Friday, November 27, 2020

Remember LaTeX From Camp?


Hey high schoolers, remember Camp?

What might look like super hard STEM, with all those Ramanujan Identities, turns out, from another angle, to be typesetting.  As the typesetter for the mathematicians, you did not need a degree in whatever they were going on about, but you did need some skills when it came to arranging symbols.  That's setting type.

Thanks to Steve Jobs, who rescued business computing from being the unimaginative dullard monster  Microsoft / IBM had in mind, we got highly developed fonts a lot earlier than we might have.  

The only other technology that might have saved us, from the dreary fate MS DOS had laid out for us, was LaTeX, the brainchild of Donald Knuth. 

As it is, we got Apple LaserWriters and PageMaker and desktop publishing, and I got a job at CUE (Center for Urban Education).  That's when I picked up some of my skills as a trainer, and to some extent a desktop publisher.  

I usually got high marks for working with people.  Some of my lecture presentations might have been too weird for some tastes.  I wasn't auditioning for prime time commercial television, let's put it that way.

Anyway, coming back from Memory Lane:  remember our Covid Camp earlier this year?  Some of you might still be following.  

We didn't do a lot with LaTeX but we did explore Jupyter Notebooks, and their ability to make use of the LaTeX layer, a built-in JavaScript library I assume?  Right, the MathJax JavaScript library.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Monday, November 23, 2020

Election Postmortem

The Trump legal team is amping up a public perception that the vote favored Trump out of the gate, but then the blue horse mysteriously (i.e. deceptively) overtook the red horse just in these corrupt blue cities, places akin to Portland, where chaos reigns. Anti-Trump votes flooded in from nowhere, even after polls had closed. That's the hand wavy scare 'em story Guliani tells. It's the most obvious thing in the world this was all planned in advance.

That's close to the mark in that this was all expected (different from planned). Same with expecting another sars. People say you planned, but you merely anticipated the likelihood.

What the chanting mob doesn't hear are the sober voices, even ahead of the election, offering a likely scenario: Trumpers think it patriotic to hit the polls on election day, pro forma, as that's the Norman Rockwell all American Apple Pie GOP thing to do. Dems, on the other hand, realize there's a plague, are in lockdown and are voting absentee. More than in any other election in history, especially in big cities, it's about voting absentee.

So what happened, in many a big city is: they counted election day votes first, as they came in, and then turned their attention to these piles and piles, many coming in after election day anyway, but postmarked that day or before. We all know the scene, I'm reciting a litany.

Same day patriot MAGA votes made it look like Trump was roaring ahead. But this was anticipated and named: the Red Mirage. The big blue cities do have more Dems, and those votes were counted last. When all were counted, Blues dwarfed Reds. It's not nefarious. Not only is evidence of fraud lacking, but the "big obvious fraud" they want you to see, has an innocent explanation.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Random Facebook Groupthink

Chocolate Brains
:: sugar lobby ::

A big problem is the journalism always stays shallow, like are you for or against Medicare for All (M4ALL)? As if that's what matters. Who says it's even possible?

"But other countries...." Don't give me that. The states have only recently gelled into a federation and just a couple generations ago the whole experiment nearly fell apart in a civil war (the whole idea of a "civil" war is a bug in the horse and buggy English language). "America" (as in the "the United States") is indeed exceptional, but maybe not in the sense people mean. I'm more in Ann Coulter's camp: the USA doesn't really exist. Never has, not really. Not by her criteria (control of borders and so on).

If you want government involved in healthcare, think prevention, think how we used to see vicious anti-tobacco ads, gross lungs (like on Canadian cigarette packs even now). Imagine many vigorous ad campaigns aimed at fast food, dangerous toxins, exposing past crimes (like that movie about DuPont, Dark Waters). Imagine free detox camps on federal lands, like scouting for adults, where friendly government employees teach you life skills and help you get your life back. Just imagine. A completely different world.

Today's non-existent wimpy destroyed carcass of a government does not dare stand up to the cowardly capitalists, who need to hide behind its Big Daddy skirts, pointing at scary competition (Huawei, Citgo, TikTok...). The Corporate Cowards are too busy using the dead carcass of Uncle Sam as their shield, to ward off competing profiteers. Your medical state, your health, has zero significance. You can die tomorrow. FEMA just has to pay for the refrigerated truck. That's the "public health system" you pay taxes for.

Americans are going down in history as the most ripped off population ever. They had a bright future there for awhile, but after WW2, the private sector started cannibalizing and cannibalizing. All that research, all that Manhattan Project, ended up enriching a few families. The Business Plot succeeded (the first time failed). But you wouldn't know that from reading the press, because the press is owned by the ones who did the good eating. Talk about "fat cats" but who draws those anymore? You must fear Russians. You must love your Corporate Persons and their fake news. They rule you. Obey.

A real public sector could afford to give every American citizen a fitbit if they wanted one. Several government channels would give unbiased health advice. Not paid for by the sugar lobby, what a concept. As it is, the sugar lobby has direct access to child optical nerves via cartoon commercials. No "government" push back, how could there be? When there's no government.

A real public sector could afford to give every American citizen a cell phone, stocked with apps needed to do business with government, claim benefits, schedule activities, volunteer. We all know having a phone is like a prerequisite for getting anything done, but there's no Verizon SafetyNet [tm] is there? Shareholder operations have no responsibility to citizens. The government does, but it's long gone. The USA (1776 - 1983) was a bold experiment.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Broken in What Sense?


I sense a lot of confusion when it comes to in what way the elections system is broken. On the face of it, just making people wait hours and hours in line is symptom enough of the abject poverty of (lack of investment in) public infrastructure (the whole idea of a "public sector" is somewhat fuzzy in this age of privatized warfare).

Greg Palast and others focus on voter roll purges, where little postcards go out (this is one technique) and if the occupant fails to respond, they're kicked off the eligible voter rolls. Another technique is to very sloppily share rosters of names across states and purge "likely duplicates" that aren't likely to be duplicates at all. This is done in the name of being "conscientious" and "protecting against voter fraud" (of a kind that's not at all common: voting multiple times).

Thanks to modern media and growing public awareness, this kind of systematic voter suppression is becoming harder to get away with, but it's also not the kind of cheating we're looking at on election night, in terms of ballot counting. In that case we have deeper concerns about closed source proprietary machines with possible back doors.

The time to address this real and legitimate concern is *not* in the middle of the election of course. Making all these simmering backburner issues come to a boil right now has everything to do with sowing chaos and confusion and weakening the legitimacy of the "ruling" party.

Again, as a 3rd partyist, I'm not against the DNC and GOP ripping into each other against the backdrop of both having diminishing relevance.

As a 3rd partyist, I'm not too chagrined if neither the GOP or DNC feels it has much of a mandate to do whatever, other than repair the public sector. We're doing our own research on what that means. Our state governor needs to publicly share plans for the vast economic refugee camps we may be needing soon. Unlike Syrians, we can't just walk to Europe.

Monday, November 09, 2020

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Random Comments

I'm pleased with the new realism seeping into the political sphere, meaning people are waking up to the fact that organized crime is running things, with tacit approval from the benefitting authorities.

What's ineffective is to respond with moral outrage. Since when has "rule of law" applied internationally? The United Nations depends so much on donor nations, with the city-state of DC quite willing to pull the plug, should the UN get in the way of its world domination objectives (not shared by other city-states across the land, nor by Canada).

The idea of sovereign nations respecting one another's sovereignty sounds nice on paper (Kellogg-Briand Pact for example) but in practice it's still powerful crime families and various mafias vying for turf. There's a separate set of rules for the very rich. That's not at all new. That's history.

If you want to express outrage, I suggest it be towards infantilizing schoolish textbooks written by craven professors who have to pretend otherwise. It's our curriculum that's to blame for our awkward inability to face the world cooly, without a lot of self-pitying cynicism.

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Poor immigrants, refugees, spread across North America in a couple hundred years and threw together a ramshackle, ad lib style of government based on the idea of individual freedoms and government staying out of everyone's business.

A pandemic hits, not the first time, and thanks to a great freeway system and no precedent for "isolating" whole counties or states, huge numbers of Americans die.

The Americans don't have a real country yet, according to Ann Coulter (Adios America), as the "citizen" and "borders" issues were never settled and no serious national public health system was ever put into place. Americans like to put Americans in cages (prisons etc.) as that seems the easiest way to solve things ("just criminalize it" -- the national motto if there were one).

250 years is not much time, even in historical terms.

Amazing they managed to get a stimulus check out. Those computers (Hollerith machines) have proved their worth at least.

Mostly, the government, such as it is, is about protecting the interests of those who prop it up.

If we ever want something more, we'll need to consciously create it. An engineering feat. Not a job for mostly lawyers.

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From my point of view the educational system extends to include the socialized military. Families send their males (mostly) to military academies, which are boarding schools. Pirate Party USA supports residential mixed age high schools, with same gender options, that need not be military oriented. Lots of magnet schools drawing from across the land. Mixed age because high school is something you need every 10 years or so, as the fundamentals change. Like today if you don't know HTML you're illiterate, yet eligible to serve in government (why?). Free high school (it pays students -- UBS *) would help boomers get a grip. Parents and kids often enroll in the same courses and do the same homework, no stigma in doing that.

* UBS = Universal Basic Scholarship = UBI but with income compensating work/study.

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The border and citizenship issues that go with: 

(a) engulfing a huge amount of land in a hurry and 
(b) importing and depending on slaves and agricultural workers, can't be dealt with overnight. 

Covid has exposed our complete lack of a real public health system because we don't have much of a public sector. All that hype about how rich a country this is mistakes private for public wealth. We used to have more of the latter but since WW2 the public sector has been cannibalized to an extent it's no longer possible to tell the truth about it in "polite" society. 

People react with infantile outrage, instead of wanting to roll their sleeves up and deal with the karma. Better to let them believe in their "government" then. Let them sleep.

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FEMA has played a very low profile during the Covid Crisis, perhaps having learned from the Hurricane Katrina debacle, to stay out of the limelight. 

The new approach was to push it out to the governors to handle the problems, and compete with them.
The "FEMA camp" meme is mostly used to terrify people, lest they actually be served by their government in times of need. If only the public sector could find a way to help refugees from the private sector.

A lot of our private sector economic refugees go into the military, and I'm sure the Pentagon would be unhappy if civilians could avail themselves of socialized services to the extent the military does, without the price tag of undergoing brainwashing and training in after birth abortion techniques (state sponsored homicide).

Americans have a huge internal refugee problem and yet have been conditioned to see any organized move to help them as the hand of a globalizing anti-Christian conspiracy.

The homeless population doubles and doubles, with malign neglect somehow morally superior to whatever the Chinese are doing (at least we have Chinese to accuse of human rights violations, a convenient "feel good" outlet).

If FEMA sets up tent cities for economic refugees, then pretty soon the public will expect treatment for drug addiction. Such expectations could only undercut Murder Inc., where the big bucks are still made. Killing humans still pays more than helping them. Economics at work, right?