12 July 2019
DreamHost, the hosting service that I use, recently broke this 'blog in at least two ways.
First, they deleted one or more files from my installation of Wordfence, which deletion crippled security. Second, they corrupted the database that underlies the 'blog, causing an old entry on usernames to be very imperfectly duplicated, with a date-stamp of 30 June 2019.
I noticed the problems in the wake of an up-dating of the operating system used by DreamHost; I infer that something went wrong in that process.
I contacted DreamHost and then stewed for some days, leaving things as they were to allow the support staff to set things right. They repaired the installation of Wordfence, offering an implausible conjecture about what had gone wrong. They did not repair the database appropriately.
26 June 2019
Early on the morning of 26 June, I received a set of requested changes from the reviewers for the journal to which I submitted my probability paper about 125 days earlier. I have not read the demands carefully at this point. I am postponing a careful reading until I am better rested, and have had an opportunity to adjust to my annoyance at some of the comments that I encountered in skimming one of the two reviews.
The other of the two reviewers insists that I should write another paper, discussing incomplete preferences. To that demand, I will reply that I have had one paper published on that subject, and that the next paper in the programme is to synthesize such discussion. The lack of awareness of the reviewer about my prior work is an artefact of my selecting a blind review, so that my identity was concealed from the reviewers.
Assuming that the remaining demands of the reviewers can be met reasonably (or that the editor can be shown that any demands that are not met are unreasonable), my paper will be published at this journal.
20 June 2019
I've not received a decision about my probability paper from the journal to which I submitted it four months ago, and the journal's website continues to report the paper's status as
It might seem that none of the various reasons given by previous journals for rejection could be offered with plausibility after four months, as the supposèd short-comings pronounced by earlier editors and reviewers would quickly be evident. However, my experience is that some journals feel entitled simply to report — Ooops! — that work got lost or delayed in process, but could quickly be seen to be grossly deficient either before it was mislaid or after it was unstuck.
Meanwhile, I think that any reasonable reviewer will make a cursory examination of a paper before accepting it, that any reviewer competent to assess my probability paper would quickly recognize that its potential significance were considerable, and that he or she would therefore be reluctant to delay for weeks before making a more careful reading. Perhaps a long time were required to find a reviewer, or perhaps the paper is once again in the hands of some credentialed fool not competent to review it.
I hesitate to query the handling editor, for fear that, as in the case of the previous journal, the paper would be given-over to a reviewer who promises a quick review and then provides remarks that are careless and wrong. On the other hand, I also know from experience (with my paper on indecision) that some journals will allow a paper to idle indefinitely unless its author rebels.
20 May 2019
I've not yet received a decision on my probability paper from the journal to which I had most recently submitted it, and the journal's website continues to report the paper's status as
Waiting, although 20 May was a soft dead-line (and 20 May has passed in Europe).
It was only a soft dead-line because the journal simply declared that they attempt to report a decision within three months. Actually, three months is a target widely adopted by academic journals, though the target is often missed.
In any case, at this point it would not be considered inappropriate for me to query the handling editor about the paper, though I'm not sure what good would currently come of such a query. I'm inclined to believe that some journals will hand a paper to a referee for a quick-and-dirty review if pushed, and I'd rather just withdraw the submission than receive another derelict review.
I continue to regard a rejection as the most likely outcome and a Monday as the mostly day for a decision. I've not yet decided where next to submit my paper should the present journal reject it.
7 May 2019
A recent post to Facebook by Timo Virkkala reminds me of one of my peeves.
Eugen Ritter von Böhm-Bawerk died on 27 August 1914. The Austro-Hungarian Empire disintegrated in 1918. The Austrian state eliminated titles of nobility as such with a law passed on 3 April 1919, which law came into effect on 10 April 1919.
Had von Böhm-Bawerk lived into 10 April 1919, then he would have been given various choices as to what to do with his name. One of his choices would have been to change it to
Eugen Böhm von Bawerk, which could alternately be spelled
Eugen Boehm von Bawerk. But of course he didn't, 'cause he'd been dead for almost five years.
Still, the Austrian central bank, the US Library of Congress, and that wretched mess Wikipedia decided to pretend that he'd done just that. He didn't adopt that name, his acolytes and admirers didn't and don't call him by that name, and he might have done something quite different (such as omitting the
[Ritter] von altogether, which would have left his name more like its earlier form) if he'd been compelled to make a choice; but the LoC and Wikipedia still insist on sophomorically transforming his name into that form.
 The umlaut (
¨ ) is an extremely stylized superscripted
e. An umlaut may be replaced by writing an
e after the letter over which the umlaut had been written; simply omitting an umlaut without replacement is illiterate.
Unfortunately, the modern glyph for the umlaut is indistinguishable from that of the diæresis, and the louts in Unicode Consortium decided to pretend that the two were the same character. (Yes, we've hit three of my peeves in this entry.) When not written diacritically, a diæresis should not be replaced by an
e. (I've not seen that done, so it doesn't count as a peeve.)
[Ritter] von Bawerk might still look like a title of nobility, but it would not have counted as such. And somehow such reärrangements were seen as important.
26 April 2019
A psychologist once told me that people do not begin to dream until they've fallen into a relatively deep sleep. I know her assertion to be false based upon my own experience and upon the reports of others. Some of us begin dreaming right after or perhaps right before falling asleep. Being either barely on one side of consciousness or perhaps in an intermediate state in which dreaming occurs is not quite the same as what is normally called
lucid dreaming, but I'm able to notice some peculiar psychological phenomena as such.
Amongst these are spurious memories. In a dreaming state, I seem to remember events that did not occur in the waking world, though I don't experience those events within the dream. Because the events are not dreamt, but instead there is an apparent memory of these events, it can be harder upon becoming wakeful to discern that the apparent memory were false. But such spurious memories do disintegrate much like memories of dreamt events. In fact, I notice apparent memories often disintegrating within dreams, which disintegration is sufficiently troubling to make me more wakeful.
One disintegration, experienced a few mornings ago, was especially disturbing. I dreamt that I had an old Japanese bank note, and I had (spurious) memories of how I'd acquired the note. But I dreamt that some woman stole the note from me; and, as I dreamt of that theft, my apparent memories of how I'd come to have the note disintegrated, as if themselves stolen.
15 April 2019
Another Monday has effectively passed without my receiving a rejection from the latest journal to which I offered my paper on probability.
My paper was submitted to that journal on 20 February, and on 2 March I was informed that it were assigned to a handling editor and that I'd be notified when a report were returned by a reviewer. I don't know whether a reviewer has accepted the assignment; but, while sometimes it takes months to find a reviewer, usually that happens more quickly. The journal says that it makes an effort to make a decision within three months; but, at most journals, reviewers are asked to return a report in something like four weeks or a month. So, while the three-month mark is six weeks away, it is increasingly plausible that a decision will be made soon.
Those who review academic articles and edit academic journals do so as a side activity, and are most likely to give time to this activity on the weekends. Additionally, weekends are psychologically natural for self-imposed deadlines. Monday becomes the most probable day for an editor to inform an author of a decision. Because the journal and the handling editor are in Europe, Monday effectively ends in what is for me the late after-noon.
And the most likely decision is a rejection. I don't think that I quite said this when previously writing about submitting my article to a journal. Instead, I wrote about the fate of most articles being rejection. But, after observing the responses of reviewers at those previous journals, I've reached a judgment about probability. It's probable that my article will again be rejected.
Thus, on each Monday, I look for a rejection.
17 March 2019
For some decades, one of the clear and worsening problems with American institutions of formal education has been administrative bloat. I suggest a legislative response.
For institutions at each level of education, the mean and standard deviation can be determined for administrative expense per pupil in 1975. That is to say that these figures could be computed for kindergartens, for elementary schools, &c. For each level, these two figures can be summed and then that sum adjusted for price-inflation. In 2020, both the legislatures of the constituent states and the US Congress could pass laws such that, beginning five years after passage of the legislation (which in this case would be in 2025), no educational institution would receive any direct funding from the states (including the federal state) if its administrative expenses per pupil exceeded that computed amount, and no grants or guaranteed loans would be given to students beginning degree programmes at institutions whose administrative expenses exceeded that amount.
16 March 2019
To many people, Dr Pepper tastes as if it contains prune juice.* For years, various sources (including the manufacturers of Dr Pepper) have said that it does not. But that contradiction provokes a question of why to so many people Dr Pepper tastes as if it does. Yet try searching on-line for the answer. Try searching on-line even for the question. One source after another tells us that it doesn't contain prune juice; none seems to explain why (to so many people) it tastes as if it does. None seems even to wonder.
I don't know the answer. But I do know that one of the flavorings in Dr Pepper is … plum. Yeah, that's the fruit that, if dried, becomes a prune. (In fact, some sellers of prunes label them as
dried plums, because people have negative associations with
prune.) I don't know why the manufacturer doesn't add something such as
but does contain plum flavoring to the declarations that Dr Pepper does not contain prune juice. (Side payments from sellers of dried plums seem an unlikely explanation for the silence.)
But the plum may not actually explain the reported flavor like that of prune juice. There are many flavoring agents in Dr Pepper, including apricot and blackberry, and perhaps some of these would in combination still produce the taste of prune juice even were the plum omitted.
*Of course, sensitivity to various chemicals varies across persons, and some individuals might be familiar with tastes for prune juice and for Dr Pepper such that they didn't think that the latter were as if it contained any of the former.
9 March 2019
From technocrats, I often hear or read a claim that it would no longer make sense to extract petroleum when reserves were depleted to the point that extractions took more energy than could be got from the petroleum. What is unstated in the reasoning is that the value of an energy source is solely determined by the quantity of energy that it could yield; but that proposition is mistaken.
When petroleum is extracted, not only is one quantity of energy exchanged for another, but a quality of energy is exchanged for another. Petroleum is extracted by the use of mechanical or hydraulic energy. Those forms of energy might be derived ultimately from the burning of petroleum, but they might come from other sources instead.
When energy is converted from one form to another, as when a motor converts electrical energy into mechanical energy, that conversion too is an exchange, and as a practical matter those exchanges invariably involve a loss in the useable quantity of energy; that consistent loss is a matter of thermodynamics. Yet the change in form is implicitly deemd to be worth the loss in quantity.
A world in which the extraction of petroleum involved a net loss in the quantity of available energy would be very different from the present; if that state were somehow reached to-morrow, it would be catastrophic. Even just a decline in the net gain in the quantity of energy from extraction is note-worthy when it occurs (as is an increase). But, in a more gradually changing world, petroleum could and probably would continue to be produced even under circumstances that required a sacrifice in the net quantity of available energy.