12/06/2016

Mental processes

When I was about seven years old (1964) the world, including my parents, was completely okay with little kids riding their bikes a couple of miles across the town to visit the variety store.

No helmets, no sunscreen, no hydration in the 110°F desert heat. And we left the bikes outside unlocked without a second thought.

To buy candy. Root beer barrels. Wrigley's Juicy Fruit gum at five cents a pack.

But I polygress.

The bike ride was on streets except for one place where you could save about half a mile by cutting across an undeveloped lot.  There was a beaten path along a minimum-length diagonal from the one boulevard to the back of the drugstore parking lot.

All was well until some construction-type asshat needed to get rid of about three yards of sand.  He went out into the middle of the path in the middle of the lot and dumped a mound of dry sand.

So there I am biking along and thinking of the money in my pocket and its value with regard to things like Brach's cinnamon hard candies vs. green army men vs. plastic model glue (and yes any kid could buy it in those days).  Turning across the vacant lot and up the path, I see the lump of sand.  No problem.  But...

There is a reason you don't see too many bicycles at the beach.  The pounds per square inch on bicycle tires make you sink into dry sand way deeper than a footprint.  I ended up slogging down to a complete stop about one and a half bicycle lengths in.  Hm. Time to get off and walk it back to the beaten path.

Where was I going with this?  No, not the drugstore.  I mean, yes, the seven year old me was going to the drugstore.  I think a squirt gun claimed my money that day.  Shaped like a Colt 1911, fit my had perfectly, never leaked -- you could fill it up and keep it in your pocket for emergencies.

I meant where was the present me going.  Only this: some days, some times, my whole mental/verbal ability is down to about the level of trying to bicycle through dry sand.  Your mileage may vary, and it probably depends some on the width of your tires.


12/02/2016

Ever notice

Every competitor in a new field simultaneously tries to maintain complete start-to-finish and top-to-bottom control of their niftiestness, and tries to become the standard to which all other competitors will have to comply.

VHS vs. Betamax?  19th century railroad gauge conflicts? Phillips vs. Pozidrive deck screws? JIC vs. SAE vs. DIN?  Apple vs. Microsoft?

The plum to be plucked in some of these conflicts is government contracts. "MIL Spec" can be a golden ticket for a company, such as when Break-Free CLP met the "Un-meetable Spec" for a Pentagon-approved firearms lubricant.

Competition is a good thing. Open Sources is also a good thing -- giving rise to even more competition and creativity for after-products such as Androd apps.

But the .gov influence can get in the way of development, don't you think?  I'm thinking of, say, how MIL-Spec ECWCS polar fleece stays expensive and crowds out development once it's THE spec.








12/01/2016

Welcome to politics as devised theater

When the United States was just a gleam in the Founding Fathers' eyes, there had already been a generation or so of discussion about the way the then-colonies should be governed. A lot of discussion but little agreement. What they more-or-less agreed on was not what they were FOR but what they were AGAINST.  Look at the Declaration of Independence.  It is mostly a litany of the harms inflicted by the king and his agents. The debate of the time (see Federalist Papers) centers on how to avoid the significant harms visible through history and in their own time.

Here's the question: how do you constitute a way of government that avoids the harms (see Declaration) while making sure that you "... establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty ..." ?

Well, at some point you have to stop arguing and start making. I know they call it Political Science at our failing universities, but it ain't Science. It's Art. In fact it's Theater.  Specifically, it's Devised Theater.

Wikipedia says: "It is very hard to pin down exact methods for devising, as every group of collaborators will have different ways of approaching the creative process. One very common method is to begin by focusing on form, and then extract thematic ideas and work with them retrospectively." (emphasis added)

Well hot Wiki damn, whaddya think the original Americans did?  They got all focused on the form of the government.  What the Constitution constitutes is the form.  Aside:  What was the world before God spoke in Genesis chapter 1?  Anybody?  That's right, a formless void.  Anarchy of potential.  The world came into being as God spoke and set limits.  Earth, meet Sky.  And it was good.  Back downstage: America came into being as the words of the Constitution attempted to set limits on government.  The Founders believed in freedom.  (God does too, by the way, He even risks losing you to wrong application of your freedom.)  The American experiment devised a system by which the governed also do the governing: limited self-government!

Devised Theater came about because some theatrical experimenters believed that the actor (Wikipedia again) is "...  a creative artist in their own right, as opposed to a functional worker there to carry out the wishes of the writer and director ..."  See what I'm thinking?  In America, a free person is an agent of his own destiny, working with others, within limits.  We're living Devised Theater. America.  The biggest show on or off Broadway since the 18th Century, and it's not top-down, it's Devised.


11/10/2016

Happy Birthday, USMC

In 1775, Congress (whatever passed for a Congress in the not-yet-declared-independent portion of the British empire in what is now the New England States) voted to raise two battalions of Continental Marines.  Thus, 10 November 2016 is the 241st birthday of the military body that is now the United States Marine Corps.  That's, like, old.


9/26/2016

Chomsky Out, Plato Back

Noam Chomsky's theories about the genetic epistemology of language may end up in the dustbin of history even during my lifetime.

A long and detailed article at Scientific American includes this:
In the new usage-based approach (which includes ideas from functional linguistics, cognitive linguistics and construction grammar), children are not born with a universal, dedicated tool for learning grammar. Instead they inherit the mental equivalent of a Swiss Army knife: a set of general-purpose tools—such as categorization, the reading of communicative intentions, and analogy making, with which children build grammatical categories and rules from the language they hear around them.

(Emphasis added.)

Ah, I knew it would come back to analogy some time.

Plato's Theaetetus, please call your office.

Of course if rational discourse is "ratio-nal" it must be analogical.  How else can you explain the verbing of nouns (all the Greats do it!). And how else could children understand the nonsense of If I Ran the Circus? -- I mean, "The Flummox will carry a Lurch in a pail / And a Fibbel will carry the Flummox's tail"?  The soul of man is deeply analogical, and I don't think it's a genetic mutation either.

Plus I never liked Chomsky:  I got the impression he was singularly invested in reducing the human mind to strictly binary operations.

9/12/2016

Now I'm Archie Bunker

The "All in the Family" Archie Bunker.

All of a sudden, as I approach the mark of completing three decades on this planet, I find out that I am the anachronism in the room.

I'm an Archie in a Meathead world.

8/19/2016

This is why we all need quad-rotor delivery service

Floods.  Fires.  Earthquakes.  Tornadoes.

These things happen.

UPS and FedEx are amazing, but they aren't magical flying carpets when disasters strike.




We need to ditch the FAA and get going with autonomous aerobot deliveries.

The devices the Luddite media call "drones" (Cuz, y'know? DRONES!!! They, like, KILL people, man!!!) need to be developed for the greater marketplace.

I for one welcome our future aerobot delivery persons.