What’s Hallowed?

I am not a fan of Halloween. I have no good memories of it as a child. What memories I have are largely of EXTRO abuse and harassment. Even my parents  – at least my mother – harassed me. I HAD to go out to other people’s houses and collect inedible candy – if you think it’s bad today, it was horrible in the ’50’s – with other kids and parents. Talk about painful territory.

The only good part was my mother wouldn’t let me eat the candy. She rationed it and after a day I was able to avoid the ration and eventually it got to the rubbish can.

Even when I was an adolescent I had to participate in Halloween social activities. I especially recall a skating party where I was mugged by the jocks. I told my parents I fell. 

And as an adult I am expected to perpetuate this terrorism by being a distributor of candy to other people. Who call at my house. More EXTRO abuse.

Happily I am now a grouchy ORF and can ignore the doorbell and leave the lights off and not have to deal with terrorists on my doorstep.

And yesterday was actually a pleasant surprise. I was watching cable – DSL is TOO SLOW for streaming courtesy of living in the hinterland amid EXTRO bandwidth hawgs – and discovered that TCM was airing a series of ’40’s and ’50’s RED MENACE BOMB DENIAL movies. (Who says denial is a new thing? Repulsians have been doing it for decades and that’s just to my observation.)

How the people who schedule movies figure post-bellum SF movies are Halloween material is a matter of extreme puzzlement. Horror and Fantasy, yes; but SF? NEIN. 

But something I could enjoy. 

The series was: The Blob; The Thing; and Earth versus the Flying Saucers. Inserted in this was The Village of the Damned but it is such a boring bit of Quatermass imitation that it’s not really good enough to include. Of course, the rhetoric from the talking head around the showing indicated all they cared about was boxoffice gross and awards. And the VoD did appeal to the BOGs.

None of these are Science Fiction even though they are based on good science fiction writing. But Hollywood prides itself on making stercus out of aurum. Occasionally it is bonus stercus as in these three, but stercus nonetheless. Occasionally they come close to Science Fiction in their SF movies – Forbidden Planet is probably the closest – and the Germans and French do better than the English speaking peoples, and the English make it sound wonderful and good with those accents but it’s still cardboard crap. 

But when they get close it’s good. Not as good as real Science Fiction, but definitely worth the time and attention span. So I sat through all four, but wandered away a lot during VoD.

The Blob is the epitome of the adolescent SF movie. A tour de force of teenager being right and the establishment being WRONG! Made us feel validated when we saw this as endocrine wracked teens. It was movies like this that made us be successful inspite of our parents’ depression/world war mores. And easily the best of Steve McQueen’s movies. I know there is a cult of Bullit, but that was derivative of TB. Established him as the owner of the angry brooding teen as savior of civilization. Happily he never got to play Batman.

The Thing is the epitome of great SF. It’s based on a John Campbell short story. That short story illuminates why Campbell was the Dean of the American (covert) College of Science Fiction. A GREAT Science Fiction Author and Editor of ANALOG. The mentor of Asimov and Heinlein and many of the other greats. And got no mention by the talking head other than as author of the short story. But lots of stercus tauri about the praise and profit of the movie. And also Janes Arness’ greatest role. No speaking, which many consider his greatest accomplishment. And the electrocution scene! The epitome of pre-CGI effects. After TT, it was downhill for Arness. Except for THEM! But after the Bomb Denial movies all he had left was Oaters. 

Earth Versus is a bit of a let down after the other two. Except it is so seriously camp that it hurts. Amazing how humorously the military is portrayed in movies when Amerika likes them. Very different post-Vietnam. This movie is a study in mediocre excellence. The effects are superb, better than the CGI stuff in the Star * movies. But what makes it is the robotic mechanicalness of the whole movie. It never really crescendos. It just staggers along without major bumps. And that dullness lulls one into the visuals, which are superb. This was a showpiece for Harryhousen and it is a more fitting memorial than any of the classical soap operas he worked on. If anything, this movie is tinged with a wonderful message about human arrogance, mirrored in the pridefulness of the aliens.

So overall, a worthwhile afternoon of diversion and digression. Good result despite poor planning by TCM. Evidently Ms. Fonda couldn’t rescue them from their own greed. Which is why SF of this era is so wonderful today. It talks to what is wrong with our society. Still. Ever?

Digital Stupidity Confirmed

Starting early cleaning tabs. First, a grievous evil may have been righted. [Link] The Lenovo people are usually pretty good about supporting Linux. It has been fairly easy to take one of their lapboxes, blow away the cancer that is Winders on it, and install the Linux distro of choice. Even though they have gone to UEFI, their implementation works well with uncertified distros.

But not recently. In an apparent subjugation to MegaHard, their YOGA lapboxes have been untouchable. Which has likely hurt their business. The Two-Percentum are not without a certain Linusesque inclination to expression. But supposedly the exclusion was an error (???) and has now been corrected.

I tend not to buy latest and greatest. Mostly because I’m frugal. And the one time in the last year I bought a new, contemporary box, it was as rotten as cardboard shoes in a monsoon. So I crated it back up and saved it for some needy Winders serf.

In the same scan, I noted a rather overdone article on the security of internet appliances. [Link] Too much of this article is about physical burglary angst, which is quickly, less than one sentence in, boring. The sort of boring that makes you wish the author had been mugged in the burglary.

But the point, not well associated with the burglary, that we can’t trust the manufacturers of IOT appliances is valid if untrustworthy in such a sob sister.

ANyway, my natural distrust of things BOGish is being confirmed in the wake of the recent DNS DOS assault. I am – barely – willing to accept microprocessor controlled appliances but not if they’re connected to the internet. Or even to my network.

Especially since I turn my cellular telephone off as soon as I get home since it won’t work under my metal roof.

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. 

Duhhh Best

Four Day. The petrol pipeline is supposedly, temporarily repaired/restored and the petrol situation should return to “normal” (a misuse of the term,) in a few days. So maybe by next week I can return to gym. 

This incident has reimpressed me with how corporations can vertically copulate people’s lives. They need to be controlled. 

But on the bright side I notice [Link] that Alibam is the 44th most educated state in the Yankee republic. 

That’s equivalent to saying it is the 7th worst educated state. And if you subtract out Madison County I’d suspect it rises to first or second worse.

So for once, Alibam isn’t automatically the worst at something. Other than Amerikan soccer.

Alibam politicians and capitalists like Alibam being uneducated. Makes for a more docile class of work serfs. Makes them more amenable to believing that things like unions and health care are BAD.

On the other hand, it is a bit nice to know I’m in the top few percentum of educational attainment. Which don’t mean much but every living creature has to have something satisfying about itself to keep living.

Besides, I’m too old to move. To sat nothing of convincing FD SCP. Maybe after the elections?

Maiming the Kids bis

Brief respite to slurp some sustenance – the jaw is whacked a bit thanks to modern Amerikan Corporatist breakfast food – so back to tab hawgin’ and commentin’

Next, [Link] an article entitled “What If Evolution Bred Reality Out Of Us?” with the quote:

“Given an arbitrary world and arbitrary fitness functions, an organism that sees reality as it is will never be more fit than an organism of equal complexity that sees none of reality but that is just tuned to fitness.”

This means that so long as we can construe an environment where rationality is not advantageous, the irrational may out-survive the rational. Which since family size and irrationality seem positively correlated in contemporary society, means that the irrational will inherit the planet for the brief period between the die-off of the rational and the exhaustion of the planets livibility by abuse.

Sic Transit Gloria Hebi

Second, [Link] entitled “Bad at maths? Blame your PARENTS: An adult’s number skills ‘rub off’ on their children, say scientists” explains why parents stupid enough to tell their kids that Algebra is worthless and needn’t be learnt propagate acalcula. 

The evidence mounts.

ORF Trek

The fiftieth anniversary of “Star Trek” is upon us.[Link] As is the fiftieth anniversary of my being a college freshman. 

Start Trek was one of two television programs my “band” watched each week. Calling it a “band” was optimistic because we seldom numbered ten, much less twenty-five. But we were a group of nerds and geeks beset by a Greek EXTRO society and instrumentality so the bonds were fairly tight.

Mostly we were entering freshmen and majoring in STEM stuffs. And a few chose not to default to the ground state of residing in dorm. SO twice a week we formed up after third meal (which was often only second for several of us who were late sleepers or had stiff schedules,) and walked off campus to two of our number’s apartment to watch, respectively, “Start Trek” and “Laugh In”. Both of these had great impact on me over the years. I still find almost no humor comparable to R&M – sometimes Monty Python – and all the later Treks are inferior to the original.

And that has nothing to do with the captain character.

What Laugh In taught me was to be critical and cynical and disrespectful of the establishment. 

What Star Trek taught me was to strive for the unattainable. Star Trek was about making the universe fit for everyone, not just the wealthy and powerful and beautiful. Equity, not Evolution. And definitely not government. 

But organization was necessary despite its evils.

But only worthy of loyalty when it was not being evil. This was the Vietnam era after all. 

We are further than ever from that ideal. The amazing thing is that it could be thought of and a television program made about it. 

It’s one of the things that make me glad to be ORF. 

The young today are pretty sure they’re serfs. And not doing very much about it. So Star Trek stays a fantasy. 

Analogy Made

Catching up on the weeks’ cartoons. Ran across this one [Link]

and it reminded me of how EXTROs treat INTROs at parties is like the way adults treat children at schule activities. 

Now I understand why they don’t trust children with firearms.

Freedom and Stupidity

There has been a bit of a row this week about some professional athlete who declined to rise for the national anthem. It seems that he is not a furrin national but is protesting some inequity having to do with the flag?

The furor has been diverse. Some of the media applauds his support of some idea of equity, perhaps even tolerance. Another part of the media is intolerant of his behavior and apparently wants to punish him nastily. The populace is similarly divided with the added factor of being distraught at some or all of the media, quite ignoring that the media is always motivated by money.

This led me to the matter of freedom and thence to democracy. Democracy, of course, like all organizations, including governments, is opposed to freedom. And unlike other forms of government, at least in degree, democracy is self-consuming. The path of democracy is one of preventing the majority from destroying the minority. This obviously has great implications not only for this incident but for the Yankee republic in general as we pursue our death throes as a nation.

I see no reason to restrict freedom except when its practice injures someone else. That’s a nice statement that is almost impossible to implement above the personal conscience level. The problem is what constitutes injury. In this instance, we have to ask how remaining seated during a musical performance harms anyone else. 

Obviously, all those who protest the act consider themselves injured. So we come down to a matter of measurement. Which organizations are amazing incapable of. Almost all organizational measurement is the lowest of hanging fruit. Difficulty is only executed if survival is blatant. IOW, the teeth of the lion are enumerated only as the jaws close.

There is also the question of help and harm. The act was supposedly motivated to help the minority. So how do we measure the relative merits. How many lollipops distributed to poor children justify one execution?

And why is life imprisonment more acceptable than execution?

And I shan’t even touch the nonsense of celebrities. 

Humans deserve their self-created Hells.

Logics of Sundae

For once – things have been hectic lately – cycling through the cartoon folder. Ran across [Link]

which has an intriguing logic degeneracy. Not that I can fault the cartoonist for building it so. This one isn’t in keeping with the tenor of the strip.

The logic leads equally well to being a Deist.

 But the really gathering one [Link] is

which took me back to my own days of being drug off to a department store (yes that was a LONG time ago) and later a young men’s store for schule attire.

The azimuth of the distress was different but the effect was similar. I hated (!!!!!) this activity. I might have hidden from it entirely except for two factors. First, as much as I didn’t have any “fashion” sense, I didn;t trust my mother not to dress me like someone who would get walloped every day at recess. And second, more importantly, the trauma was so great that it actually made going back to schule less painful. 

Which is saying something for in INTRO.

New Laws for Old?

Yesterday, one of my colleagues, Magnetic Inductance Force, sent me a [Link] to an article entitled “How to Keep Specific Android Apps from Auto-Updating.” Now this is a VERY useful article – as he pointed out – because like all OS, any specific instance of Android – I make the distinction because each cellular telephone manufacturer and service provider adds their own stuff – includes some actual and apparent CrapWare.

That is, apps or clients that you don’t want or don’t need and can’t get rid of. My example is that there are several Gooey utilities built into Android, so deepest source CrapWare, that others may use but I don’t.

So short of being able to delete the stercus, keeping it from updating is a mitzvah.

Why? Because unlike a real computer, slablets are basically portable devices with fixed instrumentality. That means you are limited to a battery and the memory (CPU) built in. And you can’t yet build-your-own slablet.

And since updates generally grow because patching is NEVER as efficient as writing, the apps just get bigger and hungrier. Bigger relative parasites.

So being able to minimize them for real is a boon.

But this article, which is mediocrely written and is something that should be in any decent OS documentation, put me in mind of Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s “Laws”: [Link]

Clarke’s first law – When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

Clarke’s second law – The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

Clarke’s third law – Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

in the context of modern techno-society. One where all the politicians have gone into science denial/hatred and no one provides technical manuals any more. 

So my whack at the laws – revised – is:

  • First law – When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right and will be ignored, vilified, denied, or killed by the politicals.
  • Second law – The only way of discovering the limits of the impossible is to venture a little way past them into the possible, if you can find anyone who is willing to abandon their social reality delusions.
  • Third law – Any advanced, undocumented technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Enjoys your superstition if you are one of the decreasing few who can stomach religionist organizational fascism. Otherwise, stay home today and explore some reality. Not social reality. Not political reality. Actual reality.