Monday, September 28, 2009

The Churn

We will analyze "News" as a simple problem of fluid engineering. News is introduced to the vessel at a certain average rate. While the news is in the vessel, all news is mixed thoroughly. The resultant mixture of old and new news exits at the same rate new news arrives. This means that some new news, an infinitesimal part, leaves the vessel immediately. Also, some particulates or "atoms" of news last for long amounts of time. Observed, but not well understood, are occasional "Great Red Spots," i.e., massive "weather-like" events in the noosphere such as the Jovian phenomenon referenced, or the O.J. Simpson trial.

Here however we are ignoring this complication and will analyze news as an average flow. The question is:
To repeat: for the purposes of illustration, let us assume that I introduce newest news at a tiny rate, and mix it with the existing news very vigorously. What comes in is pure newest news, but what goes out is that instantaneous tiny amount of newest news diluted with older news, a small amount of even older news, and extremely small amounts of really old news. Because we are mixing very, very well. Perfectly.

So: If you introduce one volume of new news, how much remains at the end of that?

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Scott Adams, who draws the cartoon Dilbert, said on his blog:
"A confusopoly - a term I concocted several years ago - is any industry that intentionally makes its products and services too complicated for comparison shopping. The best examples of confusopolies are cell phone carriers and insurance companies. And health insurance companies might be the most confusing confusopoly of all. I suspect that no individual has the knowledge, time, and information necessary to effectively compare two health insurance plans. And in that environment the free market doesn't operate efficiently."

This got me thinking. I posit that "having a job" is the biggest confusopoly of all! You rarely get a contract stating exact duties in detail. Simple rules or algorithms fail: "Do what you are told" won't really stand up for very long - there are illegal orders, sexual improprieties, etc. Likewise, what it takes to be fired is often not explained very well, either. Often, employers attempt to be mind-readers, and will fire an employee for what they think the employee is thinking! And even more astounding, fired for realizing the job is a confusopoly!

One of the things lost with declining Union membership is a certain attitude antithetical to confusopoly. I just now realized this. Old-time Union guys must know quite well how deliberate confusopoly has been employed to screw over the workers.

I had a job as private construction inspector very similar to this! First I noticed that, we had no clear mission statement, unlike some jobs I had had, and contrary to the recent faddishness of the very concept of "mission statements." We were told our job was two contradictory things: "Your job is to ensure that the men doing this work (not my employees) do it right" and "your job is to simply observe and report." So I would report the men had not done the work right. My bosses got upset: "your job is to make them do it right!" "How?" I responded. "I can't shoot them and I can't fire them because they don't work for me." (I won't even get into the fact that they could often not speak my language.)

My job was a deliberate confusopoly.

Often in a corporation, the rules of confusopoly prevent the bureaucrat from getting a solid idea of whose interests are covered by "company loyalty." Is it loyalty to the stockholders? This sounds good until you think of the day-trader who bought stock in your company this morning and, sure as day becomes night, is going to dump it either this afternoon, or at most wait until the end of this week. What is the employee's loyalty to this stockholder to be?

There is no real answer to this. This case then also shows the job itself is the confusopoly.

Incidentally, confusion over this confusopoly is why Enormously Overpaid Executives are allowed to totally game the system and enrich themselves with no consequence by deliberately crashing their companies and along with them, the economy. They know "loyalty to the stockholders" has no real bottom to it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Secret Hobo Signs

click the old print to read in larger window
We may need to know these, the way things are going.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bear Faced

click illustration
Once upon a time, I used to feather in the edges manually. Using Photoshop Elements. This is necessary almost without exception with hairy critters whose hair fades to invisibility at the ends. I invented a trick. I make a duplicate image layer, use the "average" effect (turns the cutout uniform) and then the "find border" effect. So I have an outline. I can increase the contrast and blur it (to make it extend further inside the original outline of the cutout) also and then select the blurry outline. Then I apply the selection to the original cutout and run my eraser around the edge at 30-50% and then blur the result of that. (Not to mention that it took me a fair amount of time to discover I could use one layer to select, then apply that selection to another layer.) (I began the project with Sqirlz Morph software.)

I get greater control than with the "feather" tool.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fall Flowers

The Orange Jewelweed is Impatienss. capensi. I didn't know what the purple flowers are. They sprung up where we used to mow but don't now. Then wise people led me to believe they are Ageratum houstonianum also known as Flossflowers or Blueminks.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Calling a Spade a Club

The entire body politic is misreported. It is as if the press, our lookouts, have psychotic hallucinations, and we must divine the truth by furious reading between the lines. The entire left-right divide, which they are so adamant about preserving, completely misses the idea of populism. Not looniness, but this kind of populism: Most people have an idea of what "insurance" is. Yet when "insurance" quits being "insurance" and becomes an undefinable racket, instead, the normal people know it is not "insurance" as they know it, but both the "left" and "right" and the press keep calling it "insurance."

It is akin to calling an occupation a war, long after occupation begins, and anyone with any sense whatever knows it's an occupation, but the Right, the Bushies, out of their own form of political correctness, refuse to call it that, and the "Left", and the Press, obey in lockstep.