Wednesday, October 28, 2015


I've a piece in the Disruption Exhibition at Grounds for Sculpture. It opened Oct. 24th and runs through March 27, 2016. The piece that got in is the Smokemakers.

Dig me, they used my photo for the Exhibition.

(Might want to look at the comments on Facebook, specifically NJ realtor Deena LeeFiore's).

"Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue!"

I love processed meats. Ham. Ham is great. Chili cheese dogs. Bacon. Actually, I can take or leave bacon. It's OK, but I don't go nuts over it the way some people do. I'm told that even vegans lust for bacon. So maybe there is something wrong with me.

So, am I worried about cancer from eating processed meats? No fuck that.

I've been living on maybe 40% fat intake - and unwittingly developed the metabolism to burn it - for 58 years. You should see pictures of me as an infant, morbidly obese fat little baby being held by adults smoking cigarettes. I mean, a tiger would have loved to eat me back then. A pack of hyenas would have been in fat baby heaven had I been air dropped onto the savanna. But I slimmed down fast and yet still ate every fatty thing known to humankind. Fat? For me? Is not a problem.

I'm gonna grill me some ham and eggs in a ton of butter. Better still, a Denver omelet with onions and green peppers and a little paprika on top, fried up in a ton of butter. Oh man, I'm getting hungry.

No, I'm trying to cut back on the starches and sugars. That's a problem for me. Let me talk a little bit more about pig. Pig gets a bad rap.

You might remember during the drought of 2012 pig farmers were forced to feed their animals gummy bears and stale halloween candy and such, because their regular fodder (not much better) was in short supply? And I had some of that pig, and it was not good. Kind of slimy. Kind of... I don't know, nebulously unhealthy.

I have some friends who had their daughters in 4H, and they would raise all sorts of animals, but they really liked pigs. (Almost invariably two cute pigs, named Lunch and Dinner, so they knew what pigs were about). So, they'd slaughter the pigs and have a pig roast, and store the rest of meat in the freezer. And this was just fantastic pork, and I'll you why. They had a forest on their property, and the pigs would forage in the forest. Acorn-and-walnut-fed pig is something you have to experience.

So, that's not my problem. My problem is I have a sweet tooth you would not believe, and as part of the health kick I am on, I am cutting back on starches and sugars.

Halloween! Son of a bitch! Halloween!

Shit, man, I'm gonna have to postpone healthy living...

Monday, October 26, 2015

Upper Class Twit Crashes Bank, Pinks Science

I've said before that if I need to know what stupid people think, I read the Wall Street Journal editorial page. It's almost as good as Investor's Business Daily at determining what stupid people think.

And generally, if I want to know what incredibly stupid people think, I'll read the comments following the editorial. But on this particular editorial, the comments are actually not all that stupid!

So, the retarded* old custard pot that wrote this ridiculous and risible piece of business fluffing is named Matt Ridley, and he literally is an upper class twit. Matt, by the way, crashed a bank in 2007. Per Wikipedia:
"In September 2007 Northern Rock became the first British bank since 1878 to suffer a run on its finances at the start of the credit crunch. It was forced to apply to the Bank of England for emergency liquidity funding, following problems caused by the financial crisis of 2007–08.[34] The failure of the bank eventually led to the nationalisation of Northern Rock. Ridley went before a parliamentary committee which criticised him for not recognising the risks of the bank's financial strategy and thereby "harming the reputation of the British banking industry."[11] He resigned as chairman in October 2007.[11]"
In order to make his case against government funding of basic science, or perhaps ANY funding of basic science, Matt seems to be mangling the message of Kevin Kelly's technium book, What Technology Wants. Matt seems to make the case that somehow technology has disconnected from human brains, hands, and hearts, and is churning along all on its own making its own stuff.  I suppose I could parody his contention and suggests that we just set up a room for technology where it can reproduce in peace. But the idea (similar I suppose to Dawkin's hopelessly not-even-wrong bullshit meme idea, that the real replicators are ideas and concepts that breed like parasites in our empty animal brains) that technology has taken on a life of its own and really doesn't need us is something that an eight-year-old might buy into, but hopefully a regular adult sees as pretty fucking stupid. But continuing Matt's argument It seems that if technology doesn't need individuals, well then, collectives of individuals are not only unnecessary, but actually an impediment. Standard libertarian horseshit.

I have to assume that some private enterprise libertards needed a little brony swoon, and Matt obliged them.

The fact that Matt directs the narrative through cherry picking and some outright lies doesn't help his argument, but then, the WSJ editorial has never ever worried about reality.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Physicality Update

Not meant as a brag here, but my brother showed my a picture of me up in a tree from about 1987 or so. "Jesus", I said, "I look like Tarzan". Yeah, those days are gone... maybe.

It is now seven weeks and five days on since my nephrectomy. At my four week checkup, the doctors said "Wait six weeks before you start running again, and maybe slowly ramp up to your regular workouts". Well, at the six week checkup, the doctors were delighted at how my wounds had healed (told you I was a werewolf), but there was no way I was ready to do my regular workouts again.

I have to say that that nice big spiral cut honey baked ham slice they'd taken out of my internal lower left quadrant still felt like a ham slice. A friend of mine in the medical field told me "Dude, don't kid yourself about the minimal invasive procedure with the laproscopy, they did major carpentry work inside you. I've seen the procedure and it's pretty brutal". Yeah, and that's how it felt: like they had beat the living shit out of me, just kicked me in the nads over and over.

The doctor himself admitted as much. "We moved a lot of stuff around. You did have a football-sized dead kidney in there. It was occupying half your abdomen".

(You may want to skip this paragraph as it contains intimate personal details). It's true, the swolled up bag of piss did a major constriction on my sigmoid colon and other organs down there. I was pooping out either watery stuff or strings of spaghetti at random pretty much every waking hour of the day towards the end there. And now? Friggin' Burmese pythons coming out of my hind end. Good solid, regular bowel movements. Oh yeah!

A student of mine who is into street fighting martial arts* gave me another clue about what happened. He confirmed that the kick-in-the-nads feeling can happen from a kidney punch or flat heeled kick to the kidney, what with the neural wiring in there. "But don't get the wrong idea, it's not so much the nerves per se as it is the neuromyofascial connections that have been upset."

Right, all the connective tissue, it's been abused and shoved around, and that portion of my extracellular matrix that contains my organs and surrounds my belly took a nasty beating.  More on all this in a minute.

So, I tried working out last week. I did 50% of my normal workout, substituting vigorous turn on an elliptical machine for my running. But I did core workouts no problem. Medicine ball, free weights, pull ups, etc. with no problem and no guts shooting out all over the floor. I was sore - as expected - for three days, but then went back at it, and ramped it up to 90%. Threw in a kettle bell workout, kip rope, and the usual postural stretch routines, and it all felt pretty good. So there's that.

Thing is, I am re-evaluating how I am going to stay in shape in the future, and for awhile flirted with the idea of taking a parkour class. Someone suggested I hold off on that.

But here's the interesting thing. Through the usual serendipitous synchroncity that informs my readings and interactions, I've been exploring various aspects of the Natural Movement exercises. So, someone mentions Feldenkrais, and I say, isn't that funny that's about the third time people have talked about it in as many months. Then, I'm talking to martial arts guy, and he's going on and on about connective tissue, and I'm like, huh, I'm hearing about this too. And then, I get a book from the library by Chris McDougall (author of Born to Run), and about halfway in to this book Natural Born Heroes, and he starts talking about fascia.

So, I'm like, oh, okay, well when enough people tell you don't look so hot, maybe you are sick.

So, I'm researching an organized routine for that. I'm still gonna run, because that's what I do, and still gonna lift weights, because that's also what I do, but now I'm going to work on becoming an animal, because it would nice to be Tarzan again after that year of... nothing.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Doomsday Machine

Star Trek fans know the episode of the Doomsday Machine. The USS Enterprise encounters a planet killer. A giant robot that destroys and eats planets. Naturally Kirk figures out a way to destroy it.

So clearly in the Star Wars vs. Star Trek matchup, The Death Star gets eaten for breakfast by the planet killer, no contest.

Wel, a different version, which I proposed here, would involve a giant swarm of vonNeumann self-replicating robot probes that, over time, just turn a planet to dust in the process of making more of themselves.

In fact, I stated that, should astronomers happen to find an old or mature star with a young dust disk of rubble surrounding it, then maybe it is time to be afraid.

Well, they found one. It's mature star that is surrounded by a young disk of rubble. There are all sorts of proposed methods for this to occur naturally, but it could be ET. If ET phones, don't answer.

So, and so close to Halloween. If ET rings the doorbell, turn off all the lights, turn off the music and the TV, and go hide the behind the couch.

Because that strategy will work against vN probes as good as any.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Do Bees Have Wars?

The answer is yes. War predates humans. A lot of things predate humans. Art predates humans. That includes art produced some 500,000 years ago, by Homo erectus.

Is there earlier art? How about bower birds, who have been making art for 50 million years?

How about language? Slavery? Domestication of animals? War? Ants did all that and more 90 million years ago.

I know ants had war, and, unlike humans, who send their young men, ants send their old ladies. But bees have war? I know bees will raid other nests for honey. But bees have wars. Certain kinds of bees. Stingless bees.

Well, why war? The usual explanation is resource scarcity. Bees need honey or pollen, or a good hive, and if the rewards outweigh the costs, why not? I think you have to throw in euscociality as well.

In which  case, I would argue humans are eusocial. We have cooperative brood care, we have overlapping generations within a hive, we have a division of labor. We are a heck of a lot more cooperative and in-group friendly than our nearest relatives, the chimps.

What about termites? They go back a good 200 million years.  Do they have war? They do not. Not war between termites. And why should they? Wood, dung, detritus, all are in plenty abundance. There is no resource scarcity. And yet termites have soldiers. Ah, well, because of ants.

Termites do one better than ants, but still come up even with humans.

Termites have suicide bombers.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Castles and Walls Ain't Gonna Cut It

I've yet to see The Martian. I will. I really don't get why Elon Musk wants to go to Mars. Mars is dead as hell. Mars has always been dead as hell.

Also, Mars sucks. If you get anything out of any information the space agencies, it should be this. Mars sucks. The one good thing about Mars, is that the planetary mass provides a shield to half a sky of deadly radiation. We tend to forget that we live inside the atmosphere of the sun, and that shields us a little bit from the even more deadly cosmic radiation that would sleet through our tiny little bodies and french fry all our fun little genes and proteins in caramelized onion.

But still the sun's atmosphere itself is no Swiss picnic. Those solar flares, moving on up to Carrington events and probably beyond, play hob not just with our biological systems, but with all our little robot systems as well!

Good thing Earth has a magnetic field, and it's starting to look like that may be one of the most important requirements for complex life. So, and if you don't have a magnetic field? The next best thing would be dirt. On the Moon, a good two meters of lunar regolith cuts down on 99% of solar and cosmic radiation. Same for Mars. If you want to remain an ape-shaped denizen of Outer Space, you gotta be prepared to become a moleman. Which, guess what, still makes life in space a sucky experience.

That dirt comes in handy down here. Many did not appreciate digging in during the Civil War, or later during World War I, but it sure helped when it came to stopping bombs and artillery shells.

The use of concrete in WWII resulted in some (mainly Nazi) structures so indestructible that they remain in place as uneconomical or even infeasible to tear down.

Even during the Korean War, there was a stalemate that produced an old-fashioned trench warfare segment.
"We hated to dig," recalled A. Robert Abboud, First Marine Division Company commander at Outpost Bunker Hill. "The Chinese were wonderful diggers. They had tunnels they could drive trucks through. We couldn't get to them with our air power because they were underground all the time".
Fast forward to the Vietnam War, and it wasn't just tunnels and warrens that stymied air power, the jungle cover itself was quite sufficient.
"the Jason* scientists calculated that use of tactical nuclear weapons to destroy the Ho Chi Minh trail would require at least ten a day, or 3,000 per year. The amount of downed trees would actually increase the cover provided to the enemy. The best alternative would be to seed choke points of the trail with highly radioactive waste, but radioactivity decays, and the window of impassibility would close. Besides, there was no reason the enemy could not forge new trails".
As long as we steer clear of H-bombs (for which dirt is not so effective) it would appear dirt solves a lot of problems when it comes to countering offensive systems, whether human operated air power, or increasingly, autonomous unmanned air power.

Which kind of gets me to the current worry over artificial intelligence, and the coming prospect of autonomous hunter/killer robots. The likes Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates worry that this creates a doomsday scenario.

Oh, ho hum. Competing doomsdays are all around us. And they don't come from the future, they blossom from the past.

It's pretty evident that our own aggregate artificial intelligences have a rather ironic habit of producing incredibly primitive behaviors, despite our best minds strategizing outcomes. Look no further than the US and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, rarely rising above the invertebrate behavior of fiddler crabs on the beach. So, it doesn't take much intelligence to get extinction going.

But those HKs... don't even have to be that smart. Dragonflies are very effective killing machines. So, we don't even have to get to human level intelligence. And HKs are inevitable, even without the influence of the arms industry, which is considerable.

DARPA is heavily influenced by the Defense Science Board. Where DARPA goes, the Pentagon follows. And the Defense Science Board is is stacked with people who serve on the boards of corporations that manufacture robotic systems for DARPA and the Pentagon. Corporations and organizations like Raytheon, Boeing, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Bechtel, Aerospace Corporation, Texas Instruments, IBM, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, Sandia National Laboratories, etc. etc. not even counting the small fry.

And all of these guys have a major hardon for autonomous hunter/killer robots. And not just robots. Robot systems. And not just robots systems, but systems of systems. Systems of systems on land, sea, air and outer space, like wheels within wheels within wheels.

Worried about the Chinese building air strip castles in the South China Sea? Worried about those hypersonic anti-ship missiles? Pheh! Too little, too late. So solly, Charlie. The US of A nimbly outmaneuvered and outspent the Chinese some twenty years ago.

Castles? Walls? Sorry guys. That arms race is done. Finito.

Dirt? Maybe if you got enough of it, if you dig down deep enough and clever enough, might help you out, but nowadays, it is no longer the cheap solution it once was.