Booting-Up for fun and profit

          Returning to my roots as I never really liked political "science".

          When listening to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez talk about the "Changing the Poverty Line Calculation" legislation she included these words:

          … this idea and this metaphor of a boot strap started as a joke because it is a physical impossibility …

          As I listened to her, I flashed back to the good old days then few people had any experience with computers. And, those that did, truly understood what it meant to "boot up a machine". Sadly, most that use computers have no real understanding of the technology they use so ubiquitously.

          First: " … started as a joke because it is a physical impossibility …" is a so very important point because it is so cruel to suggest anyone has ever succeeded financially as a result their own isolated efforts. Financial gain, id est becoming prosperous only occurs in the context of a given social milieu. So, the old lie of the "self-made man" became the lie that an individual could "lift themselves by their own bootstraps" as a metaphor for "just stop being poor". The economic lie is replaced with the physical lie to make it sound more ridiculous because we all can visualize the absurdity of the impossible physical act. Everyone knows this is impossible … right … Sad

          So, what does this have to do with a computer "booting up" when it is turned on? The term was chosen as an ironic comment on the actual process. I remember it most vividly from the time I watched Dr. Marzke's graduate student boot up a PDP-11 that was connected to the various detectors and controllers of the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance contraption that filled a large volume of the laboratory. I watched as the student toggled the switches representing the address and the code for the binary instruction set that the CPU would use to "recognize and control" the paper tape reader. Having "strobed" the "tape reading routine" into the first block of the "boot" blocks, the student then set the PDP-11 machine start address to the initial address of the aforementioned painstakingly toggled binary instructions. After the paper tape's instructions were loaded the student then set the PDP-11 machine start address to the initial address of the aforementioned paper tape's instruction set. FYI: This instruction set comprised the PDP-11's operating system. This then allowed anyone to use the keyboard, CRT monitor, and other assorted peripherals to do computer stuff.

          Being the smart-ass of the group: I said, "You know, Dr. Marzke, you could just burn all this onto an EPROM and eliminate this tedious process by hardwiring it to the computer's main circuit board." He didn't do that because, as we all knew, it wouldn't be more than about four years for the first desktop personal computers to become available.

          The only reason computers are able to boot-up with such ease is because the system is prepared carefully so that as entropy increases the machine setting between a "hot spot" and a "cold spot" cascades into series of states we as operators find advantageous. That is the "toggled" routine is loaded on a ROM chip set, and the "tape" routine resides as a "program" on the Hard Drive. As an aside, did you know you can modify your computer's operating system to do some really funky stuff?

          As an analogy with the economic boot-strap lie. A carefully constructed economic system would allow the rest of us real access to economic stability, and an equitable share of the monetary system so many presently exploit for their own nefarious activities.

          Elect Bernie Sanders, and maybe, just maybe we all can have nice things. … Oops, I slipped on a big pile of steaming political …

RIP

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Raggedy Ann's picture

What funky stuff can my computer do???

I love AOC. She brings real insight to people. Pleasantry

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The UFO’s are coming to unify us.

QMS's picture

pick up are boots.
We are going to need the high waders
as this political-economy swamp fills up.
Wink

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edg's picture

bootstrap (n.)

also boot-strap, the tab or loop at the back of the top of a men's boot, which the wearer hooked a finger through to pull the boots on, 1870, from boot (n.1) + strap (n.).

Circa 1900, to pull (oneself) up by (one's) bootstraps was used figuratively of an impossible task (among the "practical questions" at the end of chapter one of Steele's "Popular Physics" schoolbook (1888) is, "30. Why can not a man lift himself by pulling up on his boot-straps?" and an excellent question it is).

By 1916 the meaning of the phrase had expanded to include "better oneself by rigorous, unaided effort."

The meaning "fixed sequence of instructions to load the operating system of a computer" (1953) is from the notion of the first-loaded program pulling itself (and the rest) up by the bootstrap. It was used earlier of electrical circuits (1946).

Source: Online Eymology Dictionary

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PriceRip's picture

@edg

It was used earlier of electrical circuits (1946).

          A few years after McNary Dam on the Columbia River went on line I was able to participate in a school sponsored tour. The best part was talking to the operators. I was fascinated by the details of what they had to do if any circuit breaker tripped. The "reboot" routine was a lesson in discipline and clear thinking. A single mistake and you could "spin" a turbine sheering those huge bolts and creating all manner of havoc.

RIP

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Pluto's Republic's picture

Using a "bootstrap" to tie the metaphors together was elegant wordplay.

It never occurred to me that the term "bootstrapping" was a joke and nothing more. But it was — and a mean joke at that. Nor did I make the connection to "booting up." Funny how easy it can be to miss the obvious sometimes.

"Being the smart-ass of the group, I said...."

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You were the designated 'smartass'? I can totally see that.

I played the role of smartass in many of my classes, as well, and spent a good part of the school year banished from various classrooms and standing outside the door. Sigh. On the other hand, some of my most enduring friendships were made with fellow miscreants who were also standing outside their respective classrooms. I wonder if that could be a common characteristic among the folks who frequent here. Any other youthful smartasses here? Anyone?
.

As an analogy with the economic boot-strap lie. A carefully constructed economic system would allow the rest of us real access to economic stability, and an equitable share of the monetary system so many presently exploit for their own nefarious activities.

.

Thank you for reminding us that any time we wish, we can design, hardwire, and seal an intelligent and proactive economic ‘processor’ to resolve every possible interactive transaction of the nation, while evolving real-time predictive models of the economy at work in a complex-systems environment. What a view.

A Social-centric government can also be an economic engine that benefits both the people and the corporations. Within five years, the US government will approach both peak efficiency and peak productivity through its technology transition toward robotics and automation. Costs will plummet. No need to terrorize the most vulnerable Americans with hunger and homelessness. All citizens will benefit substantially when necessary social services are transformed from profit-seeking commercial monopolies to carefully regulated public utilities. Benefits will accrue from single-payer-style management of costs, and from the opportunity gains when the wellbeing of society and the individual are sustained through personal economic security.
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Elect Bernie Sanders, and maybe, just maybe we all can have nice things.

A sustainable rules-based economic system that can produce positive economic security for the people, will also be able to afford — for the first time ever — basic Human Rights for all US citizens. Human Rights, such as affordable housing, freedom from hunger, and fully responsive health care were unanimously ratified at the UN in 1948. These Rights have been enjoyed throughout the world, but for 70 years these Human Rights have been denied to US citizens by their government, along with related benefits that support the development of their minds, their aspirations, and their innovations.

When Americans stand up and demand basic Human Rights, they will begin to see a healthier, less hungry, less desperate, and less extreme society emerge across the nation.

Nice things.

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US capitalism has run into same problems that put Germany on the road to war in 1914. For Germany it was a question of ‘organizing’ Europe. For the United States it is a question of ‘organizing’ the world. — Leon Trotsky
PriceRip's picture

@Pluto's Republic

          A few years before the introduction of the Macintosh™ I was at Arizona State University. Some of my fellow students were impressed with this one computer science faculty member. It seemed he was rather obsessed with writing densely packed code with extra credit if you could best his efforts. Another aspect of his compulsion was dynamic reentrant programing, this is where code generates and loads executable code for conditional execution in the future. This coupled with the fact that Apple Corp. based their computers on a device controller chip set as opposed to a computational chip set told me to be patient because this new type of machine would be available soon (a little more than six years, actually).

          It is fun hanging out with those on the bleeding edge of technology. Note: "bleeding" is one step beyond "cutting", in case you were confused.

          As for being the designated smart ass, I really should write a book.

RIP

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