They Also Serve

I have a new hero.

Tuesday is science podcast day at gym and that means a potpourri of several podcasts, usually the SCIENCE (journal) podcast, the Guardian Science podcast, and a selection of podcast bits from Yankee government public wireless, the target of repulsian morons. [1] Tlday the Guardian science podcast got dropped because there was none to download on Saturn’s day (No, Quadgop, not satyr’s day!) but I made up by listening to more of the SCIENCE podcast so I could hear the interview about the new theories of the formation of Luna.

Anyway, one of the Yankee government public wireless snippets [Link] was about John Trinkaus who is an ORF perfesser and engineer. He goes about and measures annoying people. For example, he will watch people queuing at the 10 (20?) items or less register in store and count how many really have the limit or less and how many have more. And then he publishes the results in a journal note. He does this for all sorts of similar things, like not stopping at stop signs/lights, that are dismaying, annoying, and dangerous.

I suspect this is an almost universal. Most humans seem to want to obey some rules  and not others. My pet peeve is people who stop at stop signs/lights but past the line so that if you are turning left into them they obstruct the turn. If I ever wanted a light saber it would be to cut off those portions of these people’s motorcars that are past the line. But I have no light saber and I really know I should not take law over.

Bt on occasion, for egregious instances, I do take photographs in a most blatant fashion. This elicits either anger or shame.

Perfesser Trinkaus does not do this. He just observes and publishes. Presumably he sublimates his anger in the effort. And that is why I admire him.

Incidentally, at the risk of inciting antisocial behavior, the register clerk will usually not reject you if you shown up with a few items over the limit. It takes more time than the entry. The folks to worry about are the ones behind you. Especially bogs during vicarious athletic seasons when they want to get their beer and cholesterol home to sit in front of the electromagnetic audio-visual receiver and unlife.

And it’s not repulsians who are morons. It’s politicians.

[1]  Or so Linux Torvalds sez.

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Squirrel Radar

I am rather a pushover for squirrels. My neighbors are either apathetic, or bird people. The former ignore the local wildlife except when it impinges on their life trajectories and then they bemoan the nuisance, usually by calling the local vermin eradicator. The latter put out all manner of feeders guaranteed to only feed birds and when these fail, as they invariably do, [1] they complain intensely about the evil, Communist-Terrorist, heathen, devil sent, squirrels who raid their feeders.

I am viewed as something between the village idiot-physicist and a minion of Shaitan because I feed them all. Every morning, usually about 0630 I venture out into my back yard and and deposit small piles of striped black sunflower seeds (and the occasional nut) on a few stumps that dot the posterior demesne of domicile SCP. The anointing of the stumps is not without purpose. They constitute handy landmarks for placement and observation. FD SCP and I have opportunity, in decent weather to observe all manner of fairly sizable birds – jays, robins, quail, ravens – and squirrels.

The local squirrels are, so far as I can discern and analyze with my limited zoology education, tree squirrels, and like the birds they have considerable intelligence. They know approximately when my schedule is and despite several years of consistent behavior, as wary that this is some plot or conspiracy, they watch carefully when I deposit the seed and shortly thereafter, after I have replenished the watering receptacles and retreated to the domicile, they warily approach the stumps, and keeping diligent watch for the local predators, like the cat that lives in the culvert of my next door neighbor, they munch and stuff.

This morning I had occasion to observe the first of this throng approaching one of the stumps. In the process I came to wonder what the guidance engineers I used to work with would make of this. Certainly it would crash any Kalman filter I have ever seen.

Squirrels do go in straight lines – somewhat, but their paths to things are masterpieces of design to defeat tracking. They tend to jump or bound so that they have no consistent speed. They stop every few jumps, stare about in several directions, and then resume bounding in another direction. They never approach their target simply, but more like some pursuit curve with an imaginary component. And yes, I can conceive of building a Kalman filter that would accommodate this, but it would be very strange.

[1]  Although I do get a bit of a laugh out of the squirrel feeders that are similarly guaranteed to not dispense to birds,

Brutal, buut not Short

One of the web sites I enjoy visiting, and subscribe to their RSS feed, is Dark Roasted Blend. [Link] I tend to think of it as an internet Bose-Einstein condensate of internet particles whose quantum characteristic is weirdness as if the site administrator/publisher is operating some sort of informational quark trap. Of particular attraction (after all, it is perhaps strange?) are something called (named? I have difficulties distinguishing how those are to be distinguished these days. When I was young people and things were given names and were referred to as being “named” but they could be “called” by nicknames. But those divisions of proper and improper seem to have eroded.) ‘Link Latte”, which are collections of links to condensates.

I find that these lists, of length 15-25 links, are usually attractive with a fraction of about 0.2 although I cannot say with any certainty whether the obvious limitation of that value indicates connoisseur or country bumpkin.  This list was soundly consistent with that value and of the links I followed one has survived the night to be reviewed this morning. The site linked [Link] is one of humorous honesty, wearing that honesty of its awfulness as if that will excuse its existence to those for whom only sugar floss has value. The presentation is entitled “Star Wars as Classic Art” although it is actually the opposite, classic art modified with some Star Wars aspect. At least I have to take the thesis that the original is classic art as my knowledge of such is severely limited. I did not take any arts courses in my academic wanderings, for a variety of reasons, and my exposure to exhibits and lectures has led me to the observation that too many such practitioners are either espousing ideas that lack coherence and correlation, but perhaps causation?, or are engaged in the preliminaries to selling me some material object that they have neither title nor ownership of.

This is not to say that I have not, on occasion, hung pictures on my walls, but these run more to photographic realism and more often nature and places than people and activities; the fuzziness I keep inside my skull. But what these pictures share is some aspect of Star Wars and while in some cases the pictures clearly suffer from this, other seem unaltered or perhaps improved. This in turn leads to consideration of how righteous this is? After all, artists are supposed to see things that they communicate to us so we shan’t be deprived or inconvenienced, rather like visual mediums. Of course there is that uncertainty of whether there really are unseen thing seen or just larcenous fictions.

This in turn leads me to consideration of the recent ‘confirmation” of Hardy/s paradox. [Link] I may elaborate here to note that in my youth, Hardy’s paradox had to do with the underlying theme of a series of monochrome movies in which the central character was named Hardy. In my adolescence, Hardy’s paradox had to do with why anyone would want to read a rather turgid book about a young woman of apparent Irish descent inasmuch as she was designated as arising from potato villages.

This Hardy’s paradox however, derives from the observer paradox of Schrodinger and thereby the Copenhagen picture of quantum mechanics. The conjecture that leads to Hardy’s paradox is that since the states of reality are indeterminate until we make them determinate by observation,  Some states impossible (or improbable) to observe may actually exist outside of observation. The paradox obviously arises from the nub that those states are indeterminate until observed.

Now a pair of coupled research teams have performed sorta observations that indicate that Hardy’s paradox may be genuine. That is, by only looking sideways at systems, and then doing so many times so that statistical tools may be used, inference of what is indeterminate is made sorta, maybe determinate.

Aside from the overall aura of voyeurism here, the thought that cascades from this has to do with Hobbes’ conjecture, itself excused as horribly materialist, that the deity exists only in the mind of humans. Previously, the only real use of this conjecture, largely rejected as shamelessly materialist when advanced and now totally forgotten as society becomes more and more materialist, had been in the discussion of whether free will is implicitly or intentionally illusory. Recent advances in the study of the mind/brain that have indicated many, perhaps most, decisions are made below the level of consciousness and then revealed upon maturity have reinvigorated this consideration.

Now however, there is the consideration that the deity exists in the indeterminacy and like some aspects of Lewis Carroll’s maths fiction, disappears when observed. This collapses itself in insight into why so many abandon their powers of determinacy for the solace of mysticism and raises again considerations of just what is determinacy and why are we unable to constructively describe, much less define it.

Aren’t Mondays wonderful?