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 02.24.17

This waking up at 3 in the morning bullshit has to stop. My sleep cycle is fucked.

Planted a few flowers from the plant nursery down the street: bee balm, hollyhock, (allegedly) bog sage, and Mexican hyssop. Planted a porterweed carried over from last fall I’ve neglected. Some of the salvias from last year that died back severely in the singular freak 21 degree freeze seem to be coming back from roots. We’ll see. I blew off starting a vegetable garden last month, although with the inevitable collapse of civilization, that will be a deep regret.

FBI refused White House request to knock down recent Trump-Russia stories. Ha ha. Nothing matters. Many are shrugging, saying that this is essentially what brought Nixon down. Nah. The Republicans (and the Democrats for that matter) aren’t done with Trump yet. They need that fat oaf around to heap more sins on his back before they drive him out into the wilderness.

Trump’s First Terror Arrest: A Broke Stoner the FBI Threatened at Knifepoint. For example, this isn’t Trump’s fault. This is just the fucking standard operating procedure of the FBI. Meanwhile, a white supremacist manufactures ricin and doesn’t get caught until he drives himself to the hospital after accidental exposure. It’s impossible to tell if there is an actual agenda here or if the FBI has a lot of lazy opportunists who don’t want to put themselves in real danger. The end result doesn’t matter.

The “Identity Politics” Debate Is Splintering the Left. Here’s How We Can Move Past It. Oh, I missed this piece! Anyway, I have a bad feeling about the DNC chair race. They’re all pulling a Hillary, announcing the pledged votes, putting Perez well ahead, although Ellison has the more significant endorsements. If Perez is in, I’m out of the Democratic Party. Fuck that guy. The supporters on Twitter keep obsessing on Bernie and ignore that Perez is all-too-friendly with Wall Street or even declare that’s good.

More on that nuclear sniffer airplane from the other day. It took off from Scotland, heading for Norway and the Barents Sea. It’s accompanied by another surveillance aircraft, a RC-135W, rigged for detecting, identifying and geolocating signals throughout the electromagnetic spectrum. Hm. Sunken subs?

Arizona Senate votes to seize assets of those who plan, participate in protests that turn violent. Oh boy. Two of my favorites! Collective punishment and civil forfeiture!

Someone on Twitter referenced Whit Stillman as a conservative artist recently, lumping him in with some odious motherfuckers. The thing is that I hate Whit Stillman movies. His perverse sympathy for the elite is so willfully wrongheaded. I watched a few of them repeatedly in a resentful rage. It was infuriating lurking on certain online forums back in the day with a bunch of people who were ostensibly more academically left than I was/am but would swoon over Whit Stillman films, cosplaying them as absurdly as the goofballs I ran across a decade on a Tom Waits listserv pretending to be hobos.1 This 2012 interview was what I was looking for. He’s not evil, just superficial. His mystification over why Wes Anderson reached a larger audience, not him, is nice detail.

Jeff Sessions announcing more use of private prisons and Spicer suggesting a federal crackdown on marijuana use ((connecting it to opiate use, no less)) is disgusting, sad, and inevitable. Honestly, it’s probably something Hillary would have done more quietly. She was taking a lot of money from private prisons too before getting called out on it and her moronic daughter Chelsea is still insisting people die from smoking pot. (“Drug interactions.” Pft. Chelsea implied again recently, but I cannot find a good link.) Sessions is more obvious about it, but it was going to happen regardless of the election. It’s just like how the ICE raids and mass deportations have been going on for years under Obama, but now they’re more brazen. Maybe accelerationism is good, no matter how much that makes me cringe.

55 detained in Mississippi restaurant immigration raids. This is bad. There are references stating these raids have been planned for awhile, but it’s still creepy shit. I know that the farms in my area will be hit hard if they haven’t been already. However, this story seems very Trump era: Undocumented woman with brain tumor seized by federal agents at Texas hospital. Whole lotta hateful racist motherfuckers working for ICE.

Senior Trump Aide Forged Key Ties To Anti-Semitic Groups In Hungary. Sebastian Gorka is a pretty stinky piece of shit, is he not?

Flint Sickles Prove Grain Cultivation in Galilee 23,000 Years Ago. Ohalo II. This one deserves coming back to ASAP.

Thousands of horsemen may have swept into Bronze Age Europe, transforming the local population. Damn it. I should have figured the horse and wagon aspect out independently when I linked a briefer version of this story the other day. Duh. Yamnaya migration.

Meet the South Pole’s Dark Matter Detective. Work of Reina Maruyama.

Fermi finds possible dark matter ties in Andromeda galaxy. It’s similar to findings at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. It could also be a high concentration of pulsars.

One of my friends has been talking about dreams of Nordic aliens. I’m… ambivalent. I goofed around with a lot of this material in the past and had a lot of fun. However, when one jumps straight into the mythologies without a big dose of humor and/ agnosticism, it’s not going to go well. I’ve been trying to push Jacques Vallée’s2 books, or better yet, Robert Anton Wilson’s first Cosmic Trigger book3. The Chapel Perilous concept still works for me.

Some local DSA guy who friended me on Facebook turns out to be a more tasteful record collecting scum than I could dream of being. His FB posts have gotten me back into listening to Bert Jansch.

  1. These same hardcore Whit Stillman fans were the same ones who linked to Mark Fisher and others. []
  2. It’s still fucking bizarre that he became a venture capitalist and I didn’t know until today that he sits on the scientific advisory board of Bigelow Aerospace… you know, the corporation started by the guy who owns Skinwalker Ranch. []
  3. because the later ones get into shit that aren’t as relevant or appealing []

fava beans cultivated before grains

Fava beans seem to have been cultivated at three Neolithic sites in what is now Israel, Ahihud, Nahal Zippori and Yiftah’el. The remains of the beans are dated at 10,200 years old.

The article points to how all of the seeds at the sites had fire damage, which hints there could have been a violent attack. It also mentions how it’s odd that this plants being cultivated in an area in which the current population now has a high incidence of favism.

Rise domestication at Baligang site in Nanyang Basin in China 8,300 years ago

Rise domestication at Baligang site in Nanyang Basin in China 8,300 years ago.

They have confirmed, based on morphological characteristics of the rice, that rice had been domesticated in the region before 6300 BCE, although a lack of evolution in grain shape suggests that the people there were still a long way off from forming an agricultural economy.

They’re hoping for more details from other sites in future to figure out how much earlier gathering rice switched to domestication.

Researchers identify plant cultivation in a 23,000-year-old site in the Galilee

This is quite a surprise. Researchers identify plant cultivation in a 23,000-year-old site in the Galilee. It seemed inevitable that the dawn of agriculture would be pushed back further than 13,000 years, but to 23,000 years?

In the Ohalo II dwellings was a particularly rich assemblage of some 150,000 plant remains, showing that the site’s residents gathered over 140 different plant species from the surrounding environment. Among these, Weiss’s team identified edible cereals – such as wild emmer, wild barley, and wild oats. These cereals were mixed with 13 species of “proto-weeds” – ancient ancestors of the current weeds known to flourish in cultivated, single-crop fields – indicating that they grew and were subsequently unintentionally gathered together.

Sickle blades used in harvesting grains were also identified.

20,000 year old pottery identified in China

Some pottery found in south China in excavations from previous decades has been dated to 20,000 years ago. The site was Xianrendong cave in south China’s Jiangxi province. The conclusion they’re reaching is that pottery was developed before agriculture was.

Of course I’m going to be that fringe character that has to ask, maybe this means they need to look harder for earlier evidence of agriculture. Water and…. Lard? Bone beads? Grains?

The whole thing seems weird. Wonderful, but weird… and probably destined to get a lot weirder.  My hunch in the years to come that origin of agriculture will be pushed back if the date on these pottery shards are true.

milk drinking dated to 6,000 BC in the Near East & Balkans

Pottery shards from the Near East and the Balkans have been tested for milk fats, to find that humans were drinking milk around 6,000 BC. The researchers noticed that the milk use was more frequent in areas where agriculture was not as prevalent. It’s interesting to see the mild drinking here at this time, as the skeletons of Europeans to the north were not genetically able to metabolize milk at 5,000 BC. I wonder where that gene that allows for the production of lactase originated.