morning 03.16.17

Playing with Play-Doh this morning.

Cattle grazing on pastures that were on an ecological knife edge could have pushed the Sahara onto the path of desertification. Eh, it was probably going that way anyway, although the research already done and the research planned is good and eagerly anticipated. Probably just an eager news writer eager to make a point on human impact on climate change.

Sebastian Gorka’s membership in Vitézi Rend should affect his immigration status. It won’t. Also remember that this is someone who tried to bring a loaded gun through an airport in 2004. More of the people who ICE is grabbing up and throwing into detention centers have a better legal argument to be here. The difference is that Gorka is white and has money.

Mythophysics of the new normal. Warren Ellis discussion.

morning 03.15.17

Norman Thomas di Giovanni obituary. I feel inadequate to write anything substantial about his passing.

Discovery of widespread platinum may help solve Clovis people mystery. The relatively high concentrations of platinum at sites 12,800 years ago could be from a strike by an asteroid two-thirds of a mile across that would have triggered the Younger-Dryas period. No impact crater can be identified but the asteroid could have exploded in the atmosphere or struck the glacial ice sheet.

Silk Road was shaped by ancient nomads and their herds 4,000 years ago. Well, duh. 4,000 years is a conservative estimate.

Did ISIS inadvertently uncover the secret to the “lost” Hanging Gardens of Babylon? The Hanging Gardens of Nineveh, build by Assyrian King Sennacherib.

There is no such thing as western civilisation. Somebody tell that rotted pigheaded freak Bannon or that Nazi bootlick Gorka.

Steve Bannon in College: Grateful Dead Fan, ‘Jerry Brown Liberal,’ ‘Ladies Man’. When I started college in 1989, every single Deadhead I met drove a BMW and was an unrepentant racist. We traveled in the same circles because many of my friends smoked pot. Those were the first modern “libertarians” I met.1 I’ve lost track of most of them as they were all cretins and louts, but I’ve no doubt they’re now establishment conservatives who stroke themselves at the thought of a race war or a clash of civilizations. Have I mentioned that I never could get into the Grateful Dead?

American Citizens: U.S. Border Agents Can Search Your Cellphone. Yes, yes- but here’s the point that people need to wrap their heads around.

Data provided by the Department of Homeland Security shows that searches of cellphones by border agents has exploded, growing fivefold in just one year, from fewer than 5,000 in 2015 to nearly 25,000 in 2016.

This increase happened under Obama. That said, at current rate of 2017, the Trump administration will more than double the 2016 number.

Sunday I picked up used vinyl of Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians’ Element of Light. It’s never been one of my favorites of his, always liked and enjoyed, but not loved. Checking eBay, it turns out that it’s a pretty common record that I might have found even a dollar or two cheaper. It’s by far the most available Hitchcock vinyl on there. I’ve already played it at least six times. I already own most everything Hitchcock did until around 1995 on CD (and 1996’s Mossy Liquor on vinyl,) but I pay more attention when I have to flip the record. As many others have insisted, it’s less a format fetish than a listening ritual. This shouldn’t be another tangent I wander down, but it probably will.

Shannon Hurd Got a Life Sentence for Stealing $14. Then He Died in Prison from Untreated Cancer. Evil. This is evil. Jefferson Parish in Louisiana.

Liberals and diversity. Matt Bruenig.

Report: Trump voters in Michigan like economically populist Democrats. This plus Bernie’s town hall in West Virgina on Monday night should tell the Democratic Party something. No. They’ll keep pushing shit about Putin, the emoluments clause, and chasing tax returns.

Sunday Comics (A riff on FX’s show Legion). Legion is better than it has any right to be.

 

  1. I had an old school, hardline civil libertarian guy as a teach for 6th through 8th grade. He was eccentric, but I still remember him fondly because he taught the Louisiana Reconstruction era very critically and would urge everyone to join the ACLU in the early ’80s, holding up his membership card in a classroom of kids with parents in the KKK. []

morning 03.14.17

KKK wizard David Duke’s 1990 run foreshadowed pro-Trump passion. It’s Duke’s 1991 gubernatorial campaign that I remember better. He showed up to speak on campus. The turnout was huge and I was among only a handful of protesters. We didn’t feel threatened by fellow students, but the campus police harassed us. Who knew that we weren’t an atavistic anomaly, but a window to our future? If Hillary had only the charisma of Edwin Edwards and the same shitty neoliberal policies, we wouldn’t be in this mess. Oh wait. That’s pretty much her husband Bill, isn’t it?

The Revolution Will Be Weird and Eerie. Review of the recent Mark Fisher book. It’s on the list.

400,000-year-old fossil human cranium is oldest ever found in Portugal.

John Cooper Clarke on Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater.

Tillerson Used ‘Alias’ Email for Climate Messages. He might get in more trouble with elements within the Trump administration for acknowledging climate change than with the judicial system for his evasion from delivering subpoenaed communications.

morning 03.13.17

I skipped the past couple of days for no good reason. Yes, I read more but it’s escapist pulp sci-fi. shrug.

Neanderthal Dental Plaque Shows What a Paleo Diet Really Looks Like. Lots more detail and good speculation in this Atlantic piece.

Exceptional grave reveals 7,000-year-old garments Stone Age man was buried in.

Colossus probably depicting Ramses II found in Egypt. The images of the unearthed statue stuck in the squalor that the people of Egypt leave in today are unsettling.

Passion Rules the World. Maybe I didn’t fuck up by not grabbing The Complete Works of Isaac Babel yet. (I’ve read none of his work yet.) This new translation of Odessa Stories looks great.

Dwarf planet 2007 OR10  is the 10th trans-Neptunian object discovered to have a moon. Ten TNOs over 1,000 km in diameter are known.

Could Mysterious Cosmic Light Flashes Be Powering Alien Spacecraft? Using FRBs to power light sails. The transmitter that could create such powerful transmissions would be twice the size of the Earth.

The Complicated Friendship of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert Barlow. Poor bastard. I barely remembered him. I forgot about Barlow’s later years altogether.

Death in al Ghayil. FFS. There are no surprises here but the insistence that this raid “was a very, very well thought out and executed effort” is shamelessly evil. U.S. soldiers are being used by certain Saudi factions to assassinate rivals and dissenters. This doesn’t come off as fighting terrorism in any fashion whatsoever.

Mike Cernovich, Alan Dershowitz and the Jeffery Epstein Underage Sex Trafficking Case. Creepy shit. Let’s never forget this is tied both to Donald Trump and Bill Clinton. This rabbit hole gets creepier when one remembers how pedophile Dennis Hastert had some peculiar connections to Turkey. (Tony Podesta and Hastert are longtime buddies BTW.) Add the dimension of Flynn’s lobbying for Turkey and his son’s peculiar obsession with nonsensical Pizzagate. The recurring themes are disconcerting.

Ivanka Trump’s landlord suing US government. Chilean billionaire with mining interests in Minnesota.

Fury in Cambodia as US asks to be paid back hundreds of millions in war debts. Yes, it really does look like this is something that was recently directed to be readdressed by the Trump administration. The rumors about Jared Kushner really being the guy in charge of foreign policy might tie into this, as he comes off as a profoundly stupid man.

I’ve been listening to Heatmiser’s Mic City Sons this morning. They weren’t a band I listened to back then and probably was barely aware of. Dug up a 2015 interview to see what the rest of the band is up to. It seems Neil Gust went on to a career as an editor. Smith’s embarrassment of the band is mystifying because none of the material on this album is as cringeworthy as I’ve been finding Sebadoh. I’m not feeling Dead Air though.

morning 03.10.17

Better. This is better.

Scientists rewrote the DNA of an entire species. Yeast. The research is admirable, but considering that only in past year or so it was confirmed that there is actual information in the way DNA is folded and not merely the sequences, it might not go well. We’re in the midst of a great extinction anyway. Why not?

The Caynton Caves look more spectacular than I imagined. It’s that mood lighting probably.

Researchers create ‘time crystals’ envisioned by Princeton scientists. “…atoms are arranged in patterns not only in space, but also in time. In addition to containing a pattern that repeats in space, time crystals contain a pattern that repeats over time.” Non-equilibrium systems. They require prodding by laser to keep atoms in this cycle.

Neanderthals Munched on ‘Aspirin’ and Woolly Rhinos. Plaque in teeth of individual with tooth abscess showed evidence of poplar. The detail about Neandertals and Homo sapiens sharing the same pathogen for tooth decay 48,000 years ago is interesting too. Not sure what to make of that yet.

Dolmen at Kibbutz Shamir 4,000 years old. Israel. 50 ton capstone. Bones of an adult male, an adult female and a young child. Engraved art in ceiling. Beads.

Scientists have used hair to locate where distinct Aboriginal groups lived in Australia up to 50,000 years ago. It’s extremely surprising to see that the groups remained that static.

morning 03.09.17

The blogging routine is off-kilter. It feels wrong and lazy. Something has to change.

Was Kim Jong-nam killed by VX nerve gas? Doesn’t look like it. Oh really?

Census document from Cortez period rediscovered. In Poland. It’s miraculous it survived.

How Facebook, fake news and friends are warping your memory. Hm. Interesting. Usually being an outsider might somewhat spare me from this effect, although I have my own serious memory impairments. The Iraq as Vietnam argument doesn’t seem terribly persuasive though. How’s that a false memory? The ebola outbreak is annoying too, because it seems forgotten or ignored that ebola was mutating. I was more scared of it than I should have been, but viruses are not immutable. Even that prediction about Truman being as forgotten as McKinley by 2040 seems as fishy as hell. Being the first person to authorize the use of atomic weapons would seem to outshine slightly a largely forgotten war with Spain.

DeVos and the “Free Lunch” Flimflam: Orwell, Neofeudalism, and the Destruction of the Welfare State. Ah, neofeudalism. Good stuff. The elites clearly want the populace to be as ignorant as possible.

Outsmarted. Rick Perlstein. I’ve trashed The Great Gatsby so long that I forgot that passage (and pretty much the whole fucking book.) Oops. Awesome. Connecting liberalism’s penchant for eugenics fits nicely with how now charter schools are the flavor du jour. Some people cannot be allowed to reproduce. Some people aren’t worth the effort to educate.

Hillary Clinton’s TV ads were almost entirely policy-free. “But her platform!” If Hillary hadn’t wasted everyone’s time babbling about Russia instead of how she was going to improve people’s lives, she would have won. Oh, right. She couldn’t’ do that. “America’s already great!”

A couple of Steve Bannon links to check back on.

New Ty Segall EP. Sentimental Goblin. I don’t even have the latest album yet.

 

morning 03.08.17

Reading a book instead of the news didn’t help the blog this morning.

The Revolutionary Force of Stupidity: A Conversation with Matt Taibbi. Twice the interviewer prompts Taibbi to comment on the peculiar ties of the Trump administration to Russia. Twice Taibbi veers away from it.

Russia: The Conspiracy Trap. Masha Gessen. This digs into what Taibbi alludes to. There might be legitimate reasons to question the Trump-Russia ties, but there’s something dangerously undemocratic in the way that this is playing out. All it would accomplish is delivering us to President Pence or Ryan anyway, with an emboldened CIA. The real path to defeating Trump is doing something like having the Democratic Party immediately push Medicare for All with no ambiguity. It has to be done with policy, not allegations of conspiracy by conspiracy.

The Hamilton Hustle. Matt Stoller. What’s been fun about the whole Hamilton phenomenon is that my mom asked me sometime last year, “Am I missing something? From what I learned in school, Hamilton was an asshole.” She attended public schools in the late ’40s and early ’50s and knew all of his authoritarian bullshit. She was the child of New Deal Democrats. I utterly forgot the Newburgh Conspiracy and likely never grasped Hamilton’s role in it. There’s a shitload of gems in here that I dimly recall, but rarely with any deep understanding or even any context whatsoever. Fuck Alexander Hamilton.

Whale Vomit. New podcast featuring Amber A’Lee Frost and Sam Kriss. I liked it. It irked me that a couple in the Chapo Reddit liked it but labeled it Chapo-lite.

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. []

morning 03.05.17

The March on Nissan up in Canton, MS was yesterday. I fucked up my back this week (which in part instigated starting most days at 3 AM) and I really didn’t want to do much else than hang out at home. I weeded, emptied some old pots of soil, expanded a flower bed a few feet, and planted some more varieties of salvia.

Marcy Wheeler has a better take on all that FISA nonsense. There’s a whole bunch of assumptions and assertions going down on the FISA warrants that might involve Trump himself. Most of them are from notoriously disreputable and/or stupid NatSec people.

Trump flashes anger over Sessions recusal, Russia stories in tense Oval Office meeting. Priebus and Bannon stayed behind. I read later than Bannon went down to Florida later anyway? Back to that later.

Donald Trump Listened In On Phone Lines At Mar-A-Lago. It was mid ’00s. Unsubstantiated, but fits in with his character.

Trump administration considering separating women, children at Mexico border. Evil shit. There’s no purpose to this other to promote fear and hurt vulnerable people.

Why the Alt-Center Is a Problem, Too. There is no alt-center. There is no alt-left. There is only a center and a left. Otherwise, mostly yeah. Wolcott is a bumbling fool. His alt-left piece came off as imperiously silly cluelessness than intential malice. Mickey Kaus? Seriously? What the actual fuck… I forgot that guy exists. Yeah, his work is often shared on my DSA list on Twitter and he’s going to be on Chapo any week now.

The Great God Trump and the White Working Class. I’m mad at myself for missing this key connection. Rebekah Mercer. I flat out had no idea who she is and the influence she wields. I need to dig into this angle more.

Second largest Maya jade found in Belize has unique historical inscription. Nifty. The back of it is covered in 30 hieroglyphs.

Acknowledgment is Not Enough: Coming to Terms With Lovecraft’s Horrors. Reading later. No comment.

Saudi Arabia Is Redefining Islam for the World’s Largest Muslim Nation. There’s this nasty feeling that this isn’t just about Saudi Arabia’s interests, but the U.S. trying to draw in more nations into the South China Sea showdown.

There’s Another Airport Security Incident in Trump Terrorism Guru Sebastian Gorka’s Past. Sebastian Gorka is the worst. How this creep managed to become a naturalized American citizen while relatively law-abiding resident aliens are being grabbed up by ICE is baffling.

A Glossary of Far-Right Terms and Memes. As facile as it seems, I did pick up a few things, sometimes by omission.

  • The Egyptian Kek reference is one of those semi-clever jokes that reality plays on us.
  • Moon Man. I had this one all wrong. I thought it was an allusion to Mack the Knife, which full consciousness of it being from The Threepenny Opera. Maybe one of them figured it out, but I don’t want to wade into that sewer.
  • Baneposting. Baffling. I’m not clear why this is alt-right and not just typical internet absurdity.

Hillary Clinton speaks at Wellesley College in a private, closed-to-the-press program. Seriously- how much was her speaking fee? If she stays relatively off the radar and keeps doing this shit, fine. However, if she tries to run again in 2020, it will be worth remembering this is how she spent her time.

morning 03.03.17

Up at 3 AM again, but no migraine. No crippling back pain. Just awake. Damn it. I’m wildly out of sync with my life.

Yesterday as I worked, an old acquaintance of mine was hanging out in the bookstore to kill time before he had to pick up his daughter. (He was one of the kids I used to buy malt liquor for back in the day, so he wouldn’t huff kitchen cleaning fluids to get a buzz.) I already had to confess to him that the last time I saw him that he was right and I was wrong about the author of a short story, who I thought was Ray Bradbury and he was certain was Kurt Vonnegut. Most of our conversation was about parenting. After awhile, he veered into politics and I cringed. I remembered him being vaguely libertarian. He opened how he thought Trump is a good thing after originally being a little wary of him. This couldn’t go anywhere good.

I shrugged it off and tepidly began to push points on why Trump is bad, but he admitted he doesn’t follow the news. It turned out that nothing Trump is doing is anything he supports, that actually he’s an accelerationist who has given up on the details on the collapse of civilization, that he can’t keep track of each fallen robin. No matter how much corruption and injustice will go down, the dam is breaking and wringing hands isn’t going to stop it. I underestimated how long he’d been in the military (eight years) and assumed he’d been in for nursing the whole time. He was a drone operator for most of his career, with his work in Iraq. He threw off deliberately vague firsthand anecdotes about the collapse of civilization, the brutality of anarchy, and extolled the virtues of socialism & communal living.

I don’t know, man. I don’t know. Everyone is changing.

Jeff Sessions Used Political Funds for Republican Convention Expenses. He didn’t meet Kislyak as a senator, but as Trump’s chairman of Foreign Policy Advisory Committee. Sessions committed perjury and he’s still lying. What else is he lying about?1 If Sessions is to be taken down (which I still think is highly unlikely) it has to be sticking solely to the perjury charge and his role as Attorney General. Spinning conspiracy theories about Russians and Putin will only derail the valid argument that a perjurer cannot be chief law enforcement officer of the United States.

Trump and the ‘Society of the Spectacle’. Guy Debord. This familiar quote hits close to home.

“The whole life of those societies in which modern conditions of production prevail presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. All that once was directly lived has become mere representation.”

I need more Debord. I toyed with Situationist material and Debord awhile back, but only in my typical dilettante fashion.

Evil Triumphs in These Multiverses, and God Is Powerless. Nah. The piece is a fun thought experiment but seems a lot of wankery analogous to arguing about the universes in which Ptolemy’s celestial crystal spheres are real.

  1. Civil rights mostly. []