Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A new life awaits you in the Off World Colonies

Let's call this a notes and miscellania entry.

Good news: I managed to get the Bronze Casting class going here at Harper College. A combination of complaints from existing students, and me scraping up the remainder of enrollment from recruits through my mailing list gave me a full enrollment in the class - and only a week delayed. Which means my income level for the semester went from poverty to working poor. Yay!

I'm currently doing very important things in my primary position as studio technician, such as building up missing items from our inventory. Who the heck steals caulk guns, box-cutter knives, and spatulas? We usually lose a set of drill bits, or something similar, but... caulking guns? Weird. Reminds me of the time I bought a meat thermometer for my Bronze Casting class that I used to check the wax pot temperature. It disappeared after two weeks. Who wants a meat thermometer covered in Victory Brown wax?

I am still going through my dry spell of coming up with new work. I think part of it is I am reluctant to make new work as nothing is selling. It's not just me. All the artists I've talked to are having a tough time moving anything. That's not the only reason for the dry spell, but a general discouragement is not conducive to the creative process.

I am nearing my two-year quit smoking anniversary. I seem to getting younger. I saw a picture of myself taken about maybe five years ago, and I looked ten years older than I do now. They are not kidding about how breathing smoke into your lungs will damage your skin. On the minus side, I almost immediately started to develop a belly, and added a good twenty-five pounds of weight. The good thing is, trips to the fitness center at the college, and different total body training regimen taken up this past summer, and (what? the guy who could eat anything?) dieting, have allowed me to go from a pudge-boy 225 pounds to a much more hard-bodied 200 lbs. Oh, there's still some room for improvement, but damn, I look good.

I probably should leave it on that note, that, oh, yes, I do look good. Feeling pretty good, too.

Oh, I almost forgot. Rumor has it (thus the title above) that a sequel to Ridley Scott's Blade Runner is in the works. Given that the original movie took place in 2019 (and as per usual futurists vastly overestimate human progress) and we are not even close to either replicants or star travel, one wonders how they would go about it.

Also, my Gaddafi-On-A-Stick curios are moving well. They're great for peering around corners, or just fooling around muppeting him. I'm considering a whole tin-pot dictators on a stick series.  

Friday, August 26, 2011

Peter Thiel Wants to be the next Bond Villain

It's Friday, August the 26th, 2011, so around these parts it must be Let's Once Again Make Fun of Pompous Social Darwinist Libertardians Day. Today's guest is Peter Thiel.

Now, Thiel is in the news because he just donated a whopping 1.25 million out of his billion plus fortune to the Seasteading Institute, which wants to build a floating complex of platforms out in international waters, where they can pursue the vision of a libertarian utopia unfettered by the binding chains of government.

Once completed it will join the ranks of other libertarian utopias, such as... well, can't really seem to think of a successful one right off hand, let alone one that wasn't pretty much of a joke from the get-go.

But obviously, it's worth a shot, because the wretched society that produced the likes of Peter Thiel is not worth a moldy turd. A rugged individualist, he espouses the rugged libertarian ideal that only individuals are worth trusting, but that groups of individuals bound together (like governments, but, I guess, not corporations) are wholly untrustworthy.

A "self-made billionaire", he chooses to ignore the fact that the most important coin-flip moments in his life were made for him - like the fact that he grew up in a socially tolerant (he's gay), median-household-income-of-$100,000 (he's never been on welfare), culturally vibrant and stimulating (he was never deprived of information) city such as Foster City, California. Peter Thiel also thinks our educational system here in the US sucks, and never mind that he attended a sub-par diploma mill like Stanford University. Never mind that his companies such as PayPal and Facebook were built upon the heavily federally subsidized backbone of the telecommunications and computer industries, or that it just happens to use a government handout called the Internet. It really is a wonder that he became the Ubermensch he is today, despite all the obstacles thrown in his path, all of his stifling experiences, and unfortunate origins.

So, like any good megalomaniac rationally self-interested intelligent free market agent, he has decided to run away Go Galt  pioneer a Brave New Waterworld in hopes of ridding the Earth of the moochers and looters, the parasite classes, once and for all, like any good James Bond villain would.

No beel-leeyon dollar ransoms to the UN here! Just build him a stylish comfortable Evil Lair, a tony weapons platform, a somehow self-sufficient, heavily-armed,  free of all those civilizing encumbrances, where he can act out his basest infantile fantasies, just like all the other Silicon Valley bloviators.

Mr. Thiel has been involved in all sorts of astroturf organizations, like the execrable Cato Institute, not to mention other libertarian-oriented institutions, such as:

The Club for Growth

The Chain Saw for Prosperity

(and, my favorite)

The Stainless Steel Razor Wire Whip for Quality of Life

Thursday, August 25, 2011

This is what you do when you don't know what to do

When I'm desperate, and have no clue what to do, rather than panic, or bitch and moan, I waste time.

Just in case this doesn't pan, here's the link to the flickr video: right here

Let's see if we can embed it. Where in the world is Muammar Ghaddafi?

Well, it worked. And I am fucking delighted with myself.

And yes, why yes, I am some flavor of idiot.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Well, I'm fucked now

Temporarily fucked. Fucked until I can figure something out. Which is to say, temporarily fucked. I hope.

Here's the deal. I work three part-time jobs. I've lost one of them. I've lost the bronze-casting teaching gig I had at Harper College. This is the first  time ever the class has been canceled. Oh, there have been some skin-of-the-teeth moments these past few years where, after making some phone calls, I've managed to bump the roster up to bare minimum. But this semester, I wasn't able to get the minimum enrollment numbers.

Blame it on the economy, I suppose. Although I probably should have done a better job of marketing and networking. Salesmanship was never my strong point.

At any rate, the meager stipend I got from the teaching gig was that knife-edge margin I counted on  keeping me in the black. And now that is gone. Living paycheck to paycheck as it is, I've been congratulating myself for some time now on the brilliant career move I've made.

Being a starving artist sucks.

Whoever it was that came up with the whole "suffering for my art" shit should be made to suffer with  a good swift kick to the nads. This romantic asceticism bullshit is... bullshit.

Honestly, if I'm expected to be creative, I have a very hard time believing it will come through suffering.

Suffering doesn't aid the creative process. The act of being truly creative requires the luxury of play. And the luxury of play cannot occur if you are constantly worrying about where the money is going to come from. This constant worrying distracts me. Even worse, it stifles me. Even worse, it in no way uplifts or dignifies me.

Poverty is not noble.

Privation is not respectable.

Suffering for art produces some really shitty art.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Is it too late to rehabilitate the Gadsden Flag?

Should a faction of the Republican party, a rabidly insane bunch of fat, arrogant, overpaid, overfed, sanctimonious, overindulged, white, racist, over-privileged, disgustingly soft-bodied, pudge ball, business criminal, asshole cocksuckers like the Tea Party be allowed to mangle a symbol of American unity to further their own selfish, useless,  tiny-brained, fucked-up Ayn Randian vision of how Lily White and Christian and seriously puckered up asshole tight America should be? I don't think so. The question is, is it too late?

Suffering from patriotism? Or just a severely irritated colon? You decide!
Considering that the latest polls suggest that Tea Partiers are more unpopular than atheists and Muslims,  perhaps it's time they stop appropriating a perfectly good symbol. They've already managed to ruin the word "patriot".

My understanding is, now that they've put their anal taint on this symbol, even a request from stalwart Americans like Marine veterans to fly the flag is getting a refusal. From this site:

In Connecticut, lawmakers refused to fly the Gadsden flag at the capitol building in April because of the Tea Party’s “political nature,” but they also refused to display it on the Fourth of July at the request of a group of retired Marines. A man living near Phoenix, Ariz. was recently ordered by his homeowners’ association to remove the Gadsden flag flying outside his home, despite his protests that he wasn’t displaying it to support the Tea Party. The American Civil Liberties Union came to his defense, citing a violation of First Amendment rights. In Colorado, a similar dispute over the same flag is ongoing as well.

The Gadsden Flag first went into battle as the personal flag of Commodore Esek Hopkins, a battle flag for the Continental Marines. It is one of the first flags of the US Marine Corps.

The Gadsden Flag

Friday, August 12, 2011

Plugged In Skin

I'm not much for personal adornment, and probably because I'm beautiful enough as it is. I don't wear jewelry. The thought of getting a piercing has never even crossed my mind. I've never even considered getting a tattoo. The only kind of tattoo I'd even consider getting was either a) an animated tattoo, or b) a wireless tattoo device.

As regards a), I'd like to claim credit for the idea, but Ray Bradbury's Illustrated Man precedes my thoughts on the matter, and I'm sure someone watching the first animated movies or shorts thought of it long before Ray. And I'm not sure what you would call an animated tattoo. Would it be an anitat? Or a tattoon? I prefer tattoon.

As regards b), I think I can claim credit for it, as I had the idea in the early 80s. But then again, I'll bet someone like John Brunner or Johnny von Neumann already thought of it back in the 50s or 60s. In any case, when they first started talking about power-gloves or data-suit interfaces, or plugs in your skull that you could hook cables up to your computer, I had to laugh. The gloves or suits were just too clunky and old-fashioned, reminiscent of the old futurist vision of a zeppelin in every garage. Who's gonna walk around in a squinky neoprene suit covered in wires. That shit is just so stupid looking, or as the kids would call it, so gay.

And as for plugs in the head, ignoring the very real and constant threat of infection pathways direct to the brain, anyone who has considered a plug in the head has never spent much time around little kids.

"What the-? How the fuck did this gum/pencil eraser/crayon/jellybean/etc. get into my plug? Goddamit! KIDS!!!"

Yeah, forget the plugs. I had always figured it would be clothing, or a wearable patch, or a tattoo. Given that electronics was bound to get smaller and more sophisticated, I'd figure on waiting. Plus, we've found out that there's more than just the five Aristotelian senses to get data in and out of the human brain.  For example, SQUIDS (sensitive magnetometers) would just get better and better at reading the electrical impulses of the human brain, and a version of TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) would just get better and better at manipulating neuronal signals to transmit data into the brain. Throw in the promise of the wireless revolution, and you end up not being plugged into anything. (So forgive the "plugged in" title above, but then again, why is a magazine devoted to futuristic devices called "Wired"?)

So, I figured on some kind of a propellerhead beanie would be the way to go. Plus, then we find out that all sorts of formerly brain or organ centric sensor cells are spread throughout the human body. Thus tastebud cells can be found in the lungs and the small intestine, and light sensitive cells are strewn about, not just in the eyes, but pretty much everywhere! Let's face it, the natural electronics embedded within the human body is far more sophisticated, adaptable, and quite frankly, unexplored (think of the huge relatively untapped promise of biofeedback) than that of the currently crude electronics of private industry. (Yes, yes, I know about shit like quantum dots and nanotech, the fact is we have not even begun to discover just exactly what our bodies are capable of).

I suspect the skin would be a vast interface, and so, again, my smart money was to wait - the same way you wait on every other piece of sophisticated technology jumping its way up the S-curves cascade series.

Hey, there's another problem with implanted electronics, whether plugs or tattoos or what have - upgrades. That's annoying! Did I say a tattoo? Better just give me a patch.

And, so, that's what the code-kiddies and future geeks are working on.

I like it. More, please.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Upsidaisium - not to be confused with Cavorite

Cavorite, as described in HG Wells' First Men In The Moon, was an alloy that shielded materials from gravity. It was thus a metamaterial that acted as a gravity cloak, just as we are currently working on invisibility cloaks to hide objects or events, and magnetic cloaks to create an antimagnet.

Upsidaisium, on the other hand, was a gravity repellent. It consisted of a material (a transmaterial? a material that changes both itself and the surrounding environment?) that was a gravity repulsor, or rather, was a repulsor to normal matter. It fell up.

Is there such a thing? Possibly. Scientists at CERN and other places are trying to determine if antimatter has positive or negative mass. We've never produced enough, or kept enough of it around long enough, to know. But that has now changed. Scientists have been able to keep the stuff in magnetic bottles for up to fifteen minutes. Considering the storage time used to be only a few thousandths of a seconds as recently as last year, that's a considerable accomplishment. And now, an experiment at CERN called AEGIS may soon give us an answer as to whether antihydrogen falls up or down - possibly by October of 2011.

The Dirac equation (derived by Paul Dirac) has a solution that predicts antiparticles. It actually has four solutions, and two of them are for particles with negative energy, and thus negative mass. If it turns out that antiparticles do have negative mass, and are thus repulsive to regular matter, then this could be a very big thing.

First of all, it could mean that dark matter - that matter that cannot be seen but is felt gravitationally, in the faster rotation of galaxies - may not actually be there. Dark matter may be an illusion caused by the quantum vacuum. CERN physicist Slavkov Hajdukovic, a dark matter skeptic, has proposed a theory whereby virtual particles (that can briefly pop out of the vacuum, and then merge and annihilate themselves back into nothingness) are gravitational dipoles (a normal particle of mass and an antiparticle of negative mass), then the gravitational field generated will be stronger than predicted, and thus look like a dark matter particle - not seen but felt. It would certainly simplify things. All other things being equally messy, the principle of parsimony is rather preferred.

Ah, but it goes further than that. One of the more exotic speculations in physics is the creation of wormholes, funny spacelike paths that can link different regions of the universe without crossing through. One possible way to create a stable wormhole is with the use of a strange material that has negative mass. A ring of such a material could keep a wormhole mouth from collapsing. Of course, this is all rank speculation, but it could be something to keep an eye on.

Because, if you can create a wormhole, you can violate causality. And global causality violation is the new cupcakes.

Better start saving up your antiprotons now, fellow babies.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Bowerbirds

dear father,
i must relate to you a very unusual system.
as you know, i've currently spread myself out over a good portion of the inner rim of the galaxy's orion arm.
that part of me that i shall call frank was lazily biding my time within the heliosheath of a small g-type star, playing in the eddies and the soft turbulence, contemplating a quick dip in the star's bowshock, when, what should enter into frank's perception but a funny little bit of tinsel.
at first frank thought it a piece of debris, but closer examination revealed - could it be? - a hint of artifice about it.
rather a simple design, and so at first frank thought it a child's plaything.
frank pinged it with a gravity pulse and received no answer.
on closer examination, frank saw that the object was shining with anti-neutrinos.
the sources were three small chunks of plutonium-238.
clearly produced by artifice, and yet, the object contained no transmaterials!
no metamaterials!
no gravitic, nucleonic, or electromagnetic cloaking!
just raw, purified, elemental materials in the crudest arrangements and configurations!
highly peculiar indeed!
we weren't even looking for horses, and we found zebras.
frank summoned the rest of me, and we zoomed down into the g-type star system, clearly the source of the object (given its velocity, trajectory, and decay products from the plutonium, it was easy to determine  when and where it originated from).
a rather feeble little aqueous rock of a world, possessed of a decidedly non-equilibriated oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere.
the planet radiated strongly in the radio portion of the e/m band.
there was a large agitation of relatively long-chained carbon molecules infesting the surface.
life, one form of it, not very organised.
from whence the object?
we infiltrated ourselves into the systems, trickled through the metabolic chains of the network.
quietly, of course, father.
we were nothing more than mist and dust.
no matter where we looked, we could find nothing.
only programmatic heuristics, instincts, and commands.
but no intelligences. no souls.
from whence the object?
clearly, it was designed and built?
ah, eventually it was sorted out.
a crude proto-language, really more of an quasi-organized set of signals really, was discovered amidst the networked collectives, traced to a bipedal species, related in turn to other primates species.
the object they called "voyager".
the proto-language suggested an almost, but not quite, sapient species.
ah, the ceaseless wonders of the cosmos!
imagine that, father!
the object was built by animals!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Shameful Moments

Guilt is an overrated emotion. It is temporary. Shame, however, stays with you forever.

Both are complex emotional states, consisting of an elementary, primal emotional component, as well as a higher cognitive component. In the case of guilt, this cognitive component consists of a form of social responsibility. Guilt is a present state condition. As such, it is fairly easy to dismiss or ignore or rationalize away.

Shame, on the other hand, is guilt plus memory, or guilt squared, guilt revisited, recreated, relived, and each time the unpleasant experience is as fresh as the first time. Not like grieving, which, though it never goes away, at least gets moderated and diluted some. The experience of shame is the same every time. There's no scar tissue built up to block the pain.

I experienced a shameful moment. I was in, I think, 3rd or 4th grade. There was a boy in our school, and I'll call him Troy Clevick. (This was not his real name. I call him that to hide from my own shameful behavior).

Troy had what today would be called developmental problems. He was partly deaf, with a lisping speech impediment, was mentally slow, painfully awkward and clumsy, and had a large oafish appearance with round jug head with big chimp ears. As such, Troy received a fair amount of teasing at school, but, given this was small tight-knit community, the teasing was never bullying nor excessively cruel. When it was time to play, Troy played with the group. No one was outcast in our grade school.

So, then, one summer, I got a telephone call from Troy. Because of his speech impediment, it was difficult to even know who was calling, or what he had to say. Eventually, after several "What?"s from my end, and a repetition of his garbled message, I figured out it was Troy, and Troy was inviting me to his birthday party. And here is the shameful moment, which even today causes blood to rush to my cheeks and my eyes to sting. Troy, after struggling to convey his wishes received the following treatment from me:

"NO!" (click)

Eventually, my mom asked me who it was. I replied it was Troy, that he wanted me to go to his birthday party, and that I had said no. Her reply was, "You are going to his birthday party. You will call him right back and tell him you are going to his birthday party". And with that, she dialed the number and put me on the phone.  I got his mother, Lucy Clevick. With my mom standing over, glaring, I told Mrs. Clevick I would like to come to Troy's birthday party. It was the coming Saturday. Selfish little asshole that I was, I dreaded the moment. We went to the Triangle Toy Store and bought Troy a present.

Surprisingly, my memories of the birthday party were that it was a very pleasant time. The weather was cool and dry for August. Troy's family lived in a nice country house at the edge of Spectacle Lake. Not on the water, but close to hand. Mrs. Clevick was an especially gracious and attractive woman. The ice cream and cake was spectacular. The games a load of fun. To my surprise, every other child in my class was at the party.

Stupid little asshole that I was, I did not know about the mom network in our school system in our little community. I was not aware that, like some close-knit hunter/gatherer tribe, there were no outcasts within it, regardless of differences.

Thinking back now, I looking at, well, not only my shamefully cruel behavior, but now, possessed of a thoughtful empathy, the struggles that Troy and his mother and family went through. They fought hard to keep Troy from being abandoned in some institution, struggled valiantly to keep him involved with the other children of his community. And the other people (the parents sure, but mostly the moms and grandmoms) in my community did what they could to keep him involved in it as well.

I relive this shameful moment. I do not try to avoid it. It reminds what it means to be part of a group, part of a community. Not just a collection of individuals, of selfish assholes pursuing their own little selfish asshole lives, but of a greater whole with a larger purpose. With numbers comes strength, but also dignity.   

My conduct then fucking breaks my heart. But I need to do that every now and then to remain human.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

President Hubert Horatio Humphrey

Once AGAIN, I find myself ensconced in the Best of All Possible Worlds (BOAPW) Convergence, seated upon a bar stool in air-conditioned splendor, in a wondrously ergonomic and aesthetically pleasing building on a heart-achingly beautiful world circling a fantastic star some 450 million light years distance from the planet Earth, here in glorious midsummer of the year 2011CE...

As I work my way through the History of Beer (first with a wonderfully fruity ale, then on to a crisp and clean lager, finally a scientifically mellow pilsner), I jot down a few notes. My reverie takes on a minor tone coloration as I consider of some of the more tragic Divergences.  

Oh, not catastrophically tragic ones, the WWIII Divergences, under the likes of a JFK, RFK, Reagan, or Clinton presidencies*. No, I'm talking the tragic ones that are all the more tragic due to the waste of opportunity and the fact that they came so close to the convergence. Those are truly tragic. The ones that almost just made it. The ones that mange to avoid the Lost Decades Divergence of 1970-2019, due to the increasingly conservative politics culminating in the disastrous Rise of the Libertarians.

One such Divergence is the HHH Presidency. The chances of it happening are absurdly small, even by cosmic standards. It would have required for Hubert Humphrey to stop walking that tightrope he was on with regards to the Vietnam War, and between his loyalties to President Lyndon Johnson, and his own conscience. It was never a question of political courage. Hubert had enough of that. It was, as always, a question of expediency. All politicians know that. As we all know, in 1968 Humphrey lost to Nixon by less than 1% of the popular vote. All it would have taken for a Humphrey Presidency were two things:

1) A leak to the press that Nixon aides had persuaded (read bribed) South Vietnamese dictator Thieu from withdrawing from the peace talks with North Vietnam, and 
2) A speech by Humphrey on March 31, 1968 declaring his (known) opposition to the Vietnam War.

Had these events occurred, Humphrey would have been elected President. 

Many things immediately fall into place for the better. The Great Society programs initiated under Johnson continue. Secretary of Defense Cyrus Vance begins a drawdown of US troops from Vietnam. Secretary of State Clark Clifford successfully negotiates a peace accord, and by September of 1970 the Treaty of Paris is signed - ending the US involvement in the conflict of Southeast Asia. With the immense drain of the war taken off of government revenues, Humphrey devotes larger disbursements to the social programs he favored as a senator. Education, nutrition and equal rights being paramount. The Space program gets additional funds for a permanent orbiting station, dubbed Skylab. By 1998, Skylab is an International Space Station, consisting of nearly 2,000 modules in a large simulated gravity wheel, housing nearly 500 astronauts, men and women from all nations.

Literacy rates are up. Poverty rates are down. Humphrey was aided considerably by two rather unlikely allies in the Senate, George McGovern, and Bob Dole. Both farm state Senators, they pushed government food programs which greatly aided the agricultural sector.  Humphrey devotes massive funds towards the sciences and engineering, and alternative energy sources such as solar power and nuclear. 

He is elected to a second term in 1972 with McGovern as his running mate.  They handily defeat the Republican candidate - Ronald Reagan. Nixon astutely runs, and wins, a seat as Senator from California. Nixon will remain as Senator until his death in 2002, is lauded as an accomplished statesman.

Few Americans care about the fall of the government of South Vietnam in 1973. Humphrey's overtures at "detente" towards the Soviet Union resulted in a series of arms control agreements, and a substantial trade package of American wheat and corn being sent to the Soviet Union. Farmers were happy. The stock market continued the Long Boom.

In 1974, relations with China were opened up. Humphrey became the first American president to visit Red China.  With the huge government disbursements into basic scientific research, not to mention a very large portion of minorities entering the academic and work force through federal scholarships and educational programs, a rapid development of computer, communications, and energy technologies, cell phones, personal computers, the Genienet, and the electric car and public transportation sent the economy into overdrive.

Also in 1974, the Arab Oil Embargo caused the American public to demand ever more government subsidies and research into alternative energy suppplies. Fortunately, the existing programs were well established. 

I could go on but its all just too sad. The era of scientific progress and prosperity that occurs through the remainder of the 20th century is blindingly stellar in its accomplishments.

But it just was never in the cards.

*If you really are one of those gruesome, grisly corpse-licking types that likes to linger over the WWIII Divergences, that information is available in the Library.  

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Working my way through an article in the Scientific American on "The Evolution Of Grandparents", and kept coming back to the article's illustration. It's not a particularly engaging or ensorcelling illustration. Doesn't really catch and hold the eye in either subject matter or  execution, but I kept going back to it. What's the fascination here?  Ah. I  figured it out.  This is supposed to show a grandkid and grandpa circa, what 30,000-20,000 BCE? What's wrong with this picture?

White Cro-Magnons
Did this blonde have more fun?
White people did not exist back then. At least, according to other science articles I've been reading. Not that big of a deal? No, probably not. People will depict things in a way that is familiar to them. It is no more surprising to see depictions of white Cro-Magnons than it is to see pictures of blonde-haired blue-eyed Jesus. Or Daryl Hannah Raquel Welch as a cavewoman. But what's a little historical revisionism in the name of art? Eh?

We now have an early date for silicone implants
Recast with Halle Berry
Fact of the matter is, from the articles available, there's a pretty good chance that my Cro-Magnon ancestors were a lot more dark complected than they are depicted in popular literature. In fact, the DNA evidence suggests that all the polygenic traits that resulted in a lighter complected European peoples only goes back 12,000 - 6000 years ago. The supposition is that this tendency towards a light complexion was due to dietary changes. Once you adopt an agrarian diet, you lose a source for vitamin D from meat, and so not surprisingly, supplementing vitamin D via UV absorption at higher latitudes presents a problem if melanin blocks this mechanism. Small wonder that you see a gradation via higher latitudes in those who are not hunter/gatherers.
Are they black or white? Who fucking cares?

There can be no question that all of the genes - regardless if they be for hair, skin, or eye colors - are all African in origin. Big fucking deal. What's the problem here? Why do racists get all bent out of shape on these issues? I, for one, chalk it quite simply to a lack of imagination.  They're just stupid fuckers. Doesn't really matter how well they do in life, or what their  IQ is gauged at, they're still just stupid fuckers.

Most of them (them being primarily dumbass white supremacists) don't even realize that there isn't just one gene for being white or yellow or black, or what have you. There is no gene for blue eyes. There is no gene for blonde hair.

There is a mutation, a series of mutations, that result in a series of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) near the protein coding portion of the OCA2 gene. These SNPs functionally determine how "on" or "off" the protein coding portion will be, which in turn determines how much melanin is produced in the iris. Thus, you end up with a startling range of colors, from a disturbingly doll-like black, to my rather dull-looking blue/green/grey irises to  the  creepy ice blue Morlock  irises that some people have.

One thing for certain, anyone with blue eyes has one common ancestor from which the mutation spread. I guess you could say we blue-eyed types are some seriously fucking inbred hillbillies.

Similarly for  hair color, but in this case the functional  segment can code for  two types of melanin:  eumelanin for the brunette to blonde range, and pheomelanin - a red-brown polymer - for the redheads. Likewise for skin color. In fact, Asians have developed a completely different mutation for light complexion than Europeans.

Well, these red eyes are sexy
Given that sexual selection is probably a very strong driver for these divergences, I wonder if people with an iris color using pheomelanin ever occurred, or can occur? Well, it has been said that if blood red eyes were considered sexy, red-eyed people would be around. On second thought, if you are an albino, n-n-n-no.

This is not to say there are not genetic differences more than skin deep. There are. Africans, in general, have a greater bone and muscle density than non-Africans. Northern Europeans, in general, have larger eyes and a larger visual cortex than others. (Live in fog most the  time, and see how you do).

So what? Bottom line, no real test of live action cleverness, no really good test that looks for innovation, brilliant improvisation, shows that any supposed ethnic group - taken as a category - does even marginally better than chimps.

(And categories are rather useless. Why, take my own family history. My maternal grandfather was what they call a "black Norwegian". His whole side of the family looked like they were from Sicily, with black hair, black eyes, and olive skin. Their (and my) cousins, on the other hand, looked like they would glow in the dark. And all of them from a region the size of two or three counties.)

By Mother Earth's standards of IQ survival tests, I'd say 99% of us are going to do very, very, very poorly dumped naked on the savanna.

It's all just silliness, isn't it?

The Lesson of History Is That No One Learns From It

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Listing To Starboard: Some Predictions

It is a sad state of affairs indeed when the perfect presidential candidate for the Republican field is: Barack Obama.

Sad indeed, but true. The big shift right continues in this country. A moderately conservative centrist like Obama (there has never any question that he was) is now considered a highly dangerous communist socialist liberal commie crypto-muslim cooperator.

As I have said before, we as a nation, have never, ever even remotely been in danger of living under a left-wing dictatorship. A right-wing one, however, is always a possibility. I've reminded those few clear-thinking, or at least non-rigidly thinking, intelligent conservative types that they have a major policing operation on their hands, to keep the nihilistically zealous fanatics from holding the nation hostage. Sadly, it is too late.

Given the most recent farrago of resentments and fist-snaking from the Teatard Taliban, and , ugh, the fact that the repulsive Mitch Mcconnell is holding thumbs-up with a predatory grin on his pink little turtle face can mean only one thing: those of us with real jobs are truly going to fucked up the ass in a new and innovative manner. Oh, not like the old straightforward in-and-out.  We the American people are in for some fancy style ass-fuckings. And it is not a matter of sitting still for it. The Republicans have developed moving-target interactive ass-fucking technologies, with sideways dodging anti-butthole-jinking software, vigorous-circular-motion precision blasting,and fist-felchingly, awesomely thorough depth gauging. Oh, American public, you are in for a treat!

Like, as Thomas Jefferson purportedly said "People get the government they deserve". Of course, Ol' TJ also said "a little rebellion now and then is a good thing", but he said that from the safety of his palatial slave estate, so you can't take someone who sat out the Revolution deflowering mademoiselles in a Paris apartment too seriously, now can you? But anyway, gotta find humor in all of this, right? Right?

Well, here's a little strategyzing, to see how it all plays out. Ready?

The forty year drift to the right, with its concomitant demolishing of pretty much any social assistance programs, has still not engendered the wrath of the people. Despite the fact that any slouching towards a libertarian free-market paradise has had zero empirical reassurances as to its efficacy (and so libertarians doggedly rely upon reasoning from first principles to back up their fucked-in-the-head economic policies), the American people just keep slogging into the shit storm, heads down, lips tightly pressed closed, hoping that, jsut perhaps that dark horizon ahead is a sign that the sideways streams of poo will lessen the further we head into it.

Oh, its' easy to find all the bad news about income inequality and how rich fuckers have prospered on the backs of the middle and working classes.But the one indicator that even the rich parasitic layabouts should care about says that they have fucked themselves as well!!

Their money, which makes more money than they do, could have made more money! Real GDP per capita growth rates, basically flat since 1980, when we were told it is now "morning in America", have, since the advent of 2000 and the reign of Bush The Lesser, tanked severely downwards. Which means even the filthy rich, busy paying their minions to fuck the rest of us, have, through their own greed and shortsightedness, have actually short-changed themselves.

Oh, the irony.

So, and now we have a resolution of this fake budget crisis with a "budget deal" (which means nothing really, as government inaction will result in the repeal of the Bush tax cuts next year, and then the revenue problem starts to alleviate the deficit to manageable self-sustaining levels), which results in cutbacks in federal spending. It is almost certain that, with the loss of spending from the public sector, this will result in a halt to an already dismal GDP growth, and a continuation of our wonderful in-all-but-name economic depression.

Basically, the Republican party has scored a Pyrrhic Victory. They have wasted all of their oxygen and energy on a fake debt crisis in pursuit of their ideological vision of reduced government. They have completely disengaged on every other single conservative issue. Having blown their wad and gone limp on the fake budget crisis, the old boys are done, wiped out, zonked on the mattress with dribble on their chins. Not an attractive sight.

My own highly unscientific polling of conservative leaning and independent types tells me that they are incredibly pissed off at the Republicans right now. True, liberals and liberal leaning types are pissed at Obama and the Democrats, but, uh, they are a lot more forgiving. (That comes with the territory of being a little more tolerant, and thus a little more flexible and empathic, and, paradoxically, dispassionate and reasoning, in their thinking. Republicans have given up completely on using their frontal lobes, and are relying completely on their scared little animal brains. One assumes that fight or flight can be viewed as a kind of reason, but not the particularly sophisticated version of reason that they desperately need over the next few years.

Even better, Republicans now own the economy. If things tank from now until 2016, the onus is on them and any attempt to foist it on Obama and the Democrats will be viewed by an irate public as just the slimiest form of partisan weasel fucking. One wonders if the listing to starboard will continue. If so, I see a lot of IEDs in America's future... and not from the Right, for a change of pace.

Oh, my! If only Mitch knew how far he has shoved his thumb up his own keister, I wonder if he'd be smiling so broadly.

Come to think of, he would.