I don't write about the environment very often because when I do I usually get angry and then despair at how incredibly stupid we are. Seriously, it's time for the spiders, because we're useless drags on the universe.
That said, when a bunch of people get in the room, watch a shit sandwich sign a piece of paper and then tell lies about how wonderful it's all going to be, and everybody in the room know that he's lying and ignorant and uninformed and that they're reinforcing this with their Mike Pence wide-eyed, Robert Shaw in From Russia with Love staring smiles, you either get angry about it or die. Even aesthetically, it's awful. Morally, ethically, policy-wise, governance wise, it's awful. Even when some of the victims are there, smiling...it's smug, stupid and alternately self-defeating.
Reading the morning email from The Economist, I discovered to my amazement that the Israelis have a problem besides the personality transplant on back order for Bibi Netanyahou. (Should note that Typepad's suggested spelling for Bibi's last name was "Hootenanny.") Seems that they have a small reactor we gave them for experimentation purposes which is being decommissioned as it should be because it's outlived it's usefulness. Then, there's a bigger one out in the Negev desert that doesn't produce anything except plutonium and similar stuff...and it's a year younger than Barrack Obama. The recommended retirement age for one of these things is 40 years; this one is 53 years old.
What the hell, what could go wrong? Well, it's worth pointing out that the reactor was made in France in the 50s...I for one wouldn't be all that excited about depending on the well-known French quality engineering system that existed 70 years or so ago. Wine, bread, cheese, sausage, cider--they have that down. But, nuclear reactors?
Would you want to have your children's future depend on the equivalent of a '58 Citroen?
I've been very sick the last couple of weeks. One course of pretty nasty antibiotics and I started to feel better and then wham! Back to the local Stop&Doc where I got the first prescription and the office, which serves a couple of hundred people daily. They couldn't find a substitute to cover while the normal guy took some vacation. We commiserated back and forth, since I needed help; and they -- four people -- were waiting for the word to close shop and 3/4s of a day's pay.
While this was a personal problem, it got me thinking. I've had 2-4 cases of strep throat and associated problems every year since before Crispin was born. Had the tonsils out when I was 20 and the idea that no more sore throats was a total lie. However, there was a lot less misery. Still, when it gets full blown, I'm pretty useless. More so than normal, according to some.
On the other hand, I've never had smallpox, tetanus, swine flu, diphtheria, thyroid, tetanus, rabies, rubella, shingles, malaria, plague, anthrax or any of the other stuff I've been vaccinated for. Made me wonder why this is so...
apropos of the below, people actually do want to make the left-right spectrum neurological and genetic. they really do want to make left and right 19th century-style races, literally. and as in 19th century races, people are supposed have different racial/biological natures and destinies, different roles in history. then like the caucasoid race in relation to the negroid and mongoloid races, according to british gentlemen in 1880, the progressive race can assume its destined domination. otherwise we go backwards in history, or even in evolution.
if whether or not you support obamacare is genetic, then we could breed out the right-wingers, or maybe medicate them. so certain are people on either side of the rightness of their own positions, so soaked in empty dogma are they, that neither side would hesitate to fix the other surgically or through starvation-and-reinforcement in order to...whatever, save the earth from warming or keep you from choosing abortion or save the very essence of american freedom, or whatever. this degree of certainty is a feature of beliefs that are taken for social rather than for epistemic reasons; it is entirely out of proportion to any evidence or argument. to have even a normal degree of certainty, or the possibility of backing up should new evidence emerge, would be a betrayal of your people. even to listen to the reasons other people have for believing things would be a betrayal. in this sense left and right are like religious faiths or perhaps i meant to say cults.
that's how committed people are to this completely incoherent bulljive: they really do regard it as a baseline of human existence - so of course it's in the brain - even though the left-right spectrum emerged only in the 19th century. this shows you for one thing the quality of this neurofad and its dangerousness: really it's as good as race theory joined to evolution and phrenology circa 1880. if you listen to people on the left, they keep suggesting that people on the right are at an earlier stage of evolution, like neanderthals or trogoladytes, etc. nature has imprinted on our dna a wretched series of contradictions, as though the people who think 2+2=17 and those who think it's 71 have different neurotransmitters or different cerebral swellings. or it's as though you found that people who like season 2 of scandal have a different forehead slope than those who prefer season 3. jeb bush and hillary clinton don't have different positions on anything, but their brains are different or they wouldn't belong to different political parties.
indeed, from my point of view, the positions amount to the same thing: enthusiasm for the very same hierarchy, slightly differently described (the left loving political hierarchy, the right economic, and these coinciding almost perfectly on the ground). i'd breed that out, if i could.
understand that where you are on the political spectrum correlates with gender, sexual orientation, race, region, income level, age, and so on. so you'd have to make all those things neurologically connected somehow. just spitballing now, but a basically social explanation is actually going to work easily in a million obvious ways, whereas this is just an complete non-starter. it's worth saying, though, that neither the neurological nor the social explanation is relevant to the truth of the positions, so if either works overall, no one believes any of these things because they have reasons to think they're true. well, that much is obvious anyway.
Since I write for several sites, it can get painful to have to reformat for each site because they all use different software and variations on HTML. I guess from a Geek point of view, there are religious reasons for using Typepad over Word Press or something else over Typepad. As a guy with thick fingers and neck, this is frustrating.
You know what else is frustrating? People. They're also fascinating. Two recent pieces I published at Veterans Today show that the United States is in genreal not falling into any sort of standard deviation pattern in terms of populace. Nobody should claim to have cornered the market on truth, and yet I keep finding readers who do, often from a population who should understand the idea that reality is complicated.
The second piece was my post mortem on the post mortem of the post mortems of why Barrack Obama and the Democrats blew it. As they did, in great detail. The lack of moral courage, conviction and adoption of a Republican light strategy resulted in taking the US into the pits for two years while the world runs around the track. Accusations of Putin feeling up the Chinese President's wife aside, it's like the US is headed toward the height of irrelevance. Caligula famously sent a legion to the English Channel and had them invade the ocean and gather sea shells as a sign of their conquest. Obama and the Dems are marching to the sound of the Caligulan rhythm section...but, Caligula had an excuse, he was fucking crazy. If there was a way to throw out an incredible political advantage after pissing on it and insulting us all, the Dems did it. Scipio McConnell and Scipio Minor Boehner left a wasteland, but they figured to have won...whatever the hell was left.
Crispin, as most of his devoted Crispyheads know, doesn't like Dylan. However, I was driving home the other day, and something I'd never heard before that was obviously an older number because he didn't sound like the late Bob Shepard, Yankee Stadium PA man channeling Son House while introducing Mickey Mantle and it struck me. And, got me thinking about how screwed up the world is...we've got a brilliant president replacing the village idiot; we are a pretty smart country. And we keep stomping on it with cleats...not rubber cleats, but sharp steel ones like Ty Cobb wore
I've been shilling Russian mail order brides to all my lonely, unmarried or thinking about it friends. I'm helpful that way. One of my buddies, recovering from his third or fourth marriage told me that he would run before having anything to do with a Russian woman because they come from the womb crazy. This from a guy with 9 cats who wears thin lapelled suits and thin ties with a fedora at work...my comment was fairly simple. "And..." figuring with the Russian bride, you don't have to fool yourself that it's going to be wonderful.
we survived the era of evolutionary aesthetics only to land in the era of neuroaesthetics. i would like to point out a couple of things, and then you evaluate whether they are compatible with these approaches. the idea of a distinctively "aesthetic experience" originates in the 18th century in europe. the distinction of the fine arts from the crafts or from religion or from science - picking out, say, painting, sculpture, poetry, music or movement of certain kinds, etc - as a distinctive sphere of human activity, comes from the same period. neither idea is conceptually defensible; the distinctions between fine and popular art, between art and craft, between art and religious ritual, between aesthetic experiences and other sorts of experiences, have never been rendered coherent. class distinctions are all over these concepts.
i have argued these points in a series of books, etc., but i will just enter this challenge: show me a distinct concept of aesthetic experience or pleasure in any thinker or any diary etc etc - show me the concepts you are detecting in the brain - anywhere in human culture before, let us say, the works of shaftesbury. show me a clear expression of any of the basic concepts you are using emerging from any culture besides western culture. then you might want to deal with the conceptual problems with these ideas, the many critiques of them by serious thinkers (oh, i don't know, go sample george dickie's myth of the aesthetic attitude), their total collapse within art itself in the post-modern era (there's a reason the writer of that piece goes to de kooning, in modernism's last gasp).
now this is a problem that is all over neuro-anything: the people doing it are good at scanning brains, terrible at pressing critically on the concepts they start by deploying. they don't even really think they need a coherent taxonomy, or a historic sense, or a clarification of basic terms. they freeze momentary cultural configurations into our neurons and thus biologize their own prejudices. but all the work is done by the initial set of assumptions, and the empirical portion is hardly even relevant to the resulting loop in which they find whatever they brought. they take their political or aesthetic or ethical assumptions and stamp a big red "SCIENCE" on them, which is intended to flummox or silence you with authority or prestige.
one problem - or the big conceptual problem - is the idea that the mind is the brain. (i say this as a materialist.) you will not understand something like art except by moving outside the body, into social systems embedded in a wider environment. however we may describe, let's say, the experience of beauty, we cannot account for it in terms of neurological states, but in terms of those states embedded in an organism, embedded in social systems including languages, embedded in a physical environment. the research model is fundamentally wrong about the nature of the material it is studying.
It always bothers me when progressives and liberals say stuff that is incredibly stupid or just knee-jerk reaction to some stimulous. There is a problem among true believers that is relevant largely to true believers...anyone who has not confused themselves with God can usually sense the absurdity of their silliness and maybe even stop...
So, if you want to check out some music and read my argument, visit the link. Links posted in this one are all to music. Dylan has published enough stuff and had enough of it bootlegged to guarantee some decent stuff. Comments are always welcome. Cripsin will undoubtedly explain why he thinks Dylan less of a figure than Blondel the Troubador or Blind Lemon Jefferson, and that's ok.
Researchers have found eating highly-processed carbohydrates like cakes, cookies and chips could affect pleasure centers in the brain, leading to serious cravings that might cause people to overeat.
meaning that you're an addict. did you know that cocaine also affects the pleasure center of your brain? so does taking a good dump, which may be addictive. ask yourself whether the, erm, brain is dong any explanatory work here, or just the ass.
it's going to take a lot for me to think that any particular neuroscientist or interpreter of brain scans isn't just a fool or a charlatan, in particular with the way particular regions are supposed to be correlated with particular activities. but also in the way the brain is being thought of: seemingly as a swarm of little agents. i think astrology and alchemy are far more sophisticated intellectual structures with better empirical confirmation. really, the shit is amazingly ridiculous, but it has that pseudo-scientific jive quotient that silences people or makes them lose all sense and start nodding along. i am going to start collecting casual examples from the media or wherever. ok this is from this week's new yorker, the place where brains go to die, region by region.
Sleep deprivation is a key component of post-traumatic stress disorder, or P.T.S.D., according to Jonathan Shay, a clinical psychiatiatrist. . . . He told me that sleep is 'fuel for the friontal lobes of the brain,' which handle "ethical and emotional self-restraint" and "the ability to say 'This is now and that was then.'" In the sleep-deprived brain, there is only the eternal present."
i propose that 'frontal lobes' etc are, as usual, doing absolutely no work, and that if you tried to pay off in some specific way on this it would amount to a pile of crap. with better and better scanning technology, i suppose, we might detect the eternal present in your pre-frontal cortex: yo there it is! what 'frontal lobe' or whatever always does is just try to befuddle you with empty scientific-sounding hooha. the strategy is just to accept uncritically whatever arbitrary, superficial, or momentarily-culturally-approved ethics or normative therapeutic techniques or self-help you've got, freeze it into everyone's biology, and pretend that's an explanation. seriously, in a hundred years people will look back and just shake their heads at how large and neurologically active our stupidity centers were and how meaningless the stuff that came out of our language-mangling module.
i'm not saying this because i'm a dualist or because i think minds can't be accounted for physically. really, i'm not. i'm saying this because you're claiming ersatz authority by spouting drivel.