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Profile Information

Name: Hunter
Gender: Male
Current location: California
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 35,747

About Me

I'm a very dangerous fellow when I don't know what I'm doing.

Journal Archives

The theory of evolution goes both ways.

Most parasites evolved from more complex species. They gradually lose the ability to produce for themselves what they are taking from their hosts.

Case in point: Dodder


Dodder has lost the ability to photosynthesize it's own food. It sucks its food out of others.

The similarity to Trump and his uber-wealthy supporters is pretty clear, don't you think?

As workers become more productive, the uber-wealthy take all the profits and then some, hording the money in ways that do not improve the lives of those who actually created the wealth.

Some of the dogs I've wept for the most were dumb ass worthless creatures in every way.

But they've left me with many fine stories to tell and a much broader and generous appreciation of this world than I might not otherwise have enjoyed.

When my own grandma had fallen entirely over the cliffs at the borders of sanity, declared by the courts a danger to herself and others, no assisted living place would keep her, and many of her words were either pure madness or vile observations about her neighbors, friends, and family better left unspoken, she could still tell a good story and laugh about the crazy dogs and horses she'd known.

Dogs and horses are sentient beings, as are humans.

My favorite childhood dog used to jump into the cars of strangers, undiscovered until they got home. That's why her collar had a tag with our phone number and address on it. Hey, I found your stupid ass dog in my truck... This worthless dog, really, she was good for nothing and not even especially affectionate of humans as most dogs are, once ran away on a camping trip, and we stayed an extra night at that campground waiting for her to return, and she did about five o'clock the next day, so we stayed another night in that campground and missed Yellowstone. I was looking forward to Yellowstone.

But hey, hey, don't be mean, 'cuz no matter where you go, there you are. And everything is awesome.

My kids were Cub and Boy Scouts.

It was always a very uneasy truce between the Mormon and Catholic Scouts.

Then Proposition Hate happened, and the right intolerant wing of both religious parties decided they were allies.

Totally radicalized my kids, nephews, and nieces. They had wonderful queer adult family in their lives. They refused that shit.

My youngest would pluck Prop H8 signs off people's lawns and bang on their doors to tell them their signs were offensive. Those sad people would close the door on him and he'd take their signs, throwing them in back of my little pickup truck. I did recycle the wire and plastic of the signs landing in my truck, and confess it was near hundred. (I'd taken a few signs myself, including a big 4X8 plywood sign, but not so in-your-face aggressively. Maybe I was as bad, but not anywhere so courageous.)

Worst I did was write a harsh letter to the Bishop. He wrote a mushy letter back claiming he was trying to "control" the dialogue.

Better than my mom who once got into a scratching slapping girl fight with a Bishop... scars of my own childhood... My biggest fear on my own Big Catholic Wedding night was that my mom or her mom would go Berserker. They did not. Worst that happened was my sister-in-law, before the wedding, asked if she could play the church organ and she played Queen as my gay brother in law and mom were decorating the church with flowers. The sister in charge asked "That's pretty, what is it?"

The Wright brothers were flying this in 1904:


It's amazing progress that this B-29 was built forty years later.

Despite being a tool of war, it is a lovely plane and I totally understand and applaud the motivations of those volunteers who got it flying again. It's one of the reasons our family cars have salvage titles. So much as I hate automobiles (and war machines...) I get some satisfaction bringing dead machines back to life, feeling in my hands what the original designers and builders were about. Reading history isn't enough. Sometimes you must touch it.

I think this progress in aeronautics is why people thought we'd be crawling all over the solar system by now, having landed men on the moon.

But we have made a whole lot of progress in computers and telecommunications.

In 1977 I thought I was hot stuff writing FORTRAN for a mainframe computer far less powerful than any smart phone today.

It still amazes me that I can find in the e-waste bin what would have been the world's most powerful supercomputer of the 'seventies. Or I can buy a Raspberry Pi 3 computer rated at 460 MFLOPS for $35 in 2017 compared to the Cray I supercomputer rated 160MFLOPS which cost $8.8 million in 1977.

(A couple of people, amused by this comparison have built miniature Cray-1 models with a credit card sized Raspberry Pi inside.)

One thing that surprises me is how all this modern computing power has been put to use. I'm sure a lot of it has been devoted to military uses that are not common knowledge yet, just as some aspects of the B-29's design were not common knowledge when it was built. The most obvious and big money use for all this computer power is movie making.

I get frustrated with myself because I haven't used the computer power I've been blessed with to make any great advances in science. I liked to think of myself as some kind of mad scientist after I quit high school for college. (Truth was, I was mostly mad. We've got meds for that now.) I think some of my better "supercomputer" use is posting words on Democratic Underground, and occasionally I've done more practical things with this immense computing power, but I've not created any AI's or opened any portals into other universes...

Television "news" is worthless, especially in the U.S.A....

... where it's mostly propaganda and a medium for advertising.

I won't pay a dime for it and I won't suffer television advertising.

My television plays movies, commercial free, that's all it does. No cable, no satellite, no broadcast.

One reason I won't pay for any form of cable or satellite television is that a certain portion of my subscription would go to channels that are absolutely loathsome (like Fox News) whether I watch them or not.

It's time for traditional broadcast and television news to die. That business model is obsolete. This is one of the reasons "conservatives" like the Koch brothers are fighting net neutrality and affordable high speed internet, especially in Republican strongholds. They don't want the television propaganda outlets they influence and control losing viewers.

Colbert is our generation's Will Rogers and Mark Twain

He nailed it.

Prideful "isms" and religions are overwhelmingly awful.

In my mind, the most absurd isms are the sports hooliganisms. You riot because "your" sports team won or lost? That's mad.

But mostly sports isms are relatively harmless compared to religion and nationalism. (Patriotism is a flavor of nationalism...) Vast numbers of people die in those tribal disputes.

I was raised Jehovah's Witness and then Quaker, thanks to my mom's rebellion against the various Catholic vs. Protestant vs. every other "Judeo-Christian" religion disputes that plagued my ancestors. (I'm PTSD about Christmas because when I was a child it was a time of religious warfare within my family.)

I didn't say the Pledge of Allegiance in school, I didn't even stand up for it. I was already one of the weird kids and that just cemented it.

Okay, I'm a little proud of my Wild West heritage. My great grandmas were all fierce Wild West matriarchs skilled with knives, guns, and horses; the sort who could kill a bad man and call their friend the county sheriff-coroner to clean up the mess and file the proper paperwork.

My U.S.A. Civil War heritage is interesting. My ancestors were all living in U.S. territory at the time, but none partook of it.

"Bob?" Bob's not here.

One of my grandfathers was a Conscientious Objector in World War II, the other an Army Air Force officer.

My pacifist grandpa was offered a choice of prison or building and repairing ships for the Merchant Marine as a welder. He built and repaired ships. Both my grandpas were metal wizards. My Army Air Force grandpa mysteriously acquired a knack for titanium and other exotic metals during the war and was later an engineer for the Apollo project.

Everyone is searching for the thing that makes them "special." My formal training as an evolutionary biologist convinced me that everything we humans are will be nothing more than a peculiar layer of trash in the geologic record someday. Ball Point Pen Balls.

Does that make me special?

Thought experiment: Let's pretend solar panels are FREE.

Dropped on your driveway, FREE.

Your neighbor is growing them in his backyard like zucchini. They're tough panels too, like tire rubber, will last a good ten or fifteen years on your roof, maybe more.

So you buy a grid tie inverter, hire some roofers and electricians, and it's solar utopia, right?

Sadly, even in that fantastic scenario, I can't make the damned math work, and I can't save the world.

Can't do it with nuclear power or magical fusion power systems either.

A sustainable society looks nothing like the high energy society many DU members now enjoy, especially when it's extended to all the billions of people who now exist on this earth.

I'm not a "doomer." I think we already have the technologies we need to mitigate some of the worst horrors of our excesses. What we lack is the will, and the inclination to help our neighbors. We've already got climate change refugees, and soon-to-be refugees. We've got people who deny there's any problem. We've got people eagerly anticipating their fossil-fueled entry into our world economy and our "consumer" lifestyle. And we've got people chasing after pretty, impossible dreams of sporty electric cars powered by solar panels and wind turbines.

The trouble is 8, 10, 12 billion or more people can't live like affluent U.S. Americans without destroying what's left of this planet's natural and sustaining environment.

But maybe we can feed everyone, find comfortable homes and communities for everyone who is displaced, establish a universal medical care system robust enough to prevent plagues even as the climate changes in ways favorable to disease organisms, and most of all, stop fighting.

How do you create a low energy, low environmental impact society in which most people are happy, their communities thriving, and at peace with their neighbors?

New technologies may or may not be helpful, but that's not the answer.

That's one of the things I *LIKED* most about Arrival.

My own perception of time is a little twisted. I don't know why, but the narratives in my head fade in and out sometimes. Déjà vu and dread are constant companions. At times (heh, he said "times" I'm deliberately ignoring the narrative voice or voices in my head. We humans do what we do, and then another part of our physical brain makes up a story for it; a reason. Powerful psych meds with some irritating side effects keep me somewhat functional in this society; I suspect in less clock-calendar-and-linear-narrative obsessed society I'd do a little better. Maybe I wouldn't have to take meds at all.

I think our human perception of time, and our insistence on narrative, blinds us to many aspects of the universe we live in. A lot of it is cultural, but most of it is genetic. Every one of your ancestors, all the way back to the beginning of life on earth, survived to reproduce. Most every perception that wasn't conductive to that (even single cell life forms perceive) has been ruthlessly edited out by natural selection.

When I exam the physics of our situation, everything we think we know is an interference pattern written in light. E=mc[sup]2[/sup] doesn't mean matter can be converted to energy as most people think (atomic bombs go boom!), it means matter *is* energy and energy *is* matter. Yet photons know no time.

The universe is very big, the human mind is very small. There are many things we humans will never know; things we will never be able to comprehend.

I'm not a mystic in any way, I'm rather autistic in some ways and a fan of Richard Feynman and Houdini. Spiritualism and quantum physics don't mix. I don't have any patience with anyone's Tesla electric cosmologies, homeopathy, or power of positive thinking because, you know, quantum physics! crap. Faster than light travel, and time travel, so popular in science fiction, are eternal fantasy too, no more "real" than wizards and dragons and comic book superheros.

I enjoyed Arrival immensely, a story told as a gestalt, not as a "first this happened, then this, then this, then this..." narrative. And the visitors didn't fly in our out, they were just there and tangible to us, and then they were not. Our own lives in this universe are like that.

BBC reporters seem to do a much better job of giving their interviewees enough rope...

... to hang themselves.

Even when they fail that, the occasional raised-eyebrow and very British tone-of-incredulity cracks me up, especially when the person they are interviewing doesn't pick up on it and keeps blathering on. In the U.S.A, only our comedians are allowed to do that, people like Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert. American journalists live in fear of unemployment and rat-fucks. Look what happened to Dan Rather. Most U.S. journalists turn to mush at the slightest challenge.

I don't think the BBC is unbiased, but their biases are predictable and consistent.

NPR and PBS frequently disappoint me. At times I curse them as "Fox News for people who think they are too intelligent for Fox News." They are too timid, too afraid of upsetting their mega-sponsors and their affluent white subscribers, too afraid of venturing out beyond comfort zone of people who listen to the market report because they are invested in the market and not living paycheck to paycheck, terrified the old cars they drive to work will quit working and they won't be able to pay the rent.

I used to subscribe to KQED when my kids were small, I loved watching Sesame Street and Bill Nye the Science Guy with them, and we couldn't afford cable television. I custom built a directional UHF antenna just so we could receive them.

My kids are adults now. My wife and I don't watch any broadcast, cable, or satellite television anymore. Our television is a movie player, that's all it does. No advertising, no "supported by some-foundation-established-by-fascists-I-despise." My radios are mostly useless, except that I recently discovered The Moth Radio Hour which I should send some money too because I love story-telling and it would be a nice "fuck you" to all that medical debt attached to my name and social security number, enough to buy a very nice house in most of the U.S.A.

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