morning 03.07.17

I accidentally blew off posting yesterday for reasons I don’t recall. Half the day was spent out at Tickfaw State Park. (Lower Livingston Parish is still absolutely fucked from last year’s floods. The poor dumb bastards have more Confederate flags flying down there than American ones too. This has been the only place that I’ve seen Trump yard signs- and yes, they’re still up. Angry, desperate, abandoned people down there.) The rest of the day was spent puttering about in yard until the rains came. I finally read a little more of Anders Rydell’s  The Book Thieves.

Evidence of introgression in early modern humans in China. Ear structure and back of skull suggests Neandertal introgression. More:

In the new study, scientists analyzed fragments of two human skulls that lead study author Zhan-Yang Li, an archaeologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, unearthed during fieldwork in the city of Xuchang in central China between 2007 and 2014. The fossils are about 105,000 to 125,000 years old, the researchers said.

Record of cultivated plants in the Amazon extends 8,000  years. Surprise! Not really.

Study suggests complex life was present on Earth 2.33 billion years ago. Eukaryotes emerged during the Great Oxidation Event.

Cornel West on why James Baldwin matter more than ever.

A giant neuron found wrapped around entire mouse brain. “…a ‘crown of thorns’ shape stemming from a region linked to consciousness.” Nice imagery there. Poetic.

Theoretical physicists have confirmed that it’s not just the information coded in our DNA that shapes who we are—it’s also the way DNA folds itself that controls which genes are expressed inside our bodies. Well, fucking duh. I recall reading in the ’90s dummies who wrote about “junk” DNA and how we can seize the future and our destiny now with aggressive editing and rewriting. Transhumanists, I reckon. I wrote a very sloppy paper arguing against it. I still remember fondly my professor who called me into the office to defend it and instead shot the shit about the 1975 Rollerball and other ’70s dystopian films. In 1993, he totally agreed that there was more information in DNA than we could currently identify, probably in its structure than the actual coding. (This is probably the 4th or 5th time I’ve written this anecdote on this blog.)

Bill Paxton, William Burroughs, ‘Blade Runner’ and the making of ‘Taking Tiger Mountain’. What a peculiar pedigree of a project. The thing about these celebrity deaths is that sometimes they get me in tune with shit that I just had no connection with. I’ve mentioned before that I had this bizarre lacuna when it came to Paxton. I cannot pretend I was a fan of any kind of his work because he kept slipping straight out of my memory, no matter how great his performances were. Anyway, listening to his interview on Maron’s WTF1 it was odd Paxton ruminated about the life and death of his father at length.

For a few months a few years ago, Temples Sun Structures seemed like a fun listen. I queued up their new album Volcano and it’s big booming pop. It’s not all that far removed from Sun Structures, which had more jangle. It’s just that this is nothing I feel like listening to. Not their debut album either. Moving on…

U.S. Republicans unveil plan to dismantle Obamacare, critics pounce. Anyone else get the feeling that there is no way that this piece of shit is intended to pass? It probably can’t make it through the Senate. There are too many Republican senators who can catch serious blowback on this. Sync it with the new version of the travel ban EO being quietly rolled out and it may very well be an actual distraction, an over-used accusation.

It looks like we’ve moved on from Jeff Sessions perjuring himself during his Senate hearings. Oh well. The Democrats obsessed on Russians instead of the actual lie. (Then again, I’m the weirdo who obsesses on the fact that Hillary did indeed commit perjury and obstruction of justice in that email server mess.) Trump jumped onto wild accusations about FISA and Obama ordering wiretaps. Poof. Now the issue is just another embarrassment with no consequences. Trump is a fat oaf with dementia and he will be president forever. Our country is so sick and corrupt that this incompetent buffoon and his staff of cartoonishly deranged villains can shrug off anything.

Comey hasn’t been fired yet despite his request for the Justice Deptment to reject Trump’s wiretapping claim. I was half-expecting that last night. The accelerationist streak I’ve been nurturing is disappointed.

  1. The other podcasts I listen to hate Maron so fucking much, which I get as his tics are exasperating, but I still think about quite a few of the handful of episodes I’ve listened to, like the John Lurie one. []

Methane-feeding dolomite-making microbes create Greek “lost city”

This “Lost Underwater City” Was Actually Made by Microbes. The Greek island of Zakynthos.  Methane-feeding dolomite-making microbes are responsible. Back in the day when I was reading goofy shit like Forbidden Archaeology, I would have been all over this.

Some of the stuff that Graham Hancock writes about is probably related to this phenomenon. On the other hand, let’s not forget the Seven Pagodas of Mahabalipuram.

I was going to bring up the Black Sea deluge hypothesis and the Varna Culture but discovered that the possibility of Black Sea flood was disproved while I was off doing some dumb shit other than blogging.1 So it goes. Abandoning wacky bad ideas is a good thing.

 

 

  1. I was playing MMOs… WoW, Rift, Eve. What the hell was I thinking? That wasn’t the sole reason. Finishing the last few hours of long neglected degree and fatherhood devoured more time., but at least those amounted to something. []

morning 05.31.16

Mike Mignola: Why I’m ending Hellboy to go paint watercolors instead. Tomorrow I’ll buy the last Hellboy in Hell comic. I still don’t own most of the Hellboy run in floppies or trades, although I’ve read most of them. However, it’s one of my all-time favorites comics. There’s even a signed Mignola print on the wall, the only one I own. It’s easy to see why he wants to move on and he’s welcome to do it. A well-done completion to a story is better than one dragged out into perpetuity. It’s going to take years to acquire all of the Hellboy, BPRD, and assorted off-shoots anyway. The Joe Golem comic is pretty good, but it’s no Hellboy.

The Velvet Underground – IV. Brian Eno posted the link last night. The zip file had already been sitting in my hard drive for a few years. Plus, I already have all of the songs from a CD boxed set and bootlegs. Nonetheless, I don’t ever recall bothering to listen to these in this sequence. Quite a nice little album.

Neurons Constantly Rewrite Their DNA. “They use minor ‘DNA surgeries’ to toggle their activity levels all day, every day.”

Guardian piece on Indonesian literature. On Eka Kurniawan’s Man Tiger:

Man Tiger, with its main character possessed by the spirit of a white tiger, has elements that UK readers will most readily recognise from Latin American magical realism; indeed, it is common for Indonesian writers to be compared to Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel García Márquez or even Italo Calvino.

I’ve grown snobby about García Márquez over the years and the Borges touchstone is clichè, but throw in Calvino? Yeah, This could work.

Villager dipped his fishing net in the river and caught a 4,000 year old pagan god. “Currently the theories are that the statuette belonged to the Okunev or Samus cultures.”

That alleged Neandertal “stone circle.” Bruniquel Cave, France. 176.5k year old. Arranged stalagmites.

morning 04.02.16

View From Space Hints at a New Viking Site in North America. This deserves its own post, but it’s a busy morning.

The site is on the southwest coast of Newfoundland, about 300 miles south of L’Anse aux Meadows, the first and so far only confirmed Viking settlement in North America, discovered in 1960.

Pynchon in Public. A podcast devoted to Thomas Pynchon!

Turkey moves to rebuild San Stefano Russian Monument in Istanbul. After the blowup at the Syrian border, Russia and Turkey are attempting to repair relationships by rebuilding monuments from their conflict during World War I. That seems… backwards.

Clinton aides unite on FBI legal strategy. All four Clinton aides in the State Department being interviewed by the FBI have hired the same lawyer (Beth Wilkinson) and each are paying a flat fee. Politico says that the aides must think there must not be much of a case, because they’re not in fear of one person turning on the others, which would made the lawyer’s job difficult. My theory is that they have a plan as to who is going to fall on his sword to protect Hillary. They are the firewall. This is all about coordination. All they have to do is protect Clinton, hope she is elected, and whoever is the fall guy gets the same treatment Scooter Libby received.

My hero: Flann O’Brien by John Banville.

NASA Satellite Images Uncover Underground Forest Fungi.

Rover reveals puzzling sand dunes on Mars. Some of this is only now catching up with the crazy speculation from orbiter photos from the late ’90s.

Possibly one of the last recorded interviews with Dan O’Bannon.

Anti-languages. The cants of the persecuted and criminal.

The Temple of Bel should not be rebuilt.

We are viruses

One whole endogenous retrovirus genome — and bits of 17 others — were spotted in a study of 2,500 human genomes.”

A whole virus genome contained in the genome of 50 people of those 2,500?! Madness! Up to 8% of the DNA that we consider human derives from viruses. Some elements of human evolution possibly derive from viruses inserted themselves near human genes and changing the way certain genes are expressed.

The best examples are coming from samples in Africa, because of the greater genetic diversity there.

Exciting. I’ve read of this, but it’s more extensive with each passing month.

Yersinia pestis detected in a 5,000 year old skeleton from Russian steppes

The bacteria believed to be the cause of the Black Death has been detected in several bodies from over a hundred tested from the Russian steppes. One is over 5,000 years old and pushed back the first known case back 3,000 years. Another interesting detail is the the disease lacked the adaptation that allows it to survive in the gut of fleas, which made it much hard to transmit.

30,000 year old giant virus

New giant virus, Mollivirus sibericum, has been discovered in the melting permafrost of the Siberian ArcticPithovirus sibericum, another giant virus described last year, came from the same sample.

Two interesting details:

  • More giant viruses! Their discovery changing the interpretations of how viruses evolved. Nifty!
  • Global climate change will have more frozen viruses thawing out. Some might be virulent.

I listened to this Radiolab broadcast on giant viruses a few weeks ago right before stumbling across this story. It’s obvious in retrospect, but it surprised me how viruses actually evolved to become smaller.