Current location: California
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 24,823
Current location: California
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 24,823
I'm a very dangerous fellow when I don't know what I'm doing.
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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)
... I was expecting the automobile culture would be dead by now.
I've never liked automobiles, especially the gasoline or diesel sort. They are stinky noisy expensive things that kill and maim people.
Nevertheless, when I was younger I did more than my fair share of driving.
My wife and I were Los Angeles commuters when we met, but we've avoided that lifestyle, most especially once we had children, who are all now 21+ adults. When our kids were infants and toddlers we were able to manage our work schedules so one of us was always home. We never did daycare. I'd also take our babies to my wife's work so they could nurse.
One of our kids now commutes (in a Prius...), an adaption to California's impossible Bay Area housing costs, where wages seem high until you look at the rents.
I drive a mid-eighties $800 car with a salvage title. I also have the mechanical skills to keep it going, barring any major engine failure. I have less than zero interest in cars. If someone gave me a new car, no matter how wonderful, I'd give it away as fast as I could.
Personally I don't care if the Interstate Highway system rots.
In my Utopia the maximum speed limit for anything but emergency vehicles is 35 miles per hour, including airplanes. Passengers and freight are moved long distances by ambling electric trains, and vacations are long enough to enjoy the ride.
Everyone is in too much of a hurry, and for what? We're all racing along the highway to hell, faster, faster, faster...
What our economists call "productivity" is a direct measure of the damage we are doing to the earth's natural environment and our own human spirit.
Posted by hunter | Thu Jul 30, 2015, 10:41 AM (0 replies)
We need to build communities where automobiles -- private, taxi, or otherwise -- are of little or no use to the "average" person.
I ought to be able to walk to the grocery store, post office/bank, pharmacy/general store, pub, and restaurants fast-food-and-otherwise, no automobile required.
Automobiles are tools of fascism, and they always have been. Who the hell cares what flavor of fascism it is?
Posted by hunter | Thu Jul 23, 2015, 06:22 PM (3 replies)