Thursday, August 31, 2017

HBO's Confederate

What would happen if the South Won The Civil War?

Well, look around you. They did.

Oh, true, not a geopolitical victory, but a victory nonetheless. Read our history. Read recent news. The Confederacy won. The Union capitulated. The elimination of castes was simply too high a price for our nation to pay. We wanted to succeed in the world. You have to be nasty and smart and organized to do that. Perpetual war extinguishes democracies.

Premise: The South succeeds in Secession, by whatever means, and we call it The Victorious Southern Revolution. Southrons Of Secessia Succeed. Results?

Kurman’s Ironclad Rule of Time Travel  #4*:  If the South Wins the Civil War, the Soviet Union becomes the No.1 global superpower.  

(I’ll explain that in a minute, but part of the reason is, well, those Confederate and Nazi flags waved at Charlottesville? Don’t happen. Nazi flags don’t exist, because Nazi Germany never exists).

A lot of masturbatory energy has gone into this South Wins divergence, by a lot of people.

Harry Turtledove (Guns of the South, Southern Victory series) seems to have claimed a lot of this real estate. He in turn was influenced by MacKinlay Kantor, who wrote a Look magazine article in 1961 titled “If the South Had Won The Civil War”. There is Ward Moore’s “Bring The Jubilee”, of a enervated North and an expansive, vibrant South.. Why, even Sir Winston Churchill had a go at it in a 1931 essay. Churchill’s is a naively infantile fable. Lee, after  victory at Gettysburg and conquest of Washington DC, in a “master stroke” frees the slaves, thus gaining Great Britain as an ally.

These authors, and many others, posit some type of military victory that allows the South to secede.
They further posit that not only does the South abolish slavery, but there is an eventual reunification with the US of A.

Horse. Fucking. Feathers.

The standard Pareto wank is a victory at Gettysburg. Or Vicksburg. But by then, in 1863, the Union was an enormous military beast that gave even Great Britain and France pause. Further, Great Britain, having outlawed slavery and curtailed the Atlantic trade, had zero confidence that portions of the South would not renew the Middle Passage slave trade.

In the Confederacy, by Gettysburg, you have a worthless Confederate paper dollar, Yankee gold coins good anywhere, armed housewives rioting for food, a labor force bled white by conscription, government impressments of private properties.

That victorious South?  I see it as post-colonial Mexico at the Mason-Dixon Line. Revolutions, bandits, slave rebellions, low caste white rebellions, dictatorships… Heck the US of A might have to build a Wall!

Perhaps at the end of the fat tail, a King and aristocracy of a Southern Empire, lots of counties and counts in conquested Carribea. But maybe not speaking English? Maybe an aggressive Mexico takes shit back?

Regardless, not a prosperous Confederacy, and one that has flown apart. Texas for sure secedes.
This military victory divergence I see as almost always a USA and CSA that is weaker than E pluribus unum.  

Fast forward a mere 50 years to WWI. Posit no USA or CSA troops in WWI because of Isolationism & Continental Antagonism.  Armistice a year earlier, Europe having punched itself into a stupor of clarity. I have faith that they all look at each other and say we really don’t need to do that shit again, ever.  Maybe not, but probably no post-war humiliation of Germany.

Kaiser still there?  Maybe. But Lenin still injected into Russia (great man fallacy? no, nasty man surety) Point is, the Soviet Union is gonna happen. What happens to the USSR with WWI ending with a weak Europe and a distant America?...

Anyway, the best way for the South to Win the Civil War? Don’t fight the war.

These war avoidance divergences almost invariably jonbar hinge upon the Constitutional Convention in 1789. (And maybe even that is too late to fix). But the fallacy is the Great Man theory. Lincoln is killed in a carriage accident in 1859 type of stuff. Problem is the passions are already riled. If you can’t fat-tail your way to an amicable secession in 1789, you are gonna have some kind of war.

Is that actually true? I’m making this shit up. It sounds right to me.

So, the Constitution loses the signatories of Virginia on down. The US of A starts with 8 colonies. (I’m figuring Maryland goes with the Southern Colonies).

Certainties? Yankee ingenuity. The lowly mechanicks make cotton gins, standardized parts, firearms... Southern planters, averse to paying for anything, develop one of the finest industrial espionage networks ever. White people, immigrant and established, reproducing at biological maximum. Genocide. Maybe not as bad as our USA, or perhaps worse.  A continental expansion is inevitable, and maybe a race through the Southwest. 

Also, with slavery, immense Southern wealth: a system of global credit through capitalized chattel ownership, a collateralized debt system with human commodities. People are money. (Kind of like what we have now, but more depraved).

Speaking of depravity, I think for an honest and comprehensive counterfactual, we need to plumb the depths of depravity, especially when it comes to corporate culture, and the lack of morals therefrom.  
We can discuss the horror of slavery, but slaves are born of woman. The weaponized womb . Well no wrong, womb was weaponized from the get-go. The capitalized womb? The collatoralized and commodified womb? That’s  an ancient and still modern horror.

Consider, old Tom Jefferson. Smart fucker. Took advantage of that constitutionally stipulated deadline of January 1, 1808, when the “importation of persons” is prohibited. Article 1, Section 9. The slave trade officially goes domestic. Meaning southern slave breeders, I mean the genteel southern planter caste, gets to make a shit ton of money, especially ol’ TJ. (Too bad he blows  it all on Monticello).

Jefferson kept and bred slaves as he would horse or hound. But what about his wife? He loved her deeply and dearly, and he bred her to death. He fucked her to death. That’s a fucking horror show.

Slaves allowed the vote in 1869; women, 1920.

Which gets us to the real meat of a good Southern gothic alternate history horror story, which is what you want.  

Once you posit a less chastened South, free to experiment in the breeding of human livestock, backed by modern scientific methods and corporate deep pockets, we move beyond a caste system into meat logistics.

I present to you the blaxploitation movie Mandingo, which, it wasn’t a good movie, but the original book - of a fictional breeding farm in the South called, of all things, Falconhurst - created a genre I’m calling the cuck and bull genre.  Fifteen sequels from different authors.  A Broadway play and two movies. 

I think that is the most realistic version of a 21st century Confederate slave industry.

Were there breeding farms in the South? Yes and no. Not like corporate shit. Not like multinational conglomerate level shit. But if slavery continues in the South, and slavery meets the modern corporate structure, and modern science, you got depraved sex farms. You got rape factories too, but you call them something else, something more polite, courteous and genteel.  

And then there’s the meat industry. There is really no low bar for how degraded one can make human flesh. If you can breed them into a recognized subhumanity? Bred like roaster chickens for maximum yield?

Sure, why not.?

And of course, once human chattel is no longer considered human, but livestock, new dietary horizons open up. Good old industrial cannibalism.  I wonder, since depravity seems to degrade everyone, would this grisly practice be restricted to the South? You don’t suppose the Chicago meatpackers would want to get in on the money? Would negroes be processed in an even more horrific version of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle?

Sure, why not?

Oh, geez, I got sidetracked on the Soviet Union thing didn't I? Here:

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

No Junk. No Noise.

It has been reported that CRISPR/Cas9 may cause unintended mutations. Perhaps hundreds of Off Target mutations. There are, naturally, already objections to the study that resulted in this report.

I for one, would not be at all surprised that Nature Bites Back when a not entirely understood method is applied.

Like the old Jewish proverb: Man Plans, God Laughs.

Happens all the time with much simpler and more readily understood technologies. And when applied to the ultimate carbon-based nanotechnology, the Wholly Grail of Protean Tech, with complex, tightly coupled, kluge-ridden infrastructure, one should expect the machine to do what it is already set up to do, rather than what we intend. And honestly, when you've a fractal information storage system, with levels of scale effecting each from the smallest to the largest, why the fuck would anyone be at all surprised by a global reaction? After all, it was only a few years ago that biologists though whole domains of the genome were just junk, and now it is turning out that the junk is, well, not entirely junk. Repurpose, recycle, reuse on steroids, more like.

Reminds me of an article I read in Nautilus magazine a number of years ago. I searched in vain here in my memory palace to find it. Ah, but good old serendipity, Nautilus republished an updated  version: Nature, The IT Wizard.  

This article caused me to come up with the term suzammenbindenkugel - the self-reinforcing holistic bubble. I still like the term, hearkening as it does to my Teutonic roots, back when Germany was the most advanced scientific nation on Earth, before it decided to eat its own limbs for fifty years.

The gist of the article is how blazingly efficient all of these incredibly messy molecules and structures we call Life are, bumping right up against the mathematical limits of efficiency. Why if our poor fire ape technology of metal, ceramic, and crystalline doohickeys  were just a fraction of this, we'd at least have a Solar System striding empire by now. Or a smoke enshrouded hell world. Or something.

The takeaway I got from this article was noise in the brain. Recent news reveals that neurons are not simply on/off transistors, that regions within the neurons, the dendrites for example, perform highly complex calculations that determine neuronal behavior. And, it turns out there are even bigger slow coherent oscillations within the brain that propagate to connect neurons in distant parts of the brain. We thought this was just noise, but no. (Throw in the incredible system of astrocytes and, of course, the gut brain, and all that cutting edge neural networks like Google DeepMind look risibly unsophisticated and downright primitive, no?)

So, we have junk that ain't junk and noise that ain't noise, and it was just our ignorance all along, go figure.

Which makes me wonder about the latest technique in deep cranial stimulation: a method that can electrically stimulate deep structures within the brain without implanting electrodes via surgical intervention. Sounds like they've stumbled upon a technique the brain already uses. And I wonder what unintended side effect this will have?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Holiday Snaps

Howdy, well a lot has happened since I posted a bit more regularly. I've a new gig at Harper College, teaching welding. The pay is a lot better. Unfortunately, I lost my pimped out studio when I quit my job as studio tech. (I also inadvertently lost my gig as Bronze Casting instructor, but that's another story).

I still managed to get some stuff cast. Partly through the gracious intervention of the new Bronze Casting instructor, Philip Spangler, whom I helped familiarize with the Harper CE bronze program, and who reciporcated by allowing me to throw my stuff into the Spring semester mix.

Partly through my own efforts casting coffee can investment molds at Chris Newman studios using my mini-melter Mark II.

Now, I have a new gig at CIADC in Rogers Park, as Casting Department manager and instructor of metal casting. I'll provide more info on that as time allows. I'll be casting over there for the foreseeable future.

Anyway, the latest series is called Holiday Snaps. It is a series of creatures in relaxed vacation poses. Not sure what kind of creatures. Some clay ladies at the college exclaimed they were elves when I was working on them. Sure, why not? If you want a more intricate bullshit narrative, they are Icelandic hothouse elves, perhaps mutated by deep magma reservoir geothermal waters used to heat the greenhouses. Or perhaps they are natural denizens of the deep mantle come to call Iceland home.

In any case, I'm pretty sure rendering them was a case of cryptomnesia, as I came across a Rene Magritte painting that I'd seen before and no doubt unconsciously copied:

Les merveilles de la nature, 1953
These are 1/12th scale figures in bronze, cast in Dec. 2016/April 2017. 

Holiday Snaps #1

Holiday Snaps #2

Holiday Snaps #4

Holiday Snaps #5

Holiday Snaps #6

Holiday Snaps #7

Holiday Snaps #8

Holiday Snaps #9

Holiday Snaps #10

Holiday Snaps #11

Holiday Snaps #12

What happened to #3 you might ask? They don't always make it. More coming, and hopefully with this series  I've got all this cuteness and preciousness worked out of my system, but probably not.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

I am an idiot

So I am an idiot it turns out that ever since I got this new phone I could dictate blog posts onto blogger and I didn't know that until right this f****** second my brother is laughing because he's reading the way I'm speaking right now. Google doesn't like profanity that's usually the internet or whatever don't like profanity anyway hi you guys whoever still reads this s*** Hey hi to hi to whomever is still reading the s***and I'll talk to you later bye bye!
Holiday Snaps
Oh yeah I've been working on waxes like one or two a night so I'm making all these a couples vacation couples that are on vacation and this is a wax. Okay ha ha ha ha ha ha ha last laugh this is the laughter on the microphone come on Google get it laughter.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Holiday Snaps #2

Once I have made enough of these, I will create a new entry on my website under the series title "Fractal Self-replicating Machine Elves".

Or maybe "Mechanical Elves Run The Universe".

Friday, January 6, 2017


First commission of the year. Hopefully not the last. I think the table has kind of a Jim Woodring flavor to it.

2017. Cast Bronze. approx. 8" x 6" x 4"

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Reagan Was The Tao of Collapse

Happy New Year everybody! I figured I would get in one more post before the arbitrary turn of the wheel.

As you all know, there's really no reason to be optimistic considering, like the therapsids of the early Triassic, we suffer from the illusion of survival. It doesn't mean we are doomed in the coming year. We were already doomed.

But have no fear. No Strangelovian happy ending in 2017. We will continue our half-assed incompetent muddling well into 2018.

We are officially in the Age of the Archosaur. Many thought we were going to be the dominant therapsid in the Anthropocene, but then we fucked it all up. True, it sure seems like things are looking up for some folks out there, but no, doom is all we have going for us. What with the final pussification of America complete. The right* (alt- and cis- and trans-) correctly identifying themselves as cuckservatives, realizing they are not true men anymore, Homo Domesticus, frail little waifs compared to our sturdy virile ancestors of 12,000 years ago. The last reserves of fossil oxygen pretty much used up, while we dither over incredibly plentiful fossil carbon. Soylent Green right on schedule.

Which of course puts me in a jolly semi-nihilistic mood. Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die!

Because, of course, we are in the aftermath of the Collapse. And when did the Collapse (meaning the Anthropocene) occur?

Some will argue the first atomic bomb was the golden spike, 1945. Others argue for 1610, when the Little Ice Age got going after Pangaea was restitched together, and the partially-inadvertent slaughter of 50 million North Americans resulted in a huge carbon sequestration. Others choose the year 1950, when the Great Acceleration started, and we ape-shaped ants started to really dominate the biosphere. Some will opt for 9,000 years ago, when the first monkey hives were mud-pied together. Others will go all the way back to 300,000 years ago, with the arrival of anatomically modern humans.

But, just so you are aware, the Collapse happened on March 23, 1978. More specifically, 11:11 am.

Is this an arbitrary date and time? No and yes. It was, under many metrics, the apex of human civilization. It was when the (not yet classified) .01% headed for the life boats, and said fuck everybody else. It was when we went from class to caste warfare. And the poster child for the Collapse is Ronald Reagan. You cannot find a more archetypical archosaur than Ronald Wilson Reagan.

Why am I picking on Ol' Snoozy? He wasn't even in office yet. True, but Reagan, of all people, championed jolly nihilism. Here we had a chance to be adult about our circumstances. Say, what you will about Carter, he admonished us into acting like adults. But no, Reagan told us to go out and play, and we did.

Which of course, at this stage, is as good as any coping strategy.

Can't help but think that the really big Great Filter is an all-or-nothing affair. And (in the case of us ape-shaped ants) requires that we have to wreck the planet. We either get to that magic carrying capacity for the Singularity of ten billion brains or we fuck it all up and finally quit grabbing Mother Earth by the pussy.

But that's all just a tail-end distribution bleeding probability into a nonexistent mean.

See you next year!