In the Storm

Kudos to the Greater Metropolitan Arab Electron Uncooperative for doing what they traditionally do when it rains – bug out. At least twice last night.

But since the electrons were unflowing I had opportunity to do some cogitation and I have thunk on a few things:

This year’s Nobel Prizes – perhaps we should call this the year of the “Glowy Gadget” since both the physics and chemistry prizes were awarded to people who built gadgets that involved glowing. I know they gave Bardeen and company a Nobel for the transistor but I am less sure of these;

People in Motorcars Aren’t – it occurred while driving back from gym this morning in the rain that one of the reasons people drive so abominably towards each other is because they don’t consider people in motorcars to be people. Instead these are motorcars with people in them. So what they are interacting with is a box on wheels, and not a people. This will require more thinkum.

Since the potential failures played merry ned with the computers, that’s it for now.

What Isn’t

We have reachieved week in and just in time. I am not sure I could have endured much more week out, although the cold weather was certainly welcome. Sadly, the weather beavers declaim that excessive warmth is back. Also, the density of educationalists was up in gym this morning, a consequence of the eminent resessioning of shul.

In the good side, the Tennessee Valley Authority has announced that thy have repaired all of the damage from the recent tornado explosion. [Link] So all that stands between us and repeated brown outs here in Greater Metropolitan Arab is the reactionaryism of the Arab Electron Uncooperative. They may have actually ordered new equipment to replace the bailing wire and duct tape holding their tornado reduced infrastructure together but I have seen no announcement and being a bit realist on the matterI suspect they are still arguing over pennies when pounds are called for. The eldest founding father has no impact on that organization even though they are often turkeys indeed.

Next, I am informed by the PEW folks that 0.79 of the adult population (of their sample, at least,) accesses the internet and that 0.59 of the population visit social networking sites, up from 0.38 back in 2008 CE. [Link] This is useful, I suppose, since I am not quite sure where else to come by these vital need-to-know statistics. They also report a shift in the age demographics of users towards more representation by older folks. Anyone who frequents social networking these days knows it is an ORF watering hole.

But this does raise the inquiry of why are organizations like senior centers and RSVP still offering nothing but introductory computer classes. By my numbers, which I can’t cite at the moment, the fraction of retired folks who do not use computer is half what it was five years ago. So when are these organizations going to decide that low hanging fruit has rotted on the vine and they need new efforts to maintain their relevance.

Not that I expect any alteration in the efforts at the Greater Metropolitan Arab senior center. The director is a political appointee and the center is open fewer hours each week than either the public library or any of the town banks The only reason that the center doesn’t close for lunch is that its major propaganda program is hosting a lunch service for seniors. Other than that the activities all fall into the category of 1950’s era wait-to-die things. The establishment truly upholds the Arab tradition of being a cultural black hole.

But then if all the ORFs are off surfing social networking sites they could care less what the senior center is not doing?

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Measure Once

Saturn’s Day and the weather is decidedly damp. Already had one power interruption – as one of my colleagues, Young’s Modulus Gravity, noted, “undoubtedly the suicide of yet another Arab Electron Cooperative squirrel – and had to contend with the joys of getting computers back up, and no, I haven’t dared look in FD SCP’s study. We’ll annoy that bear later.

This may be the most noteworthy aspect of Greater Metropolitan Arab’s Electron Cooperative, the enormous size of their squirrel farm. Given that they sustain an average of three outages a week that’s a consumption of 156 squirrels (estimated mean) per annum, which is too large a fraction of the overall native squirrel population of Greater Metropolitan Arab for them to not have an assured source. So somewhere in the wilds around Greater Metropolitan Arab is a squirrel factory of considerable size and capacity.

In and around all the bother I had to contemplate how odious is the Yankee government’s refusal to change from the British engineering units system to metric. I find myself constantly having to do mental calculations in both systems and try to remember the conversions. And being an ORF, the conversions are harder to remember most days than doing the maths.

All of the stuff sold in stores is in units of British engineering, which is confusing at best. Especially ounces since there is a tendency not to distinguish the two. FD SCP, who actually got to take a home economics course in high shul, has a simple solution: she ignores the difference. This results in a cup measure, which is different from any coffee cup ever manufactured, always having a weight of eight ounces which results in a lot of startling results in recipes where an instruction to measure out a cup volume of something is translated into eight ounces (~227 g mass). The level of the startle may be illustrated by considering that a cup of flour typically masses 140-145g.

A similar problem admits with government dietary guidelines. Whether these are the minimums of different food types per diem, or the maximums of things like sodium and fat that one is supposed to ingest per diem, all are given in mass (grams) and must be wrangled through conversions into units like volume or mass of the foodstuff.

So would the Yankee government get off its obese derrière, for once look to the needs of the citizenry and not their corporate oligarch and social enfineering aristocracy overlords, and convert to metric? No is not an acceptable answer.

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Constrained Motion

Returned just now from my Saturday morning erranding. Procured risen confections for FD SCP and the dowager parent from the Greater Metropolitan Arab emporium of constabulary delights. A crisp, almost cold morning and the drive outward was most delightful in the absence of other motorists and the pink and blue mottling of the sky that occurs when the light source is below the horizon. Ah, the majesties of Rayleigh scattering.

The expedition was saddened by having to diverge to the local petrol emporium to feed SCP transport number one. The price of petrol had risen significantly since my last filling, of order 0.08. I am in favor of democracy but not when it is a subterfuge of religionist adventurism.

While I was standing and almost shivering I noted a near collision between a Coca Cola semi and a member of the Greater Metropolitan Arab constabulary. The constable was undoubtedly on his way to whence I had come and did his best to drive under the semi that was making a pi over four right handed turn. (For the benefit of any bogs, this is what is sometimes called a left-hand-turn.) I was immediately struck by a domain division that is depicted in this graph:

This indicates that, relative to the speed limit, under normal circumstances motorcars operated by citizens normally occupy the portion of the phase space to the left while those operated by constables occupy the portion of the phase space to the right. The populations are not exclusive or exact but a mostly adequate approximation.

We also have to express our deep gratitude to the Greater Metropolitan Arab Electrical Autarky for providing us with a very restful evening. We would not have been able to sit in the dark and not use our computers or watch the audio-visual electromagnetic receiver without their kind assistance. I suppose this is one of the joys of living in the hinterland, especially in this state that is a third world (at best) country.

Now to see if there is anything in the tabs that excites comment.

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Not Here Then

Quite obviously, SCP has not been here the last couple of days. A joy of living in the hinterland struck. I am not sure if it was the Greater Metropolitan Arab Electron Cooperative, which is not at all cooperative, or the Oneonta Telephone Company who has spotty if slow service but is still more dependable than the cable company, but somehow the updates downloaded Wednesday afternoon were damaged and I was faced with the time consuming but least risky task of reinstalling U on this box and getting back into the Great Game.[1]

This, as regular readers of this blog, folk with either the social life of nerds or a highly refined sense of humor and cognition, if not both, is a semi-regular occurrence here at Castellum SCP due to a mixture of the instrumentality and/or social processes of the Amerikan hinterland, or the ineptitude of SCP the quintessential ORF. It happens often enough that we have some safety procedures in line such as storing all ‘independent’ data files on a separate hard drive and doing weekly back-ups of empowering information.

Note that we do not back-up the OS or programs that are readily available in repositories. Those can always be installed so long as the box does not fail a smoke test. But the supporting data that makes those programs do, as best they can, what we want, we do back-up. For now this is a matter of individual discipline and some helpful individual back-up utilities, of which FEBE and TEBE are the best examples. I have not found a back up client that will do, easily enough, what I want without a lot of overhead, and I am rather too lazy busy to find the time and will power to write my own.

I am happy to say that the weather has abated a bit with increased heat about and we were able to discontinue the drippage last evening. Both FD SCP and I were of good cheer as a result and it seemed auspicious that the relief came on the anniversary of our nuptials. We celebrated the occasion in a manner befitting the actual event/ceremony by not deviating from our mean (as in average) routine.

So assuming I can keep the box running and do not have to deviate from norms too much, the brilliant blatherings of SCP should resume.

But I would like to find a way to back-up my additions to dictionaries. It is rather a pain to reteach this client snippets of furrin languages, nerd terms, and such that the geeks who build these word lists do not include. Ah well, it seems unlikely to discorporate me, so I should enjoy the strengthening.

[1]  This is an illusion to the nineteenth century cold war between England and Russia for the control of the south of Asia. It was characterized by bitter hatreds and crushing, morale sapping advances that seemed to occur in spite of abysmal stupidities on both sides. The most notable of such were the English invasions of Afghanistan. The similarity to the Internet (note the capital!) should be straightforward and obvious. Except to members of any political party, especially the Tea Party.

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The Electron Tyrant

One of the great American fictions is freedom. We continue to labor under the illusion/delusion that we are free and independent citizens of a free and independent state. The point is long past when there was not some law broken by each of us every day that, if enforced, would bring us before the bar as a criminal, or some regulation broken that, if enforced, would bring us a minimum of a stern fine and detailed harassment. In short, the Yankee government has all of us in a ‘gotcha’ position and the illusion of freedom is more a matter of more laws and regulations than can be enforced than any actuality of freedom.

This slavery transcends the matter of membership in our highest organization. We are all slaves of who we are and what we do. Those who attend school are the slaves of that system, and largely demonstrate the apathy towards effort so common of the slavery condition. Too, the teachers in that school system are also slaves and demonstrate that same incompetence of resentment. For which matter, all of us who have to have jobs to exist are the slaves of the work place and the organization that employs us. Parents are the slaves of their children and their children are the slaves of the parents, and so forth.

Hence I was gathered in by this morning’s podcast at the gym, an episode of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s “Quirks and Quarks” from the end of march.[1] For a change this was not one of those depressing pieces on the end of humanity but supposed to be upbeat, a series of vignettes (interviews) on developing technologies (or more properly, developing applications of technologies.[2]) The vignette that riveted my attention span was about the unholy marriage (cohabitation?) of Gooey and General Electric to make a ‘smart’ electrical distribution network.

The picture painted was one of economy and sustainability of computers adjusting when things were done to optimize the use of power and the money spent on it. This all sounded very rosy but I was chilled by the thought that we would now be the slaves of our appliances and tools.

One example was a clothes dryer waiting until late at night to run. My first thought, the result of FD SCP’s efforts to teach me some of her reality, was that the clothes would sour and mold sitting there waiting for hours to dry. Then I carried this further and envisioned some poor person getting up in the middle of the night to wash and dry clothes because that was when the computer would permit their use. And this in a nation already sleep whacked. I was instantly reminded of that Leon Uris novel about life in post Great Patriotic War Berlin. I also imagined a family without clean clothes to wear because the computer would not let them wash their clothes.

I then imagined people who had to delay their meals until the computer would allow them to use the kitchen, or children delaying or missing homework because the computer would not let them use it. I envisioned workers calling in to their bosses to say they would be absent that day because the computer would not let them charge their (in future common) electric automobile. I saw gatherings moldering in the dark because the speaker could not get there, or the lights and heat/cooling be turned on in the hall, because of computer optimization of the electrical network.

Yes, the future is bring. And maybe I will be happier with those dark CBC podcasts about the end of humanity more. At least we can die free.

[1]  Yes, as I told you before, I have a deliberate latency in these podcasts. Part of this is subscribing to more than I can listen to, but that is also deliberate in that I need a backlog to get me through the periods when these podcasts (or rather the podcasters) go on holiday.
[2] My apologies to James Burke. I too sometimes lose grasp of what is technology and what is manufacturing.


Yesterday was an interesting day. Interesting, as in a Chinese curse. Sunday night we had all manner of rain storm with rather high winds. The Yankee government weather service did not see fit to issue any bulletins or alerts about this so we all slept through them, a very few in Alibam not surviving to awaken.

I, on the other hand, did awaken to a house dark with the absence of electrical potential. Outside, there was a wonderland of toppled and splintered trees, some blocking roads and streets, like the on I live on, and some having spent their increase in kinetic energy on houses and caravans. Although that, or the usual terms mobile home or trailer, seem overblown for flimsy residences whose only trip is often from manufacturer to retailer to resting place. However, since we still have numerous snowbirds around, the Nawthern weather not yet inclement enough or our Southron weather so degraded in summer, for them to trek back to their summer residence places like migrating fowl, some of those destroyed were indeed mobile. The past tense is doubly appropriate.

I was fortunate. My power was restored before midafternoon and I was able to see to my toilet, admittedly belatedly, and diet. It is sometimes a sad situation when lacking home food access means that fasting is a more attractive alternative than the resturants in the community. Water pressure was not disrupted so the benefits of indoor plumbing, the other modern household utility, were not denied me, except the solice of a warm shower, which requires both.

By the end of the day I had my computers back on line, but the novelty of the day had so frazzled my neurons that blogging had to wait for this morning.