Wednesday, December 21, 2016
  Front-panel controls

Looking again at GenRad stuff. For many years GenRad had a recognizable style:



Split-oval meters, square-handled knobs, non-concentric dials.

In the mid-60s they briefly tried a different style, which has always been relatively rare:



I guess you'd call this an analog toggle. It seems to have started with aircraft controls. The '36 Cord brought it into the automotive world, where it later became universal for heater controls. In an electrical context, analog toggles were common on stage lighting systems and broadcast studio equipment.

This form is 'organic' in the sense that it works like fingers and arms and jaws. But fingers and arms and jaws are OUTPUT transducers, not INPUT controls.

Question: Why don't we have more physical INPUT transducers? More front-panel controls? Nature designed all sorts of communication systems between the earth and plants and animals, but didn't use any of the physical controls that we build into our devices, with one exception.

I asked this question in a narrower sense earlier...

= = = = = START PARTIAL REPRINT:


Most mammals have a number of external 'action buttons'. Cats are famous for their lick-button near the first sacral vertebra, and the ears are a good pleasure spot on most of us. One button that seems to be common to humans, cats and dogs is just over the eyes. When rubbed at just the right speed and with just enough pressure, this spot leads to calm and ultimately to sleep.

Thinking in terms of the Grand Blueprint idea... The common genome contains instructions for each significant part of the animal or plant, drawn up as purpose or function instead of specific form.

I'm tempted to impute some thoughts to the Designer. "Hmm. These mammals are likely to get awful feisty, and I've given them enough brainpower to do great harm. Maybe I should provide an external Standby Switch in the same place on everyone, and see if they learn how to use it."

Will the Designer ever decide to click all of us into Standby Mode?



= = = = = END PARTIAL REPRINT.

These sweet spots are basically pushbuttons or touch sensors. Their function is limited and non-forcible. There are no pull-switches or twist-knobs or toggles or sliders on an animal or plant, no way for the hive or pack to provide info or restrictions via physical manipulation. (Obviously the hive or pack can kill or eject or starve a heretic, but that's not the same thing as panel controls.)

Nature has always preferred wireless. Chemical signals between plants. Radio broadcasts between fish. Acoustic and visual signals everywhere. Static fields between flowers and insects. Magnetic fields between the earth and living creatures.

Each living thing is meant to run its own life without FORCIBLE intervention by other living things. We DETECT the intentions or conditions of other creatures, then we DECIDE what to do about those intentions or conditions, while engaging in constant two-way feedback with the other creature.

Considering this universality, it's odd that our machines were so slow to incorporate wireless or contactless sensors. For a thousand years we were building and using controls in a way that Nature never intended.

Radio depended on a long string of development in materials and understanding, so it probably couldn't have happened sooner. We could have built voice-controlled gadgets in 2000 BC but we didn't. Everyone who plays a stringed instrument experiences sympathetic resonance. Many players learn to use it. Why didn't anyone think of using resonance to trigger a larger action? Whistle the right note, drop a rock on the enemy.

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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.

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