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hunter's Journal
hunter's Journal
April 23, 2017

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?

April 21, 2017

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.

April 20, 2017

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&quot 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=mc2 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.

April 9, 2017

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.

April 8, 2017

In the end gardening skills and seeds will be important...

... and today's political circus, whatever horrors become of it, will be forgotten.

I think I chose one of the least lucrative biology majors, but I'd be a mess if I hadn't learned to think in geological time scales.

Holy crap, I could identify Foraminifera, but I didn't get a job with an oil company like one of my buddies did. I thought I'd be a science teacher instead. I burnt out on that quickly, but I'm not dead.

10,000 years from now, an instant in this planet's history, an instant even in human history, none of it matters. Trump is nothing. The Republican Party is nothing.

That doesn't mean I've retreated. Politically I'm fierce and it's because I have such a firm foundation in science, in REALITY. I don't have to accept or tolerate ignorance and anti-intellectualism.

I've dug up fossils, I've found bits of interesting bone in tar and dirt, and I've sifted archaeological sites on the Eastern Sierra.

On those time scales Trump is a silent-but-literally-deadly fart in the wind.

Every day I'm thinking of ways to minimize the damage, and I'm hoping this is beach where the Party of Ronald Reagan dies.

Trump reminds me a lot of Ronald Reagan. He's a tool. So is Pence.

I once attended a public event with Reagan, during his second term. I was riding on some slightly purloined press credentials. What I saw was a confused old man who didn't know where the hell he was or what he was doing there. But he had some acting skills and managed to fire off a few sound bites for the TV cameras and other lackey press. It was among the saddest things I've ever witnessed. Trump reminds me of that.

Profile Information

Name: Hunter
Gender: Male
Current location: California
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 37,952

About hunter

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

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