Ready when needed

It’s always a pleasant surprise when a needed bit of memory pops up after LONG storage.

I’m already grumpy from loss of sleep due to the psychopathic thunderstorms last night. Random yellow and red blobs on radar, sometimes missing, sometimes fading, sometimes suddenly growing, and ALWAYS coming from unexpected directions. Every time you think Okay, now we’re clear, now I can try going to slBANG CRASH FLASH!

This morning I was trying to listen to this podcast on economics because the participants sounded realistic. It’s inside Twitter, so I couldn’t access it fully to download it. More grumpy. All of the participants are on Substack, but none of them have provided the podcast there. More grumpy. So I just settled down to listen online.

Their first question was “Are we in a recession?” Time to shout at the screen.

MOST OF THIS FUCKING COUNTRY HAS BEEN IN A FUCKING RECESSION FOR 40 FUCKING YEARS! YOU ECONOMOIDS ONLY MEASURE THE DOW, NOT THE COUNTRY! THE DOW IS THE RECIPROCAL OF THE COUNTRY! DO YOU HEAR ME? THE RECIPROCAL, NOT THE ADDITIVE INVERSE…..

Wait. Additive inverse is a term I haven’t read or heard or thought about in the SAME 40 years. I use the math concept often in programming (Y = 1-X) but I never think of the words. Nevertheless, the words were sitting somewhere in my language storage, ready to SHOUT when needed.

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Admittedly, the above sentence is not likely to be SHOUTED in a protest…..

The ultimate website for Scrip

For many years I’ve been trying to make the point that bitcoin is the EXACT OPPOSITE of decentralized. When all transactions are made and recorded on ONE SINGLE LEDGER, and the ONE SINGLE LEDGER is contained inside NSA’s web, you are ultimately and infinitely centralized in the worst possible way.

Ordinary currency is naturally decentralized. When you pay with paper rectangles, the transaction isn’t automatically tracked. The business will generally track the payment as a number in its own bookkeeping system, but the rectangle itself is immediately mixed in with the other rectangles and circles in the cash register.

The best decentralized money is scrip or hawala. Scrip is locally created physical tokens, usually in the form of preprinted and predenominated checks. Hawala, or in western terms ‘running a tab’, is a non-physical currency that depends on real trust between the customer and the business. Both parties know the debits and credits, and the net balance at the end of the year is settled with official currency or other acceptable value. [The tab system works best in a setup like a farm coop where the farmer sells wheat and buys fertilizer and gasoline. In those two-way arrangements, the annual net balance can be relatively small.]

When I was focusing on scrip a few years ago I didn’t notice the BEST scrip website. I just noticed it this week. DepressionScrip.com has a huge collection of 1933 scrip, plus smaller sets from the 1907 panic and similar situations.

The examples I had seen earlier were missing one key ingredient for a proper currency or exchange system. They didn’t have any internal provision for transaction fees. Ordinary checking accounts and debit cards always charge a fixed percentage of each transaction. Hawala and similar disconnected systems always include a fixed percentage. This is sensible and neither regressive nor progressive.  Each customer pays in proportion to his ability.

The fake “currencies” of bitcoin charge a huge FLAT fee, non-proportional, that depends solely on the whims of the provider.  The fee appears to be around $30 on average, but can soar to $20k without warning. This is HUGELY regressive, penalizing the poor and barely bothering the rich.

DepressionScrip includes many ways of charging a transaction fee.

Some were punched like bus passes or school lunch tickets. San Francisco 1907.

Some had spaces for signed endorsements. Atchison front Atchison back

Others had spaces for stamps with a specific value, which was typically two cents. Iowa front Iowa back.

Many of the currencies were self-liquidating, which is an unknown concept now outside of banking circles. As the check was passed between merchants and customers, each transaction used up the remaining value. When all the spots were stamped or punched, the currency was discarded. This Wichita check defined the concept in its name. Wichita front Wichita back.

I had heard the word only once before, in one of the promos for Frank Edwards’s short radio features. Edwards mentioned that the stations could sell his books as a “self-liquidating premium”.

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More on self-liquidating premiums from Broadcasting Mag June 1950. The phrase was apparently a brief fad.

One example of these forcing methods that induce women to use a different brand of a product is the Blarney Stone Charm Bracelet. With this particular self-liquidating premium, over 408,000 housewives sent in a quarter with a label of the product advertised. I sent a man to Blarney Castle, Ireland, to get this Blarney stone, had it chipped up and made a part of a bracelet. My client was able to send them out to housewives for 25 cents each, which made it as we say “self-liquidating.”

A survey showed that half of the bracelet takers switched to the product permanently, so it was not only self-liquidating but profitable in the long run.

Here’s a longer version of the story. Adman Duane Jones invented the technique in 1935, and the product was Bab-O floor soap.  The Blarney stone was actually from the Blarney area of Ireland, but not actually from the castle.  (So it was self-Blarneying Blarney!)  The campaign ultimately boosted Bab-O annual sales from 600k to 5 million. No picture of the bracelet in the article, but it must have been good enough!

Compare this with the virtual “gems” in the videogame, which cost thousands of dollars to “possess” in a totally abstract and non-wearable way.

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Fussy footnote: I think I misunderstood the self-liquidating scrip, but won’t correct it until I’m sure that I grasp the idea!

Reprint on pure math

The two ‘missed points’ in previous item combine neatly to inspire  a reprint from last year.

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Normal people correctly associate heft with value. This makes sense in most real products. A car or house built with thicker materials and bigger beams WILL last longer, and WILL be more resistant to rust and rot and fire.

The correlation continued in analog electronics and mechanical appliances. Heavier chassis, bigger transformers, larger shafts, more shielding. All contribute to better performance, longer life, better cooling, and less unwanted noise and vibration.

A contrary movement started in the 1880s with minimalist art, which has expanded into all areas of products and food.

Rich assholes want less heft and less material. The movement penetrated ordinary life around 1950 with Loewy, bikinis and martinis.

Loewy’s slogan was “Weight is the enemy.” Bikinis gained value as they lost material and became more like dental floss. Martinis were allegedly best when the vermouth was reduced to exactly one molecule.

Nouvelle cuisine reduces food to a random splash of dots on a plate.

Now rich assholes buy only supersuperabstract 10th derivatives of reality like NFTs, which are a weightless digital package representing some kind of art, gaining “value” by a meaningless association with Holy Bitcoin.

The Dow absolutely HATES real material. No products, no factories, no employees, no customers, and above all NO STORAGE OR STABILITY. Only PURE MATH has Share Value.

As a formula:

Real value varies linearly with heft, up to an asymptotic limit where the heft becomes impractical for its purpose. Tanh as always.

Asshole value is the reciprocal of real value. As real heft goes to zero, asshole value increases (as always) exponentially.

Two missed AI points

Not hugely important, but I’ve started this tradition and might as well maintain it.

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Marks at MindMatters has a long podcast on the latest proposals and projects using AI. There are two notable missed points:

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National Football League is holding a competition to develop AI to track all the helmets in a game, in order to monitor collisions. AI is blatantly unnecessary. If you have a simple accelerometer IN each helmet with a transmitter on its own frequency, you don’t need AI. Just record all the signals and graph them. When player 4 and player 17 register a collision at the same millisecond, you know what happened. This could have been done in 1957 with discrete transistors.** The correct solution is so ancient and obvious that I’m pretty sure NFL is really aiming for some secondary purpose.

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SOME influencers have an eternal utopian faith that true human intelligence is possible with computers. Marks thinks these are “keyboard engineers” who are good at coding but not good at theory. Nope, EXACTLY BACKWARDS. Long experience with actual programming teaches you the weakness of the program and the strength of your initial assumptions.

Faith in utopia is THEORETICAL THINKING BY FUCKING DEFINITION. In any field of endeavor, real butchers and bakers and candlestickmakers know the limits of their skills and the limits of their materials. Bureaucrats and venture capitalists DON’T know the limits of the material world. VCs only know pure math, which has no limits. When a VC takes over a bakery, the VC demands a 900-mile-high cake to celebrate the infinite godlike perfection of the VC. The baker tries in vain to persuade the VC that this is physically impossible. When he goes ahead on the project and fails dismally, the VC fires the baker and starts over without learning anything. VCs and theorists and bureaucrats and grantors are delusional wackos.

EXPERIENCE SURVIVES. THEORY KILLS.

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**The receiving part of the system could have been tubes, but the sending parts wouldn’t have worked with tubes. Partly because of size and batteries, mostly because tubes have delicate internal parts that alter the tube’s amplifying characteristics when banged. With clever design these microphonics could have been made to serve as the acceleration sensor itself, but the whole setup would be much more reliable with transistors.

TODAY IS CAPS LOCK DAY!

CAPS LOCK DAY! OH BOY! MY FAVORITE! APPARENTLY CAPS LOCK DAY WAS INTENDED TO HONOR BILLY MAYS, THE KING OF INFOMERCIALS, WHO ALWAYS TALKED IN THE AUDIO EQUIVALENT OF CAPS LOCK.

6/28 IS ALSO TAU DAY, FOR A MORE OBVIOUS REASON. TAU IS A WORTHY REFORM THAT STANDS NO CHANCE OF ADOPTION. ALL PRACTICAL USES OF PI ARE ACTUALLY TWOPI, SO IT MAKES SENSE TO HAVE A SINGLE LETTER FOR THE REAL USE. UNFORTUNATELY MATH IS RULED BY THEORETICIANS, AND IN THEIR VIRTUAL WORLD ONEPI IS MORE IMPORTANT.

TO OBSERVE CAPS LOCK DAY, I’LL REPRINT MY TRIBUTE TO THE ORIGINAL SHOLES TYPEWRITER. EARLY TYPEWRITERS WERE ALL CAPS WITH NO CHOICE. THE UC/LC CHOICE CAME LATER, SO IN A HISTORICAL SENSE CAPS LOCK IS THE STANDARD, NOT THE OPTION.

AND EVEN FARTHER BACK, LOWER CASE WAS AN ACCIDENTAL OUTGROWTH OF THE NEED FOR SPEED AMONG MEDIEVAL SCRIBES. THEY BEGAN WITH CAREFULLY CARVED UC, AND GRADUALLY SMOOTHED IT OUT INTO SMALLER AND ROUNDER CURSIVE, LEAVING ONLY THE FIRST LETTER ON A PAGE (THE HEAD OR CAPITAL) IN CARVED AND EMBELLISHED FORM.

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In the story of the Astonishing Hammond I mentioned that the Sholes-Glidden typewriter was already in production in 1880, and as with most tech stories, the dominant product was not the best product.

This is crude and impractical, and could never have worked.

The personalities are perpetually familiar. Sholes was the unworldly idea man. Glidden was the practical engineer. Densmore was the dynamic salesman.

Densmore managed to sell this crude thing to Remington, which was chiefly making sewing machines at the time. Remington basically reinvented it as a sewing machine.

Here’s the original:

This was meant as ‘proof of concept’, but it didn’t even qualify there. It had 21 keys, weights and strings hanging all over, and the keys couldn’t have made a good impression.

The carriage was just a frame, pulled along by a dangling weight. This scanned the paper across the typehead for each line, sort of like the early Xerox machines.

The paper was advanced line by line with a separate frame riding on top of the carriage frame. In this animation I’ve made the paper transparent so you can see how the hammers were arranged.

A tight little circle under the paper held 21 hammers radially. Each short hammer pivoted at its own angle, coming around and hitting the paper from below, pushing it up against the ribbon onto a backstop. The letters would have appeared on top of the paper. The short hammers couldn’t have developed any momentum, so they were inevitably weak; and the type itself was hitting the back of the paper instead of the front.

How did the keys move the hammers? Supposedly through stiff wires, but I can’t see how that would have worked, so I didn’t even try to show it! The key and the hammer are moving by magic.

Sholes and Glidden were not taking advantage of existing knowledge and devices. Hammond took the typewheel and hammer from the Brett printing telegraph, and Hammond used the principles of physics correctly and elegantly.

Continued here with the first Remington.

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THE SHOLES ARRANGED THE KEYS IN A FULL CIRCLE (TWOPI) AND THE HAMMOND WAS A HALF CIRCLE (ONEPI) SO NOW WE’VE COME FULL/HALF CIRCLE BACK TO PI AND TAU.

Ockham, Machiavelli, Kernighan

Following on previous item with the simple advice DON’T PLAY.

Watching the coiner idiots respond to the total collapse of their project is fun. Instead of running away, they continue arguing about PRECISE DETAILS AND PRECISE NUMBERS.

This is an opportunity to 12.59347% short XTJIOERJY and long 36.78946859% UUEYHHGNOTC. No, FUD dummy! We must 12.59346% short XTJIOERJY and long 36.78946853% UUEYHHGNOTC!!!! Everyone knows this! It’s blindingly obvious!

Ockham and Machiavelli tried to teach us this lesson 1000 and 500 years ago, and we still haven’t learned.

When you find yourself arguing the details of Question A, you can be PERFECTLY SURE that Question A is not the right question. Question A has been provided for you by the rulers and robber barons, to keep you nastily divided so you don’t notice that Question A simply DOES NOT FUCKING EXIST.

Question A is NULL.

Why is this error so persistent? Natural language doesn’t have a grammatical representation of nullity, but it’s easy to express in sentence form. This issue is meaningless. The emperor has no clothes. Just don’t go there.

The problem with coiners isn’t natural language because they don’t speak natural language. They speak math. They are Platonists. Math is the only language, math made the universe, math is God, math is immutable and unarguable.

And math has no way to express nullity. The empty set is just another expression for zero. It means we have a corral which could easily hold 36 cows or 15 cows, but at the moment it holds 0 cows.

Kernighan and Ritchie gave us a massively important gift at the heart of C. For the first time in any math-type language, C can express NULL.

V = NULL;

This does NOT mean that V is a bank account which could contain 36 dollars or an overdraft of -25 dollars, but currently contains 0 dollars. This means that V has no representation in the computer. V is a name that might be used to represent a variable, but at the moment it does not represent anything. (You may assign it a value later in the program.) V is not a box or an account or a memory location or a register. If you try to use V as a number before assigning it a value, the compiler will urp all over you.

Earlier languages like Basic and Fortran didn’t have NULL. Later languages like Python and Java adopted NULL. Obviously the concept still hasn’t penetrated the minds of math freaks.

EXPonential EXPectation reprint

Inspired by NFT stupidity, here’s a reprint from 2018.

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ABSTRACTION is the cause of EVERY SINGLE CRASH in business, government, and ordinary lives.

Abstraction has three Ds:

(1) Debt.

(2) Delusions.

(3) Drugs.

All three are unsustainable departures from real value and real work and real measurements. Sooner or later reality crashes you.

What do the three D’s have in common? EXPONENTIAL curves, or at least attempted exponentials. Debt is obvious. Compound interest IS exp by definition. Delusions and drugs both arise from a false anticipation of constant increase in pleasure or holiness or popularity or status or value.

We EXPect things to be EXPonential. Reality is TANH. The DELTAS between anticipation and reality grow larger as reality departs from our desires.

Happystar illustrates the process. First our EXPonential EXPectation:

Reality goes tanh. Up at first, then reaches saturation or maturity and holds steady. Our heads are in the clouds of EXPectation and our feet are on the ground of tanh.

Now the crucial point. Our anticipations feel like the constant standard, the point we measure from. Our EXPectations are the baseline, the goal for our error-correcting feedback. We are constantly TRYING to achieve the EXPected condition. Thus our perceived reality is DOWNWARD,

Because reality is increasingly disappointing, we have an increasing desire for SOMETHING that will restore us to standard. This is where the sellers of religion or drugs or politics or hair color or bitcoin come in. You’re not misperceiving reality, you’re just NOT TRYING HARD ENOUGH and NOT BUYING HARD ENOUGH. You need more booze, more Eucharist, more voting, more makeup.

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How about the inverse question:

Does Nature ever USE exponentials?

Well, life can’t do an unending exp, because an unending exp is physically impossible. You can only get an unending exp in math. So the question narrows: Does life create AND POP bubbles intentionally?

Of course. All the time, in an infinite number of ways. Specifically, many types of neurons are pulse oscillators, repeating an exp rise followed by a natural pop. The most common neurons of all, the granule cells in the cerebellum, are pulse code handlers. Most of the action in hearing is done by pulse codes. Toward the output of each system, the pulses are smoothed into analog motions for muscles, or integrated into longer and more complex resonances for memory patterns.

In short, Nature uses all of the PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE combinations of exp and tanh. Nature rejects the only combination we believe in.

Nice graph humor

Here’s a truly funny piece of graphic wisdom. Most graphs violate this rule.

More numbers and more lines DO NOT convey more information. The most common example is polls that show percent approve vs percent disapprove, or percent R vs percent D, as perfectly mirrored lines. Only one of the lines is necessary. The mirror effect confuses the meaning.

It’s all about caste

Headline at MindMatters:

Unexplained — Maybe Unexplainable — Numbers Control the Universe


In Carl Sagan’s Contact, the extraterrestrials embedded a message in the irrational number pi (the circumference of a circle divided by its radius). But some other numbers are critical to the structure of our universe too — and why they are critical does not make obvious sense.

Laurence Eaves thinks the number 1/137 would be good for starting communication with intelligent aliens as they would be likely to know about it and to realize they were dealing with other intelligent entities.

NO. NO. NO. Even between humans of different cultures, abstraction is EXACTLY THE WRONG STARTING POINT for communication. You need to start with discussions of shared physical objects and physical skills.

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Lately I’ve been listening to selections from the huge Wendy Connors archive of UFO material at bedtime.

I already mentioned the openness of the ’50s, contrary to modern idiotic fake history.

The UFO groups also show another contrary fact:

Women played a major part in scientific inquiry.

Connors arrived on the scene after most of the ‘live action’ and did the hard work of gathering and organizing audio.

The UFO movement was FOUNDED by Coral Lorenzen. Her story is inspiring and typical of great scholars and scientists. As usual, greatness started at 9:

On a sunny, warm day in the sum­mer of 1934, three little girls, Coral Lightner, Barbara Stringer and Dorothy Wethern, were playing hopscotch on the sidewalk at the Ward School in Barron, Wisconsin. Coral finished her turn and was facing west when a movement in the sky caught her eye. She looked up and saw what appeared to be a parachute moving into the north. When she called the attention of her playmates to the object, one of them said it looked like a parachute to her and went back to the game. “But it doesn’t have any strings,” Coral said, and watched the thing until it went over the horizon in the northwest.

Coral Lightner was puzzled and she didn’t let it rest there. That evening she told her father what she had seen and he was so impressed by her tale and her puzzlement that he made inquiries the next day. Was there a pilot down in Barron County? The answer was no.

Note her instant focus on Constants and Variables, and her persistent need to find the answer. She was lucky enough to have a father who wanted to help her learn. The rest of her life was devoted to the quest, sometimes in the background and sometimes as a sole obsession. She married Jim Lorenzen, an engineer who could handle the math side of the subject, and became a newspaper reporter and later a freelance writer. Coral and Jim founded and maintained APRO, one of the two or three strictly scientific UFO organizations. She defended objectivity against the opportunists and hustlers like Hubbard, and against the Deepstate censors.

Truly a heroic ‘life in science’.

But no Nobels or rewards or federal grants.

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Sagan wrote positively about CONTACTEES, the disreputable side of the subject, and was treated with respect. Other high-status professionals assume that aliens exist and assume that aliens would want to discuss 1/137 with us.

One of the 1947 contactees claimed to have discussed farming methods and fertilizer with a Venusian. This makes sense. An explorer and colonizer would want to ask the locals about farming methods. There’s no point in discussing math because math is the same everywhere. Math does not contain any INFORMATION.

As fucking always, caste correlates with abstraction.

You get ridicule and censorship for investigating Unidentified Flying Objects.

You get Nobels and tenure for investigating Unidentified Figuring Objects.

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Graphics sidenote: I made the UFO last week as a biological joke, after NASA’s new Venus probe reminded me of a polychaete larva. The actual probe is scheduled to fly in 2029. Not exactly speedy performance. We can’t do anything now. We’re totally paralyzed by bureaucratic compliance and political lunacy and offshoring of skills.

Since then I’ve been reading Coral Lorenzen’s 1966 book, packed with precisely reported descriptions. The NASA model fits the median description of the 1947-1965 UFOs quite nicely. Is NASA reverse-engineering captured technology, or were the earlier UFOs also made by NASA?

Coral was fully convinced that the aircraft were coming from elsewhere, but she was not fully convinced that they were piloted by humanoids. Based on where the discs appeared and how they moved, she guessed they were engaged in mapping the planet’s terrain and resources for possible colonization.