Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Yeehaw Center For Fancy Learnin'

This title has nothing to do with this short essay. I just came up with it and it tickled me. So currently I am writing up art grant proposals. What a fucking pain in the ass. As someone who has always abhorred paperwork, you can imagine what a fun time I'm having. But, it's a necessity because getting into art shows is becoming increasingly difficult. Way too much content out there.

A lot of the stuff I see the students making at the college is a good example. There is some cool stuff being made, but, as Theodore Sturgeon once said "90% is crap". Someone once responded that, well that means 10% is sublime. Nope. Maybe 1% is sublime, and that would be only with a fat-tailed Pareto distribution. Following a Gaussian distribution would put sublimity at .01%.

So, a lot of the stuff I see getting cranked out here are just really horribly awkward things - shambling grotesques that should never have been summoned into existence. They really should be destroyed by fire. The destruction of some of them requires using all four classical elements.

I, of course, am in no position to say anything in the way that be viewed as ridicule.

The reasons are twofold. 1) is that a lot of my stuff is without a doubt crappy (see the 90% rule above), and 2) as an educator, I am kind of ethically bound to find a more diplomatic and constructive route to critique the stuff. In fact, rarely  - unlike the naked brutality of graduate-and-above level critiques - is anything ever made fun of... at least not in front of the student.

There's actually a third reason. I've mentioned before that I am autistic. It's not an excuse for anything. I'm not feeling sorry for myself. After all, I've had a good 56 years to come up with coping strategies, and I'm still around and semi-successful at navigating our weird society.

But as someone who does not instinctively and effortlessly pick up on social cues, I've had more than my fair share of ridicule. I'm not saying this to garner sympathy, I'm just stating it as a matter of course. What I am saying is that I can understand and empathize with how ridicule goes down.

(Actually, one of my past coping strategies for ridicule is straight out of the Untouchables, Sean Connery's Malone: "They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way!" You give me a shot to the jaw, I'll try to send you into orbit. I'm getting much better at that, though, and especially in the last ten years. I've to learned to shrug it off and ignore belligerent assholes. Besides, I've found out that sometimes that belligerency is supposed to be in good humor).

So anyway, I try to be a nice guy, because 1) As an educator, I'm paid to be nice, and 2) I'd like to be treated the same way, so you try to lead by example. Hmm. Got to work on that behind the back thing now, but that's also part of our weird society.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Where We At?

We've made it through the Naughty Aughties, and we are almost done with the Meenie Eenies, so now we got the Lack-O-Plenty Twenties to get through before, well, Doomsday I suppose. (Did you think I was going to go with the Dirty Thirties?)

Because the trend right now is the solution to the Fermi Paradox becomes available sometime in 2032, which is a bummer because I was kind of hoping to make it to 2038. But no, like Dr. Strangelove, I suppose I should stop worrying and learn to love the Bomb. You know, finally we achieve Peace In Our Time.

And the increasing lack of civility suggests we may not even make it much past 2022. History provides plenty of examples. The minute you have a breakdown in cooperation, the Empire falls apart. The minute you have any kind of inequality, people have no reason to pitch in anymore, then it is every man for himself, devil take the hindmost, and the whole thing falls apart.

Ayn Rand's Wet Dream.

Morning In America - for some!
Look, when cooperation itself is used as a disparaging term, society is in trouble. Society has been in trouble since at least 1978, when Ayn Rand's fucked-up vileness was put into practice on a regular basis, starting with Reagan and Thatcher.

The C-word, community, and the S-word, society, have indeed become the C-word and the S-word, and so we are doomed. Unless we change.

Some people would suggest we need a strong leader. Infantile types I suppose, the kind that needs a big strong man (or manly woman) to spoon them when things get scary.

Seems to me that last thing this country needs is another Caesar. Certainly not the current crop of would-be Caesars. Despite the fact that so many in this country feel a need for a strong leader, one that will kick ass and bomb little brown people back to stones, the one thing the United States does not need is another Caesar. We've had Caesars at least since Kennedy.

Is that what we really want? A strong leader? Yeah, I think so. It's not what what we need, but it is what we want. Despite the fact that the last century pretty much provided incontrovertible empirical proof - Hitler, Stalin, Mao, etc. - that strong leaders are rancid butt-holes that get a lot of people killed.

And to cooperate requires sacrifice. One way I would prefer to do that would be to give up something we want to get something we need. Which means, in a sane world, we give up on strong leaders that don't fucking listen to anyone except themselves and their butt-licking sycophants, and find ones that are willing to -

Ah, ha-ha-ha. Just kidding. Happy Doomsday everybody!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

History Doesn't Rhyme Either

A piece in the Washington Post notes that the current climate conditions have not been seen for 66 million years. Back then, it was the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, the last time conditions were similar to today. They note, however, that this situation actually has no historical analogue, as the rate of the amount of CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere is unprecedented within the geological record. What we are doing is entirely new and novel.

As if that wasn't bad enough, James Hansen's new study suggests we are moving from the acceleration phase into the shock phase. There are, of course, no good predictions as to where it will go, but again, we are entering into entirely new territory.

This is similar to predictions that the coming presidential election will look like Nixon/McGovern, or Carter/Ford. There is no reason to think this should be. After all, none of the conditions from then apply to now.

That whole "history doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme" quote has been attributed to Mark Twain.

Twain never said that. If he had, he wouldn't have said it that way, as it reflects late 20th-/early 21st century English usage patterns, which is to say English not beyond a grade school vocabulary. We've devolved to that point, I suppose. It's probably because Americans don't read books any more. Americans don't do much any more, actually, except die by the gun, the drug, and the fast car.

But I did something. I thought I was going to work for Newman today, but he is waiting on supplies to be delivered. So, I was able to go into the college, sandblast the crappy surface job I did yesterday, and reapply the patina and seal it with a fresh can of Krylon matte transparent sealer. Ah, that's better.

Here you go, the full tableau. I guess I'm calling it "While You Were Out".

Monday, March 21, 2016

Untitled for now

Here's the bronzes I cast last week. I got in a hurry to finish them, and fucked them up. Now I have to sandblast the whole series and re-patina the lot. I fucked up because I used an old can of matte finish enamel, and I oversprayed in a hurry. Got drips and milky deposits.

So, I have to sandblast them and redo the finish. Don't think I'll get to that this week. Still, I documented them anyway and used a little photoshop to clean them up some.

Still not happy with any title I've come up with. So far the best candidate title is "While You Were Out". Not really thrilled with that.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Carl's Jr. Needs A Google Deep Learning Uniblab

Remember Uniblab? He was George Jetson's robot boss on the Jetsons. Uniblab made George's life a living hell, although that was how he was programmed. In reality, Uniblab would probably be a much better boss than Mr. Spacely, who was a stupid prick.


So, the stupid prick that runs Carl's Jr wants to enter into the Randian roboparadise where he doesn't use any workers at all.

His reasoning?
Puzder doesn't believe in [the progressive idea of] raising the minimum wage. "Does it really help if Sally makes $3 more an hour if Suzie has no job? If you're making labor more expensive, and automation less expensive -- this is not rocket science," says Puzder. What comes as a challenge is automating employee tasks. This is where he draws the line and doesn't think that it's likely any machine could perform such work. But for more rote tasks like grilling a burger or taking an order, technology may be even more precise than human employees. "They're always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there's never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case," says Puzder in regard to replacing employees with machines.
First off, Carl's Jr is one of the worst burgers I've ever had. Carl's Jr. is like the Sears Roebuck of the burger world. In this respect, Andy Puzder reminds me of Herman Cain, another Randian butt-hole that ran a shitty food company, Godfather's Pizza. Fucking horrible pizza.

Andy Puzder is way behind the times. Automating a specialist job like CEO is where we are headed. Clearly, automating Andy Puzder would be a lot more cost effective and better for the company.

My reasoning? A Deep Learning robo-CEO will, by analyzing Big Data have a much better grasp of the business environment, is less likely to make stupid mistakes, is far more likely to correct the mistakes it makes, and will rarely say stupid shit like Andy Puzder does. You don't need stock options, bonuses, pension plans, penthouses, and prostitutes and hush money with a robo-CEO. The employees get a less volatile asshole boss to deal with that actually makes rational business decisions.

Other things. I have had a lot of stuff completed all at once this past week. Some stuff has been sitting  around since last semester. Got all my bronzes cast for the semester, but I won't be able to work on them next week, which is Spring Break.

I finished a dish.

I got a glass piece cast.

And I got these done.

Still more come to come, but you'll have to wait a couple weeks.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

должен любить россиянами

Gotta love the Russians. -or- Democracy is hard. Alphago, take me away!

Google can't translate the intent of my meaning. Perhaps that's just as well. My own college Russian is so rusty, you could soak it in a vat of WD-40 for a year, and it wouldn't get unstuck. Which is to say, is very very rusty!

I really do mean: shaking my head in rueful admiration, gotta love the Russians. But the translation is more like "It is necessary (for you) to love the Russians". Not quite the same thing.

So, there is room for improvement in the automation of human tasks. Give it time. So, what about the current state of democracy in the good 'ol US of A? I ask this because I voted yesterday, and quizzed a few people as to whether they did as week, and the answer I got was mainly no. It's too hard. Democracy is just too hard. These kids really do need an Alphago voting app. Something to think for them, because thinking is becoming too hard for people. But that's almost always been the case.

That's why the Founding Fathers set up the elitist system that we have. Don't kid yourself. We aren't set up for equal opportunity anything. For all that 'We The People' horseshit, our system of government is set up to keep the average shit-covered peasant as far away as possible from the knobs, switches, and levers of actual power. The Founding Fathers just didn't trust your average sturdy yeoman... except to fight at their command. And we, like the stupid buttholes that we are, do exactly that.

The Russians share that with us. They may be surly and taciturn, morose, and deeply superstitious, but they are profoundly brave and stoic in a way that makes your average American look like the vicious, whiny little brats that our displayed national character says we are. They will shrug their shoulders, and do what they are told.

Not that their system of government is any better. Let's face it, until Velicky Peter came along, their model was the Ottoman Empire. Russia was, and is, an asiatic despotism. Until everyone had to adopt the ways of the French (and now, Americans. You wouldn't believe how many English words have crept into everyday speech there, like 'ta-oon ha-oozes'), they really preferred the opulent decadence of the satrapy.

Democracy, in case you weren't around in the '90s, meant hunger, crime, and despair to your average Russian. From 1991 to 1995, the GDP of the former Soviet Union dropped 39%. I don't think anyone here can understand that. That's far worse than anything during the Great Depression. Under the increasingly incoherent and incompetent rule of Yeltsin, things really did suck. Oh, sure, you had vile criminals that were former Soviet officials. But the West came in and just raped the shit out of the whole country. And Slick Willy stood there and yucked and dug elbows into the pudgy side of Yeltsin while this all happened.

Can you blame them for liking Putin? He helped set up the stable criminal syndicate that kept the raping and extortion down to a tolerable minimum, and then plus, prosperity started to happen. It's true that corruption is rampant, but that's been business as usual since the 1920s. But we really really did number on them, and your average American is completely and hopelessly clueless about that.

Can you blame them for hating us just a little bit?  

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Got Tard Milk?

I honestly don't know when tards decided that Louis Pasteur was a dangerously radicalized leftist determined to contaminate your precious bodily fluids, but they do. They come up with all sorts of medieval kookery, to amuse, I suppose, their fellow tards, like on that MTV show Jackass.

So, the West Virginia legislature legalized raw milk, and celebrated passage of the act with big cool glasses of raw milk all around. They then commenced to the puking and shitting. Beautiful.
Representative Pat McGeehan celebrates!
Seriously what the fuck is wrong with all these tards? Where do they come from? How is it they survived childhood, when they should, according to Darwin swallowed their tongues years ago?

I just don't get it. From whence this raw milk fetish?

I understand how conservatards latched onto it. Freedumb!

You know, you should able to do any stupid ass thing without government interference. And I say more power to them. Pursuit of happiness. Just don't expect any government interference to SAVE your stupid asses. That's going too far. We are not socialists, after all.

(Unless, of course, you are a member of the elite upper classes like banksters and hedge fund managers and billionaire politicians, in which case, of course we will rescue you, you poor stupid helpless tardasses).

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Dorky Uncle John

Women say that dorkiness is sexy. Sure. And size doesn't matter.

I am the dorky one in the family. Which is to say that I will do something clumsy at just the most public moment. If I got an Oscar, I'd trip on the stairs going up. I wouldn't hurt myself, because I am surprisingly athletic (especially when I am not thinking), but I will go through the most awkward overcompensations and pantomimes to keep from falling. I'd look a lot more graceful if I just fell on my face.

My younger brother Jim is the natural athlete of the family. Grace in motion, and probably because he doesn't think at all about what he is doing, just does it. Jim had to give up on sports because of bone spurs. I remember Coach Bird asking me if Jim went out for football in high school, and I said no.

"That's a damn shame", he said "Best natural athlete I ever saw".

And that's true. Not to brag, I've a very good equilibrioceptory sense and a discriminating kinaesthetic. But only when I'm not self-conscious. When I shut down the forebrain and just be an animal, I am beautiful in motion. But Jim just runs circles around me.

Not that I had a dork episode, but memories pop up, my ears turn red, and all those little beads of sweat pop out. That actually happened to me last night after I got up to pee. Couldn't get back to sleep reviewing all those episodes of dorkiness.

As I've said before, the second you start thinking of yourself as an animal is the second you become a lot less neurotic.

Speaking of animals, looks like Trump has the nomination sewn up, which is just as well, because every single candidate within the GOP is just a wretched imitation of a human animal. They pretty much all remind of that sociopathic butthole, Grover Norquist.

Google don't lie about Grover Norquist. He's a poopy head. See?

Speaking of the GOP, I get an interesting feeling that a major announcement is going to occur on April 1st. It kind of depends on whether Trump succeeds in getting enough delegates by then, but if he does, my prediction is that he will announce it has all been a practical joke.

Think about it. If just runs for President, he's just be another what-his-name. Like Perot, or Wallace. But if this is a prank, it's the prank of the century. He's already directing the narrative. He's already gotten his opponents to act like the childish narcissistic nihilists they truly are. (Seriously, he got Rubio to talk about his dick)! He's got elites in the party squirting brown stains just thinking about him. He's got a lot hissing and spitting and limb chewing rampant on the reptile floor of the GOP. (I know, looking at Cruz, that that statement is redundant).

And if he announces "Gotcha" on April 1st, he pants the Republican party. Publicly humiliates and destroys an entire party.

Legnedary. Fucking epic prank.

And not soon enough, given that - eventually - the United States of America will be a rightwing dictatorship anyway. but in the meantime, all your base are belong to us.


Friday, March 4, 2016


The Japanese celebrate the victory of the Battle of Tsushima: the naval battle between the Japanese fleet under Admiral Togo versus the Tsar's Second Pacific Squadron under Admiral Rozhestvensky during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5. Togo came out being called the "Nelson of the East". Two thirds of the Russian fleet was sunk.

The war was held up to Japan as an exemplar and paragon for all future Japanese imperialist expansions to follow - a lesson in what bushido could accomplish, divine fate and blind faith in the Emperor. The Japanese learned this lesson of triumphalism well, to their future regret.

Which is to say, they learned the wrong lesson. If you look at the war, it taxed the tiny island nation to the limit. Even the battle of Tsushima itself contained lessons Japan failed to learn. Admiral Togo, at the end of the battle, noted that the Japanese fleet could not have fought much longer. The ships were out ammunition and coal, the bores of the big guns on the Japanese battleships were worn out and needed to be replaced. The Japanese arms industry could not perform the task. Provisions and supplies were tapped out.

In the greater war, the Japanese economy was nearing exhaustion, an irreplaceable and taxing 100,000 men had been killed taking Port Arthur, Mukden, and Manchuria. Russia, the biggest country in the world, was in the process of calling in fresh replacements. Japan was fortunate that Teddy Roosevelt intervened, else they would have had to sue for peace.

So, the right lesson the Japanese failed to learn was to be taught again in World War II. They failed to build an effective system of logistics. They jumped into battle, poorly supplied, with no reserves of resources in place, a shoddy supply chain, no plans to expand or augment their supply chain, and in many cases, expected the warrior spirit of their people to win battles for them. In short, they operated on blind faith that past triumphs would be revisited upon them.

What a bunch of fools.

The American people would do well to study what happened to Japan in the first half of the 20th century, but we won't. In particular, those of a conservative bent, who accept the triumphalist lie of the end of the Cold War, will fail to learn the lesson provided. Which is, sorry folks: Cold War is still going on, we still have 5,000 Russian warheads pointed at us, the American people have proven themselves less than exceptional, and their boy Reagan was a vain foolish oaf who did nothing to end the Soviet Union.

(Come on, a nation that survived both Stalin and Hitler taken down by a senile-in-office corrupt old dunce like Reagan? Give me a break. Look instead to the Bush clan's connection to the House of Saud, in lowering oil prices as, simultaneously, the Russian military bled the economy dry in achieving a short-lived parity with the US. Hmm. Lower oil prices, sure looking like the Saudis did for Obama to get Iran to the table).

And now the conservatives are paying a price for not learning the right lesson. Which was: bankrupting ourselves, adding to the foul corruption of the military/industrial/congressional  complex, and acting upon the blind faith of American exceptionalism, and more importantly the tenants and moral fiber of the conservative mindset will somehow makes us prevail based upon imagined past triumphs.

You can only be delusional for so long before reality catches up with you, and I believe this is the beginning of reality catching up with at least portion of the benighted conservative domain known as the GOP.

Have fun being tangled up in your filth-ridden malarial bedclothes and fever dreams, GOP. You so fucking deserve it. Problem is, we have to put up with you deranged fuckers.