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!

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Gyno

Cast Bronze, 2016, approx. 14" x 12" x 10"

Mister Aitch

Cast Bronze, 2016, approx. 6" x 7" x 2"

Sunday, November 20, 2016

"Holiday Snaps"

2016, Cast Bronze, approx. 4" x 7" x 2"

Monday, November 14, 2016

Trump is the Tao of a failed state

Mr. Nulan: "a single-handed takedown of the American elite establishment, and its two-party, one-ideology puppet show - is nothing less than a genius"

At eye level, with the election of Trump? It's all tragedy or triumph. And from ten feet up, just like the election of Obama, and W before him, and Clinton before him and so on and back. And I see exactly zero of the elites shivering in their boots.

The normalized mythos is that people wanted change, and that's almost true. People wanted things to change, just not in a forwards direction. The expressed opinions of Trump supporters I have talked to - and those in Hoosierland are legion - is that they would have voted for Captain Kangaroo if he had run. Trump was irrelevant. Trump was a buffoon. But Trump was not Hillary. Worse still fro Trump, he was consistently recognized as someone who will probably fuck the country up, but they voted for him anyway. They knew they were bullshitted. So, Trump a genius? Sure, at bullshitting. A bullshitter is someone who lies to your face, knows it's a lie, knows you know its a lie, but does it anyway. Trump supporters are not stupid, and they have no illusions that the elites have been dislodged, nor that Trump is going to look out for them. 

Let's move to one hundred feet up. The press interview after Trump's personal meeting with Obama showed a very nervous Trump. Nervous? Hell. Trump was terrified. I suspect the poor old codger actually squirted a stain into his Depends. Some various scenarios for the reaction are:

1) Obama showed Trump The Film - the JFK assassination film which basically informs all presidents that that there are some  puppet strings they should never pull back on. (My take? Entertaining but unlikely).
2) Obama took Trump to the woodshed, and basically laid out how, if Trump thought he was humiliated at the Press Corp dinner in 2011? A humiliation that will burn Trump's ears for the rest of his life? That was just a gentle cuffing. Wait until he assumes the office of president, and experiences constant daily, sometimes hourly, humiliations from just the brutal reality surrounding the office. (Again, entertaining, and certainly somewhat likely, but not sufficient).
3) Trump was introduced representatives of the Oligarchy, and found out you need to be a trillionaire to be in the club, and he ain't in the club, won't be in the club, so suck on that, little man. (Again, entertaining, but unlikely).
4) We are ruled by evil aliens since 1947. (Not all that entertaining, but cannot be ruled out).
5) Ah, well, for 5) we have to ascend to a thousand feet or higher.

Consider the following facts.

Item: Trump was elected by 25% of the vote. Hillary 26%. None of the Above 49%. 90 million eligible voters did not give a fuck. Hardly a takedown, is it? The majority of American voters have not voted in elections since 1960. Americans have been cynically apathetic since at least 1960. They perceive themselves as fatalistic and essentially powerless, and  that's even before the coup d'etat of '63. It's only the deranged extremists who think they drive the car.

Entertaining Ironic Aside Item: The United States of America is the Milton Berle of superpowers. (background, Milton Berle purportedly had a massive cock, and had to show it off as often as possible to anyone he could get to look at it). Meaning: the US of A has the biggest dick on the planet, and is still insecure about it.

Item: A 2015 gallup poll found that 72% of Americans expressed confidence in the US military. 33% in the Presidency. 32% in the Supreme Court. 31% with confidence in pubic schools. 23% with confidence in the criminal justice system. 8% confidence in Congress. These numbers have all been in steady decline since 1960. Americans have, since forever, said the country is going in the wrong direction. Whiners? Or more clear sighted than the average dipshit pundit wants to give them credit for?

The fact is, even after the steady dismantling of FDR's Big Government paternalism, the US military is, ironically, the last vestige of FDR's system. It is the substitute welfare state. I hypothesize that this is due to the fact that the US of A is a failed state. Oh, true, it's not like present day Venezuela, not like late '80s Soviet scarcity. It's a different type of failed state.

American foreign policy has been forced to see everything as a nail, as the military hammer is the only tool remaining in the tool belt. And how well has that worked? Nation building has been a disaster. I would submit that a large part of the disaster consists of American trying to the do the right thing. (The right thing being making people behave just like us). We are a big friendly bumbling giant that, after oops did I crush your house? Let me fix that, and proceed to wreck the whole town. We'd have done better to go in, kick ass, and leave the wreckage and rubble to them to rebuild as they saw fit, rather the Pottery Barn approach to foreign policy.

Which takes to the international community and its effort to mitigate all the problems, including addressing failed states. And the evidence is? The international community is itself a failed state. The economy? System D, a fucked up network of criminal venality, is approaching 70% of the world economy. Again, failed institutions.    

Quite frankly, this period looks exactly like the Period of Warring States in China, the aftermath of the Romans, the failed states of every single regime change we see throughout history. We are in, what year 14? or year  72? Year 118 of the Forever War? A war that is increasingly unrestricted? Not contained within the usual jus in bello restraints?   Well, fear not. The Forever War can't, due to carrying capacity, last forever.

Let's shoot up to a million feet. Too many people, wanting too much stuff, using up more of the land and resources, and pumping way too much shit out. Shit in every form and fancy. 60% of the coral reefs gone. 90% of fish stock gone. 90% of all life lives in the ocean, and between global warming and ocean acidification we are looking at an Eocene/Miocene extinction event in 40 years times, probably less. Drama queen spaz antics on my part? Sure, if I'm wrong. Bet you I'm not.

Sport fish trophies today, and even worse, this man has no Y chromosome due to endocrine disruptors

Even then, these were tiny fish compared to 1000 years ago

Because here's the deal. the thing that Obama told Trump is: we've already collapsed.

Let me repeat this for all the corpse-licking knuckleheads who nuzzle their grisly muzzles into the sticky rotting crevasses of the world corpse, the people who see Mad Max as exciting!, the people who choose to ignore those parts of our collapse that are not to their liking, the people who fap to Armageddon, the people who make smarmy remarks about "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic". 

Titanic done sunk, chumps. It's life boats from here on out. 

And the job of those goons and stooges of the .01% is to make sure to break the hands and heads of those 99.99% desperately clinging to the life rafts. The .01% are quite frankly terrified of the mob only because they fear the lifeboat being swamped, but as far as life goes, you, me, your kids, my loved ones, we are all expendable to them. Fuckers.They hire the likes of W and Obama and Trump and REagan and Nixon, and we can't. They will keep us out of the life boats.

To parahpase Bruce Sterling, the collapse is here. It's just not evenly distributed. Yet.

Now, a billion feet up. Is it too late? It's never too late. Too late for us and ours, yes. But maybe not so much a for far future generation. Because we are just ape-shaped bugs after all, there is a good chance that we have moved out of the Stability regime and moved into Swarm.

There's a chance. The only worthwhile part of human life is redemption. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

We Are So Fired

One thousand years from now, history will record - in Mandarin - that a minor temporal power elected Ronald McDonald as its leader. The only remaining piece of data to confirm that the orange haired clown existed power was a gif.

Seriously, I really don't give a crap if #Crunt is president. I understand how the average butthole would think that real change would happen under him. It won't, but I get what they want to see happening. Anyone who thinks this is a triumph of the common man, and that #Crunt isn't a puppet of the Deep State and the Corporate Collective should move to California where they can smoke all the dope they want.

Between him and Hillary, it was a choice of a shit sandwich with mustard or mayo. But with ALL THREE branches of government in the hands of these shivering little bunnies, dropping pellets of stupidity and fear, these fucking tards that cannot see beyond the ends of their short little dicks, is something that is going to be very very interesting to witness. If my livelihood were less affected, I'd even be amused.

But, bottom line, what we have to signaled to the world is:

America cannot handle the 21st century. 

We are gonna run and hide in the 1950s.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Fist Bumps All Around

No, this has nothing to do with the election. This has its very own narrative which is much cooler, and a hell of a lot more pleasant than the current American situation. Robots, or alien robots, and humans cooperating and getting along and celebrating.

I like these smaller figures. They provide an emotional intimacy that the larger figures cannot provide. I believe I will continue at the 1/6th human scale.. until I'm bored.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Now I Have Four Jobs

Five jobs, if you count making sculpture. And since I successfully completed a commission - albeit for a friend -  and have receive taxable remuneration, I think we have to include 'sculptor' as a job.

So, five jobs.

Here I was, worried about finding just one job, and now I have five. Although, one job I lose as of Dec.12th, the Bronze Casting Instructor job. But I may gain a new job in January as a Moldmaking Instructor.

I have the Welding Instructor job at Harper.
I have the Bronze Casting Instructor job at Harper*.
I am a sculptor's assistant on the weekends.
As of today, I am a part-time keyholder with Rockler Woodworking and Hardware.

Exciting times ahead. The Rockler and welding instructor jobs mesh well, as I have to learn CAD/CAM and CNC for both jobs. Rockler has CNC woodworking lathes and also has Shopbots which I must teach classes on and do demos. Harper CPT has CNC plasma cutters, CNC laser cutters, robot milling machines, robot punch machines and, well, all the cool late-20th-century automated machinery.

I'm a lucky guy.

I still make art, crafting small waxes and casting them in coffee can molds, and I will continue to do that. That all has to happen late at night. I considered joining a Hacker space called Pumping Station One (yeah, not a good name). Toured the place, plunked down $40 for a month's membership, came in a few times, and found that territories had already been carved out there, and I really didn't feel like stepping on toes or stealing thunder. It's basically summer camp for rich yuppies and geeks, with all these kinds of generally shallow and trivially crafty projects involving very expensive equipment. Plus, you had to get 'authorized' on the equipment, and the authorization sessions are at the end of the month. Pass. I cancelled my membership.

Thinking about the election season coming up, and I've decided we have entered the Uncanny Valley of American politics. I honestly can't shake the feeling that Trump is working for Hillary. She really needed a truly awful opponent to get elected, and, well, one hand washes the other. We'll see.

the village where I live is solidly Republican, and the affluent neighborhoods where I go running and hiking and biking are crystalline precipitate solid Republican. Walking around, I saw exactly one Trump and one Clinton yard sign. Compare this to 2012 where practically every house had a Romney sign, save for one Obama sign. Hmm. Maybe they are afraid of Halloween vandalism, or maybe the polls are spot on.

A friend of mine plans on writing in None Of The Above for President. I replied "No! Write in Me!" So expect at least one vote for "Me!"come Nov. 9.

I know people are worried about angry Trump supporters talking about armed revolt.

Yeah. Right. Relax.

As someone once said to me, American's lifestyle is their polity. And Americans are just a little too out-of-shape, a little too fuzzy minded, a little too soft and lazy, to engage in the sustained commitment that murdering their fellow Americans launching a revolution requires.

They all look a little too well fed and comfortable, and, frankly, stoned, to do much beyond attend a rally.

But it sure does seem like this political cycle seems a little unreal, a little to synthetic, a little too creepily-similar-but-just-not-quite to reality.

But,I guess I shouldn't be all the worried. Last night, I scanned the Coninuum, and can report that I found only the normal set of anomalies...  

Thursday, October 13, 2016


2016. Cast Bronze. approx. 5" x 10" x 3"

2016. Cast Bronze. approx. 5" x 10" x 3"

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Hubris, Meet Nemesis

Because that's how it works. Wherever Hubris is, Nemesis is sure to follow.

After teaching class last night, I came home and watched The Big Short - the movie about the housing crisis and financial collapse. Actually, I worked on waxes first, until about midnight, then I watched the movie. I chose that order knowing that the movie would make me mad. It didn't. It made me sad. But I was right that I would be in no mood to work on waxes after watching it.

So, and the lesson of that movie is that almost all business is on Wall street is fraudulent and criminal, driven by greed and stupidity. The Scandinavian in me would just as soon slaughter all the those bankers (after slow torture), mount their heads on pikes throughout Manhattan, as an object lesson to other white collar criminals. The Scandinavian in me knows this would do no damn good at all, but it might make a few people feel better. I still maintain white collar crime should carry a mandatory death penalty.

In any case, the observation at the end of the movie, that the financial crisis would be blamed upon immigrants and poor people, was spot on. I look at the Crash of 2008 as not unlike WWI in Germany. The successful popular opinion - authored by the loathsome incompetent that lost the war for Germany, Erich Ludendorff - was that the military would have won the war if they had not been stabbed in the back by Jews and Commies.

This lie was successfully promulgated among the German people, and the result was WWII. So, Crash of 2008 Part Deux is coming up because the same creeps that gave us Part Un are still in charge, and have successfully promulgated the big lie that Wall street was stabbed in the back by guvmint, immigrants, and poor people. Interesting thing about that cat Ludendorff. He successfully fought a battle against Czarist Russia, Tannenberg, that probably cost Germany the war. Hubris. Followed by Nemesis.

So, given that the economy is destined to take a shit, and probably sooner rather than later means I'm in no hurry to go hide in a 40-hour-a-week, 9-to-5 stable job because it won't be there very soon. So, I work on waxes, cast them in bronze, and hustle to sell them. That's probably a different form of denial and delusion.

Hi ho.

I'm also planning on joining a open source hackerspace called Pumping Station: One. (Not thrilled about the name). I toured the facilities Sunday, saw a beautiful thing going on, noticed they lacked for a hot metal area and said I could probably get them going. The two people I talked to, one a blacksmith, the other a jeweller, practically fell over each other asking me to join. Why not? Volunteering my knowledge and skills may be just the right kind of karma I need right now. Networking and all that.

I also plan on touring Chicago Industrial Arts and Design Center during their open house. And I'm trying to get together with the foundry manager at the School of the Art Institute. Networking, don't you know.

In the meantime, I'm staying up late, making waxes. I've a fridge full of people and things right now.

Vacation Snaps

Vacation Snaps

Lost Little Guy (v.1)
Lost Little Guy (v.2)

Carbuncle Racer

And I made this.

Vigantopus and Friend
Vigantopus. Sitting there late Saturday morning at 3am with a beer, starting at the thing, the following drunken narrative entered my head.

She had somehow become friends with Vigantopus. Vigantopus noticed she had no home, and kindly invited her to stay within her. The woman had just enough room inside Vigantopus to sleep in a fetal position. Vigantopus did not eat her, though she could have. As the woman slept, Vigantopus roamed the countryside, sometimes travelling scores of miles in one night. With eight limbs to move upon, the woman never felt a lurch or a sway. She would wake up and tumble out into places she had never been, not knowing where she was.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Little Green Army Guys and Hoochie Koochie Girls

In an attempt to make my stuff more available (i.e. prices cheap enough to move and sell), I'm scaling down some. Still maintaining the same weird shit that I do, just smaller.

The one piece of art advice I hand out to students - and I generally don't give out advice - is "If it makes you uncomfortable, pursue it". Students often accuse me of copping out because I refuse to advise them re: a vision or aesthetic pursuit. I'm more than happy to instruct them in technical aspects. My rationalization for not offering further advice is "Well, it's YOUR fucking art. If you want to make MY fucking art, I'll tell you what to do".

I actually don't follow my advice all often. But, in class last week, I showed a technique to two of my younger female students, and they ran with it. Another student asked me "Aren't you afraid they are getting out of hand with that? Making a mess and all?" I replied, "Hey I just make monsters. I don't control them".

Lately, I've been staying up late to the wee hours of the morn making wax monsters and people. I'll sit there with an arrangement of pre-cast wax parts, mix and match, and when something makes me go "Huh" or "Ick", then I'll head down that path. Amazing how often that turns into a cul-de-sac. On some occasions, the result makes me laugh, and I'll keep it.

Work Table in My Kitchen
I've made molds of 1/6 scale figures from the Walking Dead TV show (never watched it) I got in the toy section at Walgreens. The figures are modified just enough to void any copyright issues. I don't know who the characters are. I got a guy, who ends up invariable being a green army guy. I got a girl, who is modified to be more of a Vargas style, hopefully 1950s kind of sexy thing.

And the idea is to combine them with little monsters. I'm casting them in coffee can block molds and doing pretty good getting them all to survive.


Mister Aitch
Mister Aitch

"I Think We Won"

"Ride 'em Bugboy!" 

No title yet
Now, with wheels!

I Don't Know Why I'm Not Famous

This next was just thrown together. Not a actual thing. The hoochie koochi girl goes witha mosnter I weld up tonight. I just liked the juxtaposition for a photo. Still, I'll call it "Zika Baby".

This last is strictly commercial. Sexy welder girl, and selling for $100.

"World's Sexiest Welder"
"World's Sexiest Welder"

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Great Big Book Of Horrible Things: A Book Report

The Great Big Book Of Horrible Things: The Definitive Chronicle of History's Worst Atrocities by Matthew White. My brother has this book in his bathroom. I got it from the library. I suggest that you buy it.

White walks through, in chronological order, the recorded kilodeaths and megadeaths that humanity has inflicted upon itself. It would be very easy to be cynical about this, and the antidote for cynicism is a morbid sense of humor. White possesses this. Not quite as developed a sense of humor as James Mahaffey, but it will suffice.

I could sample and excerpt some of the more awful things (like, for example, the peculiar Chinese execution practice of death by slicing), but instead let us look at his criteria (explained at the end of the book), and then also some of his general observations.

Upon finishing this book, I observed to my brother "We're just ants aren't we?"

Fire ants or crazy ants, it really doesn't matter, but from the historical perspective of 10,000 feet up, yup, we're just ants. Bugs. Ape-shaped bugs. You would think, with big primate brains acting in the aggregate, that we'd be smarter, but nope. There seems to be a limit to, or a cyclical referent to, the sophistication collective behaviors, and as such it makes me hold no great hopes for the coming hyper-neural network collective of hyperintelligent computers and the great Global Hive Mind. Megadeaths? Gigadeaths, or given a colonizing push out into space, teradeaths.

But you have to have a sense of humor about it. Couple of things. Anyone who ends up with the title "the Great" murdered a lot of people to earn that title.  Oh, wait sorry, criteria.

In order to make it into the book:
1) there has to be an immediate or closely followed death toll above 300K
2) a result of a specific outbreak of coordinated human violence and coercion
3) deaths can be direct (war, murder, execution) and indirect (aggravated disease, famine, accidental or incidental killings of civilians).

That's it. Quibble if you want, or write your own book.

Worse guy in history? Hitler*, of course. Or sure, Stalin was a monster, Mao, Pol Pot, etc. Alexander the Great was an asshole, along with Napoleon, Timur, Qin Shi Huang Di, etc. But Hitler deliberately and calculatedly did what he did in a way no one else has come close to doing... yet.

Badasses of history? Hardly killed anyone. Vikings, Huns, Samurai, Sikhs, Spartans, all light weights. You know who tops the list in multicides? The French. Yes, those cheese-eating surrender monkeys. Followed by the Chinese, the British, Russians, Germans, Americans. America better get cracking.

Terrorism. A problem? Small potatoes. To really kill a lot of people apparently requires the appartus of the state. Want to see a lot of deaths? Declare war on terrorism.

Justice? Most asshole dictators die comfortably in bed.

Sieges kill more people than battles do.

In war, civilians die more often than military. Want to be safe in war? Surround yourself with an army.

Chaos kills more often than tyranny. Failed states and the breakdown of authority account for more mulitcides than abuse of authority.

Religion kills? I got news for you, people were being nasty to each other long before religion came along. Percent of total human suffering caused by religious wars and persecutions? 10%. Or about the same as atheists have done. Take that, Richard Dawkins.

Hereditary monarchs are usually too inbred stupid to cause much trouble. If you want to get truly talented murderers to do a proper job, set up a meritocracy.

Guerrilla war. No state has ever managed to come up with a solution of organized versus irregular militia. It seems the only solution to insurgents is to set up a competing guerrilla band and let them hunt each other. (Lesson that municipalities learned in dealing with gang violence, perhaps???)

Finally, if you want to look at the illusion of progress (*cough* Pinker! *cough*), keep in mind that the 20th century was the bloodiest ever. White goes so far as to come up with a neologism to describe it: The Hemoclysm, the blood flood. 150 million dead. Well, fear not, this century is early. Maybe we'll have a new term by the end: The Coproclysm.

Hi ho!  

Monday, September 19, 2016


So, looks like the West Supply job is a wash. I've had one trial working day two weeks ago and haven't been called back. Acquaintance of mine that works there said it took her tow months before she was hired on permanently. I can't wait two months.

So, bit of a rough patch so far, but I've been through worse. Besides, the weather has been gorgeous and I've got my health. I've been going for long bike rides to get my mind of a lack of employment, and they have been fantastic. Hey, why not go for long bike rides, as opposed to sitting and moping, or uselessly churning out resumes at the local library?

As for my health, why, it's been a year and two weeks since I had my nephrectomy, and I'm almost back to looking like Tarzan. I've not neglected exercise, my strength has improved, and I almost have a flat alligator belly... almost. Actually, I will never have a flat alligator belly again, but I've got the closest a near-sexagenarian can get without dangerous drugs and pills.

(Two meals a day helps with the slimming. Not that I lack for money, just don't find myself particularly hungry for lunch).

On the plus side, it looks like I will be adjunct faculty teaching welding for CTP division at Harper College for the last 8 week session of this semester. Speaking of which, I got a free pass through CPT to go to the IMTS2016 at McCormick Place.  IMTS (International Manufacturing Technology Show) is a biannual tech show with the latest innovations.

When I walked in to the east hall, I saw a sea of robot arms flailing and gesturing literally almost to the horizon. This was the CAD/CAM section of the show. I also looked at metal cutting and grinding machines (things that could cut through M1A1 Abrams tanks with little difficulty), CNC mills, and well, no I didn't make it to the tooling hall. I should have but I didn't have time.

Oh, I checked out all the additive tech. 3D printers, and such. I picked up a tantalum goblet that looked like Jesus used it, and it was a good 20 lbs.

I saw a giant robot arm made by FANUC that was flipping a Porsche like a burger. I saw the world's largest horizontal mill by Toyoda that was the size of of a locomotive. I saw CNC machines that ground out a two foot Statue of Liberty, a Leaning Tower of Pisa, and some of the ugliest chrome art you have ever seen. I handed out my card to anyone that would take it, and pitched the idea of me being their corporate artist-in-residence (politely and tactfully not pointing out that their CNC art pieces were very tacky and gaudy). A guy from a Beijing company seemed fairly enthusiastic, which means their gonna steal all my stuff.

The one thing I thought about is why robot arms? I mean, it is obvious why. We are apes with arms. If we were giant crabs or ants or octopuses, we'd have robot mandibles and tentacles. But still, there must be tasks where robot tentacles or mandibles would be functionally better, but you don't see them,

I figure it's a result of being cyborg apes. (Yes, honey-bunses, we are cyborgs, going back a long, long time. A monkey with a stick is a cyborg. True, a crude one, but a cyborg nonetheless).

I figure it's a problem similar to the one shamans experience. An (imaginary) animal familiar or spirit guide. Is it an extension of the personality, or an independent ally? I remember in Norse myth, Odin had two ravens, Hugin (thought) and Munin (desire), that would fly around the world and come back  and whisper in his ear, and keep him up to date on current events. Odin always knew that Hugin would return, but sometimes worried that Munin would not. Was he worried that a part of himself would not return? Maybe.

Probably what I would worry about if I had a robot arm.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Art Foundry Job

Last Thursday, I got a - well I'm sure not what, I filled out tax documentation, so I suppose it's a real job, but I'm guessing more of a probationary - job at West Supply.

West Supply is the premier art foundry in Chicago, making high end quality stuff, mainly furnishings.

When I did the interview and got a tour two weeks ago, I walked through the factory with the foreman, and at every station I said to myself "I know that", "I can do that", I can do that", "I know how to do that better", but was smart not enough to express my opinions. I just observed and nodded and said "Cool!" a lot. I'm smart enough not to be know-it-all smart-ass in interviews.

I did get weird looks. I mean, I am the oldest guy by decades in that establishment. Most of them are kid artists right out of grad school. They also had to figure, from looking at my resume, why the hell do you want to start here at the ground floor.

Well, that's easy enough. I'm awesome, they're awesome, and I wish to add my awesomeness to the mix. Given the high turnover with the disenchanted millennials, I could be Uncle John before you know it. And I'm pretty sure they need an Uncle John. Not an authority figure Uncle John, but a step-in-to-any-position-and-get-the-job-done Uncle John. We'll see if their vision corresponds with mine.

So, Thursday, my first day, and I am assigned to bottom-feeder gate-cutting and rough grinding of pieces straight from the foundry. This is a dirty, sweaty job involving hammering off ceramic shell, heavy lifting, and lots of cutting through inches thick  bronze with a right angle grinder with a cutoff wheel. I have to admit, after an hour, I said maybe I'm not cut out for this. But then I got into the swing of things, and tried my best to kick major ass.

It was actually fun, and kind of relaxing. I worked smart, lifted and hammered smart, and only pinched my fingers and thumbs once or twice, I could tell this job would mean I don't need to go to the gym quite as often. Felt stronger and endorphin-pumped by the end of the day.

The only problem was the dust and metal fines. They gave me a respirator, and I brought my own grinding gear, but my neck was unprotected.  I suffered from the itchy prickly heat for a day afterwards. A little Benadryl spray took care of that, but I need to get better clothing. If they intend to keep me on in rough grinding, I need to go full gimp mode and get completely covered. I need to get some face hoods in the long run, and a long-sleeved cotton turtle neck for the short run.

I don't know what management thought about my performance, but hopefully I made a good impression.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Cannibalism - A Lot More Common Than We Are Comfortable In Admitting

Cannibalism is a time-honored tradition practiced by all animals. In times of famine, mothers eat their young. In times of plenty, mothers eat their young. Look at the archaeological record of our and related hominid species, and you will find lots of cut marks in bones, lots of carbonization from cooking fires.

We have been inculcated in the value system that cannibalism is morally repugnant, and yet, that really hasn't stopped the practice altogether.

In the West, with the arrival of the Enlightenment and the Protestant Reformation, we have divided the world into Christian and Cannibal: Civilization and Savagery. (Please ignore the fact that the fundamental sacred ritual of Christianity involves the consumption of  flesh and blood). The idea, you see, is that the liberal notions of individual dignity somehow preclude from sane or rational behavior the idea of eating each other.

Of course, we still practice cannibalism, but we do it in the marketplace. People, as useful commodities, are consumed. Labor and ingenuity are extracted from them as soon as is useful. People have value right up until they cease being productive. Children, of course, as future labor resources, are treated as valued objects. (Although, with the coming biotech revolution, newborns and fetuses will no doubt be put to work as well).

None of this, of course, is new, but I think the marketing strategy for modern denial of modern cannibalism is fairly modern (and by modern, I mean in the past 500 years? since the advent of globalization).

Monday, August 22, 2016


I'm thinking about cybernetics a lot lately, and more specifically about how so many systems I observe can be interpreted as neural networks, neural network simulations run on quantum computers, and even more specifically, about Ross Ashby's version of this form of cybernetics... which sounds suspiciously like the state equations of quantum mechanics.

Customer relations at the counter, traffic flow to and from work, just in time inventories at the temp jobs, the information arbitrage of contractors and in-house added value services, "I know a guy that knows a guy" type of stuff all look a lot like a neural network in continuous cycle.

W. Ross Ashby, creator of the homeostat, when talking about cybernetic systems, often made the point that the environment is an active participant in the feedback loop. Well, that's obvious.

A lumberjack chopping down a tree can't do much without the tree, But is the tree an active participant? Ross would say yes. The lumberjack observes:orients:decides:acts based upon the attributes of the tree. He modifies his axes swings based upon the chunks that fly out. The tree is not going to drop chunks exactly the same each time. There is contingency involved. He modifies his swings and positions when it looks like the tree is about to come down. Don't want to have the tree fall on you, so yes, the tree, the environment is an active participant, adding that fun little nonlinear enhancement to the feedback loop.

(This is what butthole social Darwinists ignore that their peril: innate virtues involved in fitness are less than half the equation, Only the fittest survive for that environment. As the environment acts upon the actions of the individuals, so one can, in a fitness seascape, make the right choice at the right time from position of the right circumstance, and end up at the bottom of the trough from the crest of the wave. WIPE OUT!)

Which makes me think (and I've said this many times before) that intelligence as a property isn't really real; any more than cold is real, or dark is real. Intelligence is the absence of stupidity, just as cold is the absence of heat.

As such, there is no such thing as a competely stupid person. Actually, there is, but under the demands of our particular universe, completely stupid is completely dead.

On the obverse, no one is completely smart. We are, of course, compartmentally smart, or rather, compartmentally stupid.

Some people have a whole houseful of smart, and just a closet of stupid, while others... the opposite.

We obviously utilize that. One can have only a closet full of smart and a house full of stupid, but by interacting with others, using the ultrasocial network we ape-shaped bugs have developed, take advantage of others who are not so stupid.

I do it both ways all the time. I, in fact, know given my current circumstances, that there are some not so stupids out there looking out for me, which is why I landed this temp job,and also why I have an interview with an art foundry.

If it wasn't so nice, I'd probably be paranoid.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Temp Job

I got a temp job working behind the counter at a retail metal outlet. It's a franchise where you can buy metal. I haven't done counter work since college.

I've been working there for three weeks, and so far, out of the hundreds of customers I've dealt with, I've only had to deal with two assholes.

That's pretty good.

The guys I work with are all good guys, and the boss has asked me to fill in when needed, as he considers me "a good fit".  Well, I try to be patient, polite, considerate and helpful, and I guess that's what you have to be if you are a counter guy. Everyone is in a hurry, needs instant gratification, but I've been told to just relax and not let them rush you. That advice came from Phil, the other counter guy.  Phil pretty much runs the day to day operations, so classify him as non-com, staff sergeant. Phi's a good guy, funny guy; therefore, smart guy. Interesting character, like most people I've dealt with since working there.

The one most recent asshole customer I would classify as a pufferfish, an angry pissy little empty shitbag.

He likes to threaten. Threats are illogical.

If this were a samurai movie, he's the scared little shopkeeper constantly worried that he will lose his small piece of capital. He threatens and bullies the underlings, but if anyone stands up to him he collapses. And he toadies to superiors. It doesn't help he has that whiny nasal south side of Chicago dialect that makes me want to punch him in the face.

I'm of an age now where I really don't have the time and patience to put up with people's shit. So when it got to the point where he was just too much of a whiny little bitch, and I knew I was going to tell him to fuck off, I turned him over to Phil.

Phil is a pro, and had the guy settled down in about fifteen seconds. After Phil got off the phone, he laughs and say "I could see the smoke coming out of your ears".

He was right about that.

We have also had a ton of people who are just really good, really colorful characters.

I had one middle-aged black woman come in wanting to buy an 8" x 10" plate of inch thick steel, because she had to go do business on the south side. I discouraged her from buying it. It would have weighed, like, 40 lbs. Actually, I pretty much treated her like she was my mom, as gently and compassionately as I could. She was from Evanston, which, like progressive Oak Park, is pretty well integrated. (Chicago, third after Milwaukee and New York City, is a severely segregated, physically walled off racist city). Rather than try to assuage her fears, I googled a bunch of places where she could buy a protective vest.

A lot of the white guy customers are bigots. I was uncomfortable with some of the things I heard.

Well, this is America, and you are allowed to express your opinions.

I just figure these bigot types are limited, because by limiting their behavior according to stereotypes, they cut way down on their options and opportunities in dealing with people. I also have to assume they feel they are in a private space where they can vent, and perhaps outside of this cracker barrel venue, they treat others differently than how they express themselves.

The vast majority of the customers are skilled laborers, machinists, fabricators, etc. What those gentleman snobs the Founding Fathers would have considered "lowly mechanicks". Possessors of only mere skills, labor, and ingenuity, and not proper men of property.

The Founding Fathers were assholes.

It's amazing how, despite the enfranchisement of so many into our supposed democracy, there is stilla stigma attached to working with your hands. These people, of course, have my utmost respect. They know so many things about bending material instrumentality to their will I am quite frankly in awe. The stories they tell sound braggadocious and triumphal, but they are really problem:action: result stories. I know that, should civilization as we know it end tomorrow, these guys are guys you want to hang out with.

That's about it. I have two interviews next week. One at a art foundry, the other at a furniture fabrication place. I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Only Sporadic Reportage For Foreseeable Future

So, I'm an idiot. I've known for some time that I cannot afford my current job as studio technician. Between the increasing cost of living and having my hours cut back (not to mention lack of a raise), its just impractical to continue this.

So, way back at the beginning of June, I tendered my resignation effective August 1st. (Thinking, of course, that by this time I'd have a new job).

Well, I don't have a new job. Many people, including myself, would say I am an idiot for not securing a job before I resigned. Yeah, well, I'm an idiot.

I do have a couple of gigs that will get me through until October. And I get to keep my bronze casting instructor's job until the end of the fall semester. After that, the new lab tech takes over.

Keep in mind, this isn't a sob story. This is a realization that the art career just ain't going to happen, even with a supplemental job, and so I got to go get a real job once again. Oh boo hoo.

So, here's the deal. The only place I have internet access is here at the college. I do not have internet access at home, save through my phone. This means that my already rather sporadic easy writing will be even further curtailed. For how long I don't know.

If I think of something to say, I'll write an essay on my laptop, go to the library and publish. Otherwise, I really didn't have anything to say.

We'll see how this works out.

In the meantime here's a little something I cast and cleaned up today. Yes, that's right, I made it in one day.

"The Advocates" 2016, Cast Bronze, approx. 10" x 10" x 5".


Thursday, July 21, 2016

You'll Find Not Much A or I in AI

So, reading through The Gunning of America, I've already decided not to do a book report on it, other than to suggest it is a good summer read.... though perhaps not today, what with the heat index in the 100s.

Quickly, the book is about how America's gun culture had to be created. The gun used to be just an every day object like a rake or a hammer. The market demand wasn't there, and it took advertisers and marketers to create the gun market we have today. They make it an object of glamour, one that we fetishize and fantasize and accessorize, new and improved, etc. And it was all due to the Industrial Revolution. Used to be, you want a gun, you go to a gunsmith, make known your wishes, come back in a month. If some wandering salesman tried to interest you in a new and improved gun, you'd probably say, but I already have a gun. This shoots more bullets faster, the salesman might say. Well, that's just crazy, you'd reply. I only need it to shoot one bullet at a time. Anything more is a waste of bullets. And the salesman would go away.

What I'd rather talk about is two things that I've been thinking about, and that the book peripherally deals with.

The first thing is that the Constitution was written prior to the Industrial Revolution, and it shows.

That 2nd amendment doesn't mean what it originally meant, and we've had to deal with that, and the way we've decided to deal with it is through denial. Most people have always recognized firearms as really nothing more than implements of slaughter. Some people have a hard time with that. They make up rationalizations about how careful, adult, and mature they are with these things, but they refuse to allow chaos, accident, lapse of judgement,  and random chance into their equation of usage.

The least that any 2A proponent (if they are honest, and I am) is admit that to continue the maximum freedom implicit in the 2nd amendment, many small innocents - most especially children - must be sacrificed on the altar of the gun.

And the second thing is, the Industrial Revolution (IR) took all the fun out of everything.

Now, let's be clear, the IR has been going on for 10,000 years at least. We call it Civilization, but finally it's obvious that the S curve which represents market saturation of this method is making it's way into every human endeavor.

Go back far enough, and you still find interchangibilty, division of labor, standardization of parts, machines making machines, all that stuff is typically used to characterized the IR, has been around a long long fucking time.

I can show you middens where peoples of 200,000 years ago manufactured hand axes in assembly line fashion. For that matter, I can show you mechanical cunning that is billions of years old. When it comes to pound-for-pound machine infrastructure and functionality, a good old carbon substrate can't be beat. Carbon tech kicks ass.

We typically think of machines as being made of metal, or more recently, silicon, but good old squishy albuminous slime has done an amazing job as an machine instrumentality for physical manipulation and information processing.

Remember the Riddle of Steel?

It's true! Flesh is stronger than steel. Flesh fashions steel, and what is flesh but an amazingly intricate miniature elves' workshop of cellular machinery?

Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Steven Hawking are all worried about AI. Well, quit worrying. It's already here. In fact, it's probably us, especially if you listen to Professor Nick Bostrom, we are probably just a simulation.

Now, what do you do with simulations, provided they are not entertainment? You use them for work.

Hang on a second, back up a bit. One of the complaints about automation and cybernetics is that it takes jobs away. It eliminates real people, and in modern times, eliminates real people in favor of fake people - corporations. How that happened is very interesting but, consider:
"The 1810 census rhapsodized about the dawning industrial age, praising "these wonderful machines" that were vastly easier and cheaper to employ than humans, "working as if they were animated beings,...laboring with organs that never tire, and subject to no expence of food, or bed, or raiment, or dwelling". Nor did they gamble, drink ardent spirits, "scuffle", fist-fight, or lollygag during the workday"
For that matter, machines which had once emulated the human hand, could now outperform it.

And how has that changed any? Save that, where once the bodily labors were replaced, now the efforts of mind are made a paltry thing by machines.

Eli Whitney and Colt and Winchester really didn't give two shits about guns. They were not in the business of making guns. They were in the business of making monies, and they did so by building machines that made machines that could make anything, and they happened to choose guns.

How is what Silicon Valley doing in comparison any different? They don't give two shits about AI. They want machine universes that can make machine minds. Building self-driving cars, or robot butlers, or smart homes or kilobit drones doesn't matter. They don't care.

So, question, How do you build a functioning electronic brain? Well, you reverse engineer a brain, and then you train it. How do you train it? Through simulations.

The old analogy of the hyper intelligent computer creating a still even more hyper intelligent leading exponentially to the Singularity is completely wrong. Those hyper intelligent synthetic minds have not the first clue how to build a better brain.

What do they do? They build better simulations. So, video games, already manically real, which have little AI players in them, what do suppose is happening there? They are here already.

But what you find is, like us, they are neither artificial, nor particularly intelligent.

Monday, July 18, 2016

An Invasive Species of Fire Ape

I went back to Indiana for a bonfire Saturday night. Our friends had found an upright piano to burn. This is perhaps the third or fourth piano in as many years. They guy has four sisters, all with non-functioning, beat up pianos in their respective basements. It is simply a matter of moving them out and carting to the farm to burn.

On the one hand, I feel a little guilty, but, honestly, I'm just the hundred billionth or so fire ape to frivolously burn something for the fuck of it. I realize I'm not helping out the global warming situation. On the other hand, it's cool to burn things. That's what we fire apes do.

As I've said before, when you look around at the made world, and realize that almost every aspect of it required some form of fire to create it, you realize are doing what comes naturally. It may be our undoing, but such is the way of the universe. Ho hum.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Ban Big Bad Haywired Brains

My car is in the shop today, so I rode my bike. I rode through light industrial land from the auto repair shop to work.

Things I noticed:

About 75% of the commercial buildings were vacant, with for lease and for sale signs everywhere. So either the economy is nowhere near where people think it is, or more likely, developers have way, way overbuilt. I also see this with transport. Trains are underutilized. Ships are underutilized. Way, way too much supply for the demand.

Why don't these owners of empty strip malls and warehouses put solar panels on their roofs? Why not at least generate some kind of income from an empty building you still have to supply minimal utilities to (so that Mother Nature doesn't tear them apart)? Why not try and get server farms or dumb bulk storage, or some such in there? I suppose they are trying that, but way too many of these buildings cater to the idea of being filled with people, and these buildings will never be filled with people again.

People are stupid. People are stupid because they adapt their plastic brains to their immediate environment, and then just stop. I think people were a lot smarter before the Industrial Revolution (more later on this maybe). Example: I'm riding on my bike on the road, because light industrial land does not have much in the way of bike trails and bike lanes. Cars and trucks. People driving cars and trucks become cars and trucks. So, I'm on these big animal traces with all these big cars and trucks, and they might as well be buffalo and rhinoceroses and elephants that fast little scurrying bike animal me must avoid. And they just don't fucking notice me. Or when they do notice me they freak out, like an elephant noticing a mouse. They are just big, dumb, lumbering clueless animals. No wonder the Vietnamese called the American armed forces elephants. Just big dumb, lumbering clueless animals.

So, big brains does not  = smart. Big brains = big dumb animals with big brains.

Speaking of which, Im reading a book called "The Gunning of America" by Pamela Haag. I may do a book report on it, but so far, it's just entertaining, and the gist of what I've gotten from the book (still early), is the The Industrial Revolution Took All The Fun Out Of Guns.

Or, as the Washington Post reviewed the book: Guns in America were no big deal, until Big Business Made Us Love Them.

Which is to say, Ms. Haag does not wish to enter into the current argument about guns, merely provide a historical perspective as to how we arrived where the nation is with respect to guns.

Marketing made guns a fetish item. Guns became an exceptional tool, much the same way that Americans fool themselves into thinking that America is exceptional. America is a nation, an interesting and unique nation, but that's about it. Guns are not exceptional tools.

(The guns = tools argument often turns into a logical fallacy, a category error that pro-gun apologists make, noting that weapons are defined as technology, and are therefore tools, and tools can be misused. Failing to note that a weapon is a tool, but a tool is not a weapon. The sole purpose of a hammer or screwdriver or a shoe is not for maiming and killing).

Honestly, for the longest time, guns were toys. Toys that made noise. Guns occasionally were useful, but only under limited circumstances, and only within a certain range. Inside or outside that range? Useless. Better to have a knife, or an arbalest. or even a stone, the original ranged weapon.

On the American frontier, already manicured by Native Americans into ideal hunting ground, I'm going after small to medium game. If I use bow and arrow, I can kill many rabbits and squirrels and deer and birds. If I use a blunderbuss, or even a rifled musket, still wildly inaccurate beyond a certain range, I scare away ALL the game with one shot. So, gun for hunting, back then? Not so good. Not if you wanted to eat on a steady basis.

But the Indians wanted firesticks you say! Well, the Indians would have wanted a Camaro if they had been around.

Those things were novelties, toys, prestige items, something the other chiefs didn't have. But you didn't fucking use them for hunting!

Guns are actually not a problem. Never should have been a problem. Became problem once big business took over. Big business takes the fun out everything.

People with guns are a problem. More specifically, and wow I am in agreement with Wayne Lapierre on this, people with bad brains that have guns, rotten brains, brains that go haywire, are a problem.

The difference between Lapierre and I is what constitutes mental illness. Who has bad brains? Feel threatened? In fear of your life? Feel the need for personal protection? Maybe you are paranoid. Maybe you've got a rotten brain.

Think about it, the situation that you wish to resolve requires lethal force? Really? Your going to go up to that scary or annoying person, whoever it is that has turned you into a scared little bunny, and with your bunny paws you going to ba-BAM blood and guts and brains all over you, and that solves the problem. Remember we are dealing with civilian life here, not a war zone. Even in the inner city, it is not strictly a war zone. People don't live in war zones. Not for long. If it is really a war zone, they  usually become refugees.

All these phantoms and phantasms and bad feelings and discomforts and oh-dearie-dears that you feel you are undergoing drive you to the conclusion that you must kill? Or even maim? Perhaps disfigure for life, and that'll teach them?

I'd say you are insane.

By my definition, Wayne Lapierre is insane. He lives in a very safe house in a very safe neighborhood and goes to work in a fortress, and feels threatened and in need lethal personal protection?

That's one fucked up brain. I'm mean look at him. He's really quiet. He looks like the quiet type that will just snap under the slightest provocation. He probably should have to take a test if he wants a gun.

I can see it right now. Here I am the gun store owner, and Lapierre comes in says he needs a gun.

Need a gun? Uh oh.

Probably hears voices in his head!
I look around at the arcadian calm of suburbia in which we find ourselves, and I say really, and surreptiously push the silent alarm. Time for Wayne Lapierre to be evaluated by the properly trained psychological technicians. Does this violate his 2A rights? I don't see how.

Why, even in the inner city, how exactly are you going to be safer brandishing a gun and waving it around? You don't have to be on any drug, just all stressed out.

No, I'm sorry, you got a bad brain. You probably need to evaluated.