Ignorance is Bliss?

Maybe
But only if your ignorance is buttressed by a life untroubled by interaction with the greater world, and the outside world is untroubled by interaction with you. 

Ignorance is not about technology or science (or it can be but usually is not,) it’s about the willingness to see things as they are not as you wish them to be, the strength to change your mind when the evidence shows that some alternative is superior, the arrogance to ignore the milling masses if need be and the humility to listen to the quiet voice of reason.

Some comments from some folks who understood …
“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
― Aldous Huxley, Complete Essays 2, 1926-29
“There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Collected Works
 “Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but usually manages to pick himself up, walk over or around it, and carry on.”
― Benjamin Franklin
“Beware the man of a single book.”
― St. Thomas Aquinas
“Confidence is ignorance. If you’re feeling cocky, it’s because there’s something you don’t know.”
― Eoin Colfer, Artemis Fowl

So now I become a product shill for Logitech

I used to use MS mice and keyboards but have found over the years that they can be a bit iffy regarding quality, they always look nice but after a few weeks they either quit working or seem to require unplugging/replugging (rebooting) every few days or hours and then quit working altogether.  I also found that the early big wireless USB keys were annoying to damaging.  Then I found Logitechs ittle bitty USB keys, at first one per device but now they have a unifying key that works with up to six devices per ea, now every computer I own has one of the keys and one, two or three devices connected.  They just work and the software for managing the devices and the key system is simple intuitive and again just works.

I just bought my second set of wireless mice + Keyboards this evening, an M525 mouse I got for 24.99 and a K360 (compact) keyboard (29.99) to connect to my old ThinkPad T42 that I have just dual monitor connected to my big DELL 24 in monitor sharing it with my DELL psuedoUltrabook from work.  My work setup has a M515 mouse on a unifying key and they don’t bother each other a bit.

By the by, Dells are inexpensive but solid, easily managed machines for the working drudges in the world (like I me when thinking for a buck) but I bought a Leonovo ThinkPad for myself and my writing habit.  While I did not go overboard on hard drive (and maybe should have) I did put in a big dollop of main memory and paid for the upgraded graphics.  Those splurges plus the inherent ruggedness of the ThinkPad have served me well.  I have typed many hundreds of thousands of words on the world class keyboard (the A key plastic is word down so its ridged and the graphic has worn off) but it still boots up faster than any of my Dells, XP is still rock stable and II still love the trackpoint mouse knub in the middle of the keyboard.  It’s lighter than most of my Dells up until the latest little devil and the 14 in conventional aspect screen is better for a writer than the movie slot screens that are so popular today.

So anyway, there you have it, Logitech rocks, Thinkpads rock, Dell has its place in the scheme of things.

Cheers out there

More Blue model Blue Growth

Saw an op-ed in the Indy Star that started out asking what Romney would say to a police group about explaining why we don’t need more police on the beat.

Juxtaposed with an article elsewhere pointing out that violent crime is at a 40 year low after a significant reduction for the last however many years and that even none violent crime is decreasing.  And this during a recession!

An argument can be made that this is because there are more police and more prison cells than ever before.  Or it could be because police patrolling practices with focus on trouble spots and keeping feet on the street are inherently more effective than the blanket patrol car and large precinct office staff model that preceded it.

However given that most police forces are unreconstructed and there are vast opportunities for more effective use of the people on hand, the need for more police is to me; at least unclear and possibly even preposterous.  As WRMead at ViaMeadia might say this is just more Blue model thinking, pressing for more Blue model growth.

Given that historically locking thugs up just opened niche for other predators to move in, it’s more likely that video games are absorbing a lot of youth time that used to be spent getting into trouble.  And its harder to make crime pay these days unless you have to be savvy, connected and have the gear to do it right or you get no payday.  And with the prevalence of violence in the criminal strata, it seems to me that the number of fools willing to take up the life has to be somewhat limited.

The biggest concern that I have is that a permanent criminal culture could develop, one that is all but self-sustaining, like the preceding and overlapping welfare culture.  This culture is so isolated from the larger american society that its members do not see themselves as having an interest in or path into the society at large because its alien and in some senses very cold and unfeeling.  In the criminal culture life may be ugly and short but it may also be very much focused on immediate gratification and the id of the young men who are its principal actors.

 

I Am Chrome Now

Have to admit that I have resisted Chrome though I loaded it up long ago along with Safari, which Apple forces on one when you have an iPad.  But today Explorer blew a gasket, I think because its really out of date and can’t handle the new IP address system.  I’m still on XP on this computer (heck I’d be on 2000 if I had my druthers.)

Anyway, I’m uploading my latest Novel to Smashwords and I’m waiting to see if I pass the great Meatgrinder approval check first try.

The future may be now

Private space flight becoming mainstream

Ability for a person of moderate means to buy tools to build almost anything

Quantum effects erase the speed of light barrier

Ability to design materials down to the atomic level

Personal communication between any two people anywhere on earth with minutes if not seconds

What of the above was not science fiction a decade ago…well maybe the last, but it was definitely sci fi twenty years ago.

We live in an age of wonders…we just don’t always appreciate it.

The Future of War

The future of war is taking form all around and it is not a vision of super battleships and death rays, though they may exist in infinitesimal numbers the real fighting will be done by tiny groups of specialists (SOCOM, the SEALs and an array of similar highly trained, expensively equipped and lethally effective troops.) Weapons like one discussed in Wired recently, a Proposed program to develop a missile capable of hitting and destroying small targets like SUV’s (60 miles away) that can be fired from another SUV.

SUV being unloaded from a C-17

There is a bit of spy v spy in this and the Wired article is a bit ironic in tone but the truth is this is the future, and in most ways it will continue the trend of things getting better for the majority of humans, it will kill its target without killing hundreds of others and could lead to a ‘decapitation’ strike where the warmaker is taken out of the picture so peace can find a way.  And of course it will be misused, and ill-used and those of good heart and hope will deplore it all.

Of course the use of discrete platforms is nothing new, the recent tragedy in Africa involved a U28.  This is a single engine utility turboprop, built by Pilatus and used all over the world but very intensively in Africa where its low cost of acquisition and operation along with the high reliability of the single turboprop airframe make it highly coveted.  You can think of an SUV as being in the same vein really.

Pilatus, U28

Of course drones will be a big part of future war, though how big and how are interesting questions. If both sides are aggressive users of technology with combat hackers or the like as well as jammers, radio direction finding/ranging and guys (and gals) with skeet shooting guns and skills it should get ‘interesting.’

Here’s a piece of drone related news where things got ‘interesting’ for some bystanders when a crashed drone was given the coup de grâce by one of its robotic compatriots.

BRAVO: Red Tails, Everyone should see It!!!

Red Tails Broadsheet

Saw this movie with my son today (Sunday 22nd Jan).  This is like Saving Private Ryan a watershed war movie.  It is fabulous to watch, the characters are realistic and well played so you care, the story telling is deft, there is no complexity her but that’s not the point.  It is an uplifting story of brave men (all types of bravery) trying to do the best they can and winning on more than one level.    

I will warn you that I do not go to movies to learn history, neither do I go to them to learn philosophy of life lessons, I go to be entertained.  And most movie critics these days appear to be operating in a different plane and writing for each other not the folks in the real world. 

The biggest problem I have had with many war movies up until recent time is technical.  All the compromises that had to be made to make any large scale war movie and my inability to look past ‘minor’ issues like US M48’s used in The Battle of the Bulge to represent German Tigers/Panthers. 

Red Tails shows that modern technology and good film making are beyond this, the setting is viscerally real throughout, providing a rich background canvas that the people and the action can play out in. Absolutely fabulous aircraft scenes throughout.  When the only thing I could gripe about is that sometimes they made some of the ground sets look too old and worn I should just shut up…. and the mud and basic layout etc were again exquisitely done. 

The men (and it really is all about men the only female character though sweetly played is only a set piece) are well played, it might have been biased for modern tastes but they came off as real, the relatively clean cut, slightly less demon ridden people of a simpler day men who were playing their part in two wars.  One with bullets and one with hearts and minds. 

This movie was rated very highly by the public and moderately low by the critics.  The explanation I have for that is that the Critics cannot stand a movie that puts the bigotry of the time in the proper context.  It was so obviously a constant drain on the men but it was the background to their lives, the constant slights many unconscious rather than direct attacks.  I am very sure many critics wanted a movie that wallowed in the bigotry and hatred a bleak look at the dark hearts of men (we don’t need that, know all about it.)    Instead what is here is a simply fabulous war movie about men I grew to care about that made its point about the utter stupidity of bigotry by positive rather than negative example.

Bravo Lucasfilm, George Lucas, Industrial Light & Magic, and of course the writers, director and actors.

Space and entropy

Hubble Photo

A Hubble picture I think its looking into the hot hydrogen spectrum

Just some writing therapy other than Elgin, struggling a bit with Elgin in New York. I think having that deadline in front of me was effective even after I’d gotten over the base line. But that’s the way it is.

Spent too much time today reading articles and blogs on the current state of the world. Things are starting to look up in the US and yet most of the pundits are saying it’s going to be a flash in the pan, especially if the Euro resumes its crash into the toilet. And Oh, even if the Europeans pull it out, the Chinese are probably going to implode. And if the Chinese don’t implode then we need start worrying about their hegemonic intentions in the far east.

And then you have the Arab spring, all of which are now turning out to be pro Islamists of one stripe or another….well duh! Of course they are, the secular piece of the population almost has to be small be definition and they were rebelling against various levels of despotism that was supported at least partly by secular and pro-Israel US/Europe. The reaction is going to blow back. One just has to hope that the more liberal (reasonable set of rights and open economy) arms of the Islamists remain in control because the majority realize that the hardliner conservatives will keep them in at least a deep a hole as they have been for the last fifty years.

As to space and entropy…

space

1. the unlimited or incalculably great three-dimensional realm or expanse in which all material objects are located and all events occur.
2. the portion or extent of this in a given instance; extent or room in three dimensions: the space occupied by a body.
3. extent or area in two dimensions; a particular extent of surface: to fill out blank spaces in a document.
4. Fine Arts
a. the designed and structured surface of a picture: In Mondrian’s later work he organized space in highly complex rhythms.
b. the illusion of depth on a two-dimensional surface.
5. outer space

en·tro·py

1.Thermodynamics .
a. (on a macroscopic scale) a function of thermodynamic variables, as temperature, pressure, or composition, that is a measure of the energy that is not available for work during a thermodynamic process. A closed system evolves toward a state of maximum entropy.
b. (in statistical mechanics) a measure of the randomness of the microscopic constituents of a thermodynamic system.
2. (in data transmission and information theory) a measure of the loss of information in a transmitted signal or message.
3. (in cosmology) a hypothetical tendency for the universe to attain a state of maximum homogeneity in which all matter is at a uniform temperature (heat death).
4. a doctrine of inevitable social decline and degeneration.

Complexity and Size…the silent killer of Progressive dreams

I don’t want to crow that I have pondered these things for some time but I have recently seen a couple of posts on some sites where people are beginning to wonder about the problems of size and complexity and interconnectedness that are at least a chunk of the problems bringing the Euro down and that I also think had.   I think that its still a nascent thought but R. Fernandez had a pretty good post here that tied this together

I think some of this is in response to the Rauche Book Demosclerosis The Silent Killer of American Government, (which is mentioned in the Belmont Club piece) but I think that this is just one part of the overall puzzle.

demosclerosis…. which Jonathan Rauch defines as “government’s progressive loss of the ability to adapt” as a side-effect of the postwar style of politics that emphasizes interest-group activism and redistributive programs.”   In Phillip Longman’s book review of Rauch’s  Demosclerosis: The Silent Killer of American Government. – “Rauch rightly asserts that the “American system of governance today is much less at the mercy of any narrow manipulative few than at any time in the past.” The era of back room bosses who called the shots in service of rich patrons is long gone. But that has hardly brought about a more effective, or even more equitable, government, Rauch observes, because it has been replaced by a coalition representing virtually everyone. “We have met the special interests and they are us,” Rauch writes. “Much as mutual funds have offered ordinary people the access to almost every type of productive investment, so interest groups have offered ordinary people access to almost every kind of redistributive investment.””