s for a bit of brew. 

The gym was quite sparse. I enjoyed an episode of the Guardian’s science podcast that presented an interview with a fellow named David Wootten (sp?) who has written a new book about the Scientific Revolution. Not at all sure I like that term.

But he did raise the question of whether science can survive the internet? This seems a good question. My current hypothesis is NO! Too much propagation of boggery. But waiting is. 

In the interim I shall be continuing to do science. I suspect that I shall even when it is criminal or at least nekulturny.

Is science a form of talking nerdy?

Weird day I suspect.

When the World Rots

The air moveth not. So the constitutional was less than enjoyable. Natta, natta, natta. Even being low is getting unsatisfactory. 

I ran across this cartoon: [Link]

yesterday. Now I never drew cartoons, except in my schule notebooks to while away the time while I was information deprived. And the cartoons were typical boy stuff of the Containment ’50’s, and the teachers didn’t like but they learned that ignoring them was better than handling the questions the information deprived kids asked that they couldn’t answer, didn’t want to answer, and the bog kids didn’t want asked. In later years I felt sorry for them – a bit – and hated the schule authorities who catered the curriculum to the bogs majority. Of course if they had catered to the geeks and nerds the bogs would have been rioting in orthogonality. You can lead bogs to books but you can’t make them learn.

Sometimes Brave New World sounds good.

Anyway, this cartoon captures a situation that in my family. My younger brother is EXTRO. 

Enough said.

I also noted [Link] that there is a new BBC computer.

which is a far cry from the BBC computer I had (well, actually a clone but close enough) 

 

The original BBC computer was all about programming in BASIC. And the bits and pieces of storing and retrieving programs. On/off tape cassettes. I don’t quite fathom what the new one is for. Evidently it’s about registers and machine instructions and such? Seems a strange thing to have to distribute to kids en mass

As far as I can figure this is an artifact of the consumerist/appliance aspect of computing that has become such a pervasive cancer. Back when I was a kid we got the basics of computer functionality thrown at us. Not in schule mind you. Definitely not in schule. Maybe a couple of the STEM teachers had some idea but usually less than we so trying to teach would have been a debacle and a humiliation. For the schule system.

But we got it from SF magazines and Popular * magazines and the like. I read YA books on the subject when I was in the equivalent of junior high schule. But what was missing was the using the computer. It was a holy relic in those days. Adore but don’t touch. Programming was in assembly language or machine code. Programming transcended even nerdery.

By the time I was in college we could program using COBOL (yuck) or FORTRAN (yea!) And I did for years. My first STEM job was more about writing FORTRAN code than doing real STEM. And there were still real programmers around in those days but it was quicker to write your own rather than try to explain the algorithms. Real programmers didn’t do differential equations – then or now. The only difference is that then the STEMS had to write out the algorithms in FORTRAN; now the programmers grab a library routine. Unless there is no library routine. Then they have to go back to the STEMs.

So it appears that the knowledge level today is less than it was in the fifties. Not really surprising. Have you tried to have a discussion with a GEN Y lately? Not easy. Or enjoyable. In the main.

Horrible when the world rotted while you were working.