Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Steam Problems with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

I've recently been discussing problems with the Steam scheme for games on Amazon forums and product reviews.  To me, this (IMO: completely illegitimate) "digital rights" system seems almost virus-like in its intrusive and disruptive nature.


(Above: Taskbar After a Steam Update)

Debate opponents who are strong supporters claiming to "love Steam" suggest I've been unfairly targeting a great add-on, with suggestions that my computer, myself, or the Skyrim program are culprits.


 (Above: Steam hangs, neither button works)

 (Above: When internet access is limited, this immovable window
locks user out of software indefinitely.)

 (Above: Use Windows to shutdown malfunctioning Steam at your own risk!)

Unfortunately, I was unable to collect screencaps of the "Changes to hard drive loop" which appears, like so many problems, related to using Steam to handle the startup for Skyrim.  Digging into the internal functions of Steam and telling it to resync its internal files and perform a verification of those files seemed to do the trick, once again allowing me into a product for which was advertised as a purchase, for which I paid, and I expect to own.  

Being locked out for hours or days because Steam is unable to verify that I'm not playing a game without permission is abusive and insulting.  Steam advocates, (like Facists and Nazi's) claim that the extra security and other benefits are worth any minor inconvenience - often hinting that anyone who complains has something to hide, and is probably a "pirate", "terrorist", or a [fill in official bogeyman here].

Of course, it is true that originally, the Nazi's and Fascists were widely praised in U.S. policy and intellectual communities, in a manner indicated in by John Gill in the Original Star Trek ep. "Patterns of Force".  Spock explains this efficiency propelled a crushed and bankrupt country to major imperial power quite rapidly.  What was most attention-getting: this was during a global depression with people unemployed and starving everywhere, including Germany.  Kirk points out it was a horrible system that had to be destroyed at terrible cost, but the official strategic decision to oppose Germany was only made after it was realized that tremendous strategic opportunities could be realized by entry into the war, and that Axis ambitions would conflict with U.S. imperial ambitions.

Shortly after this decision, Japanese were able to read how the brutal conquest of Hawaii followed by illegal invasion & occupation was providing the staging area (Pearl Harbor) for B-17's from Alaska in the hopes that they would be used for operations like the indiscriminate firebombing of Japanese civilians advocated by Claire Lee Chenault.  A friend of Chiang Kai-shek, Chenault lobbied for extermination (by fire) of the "the teeming bamboo ant heaps of Honshu and Kyushu."  After a more than a year of military buildup by the U.S. consistent with both public statements and past history regarding the inhabitants of North America, Central America, the Carribean, Hawaii, and the Philippines, the Japanese attacked the illegal military base in occupied Hawaii. 

In the U.S., Pearl Harbor's bombing by Japan is generally understood to be, and widely referred to as an "unprovoked, surprise attack" on the U.S.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Objectivity 1.2 - Collective Empiricism

The world is big, chaotic, and dynamically changing.  To get a grip on things, we humans put things in categories to which we refer with terms like "dog", "pastel color", "malaria", or "revolutionary scientific theory".  

To communicate ideas to others, they must be able to understand the terms we use, and have the ability to recognize when something fits a categories we are using.  To facilitate this, books have been produced for centuries which provide examples demonstrating relationships between individuals as types of a category.  What we learn about each category seems to be summed up by an archetype of that category.  

Joseph Campbell's "Power of Myth" related the interesting role culture plays in forming this archetype with a category of creature known as "the dragon".  

In Western European culture, the dragon embodies the sin of greed: amassing treasure and virgins through violence, yet neither of which he is able to use.  In contrast, the Asian dragon is an embodiment of such vital life energy that various legends include dragons' visitation/protection/contact/breath as the cause of a woman conceiving the Buddha and/or Confucius.  

While our individual archetypes vary, we all seem to use them as guides to determining whether what is immediately before us belongs in one category or another.  While amazingly efficient for categorization, its reliability drops when our scope of perception increases.

I recall lying on the grass as a child trying to reconcile the idea that the Earth rotates when deep in my bones, I seemed completely at rest.  Years later, I learned hyenas were cats, not dogs as I had always believed.  Pineapples don't look like berries, and polar bear fur looks opaque white. 

Daston & Galison define atlases as "systematic compilations of working objects" which "train the eye to pick out certain kinds of objects...and to regard them in a certain way".  To the right, we see an atlas reproduction which uses "figures as genuine illustrations", as opposed to later works where the images contained in atlases rule science as "the alpha and omega of the genre", according to Objectivity.

Derivable from the work of Mary Hesse and dovetailing nicely with the "imagistic reasoning" process identified in Nancy Nersessian's very important Creating Scientific Concepts, images "make the science".  Atlases "must begin with an explanation of why the old ones are no longer adequate for the task", mapping the "territory of the sciences they serve".

They are also large, expensive, and tend to take a significant portion of the authors' lives.  Now, we even have an atlas of scientific atlases of sorts.  Note the size of Katy Borner's "Atlas of Science" relative to the hardcover textbook "Cognitive Structures of Scientific Revolutions", although Atlas of Science does not have the gargantuan proportions of many others, it is big, packed with illustrations that take center stage, and is lovingly printed on beautifully thick, expensive paper.


Atlases function not only to mark and define group knowledge, they form the cognitive framework used by practitioners.  Scientists, through their atlases, have left an amazing amount of evidence behind, exposing their deepest unconscious beliefs to scrutiny by others who want to pry into secrets even they would not have known.  One of those beliefs is "Objectivity is a scientific virtue", but that was not always the case, as we will examine in our next section: Objectivity is New.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Objectivity 1.1 - Blind Sight

Chapter 1, Epistemologies of the Eye & Blind Sight opens with the claim that "Scientific objectivity has a history" and the authors proceed to distinguish this concept from the far more ancient virtues of "truth" and "certainty".  

Fascinated with the processes of thinking and understanding by which I might not just learn more, but ways to learn better and understand things otherwise unobtainable, this kind of material is irresistibly sexy.  Also, I hate to be wrong in a degree that used to be called "scrupulosity" or "obsessive concern with one's own sins and compulsive performance of religious devotion."  In my case, this means ethical science. 

Although the 3 values interact and overlap somewhat, each is distinct, different, and is an important tool for understanding.  Also, they represent evolutionary stages of collective cognitive development in scientific research. 

Daston & Galison provide historical illustrations developed in pursuit of each scientific value.  Googling "Hortus Cliffortianus 1737" brings up this plant illustration which result from efforts dedicated "Truth to Nature" within botany.  This virtue was an all-but universal foundation of such illustrations from that era, and still so useful that these beautiful works of art live on in textbooks today.  This, despite the fact that everyone knows this particular illustration does not show any real plant that has ever existed.

The authors attribute the rise of each scientific code of behavior as the result of developments in previous science.  They claim "Truth-to-Nature was a precondition for mechanical objectivity, just as mechanical objectivity was a precondition for trained judgment.  They also contrast these developments against succession of political regime change, such as one paradigm overthrowing another in Kuhnian revolution.  Rather, they posit "a far messier situation in which all the elements continue in play", IMO much like evolution within an ecosystem where new species are added, perhaps at the expense of a few previous varieties of another species.

This micrograph is similar to that in the book, where a camera is used to capture real snowflakes, including "peculiarities and assymmetries" without human interference.  This is what Daston & Galison term "mechanical objectivity" which arose out of truth to nature in an effort to prevent errors like those pointed out in Section 0.1.

While searching for the third and final illustration of this section, I encountered this blog, featuring a similar review of "Objectivity".  Clearly this book has lots of fans - and based on the small amount I've read, rightfully so.

 Finally, we have an example illustration which is the result of "trained judgment", where researchers deliberately interfered in representation of the data to remove defects in instrumentation.  

Scientific atlases are Objectivity's focus, a selection for which the authors argue at some length and with success we will examine in our next segment: Objectivity 1.2 - Collective Empiricism.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Objectivity 0.1 - Prologue, Objectivity Shock


Objectivity by Lorraine J. Daston and Peter Galison opens with a man alone in a dark room, obsessing for years over drops of mercury and milk liquids hitting a pane of glass laid on a table.  With the strobed light from a spark, he was able to temporarily "burn" a frozen image of drops' impact on his retina and using this image, he would sketch the and later write extensively on the "perfect symmetry" produced by these splashes, the beauty of such a symmetrical form, and so on.  This was perhaps the first effort of its kind to capture instantaneous measure of a dynamic process, and use the technology to elaborate categories of outcomes, or "simplification through a pictorial taxonomy".  Trouble arose when cameras replaced eyes, and that perfect symmetry which had made such sense emotionally and mathematically, NEVER occurred in reality.  All the sketches, drawings, and text referred to something that did not exist and after 20 years, Arthur Worthington later admitted seeing, studying, and unintentionally expounding the virtues of something "which may never actually be realized."

On one hand we may consider this an example of a sort of delusion as Worthington did: an aberration due to perceptual limits of the eye and the psyche.  The authors state here that Worthington's "conversion to the 'objective view' is emblematic of a sea change in the observational sciences."  Depending on one's philosophy of science background, this may be called a paradigm shift, replacement of a cognitive frame, revolution in science, or transformative research. 

On the other hand, the Critical Reality philosophy of Bhaskar might treat this "delusion" as a virtue of "counter-phenomenality", where underlying principles can in fact, be demonstrated by a set of examples evidencing a real principle, even as individual examples provide prima facie refutation.  Here, the non-existent perfection and symmetry conform to real tendencies of fluid dynamics and other physical principles which can inform, explain, and predict.

The authors cite this example as one milestone among many of the rise of a new scientific virtue: "scientific objectivity" which as we will see in later chapters, is not a Copernican refutation of previous models according to Dastin & Galison, but rather a new pillar in the foundation of science, or: a new star in the constellations by which exploring scientists navigate.

This navigation proceeds in part via a process for which the authors provide context in our next post: "Objectivity 1.1 - Blind Sight".

Monday, May 30, 2011

Charity, Democracy and the Church of Capitalism

The top headline of the most important newspaper in the world, The New York Times, on May 27th, 2011 was titled: "Aid Pledge by Group of 8 Seeks to Bolster Arab Democracy".  Authored by Liz Alderman, the article tells us a great deal about the deep indoctrination and newspeak where words which previously had philosophical, political, and moral definitions which meant something are redefined into meaningless marketing double-talk.  How?  Let's take a look at the purported goal of the announcement: "democracy".

Wikipedia claims democracy as "Democracy is a form of government in which all citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives" and then goes on at length to describe other factors and considerations, notably the idea that "equality and freedom have both been identified as important characteristics of democracy since ancient times".  Equality was the goal that Adam Smith was pursuing with his plan for markets, which he predicted would result if people could operate with perfect liberty.  Given the perfection to act without obstacle in any way they might conceive, people would rationally choose outcomes resulting in such perfect liberty. 

The "G8" are said to represent rich countries, but really only represent some controlling elites within them.  These controlling elites are what Adam Smith called "the principal architects of policy".  Smith rightly noted that these planners make certain they gain profit, regardless of "how grievous the effect on others".  In the article, we learn that "the threat of economic stagnation could undermine democracy."  Since economic factors like profit often come at expenses that aren't of economic interest, (war, fear, suffering, death, pollution, etc.) I tend to be a bit skeptical.  When spectacularly rich collectivist organizations with histories of slavery, conquest, racism, and the like claim to want to "help" the poor, it suggests the same kind of help might be offered as England's conquest of India, Germany's invasion of Poland, or the U.S. puppet regimes installed by men like Smedley Darlington Butler.  All kinds of red flags go up - for me anyway.

Not so in this article, as the claims to noble ideals and charitable aspirations of these neo-imperialists are announced without a hint of skepticism.  After international groups like the G8 have violently destroyed secular movements of people trying to obtain a meaningful say in their societies, (for decades) now we are warned "that the democracy movement in the Arab world could be 'hijacked' by Islamic radicals if the West did not help stabilize the economies". 

What kind of democracy would these rich elites like?  Ordinarily we might suspect the kind where foreign corporations can come in and maintain control over the population, but it would be impolitic to use such coarse language.  More politically correct would be to assert not that democracy is based on the ancient principles of self-determination and equality, but rather to claim: "Democracy...could be rooted only in economic reforms".  This was clarified as: "open markets, equal opportunities and jobs to lower staggeringly high unemployment rates, especially among restless youths".  Thus, attacking defenseless production of local markets with rich industrial products (which are often subsidized in rich countries) and turning "restless youths into sweatshop wage slaves is democracy.

Ms. Alderman reports this as completely normal, perhaps even a welcome humanitarian gesture.  The author's belief in the importance of profit for foreign investors is demonstrated by her dismissive reference to "Old leftist political parties" who are demanding the new government act "to help the poor, even at the price of discouraging foreign investors."  Clearly, anyone who thinks government should protect its citizens from harm do to poverty rather than insure profits for foreign corporations is misguided at best, but potentially dangerously insane.  Clearly, the author and contributors David Kirkpatrick and Mark Landler know little of their own countries' economic development, or perhaps they think things proven to work in the past are worth considering in light of European Bank claims its "expertise" should trump the uninformed, misguided ideas of the overwhelming majority of the population.  Democracy, we learn from this article, means following the historically predatory plans of the International Monetary Fund and the European Bank, not those old Greek ideas of equality and freedom. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Warp Drive Development - Introduction

Everyone familiar with the distances involved in astronomy, space science, and the search for intelligent life in the universe knows that even if we could travel in a conventional spacecraft at the impossible speed of light, significant human exploration of a tiny nearby fraction of our galaxy would not be plausible.  No sensible person, government, business, or other organization would fund it and among enthusiasts impatient for progress, a taboo topic remains unspoken: the voyage would certainly be a suicide mission – a concrete fact which would seem to block any path to realizing one of our oldest, most beautiful dreams: to sail the stars and meet other civilizations which are probably there.  Distance and time are the core constraints on achieving this goal.

Einstein’s Relativity, an exemplar of modern scientific genius and revolutionary ideas in physics, mathematically describes space and time as an integrated “continuum”, similar to a stretched rubber sheet that warps up and down.  Relativity explains and predicts observations of fundamental quantities in physics with respect to each other.  These fundamental quantities include time, distance, mass, temperature, etc., and one of the consequences of relativity is that nothing can be observed to move faster than the speed of light in a vacuum.  More than a century later, Einstein’s model continues to drive cutting edge research into unresolved problems, contradictions, and mysterious observations that don’t seem to make sense.

Despite the most impressive machinery, greatest amount of money, manpower, and dedication ever committed to an investigation, we still can’t give a consistent explanation of exactly what happens when a candle flame converts a tiny portion of mass into heat and light.  What does this persistent inability mean?  It depends on one’s point of view.  From within the physics community, it suggests the need for new principles to be discovered, most likely involving the kind of discoveries characteristic of physics progress during the past 100 years: new particles, interactions, and dimensions.  Unfortunately, this has led to an explosion in complexity and increasingly intractable problems with the math, where all sorts of infinities appear and cause the math to break down, in contrast with nature, which seems to work just fine.  It is openly acknowledged that “A New Copernican Revolution” is needed.

Despite important differences, our current state in cosmology is very much like the pre-Copernican era, from a history of science perspective.  At that time, modeling the circles of motion resulting from heavenly spheres required calculations which were so long, complex, and expensive, that merely getting 2 astrologers to agree on the current date was proving impossible.  When better measurements were taken, they indicated that systems of circles within circles of truly byzantine complexity were required to accurately account for the observations.  Thomas Kuhn described this state of affairs as a pre-revolutionary crisis phase, where anomalies create a critical mass that cannot be addressed by evolutionary modification to the prevailing paradigm. 

Today, modeling dynamics of space, matter, and time are proving so long, complex, and esoteric that decades of study are needed just to understand part of the generally-accepted standard model.  As data pour in from astronomy and particle physics, elaborating physical models of greater complexity and unusual properties is perceived as the proper course, as it is thought they will eventually accommodate all the observations, make clear predictions, and resolve apparent contradictions.

From an information management perspective, if we’ve been unable to convert lots of related data into usable knowledge on how to proceed, we either aren’t using sufficient resources or our approach is flawed, built on incorrect assumptions.  We plainly see that now regarding the pre-Copernican approach.  To no longer take for granted assumptions that have served us well and seem obviously correct is profoundly difficult.  If we have a lifetime career invested in frameworks based on those assumptions, it is all but impossible to identify and question them.  The process of applying this knowledge to ourselves in a crisis phase can be helped by documenting our foundations.  Therefore, let us assume: (1) there is a reality that exists which is distinct and separate from what we can perceive with our common senses, (2) we are smart enough and have enough clues to figure out generally what’s going on, and (3) our inability to consistently explain everything we can observe so far is due to errors in some of those assumptions. 

Despite the difficulty in conceptualizing a future model which will conflict with current beliefs, we can extrapolate a few characteristics that the New Copernican Model (NCM) will almost certainly possess relative to the Current Standard Model (CSM), based on distinguishing features of scientific concepts which qualify them as revolutionary.  In general, we can be fairly certain that the NCM will: 
  • Replace at least one underlying CSM concept 
  • Remove an observer-centric bias
  • Refer to “observations of X”, where “X” is a fundamental quantity in CSM
  • Explain why measurements appear the way they do 
  • Utilize simpler processes (relative to CSM) 
  •  Reframe human observations as a consequence of these processes

Revolutionary new models are like any model, initially proposed in a poorly elaborated, immature form, and often by people in separate, but related fields.  These people notably have practical applications in mind.  A technical or engineering challenge provides invaluable tools for theoretical development, perhaps the most important of these being criteria for distinguishing ideas that actually work in real-world practice.  Integrating work between research scientists and development engineers accelerates experiments in ways unsuitable for most R&D projects, but are invaluable where they can be used.  Drastic reductions in the time it takes to identify promising avenues of research are realized, mistakes are discovered sooner thus avoiding waste, and the likelihood that pursued research will be successful improves.  The Apollo Program is a dramatic illustration of how such focused and practical efforts can yield a flood of new ideas, practices, and technologies.  

In significant respects, the beginning of the Copernican Revolution can be traced to the need of the Catholic Church for a reliable, standard calendar to which everyone under its auspices would adhere.  Today, similar practical needs are developing in government, industry, and academia; Globalization will rapidly assist the convergence of needs and goals in mutually supporting efforts.  We will briefly examine the most relevant government actions which will help drive creation of an NCM.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) envision an organization dedicated to developing a starship which needs a revolutionary new cosmological model enabling interstellar flight.  Because of relativistic limits we must find a way to get from point A to point B without crossing the intervening distance and incurring the inherent casualties and costs.  Fundamentally, what is this “intervening distance”?  It is something we observe that is so intrinsic to our current conceptualization that we cannot describe it in simpler units than as something we might measure with a ruler.  In other words: our knowledge of distance has advanced little since before the Pyramids of Giza were built.

There are excellent reasons to treat distance and time with some skepticism, despite our common-sense perceptions and CSM categorization as “fundamental quantities”.  From a cognitive science perspective, their fundamental reality would require humans’ sense organs and nervous system to just happen to be located at, constructed within, and sensitive to the foundational dimensions of the universe.  This seems a suspicious coincidence, and not merely because it is exactly the kind of observer-centric biased assumption refuted by theories of Thales, Copernicus and Darwin.  Experimental results suggest humans are not sensitive to important domains of reality beyond what relates fairly directly to molecules.  This narrow spectrum of perception holds initial plausibility, since molecules are the defining constituents of life and living.   Such an approach appears more reasonable and dimensionally neutral for explaining why distance and time seem as real as the sun’s illusory motion across the sky, and it shares the advantage of linking our observational conditions to our conceptualizations. 

Provisionally adopting this view, how might we go about formulating a NCM?  The context of the research to creating faster than light (FTL) technology for interstellar flight shows significant potential for a number of reasons: it is practical, exciting, well understood, massively popular, and offers unparalleled potential for advancing human understanding, technical capabilities, inspiration, business opportunity, military and industrial application, and the grand adventures of discovery and exploration of the stars.  Required resources can be obtained much better when the objective of the scientific research is clear.  In short: creating an NCM driven by starship technology development presents a highly unusual, perhaps even unique opportunity. 

Considering development of an NCM and a starship, we know the organized effort will be temporary (i.e.: have a definite start and end), and deliver something unique: theoretical constructs and technical artifacts which are new, arising within a knowledge and physical environment that is changing.  We also expect future scientific research and starship-related operations to proceed in an ongoing manner, without expectations of a specific end date.  The domains concerned with ensuring these types of efforts achieve their goals are program and project management.  Of most immediate interest is that they offer good recommendations on project assessment so we can plan appropriately for the kind of project we are undertaking. 

In following segments, we will apply the tools and techniques of program and project management to developing a New Copernican Model and faster than light technology for a starship.  Selecting appropriate tools and techniques to apply depends on the type of project we are administering or managing.

Developing the best assessment possible of this project is the focus of our next installment of Warp Drive Development: Project Typology Assessment.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

How a Typical Liberal Supports U.S. Military Empire

In a piece in the New York Times, Gregory Johnsen demonstrates how intellectual liberals typically justify military imperialism on behalf of their own societies.  There can be little doubt that such justifications are never acceptable when invoked by others. 

The author calls attention to his position and NYT article in another blog, explaining that "the US can no longer put its momentary security interests ahead of its values in Yemen."

The author has a conception of “US values” that appears profoundly disconnected from both the long-standing US government strategic priorities and our current political realities.
  
In the NYT’s piece, Johnson states: “The United States and its international allies will have a limited window of opportunity to get things right in Yemen.” Note the presumption that meddling in Yemen is a responsibility of the US, as if Yemen were a vassal state. The conceptualization that the US effectively owns the world does appear deeply ingrained throughout the domestic mass media and intellectual culture. Government policy papers justify the principle quite explicitly as correct and proper.

AFAICT in this case however, the author shows no appreciation of the mandatory obligations upon US policy-makers to please the gigantic, politically invulnerable arms industry, which needs terrorist enemies, wars, and oppressive governments to secure profits (if not survival) for their corporate members. Other organizations require security for accessing markets, obtaining resources, or using locations on terms and conditions more favorable than that which democratic societies can guarantee. US government interests therefore, lie in providing an appearance of supporting democracy for marketing and PR purposes, while undermining it in practice in favor of security for business. The overwhelming advantages available from such an approach, despite the inevitable risks of an occasional 9-11 attack, are irresistible and rational to those who seek to maximize profitability and market share, most prominently in our culture: semi-capitalist corporations.

Urging development aid as a “strategic investment to defeat the current generation of terrorists and to prevent the formation of future ones” seems indistinguishable from utopian propaganda, based on the recommendation’s disregard for feasibility, and its value in providing comfortable “we tried” reassurances of the US’s noble “values”, even as the author notes the huge allocation disparity between military and humanitarian resource. Might such allocation be considered evidence of US values? I think it is, at least it seems a much better indicator of priorities than official proclamations, which are always virtuous.

Since the driving forces of official US policy also happen to be the businesses that provide ad revenue and profit to the NYT, serious analysis of, and outrage against the root causes for such widespread and unnecessary death and suffering will remain comfortably unexamined in their pages for the foreseeable future, although this should not be considered anything unusual, as similar dynamics operate upon all organizations in the mass media.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Impeachment for Gov. Walker Out of the Question?

Not that democrats are any better, but the naked deliberateness of this  Tea-publican deception is amazing. 

The New York Times this morning carried this ad: 
If you like him, (as a person? I do), but the duplicity is truly astonishing in this "poll" apparently designed to prop up the billionaire Koch brothers' favorite governor in their class warfare schemes.

As a scientist, I believe in testing theories and attempting to disprove them.  In this case, my theory that this is deceptive propaganda for economic and social warfare would be disproven if the results were generally reported as "Of people who said they liked Scott Walker, X percent said they support him", or "believe unions have become to powerful", etc.

The current results of people who indicated they "like" Gov. Walker answer Question 1 as follows:
 
Note the defensive, passive portrayal of "efforts to reduce the power".  Who could be against that?  In addition, the answers have no relevance to the question, which is about "Walker's efforts", not Walker himself.  The answers are about whether the respondent supports "him", not the "efforts".

One has to wonder whether these respondents know that the Governor claimed "we" considered inserting "troublemakers" into the peaceful citizens exercising their free speech rights to petition his administration with their objection to his efforts to reduce citizen's constitutional rights of free speech and right to petition their government, in addition to secure the blessings of liberty and promote the general welfare of their communities.

Do the "supporters" know that the only objection the Governor raised was that "people are so sick of it"?  He was not worried about anyone being hurt, nor that the safety of police and/or medical personnel might be at additional risk.  Apparently the Governor was not concerned about borrowing the tactics of the worst tyrants currently being overthrown around the world rather, if exposed, "people" would react badly.  Despite my emotional inclination personally, seriously considering risking citizen's safety to deceive people and smear those with an honest disagreement strikes me as worthy of impeachment, and possible removal from office.  It might even discourage future attempts to subvert our quasi-democracy by powerful elites, like billionaires.

The first question leads well toward getting the "right" (wing) answer to the 2nd by assuming "the power of public employee unions".  It remains all but impossible to believe that the Yes responses below resulted from examining evidence:
 
Again: note the wording above.  It isn't saying unions are bad, merely implying that somehow they "have become too powerful", using the passive voice. 

I consider evidence of "too much power" indicated when powerful are able to extract greater benefits from taking advantage or actually harming the weaker in violation of the Code of Hammurabi, pursuing what Adam Smith called "the vile maxim of the masters of mankind", i.e.: "All for ourselves, and nothing for anyone else".

Of one thing we can be fairly certain: the results of Question 3 will be treated very differently by both Fox News and the "liberal" MSNBC since these percentages came out ideologically incorrectly, which is to say: they do not support greater power for billionaires…
 
I will be interested to see the results of the upcoming trial results.  Will my theory be falsified?  Please post comments or email with any media reports you come across.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Kindle DRM Sucks

I'm working hard on an important project: coordinating a network of team mates from around the world, and have bought a few books I thought likely to assist in some of the challenges.  One of these challenges is our need for intelligently selecting appropriate management techniques to attack some of the problems.  An expert on the team suggested using assessment tools from Reinventing Project Management: The Diamond Approach to Successful Growth & Innovation by Dov Dvir (Kindle Edition - Aug 14, 2007).

After purchasing and studying the book, I wanted to copy some passages for discussion with members of the team.  Kindle for PC disables your ability to do this.  I wanted to discuss this (zoomed) graph as well:
Notice the blurring?  This is because Kindle translation of the original source (presumably PDFs) is buggy.   Even if I wanted to zoom the original view to overcome the minute, blurry letters on the graph, there is no zoom function on either the portable Kindle or Kindle for PC.

Did I mention that the Amazon's DRM (digital rights management) also prevented me from opening the book on my Kindle?  It gave me a message that the book was registered to another user.  Apparently, I had not used the exact procedure they DEMAND purchasers use for organizing and copying books their customers are supposed to OWN.

Instead of infuriating people with inevitably shortsighted, totalitarian attempts at controlling content,  if corporations put 1% of that effort into creating easy ways for people to make voluntary micro-payments with fair splits to people based on their sacrifice and effort, not only might they make more money, they'd have people working for free to improve their content processing, distribution, and payment systems.  They'd have incredible brand loyalty and broader markets.  I realize that contrary to legal fiction: corporations are not real people and therefore can't appreciate that the world would also be a better, happier place with such openness.  Unfortunately, more freedom, joy, and fulfillment in life don't help financial profit margins - the only kind with which dominant interests are concerned.

Since it isn't and because now (incredibly) Amazon has succeeded in pissing me off so badly - I've followed this advice to strip DRM blocks and restrictions from what I consider using MY (bought & paid for) property, which I believe I'm entitled to use my property as I see fit, absent harming others of course, and without the prior approval of anyone.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Historically Justified Quantum Cosmology Approaches

If we take the relatively uncontroversial position that human organs of perception (sense & cognition) evolved based on their ability to assist survival and reproductive success, it seems extremely unlikely that they would be well suited to perception of fundamental aspects of reality.  For example, our species has no innate ability capable of perceiving that we live on a planet, or even the relative size of the nearest star, our sun.  Only decades (or centuries) of careful observation and investigation revealed basics of our world that lie outside everyday experience.  We may properly conclude our senses and cognition are unlikely in the extreme to be able to directly perceive any relatively significant aspect of reality.

Our lives consist of atoms and molecules within spacetime, interacting with others based on distance, charge, gravity, energy state, relative motion, and so forth.  As we, our instruments, and everything within spacetime interacts similarly, it is quite natural for us to consider our observations to represent reality.  Yet careful observation and investigation reveals anomalies.
  
When confronted with such problems, we are normally best served by postulating a new factor, such as in geology, where extra floods were added to Noah’s which could accommodate the fossil record.  In astronomy, new epicycles were added to account for observed celestial motions.  In cosmology today, new dimensions are added to account for observations of matter and spacetime.  

Like now, when revolutionary advance is necessary, it has been accomplished by changing the focus of research efforts from adding new factors to imagining the simplest unifying explanation for our observations.  This change gave rise to theories of heliocentrism, quantum mechanics, evolution, blood circulation, plate tectonics, relativity, and many others. 

Physical models now assume dimensions in which atoms, charge, forces, and mass appear are real, and we postulate new dimensions to accommodate observations in physics and astronomy.  These are poor approaches because they are founded on acceptance that time and space perceptions are essentially real, rather than the more conservative and skeptical view that they are merely observations.  Thus, our investigations should focus on processes giving rise to perceptions of spacetime dimensions, matter, charge, and energy.

This is the only approach with which we may enjoy historically justified confidence in our ability to progress adequately.