Oh, wait . . . that's from an alternate universe
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Don't take it personally
You’ve heard all of Obama's speechifying lately—how he's the only one who's not a racist and he's the only one who's trying to fix the economy, and he's the only one who isn't playing politics. His arrogance is just maddening. You'd think that it's a calculated position he's taking for political advantage. After all, the man is President of the United States. He must have some political skills.
That's just Barack Obama. Again, it's not a strategy it's not a calculation, it's not him playing chess. He just doesn't like anybody who isn't him.
This article describes his political personality, and it rings true to other things you've read and what you've observed.
“The truth is, Obama doesn’t call anyone, and he’s not close to almost anyone. It’s stunning that he’s in politics, because he really doesn’t like people. My analogy is that it’s like becoming Bill Gates without liking computers.”
Seriously, just click on the cotton-picking link and read the darn article for crying out loud.
With all thy Getting Get Understanding
I was driving on the freeway last week and the traffic ground to a halt. Stopped. On the freeway. Then a crawl. Then stop, then go, then stop, then crawl. For more than five miles we went like that, averaging maybe 20 miles per hour. I finally saw the lights of the emergency vehicles . . . on the opposite travelling lanes of the freeway! The wreck that was causing the backup was on the other side of a giant concrete barrier from the freeway I was travelling on.
The minute I got past the wreck (on the other side of the freeway) travel was back at freeway speed.
This is a good example of the spawning effects of small forces that can cause more seismic shifts. The dynamics of one car suddenly slowing and surprising the car behind, and then the one behind that, and then the cascading effect of many cars doing that, built to a situation far beyond what you'd expect from the cause.
This is a continuation of the kind of thinking I was doing in the last post about Phaedrus' Knife. It's fun making things reveal their secrets. You can be afraid of Math (which I use here as a general term describing analysis or "understanding"), but if you are you will always work for someone who is not.
This is the concept that allows politicians to make broad changes in our society by very slight policy tweaks that propagate in waves over time. It's not as quick as legislation, but it's every bit as impactful.
It's also how you win elections by small tweaking. You don't have to win 70 or 80 percent of the vote in the swing states. All you need is 50.1% in each of the important states. Carefully identify which ones you need (see the "math" at work here?) and apply just enough effort and money to get barely over the top there.
You remember Joe Kennedy telling JFK's campaign team in reference to the voting in Chicago "My gosh, I agreed to pay for a win, not a landslide."
If you win the basketball game by one point it counts exactly the same toward your win total as a 120-75 blowout.
Sometimes if you're big and strong you don't have to be smart. You push on something and it moves. But what if you're not big and strong, or . . . and I'm just spitballing here . . . what if you have a herniated disc pinching a nerve in your back and any load on it results in excruciating pain that would kill an ordinary mortal?
Then you have to be smart. You have to understand how to use a lesser force to a greater effect. That's the Judo/Aikido effect that lets little Chinese guys throw around big guys.
When you have a bad back you can't just grab the huge rappelling wall and lift it into place. So you find the center of gravity and put the fulcrum just past it and let the wall help lift itself.
One of the best examples of this is the harmonics of a swing. You've seen the big underpass move, where you grab the swing with the kid in it and you push hard and run underneath him and in one fell swoop you get him moving.
That's quick, but it takes a lot of power to do. Remember that magic moment when you learned how to "pump" a swing? A kid's tiny feet can get the swing moving really high, the trick is to time the very low energy kick with the position of the swing. That way you use the harmonics
These low energy tweaks get something to do what it was almost inclined to do anyway. The swing was right at the edge moving up, you kick your feet to take the momentum just a hair higher . . .
If you kick your feet in the middle of the swing when it's moving fast the other way, you don't get any result.
Section break for a breather
But honestly we're still talking about the very same thing . . .
Capitalism is the perfect example of understanding how things are inclined to work and using that to make things happen.
The absolute very best explanation of capitalism is a demonstration I invented. You've tried to balance a baseball bat in the palm of your hand. The bat is extending vertically upward from your hand and you move your hand around to chase it to keep directly under it. Let's even go one step further. You grip the end with your hand. You use force. That works, but any kind of side load on the bat is going to overcome that force quite easily.
You can force things, but there's a better way.
If you're serious about keeping the bat vertical you suspend it from the end.
This is a very apt mathematical representation of command vs. demand economies. That's because the forces moving the bat from vertical in the command (socialism/communism) case are higher the further the bat gets from where you want it. In the demand (capitalism) case the lowest energy state is the state you want. The further the bat oscillates from idea, the higher the forces are that tend to bring it back.
This is a negative feedback control loop. This is how engineers make stable controls systems.
The science in the bat example is gravity. In the economy example it's human nature. You can argue about how people should be, but you're fighting a losing battle if you design a system around that. You have to design a system—social or mechanical—around the properties that really exist.
People will act in the manner they perceive best fulfills their own self-interest. This is as true as the tensile strength, modulus of elasticity, and hardenability of SAE4140 steel. It's what you have to deal with. If a restaurant serves good food you'll eat there. They can get higher prices than the one that doesn't. But when the prices get too high people quit going and they have to come back down.
The problem is that the oscillations make people nervous. These are the people who don't understand what they're seeing.
The hallmark of capitalism is "Thank you." I remember coming home from the store as a kid and asking my mom why Joe Nielson said "thank you" when I was the one getting the candy. She explained that he got money. That stuck with me. The way you make money in capitalism is providing people with what they want. You don't have the government chasing around the baseball bat telling you what you have to produce and how much you get to charge.
If you are a socialist you are either foolish or evil, depending on whether you are buying it or selling it.
Speaking of Foolish People
Here's a good example of seeing something and not looking deep enough to understand it. You've heard idiots that say "Well, all I know is that the economy was booming under Bill Clinton and it crashed under George Bush!"
Oh? Isn't that interesting. It does sort of track with that. Wait a minute . . . who controlled congress during those periods? Oh, isn't this interesting? The economy didn't improve until the Republicans were in control of the Congress and it didn't crash until the democrats took over.
Yeah, that one correlates a lot better.
Random Notes That Don't Fit Anywhere Else
Cleon Skousen once said that you don't get rebellion when you have people acting with their free will.
So if you have a wife that you want to smile at an event you can go about it several ways. You can grab her by the shoulders and say in a mean voice "You will smile and you will have a good time!" That will get you what you want right now. But it won't get you a stable control loop. It will get you an alimony bill down the road. If you try to address why she's not smiling that might have greater effect with less effort.
This relates to something I've flapped my gums about multiple times before. The unseen effects. This the school bus driver who holds the bus on the hill with the clutch. It gets her what she wants at the moment, but it also results in a hidden effect, the clutch burning up.
So let's circle back to the propagated wave effect of the cars rubber-necking on the freeway. The idea of wave harmonics is helpful to understanding these things.
You've moved a long extension cord clear across the yard by inducing a quick wave where you are standing.
When you have the cord oscillating a certain way and you change that, you need to understand higher level harmonics that come into play. When you intervene to force it to vibrate, there are higher order harmonics down the line that you change as well.
To sum up: Understand what's going on and use lesser forces to greater effect.
Great Minds Thinking Alike
Rush Limbaugh got it right on Trayvon and Obama. Obama gets up and talks about how Trayvon could've been him thirty-five years ago. Limbaugh pointed out that Obama has nothing in common with Trayvon Martin. Obama was a mixed race kid who was raised in privileged circumstances. He knows nothing of being a black kid in America. In fact, Rush said, he's got more in common with mixed race George Zimmerman than he does with Trayvon Martin.
You listen to Rush Limbaugh to get these kinds of insights. Or, you could just read my blog and get the same insights, just eight or ten months earlier.
I pointed this out—the liberals say we aren't comfortable with black people. That's not true, but I know people who really aren't. Liberals. Specifically Barack Obama. He's not a black man, he's a celebrity. He's not going to hang around with people like Trayvon Martin, not in a million years.
The Emperor's Bottled Water
I've gone on and on about how Obama supporters don't support him because of him. They support him because of themselves. If he ceases to be amazing they cease to be amazing for supporting him, so they will not allow him to come off his pedestal. Nothing to do with him. That's the genius of it.
Speaking of genius, I came up with the brilliant parallel between them and people who pretended to like premium bottled water so they didn't have to admit they were not sophisticated enough to tell the difference between it and tap water (which they were actually drinking).
But somebody came up with a better analogy . . . and only a couple of centuries before I did.
The Emperor's New Clothes.
The townspeople in that tale weren't about to admit they couldn't see the clothes because that would be a reflection on them. It wasn't about the clothes—there was nothing there. Hey, wait . . . that sounds just like Barack Obama. Nothing there.
What a delicate bouquet!
I've found a great metaphor for Obama supporters.
You've seen the bottled water video on YouTube.
A waiter serves various premium bottled waters to diners to see which ones they prefer. The secret is that they
are all filled from a garden hose from in back of the restaurant.
It's a little bit funny to watch them talk about the tastes that they think they're supposed to observe.
"Oh, this does seem to have a lighter texture." "No, you're right, I do like this one a little better."
"Oh, this one is good. I think this is my favorite!"
I say "little bit funny" 'cause you're uncomfortable knowing these people are being duped.
Wait . . . that sounds just like Obama supporters.
But the point is that it's not about the water. There's nothing there. (Whoa! Just like Obama again!) It's
about the person who is acting the way they think they're supposed to act.
Oh, he is, he is brilliant. Oh, yes, he is amazing. Look at me, I'm amazing, I can sense his delicate bouquet . . .
Indicative but not Conclusive
I like Sherlock Holmes. And all the variations—House (Homes), Psych, etc. Who doesn't? It's cool to
figure stuff out.
But here's the deal about deduction. It very rarely can be done with a single data point.
What's the best simple analogy? My dad used to say "That third fence post is our of line, but man! Look
how well lined up the first two are!" (See . . . if you have two points you can draw a straight line
through them no matter . . . never mind)
So, sure, a tan line but no wedding ring could mean the guy's married but doesn't want anyone to
know. It could also mean he took it off to be repaired, he took it off to run the lathe in the shop, his
wife is having it sized for him, his wife just recently died, he just got divorced, or he pinched his ring
shut while doing a climbing wall at youth conference at Camp Koholowo and sawed it off in the company lunch
room using a dremel tool while the machinist who loaned it to him looked on and cringed.
To know which one it is you need more data points. Some folks call it "Triangulating."
This is like "Clue." You know it's not Colonel Mustard 'cause you have Colonel Mustard. But to narrow it down
you have to get your hands on other information. And we're actually very good at doing that. This is called
Bayesian Logic and it's the way we gather very accurate data from a lot fewer data points than you'd expect.
Fair warning . . . this is going to get really boring. Fact is, I'm only writing it down to sort it out in my
head. If I thought anybody would ever read this drivel, I obviously wouldn't make it so excruciatingly boring.
In the most excellent book "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" Robert M. Pirsig introduces a concept
call "Phaedrus' Knife." This is the knife you use to slice things up to analyze them. What you see depends
on the cross section that you slice. And . . . at least to a charter member of the Geek Squad . . . it's
really exciting when you apply the knife in a different spot or at a different angle
and secrets you didn't imagine become revealed.
More warning . . . gets even more boring. Who knew that was possible?!
And a boring side note on the boring note: this is why Geeks get paid the big bucks. They can reveal the
hidden secrets. They are looking at the same thing that the rest of us are, but they can extract something
from it that we can't see (Bad weather in Florida impacts the price of orange futures).
For example, let's say you are drilling a test oil well with a test diamond Oil & Gas bit.
You have data on torque, RPM and depth as a function of time. Obviously from that you can extract
ROP (rate of penetration) the same way a GPS doesn't measure speed, it knows location at time and
calculates speed. That's the first and simplest way we get new data from multiple pieces of other data.
I know distance and time, I can calculate speed. I know volume and coefficient of thermal expansion,
I can calculate temperature.
Sub-side-note on boring side note:
This is completely different from seeing things where there is nothing. Like that post that tells you how to
read bar codes, or how to tell what day the bread was baked by the color of the twist tie, or how to read faces.
"If a man's nose points to the left he will spend more money on women . . ." I kid you not.
I liked the comment on that one, after all the comments saying how fascinating and interesting it was,
"Very interesting! All that it lacks is being credible."
But there are higher orders of information to be extracted. So you plot all that data and you get a
bunch of points on a graph. You stare at it and stare at it and no patterns are emerging.
You have a lot of data but it's of no use to you.
Here's the secret (I know you're breathless with anticipation):
Examine the drilling data in the time domain.
I'm going to give you a minute to compose yourself.
When you use Phaedrus' Knife to slice it from that perspective (you were plotting it against the depth)
all of a sudden the patterns fall out. You were looking at the data with respect to the position of the
bit in the bore. When you look at it relative to the time the bit has been in the hole, it spills its secrets.
It actually is really cool, kind of a magic trick, to know that the
answers were there the whole time just hidden in a way that required the proper view to reveal.
So, you're asking yourself, what's the point of all this?
I honestly have no earthly idea. It's just a cool concept that I like to think about just enough to be
fascinated with but not enough to gain wealth or contribute to society in any way.
What do I care if he knows that?
I honestly didn't expect anyone to read that, so I didn't bother to put any section breaks. I apologize
for this section break, making you think that it's a new post and could possibly contain something you
care about. Sorry. Same old thing, just sliced a slightly different way.
This is how people gather useful information from useless information. Your Facebook account is free.
Why is that? It's because what you give them is more valuable than money. You are giving them information
on preferences, etc., that can be turned into money.
You wouldn't reveal secrets about yourself, but you have no problem telling some little meaningless thing.
Then some other little harmless meaningless thing. And one or two more harmless, meaningless little dumb things.
Using Bayesian Logic they can determine that if you like a recipe for Death by Chocolate Fudge and you
drive a Prius, you are almost certainly gay, and they can target marketing to you. Well . . . I guess you don't
need a degree in Bayesian logic to figure that one out, but you get the idea.
How interesting would that be to have power from knowledge about a person that he didn't know he gave you?
You know things about your wife or girlfriend. There's a trust relationship there that allows them to
give you information that could give you power over them, but they trust you enough to grant that.
What if you could get power without it being granted?
A beautiful woman in your night class at the community college says that she doesn't like chocolate.
Interesting. Harmless. Then she tells the class that she grew up in a small town, and that her mom was a
nurse. Okay, who cares? But when you find out that she likes to watch golf but would never play, then you
know. You have the combination. You know that you can friend her on Facebook and post a picture of you holding
a calico cat and she'll be powerless to keep from hitting the sack with you.
You heard about variations of this in your psychology classes. Looking up and to the left is trying to access a
real memory; up and to the right is trying to create a false story. That's pretty cool and useful to know
The difference is that a lot of that is total bullcrap.
If he keeps one hand in his pocket, that implies personal habits you don't want to know about. Uh . . . yeah,
I'm guessing that speaks more to the perversion of the psychologist than the person being observed.
This is that deal I posted about where the court appointed psychologist has the child draw pictures then
he does some drawing of his own. He draws ridiculous conclusions from the meaningless pictures. The child
drew his dad with big hands. That means that he is afraid of his dad hitting him. Yeah . . . or it means the
kid is three years old and hasn't mastered the art of drawing five fingers in a tiny space with a big pencil.
I'll be honest, this is just more of the same
This ties into a concept that I've been messing with that theorizes that "feeling" is just a much more
sophisticated version of "thinking." To be honest, I probably stole the idea from Malcolm Gladwell's
"Blink," but you'll never know because I highly recommend you read it, which guarantees you never will.
See, maybe feeling involves a lot of very complex and subtle information. The stage of your conscious
mind is only big enough to handle a certain volume of information of a certain complexity. But in the
background your mind is sorting through immense amounts of information that is too complex for your
conscious mind. It just delivers its conclusion to your conscious mind as a feeling.
That's why you sometimes get a feeling about something, but you can't understand it in your rational
mind. "Dad? Why can't I . . . ? whatever. I don't know, but I know it's not right. Often when you go with your
brain instead of your gut then you find out, in real terms that your conscious mind can understand, why you
Again, the caveat of being real applies. Sometimes if you can't defend your position you might need to examine
it, but other times you need to trust your gut.
Seriously, Almost Done Here
Just another note I jotted down that might fit here . . . with a great deal of scrunching . . .
You know that tennis ball in your garage that you position your car with? Basically you're just positioning it for
one dimension of distance so you don't smash your daughter's bike. But imagine you have a dot on your windshield
so you can position it both laterally as well as longitudinally.
Now in this case you have the garage door that orients the car going in, so it's going to be lined up in
a pretty straight line. But imagine the tennis ball hanging in the middle of a big shop.
There are a lot of ways you can have the car oriented so the tennis
ball touches the dot (shades of the two fence posts, no?).
The concept actually occurred to me while positioning a clamping vise under a drill press, but let's go with the car.
But now it's on those caster things that allow you to move it sideways or
anyway you want. So it's not limited to just moving the way the wheels are pointed.
So now, in addition to having a virtually unlimited number of orientations that get the spot contacting the tennis
ball, you have an unlimited number of ways you can get into those unlimited number of positions. You can drive
straight into it, you can drive at an angle to it then swing the front into it, you can position the car alongside
then slide it laterally until it lines up . . . unlimited.
Engineers call these 'degrees of freedom.' In this example you still have the constraint of the floor plain.
This relates to the observed point and deduction. You have the point but without more information you don't have
the orientation and even with that information you don't know how it got into that orientation.
On the other hand, sometimes you don't care about the orientation, you just want to identify the pivot.
Trust me, it seemed brilliant when I first thought of it . . .
And now, for something completely different
You never hear a Republican say he wants people to die (other than me wanting bad people to die—I say
that all the time and I really do).
I have heard democrats say that. You remember the Home Prairie Companion guy. Soft-spoken, mild mannered
guy, probably wears a sports coat with elbow patches. Probably listens to Barry Manilow and does the hand
wave thing over his wine glass. He said he wants Republicans to die.
He didn't say Republicans should breathe dirty air, or Republicans should be denied health care, and then
I reported it as him saying he wants republicans to die. He said he wants Republicans to die.
Wanda Sykes said it, too. She said she wished Rush Limbaugh would die. She said it and Obama yucked it up
At Ecocities I heard people intellectualizing on how more environmentally friendly transportation is not the
answer because better transportation makes life easier for people and people are the problem with the
environment and we need to just let them die off.
You've heard democrats say that Republicans say they want people to die, but it's always a lie.
It's always a Republican votes against a pork-laden bill that would have the schools provide three meals a
day for kids and the democrats report it as Republicans wanting children to die. But you've never heard a
Republican say he wants people to die.
A close personal friend of mine came up with a brilliant way to describe projection.
"You can't think in a language you don't speak."
I'm sorry it's been so cotton-pickin' long since I've posted. I do appreciate you checking in here,
but honestly it's not a high priority for me.
Top of my list right now is going to bed without praying that
I don't wake up in the morning.
No, this isn't a cry for help. It's just an explanation of why I've been so negligent. I'll get back to posting on
my regular sporadic schedule next month sometime.
One quick post from my notes. Apparently some felonies are more tacky or tasteless than others. No, it's true. I heard on the radio that someone got charged with a "Classy felony."
What's that? Why, yes, now that you mention it . . . I guess there was quite a lot of those stacked up . . .
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