The sad, wonderful, complicated life of Charles M. Schulz. (CNN article link)
An interesting article about a Charles Shultz book that has come out recently. Next time I'm at the bookstore I'll look it up.
So just as my previous post was fading from memory, something happens in the news which makes it relevant again.
From CNN.com: 'Race row' Nobel winner suspended
In short, one of the scientist credited for discovering DNA spouted off some claims that it was tests of people (who can trace their genetic roots to races geographically separated Africa) showed that they were less intelligent than the rest of us. He continued to say that the prospect of progress was gloomy.
Though this is not the first of Watson’s somewhat extreme claims, it only bolsters my point about how science has major endemic problems in the way its conducted and the analysis of what the resultant data means. Psychology has mostly failed—in holding itself to a higher standard—by allowing geneticists and biologists to repeatedly misconstrue & misuse their data. There isn’t even a coherent unitary definition of what intelligence is in the psychological world; so to allow the term to be used outside of psychology in the field of genetics is irresponsible and negligent.
But such occurrences of misusing and misconstruing data are all too common. I still believe that the major contributor to this pandemic is agenda-driven science. Until that is stamped out, it won’t just be the quirky, old academics making claims such as these.
I think the majority of Americans will have one or more of these in their top three (whether or not they actually admit it out loud): Iraq War/War in general, Economy/Where federal money goes, Gender/Race conflicts.
This general category refers to health care, jobs, immigration, etc. I think the category is less important only for the reason that until whatever candidate is forced to get the proposal past Congress, all the claims of what will be accomplished are moot points. So while you may favor one candidate’s health plan over another’s, it is not until the elected candidate is forced to try and get the bill through Congress and pay for it that the candidate can back up any of his/her claims.
Another point, if a Democratic gets elected President, that person will be in a slightly less advantagous position than President Bush was in 2000 (in terms of having party control of the House & Senate). The current unfavorable public opinion of the federal government will likely lead to elected politicians being more concerned with maintaining their jobs and party power than accomplishing much in the way of improving the nation.
This is actually where I believe those not using the Iraq War as the deciding factor will probably end up using gender or race to make their decision. For the first time, a woman and a black man lead the polls in the Democratic Party. Unfortunately, those polls results do not reflect what I believe to be actual reality. I am more than willing and ready to be proved wrong, but I simply do not think the general American populace will elect either a woman or black man as President of the
That means I am pessimistic about either Clinton or Obama securing the Democratic nomination for President, much less either actually winning the general election. As I told someone this week, either of them would actually serve to bolster the chances of one of the white male candidates. So here would be my prediction. Assuming
So quite surprisingly, I actually got a call from the LP Critical Care Department on Friday. The representative went through a convoluted explanation about the delay in my laptop being due to problem with the parts manufacturers not making enough replacement parts for the number of laptops sold. He didn’t explain why they failed to contact me; instead he shuffled past that negligence by saying that they had just decided to replace my laptop with a brand new machine. (Don’t get me wrong, new equipment is great. But my chief problem with that department was the lack of communication, not that they couldn’t solve problems when they actually got me on the phone.) He then went on to tell me how the new machine would end up being better than the one I previously had: how they were tossing in all the bells & whistles like 250GB hard drive, 2GB Ram, 256MB of Video Ram, Fingerprint Reader, TV tuner, etc. At this point, I just wanted to get to the end of the conversation and move on with my day, so I confirmed my address and contact information, he said it would take 7-15 business to build and ship, then we ended the call.
So now I have a brand new computer coming that outpaces both my existing desktop, and the laptop I had to purchase while I was waiting for my old one to get back from the repair center. The upside is that now I can use the new laptop for all my photography & image processing needs without worry of slowing my system down. The only downside is now I’m forced to purchase new programs updates for all the software I had old XP versions of because they are too old to qualify for free updates.
A copy of the text is below:
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
2 The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "
4 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. 5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?"
10 He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."
11 And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"
I’ve added a new Survey page up on the website. The page is put up to get an accounting of the Sexual History/Proclivities of people, and more specifically how they communicate these with partner/s, friends & family, and social acquaintances. Right now, only the preliminary survey is up; I’m waiting to see what sort of response I get before putting the expanded one (with the follow up questions) up.
Over the next two weeks, I’ll be talking more about the purposes of the survey and what I’m anticipating I’ll find. But to whet the appetite, here is one question—the answer to which will be fascinating—about the communication practices.
For those individuals born after 1970, has the entrance age, when graphic discussions of sexual activity begin, into sexual communication increased or decreased? In other words, do people talk—with their family/friends/acquaintances—about sexual activity/proclivities at younger ages?
I had a phone conversation today with a representative from Executive Customer Relations of a major computer company whom I will call Lewhitt Packard. On the 9th of August, I sent in my laptop—which had ceased functioning—to the repair center. Because I had purchased the extended service plan (with the Accidental Damage Protection), I expected the company to repair my laptop or provide me with an equivalent replacement.
According to the company’s own website, the typical repair schedule if from 5-7 business days at the repair center, followed by 2-day or next-day FedEx delivery. I received one email when the company shipped out the box I was supposed to mail the laptop in. That was the last direct communication I had from the repair center.
Using the information I had received in the email, I was able to verify that the repair center received my laptop on the 11th of August. I expected to receive a call or email from the repair center by the 20th of August telling me what had been done to my laptop and when to expect it returned. That call never came.
Starting on Monday the 27th of August I called the status check phone number every other day, to find out what was going on with my laptop. The people there—who I believe are actually located in
Despite my busy schedule, I called LP at least once a week hoping to get some information about my laptop. Not once from August until September 13th did they send me an email or call me to inform me of the progress (or lack thereof) on my laptop. When the 13th rolled around and the date was adjusted back, I called the status check line and insisted that they do something to resolve this problem. The phone operator then explained that my case would be escalated to a Critical Care case, and I should expect a phone call from a case manager, on how this lack of service would be rectified, within 24-48 hours.
No call ever came.
On the 18th of September, I called the status check line again. After conversing with the operator for over 30 minutes about my problem, and getting transferred to another department, then back to the original status check department again, the operator said that they would send another case escalation to the Critical Care Department, and that because this was the second escalation, I should hear back within 2 business days.
No call ever came.
On Friday, the 21st of September, I called the status check department again. I insisted on talking to the supervisor of the department. After another half-hour conversation, the supervisor said he would send another case-escalation through the LP’s computer system. I asked why he couldn’t call the Critical Care Department directly and connect me with a physical person, he claimed that type of connection was impossible. But he insisted that with his new escalation, the department would respond within 2 business days.
No call ever came.
On Wednesday, the 26th of September I called the status check department again. I insisted on talking to the superisor of the department (a woman this time), and again got the same song and dance routine about how they could not connect me to the Critical Care department. When I expressed how frustrating being sent in circles was, she said that I could call the Corporate Complaint Line for help.
The next day (27th) I called the Coporate Line at 10:00am. After walking through the problem—another 30 minute conversation—the phone operator agreed with me that there was a problem with how I was treated. According to her computer, the case manager had marked down that I was slated to receive a replacement laptop. She explained that she would send a re-escalation order to the Critical Care Department; that order would be sent to the supervisor of the person who was assigned my case. I asked her how I was to be certain that anybody in the department was even seeing the message, but she insisted that they were getting through. She also asserted that I would be contacted within 36 hours of her sending the message, but that if I wasn’t to call the corporate line again on Monday.
No Call ever came.
Monday afternoon (Oct. 1st) I called the corporate line again. After a 20minute rehashing of the entire saga, I queried if there wasn’t some way to bypass the Critical Care Department entirely. Since the corporate computer page stated I was to receive a replacement, couldn’t they take care of it themselves? After conversing with her supervisor, the operator said she would just do the process herself. I was pleased to hear this. According to her, she said that I would need to go to the LP shopping website and build a computer system. Once done, I would need to send her the purchase price for that system, along with the original receipt for the original laptop. (Side Note: The laptop I had sent in for repair was a replacement for an even older laptop that LP couldn’t fix from a December 2006 problem). When I explained that the currently held laptop was given to me by HP, and that I didn’t have a purchase receipt, she responded that she would need a purchase receipt for the original laptop. I answered her that the orginal laptop was purchased in 2002, and that because I had moved 5 times since that date, my chances of finding that receipt were non-existent. She then refused to do the requirements necessary to put in a build-order for a replacement; she claimed the rules stated she needed the original purchase receipt. When I asked her what was her solution, she replied that she would send another escalation order to the Critical Care Department. I likened her order to sending something into a black hole and asked what I should do when the typical non-reponse occurs. She said that she believed the department would contact me, but to call the corporate line again if they failed to contact me by Wednesday.
No Call ever came.
Unsurprisingly, I was forced to call LP’s corporate line Wednesday morning. I spoke with a different operator, and went through the same rigamarole. After this operator conversed with her supervisor, she came back and told me that my case hadn’t been re-escalated, just escalated a second time. She said that this time, they would re-escalate my case, but from the corporate-line department head to the Critical Care department head. I’ve now been told that I will most definitely receive a contact from the department. When I queried what I should do when I don’t, I was told to call the corporate line if the CC-department fails to contact me by Friday.
So what was the point of this saga?
The LP bureaucracy has essentially stripped their company of any sort of useful customer service. The status check department (as well as the corporate line) claims to not be able to contact the repair department directly. This is likely true, if one department is in
All of these problems could have been averted with either of 2 simple solutions. LP could have an internal phone directory website which employees can access to contact any other employee directly. This would allow the corporate line or the status check department to call the delinquent case manager and get some direct answers. The second solution is to have someone (most likely in the corporate headquarters) that a customer can be connected to, who is capable of making unilateral decisions on how to solve the problem. In other words, rather than try an hunt down a 4 year-old receipt and fax that in; this person can just decide to send me a new laptop and carry it out, without having me have to do any more work.
It is Thursday now, and I am quite pessimistic about actually receiving a call from the repair department. Miracles can happen, but bureaucracy is like a malignant cancer that refuses to die. I have not decided yet what to do, when LP fails me again. But I’ll update you when I have more information.
In short, life scientists (primarily biologists or those in closely-related fields) have propagated assumption-based predictions, masquerading as hypotheses and theories, that genes drive behavior of living organisms. When pressed to explain, I endeavored to separate out chemical reactions (and their byproducts) from actual behavior. I said that chemical reactions are a just a special sub-level of physics (the physics of small numbers of atoms and molecules, not planetary bodies and galaxies). It doesn’t make sense to say that the sun behaves by nuclear fusion or fission, rather nuclear fusion or fission is a reaction that occurs inside stars. There is no inherent behavior to it. I suggested that a behavior has to be put into a system, for a behavior to be gotten out of that system.
In other words, if 10 atoms don’t have any inherent behavior, why should 10,000, or 10 million? To ascribe motive or will to genetic code is simply ridiculous. A gene has no idea if it is replicated or not; in fact a sequence of DNA has no conception of whether or not it is gibberish or the formula for a protein. So while the chemical reactions inside a living cell can be predicted, the chemical reactions take place is not behavior per se, to have a behavior you really must put one into the system.
The point of the behavior explanation was to show that saying your genes make you who you (in terms of mind and behaviors) are is complete scientific nonsense. Not only is this conclusion based on unprovable and unscientific foundational assumptions, there is no viewpoint-independent way to verify the claim. Viewpoint-independence is critical to forming scientific theories. Why? Look at it this way, it doesn’t matter whether or not you or I are around to see it, if you have two objects with physical mass, the force each object’s mass exerts on the other is gravity. The simplest way to disprove that theory would be if we could find two objects where one object’s mass did not exert any attractive force on the other object’s mass. Behaviors—by definition—are not viewpoint independent. If I take you apart and just look at your DNA, I can’t find out whether you like pickles on your icecream or chocolate chips. Any scientist who says otherwise is either lying or mistaken. How can I say that? It is quite simple, to get the answer to the question I have to put a behavior into the system. I need to ask you (verbally or otherwise) to make a choice. And here is one fundamental truth of science—discounting single-cell or smaller lifeforms (of whom many scientists are debating the classification of them as living or non-living), to qualify some system as capable of behavior requires a Qualifier (i.e. some being capable of behavior making the decision), and that there is no progression from being incapable of behavior to being capable of it: either the system is or isn’t.
Putting myself in the significant other’s position, I could understand the unease felt. It is a rare couple that would allow some third person to randomly come and engage in similar behavior with the partner, so what about performing arts makes them different?
So after an extended break away from the website and blogging I have returned.
There were many issues that kept me away for these past months (some of them situational, some intellectual, and other unnamed issues).
My schedule is busier than it was three months ago, but I made a decision that I hope is the best one I can currently make. My current goal is to add something to the blog at least every other day, and something to the website once a week.
While waiting to complete larger works and projects so they can be uploaded as a group is theoretically better, I have found that delays, setbacks, and other complications of life can result in none of the large-scale or long-term things getting completed & uploaded in a quarter-year period. That sort of progress is not satisfactory.
In addition to putting product up more often, I will be bringing in outside items (or sites) of interest, either for discussion, informational purposes, or just because the item/site is entertaining.