Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Michigan Confederacy

North America in 1986, from the Gallatin Divergence
I just can't seem to let this piece of alternate history alone. It's been stewing in my brain after my initial objection to the childish libertopian vision of an essay or two ago . It would seem that the formation of a confederacy of American Indians smack dab in the middle of the country is improbable in the extreme, but certainly no more ridiculous than the idea that Albert Gallatin could convince Washington's militia to side with the Whiskey Rebellion farmers, or that consequently George Washington himself would be executed. and yet, here I am thinking about it.

I'd much rather write about the Vivaldi Divergence, which, let's face it, would be a much, much more interesting alternate history. That would have occurred had the brothers Vandino and Ugolino Vivaldi, in 1291, having set sail from Genoa to find a route to India, had stumbled upon North America. The brothers and their Majorcan crew, raving from starvation and thirst, barely recognizable as human, nursed back to health by Waccamaw natives. And then, of course, the Great Dying starts, as the natives succumb to smallpox, measles, influenza, bubonic and pneumonic plagues, mow down the peoples, spreading across the continent, and then southwards through South America, until finally, in mere decades 30 million people are dead. The New World depopulated, the Inadvertent Spanish Holocaust occurring 200 years earlier. And in Europe, as in our own world, the Vivaldis vanished, and forgotten, until Columbus arrives in 1491, to a renewed and resistant population of American Indians. Only this time, they do not succumb to disease. The Spaniards, the Portuguese, the English and French unable to gain a foothold in the New World. No Conquest. No colonies. Forced to trade on an equal basis, perhaps at a disadvantage, perhaps even enslaved, in their encounters with the American Indians, what a very interesting modern world that would be.

But I ramble. Libertarians are just too easy to make fun of. Not unlike Vegans, or Hippies on Self-sustaining Communes, they are rather a hypocritical and pathetic bunch. I chalk it up mostly to their prefrontal lobes never quite adequately maturing, and so they are stuck in a perpetual adolescence of self-serving aggrandizement, an overindulgence in their own peculiar infantile version of their rights and entitlements, and a tendency towards chronic masturbation. Forget the paradox of the Zero Aggression Policy they espouse. They neither live up to it, nor can they identify the impossibility of the premise, nor the ludicrous consequences.

But stay, we've enough critiques out there to savage the libertarian idiocy. Let us continue with the absurd notion of the United States of America existing under a version of the Articles of Confederation.

James Madison, no slouch when it came to political philosophy, student of history, having examined the lives of as many republics as could come to his purview, recognized two facts. That a Republic faced two existential crises: 1) Being too small, and 2) being torn asunder by factions. His solution to both was the unpalatable but necessary solution of a strong central government. Like a political Copernicus, he recognized that the states, on their own, like the planets of the solar system, would fly off upon their own orbits without the strong central pull of a federal sun. And like a political Darwin, he recognized that the majority players within the fledging union would inevitably consume or overpower the minority members. And that, again, tyranny would not come from government, but whatever tyranny of the marjority controlled that government. Again, by creating a whale bigger than all the fishes, could the squabbling states be kept in line, swimming in an orderly school, rather than preying upon each other.

But, in the Gallatin Divergence, this is not to be. Is it any great leap of insight, then, that a Union falling back upon the Articles of Confederation, would quickly be subject to the same chaos?

But back to that Indian Confederacy... Oh, I know. They never stood a chance. Despite the genius of Little Turtle, despite the support of the British, they were overmatched. It would take a series of improbable events to save them. But, given an executed George Washington, are the events all that outrageous?

Consider: in our timeline Little Turtle (Mich-i-kin-i-wa) had twice out fought and out thought superior forces - superior both in number and firepower. Given that "Mad" Anthony Wayne requires only one miscalculation, only one error in judgement, only one delay in supplies or similar logistical FUBAR, Little Turtle and the Brits sweep the field. And any subsequent dealings - given the blatant dishonesty and slimeball behavior of the Americans at the meeting for treaty at Sandusky - would have been met with no small amount of distrust on the part of the Indians.

So, "Mad" Anthony Wayne, either diverted or defeated. The Battle of Fallen Timbers either not occurring or resulting in a third defeat of the Americans. Chaos of one sort or another within the fledgling North American Confederacy. Could a Michigan Confederacy have come into existence? A vast American Indian fist with an upthrust middle finger right in the heart of continental America? And why not? (As an American, I root for the underdog, so why not indeed?) With continued support of the British. With the weakened power and resolve of a now rudderless America. Once a strong union of tribes is established, they would be hard to remove, especially with the rise of Tecumseh. So, why not?

And then what? If there is any region which might come close to continuing the traditional US expansion of our own timeline? Doubtful it is the Northeast. Despite the population boom in New  England, the stony soils are rapidly being eroded and depleted with the Medieval agricultural techniques being practiced. A population boom cannot be fueled without food, and the majority of immigrants into the Ohio territory came from New England. The Northeast, with renewed state squabbling, collapses economically. Pennsylvania is the great power in the region, although, without a federal government to promote interstate trade and exchange of science and technology, unlikely to help its neighbors. All states in the Northeast fall around the orbit of Pennsylvania, although a paltry and impoverished union compared to our own robust timeline. They fall further behind our own timelines advances with each passing decade. I would hazard that, in 1986, the North American Confederacy, attempting to live out the libertarian dream, bottled up in the Northeast surrounded by suspicious and inimical powers, might possibly be barely in the 1920s - in short, a puny, miserable, squalid country filled with a selfish, short-sighted people clinging to their guns and their religion.

Again, is there a region which might come close to our own expansionist US? Look to the South. In the 1790s Virginia (including Kentucky) is the population heavyweight for the whole US coast. Undoubtedly, the southern states, geographically and culturally separate from the Northeast,  increasingly fed up with the tariffs, lawsuits, calls from the abolitionists and universal suffragists to end slavery and allow non-propertied commoners to vote and serve in office, would quickly become fed up and secede from the Confederacy, and probably sooner rather than later, perhaps as early as 1810-20s. Recognizing the folly of a weak union, they return to a federal system of government, but on that is oligarchical in nature. With chattel slavery, the plantation system, expansion into the rich plains and prairies of the West, usurpation of French and Spanish holdings, control of the Mississippi delta and basin, migration into the Midwest from the Northeast denied, the flood of pioneers would be diverted south. The Mexican territory of Texas is quickly flooded with pioneers both Yankee and Dixie. The influx of Yankee labor and middle class merchants into the southern plain states is welcomed by the Dixie aristocracy. The textile mills for cotton are built throughout the Gulf Coast, run by steam. Something of an industrial revolution occurs in the South, provided the factories are aristocracy owned. The idea of monarchy  (constitutional, of course) is entertained from time to time.

Chattel slavery still exists in 1986. But now, formally institutionalized, more humane, more genteel, more just, with paternal traditions of welfare and social security in place for the lame, the halt, the faithful elderly servants. The South United States of America in 1986, may perhaps be only a few decades behind our timeline, perhaps in 1940s or 50s, although doubtful with any civilian or nuclear capabilities (and just as well).  A large contingent of Dixie is well established in California after the Gold Rush, and it is almost inevitable that the Southwest will eventually be purchased from an enervated and corrupted Mexican Empire.

So there you have it. History is never what you think it will be. No doubt the course I laid out, so fully opposite the intent and desire of your standard libertarian, is , by virtue of being opposed to their favored fantasy, almost guaranteed to be what happens.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

This is My Brain. This is My Brain On Me.

Sleeping Gypsy - Henri Rousseau
I used to work with a manager who smelled like bowling shoes.

There the comparison sat until one day I took a shit that smelled like bowling shoes. I then realized that the manager smelled like shit. He seemed to possess good hygiene habits, so something must have been wrong with his biochemistry.

Why did I bring that up? I'm not really certain. It's similar to a very recent, rather strange occasion when I was sitting at my computer, reading news, and I became drowsy. For some reason, perhaps a garbled bit of instantiated prose resulting from my twilight brain state, something I read triggered a fugue of memories.  And not just any memories.

You know how when you have a particularly vivid set of dreams and you wake up and think to yourself "I really need to remember this as it is all just too bizarre not to be forgotten"? And so you manage to hang on to the memories, replaying them to keep them fresh, but invariably they fade away.

Well, this was as if those forgotten memories flooded back, from several months worth of dreams, but piecemeal, in no order, and all accompanied with a sense of urgency and importance. And more than just the memory, the intact experience, the sensory and somatic part as real as the usual weird hillbilly logic of incongruent visions and thoughts. And it all lasting perhaps ten to fifteen seconds and then gone, whoosh, like a runaway freight train had passed by.

And I thought to myself "Okay, now it starts. Old age or schizophrenia, I'm going nuts".

All downhill from here on out, I guess.

Hopefully, I'll be able to generate some decent art out of this decline...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Libertardian Nation

(From Urban Dictionary): Libertard (lib-er-tard): Mix of libertarian and retard. Used to denote a libertarian who is idealistic and has unrealistic expectations for a hypothetical libertarian society (see Libertopia).

I've noted before that I'm a fan of counterfactual, or alternate, histories. I happened by accident to come across an alternate history world created by the author L. Neil Smith. It is a world which attempts to celebrate a libertarian utopia. 

An extremely valid and cogent historical question should be: Given that practically every form of government allowed by political theory has, at one time or another, been made manifest, why is it that no form of libertarian government has never materialized? Could it be that human nature disallows it, and that libertarians are either willfully ignorant or genuinely naive as to the realities of human greed and altruism? 

True, some have suggested eras and lands which might approximate Libertopia. Iceland during the Viking age, for example - provided you ignore slavery, clan and community social programs, the existence of communal resources (commons). Hmm. Not very libertopian at all, I'm afraid. A little too commie, in point of fact. All right then, how about 19th century America, after the Civil War and prior to the trustbusting and muckraking era of Teddy Roosevelt and the damned progressives? No regulation, free trade, open competition, (relatively) limited and small government. Things were pretty good, provided you were not black, or American Indian, or a in-general-non-white, or a woman, or part of the working class, or someone who needed medical attention. Okay, so maybe the latter part of 19th America was not so great after all.

Well, then... oh, I know! America under the Articles of Confederation! Can't complain about that? Right? (Again, ignoring that you are not black, or Indian, or a woman, etc.). Well, that's what L. Neil Smith attempts to do, starting with a novel called "The Probability Broach". (I'll not savage the book here, there are any number of critics who have blasted it as wooden, stilted, filled with cartoon characters, and simply awful preachy dialogue).

Smith creates a alternate universe libertopian paradise, which, in 1986, is called the North American Confederacy (the NAC).  Because for some reason a strong federal government discourages scientific advances, the NAC is far ahead of us in technology. They have colonies on the Moon, Mars and various asteroids. They can talk to chimps, apes, and dolphins. And everyone is extremely well-armed - including the chimps, apes, and dolphins, which, somehow, discourages major wars. Or something hand-wavy like that.

And how did this come about, you may ask? Why, the Whiskey Rebellion!

The what? Oh come ON, now! Recall your shoddy public grade school indoctrinations, comrades! 

The Whiskey Rebellion  was a tax protest that erupted in western Pennsylvania in the 1790s. Given the primitive transportation conditions of the time (no roads, no canals - no federal funds for same), farmers on the frontier could not get their corn to market without it spoiling. Their only alternative was to ferment, and then distill it into a less perishable form. 

The newly created federal government, in order to pay down the debt from the Revolutionary War and the disastrous policies of the incompetent competing state legislatures under the Articles of Confederation, created an excise tax on corn. The farmers argued they were exempt. Tax authorities disagreed. This resulted in a series of protests, violent encounters, and intimidation to discourage tax collectors which culminated in an armed uprising  in july 1794. The Washington administration collected an armed militia to counter the rebels, with Washington himself leading the army. However the protest collapsed before any hostilities.

This is one turning point in history where Smith's libertopian world diverges. Albert Gallatin intercedes to the benefit of the rebels. This, through a series of improbabilities, leads to the overthrow and execution of George Washington (enemy of freedom), the abrogation of the United States Constitution, and a reestablishment of the government under a revised Articles of Confederation.

And, then, of course, everyone lives happily ever after. Peace and prosperity, rational good behavior, efficient markets, and rapid scientific advances radiate outwards to bathe everyone in golden rainbow cheery brightness!

I, uh, have a few problems with this. You see, for starters, you've got the Northwest Indian War going on. The Old Northwest? The Ohio Territory? 

This is a big problem. As part of the Treaty of Paris in 1783, the British Crown had ceded territory north of the Ohio river to the fledgling US of A. The Congress of Confederation (the real one), under the Northwest Ordinance Act of 1783, made formal claim over the region designated the Northwest Territory, inviting settlers to invade and hoping to generate much needed revenue through land grants. 

Responding to Indian raids in 1790, President Washington and Secretary of War Henry Knox, ordered a major offensive into Shawnee and Miami territory in Ohio and Indiana. After one disastrous US defeat after another, Washington in late 1793 finally ordered General "Mad" Anthony Wayne to assemble a well-trained "Legion of the United States" to end the Indian problem once and for all. At the Battle of Fallen Timbers in August 1794, the Wabash Confederacy of the Indians was soundly defeated. The next year, with the Treaty of Greenville, Ohio and a slice of Indiana are given over to the US of A. It is the beginning of the end for the Indian nations.

Ah, but note. In the alternate history, Washington is dead in August 1794. "Mad" Anthony Wayne, being supplied out of Pittsburgh, cannot possibly be uninformed as to the circumstances of the Whiskey Rebellion. There is little chance he would embark upon an expedition with conditions being what they are back in the colonies States. 

Then you've got Little Turtle, the amazing military tactician, and Tecumseh, the brilliant genius organizer and visionary, to deal with. By this point, both recognize the need to unite the tribes. Both recognize the juggernaut in the form of western settlers waiting to extinguish them. Both recognize a fight for survival. With the destruction of the infant federal government, they get some breathing room. And with the British forts still strung out on the Great Lakes, and the Brits more than willing, given a severely weakened federal government, to arm and supply the Indians (not to mention seed dissension among the states as to "proper" ownership), we are set up with the chance for a real power in the Midwest - an Indian Confederacy, armed, determined, and ready to thwart the advance of the white people. And, I suspect, they would have succeeded. 

Think. No strong federal government. No central bank. No federal funds for canals. No federal funds for roads. No federal funds for railroads. No Erie Canal. No federal militia. No standing armies. No navy. No Hamilton as Secretary of Treasury. Therefore, no national debt. With no debt, no inability to obtain international credit. With no credit, no Louisiana purchase. Do I really need to go on?

The Empire of Democracy, stretching from sea to sea? The Dream Ends. Sorry, Smith. 

No continental United States. The Confederation reduced again to east of Appalachia, bottled up, states squabbling among themselves, walls of tariffs of goods and services built up between states, with a consequential stifling of specialization of production, with price increases. With no Navy, shipping costs skyrocket as merchants must see to their own security. With no standing Army, a constant call to arms from raids. Once you have a strong Indian Confederacy, with little resistance on the frontier, why wouldn't they want to rid the continent of White people. 

And what of Napoleon? With a weak US, he is more likely to cast an avaricious glance at the New World. And what happens when 1812 rolls around? What of the British?

I suspect conditions would have become intolerable. Either the US is extinguished, or greatly diminished, and all thanks to limited government.

Sorry, Smith, you are just so way, way off, you are not even wrong. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Required Reading

Office scene from Terry Gilliams' Brazil
Back when I had a real job, I worked, at one point or another, for four big, and I mean billions-in-revenue-per-year-multi-national-lumbering-giant-behemoth BIG corporations. During that time, I learned a number of semi-cynical lessons.

1) Big Business makes money DESPITE itself. (See the Peter Principle).

2) Once you get numbers above the tribe level (150-200 people) you enter bureaucracy territory. Your organization, despite growth, is now merely circling the drain.

3) To err is human. To really screw things up requires a computer. To achieve world-class catastrophic fuck-ups of apocalyptic shit-storm proportions requires a bureaucracy.

There are others, but you get the idea. It doesn't really matter if your organization is a private enterprise or a government. It doesn't matter whether you run it like a business or not. What matters is, once you pass the level of individual oversight, shenanigans sprout up, tips of icebergs appear, back room butt-fuckings and closet broomstick rapes commence.

Oh sure, government has its fair share of fuckups. Katrina. Tuskegee syphillus experiments. Nuclear fallout. (But hey, what's a few irradiated Mormons between friends? It's not like they even pretend anymore that they owe allegiance to the US of A). For every one government fuck-up, you can name ten private enterprise fuck-ups, and those are the ten you know about.

Given a choice between of having fraud, incompetence, malfeasance, horseplay in the halls and general dipshittery going on in either private enterprise and government, I prefer having government in charge mainly because we can usually catch the fuckers in the act.

Take, for example, the latest bullshit with HR 3808 . The banksters had hoped that the cowards in Congress would grease the tracks for the continuing massive corporate fraud in the mortgage mess. Obama vetoed it, and fortunately, on its second go around, not enough representatives voted for it. (Please note: Democrats voted against it. Republicans voted, as usual, to fuck private citizens up the ass).

So, in keeping with the title of this essay, I encourage and implore you to read Matt Taibbi's latest Rolling Stone piece on the mortgage mess. If, upon reading this, you are not livid with rage at the cocksucking banking motherfuckers, then consider this:

A friend of mine in the mortgage industry informs me that this huge con-job is just the tip of the iceberg, and everyone was in on it. If the truth were known, the torches and pitchforks would come out, the mobs would march on Wall Street, and the guillotines would sing again.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Science Friday Redux

Gamma Ray Space Bubbles
NASA's Fermi gamma ray space telescope has discovered to massive bubbles that trace back two some type of activity at the center of our galaxy. Physicists suggest these bubbles are the result of two jets that emerged when matter was gobbled up by the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. Judging from the size, shape, and velocity of the gas bubbles, scientists have managed to trace back the origin date of the event.

It was a Monday.

Which, coincidentally, is trash pickup day.

Masters of the Universe  

It has been suspected for some time that cats are perhaps the highest form of intelligence upon this planet. It has been confirmed today with the analysis of how cats drink milk. Apparently their ability to drink milk without splashing or spilling is due to the fact that they violate the law of gravity. This gravity-defying stunt is not actually a true violation of the physical laws of the universe. Rather, the cats have developed an elegantly subtle "lap and gulp" trick that involves the simultaneous solution of several highly complex multivariate nonlinear fluid dynamics equations which they do in their heads and on the fly. "Not even that Chinese supercomputer can do that", says an impressed science guy. In rebuttal, dogs demonstrated their wet dog shake. "Oh, I'm sorry, no" was the consensus response.

Brain scan of a brain
"Learning to read is good for the brain" suggest brain scan scientists at the Homer Simpson Institute for Obvious Experimental Results. Brain scans were taken of people who know how to read versus, oh, I don't know, how about people who have lived in a closet and were raised via a feeding tube through the keyhole. Scans indicated the brains of readers showed more vigorous responses to the written word than the brains of illiterates. "You wouldn't think we would be, but we were kind of blown away by this" said one psychologist.

In the tech realm, 3D glasses are expected on the market soon, from Oakley, Marchon, and Xpand. At approximately $120 a pop, these glasses will allow people to see the world in three dimensions, albeit, only in black and white.


And finally - in a followup to a previous Science Friday piece about the possibility that the Higgs Boson may look like Mister Peanut, but, like, really, really tiny - Mister Peanut has broken his silence after 80 years. "There is definitely no resemblance between myself and the Higgs Boson" read a statement from Mister Peanut. "I would rather think the Higgs Boson would look more like Mr. Natural, or perhaps Bluto, from the Popeye cartoon series". Neither Mr. Natural nor Bluto could be reached for comment.
Mr. Natural

Thursday, November 11, 2010

End of the Blue Dog Tools

A Difference of Opinion, Gerald Guthrie, 1996 Inkjet Print
The physical layout at the studio where I work weekends is such that we have adopted a categorical system of tool usage by function. You will not find peg-boarded walls festooned with anal compulsive outlines of hammers and saws. You will find boxes of stuff, arranged as twistors, cutters, grabbers, bangers, snippers, etc. It looks sloppy, unkempt, disorganized, but it is an efficient way to work. Grab the needed tool out of the box or basket, throw it back in after you are done.

Complain all you want to about party politics and partisanship, the fact of the matter is, it is here to stay.

I've related how Martin van Buren used party politics to take the presidency. And that he was one of the worst leaders we've ever had. But that is the way it is. Much as I get angry over things like this (and I obviously do), over the lying, the cheating, the stealing, the Lowest Common Denominator corrupt, manipulative, venal, base, cynical behavior of politicians, this is the way things work. This is the nature of democracy. It is sausage making on an apocalyptic scale.

It is the way things work for the same reason that any other suite of tools we use works, but in the social realm. It works. Grassroots movements may come and go, semi-anarchic egalitarian movements may rise and fall, but a hierarchical, closely linked, collective social network of like identities, common interests, and self-interested purposes consistently works in politics - regardless of the character of the system.

Tools, I said? Yes, tools. Social tools. A suite of social tools. A cultural package. They've been around since at least the Neolithic. Ever since we started to collect in groups larger than clans and tribes, we've made use of this nebulous suite of virtual tools. Long before Twitter, long before Facebook, long before the recognition of these things in present form. Friendships, acquaintances, alliances, caucuses, a network of favors, debts, punishments, rewards, mutualisms, parasitisms, consortia, which together make up a group identity, a purposeful superorganism. That which we strangely insectoid-flavored socially mutated apes use to get things done. The Id of our Collective It. The creeky, vaporous mechanisms of our weird swarm behavior: our wisdom, and idiocy, and madness of crowds which is, well, us, governing.

As someone who uses tools a lot, as someone who appreciates tools, I recognize that there is a holism to a suite of tools. In any craft task, you aren't just making use of one tool. They are bound, entangled, One Whole out of Many. The Greater Than the Parts. If I think about it too hard, when examining a beautiful piece of craftsmanship, or a really slick hack or fine job, I can almost get misty eyed about that suite of tools. I involuntarily invoke the Pathetic Fallacy, when I think of that faithful, brave, dependable, comforting, likable little satchel of tools.

And when a job is botched, I can't really blame the tools, now can I? Can I blame all the conservative tools out there for the botched job of the last thirty years? Well, yes, and no. But if I am honest about it, I've got to blame the users rather than the tools.

Of course, there is such a thing as redundant or worthless tools.

Take, for example, Blue Dog Democrats. They are gone, not for any lack of functionality or missing social worth, but quite simply they are gone because they were redundant. Blue Dogs, mainly from the South, conservative Democrats, fiscally conservative (but that is rather a stupid designation, is anyone fiscally libertine?), occasionally socially conservative, were redundant. Useless. They were hammer-saws. Screwdriver-ratchets. Tweezer-files.

People didn't need them, because there were other tools (pun intended) in the bag called Republicans that pretty much had the same function.

Do I feel bad for the Blue Dogs? No. Why should I feel bad for a tool?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Fire Ecology

Titanium knives
I have a burning desire to cast titanium.

Ah ha ha. I just realized there was a pun there.

No, really I do. A lot of casters will tell you the ultimate casting experience is cast iron. While I agree cast iron is extremely sexy,  I have a major hard-on for the look of titanium. It looks like steel but without the rust. Problem is, titanium is chemically highly reactive. In its molten state, it will eat through most refractory materials such as alumina, silica, or magnesia. As a result, a technique known as skull melting is used. This involves keeping a section of solid titanium metal interposed between the melt (done with an electric arc) and the crucible walls.
Titanium melts at about 3000 degrees F. Because titanium is reactive with oxygen, a normal atmosphere cannot be used. Typically, the melt occurs in a neutral argon atmosphere or a vacuum.

So, I wish to engage in vacuum induction skull melting, dude.
Vacuum Induction Skull Melting of Titanium

Ain't gonna happen. Darn it. So, I'm stuck with just the regular old casting of either aluminum or bronze at a measly 2000 degrees F with plain old fire.

The weird thing I noticed the other day, walking up to the library, was the bricks. Yeah, stupid, I know, but looking at the bricks that the library was made of, I realized they all were made with fire.

Then I noticed the concrete walls. The glass in the windows. The metal frames of the doors. All made with fire. The asphalt parking lot. Fire.

Fire! Almost every freaking thing we make is made with fire!

I mean, looking around, I'm surprised we have any carbon or oxygen left! (Of course, that's silly. Its just that all our stuff around us looks like a lot of stuff to us little fire-domesticating monkeys).

I don't know, it's just I've never really thought about it in an all-encompassing way before. It struck me as rather amazing, how much fire we use.

Speaking of which, my niece just got done with an engineering project involving converting human waste into carbon fuel. She never mentioned it to me, probably because I would have made fun of her and her poop project. (I would have too). It's featured on the Discovery Channel, which you can watch right here .

I think, though, I'd rather they put it all back in the earth. Do the terra preta thing with it, instead of burning it.

Kind of like the ethanol projects, it all used to be food. And I think that burning food for fuel is pretty fucking stupid.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Let the Dipshittery Commence!

See the map? That's my version of the senatorial map of the United States of America. You will notice that the state of Kentucky is now a giant sucking black hole of uselessness now. Were you to fly across the country, Kentucky would still be there. Nice enough place from above. Green hills, green valleys. Maybe a little too many cows and cowshit retention ponds in the western part. But overall, pretty.

Drive on through, still there. Pretty drive, pretty country.

But in senatorial space, it's just a big empty now, with two empty useless suits representing the state. Two empty useless suits with nothing but acrid smoke and the stench of manure inhabiting them.

One, one of the best corporate lapdogs KY ever produced. A man who has never said no to taking it up the ass at the behest of his rich masters,  Mitch McConnell, cocksucker extraordinaire. A man whose vast, large, generous, grand sweeping vision for this country is to deny a President a second term, keep the depression going for ten more years, keep the honst decent hard-working people down and desperate, and so help the cocksucking rich steal, pillage, and rape every last worthy resource, asset and skill our country has within it. And he does good for KY in the process, or rather, the ruling class in KY. Oh, he will make noises about democracy and freedom, but he takes care of those that do not need taking care of first and foremost and fuck everyone else.

And why? Oh, he will be amply rewarded. His rich masters will take care of him, and the Party of Fuck You (formerly the party of Fuck You, I Got Mine) will take care of him. He's set. He's golden. Americans get the best government money can buy.

And now Mitch has a young apprentice. Rand Paul. Learning from the master. Oh, Paul makes noises about being a rebel, about a fresh approach, about a Tea Party tidal wave, but he talks the same stale old talk all career politicians do. Hypocritical parasite. Cocksucker in training. With Mitch's hand firmly up his ass. You can barely see Mitch's lips move when Rand talks, but move they do.

Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul

Want proof Rand has nothing new? Read this interview in a formerly great paper, now just a Murdochian rag. "Crazy reformer" they say. REBEL. Mav-er-rick. Wild and crazy guy!

He claims he will tackle defense and entitlement issues to reduce the budget. Yeah, well. We'll see.

How about his other insanely new ideas?

Cut spending.
Term limits.
Constitutional amendment to balance the budget.
"Read the Acts" bill.

All of these as stale and old as a stone-hard turd stuck in the constipated fossilized bowel of a once unhappy, now long extinct dinosaur.

No, not McConnell!

It was a metaphor! I'm talking the bills. Nothing new. Nothing even exciting and new. The same dumb shit I've heard for going on thirty years now.

And not particularly bright ideas either.

Term limits? They are called elections. That's why we have them. Besides, you would find the selection of candidates head towards the most cynical, vilest, venal, opportunistic bastards ready to sell their vote to the highest bidder - at least in the last term. Got to get their nut before they head to K street and lobbying! Got to suck a lot of cocks and build up favors! Pure dipshittery, this idea.

Balanced budget amendment. Uh, read up on consitutional law. It is a dangerous gimmick, not a solution. Anyone who proposes this is either fucking lying or ignorant.

"Read the Act"? Hey, you can't get even half the American people to take thitry minutes out of one day to VOTE! You think they will spend a few hours plowing through lawyerese to understand a bill being voted on in a few days. And if they do get through the language and don't like what they read, then what? Complain to their congressman, who is horse-trading votes on seven other bills No. This is again, just a bullshit gimmick to look democratic.

These are distractions, to take our limited attention spans off all the dipshittery.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Doomsday Machine

A lot of people wondered why Reagan suddenly got all soft on the Russkies starting back in 1985. Many have felt that - having gained an unassailable position of strength through the massive nuclear arms buildup, the development of Star Wars anti-satellite and missile shields, and the ascension of a new premier in the form of Gorbachev - Reagan could finally feel at ease at the bargaining table - much to the chagrin of the rabid war-wimp conservative hawks who now revere St. Ronnie's name.

Well, Gorby was (is) an intelligent, reasonable, rational leader. He was someone you actually could negotiate with, rather than the calcified sclerotic necromorphs who occupied the Kremlin before him. Reagan, I suspect, was not entirely Alzheimered out yet. So, we got that going on.

The arms buildup was formidable, but hardly credible. The Soviets, bless 'em, had managed to cancel all that advantage out by simply maintaining there existing rather formidable nuclear force.

And Star Wars?... Well, Star Wars had always been, always will be, a fucking joke. Ask either side about that. Most of the generals are still alive. It mattered, despite Right Wing Lies to the contrary, not at all. Especially when the Soviets could have neutralized a fictional or working "space shield" with the addition of a few hundred dummy warheads. All I can think is, Edward Teller must have gotten Reagan to smoke some really good shit to buy into that fucking trillion dollar boondoggle.

No, I figure Reagan was informed about the Dead Hand .

What's that? Well, it was a doomsday machine built by the Soviets which went operational around January of 1985. It was designed to automatically launch a counterattack against the United States - just like in the movie Dr. Strangelove.

You see, the Soviets, realizing that they could not compete militarily with the US, convinced that it was only a matter of time before those primitive paranoid batshit and bugfuck crazy Americans would launch a first strike, made sure that they built up an arsenal that would unleash so many horrors upon the world - nuclear, bacterial, viral, chemical, that not a single person, anywhere, under any shelter, would survive.

"Surely" they thought, "even the Americans will not want to destroy the world of humanity utterly". (Because the dirty little secret is, despite shooting off every single warhead on Earth, civilization, despite the immense resulting shitstorms, would muddle its way through).

So, this Doomsday strategy only works if people know about it. Which is, I suspect, why Reagan shat his Depends, on starting talking with Gorby. Yes, even Reagan could see where this is all going.

Pity Rupert Murdoch does not see it the same way. He's made arrangements for his own Doomsday device to go off, should he kick the bucket. "Arrangements have been made", he says.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Casting Aluminum Hand Guns

Here is the original wax of the hand gun. I include it for reference.

Here we are pouring molten aluminum into the ceramic shell lost wax mold of the hands. I rigged up a tree of six hands to pour into, as you can see here:

An out-of-focus picture of the hand tree after the pour. The metal is cooling inside the ceramic shell mold. I will hammer the material off: 

The white ceramic shell material has been partially hammered off, and I will now cut the hands free of the aluminum rigging:

Here is one of the hands, cast in aluminum and ready for finishing touches. What you just saw, from wax to metal, took about two weeks time in span, adn perhaps three hours in actual time:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Attack of the Molemen

Okay, it all makes perfect sense. They had the 2012 calculation off by a few years, and it's this year. All this time we thought it would be Invaders from Outer Space, when, nope, the threat was right under our feet! All this time, we are looking for comets or portents in the sky, when instead, foolish humans, look down, and tremble...

Witness, in Germany, a sinkhole :

Guatemala City, a really alien looking sinkhole:

In the past year, sinkholes have appeared in Tampa, FL, Quebec, and Milwaukee WI.

Clearly, this is a prelude to invasion, and we all know who is responsible... The MOLEMEN!

And why not? We've obviously shown our weaknesses. Electing one narrow-pated gappy-toothed squinch-brain after another. In fact, I rather suspect that they have been adding mind control substances to our ground water to disable our higher order mental functions.

Clearly, we have lost all capacity for rational thought, and the Molemen will use this opportunity to impose their supreme will upon us wretched Overheaders.

I, for one, welcome our new underground overlords.

Monday, November 1, 2010

"You Can't Cheat An Honest Man"

Never give a sucker an even break.

Never smarten up a chump.

These are the words the immortal WC Fields uttered as Larsen E. Whipsnade in the movie "You Can't Cheat An Honest Man".

These were his grandfather Litvak's last words "just before they sprung the trap" (they hung him).

Ah. The art of the con. You know, that very first maxim isn't true. Of course you can cheat an honest man. This is included in the lore as a rationalization. See? It's the first lie of the con.

"The con is a legitimate social tactic because everyone is on the make. If they weren't on the make, if they weren't lookin' for a leg up, why, they'd never have fallen into my confidence to begin with? Serves 'em right!"

So goes the lie. Don't believe it. If you really think that theft (which is what a con is) requires a willing victim... I don't know what to say.

You know what the worst con of all is? The one we play on ourselves. The great physicist Richard Feynman once said "The first principle is you must not fool yourself, and you are the easisest person to fool". What he meant by that is "Forget about what other people are lying to you about. Concentrate on what you are lying to yourself about".

Be careful with that. There are a lot of people out there who believe that they want what is best for the country, when, really, they want what's best for themselves. They just assume the rest of the country is just like them. Or at least as much of a chump as them. It isn't.

I'd like to smarten up those types of chumps.