Friday, October 26, 2012

The Morlock Prayer

I mean Mourdock. Pray with me.

"O Lord, we know that life begins at conception, and in that magical and miraculous moment when sperm cordially greets egg, it is by your Divine Will that it come to pass. And so, if it be Your Will, that with the horrible act of rape a Life should begin, and a soul be injected into bodily vestment, then Lord we pray that the child be a healthy child. And let it be a man child. So that one day, this child may take avenge its mother, and take a recckoning upon the rapist, his father, so that the cycle of violence can continue, as is Your Will, forever and ever. Amen".

 I'm reminded of two stories in Harlan Ellison SF compilation Dangerous Visions. A story by Robert Bloch (of Psycho fame), called A Toy for Juliette, tells of a far future society of dystopian libertarianism, in which the inhabitants are free to do any and every act that they can imaged. The serial killer Jack the Ripper is plucked out of the past, and is allowed to 'play' with the future denizens.

Harlan Ellison continues the narrative in the next story of the collection, titled  The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World. We find out that, compared to the far future denizens, Jack the Ripper is not only a rank amateur, but a fairly innocuously bland amateur at that, compared to the abject moral nihilism of these future beings.

The question is, is our society becoming more and more psychopathic? An article in the Chronicle for Higher Education, titled "The Psychopathic Makeover" suggests that it is so:
"In fact, in a survey that has so far tested 14,000 volunteers, Sara Konrath and her team at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research has found that college students' self-reported empathy levels (as measured by the Interpersonal Reactivity Index, a standardized questionnaire containing such items as "I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me" and "I try to look at everybody's side of a disagreement before I make a decision") have been in steady decline over the past three decades—since the inauguration of the scale, in fact, back in 1979. A particularly pronounced slump has been observed over the past 10 years. "College kids today are about 40 percent lower in empathy than their counterparts of 20 or 30 years ago," Konrath reports".
Many would excuse both Akins' and Mourdock's comments on rape as contextually misunderstood, but I, and a lot of other Americans still possessed of some semblance of moral wrinkle our noses in disgust at this comtemptible rationalizations. "Oh, but he meant well." "No really, he has a good heart". "He really does have the best intentions, even if he didn't present it in the most elegant possible way".

Yeah, so did Hitler. No small part of psychopathy is a sanctimonious vision, a steadfast belief that, so long as the actions are benign, the ends justify the means. Not all psychopathic acts can be traced to this source, but, for my liking, lately, a bit far too many.

Oh, yeah, and another mechanical bacterium:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Democracy Constrained

This fog... this, this haze I've been in since 1957, it occasionally lifts, and I get a brief glimpse of, I don't know, maybe a small piece of coherence.

Like, say, when the Soviet Union collapsed back in 1991, and all the bonehead rednecks were pumping their fists and celebrating, when all the Cold War triumphalism was going on, when the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the U.S. government was promoting the "Washington Consensus", the neo-liberal policies of Reagan, Thatcher, and the Austrian School, I thought to myself "This is not going to be good".

Was I wrong to think that back then? Was it just too much dope and beer?

I mean, let me get this straight. Because the U.S. outlasted the socialist agenda, we were told that the path to successful development, the best path, was a specific brand of capitalism  in which the state would play a minimal role in regulating the economy. Governments should reduce regulations upon private enterprise, end subsidies for favored industries, reduce trade barriers, allow for foreign investment and increase imports, privatize state enterprises, maintain fiscal discipline (meaning, keep inflation in check, even if his required austerity measures), and yet also provide for strong legal protections for property rights.

This, we were told, was what allowed Western capitalism to prevail over the Communists. This, we were told, was all self-evident. One had only to look at the outcomes of the two competing systems.

Just don't look too closely. Embedded in the message was the implicit assumption that Western capitalism was, through actions taken within the post-war world, solely responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union. That the measures taken - engaging the Soviet Union in a prolonged arms race, bleeding it in Afghanistan, providing the coup de grace through the Star Wars boondoggle - somehow brought down a political system that had endured, nay, even thrived, under far more dire circumstances and conditions prior to and during WWII (self-induced famines, pogroms, endemic terrors, massive incompetence, and a tidal wave of criminal insanity from the direction of the Third Reich).

Couple this questionable assumption with broad changes in the global postwar economy, the collapse of the European colonial systems, the internal contradiction and transformations within the Soviet Union itself, and it starts to look like the fall of the Berlin Wall, the series of "soft" revolutions in Eastern Europe, and the slow dissipation of the Soviet Empire really had very little to to do with actions on the part of the United States.

Indeed, many of the actors of that period are still alive, especially in Russia and Eastern Europe, and their general reaction, when provided the hollow declaration that the "Reagan and the U.S. won the Cold War" are laughing jags which ends in alarming purple-faced coughing fits. Why, even the Americans recognized the event as tremendously anticlimactic. Propagandists did what they could, but it was mainly hollow, mainly untenable, and mainly preaching to the choir.

And was the form of capitalism espoused in the Washington Consensus the one that was actually used? After all you had massive government subsidies - both aboveboard and under the table - to the Defense Boondoggle Industrial Complex. Massive? That's a rather inadequate descriptor. Prodigious, stupendous, tremendous? Not even close. Considering the trillion of dollars spent, and that trillions in miles gets you to the nearest star system, astronomical might work - if you include obscene behind it.

Property rights? Maybe at the corporate level, sometimes at the private level, was stridently enforced. But at the public level? Time and again, huge abuses were allowed and never punished. Time and again, shit was dumped into our water and air, into our bodies, into the minds and bodies of our children, and not a damn thing was done about it. And government was one of the worst offenders!

You get the idea. Our subsidized system of graft and corruption - perhaps the only real form of capitalism that can exist - was the one that was in place when the Soviet Union took a shit in the shower and slipped on it.

And when those neo-liberal policies were actually attempted (and note the places where they were not - India and China), the results were disastrous. Consider the 30 year history of loans to Latin America, conditional on privatization, deregulation, and other structural adjustments, has been abysmal. Percent GDP has been around 1% per annum, in contrast to 2.6% from 1960-1981. Argentina has suffered tremendously from this policy.

In fact, in every region of the world where the consensus has been enforced, economic growth has been  pitiful, and debt has grown at alarming rates. When it was attempted just a little bit here in the U. S. we ended up with the Lost Decade.

No, the system that we had in place - that was in place, and didn't much do more than stay in place during the dissolution of the Soviet Union - looked nothing at all like the one proposed, and neither seemed to have worked all that well anyway, if you follow current events.

What's clear is that the neo-liberal version of capitalism is like communism - it looks good on paper. But practicing it in the real world - either here in the U.S. or abroad, results in a monumentally titanic nested Russian doll cluster fuck of a cluster fuck.

Why is it so fucking hard for people to understand that?

Oh, yeah, and more mechanical bacteria:


Thursday, October 18, 2012

"We're 21-2-3!"

"We're 10 and 1!" That was Bill Murray's statistic for America's war record in the movie "Stripes".

"Kicking ass for 200 years!". Should that be our bumper sticker? We wish.

Now we've fought, what? How many actual wars? Are we gonna count the ethnic cleansing wars against the aboriginals (that would include our brief colonial aspirations)? I guess we should.

And does the Cold War count as a war? The War Against Terror? I don't think so. All those pansy UN "interventions", like Bosnia and Somalia, or ginned up photo-ops like Grenada? No. Nope.

So when we total up all the wars the USA has been in up to 2012, I get 26 wars. And in terms of wins, since we have to (yes, have to) include French assistance, you can't really put the Revolutionary War in the "win" category, but then, throw in our bullying around the world, but mainly in Central America, and we'll pretend that rounds things up to a whole number. So we got 26 wars, of which we lost two (War of 1812, Vietnam), tied three (Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan). So, we're 21-2-3.

Hey, did you notice something? It's the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812! Doesn't get much press does it? Well, we lost, and that's why. Why bring up embarassments that we'd all just as soon forget. Why bring up the time when Canada kicked our ass?


We don't want to talk about it. I think we should, though. Or at least some aspects of that war. You want a synopsis? War in Europe against Napoleon. The Brits need able seamen, and are not above kidnapping American sailors to serve involuntarily on British warships (Impressment). Not much the American navy can do, considering the Brits are the naval superpower of the time. So President Madison, under pressure from chickenhawks in Congress, declares war against Great Britain. The Brits are all like, "Seriously? We are fighting a real war here, you know". And so, little pipsqueak America tells John Bull to put up his dukes, as he's slugging it out with the French, and John Bull kind of mushes America's face with a backhand, and we fall on our ass into the mud, arms and legs akimbo. And of course, to our embarrassment, the Impressment issue has been resolved prior to the declaration of war.

Now, some will suggest that this was all to further American encroachment into the Northwest Territories (now the Midwest) west of the Appalachians, and the Southwest Territories (now Alabama and Mississippi), and to quench our lust for Ontario and Quebec. Oh, cynical creatures! To think to debase and besmirch our national character thusly!

(And, well, duh, yeah, dude, for the Continental Empire of Liberty? Duh! Yeah!)

Two things stand out. The 2nd Amendment. Read it? It's one of the few laws that includes a justification clause at the beginning:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Well, friends, if ever there was a war that puts the ridiculous delusional myth of the citizen soldier to rest, it's the War of 1812. Keep in mind, even today, you've got fucking idiots who, because they are carrying firearms, think that they can defend themselves from foreign invaders and criminal elements. They think that the mere possession of some kind of weapon upon their person or within their home makes them invulnerable - immune to not only the laws of God and Man, but to the physical parameters of the universe itself.

All I can hope for these supposedly bad-assed motherfuckers is that they may some day find out that that particular job opening has been filled. And the result of their miscalculation? Rusty blenders, some painful gender benders with a wedgie suspender, a crumbled body bag labeled 'Return to Sender'.

But I digress, the public mood of the time was distrust in a standing army as a temptation towards tyranny.  It was felt that the citizen's militia was more than adequate to defend the nation. And the goofy thing about the war of 1812, is that they had so much lead time to prepare. Most political leaders, chafing at the bit to move Westward, saw war with Britain as inevitable. President Thomas Jefferson, in 1807, suggested to Governor William Hull of the Michigan Territory that he begin planning an invasion of Canada! And yet our military forces were a joke. In the Jeffersonian imagination, the United States enjoyed the protection of a vigilant citizen's militia. But even in Jefferson's time, the militia was considered something of joke, with the annual states' muster more a circus carnival of drunken debauchery than an actual military training exercise.

With the start of the war, it was soon realized that a terrible mistake had been made, with Britain's much smaller professional army regularly besting and routing American amateurs. Though there were a few victories at sea, on the whole America's land war was distinctly unfortunate - one disaster after the next. Adding to the pathetic arming and equipping of the militia was the incompetence of the commanding officers - almost every one either a political appointee or successful local business leader.  The inept officers struggling with their own bumbling inadequacies, found it even more difficult to deal with citizen soldiers, who expected respect for their rights as Americans. Mutinies were common, as were outright recalcitrance and mass cowardice under fire. Contemptuous British forces referred to most battles as "nothing much more than scaring the militia". 

As a military historian G.W Cullum wrote in his Campaigns of 1812 - 1815:
Our so-called army, except Barney's seamen and Peter's regulars, was a heterogeneous mass without order or discipline, and had scarcely one officer with the least knowledge of actual warfare".
In short, it was a long comedy of folly and error, and it is little wonder we choose to ignore. The only unfortunate incident was the Battle of New Orleans. Jackass Andy Jackson went up against quite possibly the most incompetent general in the British army. As a result of the victory of American forces, the lessons that could have been learned were undermined. This victory, through judicious fluffing up in the press and in Congress, allowed not only the Jeffersonians to save face, but also prevented expansion of the US Army. This would haunt us later in the Mexican War, when militia units proved to be more of a danger to themselves and the regular army  - and the lowest, scummiest, worst form of scoundrels in the treatment of Mexican citizens.

So much for the glorious militia. And yet even today, we have boneheads that think it could work.

"Wolverines! Wolverines! Wolverines!"

The other shameful aspect of the War of 1812 (and the Revolutionary War before it) was the wholyy disgusting and disrespectful treatment of American veterans. The United States has long had a tradition of the most despicable set of behaviors towards our veterans, but one would be hard-pressed to find worst treatment. Just as in the Revolutionary War, veterans would fight a penurious and criminally dishonest Congress for promised pensions nearly forty years later. Public sentiment was much worse, labeling them "mercenaries and parasites".

What a laudable, great-hearted, wise and generous people our forefathers were! 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lost and Found

For a guy that would like to try and stay ahead of the curve, it's discouraging how often I'm one of the last people to find out things. Take beer. St. Louis, which has been producing that awful swill water, that pee from an obese diabetic known as Budweiser, is now actually producing good beer.

No, I'm not talking about microbrews or artisanal craft beers (although I am very much encouraged by this 'foodie' trend). I'm talking about the fact that InBev, the Belgian/Brazilian brewing giant, bought Anheuser Busch last year, and is brewing big again in St. Louis.  I've tried the St. Louis brewed Becks and find it acceptable. Well, good for them, because St. Louis needs all the help it can get.

Anyway, that was news to me. What was also new was that Illinois redistricted, and I just received the news that my polling place has changed. I am now supposed to vote at the Christian Liberty Academy on Nov. 6th. As a result, I'm voting early at the village hall, and for two reasons - 1) I don't trust that my paper ballot will be processed properly by those creepy religious types, and 2) Rick Santorum visited the school earlier this year and I'm pretty sure that the man-on-dog butt froth stench has not completely cleared out of the place.

In case you area wondering, yes, I am a cynical optimist, and, so, yes, I am voting, and, no, I'm not voting for that hidebound, brittle, waspish, micro-managing, authoritarian creep, Mitt Romney. and his even creepier, never-had-a-real-job-in-his-life, boy wonder Paul Ryan.

Doesn't mean I'm particularly pleased with Obama, but, like in 2008, I'm voting against a candidate, not for one. And please, spare me the whole ridiculous third party bullshit. Like term limits, that's not only a simplistic idea, but a futile one as well. You want change? Your gonna have to wait for the collapse and join the right tribe.

My voting for Obama is, quite simply, fighting a rearguard action against all the bloated plutocrats, busybodies, and self-interested drama queens who are destined to one day rule this nation of ours. It may be that by voting for Obama, it is only a three hour delay towards the eventual right-wing dictatorship we will live under, but that is three hours longer than any other alternative.

And at least Obama is behind science and technology, and for heading towards the 22nd century, instead of wanting to hide in the past. And Mitt seems determined to burn every last shred of combustible material in sight, just burn it all up until it's all gone, because then, why the Rapture will be here, and the country can be fueled by all those burning souls in Hell. Because, you can tell just by looking at him, that it is not enough that Mitt and his cronies rule in Heaven, he needs to be able to see the rest of us suffering in Hell.

Schadenfreude is the Republican middle name.

Friday, October 12, 2012

More Mechanical Bacteria

Cyclopean Unigoat LLC. That's probably the world-dominating corporation that would be manufacturing these mechanical bacteria. Or not. I cranked out these four waxes the past two days. I'm pretty sure I can crank out at least a dozen before I tire of them.

The obvious choice is to cast them in bronze. But it would be nice to cast them in aluminum, or cast iron. Aluminum, probably.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mechanical Bacteria Glass Casting

Ceramics and glass people who wait for things to come out of the kiln often compare it to the Christmas Day opening of presents. I, on other hand, view it more as Tiamat going into labor. What kind of hideous grotesque mutilated creation will the Mother of All Monsters be delivered of this time out?

Oh, not all the time. Only whenever I do colored glass. I don't have a good record with pate de verre. I'm just not good at coloring. I put in pink and white. It comes out bruised purple. I put in white and a little green powder. It comes out chunky puke brown. I really should pay more attention to chemical reactions, but I've little patience for loading glass.

I knew a guy that made pots that way. You could not find a more elegant thrower of pots, but when he glazed, it was a series of nightmare choices. Everything was wrong. So, I know I need a partner if I ever decide to pursue glass castings. Preferably female. And hot. Middle-aged cougar hot. (I'm not entirely greedy).

In any case, this one actually didn't turn out too bad. I am continuing the bacteria series, but I'm introducing mechanical elements. I will probably make 3D aluminum sculptures of these mechanical bacteria basso relievo glass castings, to augment the shadow boxes. In any case here we go, first pic is the investment mold fresh out of the kiln, prior to decanting:

Second pic is casting broken out of investment mold:

Third pic is the casting scrubbed, bead-blasted, and rinsed:

Final pic is the casting in the aluminum frame, awaiting placement in a wooden shadow box I will build later this week:  

Monday, October 8, 2012

'Looper': A Review

This actually isn't going to be a review. More a rationalizing wank to justify my suspension of disbelief for what was, in my opinion,  well crafted and entertaining horror movie.

Now, I think we need to get this out of the way right now. Time travel stories fall squarely within the horror genre. Not science fiction, not fantasy, or rather, maybe those, but if so, then placed on the horror shelf.

I mean, think about it. It's Time Travel! What could possibly go wrong?

You may think you can think of counter examples that don't fit the mold. Take Groundhog Day. That's a comedy, right? Wrong! Horror movie.

Bill Murray gets trapped in causal loop and almost immediately commits suicide to get out of the nightmare. Horror comedy movie. Or comical horror movie. There's no blood, no gore, no shocking surprises, no psychological tension, but it's still a horrible trap to be stuck in Time. Get the idea? It's an existential thing. Life is a beautiful horror movie. Time travel is just another metaphor for that fucking fly in the ointment, that pea under mattress, that ruins an otherwise beautiful experience. But, as the Buddha said, or should have said, even Hell can be comfortable with the right mindset.

Exhibit B. The previews for 'Looper'? Chosen and shown using the patented diabolical you-also-might-be-interested-in marketing algorithm, every single preview was a horror movie.

Speaking of that, I would request that you complain to the management (and I have) about
  1) the fucking sound volume in the theater, has everyone gone deaf? and
  2) the fucking near-subsonic bass sensurround buzz that shakes the muscles in my back and
       just annoys the hell out of me.

Oh, and, as a result of the Aurora Colorado shootings, and with what the sainted George Carlin called the continuing pussification of America, they now have a fucking safety lecture film before the movie. Seriously? "Look for the exits!" we are told, "The exits may be to your left... or to your right... or behind you!" At this point, the film malfunctioned or got cut short with "... in case of an emergency-"

Fortunately for me, a wag in the audience displayed perfect comedy timing by shouting, a half beat after the cut off "What!? WHAT DO WE DO?!!!"

I swear to the Almighty, I must come across as Uncle Fester in these movie houses, as I seemed to be the only one that laughed, and such is the case at other supposedly inappropriate moments. Of course, I'm laughing at a different level. For example, when Bruce Willis' character kills every single mob gatman in the syndicate headquarters, I laughed my ass off. I was the only one that was laughing, and people were changing seats to move away from me. I was amused because it was obviously a homage/ripoff of the police station massacre scene from the Terminator.

Alright, so, 'Looper'. I thought it a well-crafted and consistently entertaining action movie, with only a minimum of stupidity, which, coming from me, is high praise.

Director and writer Rian Johnson, I suspect, is not a Republican.  The dystopian future of 2044, set in, I'm guessing, Kansas City, is what happens if the Age of Reagan continues. Sustained economic collapse, elimination of all safety nets, continued unwise accelerated depletion of resources, laissez-faire capitalism, devil-take-the-hindmost, every-man-for-himself social philosophies, which engenders and encourages a criminal attitude towards life, in which case you have the increasingly fewer and fewer elite being protected by feral humans, who themselves have obviously displaced the soft and pampered Romney-style elites to become the new criminal elite. But somehow, against all fortune and logic, China, which is and shall ever be a basket case, is a paradise in 2074.

Time travel in the future is outlawed. And as we all know, if time travel is illegal, only criminals will have time travel.  I took this to be a jab at the stupid conservative logic against gun control. I also was pleased with the extremely low bar set for this new technology. Rather than risk the present by changing the past, our conservative crime bosses of the future use time travel for garbage disposal. They sent unwanted elements into the past to be assassinated and disposed of. Interestingly, there must be some higher form of governing, as the crime bosses are worried about body indentification, which suggests they fear a higher authority. (And of course, I just can't see governments NOT using time travel, or perhaps the dirty business is farmed out to the syndicates, in which, oh, man, government in the future is truly fucking right-wing totalitarian scary).

Speaking of scary, one of the best, possibly even classic, sequences in the movie involves the slow mutilation of a future-self looper as a mob tactic of persuasion. Seth, a looper, allows his future self to escape. In order to get the older self to surrender, Seth is surgically mutilated. As a result, his older self  is alarmed to find himself losing parts of his anatomy until he gives himself up. This wonderfully creepy sequence of scenes is utilized later when Bruce Willis finds scars appearing on his person - only to find out it is self-mutilation to set up a meeting with his younger self.

As I said, time travel movies are horror movies, and this was one of the more creative and inventive horror mechanisms I've seen used.

I'm able to ignore the limitations of narrative in depicting time travel - it's just a movie after all. Some people are puzzled by it, but I'd say it's their loss to think too much about it.

I think my only (and very small) objection (although it is used well in the plot) is the need for the telekinetics. These people have a mutation that allows them to move small objects with their minds. The common example is that they can levitate a quarter. This is considered a useless talent. But, you know, the amount of energy needed to counteract the mass of a quarter against gravity is around 4,905 ergs, which is more than sufficient force to constrict a minor artery - say, for example, one that feeds blood to that motor region of the brain that controls breathing. Why the TK freaks are not used for assassination is not explored.

It was used as a plot device to explain how a more powerful TK freak - a "holy terror" known as the Rainmaker - is able to take over the world's crime syndicates single-handedly, but the plot could have moved forward without this device. As I said, a minor quibble.

The fact that this movie even makes me go through this speculative wank is proof positive that it will no doubt become a cult classic  - up there with The Terminator, and - naturally - 12 Monkeys.

(And if you have never seen the movie 12 Monkeys was based upon - La jetée - stop everything now, and watch it).

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Causal Superposition

I will eventually see the movie "Looper". Perhaps this Friday. I've already found out, through spoiler sites, how the movie goes down. I'll not spoil it here, even though it doesn't matter.

But it brings up the whole "time travel will fuck with your brain" discussion of how things could go down. So, here's my example:

I get in my time machine. I go back to the year 1933, to Berlin, to a Siemens factory where Hitler gives a speech to the workers. I choose this venue specifically because it has been documented. I appear on the platform next to Hitler, whip out a Franchi Spas-12 shotgun, and Buh-BAMM, blood and bone everywhere, Hitler's head pretty much a mangled cabbage. His body goes through the remarkably coordinated antics that can be seen in headless chickens, spasming and convulsing about, with perhaps an involuntary final Nazi salute as the right arm twitches and flails upward, the hand extended rigidly out almost as if to wave bye-bye. Despite my laughter at this unexpected comedy performance, I manage to pump maybe two more shots to the body for dramatic effect, and then Poof, back to the future.

And when I get back to the future, nothing has changed. Nazi Germany forms. WWII takes place. Hitler dies in the bunker with Mrs. Hitler in 1945. Wait a minute, now. I offed him. I got his blood and bone fragments on my overcoat. I even had a little helmet cam to document it, and sure enough, I offed him. And yet I go to that youtube video, and there he is giving a speech without incident.

What happened? Well, according to many-worlds interpretation, I went to the wrong past. That resolved the paradox.

Of course, the paradox is the Grandfather paradox. You can't go back in time to kill your mean old abusive cuss of a grandfather, because if you had, you would never have been born (assuming he was your biological grandfather, with no cheap trick Hollywood resolutions). This is a logical paradox.

But then again, it could be that there is something akin to Stephen Hawking's "Chronology Protection Agency", which is not a time cop force, but rather, some type of inelastic quality of the cosmos that prevents events in the past from having a different outcome.

Fritz Lieber explored this idea in the story "Try and Change the Past", in which a time traveler attempts to foil his own death by fatal gunshot wound through an increasingly desperate series of interventions. In the end, he manages to remove any chance of death by bullet, only to have his past self killed by an outer space meteorite fragment right between the eyes. buh-BAM! (Can you tell I am channeling Santino Corleone from the Godfather today?)

The Conservation of Reality, as Lieber called it, serves any time travel story well, and is clever enough, but there's no reason for it. It only satisfies our principle of parsimony, but there is absolutely no reason that reality has to be parsimonious. We would just like for it to be that way.

And speaking of reason, that's the problem with the paradox. The impossibility of the paradox relies on the violation of a principle of Boolean algebra - a thing cannot be one thing and its opposite.

Well, that's true enough for binary yes/no logic, but who said the Universe has to obey a human conceptual invention?

Quantum mechanics does not have this problem. All sorts of things can be one or another thing at the same time down in the subatomic world. And now, there's a suspicion that causality itself may not be so cut and dried. Scientists at the University of Vienna and Libre de Bruxelles have used quantum mechanics to conceive of situations where an event can be both the cause and the effect of another one - in short, the past and future and be superposed and entangled.
"The idea that events obey a definite causal order is deeply rooted in our understanding of the world and at the basis of the very notion of time. But where does causal order come from, and is it a necessary property of nature?"
 Further reading can be found at

Wait a minute? Didn't I write about this already. Shit, it's deja vu all over again!

Oh, and speaking of deja vu, Sputnik would be celebrating its 55th year in space today, if it hadn't burned up on reentry: Missile #27.
"Such a superposition, however, has not been considered in the standard formulation of quantum mechanics since the theory always assumes a definite causal order between events", says Ognyan Oreshkov from the Université Libre de Bruxelles (formerly University of Vienna). "But if we believe that quantum mechanics governs all phenomena, it is natural to expect that the order of events could also be indefinite, similarly to the location of a particle or its velocity", adds Fabio Costa from the University of Vienna.

Read more at:
"Such a superposition, however, has not been considered in the standard formulation of quantum mechanics since the theory always assumes a definite causal order between events", says Ognyan Oreshkov from the Université Libre de Bruxelles (formerly University of Vienna). "But if we believe that quantum mechanics governs all phenomena, it is natural to expect that the order of events could also be indefinite, similarly to the location of a particle or its velocity", adds Fabio Costa from the University of Vienna.

Read more at:

Monday, October 1, 2012

I Can't Draw

"You don't draw", my weekend boss said to me, as we worked on his latest project.

The latest project is a purely geometric aluminum sculpture destined for Key West at the end of November. The fabrication of this sculpture is more about cabinet making and proper joint fitting and exactitude rather than a wild and effusive creative orgy. More teeth cleaning than gun slinging. As a result, he is having a terrible time of it. He draws out multiple plans of 2D projections for the strange compound angles that occur when joining two parallelograms and a trapezoid at sixty degree angles.

"I don't" I replied. "I probably should, but I see what we need to do in my head in 3D, and so I don't need to draw. I can rotate it around and look at it in my head, and I know what we need to do without drawing it".

"I know", he says, and it pisses him off.

I really should draw more often though. Back in the late 80s, I gave up on skiing. No one particular reason, I just no longer did it. I used to water and snow ski. I think the last time I water skied (slalom) was 1987. And snow skiing (not quite black diamond advanced skiing - but I was always a natural at it), would have been 1992 I'm thinking. I have no doubt that I would be an embarrassment on the slopes now, and probably would not be able to get up out of the water on a slalom ski.

And so it is with drawing. I took some drawing course at local community colleges up until about 1996. The work was passable, certainly not photo-realistic, but fairly accurately renderings, and with my own particular flair.

Now, my drawing skills have degenerated to a sixth-grade level. Sixth? Perhaps third.

Now, I know it's all practice and patience. I suppose I should start drawing again.

I used to do quite a bit of cartooning. I pretty much stopped about the same I stopped skiing. I came across some cartoons in a notebook I found in my closet. If I can remember, I'll snap digital photos of them and show them to you.

So, I decided to try to cartoon that Saturday night. The result was like something out of kindergarten, and there was no way I could display it. So, I took that cartoon and spent a good twenty minutes redrawing it. Wow, I am really out of shape.