|What can one man do? Quite a lot, it turns out.|
|Kung Fu Octopus|
|Prompt: Luminescent Mechanical Elf in winter|
|What can one man do? Quite a lot, it turns out.|
|Kung Fu Octopus|
|Prompt: Luminescent Mechanical Elf in winter|
"They can fund lobbying groups and politicians, rant about colonizing Mars, and buy midlife crisis toys like Twitter or weekend getaways on a space station, but their scope for effecting real change is actually tiny on a global scale. Even Putin and Xi, who are at the state-level actor end of the scale (individually they're multi-billionaires: but they also control nuclear weapons, armies, and populations in 8-9 digits) have little global leverage. Putin's catastrophic adventure in Ukraine has revealed how threadbare the emperor's suit is: all the current gassing in the Russian media about using nuclear weapons if he doesn't get his way actually does is to demonstrate the uselessness of those nuclear weapons for achieving political/diplomatic objectives.
So I conclude that they probably feel about as helpless in the face of revolutions, climate change, and economic upheaval as you and I." - Charlie Stross
I went back and read the post after I was kicked off Twitter, and it is the lament of an addict.
I'm glad I'm off Twitter. I had fun times. I had shitty times. You get that dopamine kick when you get a lot of likes, or a like from a celebrity, or even a conversation with a celebrity. That's why people tweet. I get it. The same as I get my alcoholism. Twitter and alcohol were co-accelerants in my intellectual descent and the bitter black quality of my tweets. I just kept getting meaner and meaner. Thank goodness I didn't have Twitter during the lockdown.
I had some highlights, like when I spoke with Harry Turtledove about crafting alternate worlds. I would send him scenarios like if Carthage won against Rome, or the South winning the Civil War. He would write back, "It's great that you figured out how to logically alter our timeline, but you don't tell me what happens after. That's the fun part".
Which explains why I am not an author of alternate histories.
I got my PET scan results one year after they found the ocular melanoma, that grisly goblin in my eye. The thing is still in there, slowly dying. More important my scan is NEGATIVE for metastasis. Hurray for me. Only the one kidney, half blind, next crisis.
65 and a half years old, I suddenly noticed the inside of my elbows looking like the back of a fat ladies knee and I am grossed out by age.
Thankfully not towards women my age. Younger women fun to play with but the older you get the more it feels like baby fucking. Fucking someone's daughter just is unsavory. Ah, but the crepe skin, folds and cottage cheese ass of women my age I don't mind. I find it kind o sexy, so I can only hope women my age feel the same about saggy, baggy old me.
Hurray for evolution.
I'm getting the thin skin bruises in my 60s, which suggests the 7th decade gets me. Every decade has tried to kill me which I don't like. There were certain indications that I might have another thirty years. That simultaneously excites and appalls me. The horror is I keep on turning into a lizard. The excitement is I can't stop watching the TV show anyway, and if I can get in front of the camera so much the better. And then you die. Apres mois, le deluge.
Or maybe the take a pill. You look at pictures of ripped Jeff Bezos and think Hollywood trainers and East Coast doctors. Or maybe he started living the way we used to, because he cold afford it. Pictures and portraits of elderly hunter gatherers are ripppped. Rodeo physiques.
Kids at home, watching me on TV, grimace and think he gonna die. And yet I don't.
Fuck immortality give me immorbidity. The immorbidity pill. The Blue Pill.
We are funny little ape shaped bugs, floating along with a tiny dust mote like Whos in Whoville. We would like to think there are other Whos or who-shaped beings out in the cosmos, but it could be we are it, or it for around in this here light cone. In which case, what? Nihilism?
Of course we Whos could invent someone to keep us company?
End of the Anthropocene.
|Mama's Little Angel|
To the critics: It's a comic book movie. Any story beyond the ride is gravy. To One Million Moms: the two dads holding hands over lava to make a kid homo rock creatures? They're made up. Humorous fictions.
This movie, to dorks like me? To geeks like me? It's fun, funny, has a tug at your heart moments. It's ham-handed like Thor himself, but with character development. To a satisfying larger story which I assume is Thor 5.
I wouldn't be surprised if they have Thor 5 made.
What do we know at the end of Thor 4? Thor has a daughter. She calls him Uncle Thor.
An uncle is a dad on standby. Thor has learned how to be a dad. Honestly, if you are age 25 or older, and also had a kid, you get it. I don't get it, so I'm at best a father figure. I imagine, as a real father, you know you had a great and scary adventure ahead. You as parent, parent figure, mentor, banker, advocate, pirate. Space viking.
Anyway, Thor 5, we know Hercules is coming after Thor. We know Thor will befriend him, because that is Thor's real superpower. Love, his bench daughter, tasks his love to make him (and her) kinder and more patient. Thor is going to die. Original Thor so he and Natalie Portman can live in Valhalla.
Natalie Portman as Mighty Thor should get her own movie, but she's in Valhalla now. It makes me wonder if I were worthy of the hammer? I would be Sarcastic Thor. Sarcasm. Every planet would hate me. No planet would want me around.
The other concern I have about the MCU universe is my disturbing parallel with fiction. Thor loses a right eye. I lose a right eye. Valkyrie loses a left kidney. I lost a left kidney. Marvel writers, please stop carving me up.
For decades, the U.S. military—and its adversaries—have coveted missiles that travel at hypersonic speed, generally defined as Mach 5 or greater. Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) meet that definition when they re-enter the atmosphere from space. But because they arc along a predictable ballistic path, like a bullet, they lack the element of surprise. In contrast, hypersonic weapons such as China's waverider maneuver aerodynamically, enabling them to dodge defenses and keep an adversary guessing about the target.
The worry being these hypersonic demons are unstoppable. But for a great majority of the time even the predictable ballistic path missile have been unstoppable. There have been gains in anti-missile technology to worry missileers, but certainly much cheaper alternatives to hypersonic flight exist, and one has to assume there are larger reasons to pursue it. Again from the article:
Now, DOD is leading a new charge, pouring more than $1 billion annually into hypersonic research. Competition from ambitious programs in China and Russia is a key motivator. Although hype and secrecy muddy the picture, all three nations appear to have made substantial progress in overcoming key obstacles, such as protecting hypersonic craft from savage frictional heating. Russia recently unveiled a weapon called the Kinzhal, said to reach Mach 10 under its own power, and another that is boosted by a rocket to an astonishing Mach 27. China showed off a rocket-boosted hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) of its own, the Dongfeng-17, in a recent military parade. The United States, meanwhile, is testing several hypersonic weapons. "It's a race to the Moon sort of thing," says Iain Boyd, an aerospace engineer at the University of Colorado, Boulder. "National pride is at stake."
So, simple answer, space war butthead stuff. Not to be dismissive. The tech is fascinating. The tech is finally melding and all the niches for spaceflight are starting to mature. But just to hurl nukes? No dearie dear. Why build a cathedral and use it as a battering ram? My guess is there's a lot more to the Air Force X47-B space plane program than meets the eye. Lots and lots of stuff, not to mention all the Shuttle flights. The USA plays Aw Shucks almost as often as the game of Catch Up.
And guess what? It is still rocket science. One hundred years on from the Wright brothers and it is still hard stuff to do.
Everybody is worried about Russia and China when they shouldn't count out Iran. Or India or Pakistan for that matter. We may be looking at Space War One (or Two? I don't know).
It's just more monkey hive honey spent on space monkey hives that will never happen and instead we get a sky full of warbots.
If so, I want a swarm of warbots working for me.
My brother went to see Top Gun: Maverick and said it was stupid but fun, like all good propaganda.
The original Top Gun (which I also have never seen) was also propaganda which resulted in a huge recruitment boost for the United States Navy. The one thing my brother objected to (other than the hypersonic bullshit - of which I could write a separate essay called the Hype in Hypersonic) was the avoidance of a drone subplot. Possibly because tiny Tom Cruise would be sky burgers after about twenty seconds against a drone. Let's face it, unlike fighter drones, Tom Cruise cannot handle sustained 9 gee acceleration and look both ways at the same time. He cannot think a million times faster than a human.
Not to make too much of drones. Like hypersonic weapons, they suffer from design flaws and the biggest flaw is the machine intelligence itself. It's damn hard to audit a machine intelligence and the data it learns from. It's damn hard to know how it is doing what it is doing other than empirica evidence. This is nto a good situation. There have been numerous reports of bias introduced into these little critters (the classic example is how an AI chatbot was corrupted into a racist, sexist troll after being exposed to Twitter) and invariably the fault lies with the training data. Garbage in, garbage out.
One example is to attack machine learning training by re-ordering the sequence of training data. This is because ML models are susceptible to "initialization bias" (paging Kahneman and Tversky). Whatever data they receive first has a profound impact on the overall weighting of subsequent data.
Worse still, evidence is mounting that validating an ML model can be made impossible by planting an udectectable backdoor into the training data. Such a backdoor can change the classification of any input wihout detection by a tester - unless they are in possession of a "backdoor key". The mechanism is undetectable by any computationally bound observer, meaning you can't even tell if a backdoor was implanted into the model. That's pretty scary. Rather like the Manchurian Candidate, the thing itself doesn't know it is corrupted.
There are plenty of examples of how poison data makes ML baby Jesus cry, but for your entertainment, read this Pluralistic entry from Cory Doctorow. My favorite is where a 2" piece of tape on a road sign can trigger 50mph accelerations in Tesla autopilots.
Other thing: I've had, hopefully, the last operation on my eye for the year. The retina had completely detached and my eye received essentially a boob job. The vitreous humor was removed and replaced (after the retina was re-attached with a laser) with silicone oil. The eye would have withered and died with the retina detached, So, the eye is saved, the vision is lost, and I'm good to go.
To mess with people, I published this aftermath photo, which is fake:
A Short History of Humanity: A New History of Old Europe by Johannes Krause and Thomas Trappe (translated by Caroline Waight) gives us the latest info on archeology and DNA samplings from European archaeological sites. The title may be a bit pretentious, as it only covers an area of Earth more or less a cultural backwater until very recent times. Still, there is a lot of new information to give us an up-to-date picture of the peopling of Europe. European archeology covering the most ground, it is refreshing to see debunking and confirmations from new data. Particularly, and most interesting, the piecing together of prehistoric metadata involving artifacts and diseases.
I enjoyed this book as it is a good tie-in with David Graeber's and David Wengrow's The Dawn of Everything.
|Shaman of Bad Durremberg|
Europe, the largest peninsula on Earth, has it tough duing the Ice Ages. Though the central plains heading across Eurasia are ice free, living conditions at the deepest parts of ice ages are impossible. However, during the interglacials Europe is quite charming. Briefly, from current data in the book, what we currently know is that Europe's first known settlers are Neanderthals and Denisovans some 600,000 years ago. Early modern humans followed, but left no permanent genetic record among modern Europeans.
Three waves of anatomically modern humans have left genetic markers among Europeans today. The first wave, the hunter gatherers that produced the beautiful cave paintings at Lascaux and Altamira, entered from Africa approximately 45,000 years ago. Reconstructed DNA evidence taken from bones and teeth from that time indicate they were dark-skinned, and dark to light eyed. These Aurignacian hunters after mastodon and cave lion and short face bear were beautiful black people with blue eyes.
The latest Ice Age ended some 12,900 years ago, and was so abrupt as to be noticed in the short span of one generation. Times were good for the hunter gatherers in Europe, until about 8,000 years ago, with glaciers finally in retreat, farmers from Anatolia and the Fertile Crescent appear in Europe. Interestingly, there are two distinct groups of unrelated peoples inhabiting the western and eastern portions of the Fertile Crescent. The western people are the lactose tolerant cheese eating surrender monkeys of the future. Because they lack nutrients (vitamin D) from hunter gathering, they got paler and paler the further north they went. Funny thing is the physical records show the original hunter-gatherers staying way clear of these extremely violent farmers bickering over land, other than interaction through trade.
And the trade networks are a regular time crystal of a quantum computer connected by atom lasers. Much to be gleaned from the metadata of traded artifacts, but the extent of networks reached all the way across Eurasia, and possibly into the Western Hemisphere. These are the peoples behind the poorly named Agricultural Revolution, with groups picking up and abandoning agricultural practices as set their whims. (My mother's side of the family can be traced back to the Scandinavian penisula, which became ice free a mere 6,200 years ago.)
5000 years ago the last migration wave arrived from the Ponticsteppes above the Caspian and Black Seas, the Yamnaya. The Yamnaya brought Indo-European languages, bronze age tech, and domesticated horses with them. They originally migrated across the Caucasus to the steppes from the Zagros mountains of Iran (thus the whole shithead Aryan white supremacy thing).
This third migration wave DNA is prominant in Northern and Eastern Europe, and also in Native Americans. (Easily solved problem traced back to a 24,000 year old skeleton in Mongolia, the common ancestor). We are up to speed save for an interesting deduction via the metadata of disease. There is a suggestion that the Black Plague came with the Yamnaya, like a biocidal invasive species.. Further, plague has a possible origin in the domestication of horses. The bacteria responsible for plague are indigenenous to the Vast Plain of Eurasia. Further evidence, the Yamnaya replaced their steppe horses and tamed native European horses (possibly more resistant to plague).
Obviously, the authors stress the absurdity of racial superiority and that we are still of dangerously limited genetic diversity. (Me being Scandinatian makes me seriously inbred). Thank goodness for the African Diaspora.
Still lots to do, lots of books to come, and still a lot of places to dig up.
Heard a news story today that a ridiculous number of Americans think they can survive in the wilderness for two weeks. You could call it Dunning-Kruger, but it turns out Dunning-Kruger is Dunning-Krugered.
What if they don't have a zippo? "Find some rocks to strike together"
What if there are no rocks? "Fill a plastic water bottle and use if as a magnifying glass" Wow*
Maybe a lot more Americans have survival skills than I thought. I certainly would be fucked.
Me, a Boomer, supposedly trained for war, pampered beyond repair, woefully unprepared. It's different if you are a Boomer from the South (or similar hunting cultures throughout the USA). Much better prepared for so-called primitve camping. Still and all, the attitude is awaiting rescue.
We expect and enjoy our Anthropocenic Tour of Nature.
Other things. Quick eye update. When your opthamologist/retinologist says "Let's try this", you know you are dealing with permanent vision loss. And sure, enough, at last appointment, he told me there will be permanent vision loss. How bad is still to be determined, but right now, the answer is legally blind in the right eye. It's like my macula is balding, big blind spots on the right side. That aint' com ing back and I already feel my cortex rewiring accordingly. The one interesting thing of note is my new reliance on propriosenses(?) and body awareness. Presence. I am more present with the loss of an eye.
For example: Teaching welding is more difficult. Loss of depth perception has turned me into a monkey touching a stove. But whatever you use to throw a ball without looking, that's what I tap into to do welding demos.
(My welding has always been atrocious, but I can teach, I am a damn good teacher)
Today is 4/20 which is Weed Day so Happy Weed Day from Grandpa Weed. My
bet is federal legal soon and I don't get why Grandpa Joe hasn't pulled that train into the Junction.
I declare myself a natural medicine enthusiast. Weed, yes. Mushrooms, definitely. Poppies, for sure
*out in the middle of nowhere and they can find a plastic bottle. Answer since 1973? Yes.
I have a student named Lenin. You got to admit it sounds cool, but I don't think her parents realized just how much of a cocksucker, a plague virus, bad RNA, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was. Last year I had a student who informed me he was a Stalinist. Then again my ability to add, subtract, multiply and divide in my head seemed like magic to him.
I was there once, inexperienced, wounded by lack of knowledge and adorable in my ignorance but not this fucking stupid. Maybe the reactionary minds that feel they should be in control have a point. But reactionary minds gets you the freedumb stuff. No liberties allowed.
Anyway I'm making clay this semester, and I know keep saying it but I really miss color. Metal
- and I will always pour metal until I am too frail -
Metal makes lustrous colors but not vivid colors. A plague has made me crave vivid colors. These are some clay figures I made, Frankenstein style, random parts except for the legs. Acrylic paint, and I get a sense of maritime creatures. Maybe you don't. What about Speedo, white legs and black socks, a comedy classic?
The legs makes them sexy?
More of a vegetarian?
Which happened 40,000 years ago, I reckon.
According to Marx and Engels, the means of production is technology and ancillary components. Ownership of the means of production can be private (capitalism), society (socialism) or the state (command/communist/fascist).
The real means of production is the uterus, the womb.
You may have heard about the woman in Texas charged with baby murder by induced abortion. Charges dropped, but the woman was put through what Texas dough boys wanted her (and the media) to be put through.
This has resulted in a Practical Guide to Not Getting Arrested for a Miscarriage or Abortion.
This is not simply crime codes and control or commodification, but a recent push towards totalitarianism. Forced birth is a declaration of ownership rights (slavery), and it appears that ownership, in the state of Texas, belongs to the state. Fucking Commies.
When did the Republicans, or the radical right, become communist? Their organisations and institutes even ape Soviet naming conventions. (Committee For Future Prosperity, etc.). Maybe its In order to defeat the asshole, you must become the asshole kind of thing. Or Horseshoe Theory.
Whatever it is its happening, the push is on towards more restrictive and exclusive laws and mandates against the people in the states, picked off piecemeal. It is obvious this is a response to the climate shock and awe just around the bend, the big windshield heading towards us ape-shaped bugs.
And here we are trying to grow things too, trapped in the ditch of agriculture. Got to feed the baby cannons somehow. (In chicken and egg style, yes, food is needed, but only tehcnologically derived only recently in the past 5K years or so, in which case you need people to tend machines. 40,000 years ago getting food took no time at all amidst such plenty. Now, we are finding out, a different plenty, and the wrong kind).
Currently, food is grown with oil and natural gas via domesticated plants. This is not sustainable. Ammonia, used as fertilizer, is derived by the Haber Bosch process, run on oil and gas. This is not sustainable. Top soil, especially in North America, has been eroded down to unsustainable levels, washed down the rivers into the oceans to become useless. The useless silt deposits have created dead zones, anoxic waters. The ocean is not getting enough oxygen,
Soylent Green, way above budget but only slightly behind schedule.
And for people who read all this as a crisis (and they are right), they are getting their doomsday forts ready. A doomed effort, because collapse means Collapse. No where to hide, rich people, not even New Zealand. Nope, the reactionary minds, thinking that only they know how to run things, are making their play. They have moved from hippy underground to set piece battles, and the rest of the decade will be interesting times (as if the past couple of decades haven't been interesting).
Do I think I'll be around for the collapse. Oh, sure, and honestly it will be like a brick wall thrown at us. Meaning life will still continue to be pleasant on the surface, all rot and degradation underneath, but this is not news. We will keep on doing what we do, like stupid bacteria with no off switch, and eat and eat and eat and eat.
Whats' to be done? Well, thank goodness for a limited lifespan. I once figured 2032 was my death year. Coming up fast, and probably wrong. If I make it to 2042, that's when it gets really bad, or really, really good. Probably just the robots that survive, and maybe that's what we scramble to do the next 20 years. Get everyone into their emergency avatars, and do our darndest to simulate them in the wandering satellites and moonlets of the Metaverse.
Fake people living in robots.
|Sieg Heil Baby|