While lots of my posts are filled with miscellany, it’s been a while (six years!) since I did a Monday Miscellany post. It was a brief idea for a regular series that didn’t turn into anything. (Ah, well, it happens.) The really cool stuff ends up in the Wednesday Wow posts now.
Sometimes I do a “Friday news dump” of stuff that’s caught my eye but which probably isn’t that interesting to most (especially geeky stuff or social commentary stuff). Today is more stuff of middling medium Monday interest.
Or something like that. Mostly trying to keep notes from accumulating.
To be honest, I’m in a bit of a funk. This virus business on top of four years of trump and trumpettes. On top of a general global social inflection point these past two decades of the new millennium.
I never thought the 1990s were that great, but in retrospect they seem like the sweetest caramel sauce on the tastiest ice cream. The word that keeps running through my head these days is Koyaanisqatsi. (Some few of you will know exactly what I mean by that.)
In fact, I think I’ve figured out the problem. It’s our technology.
More specifically, it’s our electronic technology. See, the thing is, that stuff is all run with electrons. And electrons have a negative charge.
So our whole technological electronic world is being run by negativity.
No wonder everything sucks all the balls.
(Yes, I’m totally kidding. But it is kinda funny. In point of fact, humanity’s harnessing of the electron is up there with our harnessing fire when it comes to complete game changers.)
I saw a headline insisting that there was a vitally important science fiction movie I absolutely had to see before it left Netflix.
Headlines like that tend to annoy me. Everyone’s idea of what’s must see differs. (And, being an intentional outlier, rarely applies to me or my tastes.)
This time the miss was breathtaking. The movie in question? Cloverfield!
The article’s point, in part, is that the movie did go on to spawn a franchise and is well regarded by many. But it’s regarded among some science fiction fans as a total turkey. (The article’s author clearly is among its fans.)
For me it seems to highlight the divide between popular science fiction and that which is more for us life-long gourmands and cognoscenti. What’s true of food, is true of art.
Suffice to say I won’t be making an effort to catch it before it leaves Netflix.
Speaking of franchises, I have, on Netflix, been watching the new Ghost in the Shell spin-off, SAC_2045. It’s okay, but without the stunning artistry of the original film, and even without the charm of the earlier spin-offs.
Something is missing here, but it’s okay (so far I give it a decent Eh! rating).
It might be the 3D animation style I find a bit off-putting. It’s that crude blocky style used in the Star Wars Clone Wars film and TV series. Also all those ultra-cheesy news re-enactment videos that were popular for a while.
I don’t care for the style at all, and would rather see 2D animation than that.
Anyway, to lift our heads about the confusion, it helps to have a guide.
An article in ars technica digs into the proper official way to pronounce some of the technexotica that permeates our lives: You’re saying it wrong: How to say oft-mispronounced tech terms.
You’ll learn, for instance, that the Apple operating system (iOS) is properly pronounced “eye-oh-ess” and not “eye-oss” — per every Apple speech given or document written. As the article points out, with Apple terms, you can always use Apple’s own text-to-speech to get the official pronunciation.
The one that made me think is how those of us who work with computers pronounce the common Unix system directories /bin and /lib. The former is where the binaries are kept, the later is where “library” files are kept.
Most computer geeks I know say “bin” and “libe” (long I). Which raises the really interesting question, then why not “bine” (also long I)? If “libe” is short for “library” why isn’t “bine” short for “binary”?
One wag pointed out that /lib is for library files, but /bin is a bin for all the binaries.
I’m definitely in the “bin” and “libe” class with no intention of changing, but it is interesting to think about.
Another one they covered of personal interest was SQL. Back in the day, pretty much everyone used “ess-cue-el” but when Microsoft became a major player with their SQL Server, they pushed the pronunciation “sequel” — as in Sequel Server.
The irony is that the original name for SQL was SEQUEL, but that had to be changed due to copyright issues. Structured Query Language was once intended to be Structured English QUEry Language.
(The article also points out they are known as ars technica, a Latin term for “art of technology.” In particular, it is not pronounced “arse” technica. I have a friend who is careful to point out he suffers from Asperger’s, not “ass-burgers.”)
((And how do we pronounce the seventh planet in the Solar System?))
More as a bookmark for a possible future post, this article in Salon about the myth of the lizard brain: No, you don’t have a “lizard brain”: Why the Psychology 101 model of the brain is all wrong
The title rather says it all, the article just elaborates.
What’s called the triune-brain theory promotes the idea of the human brain as a kind of onion with more primitive layers inside. The idea being that evolution bolted on increasing capabilities.
But it’s just not a true picture. Our human brains are holistic evolved machines. Many of our psychological difficulties come, not from having inner lizard brains, but from how messy evolution is at engineering.
It isn’t that we have lizard brains we can’t escape but that Mother Nature turns out to be something of a hack (in the old-fashioned good sense of the word).
Also worth of a look (and another item I may return to), this article in Vox about an Atlantic article by George Packer. Writer Sean Illing interviews Packer in The coronavirus revealed what was already broken in America
Packer essentially says that he was speaking metaphorically in his Atlantic article. American isn’t a failed state quite yet, but he sees us headed in that direction. (So do I.)
An important point he makes is that P45 isn’t the cause, but a symptom. More importantly, he’s brought to light the failures already in the system.
The truth is, the “system” has fallen on its arse. It’s so corrupt it can’t deal with someone like trump. Even the news media has massively failed in the face of what has grown, fungus-like, on the body politic.
I’ve been saying for decades that we’re in trouble as a culture. No one wants to believe it (they all say: “It was ever thus.”). But the chickens have pretty clearly come home to roost.
Let’s get back to some lighter stuff. Speaking of the right way to say technical terms, here’s a video from Don Lincoln (of Fermi Labs) about where the particle names come from:
It was helpful for me, since I can never remember if hadrons or baryons are the inclusive term for all composites made of quarks. Pointing out what the names “baryon” and “meson” actually mean clears that up.
I’ll leave you with a couple more Conway Life videos I made.
I wanted to implement it in 3D, not as a 3D set of rules for evolution, but in keeping a history of board configurations. (I got the idea from some cool 3D cellular automaton videos I saw.)
It turned out okay, although I’d like to make the history change color more as it ages. It looks pretty cool, but I think it would look better with more differentiation in the history. It all sort of merges into a beige mass now.
Here’s the first one that more demonstrates some simple figures (including a broken “Glider Gun”):
Stay sane, my friends!