Simple mood structure
When I was younger I had a wide range of complex emotions. Delighted to desperate, turbulent to tranquil, affectionate to aversive.
After age 50, I've become simple and binary. Two moods. Constipated, Not Constipated.
A bad dump makes a bad day. A good dump makes a good day. That's all.
Fortunately, my signal to noise ratio has vastly improved. Before 50, when I was working in offices, I was more or less constipated all the time. Since then, dumping has improved year by year. In the last three years, an inadequate dump is a rarity, which means a bad day is a rarity. (Yay!)
What made the difference? First, staying home and having an uninterruptible bathroom available when the urge strikes. Second, changing to Old People's Time. It's clear that my ideal dumping time was always around 6 AM regardless of sleep, but when I was working 8-5 and waking up just in time to scramble into work, I rarely saw 6 AM. Now I'm awake for 3 hours before that ideal point, which is enough time to drink coffee, relax, get a little exercise, recognize the urge, and catch it.
Today was one of those rare bad days, probably because terrible windy weather made me tighten up during the hours when I normally loosen. Since I wasn't going to get anything constructive done, figured I might as well discuss the problem and solution. Who knows, maybe someone with a similar temperament will try out the idea of changing sleep schedule, and gain an improved life earlier than I did.
Just an afterimage
NPR has a light-hearted feature on cellphone phantom vibration. They interview a shrink who explains it as something like OCD.
Nonsense. It's just an afterimage. Same thing as when you look at this
for a while, then close your eyes and see this.
With cellphones it's a sort of second-level afterimage, produced by some kind of bandpass filter or 'feature detector' inside the brain. The detector gets activated by a frequency range, and when the real input stops, the detector continues to give a signal.
Vibrational afterimages are perfectly familiar to people who work with tools. When you've been running an electric drill or jigsaw for a while, your arms continue to feel vibration. When you've been leaning against a washing machine, your hips and legs continue to feel vibration.
= = = = =
Artistic serendipitous sidenote: The original picture is filled with apricot colors, and the afterimage picture is filled with plum colors!
Trust the Japs to mix everything together in a way that makes no sense at first glance, but works beautifully after you catch on......
It's a perfect modern folk myth, and a great piece of music. The story and song should have been written in America, but American writers and singers have lost the ability to mythologize. They just blindly obey The Party.
Incidentally, Hitachi still makes kura.
¶ 5:50 AM
Nearly 200 Muslim prisoners are suing the Government after being served halal food contaminated with pork, claiming their human rights were breached. ... However, tests on halal sausage rolls, shepherd’s pies, steak and kidney pies and pasties served in three separate prisons were found to have contained pork. It is feared that if the legal cases are successful, they could leave the way open for a flood of similar claims from other prisoners.
Reviewing for the dull reader:
Sane pre-Satan: "They have forfeited any right to pampering."
Insane post-Satan: "A flood of similar claims."
What a difference a pillow makes!
This fall I've been on a bit of a shopping spree through LLBean. New shoes, new pants, new winter shirt, and finally a new pillow. The old pillow was getting smelly, presumably full of dust mites and dried saliva after ten years of use, but I didn't realize it was the WRONG DAMN PILLOW!
The old pillow was too flat, so I'd kept a block of hard foam under it. Seemed tolerable but never entirely comfortable. I didn't think of changing it because I didn't know that improvement was possible, and because I generally pay no attention to the cloth part of the world. Cloth is marginal and peripheral.
LLBean's online catalog now has a simple guide to pillow hardness, which is even understandable by stupid cloth-hating nerds like me: Soft if you sleep face-down, medium if you sleep face-up, firm if you sleep sideways.
The old pillow was Soft, because I didn't know any better. This time I chose the Firm version, because I always sleep sideways.
Tried it first on top of the foam block, quickly realized the block was now unnecessary. The new pillow holds my head at exactly the right height with exactly even weight distribution; no extra pressure on the ear.
Quantifiable result: One extra hour of sleep! Average sleep went up from 5.5 hours to 6.5 hours.
Damn. Should have replaced it years ago.
Lady Danbo illustrates sweet dreams.............
Circus is the wrong word
Listening to segments of the political circus: filibusters, debt ceilings, RomneyCare, etc.
Suddenly realized: Circus is exactly the wrong word.
A circus is proper entertainment. Its job is to provide some level of enjoyment for some types of people, so they will feel good about the enterprise and will buy tickets again the next time it comes to town. Same applies to any form of real art. A proper musician wants the audience to love his sounds so they will come to the next concert and pay more money. A proper painter wants the viewers to love her work so they will buy more paintings.
In the last century a total split developed between real art and formal art.
Real musical art is still very much alive: you can buy it through iTunes or record stores. Real painting is still alive: you can buy beautiful original pieces through Ebay or Etsy or local galleries.
Before 1910, formal music and painting were also meant to be enjoyed and paid for, or in some cases designed to give a deep religious experience. Since 1910, formal music (i.e. Schonberg, Stockhausen, Cage) and formal visual art (Pollock, Eldred, Mapplethorpe) are specifically designed to induce pain and chaos and death in ordinary people, so the sadistic insiders can watch the hoi polloi suffering and screaming and dying. Only the academic insiders are entitled to judge the "artists", and only the government is fucking stupid enough to pay these "artists".
Sometime in recent decades Congress transformed itself from popular entertainment to formal installation. Its actors are no longer seeking applause and money from the audience; they are explicitly trying to induce pain and chaos and death in voters, leaving insiders as the only remaining audience. Only the financiers and DC pundits are entitled to judge the "actors", and only the government is fucking stupid enough to pay these "actors".
Is this the audience a circus wants? No, this is the audience a Modern Artist wants.
White and Hersh
Old story about famous commie editor William Allen White: Supposedly he was pissed at his reporters overusing very. He ordered them to follow this procedure at all times: "If you want to write very, write goddamn instead. Since this is a family paper, the proofreader will automatically delete goddamn, and the sentence will be improved."
New story about Seymour Hersh:
Seymour Hersh has got some extreme ideas on how to fix journalism – close down the news bureaus of NBC and ABC, sack 90% of editors in publishing and get back to the fundamental job of journalists which, he says, is to be an outsider. ... "I would close down the news bureaus of the networks and let's start all over, tabula rasa. The majors, NBCs, ABCs, they won't like this – just do something different, do something that gets people mad at you, that's what we're supposed to be doing," he says.
Do SOMETHING different. Exactly. Same simple-minded prescription, because the people involved are still mindless chickenshits.
Do SOMETHING different.
If you want to write a story about X, don't write a story about X.
If you want to spike a story about Y, write a story about Y.
If you want to favor party D, favor party R. [We don't need if in that prescription, but I included it for parallelism.]
If you want to favor a view held by both D and R, favor another view. Doesn't matter what the other view is. Pick anything. ALL views held by either D or R are absolutely false, invalid, genocidal, immoral and suicidal. ALL views NOT held by either D or R are absolutely true, valid and constructive.
How to find a new editor? Pick a random human off the street, but not just any random human. Pick someone you instantly HATE HATE HATE, someone you would rather shoot than spend one millisecond with, someone who would motivate you to violate your HATRED of guns long enough to buy an AR-15, buy several tons of ammunition, and perforate him into red vapor rather than allowing him to exist in the same universe with you. When you find this person, don't liquefy him. Hire him as your editor, pay him ten times what you were paying your previous chickenshit, and obey him absolutely and precisely. After one minute of obeying this man, you will eviscerate yourself, which will free him to hire competent non-satanic journalists.
It's perfectly simple.
¶ 9:18 AM
Sad to see JC Penney fading out fast. If Penney's had been more agile at the right moment, they could have filled the niche that Amazon picked up. They already had the nationwide infrastructure and a reputation for excellent mail-order / phone-order service. Just add online, and Amazon would have been unnecessary.... or at least Amazon would have been starting up against serious competition. Instead Penney focused on mall stores, where they had no unique strength.
¶ 5:00 AM
The governor of the Bank of England has said he sees no need for more bond-buying by the central bank given the signs of recovery in the British economy. Mark Carney told the Yorkshire Post that the Bank would consider the case for more quantitative easing should the economy falter. "But my personal view is, given the recovery has strengthened and broadened, I don't see a case for quantitative easing and I have not supported it," he said.
None of this grotesque wacked-out teasing about tapering. None of this "It's possible to write a strange science fiction novel about a parallel universe in which we consider the possibility of thinking about a theoretical potential of reducing our counterfeiting from $85,000,000,000.00 per month to $84,999,999,999.99 per month at some point in the distant imaginary future. But don't worry; this won't happen while life exists on Earth. As long as life exists, the Chosen People will continue to receive their expected $85,000,000,000.00 per month."
Carney is just plain STOPPING. RIGHT NOW.
Constants and variables again. When you see part of the system start to change, the satanic constant called Bugsy is revealed in stark contrast.
¶ 4:34 AM
But Ravitch recently — and very publicly — changed her mind. She looked at the data and decided that the kinds of changes she'd supported weren't working. Now she's a prominent critic of things like charter schools and school choice — and she's particularly opposed to privatizing schools.
Pleeeeease give me a job! I wanna be Secretary! I wanna be Head Thug of NEA!
What's wrong with charter schools is that they originally were supposed to be created to collaborate with public schools and help them solve common problems. Because they have now been taken over by the idea of competition, they have become part of the movement to turn education into a consumer product rather than a social and a public responsibility. ...
What I mean is that you go shopping for a school. I don't believe in school choice. I believe that every neighborhood should have a good public school. And if the parents don't want the good local public school, and they want to send their child to a private school, they should do so — but they should pay for it.
Collaborate? Nonsense. Public systems and teachers unions had a total monopoly and saw no reason to change their habits. Educrats and NEA thugs were getting rich. All was right with the world.
Now public schools in SOME places are improving. This didn't happen because charter and private schools were COLLABORATING; it happened precisely because charter and private were TAKING PAY UNITS, i.e. children, away from the public system.
Direct parallel to the US auto industry in the '70s. The big three had a cozy relationship with the UAW that kept both sets of executives rich. Detroit didn't change its habits, didn't start satisfying customer demand, until the Japs took serious numbers of customers away from their monopoly.
= = = = =
Example in today's news:
Raytheon honors 25 math teachers for innovation. The awards are focusing in exactly the right direction. One of the winners says "I want to be able to show my students that math is not just solving problems using pencil and paper ... but that math is everywhere! I want them to be able to apply what we do in the classroom to their everyday lives. I want them to see that no matter where we choose to look in this world, we can find math."
Yes, yes, yes! Bravo.
Among the 25 schools listed, 9 are private, parochial or charter, judging by the names. Over-represented. Proves the point nicely. Before the educational equivalent of Toyota came along, you'd struggle to find 25 marginally competent math teachers in the whole country, let alone 'math heroes'.
¶ 3:41 AM
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Step functions 2
Following the previous entry on step functions.
Think again of the automotive road test analogy. Step function inputs: Stomp on the gas, get up to 60, count the seconds, note the shift points. Now stomp on the brakes and examine the response. Does the car stop at all? Does it skid and fishtail, or does it smoothly decelerate?
Now watch the world political system responding to the Persian step function. Rouhani's sudden downward step from "We are one bigass problem!" to "We want zero problems!" is a nice black-box test of national transfer functions.
As long as Ahmadinejad was creating the rhetoric of problems, Israel was able to engage in warlike bullying, and other countries were able to go along with Israel.
Now that Rouhani has stomped on the brakes, Israel continues roaring ahead full speed, but other countries (amazingly including America!) are smoothly decelerating. Israel stands out there on its own, unavoidably revealed as an unstoppable bully. Variables and constants.
Think of the step function as a cliff, and think of Wile E. Coyote still running, still grabbing and snatching at the air........
Step functions and black boxes
This year we're getting a step-function season change instead of a sine wave. Summer continued with solid 90s until late Sept, then Autumn started with only a couple days of transition. When this pattern shows up, it forces us to adapt quickly.
Our bodies don't get a chance to learn. One day the morning low is 65, and then the next day it's 45! And our bodies say ACK! I NEED HEAT! NOW! GIMME WARMTH! GIMME FIRE!
And when we get fire, our bodies say AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH.
Step functions are a wonderfully useful way to examine the response of complex systems. With a dumb item like a brick or a steel beam, you don't need step functions. You can just press on it more and more heavily until it crushes or snaps. But when the item has filters and adaptors and feedback loops .... in other words, intelligence ... you have to catch it off guard.
Classic example: road-testing a car. Stomp on the gas and see how many seconds it takes to reach 60. Then stomp on the brake and see how quickly and straightly it reaches zero. If it skids and fishtails, the brakes are problematic.
In an electronic system, a step-function input brings out the frequency response, and tells you something about the resonance and damping. If the output follows the step closely and smoothly, the damping is nicely balanced. If the output goes wild, overshoots, and fishtails, the damping is problematic. (Car analogy doesn't quite apply here, because sometimes this wild response is what you want in a circuit; but still the test gives you the same kind of result.)
In the human response to heat, the step-function autumn shows clearly how our infinitely complex feedback loops respond to a downward step in temperature.
But what about the opposite? When summer follows spring suddenly, we don't have the same deep desire for air conditioning. We don't automatically say I NEED ICE! We don't instinctively know that a cool blast of Freon-treated air is what we need.
Well, obviously AC is a late development, so it's a more recent learning .... No, that doesn't work. I've lived with both heating and AC for as long as I can remember. Since I started out in Okla, I probably experienced more AC than heating for the first part of my life. If the response is purely learned, I should have a deeper and more instinct-like need for cooling than heating. But I don't.
In schematic form:
Step down ---\\\\\--- I NEED FIRE!
Step up ----/////--- nothing in particular.
Is fire part of our genome? Stupid question! Of course not! Well, why not? It's something humans have been doing as long as we've been human, and it satisfies a natural need. We don't have the same natural response to ice. Were we designed from the start to use fire? I can't think of a good argument against this hypothesis.
Fortunately uselessThis article contains some of the silliest and FORTUNATELY, some of the most useless advice ever given.
Why don’t people behave in more environmentally friendly ways? New research presents one uncomfortable answer: They don’t want to be associated with environmentalists.
That’s the conclusion of troubling new research from Canada, which similarly finds support for feminist goals is hampered by a dislike of feminists.
Participants held strongly negative stereotypes about such activists, and those feelings reduced their willingness “to adopt the behaviors that these activities promoted,” reports a research team led by University of Toronto psychologist Nadia Bashir. This surprisingly cruel caricaturing, the researchers conclude, plays “a key role in creating resistance to social change.”
Not 'surprisingly cruel caricaturing'. Precisely accurate observations of the activists.
The article goes on to recommend that activists should look and behave more like humans.
WOW! Brand-new advice! As far as I can recall, it's only 2000 years old, which means it's cutting-edge research.
This is exactly the same advice Paul was giving to his followers in Corinth and Rome and Ephesus. Look and act like the people you're trying to persuade; don't come across as a fanatic.
Fortunately for civilization, the mass-murdering feminists and the mass-murdering enviros are also vile filthy ferocious anti-Christian bigots, so they haven't read Paul's advice and wouldn't follow it if they had read it.
Since then, the same advice has only been given a couple times by obscure unimportant people like Nikolai Lenin, Mohandas Gandhi, ML King, Saul Alinsky, Allard Lowenstein, Gene McCarthy, and Candice Bergen. Fortunately for civilization, the mass-murdering feminists and the mass-murdering enviros haven't heard of these people either. Or if they have, they aren't taking the advice.
Luckily for all of us, these two types of activists are utterly impenetrably blind to EVERY sort of common sense and fact and logic, even the types of common sense that would help their own genocidal evil causes.
= = = = =
Stepping back a bit, even the underlying notion that persuasion matters is void. It's unquestionably true that niceness shapes opinions on a direct personal level, and to that extent the study is trivially valid. But personal opinions have exactly zero effect on the powers who can change laws or rules. As we've seen repeatedly and consistently, 100% citizen opposition to government policies never moves government policies. Governments are only moved by the Three B's: Bombs, Bucks and Blackmail. The DC government has so many Bombs that no other country or movement can match it. But it is easily moved by Billions of Bucks, as witness Goldman's total control of economic policy; and it can sometimes be moved by Blackmail, which has been used effectively in recent years by homosexual and feminist movements. So: if you have Billions (or if you have the ability to shut off Billions) you can persuade; and if you're willing and able to use Blackmail you can persuade. Niceness? Nastiness? Both meaningless.
¶ 5:20 PM
Desperation among the Experts
And another case of tyrants showing their blood-soaked teeth:
Comments can be bad for science. That's why, here at PopularScience.com, we're shutting them off. ... A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to "debate" on television.
It's simple. The "war on expertise" started because experts are evil.
Experts are monstrous Satans with infinite egos who have destroyed science to serve their own bloodthirsty insatiable hunger for power and money.
In real non-expert science, everything is ALWAYS "up for grabs". That's the EXACT PURPOSE of doing things the scientific way, as opposed to the religious way. In real science, every conclusion can be overturned by new data. In real science, "Let's go to the lab and find out" is the point of the game, and real scientists are always ready for the game.
Thanks ever so much for proving OUR point, sadistic Expert Tyrants. You are Savonarola, not Galileo.
Missing the boat
Following on this entry about neo-feudalism.
Comrade Zuma of South Africa is completely missing the boat that carries improvement for Africa. Thus the nation he criminally misrules will also miss the boat. In a speech to the Alger Hiss Organization, Comrade Zuma shows his Marxist teeth and his devotion to the obsolete system of nation-states.
Zuma was speaking at the general debate of the 68th session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday. "A development agenda beyond 2015, should allow individual regions and states the space to address the development needs peculiar to their circumstances and priorities. ... We wish to emphasise as well our expectations that the developed North and developing South should continue to engage in a genuine partnership. In this regard, the developed North should stand ready to meet their commitment to contribute 0.7% of their gross national income towards Official Development Assistance."
Note the emphasis on centralized rule and securitized economics. All rich nations must throw in equal shares while receiving nothing in return. The pool must be divided by Alger Hiss Experts so every corrupt Marxist dictator can get rich. What's missing? RECIPROCITY and FEEDBACK. What's missing? NORMAL BUSINESS. What's missing? ORDINARY AFRICANS.
The new approach by China (and Japan and India) is strictly free-market capitalism. China invests in African farmers to improve their efficiency, then China buys their produce at discounted prices. It's a two-sided direct bargain, with no securitization, no central pool and no central authority. Farmer gets money and better working conditions, China gets food. I assume local officials are getting a slice of the pie, but they're not getting the whole pie.
¶ 3:46 AM
What happened to high-voiced Old-Timers?
This is probably a poor observation, but anyway:
In previous generations most old men, and most men with hearing problems, talked in extremely high voices. I don't notice this tendency in modern times; it seems to have disappeared during the Greatest Generation. I don't hear any squeakers around me on the bus or in stores, nor among the old dudes who call into radio shows. The only high male voices heard today are Hindus, who acquire it culturally. (Believe it or not, squealing is the mark of high caste, the mark of authority!)
Within my own family, my grandfather (born around 1900) was a squeaker; my father (born around 1920) never got squeaky; and I (born around 1950) haven't turned squeaky yet. Remains to be seen. Or heard.
Some nicely audible examples:
Here's GW Carver interviewed at age 75. [Start at 15 minutes into the clip.] Sounds like a girl!
Here's an actor portraying Edison, who had a hearing loss. [Start at beginning of clip.] Waaaay up there!
And here's the Old Timer in the Fibber show. He appears briefly in almost every episode, but he's the main character in this one.
The change in hearing-impaired males is explainable: better hearing aids, better speech therapy when young. But the age-related change (if I'm observing accurately) doesn't have an obvious cause. Influence of radio and TV? Maybe.
China and Japan have been engaging in neo-colonial activities in Africa for quite a while. Give farmers seeds and equipment, or give them an aquifer, then contract for the resulting food. This isn't really colonial as such; it's just a plain old investment spread across many 'factories'.
China's latest move in Ukraine and other places adds a new ingredient, but it's still not colonialism......
China's official Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps has signed an agreement with Ukrainian agricultural firm KSG Agro, which would see Ukraine provide 100,000 hectares to China. That would eventually rise to 3 million hectares.
Ukraine's total area is 57 million hectares, so the Chinese lease would be about 7% of the country.
This is more like cross-border feudalism than colonialism. It's a significant switch from the era of the nation-state, moving back toward the era when lords and dukes actually owned their countries.
Considering the total fucking disaster of the nation-state era, it's refreshing to see a variety of oldnew forms emerging. This particular arrangement diminishes the sovereignty of Ukraine's national government and increases the commercial power and wealth of Ukraine's working farmers. At the moment it looks like an all-around win.
Old-style feudalism was characterized by complex jigsaw puzzles of enclaves and exclaves which made totalitarian control difficult. When the tenants of Lord Hruolandus have to plow around the lands of Duke Gerulph, and the tenants of Duke Gerulph have to walk across the lands of Earl Aethelstan, it's very difficult for Duke Gerulph to create a closed society. You need compact borders to do the North Korea thing. New-style feudalism is even more exclavious, with pieces of Africa and pieces of Ukraine and bits of Australia working for Chinese lords.
However: this effect can cut both ways. Stalin created patterns of ethnic exclaves and enclaves within his existing empire, to prevent ethnic groups from gaining a sense of unity and power.
¶ 6:07 PM
What are we supposed to learn from this?This story about a 77-year-old former executive who is "forced" to flip burgers during retirement is all over the place. It's a peculiar piece of deception by journalism.
The executive himself isn't trying to deceive anyone! He makes it clear that he could get by on SS and pension if he chose to live simply. He says he's working because he doesn't want to live simply; he wants to travel and do expensive things. [Though he doesn't say it, I suspect he's really working because he's an extrovert who loves interacting with people and can't stand being alone.]
So what's the point? Why should we sympathize with this man who is enjoying the life he chose? Are the journalists trying to push for higher SS? Is the idea of living within your means beyond their comprehension?
This recent First World Problem item shows a deeper understanding than the news media who are spreading this story.
¶ 4:34 AM
Constants and variables as usual
Savile Broadcasting ran a brief feature this morning with Satan "Roger Harrabin" spewing venom from India.
Satan "Harrabin" says that things called Glassy Aws in the Himalayas are melting faster than ever now. From the context I think he means glaciers, but I won't make any unwarranted assumptions.
According to Satan "Harrabin", these Glassy Aws are melting faster than ever because Indians cook with primitive stoves that burn wood or kerosene or dung.
Constants and variables, fuckhead.
Everyone everywhere cooked with wood or coal or kerosene, until just 50 years ago. Some parts of the world have shifted to natural gas or electricity, eliminating much of the soot that formerly filled the air. Those richer parts of the world are variables, while Indian peasants are constants.
If these Glassy Aw things are melting faster in the last 50 years, which is a variable, you should be looking at variable causes in the last 50 years instead of constant causes, fuckhead.
Of course Satan "Harrabin" won't understand this point because he is a Satan, not a scientist.
¶ 3:39 AM
Sunday, September 22, 2013
It's beyond Orwell. More like some atrociously written sci-fi novel where everything is turned backwards.
Here in Bizarro-World, we have Heritage Foundation hating the system Heritage wrote and Romney implemented:
"Obamacare puts the health care system on the wrong track and will expand the role of the federal government in every component of Americans’ health care. To get the health care system on the right track that empowers patients, reduces cost, and ensures access, Obamacare must be defunded and repealed."
And here in Bizarro-World, we have Bullbitch Comrade Nancy Pelosi stoutly defending the system Heritage wrote and Romney implemented:
"It's important for people to get the advantages that they will have," she said. "And in order to do that, you enlarge the pool to do it. And we're moving forward to do that." Bullbitch Comrade Pelosi also argued health care costs will go down once the law starts next year. "Now, has that message gotten out? Obviously not adequately," she said.
The fucking message has not gotten out because it's a fucking FALSE message. The pool will not be enlarged, and all costs will go up. This was inevitable because Romneycare was NOT INTENDED to be affordable. It was SOLELY INTENDED to give a total monopoly to insurance companies that already have a near-total monopoly. As I pointed out when it was first proposed by Obushma.
I was right then and I'm still right. But shouting "I told you so, you fucking fools!!!!!!!!" doesn't fucking help.
As fucking always, both "sides" are arguing on the basis of a shared lie. The D team is arguing FOR RomneyCare "because it's socialism", and the R team is arguing AGAINST RomneyCare "because it's socialism." Fuckheads. It's the fucking opposite of socialism. In 1913 terms, it's a government guarantee of perpetual monopoly power for a Trust or Cartel.
We already have a socialist segment of health care, called Medicare, and Medicare works fairly well. Not as well as single-payer systems in France and Australia, but better than anything else in this miserable fucked former country. If Obushma had been "enacting socialism", he would have extended Medicare to everyone. Change a few numbers in the law, increase the FICA tax by a few percent. Super-easy and highly advantageous. Solve the problem in one day. But of course that is the OPPOSITE of what he did, as I've said 43,778,901,336,543 times already.
In my own little section of Bizarro-World, my insurance provider has sent me the Brand Sparkling New Plan that will be mandatorily "available" under RomneyCare. The new plan includes MATERNITY BENEFITS and PEDIATRIC VISION AND DENTAL BENEFITS, because every plan must include those under RomneyCare.
Look here, fuckheads. I am a 63-year-old extremely unmarried male. The last time I was anywhere near a situation that could theoretically have led to maternity was 1977, and I'm too smart and too old to get within light years of a similar situation again. Nevertheless, I'm now privileged to receive BENEFITS THAT I CANNOT EVER CONCEIVABLY USE, and I'm privileged to pay TWO HUNDRED FUCKING DOLLARS MORE PER MONTH for the BENEFITS THAT I CANNOT EVER CONCEIVABLY USE.
Affordable? FUCK NO. I can manage the current monthly premium, but the new premium will be too high. So where do I go? Who the fuck knows? Back onto subsidy, after going through the trouble and pride of getting off a subsidized system? Probably.
= = = = =
Later thought: In a sane political setup, the threat of RomneyCare would offer a unique opportunity for a real opposition party, a real anti-WallStreet party. Nobody but the insurance companies wanted this atrocious mess. It's the worst of all worlds. More monopoly AND more bureaucracy.
Honest left-wingers wanted a single-payer system. Honest right-wingers wanted to get rid of the government rules that obstructed a 'clean' free-market system. (Required coverage, in-state limits, HIPPA, etc.) In a sane political arrangement, these two honest forces could have worked together to eliminate those obstructions and skip the Romney mess, and then we could start over to find a better system. Sanely, Medicare For All is the obvious choice.
¶ 11:02 AM
Haven't done an NCDC in a while
Following up on this thought about the '30s. I was focusing on the idea that the 1930s were not the source of the Dust Bowl or the Depression. Decided to look again at drought patterns. To my eyes, these NCDC time series look somewhat different from what I remember seeing before, but that doesn't mean much.
Here's annual precip for Kansas, Okla, Texas.
Note that the 1930s were on the dry side in Kansas but not in Okla or Texas. The teens and twenties had more dry years and worse dry years.
Note also that the present drought is even less dramatic. Those states are in a dry period, but it doesn't remotely compare with the pre-1957 dry periods. (Looks like Solar Max 1957 caused a mode shift.)
If the current situation is unprecedented, it's NOT the lack of rain that makes it so. It's the temperature. 2012 was a truly unprecedented and sudden peak of temp in all three states, but doesn't appear to be part of a pattern. Even more specifically, it was March 2012 that yanked the annual averages upward. Later months of 2012 were scattered from warm to cool. 2013 is back in normal range.
What made March 2012 so egregiously warm? Presumably an extremely stuck jet stream. Or maybe it was Doktorrrr Evillll KKKarbonnnn conspiring with his associates: "Gentlemen! It has come to my attention that the Western Middle Provinces are producing entirely too much Maize and Cows! We shall demonstrate our powers by creating a total Oven-Like Heat for Exactly One Month! And then we shall hold them ransom for Exactly One Million Dollars! Never underestimate the fiendish intelligence of Doktorrrr Evilllll KKKarbonnnnn!"
Soot keeps you healthy?
Interesting thought from 1854. We're already seeing, both by correlation and by causative mechanism, that cutting soot leads to warming. Quite possibly all of the warming since 1970, after subtracting obvious natural cycles, was caused by the EPA. Could we also be more susceptible to other types of chemical pollution and microbial diseases because we've eliminated soot?
This was before microbes were well understood, and the author seems to be using the later-disproved miasmal theory of disease. Nevertheless, the basic property of small carbon particles is true. They do absorb or agglutinate many other types of pollution.
I've been wondering about a related subject, based on very limited observation. I've noticed that houses with open flames, like natural gas pilot lights, are less moldy than all-electric houses. I guessed that the flame was burning mold spores, but could it be the soot particles absorbing the spores....?
Or, oppan Darwin style:
(1) What's the unique ingredient of human habitation, all the way back? What's the unique human accomplishment? Not tools, not language. Fire. If you want to talk about "hunter gatherers" and "the savannah" and "paleo diets" and all that, you've got to talk about soot-choked mud huts. We've grown up with smoke. Things go better with smoke.
(2) Folk wisdom: "Don't go out in that snow, you'll catch your death of cold! Stay inside!" ... where the soot is.
(3) What was a universal ingredient of medicinal ceremonies before the pill-pushers took over? Yup. Smoke. Incense. Tobacco.
= = = = =
Later: Amazingly, modern scientists are finally catching up to 1854.
For a long time scientists have known that breathing in soot from vehicles and power plants is bad for us. But the soot itself might not be the problem—at least not entirely. Scientists have found that particles live a "secret life" once released into the atmosphere, picking up toxic gases and other hitchhikers before making their way into our lungs.
What was happening? In a word—oxygen. It makes up about 20 percent of our atmosphere. And a lot of times this oxygen forms something called a hydroxyl radical. This is basically a water molecule, that’s missing one hydrogen atom. So it’s really "jonesing" for an extra hydrogen. It turns out there’s a lot of hydrogen atoms in the atmosphere, attached to molecules that are just sort of hanging around. And a lot of the time, these molecules come from stuff we create—exhaust from buses and cars, weed whackers, and those fumes from spray paint cans. With the help of a little sunlight, the hydroxyl radical can go to work on these molecules.
As usual the moderns are taking it from the wrong fucking angle ... worrying about the harm from the soot instead of rejoicing that it's cleaning the air for us.
The sudden change to cool weather has brought me out of hibernation.... or I guess estivation is a better word. Summer always slows me down, and cold motivates me to GET SHIT DONE. The GET SHIT DONE impulse led to two long-overdue fixes: (1) Replaced a latch on kitchen window. The latch wore out after 70 years of use. Like everything in this house it was non-standard, and I had to buy several different latches from Ebay before finding one that would serve. Thank heaven for Ebay. Before it came along I couldn't do these things at all! (2) Removed a cabinet door that was a hazard, and was likely to become more of a hazard as I get older. The kitchen is EXTREMELY narrow, and all doors have to be closed immediately after use. I've forgotten to close this one three times in five years, and bumped into it each time. Simple and obvious solution is to remove the door. Can't bump into something that isn't there. (There are other cabinet doors, but this was the only one that opened into a dangerous position.)
'Zero problems' in action!
Yaaay Ridpath! Yaaaay Wells!
In a press release posing as a news article, Ron Wells announces that he's settled the unbelievable mess of the Ridpath Hotel, and will start converting it into studio apartments. He's working fast: scheduled opening in December of this year!
YAAAAYYY! Though the Ridpath doesn't have any of the architecture or class of the Davenport, it's a modern steel and concrete structure with big rooms, and should take the conversion nicely.
When I first moved to Spokane in 1990, I stayed in the Ridpath for a month while searching for apartments or houses. At that time it was still a full-service hotel, with every necessity of life inside the building. Restaurants, laundry, barber, newsstand, beauty shop. If you didn't need to work, or if you could telework, you could live without ever touching the street!
I don't think Wells is aiming for that level of service, but the idea of a studio apt is tempting. Now that I've established a routine of exercise and a focus on outdoors, it's no longer highly tempting; but as I get older it will pull more strongly.
Wells has accomplished a Herculean labor in clearing out a Byzantine tangle of property claims. The original Ridpath closed around 2005. It was bought and divided and securitized and resecuritized and rehypothecated and derivatived and optioned and indexed by two dozen absentee scammers, none of whom wanted to sell or give up the slight possibility of recouping. The building deteriorated and attracted transients, risking total loss; but still the flippers and scammers wouldn't yield. I'm guessing Wells must have royally recouped the scammers to gain full ownership, because there had been no progress on the legal front despite some weak efforts by city gov't.
= = = = =
Update: More info is out now, including floor plans. Most units will be studio apts, basically the original room plus a kitchen counter; some units will be two rooms combined into a one-bedroom apt. Prices are excellent. Incidentally, the news article starts with a classic misplaced modifier: "After sitting empty for five years, local developer Ron Wells is moving forward with plans to bring the Ridpath Hotel back to life." Poor empty Ron.
¶ 5:21 PM
Talk like an ecopirate day
A ship full of Dutch ecopirates boarded and tried to sabotage a Russian oil-drilling platform.
How do ecopirates talk? Let's hear from Cap'n Kumi Naidoo. (Now there's a pirate name if ever I heard one!)
“Arrrrr! Avast ye scurvy rat Putin! Ye had best restrain your bilge-swillin Coast Guard. Ye be tellin them to holster their rusty muskets and walk the carbon-neutral recycled plank. Arrrrr!”
Putin wasn't having any of it. His Coast Guard has towed the ecopirate vessel into Murmansk and arrested the Greenpeace pirates. What happens to them next is unknown, but shooting would be appropriate. Piracy has traditionally been a capital offense in civilized countries.
Ecopiracy is piracy, fuckheads. Eat it. You are no different from Somali pirates. It doesn't matter if your motivation happens to be cooooooooooooooooooooooool among fashionable rich mass-murdering genocidal psychotics at the moment, while the Somali motivation is uncool among fashionable rich mass-murdering genocidal psychotics. You're still pirates.
¶ 3:40 AM
Memory hole as usual
As usual, a "new" invention falls right back to the original without giving credit to the original inventors.
Saarbrücken researchers transferred this skill in piano playing to text entry by developing a computational approach that assigns words and letters to notes and chords. In this way experienced as well as hobby-pianists can enter text as fast professional typists.
"Our approach ensures that frequent letter sequences are translated into melodic structures that are well known and can therefore be played quickly by a pianist," said Feit. In this way, frequent letter pairs like "th" or "he" were translated to a third or a fifth -- intervals that are very well practiced by every pianist. The letter "e," which occurs most frequently in English, was mapped to different notes in different octaves. Furthermore, frequent syllables and words were mapped to chords of the major and minor scales.
The chord-based mapping is new and interesting, but the use of a piano keyboard to enter text is extremely old. The first telegraphs in the 1830s used piano-like keyboards, and then the first typewriters in the 1870s did the same. It's not clear why the multi-row keyboard took over from the single-row piano type; probably for compactness and portability rather than efficiency. A flat keyboard is unquestionably more efficient and less harmful to the finger joints.
Some of the early telegraphs carried the metaphor all the way with pedals. Makes sense when you think about it, and would make even more sense on a computer where you need to hit simultaneous shift/ctrl or ctrl/alt combinations along with the keys. Let the feet take those modifier keys, just as the feet take the modifier Sustain and Soft actions on a piano. Semi-permanent modifiers like italic, bold, and font change would be appropriate for pullout stops, by analogy with an organ's voices.
Polistra shows how the original keyboards looked, on her imaginary but typical
Gas-light Night Telegraph machine.
¶ 3:12 AM
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Handy hints and ... kinks
A web porn filter can serve the opposite purpose. There are two names and faces that I don't want to see when I'm wandering around the web, because they are guaranteed buzzkills. One mention or glimpse of either one, and any hope of fun later in the day disappears. Fortunately these faces aren't in the news constantly, and fortunately they're fairly unusual names. Otherwise there wouldn't be any point in filtering.
I set up the 'Procon Latte' filter on Firefox, deleted all the default porn-related keywords, and put those two names in the list. Sure enough, any page that includes either of those names gets blanked out!
¶ 8:31 AM
The embedded meaning here: The Depression occurred because the Federal Reserve of the time had allowed widespread bank failures to sharply reduce the amount of money circulating in the country. This shortage of currency led to falling prices, which became a vicious cycle. With prices headed downward, everyone wanted to defer business investments and major purchases as far into the future as possible. That only increased the excess demand for money and intensified the cycle of deflation. The lesson was clear—at all costs, prevent a spiral of bank failures, currency shortage, and falling prices. Get that done, and the system will return to equilibrium.
I don't buy it.
First, the trouble started long before 1930. Like most other world problems, it really started in or around WW1. Farmers were encouraged by speculators to overproduce, and many people went into farming who didn't know what they were doing. They borrowed to buy unsuitable land, grew one bad crop, then abandoned the land after denuding it. Result was the Dust Bowl, which ruined even good farms, and lots of bankruptcies in farming areas. The false farmland blew away, leaving only the real land. In areas that weren't covered with dust, careful farmers continued to grow good crops with the usual ups and downs of farming.
Similar overborrowing, speculation and overproduction happened in housing and other areas of business during the '20s.
The problem wasn't deflation in the sense described by Yglesias; it wasn't a lack of real value, but a sudden and drastic removal of false value. Ordinary people had become accustomed to the wealth effect, a sense of ever-increasing prosperity, and didn't realize they were dealing in counterfeit. When the counterfeit blew away, leaving only the real value, people who had borrowed were in serious trouble with the banks. They couldn't pay back the false dollars they had borrowed because the false foundation of the false dollars had disappeared with the stock crash. Of course the banks didn't care if the dollars were real or false; bankers only know numbers.
And the problem certainly wasn't a lack of investment. I'm familiar with the auto and radio industries. Both put tremendous effort and money into developing new products during the '30s, and it helped to some extent. Careful companies like Nash hadn't engaged in borrowing and speculation, so they were able to invest from savings. Others found ways to borrow. Marginal companies failed, but not because of a value shortage. Some failed because they had been supplying overpriced luxury cars to overextended borrowers, some were just weak operations who would have failed anyway.
The parallel to the 1990-2008 false value expansion is clear, but the NONparallel of official response may not be obvious.
FDR did four big things.
(1) He allowed false value to collapse back to real value. He allowed investors to fail and closed bad banks. He stopped the production of false value.
(2) He enacted severe regulations to prevent false value makers from resuming their counterfeiting.
(3) He helped ordinary people, repeat ORDINARY FUCKING PEOPLE, get through the collapse with public jobs.
(4) The public jobs served a specific purpose. Admittedly some were pure makework ("We Piss Around" was often a valid insult!) but most were building a foundation for a restoration of real production. Hydro dams and electric lines, sewer systems, road systems, schools, libraries, public buildings, farm improvements, training for farmers. Without those infrastructure elements, America would not have been able to expand real production after the '30s.
In short, he stopped current counterfeiting, prevented future counterfeiting, and used public money to improve the future real productivity of the country. WPA wages were real value.
Bushobama and their Brit counterparts have done the EXACT OPPOSITE at every step. They did nothing to stop counterfeiting, they are pouring infinite amounts of newly counterfeited dollars into expanding bad banks and expanding the counterfeiters, and they are not investing in new infrastructure. By continuing 'free trade' policies and EPA enviroterrorism, they are strongly discouraging real production by real companies.
If we learned from the start to distinguish real value from false value, we'd be harder to fool. If schools followed the Real Manual Training model, or some valid modern equivalent, kids would know real value in their bones and muscles. They couldn't be distracted by mere numbers.
= = = = =
When governments control the price of bread or gasoline, it's correctly described as Harsh or Rigid or Tight, and economists correctly diagnose the hoarding and shortages that always result from price controls.
When governments rigidly and harshly and tightly control the price of money, holding it at ZERO for Chosen People, it's bizarrely described as Loose or Easy or Dovish or Accommodative, and economists completely miss the connection. In fact economists praise this policy to the heavens! In this case, because the hoarding and shortages help Chosen People to gain even more illegal super-riches through arbitrage, the hoarding and shortages are just part of the heavenly joy.
And then economists wonder why we don't trust them. Miserable nasty filthy corrupt fuckheads.
¶ 6:52 AM
Since the step-function arrival of Autumn a few days ago, the air has been sharp and cool and filled with a perfectly delicious smell. Describing smells is futile, but I can loosely categorize it as one of the background notes in tobacco smoke, also detectable in roses.
This aroma is absolutely unique because it enters my house. Normally my house admits and retains only bad smells: dog poop, diesel, lawn herbicides. It loves diesel most of all. One Dodge diesel pickup drives past, and I'm inhaling diesel for a half hour.
Even when a fine smell is strong and persistent outside, I can't force it to come in. This one comes in and settles in every room without any help.
Thanks, Nature! Nice compensation for the steady enervating heat of August.
= = = = =
Artistic sidenote: Yes, I know. Four cartoon characters without noses, supposedly sniffing and appreciating a nice smell. It's a cartoon, dammit.
¶ 4:59 AM
Statistics are Satan, continued.
Beautiful example of the genocidal evil of statistics. Some Progressive NYC Wacko declared on the basis of statistics that the next mass murder will be here in Spokane, and described the characteristics of the shooter. Of course the shooter will be white, because we know that mass shooters are always white. Even the ones who seem to have dark skin are white because we know that they are white. Statistics.
The sheriff, and even A LOCAL FBI AGENT (Will wonders never cease????) have harshly and properly criticized the Progressive NYC Wacko, stating accurately that schizophrenics read the newspaper, and the voices in their heads also read the newspaper.
As I've noted before, journalists are a huge part of the problem. Every time an incident happens, Satan's media saturates our senses with lurid repetitions for several weeks. And every time the anniversary of an incident comes up, Satan's media does the CLANG CLANG CLANG routine, HAMMERING HAMMERING HAMMERING the idea yet again into voice-equipped heads. Every time a bell clangs, a shooter bangs.
One good sign: it appears that local media have decided not to assist the crime of the Progressive NYC Wacko. Normally a national mention of Our Town would get plenty of local coverage.
Now this is an interesting development. Brazil, responding to the "news" of the Snowden "revelations", is preparing to set up a separate Web, uniting South America and Europe with its own undersea cable.
Good! Though the "revelations" are ancient news to anyone with open eyes, I can't complain. Politicians like Roussef have to use the delta of apparent change as a visible reason for an action they were already planning to take.
The usual Experts are saying the expectable silly shit.
U.S. digital security expert Bruce Schneier says that while Brazil's response is a rational reaction to NSA spying, it is likely to embolden "some of the worst countries out there to seek more control over their citizens' Internet. That's Russia, China, Iran and Syria."
Well now.... Russia is saner than America and is already emboldened; China and Persia already have isolated net systems; and Syria is too busy killing itself to worry much about the web.
[If Brazil proceeds with this], Silicon Valley's bottom line could be hit by lost business and higher operating costs: Brazilians rank No. 3 on Facebook and No. 2 on Twitter and YouTube..... could cost the U.S. cloud computing industry ... as much as $35 billion by 2016 in lost business.
The real Amazon taking business from the fake Amazon. Love it. More power to the Southern Hemisphere.
¶ 10:04 AM
Tiny signs of intelligence?
Maybe some people are starting to learn a few things after all.
Halfway listening to the coverage of the latest mass shooting. Seems to be a slight shift in emphasis, a slight change in the 'consensus' on these problems.
Let's use two NRA cliches as, um, bullet points. Both points are absolutely true and absolutely valid:
(1) Guns don't kill people, people kill people.
(2) When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.
Until rather recently, the Satanic media took great pains to work against both of these truths.
On cliche #1, they carefully ignored personal characteristics of the killer, shaping all coverage to focus solely on one question: How did he get a gun?
This time they're giving us more of the personal details, which is especially notable since the killer is black. [Compare with the Beltway Snipers of 2002. There were all sorts of eyewitness reports and other indications that the killers were black, but the Satanic media AND the evil Chief Moose explicitly censored all facts, misdirecting searches to white suspects, thus enabling more murders.]
On cliche #2, no improvement in this incident, but some quiet improvement elsewhere. Satan's media is still ferociously ignoring the bizarre suicidal unspeakably wacked-out fact that all military bases are gun-free zones. But simultaneously many schools are now arming teachers and guards, after decades of REPEATEDLY SHOUTING that arming teachers was CRAZY.
¶ 4:02 AM
Persia picks up 'Zero problems'
Polistra recently made a heartfelt plea to Arab and Muslim nations: Stop giving Israel what it needs.
It appears that the new president of Persia has been thinking along the same lines.
Ahmadinejad made big waves and big speeches to satisfy a macho impulse, which caused Israel [or more precisely Israel's "America" brand] to prepare for war. Now Rouhani is talking quietly and sensibly, thus removing Bibi's handy scapegoat.He's explicitly following the Turkish 'zero problems' model.
Good work, Rouhani!
Coming back stronger and stupider
Two big and atrocious examples:
(1) The Big Thompson floods badly every third of a century. The last time was 1976, and Colorado proceeded to Come Back Stronger after that flood, rebuilding houses in the same vulnerable locations. Deadly result is perfectly predictable. Colorado is promising yet again to Come Back Stronger, rebuilding houses in the same vulnerable locations.
(2) Superstorm Snooki destroyed a firetrap boardwalk with firetrap buildings. Joisey proceeded to Come Back Stronger, rebuilding the same firetrap boardwalk with the same firetrap buildings. Deadly result is perfectly predictable. (I can see why you don't want to build hefty brick structures on a shore, but how about aluminum instead of wood?)
One small and mild example: Last night's windstorm took down a couple of tall pines on a west-facing cliff edge. The trees were on city property, and it looks like the city will replant tall trees again.
DAMMIT! THINK! LEARN! Nature is trying to teach you something! Nature gave us brains so we could LEARN from these repeated CYCLICAL problems, and our ancestors have given us WRITTEN RECORDS of the repeated problems so we have NO EXCUSE for thinking this is the first fucking time it's ever happened. Don't come back stronger, do something DIFFERENT for fuck's sake.
We won't, of course. We're fucking EXCEPTIONAL. We ride the shortest bus ever imagined. Our fucking short bus is so fucking short its fucking ass end arrives before its fucking front end. USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!
¶ 5:37 PM
Orwell is busy this year
Satan dba "Jeremy Browne", allegedly a cabinet minister in the former nation of Britain, has come up with the craziest dyslogical dysargument for a public policy ever heard.
Satan alias "Browne" argues:
Jeremy Browne, a Liberal Democrat, said there needs to be a national debate about whether the state should step in to protect young women from having the veil “imposed” on them.
But there is genuine debate about whether girls should feel a compulsion to wear a veil when society deems children to be unable to express personal choices about other areas like buying alcohol, smoking or getting married.
Putting it simply:
Freedom Of Choice means forcing girls to wear our style of clothing instead of the style required by their own religion.
Hmm. Couldn't be that crazy. Let's try another phrasing.
Freedom Of Choice means a forced choice: Obey our laws and lose your salvation, or obey your religion and go to jail.
No need to try again. It's unsalvageable.
There's nothing wrong with having a dress code in schools, or even a dress code in society. Every culture has its dress standards, but in Western countries the dress code was formerly left to societal pressure, not enforced by law.
There's nothing wrong with having an honestly described one-religion country. In fact a one-religion one-culture country works, while pluralism has demonstrably and lethally failed everywhere it was tried.
But there's EVERYTHING wrong with forcing some religions to conform to your standards and calling this force "Freedom Of Choice."
¶ 1:24 AM
Finally done with the unending 90s of this summer. As usual, cold weather arrived with some drama, but nowhere near the typical autumn arrival.
Autumn is usually announced by one or two days of big wind. This was one hour of big wind.
Overall this year has been distinctly short on wind, long on hot days, and long on late-night thunderstorms. Pretty much sums it up.
Wind knocked out a lot of power:
but didn't bother my house. Amazingly the storm didn't even wake me up! Guess I should thank the stupid air conditioner after all, for keeping my auditory system adapted down and masked.
Later after daylight: I don't see any signs of damage around this part of town... in fact I don't even see the cones and needles on the street that would be typical after big winds. Makes me think the wind was less dramatic here, maybe in the 30s instead of 50s.
Later again: There was one odd little bit of damage. The wind somehow scrubbed bark off a tree and scattered it in a nearby driveway. (Bark-nado?) From here the pile looks like a dead wolf, though my crappy photo doesn't catch the effect. Squirrel seems to be thinking along the same lines.
¶ 1:06 AM
Saturday, September 14, 2013
Random Okie thought
Mentioned Catch-22 a few days ago, leading to some memories of the book itself. There was an Indian character named Chief White Halfoat, who supposedly came from Enid.
Nope, wrong. If you're going to make up names and details for your characters, you've got to do better. First of all, the original Americans didn't grow or use oats, so Halfoat makes no sense. More importantly, a Chief wouldn't come from Enid. There were never any 'official' Indians or tribal governments in that part of Oklahoma, so no Chiefs.
Another example in current literature: the play or movie called 'Osage County', which has zero connection to anything Okie. Judging from reviews, it seems to be a shallow parody of the TV series Dallas, which in turn was a shallow parody of real Texans.
Among the writers I've read thoroughly, all of them got Oklahoma right for different reasons. Steinbeck got it right because he took the time to learn, and perhaps because he was a Westerner to begin with. Percy and Updike got it right because they never mentioned it. They had enough sense to avoid characters from places they didn't know.
Well, of course "write what you know" is Lit 101, but these Oklahoma errors go beyond other Midwest errors. No New Yorker gets Ohio or Nebraska so dramatically wrong.
Why? I think it's because Oklahoma spawned a few icons that spread into New York and Europe. The icons for 'cowboy' and 'indian' and 'oilman' have French versions and NYC versions and even Kafka versions!!!, none of which bear the slightest connection to reality.
What's an Ohio icon? Can't think of one, can you? Ohio has distinct types, but try to fill in "He was a classic Ohio ______" and you're lost.
Footnote: Percy captured one of those distinct types in a single word, but he didn't thereby create an icon like 'cowboy'.
¶ 5:11 PM
Bad year for the peakists
= = = = =
"Peak oil" has disappeared in many parts of the world, replaced by reliable and clean natural gas sources. (Shale and methane clathrates). As the "peak" vanishes, it takes down a whole set of malignant political arrangements that began in 1920, and it takes down a whole batch of suicidal Green wackitudes.
Who disappeared it? Geologists.
= = = = =
"Peak water" hasdisappeared in parts of Africa, replaced by reliable and clean aquifer sources that weren't even suspected until a few years ago. As the "peak" vanishes, it will realign politics in Africa and bring back a relatively healthy form of colonialism.
Who disappeared it? Geologists.
= = = = =
Thanks, geologists! One of the very few honest and valid branches of science.
¶ 3:38 AM
Friday, September 13, 2013
Zawahiri has resurfaced with a tired old speech, calling yet again on his forces in America. Our GoldMaan character, previouslyseen with RiotGrrl, finds this speech rather amusing.
GoldMaan always gets there first. You can't outbleed GoldMaan. You can't frontrun GoldMaan.
¶ 3:06 PM
Thursday, September 12, 2013
Deus vs machina
Thinking about Putin's sudden creative offer, 'deus ex machina' is an irresistible phrase. Thinking a bit more, a different preposition emerges.
Since 1989 the leaders in DC have been the Soviets of the world, rigidly locked into a drearily mechanical pattern. No matter what happens, you can instantly predict what the current occupant of the White House will do.
Internal problem? Just ask which course will maximize Goldman's profit and you know what the White House will do. In practice this always comes down to infinite spending and zero taxes.
External problem? Just ask which action will serve Israel's interests and you know what the White House will do. In practice this always comes down to infinite chaos in some foreign country.
Since 1989 the Russians have been the unpredictable and innovative element, serving their OWN interests and advancing civilization and religion when possible.
To see the reversal, go back a few years before 1989 when Gorbachev and Reagan were mindlessly cranking through the standard puppet show of negotiations. Gorbachev said "You must disarm and we must keep all our bombs." Reagan was supposed to say "No, you must disarm and we must keep all our bombs" like all previous Presidents, to maintain the rigid static order. Instead, Reagan went off-script and said "Let's both disarm." After that, the machine started to turn for the first time in many years.
Reagan was the deus to Gorby's machina. Now Putin is the deus to Obama's machina.
¶ 5:38 AM
What's the difference?
I'm trying to figure out the difference between these two men. Both are busily spreading the same ignorant notions about Islam, both are narrow-minded ideologues.
The man on the left gets arrested every time he demonstrates his ignorant hatred of Islam. The man on the right gets prizes and prestige and plaudits and millions and millions and millions and millions and millions of dollars every time he demonstrates his ignorant hatred of Islam.
Has to be the mustache. Can't think of any other difference. The man on the left is actually getting arrested for First Degree Unattractiveness and Possession of a Southern Accent and Unfashionable Facial Hair.
= = = = =
Shameful personal sidenote: Until I unplugged my TV about 3 years ago and started reading a wider variety of sources, I agreed with those same ignorant notions and helped to spread them. I can't really atone for my participation, but I can at least advise others to unplug their TVs and read more widely.
Congrats to Kenya!New surveys sponsored by neocolonial power Japan have found several huge aquifers under Kenya and South Sudan. This is the best news in the world, and makes Kenya the luckiest country in the world! An aquifer, used properly, turns agriculture into a steady and reliable industry. Droughts no longer mean famine, they just require more water from the aquifer for a year or two.
Dams would do the same job, but dams require a stable government that can fund and organize construction and maintenance. Dams are also open to destruction by old-fashioned warriors or by environmental satans "protecting" some fucking earthworm.
You can't breach an aquifer no matter how hard you try. You can't pollute an aquifer, either. The gravel filters out nearly all forms of contamination and pollution.
Kenya seems to have good farmers and poor government, so an aquifer is exactly the right solution. It should open up a new world of prosperity for those good farmers, and a reliable food supply for the whole country ... and, of course, for neocolonial power Japan, which is likely to pay decent prices for wheat and beef.
¶ 4:40 AM
Obama's new "personal journey"
For a few years Obama showed a 10% difference from the Bushes. He was seamlessly identical on economic matters, continuing to reward the Wall Street Mafia with trillions and trillions and trillions and trillions and trillions and trillions instead of shooting them. He implemented Romney's health care atrocity instead of doing Medicare For All. In those realms he was pure Bush, but he departed slightly in foreign policy, showing a reluctance to INVADE INVADE INVADE OCCUPY OCCUPY OCCUPY every country in the world.
Now he's all Bush. Last night's speech on Syria was all Bush.
I always wondered how a Bush speech would sound if you translated it into English. Now I know.
¶ 1:39 AM
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Random thought about parents
A powerful dream in this afternoon's nap led indirectly to an observation about parents, specifically in the 1950s, but perhaps still valid today.
Parents with more than one kid had split personalities. They had PARENT MODE and normal adult mode. Kids were only allowed to see the PARENT MODE avatar. Occasionally late at night or when other adults were visiting, we'd pick up little bits of adult mode. Parents with one kid didn't have a separate PARENT MODE. They were just plain adults all the time, and the one kid ended up with more of an adult perspective on life.
¶ 3:57 PM
Monday, September 09, 2013
Ikea's new/old ideaIkea has developed an easy-to-assemble little house for use in emergency situations like refugee camps.
Neat idea, but not a new idea.
America's prefab housing companies made a remarkably similar system 100 years ago, also for building 'boom camps' of various sorts. The main target was oilfields or defense contractors, who needed to bring in hundreds of men quickly.
The 1920 Sears version:
I was struck by the similarity of the presentations, but prices are not similar. Ikea gives a price in pounds that equals about $1000. Sears offered several Sectional Cottages; the closest one in square footage was priced at $138 in 1926, which is about $2700 in today's dollars. The Sears was considerably stronger, with full floor and real doors and windows. Could be a permanent residence in mild weather. Still, I suspect Ikea's price includes some kind of subsidy. The basic frame and plastic parts could be produced for $1000, but not the solar stuff.
¶ 5:32 PM
A normal gang shooting among the vibrant community in Spokane evokes the normal idiot confusion among our fine media.
The location is just north of the river on Monroe, which is downtown. No other possible terminology.
As usual, the three TV stations have three different ideas. KREM calls it North Spokane, KXLY calls it West Spokane, and KHQ gets it almost right with "near downtown".
Seems like our vibrant community is getting more vibrant every day. It's only about 2% of the population, but it's responsible for 50% of the violent crime. As usual.
¶ 7:46 AM
Sunday, September 08, 2013
For a long time I've been trying to figure out why Scientists hate facts.
Careful sidenote: I'm not talking about everyone who works in science. I'm talking about the public face of Science, the Big Scientists of Quantum, Climate, Cosmology, Social "Sciences", and Evolution. The Scientists who have the ear of governments and media, the Scientists who are rewarded with big money for being Official Experts. Outside of this realm, in engineering, agriculture and medicine, there are many folks doing good honest science and even getting paid for it sometimes.
A couple of vicious semantic-shifting articles this week gave me a better explanation.
Here, Scott Johnson defends the models of the Climate Criminals by saying "Trust the experts, don't trust your eyes."
Here, Naomi Oreskes pulls an especially slithery trick, trying to recast the Wegner continental drift episode as an example of building consensus, not an example of breaking consensus. Predictably, Serpent Oreskes then casts the Climate Criminals as the modern equivalents of Wegner.
Here, an author tries to show that Quantum makes sense with several examples of light behaving as a wave. This one is puzzling. The examples disprove his point. All are nice normal pre-Quantum phenomena, purely explainable by wave action, purely familiar to an 1890 physicist. Is the author trying to 'define deviancy down'? Or is he so completely lost inside the Quantum bubble that he doesn't know the difference?
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Leads me to this new hypothesis: Big Scientists don't hate all facts, they hate obvious facts, because obvious facts can't sustain priestly mystery. Their main motive is to maintain their monopoly on the sacred doctrines, and you can't maintain a monopoly when any old Denialist Halliburtonist Yokel can look at Nature and draw his own conclusions.
In geology: Continental drift is obvious. You can see it on the map. Therefore it had to be anathema.
In physics: Newton is obvious. Wave behavior is obvious. You can see them in every aspect of reality. Therefore they must be killed and replaced by mysterious Trinitarian nonsense, where everything is here and not here, matter and wave at the same time; and matter must be subordinated to the nonexistent mystery of "dark matter".
In climate: The sunspot connection is obvious. You can see it on any graph, and people have been seeing it for 400 years. CO2 as a trailing variable is also obvious. Therefore both of these connections have to be anathema, replaced by the mysterious homeopathy of CO2 as controller.
In social "science", innate human differences are obvious. Every aspect of human behavior shows innate qualities clearly. Therefore innate qualities must be anathema, and we must develop infinite worlds of absurd epicycles and reversed causation to "explain" human behavior as purely random happenstance, without ever touching the obvious.
In evolution, design is obvious. Anywhere you look, you find structures and structure/behavior pairings that could not have developed gradually and randomly. Therefore design must be anathema, and we must build infinite epicycles to "explain" these structures by random happenstance.
But even some parts of evolution are too obvious for the experts. Natural selection is obvious and observable, so we must invent the impenetrable mystery of "biodiversity" to cancel out natural selection. We must declare that certain species possess Angelic Powers, requiring us to poison everything else in the area, or allow fire to burn millions of non-angelic animals, so a Chosen Species can maintain its monopoly despite its demonstrated unfitness.
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Only an expert can understand the constantly changing details of the invented epicycles. Never let the peons read the scriptures.
NPR interviewed Hero Gary England this morning, on the occasion of Hero Gary's retirement from active broadcasting. Pretty good interview. Scott Simon is considerably more human than most NPR satans. Still missed the main point. Simon and Hero Gary discussed the fact that Okies know what to do about tornados, treating it as a sort of natural talent.
Wait! Okies are familiar with tornados because tornados are common. Tautology. But why do Okies know how to handle tornados? Because Gary England taught us.
Sort of like interviewing Eisenhower in 1960 and casually mentioning that the Krauts lost WW2, without mentioning the part Ike played in the defeat.
¶ 5:46 AM
Beautiful news from Australia
Satan's party has been tossed out of power, and Abbott wins! No more carbon tax! Shows again the adaptive and responsive nature of the Brit Parliamentary system, compared with the totally collapsed totally evil totally fucked nature of the American fucked savagery.
In fact this is a double demonstration. Satan herself was already removed by her own party through a simple decision, followed quickly by a call for a new election.
Neither change is possible under the American fucked savagery. Nominally we have a symbolic vestige known as impeachment, but it's unusable. In practice every evil President fucks the country up the ass for eight hard years, only to be automatically succeeded by an even more evil President who fucks us even harder and deeper.
1776 delenda est!
¶ 4:31 AM
Very little in modern politics is new; 90% is older than Plato, and 10% is older than Babylon.
Obama's persuasive technique on his Syrian War is truly unique and truly unprecedented.
"Look, folks, I know yall have learned from our mistakes over the last 60 years. I know you're all sadder but wiser. Unfortunately, I'm not. I haven't learned anything, so you'll have to bear with me. You'll need to spend another trillion and send another few thousand of your sons to be killed, so I can learn this lesson which all of you have already learned. Consider it Presidential OJT."
I can only think of one other hypothesis, which is so far-fetched that it must be true. Obama is performing an 'installation' based on Heller's Catch-22. Breaking the fourth wall, as they say. Starting with the well-known fact that you have to be crazy to be President, he's demonstrating his craziness to the audience who are playing the part of the Re-enlistment Review Board in Heller's novel.
Or maybe he's just blindly obeying Israel's commands because he has no choice... Nah, couldn't be. That hypothesis is the simplest possible way to account for all facts, so it's impossible.
¶ 11:43 AM
Breaking out of stereotypes
Smart political parties try not to look and act like the usual stereotype of their party. Repoofs still haven't figured this out, which is why Mitt Romney, the Pluperfect Stereotype of the Predatory Capitalist, lost.
For many years the Libertarian Party had steadily conformed to the stereotype of elderly gray-dreaded hippies who were mainly trying to legalize pot. Finally LP broke out of the stereotype, selecting sharply dressed young candidates with a definitely non-mellow manner. They still didn't win elections, but they got significant vote totals.
Thinking about that, I realized.... Haven't seen any LP candidates running or advertising this year. Wonder why?
Oh. Prop 502 passed. Pot is legal now. Stereotype was correct after all.
¶ 7:06 AM
Thanks to the weather gods ||| No, cancel that.
Thanking the weather gods for missing most of Spokane with a big storm last night. After the passage of this cold front, we may FINALLY be transitioning toward autumn. We can only hope.... this steady 90-degree August has ruined my sleeping pattern and I'm cranky and ragged.
Here's why I'm especially thankful. Last night's storm was well-advertised,
and it looked like it was specifically and consciously aiming for Spokane. See the range-finder dots?
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Slightly later: No, I take it back. As I was focusing on last night's information, I wasn't watching current radar. FLASH! BOOM! Ha ha ha! Gotcha! We missed this little piece of Spokane last night, so we're sneaking back to fill in the gap! Narrowcast thunderstorm, just for you!
Metrology in semantics
Polistra is a great fan of metrology. Calibrate your instruments correctly, find a baseline, measure carefully, know the meaning of the measurement, and use appropriate methods to cook up a normal or typical measurement.
New realization: Measurement of meaning is just as important as meaning of measurement. Words may appear more slippery than length or temperature, but they're not all that unusual. As with length or temperature, we can measure the meaning of one word in the context of one sentence with great precision. And just as with length or temperature, we can find a typical or normal meaning by mixing or superimposing many individual readings. We don't have closed-form equations for this style of median, but lexicographers (the metrologists of meaning) have objective ways to derive it. [Sidenote: Lexicographers are unique among modern academics. They are consistently humble and open to change, and never issue arbitrary or political dictates.]
Bad science shows its satanic claws by mismeasuring Nature, AND by mismeasuring words. When you see a deliberate attempt to force a new meaning onto a word, you're seeing Satan's science.
FACT and THEORY are the primary targets of Satan, both in Climate Pseudoscience and in the disputes over evolution. The Satanists insist that "global warming" is a fact, not a theory, and they insist that "evolution" is a fact, not a theory.
Their purpose is tyrannical. Everyone says that there's plenty of room for argument about theories but there's no room for argument about established facts. After pushing a disputed theory into the realm of fact, Satan will be able to stop all argument against his mass-murdering obliteration.
Fact and Theory are not the same thing. A fact (in scientific context) is a properly measured and calibrated observation of some aspect of Nature. A theory is an attempt to explain how facts fit together, with the hope of predicting future or distant actions from known relationships.
Evolution attempts to fit the facts of Nature into a coherent pattern, thus Evolution is a theory. The Carbon Cult doesn't even deserve the name of theory. It starts with intentionally wrong measurements and tries to shoehorn them into a pattern based on an untested hypothesis that is demonstrably backwards.
Well, now I'm puzzled again.
(1) In 2010, President Romney introduced his trademark health-care plan guaranteeing an absolute monopoly to insurance companies and increasing all health costs drastically. His fellow Republicans in Congress voted firmly against him, and continue to make idiotic symbolic moves against Pres Romney's plan.
(2) In 2013, President McCain responded to something unpleasant happening in a foreign country with his trademark plan of INVADE! INVADE! INVADE! OCCUPY! OCCUPY! OCCUPY! A THOUSAND YEARS, A MILLION YEARS, A BILLION YEARS, A TRILLION YEARS, A VIGINTILLION YEARS, A GOOGOLPLEX YEARS, WHATEVER IT TAKES WHATEVER IT TAKES WHATEVER IT TAKES TO ACHIEVE TOTAL ... um, something, I forget!!!!!!!!!! His fellow Republicans in Congress approved and supported the McCain INVASION INVASION INVASION firmly.
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Why is one trademarked Republican plan HORRIBLE to other Republicans, while the other trademarked Republican plan is WONDERFUL?
I dunno. It's beyond me.
Footnote: Of course Pres Romney and Pres McCain were operating under the Obama brand in those instances, but that's insignificant. All three names are Goldman labels, same product with different colors and logos.
¶ 10:08 AM
Monday, September 02, 2013
In most fields of endeavor you can find a cadence. A conversation-stopper in the best sense of the term. There may be more than one cadence if the field has a number of subdisciplines and historical epochs, but you know when you hit THE ONE.
In haute architecture, you can jibber and jabber about the Pantheon and Christopher Wren and Neutra and Corbusier and Fallingwater
In music, Schuetz and Pergolesi have fine points, and Dvorak and Britten can be wonderfully refreshing on a summer's night, and Handel and Rossini knew how to get a piece started in rollicking fashion, and Bach
Among advertising jingles, 'Winston tastes good' had a catchy tune, and 'You deserve a break' was pleasant, and Tiedtke's
In car design, the Baker Electric was elegant and the Cord was dramatic and the Caddy Sixty Special was original and the '53 Stude
You get the point. Cadence. Subject that needs no predicate. Might have been plenty of fine work before and after the cadence, but when you slap it on the table, game's over. And when the composer of the cadence decides to do something new, you genuflect and salute and let it happen.
Downtown Spokane has exactly one cadence, which happened twice. The Davenport
When the Davenport Hotel was built in 1904, it was the cadence of hotels. Gem-like perfection in every detail of architecture and perfection in every detail of service. They washed and ironed your clothes every night and washed and ironed your folding money every night. In 1938 the Duncan Hines guide rated all the restaurants in Spokane as follows: "The world famous Davenport seems to have corralled just about all those looking for good food in Spokane. With its several dining rooms, catering to all tastes and purses, it covers the eating question here."
After WW2 it faded and went through the typical stages of decay, finally closing entirely in 1970. Several half-baked attempts at remodeling came and went. In 2000, Walt Worthy (who had been an unremarkable commercial realtor) spent two years bringing back the full glory of the original, and since then the Davenport has been the focal point of downtown and the pinnacle of hotels. Cadence on first movement, cadence on third movement.
This year Walt Worthy decided to build a brand-new hotel on the river. Nobody questioned his proposal, and it slid through the planning and zoning stages with no hesitation. Steve Eugster didn't even sue to stop it! No need for that. Davenport
¶ 5:21 PM
Strikes me as interesting
Brief note. Strikes me as interesting to see our presidents stand by the statue of Psychotic Madman Lincoln, claiming to follow Lincoln's genocidal model. (Of course they don't call it a genocidal model; they use other words.) Then a few days after the presidents declare undying love for Nation-Burner Lincoln, they decide to bomb some other country where the leader is also following the genocidal model of Lincoln.
In this particular case the analogy is perfect except for a difference in technology. Madman Lincoln, attempting to bring a separatist area back into his Empire to maximize profits of the Railroad Trust, burned entire cities to kill masses of civilians. Assad, attempting to put down a violent rebellion, uses 1918 gas technology to kill masses of civilians. You could argue that Assad is more justified in using violence because his rebels started a war to overthrow Assad, while Madman Lincoln's rebels were merely trying to secede. Still pretty much the same thing in the end.
Well then, why is Madman Assad's mass murder of civilians HORRIBLE and MORALLY REPUGNANT and REQUIRES IMMEDIATE ROBUST RESPONSE, while Madman Lincoln's mass murder of civilians was EMANCIPATION and LIBERTY and GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE BY THE PEOPLE FOR THE PEOPLE AMEN?
Hmm. Damned if I know. It's beyond me.
¶ 7:14 AM
Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.