Sympathy for the Devil


July 17th, 2010

Here’s the best one I’ve heard yet: “It didn’t get onto my calendar,” in substitute for, “I failed to place it onto my calendar.”

UH, what?

And exactly whose responsibility was it to get it onto your calendar — your calendar’s? UH, no, I think it was yours!!!

This passive voice version of denial just kills me. Excuse me, folks, but YOU are the actor in your life; not your calendar, your toilet (it failed to capture my dump), your washing machine (my soiled clothing failed to reach the washing machine’s door).

In scientific literature, it’s always: The experiment was terminated when etc etc. NO ONE IS RESPONSIBLE, ANY MORE, because we have managed to appropriate this weird active form of the passive voice into our affairs. At least you could be honest and say, “it was not done to the calendar,” or “the entry of this event was not done”; that’s genuine passive voice . . . but this active passive crap:” It did not make it onto my calendar.” Horsebleep. Give me a freakin’ break.  Take some responsibility for thine own FUCKUPS.

The Wallpaper Hypothesis

June 13th, 2010

In Italanglish, they sometimes say “uno mushato.” Mush—as in a spine composed of vanilla pudding. Not stupid mind you: worse pay for essay writing than that — reasonably intelligent, but completely lacking in the wherewithal to stand up for his way of thinking, his manner of looking at the world. Mushato—va fangul.

Just back from a party, and I was treated to its consummation, one of its ultimate exemplars. Actually, the news was delivered by HER.

I know them both, and they’re both of my generation, and this is the target group of my essay, although I suppose that it’s more widely applicable. However, I speak from experience, here, experience of 50-something and 60-something males ready to give up their opinions, viewpoints, and many levels of control over their lives for a piece of ass. Miserable, lonely shitheads, who after failed marriages or relationships & some period of time living alone are looking fort that “rest-of-the-life” experience . . . at whatever cost.

In this instance, she showed me the diamond engagement ring. My first thought:” holy shit, how ridiculous. Your second or third go at this, in your Fifties, and you still cave to that horseshit tradition? Gimme a freakin’ break.

So what about this “wallpaper” jive? Very personally derived, actually. Began with the guy that my ex-wife “cleaved to” after, supposedly, we split up. Don’t ask about the details because they’re still unclear to me. Then she moves back East, and suddenly, like a good puppy, he follows her out & moves in with her. And although my friends out here in the West knew the man, my friends back East didn’t know him, knew my ex, but had never encountered the dude. Subsequently, one of my closest friends, who’d known my ex as long as I had, had some business with her. Naturally, he called me somewhat later to tell me that he’d seen her. “So who was the wallpaper?” was his most salient comment/question.

“Ah, wallpaper, good one,” I answered, knowing immediately that this was his metaphor for “mushato.” It made sense. Blending in, a decoration, no backtalk, no commentary at all. This is apparently what divorced women in the Boomer Generation want—subjugant, feckless, no-talk-back males. Castrati.

Ten there was T (not her real name nor actual first initial). We waxed heavy for 3 months, had a falling out when I stood-up for my expectation of loyalty, that she would consult me before believing someone else’s, i.e., her girlfriends’, side of a story involving me. But that was far too much to expect. I should obviously shut the fuck up and acquiesce. Sorry, just not, me. I haven’t lived this many years, gotten a PhD, had an effect literally on around 10,000 students, written 5 books, and as many screenplays, and done high-level work for 2 National Laboratories to fade into the woodwork and stuff my opinions and expectations of my friends. No goddamned way.

I have tried it, now, seriously, with 3 different women. I have observed plenty of evidence that wallpaper is indeed the desired commodity. What a freakin’ disappointment. In response, I have stopped, ceased and desisted in trying to initiate relationships — waste of time: I will never be wallpaper. Sorry, girls.

The Human Genome Project

June 13th, 2010

With reference to the NY Times “failure” of the human genome project. As a biologist who’s literature review for dissertation been preaching & teaching systems-level cognizance for 30 years, why am I NOT surprised. This simply hearkens back to the age-old debate about reductionist biomedicine. Single genes mean almost nothing within the context of the hierarchy of multiply fed-back information-processing networks within the organism: the genetic network, the network of \”lunch-pail metabolism,\” of signal transduction, of multiplexed signaling among cells, and so on and so on. Until we get real and start teaching biology as information science, the uninformed populace — presidents and legislators inclusive — will continue to waste our tax dollars on reductionist enterprises that promise far more than they will ever be able to deliver; the problem is philosophical in scope.

Hubris: What is killing us .

. .

Twenty-first Century US, still living as though it can rest on its first-half of the Twentieth Century laurels. Corporate GREED is still and always will be the problem — the multinationals with US roots turned traitor to those roots.

Even if a clean-energy Manhattan project were spawned, and some of it IS, indeed, already occurring — the greedocracy would still manage to off-shore the manufacturing & assembly of the jobs connected with those clean technologies.

It has already done so & will continue to do so. And there are apparently insufficient numbers of politicians willing to say that if it’s spawned in the US, with any US resources [e.g., NIH, NSF, national laboratories], then whatever corporate entity develops the technology must also keep those jobs in the US, pay US wages & be satisfied with that lower profit margin; that is, greed cannot rule! Show me the legislators willing to do that, & I’ll be greatly astonished!

Parasitizing One Another

May 30th, 2010

More Artificial Inflation for the Bottom-Feeders

No jobs and no manufacturing cialis super active i.e., we don’t make anything any more; we’ve given it all away, mostly to China.

So what’s the plan? Parasitize one another. There’s this a-hole on the radio whose infomercializing to get folks to buy his CD & his method to buy properties as a middleman—without fully purchasing them, functioning as a sort of holding company, to distribute these to others who either want a fixer-upper house for themselves, or more likely to distribute to others who fix-up, then sell to a buyer. Meanwhile the jerk with the holding company gets a 10 or 15K chunk for his “service.” Ultimately what the jerk is doing is adding to the final sales price of the home, making the buyer pay more. Who needs him? NO ONE! Yet another false-front, useless middleman.

Ya get it, just more artificial inflation. Now that the housing bubble has burst, these incredibly parasitic jerks must find new ways to create capital from nothing. PARASITES. And not even with the decency to find other folks to parasitize off; they’re completely content to parasitize off folks in their own communities—other Americans; their neighbors.

This is a measure of how far we’ve sunk into the muck of the bottom. Bottom-feeders!

the Gulf

May 25th, 2010

From a comment posted on the NY Times, this morning:

The Gulf is probably already DEAD; oh it may recover . . . in 4 or 5 centuries (if humanity’s around that long to witness it). As another reader pointed out, it’s so bloody simple — corporate GREED is what ever seems to triumph over the interests of the hundreds of millions of us who are not super-rich & who therefore hold no sway (face it, your vote has no power because it’s not accompanied by a huge donation-check: D, R, all the same). Look at China — China’s learned the corporatist lesson perfectly well. Every day, it kills its own people by polluting their lungs with coal particulates, while they & it serve the multinational masters in order to infuse riches into a small number of Chinese capitalist pockets. Only difference is that they surge ahead, stealing the production capabilities for clean energies from our workers because they have even less regard for life than we do, while we sit back as the consumers of the planet, China’s consumers. Kaching.

Where doesn’t this kind of insanity happen very much? By & large, isn’t it the socialist democracies of Scandinavia (uh oh, there’s that ugly word to American cowpokes, oops!). Study the obvious data right before your eyes. Mega-corporate capitalism is inconsistent with democracy, with environmentalism, with sanity, and ultimately, with a middle class. The moment the Greedocracy catches hold of the throats of politicians with outsized egos who love the sound of their own voices, their faces on TV (D,R, irrelevant), this kind of fiasco waits in the wings. And all those TV talking heads simply pander to different subpopulations of them, fueling a system already running rampant and spewing entropy from exergy, while nothing changes, except that they give the egos more air-time.

Bless you, Eleanor Roosevelt, rest in peace; you were the last of a now extinct breed

What a bunch on naive idiots we have become.

Obama this and Obama that—change we can believe in: great politics, i.e., damnable lies . . . but just SOS, bubbas . . .

that’s what politics is—Bush, Obama, no real difference, that’s the secret. This is not, never has been a democratic republic. It is an oligarchy with an aristocracy of extreme wealth, i.e., power, running the show, and allowing a patina of a dog-and-pony show of democratic republic. Yah, right. You want your vote to count? Well then, señor, I’d suggest you go out and win the lottery. Once you’re a hundred-millionaire, you might, and then, only maybe, might have a chance at slowly crawling your way into the bowels of that oligarchy to smell the stinking murderous filth on the hands that dispose of us common irrelevant pieces of garbage on a daily basis. The illusion is so delusional that it’s hard to blog about without getting physically ill. Go take some Prozac; after all that’s what they’re offering as your tradeoff for remaining enslaved. Then you can smile while you hosanna & genuflect to your multinational corporate masters. But don’t worry, small businesses, and the little guy, are the backbone of this society. Suuure they are!

Sure they are — in your freakin’; dreams, Dumbo. Don’t y’all get it?— the “right thing,” the “just outcome” only happens in the movies, which they produce to keep us all convinced that it’s all possible, when what it is is a bloody crock. Go watch the film, “The Natural.” What could represent it better than a film about “America’s game,” the “cerebral” game of baseball— and handsome, all-American boy, Robert Redford socks it to the crooks at the end, rejecting their bribes and hitting it out of the park. Oh Boy, oh boy, doesn’t get any better n’ that. And what a complete charade: MLB is one of the biggest corporate scams perpetrated on you nincompoops; and your heroes, like the cornfield bigboy, Mark McGwire pumping up with ye old testosterone analogs; then you’ve got social miscreants on every “teram” from A to Z. Yeah, a real inspiration to the kids; “ya see, it’s still America . . . anyone can get ahead, make a million.” Or a billion or a trillion. In actuality, about 0.00001% of “us” yayhoos are going to “get there, 99.99999% of that tiny fraction, by inheritance. I pal around with some folks my age, who hike a lot & do lots of outdoor stuff, all week, while I’m scraping for the time & energy to just find time on weekends. And I wonder, “how in the hell can they do it?” Well, guess what, I found out: while I’m busting my butt 40+ hrs/wk, they’re living off inheritances. That’s the way it is, in America, the only way for anyone not blessed with being in that 0.00001%. And when I stop working, I’m a DEAD MAN. You get it. How am I going to pay a mortgage & bills & eat on what I’m going to get from social security & Medicare in our wonderful “great society [yaa right]” ? NO way; I’m toast. Went to work almost every day of my life. No one gives a damn!

Speaking of the movies, every so often, I’ll tune-in Lifetime Movie Network to check-out what garbage they’re pawning-off as film; and lo-and-behold, I saw them actually perpetrating reality. This middle-aged bitch, as rich as they come, via divorce (and oh, by the way, ladies, that’s the other way to accrue it—if thou hast no scruples & are beautiful, marry a rich corporate tsar, then divorce him & take him to the cleaners). Anyway, this rich bitch seduces this dumb young cornhead stud, his head full of oatmeal, where his brain should be, and he subsequently gets religion, i.e., GUILT, realizes he’s screwing-over his wife & young kid, & leaves the bitch. “Uh uh uh uh uh,’ the rich bitch says, “you don’t walk out on me.” Using her money—her, power, you get it— she interrupts his ability to make a living & has his child taken away from him & his cute blonde wifey. “Fantasy,” you say. No, my friend, that’s reality. Lifetime movie network actually stumbled into representing life as it really is, Oligarchs rule!

Here’s how Gore Vidal framed it in the novel “Empire”:
“The republic is dead; long live the empire . . .”We let them vote so that they will feel wanted, but as we extend, in theory, the democracy, the more it runs out of gas.” . . . A republic—or however one wanted to describe the Unites States—is best run by responsible men of property. Since most men of property tended, in the first generation, at least, to criminality, it was necessary for the high-minded patriotic few to wait a generation or two and then select one of their number, who had the common —or was it royal?—touch and make him president.

Ya getting it at all? There’s no shadow government? It’s right there in your face—government by, for, and of the super wealthy. Better have at least a hundred million if you want any say at all. And on election day, when you walk into that voting booth holding your nose, just remind yourself; it doesn’t make a shard of difference what you do; okay?

They’re addicted to money/power & so they’ll continue to ship jobs off to China, turning us into a 3rd-world shithole, the fuck-boy of the Chinese, whom we though we had “subdued.” That’s what greed does. Beyond any other human value is greed. Greed corrupts completely and entirely. It is the quintessence o self-centeredness, the mortal enemy of altruism, and it turns human social structures into filthy garbage. And that, my patriotic friends is where we are inexorable headed. No, I take that back, where we’ve already arrived!


Okay you’re passionate about your cause.

I’m trying to understand.
I get it

You’re cause is just.

I’m trying to understand.

I get it

You believe in life. Murder’s not cool. I’m trying to understand. You prefer that pregnant women and the a-holes who contributed the sperm take responsibility for their actions, and not kill the outcome.
Okay, quite reasonable, I get it.

You believe that there’s a higher power in the universe . . . an intelligence that might have its shit together a lot better than we stupid humans do. Okay, that doesn’t faze me at all—I’m not so sure about that, but I hope you’re right, and agnostic that I am, I allow the possibility [becuz, by the way, “agnostic” means, “I don’t know”].

But what’s with the “Jesus Christ as my lord & savior” stuff? What’s that about? You really want to shove that down my throat? He was an avatar, a great dude, if he existed. The message is clear— love & tolerance; forgiveness . . . and altruism, NOT self-centeredness [do you really think that our societies are more altruistic than self-centered? Pulleeze!]. If you can’t tolerate my belief that the JC lord & savior stuff is over-the-top [for me], then you’re not following those messages at all!

And what’s with the freakin’ paraphernalia — rosaries from rear-views, strings of prayer beads all over, prayer rugs, 50,000 Buddha images per square inch, goddesses with 52 arms? What the heck is that about. And praying 5 times a day. Come on; isn’t this completely over-the-top? I mean, I’m going to tolerate your right to do it, have it, believe it, but do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT push it on me, tell me that I’m a dysfunctional heathen because I’m lacking in those accouterments or action items. Puulleeze!!


I once took the position that one could easily distinguish the natural from the social sciences based upon the criteria of pre-existence and predictability. Now I’m not so sure.

Pre-existence is simple: If it was here, on earth, or in the universe, before we (humans) were, then it pre-existed and belongs in the realm of the natural sciences—physics chemistry & biology. The stars, planets, supernovae, rocks & minerals, ecosystems without human influence.

Period. Simple enough. Conversely, if it was created by the human brain, conjured, confabulated by our endless ability to parse items and ideas—to bullshit ourselves and each other—then it belongs to the social sciences: psychology, sociology, economics etc.

Now let’s look at predictability —
IF the physical system is one in which only one or a small number of variables are of interest, natural science predictability works well. For example, predicting the flight path of a ball, thrown with initial velocity, v at an angle, theta is a straightforward physics problem. Mixing together a bunch of chemicals in a reacting soup and predicting the final composition of that soup after the chemical reactions have occurred is another example. Drop sodium metal in water, and you’re going to end up with an explosion releasing lots of heat and generating sodium hydroxide. A no–brainer; works every time. Drop a freshly picked lime and a grapefruit into a fish tank of water, the lime’s going to sink, the grapefruit will float. Density; physics 101. It even works for biology, if you keep it simple. Inject measured shot of adrenaline (epinephrine) into mouse’s bloodstream, and it’s heart going to pump faster and harder, its blood pressure will rise. In the social sciences, you’ve got no such predictive power. Give a particular person a psychological suggestion about how to behave, and you’d be damned if you could predict the outcome with any accuracy. Change the composition of a social network by adding a married couple to the mix, and what happens —damned if anyone can predict that outcome ofsociology with any accuracy. And economics. HA! Tell me precisely what the stock market’s going to do, tomorrow. Ridiculous, right?!

But these distinctions only go so far. Because as the physical systems studied by the natural science grow in complexity, in the number of variables that must be considered, their behavior becomes stochastic — random and unpredictable. Hurricanes, or any other climate phenomena; medical prognosis after a person is diagnosed with type-II diabetes. Sure you can predict probabilities – because you can collect statistics. Bur for a single person, to accurately predict outcome is almost impossible. Complex systems defy that ability.

So, there you have it. Does anyone care? I do because I think human hubris doesn’t “get it,” which is why we just keep in going on our path to self-extinction and planetary change. We’re going to leave behind an altered planet, lacking us and likely many other top predator species, but which will survive and re-evolve something, perhaps even another form of communicating, highly rational being in million years or so. Damned predictive certainty that some [many] types of bacteria will come through, some types of arthropods [ants, beetles, etc.] and a variety of green plants & fungi. But NOT US! That’s it —goodbye humans. You blew it, you stupid moronic cretinous fuckers.

Life BPP and APP

February 28th, 2010

Let’s get it straight, right upfront:
There’s an MIT prof named Edward Tufte, for whom I have great respect. The man’s written some great and beautifully illustrated books about the visual display of information, and cialis cheap the man’s greatest challenge is convincing the world of how badly PowerPoint has screwed-up that process. Let’s get it straight: I hate Microsoft. Windows – ripping off Mac OS (way back when), the way Office components run on Macs, and most of all for PowerPoint. It IS one of the symbols of what’s wrong with the modern world, led of course by multinationals, like Microsoft, most of which originated in the USA. Do I hate the US? No, not particularly. But I do hate Microsoft, PowerPoint and the depauperization of information (to paraphrase, Edward Tufte)? Most certainly! And Since Apple has played right into the mediocrity-for-profit game, they can go eat shit, as well!

I used to be a professor, but in the era BPP. No not BC, BPP— Before PowerPoint. Here’s the difference in being an academic (or a researcher for, let’s say a national laboratory, before and after Powerpoint. For now, we’ll leave out industrial researchers, assuming that they can’t fit into this stereotype (which I may change my mind about, later). You’re ensconced in a complex and challenging research project, and are making progress, but also hitting walls with challenges you’re not absolutely certain you can surmount.  In the era BPP, what do you do?  Simple, you keep a notebook of your research, and you go either to the published literature or to some smart colleague — or both — and you investigate the possibilities for moving forward. Maybe, and only maybe, if someone invites you to present your reserch at a symposium, do you take the time to put together a talk with some overhead transparencies, regarding your progress; and you do so, with the genuine hope that someone at the symposium will have something helpful for you in the way of an idea to pursue.  But above all you were conservative, in the true sense of the word — not overstepping what you actually accomplished , being self-congratulatory, or glitzing-it-up for effect to accomplish that end.

Conversely APP, there is every temptation to do just that, and users can significantly over-represent and overblow their actual achievements, making their research sound like the greatest thing since the electron.  And in my experience, that’s precisely what they, in fact, very frequently do.  Oh sure, there are a few researchers who resist.  But the temptation of PowerPoint is far too seductive, pandering to the worst impulses in human nature. It has simply extended the fantasy world in which most brainless humans  prefer to live, broadening it, so that, now, even the “most-intelligent” humans participate in this phantasmagoria.  A talented designer friend of mine frames it this way: ” they all get so taken, so fascinated with it that, suddenly, it becomes ‘about’ PowerPoint and what it can do, not about communicating the information contained therein.”

No, not American idol, but rather , “All hail, PowerPoint.”  If y’all knew how many people in my scope of contact—hundreds, perhaps thousands—spend huge chunks of their workdays massaging some set of PowerPoint slides that the underling below them in the org chart just got finished massaging . . . and that once they do their mad massage, the Oberführer just above them in the org chart will take & begin to spend countless hours massaging . . . oh muh lordie, what a waste of time, energy, & resources!

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