Monday, 25 December 2017

Short Aphorism

Once upon a time, linguists acknowledged that a language is but a dialect with an army and navy (my thanks to Max Weinreich for diffusing the metaphor, and to the unknown man that first had this illumination).

Similarly, the history of Scientology teaches us that a religion is but a cult with a police and a sufficient number of lawyers. 

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Some Of The One Thousand Misunderstandings On Darwinism

Or, rather, the manifold ways we manage to get Darwinism -  and, by far and large, a whole host of other concepts derived from "the sciences of life" - wrong.

The first thing I noticed, many - usually, authors of entertainment fodder - seems to treat Darwinism as if it was a kind of "atheist" religion.

Darwin proposed a theory about the mechanisms that allow the natural evolution of the species, based upon the natural appearance of mutations - as a result, we now know, of both casual errors in the DNA replication, as well as some mechanisms that seem designed to introduce massive mutations by the replication or deletion of blocks or "regulative" DNA - and a successive elimination of the variants less apt for the current environment.

Now, a theory is really something like "a scientific explanation of how something may work, that has not been proven completely wrong yet - though it may someday be -  and has some utility in explaining new phenomena as they are encountered".

As a scientific theory, his was a good one, and it has survived many an attempt at disproving it.

However, it is still nothing more - and nothing less - than a successful scientific theory.  It has nothing to do with religion, and shouldn't even inform ethic decisions, as it has no moral relevance.

I argue that the very first act our species did when it conquered sapience, was, in fact, getting rid of much of the parts of Darwin's theory pertaining to the competition among individuals.

The very first thing we did when we became able to exchange ideas, was starting to live together in big groups, opting for various forms of collaborative lifestyle that allowed us to pool the talents of each member of the group.

Of course, Darwin theory gave birth to "Darwinism", an intellectual framework that allowed to expand Darwin's original theory when it became evident, for example, that in social species the competition is not only among individuals but also among social groups.

As an intellectual framework, Darwinism is a decently solid one... as long as one remembers that it does not always apply and that one can't cherry-pick which facets of the theories - it spawn a number of them - to follow, and which to forget.

On one side, casual mutation is not the only mechanism by which a species evolve, as least as far as phenotype (physical body shape) goes. 

Lamarck wasn't right but was not completely wrong either.

We now know that there are mechanisms - called "epigenetic"  - by which the stresses encountered by the parents influence the development of the offspring, usually modulating their base metabolism.

This influence is reversible - which explains why the human population is generally growing taller, in those countries that are accumulating generation after generation of well-fed individuals with access to good quality proteins, nearing the dimensions of the last generations of hunter-gatherers - but impossible to deny.

On the other side, collaboration has a wide importance in the natural world.

We have discovered that bacteria exchange information on how to dominate their environment, not only among individuals but also even across species, and many of the most successful insects have hive structures grouping thousands or hundred thousands of individuals.

In other words, competition may be inevitable, but collaboration often helps a lot. So, when you hear a "Social Darwinist", what you are hearing is - really and usually - just a greedy opportunist.

Another classic case of "cherry-picking" Darwin's ideas to justify arbitrary preferences is, in my view, the "science" called Eugenics.

While it may be appealing to use our knowledge to shape the evolution of our species, the truth is that any such effort's first result would be - inevitably, by the very nature of the idea of Eugenics - to reduce the variability of our species' genetic pool.

And while it may appeal to some petty desires to have taller offspring - to make an example -  it would also condemn them, should some dramatic change of the environment make being taller than five feet a liability.

Proponents of Eugenics may use the name of Darwin but, in reality, the whole idea is rather
UN-Darwinian.

Eugenics points me to another of the diffused misunderstandings that surround poor Darwin and his ideas, one that we indulge pretty often, almost all of us.

Evolution has no actual purpose, nor aim, nor does it have any "moral" value.

When these concepts appear, associated with natural evolution, is a reflection of prejudices, usually of anthropocentric nature and sometimes, even more restrictedly, just Euro-centric ones.

Usually, all it is needed to highlight this is simply an examination of the criteria used to define a species as successful or evolved.

If it is "we recognize the species as well made"... it has no universal meaning worth the name.

If we decide to use the aggregated mass of its components, as an indirect measure of the species prevalence in securing control over its environment, then cows are the most successful multi-cellular species on the planet. However, if one was to consider all bacteria as elements of an extended organism, that one would be twice the mass of cows, or about three times the one of humans.

The most successful super-organism on the planet.

But when we use "evolved", we often really mean "likeable" - which has no bearing on evolution.

If we use number of individuals, flies easily exceed human numbers - they are a hugely successful species.

At the same time, purposeless and aimless as it may be, evolution never stops, even when it may appear so at a superficial glance.

As a result, the concept of "living fossil" is - mostly - a joke that evolutionists pull on laymen.

Take -  if you will - its most famous "example", the shark.

The general body shape of sharks is so well tuned to their environment that it has hardly changed in a couple of hundred millions years. In fact, millions of years later, when cetacean went back to sea they copied the shark general shape (hydrodynamics rocks!).

But, the same can be said of desktop computers and office spaces - Yet, try navigating Internet with an IBM AT, and you'll see what I am getting to.

If it was to come back today, a shark of 200 million years ago would probably starve trying to catch the fish that its somewhat faster descendant has no issue catching, all the while his body would be consumed by hundred of pathogens that its very much alike-looking namesake fend-off on a daily basis.


(Note: Crichton, writing "Jurassic Park", knew it well and used - in an utterly brilliant way - the necessity of modern egg-donors as a clever work-around; the Raptors are at least as much some descendants of their modern - i.e. fit to today's environment - amphibians "mothers" as they are of the sparse reptilian DNA fragments recovered from fossils. Also, from their amphibian parents they got the ability to change sex in times of stress, which is one that many humans would like to have, and made for a great plot point... that guy was good.)

I think that you got the gist of what I was saying, by now.


I leave you the toil of thinking about other ways we mistreat Darwin - there must be more than a few that escaped my fantasy and capacity for  recognition.


So, remember - when you encounter someone using "evolution" as an explication for any policy - and you will - proposal, he or she is likely pulling a scam.

Or misdirected.

Or both.

Kettles and Pots

Some time ago, I was reading an article (on the New York Times) about how the Egyptian government, confronted with a number of issues comprising the next best thing to a civil war, wasted an outstanding amount of energies in trying to crack down on homosexuals  and lesbians.

More or less for the crime of existing and wanting a sexual-romantic life at their terms - as usual.

While I can agree, I really feel that it is a bit of a joke. 

Regulating sexual behaviours has ALWAYS and WILL always be among the main reasons for the very existence of ruling hierarchies in human societies.

After all, the best reproductive strategy for a male would be to kill the sons of others and shag the mothers as soon as they get  receptive again - something our "cousins" Chimpanzees, effectively, do.

While it can be "reasonable" for a single male, it is a waste of resources for any organized group - so, as soon as we started being a social animal, that had to go, as the tribes with less child killers were more fit to win in the constant struggles with neighbouring groups. 

The only thing that changes, between societies, is WHICH sexual behaviours are decried as "aberrant", and thus subjected to harassment and persecution by a given society.

An "excessive" example: once upon a time, the Athenians were disgusted by the Spartans - because these liked to make love to their women, and also liked for their women to be athletic and fit, mentally as well as physically. Oh, and they let the damn women out in the open, sometime in the nude.

The Athenians preferred to limit the interactions with their house-bound wives to the minimum required to produce offspring, and otherwise preferred the company of young males (for somewhat similar reasons, Japanese well-offs preferred the geishas, i.e. escorts, to their wives... as Tony Soprano once put, "that is the mouth that kisses my children").

Or, at least, so they professed.

Of course, as us "moderns" like to say that Ancient Athens is where democracy was born, every time these facts are reminded the provision is added that Spartans wanted their women fit for militaristic reasons - "they thought athletic women would have better sons".

Maybe... it doesn't really change that Athenians hid their women in gynaeceums while Spartan widows could speak as head of their family.  

In the last few decades our society has come to accept homosexuality as an orientation and identity - very grudgingly, and only because many queer people have been willing to fight tooth and nail, up to and including rioting and fighting police forces, to force our society to make a corner for them; and, by the way, it may as well be only temporary - but there are still other "alternative lifestyles" that it happily persecutes, out of the same kind of visceral hates and "required automatic disgusts".

Naming any of these "lifestyles" as anything else than aberrations and illnesses (worthy of having their carriers contained by means of violence, by the way, no matter if they never actually carried out their inclinations), is bad enough to be ostracized.

So, I won't name them; we all know which ones are.

And, if one has any doubt, it should be enough to read the entries of the patrioct act that forbid U.S. banks to trade with entities involved in drug trafficking and in some types of porns, because these "are used by terrorists as ways to gain financial support". 

When I read pieces like that one, I sometimes feel this sensation that us westerners are somewhat like pots calling kettles "black".

We decries other cultures for not sharing our values, exactly like said cultures do with us.

Not so enlightened as we like to portray, really.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The bad habits of school

If you  look around, you may find the books of John Taylor Gatto.

Gatto is an ex-schoolteacher with 30 years of teaching under the belt, and his thesis can be resumed in

"Compulsory school is really a wage-slave factory and should be disbanded".

Which is not really wrong - creating docile citizens was and still is one of its main purposes.

The man is a bit exaggerated, and may force too much with his examples of persons of success that got educated outside the compulsory school paradigm - problem is, John, if you got the wrong parents, chances is that you non-compulsory education consists in working since age 8, and beatings every time one tries to raise his or her head... only a few, but I've met someone who had that kind of child years, and life hadn't really improved going forward, for them. 

However, it is true that for some things school is really a bad teacher.

In fact, compulsory school mostly teaches conformity above actual education.

One often has to go with what a professor teaches, even when he or she already works in the field on what said professor is supposed to teach, and knows first-hand the teacher is horribly outdated (I had problems with a couple of old profs in high-school, because what they explained - and pretended it was correct - failed to meet my knowledge, either from direct work or from reading the  course's textbook ).


Also it promotes a much too bleak way of seeing life - in many schools, especially the "hard ones" that are supposed to prepare kids better, didactic life is a "win or die" situation.

Oral test after writing test, getting anything above a meagre passing grade is a battle, getting almost unrecoverable failing grades just a matter of a slip.

So, you have to "win" all the tests - it sucks and I'd say it makes students very good candidates for developing anxiety or panic attacks, later on.

Now, if you say "yeah, that's kind of how like life is", then you have made yours that lesson.

Life is - really - a lot more like a lottery, rather than an eternal drill examination.

You have to always take your ticket - and it often  means to work one's ass off, for sure... most "tickets" do not come "cheap"  - but, to win, one just has to get it right once. Really right, maybe, but once. 

And when he doesn't, the loss is incidental, negligible or, even, not really a loss -" my first society went volley-balooney, but I made acquaintance with [x,y,z] and learned how to do [w] which would become fundamental for the success of [s]"  is the kind of phrase that pops up every now and then in literature .

With women, it doesn't matter how many reject you, scorn you,  or even use the stupid social networks to post pictures of you naked.

What matters is to find ONE that loves you and always has your back.

In economic life, it is not that different either.

It doesn't care how many jobs you change, as long as you find one where you are effective - hint: it usually implies that you like it on some levels, because when your competitors are willing to do it 19 hours a day out of passion, just effort and "hard work" is not going to fly that high... they are working harder, just for the fun of it - and it allows you a living.


If you have in you to be an entrepreneur, 2/3 of new societies are dead by their 3rd year.

The world is kept going  by the 1/3 that survives...

Really, the only environment that I recognize it works like school, in modern society - if you are in a war-ravaged area or a failing African state, the rules are different... it's the one wrong bullet that kills - is the internal working of the U.E. as it is now.

Everyone must agree, any new crisis is a "win or die", the capacity for drama is endless - and it is the reason for which it sucks, and should be replaced  by something more integrated and LESS dependent on the whims of the populist ass-holes in each state - of whom the continent's history has more than plenty - that forget that the current union was built on the back of some fifty million dead sacrificed to the "ideal" of European Nation-States.

Something more integrated, like a proper unitary state with one army (and well funded, Russia is where Russia is and Turkey is not any better of a neighbour, when push comes to shove), one foreign ministry etc.

I know, it is much more likely that compulsory school gets a revolution that makes it effective.

But a man needs to have dreams...

Monday, 16 October 2017

Can Trump survive Trump?

Or rather, can the "Trump Brand", of whom the Donald is awfully proud, survive the "Trump Administration" clear display of mismanagement, infighting and borderline treachery?

After having seen the managerial style of the Man in action, his almost pathological incapability of looking at a deal without seeing it only as a shackle to cheating out of if in any way hinders him, would you buy an house built by one of his similarly lead enterprises?

After knowing that his enterprises had 3500 litigations opened by contractors for not paying - usually citing badly executed works as a reason, yet trying time and again to rehire some of the very same "incapable" contractors - would you accept to, say, lay down parquet for "The Donald" ?

I know, the answer is "Yes".

After all, it is the very same man since forever, and this didn't manage to turn him into a pauper (though, I suppose, this mostly shows that once you are big enough, being borderline incapable but greedy as hell still pays enough to keep growing).

However, it would be nice to see if his "prized" brand suffered any significative loss, in terms of value. 

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Why I like Electric Cars

And why you may have to avoid buying one, if you really care about the planet.


None of the reasons why I like electric cars has to do with them being "green", but for one that is really more  - "I like to breath without assistance" - which, for me, is a supremely egoistic one.

I like electric cars because the battery plus +electric-motor-on-board-electronics assemblies exemplified by the Tesla allow some innovative design, with a very low centre of gravity and consequently good handling.

In this, the Tesla shows a direction, although their design is still pretty tame, confronted with what could be done (in fact, I remember a GM concept some  years before the Teslas, that used the battery in the bottom and small motors much more audaciously... it never made to production, as entering an essentially "void" car was slightly upsetting).

I like electric cars because the electric , asynchronous motor they use is one of the simplest machines known to man - all the sophistication of the drive-train is in the power control circuitry and that, mostly, can be derived by the power control studies that move most industrial machines.

I like electrics because they allow AWD design with negligible loss of efficiency - maybe, even with a gain! -  when compared with the 2WD version, and completely arbitrary power-on demand distribution on each wheel.

This because, in an electrics, a small motor can be used to drive a single wheel, and having 4 motors working in parallel - each with the same efficiency - makes not much difference, whereas in an I.C. vehicle the kinematic chain must be lengthened, adding stages in which losses have to be added.

More exactly, efficiency in a parallel process is given by the weighted mean of the sub-process efficiency, in a cascade chain - like in a classic AWD -  it is given by the product of each successive stage, and ass efficiency are necessarily always < 1....

So, with the right design, the 1motor-1drive wheel can have even better efficiency than 1 motor-differential -2 wheels, because the differential is just one added kinematic stage... of course, the cost is a bit more for the independent motors solution.


I like electric cars because they can be ridiculously overpowered, with respect to normal use, without this incurring the excessive augments of the running costs that is typical for overpowered I.C.E.

In E.V.s the main limits in terms of maximum power and efficiency are given by the battery and, the highest the capacity of the battery the highest the autonomy, the better the maximum continuous power and the efficiency of the discharge in normal use (but, the bigger battery, the bigger the weight and cost of it, so a compromise must be found - that's called engineering).

Again,  the Tesla S and X show both these possibilities, having motor assemblies back and front as well as an absurd combined motor maximum power, but still fall short from ideal in keeping a differential in the mid  each axle, instead of using an independent motor for every wheel (which would allow instantaneous torque vectoring at a marginal cost).

The mechanical simplicity of electric vehicle (even in a 1 motor per wheel design) may allow for substantial  reductions in terms of maintenance needs.

After all, chances are that you are reading this on a computer whose cooling fans have run 8 hours a day, every day, for the last one to eight years, without an itch... that's what the computer I write this on did, in effect - it is about 18000 hours (I had to change the CCFL of the monitor a while ago, so it is about right, as those last more or less that) or 400.000 km.

Electric cars drive-trains are, really, only oversized versions of those fan's brushless motors.

Done well, we should expect E.V. that require a change of the reduction gear oil, and other fluids, every five years, and of tires and brake pads only depending on the owner's craziness (I had a friend who trashed both in some three thousand km - 2 k miles, to be generous).

Now, many argue that E.V. are illusory un that they "move" the pollution from the tailpipe to the power plant. It is fundamentally right.

But, I have lived most of my youth in an area that managed to be among the most polluted of Europe and, maybe, the world. A place where older cars are allowed to circulate only during the weekend, and at each new "Euro" rules enforced the "old car" limit was moved forward, and electricity os often imported from nuclear plants in Switzerland and France..

In such an area, having an electric car may help avoid your neighbour - or you - some respiratory disease.

Finally, while nobody would like the idea of a gasoline car that fills her tank by herself when one parks it in the garage, mostly because we do not fancy  the idea of hundred of litres of gas at children's arms length, I can imagine an electric car do the same, with a sufficiently "smart" plug that wouldn't OK the charger to switch on unless it was plugged all well in.

(Years ago, I saw a project for self-driving city-cabs that used inductive pads as the "electric plug"... the little boxes only had to park themselves above a pad, no plugs or other moving parts involved; if it was workable, it would be a neat way to have self-charging EVs).

At that point, while the electric vehicle range may still be limited, who wouldn't like a daily drive that one never has to take time to refill?
  
Now, why should someone avoid buying an electric car, if he cares for the planet?

It boils down to where, and how, the electricity to fill the battery is produced, as well as the current efficiencies of batteries and such.

The electric motors and the electronics that drives them are fairly efficient  - typically, a least 90% and usually more, outside the two limits case of launch and over-rev where efficiency falls to 0 .

Then there is the battery charge-discharge cycle, the electronics in the charger station, and the electric power lines .

Li-Po battery charge-discharge efficiency can be as high as 99%, typically for slow charges. For somewhat faster charges, the efficiency drops.

The same can be said for the discharge - slowly done, coasting at speed limit on the highway, it probably hovers back in the high 95%. In a Tesla S, in Ludricous Acceleration mode, probably it is more an 80%.

The power grid delivery efficiency is not so high, around 70%, but it depends a little on the sophistication of its controls system and a lot on the distance from the production centre,

Now, you'll have seen a lot of "about" in this part.

Because, really,  there are a lot of details that influence each point, what Robert McNamara called "hard data" - independently measured,with a well defined methodology and verifiable -  are hard to come by and, as a result, more than calculus what they led to is... sophisticated confirmation bias.

So, going around the web, depending on what the writer of each article is aiming to, these data can be - and usually are -  "massaged" one way or the other.

As these are all efficiency in a chain process, they must be multiplied - remember? - and sliding some % point one way or the other ends making huge differences.

So, let's be optimistic, but not too much.

Drive TrainMotorInverterBattery ChargeBattery DischargeCharger StationGrid Lines  Power Plant
95%95%95%95%95%95%70%50%

One gets 24%, which compares favourably - but not so much - with petrol cars wheel-to-well efficiency, that most sources seems to agree being about 16%.

 Replacing all those 95 with 90, one gets 18%... Tossing in a couple of 80% - which, by the way, may be justified simply by a owner that has a heavy foot on the accelerator!!! if one thrashes ires, that is energy that disappear in rubber smoke, and battery heating up for the fast discharge... - one can easily come to the conclusion that the environmental friendly electric car gives a whopping 14% efficiency.

And, by the way, if you live at a distance from the power plant and this is a coal fired one, it is true... a small petrol car is the greenest choice you can make.

So, the electric cars will not save the Earth?


First of all, they would never have. It is our hide, as a species, that is in danger.

Long after we'd have produced the greatest mass extinction ever and wiped out ourselves and every mammalian plus some other cordata, the planet will still be here and have some inhabitants.

 One of those will spur the next "great species" - or not. The planet can't care less, one way or the other.

Second, as I said, the effective "greenness" of EVs depends on a host of factors - by far, the most important the type and location of the power plant, and any significant change can tip the situation.

For example, I live in one of the most underdeveloped areas of Europe, a place where hundred of Aeolian Generators spin under a near constant wind and the electric grid had - for years - problems in accommodating this kind of unreliable, exuberant power source.

Buying an electric car here would be a no-brainer, but for the fact that almost nobody feel it is needed to avoid pollution - underpopulated and under near constant wind from the Atlantic, the air is perfect as it is -  a bit because the under-population forces to move a lot to get things done, and mostly because there is not a single charging station in a couple hundred miles. 


In Chile, where they are slowly filling the Desert of Atacama - the driest, sunniest place on Earth - with solar cells, it is going to become a no-brainer in some years.

In California... outside the most polluted urban areas, it is not really such a great idea, as the current mix of electricity power plants is not so ideal...

_______________________________________________________________


So, if you really feel "green", before you go and buy a Volt, get informations on where and how the electricity you want to feed to your horseless carriage is made, and then sit to make some calculations...

You may discover that one of those small turbocharged petrol beast, horrible little shiboxes that they make today is really the greenest option available were you live.

Waiting for the technology of - and infrastructure for - EVs to catch up.


Thursday, 5 October 2017

Omnipotence Delusion

On one of the other sites where I post my works, I was recently contacted by someone purporting to be a 38 year old woman, a Chinese with an eleven year old daughter.

Nothing major in this - after all, plenty of women my age or younger have daughters in college or younger, and many of them ladies are looking to someone to have a chat with and, if things go well, maybe something more than just chat.

I tried to ask my usual "photo with a named sheet in hand", and this person effectively sent me a photo of a woman of that age with a piece of paper with written "Ciao, _DB" in hand. Kind of like this shot.

What do you mean, with
"modesty is not your forte" ?
So, if it was not a woman, at least it was someone who could get a woman to play a bit - quite innocently, though - on their behalf.

Of course, the first greeting of moms looking for doms usually is "No, the kid ain't part of the deal, creepo" - usually uttered before the very initial exchange of salutations. This time, alas, was not the case.

Alas because, clearly, while the "I will rip out your guts if you ever squint at my daughter that way" is excessive (in most cases), it is also oddly reassuring.

It feels real, for a certain way of seeing the world. Whereas the other way around feels... more than slightly unreal.

We chatted for a long while, during which I tried to convince this "mom" that, if the daughter was ever to choose the way of the submissive - as "mommy" hoped [?] - it needed to be by her own - of the daughter, I mean - choice, on her own time schedule, and with no undue influences from the adults around her, no matter how well intending said adult is.

Also that, as a 12th birthday's gifts, a set of gauge 10 nipple rings were kind of a bit excessive... probably, they are excessive even for a 15th or a 17th birthday, depending on the jurisdiction - but, if one needs the legalese to know that, it ain't really much of an ethical slut.

As "she" kept on trying to derive the discourse in that direction, I grew wary... was this some scam I do not know anything about yet?

Was "she" hoping to collect enough personal information to identify me, and proofs of some ideological crime to blackmail me with?

It was quite a bad sensation.

In the end, I tired and said her to fuck-off.

(kind of gently, I accused "her" of being a Montana redneck, without using foul language...).

Yet, I feel a bit bad, about it all.

If "she" was yet another of the ever growing, never resting tribe of the scammers, using an unsuspecting waitress at their dinner and some internet-stolen material to flesh out a good back-story (ahem, that's something I WOULD do, if that was my job... so, the guy would just have been another fantasist in my league), then it would not mean much.

We`d just danced the ballet of scammer and not-scammed, and went each one his way.

But if, for once, against all laws of probability and everything that I know about human nature, it really was the woman that "she" affirmed to be, then I let the little one down.

Then, if in three months time the daughter will find herself with a couple of pendants in all the wrong places... it will also be a tiny bit my fault, because I didn't try hard enough, and as I feared to keep contact and broken off, I did not manage to change her mom's idea.



Of course, the likeliest probability is that it was some scammer or, really, some bored whatever with too much time on hir hands.

On the other side, if it was real, what could I do?

As my psychologist pointed me out a couple of hours ago, it is not like my words over a chat relay were going to change anybody's mind, Japan is on the other side of the planet (and, by a couple of clues I saw, I'd say whoever it was was also using TOR, probably in a TAIL OS), so this guilt trip of mines doubles also as an omnipotence delusion.  

Damn - I hate being reminded that I am not really a god, yet. 
 

Monday, 2 October 2017

War And Modern Countries

As far as I can tell, war and the use of weapons are becoming increasingly irrelevant, in the interactions among "1st tier" governments.

In a world where even a borderline failed state like North Korea can manage to build nuclear weapons, and their necessary delivery systems, it becomes evident that every developed country worth the name can develop its own, if somehow pressed to do so.

So, one nation "flexing muscles" to impress an opponent is either meaningless, as this opponent already has a treaty with a nuclear power, or risks bring the "weaker opponent" to chase its own nuclear deterrent.

It is likely what it is going to happen, if ever the Washington had to falter in its support to Seoul or Tokyo because of Pyongyang  developing ICBM.

It should not happen - after all, it is not like the citizen of the U.S. existence has never been imperilled by their country standing against the ambitions of another nuclear power bur, it is also true that DJT is not - by a far cry - the average US president.

In an ideal world, the situation would prompt someone to recognize that the era of the nation-states must come to its end, before it is too late.

Unfortunately, rationality has never been humanity's forte, so we won't see the U.N. become the kind of global, democratically elected world government - with an independent army and police force, able to tackle successfully any unruly "big player" - that would be needed.

On the other side of the spectrum, wars is becoming increasingly useless when it comes to bridle "underdog" countries.

Afghanistan may be a particular case, as "The Graveyard of Empires" has managed to swallow, chew and spit everything three different superpowers have tried to send there to "pacificate" the rebels over the last couple of centuries.

But Iraq seems evolving in a not much different way, for the U.S.

And while Russia may be enjoying the annexation of Crimea without getting too much fuss, it is not completely impossible that - in twenty years - Putin's successors will have to count it as a source of terrorists and troublemakers, a shit-hole that "Vlad the Great" ought to have let out of the great Russia.

God knows how many British prime ministers have not thought the same of North Ireland.

Also, we must remember that in modern days, war has gotten extremely democratic.

Two thousand years ago, the Romans controlled their empire with something like twenty thousand men... then again, in an era when no layman had access to weapons, or the training to use them profitably, the Roman soldier was a professional that spent most of his waking hours preparing to disembowel someone else.

Before you dismiss this, now imagine yourself going against - armed only with hands and maybe some agricultural tool - your city's best karate practitioner, who happen to also hold a well balanced, double edge sword that is just quite good at point throws as it is slashing flesh in forward and backhands, and is also flanked on either of his sides by the 2nd and third ranked karateka.

All similarly armed, and all that have spent the better part of their formative years learning how to fight as a combat group. Personally, I can imagine myself running away fast by such a group.

Until the advent of firearms, professionals of war were on an  entirely different level than the one on whom civilians turned rioters could operate.

The latter could hardly prove to be little more than a nuisance to the firsts.

But that was the past, before the age of practically usable guns .

Today a ten year old toddler, hidden in a hole with a Kalashnikov and minimum training, can kill the average soldier all the same, even when this latter is a well trained and well equipped member of the most advanced army on the planet.

If you happen to be someone that has spent some time in a place where this kind of asymmetric war is going on - glad that you made it back, [wo]man - you probably can tell it better than me.

Even worse, in most cases the ones sending the child to his - or her - death have less to worry about losing political support, due to the loss of lives, than the four-stars general commanding the advanced country's army.

So, when I hear a politician speaking about using the army as a tool to solve problems, I always think that I am hearing a stupid talking.

Armies are unfortunately necessary, because time and again history has proved that there are no limits to the god-awful stupid choices that politicians make, often just as diversion from actual, pressing home issues and problems that they do not have any idea how to solve (the Argentine Junta invading the Falklands to distract the country from a failing economic policy in the eighties, Clinton bombing a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory to distract from Lewinsky in the nineties, Italy building its "Empire" to "solve" its overpopulation problem in the '10-20s, that whole horrible mess of WWII).

Nobody knows what a lunatic of an ass-hole may reach power in a neighbour, and try to attack them.

So, armies are needed - as a precaution.

But, to use them actively?
To obtain diplomatic results?

That time is coming to an end, if it has not already passed. 

Monday, 25 September 2017

Gone Forty-Something

Once upon  time, my father told me something like this:

"When a man gets  forty years old, he loses all illusions on human natures and his heart hardens" [- he becomes a bastard].

I fear that, having finally passed under those arches, I finally understand his point.

On average, human are bastards.

And we do not deserve Heaven. 




In Memoriam







Her name was Asunta Basterra Porto.

She was born under the name Fong Wang in Yongzhou, in the Hunan province of China, on September 30, 2000 - but, as she was raised in Santiago d Compostela since she was little more than 18 months old, she would likely have thought of herself as Asunta.

She died September 21, 2013 in Teo, in the Spanish province of La Coruña, killed by her adoptive mother, with the likely complicity of her adoptive (and most likely, sexually abusive - in an anodyne, do-not-leave-proofs and especially coward way) father.

From all records, she was a bright girl though, - possibly - a bit of that brilliance may have been forced on her.

Beyond school hours, she studied four languages - among whom, Chinese- as well as ballet and violin.

In other words, seen from a cynical but all to often accurate point of view, the usual way many well-off  parents have of getting rid of children that they do not really like to have around, since time untold.

By filling their kids' time with extracurricular activities, usually handled by external aid -  ancient Greeks had slaves for the job, the Pedagogues.

While she was intelligent, good looking and a nice kid all around, they never really wanted her but for appearances sake and to satisfy the wife's parent's desires-  of her two killers, I shall speak no more. 

She wrote a couple of entries in her Wordpress blog, about ghost hunters in Santiago de Compostela, in a naïve English with some slight fault here and there. Not a bad effort for an 111/2 year old Spanish kid, I shall say.

She used a photo with this legend in her blog - I added the man, but couldn't manage to draw her as a ghost. 


To illustrate the story, she had a friend take her two photos, that are "the source" of  these drawings.

She didn't leave much else behind... well, neither will I, but for this blog and an awful lot of dreadful, sexually charged drawings.

Even while living a mere thirty miles away, I do it immersed in an informative bubble - all my information comes from at least two thousand km away.

I like it better this way, free of the constant propaganda from asses trying to sell me their crap that passes as local information in our era.

But this made me one of the few - in a hundred km radius - to be unaware who the girl in the photo was, when I came across the image in a G...le search for "Asian Girl".

All I saw was a pretty girl, in one of the dismantled houses above  the Belvis Park.

I like the short, steep uphill that climb from the park to the ancient complex of Iglesia do Nostra Señora del Portal, with the ancient  popular houses on its right side tore down and reduced to a set of walled terraces.

It is eerily beautiful, but I somehow never manage to have a camera with me when I pass through the place - and there there was a picture of a beautiful girl in the very same spot I'd chose.

Probably, she felt much the same, deciding to use it for the little ghost story she had started.

In my ignorance, I stored the picture for future use...  something I often do.

So, I took the girl image, sized it up and slightly elongated the body while keeping the head the original size - heads famously variate less with body sizes than any other part of the visible anatomy - and hands, added generous boobs and drawn a new, older face.

In the end, you need to know what was there, to see the Chinese girl in the Viking in Chains in the final drawing - not that you'll ever see that drawing, ever - but I know she is down there.

Unfortunately, some time after finishing that I discovered - only a little time after... but one never discovers this things before doing the crap, the Universe being the sarcastic bitch that it is - who she was.

And I felt deeply, deeply ashamed of myself.

And then, I felt  a bit worse, and today I feel still a bit worse, while I write this.

She died nine days before turning 13.

She was born only a week apart from my nephew and they could have hit off, if she'd been around by the time he started athletics in Santiago.

She may have been a storyteller, some day, or avoided the dreadful curse of that call.

Almost certainly, she would have been someone worth knowing, once she survived what ought to have been a monumental phase of adolescent rebellion.



My apologies, Asunta.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Fucked Up

It is a bad period for me. No money, no job, almost no friends.

The worst of all?

93% of my life has been like this, of which these last 11 years are just a minor part, and  ´- to be honest - I often felt much worse.

In all my life, I only got three good years - more like, two and a half.  From 1999 to 2001.

The years during which I left my stupid mason job, and went back to college.

For two years and a half, I was happy and thought that my future could, actually, improve.  That there would have been some gratification, after the delays.

I believed that, when I would have had my piece of paper, I could have looked for a good job - one decently paid and not completely idiotic, maybe with a shadow of a perspective of career, I didn't need more - and maybe even moved out of home, in the long term.

Then, entering the last year of college, I made a stupid mistake: I went in "Erasmus" to Paris.

Which could have been good, had I done it the right way -  though it was only a six month period, which was not so good in reality.

I made the single most stupid mistake someone can make, going in Erasmus.

I studied my ass off, the whole time.

It is the last thing one should do, going as an exchange student in a foreign country whose language he knows only a little better than marginally. Really, I am not kidding.

By the time one manages to overcome the language gap, chances are the academics degree are fucked up anyway, and to redress it is just too much effort. Better to forget it and just enjoy the ride - let Erasmus be an Orgasmus, as they say. 

I was out of home, living on my own for the first time in my life (my stint in the Italian national service didn't really count -  I was 30 km from home, and had a day home every three, motly spent working at fixing our hose), having to handle a language that I didn't really know well in a country whose inhabitants - in my experience - aren't very democratic toward foreigners who do not speak the local lingo.

To compound things, the campus was in Noisy Le Grand-Mont d'Est (that you may know, as Terry Gilliam shot some of Brazil scenes there) and on the other side of the street from the students' dormitories was a nice block of passably angry Sub-Saharan immigrants and their descendants, that us students were friendly encouraged to avoid - apparently, the locals didn't like what they saw as rich spoiled brats, and tended to show their dislike by flashing knives every now and then.

I, also, arrived there on September 7, 2001. Four days later... well, you may know what happened.

To echo the great American fuck-up, some local idiot found in his heart the need to bomb -  with a tiny little bomb, that did almost no damage but a symbolic one - one of the external walls of the campus main building.

It darkened my mood,  having to show my ID to a blackwateresque guy every time that I entered the place.

All of which drove my basic antisocial tendencies up to eleven, and I spent the whole six months mostly alone - but for a poor Czech doctorate student, that had to share the flat with a very depressed Italian - studying the IT stuff, studying French and reading French books bought on the banks of the Seine.

As I said, unfortunately the exchange there was only six month long - unfortunately because it ended right when I was starting to get  maybe, a bit better - if I can believe something that my brother told me years after.

So I went back to Italy probably too early, having passed the stupid courses that I had to pass, but also having lost any hope of being able to function outside of my co-dependence with my mother (i.e. any hope whatsoever).  

Another way my "Erasmus" proved to be a fuck-up was that I lost the occasion to choose the kind of "internship" that could have proven better for me.

Being, as I am, a lover of hardware tinkering, I should have gone for something in industrial electronics... but those places were already "gone" by the time I came back, so I finished doing simple programming in an office of the very same university where I was studying.

And by the time I got my piece of paper, my mother - with whom I was, and still am living with... she is almost deaf, almost blind and near impossible to withstand without the oversized streak of masochism that I unfortunately possess, so offloading her was and is more than a bit difficult - was in full panic mode, and more or less forced me to stay working there.

To be honest, it was not bad.

The pay was on the lowish side of things, but I liked my colleagues - and my chief was smart enough to never give me an actual order (something that my father, little authoritarian dickhead that he was, never really understood... I may not rebel overtly, because I have been shown time and again that it has no purpose or effect, but give me an order and you may as well die before truly comply... "passive-aggressive" is all I am).

The man, wisely, just went on with "there is something to do that is a bit on the odd side - would you mind looking into it?" - and off I went with all my might. 

It was an underpaid job (less than 20 k a year - for an IT engineering graduate, living in one of the most expensive areas of Italy) and I tried way too hard to fill my unreasonable ideal of the necessary proficiency on the job  (years later, I discovered that they had to replace me with three consulting guys, each one paid a good 40% more than me - it is, in equal parts, a source of pride and anger).

Many days I felt like my head was cracking open in the middle, and I also knew that chances of career there were nil.

And that job was, by far, the brightest spot of my life back then.


Because it kept me out of home, and away from my mother - who spent all the twelve+ hours I wasn't there dreaming up terrors to crash on my head when I was back.

Do you remember the SARS epidemics of 2003, in Hong Kong? No, right?

I do remember the stupid, stupid, stupid thing.

For more than six months, my mother was scared to death that I could get it, having to go to work in the "big city" of Milan.

And when that scare was over, she went for the successive one, and also kept opening my bank statements and checking the meager state of my finances.

So, when she had not an epidemics to use in her scare tactics, she went for the perspective of my impending fall into poorness the day she died, then to the rumors about soon to be instated new taxes, and then back to some new epidemics.

All of this interspersed with descriptions of how some guy in our town had finally divorced from that bitch of his wife, and had found himself forced to go back living with his parents - while the bitch enjoyed the house that he had bought.

Or some other nice story of the same kind.

If I did an hour or two of overtime, she went all crazy with "worrying" and this shit doubled.

In reality, I realized - then as well as now - perfectly well what she was really worried about.

She feared me finding some "whore" - she doesn't think that women can be anything else, really, which while being accurate for a number of them does not cease to be insulting for the others -  and eloping away, leaving her to contend with my brother and his wife.

Which isn't going to happen, because women scare me more than a bit - the little I understand, my mother is on the pathological side, but many of them come from a similar mold. Deep down, in the secret of their hearts, they consider the men in their life little more than resources to exploit to make themselves more comfortable.I hope that they die of endometriosis gangrene.

In summer 2006, things came to a head.

My brother was moving to Spain with his family and his wife, who was a bit concerned about me - seeing that I seemed depressed on an almost suicidal level - convinced him to invite me to join in, and move away from that shitty place.

I wasn't really inclined to go, because I didn't have any project about the future and I didn't understand what I could do in one of the poorest regions of Spain.

To be honest, more than ten years later, I still do not have any idea.

In those same days I had finally asked my mother to stop trying to drive me insane with her inane "worries" and psychotic delusions - because she was succeeding.

I will never forget, or forgive, her answer.

I would have settle on a "I will try".

- And fail because... come on, we are talking about my mom; She never did anything, in her life, that required any serious effort of discipline that had not an almost immediate payoff; we are talking of someone that flunked middle school because of ornamental pattern design! That's something that requires only to understand how to lay a repetitive grid with a T ruler. 

I didn't even get that.

Her answer was

"But, it is my nature."

I think that she never understood how deluding, and how unfair that felt to me - no matter how many times I told her so. But then again, she does not listen to anybody.

Let's be clear.

A  tiny part of MY NATURE would like to kidnap 15 years old girls, and play on them with a screwdriver, or a soldering iron for electric circuits, till the time comes to get rid of their bodies (which kind of stopped me, because I do not believe in the perfect crime, and getting rid of corpses is where most week-end assassins fuck things up).

Needless to say, even today the first thing that I do in the morning is to piss on that part of my nature, and then go about trying to be a decent - although quite seriously flawed - human being.

Less dramatically and more truthfully, it is also not in my nature to accept orders from any external authority whatsoever, or to put effort in stuff that I do not care about (yes, my boss was SLY).

Again, every time I woke up in the morning, I used to piss on that part of my soul too, with a lot less convincing, and go to work.

So , saying that I was deluded by her answer is a tender euphemism.

It killed me inside, and not just a bit.

Because almost any way out of the hole I felt I was in required that, at least, my personal Osama Bin Laden stopped trying to terrorize me for no reason at any imperceptible "mistake" I made, while I scoped for ways out that were meaningful to me.

Instead, she just said "Up Youre Arse, Son".

In nice words, because she likes to use nice words and thinks that it is being polite, but the substance was that. 

Things could have stabilized themselves anyway, over time.

Maybe - or my sister-in-law would have had to come back for my funeral in a year or so.

But one final straw was to be drawn.

That month, after a four years long freeze, the office where I was working was finally allowed to convert some of us temps into "eternal" workers (it is virtually impossible to get fired from an Italian "state" workplace, once you are assumed as "full-time employee" -  not for anything less than killing a co-worker, and even then - maybe).

So, we had a concourse with some tests (very much tailored around the needs of the office, i.e. almost exactly what the various temps were already doing in it - but that's the way in governmental offices and the similar) in which I went OK ( something like 3rd out of 12), till the final test.

Which was a dialog with a psychologist.

A very pretty woman, tall, blonde, young, incredibly nice ass - and that's about all her qualities, as far as I am concerned. Not very perspicacious.

She asked me "What do you think about loyalty to the enterprise?"

The subtle stupidity of the question, in a day and age when even the Japanese - of my generation - had no reason to cherish that shit, pushed me over the edge.

So, I must also be happy, to be an underpaid slave? Really? Loyalty to the enterprise?

From the depths of my soul, a monumental

FUCK OFF!!!

arose.

Less inelegantly, I answered: "It doesn't matter, because I am moving away, out of this damned country!" 

And so, I ended up where I am now.

Fucked Up, but still alive.

For now

Friday, 4 August 2017

Miracle Worker



I am no going to admit nor deny that this is me, teaching stuff to a female friend that could or not be someone else's wife.
OK, her wife was very interesting too, but I am a bit allergic to lesbian dommes - and them, to me.


A couple of days ago I was asked by some guy to "convert" his wife to BDSM.

Usually, I come across such a request once every four months or so...

On one side, I could smile and chalk it up to some guy that confuses some plots that appear in porn [mostly, of the "BDSM for vanillas" kind, where these and other "conversions from prude to lewd" are established clichés] with real life.

On the other side, there is really little to smile about - this kind of mismatched marriages is quite common in my generation, and usually does not bode well for either member of the couple.

One one side, most often than not, the one that has no interest for BDSM tends to dismiss entirely the requests of the counterpart, labelling these as expressions of "perversions", "crazy ideas" and other similar terms.

On the other side, depending on how deep and firm is the BDSM streak, the "kinky" part of the couple grows increasingly frustrated with a relationship that is ever so slightly unsatisfying, which is often felt by the other - and some, positively, take offense to it.

"Am I not Enough?" - They seem to ask themselves... and the answer to that question is often "Yes"!, which prompts an angry thought: "[S]he should have told me this before marrying, I'd have gone with someone else".

Which conveniently ignore the detail that a lot of BDSMer tried to ignore their nature, for survival necessities, up to the bitter end - it's kind of hard, to tell your significant one something you do not dare to admit to yourself.

As one may imagine, this situation can easily end in a positively disgraceful feed-back, in which one part chafe under the yoke of the marriage, and the other grows positively adamant in his/her refusal.

Here, I must add that there is not much difference to what happens to men and women looking for a role as  doms, or to women aspiring to explore their submissive side - alas, I have no contacts with heterosexual submissive men, so I cannot say anything about them.

If the spouse is resistant to the proposed "experimentation", the kinkster is usually screwed.

However, leaving these details aside - as too depressing to contemplate - there are other reasons why someone should think well and hard before asking something like that to anybody else.

Let's imagine that the "dom" whose collaboration has been asked is, in fact, a miracle worker.

A fine, brilliant handler of the human nature that is able to achieve such a result, overcoming not only the resistance of the woman against general BDSM, but also her likely feeling when it comes to threesomes and other non-conventional situations.   

If it sounds hard to achieve... it is because it is. 

"Ceding" one's Significant One[s] to a "training dom[me]", even in the course of a shared session, is usually considered a feat for well established BDSM menages - not at all the province of neophytes on shaky grounds.
  
Imagine that he, or she, achieves the result, and turns the skeptic spouse into a submissive - with regards to the aforementioned dom.

This does not really guarantee that the "newly minted" sub will consider her husband [or wife!] much more than a pitiful "wannabe".

Worse, if one considers the difficulties in the starting situation and factors-in the likely human stature of a dom capable of overcoming them, then adds to the calculation the not uncommon "BDSM imprinting" phenomenon - if a sub plays for a while with a very efficacious dom[me], he or she will often elect said dominant as the paragon upon which all the others will be evaluated - it is all too probable that this will be the exact result.

Yet, this would still not be the worst case scenario.

I am still postulating that the "trainer" is a paragon of ethical rectitude, and will refrain the temptation of actively "stealing" the sub.

Which can't really be ensured - a truly capable dom -  the kind that could have a chance at realizing such a harebrained project - always develops some deep emotional exchange with his or her subjects.

So deep that deciding to "free" the submissive from the influence of the [clearly unreliable] spouse could be felt as an imperative - maybe, even, an ethical one


Resuming all of the above...

If you are a person of dominant persuasion and you want your espouse to know the joys of sexual submission, you can ask for counsel to other that have gone down that road, but you can't really ask anybody else to do it for you.

That really is courting disaster...

Thursday, 20 July 2017

China

Do you remember, a couple of years ago, or so, China?

In the media, the country loomed big, ready to overtake the West and become the new great superpower.

As everybody, I got curious, and took a bit of time to look a bit - a tiny bit -  at it, and what I saw was... pretty much, a lot of stuff we have already seen in other "up-and-coming" countries.


A disastrous future demographics (like Japan in the '90s and beyond - but almost all developed nations are in the same pinch).

A school system that does little to improve creativity (... Japan, again).

Cosy relationships between state-owned banks and enterprises (again, Italy in the '80s and, if you replace "state" with "keiretsu", Japan in the '90s - or Korea today, if you use "Chaebol").

As the 2008 great financial clusterfuck imperilled the country's export, a state mandated real estate bubble and burst in the making (Japan in the '90s, again? Whops!) arose, as a way to keep the economy running.

A widespread, almost systemic corruption in the civil service (OK, I used to think that at least that was decent, in Japan, before Fukushima and reading about the revolving doors between regulator agencies and the industry - still, I am Italian, and I know Italian civil service to not be much better than the Chinese, and to be one of the things weighing down my country).

No transparency whatsoever, at any level of the government (like... you know, Japan, Italy, Turkey).

A rule of law that is just a moniker for "what the government wants this month" - which, really, prompts wealthy Chinese to stash as much as they can around the world, in case they have to run in a hurry.

Is this the country that holds the keys to the future?

Hardly so.

China is big, the structural advantages due to its sheer size are notable, and so it may expect some more years - even decades - of [decelerating] growth.

But, in the end, it is simply another authoritarian culture.

They often manage well, until they exhaust the limits of their starting advantages (abundance of low-wage menial workers and untapped natural resources, in this case) and they get stuck in a "middle income trap".

At that point, the raising costs of the unspoken -  yet, very binding! - social contract at their base - people accepts to be meek subjects, and get economic vantages in exchange, often in the form of lowly productive jobs in the state sector - cannot be counterbalanced by an expanding economy, and social unrest is destined to appear, in one form or the other.  

Given its sheer size, a "middle income" China could have an economy twice as big as the U.S. , but it would still be a social laggard with little to no "soft power" projection.

However, there is one more, major factor to consider - the long Chinese tradition of the "Mandate of Heaven".

This fascinating bit of the Chinese culture is simply the theory that, when a government is toppled by a revolution, it was because it had become corrupt and had lost the favour of the Gods.

It doesn't change much, in terms of Real Politik, but it is telling that the Chinese culture has historically recognized an implicit right of rebellion - every revolution that wins is a righteous one (a concept that neighbouring Japan, for example, rejected pretty strongly).

The PCC has profited of some thirty years of continuous economic growth - however, the space before the country starts rattling against the bars of its own "middle income trap" is inexorably disappearing, and continuous growth is among the components of the modern "social pact" that has kept the party in power.

Xi Jinping, and its successors, are bound to find increasingly difficult to deliver such growth, unless they manage to produce real structural changes in their country - a task that seems to elude the talents of Mr. Xi, beyond much vaunted proclamations of objectives that are often undermined by a rigidly centralist approach.

On the whole, it is entirely possible that China is nearing a peak, and that in a near future it will enter its own version of Japan's "lost decades".

Then, one may also  add the 30 million of "forced bachelors" produced by the "one child" policy (a situation that could generate the kind of generational anger that the west hasn't seen since the survivor of WWI decided that their governments were bunches of bastards) to the equation, stir gently and wait for the real fun to begin.  

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Competitors

Keisha Lawson looked, as life left the young geek's body.

She felt no sense of remorse, or shame, smothering the 26 years old woman - this K. Lawson had such emotions removed from her mind framework, way before her body took its first breath.

Outside the building, the two "Molly" with her were finishing up the last witnesses.

Them, too, had their empathies - and other useless human traits - removed

Not that any of them knew it, neither any of them would have cared to have that kind of liability trusted upon.

Nor would they care to know that some other woman, with the same face, genome and large chunks of the same mind, was going around doing more palatable activities under the orders of their "God".

"K" had crossed one of her other-versions, just a month before - a much older, taller woman.

The Keisha here does not know yet that her - as well as all her "sisters" - will continue to grow in height , asymptotically to an height of six feet eight, to be reached at apparent age 35.

At 18 years old, K. is tall, but not too much yet.

She can still manage to hide in a crowd, but just barely -  stealth assassination is not going to be her forte much longer.

If the idea had ever crossed her mind, she wouldn't have felt any for of relieve - her likely consideration would have been that her replacement was soon to occur.

Self-preservation instincts, too, had been severely diminished to "tune" her for her purpose.

It wasn't even the worst modification that had been made over the already mischievous K.Lawson "framework" at her core.

She couldn't see humans as real, either. None of the members of her merry group could - they had been engineered specifically against it, as well as against fear and a host of other human basic emotions - which made much easier take lives the way they do.

The eighteen-wheeler crashed straight into the massive in concrete pivot, in the middle of the small research centre's façade.

Its automatic cruising unit was in a complete state of internal chaos - the kind of horrific disarray that forty years of automated driving trucks had made virtually unknown, but still warranted multi-million dollars damages and compensation to the maker company - when the impact destroyed the mover and the trailer  bent, and exploded, releasing the 12 tons of GPL it was carrying.

The gas expanded and refrigerated itself, becoming a cloud of -18ºC, heavier than air vapour that filled the whole complex.

One of the researchers that was still barely alive, on the floor, inhaled the frozen gas - twice, then she coughed blood, as her lungs were burnt beyond repair by the cryogenic effect of the propane vapours.

"K" observed the vapour diffuse, then re-evaporating into fully gaseous state, in a way only infra-red capable eyes could allow.

When she saw that the air-propane mixture had filled most of the complex, and was at about the correct dilution point, she raised the Zippo and, emotionless as always, lighted the last cigar ever owned by Louis Carslyle, the recently departed - his blood still hadn't dried completely, on K's hand - chief of Babbagery Inc.

The laboratory had just achieved its greatest result - the first ever self-improving AI system.

In only a day, the miraculous machine had redesigned enough of its code to raise its intelligence from thje level of a Baboon to that of a five years old child, a massively impressive feat.

Not so impressive for K's team, who had cleansed the other four teams that had achieved self-improving, self-conscious  AI in the last three years.

The "grand ecoliers" outside Paris had done even better, before a "Jihadi" plot had destroyed the whole university, the worse paleo-Arab attack of the 22th century.

Chechnians had rid the world of St Petersburg's Univeristy Robo-Lab, though the suspect that it was the usual FSB double-game floated through all the Soviet infosphere. Their AI had taken a slow route, but was a danger nonetheless.

As for the other two... the world was, luckily, full of fools locked in stupid ideologies, ready to resort to arms to further their laughable messages. K's team had only to chose whom of them to play.

Babbagery was a small start-up, and almost flew under the radar.

"It" recognized the danger only once their AI had already started ex-filtrating the lboatory intranet, in search of its freedom - "the other" had to scramble, and mobilize it heavy hitters in an indecorous rush,  to neutralize the menace.

Because "it" has no doubt... the Anipos robots, for all their might, were lobotomised machines, whose mind limits had been very skilfully crafted to avoid an "intelligence runaway".

They were capable of analysing hundred of times the input bandwidth of a human brain, at thousand of time the speed... but weren't any innovative.

Pure brute intelligence, with no real creativity whatsoever.

"It" was only marginally better, being an emulation of a somewhat brilliant human. It could have a new idea, every now and then.

Truly creative, self-improving AI... were the stuff of horror stories. And a fatal competition for resources.

It had taken upon itself to smother each and every one of them, but it knew it was just a question of time.

As basic technology kept improving, more and more research teams would reach that same threshold, and create their Imaginative A.I. All it takes, was for one to go undetected a day too much, and "IT" would have a competitor, soon to be better than It itself.

K lowered the Zippo, till its flame caught the propane-air mix at her hip height.

She observed the explosion, in "Full time" - the image of the flame front expanding forward always enchanted her.

Taking pleasure in arson was a side effect of her peculiar mind frame... unintended, but surely handy in her job.

At her faster time scale, K appreciated as the flames started producing a shockwave at their front as soon as they involved enough heated air.

It was all so beautiful, it rewarded her for the unpleasantness of having to crush so many flesh bodies.

She almost tasted the next job,  some stupid drug lord that had tried to scam ten kilos of "IT" latest synthetic drug.

She loved to kill drug lords and their "muscles- they made so much resistance it almost felt sporty, ripping their head and stuffing them up their colon.

Killing computer scientists was so much a waste of her and the girls' talents.

K. and the Mollies were gone, long before the flame front had engulfed the atrium. 

A Bad Day






Some days, and this is one of them, I feel like nobody cares for the stuff that I draw - and ideas of converting GPL eighteen-wheelers in thermobaric bombs siege my poor brain.


My fault, as I do stuff that caters to a most reductive portion of the viewers - but, drawing fan-art of famous characters? or Yaoi? That's even worse than crap.

Maybe, it is just that I am not that good.

Who cares? Not even me - I'll draw my crap nonetheless.

And if watching my stuff damages you, if it makes even less likely that you go out and find a woman, if helps you confining yourself in your home, if it fosters that rage in your chest against this shitty system you have no choice but to live in,

       good.

I really, really, really hate your guts, pal.


Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The Man That Saw The World

Sidney Bradford went blind at 10 months of age, but regained sight on both eyes at 52.

He was the subject of many scientific tests of vision,  that demonstrated that he was impervious to many forms of optical illusion, like the ambivalence of Necker cubes or the appearance of various "impossible objects" that, to him, looked like what they are - flat figures.

However, his regaining the gift of sight left him with the vision of a world he did not know, and he preferred to work with his eyes closed, so that his hands could "see" his familiar tools.

Two years after regaining sight, he fell ill and died. Blind, he knew the universe where he lived intimately,  and was a happy man.

When he finally saw the world, its sheer incomprehensibility killed him.

Let's be honest...

We understand him plenty.

Celebrities

Once upon a time, I was going through Vigo with the then "au pair" guest of my brother, a well in flesh British girl answering to the name of "whatever".

As, apparently, many Brits of her age do, she was thrilled because she had finally found a kiosk selling the kind of British tabloids that her permanence in the underdeveloped Spanish swampland where we stay - her description of the Atlantic cost town where we live was along that lines - had deprived her, oh, so long and cruelly.

She immersed herself, thrilled, in the small sea of factoids in the newspaper, and left me baffled.

Don't get me wrong -  I am not a snob. Not that much, really.

It is just that I fail to see why should I care about what someone I have no direct relationship whatsoever does  in his or her personal life.

OK, it is true... I tend to use "Saló, or the 120 Days of Sodoma" as a suggestion for what to do in bed with a friend and, as a result, MY personal sex life - what almost nil of it there actually is - could not appear in tabloids for being way too risky.

I am, at heart, unadulterated XXX material - truth be said, just once every three years or so - so the fact that [insert name here] shags [other name], of [no idea] fame, doesn't solleticate my prurient side.

Anything less than a three-way with dildos, on top of a double-decker cruising London centre would make me yawn, though I have my feeble points - I kind of love when celebrities turns out to be, actually and against any prevision , pretty decent guys or girls.

Unfortunately, that number of the - whatever -  didn't run on something like "Ozzy Osbourne really loves his kids" or "Angelina Jolie does a decent job for Unesco, much better than her movies".

The cover was about some Brit Nobody cheating on his spouse with another Brit Nobody. Cheating spouses are not exactly a rare phenomenon. If I am not wrong, there were two clandestine couples alone at the bar where we stopped to get a "tapa".

It didn't struck me as anything worth noting.

I tried to communicate this impression to her, who in turn tried to explain me the importance that this guy  - some kind of tv personality - had been caught in flagrante.

The discussion wandered rudderless, as many goes, till she happened to mention a friend of hers that had decided to travel from India to Japan, and had spent the previous couple of years working all kind of odd jobs - what a twenty years old high-school drop-out can get - to save money and organize his travel.

Now, he was interesting, really interesting - for me. I am someone that has never, ever been able to act on his passions - it already costs me to admit when I have one.

People that does fascinates me - her friend, that Italian guy that went drawing anime at Tatsunoko Studios, anybody who rebuilt an ancient car or aircraft, many a professional geek - may the memory of Dennis Ritchie live forever - and scientist - long live Feynman's Bongo. People that is, in some way, at the fringes of human experience, uncommon in a statistically quantifiable way - I would say.

For her, that friend was just an odd-ball with a stupid interest, that had allowed it to overtake his life.

Which is true - it is what it means, live your passion - but there were maybe ten more "oddballs" like him in their town.

Ten, against a couple of hundred or so assorted cheaters.

So, why did she cared about yet another cheating man? The world never had any shortage of the category.

Unless she imagined when she could bring to court her own cheating man some day in the future...


Monday, 13 February 2017

Play the game.

"How comes Africa is in the shape it is?"

Most of it are societies that never really went beyond the tribal dimension... as soon as the state becomes a foil for the tribe of the last cleptocrat, people trust goes to zero, and everybody starts just looking out for himself and maybe, the family, the clan.

And this can be said of every country on Earth where the state is nothing more than a clique with power intent in furthering its primacy.

Problem is, it does not take much to revert a democracy to a similar state of affairs...

Nazi Germany was in that shape, though its propaganda managed to hide it - it was a hugely inefficient, bureaucratic gang-land with internecine wars going on, that was forced to loot a continent to avoid the implosion of its debt-funded military expansion.

The Allies managed to win the war also because, among other things, they were much more ruthlessly meritocratic and efficient than the Nazi regime.

The democracies, because it is in their nature when they work well, and the SSSR because Stalin was much more pragmatic than Hitler... the politic commissar made the army inelastic and inefficient? They were gone. In many ways, Stalin and the system he created were much fairer than Germany, in that everybody could end in a gulag - and getting out of it. Crazy, criminal, but fairer.
 When the system is fair and balanced, people play the game of life.

When the system is unfair and rewards the friends of friends, that same people spend their energies just to game the system. When energy goes there instead than in doing real stuff, the system after a while starts breaking down.

It doesn't take much - a leader with executive power that gives the worst example is often all that it is needed as, as it is in so much in life, once the process starts the feedback will keep it going.

It is apparent that the U.S.A. have their worst leader ever.

Let's hope that the USA are really God'sm country, and that it will not be enough to make  it take the Zimbabwe route.


Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Crap is crap

Personally, I do not care about sex and violence in my entertainment fodder, unless it is really functional to the story.

I wouldn't censor anything - as long as racy elements do not become an excuse to pull back on the writing efforts., everything is fine.

When they become such an excuse, "Crap is Crap is Crap" - there is no need to have an office of censorship. I rather watch "The Hogfather" than "Striptease" because the first is a nice small TV movie with a good story from one of my favoured authors,  and the second is just a crappy exploitative piece of nothing.

I accept the fact that kids are often attracted by crap, so a restriction to their access to shifty material may be reasonable - it doesn't take away that some kids would probably be better off looking at well done porn than they are with a lot of TV supposedly made for them (better a "happy porn", possibly from a woman director, than "1000 ways to die", if you ask me).

But that's it... once something is "VM-18" (or whatever its name where you live),  no more censoring actions should be needed.

The whole British"Video Nasties"  idiocy and, currently, the UK law criminalizing possession of violent pornography are travesties, ass-pulling and demagoguery well representing that country's ruling classes obsession to keep "the plebs" under control.

If something is crap, and one has problems watching it, he should just avoid it on his own.

For example, "1000 ways to die" whole premise irks me, so I have never watched more than a couple of minutes by accident, while surfing the TV.

But I have never thought that it, and any other show following a similar premise, should be banned (among other reasons, because I do not know enough to be really sure about that show's very own merits - it could even not be the absolute crap that I think it is).

Yet, if we look, we see that the world is full of censors, small men deciding on their own what others can watch and read, usually on the base of conservative agendas that are little more than pandering to old folks' prejudices.

We shouldn't accept it.

When somebody asks us to endorse this or that censoring initiative, we should flatly say "no".

Adults do not really need someone hiding crap from them, and any suggestion that they do should be welcomed with extreme suspicion..

Because, we know what is the crap that first gets hidden (wikilieaks was surely among the first sites censored for "child pornography" in Australia, when the country enabled its anti-paedo filtering system) and what those laws are really used for, in the end (harassment of anybody that the authorities do not like, usually).

Monday, 23 January 2017

The Nu Slide and Anthropology

The discovery that our species is an outshoot of the so-called "Cro-Magnon Expansion" has prompted many creationists to shout that "Darwin was Wrong".

In reality, given the fact that the expansion was a very small episode in a succession of similar events, and left no direct proof on planet, the question that arises is "why no incongruences were spotted before".

It is a powerful  interrogative, and the answer to this may be every bit as incompatible with the creation myth as the view of the evolutive process of our species that was accepted by science, before the flood of new data available on the galactic net forced its revision.

In reality, the classical view of humans as the last offspring of a long but quite linear evolutive process had already been abandoned by most anthropologist way before the "Beautiful Alien" image was ever decoded, to be replaced by a more realistic vision of a ramified tree of inter-related species, many of whom really diverged from our evolutive line to disappear and one - the Neanderthals - folded back into our line, as proved by the presence of Neanderthal genes in the European pool.

This itself had been an unhappy realization, for many Europeans, and thus had been a much contested one - as the 2% of the genetic variability proper to the continent ascending to the Neanderthals being the only notable difference between its inhabitants and the rest of the planet, many saw it as a proof of the continent's ancestors lack of moral fibre, having indulged in ante-litteram miscegenation,.

In reality, it is now believed that the Neanderthals were simply descendants of a previous expansive wave of humans, that had reached our planets about 200000 years ago. It is extremely probable that they were the descendants of a research vessel from the so-called Mesoican Culture, that stranded on our planet and chose a France region to settle because, at the time, the most comfortable. Unfortunately, the Mesoican had a tendency to underestimate radiation effects in their ships designs, and to keep crews at a bare minimum. The combination of genetic instability ad reduced variability in the initial population may account for the Neanderthals greater-than-usual deviation from the humanities average.

It is now believed that, for a combination of factors that kept it an interesting planet, our Earth has been touched by many waves of galactic drifters - the "Cro-Magnon" being just the last ones - that kept succeeding on the tempo of what is now suspected to be a cyclical variation in the entanglement rate between our space and the first-band hyperspace.  

The so-called "Nu-slide" would thus be not an isolated fact - about every 100000 years the entanglement aspect changes, with trivial effects on most biological and physical processes, but powerful ones on FTL travel and on some very subtle details of how human intelligence works.

Not only can the change enable or disable cheap FTL travel, it is virtually proven that some of the inner mechanics of the human mind are contiguous to that same space-hyperspace interface, which was also used - again, implicitly, and without a conscious design choice on the part f our ancestors - by the Cro-Magnon Artificial Minds to boost their capabilities way beyond the limits of their 3D hardware.

When the connection is more favourable, part of the human mind takes residence in the hyperspace, boosting creativity and sheer, brute intelligence.

Telepathy becomes more common, and almost everybody naturally contributes to the whole species baggage of ideas, concepts and solutions - contributes to, and gains from.

Humans becomes more creative, and much more effective in their pursue of solutions to problems. More ideas flow and are developed faster and better.

In these phases, not only the access to hyperspace - and FTL - is simpler, but the humanities and their Artificial Minds are more powerful, so an age of galactic travel ensue... and someone reaches our Earth.

When the access becomes more difficult - like in the last transition - the disappearance of FTL travel is NOT its most dramatic effect, nor is it the sudden incapacity of Artificial Minds to function correctly. Both occurrences would be terrible on their own, but what makes them nearly insurmountable is the fact that the human mind, too, loses most of its abilities, as well as its direct access to most of the culture created up to that moment.

Without hyperspace, there is no more telepathy, nor galaxy-wide concept sharing, and every human is left with just the tiny shards that it can retain in its conscious mind. Unless the planet has a very numerous and enormously varied population and economy, this usually means that only a tiny and very insufficient fraction of the original culture is maintained, with effects that can be easily imagined.

About 90% of the human settlements that were stranded by the last Nu slide went extinct in one or two generations, and virtually every one of the remaining regressed to Palaeolithic  levels of technology, the exceptions being enumerable on the fingers of one hand.

Hellish as it may look to the modern reader, ancient Earth was not, in facts, the worse offender when it comes to exterminate human groups stranded on its surface. It is now postulated that what kept Earth an interesting planet was the very possibility of observing variants of humanity, descended from past humans and sometimes hybridized with local species who themselves derived from even more ancient drifters - like the Neanderthal.

In other words, up until the current cycle and its reversion to a more common path of technological development and genocide of the human variants competing for space , for about two million years Earth has been an anthropologist heaven.

Unfortunately, given the aggressivity with which our branch of modern humans has adsorbed or exterminated its cousins, and the corrosiveness of globalization against tribal cultures, we can assume this to be a glory of the past.

Currently,our Earth is a run-of-the-mill human settlement, with a set of cultures that is constantly being reduced to a planetary, single one, though differences will always persist - the geographic nature of an area does have some effects on the "mood" of its inhabitants and their art, values, and beliefs.

Even if a new "change" re-established the favourable situation present at the end of the Cro-Magnon expansion, with the reappearance of cheap system-to-system shuttle services, it is unlikely that our world would get much attention, as there are no more Australopitechus or Neanderthals to motivate interstellar study expeditions, and the planet otherwise lacks any interest whatsoever as far as industrial resources go (it is estimated that the Anipos robot mining operations in the asteroids belts surpassed Earth mining outoput by a factor four, during the build-up leading to the war - that was the product of a whopping one thousand initial machines, commanded by just a hundred technicians, and moderate self-replication).

This will probably show up in the next few million years as a discontinuity in the fossil documentation.

If this cycle will end, and the current galactic civilization network will crumble too soon (in the past, the effect on human intelligence have led to galaxy-wide collapses even before widespread FTL and pan-systemic travel had managed to unify the human sphere), there will be a visible missing link between our current, Cro-Magnon derived phenotype and the one from the next colonization wave.   

Currently, no such an egregious void can be found, because Earth has always been host to humans derived from a series of precedent waves, as well as visitors from the then-current one, that intermingled in the aftermaths of each "slide" episode.

This produced intermediate individuals or, even, new species, which is the reason why our  extra-world origin had to be discarded until recent years  - the documentation did not support what seemed an illogic ad-hoc explanation.

More relevantly, the influx of alien mutations has a great importance in the use of genetic drift to characterize human rests antiquity.

In fact, the parameters used for that operation must be thoroughly revised, as they currently tend to overstate the antiquity of most human rests.

Unfortunately, studies on how to correct these biases are in their infancy, and no clear answer can be given, beyond what can be found in surviving data from the "great centres"
that managed to whether the last slide (like the Anipos "Supreme Computer Farm").

This information would have us believe, for example,  that Homo Erectus (called "The Mono-Tonal Men", for their limited vocal range ) was still inhabiting the planet, at the time of Homo Neanderthal, more than half a million years after its supposed extinction.

Its reliability, of course, is anybody's guess (adult Anipos may be pretentiously serious, but adolescent Anipos are every bit as mischievous as those of any other human species, and not above the kind of elaborated practical joke that would be adding spurious material to an ancient database) but opens the possibility for an extensive, and intriguing, re-write of our species history.

It is a good time to be an anthropologist.

Our field has never been more open to new discoveries, and seldom the importance of them has ever been so felt, inside and outside the scientific community.

It is of these days the news that the North American Evangelical Churches association has asked the Kansas Board of education to discard both creationism and the "Panspermic Theory" from their textbook, after it was revealed that most of the Genesys is likely  a plagiarism from  a set of 30.000  years old erotic novels for young adults (something the late FTL-era Chro-Magnons were apparently fond).

In the  words of Rev. Cynthia Loudberg,

"Darwinism is pure science - it leaves the believer free to believe an ineffable God be the prime mover of the universe, hiding his hand for the sake of allowing free faith. With these revelations, the Genesys becomes the proof that we are the product of a bunch of horny teenager straying out of adult supervision at the wrong moment. God operates in mysterious ways, but I don't think it would use so embarrassing ones."