Sunday, February 28, 2021
  Four layers of defiance

Ran across a fairly typical math answer to a non-math question on Quora.

The question is about structures defying gravity, like the Tower of Pisa. The math answer is the Law of Centers, which is valid TO SOME EXTENT, but only under ideal circumstances.

In reality there are two distinct ways to defy gravity. Nature uses both, and human structures use both. The Pisa kind is risky and fragile. The other kind is somewhat less risky.

Perceptually, anything above the ground without direct support immediately under it defies gravity.

The Pisa way, as seen in Nature:

A tree that grew naturally at a 45 degree angle, with root structure designed to take the stress. The roots extend out to directly under the center of gravity. Towers like Pisa do the same thing.

If you look closely enough, every living thing defies gravity in the non-Pisa way, sometimes called dynamic stability.

Happystar is showing the simplest natural defiance, flying. Totally unsupported by a vertical structure under him.

I've placed Xs on several of the non-Pisa defiances. These are basically cantilevers, extensions of a vertically supported structure that can go beyond the roots because they don't affect the center of gravity. On the streetcar the cantilevered ends are balanced, but the balance (passenger placement) needs to be actively maintained by the conductor. Polistra's waving hand is actively balanced by her internal feedback system. Polistra is also leaning forward in a Pisa way, even though her toes are NOT extending out under her head. Again the complex system of reflexes and acquired skills adjusts the center of gravity constantly to keep her upright on a moving vehicle.

The rigid Pisa defiance is far more risky. A wind gust can break the root or foundation structure easily.

= = = = =

I've got trees on the mind right now because the neighbors to the west are FINALLY cutting down a row of six wood weapons that have been threatening both their house and mine for many years. In last month's windstorm the middle tree came down at just the right lucky angle to miss their house, their garage, the power lines, and my house. The topmost branch broke off and brushed against my house, making a terrible noise, but didn't do any real damage.

When the tree went down, its balancing root structure pried up part of the fence near it. If the roots had extended a few more feet, they would have pried up the house to the north. Just lucky enough again.

I'm happy and relieved to have all of those killers down. Four layers of luck is WAY too much to count on. (Or, returning to overterse math answer form, conjunctive probabilities multiply.)

Well poop. They DIDN'T cut down all the trees, just "thinned the herd". Originally there were 7. The middle one fell, and the cutters took down only two, so the nearest one to me is still a threat.

Comparing what I hear in current discussions with what I hear on old radio from the '30s and '40s, I noticed that radio in those decades didn't talk much about stocks and shares and dividends. Stocks were mentioned in cop shows and racket-warning shows, in the context of stock swindles, but otherwise didn't seem to be a common topic of discussion. No jokes about the stock market in comedy shows, no focus on stocks in news or analysis shows. I've previously noted the non-discussion of scrip, which was organized quickly and efficiently to compensate for the closure of most banks in early '33.

Google's Ngram thingie disagrees sharply, but Ngram is processing books and a few magazines, not radio and newspapers.

Here's "stocks and bonds":

And "stocks":

And "government securities", an odd phrase that was fairly common in those cop-type shows:

Books and radio sharply diverge on "stocks and bonds", but agree on "government securities".

Why the disparity? Guessing:

Non-fiction books were either defending the market's crimes against FDR's newly energized cops, or defending the cops against the criminals.

Ordinary people had been deluded by Rockefeller and Morgan into thinking that they could be the next Rockefeller or Morgan. After they lost their shirts**, they felt miserable and didn't want to be reminded of the delusion. Radio writers and advertisers picked up on this misery and avoided the topic.

The same delusion is running now. Bezos and Elon are deluding ordinary people into believing that they can be the next Bezos or Elon. This delusion is much more durable than the 1920s delusion. Even 2008 didn't cause a hangover.

One oddity that doesn't fit this explanation: "Stocks" started to fade from books around 1975, at the same time when dividends and profit and real business were replaced by the Share Value crime. "Government securities" rose at the same time, but then dropped sharply in 2000 and didn't return.

= = = = =

** Irrelevant language puzzle: Why shirts? The basic reference is obvious. Gambling until you have nothing left to lose but your clothing, then stripping off and losing your clothing. But the shirt isn't the last thing you'd strip. Also, in cartoons from that era, the gambler is always wearing a barrel instead of clothes. This doesn't make sense. Bars typically had leftover kegs around, but it takes a lot of work to remove the bottom of a keg so you can wear it. I'd think you'd grab a towel or blanket first.

Oh. Later and better thought: The shirt isn't the last available piece of clothing, but it IS the last thing you'd strip. If you wanted to get home without being arrested, you'd stop before losing your pants.


  Reading the original

I'm tired of the constant and intentional lies about the Soviet system. The biggest lie is the misquoting of From Each. A classic Shared Lie. The R side says it's bad, the D side wants to implement it.

The first 1917 Soviet constitution said only: If you don't work, you won't eat.

The 1977 Soviet constitution states:

From each according to his abilities, to each according to his WORK.


The Soviet system was always about REQUIRING and ENABLING everyone to use their unique talents and abilities. Everyone can be useful and everyone must be useful.

But I didn't know if Marx had said the 'needs' crap or not. So just for fun I read the original Communist Manifesto. The saying doesn't appear at all. The closest approximation seems to be this:

8. Equal liability of all to labour. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.

Stalin tried industrial armies for agriculture and quickly abandoned it. Later Mao tried it for a longer period, and caused far more harm than good.

The Soviet system was an experiment, first trying out the original theory, then using negative feedback to modify it.

Marx also wanted to abolish families. Lenin tried it briefly and abandoned it. Mao tried it in 1968 and abandoned it. Western Deepstate has been trying it since 1946, and hasn't yet abandoned it.

'Equal liability for labor' is a good idea, still active in Belarus and a couple other Soviet remnants. Industrial armies and abolishing the family are bad ideas, which were abandoned by the Soviets.

In short, Marx was a mix of good and bad ideas. Equal liability for labor is one of the good ideas.

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Saturday, February 27, 2021
  In or out. Pick one.

More "working inside the system" crap.

Google has specialists working on AI "ethics", which is an oxymoron. Some of them found that Google wasn't "ethical" enough, which means that it wasn't crazy enough for their tastes. Google fired them.

Leaving aside the specifics, why would you expect ANY company to PAY you for criticizing what the company does? It's just naive. Some companies will allow it, but you shouldn't expect it.

When you're IN, you're IN. If you don't want to be IN, get OUT. Find another company, work on your own, or start a new company if you have the resources and influence to make it happen.

This is EXTREMELY SIMPLE and not at all new.


  Why colleges like online courses

I'm putting together a graphic tribute to Leeds and Northrup, including one of their 'kits' for student lab use.

From a Central Scientific catalog, here's a list of the equipment needed for one popular physics course in the 1920s. (Here's the Hall and Bergen book.) Note that "each student should have his own kit" for most of the equipment.

By a quick estimate, the set for each student would be $150 in 1920 dollars, or $3000 today. If you had 20 students, that would be $60k up front. About 1/4 of these items look like they'd be partly or entirely consumed during the year. The rest would have to be maintained, with inevitable breakage from student use. (Failure = learning.)

When I was taking physics in the 1960s, we had no 'per student' equipment at all, and the labs used only a tiny fraction of the items seen in these catalogs. Some of these items would have been tremendously fun AND instructional, especially the liquid stuff.

One kit per student is ideal in many ways. First, separate carrels or stalls would make it possible to set up an experiment and leave it for several days while you work on it. STABILITY IS CRUCIAL FOR LEARNING. Second, you maintain your 'own' equipment more carefully, even if you don't legally own it as property. Third, the usual lab hour starts with a mass attack on the equipment bins. Nobody wants to be the last, nobody wants to be stuck with the broken voltmeter or a substitute part. With 'owned' equipment and separate stalls, no rush hour.

= = = = =

It's not surprising that college administrations have cheerfully shifted to online lectures and courseware. With textbooks the student pays directly, avoiding the need for lab space and lab maintenance. Textbooks with courseware are expensive, but not dramatically more expensive than before when you account for inflation. This Central catalog also sold textbooks, which ranged from $2 to $5 wholesale, or $40 to $100 today.

The administrators themselves now receive most of the money from taxes and tuition, after applying good old Market Efficiency to eliminate the costs of REAL skills and REAL instruction.

Later and more subtle thought: When I was working as a lab tech at KU and Penn State, I saw a lot of this old equipment set up for experimental use. It wasn't being used. It was just sitting there occupying entire rooms. Why? TERRITORY. The old equipment had been part of Prof X's lifetime project, his firmly OWNED series of grants and postdocs. Prof X was still alive and still steadfastly maintaining his territory, even though he was no longer USING his territory. Young profs Y and Z might have wanted to bring out some of the wonderful equipment and use it for class demonstrations or new projects, but Prof X controlled the budget and the territory. Related subject here.


Friday, February 26, 2021
  Possible schism

Real schisms led by powerful people can make a real difference.

I've been generally anti-Catholic for a few years, since reading the full story of the Inquisition and noticing that nothing has really changed. I don't WANT to be broadly anti-Catholic, and wish I could see a reason for optimism. There are many people inside the church who disapprove of the permanent evil. Unfortunately those good people stay inside the church, where their talents and money inevitably assist the permanent evil.

"Working for reform inside the system" is a cruel myth. You're IN or you're OUT. Gang rules. No gray areas, no middle ground, no compromise. When you're IN, you're a full participant whether you think so or not.

When a powerful leader cuts loose and gets OUT, things start to happen. Both Mohammed and Luther were Christian leaders who got tired of the permanent evil and started their own movements.

On a much smaller scale, corporate leaders like Charles Nash and Walter Chrysler got tired of Billy Durant's permanent evil and started their own companies, aiming to serve the employees and customers in a more moral and responsible way. If they had continued using their talents for GM, nothing would have changed.

Now we have Cardinal Sarah resigning from Rome, with a possibility of leading a new separate church in Africa.

For damn sure Africa is the bright future of the world. Africans have an unbreakable morality, and have been rejecting Soros-style "human rights" for a long time. This year the heroic Magufuli rejected the bribes from the "virus" holocaust and used REAL SCIENCE to disprove the fraud at the start. Many African countries have thoroughly modernized in tech and business, WITHOUT losing their deep morality and culture.

Good luck to Cardinal Sarah, and I'm hoping and praying he can lead a successful schism before he gets too old to energize it.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2021
  Rare common sense about common sense

Via ScienceDaily, a study that separates FACT knowledge from SKILL knowledge properly.
"Current machine text-generation models can write an article that may be convincing to many humans, but they're basically mimicking what they have seen in the training phase," said Lin. "Our goal in this paper is to study the problem of whether current state-of-the-art text-generation models can write sentences to describe natural scenarios in our everyday lives."

Specifically, Ren and Lin tested the models' ability to reason and showed there is a large gap between current text generation models and human performance. Given a set of common nouns and verbs, state-of-the-art NLP computer models were tasked with creating believable sentences describing an everyday scenario. While the models generated grammatically correct sentences, they were often logically incoherent.

For instance, here's one example sentence generated by a state-of-the-art model using the words "dog, frisbee, throw, catch":

"Two dogs are throwing frisbees at each other."

The test is based on the assumption that coherent ideas (in this case: "a person throws a frisbee and a dog catches it,") can't be generated without a deeper awareness of common-sense concepts. In other words, common sense is more than just the correct understanding of language -- it means you don't have to explain everything in a conversation. This is a fundamental challenge in the goal of developing generalizable AI -- but beyond academia, it's relevant for consumers, too.
This also applies to the deification of theory among "human" scientists. As every branch of science departs from PHYSICAL experience, theories become weirder and crazier and more murderous. 100 years ago, theorists like Lodge and Faraday and Ayrton worked constantly with REAL PHYSICAL EQUIPMENT, and depended on close teamwork with mechanics who could build and maintain the REAL PHYSICAL EQUIPMENT.

When every idea is applied directly to Nature, Nature will TELL you which ideas are sensible. ... but you need to LISTEN as well, and you need to break out of Parkinson. You need to use negative feedback, not positive feedback. With negative feedback, constant failure tells you to stop and try something different. With positive feedback, constant failure tells you to try the same shit EVEN HARDER AND BIGGER.

The omnicidal "physicists" at LHC are using positive feedback. Their attempts to obliterate the universe just go on and on and on. They never find the mythical unicorns they're supposedly looking for. Every failure becomes an urgent requirement for more speed, more energy, more staff, more funding.

Common sense and physical reality should tell you when to stop. If the unicorn is a real part of Nature, you should be able to find it at ordinary scales and ordinary energies. If you have to use energies trillions of times beyond anything in Nature, you're not going to find a unicorn that occurs in Nature.


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  Random thought about feedback loops

As I get older I can tell that my negative feedback systems are getting weaker. More sensitivity to temperature, more difficulty with balance, less regular sleep, etc. All of these functions were automatically held constant when I was young. Now I have to apply more conscious thought and caution.

Parallel: The same thing happens to countries and empires as they age. Before 1946 we had a somewhat functional feedback system. Bad decisions led to economic consequences that forced governments to revise the bad decisions. Error signals were carried by taxation.

Starting in '46 and accelerating after 1970, the economic loops were weakened and deleted. Now the feds don't need taxes at all. They function solely on counterfeit numbers. Without the dependence on tax, the feds don't need industry or production or work or people. They've already killed most of the industry. Since 2008 they've been openly killing the people.

Negative feedback is life. No feedback is tyranny. Positive feedback is instant death.

= = = = =

Later: The parallel fails because nobody is applying conscious thought and caution. Instead, the elderly country is chained and muzzled in the attic while competing fake "heirs" gamble and drink up the remnants of the estate and sue each other over the provisions of the will. Our politicians are Anna Nicole Smith vs Erin Fleming.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2021
  Of value just now

Thinking about dissidents and printing presses led back to this short 2017 item. Not exactly about dissidents, but certainly "of value just now", as Gernsback put it.

= = = = = START REPRINT:

Part of today's Forecast Discussion from the Weather Bureau:
Monday and Tuesday...There are still some differences in the model guidance, but it now looks like a cold front will pass through the region Sunday night or Monday with the upper level closed low lingering over the region likely until Thursday. This will result in widespread showers and thunderstorms, much cooler temperature and gusty winds through mid-week. For the record...expect the extended forecast to change and likely by a lot as closed lows tend to meander around an area and give forecasters fits as to the timing of various weather features. Tobin

This is why the Weather Bureau is TRUSTWORTHY. Even though they carry some of the national Carbon Cult nonsense in their Twitter stuff, they always SHOW THEIR WORK in their actual forecasts. Here's what we're sure of, here's what we're not sure of, and here's why we're not sure.

When you SHOW YOUR WORK, people trust you.

Wouldn't it be nice if media demons followed the same rule? O'Keefe exposed the inner feelings of real CNN producers. They KNOW they're killing viewers with toxic poison. Their casual way of expression showed that the knowledge is not Shocking Dissent; it's commonplace inside the demoncoven.

Many decades ago the major media were more open about their inner workings. CBS newscasters like Bob Trout constantly illustrated how their information arrived and how it was edited, and gave us a sense of their degree of certainty on major stories.

The current Magician's Secret approach began in the '80s. I think Rush may have been the prime mover. For many years he didn't even tell us that he had a staff of editors and writers; he made us believe that the output magically sprang from his more-than-Godlike superbrain. You could never tell if each item was meant as parody or fact, which made it easy to switch back and forth when facts inconveniently changed. Nevertheless, all of it is FACT BECAUSE I SAY SO.

= = = = = END REPRINT.


  Cat doors and cancelers

... have been around forever.

A couple items from Gernsback's Science and Invention, 1923.

Pompeian hinges weren't unusual. This type of hinge was common on two-way kitchen doors in the '20s. The unusual part is the cat and dog door.

= = = = =

A reminder that censors and cancelers and life-destroying Karens have been in charge in most places and most times, long before Pompeii. Smart dissidents have always found ways to get a message across, via poetry or songs or images or carefully chosen words or carefully chosen missing words.

The only modern difference is that dissidents before 2010 didn't expect the censors to PAY THEM for using the official printing presses and broadcast studios, and didn't whine when one publisher decided not to print their material. They just found other ways to get the message through.



Speaking of long-term skill memory, here's an item that popped out this morning after sitting dormant and unremembered for 60 years.

In elementary school the teachers saved their own labor and helped the students gain more skills by trading and grading. After a quantifiable quiz in spelling or arithmetic, we traded papers and checked answers while the teacher read them off. The trading method wasn't constant, presumably to avoid partner collusion. Sometimes each column was a recirculating shift register, sometimes each row recirculated, sometimes the columns moved boustrophedon-style, with the NE student carrying his paper over to the SW corner.

This was good empathy exercise, letting us see how other people got answers wrong or right, and giving us practice in clerical work.

Why didn't I use this trick when I was teaching in the '80s? Did I actively decide against it, or simply didn't think of it? I don't remember the reason for that decision.

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  Nature stores SKILLS.

As usual, stupidly pondering the crucial importance of STORAGE vs Just-In-Time Desperation.

I hadn't stopped to ask what Nature thinks.

Nature stores nutrition in various ways, mainly as fats. Every species has a different form and place for storage. Some (eg whales and camels) have large specialized storage, some don't have any storage at all, some store fats for the next generation in seeds and eggs. Overall, Nature doesn't think storing nutrition is tremendously important.

Nature believes storing INFORMATION is vastly more important. DNA/RNA is the core of life, in both hardwired genes and semi-variable epigenes. DNA is skill info, not fact info. Each gene tells the developing organism where and when to make specific types of cells, where and when to fold, where and when to stop or delete.

Nervous systems devote most of their space and energy to SKILL storage. 80% of all our neurons are in the cerebellum where they gather, store and revise SKILL information. The parts of the brain that we usually associate with IQ and fact knowledge are much smaller and weaker.

Our immune system is a separate store of INFORMATION, gradually accumulating through life and using induction to generalize from each learned microbe to similar microbes. Needless to say, the muzzles and distancing of the current holocaust are precisely and fiendishly designed to stop the immune system's learning.

Our human technologies, from speech to books to art to computers, mainly store fact knowledge. We didn't have a way of storing SKILL info until motion pictures and videotape came along, and both of these are much less effective than internal experience and apprenticing.

Wildly speculative question: Did earlier civilizations find other ways to store and pass along skills, aside from the obvious drawings and maps? Did some pots and arrowheads and cooking utensils serve as non-verbal self-explanatory templates? Start cutting here, turn the flint here? Fill with water to this line, boil as long as you'd normally boil barley, then add the next ingredient? Some of these stones marked with patterns might fill the bill if we understood them.

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Monday, February 22, 2021
  Another example of language in (ahem) flux.

Found another example of experimentation in language from the Ayrton book.

The particular specimen of Weston instrument shown is called a "milammeter", because a current may be directly measured with it in "milli-amperes", or thousandths of an ampere.
Condensation of unit and prefix happens sometimes when the prefix and unit meet in a vowel. Megavolts and Gigavolts are uncondensed, but Megohms and Gigohms are condensed. Milamps would seem to follow the same rule as Megohms. Not clear why it didn't last. Is a front vowel more sticky than a back vowel?

Incidentally, Weston was among the companies that followed Social Economics, treating workers well and receiving quality and loyalty in return. Newark, America was a rich city with abundant hi-tech jobs as late as the 1960s.

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Sunday, February 21, 2021

Continuing the theme of Italian metrology.

Found this 1896 book by Ayrton while looking for better diagrams of galvanometers. Excellent text on basic electricity, with a couple of ideas I could have used when I was teaching at DeVry.

Unexpectedly, the book answers an etymological question I asked earlier. I was wondering why the Italians didn't fully honor their own Volta by using his name properly.

Turns out the English did honor him at first, and then truncated the name into a standard unit. Ayrton mentions in the preface that part of this book was written in 1886 and re-used in the 1896 edition. The two parts show the transition.

The 1886 parts describe Voltameters, and the 1896 parts talk about Voltmeters. A nice little gem for linguists, who don't often get to see a transition in one book. [Later: No, it wasn't language change. At that time Voltameter was specifically reserved for devices that used electrolysis to measure voltage, while Voltmeter was reserved for magnetic devices measuring voltage.]

= = = = =

Needless to say, Ayrton devotes considerable space to shunts, though he modestly doesn't call them Ayrton shunts. He gives his technician Mather co-credit on most inventions, including the shunts, and claims only one ammeter as his own sole invention.

I'd never thought about why it was better to build a voltmeter by placing a known resistance in series with an ammeter. Ayrton shows why. Pure voltameters were clumsy and dangerous. Galvanometers were much easier to handle and less messy.

Sidenote: Nature disagrees. As I've often noted, Nature strongly prefers using static fields for both meters and motors. Human technology strongly prefers using magnetic fields for meters and motors.

= = = = =

Here's a typical galvanometer of Ayrton's time. Elegant and simple and clock-like, a cross between a compass and a motor. The needle is suspended on a silk thread. Before applying current you turn the knob on top to set the needle at zero, perpendicular to the coil.

The galvanometer was especially suitable as a balance sensor for bridge arrangements. The needle deflected in opposite directions for very small currents in opposite directions, so you could find the null point easily.

Modern meters, like modern motors, take the opposite approach. The magnet around the needle is permanent, and the coil is mounted on the same shaft as the needle, with delicate spiral wires connecting the coil to the terminals.

This 1908 Olivetti meter shows the post-Ayrton method.

= = = = =

To illustrate the messiness of pure voltameters, here's a liquid voltameter from Ayrton's book. This is basically a battery running in reverse. In a wet battery, a chemical combination releases positive ions in one direction and negative ions in the other direction. Here a voltage is applied to a battery, causing a decombination or electrolysis of sulfuric acid. (Yikes!). The bubbles from the electrolysis push the liquid up the tube, where the gas pressure can be measured as height.

This is a sample-and-hold device. You briefly push the key to apply the voltage to the battery, then watch the fluid rise to an asymptote in the measuring tube. Let go of the key and the fluid stays there, because the backwash tube is closed.

To restore balance, open the valve on the backwash tube, letting the bubbles out. The backwash tube has a siphon on top, pouring the overflow back into the measuring tube. The little 'vase' on top of the measuring tube is meant to restrain overflows, but it's pretty clear that you'd often have splashes of sulfuric acid. Fun.

= = = = =

Ayrton also includes a nice roller-coaster model of a basic ckt, showing how the potential energy is raised by the battery and consumed by the load.

And he features some complex water models:

Reminds me of Lukyanov's water-based computer:

Finally, here's an Ayrton design that hasn't changed much since 1896:

Historical note: Like many other technicians, Mather went into business for himself. He moved to Connecticut and started making shunt-wound dynamos and meters, with considerable success. Later he expanded into incandescent bulbs to use the electricity, and crashed into Edison, the ultimate system-monopolizer. After losing the drably predictable litigation, Mather's company went bankrupt and Mather spent the rest of his life in heartbroken solitude, using kerosene lamps instead of electricity. Moral: Don't get uppity. Know your skills and your place, and stay there. When you're Mr Shunt, make shunts. Let Mr Bulb make bulbs.

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Thursday, February 18, 2021
  Super-random language note

Reading old Italian tech books, I was struck by a difference in terminology. In French an electromagnet is electro-aimant. In Italian an electromagnet is elettrocalamita.

Lover or attractor seems like a pleasant word for magnet, but calamity?

Turns out both assumptions are wrong.

Per this online dictionary, the aimant in electro-aimant comes from adamant, hard as a diamond. (Pyrite isn't really diamond-hard, but it's considerably harder than plain iron.) The calamity comes from Latin calamus, a straw or piece of wood, because early compasses were made with a magnetic needle floating in a bit of wood or cork.

Calamity as disaster comes through French from the same Latin root, but the transfer of meaning is obscure.

My misassumption shows my basic bias. I think of the world in terms of function, not material. I was trying to translate both words as functions, but they were really named after qualities of the materials. The English word magnet is named after the place where magnetite was first found.

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  Part of the same gift

In my present focus on science as entertainment I've neglected another connection that was clear and constant before 1906.

Science was seen as one of the gifts we received from God, and practicing science was a way of thanking God for the gift.

Here's a passage from an 1853 Italian book on telegraphy:
Ogni mezzo che serve alla comunicazione di un essere coll' altro, si comprenderebbe solto il nome di telegrafia, interpretando questa parola nel senso il più esteso.

Tutti i membri della creazione animale hanno ricevuto dal loro Fattore qualche mezzo naturale di comunicazione che unisca e colleghi fra loro gli individui delle varie specie. Infiniti e mirabili sono i modi con cui si manifesta il divino linguaggio della natura, disposto con bella armonia. L'uccello gorgheggia, il quadrupede emelte gridi e voci inarticolate, e questi mezzi cosi poveri e ristretti bastano ai bruti limitati nella loro vita ai bisogni istintivi e materiali. L'uomo destinato ad una via L'uomo destinato ad una via di progresso morale e civile, ha mestieri di poter esprimere con segni sensibili le idee, i sentimenti che si agitano nell'anima sua, comunicarli ai propri simili, e stringersi con essi in amichevoli rapporti: E la divina Provvidenza lo dotò di favella che lo rende superiore agli altri esseri, e determina lo sviluppo di sue facoltà intellettuali e morali.
The book starts out with the Chappe semaphore, which uniquely marked the destruction of this connection in France. Claude Chappe was a priest who thought he was advancing the poter esprimere con segni sensibili le idee, i sentimenti che si agitano nell'anima. When he saw that the Revolution was using his invention for the exact opposite purpose, he jumped down a well.

Reviving the sense of entertainment and joy must also revive the connection to the gift by Divine Providence. Can't have one without the other.

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  Correct vector

Judging from the media echoes on Quora, the Texas full-state power outage (or rolling blackout) is a major media topic. The Gaians, of course, are blaming it on Trump, and the realists are blaming it on Gaia.

Okla is also in a similar situation, but as usual media doesn't recognize the existence of Okla. As it happens I'm dealing with a courseware customer there, who is telling me about the problems.

The realists are correct as usual. Sometimes we overstate the magnitude of the blame, but we always get the correct direction of the vector.

Arctic outbreaks happen every few years. I lived in Okla for exactly the decade of the 70s, wandering from Enid to OKC to Ponca to Shawnee to Norman and back to Enid.

In the middle of the '70s there were several COLD winters, with many 10-degree days. Okla doesn't get much snow, but it does get icestorms, which are harder on the power lines. Okla also has LOTS of wind in all seasons, and LOTS of lightning in the summer.

In those 10 years we had exactly one power outage, about two days in OKC in '72, after an icestorm.

Admittedly electricity was less crucial there, because old houses had floor furnaces and gas stoves and gas water heaters that didn't depend on electricity for fans or thermostats. Even so, the electricity only failed once in ten years.

Now, thanks to the total invasion and occupation of utilities by Gaian lunatics, outages are common everywhere.

Part of the blame goes to the globalizers and financializers in the '90s, who were closely allied to the Gaians. The Enron laws made it profitable to connect all regional grids together for securitization. Since then, a local outage cascades outward unstoppably. The effect is vastly worse in places where the grid is required to compensate for fake "sources" like solar and wind. It's hard enough to feed real users with steady nuclear or hydro or coal power. When the grid has to deal with random occasional inputs from solar and wind, it's impossible to maintain stability.

Before Enron, cities often had local grids. Ponca had its own municipal power company, solely for and by the city, with profits paying for the city government. Never a moment without power. Pay for value, value for pay. Bilateral LOCAL contracts are the answer to most problems.

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  Folies et follies

Focusing on Italy leads to an odd and possibly meaningful comparison.

Italian people and Italian products are unquestionably more stylish and beautiful than other Euro or US products. That's a valid and well-known generality. French people and products are drab and practical, with a strong emphasis on usability.

BUT: French science in the 1800s was lively and entertaining. French tech journals, from architecture to electricity, had animated illustrations with intense characters and funny vulgarity.




= = = = =

Italian tech journals from those years were just as dull and drab as English or US journals. Not many illustrations, mainly sketches or uninteresting photos.

Why did French science have an attitude of non-serious fun?

Wild guess: Because the Revolution had turned the serious aspect of science into genocide. The Revolution was created by DOCTORS who compressed life into a rigid system of decimal measurement and surgery by guillotine.

The later French attitude was a natural IMMUNE RESPONSE to a toxic corruption of a necessary process.

I've been experiencing the same IMMUNE RESPONSE lately, and trying to express it in my own animated ways.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2021
  Trying to firm up a theme

Returning to a vague theme, trying to firm it up a bit.

Theme: Editors and selectors perform a CRUCIALLY IMPORTANT function, and they've gone missing. Editors and selectors are the negative feedback loop for science and business and government.

Good science or good products or good writing or good governments require experienced and skilled editors who have AUTHORITY. There's no point in having a feedback module if it isn't connected FIRMLY to the inhibitory input of the system. [In other words, the system doesn't get to select whether it obeys the selector, doesn't get to edit its response to the editor. The editor wins automatically and consistently.]

Designers and writers and inventors and programmers are important, but without hardass and authoritative editors, nothing works.

An editor needs to know, in broad terms, what will sell or what will work or what will solve the problem. He doesn't need to know the details of metallurgy or math or art or grammar or null pointers, but he must have a FEEL for those things.

In most areas of life we've lost or destroyed the editing layer, or corrupted it to act as just another designing layer.

In US "government", the Senate was originally meant to be the editor. The House and executive would propose various schemes, and the Senate, directly delegated by the states, would judge whether the scheme would work in all states. If it wouldn't work in a strong majority of the states, it wouldn't be added to federal functions. This setup was lost almost immediately with Madison vs Marbury in 1803, then killed by the 17th amendment that turned the Senate into a more corruptible version of the lower house.

In car manufacturing, dealers formerly performed the editing function. Dealers knew what would sell to THEIR customers, and smart manufacturers consulted the dealers at every stage of design. Since 1980, most dealers are no longer bound by a contract to one manufacturer, so they can't act as consultants. Traveling salesmen performed a similar function in other areas of manufacturing. Each salesman knew what HIS OWN customers wanted, and smart corporations listened. In recent years the salesman has surrendered to the web, and the 2020 holocaust was the final coup.

In science, the big journals like SciAm and NewSci formerly had editors who knew what was useful and real and entertaining, and judged articles accordingly. In recent decades all big journals have become mechanistic agents of Deepstate. Their editors are ferocious inquisitors rooting out and burning heretics, not judges of scientific purpose and scientific fun. The function of editing has been tossed back to peer review, which has ALWAYS been an enforcer of rigid orthodoxy.

In some areas we're trying to replace editors with mechanisms like AI or automatic "program-proving" programs. These tricks don't work. AI consistently fails at editing and censoring online conversations. It enforces verbal orthodoxy at the literal level, destroying normal wit and meaning. "Provers" can spot simple logical flaws, but simple logical flaws aren't where real failures happen.

Editors and salesmen are still functional in smaller enterprises. I've seen this distinction SHARPLY after my courseware switched from the giant NYC LBO company to a small business run for many years by one family. The giant NYC company had multiple layers of "editing" functions, none of which were concerned with utility or sales or even correct facts. They were competing for the favor of JPMorgan, not the pleasure of the customers. With the small company, I deal directly with one editor while writing, and directly with one salesman in solving bug reports. The editor knows what will sell, and the salesman knows what will serve the customers.

I've discovered that I love serving. I love getting to know the customers, and learning how they think and what they need. I love solving their problems.

This discovery wasn't possible with the NYC LBO outfit, because I wasn't allowed to deal directly with the customers. Presumably they had a call center in Bombay for that purpose, but I wasn't even allowed to know that. Deepstate all the way.

= = = = =

Later thought: If editors had more prestige, would they have more authority? If people idolized and listened to editors the way they listen to the murderously wrong misadvice of Elon and Buffett and Neil Ferguson and politicians, would the job be done better? I doubt it. More likely the opposite. The route to fame is through active monstrous evil. This isn't new. Famous newspaper editors, from Hearst to William Allen White to Jill Abramson, were famous because they created war and tyranny and riots and crime and genocide, not because they selected stories to solve the problems of readers. Museum curators become famous by destroying art through brutal modernism.

I can think of some partial and ambiguous exceptions to this rule. Some of the big names in industrial design like Loewy and Earl and Edison were really editors. They rarely drew or invented; they actually guided and selected the work of their employees. They served customers well, without intentionally killing the customers or ruining their minds. But they weren't famous AS editors or curators.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2021
  Checking the beacon

Tanzania is still the only free country in the world, the only SANE country in the world.

No muzzles, no lockdowns, no distancing, no lucite, no panic, no fear. Just normal people WORKING and LIVING and ENJOYING a normal life.

Sidenote: The video includes (around 9:45) a modern equivalent of the ancient Mexican sugarcane juicer seen here. More modern but equally creative and original.

= = = = =

2/23: Is Tanzania slipping? I'm worried. For the very first time I'm seeing a couple of muzzles in videos. The other Tanzanians I'm following are still free, so it's hard to tell. Reading tea leaves from a distance is stupid and pointless, but a previous single exception seen in Belarus turned out to be a harbinger of total surrender to Satan.

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Monday, February 15, 2021
  Renewing the medieval mode AGAIN

Bad dreams reminded me of a vow I'd made a few weeks ago during a power outage.

Even attempting to think about the monsters in charge of this mess is UNHEALTHY. Stick to medieval mode. Know that the monsters are evil and stay COMPLETELY AWAY from their evil thought processes. Don't try to guess what they're doing or why. Maintain separate mental spaces.

Just do your duty, serve godliness, and pray HARD that fate will send somewhat less evil rulers.

There are no "correct" "sides", there are only toxic topics.

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Sunday, February 14, 2021
  Little salute to Olivetti

Reading these Italian electronics mags reminded me of the long and noble history of Olivetti. Another old company that respected its employees and treated them like humans, creating beautiful products and a beautiful city. An outstanding innovator, building the first desktop programmable calculator. (Not quite a PC because it didn't have text.)

Here is one early effort by Olivetti, a 1908 'wearable' voltmeter. Polistra shows how it fits with the lid closed:

And how it was used, measuring a period-appropriate receiver:

And the view from her eyes:

Finally, here's the 1964 Programma itself, along with a Summa adding machine that I modeled several years ago. The Programma was a difficult shape to form up, but there's not much action worth animating....

The magnetic memory cards were inserted in the slot below the keyboard, flowed over the tape heads, and popped out of the top slot. Note that the top is sort of split-level, with the left side higher than the right. I had a hard time figuring this out from the available pictures, and it doesn't seem to make sense. You can see that the wall on the left side of the card spillway is higher than the wall on the right side. Why? Possibly ergonomics. If the top was flat, with just a hole in the middle, you'd put books or coffeecups on top and block the exit slot. The uneven spillway protects the slot from blockage. You won't accidentally put a coffeecup there.

= = = = =

Random language thought: The original meter said VOLT, so that's what I put there. Since Alessandro Volta was Italian, you'd think the Italians would give him more credit. But would the plural be Volte, strictly from his name, or Volti, since tech words are usually masculine/neuter? I guess they skipped the issue by following the German practice of using singular for all measurements.

Answered later: In 1854 they did use the plural of Volta's own name:

= = = = =

Somewhat less random observation: The Italian mags in the '70s show clearly that multimeters and other measuring tools were the Italian specialty at that time. Ads for receivers and transmitters were mainly Yank and Kraut, Hammarlund and Grundig. Those meters were well ahead of US products in capability, and also had a definite style. This 1908 meter shows the same strength and style. Now I'm wandering through older Italian tech books from 1840 to 1900, and the same focus on metrology is present. So it's appropriate that Volta and Galvani are the most recognizable Italian names in the field. Marconi was from Italy but moved to England when young and did all of his work there. The name of Marconi is now quintessentially English in the same way that Edison is American.

(I wonder if the Italian government regretted letting Marconi leave? Did they try to entice him back? )

Continued and expanded the theme here.

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  More Italian mags

American Radio Library has found a generous Italian contributor who is uploading a huge pile of scans from three different magazines. Each mag has a different flavor, and all are stylish as you'd expect. From Radio-Pratica:

How to build a ground-fault protector ckt:

Details of modern mic preamps:

Pardon me a few minutes while I take a 'nap'.....

= = = = =

Now where were we? Ah. Here's a clever way to insure that requests for 'consultation' on ckt problems come only from paid subscribers:

You have to write the problem on this form and tear it out.

When you pay for a product, you should be exclusively entitled to service. Modern web services often miss this basic BALANCE, expecting people to donate with no BALANCING obligation by the website, or providing service for free. It works in some cases, but if you want lasting loyalty, you need a two-way contract. Pay for value, value for pay.


Friday, February 12, 2021
  Murphy, nonMurphy

I've been working on a frustrating courseware problem today and yesterday. It's one of those things that could be a real failure or could be Murphy. I finally got permission to try out the LMS directly, which is the only way to solve it.

At the moment it looks somewhat more like Murphy, but humility forces me to keep both possibilities in the air until it's truly settled.

For clarity, the real Murphy did NOT say that the user is always stupid, or the user will always do wrong shit. Murphy's point was that users and engineers look at the world differently, and users come from a variety of different backgrounds with varied ways of interpreting the world. So engineers need to design assembly lines and devices and instructions to account for all the relevant differences.

I suspect the problem here is in our instructions rather than the code itself, but again it's still indefinite. [Later, as I suspected, it was a matter of instructions that didn't cover all possible ways of thinking. When installed properly on their LMS, the software works properly.]

Broader thought:


Troubleshooting requires getting into the customer's system AND the customer's mindset.

= = = = =

When dealing with these ambiguous situations I need to stay loose and flexible, stay open to humility and serendipity, so I was hoping for good sleep tonight. Unfortunately I spoiled the sleep by adding an episode of Casey Crime Photographer at the head of the bedtime playlist. Casey is one of those postwar dramas written to glorify and defend the rich and famous.

Result: Sleep cut short by a bad dream.

Prewar radio and movies were generally empathetic, in harmony with FDR's ruthless constraint on bankers and stocksters. Prewar radio gave proper respect to ordinary folks with ordinary problems. (In other words, the real Murphy.) After 1946 radio and TV were gradually taken over by Freud as implemented by Stalin. Anyone who resents or doubts the DIVINE RIGHT OF CORRECT PERSONAGES is crazy and needs to be in an institution. This Stalinist mode is all-pervasive now, so ALL modern inputs are destructive.

I had no excuse for this error, because I'd made the same mistake before with the same result, and I'd even written it down in my daily journal or worklog. Avoid Casey.

So this error is not Murphy or forgivable user error. It's just plain stupid. My own instructions were clear, and I thought "Well, maybe this episode won't be quite as bad." It was bad enough.


  The Whorl Hypothesis

Via RCS, an oddity about koala bears.

Koalas seem to be the marsupial equivalent of monkeys. (Kangaroos would be the equivalent of humans.)

The newly found oddity: Koala fingerprints and human fingerprints are much more similar than chimp and human fingerprints.

The article speculates in Darwin style:
While the modern human experience with fingerprints centers around crime and identification, the mesmerizing whorls on our fingers (and chimpanzees' and gorillas') did not evolve for that purpose. One theory is that fingerprints function as 'tactile enhancers', amplifying vibrations to boost the sense of touch. Another is that fingerprints boost an individual's ability to grasp objects.
A tactile enhancer for vibration seems unlikely. To feel a vibration you need to hold the finger steady, and the ridges wouldn't make any difference. In fact the people who need to sense vibrations most precisely (old-fashioned safecrackers) often sanded down their fingerprints to get closer contact.

A tactile enhancer for sensing the shape of a surface by sliding the fingertip makes sense. Braille. The small dots would create vibrations as they cross each ridge.

Neither of those sensory modes would provide a purpose for the unique pattern of each individual. When you think of sending instead of receiving, the unique pattern makes more sense.

Try this:

Run your fingertip across the edge of cardboard, or a non-rounded edge on a desk. You can hear a 'syllable' formed as the crosswise and parallel parts of the fingerprint pass over the edge. The 'syllable' is different for each finger, and it would also be different between people. Each print is essentially a spectrogram of a syllable.

Stridulation. Crickets do it. Some birds do it. Why not primates and marsupials?

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Thursday, February 11, 2021
  Unfortunately they are.

I stopped following most media types last year. One who might be worth listening now is Saagar. He has his own podcast now, separate from the earlier Hill TV show, focusing solely on reanimating real populism. He sometimes hits a fresh idea.

In this episode he's discussing the recent 'David vs Goliath' thing involving Robinhood traders.

Wolf already pointed out that Robinhood makes its money by telling Goliath what David is doing. Saagar adds that the Reddit group where all the Davids got their slingshots was founded by some of the biggest old-fashioned Wall Street types, and is still largely shaped by them.

"We shouldn't be valorizing daytrading and speculation as if they're the William Jennings Bryans of the future."

Unfortunately they are. Jennings Bryan was EXACTLY THE SAME KIND OF FAKER. He accurately denounced the evils of Wall Street while proposing a solution that gave MORE POWER to Wall Street. After he was done campaigning, he went to work for Madman Wilson, writing Versailles and forming the League of Nations. Total betrayal of populism.

Maybe I should add this fact about Bryan to the list of Thiel questions, since it seems to be a fact I know that nobody else knows. It's not secret. It's obvious when you spend enough time reading the actual writings of those populists.

Lesson: Don't be there. Don't participate in any movement, no matter which "side" it seems to take. When you walk onto the field with professional players, YOU WILL LOSE.


Wednesday, February 10, 2021
  Wrong target

A new version of a very old scam.

The scammer says that he is a hitman ordered to kill you, but he can be bought off if you pay him more than his employer did.

Obviously coming from another country, probably India judging by the syntax.

Bad targeting. Deplorables in the crazy parts of the world are already being killed by our governors and mayors and Public Death Officers. Our rulers are DEMONIC PSYCHOPATHS, not ordinary sane money-driven gangsters. They cannot be bought off, only slowed down.

Several of the commenters say that they'd be glad to have the hitman take us out of our misery.

Should have picked targets in relatively sane places like Tanzania or Kenya, where life is worth paying to retain.

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  Cute paradox

Seen on Quora....
There is a very poor quaint little town where everyone is in a huge debt with someone but with no money to pay for it. There is a hotel which is hardly seeing any business anymore. They are to soon shut it down. One day a very wealthy American guest shows up and he wants to spend a night there. However before he confirms he asks for a tour of the hotel. The receptionist asks for a security deposit which the American can take back in case he an take back in case he doesn’t like the rooms. The guest obliges.

It turns out by matter of luck this is the exact amount that the hotel owed to the chef as salary for three months which they hadn’t been able to pay. They gave the cash to the chef.

The chef saw that this was the exact amount of cash he owed the grocer for months of groceries he hadn’t been able to pay for. He paid the grocer.

The grocer realized it was the exact amount he owed the doctor for treating his wife’s arthritis.

The nurse was new to the town so she had been staying in the hotel for a few days before she found a house to rent. She too was poor and couldn’t pay the hotel at that time. The money she received from the doctor was exactly what she owed the hotel so she paid.

Now the hotel had got back the exact amount it had paid the chef. Now the guest has finished his tour of the rooms. Turns out he doesn’t like it. He takes back his security deposit from the hotel and leaves, never to be seen again.

So everyone's debt has been paid, but nothing is different from before.

No one has earned anything. But now everyone is happy.

Did the debt really exist at all?
A well-written story and a clever paradox.

This took some thinking.

At one level it's just wildly unlikely. In a small town you could have a closed loop of payments, but there's zero probability that all payments are the same amount.

Wildly unlikely isn't the real problem.

In real life the loop fails for the same reason that perpetual motion machines fail.

Every transaction has friction.

If the scene is old-fashioned, all the payments are made by gold, delivered on foot. Each payer has used some of his time and food energy and shoe leather, and risked being hit by a buggy or robbed by a pickpocket. Those losses and risks aren't recirculated or regained.

If the scene is modern, the payments are made by check or debit card or Paypal. Each payment incurs a fee by the bank or Paypal. After all the payments are made, each of the payers has lost about 5% of the amount, and this loss is not recirculated or regained.

So, after each complete loop everyone is poorer than before and MORE IN DEBT than before.

= = = = =

Later thought: Every living thing and every economy needs an input, an increase of value at some point in the loop, to overbalance the inevitable friction. For small towns the input was usually the annual growth of crops and livestock, or a specialized industry that sold high value products (wine, cheese, silverware) to the outside world. Before globalism, tiny towns could survive with a smaller amount of external input and a larger amount of internal looping, because the friction was paid to the local bank. When you're paying check fees or loan interest to the city bank, the friction losses DO recirculate. The banking side of Deepstate has been steadily eroding local banks since 1929, and the newer digital payment schemes are the final hammerblow.

More trust also means less friction. In a tight ethnic community with strong family ties, payment can be more abstract, requiring less transfer of gold or paper, less action by the bank. You can run up a tab in most stores and pay when your crop comes in. Deepstate has been obliterating trust since 1946.

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  Better question

Ergonomics mode today. A stupid Quora question pointed to a better reverse question that I hadn't stopped to think about.

Quora question: Why are carpenter's pencils flat?

Better question: Why are OTHER pencils round?

The usual school desk is slanted about 10 degrees, so round pencils will hit the floor unless you keep them in your hand.

Some of those school desks had a routed-out groove at the top, but it didn't really hold the pencil. There were aftermarket solutions like big square erasers that fitted on top of the pencil, but those shouldn't have been necessary.


  Where's your BS detector?

This isn't really important, just a continuation of my AI point-missing theme.

MindMatters is upset about the supposed "misuse" of facial identification technology to accuse an "innocent" woman of taking part in the Jan 6 DC riot.

In the first place, she admits that she was there, and she's only complaining because the ID placed her in a part of the riot where she claims she wasn't present. Mighty small complaint.

In the second place, her biography smells to high hell of SPYCRAFT. She travels all the time and spent many years in various foreign countries. She supposedly "vacationed" in Mexico just after participating in the riot.

People who always "happen" to be "observing" every politically important event are not random curious observers. People who are always "vacationing" or "hiking" in hostile foreign countries are not "hikers". They are spies, whether formally or informally. Deepstate runs hundreds of NGOs and front companies that spy and agitate in foreign countries under various degrees of cover. This is not a secret or a mystery. It's been common for at least 130 years.

So why is the woman complaining? First guess: She's trying to fire the bureaucrat who forgot that she was an agent and put her identity into the public record. Second guess: Quality control. When you need to know how well a system works, you wiggle an input and watch the various outputs. A complaint about a partly valid ID might show up weak points in the ID system.

A major part of the activity in social media is black-box wiggle and watch. Questions and discussions intended to trigger responses and identify people with specific passions and interests. What happens next depends on the passions and interests. Some of the ID'd people will be cultivated as helpers, others will be trained as "terrorists" by "opposition" organizations. Sucker Filter reigns supreme.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2021
  Surprised myself

Listening to a Mozart sonata, still thinking about Italian and programming...

The Gender Polizei should ban Mozart and Bach and other baroque composers. Baroque music is like the male approach to a task, including sex.

1 START. 2 DO. 3 END.
Baroque is COBOL. Imperative verbs.

Romantic music (Wagner, Debussy) is non-programmatic.

Stories and movies for women are the same. Lots of slow foreplay, passive and subjunctive syntax, never really decisively starting or ending. Long establishing shots, lots of inconclusive gabbing, a little implied action, more gabbing, fadeout.

If the Polizei wanted to get serious, they'd also ban all digital programming and require a return to analog computers.

Surprising myself:

And on that front they'd be RIGHT.

= = = = =

Unfortunately they're not going to force that change, because the Gender Polizei don't know history and can't allow anyone to appreciate the REAL differences between men and women. The Gender SS only know superstars. Two women have become arbitrarily famous in digital software, none at all in analog computers. (Hopper richly deserves the fame, Lovelace doesn't. Lovelace was just writing a description of Babbage's device, not inventing anything.)

Analog computers, especially fluidic, are much closer to the things that women actually do better. Smooth processes with multi-layered continuous feedback. Note the only available picture of Lukyanov's computer in action:

The Soviets did a better job of employing everyone appropriately.

Why the mismatch? For one thing, analog computers never became famous at all, so their programmers, whether male or female, are forever anonymous. Analog machines were used extensively in military applications and in the more prosaic side of engineering. They weren't used in places familiar to TV and movie producers. Digital computers were visible in newspaper offices and TV studios, so new developments on that side of computing seemed familiar to media types.

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  More Italian electronics

Continuing to look at the Italian electronics mags newly added to American Radio Library.

An article on Commodore Basic from 1980 leads to a closer examination of language choice. I had thought about the subject before and dismissed it quickly. English has no diacritics and very simple inflections, so it was obviously better for early computing. If you need to distinguish between ä and a, or if the noun forms must agree in gender and number with the adjectives, an early computer couldn't handle it.

Looking at the Italian, I can see that the advantage wasn't really so obvious.

Italian does use acute and grave accents, but they don't really matter. Leaving them out doesn't cause any ambiguity. Umlauts in German are much more phonemic, and would have been more of a dealbreaker. But the substitutions ue for ü, ae for ä, and oe for ö are common even in handwritten German, and would be instantly understandable.

More importantly, the keywords in computer language are confined to imperative verbs, singular nouns, and prepositions. In all the Western Euro languages, those words are unvarying. A singular or informal imperative is always the shortest form of a verb, and a singular noun is always the 'standard' form.

Agglutinative languages like Hungarian and Turkish would fail on prepositions, because most prepositions are firmly glued to the end of the noun and change their vowels in harmony with the main vowel of the noun.

So there wasn't a good reason to have keywords always in English. The major Euro languages could have established their own versions, which would have helped to maintain local computer industries and local software creators.

Another point of interest: DATA ERRATA. Italian is closer to Latin, so DATA was treated as fully Latin, requiring a Latin adjective form. English grammarhoids try to have it both ways, treating data as a plural without really using it in Latin.

Aside from language, I see that Commodore Basic had a multi-choice ON statement, akin to SWITCH in C. I'm pretty sure this wasn't available in IBM/MS Basic. Nice feature. Makes me wish I'd paid more attention to Commodore.

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Monday, February 08, 2021
  Stop this incompetence shit.

I'm terminally tired of hearing the idiotic nonsense, sometimes attributed to Heinlein or Einstein or Lincoln or Churchill or Plato or any of the usual attributees:

Always assume incompetence rather than evil.

Dangerously wrong.

When you're talking about an ordinary decision by an ordinary person, then you can start with incompetence or inadequate knowledge.

When you're dealing with a decision by a large corporation or government, you MUST assume


and your assumption will ALWAYS be correct. EVERY FUCKING TIME.

Since I happened to be reading a Collectible Auto article on the design of the Edsel, let's take the Edsel as an example.

Looks like incompetence, so it would make sense to assume incompetence.

No. It was evil.

Designers produce a wide range of attempts. Even excellent designers like Brooks Stevens or Virgil Exner produce timeless classics and weird shit at different times.

A large company always invites proposals from dozens of inside and outside creators. The horrible choice was not made by a designer, and we know for a fact that it was evil. McNamara hated the Edsel and wanted it to fail, so he allowed and encouraged the worst possible designs.

Bad decisions result from intentional sabotage** or crime by management. In the current holocaust, normal public health data was easily available to the governments. The governments could have simply continued using normal procedures, which were working normally. There was NO REASON to think that the regular way of handling a flu epidemic would fail.

The governments chose instead to use bizarrely wrong theories and models produced by Neil Ferguson, whose record was UNIFORMLY BAD. Unlike a Stevens or an Exner, Ferguson didn't produce some classics and some weird shit at different times. He was ALWAYS WRONG. The governments KNEW he was always wrong, and his particular brand of RELIABLE INFINITE WRONGNESS was just what they needed to "justify" a universal holocaust. They knew that Ferguson couldn't possibly predict reality.

** Sometimes the sabotage is internal, such as a hostile takeover or LBO or feuding among executives, aimed at destroying the company or the government. Sometimes the crime is committed by the entire corporation or government acting in unison to destroy the world.

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  Door open?

What the fuck is going on here?

This wasn't a package or special delivery, it was just an ordinary envelope with junk mail from some insurance company. Apparently the postman saw that my door was open, so decided it was unsafe? The inner door is often open with the storm door glass pulled down for ventilation. I often hear the postman deliver with the door open.

Why not this time? There wasn't any snow or ice, and this isn't a dangerous neighborhood. Is this a new lockdown rule to guard the postmen against Deplorable cooties?
  Before globalization killed everything

American Radio Library has added a set of Italian electronics mags from the 1970s. Before globalization's cold deadly hand killed all national industries, Italy was strong in electronics.

Americans didn't pay much attention to Italian products; we were mostly tied to the Krauts for high tech. We did get Olivetti typewriters and adding machines, but not Olivetti computers, which were WAY ahead of ours.

Everything in Italy was more stylish and attractive.

Starting with Gernsback in the '20s, radio mags always used pretty girls to "demonstrate" products. Needless to say, Italian girls were prettier than US girls:

And even Italian nerds were more stylish than US nerds. (An ad for a training school always tried to picture the real students, so you could imagine yourself attending the school.)

Italian products were more stylish AND more ergonomic. Speaking of WAY ahead, here's a neat little multimeter, built into its own case with a compartment for probes. It measured frequency, reactance, capacitance, and transistor voltage drop along with the basic VOM scales. I don't think those extra measurements were available on handheld instruments here. A few big expensive digital multimeters for lab use had the cap and freq and other functions.

[The price of 12500 lire was about $20 at the time, or about $100 in today's dollars. Not bad.]

The Italian ergonomic tradition goes back a long ways. Here's a 1908 portable voltmeter made by CGS, the electrical department of Olivetti, which was split off after Olivetti decided to focus on typewriters.

The meter is strapped on, so you have both hands free for probes. Note the triangulating straps and the self-coiling probes. The meter is more like clothing than a tool.

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Sunday, February 07, 2021
  Fills in a square

This is an interesting observation! The jaw part of a Venus flytrap emits a magnetic field just after it snaps shut.
Magnetic fields had previously been observed in other plants; algae in one study, bean plants in another. The previous magnetometers, called SQUIDs, are large and run at very cool temperatures, and the team needed something more convenient for their use. Different actions on or by a plant can elicit the fields—from being wounded to trying to snap at food within its reach, as was the case with the flytrap. The magnetic field doesn’t correspond with the act itself but the action potential that precipitates the plant’s next move.
I've been puzzled by the missing square in the otherwise orthogonal pattern of inputs and outputs.

= = = = = START REPRINT:

Nature uses magnetic and static fields and ion currents ALMOST universally, but there are some exceptions. Why?

Static fields are used for internal communication EVERYWHERE. Inside a cell, between cells, in the nervous system, inside muscles, EVERYWHERE.

Static fields are used for external communication more narrowly, but one of the narrow uses is common. Plants communicate with pollinating insects by fields, telling the bugs which flowers are ready for pollination and which are used up. Mud-dwelling fish use static fields for radio communication, in FM Stereo.

Static sensors are part of the communication systems in above paragraph, and more broadly used by just about everything to detect nearby objects. (Even dull humans use the hairs on our arms for this purpose!)

Static fields are used directly for motion in two ways, one of which is nearly universal. Cells drive their flagella with a synchronous motor, using phased variation of static fields. Spiders alter their charge to move away from walls and toward plants when hanging from a silk fiber.

= = = = =

Ion currents are also EVERYWHERE for internal communication. The nervous system is all about ion currents.

Bacteria use ion currents to communicate via miniature wires, and some plants send currents through fungal wires.

Ion currents are sensory as part of the wire systems above.

Ion currents are NOT used for motion as such. Currents are a vital part of muscle action, but the current isn't what moves the animal.

= = = = =

Magnetic fields are used by EVERYONE for sensing 3d position, but NOT used for the other purposes. It's possible that bees use magnetic motion for communication in their waggle dance, but this doesn't seem to be established.

= = = = =

Static field Ion current Magnetic field
Internal communication Yes Yes 0
External communication Yes Yes 0
Sensory Yes Yes Yes
Motor Yes 0 0

Seems like an oddly non-orthogonal chart. Nature normally uses all resources to the max. Empty spots in a chart should invite closer observation to see if those spots are actually full.

For instance, I'll bet somebody ejects a stream of ions like a reaction rocket engine. We haven't spotted it because we aren't looking for it.

= = = = = END REPRINT.

This new observation is another case of not finding because we weren't looking. The usual magnetometers used superconducting magnets, so the room had to be cold. When they used a magnetometer that can function in a warm environment where the flytraps were happy, the flytraps obligingly did their thing and emitted the field.

It's not clear from the article if the magnetic field is just the natural result of a fast-changing electrostatic field, or generated directly by moving ferric molecules around.

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  Odd radio exception

Random thought, semi-triggered by Col Green's place....

In the first few decades of radio, stations occupied a variety of buildings or parts of buildings.

You can see the variety easily in the station postcards at American Radio Library.

Most had free-standing studios, usually custom built and highly architected. Others occupied suites in regular office buildings, generally on the top floors to be near their antenna. Others rented a suite in a fancy hotel, often on the mezzanine where the studio was visible to people in the lobby.

The only type of place they DIDN'T select was a storefront facing the street.

Most businesses started by renting a cheap storefront, then moved into their own building or a suite in a skyscraper after achieving success.

Saturday, February 06, 2021
  At least it's new

Question seen on Quora this morning:

The question that has bothered me the most over the years is this: Why did the West develop advanced science and technology from the sixteenth century on, while other civilizations did not. Capitalism arose in the West, but why not elsewhere?

Unlike 99% of the crap on Quora, this is a real question with only a few fake assumptions included. The real question has bothered a lot of people for a long time, and there aren't any easy answers.

Thinking in terms of innate long phases and cycles leads to a new guess, which isn't any better than the other answers, but at least is new.

China and Persia and Greece/Rome and Maya/Aztec all achieved high tech and complex capitalism at different times. Lots of excellent engineering and manufacturing and global trade. Controlled nature with dams and canals and sewers.

The usual answers focus on invaders and weakness.

New answer:

Negative feedback at the epigenetic level. Those tribes simply realized en masse that high tech wasn't survivable, and gradually returned to high culture.

Friday, February 05, 2021
  Oscillatory dynamics

A sharp observation in a discussion of long-term patterns:

corkscrewing cycles - the variables & the bandwidth change as we move through spacetime, but the oscillatory dynamics remain fixed.

we’d make great strides if we abstracted our perceptions cyclically. Linearity leaves us vulnerable to those who take advantage of cycles

Yup. Deepstate has some long-term thinkers who do understand the natural course of weather, the natural course of human life, and the natural course of human empires. Deepstate's media is constantly barraging us with fake surprise and fake newness, eliminating all knowledge, breaking our ability to remember patterns.

Individual people have long-term memories for events and skills. Our immune systems also have long-term memories for microbes and other invaders. All three of our individual memories are assisted (in ways we don't understand yet) by epigenes that remember events and skills and microbes that happened to recent ancestors. Our cultures and tribes have even longer memories via scriptures and stories.

We gave up the tribal scriptures and stories in the 1700s with the Age Of Endarkenment, and TV has reduced our individual memory to 7 seconds. The monstrosities of 2020 have broken the memory of our immune systems. The monsters are able to digitalize and quantumize our analog systems effectively BECAUSE they understand how the world really works.

Patient countries such as China and Russia and Persia can see what's happening to the western imperialists. They know how empires rise and fall, and they're perfectly willing to help us do our own falling. From 1890 to 1990 the western imperialists were constantly attacking and invading the patient countries. Now the patient ones are getting their revenge, without trying very hard.

One way of returning to a long-term picture of those 'oscillatory dynamics' is through reanimating the original purpose of astrology. I've been thinking about this lately.

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  Irrelevant personal sidenote on follies

I encountered and enjoyed two follies when I was young. One was an astounding and mystifying piece of architecture on a property that had once been wealthy; the other was more ordinary but still fun.

The big one: In 1960 my radio uncle was renting the main section of a fantastic building in St Joseph. As far as I can tell the building is gone now. It was around 6th and Robidoux, on the SE corner of a block. Everything in that area has been replaced by city buildings, and nothing resembling this place shows on Googlestreet. The main part was a fairly ordinary 'mission-style' bungalow, with a two-story apartment wing attached. My uncle got reduced rent for acting as the resident manager for the apts. Below the main wing was a basement containing a museum, with archeological displays and skeletons. From the basement a long tunnel, something like the Hartness tunnel, led down to a large underground auditorium carved from a natural cave. (I'm calling it an auditorium because it had a raised stage at one end.) The auditorium had a separate hillside entrance, something like a mine adit, with a long flight of stairs down to the auditorium. This entrance, and the auditorium and the apts, were built like a school or public facility, with industrial-type floors and walls. There was a little ticket booth inside the hillside entrance. What was it? I haven't the slightest idea. It might have served as a bomb shelter, but the school-type floors and stairs were older than the '50s, so weren't built for that purpose. The tunnel had shelves with full wine bottles, and the attic above the apts contained old pinball machines and similar gambling equipment. Best guess: a speakeasy or semi-legal private nightclub for guests of the manor? Gambling + wine + secret room with a stage = speakeasy? Maybe. Opposite explanation: A convent, with apts for nuns, the main house serving as 'commons', and the underground chamber as a chapel.

The smaller one: Across the street from Grandma's apartment in Ponca, an upperclass bungalow had a stone fish pond in the yard, open for everyone to hang around and watch the colorful fish. Next to the fish pond was a glass display case attached to the house, always full of interesting objects. Nothing mysterious, just a real folly, maintained at some cost and effort to amuse the neighbors. The follies were removed around 1970, probably when the house changed owners, but the house itself is still there as seen on Googlestreet.

Here's a real mystery in Ponca.

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  Three follies that aided science (part 1 of 4)

What's a folly? It's an antique word for a not-so-antique phenomenon. By dictionary definition a folly is a non-essential building or feature on a wealthy estate, offering amusement or entertainment to the owner and guests and outsiders.

Follies aren't reserved for the wealthy. In fact most homeowners create follies on a smaller scale. Farmers often weld up a funny mailbox or statue from old tractor parts. Fish ponds, BVM shrines, garden gnomes, and 'little library' kiosks are all follies. Even year-round Xmas lights are a folly.

I'm continuing the theme of science BY AND FOR entertainment, with a series of three notable follies that were meant to entertain and ended up serving science as well. Two of them were fully intentional, one wasn't.

Seeing science as entertainment is hugely important. When you view science as the Only Road To Truth And The Key To Humanity's Future, you're duty-bound to obey all the vicious and deadly nonsense propounded by Big Science. When you view science as just another form of entertainment like singing and dancing and painting and follies, you aren't duty-bound to obey it. You're also more likely to DO some real science if you see it as inconsequential enjoyment instead of Classified Research Reserved For Credentialed Experts.

I'm focusing on three rich dudes, entirely different in temperament and biography, but closely clustered in time and space. All three were in politics for a while, from entirely different angles. All of the follies were built between 1885 and 1925, and all were in New England. All of the families gained wealth and power via Madman Lincoln's War, which was VERY GOOD for New England and genocidal for the rest of the country.

Part 2, James Hartness.

Part 3, Frederick Smyth.

Part 4, Edward Green.

= = = = =

The locations:

1 = Springfield, where James Hartness lived and worked. 2 = Manchester, where Frederick Smyth lived and worked. 3 = New Bedford and Dartmouth, where Edward Green lived and worked.

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  Three follies that aided science (part 2 of 4)

Tied to part 1 and part 3 and part 4.

I've done a graphic salute to James Hartness already, so will review the Hartness piece first.


When I don't understand how something works, I build it. With electronic stuff I can build the real thing using tubes and transistors and capacitors and so on. With mechanical stuff I don't have the needed skills or tools or workspace, so I have to "build" it and animate it digitally.

I had previously focused on the Altitude-Azimuth way of reaching all available angles. When I read about the Hartness scope, I realized there were other systems. The Hartness scope itself was a mystery, so I followed his discussions and started with the two other equatorial scopes.

Rehashing the relevant parts of the Mont-gros item:

This bit of graphics started from thinking about James Hartness, the semi-pro astronomer who became governor of Vermont in the '20s. Hartness invented a specialized form of telescope that enabled him to stay comfortably inside, without having to pivot around with the end of the scope.

I didn't understand how this worked, so I started looking it up. Turns out he didn't invent it. The system is called the Equatorial coudé or bent equatorial, and it was invented by Maurice Loewy in 1871. Loewy was a detail-oriented astronomer who spent his career compiling and editing tables and books of star locations and star photographs. Hartness himself, writing about his variation on Loewy, gave proper credit to Loewy. The claim of invention was only in popular magazine features about the telescope.

= = = = =

But why was it needed and how did it work?

One of the best known coudé scopes was at Mont-gros, an observatory in Monaco.

Here's the real Mont-gros around 1890:

My abbreviated version represents only the three buildings at the right end of the overview. (The big central observatory has already been modeled in the realm of Google Sketchup, so I didn't need or want to duplicate it.)

From left, the Coupole Schmausser, the coudé, and a small building housing a sidereal transit.

The Coupole still exists.

As does the coudé.

The transit building is no longer there.

= = = = =

The coudé was specialized from a more general Equatorial. The Equatorial reaches all parts of the sky in a peculiar way, unlike the more ordinary and understandable Altitude and Azimuth system. Here we run the Equatorial through all of its gyrations, with Happystar desperately trying to hold on and observe.

The coudé runs through the same pattern, reaching all angles of the sky, but it's bent (coudé) in the middle with two mirrors. The bend enables the eyepiece to remain in one place, so it can pass through a single weatherstripped hole in a wall without needing a rotating dome or a retractable cover. The astronomer can stay in one chair, comfortably heated or cooled, unhassled by birds or bugs, while the business end of the scope remains outside with no thermal differences to distort the air.

Now I can finally return to the Hartness scope itself. He described its advantages and disadvantages clearly, but the mechanism still didn't look like it could even move. After studying his wonderfully clear patent, I finally grasped it well enough to animate it.

Here's an outer view of the mostly underground chamber:

And various inner views. The upper floor was the scope workspace, and the lower floor was for calculating and recording. The long tunnel leads back to the Hartness mansion.

Now animate, showing the two separate motions and the eyepiece wandering all over the place with Happystar hanging on and trying to observe:

After animating it, I can see the pros and cons, and it seems to me that the cons outweigh the pros. Hartness eliminated one of the two mirrors in the equatorial coudé, and expanded the range of available angles somewhat, but he lost the stable eyepiece. His version is certainly less mobile than the simple Altitude-Azimuth scope. The astronomer can stand in one small area, but he still has to move around and look up and down and sideways, in often uncomfortable or painful angles.

Hartness could have regained the perfectly still eyepiece while retaining the expanded range, by adding another mirror like this:

It's not clear why he didn't add this extra angle.

= = = = END REPRINT.

Hartness was by far the most serious thinker of these three men, and the only real scientist and philosopher. He was a born and bred mechanic. His father was a machinist and gunsmith, part of a long Vermont gunsmithing tradition. The family company prospered during Madman Lincoln's War, and the firm was connected to the Goodnow family that founded Manhattan to help spread Wall Street "values" and Wall Street sweatshops in the West.

James grew up in the family business and soon took over Jones and Lamson. As manager he applied Social Economics for his employees. He wasn't wealthy enough to use his money for widespread benefit.

His telescope, along with the underground part of the estate, was mainly for his own scientific enjoyment. He used the place intensely, constantly inventing and improving machines. His brief and late moment in politics wasn't highly effective; he seems to have been 'drafted', and felt duty-bound to serve, but didn't have a real mission and got out fast. Despite his serious and original contributions to technology and philosophy**, his footprint on history is lost.

**Philosophy? Yes. Read his counterforce to Taylorism, defending the importance of human dignity and labor.

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