What is progress?

Humanbot progress chart

Humanbot progress chart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just as every nation has its own concept of nation and finds the constitutive characteristics of nationality within itself, so every culture and cultural epoch has its own concept of culture.

Carl Schmidt

To measure progress, we need to state a direction in which we are progressing. If progress is defined as distance, I can wander randomly and every step I take is progress. If I am in a desert and need to save myself, progress would be motion either out of the desert or towards an oasis. If progress is spiritual enlightenment, walking around may or may not mean progress at all.

In many cases, progress isn’t obvious; To an academic, progress can be failure – failed experiments or hypotheses; To an engineer, progress can be lack of failure or efficiency in production regardless of aesthetic; To an artist, progress can be quality and aesthetic of production regardless of cost; To an businessman, progress can be profit-margin for production.

Progress for one person is not progress for the other. Even worse, in some cases, progress for one is actually regress for the other.

So, while individual progress is not important, there is one definition of progress that many believe is constant and permanent.

Many feel that now we are living the pinnacle of human life, we have more stuff to use, more technology, we live longer, we “live like kings”. The storyline goes that through our collective efforts, we have built a great society and continue to progress rapidly into a brave new world. By those measures, we are better off than we’ve ever been and things are only getting better.

English: A silhouette of human evolution creat...

Progress! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is true, we live longer, have more stuff, and do not have the need to be constantly searching for simple food and shelter like some of our ancestors did. We are more productive and have access to more information than ever before. Yet is this progress?

By many secular and technological standards we have progressed further than any previous age.

For the elite who now have access to technologies and lifestyles previously reserved for the greatest of kings, it sure feels like it.

For the guy I used to see every day sleeping on the street under a streetlamp, I’m not as sure.

But no, the story told throughout the media, TED talks, etc. is that this is progress and the only way to continue it is to become even more productive, create even more technology (without consideration of consequences), build more businesses, to work work work.

I’ve heard and read this all before. Yet, the statement above contains it’s own fallacy – The Texas Sharp shooter fallacy. We are further along than any previous generation because we have drawn the target around where we are moving furthest. We are more productive than ever, but at what cost? In the US and Canada our leisure time is less than ever. In many cases both parents in households must work to pay the bills. We are so individualistic that many extended families never see eachother. We have less spirituality than ever, possibly because we have less time than ever, and our communities and social action has been reduced to pitiful non-violent rallies that make us feel good but accomplish very little.

Yet, we are in the best of all worlds because that is what we are doing best this century.

I can hear some of the more tech-worshipping followers reading this thinking: “Repent Harlequin!”

In a theological age, everything runs smoothly if theological questions are in order; everything else is “provided” by definition. The same is true of other ages. In a humanitarian-moral age, it is only necessary to inculcate morals, whereby all problems become problems of education. In an economic age, one needs only solve adequately the problem of the production and distribution of goods in order to make superfluous all moral and social questions. Mere technical thinking also solves the economic problem with new technical developments. All questions, including the economic, recede before the task of technical progress.

If humanitarian-moral progress is still expected by many today from the perfection of technology, it is because technology is magically linked to morality on the somewhat naive assumption that the splendid array of contemporary technology will be used only as intended

Carl Schmidt

A fairly controversial political philosopher I have been reading discusses how every century draws the target to define progress based on what they are progressing in. From that definition of progress, the elite (or state) derives its power precisely because defining progress defines good and bad; an enemy-friend grouping.

Hence, one century marks it as piousness and religious progress and leads to religious wars, another marks it as philosophical and educational and leads to revolution, yet another marks it as economic progress and leads to economic wars and colonialism. The previous century marked it as technological and consumer based progress — we are more advanced than our predecessors because we have more tech, more stuff. We are better because we are efficient.

This makes us feel happy, feel accomplished, and feel comfortable with the status quo. While it is not a conspiracy, it also has the effect of encouraging the general population to support whoever is in power, not necessarily elected officials, but general elites. It defines friend and enemy groupings and ensures that those who are part of the larger grouping will have more power.

Yet, we must ask is this the progress we want. Is this right? In the last 15 years due to more pervasive technology, we work more than ever. Many people carry their smartphone with them and feel that they must respond to emails and work requests at all hours of the day, essentially working 12+ hours a day.

Some IT techs I know are on 24 hours alert, work well over 40 hours a week and don’t get paid for any overtime. They forbid the idea of unions or collective bargaining to attempt to be properly paid for their work because unions are not efficient (and they aren’t). Yet, if we have no leisure time, why the hell are we working so hard? Who are we working for?

It can’t be the next generation, so many people feel so overworked that they refuse to have children. Many make excuses for this, but I believe it comes down to the same reason people in famine situations don’t have children. If you are working your ass off to stand still, how can you believe there is enough of anything for the next generation?

It can’t be for us to simply live. We have had enough food and housing for decades. We have so much productivity surplus in the US that it is being wasted during a needless recession/depression because we pay more attention to the false golden idol of money than to the fact that people are wanting to work and they simply aren’t being allowed to.

It can’t be for our own leisure. Even leisure time is based on the utmost efficiency. Bucket lists are simply checklists for leisure, many don’t go to these amazing places to actually be in awe. They go to be able to outdo the Joneses.

The to-do list

The to-do list (Photo credit: Digging For Fire)

Perhaps the bucket list is a clue, we need to create stuff, we need to be more efficient, we need to be productive – at all expense. If we are productive enough, then we will get some undefined reward because we have supposedly contributed most to society. It makes us feel better than those who are unable to find work or, by the definitions of meritocracy in our society, are deservedly poor. It reinforces the friend-enemy dynamic we want so badly around the “neutral” idea of efficiency and productivity.

We work this hard, at the expense of family, spirituality, religion and happiness, because that is how we defined progress.

Yet, in the end I don’t think we have progressed at all.

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2 things I’ve learned from having a newborn for a month.

So, William is now officially just over one month old. As a new father, I’m learning some very surprising and useful tools for dealing with him and maintaining sanity. Most of which revolving around that short period in the evening when either Suzanne or I want to get some rest. Overall, the kid seems to be healthy and happy, so I think the first month has been successful. He is starting to look at people more and respond to conversation which is really nice because before that he always seemed totally lost to everything.

I was thinking the best way to lay out this month is to put down the 2 main things I’ve learned to share with other possibly new fathers coming down the pipe so they don’t make the same mistakes. Pretty simple stuff that you don’t realize really matters until you need it.

#1 It’s not safe to go to sleep naked

While sleeping naked wasn’t a common thing for me, every once in a while I’d come out of a bath, be comfortable and just crash. I have discovered that this really isn’t wise once you have a kid kicking around, and not just for when they grow up. You may be needed at a moment’s notice to spring into action, and unless you have access to a self-dressing Iron Man suit, you are going to end up having to work (and run around your living quarters) in the buff. As a father, your duty is to take action when the mother is tired and exhausted and just needs a few more minutes rest before she has to breastfeed again. This means keeping the baby quiet while you address all of his needs.

Before you have a newborn, this isn’t entirely a problem. Once you get a moment to breathe, you can throw on some pants or a shirt and be off to work. However, you don’t get the luxury of taking your eye off a bawling newborn for that long. If the baby cries too much or too loudly, you will have failed at your primary task, ensuring mother gets a few more winks of sleep. If the baby is calm, but on a changing table, you really can’t take your eyes off of them for a moment. Thus, if you are naked when you start, it’s quite likely you’ll be naked while carrying a crying, wet, and possibly random-liquid spraying baby with you while trying to desperately calm him down.

All of which could’ve been avoided if you threw something comfortable on before you went to bed.

#2 At night, go pee before you change the baby

Do you know what almost always takes longer than you’d expect… changing a baby’s diaper. It’s not that it’s complicated. It’s actually one of the easier tasks I have to do day-to-day. However, there are always surprises.

Everyone knows about the sudden pee fountain, which is easy enough to avoid and usually just involves another diaper change. This, however, is the least of your concerns. The ones I’ve cataloged so far include:

  • the baby volcano, where just as you get a new diaper in place and ready to tie up, baby decides to take the longest and most bubbly poop ever. So named for the resemblance to the science volcano from when you are a kid and the fear you have that it will either burst or spill over the edges of the new diaper.
  • the poonami (I’ve stolen this from a friend), where baby suddenly decides to expel liquids from all orifices at the same time. Ensuring a fun and extensive clean up time as baby giggles at you.
  • the super-duper-pooper, baby poops just enough to ensure you need to change his diaper, waits for you to complete the change when, *Bblllrrprpr*, he poops just enough to require yet another change. Wash-Rinse-Repeat for about 3-5 runs.

Now, imagine having to pee really badly through all of this, and knowing you can’t actually go pee until the baby is properly dressed and back in the crib safely. As well, having the weird impetus to pee emphasized by the fact that baby has no problem at all peeing… everywhere.

I realize that both of these revolve around baby, nighttimes and bodily functions. However, for the first month, that’s really where 90% of your memorable interactions with baby come from. During the day, when you are sane, clothed, and awake, the interactions are fairly straightforward. Baby will eat, sleep and poop, almost like a cat. Your job is to clean up the poop and ensure he keeps on eating.

At night, unlike a cat, baby will continue these operations and still require you to be on the ball, being ready for this is key for any new father, and having read very very many father books I never saw these two lessons listed out.

They are important.

Trust me.

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Sorry for the lack of updates

Writing

Writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa. Since my new baby boy has arrived I’ve had lot of interesting drafts, but not enough time to clean them up and get them live for you.  I am hoping in the next week once I’ve caught up on some of the major Panda Rose projects I’m elbow deep in, that I will be able to find an hour or two and get them out.

Lots of interesting topics to come though. For example:

  • “Hope is not Optimism”
  • The Boston bombing, panopticon, police and Reddit.
  • Reflections on 3d printing, and what needs to be done to break through that glass ceiling
  • The hidden propaganda of popular government programs (laws)
  • The false assumption of progress
  • Some interesting graphs and progress on the n = ab = (x-y)(x+y)
  • Some progress on what Average Mutual Information is, and why it may actually be a useful measure of ontology.
  • Liberalism and the Tower of Babel
  • “Business is relationships.”

As you can see, just because I’m not publishing, doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot coming down the pipeline. Hopefully I will be able to get some of the more timely ones out for everyone in the coming weeks.

Have fun,

Panda Waving
  KJR

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IBMimmix news

System i Main Menu

Ah… the old green screen. Boy will it be nice to move some of these functions to a clean immix install.

Note: name is still in progress, but I like it for now IBMimmix for the IBMi module for immix.

So, IBMimmix is really coming together. It currently integrates entirely with an existing IBMi authentication and security structure. This means management of immix access controls is as simple as adding existing IBMi users to proper groups; such as IMXUSR or IMXADM. We have a preliminary RPG report display and saving structure in place, and should have the ability to interact with spooled documents and printers right within immix, making it a lot easier to get PDFs or administer this area of immix.

Other features are coming which will allow for rapid integration of existing IBMi programs into a web environment. If you program on IBMi, you should keep your eyes on this blog for screenshots and details. This could make your life a lot easier with creating attractive and useful frontend displays and outputs for your clients without sacrificing all of the existing green screen work.

Some future features will be building a AERIS IBMi Appsuite into the framework so users of the advanced accounting platform will be able to interact with it using the immix interface, opening up a whole new world for those users.

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