Monday, September 18, 2023

On Sewanee Tigers, shoving camels through needle-eyes, morbidity

I drift through the days now pursued by morbidity and the sense the deterioration of civilization, the world of the human species (plural), is accelerating to a denouement which will be apocalyptic, literally.  Occasionally I encounter a story that gladdens my heart, at least for a moment. The account of the 1899 Sewanee Tigers football team (of University of the South, an Episcopal liberal arts college in Sewanee, Tennessee, their school motto Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity) was given in a documentary I watched the other day:

With just 18 players, the team known as the "Iron Men" embarked on a ten-day, 2,500 mile train trip, where they played five games in six days. Sewanee had five shutout wins over Texas (in Austin), Texas A&M (in Houston), Tulane (in New Orleans), LSU (in Baton Rouge), and Ole Miss (in Memphis). (from Wikipedia)

Most people nowadays may not grasp what that brief quote above means in terms of sheer indomitable human will forcing performance in the context of un-relenting physical exhaustion and injury. The game as played in these early years was pretty brutal: In 1905 there were 19 fatalities nationwide (Wikipedia article early history football), and I am certain that no games called while players and fans sobbed (while the destruction of previous manly virtues in America is a concern to me, I wouldn't go so far as to recommend tourists visit Afghanistan "...the real land of the free and home of the brave...a rugged country inhabited by muscular men and traditional women.. Afghan tourism story at Air Force Times"). Ormond Simkins (a fullback of the 1899 Sewanee Tigers, and acknowledged by team captain Henry Seibels to be the best player of that 1899 group) played continuously on badly injured legs and in later years ended up having amputations of portions of both legs, dying following the second surgery). To play 5 games at the required level of physical performance, without rest and in fact traveling by train between battles, is astounding. I know a little about chronic overtraining, having maintained a very high level of martial arts capability for years while preparing for the occasional no-holds-barred fight (having the hand of God upon me was helpful also, grin), while accomodating various orthopedic injuries and exhaustion, so can appreciate the accomplishment of the Tigers in 1899. Picture of the 1899 Tigers:

The rare display of spirituality also uplifts me. In a speech last week (aroun September 18, 2023), UAW President Shawn Fain discussed the obscene money (tens of millions of dollars) given the CEOs of the automobile making companies as those same CEOs asserted that the people who actually did the work to produce those cars were asking too much. It was amazing to me that Shawn quoted Mathew 19:23–24, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God, explaining that in the kingdom of God, no one hoards all the wealth while others suffer or starve. If you don't understand context of the UAW strike, Shawn put it concisely:

In just four years, Big Three profits have shot up 65 percent. Business is booming. Over that same period, CEO pay has skyrocketed by 40 percent. They’re absolutely rolling in money. Big Three spending on stock buybacks — money they lavish on Wall Street — is up a staggering 1,500 percent. It is literally off the charts. Average new car prices are up 34 percent. They’re price gouging the hell out of the American consumer. Inflation is up 20 percent. You better believe Big Three price gouging has a lot to do with that too. And autoworkers’ wages are up a mere 6 percent. We’ve fallen so far behind. Finally, and this is key: the cost of labor for the Big Three is around 4–5 percent of total operations. Think about that. They could double our wages, not raise car prices, and still make billions of dollars.

That is a pretty good assessment of the situation in America generally these days. Automobile production is one of the few remaining areas where Americans actually produce anything of value. Inventing things, building things, has been replaced by parasitic capitalism embodied by financialization. Kevin Phillips (see for example his 2006 book American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century) describes financialization as a process whereby financial services, broadly construed, take over the dominant economic, cultural, and political role in a national economy.  Phillips also warns us that the US economy is following the same pattern that marked the beginning of the decline of Habsburg Spain in the 16th century, the Dutch trading empire in the 18th century, and the British Empire in the 19th century. Basically, America has been reduced to a nation of service providers (e.g., serve hamburgers) and a few fat-cat money shufflers. This scheme is only viable as long as the rest of the world considers it safe to let us handle their money. That confidence is being destroyed daily as we shock the world by making it clear there is no longer any American population with the values (sense of true justice and fair play, integrity, honesty, courage) that the Founders harnessed to create the Republic. 

I don't know how the world is going to avoid mass death and collapse of civilization. The warming of the planet is accelerating and we are already in uncharted waters (literally). A recent scientific paper (Richardson et al., Sci. Adv. 9, eadh2458 (2023)) states that Earth is now well outside of the safe operating space for humanity. The sea-ice surrounding Antarctica is well below any previous recorded winter level, which is alarming, as that ice regulates the planet's temperature, the white surface reflecting the Sun's energy back into the atmosphere and also cools the water beneath and near it, paraphrasing the recent BBC article.

Meanwhile, authoritarian states like North Korea, China and Russia (yes, Iran should be in there, but I think Israel may take care of that problem at some point, to the benefit of the Iranian people) are busily preparing their militaries for combined action to destroy the increasingly decadent West. China's top diplomat ,Wang Yi, is visiting Russia for "security" talks. He appears to be a pleasant fellow:

Vladimir Putin has just finished meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong Un, presumably for more "security" talks:

It seems to me that we are going to have to fight these folks at some point. I say again that we should help South Korea, Japan and Taiwan obtain nuclear weapons. For that matter, we should return the nuclear weapons to Ukraine that they relinquished with assurance of their national sovereignty.

Some might argue that I am old and my own mortality perhaps clouds my judgment as to the possibility for evolution of the present state of affairs to a pleasant world-culture where happy billions live in blissful general stupidity and banality somehow. What about Gorbachev and the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union? Couldn't that happen again (in multiple totalitarian countries)? Looking at the difference in the context of the countries I have mentioned as threats and the old Soviet Union, I find that unlikely.

That is quite apart from the rendering of much of the Earth uninhabitable from global warming and its consequences (sea level rise, droughts, heat waves, intense and frequent storms, wildfires, etc.).

To tell the truth, I will be surprised if the United States has not collapsed into a whiskey-tango authoritarian regime in the next few years. I wish I could say I was enjoying this ride to hell in a bucket (alluding to the Grateful Dead song).

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Not the crunchiest cookie in the bag, but still crazy after all these years

Cognitively impaired today, more so than usual (which is depressingly usual these days). Was unwell for a few days, then poor sleep last night, surprisingly (the poor sleep) since take suvorexant, a dual orexin receptor  (OX 1 and OX 2) antagonist, i.e., it inhibits the actions of the wake-promoting orexin (also called hypocretin) neuropeptides in the brain. In any case, I am about as dumb as an OX (the ruminant) today, but mood somewhat better along with physical improvement. Will just copy notes of my recent thoughts here, lacking the stamina or capability to edit and develop them:

Still remember Paul Simon's 1975 album, Still Crazy After All These Years, in particular the song of the same name. I was annoyed that my first wife was fascinated by one of the other songs on the album, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, but we remained a couple until 1981 (guess there were less available ways than Simon suggested). We had gone steady in high school through 1971 then gotten back together. 

7/3/23 1052 MDT (z-6) Monday KRWG 90.7 FM Performance Today, played Sergei Prokofiev first string quartet (performed by Quartetto di Cremona (English: Cremona Quartet), an Italian string quartet founded in Cremona. Couldn't find the Quartetto di Cremona performance but here is another quartet playing it on YouTube. Unmistakable Soviet era feel, mood. Desperation intermingled with terror (first section played). 2nd section played agonizing pathos, desperation seeming to overwhelm hope that nevertheless refused to die. AI-like non-human nonsense atonal sequences of notes (refuse to call them melodies), the normal human tendency to melody (as humanity roasts on an angry heated Earth, I thought with a pang of sorrow, "it will be a sad day when the music of man no longer sounds") suppressed by the death-dealing totalitarian reality of Soviet era. Library of Congress commissioned the piece in the 1930s while Prokofiev was in the US for a time. Compare Copeland's Appalachian Spring, commissioned by LoC 1946, for an emotional description of life in the free and healthy America before the deterioration 1960's on.

Re Hemingway suicide: Watched old 1995 approx. documentary on Story Channel local 6/23/23 Sunday. He had been badly depressed. He had suffered severe head injuries in recent years in plane crash(s) in Africa and likely had traumatic brain injury sequelae (my comment). Mayo Clinic repeatedly gave him ECT, which did not improve his mood (unclear if he obtained a temporary improvement like I have observed in a subject I knew) and caused apparently persistent loss of memory which crippled his ability to write (took a week to write one paragraph for JFK). He finally could not stand to continue with his core ability gone, so blew the top of his head off with double-barrel shotgun in mouth 1961. Hemingway had apparently suffered from increasing paranoia that the FBI was after him (probably true after he expressed some sympathy for the anti-Batista groups which eventually became communist regime) and that was difficult to bear as well. I know how he felt regarding the desolation and despair over losing the ability to work at a high level (I chew my cud in discontent, dumb as an OX much of the time now).

Re unauthorized constant coming and going from one's pc, phone etc. to "update" software: What happened to the days of engineers producing a program which consumers purchased and used, like a car, a radio, etc.? Why do we accept a model where, analogously, a car (though that is a bad model now since the fools are trying to make automobiles in large part dependent on software also) is purchased and is known not to be working properly, so expect unauthorized repair crews to be found in and around your vehicle working on it at any hour or day?

Re: PBS constant advertisement of their programming and news as desirable in that "the viewer can trust them," i.e., that they present only "facts." Most of the public is aware that in fact they are conforming to an agenda and the "facts" are always secondary to that agenda. This is a general tendency in our rotting civilization, e.g., the would-be fascists congregate at their Faux News or Facebook baboon-hall-of-mirrors venues so as to feed their infantile world-view only "facts" consistent with that view. You have the appalling spectacle of people who have no business publicly expressing an opinion on anything more complex than their desire for feeding or sex or the like commenting on the suggested equivalence of Biden discovering and returing a couple of classified documents and the parody of a man Trump selecting the most sensitive trove of national security documents to take with him, actively refusing to return them when requested then ordered by the federal government. Everyone is "equal" so any moron believes his/her opinion equally valid. If fools be led by fools, shall they not all be destroyed? Bah.

Writers allowed to submit scripts for television and movies (thought the latter are increasingly simply primitive-appearing computer generated cartoons) have been trained to believe "creativity" means emitting any gibberish that occurs to them, a flow of garbage consisting of mashups of pc revisionist history and personalities. There are no real humans of stature and character as protagonists anymore, anymore than there are such individuals in the host sick culture, and why not, considering that the pc/multicultural agenda demands that there is no consciousness, no actual core constituting of an individual human living life as a soul navigating the adventure of existence, but instead just a proposed mashup of brain modules careening this way and that. The result is bizarre plots (see perversion of A. C. Doyle's Sherlock Holmes with  Benedict Cumberbatch in recent years) that drift this way and that in human history (again, not real history, but one with the facts of the historical record recast to conform to pc/multic/atheist/antiwestern civ agenda), the characters without an identifiable human individual core of capacity (again, the agenda is to demand that all humans are considered equal in capacity, resulting in the end of true science but a pervasive diversity in its pseudo-practitioners). 

There should be an immediate world-wide regulation/rule/law prohibiting the use of the term "AI" (or explicitly "artificial intelligence") except in academic publications: the term "computer program" is the only honest term applicable here. Imagine wide-eyed hucksters on the side of a road in the late 15th century Europe. They wave their hands wildly in spastic motions and warn passersby of the danger of the "Demon" emerging from the new printing presses. They pull handfulls of cut printed pages from a basket and read carefully if surreptitiously selected groups of them, creating ominous apparent "Intelligent Exclamations of the Demon." They demand attention of the local townspeople and their officials, funds to study and guard against the threat of these "Demons extinguishing Humanity." A highly-respected question and website is now on strike, fighting management's refusal to allow the moderators (experts in the subject matter of each site) to strike AI-generated junk submitted as "answers."

I burn what remains of my functional time working on advance web-programming problems, trying to set up a contact form at my websites that would be resistant to the constant probes by bad actors. That being said, I still communicate time to time with scholars in various fields, most recently with a medieval philosophy expert. I will just paste some of my text from a recent email to him:

Words are powerful, our link to our inner world of thought and the connection to the cultural world we create. I allude to Uexkull's umwelt concept, Cassirer's "Essay on Man" (which I am gradually reading, with great pleasure, as usual discovering more what I believe than the author's position, paraphrasing Santayana's comment about Emerson in 1911), and Pauli's ideas:

"When the layman says ‘reality’, he usually thinks that he is talking about something evident and well-known; by contrast it seems to me that it is the most important and exceedingly difficult task of our time to work out a new idea of reality. . . . What I have in mind concerning such a new idea of reality, is – in provisional terms – the idea of the reality of the symbol. On the one hand, a symbol is a product of human effort, on the other hand it indicates an objective order in the cosmos of which humans are only a part.” [from Letter by Pauli to Fierz of August 12, 1948, quoted in "Pauli’s ideas on mind and matter in the context of contemporary science" by Atmanspacher and Primas]

Pardon my usual slipping into abstraction. I suppose that has always been my habit, perhaps more so now with less and less connection to the world around me (the state of which dismays me).

Freedom...ah what a noble idea! More license now than lack of restraint/constraint in seeking happiness and knowledge, perversely accompanied by ... a single-minded objective of cancelling alternate viewpoints (any mention of actual history or actual characteristics of man unfortunately falling into that realm of repression). Nature has a way of working these things out, but I fear the noble will be erased along with the base (so like Abraham in defense of Sodom in Genesis 8:20-27 KJV, I remind the Lord of the few who should be spared even at the expense of righteous annihilation generally). You really need a population of advanced inhabitants to make freedom and democracy work, to make it survive (less and less likely now, considering the demand for diversity for its own sake, apart from other factors).

[End quote of my email text]

Well, "that's all folks!"...for now anyway.

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Iron poor blood, geritol, snake oil, AI, and a thousand things not dreamed of

 I occasionally hear Springsteen's Dancin' in the Dark in my head:

Message keeps getting clearer radio's on and I'm moving 'round the place I check my look in the mirror I wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face Man I ain't getting nowhere I'm just living in a dump like this There's something happening somewhere baby I just know that there is...

In 1984 the song was on the radio all the time, somewhat of a backdrop to my chaotic life. I was working at a high level, making the transition to software engineer with a startup company (AMBI voice-data terminal, I talk about my work there at my old IT business site). My personal life was foolish, I still having the artist's love of love, allowing that drive, not simply for the natural physical drive of a man, but the need for the love of a good woman, one pleasing in spirit and form. It is always a mistake to desire anything to the point that you behave imprudently, dancing closer and closer to the edge of the cliff as it were. A woman I cared for used to joke that Dancin' in the Dark was my song...You can't start a fire without a spark...but people get burned by that fire more often than not (gold is tried in the fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of adversity, but some damage to the soul remains for a lifetime and beyond).

My own existence is further complicated by the cur factor, alluding to the inexplicable hate and fear of a certain class of mongrel for man. My own heels were constantly nipped at by bipeds of that ilk throughout my life, making it difficult for those who loved me to stay. As I have made clear to them, I have contempt for those who call themselves men but make their way with liberal use of their primary weapon, their slanderous tongue. David Buss, evolutionary psychologist, commented on the role of slander in “human” life in The Evolution of Happines: person's gain is often another person's loss...the most fundamental, most universal double standard is not male versus female but each individual human versus everyone else [Buss quoting Symons]. The profound implication of this analysis is that humans have evolved psychological mechanisms designed to inflict costs on others, to gain advantage at the expense of others, to delight in the downfall of others, and to envy those who are more successful at achieving the goals toward which they aspire....Men are no less vicious [than women] in their derogation tactics. The content of gossip, in short, is adaptively targeted and undoubtedly affects success in the mating market. It can simultaneously create psychological anguish and ruin the reputation of victims....As Gore Vidal noted, "It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.."

St. Francis de Sales (1567 – 1622) rightly observed that slander is a kind of murder... causing civil death to the object of his slander (cf also the Book of James 3:8). Well, I apparently had/have an indomitable will to prevail, though I am a bit tired at this late date, grin. 

That segues nicely to my recall of Geritol ads on black and white television of the 1950's. Ironically, you have to be very careful with iron intake as you age, particularly if you have liver damage. The liver manufactures hepcidin, a protein that basically provides the only way for the body to limit accumulation of iron, which is a dangerously toxic element, despite being necessary for manufacture of hemoglobin, the oxygen transfer mettaloprotein present in red blood cells. Love is Like Oxygen, you get too much, you get too high...not enough and you're gonna die (1978 recording by Brit band Sweet). Seems there is always this dynamic between the pairs of opposites which characterize existence for conscious beings. 

Speaking of conscious beings, I am appalled (being a conscious being, for the most part, though perhaps the eternal flame burns less intensely with each passing day now) at the increasing focus on the "dangers of AI or artificial intelligence." As a mystic and engineer/citizen scientist, I can tell you that there is no artificial intelligence, only simple-minded computer programs that match strings of characters with other strings of characters in huge databases and AI hucksters who exhibit the Pygmalion myth gone wild. This would be a ludicrous fraud were it not that an increasingly stupid general population believes these claims. As I have said elsewhere on numerous occasions, you would indeed have to be an idiot to believe that a glorified search engine could safely operate an automobile in traffic. That the intent seems to be to give lethal drones at least partial operational control by such applications is legitimately a concern though, not because there is actually any artificial intelligence, but exactly because there is not. Someone at PBS (think it might have been Judy Woodruff) interviewed a Microsoft (I think) manager in their AI community a few months ago. He inadvertently let it slip that it was absurd to be so worried about evil AI coming after humanity because there is in fact only primitive computer programs trying to retrieve data in a useful way. I would post a link to the interview, but it was immediately cancelled from the internet memory, being insconsistent with the current dogma (the agenda of loosely coordinated academia/education and media to confuse and mislead the population into believing a man-as-animal world view) and I now cannot find it (and I am an experienced researcher, though I grant that the internet has deteriorated steadily over the last ten to fifteen years, becoming now less a means of retrieving documents relating to search query terms than a Family Feud match on the lowest common denominator, i.e., most popular current grunting among the masses--an example of "artificial intellgence" at work, grin).

I recall, wistfully, my memories of the High Flight Chapel c. 1965 at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky (or maybe it was Ft. Rucker, Alabama, now Ft. Novosel, history being rewritten to cancel out references to Confederate the way, I am really fed up with the portrayal of slavery as something done by white people to black people, my own people in Britain having been enslaved by the Romans in the early centuries of the first millenium anno Domini, fie on the "common era," and that was hardly a novel occurrence). The Magee poem of the same name was posted on the wall in the chapel as I recall:

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of..

I similarly found a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes as Joni Mitchell sang Summertime at the end of the Gershwin Prize show March 31 (Chris Richards at the Washington Post wrote about that performance). For me it was not only the experience of transcendent talent persisting into the last years of an artist, but a feeling of bittersweet sorrow and gratitude for this thing we call a human life, which for me and other baby boomers, is fast coming to an end. RIP (requiescat in pace) David Crosby, Gordon Lightfoot. As I said recently to my old rock colleague, Chas Thomas, it seems that every day another person, another treasured feature of my life, is buried one way or another...reminding me that this will soon be my own fate.

I was forced to move my websites to new hosting earlier this year (2023), not liking the attitude of my provider after their purchase by SquareSpace. Despite my frequent incapacitation from fatigue, I somehow retrieved my former web design expertise and learned a new framework (Bootstrap), while implementing the redesign (at my old IT business site and my music career site). I have little memory of the weeks that this required, but am grateful that someone, apparently me, accomplished this feat. As a bonus, the websites are now mobile-friendly, adapting for any screen size from phone to desktop pc.

Scraps of thought:

  • 1940 Hemmingway novel (and 1943 movie starring Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman) For whom the bell tolls: Roberto soliloquy at end. Has anyone noticed this is a parallel construction to Jesus' address to his disciples at the Last Supper?
  • Medicare and SSA pending insolvency: Why never a mention of the fact that for years congress has been raiding the funds payed in by the American citizens (and that, ahem, not-so-legitimate "citizens" have been draining the funds as well after illegally coming here)?
  • The clown caucus of Republicans demand control of spending, as well as cuts in existing programs, after they have increaed the national debt orders of magnitude in every administration with a Republican president by reducing the amount of taxes the superwealthy pay. The moron news media report only that Biden wants to raise taxes on the rich, with no mention of the fact that Republican president and WWII command Eisenhower warned that it was dangerous to reduce taxes on the wealthy, i.e., Biden increases do not come close to restoring the Eisenhower years proper tax brackets for high income. The media also rarely emphasizes that the pending (as of this writing May 6, 2023) debt default is about paying bills already incurred by the country over numerous previous administrations, Republican and Democratic, not about new spending.
  • In February 2023 DOE labs commented that COVID originated from lab leak in Wuhang province (China) with "evidence low grade." Many of us had noticed several years ago that the Wuhan CDC laboratory moved on 2nd December 2019 to a new location near the Huanan market where the first COVID cases appeared:

  • Ukraine must take the fight to Russia. You cannot survive a purely defensive total war in the long term, much less win it. Also, it must be obvious that the US will indeed fall away eventually in its support. Ukraine must make this a global conflict prior to that so as to prevent that from occuring. Won't that cause WWIII? WWIII has already begun, my friends.

Good night, and good luck.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Hearts against the wind, dust in the wind, blah blah blah

 Well, I will try to write something quickly. A man can have no purpose except in the effect he has on others (unless you subscribe to the anthem of the young, i.e., the purpose of life is to live), but I have less and less capability to research and write and am loathe to spend any of my limited time up here. For one thing this blog is not publicized to the extent my websites are (publicized in the sense of being immediately located by a suitable keyword search) so it is unclear anyone reads it, though I do make the link available at my sites, directly or through intermediate links for those who want to learn more about me (that would be a selection filter beyond the general public). In any case, I am like the little Dutch boy trying to stop the collapse of the dyke, finger stuck in the hole and an immense ocean of evil distortion gathered inexorably on the other side.

As I write it is still dark out (0647 MT zulu - 7) and the wind blowing, gusts expected in 40-50 mph range. It will probably blow off and on for the next 4 months (hard to say anymore with global warming modifying all patterns). I recall the Eddy Duchin Story 1956  movie that had an unusual potency for me considering I was an infant at the time. As I recall when Duchin realized he was dying there was a storm and the wind was raging, while Chopin Nocturne in E flat major played in the background, that being a theme in the movie (perhaps because Duchin was a pianist). The Chopin was oddly familiar and remained permanently in my mind (I often played it during my rock guitar career in the 70's, off stage on a 6-string acoustic or working it into my lead solos when the band would leave the stage and break while I improvised for 10-15 minutes). Anyway, I put on a recording of Linda Ronstadt and J.D Souther singing  Hearts Against the Wind when I pulled my battered, worn body out of my rack this morning (no reason to put on Chopin, since he is part of my background classical selections that routinely accompany my work daily). Ruefully I grant that Kansas Dust in the Wind is probably more appropriate at this point. As Dillbert of Doyle's Dharma Deli fame used to yell in defiance, "Blow me!" (wonder if that fellow ever found a decent life, a story that won't be told here). As I increasingly confront the reality of death as my years increase I, despite a life's experience with paranormal occurrences and thinking about consciousness, usually view that death as simply going to sleep as usual (a long dreamless sleep, as my late father-in-law heart surgeon used to tell me), but not waking up. It is a sign of my ego defects that I view this as a terrible thing (I smile thinking of Nero's reported words as he committed suicide rather than be hacked to death by the Praetorian Guard, "what an artist the world has lost in me," reported by Suetonius in Lives of the Caesars), absent some continued existence more objectionable than the end of being.

With my central vision going and various pathologies eating my neural nets as fast as I can train new ones, it is extremely annoying to read text I have typed later and discover dyslexic-like transpositions of letters. I dislike running into typos in formal text I read and I assume most with a mind do also. I guess I could blame it on defective spell-checks, but I don't normally use them.

Speaking of defective software, it is increasingly impossible to accomplish search online, with stochastic parrots blasting proposed text like an idiot-child at every letter trying to predict at a Family Feud level what I am seeking As I have written previously, it is appalling that the general public is increasingly devoid of conscious or intelligent capability such that the primitive "artificial intelligence" garbage can be placed in their path at every juncture without complaint. I must admit that humans are so tribal and clique-motivated that I found a ChatGPT answer recently more rational than the defensive hostile covers by the bipeds at a forum (I was irritably complaining about the lack of a simple mechanism to request email notification on new activity of interest; I realized later they were using Microsoft software so probably had no way to add a feature not contemplated by the OCD-autocratic corporation).  Emily Bender's complains only that these "AI"s should be programmed to control language and history in the service of the Orwellian politically correct multicultural agenda. I would exclaim, "just shoot me," but that is probably a bad idea both in a personal context as well as the context of a secular society (no soul, no God, no foul) of decreasing intelligence (what? me worry?) and increasing armament (no talk of controlling access to military-grade weapons when white people see the country deteriorating into the usual third-world nightmare, and ironically being inclined to elect fascist clowns who will complete the process, albeit with a different skin complexion).

It has been embarrassing to witness the American government reaction to the Chinese spy balloon. Word of advice: stop talking so much and just shoot down anything that doesn't belong in our airspace. Anything more is simply evidence of weakness (of character if not military capability).

I planned to find someold Jerry Lewis movie footage illustrating spastic hand activity to accompany my continuing protest at the insistence by the media that such hand talking by people without any natural inclination for coordination somehow makes them interting and portrays personality. However, I find that I am too tired (and again the little Dutch boy with finger in the dyke, i.e., futility though the hero of Haarlem, no not that Harlem, was more successful).

You protest that I never have anything positive to say? I do commend Brandon Tsay for disarming the Monterey Park shooter at a dance hall in Alhambra, California in January (though I had to put up with the perverse American media instead trying to cast the shootings, which were by an Asian on Asians, as somehow related to purported racism by the hated Christian Anglo-Saxon culture against Asians). I say again that perhaps these mass shootings would decrease in frequency if the target crowd instantly cast all fear aside and attacked the assassin and tore him apart on the spot. 

In a less real setting, I admire Patrick Mahomes for his skill as a quarterback and his courage and motivation to take his team to a Super Bowl victory despite playing on an injured ankle for weeks. Admittedly football is an anachronism designed specifically to showcase capabilities that are now mostly irrelevant to the progress of civilization or the human species (to the extent such a species exists at this point). True physical strife between men has little to do with size or appearance in most cases. In war men do not strut this way and that on the front line and attempt to intimidate their foe flexing their biceps (not for very long anyway). Humans developed efficient killing tools thousands of years ago and excel at their use. What humans have not developed is a rational approach to society and reproduction. Behave like animals and expect to die like animals, whether the immediate vector of death is disease, starvation or direct in war.

When in Rome I guess...I enjoyed the Eblen vs Tokov mixed martial arts bout at Bellator 290 Feb. 4 right up to the point that Tokov abruptly put Eblen in a choke hold then inexplicably released him in the final seconds of the last round. I posted a question about it in a martial arts forum but could get no one interested in why that particular segment of the fight has been carefully screened online, i.e., can be found nowhere now (was still interesting to get some detail on proper grappling technique, I being more a standup fighter trained in kyokushin, though at my age and disability a fight might be more mutual assured destruction).

Tyre Nichols death at hands of Memphis police last month: Police reform? Really? Is America really ready to examine the culture that encourages police to believe they are demonstrating their masculinity rather than peforming a dangerous service for the community? When you create groups like the Scorpion squad you are creating a recipe for disaster. Police of any sex and physical capability, but with acceptable character, should be given weapons that can be progressively applied to gain control over an unruly suspect (think sedative darts or immobilizing sprays first) like Nichols (I can tell you that whatever your color, it you continue to refuse to comply with the instructions of an officer, it doesn't help you to continue to announce loudly that you are complying). The other necessary reform is to start educating all school children (particularly black) that an encounter with police is not man-to-man, but rather a transaction with a representative of the entire power of the state authorized in the pursuit of common order and law, i.e., you must comply with the instructions of a police officer (you can file a complaint later if that seems appropriate) and you must never attempt to evade arrest (unless you are ready to accept the adverse possible consequence which will include charges and possible physical injury up to and including death). I find it despicable to beat a man when he is down whatever the circumstances, but that entire episode (like most of these) was avoidable.

I feel sorry for President Biden, a man come to represent what has become mostly unruly children rather than the gentile America of history (history, not pc/multicultural revisionist garbage). If this population had hear Kennedy's 1962 "we choose to go to the moon" speech they would have been bitterly complaining within weeks that they still didn't see any people on the moon. There is apparently no place these days for a man who takes his responsibilities seriously and tries to do the right thing for God and country. America, perhaps you deserve Trump or some clown of similar nature. I do admit it is quite impossible to improve the lives of the general populace when you are afraid to disturb the perverted capitalism of this country (it is more similar to the economic structure of the National Socialism of Germany pre-WWII) that permits the entire wealth of the country to accumulate in the hands of a few (and the even more sensitive question of how to stop the lopsided reproduction of the less capable, i.e., you cannot have a true democracy unless it is populated by generally high intelligence folk of good character, and even then it is fragile), since any transfer of funds to the poor will be instantly harvested by the raising of prices on the things required for survival (think inflation).

Let me return to my work on the group theory of symmetric groups in the context of sampling strategies in randomization testing. At least I can find some peace and rationality there for a time.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Whiskey for my men, drawing swords without cause, and other matters

Heard a country western song I hadn't encountered previously (at least I don't think I recent screen for Alzheimer's seems to indicate I was more or less ok...I forget, grin). Toby Keith was singing an apparent anthem in favor of vigilante justice, "Beer for My Horses." I agree there are "too many gangsters doing dirty deeds," but not being one to join a crowd (except in the unlikely event that it was enthusiastically pursuing some noble end) I am a little suspicious of a posse of buddies acting as judge, jury and executioner. Lord knows the Innocence Project (and other related work) have uncovered too many innocent men convicted and sentenced to death, and that was done by multiple levels of government rather than a hyped-up band of would-be Guardians (it is particularly heinous for the State to take life wrongly, for we of the governing society all share in the responsibility, the land as it were crying out for justice for the blood of the innocent). 

In any case, I am favorably disposed to whiskey for one's friends and I suppose beer for the horses. Reportedly my late uncle, who I note died at an age 15 years younger than my present age, once got a horse drunk and walked it upstairs to his apartment. I became instant friends with him in 1963 (my uncle, not the horse) much to my father's disgust.

I was surprised to find that some (Setterfield) have argued that the speed of light (a universal constant) has decreased over time, something convenient apparently if you are trying to patch up the inconsistency between literal Biblical chronology of the Earth and reality (whatever that is). I have personally observed some variation in the flow of time, having been involved around 1969 in an experiment with STP (a psychedelic much more potent than LSD). We had wondered if the chemical might increase remote viewing capability (clairvoyance really), something the government was interested in for obvious reasons (intelligence from any channel is useful; the early Christian church relied on paranormal warnings of pending arrest by the Romans provided in precognitive dreams by church members). 

As the mind-altering agent took effect I noticed billowing red and blue clouds of audio gas (this would be termed a form of synesthesia) from the stereo speakers in the observation room in the lab. The 60's band Steppenwolf  LP album"Monster" was playing. I then perceived a 3-dimensional vignette occupying maybe 8 cubic feet materialize above the audio system, containing a sinister-appearing choir of perhaps twenty dark-robed persons holding songbooks and singing the lyrics. Soon the vignette  faded into a purplish aura which in turn dissolved into the remains of the reality of the room. 

I hadn't realized I was standing until I fell backwards into a wall and slumped to the floor, surprised somewhat that I encountered resistance since the walls appeared to be breathing like bellows at times and looked like wet plaster covered with hieroglyphs on closer inspection. I tried to write notes using a pencil and notebook provided, but the characters and lines immediately levitated off the notebook pages and filled the surrounding air with geometric curves, making it impossible to write. I glanced at my left wrist to check my old Benrus analog watch (no digital watches a half century ago) and saw the minute hand revolving quickly around the face, the hour hand slowly advancing behind. I become a core of being which was experiencing the flood of altered perceptions, but was standing apart from them analogously as a large boulder around which white water races in rapids. I recall thinking that I was in a time-warp, i.e., that my consciousness had become disconnected from the normal space-time events as usually measured, as well as separating from the components of ego-in-the-world. 

I realized years later when studying the Upanishads that I had become the Witness, the Perceiver (Śvet. 6. 11 (line 11 of the Sixth Adhyāya, Śvetāśvatara Upanishad, [Brahma is] The one God, hidden in all beings . . .the witness, the perceiver ). I shut my eyes and began to fall though the darkness of interstellar space, Moiré patterns of cosmic phosphorescent webbing unfolding and spiraling about me (perhaps this NASA link is still good, appears similar if less spectacular Cosmic Web NASA). Although I responded appropriately to questions from observers without their having opened their mouths to speak (which did not seem unusual at the time), I did not find any improvement in remote viewing capability. That phenomenon usually occurred in the hypnagogic state between sleep and awake, but in later years I took medications to block it along with precognitive visions during sleep, as too disturbing. I had discovered that I was powerless to change a pending disastrous future (see Cassandra myth) and so preferred not to know. 

I recently heard a young woman on a public radio segment describing the prolonged death of another woman from cancer (I think), unclear the relationship. She said that the woman had towards the end found religion and that she supposed that was a delusion. I was immediately reminded of watching over a period of months while one of the New York city atheist/pc police whittled down the short story of an acquaintance of mine (a dilettante idle-rich writer wife of a former major ceo who had narrowly escaped the savings and loan collapse with a roof over his head, he having invested in a private bank at the time that went belly up). Her original original story was interesting and alive with a real human protagonist who ends up facing a near death experience while having lost everything else of her former life. 

By the time the New York editor got through with the tale, there was only a bumbling zombie-like character displaying little more than brief internal animal-like reactions. This intentional censoring of the true depth of human experience is, as I have written many times before, the agenda of something so evil that it raises my hackles and chills my bones to realize it now roams the world mostly unfettered and free, directing the hordes of confused bipeds to their fate. 

I have accepted that it is as impossible to implant truth in the soul of a man as it is give the power of seeing to a man born blind (Ernst Cassirer in his 1944 "An Essay On Man" paraphrasing Plato's Republic Book VII, "certain professors of education must be wrong when they say that they can put a knowledge into the soul which was not there before, like sight into blind eyes," Jowett 1871 translation), but continue to the extent I am able. 

The Vedanta tradition tell us that every soul makes its own way and seeks out new paths and knowledge on its own schedule. It is unclear to what degree a person may depart from the path of a particular life, much less to what degree in response to mere observations of an outsider. We nevertheless must not forsake right action, i.e., dharma, Sanskrit root dhr, “to hold,” as one may be constrained by truth, hence here to offer words believed to be true and beneficial is an act of devotion. It is clear though that there must be a conscious choice by a soul to advance (hence the title of the great spiritual anthology classic, "The Choice is Always Ours," by Phillips, Howes and Nixon).

This 2022 year coming to a close was the first year in a while that I didn't publish (make publicly available via various online venues) any academic-level papers. I am afraid I am winding down (time modifications notwithstanding). That being said, I am still working sporadically at a high level though and was pleased to communicate briefly with a quantum chemistry professor (in another country) who had developed a closed form significance level equation for a permutation analysis (writing it as an infinite series whose terms can be computed rapidly). I had been wondering why he quoted the 1935 result of the great R.A. Fisher (the zea Mays plant height analysis in which Fisher introduced the idea of randomization testing) differently. 

It turns out he had merely made an adjustment in the way the count of permuted test statistics that equaled the original test were used, something not uncommon when an analyst is looking for an exact test at the alpha level (0.05 level of significance for example). It had surprised me because I knew the Fisher study well and had in fact uncovered a small error in calculation by Fisher (he had no computer with which to process the 32768 sign alternations of the 15 plant height difference involved in creating the randomization distribution). I wrote the following R code to accomplish the Fisher analysis exactly:

one_sample_sign_alt_sum_Exact <- function(x){

n <- length(x)

tst <- sum(x)

z <- abs(x)

# borrow bincombinations() from e1071 package:

sign_alt_mtrx <- matrix(0, nrow = 2^n, ncol = n)

for (n2 in 1:n) {

    sign_alt_mtrx[, n2] <- rep(c(rep(0, (2^n/2^n2)), rep(1, (2^n/2^n2))), 

            length.out = 2^n)


sign_alt_mtrx <- 2*sign_alt_mtrx - 1

sign_alt_num_rows <- length(sign_alt_mtrx[,1])

null_dist_vec <- rep(0, sign_alt_num_rows)

for (i in 1:sign_alt_num_rows){

    null_dist_vec[i] <- sum( sign_alt_mtrx[i,]*z )


pUp <- sum( null_dist_vec >= tst) / sign_alt_num_rows

pDn <- sum( null_dist_vec <= tst) / sign_alt_num_rows

upperTailPval <- pUp

lowerTailPval <- pDn

res <- list( nulldist = null_dist_vec, teststat = tst, 

 lenx = n, lensigncombs = sign_alt_num_rows, lowTailP = lowerTailPval,  

  upTailP = upperTailPval)



(End R code)

In any case, the chemist was rather pleased that someone had finally commented on the paper, which he had written decades earlier. I was pleased to discover that he was also familiar with the writings of Augustine (Bishop of Hippo who witnessed the fall of the Roman Empire from Rome).

I turned on the FM radio again while having a coffee break last week or so and listened to some pod-caster trying to establish that the trend in fake music, i.e., recycled pieces of other's work (grooves) and white noise, electronic sounds repetitive droning, is not as stupid as it sounds. I recall (by way of contrast) the thousands of performances I gave on the guitar, all original improvisation, never the same twice. Came to my mind a time with gathered acquaintances outside for a smoke break at an electronics school in 1978, me on an old 6-string acoustic improvising around "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin for 15 minutes or so. The little crowd had shaken their heads in disbelief at what they had heard (one granting that high praise, "that was better than the album").

Once I ran into an acquaintance who still recalled my impromptu performance of "Roundabout" by Yes, again on a 6-string alone, playing all the parts and improvising, as perhaps the best guitar solo he had every heard in the intervening 40 years or so. There was a memorable performance with one of the several rock bands I played lead with a half century ago in a downtown El Paso club with multiple levels, hundreds of people at tables with pitchers of beer. The crowd had been entranced by the music we were playing (there are some brief excerpts from some of my live work in early 70s here Dalton Live excerpts 1970s). The club owner complained to us at next band break that his customers thought it was a concert, but he wanted them to get up and dance so as to become thirsty and order more beer. They appeared to be enjoying our music using other intoxicants primarily and drinking pitchers of beer largely to counter the usual cotton-mouth.

Going back to the 19th century in the classical genre, there were the performances of the virtuoso violinist Niccolò Paganini, who hypnotized crowds with his improvisation and brilliance (the music he charted is still played today and variations composed based on their themes, e.g., "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini," Op.43 by Sergei Rachmaninoff). Quoting from "A Popular History of the Art of Music," by W. S. B. Mathews,

It is impossible after this lapse of time to realize the sensation which Paganini's appearances made. His tall, emaciated figure and haggard face, his piercing black eyes and the furor of passion which characterized his playing, made him seem like one possessed, and many hearers were prepared to assert of their own knowledge that they had seen him assisted by the Evil Spirit. His caprices remain the sheet anchor of the would-be virtuoso. The entire art of violin playing rests upon two works—the Bach sonatas for violin solo, and the great Paganini caprices. Everything of which the violin is capable, or which any virtuoso has been able to find in it, is contained in these works.

To speak of adding electronic noise tracks or repetitive portions of a single instrument performance ad infinitum is then an obscene parody of real music and artistry. What is worse, the present deteriorating culture seems not to appreciate the difference between what is basically elevator music and the performance of music by an artist.

On the other hand, there is ample enthusiasm but little talent among found in current classical music (George Santayana said it well around 1913, though perhaps more generously than I, "artists have no less talent, their taste, their vision, their sentiment are often interesting; they are mighty in their independence and feeble only in their works"). You typically encounter alternating frenzied or painfully slow random strikes on an instrument, a squeaking, groaning cello with no hint of melody emerging among the cries of pain, frantic pluckings of stringed instruments with fingers moving at random, arms flailing, as might a comedian looking at the audience most seriously while playing the result of absurd spastic motions. attempting to relay the emotions or thoughts of the composer (more composeur), but with no observable talent in music, melody, or harmony. For an example of how a true composer can relay images when bringing musical talent to bear, see for example the 1914 "Lark Ascending," by Ralph Vaughan William. 

Online you frequently encounter people trying to find a formula for, say, the work of Mozart or Beethoven based in mathematics, probably the same class of individual who believes computers can generate music. This relates to my oft-expressed outrage/despair that the fraud of artificial intelligence is becoming so widely believed now. An entire generation has been conditioned by those in academia (the perverters of intelligence) into believing they themselves are biological automatons without consciousness, much less a soul (it is easier to believe a search engine is conscious if you repress experience that testifies to your own).

I was sad to hear of Christie McVie's death (at 79) in November 2022. The Rumors album 1977 had been a part of my musical lifetrack. I had always found Christie a lovely woman both in appearance and in spirit, so loving and alive. My late wife Cheri told me she used to crank up McVie singing her "river goes on and on and the sea that divides us is a temporary one, and the bridge will bring us back together" from The Dance tracks (live Fleetwood Mac 1997) whenever she saw the Anthony, NM exit coming up on her run from Albuquerque to stay with me on weekends at La Union, NM in 2010 prior to our marriage.

Seems to be a pattern here. As I wrote the other day in a medical forum (discussing research in geroscience, I noted that I didn't believe you could circumvent entropy, the natural progression of physical systems to more probable states, i.e., increasing disorder), I am like a senescent cell at this point (what are we given as men? three score and ten), worn out but resisting apoptosis (programmed cell death) and with my angry railings against the state of things on this planet, secreting inflammatory utterings as it were. I suppose that is the way of the old much of the time. But there is the underlying tendency of humans to believe that they individually understand and know the truth of matters while their fellows are deluded and wrong-headed.  

A Frontline report December 21 (2022) on General (retired) Mike Flynn illustrated this tendency. There are the odd trappings of a religious crusade grafted onto lies and generally non-spiritual (for those with no understanding of the term "spiritual,", see the Sermon on the Mount for an example) attitude and behavior. As Toby Keith sang about in "Beer for My Horses," i.e., we see humans readily coming together to view themselves as a like-minded, cohesive group ("the good people") taking on the people who are outside the group ("the evil people"). It is bizarre, to say the least, for a former soldier to even refer to the Constitution after putting aside his oath to defend it.

Typically the greater the certitude the less the actual spiritual or intellectual capacity of the human. Contrast such posturing of folks like Flynn with the courage and integrity of the Ukrainian people and the moving address of their president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to the US Congress December 21 (2022). It is agreed that Flynn "got things done" during his time directing anti terrorist activities in Iraq, but this was apparently accomplished by putting aside normal prudence, i.e., by striking non-legitimate targets about half the time (obviously this didn't help with the whole "hearts and minds" campaign).

During the increasingly frequent periods I am unable to read and write, I seek out movies featuring people that I can admire, e.g., "The Pacific" series about the WWII pacific campaign ("Without a sign his sword the brave man draws, And asks no omen but his country’s cause", from Pope's translation of the Iliad of Homer, quoted by one of the Marines when asked why they fight), based on books authored by several Marine veterans.  I consider Medal of Honor winner John Basilone, an America lost, heroism of the legitimate sort, comparing to the fascist/authoritarian posturing of today's overgrown infants. I am grateful to have lived, but not pleased with my life's performance (I realize the life we are assigned is necessary, but still the errors and regrets are painful), nor with the state of the world. One can only hope that I am as deluded (and generally wrong) in my assessments as are the numberless hordes of narcissistic hominids who are inheriting what remains of the Earth.                                                                        

Monday, November 7, 2022

 I was drinking my first coffee of the day and switched my FM radio tuner from public radio (which was already annoying me with some politically correct or multicultural garbage that very few other than the liberal media academia axis wants to hear) to the 70's 80's pop channel. "Burning down the house" was on, which I hadn't thought of in a very long time. I recognized the song from the first few bars of instrumental and turned off the radio before the vocal began again, finding its tone a bit disruptive this early. 

The phrase evoked concern about the outcome of the pending US midterm elections (as I write November 6, 2022). A large percentage of Americans are indeed about ready to burn down the house as it were, i.e., toss the democratic Republic in favor of authoritarian cult-of-personality government where even the lip-service paid to the concept of the fair administration of justice would be dropped. 

Possibly that population segment believes (difficult to say given that they believe Trump is a legitimate businessman, apparently on the basis of his performance on the Apprentice reality [sic] tv show) that whatever the band of usual horror-show-clowns that infested the government under such circumstances, at least the borders would be secured, literally and figuratively. Unfortunately, it would no longer be America. Paraphrasing a line from Madmen, I don't know exactly how it will end, but I can tell you it ends badly.  

Meanwhile (November 6, 2022), Putin continues to evacuate Kherson (Ukraine) in the face of Ukrainian military advances in retaking territory initially seized by Russia. Speaking of ending badly, I see no reason for Putin to evacuate civilians (who he normally slaughters without much concern) unless he is planning to use a particularly nasty weapon there (it might be difficult even for an adept liar like Putin to claim that the defenders did this to their own people; he does have a habit of involuntarily smirking after a particularly satisfying prevarication, e.g., while advising to look for the recent pipeline saboteurs among those that might benefit from that). 

A modest proposal: Ukraine relinquished its nuclear arsenal years ago in return for guarantees of sovereignty. Under the circumstances, we should return equivalent nuclear weapons to Ukraine. Putin can then decide whether he wants mutual annihilation or a chance to continue as asshole-in-chief of Russia (i.e., get out of Ukraine).

At the risk of being labeled a nihilist or warmonger, if that little assbite in N. Korea continues to develop a nuclear arsenal (while also making daily threats to use them), we should arm S. Korea and Japan with nuclear weapons also. Something is going to step off eventually, so it seems reasonable to give our current friends a fighting chance and possibly deter a nuclear war in the long run. Israel is already ready to go as far as the goat-boys running Iran (just waiting for us to get out of the way). Guess as long as I am suggesting precipitous actions I should recommend similarly arming Taiwan, though they are so near their enemy (China) that they would probably have to use nuclear submarine platforms to preserve retaliatory capability.

I often feel like I am in some grotesque cartoon strip in whatever passes for an entertainment medium in an advanced civilization. The strip features a Petri dish (a shallow dish used to culture bacteria in a laboratory) labeled "Earth." Little dialogue balloons emerge from the overflowing dish (bacteria having overgrown the entire dish and now pushing the top off and oozing down the sides) with timely comments, e.g., "we really must recycle," "ban abortion, population control is wrong" etc.

I recently made my first intentional use of the insert/overwrite toggle setting on a computer keyboard. I have used computers (and primarily keyboard as input device) for almost half a century and up to now the overwrite mode only served to disrupt my work when accidentally toggled (I learned touch typing around 1971, on typewriters), as I always intend to insert new characters, not overwrite existing. However, I discovered it was convenient to use a previous data entry as a template within the field of a data structure (i.e., to copy and paste the structure then just type over the previous fields). Despite my seeming chronic irritable pessimism, I am always read to be pleasantly surprised (while I wait for my end or the end of the world, though as Schopenhauer observed, for every man death is the end of the world, the Day of Judgment, in a personal sense).

I was happy to see NASA successfully hit the DART asteroid twin. Perhaps we will be able to nudge an incoming killer asteroid off course enough that it will miss the Earth (and so remove that from the growing list of extinction scenarios applicable to our situation now).  I recall NASA experimenting with the technique a few years back when they crashed a probe into the planet Mars (1999 Mars probe crash). Just joking.

To the extent I am able, I have continued working with randomization of data (from observations) to synthesize a null distribution. As I mentioned previously, the idea, described by Ronald Fisher in 1935, is to use an appropriate scheme to randomize the data observed in order to get an idea of how rare the actually observed combination of experimental unit (say one a similarly placed pair of plants, each from a different genetic origin) and response (say the relative height of the pairs).

As is unfortunately common today, much of the original creativity in the subject has been obscured by verbal ornamentation (perhaps crudely analogous to John von Neumann warning of too much abstract inbreeding leading to mere baroque aesthetics in areas of mathematics that have traveled too great a distance from the original empirical origins; see his 1947 article, The Mathematician). In the early twentieth century Fisher (and Pitman shortly afterwards) never described the concept as a "permutation test," that being a time when educated people still attempted to use precise language, particularly with regards to mathematics. Nowadays, even an English grammar textbook author has to be apologetic in attempting to teach the student, asserting that "language runs its own course and previously discouraged usage can become normal," (from the 2011 Oxford Modern English Grammar by Bas Aarts) before suggesting delicately that "this does not mean that everything uttered by a speaker of English will be regarded as acceptable" (I note, dryly, that there would not be much point in offering a grammar textbook were it otherwise).

I don't know, perhaps human relations have always been more primate interaction than the work of the noble, rational, spiritual beings I see in the best of us (and certainly see as the appropriate model to the extent anyone feels the compulsion to better himself rather than to self-contentedly merely advocate his banality and mediocrity from whatever forum is available). Television dramas now advertise biographies for the characters portrayed by the actors. The one remaining television game show featuring real challenge to understanding and recall (Jeopardy, and no, an IBM glorified search engine could not have competed in a real game in my opinion)  now finds it necessary to offer another version of the show featuring celebrities and dumbed-down questions (I assume, since I am unable to stomach a look at the show). I realize this is partly a sign of the decreasing intelligence of the human populations (knives now often have product warnings that they are sharp, a local radio report of a helicopter crash notes that analysis of data indicated the chopper descended rapidly, etc.). If I understand the politically correct multicultural agenda, they want to stop all discrimination (negative or positive) by race, ethnicity or gender/sexual inclination among people and instead use the normal preferences of women, homosexuals or men who possess those preferences (most men probably), i.e., stock Jeopardy or any desirable employment generally with individuals judged attractive by that criteria primarily, hiring some competent people farther down the line to actually do the work (I'm not sure if they realize that becomes necessary, since most of the active proponents of this agenda work in fields where achievement is judged only by the opinions of the group rather than by scientific advance, engineering advance, true musical creativity, etc.).

Perhaps the ability to distinguish ability, integrity, and courage from innate primate physical attraction has always been more difficult to identify as one descends the ladder of intelligence and character among the variability found in the population. There was a close relationship between physical structure and capability and ability to survive in a world without advanced technology during our long evolutionary history, but the remnants of that past are a serious liability now when the crises facing humanity (mostly of our own making, e.g., overpopulation, global warming and the natural disease and wars that are developing) require decision-making by the best of us, not the most popular to the interconnected troop. As I have said previously, the ubiquity of social media like Facebook and Twitter have been a major factor in the etiology of the current plague of demagogues, instantaneous intercommunication (to the extent that images and dog whistles can be called "communication") having more or less the same effect on humans as would placing large mirrors around a baboon cage have on the occupants. I was kind of hoping Elon Musk would quietly get some smart people off planet some place where the race could just start over, knowing what went wrong previously (and watching remotely as Earth sterilized itself), but his preoccupation with Twitter makes him appear to be some kind of fool (so I am back to praying the Other Ones will take some interest in cultivating a small experimental colony somewhere; the experiment would be to determine if humans could evolve with some help).

Returning to my recent work with randomization and permutation, I was reminded that Wolfgang Pauli had in 1925 proposed that four quantum numbers were needed to characterize each atomic electron and that no two electrons in an atom have the same set of quantum numbers (from Concepts of Modern Physics, 6th Edition, Arthur Beiser ).  In autumn 1924 Pauli had proposed the new (fourth) quantum number as a "two-valuedness not described classically" (quoting from Paul's December 13, 1946 Nobel Prize Lecture). The 1925 proposal that no two electrons could share the same set of quantum numbers came to be known as the exclusion principle (a convenient property, since it keeps the atoms of our bodies from collapsing, along with planets and stars, though the latter may collapse when their hydrogen and secondary fusion fuels are exhausted, with a spectacular explosion observed as a supernova). The fourth quantum number came to be thought of as electron spin, though it is essentially a quantum-mechanical property of the electron (and other particles) and does not really correspond to spin of a particle (the electron, like other matter particles, is fundamentally an energy packet, or a field). If you have two electrons, you can describe their configuration space, i.e., their three coordinates in space and one coordinate in "two-valuedness" (electron spin if you prefer, though it is more a group theoretical property, e.g., you would have to walk twice around an electron or other spin 1/2 particles, which comprise matter, to return to the original starting point as it were). All particles of the same kind, e.g., electrons, are otherwise identical, so they can exchange configuration coordinates with one another arbitrarily, however, for fermions (the electron is a fermion, with spin 1/2) the wave function of the system changes sign by such an exchange (antisymmetric). Exchanging coordinates is a permutation of the space and spin coordinates (yes, I took a while to get to the connection to permutation).

Having established the context (or driven the reader elsewhere), I now mention the interesting paper I ran across, Pauli’s ideas on mind and matter in the context of contemporary science by Atmanspacher and Primas. Pauli apparently related to Laotse's (Lao-tzu, the legendary Chinese sage who wrote or propagated the Tao Te Ching several millennia ago) concept of having an indirect influence on others, the good ruler being one that is not consciously noticed (clearly I am more heavy-handed in my writing up here, but I do use the other approach in many other venues and have throughout my life). Privately Pauli expressed some interesting ideas about human existence and physics:

“It is true that [in a quantized field theory] future is not yet distinguished from past. From my point of view such a distinction should, however, not be introduced into quantum theory by an additional principle, but derives from the physical situation insofar as the result of a previous observation is usually assumed as known, and then one asks for the statistical distribution of results of later observations.” (1948 Letter from Pauli to Rivier).

Or, concerning symbols:

When the layman says ‘reality’, he usually thinks that he is talking about something evident and well-known; by contrast it seems to me that it is the most important and exceedingly difficult task of our time to work out a new idea of reality. . . . What I have in mind concerning such a new idea of reality, is – in provisional terms – the idea of the reality of the symbol. On the one hand, a symbol is a product of human effort, on the other hand it indicates an objective order in the cosmos of which humans areonly a part.” (Letter by Pauli to Fierz of August 12, 1948)

I myself wrote some thirty years ago that "we inhabit a world of our own making in many ways, man alone on Earth breathing life into the images of his mental world." I was surprised to find (in the Atmanspacher and Primas paper) that Cassirer had written in 1944 “No longer in a merely physical universe, man lives in a symbolic universe.” We are not talking about the signals used by animals for example. Those designate expected reactions in an animal (it concerns me that human discourse is becoming more merely this kind of animal signal in recent years). Animals which speak do not use words to express general ideas, as Leibniz wrote.

Human symbolic life, on the other hand might result in the construction of vehicles that leave the Earth, the transmission of information over radio waves, etc. This is a creative role of a qualitatively different sort compared to the constructions of animals, e.g., a twig broken by a chimpanzee to a convenient length by which to poke out a termite to eat; the chimp might have some image in mind beforehand after once seeing it done, or fumbling out the procedure the first time, but it is quite a leap to the manipulation of abstractions (with very little if any initial connection to entities already existing) and eventual realization of complex scientific and technological devices.

I don't mean to say that the path to the "joy of understanding" (reputedly Da Vinci called this the noblest pleasure and I am inclined to agree at this late date in my life, perhaps having forgotten most of the other pleasures as dimming visions of youth) does not require some meandering and effort, much less tidy than the published formal papers would imply. Pauli wrote in 1957 (see Atmanspacher and Primas paper):

“I hope that no one still maintains that theories are deduced by strict logical conclusions from laboratory-books, a view which was still quite fashionable in my student days. Theories are established through an understanding inspired by empirical material, an understanding which is best construed, following Plato, as an emerging correspondence of internal images and external objects and their behavior. The possibility of understanding demonstrates again the presence of typical dispositions regulating both inner and outer conditions of human beings.”

Jan P Vandenbroucke writes in Observational research, randomised trials and two views of medical science that

"... discovery and explanation cannot be defined equally directly. Aetiologic researchers have a duty to play around with low-probability hypotheses, because these may lead to new insights. Much good can come from going down the wrong alley and detecting why it is wrong, or from playing around with a seemingly useless hypothesis: the real breakthrough might come from that experience. What is lost if we go too far in the wrong direction is time and money for science. That is again inevitable: science makes progress “in a fitful and meandering way” as described by Stephen Jay Gould...all data analyses are interpretations in the light of particular hypotheses and a particular state of knowledge. All communication about data, like all data collection, is selective and interpretative. This inherent selection and interpretation may lead scientists to stray collectively too far in a wrong alley. Again this is inevitable, as data cannot be collected, nor analysed or communicated, without interpretation...

Well, I will stop this meandering for now and wish you and anyone else of good heart good fortune somehow.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Dust bowls, passing of an era with Elizabeth II, watchtowers, permutations and other things dreamt of

On local oldies radio heard Jimi Hendrix playing his masterpiece, All Along the Watchtower, the other day. Dylan wrote the song 1967 or so, and Hendrix recorded it 1968. I recall at the time being mesmerized by completely unique electric guitar riffs and audio processing, Hendrix more or less creating the acid rock style that was soon taken up by other players for decades. The lyrics were another nod by Dylan to the Old Testament apparently, he probably being familiar with those verses (like many of us of past years, the words of the Bible are an eloquent underpinning to much of our thought, form and substance). Isaiah Chapter 21, verses 5–9 (KJV):

21:5-9 Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise, ye princes... For thus hath the LORD said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth. And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen... and he hearkened diligently with much heed: And he cried, A lion: My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my ward whole nights: And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen

I actually had tears in my eyes when I heard of Elizabeth II's passing and watched some of the many retrospectives on her. For me, aging and despairing at the course of humankind, it was more than simply the death of a good-hearted queen, monarch of a country which I still feel a great affinity for (as many of the original colonists and their kin). It was yet another loss of a type of nobility and integrity that is vanishing now. I mourn the death of both. It was telling to hear American news folks somewhat puzzled at the quiet reverence of thousands of Brits who gathered to see her off---the type of people who left Britain for the New World were definitely not the type who remained!

I watched a PBS special on the 1930's Dust Bowl climate disaster recently. I was fascinated with the reaction of the inhabitants of the Oklahoma/Texas areas affected, the denial and attempts to persist in their previous habits and life: 

This is of course highly relevant as I watch a global catastrophe occuring now, almost weekly damage and disruption of America from wildfires and vicious weather (well said by California governor Newsom to be "nature's fury"), flooding, destructive winds, rising sea levels inundating coastal areas, roasting humanity with unheard-of heat. A core of Americans react this time with the same denial, but with the added viciousness of the child of poor character encountering limits. And still we have the counterbalance of the perverse academia-media axis who "Who feel that life is but a joke" (from All Along the Watchtower).  Four horsemen are approaching, and the wind indeed has begun to howl!

I have spent recent weeks studying combinatorics, the related topic of permutation testing in statistics being as chaotic and imprecise as mud-wrassling a greased-hyper-pig, as we used to say in my hippie-dog days late 60's southwest Texas (well, as I would have said if I had been devoting much time to the problem then). Permutation is the process of producing new orderings of a sequence, think of quickly switching the order of three cups under which one hides a treat while trying to test your dog's intelligence (if that is still permitted, after all, the dog has its own cultural traditions). 

I ran a simulation of the random reordering of the differences in height of Zea mays plants grown by Darwin to test the superiority of cross-bred over self-fertilized (I have mixed feelings about the relative merits of both at this point in history, but that is another matter). This was suggested by Ronald Fisher in his 1935 Design of Experiments, thus initiating the subject of permutation testing, though, to my continuing irritation, subsequent practitioners tossed precise usage of mathematical terms out the window and loosely referred to any shuffling of data and labels as "permutations." 

The idea is that if you have a true experimental effect, in this context that a cross-bred plant will grow a bit higher (and attain a higher standard of living?) than its poor self-fertilized competitor, if you randomly change the signs (plus or minus) on the measured differences in height and count how many times the sum of the differences (one way to do it; there are other test statistics possible) is as extreme as that originally observed, then you can estimate the probability that you are seeing a random effect rather than a true experimental result. On the following plot I mark the observed original statistic with a vertical red line. The blue histogram plots the count frequency of randomly shuffled sums (sums of randomly alternated signed height differences), most being much lower, suggesting that our observation is unlikely to occur by chance:

To do the analysis and create the data used in my plot above, I pulled (extracted the computer code of interest and modified it to accomplish my limited goal apart from the original package) some Python code from a software package by Kellie Ottoboni (Ph.D. from Berkeley) and colleagues. The yellow curve plotted over the top of the blue histogram is a plot of a normal distribution with the mean and standard deviation of the histogram data, for comparison. By the Central Limit Theorem, if you take enough samples of a population, it eventually begins to look like the bell curve plotted, i.e., it converges to a normal distribution. Randomization techniques like "permutation testing" handle the case when the samples tested may not be normally distributed, i.e., they allow you to make inferences about the data without making any assumptions of normality (probably not a good idea to assume anything is normal these days, but that is another matter also).

I mention Kellie in particular because a paper she wrote with two collaborators, An Empirical Comparison of Parametric and Permutation Tests for Regression Analysis of Randomized Experiments, was very useful to me in bringing me up to speed on this subject. Coincidentally, one of her Ph.D. advisors (who also worked on the Python code cited earlier) at UC Berkeley, Philip Stark, had written and posted one of the first online courses taught at UC Berkeley, Introductory Statistics, which I had studied in February 2022. Stark writes well and has a good sense of humor, e.g., the epigraph for his online course is "statistics means never having to say you're certain."

I cringe everytime I hear a new announcement on public radio attributed to "new research" or "science" because it is inevitably some dubious or trivial result reflecting either an outright distortion or misuse of a very small statistical significance. In Practical Regression and Anova using R, Julian Faraway quoted St. Augustine (4th century):

The good Christian should beware of mathematicians and all those who make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and confine man in the bonds of Hell. 
In Confessions and City of God (two major works by Augustine) I could not find this purported quotation, although it is more or less a good summary, in more metaphorical phrasing, of the many discussions Augustine did offer on the absurdity of astrology, which at the time the practitioners of which were labelled "mathematicians." 

Speaking of covenants with the devil, I feel sorry for Liz Cheney, who must now realize that all those years she believed she and her father naturally obtained roles as leaders because of their integrity and intelligence were years of delusion, illusion. In fact the population which had elected her (and now worships the antichrist and continuing polluter of the American Republic) is largely bestial and moves this way and that with no more higher thought than that of cattle in a herd. It is ironic, of course, that one of the few Republicans with balls, as it were, is a woman. I salute Liz and hope to see and hear more from her in the future (as I have said before, America is rotting in many respects and I would like to see that process reversed somehow, but I would hardly follow a parody of a man to accomplish that goal, so cannot support the last Trump).

And speaking of the herd aimlessly moving this way and that, a few weeks ago the major media all tried to shift from coverage of the courageous fight of the Ukrainians against the murderous, cowardly hordes of Putin, to the plight of the Afghan people under the Taliban. There was little mention of the twenty years, 3000 or so American lives, and trillions of American dollars spent giving those people every chance to achieve a democratic republic and dispose of the Taliban. Apparently we are somehow supposed to believe it is our fault. I suppose the the pc/multicultural/antiwhite/antiwestern axis is nervous that too much attention is devoted to the Christian, white, courageous Ukranians. In any case, that dog didn't hunt, as LBJ might have said, i.e., the media dropped most of that new focus as the public found it unappealing and unbelievable.

New product idea I am considering: Energy saver thermostats for home HVAC, simply adds a degree to any setting for cooling and subtracts a degree from any setting for heat. 

Well-done, Speaker Pelosi (another case of 'nads). You thoroughly annoyed the Chinese Totalitarian Club, but at least made it more likely that we would fight the Chinese if they attacked Taiwan. Why should we care? Aside from our word as a nation, you must judge from the lessons of history that totalist regimes never stop with their immediate neighbors. To that extent, better to help others fight than find ourselves isolated facing a fight for survival alone. Of course, with our population increasingly stupid and obese to a degree that our Armed Forces our having difficulty finding qualified recruits, any fight we get into is going to be a tough one now. We still have some technological superiority, but that won't last forever (American science is slipping, not surprisingly when concepts of excellence have been discarded in favor of diversity for its own sake and education has been made accessible to all and therefore of little worth). 

Good night, and good luck.