morning 07.02.16

New Horizons Receives Mission Extension to Kuiper Belt, Dawn to Remain at Ceres. Onward to 2014 MU69 and Adeona can wait.

How women shaped indie rock: ‘the lyrics could never have come from a male perspective’. Article accompanying a new compilation on Cherry Red. A lot of brilliant music that I don’t listen to often enough these days. I still regret not discovering Young Marble Giants earlier than I did. Never recall seeking out Alison Statton’s next band Weekend. Outside the flavor of my normal fare, but impossible not to hear how she made a mark on a generation of indie bands.

Fire discovery sheds new light on ‘hobbit’ demise. Since the revision of Homo floresiensis disappearing 50,000 years ago (previously 13,000 years ago) it seemed less chance for overlap with Homo sapiens. Now there’s evidence of human fire use Liang Bua 41,000 years ago.

It seems that Hillary Clinton will finally be interviewed by the FBI in the coming days, perhaps even today. It’s a slight relief that Lynch announced she’d accept whatever recommendations the FBI makes and presumably not pull the shit Holder & others did in the Petraeus case. However, Bloomberg news says:

Earlier Friday, a top Justice Department official told Bloomberg that Lynch would reserve her right to overrule prosecutors’ recommendation — an option attorneys general typically possess, but rarely use, in criminal cases.

So we could still see her pull the same shit as Holder with Petraeus. That probably won’t go down though, as this case is far more expansive.

The possibility of Lynch’s total recusal and a special prosecutor being named was an uncomfortable scenario. The last thing needed was a delay in the case and it being handed to Congressional Republicans. If anything happens, it needs to happen now, before the Democratic convention.

The rumors in comments on Reddit made it sound like Bill Clinton did indeed ambush Lynch and she couldn’t extricate herself diplomatically from the situation. The local news crew was tipped off about the meeting anonymously. Allegedly, the FBI security detail on Lynch said no photos or cellphones were allowed. It’s hard to trust the rumors as some spun into this weird world in which Clinton couldn’t have been golfing at all and he didn’t look like he’d been in 100 degree weather. Bill Clinton is a lying, corrupt bastard, but he really did have business in Phoenix.

morning 07.01.16

A few months ago, I realize there probably isn’t a single bookstore between Hammond, LA and Jackson, MS. Nor do I think there is one between Natchez, MS and Hattiesburg, MS. There aren’t many libraries in that space either. That’s large desolate area for reading.

Ancient Shrine That May Hold Buddha’s Skull Bone Found in Crypt. This is highly unlikely but what the hell? The stupa is 1,000 years old, found beneath Grand Bao’en Temple in Nanjing, China.

The coup to oust Jeremy Corbyn from Labour leadership was planned six months ago. It doesn’t have a fucking thing to do with Brexit. Those scumbag Blairite opportunists have been waiting for the moment to strike.

It’s startling that the bright spot on Ceres is a deposit of sodium carbonate. More on Gizmodo. It makes sense that a salt would cause such a reflective feature, but the hydrothermal activity is mighty surprising.

NASA’s Juno spacecraft sent its first photograph of Jupiter and moons back to Earth. This is going to be amazing.

Loretta Lynch’s 30 minute private meeting with Bill Clinton in private plane in Phoenix, Arizona

Edit: The more that I read about this meeting, the more that the theory about forcing a recusal of Lynch to delay the possibility of indictment of Hillary Clinton until after the Democratic convention makes sense. I leave the post below intact as memorial to my naivete.

My disgust with Loretta Lynch has died down last night since the news of Bill Clinton having a private meeting with her on her plane broke. I  partially agree with Paul Reid:

Regardless of Lynch’s downplaying of the conversation, CBS News Justice reporter Paul Reid called it “shocking, absolutely shocking.”

“The most high-profile national security investigation under the attorney general is the investigation into whether or not classified information was mishandled in connection with Hillary Clinton’s server,” Reid told CBSN. “Now, President Clinton and his foundation are also tangentially involved in that investigation, so the appearance of impropriety is just stunning.”

Reid also noted that the explanation that it wasn’t a scheduled meeting is unlikely to quiet critics.

“Loretta Lynch is no shrinking violet. This is a tough lady,” Reid said. “She’s stood up to El Chapo, she has taken on FIFA — she is not incapable to telling someone, ‘Look, you can’t come on my plane’ or ‘Look, I don’t want to talk to you.’ The optics of this for the investigation going forward are horrible.”

“It will definitely be fuel for those who do not believe this is an objective investigation,” Reid added.

Yes, it looked improper as hell, but Lynch was in an exceptionally difficult position. She should ideally refuse to meet with the spouse of someone who could be the target of an FBI investigation, but this isn’t El Chapo or FIFA. Bill Clinton is a former president and spouse of the probable future president. I neither like nor respect Lynch, but she had nothing to gain rejecting a meeting with him. The Clintons are more powerful and dangerous. They’re known to be vindictive and keep extensive lists of enemies and grudges. Pretending that Lynch can refuse to meet Bill Clinton because of ethics is silly.

What it does signal is that the Clintons are scared.

morning 06.29.16

37,000-year-old “Deep Skull” from Borneo is not related to indigenous Australians. It’s more closely related to the current indigenous people of Borneo. They acquired agriculture through culture several thousand years ago and were not replacing a people more closely related to the Australian at that time. Hm. Good to know. Two layer hypothesis of Southeast Asia is taking a hit.

Profile of Lee Berger in the New Yorker. I love his work, but he certainly raises the hackles of many people.

Ancient Mars Was Even More Earth-Like Than We Imagined. Curiosity rover finds high levels of manganese oxides at the Gale Crater. This means more free-floating oxygen was in atmosphere, or maybe… microbes. Opportunity rover discovered manganese oxides at the Pinnacle Island site thousands of miles away in 2014.

Laughing at wacky, corrupt Bill Jefferson with his bundles of cash in a freezer is good fun, but there’s something awfully odd about it. Library Chronicles points to a Times-Picayune piece on how the Supreme Court overturned the corruption conviction of Bob McConnell might signal hope for Jefferson. Why Mary Landrieu was not been charged like Jefferson (or Nagin) is bewildering. I hadn’t been thinking about Jefferson or Nagin, but of Terry McAuliffeBill de Blasio, Andrew CuomoDannel Malloy, and possibly in the near future, Hillary Clinton. The Supreme Court jumping to raising the bar on corruption cases for politicians (unanimously no less) while making two decisions this term that undermine the Fourth Amendment heightens awareness that the elite have a very different justice system from us plebes.

Media preview

morning 06.27.16

First images of 12,000-year-old Mexican mammoth skeleton emergeMammuthus columbi. Mexico City. I vaguely recalled an  original report of the discovery of this fossil in 2013, which stated the mammoth fell in a ditch and was buried by ash during a volcanic eruption. Now one of the paleontologists on the excavation says the position of the bones suggests that the mammoth could have been butchered by humans.

I never watched a minute of Vinyl outside of the initial trailer. It looked godawful, a turgid, male midlife crisis fantasy. My friend Damien hate-watched it, but he has a different relationship with that period and that music than I do. Even the reportedly superior material that should have informed Vinyl, Dannen’s book Hit Men, looks rancid. Winterbottom’s 24 Hour Party People really is more my speed. The Pitchfork post-mortem of Vinyl makes me ache to experience just how bad the show is. It might be worth taking a day or two to savor a little bile before I cancel HBO Go in the aftermath of the Game of Thrones finale.

Speaking of nostalgia, the Baffler has an article, The Nostalgia Gap. It plunges through the accelerated cycle of nostalgia, weaves through the lacuna of the actual ’70s, nostalgia as propaganda, and where this is taking us- the hyperreal and simulations of simulation.

Getting inside the head and life of Polish literary prodigy Bruno Schulz. I’d missed the existence of this book by Maxim Biller. It looks interesting, but again Schulz is a Christlike figure, in that his death overshadows his actual work. It’s all Shoah literature. All of his Jewish identity, all of his gnostic vision of the world- it feeds to his murder by Nazis. His being extinguished overshadows the nature of his actual writing. It didn’t help that his lost novel is titled Messiah. It seems Biller and the reviewer grasp this. There’s hope that Schulz’s surreal poetry echoes in Biller’s work.

morning 06.26.16

It’s funny how Simon Critchley now possibly most famous for his love of David Bowie. A search on Twitter turns up dozens upon dozens of mentions of his book on Bowie. Anyway, Critchley’s written a piece on Rousseau’s play Narcisse, posted recently on Naked Punch but presumably from 2006. The play itself isn’t very good it turns out. However, inequality and narcissism!

Why Jorge Luis Borges matters 30 years after his death. It’s a fluff piece, but Luisa Valenzuela has a bit in there. The Lizard’s Tail has been on a list of book to check out for many years. I looked her up to find an interview with Valenzuela in the Paris Review that I’ve not read before. Whenever I read in earnest again, her work needs to be explored immediately.

Gurdjieff’s special salad! This looks… shall I say…. absolutely disgusting. Gurdjieff’s palate was very different from mine. Dangerous Minds also threw in a link to Peter Brook‘s Meetings with Remarkable Men.


midday 06.25.16

Poison used on arrow tips 13,000 years ago in East Africa. Nifty. Kuumbi Cave on Unguja Island off Zanzibar. The poison is supposed to be from the Mkunazi plant. I think this is Ziziphus mucronata. It’s the sap and not the fruit that’s used in arrow poison. There’s sparse documentation of the sap being mixed with beetle larva for arrow poison by the San people. Odd. This feels worth digging into more. Exciting.

France trolling Britain over Brexit is good stuff. “A nation that can’t behead its Queen is not to be trusted!”


We laugh ourselves into the abyss.

These jade axeheads from the Italian Alps that wound up in Scotland are beautiful. They’re dated as 6.000 years old. One is the Cairnholy fragment. The featured one is the Greenlaw axehead. Another complete one came from Sweet Track (yeah, not Scotland.)

A review of Peter Green’s translation of The Iliad. The argument about Achilles’ spear is far funnier than it probably should be. Continuity, people! Continuity!

The Corpse of the Author: Literary Pilgrimage 400 Years After Cervantes. “el manco de Lepanto.”

morning 06.25.16

The theme music of Democracy Now irritates the shit out of me. I love the show, but damn it.

Jacobin has an interview with a teacher explaining the Oaxaca struggle. It’s been a pain digging up substantial reporting on what’s going in Mexico, mostly reports on the violence, but few details on what the Nieto administration is pushing through that is causing such strife. (Slate has a decent piece.) It’s a little surprising that there’s little connection to the 2014 mass kidnapping and murder of 43 Iguala students.

I noticed a few people posting & tweeting how cool it is that a woman is now the mayor of Rome. Yeahhhhhhh…. about that… Virginia Raggi is a member of the Five Star Movement. When that name popped up in the news articles breathlessly reporting how exciting it is to have a woman in charge, the gears began turning. Italian politics is not any strength of mine. A friend used to keep me up on Italy’s politics way back when, but we’ve drifted apart as years have crept by. The Wikipedia article has the movement’s ideology as something kinda sympathetic, but they clearly have creepy fascist tendencies. A Jacobin article from last fall helps flesh out a little more about the Five Star Movement. It’s even more relevant now because with Britain’s referendum declaring intent to leave the European Union, the Five Star Movement looks like the force that will drive any effort to cleave Italy from the EU. BTW Its leader has repeatedly made racist comments, about London’s first Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan and posting a photo of an opposition politician in blackface, accusing African immigrants of importing tuberculosis. So good luck cheering the election of Virginia Raggi, American progressives.


Today’s conspiracy theory… 

That absurd sit-in for legislation barring people on the terror watch list and the no-fly list from buying guns is definitely theater, but it’s not simply theater about gun control. It’s not about preventing guns getting in the hands of dangerous people anyway. Real gun control likely isn’t happenng for some time. It’s normalizing the idea that a terror watch is a reasonable criteria. We know that it guts the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

It’s about expanding the toolbox for crushing dissent in the future Clinton administration.

The leftward drift of the electorate scares the shit out the establishment Democrats. Clinton is going to get right to work expanding the wars in Syria and Yemen and doing crappy things like privatizing social security or some other crooked shit. Clinton, the Democrats will certainly be able to pull together some bipartisan effort with Republicans for disturbing, unconstitutional law depriving people of rights other than gun ownership.

If the FBI investigation fizzles, Clinton will be eager to knock down any organizing to her left flank.

A couple of details on Clinton’s Goldman Sachs speech transcripts

The Guccifer 2.0 material isn’t anything I’ve had time to dig into personally. Several sites (linking Smoking Gun for now) were posting the proof that Clinton did indeed lie when she insisted the $225,000 she took from Goldman Sachs is what they offered. It was in her list of requirements for her appearance. Heh. Of course she lied. The slightly more interesting detail was the confirmation that transcripts of her speeches do exist, because a stenographer was required and Clinton retained possession of the transcript. Neither are incriminating by any means, but it establishes once again, Clinton lied and she retains control of the transcripts of her speeches.

These change nothing but they’re worth remembering while interacting with people hawking disinformation.