Current location: California
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 24,983
Current location: California
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 24,983
I'm a very dangerous fellow when I don't know what I'm doing.
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A dog on a leash.
I'm a dumpster diving Luddite.
I bought a new car once in the mid 'eighties. Won't do that again. I drive a different car now, as little as possible. Fill the gas tank once every couple months, whether I need to or not. This $800 car is older than the car I bought new when I was young and too full of myself. For some sick reason I live in a culture that refuses to treat non-drivers as fully functional adults. Otherwise I wouldn't have a car.
The last new computer I bought was a Raspberry Pi for $35.00. Beyond that, in spite of my fascination with computers, I haven't ever thought to buy a new computer. I can usually find or make what I need in someone else's discards. I first signed onto the internet in 1979, haven't been away since. 90% of the internet is crap and always has been.
90% of work is crap, which is Sturgeon's Law
Or, "Four–fifths of everybody's work must be bad. But the remnant is worth the trouble for its own sake," if you'd prefer Rudyard Kipling's framing in terms of 1890's levels of automation. My Neanderthal Ancestors no doubt worked just as hard as they had to, life was very much easier at times and much more difficult at times than any internet voyager experiences today.
But there are now maybe a billion people living today suffering lives that suck compared to the life of any Neanderthal.
Technology, what of it? We're apes, always will be. Maybe if we humans are lucky our intellectual descendants will be something more, but they won't be human. More likely we end up as a curious layer of trash in the geologic record of earth.
I'm trained as an evolutionary biologist. What's the world going to look like in 100,000 years? We're all equal on those time scales.
I don't respect wealth. The wealthier someone is, the more likely they are to be some kind of sociopath.
90% of the uber-wealthy are very clearly sociopaths, some more harmful to their fellow humans and the earth's natural environment than others.
I'm a hypocrite in many ways, not a hermit living in a cave, but there's a shortage of caves lately, or even places to plant a small garden and otherwise live a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
In my opinion the world would be a much better place if more people used birth control and avoided unnecessary work.
If a person must be busy, than they ought to teach, practice medicine, create art (science is an art too), help those who need help, plant a big garden, but otherwise participate as little as possible in this global economy that is destroying the natural environment and turning people into tools and slaves.
I may yet die a homeless person on a park bench, My current "net-worth" is sub-zero, I've been a sick homeless off-my-meds person at times, but it's the thankfully rare experiences I've had "selling out" that always grind more on my conscience than all the other crap I've experienced in this life.
Posted by hunter | Sat Dec 26, 2015, 03:51 PM (0 replies)
... the music was all inside his head, probably implanted there by the same pink beams from outer space that Philip K. Dick experienced.
I also had a car, and gasoline was cheap.
Drugs, you say? Hell no, the music in my head was always playing, the voices were always singing. Modern meds and therapy have quieted them a bit, but I still here them in the background, along with the fucking NSAID induced tinnitus.
Here's the sad thing: I often made more money as a mad-eyed itinerant laborer than PKD was making as an established writer. I once flunked an organic chemistry class because I was too busy moving furniture. My phone would ring at five in the morning and I'd get to choose between school that day, or 80 to 100 dollars working, sometimes paid in cash. I never did scab work or crossed picket lines either. I met a few odd characters on the road who did, mostly to support their hookers-and-drugs lifestyle, and most of those guys are dead now.
Unions kept wages up for everyone, union or not. That meat puppet Ronald Reagan is in hell, along with everyone who ever had their hand up his ass making his lips move.
Another sad thing: People today doing what I did then are still paid 80 to 100 dollars a day, even though those dollars are worth much less. My share of the rent in various places I lived was never more than $300. (Well, whenever I wasn't dysfunctional, homeless, or taken off the streets by family or siblings.)
Posted by hunter | Sun Dec 20, 2015, 12:58 PM (0 replies)
And I think I saw Grandma apologizing (in that never-an-apology manner she had) to some old fat guy wearing a red suit, scribbling him out a hand-written ticket for the Mexican bus north. The drivers of the Mexican Bus always felt sorry for anyone who'd crossed Grandma. They also knew she was good for the fare.
Whatever year your family had an especially bad Christmas, that may have been it. It sure as hell was a very bad Christmas for Santa.
It seemed to me at the time there should have been more reindeer meat added to the homestead freezer and smoker, but maybe Spot ate the rest.
Spot has never accepted strangers landing on our roof in the middle of the night. I'd always feel a bit uneasy whenever I noticed helicopter parts in his poop, or the more durable bits and pieces of guns.
Let's just say that it's all for the best Doug usually slept through the Christmas Eve chaos.
You never ever want to see Doug when he's angry, and he's not terribly fond of Christians who always ruin perfectly delightful pagan celebrations with their Christian nonsense.
My childhood Easter stories are much the same as my Christmas stories.
What's cooking, Grandma?
Posted by hunter | Thu Dec 17, 2015, 01:50 PM (0 replies)
I think the "no-fly" list is bogus too, but so are the airlines. I hate flying.
Automobiles, airplanes, automatic weapons, high explosives, none of that shit existed when the Constitution was written.
The Constitution was a very flawed document from the beginning, allowing white male property owners exceptional privileges while fucking over everyone else, most especially slaves and the people who'd been living in the Americas for thousands of years.
My European Ancestors fled to the lawless U.S.A. wilderness in the eighteenth and nineteenth century escaping European officials who hated pacifists and religious heretics. My very last immigrant ancestor was a mail order bride to the newly established Salt Lake City. The husband in Utah was little better than the husband she left in Scandinavia, and worse, she had to share him with other wives. So she ran away with a third guy, and later married him, establishing a remote homestead where nobody would bother her with religion or politics again.
I'm the child of a matriarchal family where the women hunt and the men farm. Or maybe worse, the men are artist and dreamers. My great grandmas were all fierce, the sort who could kill a bad man and depend upon the county sheriff-coroner to clean up the mess and fill out the proper paperwork. (That's not a good thing.) Pacifists by necessity, not by any natural inclination. Berserkers. Valkyrja.
Modern interpretations of the U.S.A. Constitution are equally flawed, most especially concerning the the mother-fucking-second-amendment and all the morons who worship it and their fucking guns, almost as the word of some demented deity, probably that same gawd who got his jollies penetrating the bodies of human sons and daughters with spears, knives, bullets, shrapnel, and frequently the dicks of his child-raping "holy" men.
I piss on guns. I piss on fundamentalists of any sort, religious or secular.
Every gun lover I've met reminds me of Sean Connery in Zardoz, but never so smart or as good looking.
I hate guns for maybe two reasons. In my family tradition it's acceptable to separate a fool from his guns. Sometimes literal "gun grabbing."
I've witnessed my mom taking guns from family, family friends, and horrifyingly a few times, strangers.
Worse, I've cleaned up gun messes. Replacing carpets. painting over blood in cheap housing with Kilz. My gun stories are all awful. Liberty-and-Justice-For-All had fled, and were washing the shit and piss out of their underwear at the nearest fast food place toilet while I was still trying to figure out what the hell had just happened.
Bam, bam, burrupity, bam bam, it's over. Slow motion is Hollywood fantasy.
As a foolish young man I was out climbing rocks once, alone, without proper safety equipment. I started sliding, flesh was being scraped off of me all over, but I managed to wedge a hand into a crack and halt my slide. It fucking hurt.
Gangster kids show up in the local hospital emergency room shot, screaming it hurts.
Well, duh. Boys and many grown men are weenies.
I don't have any personal experience of guns making a human conflict better, and I've been in some very rough situations where other people have been well armed. In my experience, anecdotal I know, guns tend to turn conflicts that are resolvable into horrible tragedies.
If the San Bernardino "terrorists" had been left to live then their stories would be as stupid as the stories of anyone who thinks guns will solve their stupid problems.
Posted by hunter | Mon Dec 7, 2015, 10:54 PM (0 replies)
... and they discourage it.
People who behave foolishly with guns are in the same class as drunk drivers, they are very dangerous to themselves and others.
Healthy family, friends, and community have no problem taking the car keys away from someone who is drunk or otherwise unfit to drive, and the same ought to be true of guns.
If the second amendment prevents federal intervention, then friends, family, and community can still intervene.
Potential mass murderers are readily assimilated into a gun culture that fantasizes about murder in their gun play. This same culture is then shocked when a few of their own turn the fantasy into reality.
Posted by hunter | Tue Oct 13, 2015, 10:46 AM (1 replies)
Hell, why shave? I don't. One day you cut your face (or maybe some other much less visible parts) then some antibiotic resistant bacteria gets in there, and if your culture doesn't have some kind of sophisticated medical knowledge, you die.
Die for shaving? No thanks. Stupid Darwin Award winner, right up there with kissing a rattlesnakes for a selfie, or stuffing a handgun into your pants to look gangster cool... Ow My Balls!
This sort of "primitive" hobby plays into the myth of the "rugged individual." So many U.S. Americans believe that crap, that they will be fighting off zombies.
Nope, they won't. They already are or soon will be the zombies.
If you are surviving by building a hut and gathering food... things rapidly get very complicated. There are simply not enough hours in a day.
Humans are 100% social animals. Drop 100 naked culturally related humans, and 100 naked culturally related chimpanzees into an environment hospitable to both humans and chimpanzees, and all the humans will eventually die, looking a lot worse for wear than the chimpanzees who may be flourishing. It probably takes several thousand humans to simply survive in an environment where a hundred chimpanzees would be comfortable. And in a few hundred thousand years, in separate but equal equal environments, the humans and chimpanzees might end up looking much the same upon the inspection of any alien intelligence.
I'm a modern human and I enjoy stuff like this YouTube. I never use a hammer when a rock at hand will do. I am some kind of Luddite at heart too, patiently waiting for the end of the automobile age, looking forward to a world of walkable cities where most people don't need or want automobiles and homes have no utility bills.
But I also like the modern communications infrastructure. Until we can grow an internet on literal trees, and plant smart phone seeds in our garden and share the produce with our neighbors, then we will need to maintain a certain level of technology.
There have long been too many humans on this planet. We can't all use trees to bake roofing tiles. There are simply not enough trees.
My own hobby is making things out of garbage. There's plenty of that in the affluent world I inhabit.
Posted by hunter | Sun Sep 6, 2015, 09:59 PM (0 replies)
The gods of the grifters are not so sturdy.
Posted by hunter | Mon Aug 24, 2015, 05:57 PM (0 replies)
Their pushing back is entirely good, reasonable, and necessary in a free society.
I'm a Catholic heretic. My mom was going to be a nun until she met a leering, smoking, hard drinking priest who didn't seem all that holy to her. My mom bounces around between extremes, so of course she ended up with the Jehovah Witnesses, and meeting my dad, both working in Hollywood, they married and had a whole mess of kids Catholic style.
As a little kid who was already very weird, I ignored the Pledge of Allegiance to fidget at my desk, increasing my reputation for weirdness. My fourth grade teacher, who was a very wonderful person in many ways, used me as an example of religious freedom in the U.S.A.. Is it any wonder I hated school? I was always an outsider, an alien.
Unfortunately my mom has a tendency to say whatever she's thinking, sometimes about her conversations with God, and she also loves politics. That got us kicked out of the Kingdom Hall, bouncers at the front door style. After that we were soon Quakers. My mom could say whatever was on her mind, people listened respectfully, and then the Meeting moved on.
I still didn't say the Pledge in school. Quakers don't do that. I've seen my mom get in pissing contests with Catholic Bishops, and I was worried she might make a scene at my Big Catholic Wedding. (My wife is Mexican Irish Catholic, my mom's family is frontier Wild West Catholic.) I was even more worried about my crazy grandma who had a history of corrupting nice Mormon boys, throwing crockery at firemen, and biting policemen. (My grandpa was not a nice Mormon boy, but the two of them conceived a baby and fled poisonous religious tongue wagging and discrimination to non-Mormon California to work in the shipyards as welders.) My mom and her mom did not cause trouble at our wedding, they seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely. My dad, my brothers, religious heretics all of them, had a grand time making small talk with the priest about fishing.
My own relationship with the Catholic Church is complicated. Someday maybe I'll write a novel.
I know all about religious social pressures. It's not the atheist community imposing their beliefs upon anyone under color of authority.
My most disturbing heresy is time. I believe there is no such thing. Time travel and faster than light travel are impossible. We are all moving at the speed of light, nothing slower, nothing faster. Everything is relative and both the past and the future are fuzzy clouds of probability we are free to wander in from our own "now."
It's all stories, and the stories never end. The universe is very big, and our human minds are very small. We must cherish one another. What we "believe" changes both the past and the future.
Posted by hunter | Thu Aug 20, 2015, 09:53 PM (0 replies)
The cheapest methanol is made from natural gas. The first attempt by ARCO (now owned by BP) to supplant gasoline with a natural gas product was MTBE. That was a disaster, MTBE got into lakes, rivers, and groundwater.
The oil companies are now using hydrogen derived from inexpensive gas, and electricity generated in coal fired plants, to transform heavier oils (like the Canadian tar sand crap) into gasoline and diesel fuels for conventional cars and trucks, distributed through conventional channels. There's no reason to use methanol or ethanol for anything. There's no economic reason to replace existing underground tanks certified for gasoline, gasoline- ethanol blends, or diesel with methanol certified tanks.
Gasoline and diesel fuel can also be synthesized from gas or coal. This is done on a very large scale in some places. The U.S. Navy has developed a process that uses electricity from the nuclear power plant on an aircraft carrier to extract carbon dioxide from ocean water to make fuel for both it's jets and accompanying fuel oil powered vessels.
Methanol is corrosive stuff, and its vapors do not play well with traditional lubricants and sealants. Experiments with the fuel in the 'seventies and 'eighties did not end well. Those problem has largely been solved by modern material science.
If you are looking at alternative fuels, my favorite is dimethyl ether (DME). DME is handled like liquid propane, and works as a fuel in very efficient, high compression diesel engines, and as a home heating and cooking gas, producing no troublesome particulates as ordinary diesel and gasoline powered vehicles do. DME can be made from cheap fracked gas, coal, or agricultural "wastes." A DME diesel plug-in electric hybrid vehicle might compete favorably with a Prius if the fuel was widely available.
But personally I'm sick of the fueled automobile age and would like to end it in favor of walkable cities, slow 35mph electric vehicles, and a massive expansion of electric powered railroads.
Every community could have a large railroad station at it's heart, handling both cargo and people.
People would walk, ride bicycles, of drive urban electric cars to places they worked and shopped. Electric cars parked and charged underneath solar roofs is an ideal arrangement. Employee and customer cars don't get cooked in the sun, and they are refueled as they are parked.
Still, it's better to work at home or walk to work.
A larger community might have just a single fuel station for people who still have reason to use dangerous, polluting, and obsolete forms of transportation. The sound of internal combustion engines or gas turbines is not music to my ears.
I hate my car. It's a nice comfortable car that cost $800 and has a salvage title. There's an analog fuel injection computer in this car that's lasted over 300,000 miles without a fault. I'll never buy a new car, especially a new car with all the systems computerized, cell phone network connectivity, and copy protected spyware installed as standard equipment.
Posted by hunter | Tue Aug 18, 2015, 11:01 PM (0 replies)
Dogs are clearly intelligent, sentient, and social beings very much like ourselves.
I think one of the major innovation of humans (and speculatively cetaceans such as orcas too) was story-telling.
Then later, when we humans started writing down our stories, entirely new levels of social complexity were achieved.
Are stories an important aspect of "intelligence?"
I don't know.
Looking at any ant-colony as a single organism it's very clear that the colony has a sort of intelligence in the way it responds to it's environment.
One can attribute similar sorts of intelligence to fungal colonies and plants. We are just now learning that plants, even across species boundaries, communicate in various ways, and even more fascinating, sometimes using fungal intermediaries.
What we humans call intelligence is simply a large box of tools. What we recognize as "intelligence" is measured against our own human toolbox.
Underlying intelligence it's all just chemistry. Nothing "woo" here. No religion, no mysticism. Not even any "emergent" properties. From my perspective any theory that "consciousness is an emergent property of the brain" is just more human mysticism.
Personally I'm not a big fan of human exceptionalism. It's blinded us to most of what's going on in the minds of species we share the planet with, even blinding us to even recognizing broad classes of intelligent behavior. For all our talk of "pattern recognition" we are blind and stupid, defining intelligence as the patterns we humans tend to recognize, but clueless about the rest.
If, by some unlikely circumstance this existing civilization doesn't entirely collapse in the manner typical of any innovative species experienceing exponential population growth, then "intelligence" in machines will continue to be an incremental process, just as it was in the evolution of natural life on earth.
My preferred answer to the Fermi Paradox is that the earth and universe are teaming with intelligent life. We are simply too dim and unintelligent to see it. We won't even recognize what intelligent life there is here on earth, creatures we share common ancestors with.
Posted by hunter | Fri Jul 31, 2015, 02:56 PM (0 replies)