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 03.10.17

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 03.07.17

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 02.06.17

The Pitol book is extremely breezy and has spent more time name-dropping than reflecting so far. I dunno. It seemed Pitol’s all-consuming love of literature would be a respite, but it’s so divorced from any sense of the social and political so far that it feels unnaturally sterile. Perhaps it’s too early in the book.

Trump and Staff Rethink Tactics After Stumbles. Trump has dementia:

But for the moment, Mr. Bannon remains the president’s dominant adviser, despite Mr. Trump’s anger that he was not fully briefed on details of the executive order he signed giving his chief strategist a seat on the National Security Council, a greater source of frustration to the president than the fallout from the travel ban.

The dumb fat fuck barely knows what’s going on. I underestimated the influence of Stephen Miller though. Seeing how he nominally works for Kushner, but previously worked for Michelle Bachmann and, more importantly, Jeff Sessions is some depressing shit. There had been some mild speculation on my part thinking perhaps Kushner might “moderate” Bannon’s influence with pragmatic greed over white nationalism. Wrong.

The Clues That Neanderthals Didn’t Know How to Make Fire. Pech de l’Azé IV and Roc de Marsal. France. Damn it. My childish hert wants to believe that Neandertals could make and control fire.

Archaeologists clash over dating of Céide Fields complex. Ireland. New research suggests that it could be 2,500 years younger than established. Yeah, this one bums me out too.

The Young Pope is silly but I’ve been enjoying it. Sean Collins wrote something like, It’s Hannibal for lapsed Catholics.1 This is so, so much more fun and imaginative than Westworld. I’ve read Collins’ piece on episode one and two. (I’m only halfway through episode three.)

  1. I’m not Catholic and was raised pretty much agnostic. []

morning 01.19.17

I am very, very strung out today. The kid had a fever of a 101 and was up a significant portion of the night. He was on about arcade games and the planets of the solar system. (I’m not pulling any Clara Jeffery bullshit. He showed an interest in space early, so we got him realistic decals for his wall and a nightlight that projects them on the ceiling. He loves them. The other night I took him outside to see that Full Wolf Moon rise. He’s still excited about that.) Luckily I’m off today, as my head’s drifting badly.

Boeing Wants to Sell Russian Spaceship Rides to NASA. It’s bullshit that private corporation buys seats on a foreign government’s rocket (and other corporations!) to sell to the United States. It can be done more cheaply and efficiently. Running space exploration like AirBNB is some boneheaded late capitalism scam. I don’t like it.

Neanderthals Capable of Incorporating Symbolic Objects into Their Culture. 130,000 years ago at the Croatian site of Krapina. It feels a lot like they’re saying that they liked pretty rocks. I’m all about Neadertals having a sophisticated culture, but for fuck’s sake… crows collect pretty rocks. That’s not a dismissal of Neandertal intelligence, but the peculiar fetish we have for elevating recognizable behaviors of hominids, like an inversion of anthropomorphism.

Leaked emails reveal how Dataminr was pitched to foreign governments. This seems like a very peculiar story and the sleep deprivation is kicking the shit out me. A former aide of Hillary Clinton, Philippe Reines1, started a consulting firm, Beacon Global Strategies.2 This gets into Dataminr using Twitter’s data to identify individual users. A lot of authoritarian regimes have been monitoring Twitter to crack down on dissenters. Dataminr seems to be helping them. Previously Twitter let domestic police agencies use the data to crack down on protestorsm, but they shut that down. However, Dataminr still has access to it. It comes across that Twitter is less concerned with dangerous surveillance than someone was using that data for free. Beacon Global Strategies has been pimping Dataminr’s services. Despite all of the Clinton connection to Beacon, Beacon adviser Mark Kelly will probably be Security of Homeland Security and VP of Beacon Bryan Smith is lined up for Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Pretty fucking creepy and it’s making Twitter use increasingly uncomfortable.

  1. the same one who played Trump in Hillary’s debate prep []
  2. There were some details with him and his firm regarding Hillary’s private email server. []

multiple points of introgression from Denisovans to modern humans

It’s probably not a surprise but further genetic testing demonstrates there are multiple points in time and space in which Homo sapiens interbred with Denisovans. The peculiar thing is that modern Melanesians seem to carry more DNA originating from Denisovans than Neandertals. Even what seems to be their Neandertal DNA appears to originate from Denisovans.

More on the team who did the field work collecting the Melanesian DNA 15 years ago over on Phys.org.

Neandertal introgression 100,000 years ago

Although the article drops in that hopefully soon-to-be abandoned Out of Africa 65,000 years ago trope, the rest of it shows that an Altai Neandertal shows signs of…. tah-dah! Homo sapiens introgression! The bone is 60,000 years old. The modern human DNA found seems to have diverged from the later African lineage 200,000 years ago, and introgressed into this Neandertal line 100,000 years ago.

The Neandertal is from the same site in which Denisovans were identified.

 

manganese dioxide in Neandertal fire making

It’s a peculiar notion to theorize that Neandertals would use manganese dioxide for their fires, but to shrug off any ideas how they managed wood resources or whether they used flint to spark fires. Using a mineral as a catalyst to lower ignition temperature of wood seems relatively sophisticated. It’s not impossible. It’s just odd in context with other what about Neandertals and fire that hasn’t been nailed down.

Neandertal sites under the North Sea

An amateur archaeologist spotted a cache of artifacts in a load of gravel dredged eight miles off Great Yamoth. It turned out to be Neanderthal artifacts?! Very, very lucky indeed. I’m copying the rest of the story, as this needle in a haystack find is impressive:

By David Keys Archaeology Correspondent
Monday, 10 March 2008

Some of the world’s best preserved prehistoric landscapes survive in pristine condition at the bottom of the North Sea, archaeologists claimed yesterday.

Academic interest in what are being described as drowned Stone Age hunting grounds is likely to increase dramatically after the discovery of 28 Neanderthal flint axes on the sea bed off the East Anglian coast.

Dating from at least 50,000-60,000 years ago, they were found with other flint artefacts, a large number of mammoth bones, teeth and tusk fragments, and pieces of deer antler. The sea bed location was probably a Neanderthal hunters’ kill site or temporary camp site.

The axes – one of the largest groups ever found – were spotted by a keen-eyed amateur archaeologist when a consignment of North Sea gravel arrived at the Dutch port of Flushing.

The cache was found 8 miles off Great Yarmouth and is the most northerly point in the North Sea that Neanderthal tools have been discovered. It had been feared that the ice sheets that destroyed most pre-ice age Brit-ish landscapes had done the same to the land surfaces which existed where the North Sea is now.

But archaeologists now suspect that some Neanderthal landscapes have survived under the North Sea. What’s more, they are now certain that hundreds or even thousands of square miles of post-ice age prehistoric landscapes do survive there. On land they have largely been destroyed or degraded by centuries of agriculture, later human settlement and natural erosion.

The North Sea is of immense value to archaeologists and is the largest area of drowned landscape in Europe. “It’s vital that parts of it should be considered as a potential World Heritage site,” said Professor Vince Gaffney of the University of Birmingham, a leading authority on North Sea archaeology.

Professor Chris Stringer, Research Leader in Human Origins at the Natural History Museum, said: “The quality and quantity of material from the North Sea shows what a rich resource it is for helping to reconstruct missing phases of our prehistory. The evidence should be preserved and studied. World heritage status would help in that process.”

In the southern North Sea, Dutch prehistorians working alongside North Sea fishermen over the past decade have identified about 100 Neanderthal flint axes, 200 later Stone Age bone, antler and flint artefacts made by anatomically modern humans, and the remains of thousands of mammoths, woolly rhinos and other ice-age mammals.

Detailed archaeological research at the bottom of the North Sea would be likely to solve a host of Stone Age mysteries. It should help establish when Britain was recolonised by humans after a 100,000-year uninhabited period. It may also reveal for the first time the full technological capabilities of Neanderthal Man, because preservation on and in the sea bed is extremely good. Wooden, stone and bone implements have almost certainly survived.

Later this week, British and Dutch archaeologists will meet in Holland to formulate a joint program of North Sea research. German, Belgian, Danish and Norwegian archaeologists and oceanographers are likely to be included in a plan to map and investigate the North Sea’s prehistoric landscapes in detail.

The discovery of the 28 Neanderthal axes was initially reported to the Dutch government archaeological agency, who passed the information via English Heritage to the gravel extraction firm Hanson Aggregates.

“This is the single most important archaeological find from the North Sea. We have stopped dredging that area and have created an exclusion zone to protect the site,” said a senior Hanson geologist Robert Langman.

Yep. Dredging bad. No like dredging.

Neandertals were mobile

It seems obvious now that Neandertal teeth would be analyzed for ratios of strontium isotope to see how far the final resting place of the bones were from where the inidividual grew up, but it’s still news to me. This example of an individual found in southern Greece being 12.5 miles from where it grew up actually seems rather conservative, not demonstrating just how far individuals probably ranged. 

I’m eager to see more of research along this avenue.