Saturday, June 30, 2012
  Schematic plant

Lately I've been mowing and trimming the lawn regularly, especially since the new American-made mower is a pure joy to use. I left one corner untrimmed for a couple rainy weeks, and found several of these had sprung up.

Never seen it before. Looks more like a schematic of a plant than an actual plant.

The stem is dark and brittle, about 18" tall, full of sticky milky sap. The base (not shown) has a circle of soft mint-like leaves.

Most weedy plants are extravagantly generous. They toss dozens of leaves and hundreds of bright flowers into the world, betting it all on pollination. Not this dude. He's stingy and grumpy like me. "I'm gonna put up just six drab little flowers, and if you damn bees aren't sharp enough to find them, it's your own damn problem. Don't come buzzing to me, or I'll really give you something to buzz about!"

= = = = =

Later: Googling "weed dark brittle stem" pinned it down instantly: Fleabane.


  Didn't waste any time!

Morsi didn't waste any time in stating his agenda:
In his first public speech, addressing tens of thousands of people in Tahrir Square on Friday, Morsi promised to work to free Omar Abdel-Rahman, the spiritual leader of men convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

This was bound to get a response from the neocons, especially because the Blind Sheikh was arrested by New York authorities, not the weak and confused Feds:
Bloomberg responded on Friday night to Morsi's pledge, saying he would oppose any effort to "undermine" Abdel-Rahman serving a life sentence. He said the sheikh's conviction was a measure of justice against a man "who tried to kill so many".

Morsi then asserted the source of his power in an interesting way:
Morsi earlier read the oath of office and defied the country's military rulers by saying: "I fear no one but God."

"There is no power above people power," Morsi said to wild cheers from the crowd, many of whom were supporters of the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood. "Today you are the source of this power. You give this power to whoever you want and you withhold it from whoever you want, with God's blessings."

This should cause cognitive-dissonance ulcers for the westerners who have been supporting the Arab Spring on the basis of "democracy".

In the neocon mind, as seen in places like NRO and NPR, "democracy" starts with God-given rights of the people, and the people grant their power to a government. This government exists solely to serve the interests of the super-rich and super-fashionable, i.e. the neocons. In the present generation, rich and fashionable specifically means Jews and homosexuals.

Morsi starts with the same premise: God gives power to the people, who have permitted Morsi to implement their power. But his intent is to serve the majority of Egyptians, not the Cool People. And the majority of Egyptians have no patience with Jews and homosexuals.

Cognitive dissonance alarm! Cognitive dissonance alarm! Cognitive dissonance alarm!
Friday, June 29, 2012

It's too bad there isn't a patent or trademark law for political ideas. It wouldn't improve performance, but at least it would remove a certain type of grotesque insanity.

Immediate example: In Massachusetts, Romney developed a plan for Infinite Insurance Company Monopoly. Obama re-used the plan at the national level and re-branded it. The re-branding creates all sorts of mischief and convoluted twisting. Romney is now vowing to repeal his own idea, and we're supposed to trust a man who hates his own work.

Most of the previous examples involved that other evil super-rich Massachusetts Commie, Teddy Kennedy. Comrade Kennedy was the author of nearly all evil political ideas in the last 30 years. His last major idea, "No Child Left Behind", got re-branded as a Bush idea. Result: Teachers unions claimed to hate it and worked powerfully to destroy it. (Probably a good result in a twisted way, but we'd be better off overall without the twist.)

A trademark law shouldn't prevent one politician from using another politician's idea. It's theoretically conceivable that some ideas might be worth using, though I've only seen one (1996 welfare reform) in my entire lifetime. The law would simply require an idea to be branded with its author's name every single time it's mentioned. Attributing "Kennedy's No Child Left Behind"™ to Bush would be forbidden. Attributing "Romney's Infinite Monopoly For Insurance Companies"™ to Obama would be forbidden.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
  Justice on the bus

This morning I took a bus into downtown, which is not a common routine for me lately. Had to send a signed contract via UPS to get started on new courseware project, and the nearest UPS drop-box is downtown.

On the way back, the bus was boarded by a Supreme Court Justice. At least I assume he was a Justice by the high quality of his thinking.

He announced to the whole bus: "You can't talk to me. By the way, you can't talk to me talk to me talk to me. Evil security! Evil security! Evil securitygonna shoot you! Gonna shoot you! Gonna shoot you! You're in the law! You're in the law! Far far far away! Far far far away! Far far far away! Far far far away! Evil security! You can't talk to me! By the way, you can't talk to mefar far away! Far far far away! I'm on the bus too. I'm on the bus too. I'm on the bus far away! Devils security devils security! Gonna shoot you! You're in the law! You're in the law! You're in the law shoot you! Gonna shoot you! Far far far away! Far far far away! Far far far away! Far far far away!"

The other folks on the bus were the usual assortment: old Viet-vet transients, hippie types, young college students. We all remained stiff while the Justice was reading his lengthy and considered opinion.

When the Justice finally got off the bus, everyone loosened, and you could just about hear the collective relief: "We may be sloppy or smelly or homeless or poor or old or ugly, but by God we're SANE. Thank the Lord!"
  Perfect hell.

The Supreme Satans have done it again.

Total victory for insurance companies. They get the absolute monopoly they've been lusting after.

Defeat for the most practical way to improve our health system, namely Medicare For All.

Perfect hell all the way around.

Perfectly normal in post-1989 America.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
  BBC shows the colors again

Always nice when Gramscian Commies speak openly. They always reveal their true allegiances to the super-rich and tyrants. BBC gave us a beautiful example last week. Now they do it again!

'From our own correspondent' this morning features an essay by Comrade Nick Thorpe.
Plans to tame the river Danube in Croatia so that cargo can continue to be shipped efficiently between countries have raised concerns that the changes could greatly damage precious wetlands and wildlife in the north-east of the country.

You missed the orthodox boilerplate, Comrade Nick. Malarial swamps are not merely precious wetlands, they're fragile and endangered and critically important for biodiversity.
But now the Croatian Inland Waterway Agency wants to turn its banks into embankments ... and straighten its course. To discipline the river, to stop it daydreaming. On the opposite bank, the Serbian authorities have similar ideas and are waiting to see the fate of the Croatian project.

Sounds good. Barges are more efficient than trucks and planes. Barges make it possible for ordinary people to have manufacturing jobs and to get consumer goods cheaply. But you can't stand that vision, can you, Comrade Nick?
Give us one - ideally two - lanes of motorway down the middle of the Danube, argue the barge boys. And the only way to do that is to "complete" river-regulation work which began in the 19th Century.

Stop meddling, reply the environmentalists. Allow the river to swell from March to August ... Let the floodplains absorb the floods, clean the nutrients from the waters, allow fish to spawn, attract birds to feed on the fish, and flocks of tourists to admire them.

Aha! Now we get to the core of the question. You want useless super-rich ecotourists to be the sole users of the river. You want dickheads like yourself to gain all the advantage.
This was once the jealously-guarded preserve of the hunters and foresters, explains Dinko Pesic, an environmentalist from nearby Osijek. Habsburg princes and then the communist elite hunted wild boar and red deer to their bloodthirsty hearts' content.

Aha again! We see who you admire. You admire the Habsburg princes and the communist elite. You admire yourself, Comrade Nick. You want people like yourself to enjoy the "beauty and purity" of the fragile biodiverse endangered malarial swamps, while peasants, deprived of decent and honorable labor, bow and scrape and await your grudging pennies.

Fucking bastard.

Labels: ,

  That's better.

Focusing on wet/dry and stuck fronts lately because we've been on the cold and wet side of the jet stream for what feels like 400 years. Probably more like 4 months.

Today the bloody front finally moved! Looks like we may actually get 4 days of sunlight! Better appreciate it while it lasts.

= = = = =

Later: We got only 3 days of sun. But we are NOT COMPLAINING! Staying wet not only means good plant growth, it means very few wildfires this year. In fact, a local fire crew tried to run their annual wildfire skills training ... but couldn't do it because the vegetation is too wet to get a back-fire going.

= = = = =

NOAA has a beautiful map here showing exactly where the jet stream has been stuck, and the effects on both sides!
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
  Finally a new SES!

Polistra collects Self-Explanatory Sentences: a brief utterance that tells you everything about the person who said it.

Lately there has been a severe shortage of SES's, until this morning.

On Bloomberg Radio the host was interviewing an Expert named David Rosenberg. Host was asking some good questions, such as why Soros is expecting results from the latest Euro summit meeting when the previous 19 summit meetings had zero results.

Then came the SES: "Now this word you invented, David. Frugality. Is that the same as austerity, or what?"

Frugality is a brand-new word to a Wall Street Mafioso. Tells you absolutely everything you need to know about the Mafia.


  How not to use numbers

One of Polistra's long-lasting pet peeves is the misuse of totally meaningless numbers in news articles. Perfect example in this Reuters article on shale gas reserves in Germany:
Unconventional gas reserves in Germany amount to trillions of cubic metres (cbm) and can be safely exploited if the right rules are in place, federal authorities said on Monday with the release of the first findings of an ongoing long-term study.

The Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) said between 0.7 trillion and 2.3 trillion cbm of the gas could be technically extracted.

Okay, that's a really really big number, but how does it compare with Germany's annual usage?
Indigenous gas production has dropped to 14 percent of total annual German gas consumption, which amounted to 842 billion kilowatt hours last year, according to industry figures.

Hey! That wasn't the question, dammit! You told us how existing production compares with the annual needs. How do the new shale reserves compare? We have to do the work ourselves.

KWH, normally a measure of electricity, is apparently used by some Euro idiots as a poor measure of natural gas usage.

A little googling leads to this: "There is no exact value, because the density of gas depends on additional factors. You can get a fairly good estimate though. The Physics Factbook lists energy density of Natural Gas at about 34.6 to 38.3 megajoule per cubic meter. That is about 9.6 to 10.6 kilowatt hours."

Okay, so we take 10 KWH per cubic meter. Thus 842 billion KWH becomes 84 billion cubic meters. Then: Shale reserves of 2 trillion cubic meters could supply present Kraut usage for about 24 years.

Now we can finally appreciate the real point of the article, which was hidden by idiotic misuse of numbers.

Of course Germany won't appreciate it, won't use the gas. Gaia will spank.


  Happy hell

The latest evil decisions from the black-robed Supreme Satans may seem inconsistent or paradoxical to idiot partisans.

Nothing inconsistent at all.

The mission of black-robed Satans is to

civilization, and they're performing perfectly.

Three SMASHES in a row: We’re not allowed to control juvenile crime, we’re not allowed to control immigration, we’re not allowed to control money in politics.

All these bad forces MUST run wild, tearing ordinary people to shreds.

Loud cheers in Hell today.
Monday, June 25, 2012
  Salute to Morsi

Polistra and friends tentatively salute Egypt's new leader. Overall Morsi appears to have the right 'bones' for a positive nationalist: he's a firm Islamist, an engineer, and serious enough about politics to have served some jail time under Mubarak.

Remains to be seen whether he will be allowed to have real power, though. As historian Rufus Fears observed more than a year ago, Egypt's rulers have been remarkably constant over 5000 years. Egypt has stayed intact, fairly prosperous, and important on the world stage, while most countries in that region still haven't started to succeed. Perhaps the generals can maintain their long success while allowing Morsi to satisfy the popular need for a more local and less secular approach.

= = = = =

Purely selfish sidenote: I may have an extra dose of empathy for Morsi because he looks like me. We could be brothers. Damn few world leaders have ever been unfortunate enough to fit into this esthetic category!

Sunday, June 24, 2012
  Wet / Dry

Anyone who grew up in the Plains recognizes the Dry Line instinctively. It's the real boundary between East and West, roughly 97 degrees longitude. If you drive up I-35, then I-35W north of Wichita, you're following the Dry Line pretty closely. It also corresponds fairly well with Tornado Alley, as discussed in previous entry.

To the east of the Dry Line, land is more woodsy and wet, and people are more group-y and fashionable in every sense. To the west, land is more open and dry, and what you do matters more than how you dress.

No state boundaries fall on this line, and it doesn't show up on a map of Republican vs Democrat counties. But it shows up surprisingly and sharply on a world map of 'gayness', based on the users of some website.

Map here in UK Guardian.

Fairyland stops short at the Dry Line.

Recently I was bitching about the rigidity of Gerrymandering. Political operatives have figured out how to create districts that steadily contain one form of thinking, which guarantees that a candidate can simply recite the appropriate slogans to stay in office. A positive (bad) feedback loop forms: the political slogans reinforce the local thought pattern, and the candidates shout the slogans even louder because they get more votes by doing the same thing.

Article in this morning's UK Guardian notes that Mexico has the same problem, without the trick of Gerrymandering; and Europe is similarly stuck. So perhaps Gerrymandering is just one of the symptoms, not the underlying problem.

On every meaningful subject the solution is obvious but the political systems are incapable of steering, accelerating or braking. They just keep running along the same track, making the same noises and having the same empty "debates" on completely meaningless fake "subjects".

= = = = =

This morning I was watching a weather pattern that refuses to move:

Analogy struck me: Our current weather situation is identical to our current political situation. For the last decade or so, highs and lows have been Gerrymandered. A high will stick in one place for months, keeping an area dry and hot; the counterpart low will keep an area wet and cold. Positive (bad) feedback again. Wet reinforces wet, dry reinforces dry. Storms keep training along the line between high and low.

= = = = =

We've been here before in weather; the 1930's were also a time of stuck highs and lows, with the same symptoms. Cold fronts and warm fronts were stationary.

But the politics of the 1930's were emphatically NOT stuck. Nationalist Fronts and Communist Fronts moved through countries quickly, changing the temperature dramatically. Governments actually responded to the fronts, because they sensed that their own existence was in peril.

What do we have now? No organized Nationalist Front, unless you count the occasional convective pop-up like Anders Breivik. No Communist Front at all. Instead we have these intentionally weak little dust-devils like Tea Party and Occupy, which serve to dissipate local gatherings of energy without doing any useful work.

Solution? None that I can see.

At the very least we need to start by understanding the phenomenon and ignoring the "experts".

In weather, the "experts" tell us we need to eliminate Evil Carbon, which has precisely zero connection to the real problem. The genocidal Carbon Cult just wastes infinite quantities of money and kills thousands of people.

In politics, the "experts" tell us that we need to "use our vote" to "hold the government accountable", which means "voting" for one of the "two" "parties" whose sole job is to waste infinite quantities of money and kill thousands of people.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
  Debating a vacuum

I've often blasted the misuse of Set Theory as the fake "foundation" of mathematics, but sets can be a useful tool for some purposes. Nice example is the current fake dispute about immigration. Comrade Romney and Comrade Obama, and their respective partybots, are fiercely fighting about a null set.

Illegal immigrants who get advanced degrees? Null set.

Illegal immigrants who serve in the military? Null set.

Comrade Obama says we must stop deporting these people who do not exist.

Comrade Romney says we must immediately deport these people who do not exist.

We're fucked.

= = = = =

Sidenote: Comrade Obama's executive order about immigration closely resembles Soviet Agent Bush's 2001 executive order about stem cells. Both of these executive orders are carefully crafted to accomplish two purposes:

(1) The order covers a precisely defined class of projects or people that sounds real on the surface, but turns out to be null when you look at it closely. Thus the order has no actual consequences or effects.

(2) The order will please an interest group aligned with My Party and irritate an interest group aligned with The Other Party. Bush's stem-cell order pleased pro-lifers and irritated death-loving "scientists". Obama's immigration order pleased Hispanic activists and irritated working-class whites.

= = = = =

Broader thought about exec orders in general: Partisan assholes always squawk when The Other President uses orders, and cheer when My President uses orders.

The plain fact is that exec orders are the nearest approach to representative government in the current fucked system. Courts write the legislation on serious matters to suit their Satanic agenda, and agencies write most of the details to suit their bureaucratic agenda. Congress really controls nothing more than the budget, and Congress has removed most of its budget decisions from its own ability to decide. (Can't touch the military, can't touch SS, can't touch foreign aid, etc. Only agriculture seems to be alterable.) Result: Only the President can make quick decisions in response to real events. This was not how the system was supposed to work; the lower house was meant to be the fast-changing and fast-deciding mechanism.
Friday, June 22, 2012
  A random memory

Warning: completely random reminiscence!

As a car-loving boy in the 1950s I was lucky to grow up in Manhattan. You wouldn't think a mid-sized town in the center of the US would be a center for rare cars, but it was.

Three main causes:

(1) K-State had lots of engineering students who liked strange cars. Some of them even built their own plywood sports cars.

(2) Officers from nearby Fort Riley liked to live in Manhattan. At that time the Army's main activity was in Germany, and many of the soldiers brought home interesting cars that weren't officially imported. (I remember a Messerschmidt, a Rovin and a Lloyd.)

(3) Quite a few professors had 'old money' and could afford to indulge hobbies like classic car collecting. Judging from the people I knew, I'd guess that 1/4 of the profs had inherited wealth. One of those old-rich profs regularly drove a 1936 Cord and a 1955 Mercedes gullwing. His wife drove the kids around in a 1954 Imperial limousine.

The old-rich tendency disappeared around 1970 when tenure spread its evil claws; after that, professors had to be more like hard-charging corporate executives and less like scholar-hobbyists.
  Proving his point

From news on Breivik's sentencing:

"The sanity decision is important because Breivik considers his violent acts, and himself, to be merely a firecracker drawing attention to his ideas. He considers his manifesto to be the important thing, not himself. So if he's found insane, the manifesto will be reduced to the ravings of a madman."

No, actually it will prove his point nicely. It will prove that Western "society" has become hopelessly suicidal, totally incapable of handling plain logic.

Breivik's problem is not insanity, though he clearly has a wildly narcissistic sense of his own importance.

His problem is perfectly logical reasoning.

Western elites also have a wildly narcissistic sense of their own importance. Everything they believe RIGHT NOW is automatically the Necessary And Mandatory And Final End Point Of All Evolution, and no other belief can be sane. Any other belief, even if it was a previous elite tenet, is insane.

Elites have two basic rules RIGHT NOW: (1) Jews are the Master Race who must be perfectly obeyed and infinitely rewarded at all times; (2) Muslims are terrorists who must be killed. The elites claim to believe both, but only act on (1). Breivik took both (1) and (2) literally. His manifesto simply declares that the elites should be practicing their own beliefs. Perfectly sane.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
  Nice try, but you cheated

Broadcast on BBC 'Science in Action' today...

(Text from here.)
You might think that creating the perfect piece of music - whether it's a classical great, jazz masterpiece or pop hit - is all down to the composer's talent, flair or even genius.

Not so, according to Armand Leroi from Imperial College London. "What we are trying to find out is whether you need a composer to make music," says the professor of evolutionary developmental biology. "And we don't think you do."

He believes a much more fundamental force of nature is at work. "We don't often think of music as evolving, but everybody knows it has a history and it has traditions. But if you think about it, it really has evolved, it is changing continuously," Prof Leroi explains.

"There are all the same forces of change, variation, selection and recombination as different musical traditions join together, transmute and fuse and divide again.

The notion that music develops by audience approval is dubious. Real audiences and fans want composers to keep doing the exact same thing, and get pissed off when anything changes. But that's not the real problem here.
Enter Dr Bob MacCallum, mosquito researcher at Imperial College London by day, creator of DarwinTunes by night.

To begin with, the computer program randomly churned out two short loops of noise. "The notes are in any place, in any order, and the types of sound - the instrument - is completely randomly generated as well," says Dr MacCallum.

Then, as in nature, the program let the two original loops to "breed", to recombine and mix up their material, with some random mutations thrown in for good measure, to create four new loops. Those four went on to "reproduce" to create 16 new loops, and so on - until 100 random tunes were in the musical mixing pot.

At which point, the public were brought in. Through the internet, volunteers were asked to rate the songs that were being produced: from love to indifference to pure hatred.

Supposedly the public judges were acting as Natural Selection, separating the 'fit' mutations from the 'unfit'.

The real problem: MacCallum cheated.

The musical equivalent of the 'primordial soup' would be steady white noise, a hiss of random frequencies and amplitudes. MacCallum didn't start with a hiss, he started with a repeating and rhythmic pattern of simple diatonic notes that he himself designed.

He started with music.

And the result after thousands of 'generations' is still music of the same type. It hasn't gained any structure beyond the order that MacCallum put into it. The result hasn't gained stanzas or refrains or movements or bridges or cadences or even pauses. It's still the same pattern that MacCallum designed.

In organic terms, this would be like starting with a simple cell and letting it evolve into a simple cell with a different shape and color. Doesn't prove anything about organic evolution, doesn't prove anything about music.

No, wait. That's wrong. It does prove that both organic evolution and musical development require intelligence.


  Do plants make their own world?

Last year when I replanted the whole back yard after getting rid of trees, I noticed something odd at ground level. After each watering, the places where clover and grass were growing would remain wet constantly, while the places where nothing had sprouted yet would dry out between sprinklings. I thought it was most likely because of shade, but speculated that it could be a direct result of the plants in some undefined way.

Yesterday I did a tiny bit of 'regrading', shoveling some dirt from a high spot into a nearby low spot because I was tired of twisting my ankle when I stepped in the low spot. The whole 'regraded' area is just a couple of square feet, and it appeared level and dry after the shoveling. No plants were coming through, and all the dirt was equally gray.

This morning, about 18 hours later, I looked at the spot. The clover that was under a couple inches of dirt is already starting to poke through, which isn't the interesting part.

What's interesting is that each stem is bringing its own water along. A one-inch radius around each stem is wet, the rest of the disturbed soil is dry.

Can't be a shade effect. The stems aren't large enough to cast a one-inch shadow.

How does it work? I don't know, but it's wonderful!


  Sleeping through war stamps

My OTR bedtime listening this week includes several '40s news shows, from pages like this one at

Last night a message at the end of a CBS news report sponsored by Admiral Radio caught my attention.

"Going shopping tomorrow? Make it a rule to take your change in War Stamps. Remember this: only six 25-cent war stamps will buy a Sub-Zero combat helmet to protect an American boy. Take your change in War Stamps every time, even though you're subscribing to the 10% payroll allotment plan."

Interesting idea, and pretty much forgotten. If nothing else, it shows that we once had a competent Government, able to organize systems to benefit the nation as a whole.

Random thought: If we're going to get rid of pennies, nickels and dimes, how about replacing them with Debt Stamps?

Won't happen, of course; modern "American" "governments" don't want to sell bonds to filthy profane Americans. Only Blessed Holy Noble Chinamen are worthy to buy our debt.

More importantly, modern "American" "governments" will never encourage saving or frugality in any conceivable way. Never pay interest, never make it easy to save. Gambling is good, saving is evil.

We're fucked.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012
  Gödel, meet Godwin.

BBC's "Business Daily" program isn't the usual source of Carbon Craziness, but it came through in fine form this morning.

Discussing Poland's brave resistance against the genocidal monsters of the EU, carbon-crazed presenter Paul Ross said "This is, of course, the stereotypical defiant Poland. The same Poland that fought German tanks with horses and swords, the same Poland that frustrated even Stalin in his attempts to impose a uniform dictatorship."

Hey Ross! Do you realize what you just did? You placed yourself and your own tyrannical movement in the same category with Hitler and Stalin. You then proceeded to insult and degrade Poland for its independent spirit, thus stating that you're proud to be on the same side as Hitler and Stalin.

This is something new: a proud and self-referential argumentum ad Hitleram. Usually it's "You're just like Hitler!" With Ross it's "I'm just like Hitler and I love it!"

= = = = =

BBC did it again a week later!



New Stalinist reports that "scientists" were startled to find yet another "extinct" species is alive and well.

Last week I was startled to find several HUGE slugs on the sidewalk.

I wasn't quite as oblivious as Polistra here, but still narrowly avoided an epic squish.

The last time I'd seen a slug in Spokane was 1993. If I'd been thinking like a "scientist", I would have assumed the slugs were extinct, and would have created tyrannical laws to steal all the property in this neighborhood. In the primitive magical mind of a "scientist", stealing property is a Holy Sacramental Anointment that miraculously resurrects an extinct species.

Since I'm not a "scientist" but only a mere human with a brain capable of logical thinking, my assumptions are different. I assume that the slugs have been hanging around underground forever. I assume they mount the sidewalk only in rare circumstances of totally saturated soil followed by a sunny day. I assume the same rare circumstances must have occurred in 1993.
Monday, June 18, 2012
  In Misteromney's neighborhood 3

Sequel to this and this.

Vulture Romney, the great job-creator, was planning to speak at a Wawa convenience store, but it was packed with protesters. He picked a different Wawa, and found a fascinating bit of modern technology at the different Wawa.

Sunday, June 17, 2012
  Needs a dose of human nature

The usual Euro babbling:

Former Greek PM George Papandreou said that Greece leaving the euro would be "catastrophic" for the country and warned there will be a “run” on the banks.

"Leaving the euro would be catastrophic for Greece. There would be a bank run ... we are still a high import country, we depend on oil, for example. Also we will have deep cuts and at the same time there will be most likely a cut in our GDP growth by 20pc, so this will be a major catastrophe that will have not only social but political consequences, which I believe will make it much more difficult for Greece to reform."


That's not the way humans work, and it's EMPHATICALLY not the way governments work.

Reform happens only after you hit bottom.

We know this in the context of our own lives, but for some reason we don't apply it to governments and other institutions. In the case of Greece it's wildly obvious. As long as the Krauts were willing to pay the welfare checks, the Greek economy was happy to be a useless parasite. When the welfare threatened to stop, the Greek elites showed some signs of straightening up. They won't get any better until their own actions have immediate and observable consequences. In other words, you can't heal until you have a functional feedback loop. And the only way to restore feedback is to become an independent nation.


Saturday, June 16, 2012
  Pick one

News today:

"GOP hopeful Romney was planning to appear at a Wawa convenience store, but the original choice had too many protesters. So Romney picked a different Wawa."

Good practice for the Presidency. As the Constitution requires:

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, the Hopeful shall take the following Oath or Affirmation: "I do solemnly swear (or hope) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, pick a different Wawa."
  Japan recovers sanity

News: After shutting down all nukes in a justifiable state of panic, Japan has decided to restart the reactors gradually and carefully.

You can rely on Orientals to be practical and factual above all.

Compare with primitive superstitious Germany. No disaster at all, thus no reason for panic. Not even a potential disaster, because central Europe doesn't have big quakes or tsunamis. But the primitive Krauts still decided to abandon nuclear power after receiving a Prophetic Vision from Goddess Gaia.


Friday, June 15, 2012
  Hold on a moment!

NPR features the 50th anniversary of the U2 crash.

"Powers knew the full story couldn't be told during the Cold War."

Think about that. The Soviets knew the full story, because they had Powers and they had the plane.

So who was being "protected" from the full story? Americans.

Secrecy has nothing to do with keeping info from the "enemy".

Secrecy keeps the truth from our own people.
  Made WELL in America

Last year I tried to do the 'buy American' thing, leading to an expensive disappointment. An evaporative cooler was poorly designed, didn't do the job at all, and started to fall apart after two attempted usages. Left me skittish and disgusted, wondering if American companies were still capable of doing anything. (I can't say I wasn't warned, though: the reviews of the item at Amazon were uniformly negative.)

Tried again this year with much better results, partly because the product was already known. Back in 1991 when I moved here, I bought a made-in-USA manual mower. It was satisfactory but not outstanding. Used it every summer, left it outside in the snow and rain every winter. Finally rust and wear reached the point where even a cheapskate had to think about getting a new machine.

This month I bought a newer version of the same machine from

This one is A MAGNIFICENT MACHINE. It runs smoothly, evenly and quietly, with a 'precision' feel that the old one never had. Best of all, it cuts much more effectively than any reel mower I've ever used. The earlier mower always missed lots of taller stalks, leaving maybe one uncut stem per square foot. The new one left exactly two stalks uncut in the entire back yard! Equals the performance of a gas rotary with much less trouble and cost.

  Isn't it fun to live in a vibrant community?

Earlier I noted a large number of apartment fires around here, which reinforced my appreciation of home ownership.

Basic point: In a house your own tendencies are directly rewarded or punished. In an apartment your own tendencies are irrelevant. No amount of caution will help. Your life depends entirely on the caution or stupidity of a dozen other people, and you can be sure there's plenty of stupid in that dozen.

The large number of local apartment fires continues, but now we have an example of something way beyond stupidity.
Spokane Shock linebacker Kevin Ellison, who is currently on league suspension, initially reported he had fallen asleep in his apartment at the Big Trout Lodge apartment complex while smoking. After the fire started, Ellison jumped from his third-floor apartment window to escape the fire.

During the initial investigation, Ellison told fire officials that he had fallen asleep while smoking in bed. However, the investigation found that the evidence found in the apartment did not match up to Ellison's version of events.

Ellison, 25, was re-interviewed at Deaconess Medical Center while being treated for smoke inhalation, and he confirmed that he set his bed on fire with a cigar because "God" had told him to.

He later said that he just wanted to get out of it and "for all of it to go away."

Investigators contacted Ryan Rigmaiden, the Spokane Shock general manager, who said that he was contacted by Ellison, who "told him that he had set his bed on fire using a 'blunt' because 'God' had told him to do it."

Finally got the straight story in the last paragraph.

Well, we don't need a picture or description of Ellison.
Linebacker + 'blunt' = Vibrant.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
  Egypt gets an American-style government!

Egyptians just finished a series of elections, with results that seemed to be satisfactory to most actual Egyptians. Today their Supreme Court tossed out the entire Parliament, ruling that the Islamists were uncool.

Now Egyptians understand American government.

It's like the Model T color system.

Voters can do anything they want as long as it's cool. As soon as they do something uncool (like rejecting fag "marriage" or punishing crime or executing murderers or teaching facts in school) some fucking Satanic "judge" will come along and delete the will of the voters.
  It's basic.

Official Repooflican talking point this week: Obama has carefully leaked stories about his successes (killing Osama, Stuxnet, etc) in order to boost his political fortunes. This is Sinful and Socialistic and Transformational and Radical and Redistributionist and Collectivist and Plastic-Banana Rock-n-Roller.

First, so what? He's a politician. Boosting his political fortunes is part of his job.

Second, it's crucially important in a relatively open country to inform the people when you succeed. The Bush family never informed us of anything they were doing.

Back in 2005 I started to wonder about the real intentions of the Bush family:
Any competent teacher, salesman or leader follows these rules: (1) Tell people what we're going to do for you and why. (2) Explain why this is better than the other product, candidate or alternative. (3) After we've started, tell people what we've done so far and what remains to be done; and encourage them to stay with the course.

For whatever strange reason -- Christianity, aphasia, "methods and sources", incompetence -- Bush has constantly failed to do these basic things. And nobody in his administration has cared enough to fix the problem; or perhaps somebody wanted to do the right thing, but was knocked down by Rove's electoral engineering. I don't know the cause, and I really don't want to know.

Now that we've seen a contrast between Bush The Son and Obama, we can see the cause more clearly.

Bush's supposed caution about "methods and sources" didn't help him to accomplish any of the goals that a government would normally seek in a war. He didn't kill Osama, didn't get anything done in Afghanistan or Iraq. His sole achievement was to divorce the entire world, and especially the American people, from every scrap of trust in their government, and to spend a nearly infinite amount of money.

Polistra's Law of Inferred Intent: Ignore words, examine results. When a powerful person verbally claims to be seeking Goal A but actually accomplishes Goal B, you can assume with 100% certainty that B was the real purpose.

In this case Soviet Agent Bush The Son claimed to be seeking something called "victory", but never condescended to tell us what "victory" was, and never leaked anything about the steps toward that "victory", because the steps never actually happened. We were allowed to stupidly guess that "victory" meant killing Osama and his followers, but the results tell us clearly that "victory" really meant SMASHING American culture and COLLAPSING the American economy.
  Anti-doping agency

Story about pro bicyclist Lance Armstrong ... apparently there's a mysterious "Anti-Doping Agency" that has defrocked him (or despandexed him?) for using performance-enhancing drugs. Struck me as trivial at first because I normally ignore Sport, but then I gave it a bit more thought.

All professions need Anti-Doping Agencies to get rid of their particular version of steroids.

In science and economics the drug of choice is Statistics. When you massage your data with Statistics, you can reach the peer-reviewed finish line long before those unfashionable facts-only slowpokes.

In business the drug of choice is abstract derivatives boosted by Statistics. When you use Derivatives, you don't need to make any dull old product or provide any dull old service. Instant profit!

In journalism the drug of choice is pure uncut Falsehood spiced with Statistics. When you write sheer Fiction packed with Authoritative-Sounding Polls and Big Scary Numbers, you can sell eyeballs way before those plodding fact-finders.

In politics the drug is Gerrymandering of several different types, enabled by Statistics. When you use state legislatures and the electoral college as Gerrymandering tools, you're free of annoying feedback from actual voters. You can rely on the loyal party-bots because you've driven all the halfway rational voters away from the polling place in disgust.

Hmm. These performance-enhancing drugs seem to have a common ingredient.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012
  Idiot Kreidler

Wash state insurance commissioner Kreidler is complaining about two health insurers because they've piled up a large amount of cash.
Premera Blue Cross and Regence BlueShield each now have surpluses of more than $1 billion, according to their most recent filings for the three months that ended in March. That's more than what the companies are required to set aside in reserves, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said Monday.

"They're building up a financial cushion for themselves, and it comes at an expense for people," Kreidler said, adding that insurers should use some of that surplus money to reduce rate increases for policyholders. "These aren't reserves, they're financial surpluses."

He noted that the cost of individual health policies in Washington more than doubled between 2005 and 2011.

Apparently insurance commissioner Kreidler doesn't know what insurance means. The whole point of an insurance company is to maintain a large cushion of available cash so it can pay unexpectedly large claims, or allow for unpredictable changes in federal requirements.

If these companies are wasting money on huge executive salaries and lavish buildings, then complaints and controls are fully justified. But Kreidler isn't complaining in that area; he's bashing insurance companies for being insurance companies.
  Williams gets better and better

And speaking of manhood, one small positive sign for civilization is that Rowan Williams has found his.

Same-sex marriage would be one of the biggest threats to the established role of the Church of England since the reign of Henry VIII, the Church warns today. Senior figures believe the plans could allow [EU] to strip the Church of England of its unique power to act as an 'agent of the state’ by conducting marriages for anyone living within a parish, regardless of religious beliefs. This would, in effect, be a step towards splitting the Church from the State.

The redefinition of marriage would create a clash between the laws of Church and state thought to be unprecedented since the onset of the reformation in the 1530s.

The amazing part is that Williams found his pair before retiring. We know the predictable pattern only too well in politics, culture, business and science: serve Satan loyally for 20 years, then speak the truth after retirement. Sorry, that's totally useless. Truth doesn't exist unless you're in a position to control money and hiring.

Williams has broken the pattern dramatically by speaking and IMPLEMENTING truth while he's still in office and in power.

It's exceedingly late in the game. Stalinist fairies and Satanist bulldykes took over his church 30 years ago, along with other rich post-Christian "churches" like Methodist and Presbyterian and Lutheran and UCC and Catholic and Unitarian.

But I'm not complaining. One rich church has finally started to fight back!


Sunday, June 10, 2012
  Anaptronym alert

A perfectly bad idea with a perfectly wrong name on it. From the city of Manly in Australia:
Manly city council is buying wheelie bins for the homeless to store their belongings. In an unusual plan to protect the possessions of the street dwellers, the council passed a motion to buy six for Manly Community Centre and Fairlight Centre to lend to "rough sleepers".

The bins cost $71 each and are like any 120 litre bin of the kind normally used to collect rubbish. But Manly Council safety officer Leanne Martin said they would be brightly coloured and branded.

"We are going to buy the bins in bright purple or a lime colour so they don't get mistaken for waste," Ms Martin said.

First, telling the homeless guys that their stuff is the same as trash.... Fine way to reinforce their dignity.

Second, labeling their stuff with fairy colors. Homeless guys may be drunk or drugged up, but most of them still have their manhood. Don't mock it, for fuck's sake.



Opinion piece in today's online UK Guardian, written by a Spaniard:
Spain's banking crisis did not come out of the blue. In the 1990s the Spanish suffered a bout of collective madness. Interest rates fell from 14% (with the peseta) to 4% (with the euro) in a matter of weeks. In 1998 the centre-right government passed a law that significantly increased the amount of land for development. Developers got rich, selling the idea that everyone was going to win because property would always go up – never down – in value. German banks financed Spain's savings and commercial banks, which needed extra funds for high-risk mortgages. Greed made us rich for a while – but then it made us poor, and jeopardised our future.

This is now a country with a million unsold properties; hundreds of housing developments left unfinished by construction companies and real estate promoters, especially along the Mediterranean coast but also in city centres...

Sounds very much like the situation in Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and California.

Hmmmmm. What else do those places have in common?

Is the Spanish temperament especially prone to bubbling?

= = = = =

Semi-related: Of course we know why bankers always get bailed out, but assuming for a moment that logic is involved, let's look at it logically.

Normal businesses start with raw material, apply some combination of labor, organization and advertising to the material, then sell it. For normal business, money serves only as the medium of exchange, making these transactions convenient.

A bakery uses money to buy flour and sugar, pays its workers with money, then receives money for the bread and cakes. If it's doing well, the money received will be more than the money paid for materials and labor.

Banks should be analyzed the same way. The confusion arises because a bank's raw material is also money. So we need to separate the material-money from the exchange-money for a clear analysis.

A properly run bank uses exchange-money (interest) to rent the temporary use of material-money (deposits) from other people and businesses. It then adds value by organizing the material-money into loans, advertising those loans, and assuming the risk on those loans. People pay exchange-money (interest) to get those loans. If the bank is doing well, the exchange-money received for the loans will exceed the exchange-money it pays for the material-money. For hundreds of years banks actually operated this way, and the vast majority of them made very good profits.

Now to the question of bailouts.

Banks are clearly failing because they have abandoned the proper way of banking. They are no longer paying exchange-money (interest) for their material-money. They're stealing it from depositors, and also counterfeiting nonexistent material-money. Because the cost of stolen material-money is zero, and because the supply of counterfeit material-money is infinite, the banks have abandoned the caution that had previously been a major part of their added value.

A bakery that operated like modern banks would steal flour from the miller, and then sell pictures of bread and cake to the people. This wouldn't last more than a day. He'd be arrested for theft and fraud. We certainly wouldn't re-flour-ize the baker, giving him even more flour to continue his fraud!

So why do we re-money-ize the bankers as a reward for stealing their raw material?


Saturday, June 09, 2012
  Good day for Garbanzo

Garbanzo is having a very good day. First the Chamovitz book came along, helping mammals to understand his kingdom better. Now a federal grant is proposing to boost research on legume crops:
Scientists who study the health and nutrition of these crops would receive grants totaling $125 million over next five years if the initiative passes with the farm bill later this year. Most money would go to the Washington State University and the University of Idaho...

Chickpea is another crop gaining in popularity. Its acreage in Washington state has exploded from less than 10,000 acres in 2000 to 80,000 this year. A primary factor has been the significant demand for hummus, McGreevy said.

In the past few years, more than 1,000 farms that grow these crops in Washington have helped make the state one of the biggest producers of pulse crops in the nation.

McGreevy thinks the research would bring “a turning of the times” to the industry.

“Currently, the investment research on pulse crops is only less than $3 million a year,” he said. “They are definitely under-researched.”

We're all rooting for Garbanzo!


  What a Plant Knows

In the last few months I've been thinking and writing a lot about plants, and acquiring a new respect for their talents. My overall view of life has expanded to encompass the plant-y way of doing things. Before this I had simply paid no attention to plants and knew nothing about them. They're green. Some of them taste good. That was about it.

Realized last week that I've been walking into territory already claimed by Daniel Chamovitz. I immediately got his book What a Plant Knows. Reading it gives me the intellectual tickles!

Chamovitz has been opening his mind in the same direction, and the book is a careful exploration of current knowledge about plant 'thinking', never going beyond what has been strictly observed and experimented. Some of this knowledge has been familiar forever to farmers and gardeners, but the internal details have only recently been uncovered.

The plant versions of sight, smell and touch are unfamiliar, and Chamovitz fills in plenty of surprises, such as how plants sense exactly the right colors to distinguish sunrise from sunset, or how one leaf tells another leaf to get ready for an insect attack.

The 'muscles' of alfalfa and clover, which I've been marveling about, are not nearly as amazing as the touch response of mimosa. Plants don't use explicit neurons and muscles; instead they run the same electrochemical processes in more generalized cells.

Chamovitz's 'life-view expansion' goes farther than mine in some ways and not quite as far in others. I suspect the not-so-far parts result from insufficient knowledge.

For instance, his account of proprioception and balance is complete, and his overall life-view is fully expanded in that area. His analysis of hearing (which involves some of the same organs) is incomplete, and he's unwilling to extend the analogy there.

Plant proprioception is familiar: seeds obviously know how to send roots downward and shoots upward. Anyone who has thought even briefly about plants has realized there must be a mechanism... but how does it work?

Amazing answer:
How do these specific groups of plant cells in the root tip and in the endodermis sense gravity? The first answers came from microscopic studies of the root cap... Cells in the central area of the root cap contain dense ball-like structures called statoliths, which -- similar to the otoliths in our ears -- are heavier than other parts of the cell and fall to the bottom side of the cells.

In discussing the human version of hearing Chamovitz makes one important mistake, which may lead him to underestimate the potential of plants. He says:
The hair cells in our ears convey two types of information: volume and pitch. Volume is determined by ... the amplitude of the sound waves reaching our ears. The higher the amplitude, the more the stereocilia [on the hair cells] bend. Pitch, on the other hand, is a function of frequency. The faster the frequency of the incoming wave, the faster the stereocilia bend back and forth.

Nope, that theory was rejected 60 years ago ... along with a directly parallel bad theory about speech.

What really happens in the cochlea is much more astonishing.

Here's the outer and middle ear responding to an incoming sound wave. The changes in air pressure cause the eardrum to move in and out (in real life MUCH smaller moves than shown here!) and the moves are transferred through the three tiny bones into the snail-shaped cochlea.

Here we have a schematic version of what happens inside the cochlea. The stapes (stirrup) moves in and out, causing a pressure wave in a fairly dense and viscous fluid. The hair cells are between the upper and lower parts, with their sensitive ends effectively reading the width of the upper part.

The wave goes around the bend, then bounces off the 'back end' of the chamber. Interference between the forward and reflected waves results in a standing wave in the upper part of the chamber, pushing against the hairs.

Here's the same schematic with a higher frequency. Note that the standing wave moves closer to the stirrup when the pitch is higher. A different set of hair cells are now being pushed by the upper part of the cochlea. Thus we sense frequency by determining which part of the cochlea is moving, not by counting the actual moves.

Could a plant also use a 'place response' to detect an interesting sound? The mechanism could involve the same statoliths that sense orientation. A low rumble in the earth might be interesting to a plant because it indicates gophers or water-table movements. The low-frequency wave would move the roots slightly; the statoliths would tend to hold still by inertia, and their relative movement within the cell could be sensed. Roots of different diameters would tend to resonate at different frequencies. An earlier thought on plant hearing.

= = = = =

At the end Chamovitz pulls it together in an epilogue, with a summary of the analogies and a caution against too much anthropomorphizing.
The construct of a brainless plant is important. If we keep in mind that a plant doesn't have a brain, it follows that any anthropomorphic description is at its base severely limited. While we can use the same terms -- "see", "smell", "feel" -- we also know that the overall sensual experience is qualitatively different for plants and people.

Hmm. Not sure about that. Seems to me that Chamovitz is actually doing the anthropomorphizing here, in assuming that a centralized brain must exist in order to have things like awareness, attention, and suffering. Those phenomena can't be externally observed. We may be able to identify specific centers in our brains that correlate with those emotions, but that doesn't tell us anything about the internals of other critters. (The fact that our moods are partly controlled by the bacteria in our colon should inspire humility!) We assume, probably accurately, that our fellow social mammals share most of those qualities because we can translate their external signs and cues pretty well. But that's just an assumption, and there's no objective reason to declare that those qualities are absent because the external cues are absent, nor because our peculiar form of centralized neural structure is absent.

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Friday, June 08, 2012
  Aptronym alert!

From the Science-a-go-go website:
An intriguing new study - "Coolness: An Empirical Investigation" - suggests that the characteristics associated with coolness today are markedly different than those that originally generated the concept of cool. University of Rochester Medical Center psychologist Ilan Dar-Nimrod, who led the study, said that rebelliousness, emotional control, toughness and thrill-seeking no longer make up the essence of coolness. ...

"There is some transition from the countercultural cool to a generic version of it's good and I like it. But this transition is by no way completed," he concluded. "James Dean is no longer the epitome of cool. The much darker version of what coolness is still there, but it is not the main focus. The main thing is: Do I like this person? Is this person nice to people, attractive, confident and successful? That's cool today, at least among young mainstream individuals."

The original jazzmen and beatniks used cool with a specific meaning, but when it reached the general public in 1958, cool meant only "high status as judged by my peers." And that's exactly what it still means.

The countercultural aspect has always been an Orwellian doublethink, deliberately introduced by our Satanic media to sell products and guarantee absolute rigid 100% ideological orthodoxy. The message has always been twofold: This month's officially cool fashion is what everyone must do AND this month's officially cool fashion is individualistic and rebellious.

Jesus, what a nimrod this Nimrod is.

Sidenote: Along with the obvious aptronym, there's also a sort of syntactical aptronym in the article: "but this transition is by no way completed." Clearly the author started to write 'by no means', then transitioned to 'in no way', and left the transition incomplete! I can sympathize with him here... I've made the same type of error more times than I can count a stick at.


Wednesday, June 06, 2012
  Are we really smarter? 2

Polistra has always been annoyed at the Apple-based revision of technical history. The Great Steve Jobs rewrote the history of computing so it began with The Great Steve Jobs. Everything He touched became a landmark.

Nope. Didn't begin with Steve. Didn't begin with Bill Gates. Didn't begin with Babbage either. Babbage was an interesting dead-end, rediscovered later but not part of the family tree. It certainly didn't begin with Turing, as New Stalinist is trying to claim this week. Turing's "tape machine" was invented long after the discipline was well developed. His little abstract Gedankenexperiment didn't explain anything and didn't play any part in the development of actual computers. Merely an interesting detour. Much like the number-theory "foundation" of mathematics developed by Hilbert, Peano, et al, which was not a foundation at all, just a tacked-on filigree. Thousands of teachers have ruined millions of students by treating the filigree as a footing.

No, computing began in the dull and obvious location, Herman Hollerith's 1890 census tabulator. And the functions in that machine are still the dominant functions of modern computers, descended in a direct line from Hollerith. It's IBM all the way down, with considerable help from DEC and HP and Bell Labs. Steve and Bill contributed hugely in the commercial realm, making the computer seem cool and necessary; but they added nothing meaningful to the technology.

= = = = =

Here's a simple animation of Hollerith's 1890 Census machine. [Polistra and Happystar wanted to get in the picture, but they blocked the view of the important parts. So you'll have to imagine a person operating the press and moving the cards.]

This 1890 Tabulator only automated the most tiresome and error-prone stage of the process, counting the holes and sorting cards into 'pre-programmed' categories. When you pull the handle of the press, a grid of spring-mounted needles tries to poke through all the hole locations. Where a hole is actually punched, the needle drops through to make contact below, closing a circuit that leads to the corresponding dial above. An electromagnet ratchets the Ones dial forward one step, and the Tens dial follows by reduction gearing. Much like the escapement in a clock.

If this particular combination of holes corresponds to one of the programmed combinations, the Sorter pops an appropriate door open. You'd then take the card, drop it into the one open door, and close the door.

The programming of combinations was done mainly by soldering and unsoldering dozens of wires for each setup! There were a few switchboard-style plugin choices, which would have been like user-selected variables, not like actual software. So my animation is arbitrary, not trying to make any real combinations, showing only that the dials increment and a different door opens for each card.

This process was clearly too 'manual' even by the standards of the time, with humans performing several steps that were easily mechanized. After 1890 Hollerith went commercial and quickly developed various ways to feed and read cards automatically, then carry them into appropriate slots. He also began to add more calculation and programming abilities.

= = = = =

The animation doesn't include the first step: Cards were punched using a pantograph-like machine, or by hand, to register the information from the handwritten census forms. One card for each person, with labeled hole locations for male, female; child, adult; white, colored; renter, owner; and so on.

Hollerith borrowed the punch idea from an early use of biometrics on Mississippi steamboats. Tickets contained a list of descriptors: race, gender, height, facial hair, etc. The conductor punched the passenger's description at boarding, then the passenger could reboard at various ports without having to pay a new fare.

He borrowed the sorting idea from Mergenthaler's Linotype, which was a fresh invention at the time. A Linotype's font is a huge flat metal cartridge divided into columns, with each column carrying a stack of molds for one letter. When you hit a key, a gate opens on the appropriate column and drops one mold onto the end of the Line-O-Type that you're building. When the line is done, the machine injects lead into the clamped-together molds to form one slug, which will then print one line in the resulting form. After the injection, the molds are conveyed up to the top of the font, where they are carried across the top of the columns. Each mold has a distinct pattern of slots on its sides, and it drops into the correct column when the slots match the 'keyhole' for that column.**

And Hollerith borrowed most of his circuitry from telephone switchboards and hotel annunciators, which used drops to indicate a call from one phone or room.

No theory in his inspiration, just steam, lead and iron.

= = = = =

Okay, we ain't got theory. What else ain't we got? We ain't got computing in the usual sense of the word. No math, no Babbage, no Turing.

What do we got? We got pattern-matching and counting and recording.

And that's what computers have been doing, from 1890 to right now. Computers are organizers with secondary abilities to calculate. Example: the latest version of my interactive courseware that I finished and sent off yesterday. The C++ source code contains about 13000 non-comment lines, of which only 120 are explicit arithmetic. In other words, only 1% of the action is adding, multiplying, sines, arctans, etc. The other 99% is pattern-matching and counting and recording. The program presents an image or a text question; waits for a click on some part of the image or a button; increments the number answered and number correct; and holds the results in a file.

Just like the 1890 census. Present a question, wait for the answer, check against patterns, increment counters, drop result into a file.

And sort of like something else ... trying to remember .... Aaah yes.

Like clover!

The clover blossom implements the following Legume++ code:

The intelligence is all in the design.

= = = = =

** Sidenote from a long-lost memory, perhaps triggered by thinking about bees: A later system of purely manual sorting was more precisely analogous to the Linotype matrix-sorting method. McBee cards or edge-notched cards came with a set of round holes on all sides, close to the edge. Schools and colleges used them heavily in the '50s and '60s. My father often had me punch the McBee cards for his college classes, which I'd entirely forgotten until right now!

You could have McBees printed for your use, or simply use one 'template' card that indicated the meaning of the holes. You'd type or handwrite a set of info on each card, then use a special triangular edge-punch tool to 'open up' a notch into appropriate holes. Sorting them was fun: you'd put a stack in a special box, then insert rods into the holes you wanted. If you wanted info on all the 8th graders in Mr Dillon's classes, you'd put a rod through the 8th grade hole AND a second rod through the Dillon hole in the stack, using the template card to locate the correct holes. Pull up both rods together. The cards that had been notched for both 8th Grade AND Mr Dillon would fall off the rods and stay in the box, and you could then use them.

= = = = =

Artistic note for Poser types: This set is now available on my ShareCG page.

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Monday, June 04, 2012
  Are we really smarter? 1

As I was mowing the yard that I planted last year, feeling a burst of pride for hard work leading to pleasant results, I looked closely at the clover blossoms for the first time. Each one has a set of little spikes; in some cases the spikes are all pointing up, and in others about half the spikes are pointing down.

Checked the web, found this simple and clear explanation.

What looks like a blossom is actually a cluster (inflorescence) of a few dozen tiny florets. Each 'spike' is a complete little flower, with a green cup (calyx) containing a white crown (corolla).

Why are some pointing down? Those are the florets that have already been touched by a pollinating insect. The clover detects the touch and removes nutrition from that floret, allowing it to drop down and turn brown.

Result: The bee only pays attention to the white upward-pointing crowns, which are exactly the ones that still need her attention.

Amazingly smart design. Not as 'muscular' as the alfalfa blossom with its bee-slapping flap on top, insuring that each bee gets dusted with pollen. But still a useful motion in response to a sensed stimulus.

Can we call this intelligence? The legume's smartness is entirely alien to the complex and varied smartness of vertebrates, and it doesn't involve neurons and ganglia. But it gets the same job done.

Inside our brains, neural pathways that are likely to lead to fertilization and survival stay on top, and paths that will no longer attract a pollinator tend to wither and droop.

For both clever clovers and profound primates, this sorting mechanism, keeping the good stuff and dropping the bad, was pre-designed. The intelligence is in the blueprint. In other words, we think we're numinous but we're just leguminous!

Continuing the main thought in the next piece.

= = = = =

Artistic note for Poser types: I packaged the clover blossom figure, bee prop, and a cloverleaf figure not used in the animation. The ZIP unpacks to a Poser runtime in the usual format.

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  God save the old dame

Watching the Diamond Jubilee coverage...

Even Chuckie the Microwit looks good in that setting. He's an idiot, but he's also a man, bareheaded in the rain, graciously encountering whatever comes.

A reminder of a basic fact of life that moderns have generally forgotten. Strict rules of behavior make everything work better. Without strict cultural rules, raw force always wins.

Ordinary people can live an ordinary life when aristocrats are restrained. Ordinary people die when aristocrats run wild.

Also a strong reminder that a natural form of governance works better than an abstract theory. England's monarchy has developed (with a couple of interruptions) since the time of Jesus, and its government has constantly adapted to changing circumstances. Our "government" was based on an incoherent and suicidal set of illogical leftist theories.

Canada stuck with the natural system, and it still works. America stopped adapting a long time ago, and ceased functioning 30 years ago.

Maybe it's just in my genes. I'm about half English, half Kraut. My English chromosomes stand up involuntarily when they hear God Save The Queen. Neither set of DNA has ever responded to the 1776 collection of bad ideas, or to its various symbolic manifestations.
Saturday, June 02, 2012
  Costco's triumph, 2

Following up from yesterday on the Wash state switch from state liquor stores to private sales.

Selling liquor in grocery stores isn't all profit; the stores are quickly realizing they need to ramp up security. Not just because drinkers are a different crowd, but also because some liquor is wildly expensive. The news story mentions that a teenager tried to steal a bottle of cognac priced at $85.

Mr Broccoli wants us to examine this more closely.

For $85 you could buy that one bottle of cognac, and get an hour of happiness.

For $85 you could buy 85 pounds of broccoli. If you eat about 1/4 pound per day, this will improve your health for a year.

The same amount of money. One hour of happiness or one year of health.

Wanna know the difference between the criminal mind and the citizen mind? That's it.
Friday, June 01, 2012
  Costco's triumph

Last year Costco and other big stores paid $12 million in advertising to buy an initiative that privatized liquor sales. I thought it was a poor idea, and didn't think they'd get their money back.

Today was the first day of grocery store liquor. I still think it's a poor idea, but I can see immediately that the $12 million investment was worth it.

Safeway was booming at 8 this morning; everyone was buying booze and running up huge bills. The guy in front of me in line bought 4 bottles and some wine glasses, cost about $90.

You'd think it was the end of total Prohibition, not just a switch from state stores to grocery stores!
  Always instructive

In America the elite and the Jews are nearly synonymous, so it's easy to think of the wild anti-human anti-civilization monstrosities perpetrated by our Satanist elites as being Jewish monstrosities. When nearly all monsters have names like Bloomberg and Greenspan and Steinem and Fierstein and Dimon and Mann, it's not a stereotype. It's just an unavoidable correlation.

A good cure for this tendency is to listen closely to internal events in Israel where everyone, not just the Satanic elite, is Jewish. In that situation we see that Jews are capable of being normal people: capable of loving civilization and order, capable of being heterosexual and religious. In that situation normal attitudes are not squashed, because normal attitudes cannot be associated with anti-Jewishness.

I noted an earlier example here.

Today we have ordinary civilization-loving Israelis protesting against African immigrants.
The white protesters gathered near the Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv, and held their protest targeting African immigrants and calling for their deportation from the country.

They also described Israeli leftists as “traitors” and held signs saying “South Tel Aviv, Not South Sudan”, Haaretz reported. They stated that they will continue their protests until the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “acts against the immigration of Africans instead of just talking about it”.

During a similar protest against African immigrants last week, an African person, who was walking in the area, was attacked while several protesters also set garbage cans on fire and smashed windows of a number of cars parked in the area.

Over a thousand Israelis held protests in south Tel Aviv demanding the government deport all African asylum seekers and immigrants. The protesters marched in Hatikva neighborhood, inhabited mainly by persons of African origin, and ransacked property in the neighborhood while setting trashcans ablaze.

Hmm. Sounds like a pogrom, doesn't it?

Note especially that normal Israelis are free to describe Jewish leftists as traitors. Anyone who tried that here would be in serious trouble.

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