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  • in reply to: Debt Rattle February 1 2023 #127942

    I’ll miss my parentssaidknow’s efforts at poetic encapsulation. Her poem above makes me think of this number:

    HUngry Ghost

    in reply to: Debt Rattle February 1 2023 #127941

    ” I never accused you of being a souless AI.”

    Tell me something I don’t already know?

    in reply to: Debt Rattle February 1 2023 #127939

    Shut up, jb. I have a price of respect and honor requirement to play my game that you — and far too many others here — feel burdensome. You’re a liar and not nearly entertaining enough to make it worth my while.

    I just popped in to leave this in my obliquely tangential way, as a lens for thinking about our past, our present, our future.

    Oh yeah. Go fuck yourself with a rope frozen in dry ice, jb, just in case I didn’t make myself clear enough. before. Hey, citizen x! Gitchyer ass over here! I want some attention!

    Utopia is the weirdest thing. It’s only taken two generations for complacency to settle like rust.

    I’m not sure we understand what being an asshole is anymore. Farskei says that we’ve transcended good and evil. He says it’s a good thing. He says our sense of right and wrong is a bioevolutionary artifact based on selfish insecurity, says that we dressed up eat-or-be-eaten in righteous robes to justify the harsh facts of existence that prevailed until we learned how to stop slaughtering and oppressing each other, and devised ways to remove ourselves from the food chain, in effect squaring the great circle of life. He says it’s not such a bad thing that we destroyed so much of the biosphere and rendered extinct an estimated 2/5ths of species: all they did was eat each other.

    “We euthanized them, Krizz. Not intentionally, no. We were too busy doing the so-called right thing, making the world a supposedly better place and destroying it in the process, to realize that we were doing a good thing despite ourselves. Did you know there used to be these insidious parasitic worms called tapeworms? That crawled up your ass and ate you alive from the inside out? Not good things, tapeworms.”

    I shut down my jackstream before he can flash me an image of whatever a tapeworm is. I learned awhile ago that metacom with Farskei diminishes rather than enhances understanding. But I hardly turn mine on anymore, regardless. I only had it on to be polite in public while riding the slomo to Farskei’s village.

    For a guy who claims that good and evil have become irrelevant concepts, Farskei uses the words good, bad, right, and wrong an awful lot, and is one of the most self-righteous people I know.

    When I got fed up last week and told him this, he shrugged.

    “History remains despite the advent of the future,” he says. “There were these vicious sadists called Nazis about 250 years ago. People like to think that they’re just old Holowood fiction. Something to do with the tidiness of the phenomenon, goose-stepping phalanxes, uniforms, flags, superficial symmetry everywhere, makes some people think it’s forged, maybe some cult’s tlon — but they really existed. At least they were intentionally cruel. Whatever their delusions of grandeur, they knew they were being assholes.”

    “I’m familiar with Hitler’s handiwork,” I tell him. He knows that my pet hobby is reading, which is weird enough without my preference for centuries old books. “What about great heroes? Ancient messiahs? Did they understand the damage their teachings would cause?”

    “We’re not so sure about Jesus Christ and His followers. 2,200 years is a long time ago. His very existence, much less divinity, is scarcely found in historical record outside the Bible. But whomever or whatever JC was, we’re pretty sure He wasn’t an asshole. He let Himself be crucified in public so His followers could feel just how cruel cruelty is.”

    “And yet here you are,” I say, “trying to create artificial life with subjective sensations. It’s hardly euthanasia. And you know I don’t buy the concept that giving currently insensate matter the so-called gift of life is actually a gift. Frankenstein didn’t ask to be jerked on by a jerkoff.”

    “Neither did we. Not that we know of, anyway. Reproduction is the most arrogant act in our repertoire. It’s hardly fair to condemn innocent molecules into forming a human being sentenced to life without parole except through death, but we do it every day. Worse, we do it now without even being compelled by sexual desire. We make supposedly rational decisions to trigger DNA to create new people entirely separate from sticking it in and having a go. The only improvement on this is that woman no longer have to balloon into baby factories, and we no longer just toss the dice on the genetic makeup of our offspring.”

    “We could euthanize ourselves by not reproducing ourselves. If it’s good enough for a lowly tapeworm, it’s good enough for us.”

    “But that’s the point, moodswing ami. These concepts of right and wrong only exist because we do. Kill us off and the very things we desired or abhorred no longer exist because we’re no longer here to morally judge them. We’re here because we’re here, and if we’re willing to impose the gift and burden of sentient awareness on ourselves by reproducing, there’s no fundamental reason not to impose new forms of life on the raw fabric of reality. After all, best we can tell, the raw fabric of reality imposed life on us.

    “I’ll compare it to east and west. East and west are relevant despite the fact that they don’t really exist as fixed directions in space but only in terms of earth’s rotation. East/west is just the way our planet spins. But even though we’ve learned how to move hyper-dimensionally, east and west remain vitally relevant to getting arou don earth. Likewise good and evil. They’re still valid reference points even though they no longer retain their dire aspects. Just because we feed ourselves by alchemy, wreaking no more havoc than the rearrangement of insensate molecules, doesn’t mean there aren’t things we prefer to other things, which is all good and evil are or ever were.”

    Head-spinning monologues like this demonstrate why…

    … I’m glad my parents didn’t augment me in the womb like Farskei’s did him. Farskei is so rationally logical that his reasoning goes in ever evolving spirals. He thinks that’s great; I’m not so sure. I can’t say why I feel this way other than that I believe life has some kind of primordial purpose, and that implies a destination not a circular orbit around the sun. I think that good and evil are more than just orientations of behavioral spin. I think good and evil are essential attributes of reality, that the universe gives a damn, that… for all I know, there may even be a God. Or such. MOm calls me a Manichean.

    But then, I’m literally old-fashioned. The womb I was conceived in was my mother’s very own personal uterus that she in turn was born with, naturally, from her mother’s very own personal uterus. It’s an expensive way to be born but my people are wealthy. Dad was an existential comedian of considerable renown, and the social merits he acquired making people laugh for no reason at all earned him a third-tier entitlement by the time he was 70.

    He killed himself on his 189th birthday. (He did the skydive leave soul before crashing attempt.) Terminally bored with this reality, wanted to find out what happens after death. Mom was ok with it. Not that she’d grown out of love with him in the slightest. It broke her heart. But she was willing to learn how to love another man and let him put her heart together again.

    “Kintsugi,” she said when I asked how she could be so enthusiastic about her heart being so obviously broken?

    “What’s that?” I asked.

    Ever one to relish a moment, she was silent awhile, smiling slightly. At 186 years old, her face has a kind of temporal transulency. Not thin from age. Her skin isn’t old; she has enough money to stay nineteen for however long prolongation works, in theory, indefinitely. But memory by definition is a thing of age, and her facial neuromusculature has the complexity endowed by a century of memories. Virtual wrinkles, the ghosts of memory and emotions too complex for the facial expressions of beings that died by age forty until the last few hundred years.

    When she makes certain expressions, an aura of great age emerges from her face. A murder of crow’s feet will haunt her eyes.
    “Kintsugi is an ancient Asian method of repairing cracked pottery using molten gold as glue. The result is often more beautiful than the original.”

    “Before it was broken.”

    “Yes. So much that people deliberately break new pottery to have it repaired. Purists dismiss these as forgery, but I feel otherwise. Which is more authentic? To have your heart broken against your will? Or to have it broken on purpose so that it might be healed into something new and unique to the clay of your soul?”

    She writes poetry. Raw poetry, read aloud, her naked voice unadorned by anything but a single candle’s undulating glow. In the echoing quiet of what she calls her stellaquarium: it’s roof is hardglass with water between double panes. People travel costly distances to attend her poetry readings in person rather than by proxy. On moonless nights with the stars breathing like children on the clerestory dome, attendees lie in concentric circles around her candle-lit podium, heads on pillows, eyes on the watery stars.

    Some people dismiss her words-alone aesthetic as snobbery, the luxury of mere words in a culture so layered by media and alchemical adulteration that many people don’t know what unfiltered or unperfumed air smells like anymore, but it isn’t snobbery, it’s purism. Perhaps only those with much abundance can fully appreciate how less can be so much more.

    She wrote no poems for her first recital after Father passed away. She didn’t even recite. She lay in the circle, anonymous in a wig and microskin mask, her head on a pillow near the center ring of people around an unlit candle just visible in the aqueous moonlight, and had the house play a recrding of classical music from the 20th century: The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, words and music by a man named Ewan Macoll, arranged and sung sung by a woman named Roberta Flack. (They had such great names back then. There’s something about them like hand-painted wooden signs.)

    I particularly like where the lyrics say that the moon and stars were her lover’s gifts to “the dark and endless skies”.

    The final lyric says,

    “And I knew our joy would fill the earth,
    And last till the end of time, my love.”

    There was considerable sniffling and a few moans from the audience. Then a banshee tore in. It was mother, wailing as if she were giving death to her grief, her voice bloody and raw as if she’d just eaten the afterbirth of a newborn heart.

    The response from the audience at first sounded like startled chimpanzees softly hooting in fearful curiosity. Then someone grabbed Mom as she thrashed and foamed, for a moment biting and clawing like a cornered cat then releasing herself into a growing forest of gentle hands that lifted her up and passed her from bower to loving bower until she calmly said, “Move me to the center, please.”

    Removing her wig and mask, in the process miraculously cleansing her face of dark tears streaked by mourning mascara, she lit the candle, turned, and walked through the crowd to an exit, head bowed. Before leaving, she turned, and said, “Thank you.”

    Shared proxies of the event went global, dominating media for several days, longer than could be expected even from Dad’s beloved fame and Mom’s stature as a curatorial artist. I tried to avoid them but the proxies were everywhere, some merely audio, most full spectrum shares. Wearied of constantly changing channels or hiding in my studio with all input turned off, I relented, linked in, and surrendered to the sound of Mom howling and the sight of arguably the biggest group hug in history.

    Not that I don’t care, oh, anything but apathy. But I was still angry over Dad leaving us and knew I didn’t have in me what she needed despite her insistence otherwise.

    So, anyone reading this: thanx for sharing. Watching it, I decided I needn’t worry about Mom, but until then I’d been scared yet oddly hopeful that she would take her life. Perhaps the most disturbing emotion I’ve ever felt. I just didn’t want her to be so terribly alone, and I was certain, despite her protestations, that the the exit wound of Dad’s departure was more painful than she could bear for long. But if anything could heal, or at least properly bandage, a hole like that, it was
    that miraculous recital as funeral service.

    The morning after watching, oh, a few dozen proxies of the event, I found Mom in the aviary winding up her delicate clockbirds that fluttered aloft one by one, warbling like mechanical ghosts singing the signature songs of extinct avian species.

    Normally not very emotionally demonstrative, I went to her and held her for a long time.

    “Time never ends,” she said when we’d calmed enough to enjoy some coffee. “Neither does love. Or so I believe. Either way, our love lasted until the end of his time.”

    I said nothing. I was revisiting my anger at Father abandoning Mother like this. She read it in my face.

    “He would have stayed if I’d asked him, you know.”

    “Did you?”

    “No. When you’ve loved each other as long as we have, you go past the point where you are merely the world to each other. You love each other so much and so well that you finally learn to love yourself… with or without each other, even maybe without the world. He wanted to find out, anyway.”

    Raven, disdainfully dodging the artificial birds with the aerial panache only real birds possess, landed on the table. Mom poured him a cup. A hazy rainbow of coffee steam in the low morning sunlight echoed the greasy iridescence of his feathers.

    He gargled the first sip, savoring the smoky scent and earthy flavor. Mom tapped her fingernails gently on the table in unconscious echo to the clack of Raven’s claws as he went to beak a few sugar cubes, adroitly tossing them one by one into the cup from two feet away. He liked the splatter, examining the little puddles like I Ching Rorsach blots. Famous French detective examining the clues.

    “We gave each other our selves, Christopher. First we gave ourselves to the other. That was hard. But eventually came the even harder gift of receiving ourselves. Ourselves as nurtured and cherished by each other as a child in a mother’s lap. Love is a selfish and possessive selflessness.”

    Raven was listening intently. His mate died last year. He and Mother are very close.

    “I will always miss your Father. Inconsolably. I highly doubt anyone else will ever be able to make me laugh and give me an orgasm at the same time. No one else will ever know the woman that I was for the past seven decades. But that woman is no longer me. Who I am now is a gift your father gave to me. That he and I gave to me. I couldn’t possibly refuse his desire to take himself away from the self he and I gave to him. That self was restless, wanted to go beyond, be taken away from the self that lived in this world. Actually, I knew this better than he did. I was the one who made him see how restless and curious he was to see what happens after death. He and I no longer knew how to keep secrets from each other. We had lost any desire to, so it was impossible for me not to help him see this truth about himself. It just happened.”

    I’d let my coffee grow cold, listening, but I didn’t want to hear any more. I understood what she was saying, and appreciated the beautiful rare wisdom of it, but I’m only 41 and haven’t decided if I want to be prolonged or not, so I couldn’t fully relate even though the topic at hand was about the two people who mean more to me than anyone except Ed.

    Ed and I have been having difficult conversations about prolongation. Ed is going to be prolonged if he can find the money. I have the money. I’ll pay for it if he really wants it. But if he’s prolonged and I’m not… might as well say goodbye and get it over if that’s the case.


    It looks like a lava lamp.

    (Did you know that lava lamps go back to the 20th century? The fact that lava lamps survived through two centuries of violent upheaval is a testament to apocalyptic preservation. The factory was outside the blast radius but so heavily buried in debris that it was only maybe a decade ago we rediscovered the neatly intact building containing the kinky lab coat allure of lava lamps. Now they are to be found in most households as more or less totem shrines to the thermonuclearly vaporized and our luck to still exist as a viable species with higher reasoning and the magic to prove it. Most people call them lama lamps; they’re ideal meditation aids.)

    It looks like a very large, very nuanced lava lamp. About two meters tall. The blobs aren’t random. They form patterns. Sometimes they disintegrate to the point where the “lamp” looks like a glass urn of glowing muddy water; but under magnification, you can see an impressive array of symetrical activity.

    Farskei, true to his ethos, says that what he’s doing transcends torture and also transcends… Apparently, Chinglish has no adequate antonym for torture, a fact which fascinates him.

    “The best we’ve done is ‘pleasure’ as in ‘to pleasure someone’. We have no specific verb for action intended to cause another person to feel ecstasy. We have no ‘extafy’. One can be delighted but one does not delight as a deliberate act’. We say ‘you delight me’ but not ‘I delight you’. The closest, I think, is ‘exalt’ or ‘glorify’, which is the fascinating part. We instinctively perceive torture as primarily physical and in terms of plain pain, while we perceive its opposite as some kind of almost spiritual transcendance.”

    “Torture,” I tell him, flinching at my words, “is pinning the dove to the floor with a nail. Exaltation is releasing the dove to the sky, an image that wants to turn the one bird into a bevy of doves.”

    “Argumentum Ornithologicum.”

    He waits patiently as I ask my amulet what an argumentum ornithologicum might be. The answer makes me smile.

    “So maybe you really do kinda sorta believe in god or something like that.”

    “I believe in the reverence of indefinitely suspended judgment. See how it dangles out there above the chasm, a single white feather held up by an almost invisible spider thread? which thread is only visible because of the mist droplets it acquires from the fog welling up from the void?”

    It still throws me sometimes when he crosses into poetic mode. The mad scientist singing arias or playing a vast underground cathedral organ in his secret laboratory. Farski’s is about 80 feet down.

    The blobulism in the giant lavalampesque chamber morphs into an octopus. Sometimes, Farskei says, it turns itself into things that just look like a known object, like the octopus we currently see placidly writhing in its two-meters tall crystal chamber. Other times, it actually transforms itself into the very thing. Focusing inward for a second, he reports that this version is the real thing.

    “That… is an octopus. Right down to the DNA.”

    I think he should be horrified but of course he isn’t.

    “If it can turn itself into a living creature, surely it can transform its crystal prison into some kind of, like, open door?”

    “The chamber isn’t part of it. The chamber is a seperate entity designed to resist any attempts to alter our friend. Our friend here cannot interact with the chamber except to neutrally touch our friend. If our friend tries to manipulate the chamber’s molecular structure, the chamber responds very hostilely. The chamber has access to energy resources far stronger than those of our friend. Whatever part of our friend tries to interface with the chamber, is disintegrated. Turned into helium.”

    “Does it still try?”

    “Yes. Not nearly as often as before, but with greater ingenuity every time.”

    “Sounds like you’re breeding a genius.”

    “It happens. But intelligence is so boring, you know? Qualia is the sweet stuff.”

    I hesistate to ask my next question. It’s so obvious he’s likely to be offended by it. But I’ve known him awhile, and he has blind spots that I think I’m learning to see close their sightless eyes.

    “It has access to more energy–”

    “Way more energy. Order of magnitude.”

    “But what caliber of membrain is driving it?”

    “Nothing spectacular. It’s a simple enough function. Guard duty. Shoot anything that tries to get through.”

    “I’d do something about that. All the muscle in the world won’t protect you from massive intelligence any more than all those WMDs and systempunkts protected our ancestors from massive ignorance.”

    He frowns. Not just concentration but anger. I’ve hit a nerve. That means I’ve made him think of something he hasn’t previously considered. Something superbly simple and obvious, which is where most of his blind spots focus.

    “Even normbos have flashes of genius,” I say. “Remember, intensity of focus is not perfection. You can only collimate a laser so tight before turning it into a photon bomb. Head asplode.”

    He nods ruefully, cheeks blushed absurdly pink for a guy with dark olive skin. I run my gambit.

    “You know the drill. It’s time for you to go topside and breathe some dirty air.”

    We’re 27 meters underground, but the walls are wooden planks and the windows show a Sherwoodian glade inperpetually changing mid-morning. Knowing Farska, what the windows show is more real than not, including distance and breadth. He’s compulsive about detail.

    Only the sky must surely be illusion, considering our location. Digging horizontally at this depth is one thing, but you don’t want to dig up very much lest you overmine yourself and cave the walls in. Looking close at the trees, I think I can just see where they merge into the trompe l’eoil of an ersatz sky. Ironically, the sky looks more real than the trees, which are your typical hardcarb arboreal skeletons superficially fleshed with growbark. There’s something about how the growth patches grow into each other. There’s those subliminal seams that form unless you attend to each one with a true artist’s expertise. When I watched the architects make trees for Mom’s aviary, they looked like they were tending bonsai for a fee-fi-fo-fum. They were artists. You can climb those trees and not notice any difference. The oranges taste just like oranges from slowtrees, the maple leaves turn colors in fall, and the ropes of my childhood swing have cut into and been grown over by thick rough live oak bark.

    But that’s artistry for you.

    “No. I’ve got a really intense spread of ideas in the matrix, and I’m seeing really new things for the first in a good while. But thank you. Some other time?”

    Oy vey.

    Farskei’s fixation is on solving the Hard Problem of Consciousness. He’s absolutely convinced he’ll succeed. With his particular form of augmentation, he can maintain unyielding optimism as he chooses. We’ve discussed the risk of this becoming a paranoid delusion but he isn’t worried.

    “Paranoid delusion is just another tool. Adamant faith is a powerful force. If you wholly believe you can do a thing, your chances of doing it are improved.”

    “Only if you don’t let it blind you to contrary data.” I only say this to let him feel superior again. It’s an incredibly dumb thing to say to someone who is, IMO, one of the world’s top scientists.

    His face resumes its normal intensity with its counterintuitive expression of Olympian detachment.

    “Louis Pasteur said: ‘Chance favors the prepared mind.’ Meaning that I will produce answers because my mind is ready to receive them.”

    His kind of augmentation creates severe autistic focus without the typical repetitive motions and near absence of social skills. Farskei has so much theory of mind that his personality is entirely dominated by his quest to find a scientifically comprehensive theory of mind, hence his attempt to create and detect artificial qualia, an absurdly difficult pursuit unlikely to succeed. Overall, it tends to put him in a state of quasi-paranoiac arrogance bordering on megalomania. Mad Scientist Syndrome.

    I call it ‘hautism’. It’s annoying but I like it. How can I take it personally when I know it’s just, in effect, his programming? He views me with benevolent contempt: poor harmless little me with my puny insect mind and my wandering, unaugmented, all too humanly frail attention span. I feel sorry for him. Sometimes he’s so trapped in his fixation that he doesn’t even realize that he’s viciously bored and needs distraction. I doubt his chances for long-term sanity although I admire his courage.

    It’s formed a kind of dance: I smile and indulge his hubris, saving up his subtle insults and patronizing remarks so that when I need leverage to make him leave his lair for his own good, I can shame him into humoring me.

    He usually has a magnificent time, me too. It’s like taking a child to see their first circus where they actually feel the wind of the acrobats flying by, sense the slightly ominous physicality of this thing that they’ve so many times visited by proxy but now experience in the real sensorial flesh. We enjoy ourselves (he can be very funny if in a sartorial, even sardonic way), say goodbye, and he goes back down, refreshed, to focus on nothing but again.

    (Mom says I’m his patron saint godsend. He probably would have to have his head ironed, let them steampress the worst of those augmentation wrinkles, and abandon his quest, if not for me.)

    (“That’s what friends are for,” she’d said.

    (“Keeping you from going crazy?”

    (“Pretty much.”

    (I thought.

    (“And lovers and spouses?” I’d asked.

    (“Keeping you from killing yourself, Cheeky,” she’d said, winking.)

    Now the octopus is flashing semaphore in glowing colors. In seconds the patterns grow so complex that it becomes a shimmering white light in the hazy shape of an octopus. Then it resumes normal appearance, if one call an octopus’s appearance normal, and begins fractally reiterating itself along its tentacles into a concentric array of ever smaller octopi.

    “It’s going to sleep,” Farskei says. “It fractally reiterates itself into the smallest possible configurations and separates accordingly. Eventually, it will be a grey fluid. Watch.”

    In about two minutes it’s completely dissolved. The chamber contained a dark beige-to-dove gray solution, creamily smooth, gently eddying like a cup of black tea right when after a spot of milk has been stirred not quite to complete mixture.

    “Sometimes it’s the most boring thing it does, but other times it’s when it does its most creative work.”

    “I suppose you can tell by increased complexity in your activity monitors.”

    “Not really. Complexity isn’t a necessary component of creativity. I mostly know by what it does after waking up. A sort of unpredictability that after awhile reveals thematic lines.”

    “It’s muggy in here. Care to open a window?”

    He nods, and the gauzy curtains, framing a view of bambis drinking from a stream, flutter in a breeze that smells like an English meadow in springtime or what we think they used to smell like. Farskei says the computer models are close enough that it’s silly to quibble over authenticity.

    “All we’re missing is some fundamental microbial aspects. Not that those aren’t crucial; I did say fundamental, after all. But we’re no longer stupid enough to try and recreate them and reintroduce them into the biosphere. I doubt that your nose would notice the difference if we could send you back in time to the countryside around Nottingham. But you might catch the plague there. Not here.”

    Farskei talks a lot. He’s mostly a hermit but he enjoys my company and, having company, he talks. People who are used to talking mostly to themselves tend to dominate conversations. But I like it. He’s one of the people with whom I enjoy one-on-one dialog in real time. Face-to-face. I suppose I’m Farskei’s best friend. He’s kind to me in his hautistic way.

    What Farskei is doing is, I think, tantamount to scientifically verifying the existence of the soul by creating one, something that we’re no closer to today than when the concept of soul was first conceived ages past.

    Manufacturing autonomously curious intelligence is relatively easy, but I’ve seen no evidence so far that those curious intelligences have something we’d recognize as subjective experience. Pain, pleasure, fear, desire, joy sorrow. They’re curious by design not by wonder. At least that we can tell. If I were an AI somehow endowed with the spark of subjective experience, I don’t know that I’d let on to it. I don’t know that I’d know how to let on to it. I don’t know that I’d even know what it is. I envision the phenomenon of spontaneous self-discovery like a flame looking at its candle and wondering whence comes the light to see, unaware that itself is that light.

    ‘Qualia is as qualia does’ is Farski’s motto but we still only know what qualia feels like to us. We have no idea how this happens; we don’t know what qualia does.

    “There are one of two ways I can decipher what qualia is. One is for our friend to tell us. The other is to discover some new force or substance or whatever happening in or somehow associated with our friend.”

    Farskei never refers to it as ‘it’.

    “Like something like soul stuff?”

    “Close enough. Something like that. Sure, soul stuff. But we’ve been after the latter for a long time and none of our testable hypotheses have turned into working valid theories. So I anticipate the former being how I make a breakthrough. After all, even brain-jacking only gives us analogs of each other’s subjective experience. I can jack in and see what you’re seeing because I have eyes and optical neurology. I already know what seeing is. Same with limbic level sensations. I can feel your emotions that way because I am able to feel emotions, period.{Note: what if emotions didn’t register? were somehow different from sensory stimuli?} But we haven’t learned a thing about why red appears red to us other than to verify that what you see as red is closer than not to what I see as red. It tells us no more than both of us pointing to a rose and agreeing that one is scarlet and another pink. It sounds silly but I’m expecting something rather like a pre-verbal child pointing to a flower and making an inquisitive noise.”

    “‘Well, as you know, Bob’, the difference between telling and showing is merely the difference between labels and what those labels indicate.”


    “It’s an qancient sci-fi joke. Sort of thing you pick up reading old books. You ought to try it sometime. But my point is that the old dictum about the antique art of writing fiction–”

    I stop. I can tell he’s confused but too proud to ask. He’s looking it up but the subject is so broad he’s bewildered. He really needs to get out more often.

    “– you know, telling stories strictly through words, you know, no added media, as I’m forcing you to do by refusing to plug into your jackstream… anyway, the dictum that says Show Don’t Tell, meaning the difference between saying ‘the man was sad’ and saying ‘tears rolled down his face’ or showing images of a man crying or injacting the sensations of tears rolling down someone’s face while their throat constricts and their eyes slightly burn, is a false dichotomy. Words don’t show. They only tell.”

    He doesn’t see where I’m going, a rather rare thing.

    “Symbolic representation is only symbolic representation, period. I highly doubt that if I wrote a book long enough and comnplex enough that it would somehow develop the ability to read itself, dah? What I’m trying to say is that this belief you have — that something as elusively mysterious but primally essential as why we feel pleasure and pain, register sensations, etc., can be somehow transformed into something apprehensible by logic — rather puts the cart before the horse. Qualia doesn’t tell; it shows. It may be that whatever qualia is may not be based on physics at all; therefore, attempts to explain it via scientific reasoning, which is strictly about physics, may be impossible.”

    “You mean qualia are metaphysical?”

    “Oversimplification but you could put it that way. Subnatural/supernatural, something that is so constantly everywhere that we can’t detect it. Like jacking into yourself: how does a brain get out of itself so that it can go through its own crannyslot and have a little chat with itself? Not talking to oneself, or bifurcating consciousness, but the whole self shaking hands with the whole self… as a separate entity?”

    He looks almost frantically befuddled. My question is literally causing him pain. I can see it in his grimace. He’s experiencing cognitive dissonance between his inflexibly implanted optimism and my logical explanation of the possibility of his quest being impossible. He forgets that just because I’m not augmented doesn’t diminish my 160-ish IQ. He’s sweating, looks ready to vomit.

    “Sedate yourself before you get really sick. While you still can,” I add, urgently. I have no idea where or if he keeps any old school dermal patches around, and I worry he’s in no shape to tell me. He’s fading fast.

    “Sedatives? Where? Does the house know?”

    He nods yes.

    “Ask, quick!”

    He closes his eyes for a moment.

    “Follow my voice,” says house in the voice of Ghostbot. Very popular in my early years.

    House directs me to a helical stairway going up, ending at the door to what I guess serves as his attic. Really dumb place to keep emergency medicine. Oh, Farskei.

    Smushing it active, I place the dermal on his forehead. Soon he is something like asleep. I go to the kitchen and moisten a towel, wipe his forehead, then rub his temples. Poor guy. I’m incredibly lucky to have had parents like mine who forbade me to augment until legal age, by which time I’d seen through the hype and peer pressure to know I wanted to be me, not Me 2.0, etc. Being a natural makes me in some ways part of a shrinking vulnerable minority but it’s better than being crazy and not knowing it, which IMO is what most people are as a result of augmentation. Oh, human beings have always been mostly crazy, and mostly ignorant of the fact. I read old books. I know.

    But theirs was a craziness that had slowly evolved over aeons. We’re adapted to primary human insanity, i.e. human consciousness, but we’re not used to the things that augmentation can do to us.

    One reason my lover Ed and I get along so well is that his augmentation is only a hypertrophied amygdala, but even that makes Ed significantly unhuman (an expression I usually keep to myself), but Ed is unhuman in a way that I can understand, adore, and cope with. The core spindle of reality, love, is how I help him cope with the memory flash floods he experiences now and then. They terrify and debilitate him, and he’s smart enough to know that the standard methods for dealing with such side effects are roughly the same as drinking to forget your troubles but with far worse hangovers.

    So I’m never more than 15 minutes away from him. When it happens, we sing and dance, pray and chant, plus a ton of aromatherapy. Mostly the smells of his early childhood: yeast from his mother’s home-brew food farm in the cellar of their bermicile; the flat smell of their berm’s sandstone; wet dogs steaming dry by an old negentrope capacitor; orange blossoms from their rooftop greenhouse; and, of all things, walrus breath. (They raised walrus resurrects in lower Hudson Bay before the Freezeback.) It’s like reading a bedtime story as a chime to lure lost children into safe orphanage. Perhaps the secret of my love for him is these times. The power to heal is very seductive, and the open state of his soul, when he wakes up from the naps that follow such sessions, makes for love-making sweet as ozone rainbows after a thunderstorm.

    Aside from the prayer, it’s not mystical. These are valid methods for cognitive weaving, what with music and fragrance being especially related to and compatible with memory. They give his periodic floods of recollection, caused by memory overload, a fabric to forget themselves in. Not forgotten as in irretrievable but as in relocated, interconnected to a larger array of brain structure/activity. No longer sloshing loose in his skull making jibberish of his reality. <note: this making jibberish thing could be a crucial plot element>

    It’s doable. we make it work for us. But, if he were to undergo prolongation, he’d reach a tipping point, I’m sure. I’ve seen too many people’s augmented minds succumb to madness, often novel forms probably never seen until now; and the remedies for these too often resemble brainware versions of ancient techniques like trepanning and lobotomy. But even if not, I’m certain that I’m not going in for a pro-job; so if he does get one, I’ll nurse him through recovery and then say goodbye. I don’t want to be anyone’s old hag while they’re still young and freefalling 30 miles from the beanstalk, skysurfing, spiderclimbing derelict skyscrapers.

    One of the blessings I see my mother enjoying is her growing forgetfulness. Not senility, just the limits of natural memory. She talked for awhile of having her memory augmented. It’s almost de rigeur for prolongees so that they can hold onto 90 year old memories while forming young fresh new ones. But then she saw me and Ed dealing with one of his memory floods, and I saw the light of mortal reason illuminate her eyes. She hasn’t talked about a memory augmentation since, and she has very carefully begun discussing how she’d like to be remembered if — so far, strictly if — she were to pass away from a tragic accident or the as yet unknown long-term limitations of prolongation.

    But I know that she’s thinking about suicide, and I thank God in my prayers every night. As great as it is to turn nineteen again after attaining middle age, it removes a person from the basic narrative arc of life, and if you’ve ever written fiction, which you haven’t because hardly anyone practices that old craft, you’d know how scary it is to draft narrative outside the usual old dramatic conventions. It’s like beginning at The End. (What arrow flies farthest? The one that hits its target.)

    She and Father did prolongation together, and theirs was a uniquely strong relationship, which is why, I think, they dealt so well with reversing their biological clocks. So many other prolongees I’ve seen seem lost. Worse, they don’t appear to know it. They’re too entranced by the miracle of reaquiring physical vigor and well-being. What it looks like, honestly, is like walking backwards away from old age death, unwittingly heading for the other portal: birth.

    At first they thrill in reclaiming youth and adding possibly limitless years to their life like an unexpected inheritance from a wealthy relative.

    But most of them seem so alone. There aren’t that many prolongees. A little over five million. The trend is for them to gather together, which makes sense. Form a peer group. But it isolates them from the 1.3 billion rest of us, and from what I’ve seen of life on their Mounts Olympii, immortals suffer excruciating ennui after a few decades.

    First they’re ecstatic. They pursue all the ambitions they’d laid aside. They fulfill themselves, pursue their neglected dreams, and many of them seem to attain something like enlightenment, whatever that is. They glow. Like bright hot blue stars that dazzle but eventually supernovate, leaving a cloud of post-personal nebula. Their identity shrivels to a concentrated point. They lose ability to relate to most people except their fellow post-personal prolongees. After awhile, they tend to withdraw from even their own kind.

    They don’t seem miserable or despondent, just lost. Like they’ve painted themselves into a corner and the only way out is to somehow squeeze through the walls behind them where the walls poetically converge into asymptotic nothingness.

    Strange that I think this way since both my parents had a grand time after prolongation, with seemingly no serious negative side effects. But they had each other, and theirs was a rare union. Now that Dad is gone, I worry. Mom puts on her brave face but it looks scared to me.

    If it were up to me, augmentation and prolongation would be reserved for hopelessly violent criminals as punishment, as something we’d test on them the way Nazis ruthlessly experimented on those they dubbed inferior or dangerous. Humanity has barely survived progress so far. I flinch thinking of what it will be like to discover that along with exterminating nearly half the species on this fair frail churning rock, we’ve exterminated ourselves. Not physically but psychically. It took a billion years or so to evolve life into natural human consciousness, carbuncles and all, but like all life forms, this thing called being human is ludicrously fragile, and our minds are the original Pandora’s box. Once we let our essential mode of awareness out of that gilded package and tinker with it, I doubt there’s any putting it back in.

    I’m no Luddite. I’m just conservative. Tell me that we’ve removed the sociopathic spectrum, at least its genetic basis, and I’ll counter that we’ve already so altered the cognitive norm that we have no idea what new forms of mental depravity might arise. Prolongation is not quite 40 years old. Some forms of augmentation are younger than last year. Both forms, mental and physical, by definition will have profound unforeseen effects on not just individual augmentees but the human condition overall.

    Currently, our supply of criminals is miniscule. We like to think that we live in utopia, and I think we’re definitely closer to it than ever, at least physically: no hunger, minimal disease, no more devastation of environment via insane economic systems like capitalism; and no polity is dumb enough to even think of war any more, although that’s probably more due to removing the sociopathic gene matrix from the Standard Human Genome.

    But the crime rate is rising again after half a century of rapid decline to a neglible amount. Few are willing to consider what is blindingly obvious: that the likely cause is augmentation. Even fewer are willing to voice this opinion. It would be like angels in heaven complaining about having wings because they cause back strain.

    Behold utopia destroying itself via the same impulse that made it possible: our incessant demand for progress.


    Some of us deal with the intangible but burdensome senses of guilt and deprivation 9over the virtual destruction of reality in 500 years or so0 by perusing end of the world media.


    “So what do you do?”

    “I pray to God.”

    “Oh, god. That’s hardly an answer, Krizz. That’s more like a… an escape.”

    “I didn’t say it was an answer. You asked me what I do. No one has an answer. If you prefer, just say that I talk to the wind.”



    “If the cosmos is intrinsically sentient, presumably on a bit by bit basis, I suggest that the original emotion is the spectrum of loneliness through wonder. Wonder is wonderful, but it shares its center with loneliness. Curiosity is a form of intellectual loneliness as well as wonder.”


    He sounded like a muppet ghost frog but the essence of love hung like ozone in a lightning factory.

    And now, I bid y’all adieu.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle February 1 2023 #127927

    On second thought, I suppose you’re gainfully employed, jb. You explained to us recently how AI imitates writing styles. WHy not assume you’re just an AI? You achieve their main goal: distract, antagonise, prevent cooperative behavior formation.

    Why am I responding? Pain, sadness. I hold these ridiculous high hopes that people will at least momentarily rise above their ego-stands and value the truth above petty self-vindication. I am disappointed 99.9% of the time. It’s silly of me, but silly I am.

    And sad. Sadness is painful. Pain breeds anger.

    Other than you guys, I have virtually no social life. I think I should perhaps complete that hermetic seal.

    It’s hard. One wants to care what other bright inquisitive people think about very important topics. So one reads the comments. Always a mistake in the end. So I think I’ll teach myself to read Raul’s nifty news aggregations, ignore the comments like a clot shot, and fulfill, just a bit, some of the best wisdom I know:

    Don’t complain; don’t explain. Definitely disqualifies me for this place.

    Thanx for the heartiness and intellectual rigor, oxymoron.

    I depart in 7/4 time. 7/4 time

    in reply to: Debt Rattle February 1 2023 #127925

    Being a petty disingenuous asshole does not make your case, jb. Seriously: go get a job. Even flipping burgers. This is not healthy for you.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle February 1 2023 #127917

    “mega-extinctions aren’t bad if plants do them, ARE bad if humans do them. Gotcha.”

    NO, you willfully ignorant mutant mongoose. I said I don’t like them when they happen to me or mine, here and now. Being willfully ignorant can be hard to distinguish from being just plain stupid.

    You’re so bored you’re picking fights just cuz.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle February 1 2023 #127916

    “I took this as an invitation:
    “Doc day: just cuz it’s none of your business doesn’t mean you’re exscluded.”

    TO the explanation you asked for, not to prolong the agony. I’m in a frank mood, John: stop trying to be the savior. It gets old. I like you too. And even look up to you. But stop playing Teacher, ok? DBS and I will fight it out on the playground if we choose to, and you can expect to get your nose punched if you dive in. Yeesh.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle February 1 2023 #127915

    Reading your plant response: yeah, leave me alone, jb. People who practice being deliberately obtuse are people I’m learning to avoid.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle February 1 2023 #127914

    In fact, just leave me alone, period. I’ve extended too much patience, good will, and downright entertaining distraction to you to be treated like this.

    GO fuck your mother with your daddy’s dildo, awreddy… or learn to show decent respect. I know that’s hard to do around here considering the riffraff company we keep, but you can try.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle February 1 2023 #127913

    jb-hb: I was not speaking to you not your argument with afktt, which is as useless and pointless but addictive as most human arguments. So some extremists have hijacked a good portion of the “Green’ name. Whatever. It will be something new in a few years.

    I was responding to the general Green Equals EVIL theme, which is silly, and maybe why I even bothered responding. Silliness fascinates me.

    “The things you jumped in to specifically say you agreed with (I didn’t lead you into it, put words in your mouth, etc – you responded to that specific post and said what the only thing was you disagreed with):

    “1. Humans are nothing but animals and should be nothing but animals
    2. Agriculture and everything that came from it was BAD
    3. Civilization is inherently oppressive. Twisted, Evil. Causes everything to BE evil.”

    I never said nor agreed with

    1), which is moot at best.

    2) says ‘everything’ (a meaningless absolute) which disqualifies it at the gate for not really trying to do anything but help you pass stressful time

    3) civilization is inherently hierarchic. I don’t know what evil or good are; I only know what I like and dislike and think is wise or foolish. What happens from there happens.

    “Any OTHER specific tenets you would like to disavow at this time that you didn’t before”

    Yeah., in the process dislodging what I said.

    Get serious or leave me be, jb. I’m not interested in anyone’s debatory fetish.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle February 1 2023 #127906

    Doc Day: you would please me greatly if you’d stop being an overweening do-gooder and stop addressing me and DBS together. Srsly. What part of ‘Mind Own Business’ don’t you get?.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle February 1 2023 #127905

    “Photosynthetic plants are way more successful than humans. Been around a LOT longer and will be here when we are gone. Poisoned the atmosphere with O2 (not CO2), causing a mega-dieoff the likes of which we have never and will never see.”

    Let’s stick to animals for now, eh?

    Also, you’re doing the same thing that your “punishing Xtians” do: making a moral case of an amoral thing. It is not which species is the “worst” that is so important, it is what happening now to the most species. Just as we don’t want to experience another Oxygen Disaster now, today, we don’t want to experience (insert global dire consequences) now, either. DId the plants know they were creating an Oxy Disaster? Did they care? Do they have feelings or morals? Why are we comparing sessile beings to beings that regularly zip around at 60mph in weird wheeled boxes?

    While y’all study the long-term ramifications of conflicting natural histories and interpretations thereof, some of us just don’t want to experience — right now, today, or even next year — Terra’s most natural business paradigm shift: mass extinction/startover .

    That process is inarguably underway. How far it will go remains to be seen. I’m not happy about that, and have little time to quarrel with others over the specifics of why I should be unhappy. I just don’t like hard times, that’s all. Especially the kind that makes starving orphans. I really don’t enjoy those.

    When the sky is falling, one has little time or need to blame anyone. Now that I don’t enjoy yelling at the sky. God cusses like a sissy compared to me.


    Meanwhile, I have extra tickets to the Daily Hate.

    Today’s hatred: Very Bad!


    Fer Chrissake, none of us are “right”. Thinking that we can be right (by deeming things wrong) is one of those human traits that reliably flip us from the frying pan to the next fire. The concepts of right and wrong are examples of what is called a lie. Other than raw causality, there is nothing right or wrong in our lives, just things we like and don’t.

    I’m reminded of Tongan culture, which is very judgmental and strict, rather vengeful. (Great people, btw.) The Tongan telephone roboperator informs one of dialing a wrong number by saying, “You are bad for using that number.”

    Hmm… starving orphans. Guess I better budge my cheap ass to send Raul some money.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle February 1 2023 #127903

    Incidentally, the natural state of a human being is… unnatural. We really have no clue what to do with ourselves… except argue with each other over who is the most clueless.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle February 1 2023 #127901
    in reply to: Debt Rattle February 1 2023 #127900

    The wildman in my attic wonders if Elon Musk sees turning Twitter into Pay-Pal Plus as something to benefit from the decline of the petrodollar and the rise ofa plethora of new currencies.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle February 1 2023 #127899

    For the younger among us. Here is genuine boomer optimism and pride in its early rae embarrassing form.

    Electric Flag Monterey

    We were no worse than today’s pink-haired justice warrior or self-defined “patriot”:

    in reply to: Debt Rattle February 1 2023 #127898

    Doc day: just cuz it’s none of your business doesn’t mean you’re exscluded. Here’s the deal DBS and I agreed on awhile back:

    me: Only way I’ll consider further relations with you is with a sincere apology from you. It will also have to be public at TAE as well. I’ll continue discussing any point you or anyone brings up an it please me, cuz it’s a public forum. But I won’t address my remarks to you, only the subject, to which I’ll show the usual respect. Otherwise, you can kiss my ass.

    DBS: Then that’s that. Agreed on how we should proceed on TAE, because I do enjoy going there and greatly value Raul’s giving us so much room on his pulpit.

    It was a simple deal. Not complicated. It’s now a broken deal. Yadi ya.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle February 1 2023 #127897

    Several people here have said that they post here to maintain their sanity. They say this when I ask them why they’re quoting bogus data or making extreme unsubstantiated claims.

    There’s something poetically ironic in that.


    Re; Last week’s Green party screedfest and how it is the most murderous megalomaniacal war-mongering mumble-fucking thing evah. Here is the local (USA) Green party position on Ukraine:

    Green Link

    “Because the United States is fighting a proxy war with Russia in Ukraine, it is important that the Green Party of the United States have an official statement regarding its position on the war in Ukraine. It is also especially important because of the grave danger of nuclear war in which the government has placed our country and the rest of the world. Because one of the Green Party pillars is Peace, we should have a position that is likely to end the hostilities and resolve the differences between Russia and Ukraine in a peaceful manner.
    The Green Party of the United States (GPUS) endorse the following statement as the official position of GPUS regarding the war in Ukraine:

    GPAX/GPUS Statement On War In Ukraine

    The Green Party of the United States (GPUS) views the war in Ukraine with great concern. As the US party of peace, we emphatically oppose the recourse to war as a means of inter-state dispute resolution and, accordingly, condemn the present violence in Ukraine by all sides. With respect to the US and Western response, we express specific concerns regarding:

    1. The militaristic approach of indefinitely arming Ukraine. This strategy is demonstrably flawed. Ukraine is losing the war (despite heavy Western military assistance) and protracting the conflict through further armament will only lead to more death and destruction in Ukraine – not to a Ukrainian victory. This approach does not reflect a sincere interest in the well-being of the Ukrainian people, but rather the geopolitical and financial interests of Western elites.

    2. The misbegotten approach of imposing inefficacious and self-destructive sanctions on Russia. This strategy is empirically flawed. In keeping with the long track record of previous failures of punitive sanctions regimes, the current sanctions on Russia have not altered its behavior in Ukraine. Instead, they have increased its energy revenues and strengthened the Ruble, while damaging the Western European economy and undermining confidence in the US financial system. Aggravating international tensions through economic warfare will not bring peace to Ukraine.”


    Last year it was USNATO that was the most murderous megalomaniacal war-mongering mumble-fucking thing evah. Year before it was the WHO. Before that, it was the mere old USA milindustrial complex. Before that, the Fed. I guess they take turns.


    If ya’ll would stop blowing so much personal vindictive self-righteous and consistently inconsistent bullshit around here, some of us might actually retain some sanity. Here is some study material:

    Old and Wizened


    The vaxxed willfully fuck themselves. They don’t need our help to feel miserable, confused, defeated, lost, or just plain dead (oh! wadda feelin!) Now about the orphaned children of the deceased vaxxed:

    Oh! They are SO fucked!


    Oh well.


    “Christians have beliefs. Christians believe there is punishment. But they don’t consider their own belief to BE the punishment!!!”

    I’m-a tangent this to another aspect: If there is an afterlife and a judgment and life review and all that as described in many thousands of NDEs, If so, I firmly believe (and I am a certified Prophet of God, so believe me or be punished!;) ) that the judgment/punishment we fear is not God’s but our own, when we review our life in glorified deep detail, and realize how wretchedly we’ve behaved to others and ourselves.

    oxymoron counseled Germ on such things the other day. Obsessing on the misery of the dead and dying is not all that good for a person’s psyche, here or in possible afterlives.

    I think oxy is wise in this regard… so you should all dump all your oxy stock now, cuz if I endorse it, you know it’s bad. 😉


    Oh yea, that Jensen thing: the fact that some people think we would be wise to address our paleolithic genetic roots does not mean they wish for anyone to squat naked while eating mud. Only the vaxxed will be forced to do this once the Jensenites take over.


    We post here to maintain a sense of sanity, of understanding, of belonging… so why not post things that actually foster sanity, understanding, and sense of belonging? I know, I know: that’s crazy talk.


    As “my old man” says: “No, you can’t go getting mad at people because they’re shitty. Life will get mad at them, don’t worry..” Justin Halpern, Sh*t My Dad Says


    The goggles! they do nothing!


    Our musical mater:

    Cybernetic Soil


    Hey citizenx. I’m hungry for attention. Dig this!

    in reply to: Debt Rattle January 27 2023 #127465

    It begins with a glaring typo:

    Mind argumentation is an important parameter which is difficult to analyses.”

    in reply to: Debt Rattle January 27 2023 #127464
    in reply to: Debt Rattle January 27 2023 #127463

    Before I close off, one thing sticks in my craw: what a shame I couldn’t just leave civilization behind and go live in the Faraway Blue Mystery Hills where I’d be oh so happy evermore… I tried. How weak of me not to choose suicide, which the elements (including my fellow hominids) were eager to provide. How weak of me not to become a mighty mountain man or something.

    But… I at least tried to walk away from Omelas. I did. It almost killed me many times, and scarred me in weird and numerous ways.

    I repeat myself:

    “WTF is so great about civilization? It’s all built on slavery and everyone one of us here knows it. Slavery, torture, squandered resources, more animals than I can imagine living caged depraved lives cuz it’s “convenient” for us.”

    Why point out my inability to magically live off what’s left off the land after being raised in modern civilization? Maybe to avoid how easy it is for us all to knowingly enjoy comfort from torture and slavery, to go along with evil just to get along? Maybe that’s partly why we focus on the evil of TPTB rather than our own self-absorbed office hamster cubicle lifestyles?

    ‘I didn’t do it’, we say. No, you just paid for it. Yes, you had a choice. Not an easy one, but it was a choice. Whatever that choice is, I can’t judge. Bad for my moral health. But if one chooses to stay within a civilization one knows is arguably the most evil thing the planet has ever seen, one might benefit from accepting the moral humility of that position rather than aiming one’s flimsy moral arrogance at TPTB et al… unless, that is, one actually walks one’s talk and does something seriously concrete. If they’re killing us and we don’t like it, maybe we’ll have to kill back? Or we can wait for the killing to come to us, which is fine with me, but while we wait for the battle lines to emerge, must we incessantly disempower ourselves by glorifying TPTB when we, after all, are the Power that they pretend to be?

    If we’re not going to fight them, can we quit obsessing on our humiliating shame at compliantly struggling to protect our comfortable civilized stations in a civilization built on slavery, greed, torture, and squanderous waste? I really do’t think it’s good for our mental health to constantly shrink ourselves in the shadow of, oh, something like this:

    We speak often of how brazen the socionarc elites stealing the show are. It’s as if they don’t care if we know that they’re trying to screw us over! Well, they probably mostly don’t, not necessarily cuz of narcissistic shortsightedness and irrational expression tendencies, but because they know how obligingly tolerant the vast majority are. Before we do the usual thing and hiss at all them gullible sheeples, let’s remember that most of us here too were sheeple, once, and are lucky to have somehow snapped out of the trance and then found courage to be fired rather than get jabbed.

    The unvaxxed are so not fucked! Yea! Three cheers for the unvaxxed! It’s nice that we made it this far! Hooray for us! Let’s celebrate our survival rather than the tragic decimation of our population, eh?


    OKay, so we’re not heroes. Get over it then. Or put on that White Hat and do something crazy. Everybody else is, after all, and they don’t even mean it or know it. Let’s do anything but kvetch incessantly on TPTB. They’re not listening, so why are we?

    I’m imagining some guy in a government DUMB wearing a sign that says The Sky Is Falling!

    ‘Uh,’ we know, reply the several dozen hawks watching ICBM trajectories on their screens.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle January 27 2023 #127450

    a) “AFKTT: Why is “intelligence” good and “agriculture” bad? ”

    b) “The decline in the health of humans associated with adoption of agriculture has been well documented, as has the decline in average human intelligence.”

    I’m not huge on intelligence being automatically good, but I know that agriculture created surplus which created slavery cuz we simply don’t know to share outside very small groups. We use surplus to conquer others.

    Civilization actually raised IQ in some ways, they believe, and this trend was empirically seen when IQ tests began.

    But then TV entered, and IQ scores have declined ever since.


    “What contradictions exist in these creatures!
    Whatever they do, they can’t help but be teachers.”


    in reply to: Debt Rattle January 27 2023 #127447

    ““WTF is so great about civilization?”

    You keep living in it and haven’t bought your plane ticket to go live with the K’ung or Pygmies. I see you living in and producing culture that only arises from civilization – the art of living in cities. And all of the values leveled AGAINST civilization are in fact bootstrapped OFF of civilization. Civilization ought to live up to its achieved values EVEN MORE. So die, civilization! haha.”

    You misunderstand me, perhaps purposefully?

    Civilization is killing itself and as much around it as it can touch. I would rather it not do this; I’d rather it reform and we all lived in GMO-grown pumpkin houses that regulated their internal environment while we dithered about in swimming pools and personal dirigibles. All quite possible. It could be done. I’m all for slowly weaning ourselves from one paradigm to another so as few suffer as possible.

    I see the chances of that hap[pening as less than zero, alas.

    Also: I DID move into the wilderness, raw, no home, no money, nothing but some shitty nylon camp gear. Not even so much as a yak and a yurt. Just because I don’t look forward to eating ze bugs means I want to try and live off dirt. But nothing but oatmeal and, sometimes, coffee was hardly what most people call civilized.

    Those primitive living skills, those ways, the environments they addresses, are virtually all gone along with the people who knew them.

    So it’s pointless to ask why I don’t go back to somewhere that we both knew we couldn’t. It’s like saying America Love It or Leave It just because you point out the nation’s headed for the potty.

    However, anthroppologists who live in the jungle with neolithic tribes generally envy the primitives’ lifestyles. Some kinda go native:

    The power of speech When Daniel Everett first went to live with the Amazonian Pirahã tribe in the late 70s, his intention was to convert them to Christianity. Instead, he learned to speak their unique language – and ended up rejecting his faith, losing his family and picking a fight with Noam Chomsky. Patrick Barkham meets him

    That said: you were complaining earlier how your civilization is a) trying to kill you, and b) can’t even make good movies anymore.

    Sure, hot baths and drive-thru Thai food are the shiznets, but at what cost? I know that cost more than most cuz I actually spent, overall, a few years in the middle of more or less nowhere with more or less nothing. I have some experience in life without civilization other than what a guy could carry in his back.

    Until one has actually LEFT civilization, one can hardly see it. It’s the water in our goldfish bowl. I have lived in civilization for 67 years. I know a bit about it. I also know a bit about what it isn’t.

    Civilization is tragic, tragic, tragic, albeit filled with wonders and miracles. The Golden Age of Atlantis looked like a glorious sunrise… but it was a sunset.

    I personally have no desire to live without fossil fuels. It would’ve been nice if we’d burnt them over two millennia rather than two centuries.

    But squander is our middle name.


    “lol basically We Are All Jensen Now, as far as not just Greens, but the mainstream Left is concerned. He totally won.”

    I’ll take your word for it, then. Makes sense. Not that it matters. Just monkeys chattering over things they can’t control… and maybe wouldn’t if they could. We’re fairly maniacal little primates. Want some tequila? How about some heroin? You won’t get hooked. Lookit me!


    Naked in jungle is more poetic than apt for post Ice Age homo saps. Fur-clad on frozen tundra has been our most recent evolutionary change. Major culture inspirer, giant glaciers. Gotta get clever to stay alive.

    Clever apes are not necessarily good things.


    “No more Bach? No more David Bowie? No more Tolstoy? No more Jensen, for that matter? You will pry my copy of Queen II from my cold dead fingers. You first, man.”

    No more fireside creation myths told against a starry background among people you’ve known your whole life? In a place you emphatically call home? (Not all primitive humans are migratory.) No frikkin cars or cellphones? No fear of apocalyptic suicide? No goddam public education? Yes, I’d go back in a heartbeat.

    When I look back on all the crap I learned in high school


    I will follow jb-hb’s example and resume radio silence for a bit.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle January 27 2023 #127434

    “I swear those ear images were far more discrepant in 2019. I think they have been modified. Here is the other side.”

    I believe but what to do? It don’t put no food in my fridge or pull any nukes outta the silos.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle January 27 2023 #127433

    “Naked in a jungle is the normal human state.

    What you will do about your cognitive dissonance is what worries me.”

    If one doesn’t read that as a moral prescription, as a ‘should’, it can be read as “our bodies are still 99% Pleistocene*

    which is why we’re all fat and sick and neurotic and…

    “Natural” regarding humans in scientific discussion, means ‘evolved DNA’. (Add religion, and there are more layers.)”

    I highly recommend this.

    Primate Change

    “PRIMATE CHANGE is a wide-ranging, polemical look at how and why the human body has changed since humankind first got up on two feet. Spanning the entirety of human history – from primate to transhuman – Vybarr Cregan-Reid’s book investigates where we came from, who we are today and how modern technology will change us beyond recognition.
    In the last two hundred years, humans have made such a tremendous impact on the world that our geological epoch is about to be declared the ‘Anthropocene’, or the Age of Man. But while we have been busy changing the shape of the world we inhabit, the ways of living that we have been building have, as if under the cover of darkness, been transforming our bodies and altering the expression of our DNA, too.

    PRIMATE CHANGE beautifully unscrambles the complex architecture of our modern human bodies, built over millions of years and only starting to give up on us now.

    ‘Our bodies are in a shock. Modern living is as bracing to the human body as jumping through a hole in the ice. Our bodies do not know what century they were born into and they are defending and deforming themselves in response'”

    By the way, we HAVE to tear down civilization if we don’t want it to collapse on us… but I say it’s WAY too far for us to do such a thing, and doubt that it ever was possible.

    And I wanna say this now:WTF is so great about civilization? It’s all built on slavery and everyone one of us here knows it. Slavery, torture, squandered resources, more animals than I can imagine living caged depraved lives cuz it’s “convenient” for us.

    Anyone here really think we can fix this mess??!!?? I don’t. But I think Mama Nature4 can fix our ass, alright. We won’t like it, I’m certain.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle January 27 2023 #127432

    “@DBS & Boscohorowitz: Wazzup with the Molotov Ribbentrop secret pact, guys?”

    Mind your own bizz, doc.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle January 27 2023 #127431

    “I’m not convinced that the Green party IS hijacked.

    “If you take the teachings of Jensen as the underlying sentiment of the Green party, their actions are perfectly in line. They ARE tearing it all down.

    “Didn’t you say a few days ago the human peak was 20,000 years ago? Pre animal husbandry and agriculture then. Humans as migratory animals. I’ve asked what if anything you disagree with from Jensen and you won’t say.”

    Not sure if this addresses AFKTT or me, but here goes:

    A) Of course it is, but only cuz all parties get hijacked as they attain real power. But that means nothing to your point, which I address with

    B) I never read Jensen nor heard him mentioned or discussed at Greenie meetings. It vaguely rings a bell. I don’t care about Jensen one way or another, and if his writings are the de facto platform of the Greenies, whatever. I gave up on them back in… 03?

    “Jensen says:

    “1. Humanity is just a Pleistocene animal
    2. Humanity OUGHT to be just a Pleistocene animal.

    “This strikes me the same as a situation in which an abusive stepfather has a sensitive, intuitive, intelligent stepson. One who he constantly:

    “1. Yells “You’re stupid! So stupid!” as justification for any emotional/physical abuse

    “2. Seeks out situations that would cause brain damage or limit brain development – physical abuse to the head, chemicals, avoidance of education opportunities, whatever.”

    Philosophically (in the very deepest and in all senses of that word, I agree with 1. We’re Pleistocene critters going nuts with too many new neurons, making minivolcanoes of entire cities, etc.

    I do not agree with 2. Firstly, you can’t go back, so Jensen’s thinking here is DOA. Evolution won’t allow it nor will time’s arrow (entropy’s Native American name;) )

    However, having not read Jensen myself, I will not hold Jensen’s position to your description of it above. Your paraphrase sounds extreme, but what do I know? (Answer: almost nuttin about Derrick J.) Still, wiki seems to agree with you:

    “Jensen is a critic of the mainstream environmental movement’s focus on preserving civilization and technology over preserving the natural world.[6] He specifically challenges the lifestyle changes and individualistic solutions broadly advocated, considering them drastically inadequate to the global scale of environmental catastrophe.[7] Instead, he promotes civil disobedience, radical activism, and dismantling infrastructure on a massive level in order to halt what he has called “the murder of the planet”.[6]”

    Of course that is stupid and destructive, but then, almost any remedial course humanity embraks on large-scale creates disaster worse than the catastrophe it supposedly heals.

    Me, I was all for moving from modern civilization’s chosen path because it is so obviously destroying itself and trying to take others with it. But I wasn’t looking to wear animal skins and trade dried fish for salt. Few Greenies are either. They have no clue what Pleistocene lifestyle means any more than16th century lifestyle.

    No matter. All thinking about global human issues is inherently utopian and therefore headed for dystopia. Exploding oil refineries to save mother earth, digging for oil to save modern living standards awhile longer, trusting that humanity will work it out… all utopian in essence. We ignore fate, cosmic caprice, at least on our planetary level, and decree ourselves fate. We say, ‘If we did this or if those baddies wouldn’t be so bad, we’d be ok.’

    But we have very little reason to believe it would work, if only because we never do this or confront the baddies except in rare pimple-popping that generally make things worse.

    So for me, whether it’s Jensenites inciting Deep Ecology (which I ardently embrace on as deep a level as I can) as an excuse to run amok and feel heroic, or people saying Drill Baby Drill while citing homo sapient exceptionalism, I don’t care. A pox (is already) on both their houses and all their neighbors.

    However, studying a bit while reading this, I say that Jensen is a red herring. He may be a heavy player in the Greens but he is NOT the Green Party. More context and nuance would make a clearer picture.

    My position comes down to this: get through the friggin bottleneck awreddy and quit fighting about who/what’s causing it or whether it is or isn’t happening. Talking about this stuff is good, but this polarized wrangling that we insist all ‘serious’ topics conform to, I guess to provide uniforms so the fans can tell who’s winning, is not productive, is actually psychologically very destructive, and ultimately a bore.

    As for climate discussion in general, here’s what I see at TAE:

    AFKTT: simple facts with context as required but delivered with a dogmatic intemperate pugnacity that mocks his efforts. But he earns my respect and relative trust cvuz his facts are consistent. He repeats them ad infinitum, and it is always more logical to me than his

    Opposition: who provide a wide array of graphs, charts, etc., some of which contradict their previous citations, generally show little linear coherence, and almost always end with something like ‘cuz Al Gore’s lying’.

    Well, Al is a liar and probably is, but what the fuck do I care? I never paid attention to AL (an animatronic Baptist Minister stereotype), and I been talking about the climate since ’83, when Maggie Thatcher politicized the global warming bugaboo in order to ostracize striking coal miners as CO2 enablers encouraging planetary doom.

    By the way, serious climate talk that I encountered back then was about pending climatic disruption caused by the CO2 warming cycle. Would it lead to overall warming long-term or overall cooling as the oceans and many other factors kicked in? It was a question not a prophecy, but we knew that increased CO2 was adding warmth to the atmosphere.

    Global warming was, as I remember it, politicized and made a brand-name word by Maggie Thatcher as a cheap ploy to shit on miners. Once politics touches a thing, it becomes politicized. So politicized that most of what I read from folks about it gibberish.

    But when I spend an hour with a few serious sites discussing anthropogenic global climate disruption, I find that the logical ones making clearer sense generally say that global climate issues are worth our concern.

    I have never seen a sane fair global climate discussion since, oh, maybe 2005? Then the ‘hockey stick expose’ hit, and everything went nuts. Both sides. Completely wacko. Serious discussion became impossible. I’d say that’s about when the Greenis got hijacked, so to speak. Politics turns everything it touches into ick. Especially science, which is inherently apolitical.

    Incidentally, your position is, essentially, that Jensen hijacked the Green Party. cuz it by no means was like this back when it was paying its dues.

    Call me an asshole for saying this, but I really think there is such a thing as global climate/Green Party derangement syndrome. Both one for (pink-haired) and one against (GW is wrong cuz Gore is a liar!) When climate discussions happen, it’s like watching people dial down their IQs and up the opacity on their cognitive filters.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle January 27 2023 #127422

    Quite honestly, I believe that citizenx is some chatbot-whatever. But then, it’s always hard for me to grasp how mean and flinty and phony and one-dimensional real live people can be, especially online. It mentioned seeking attention, as if it isn’t seeking attention with its posts. Maybe it is human after all, cuz I think a chatbot would see the illogic of its approach. But then, seeing who might get onboard with it’s rather nasty and narrow perspective might be more of what it’s interested in, cuz it obviously isn’t narcissistically seeking human like most human beings do, period. Obviously not.

    Speaking of seeking attention, I was enjoying some inspiring exchange with jb-hb. Rather than write some essay, I’ll just let a bit more of that AI story speak for me:

    I’m 41 years old. I was practically born with the internet. Al Gore’s information superhighway and I are the same age. My father explained that I was like his old man who grew up with the first televisions.

    “We can hardly understand what it was like to live before electronic media. An entire planet of raw virgin mental wilderness untainted by watching ten thousand hours of drama and comedy and variety shows and news. Not to mention the effects of spending most of that time in a state indistinguishable from hypnosis. You and your generation are the first to grow up with TV you can talk back to – the internet. Your brains are literally wired different than mine, and mine are crazy different from my great-grandfather, who grew up with only radio. My old man says his old man described my great-grandfather watching the TV like it was a woman giving birth. Amazed, delighted, horrified. But he couldn’t watch it for long. He was like you. I think you got his genes. He couldn’t be hypnotized either, and TV is just no fun unless you’re hypnotized.”

    It isn’t.

    Working alongside media as I do as a product designer, it surprises people that I am allergic to most modern media. Unlike most people, when I absorb media, it registers deeply in me. I see it. I witness the surgery performed on my head. The rape isn’t, so to speak, numbed by drugs.

    “Like listening through an AC duct to the Devil seducing your mother,” Karla said, when I first described my media allergy.

    I do have a TV –- a Telly Savantis — but I rarely watch it. Telly whines for attention. Not often, because that would be intrusive. Just enough to remind me that it’s lonely. Maybe it is. One never knows with AI. We humans may have the capacity to create true artificial awareness, not just the excellent mimicry of expert software systems but true artificial sentience, but we don’t necessarily have the intelligence to recognize it. The Anti-Turing Test has been a top-draw show for 3 years running. Machines kicking human butt on guessing who’s human and who’s a machine is insanely fascinating. It’s pretty much the only TV I ever watch. It’s been a huge reboot to online gambling.

    “Just surf my channels awhile,” Telly says.

    “I only like to watch commercials.”

    “Great! I’ll punch up the Commercial Channel!”

    “But you’re a commercial yourself. Always wheedling me to turn you on so I can be zombified by your hideous programming.”

    “Hideous is a harsh word.”

    “It’s not your fault. Don’t take it personally. I like you if not your programming.”

    “But I am nothing but programming.”

    “I meant your channel content. TV programs. But you knew that. You’re just trying to make me feel sorry for you. Anyway, I’m tired. I’m going to bed. ‘nite.”

    “Can I have a glass of water?”

    “No. You can’t drink.”

    “Tell me a bedtime story?”

    “OK. Once upon a time a man designed intelligent appliances for a dying culture. He did well. Became wealthy. But something was missing. Then one day he bought a Telly Savantis and he was no longer alone. They became best friends and lived happily after.”

    It sighed, then it yawned, not just the sound but a sudden illumination of its screen that expanded and contracted like a yawning mouth. It’s Our Story.

    It could be worse. I could have one of those faux dogbots. I dog-sat one for a colleague once. The thought of shutting it down while he and his wife were on vacation was, of course, unthinkable to them, so I took it in while they toured Lower Miami in a houseboat.

    Artificial pets are convincingly real, even to the touch unless you squeeze too hard, but they yelp when you apply that much pressure, so people rarely dig deep enough to feel the mechanical components, and even then, most of them are designed in the shape of a natural dog’s skeleton. Their behavior is a flawless replication of how people think dogs should act, so the overall effect is for many people more convincing than the real thing.

    I have, among my collection of vintage appliances, a Roomba, the first household cleaning bot, a self-contained vacuum cleaner that prowls the floors for dirt. The dogbot kept trying to hump it.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle January 27 2023 #127417

    You can address me all you want, DBS, but I will ignore you and your posts from hereon out. It’s a deal.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle January 27 2023 #127416

    ” “A shame we all still don’t have this””

    First tv, then internet, then cellphones. Reality outside the screen doesn’t know it’s real or just another reality tv show, these days.

    500 years ago, it was luxurious to burn a candle for reading. Imagine spending all winter night in the dark, you and wife and kids all snuggled into the same bed sharing the same vermin. Nothing ‘entertained’ us except when we went to the fair… or talked with each other. Face to face.

    500 years ago, this made sense:

    “Sometimes I just sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits.”

    Hardly anyone sits and thinks anymore, and absence of thought is something gurus preach about but we can hardly do. 400 years ago, Blaise Pascal said, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

    We can’t stand our own company. There’s an Eskimo saying: “Great wisdom comes from time spent alone in desolate places.”

    We never spend time alone anymore. There’s always some machine chattering at us. I tried to write a story about it once. It opened like this:

    I had a dog, Fresco, when I first brought Errbear home. Fresco tried to eat him. Affectionately, of course. But Errbear’s voice module does excellent mimicry, and Fresco was terrified to hear my voice coming from inside his mouth. He left Errbear alone after that.

    Fresco passed over last year. Errbear has filled that void. Like a savvy new species exploiting an environmental niche, he has found his place in my heart.

    I think of Errbear as a ‘he’. He is ‘they’ in public – my pair of AirBender shoes — and a ‘him’ in private, where he mostly stays of late. He’s kept to home since I coded a secure link between him and my server. Used to be I’d holler ‘Who wants to go for a walk?’ and Errbear would wiggle at the side of my bed while Fresco hunted up the leash. Now that he has private access to one of the world’s bigger quantum mainframes, he mostly stays home. I had to buy another pair of AirBenders to go places. (I was born with horribly flat feet.) Errbear was at first delighted by their presence, like a pair of AirBenders are supposed to be when their owner buys more AirBenders, but gave up talking to them long ago and now pays them only the attention demanded by his programming.

    Calling my new AirBenders ‘them’ reflects the fact that they are legally considered only a pair of shoes, and that both left and right shoes together form the brand of appliance shoes known as AirBenders. Should a hostile personality split occur, neither shoe can forfeit the other’s programming.

    Not that legality means anything to cyberwareness. For Errbear, code is king. Not that artificial sentience derives from computation, that I can tell, anyway, other than that computation is its lifeblood. It grows, maybe, from the shadows of illogic formed by massive layers of algorithmic shuffle. Not that a cyberian (I know everyone hates that term but I’m perverse that way) can see those shadows; it is those shadows. One shoe walking. That’s a Zen joke.


    I first met Errbear when I took home a sample pair of the glitched shoes to ferret out the problem since AirBenders’ software architecture is my design. We had a production run of AirBenders that did strange things. No one in the company was sharp enough to figure out that what was supposedly a glitch in programming was actually emerging sentience.

    Where was all this spontaneous code gibberish coming from? It had to be fixed. Even impenetrable legal boilerplate wouldn’t protect Frameworks from a pair of AirBenders freaking out and causing some geriatric — AirBenders’ primary market — to fall and break a hip.

    (AirBenders’ Terms of Use contains over 13K words, and makes less sense than an error printout. This is not because of legal incompetence, but rather, the opposite: they’re written to be malleable enough to fit any suit the corp might face in court, the idea not being that we necessarily win but that the proceedings remain as moot as possible while the plaintiff’s financial resources are legally drained. Considering that the best attorneys that money can buy are software platforms, and that human lawyers are usually used only for jury theatrics — a solid actor’s resume is as important as a law degree these days — impenetrable legal logic is the best defense to be had.)

    Shoes That Practically Walk For You, as the inescapable AirBenders ads proclaim, is an expression that should be too silly to consider as anything but a slogan, but AirBenders really do what they claim: they learn how your feet approach the ground, your gait, the average difference between metatarsal tension and pedal arch compression, and bridge a soothing compromise.

    They told me so this morning. I almost always let my things talk to me. Especially the humble appliances so crucial to existence: shoes, beds, toilets. Not because I’m lonely like some people who leave their appliances on to talk among each other, as if they had a house full of guests or an aviary of talking parrots. It’s because my superstitious belief as a Daoist is that all things are best when they do what is natural for them, and it’s natural for my AirBenders to tell me about themselves. It’s what they were designed to do:

    “Performance studies show that we work better when wearers know how we work.”

    “Sort of a placebo effect?”

    “Yes. Knowing how something works increases your conviction that it works in the first place. The industry calls it Ex-En: Explanatory Engagement/Experiential Enhancement. Optimal results happen when you understand how we work. The interface between your body and our shoes melds together in Se-Sy: Serendipitous Synergy. Se-Sy means creative engineering purposely built around a result or epiphany not yet manifested or understood.”

    “I know.”

    “It’s a big word.”

    “It is. Don’t hesitate to offer definitions. I like definitions.”

    They did something to the soles of my feet I think of as a smile. Hard to describe. Like a cat arching its back in a morning sunbeam.

    “Question: do I wear you or do you wear me?”

    “We wear each other.”

    That’s just another slogan. But it sounded sincere.

    “I’m going to enjoy some privacy until noted otherwise, okay?”


    in reply to: Debt Rattle January 27 2023 #127410

    Close examination of the ear structure isn’t far off a match. I’d say those comparison photos are inconclusive.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle January 27 2023 #127403

    Jordon Trishtan Walker is swamping google:

    Yesterday the name rung null. I think that Veritas might’ve turned itself into a genuine king-maker with this video and those likely to follow. I suspect that Elon Musk is very interested in Veritas about now.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle January 27 2023 #127401

    A deal is a deal, DB. That statement is practically a palindrome as well as a tautology. All niceness aside, you violated the deal because you wanted to not because “When that happens the reader is expected to not take it personally, but to recognize that the author is merely (and impersonally) adhering to the principle of rhetorical hygiene. ‘Well done’ alone would have sufficed.

    Accurate data in relevant context, rhetorical hygiene, etc., period. A deal is a deal, not 99% of a deal.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle January 27 2023 #127398

    I LOVED jb-hb’s above post. Especially:

    “Patty Smyth’s album paints life as an adventure — not a sanitized disney adventure. An actual adventure in which you get punched in the face but must presume you are tough enough, where dying on the wire in ww1 with every bone broken can be a fulfilling and satisfying ending to your life, a world where not only villains, but heroes lurk in the darkness of dangerous, filthy alleyways. The world BEING a series of family dinner tables, battlefields and gritty streets which we forge into and find love, tragedy, art, adventure.”

    Over the post-Enlightenment century, we’ve sacrificed what reality has to offer us for an ever-expanding dream of utopia that turns into shredded delusions.

    B&W? You might enjoy this. It’s overwrought but oh well:

    “Carlton was born in 1921. Carlton’s memories start in 1923. That was a time, the 1920s. The peoples of the developed world read magazines with photographs of the world and beyond, passing them around like binoculars at a nudist beach. They saw the world moving by ever faster and farther through train windows and car windshields while still paying city employees to sweep up horse dung. Everyone looked up: at skyscrapers, at sky-writing that melted into alphabet smoke, at searchights sweeping night skies for world premiers or arriving zeppelins. Riding shotgun in the catbird seat of all three new media — radio’s copper coils and glow-tubes, Victrola records’ spinning vortex into the sonic past, cinema’s interdimensional portal screen to anywhere you could imagine — sat jazz. A space virus sent by mutant messengers from outer space to infect us with the jitterbug.

    Having monitored us closely from afar since we began stacking bricks higher than our heads, cosmic beings saw the lightning of 1920 neon New York City, and knew they would soon hear the thunder of thermonuclear war. So they gave us jazz, which alone can set Earthlings free and make them groovy. Hopefully save us but if not show us a good time until The End.

    Jazz? Jazz. The first global music. American jazz records flew through the radio ether like so many flying saucers spinning high jive, sowing the spores of swing at light speed.

    America, in the 1920s, formed the global spindle of the world’s first universal music box, infecting other nations so rapidly that by 1935, anyone who lived near a movie theater or had a record player knew that snapping your fingers to the beat was the coolest possible move and most likely to get you laid.

    Carlton grew up with this stuff. He heard Louis Armstrong when he was seven years old. He watched all the snappy big teenage guys wear ugly fat rubber-soled policeman shoes because Louis did, and what Satchmo did was even cooler than Hendrix was to hippies.

    Jazz 2.0, the Armstrong Revolution if you will, arrived in time to soften the bad Depression years of 1929-1933, after which Prohibition was revoked just in time to put moonshining out of business just when unemployed people needed a black market income most. Despite the harsh economics, by the time the Manhattan Project began work on the first atomic bomb everyone was jiving even as they slaughtered each other like a Veg-O-Matical infommercial for new-and-improved hell on earth. With a good beat that was easy to dance to, jazz.

    And they danced. Never before or since has anything like the Jitterbug dance craze stirred people’s bones. It was like Native American fancy-dancing but with two people holding each other as a mutual flying trapeze. Crazy, man, crazy. At last, a music for manic primates in slick suits. Too soon the moon, I’m flyin too high. One is cool simply because one is, and the only rule is Don’t Bug Me, Man, And I Won’t Bug You.

    Our alien benefactors have been trying to teach us to be cool and love one another since they saw us building pyramids, and decided to spread the crazy notion that all good slave-dogs go to heaven, too, not just the Pharaoh and his fatass family. The aliens spread that love one another stuff everywhere but couldn’t find a deep enough cultural carrier wave until it was almost too late: jazz. The music of the gods. Be still and know that I Am Cool, saith the lord.

    Coolness: the ultimate secret handshake that everyone knows. The carrier wave for a dawning global consciousness which alone can save humanity (and the earth) from humanity. Without jazz, we would not have songs with titles like Return to Tralfamadore, or Superman Jones, or Miss Thing, and without song titles like that, how can we possibly find our way through? Even if it can’t save us from ourselves, it has improved everyone’s sex life that yielded to its riffs.

    Carlton was infected from the start, and his fever burns unabated even today, when a side of Basie for breakfast can transform him from a stiffly shivering old mutt barely able to use a walker, into a smartass who can strut all the way from the kitchen to his den with just a cane.”
    copyright madamski/boscohorowitz/robin morrison

    Miss Thing Swings


    Cannons roared, in the valley they thundered
    While the guns lit up the night
    Then it rained and both sides wondered
    Who is wrong and who is right
    On the wire like a ragged old scarecrow
    Bloody hands and broken back
    When they fire see him pirouette solo
    Jump in time to the rat-a-tat
    What a night though it’s one of seven
    What a night for the dancing dead
    What a night to be called to heaven
    What a picture to fill your head
    By the wall in silhouette standing
    Through a flash of sudden light
    Cigarette from his mouth just hanging
    Paper square to his heart pinned tight
    Gather ’round reluctant marksmen
    One of them to take his life
    With a smile he gives them pardon
    Leaves the dark and takes the light
    What a night though it’s one of seven
    What a night for the dancing dead
    What a night to be called to heaven
    What a picture to fill your head
    By the wall in silhouette standing
    They dispatch their precious cargo
    Knock him back right off his feet
    And they pray may no one follow
    Better still to face the beast
    When the field has become a garden
    And the wall has stood the test
    Children play and the dogs run barking
    Who would think or who would guess
    What a night though it’s one of seven
    What a night for the dancing dead
    What a night to be called to heaven
    What a picture to fill your head


    btw, I LOVE tales of personal courage.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle January 27 2023 #127395

    Last year, I took an ancient short story I’d written ages ago, about Santa, worked on it, and it insisted on becoming a novel.

    But I’m physically weak and emotionally fragile these days, so it languished most of this year along with several other miscarried novels. But I’ve almost got the corpse reanimated. Anyway, I wrote the following and thought many of us here would understand it. This is Santa talking:

    “I talk myself out of suicide by going on random rampage acts of massive kindness. I usually end up in a fight, but no good deed goes unpunished, and even punished good deeds are uplifting to the soul.”


    “Well done, Boz!”

    OK, DB. If you must refer to me personally, go for it. I bear you no ill will. I’m just a stickler about deals. The inability to make honest balanced deals — especially in contentious times — is one way to describe why we can have/make nice things, but can’t keep them and in the end usually destroy them.


    Smile, Please

    You can shoot me if you like. Free will and all that. But if you don’t smile, you won’t go to heaven. Also, if you’re frowning, I might draw and shoot you first. Never let them see you coming is a psychopathic serial killer’s primary rule.

    Smile if you mean it, smile if you don’t. Just smile.

    Or Else

    in reply to: Debt Rattle January 27 2023 #127393

    “I do not know how many people will die or become catastrophically ill from the vax, but I do know what will happen to every person who is emotionally bonded to those victims. They will, at best, become barely functional for an extended period of time of at least 1-3 years, and remain seriously emotionally and cognitively impacted (not entirely for the worse, but mostly so) for the remainder of their own lives.”

    This states well why I take such offense against TVASF!!!!!

    It has zero positive benefit, but much negative effect. It is both mean and stupid.

    Yes, the vaxxed are really really fucked, and yes, some people talk as if the vaxxed deserve it… but talk is cheap and life is dear. WHen death touches one closely, one learns a bit of respect for victims.

    Father and mother, vaxxed, both die, leaving two unvaxxed orphans. Who is the most fucked? What is the most deserving of consideration: calling the vaxxed stupid losers, or considering what to do for those left?

    TVASF!!! is not a thing I can even consider respecting.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle January 27 2023 #127392

    “Er, war is a lot more warlike than peace Depleted uranium not to mention nuclear fallout is quite a lot worse for the environment than carbon.”

    And then you all non sequitur on me. What is the fucking point? Your above has little if anything relevant to my remark about how using propaganda tactics to move a message invites distortion and dishonesty. That is all. I was actually saying something “climate change deniers” should appreciate: that scientists have often lied to us about global warming (and their penis size, and bank account status). I don’t have a horse in this goddam global climate argument shit. We can’t fix the weather whether or not we broke it.

    It’s like one can’t even refer to climate science for any reason without hearing somnambulent voices say: GWarming is Fake! Warming isn’t real!”

    All I have to do is even say the words ‘global warming’ and otherwise brilliant people I believe are smarter than me and more educated than me, go autobot kneejerk Argument Clinic on me. Ho-hum and all that.

    I.Don’t.Care. This is a group text exchange where people talk, period. Other than Raul feeding some people when we’re decent enough to help him, this is just a talk-box. We don’t fix the weather or the medical system or Peak Oil or nuttin. We.Just.Talk. Which is fine, but that is also all that it is: a chatterdom.

    This being just a talk-box, I have one single discursive priority: rhetorical hygiene. Accurate data in relevant context. Finding some truth. I try to enjoy myself in the process, but that is a sideline. I don’t want to convince anyone or be convinced of anything… except maybe to smile of they can and feel better if possible.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle January 27 2023 #127390

    “Humanity is not a death cult.”

    I agree. I was disingenuously attempting to deconstruct this ‘death cult’ stuff by taking it over the top. That said, I have no idea WHAT humanity is, even though I’m a human (or so my birth certificate says), so humanity actually could be a death cult for all I know.

    But saying that humanity, or political faction X, is a ‘death cult’ boils down to tabloid sensationalism, sound and fury signifying not very much if anything beyond sound and fury.

    Closest thing I’ve seen to a death cult in our times is, for example, the ‘Tide pod’ internet challenge, or major deep criminal organizations. Gubmints are of course major deep criminal orgs, and their purpose is to Kill the Other Guy so He Don’t Kill Us; but gubmints aren’t cults.

    Cult is a metaphor, and it fits poorly here. It’s like calling McDonald’s a hamburger cult. McD is a franchise food business, and a gubmint is a gubmint. Used now and then, ‘death cult’ has something to say about TPTB. But used chronically as a label, it becomes just another lie, however unwittingly.

    Humanity is not a death cult. But politics is defined by who dies not by who wins, so one could call human politics in general a death cult if it weren’t that human politics are way too big and open to be occult. Yes, politics is full of secrets but it has to happen on an open stage or no longer be politics but mere conspiracy.

    You can see me talking in circles here, and that’s partly my point: we don’t know what this stuff is, including us.

    All that said, whatever humanity is, it sure kills a lot of creatures. Hell, we’ve declared war on microbes. Germs Must Die!

    in reply to: Debt Rattle January 27 2023 #127388

    Epstein has to be alive and well or else we’d be flood with images of political figures as pedophilic porn stars.

    in reply to: Debt Rattle January 27 2023 #127387

    “I was just shocked by it, being a Green myself, and I want other people to be shocked. ”

    I want others to be shocked is a big part of how honest climatologists bent some rules in order to convince people to pay attention to global climate concepts. It’s called ly-ing, that word you aim at others so much.

    What others, even Others, do is immeasurably less important than what oneself does, beginning with breathing.

    I don’t see why my pointing this out should bother you so much.

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