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 01.13.17

New feds could be fired for ‘no cause at all’ by Trump under planned legislation. All federal workers would be at-will employment. If the Promote Accountability and Government Efficiency Act becomes law, the political purges will be endless. If you want a totalitarian one-arty state, this is an excellent way to go about doing it.

5 Big Mysteries about CRISPR’s Origins. My favorite is “What else is it doing?”

Release of water shakes Pacific plate at depth. Tonga Trench. Water released from the deep Earth (180 down) causing earthquakes. Damn. At the end of the article, there is speculation that this deep water might act as a lubricant between plates as the mantle crust is recycled.

Cory Booker is not your friend. He’s a performative woke artist who is completely owned by Wall Street. Booker’s almost as bad as any generic racist old fuck wrapping himself in the American flag as he lines his pockets, because instead of inviting open hatred, he deceives with empty  compassion.

The Russia Story Reaches a Crisis Point. Matt Taibbi. Yep. As fun as that Russian dossier was, it’s garbage. It’s going to be interesting to see Trump’s people go on witchhunt in the CIA when he takes office. Maybe we’ll see it dismantled altogether.1 James Comey looks even worse. My opinions on Clinton’s private email server haven’t changed2, but those are irrelevant now. It’s even more mystifying why he chose to write those stupid letters about Clinton when there was also an active investigation on Trump. The detail that surprised is that the FBi sought a warrant from FISA court and it declined?

The Guardian has learned that the FBI applied for a warrant from the foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court over the summer in order to monitor four members of the Trump team suspected of irregular contacts with Russian officials. The Fisa court turned down the application asking FBI counter-intelligence investigators to narrow its focus. According to one report, the FBI was finally granted a warrant in October, but that has not been confirmed, and it is not clear whether any warrant led to a full investigation.

As The Week points out:

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court is famously compliant with surveillance requests, declining just 11 of the more than 33,900 it had received in 33 years as of 2013 — or an approval rate of 99.97 percent (though that may be a slightly misleading number) — and no requests were denied in 2014 and 2015, according to the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Weird. Very weird.

Argentine cleaner’s double life as prize-winning writer. Someone translate Enrique Ferrari to English. I’ll read a working class Marxist who writes crime fiction. Heroic character.

Somewhat related, one of the anthropologists I follow on Twitter, the one who does the Trowelblazers account, which features women working in anthropology, lives a far more financially unstable life than I guessed. It never would have crossed my mind that she does anything she does for money. She is clearly a person passionate about her field. However, in some ways, she lives a less secure life than my own (trapped in a dead-end retail job that was only supposed to be temporary.) I’m too timid and cowardly to do make choices and sacrifices like she has through her life. Sheesh.

Manning Seeks Late Reprieve From Obama, but Not a Pardon. Yeah… anyway… pardon Chelsea Manning.

Instead of reading any of the books I bought recently, I’ve been reading a borrowed copy of Chomsky’s Who Rules the World? It almost seems quaint and dated in 2017, in spite of its dire reading of the world’s past and present. Possibly suprising, I’ve never read much Chomsky. I wish that he was funnier.

On the other hand, in Wednesday night’s insomnia, I watched Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia. I was following up on Best of Enemies, which I’d watched in the past month or two. It felt that I’d given Vidal short shrift in the past, although I’d read at least two of his novels back in the day. When The United States of Amnesia sailed into Vidal’s later years, it dawned on me that he had far greater impact on me than I realized. Although I could only find one link in the old blog to something he wrote (about the Oklahoma City Bombing oddly,) it’s now obvious I read the shit out of his online essays and watched his media appearances. I genuinely fucking forgot. Oops. Even the blogs and written journals (which I never revisit anyway) have not been enough in keeping my head straight.

  1. What will happen to the people cut loose? They’re not going to disappear quietly an know too much. []
  2. She’s guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice at the very least, and never should have been allowed to run for president []

Ahab might finally get his white whale

The rumors of the number of FBI agents working on the Clinton private email server investigation went from 150 to 147 to less than 50 to 12. Some people were chortling about how the entire investigation has been blown out of proportion, that it’s quite a minor investigation. Perhaps.

Last night news broke that the investigation is near complete and interviews will begin in the coming weeks, possibly within days. It’s suggested that Comey himself may be interviewing Clinton.

It would make sense why the number of FBI agents involved kept dropping is because they were reassigned after the grunt work was completed. 150 agents does seem excessive. That number does seem absurdly high in retrospect. The new Time article sticks with 20 to 30 agents. The journalist who reported 12 agents yesterday also happens to be a former employee of John Kerry. Yep… no agenda there.

The Time article reminds that Comey was involved with in the Whitewater case in 1996:

In 1996, after months of work, Comey came to some damning conclusions: Hillary Clinton was personally involved in mishandling documents and had ordered others to block investigators as they pursued their case. Worse, her behavior fit into a pattern of concealment: she and her husband had tried to hide their roles in two other matters under investigation by law enforcement. Taken together, the interference by White House officials, which included destruction of documents, amounted to “far more than just aggressive lawyering or political naiveté,” Comey and his fellow investigators concluded. It constituted “a highly improper pattern of deliberate misconduct.”

I still have no opinion on Whitewater, by the way.

Of course these are hate crimes

Two black churches have been burned in the past week, since the massacre at Mother Emanuel AME in Charleston, SC on June 17. One is in Macon, Georgia and one is North Carolina. FBI director James Comey already tipped his hand saying that he didn’t consider the murder of 9 people because of their race by a white supremacist who targeted their church as a symbol in the effort to ignite a race war, to the point of posting a manifesto prior, to be an act of domestic terrorism.  The White House isn’t backing Comey up, but I’m not holding my breath.

Meanwhile, the FBI is spending considerable time and effort goading unhappy Muslims into fake terror plots that they never could have achieved alone, or possibly even conceived. Meanwhile, by the FBI’s own assessment, domestic terrorism white, right-wing extremists is just as a serious problem.

Why aren’t the burning of these two black churches this week not at the top of the news headlines. This morning I see headlines everywhere of the arrest of Bree Newsome for removing the Confederate flag at the statehouse in Charleston. Why?