Well you know its going to be a war somewhere. Enough about the war for a moment. This illustration of my head set afire was done on the new Huion 24 inch 4K drawing tablet. It’s great. Intuitive. Everything seems to be working. I can paint as I could not with the Wacom One. The size of this screen is about what a drawing board would be. Over the last few years my “wet” paintings in acrylic have been on 2×2 foot Masonite panels. Size does matter as they say.
Now several weeks of experience with the new 24 inch 4k Huion tablet. I continue to be happy with it. If someone does a lot of graphics work on the computer its is worth the $1200 odd dollars. That plus the arm it’s mounted to. I got a pair of arms mounted on a common base. Gas springs and adjustable lift to counter the weight make it float. It still has the 15 pound mass but moving it is easy. It stays where its put. I have learned another thing. The pixel resolution is 4 times what I ask of it. I am doing everything at 1900 pixels wide. That there are 3800 pixels to show this makes for a smoother visual texture. Since my eyes are heading south, degrading slowly with age (I am 76) any smoothing of what I look at is good.
Waiting for the next milestone on the road to hell.
I wrote the above a month ago, I’m guessing, the news gets stale after a couple of weeks. Our collective attention span is the Russian’s best ally. It isn’t very long and Ukrainian troops are running out of artillery rounds. Doesn’t seem any doubt now that the Russian leadership will grab however land they can. Restore the old Imperial empire is their stated goal, the leadership and many citizens agree on this.
Following all this is like being a squirrel in a squirrel cage the more you work the more tired you get. Some sort of overload. The mouse transfixed at the sight of a snake hesitating before striking.
There are puzzles without solutions. Those are my favorites. Like the card catalog in the universal library of the famous Argentinian writer, Borges. But I only peripherally enjoy puzzles. Maybe what I enjoy is the ambiguity. Is it solvable in the age of the universe or not? Who’d notice. Not God, he’s lighting off another big bang. Torturing another tiny teensey infinitally small gnat’s ass of a point. Like the accomplished traveler, everything including all the kitchen sinks ever imagined, everything to make this universe, all of it stuffed into the smallest carry on bag ever, one with no dimension at all, (its so small).
Entropy has progressed enough that we note another week’s slide into the abyss of the past. I’ve been listening to a lot of YouTube lectures on entropy and spacetime. Hasn’t made any difference that I can discern. The weather is cooler. Here along the coast it does that, because of fog I believe. I call it the hole in summer although summer hasn’t started yet. It starts for astronomers around 21 June. For me it starts when I shed my leather jacket on the motorcycle and tare around in a tee shirt. When one is 77 years old and still riding a motorcycle the idea of mortality has been embraced so why not be comfortable. There will not be a viewing. No buffet will be provided. No wake, BYOB or otherwise. The ashes will be there but I doubt they’ll be mine. Those crematoriums are licensed yes but they’re never asked to prove the authenticity of the ashes. I imagine a crematorium operator who is an amateur ventriloquist, a hobby , when pressed to answer the question, “Is that really the remains of (“Loved one’s name here“) – from the vase seems to come a voice, “of course its me honey, hurry up and pay the man”, the operator’s lips hardly moved.
Seems like I’ve been laughing in the face of impending doom for a couple of years now. The end will come eventually one way or another so its kind of pointless to anticipate it – too much. Might step away from the path of a run away locomotive but might not be able to do the same for a nuke or virus. The fear of impending doom used to be called the unreasoned fear of impending doom. The shrinks come over my way of thinking. After all, even in the 70’s we said, “just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean somebody isn’t after you”. Unreasoned, not reasonable. No, when a couple of times a month the guy with the most nukes under his launch authority rattles the sabers, its reasoned., but is it fear? No, more like concern. We’ve seen this movie too many times. But the grim reaper is horizontally integrated, he works with entropy (my new favorite word) to decompose even the universe itself.
The only thing I can figure is to pop out of this reality and into another. Knowing what I want to do is step one. Figuring a way is steps two thru n where n is enough steps. See, its looking more feasible just by describing it. Obviously this reality isn’t cutting it. unacceptable in so many ways. But I find on YouTube plenty to encourage me to think I will be able to get out of this existence and into a better one. I know that palms will need to be greased and deities offered sacrifices but faint hart never won fair maiden or even tried. A hart is a deer not a dear, dear.
On the subject of astronomy there is a big event about to happen. The James Webb IR telescope is about to produce its first public photo. Hubble was the opening act and it offered amazing views. Webb is going to top that I think. Because seeing in the longer wave lengths thru a big mirror cold as space is like seeing thru walls. Walls of gas have blocked our furthest view. So much will be revealed that Astronomy and Astrophysics will experience a revolution. As always more questions will be discovered than answers but that is how progress is in science. Stuff like gravitational lensing and quantum entangled photons make the real seem like science fiction. That warp drive and FTL are out there somewhere, or rather the principals needed for them are. Awaiting the grad student crunching the data who, freezes and asks, “WTF!” and history notes the beginning of the expansion of humanity. So maybe it would be better that we survive. Or not…..
I was thinking about fat people in this country and their prevalence and this image started to form in my mind. Is it just a problem of distribution? I am sure the eighth ton bikini clad woman, the new Miss Famine for 2022, has the excess corpulence. If it could be better distributed it would go a long way in saving and improving lives.
Do monkeys risk Human Pox? bet they do. Bet we are a major reservoir for nasties to be visited upon the rest of the biosphere. Host to pestilence, yes, that sounds like us. Hospitable to a fault. But enough of guilt. Back to being a victim. A victim of the tick. Dog tick and black leg I think. Its hard to tell even with the microscope. They don’t tell me. By the time I get them they are well sedated. Thanks to garlic, bane of vampires (and ticks too it seems), they are compliant when I pry them off my skin. Thanks to garlic the little bastards don’t bite (unless trapped in clothing) and can be pried off without removing a divot of epidermal turf. The five grams a day I ingest is good protection but I still put pant cuffs into sox. They don’t know about the garlic until they jump onto me. I’d rather they wait for the next fool. Anyhow, as of yesterday when a medium sized tick came off my midriff, the collection for this spring is five. I keep a roll of transparent tape handy and attach them side by side, forever at attention. They are immobile and might be alive for a while, not sure. If so, they’ve time to ponder what they’ve done and how just it is that their fate has been sealed…in plastic.
They say the monkey pox isn’t as bad as the Corona thing. Not as virulent or life threatening. We shall see. It seems to be spreading around the world and here in Los Estados no Unidos. All the worry, however much there ever was, has been squeezed out of me by now. You wana nuke me, go ahead. You wana bite and Lyme me, have at it. Life is really out in the garden. The predator and the prey among the weeds and flowers all under the weather and subject to fate’s tender mercy. Would you rather a cruel fate or a random fate. Cruel is more human. Random is difficult, for computers anyhow. Finite state machines just can’t do it, its not in them. A lava lamp and video camera comes close they say. But fate? Proving randomness (ie fairness?) in the actions of fate would be difficult.
In the middle of north America another week brings another atrocity. The all too familiar slaughter of innocents. There is a parallel with the global risk of a scaled atrocity with tens or hundreds of millions of innocents. Same behavior by the same human types. Nukes or guns are not the problem as gun and nuke wielding patriots rightly point out. My favorite prince (Hamlet, of Denmark) identified the problem four centuries ago.
When so many have guns and too many have nuclear launch authority even the one defect is too much. Maybe random virtue like random fate is kinder to us. Just one fault is enough and humans with only one are rare. Keeping nuts away from guns and nukes is impossible and keeping nuts out of societies somehow even more impossible. The particular fault seems to be a feeling of victimhood. Putin and the kid in Texas getting even for ill treatment. Down out of the trees and on the savanna but the same vicious monkey at heart.
A check of the weather and maybe a motorcycle ride on the coast. A visit to one of the light houses. A sojourn thru the pines along the shore. There is a microbrewer with a view of the islands south of Owl’s Head. Maybe some meditation there.
Go out and enjoy, where ever you are. Our time is finite and short. Ciao
And what more could a simple creature want in terms of an existence myth. Even on the edge of self snuffing we need a simple explanation for why and where we are. That the Earth is a sphere with a paunch around the equator is less than satisfactory. That its a circular plate makes much more sense. How can gravity pull in all directions to hold onto the water in the seas and oceans? It defies common sense. The water, duh, sits on it like on a dish. The southern hemisphere, that is the underside of the plate, has hitherto been a problem for Flat Earth Geometricians – but no longer. Two leading groups, one up on top, in the UK and the other down under in Oz, have demonstrated the veracity of the one plate, two hemisphere view. By the fortuitous luck and blessing of magical thinking the presidents of the respective groups, The London Flat Earth Institute and the Royal Australian Flat Earth Society, have made contact. The pure luck was that their back yards were each others antipode. Antipodal means on the opposite side of the Earth. With just a little effort each man dug down a few feet, the man in England, near his garden’s flower bed. His counterpart in Australia made a hole in his potato patch. At three feet there suddenly appeared sky at the bottom of each hole. “Haaaaay” came the call, “you there mate?”. They had broken thru and put pay to the idea that it takes twenty hours to get from Old Blighty to the land of Oz. When the local media was handed the press release they ask, “well, did you go thru the hole and visit the antipode? No, we didn’t. Couple of reasons. The Covid card and expired passports. Plus it was getting late. The holes were backfilled, new flowers and potatoes planted. I don’t think the world is ready for the truth.
My time capsule of tid-bits for the future to ponder is nearly full. Just room enough for a couple more headlines. Lets see, “Government votes funds to increase supply of baby formula”. No, not the procedure for making babies. The formula for feeding them in ways nature didn’t intend. The government has had to step in. At the risk of revealing my naivety, how did human babies survive before? Ooops, I see a trip-wire and mine field around this question, better step back. With that the capsule is nearly full. When opened a thousand years hence people will marvel at our moment in history. I hope there’s room for this week’s UFO news. Or more accurately, the latest in non-news. The news is that we still don’t know what those things are. Washington, our seat of government, where baby formula and flying saucers meet, had another UFO hearing. Its been fifty years since the last one. Let me go out on a limb and predict. In another 50 years, another congress will hold another hearing to expose the truth about UFO’s. Drum roll please….and they’ll announce “we don’t know what they are”. Lest the people opening the capsule in 3022 BCE think it’s boring here in 2022 we’ve informed them of the Australian beetles who are attracted to beer bottles. Sexually attracted. The beetle is the “Jewel” beetle. The object of the Jewel beetle’s lust is an empty bottle of “Emu Export”. Seems the bottle’s color and dimpled glass get this little guy excited. The outback’s road sides are strewn with discarded bottles. The bottles are often covered with frustrated beetles. The bottler, in a rare gesture to conservation, has altered the bottles. The change worked and the female beetles are happy, I guess. Not the first time a male has left his mate for the bottle. I’m not going to put anything in the capsule about the war in Ukraine. If it goes, you know, “unthinkable” the future will not need to learn that from us. They’ll still be cleaning up. Our time capsule is full so screw on the cap and put it in the hole. I’m tempted to climb in after it.
Tang Ping is the Chinese name for a social movement. In English it somewhat translates to “Lying Flat”. It’s a reaction to the pressure of working life in China and other Asian countries. A work force asked to work nine to nine six days a week is fraying around the edges. They call it “996” and increasingly reject it. Rather than chase the dream of career, family, car, house and status, many would rather relax, lay back, lye flat. They work enough to share a dry place to sleep. Just enough casual labor to earn a minimum to eat. The movement isn’t part of the government’s plan for moving the country forward. But from the individual’s point of view, seventy-two hour work weeks are not sufficiently rewarded. Those hoping a college degree would ensure a career and prosperous life are also often disappointed. Lying Flat is a drag on the “New Era” declared by the Chinese government. Doing nothing and lying flat is counter revolutionary, radical. The movement began with a single social media post entitled, “Lying flat is justice”. Like a spark finding tinder the movement caught fire among unhappy workers. it spread on the Chinese internet. A spread halted when the government intervened and removed posts. Some question the wisdom of creating a huge consumer market based on debt and everyone working “996”. But a large internal market is important to a nation sprinting to become the prime economy on Earth. People who never bought on credit have in a generation embraced capitalism’s major tenant, debt. To have more, borrow more, work more. A cycle all too familiar to us in the USA. The workers dropping out of the system have a name for themselves, the “Leek People”. The Leek they refer to is harvested with a knife. The leeks standing up are harvested, those that lay down avoid the knife. The rate of burn out in the work force suggests a system being driven hard, seeking an equilibrium, balance. The old idea of community and serving the group has moved toward the celibration of the individual. But what if the individual isn’t willing to sacrifice health and mind for the greater good? Or what the government’s plan plan calls the greater good. Where might this social movement, this pushback, lead? Lets use the adult’s rhetorical question asked of a child. “What if everyone felt this way?” Eating spinach or going to school. When I heard this question as a youngster, my thought was, Gee, don’t know, lets skip spinach or school and see. No I didn’t risk a slap by asking that but Beijing may find out. Andrew Yang was ignored the last presidential cycle when he ask a related question. “What happens when there are no jobs for people who want them? When AI machines and new tech eliminate the need for unskilled workers. Will the productivity gain be spread among the population? Like checks for stimulus under the cloud of Covid. Billions of workers around the world are part of an experiment involving capital and labor. I have decided to watch this experiment from the sidelines, reclining, a spectator, without skin in the game. Well, I live off the taxes workers pay, so I guess I have some pecuniary interest. The lying flat posse, watches too and when necessary runs a few laps in the rat race, just enough to pay the rent and buy another case of Raman Noodles. Is there a natural distribution of slackers and worker “ants” and other types in a human population? A spectrum of ambition? Maybe so.
How fascinating to watch the sequence of steps leading to your own demise. To look at the clockwork mechanism of destruction tick toward the end. The spring unwinds and the gears mesh and the minute hand moves toward the midnight of our ultimate day. My last day maybe, with good luck. Or, if unlucky, the beginning of wasting away and being draining of life . The Grateful Dead will be more than a hippy band remembered by retro music fans and old men like me. I refer to the headlines my family members have forbidden me to quote. “Russia sharpens warnings as the U.S. and Europe send more weapons to Ukraine”. I don’t need much imagination to visualize my last days. I had the image burned into my retina by movies. The day after, Terminator, Doctor Strangelove, and many many more. Nightmare scenarios but not fantasy. High tech, cutting edge, but not special effects. And too, I was part of the mechanism. I was a gear in the machine of destruction. A cog, a tooth on an escapement, a tiny little part. I saw the flash of a French nuclear explosion in North Africa. I stood next to a 1.5KT warhead in the belly of an Air Force interceptor in California. I made radio direction finding fixes on Soviet SLBM boats in the Atlantic. I was at a putative ground zero at a NATO base in Germany during the “cold” war. This stuff is all real. But to so many people it isn’t. It can’t be!, can it? They don’t want to hear about it. Ignorance is taken to be innocence. Hands cover ears. I have no argument against covering the ears, blocking the news. History is composted news. The fresh stuff stinks, it has the overpowering stench of something to be feared….But, humans can’t be on the edge continuously, thinking “I’m going to die”. The mind has a circuit breaker. The funny farm is full of people with breakers tripped. The combat veteran tells us that you either become numb or loose it completely. Unless you are in my position, our position my friend. Unless you look at the news then avoid it then look again then look away. Unless you dilute it with, Old movies, jazz, physics tutorials, Amateur radio. But even then. Today I talked in Morse code on 14 Megahertz short wave with a Ham radio operator from Ukraine. He was licensed in Ukraine but transmitting from Croatia. Kyiv has shut down the Ham radio hobby in the country. Its too easy for the invader to use it against his victims. I’ve learned to say “NO WAR” in Cyrillic letters in Morse code. But I know for a Russian to agree would make them subject to a 15 year prison sentence. Its real to them. There is a new Gulag now. A new archipelago for a new Solzhenitsyn to write about. Maybe its because I have never lived an insular life. I have kept abreast of the geopolitical news and dug into history for background and context. People who haven’t are possibly finding this current news thrust at them, unbidden and unwelcome. As though reality was intent on ruining their peace. The hands covering ears, attempting to block unwanted information. Listening isn’t a virtue and turning a deaf ear isn’t a fault. These are habits, the way we interact with “reality”. The imagined objective reality. Of course we do not share one world view so who is to say what is what? Me for my little fraction of the greater world. You for yours. A cloud of doom and gloom over my head gives no advantage. The end will come if it does when it will and nothing I can do can alter that. That pop song from years ago should be my mantra, “Don’t worry, be happy”
I think I was looking for mushroom clouds as reference for drawing when I came across this photo from July 1945. An amazingly short time later two Japanese cities were laid waste by these gadgets. I am told that killing 150,000 civilians in a matter of days was NOT a war crime. Because it did a greater good….ending the war, saving lives. Such was the logical argument at the time and its been the logic ever since. Is morality accumulative? I mean, if you kill ten people you are 50% more moral than someone who kills twenty. If there are not grades of morality, a granularity to goodness, then its binary. But killing on orders of your government, that doesn’t count toward your score. Friendly fire. I have always wondered about that term. Hey, I just shot one of our guys! Oh, that was friendly fire, don’t count toward your score. You do need a score card, it gets complicated. The Knights Templar had a logic worked out for killing non believers and they got paid well for it. Eventually they got into the banking business, they had so much loose change.
The author of two iconic novels of the recent century, George Orwell, was in Barcelona in 1937. Those novels were the product of Orwell’s souring on Stalinist Communism, “1984” and “Animal Farm”. He also wrote of the Spanish Civil war he briefly participated in. The work was called, “An Homage to Catalonia”. Catalonia being the last province to fall to Franco. He grew sour on the organized left in part due to the absolute chaos of infighting among the groups. The POUM (Partido Obrero de Unificacion Marxista) organized a militia and Orwell joined it as a fighter on the front lines at Zaragoza. After an injury and bullet wound he returned to Barcelona to find he was being hunted by the police. He managed to escape to France. Right away he started writing “Homage”. I wouldn’t call him a “tourist” because he took big chances and almost bought it by bullet…but he was also gathering material.
So I see a parallel because of the international brigade(s) now and then. A couple of years after Orwell’s experience in Spain Hitler invaded Ukraine. Now Putin has. Sadly there might be another parallel. Russia, then the Soviet Union, had a very dysfunctional military, at first. In part because Stalin had purged the top commanders. Anyone who was a leader was also a threat to Stalin. The Germans drove toward Moscow and almost got there. But, the Red Army, got its act together and turned things around. Somebody recently said “The Russians must loose and be seen to loose” (in Ukraine). The sanctions will help slow or make impossible a turn around in their army in this war. Putin seems to have Stalin’s paranoia. Lets hope it is justified.
As a break from the experts being interviewed about the current war in endless cycles I am listening to a post game analysis of the “Great War”. They called it that, or the “World War” because they couldn’t imagine another. The first world war. Nobody expects we will need bothering to number a third world war. The terror frozen from the moment of the Trinity blast to the present is thawing. The unthinkable is tangible. President Biden points to a cordon, a crime scene tape, around an ongoing crime, a war crime. But it is a barrier to intervention and also a barrier to the unspoken danger of loosing of nuclear genie. The primitive peoples of the Americas, heathens encountered by Cortez, sacrificed virgins in bloody ceremonies to appease the gods. This to prevent their wrath and the ensuing destruction the world.