That’s the purpose.

Continuing the theme of previous item, examining modern shit by trying to transpose it to an earlier era.

I’ve got Github updates on my mind today because I just finished shaving an especially dirty yak.

I’m cranking up my courseware-making tools for a new edition. One of my processing programs depends on the PIL image-handling module. I lost PIL from my main Python folder last year when a computer failed, and didn’t need it until now. PIL has now been replaced by a “new” and “improved” module called PILLOW, which doesn’t work with Python 2.7 because EOL or some such shit. PIL has now been memoryholed in all the ‘official’ archives. After figuring this out, I wandered around and found the correct installer for the real PIL in an obscure place.

Everything in every network is updated constantly, and all of the updates are connected. When one item in the chain updates, it effectively DESTROYS all the other members of the chain, which then must revise their own code to fit the new fashion. And every update makes every product WEAKER, not stronger. For instance, every update to the audio editor Audacity restricts the types of audio formats it will handle. When a format goes EOL, it doesn’t matter how many clips are still around using the format; you’re not allowed to touch it.

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This concept doesn’t transpose to earlier eras at all. Before the computer age, there were only two common types of updates to an existing product, and neither was automatic or destructive.

[For clarity, updating an existing product is not the same thing as offering a new product. Every product, from wines to books to cars, tries to offer new vintages or editions or models as often as possible. Planned obsolescence makes you want the new, but it doesn’t  alter or delete the old.]

(1) Cars have been updated since the 1930s. When the maker decides that a new car has a SERIOUS bug that will cause quick failure or accidents, dealers receive instructions and parts for the repair, and dealers reach out to the buyers. Recalls were legally required in the ’60s, but the process was already well established.

(2) Catalogs and handbooks issued frequent Supplements of changed product details or prices. This was mostly at the business-to-business level, not retail. If you were a regular buyer of gears or wires or switches, you’d have a big annual handbook from the maker, plus an accumulating stack of monthly revisions. Often the big book was loose-leaf so you could replace old pages with new. (This resembles the pre-Github practice of voluntary updates to software.)

I can only think of one retail relationship involving updated publications. When you bought a complete Encyclopedia, you received annual Supplements or Yearbooks. These included new scientific or cultural developments plus errata for the permanent book.

The B2B nature of older updates gives a clue about the purpose of the new updates. Larger businesses can handle frequent changes in specs or prices. They have clerks and office managers to deal with such crap.

A casual user who isn’t trying to ACCOMPLISH anything may be annoyed by auto-updates, and will have to pay unnecessary money, but he doesn’t have an AMORTIZED TOOLBOX of homemade tools and developed skills. When the current version of his favorite videogame reaches EOL, he buys the new version automatically and goes on playing.

A small business, or an individual trying to get shit done, is SWAMPED by the constant chain of updates. I have to spend about 1/5 of my time figuring out how to keep my TOOLS working despite constant weakening and prohibitions in the chain of subtools.

That’s the purpose. Increasing chaos and complexity is hard for everyone, but it’s deadly for small businesses. This trick has been employed in regulations and tax laws for centuries, and now it’s employed in software.

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Just for fun, here’s my unedited worklog for the shaving.

For variety, let's detour to other parts of the project.  Convert some
of the worksheet LSNS to HTML and check them on ScormCloud.

Yak shaving!

Made shortcut for svg-convert.  It needs JPGlist.dat, which must be made
by JPGlist-maker.  And in turn the JPGlist-maker needs to have PIL
installed in the Python27 folder.

This is a huge yak.  PIL won't install on a 64-bit computer, so had to
use the newer Pillow.  It comes close to installing but needs VC REDIST
9.0 or something.

No, didn't need that.  Just needed the trick that I had used earlier for numpy:


The jpglist-maker starts but doesn't do anything yet, for ordinary
non-yak reasons.  There are several specific folder refs that need to be
changed, and the JPGs need to be copied into one of those specific

Filled in those folders.

Now the jpglistmaker py starts, but hits 'imaging_C module not found'
Checking online....

AHA.  Finally found a correct and usable installer for the real PIL, not
the fake PILLOW.  Installed, and immediately the jpglistmaker worked and
generated the Txt and Dat files.  Saved the correct PIL installer to USB
for security.

The URL is

Now return to the main SVG-convert and see what else it needs.  Trying
with 90-01, the first of the worksheets.  It errs at the first ref to a
JPG.  It wants the filenames in the JpgsNeeded folder to be lowercase,
so I changed them and reran the jpglist-maker.

Now the svg-convert works, and made the complete set of htmls and css.
I moved them into a new folder, and now it works fully.

Hmm. My unedited private writing is identical to my edited public writing here on the blog, except that I cuss more in public. So in this context edit means Insert ‘fucking’ in every sentence.

Indirect ping

I just noticed something while reading Greenwald’s latest piece on the completely irrelevant Taylor Whatever Doxing thing.

Greenwald bounces off the original subject into the big problem with “journalism”, and tells about his own awakening in the Vietnam era when journalism switched from 80% DNC to 100% DNC partisanship.

Here’s the sudden ping, which isn’t really connected to Greenwald’s narrative.

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Fact: We were really fighting against China in both Korea and Vietnam. We convinced our people that we were fighting Russia, but Russia was only a secondary helper. Our soldiers were up against Chinese soldiers in both places.

Fact: Russia and China were competing for influence, then as now. They were NOT a united front against the West. The Balkan region switched from Russia to China in the ’60s, and the ‘non-aligned’ countries in Africa and Latin America were also switching sides for advantage.



This was a plain old-fashioned unconditional surrender, like Germany at Versailles.

None of this shit was about Russia.

(Actually this is a ping-pong, not a ping.)

Until now I thought…

The stupidity of sanctions and blockades is blazingly obvious. We’ve been doing it since 1959, and it has strengthened our enemies every single time.

Until now I thought our 1959 blockade of Cuba was at least understandable, since we hadn’t done the experiment yet and didn’t know the inevitable result.

Nope, it wasn’t understandable. We had already seen the stupidity from a distance in 1918. Britain was trying the SAME FUCKING ROUTINE against Germany, and it failed. Britain was losing badly until we joined the MILITARY side of the war.

From a US government monograph on cryptography in WW1:

As the British General Staff wrote after the war, the ideal was to create “impaired military efficiency and exhausted national morale” and “so completely starve the enemy as to force him to come to terms by starvation.”

Sounds fucking familiar.

This aim was ambitious, and so were the means. During the Great War, pursuing this aim led Britain to intervene in the economy of every neutral country, and to struggle with most of the world’s firms.

Sounds fucking familiar.

Britain also needed to control exports of raw materials and manufactured goods from distant neutral polities, most notably the United States, but also Spain, and many countries and colonies in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. These needs forced Britain into complex arrangements with foreign governments and great firms, which often had political power of their own.

Sounds fucking familiar.

We joined the war in 1918 BECAUSE Britain’s war, both economic and military, was failing. We KNEW that blockades were useless.

Phlogiston wasn’t stupid at all

I hope Google doesn’t start censoring its Books department. All VALID ideas and CORRECT facts were written before the 20th century. Pretty much everything written since 1906 is either trivial or intentionally murderously false. Censoring new ideas is usually a net gain of real knowledge, whether the new ideas are ‘establishment’ or ‘independent’.

Before Googlebooks, finding old truths required access to a decent college library, and lots of walking and lifting. Now the old truths are physically easy to find.

As with any sort of looking, you still need to know what you’re seeking, you need to know some relevant names, and you need to read a few languages. You need to recognize the footprints or smell of your target in non-obvious places. Those tracking skills come from experience whether you’re walking up and down ten flights of narrow steps in the Old Stacks or navigating Google’s sometimes stubborn algorithms.

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Today’s example:

UncommonDescent cites an attempt to redo the stupid Miller-Urey Experiment, mixing various chemicals, adding sparks or heat, and waiting a long time.

This suddenly reminded me of the standard alchemist recipes for gold, which were often meant as metaphors for creating life. Most of them were sold to suckers, who then spent the recommended number of years waiting for the result while the seller moved off and found other suckers.

I posted my usual snarky comment, then went looking for more detailed recipes.

I found them, but I also found illumination in a 1902 book on alchemy.

Phlogiston is one of those old bits of science that we were never properly taught. We were only told to laugh at it. Ha ha ha, we learned. Alchemists thought fire was a physical element like oxygen, which fell out of the wood when it burned. THIS MOCKERY, LIKE MOST TROLLING, IS INTENTIONAL DECEPTION.

From the 1902 book:

Stahl observed that many substances which differed much from one another in various respects were alike in one respect; they were all combustible. All the combustible substances, he argued, must contain a common principle; he named this supposed principle phlogiston (from the Greek word phlogistos = burnt, or set on fire).

Stahl said that the phlogiston of a combustible thing escapes as the substance burns, and, becoming apparent to the senses, is named fire or flame. The phlogiston in a combustible substance was supposed to be so intimately associated with something else that our senses cannot perceive it; nevertheless, the theory said, it is there; we can see only the escaping phlogiston, we can perceive only the phlogiston which is set free from its combination with other things.

The theory thought of phlogiston as imprisoned in the thing which can be burnt, and as itself forming part of the prison; that the prisoner should be set free, the walls of the prison had to be removed; the freeing of the prisoner destroyed the prison. As escaping, or free, phlogiston was called fire, or flame, so the phlogiston in a combustible substance was sometimes called combined fire, or flame in the state of combination.

A peculiarity of the strange thing called phlogiston was that it preferred to be concealed in something, hidden, imprisoned, combined; free phlogiston was supposed to be always ready to become combined phlogiston.

PRINCIPLE, NOT ELEMENT. Crucial difference. This description makes clear that phlogiston was simply another name for molecular bonds. Bonds are not a substance or an element, and they prefer to be concealed. You can’t have a bond without a pair of elements that want to be combined.

Why did we need to mock Stahl? Post-1906 “science” assumes that the universe is nothing but randomly moving particles. Every force and field must be expressed as particles, no matter how many contradictions we get. This viewpoint can’t allow any PRINCIPLES or WAVES or SOULS or SPIRITS. Only randomly moving billiard balls.

Above all the particulators can’t allow purpose or intention or desire. Stahl was treating phlogiston as a purpose, not a particle.

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Irrelevant footnote on Google’s stubborn algo: For some reason GoogleBooks insists on looking only inside books even when you give it the exact title. Often I’ve written down the exact title of an old journal in my worklog so I can find it again. Later I try to relocate it by the exact title. Google feeds me mentions of the title in other books or bibliography lists. It won’t find the actual book unless I can think of a unique combo of words inside the book.

No transitionals

Evo News has yet another article on the failure to find ‘transitional fossils’.

Since I’ve been reviewing and condensing old blog into new blog lately, I’ve acquired a feel for the strata of my viewpoints. There aren’t any transitional fossils in this record either. When I crystallize a new understanding, the viewpoint shifts abruptly.

A similar pattern happens in changes of skill or technology. When a new way of making a telescope or a gun or a radio appears, the industry gradually adopts it.

Telescopes go from alidade to lens in one step, carriages go from horse to engine in one step. There are no telescopes with half lenses, no carriages with 20% of a horse and 80% of an engine.

Some companies continue making the old (living fossils), some make both old and new, and some new companies start fresh with the new.

It’s the same with new ways of composing music or art or literature. The new either takes over or fails. The old continues in some places, and often reaches new heights of perfection just before it collapses. But there are no transitional fossils.

We know how these sudden jumps happen in our own learning and technology. The change happens in MINDS, and even within the MIND there are no transitional neurons. Some sections of memory or limbic system remember the old, just as some companies continue building the old. The sequencers in the cerebellum archive the old skill or the old song, which remains available forever in case the new fails.

But where is the MIND that creates the shift in animal phyla and species? Is the God Studio an itinerant, checking in on various planets from time to time and implanting new genomic ideas?