Touching down again

Out of Atlanta, not my favorite airport, a couple of hundred of us flew thru early morning skies and descended. Please raise your seat to its most vertical orientation and your tray to its stowed position. Put all your crap in the seat pocket in front of you. Put the trash you’ve generated in the bag being ushered thru the narrow isle by the haggard attendant. Do not consider the situation in detail and follow all instructions given by the crew. A hundred plus screens were frame by frame telling stories with warm human values or violent righteous indignation. Many passengers were pattern matching colored dots. Not a single passenger was doing anything directly contributing to our movement thru the air. All were passive. So many idle minds. Wouldn’t humanity be better served if the cabin was filled with the sound of a hundred voices chanting for peace? Nearer heaven in all but thought. We walked off the aircraft and into the terminal’s bedlam.

From Boston another flying machine. A high wing monoplane with two engines filled with eight passengers. I was one.

I crawled to the forward most part of the fuselage and into a seat. The plane was Italian and the pilot a boy scout, or might have been. He had the aircraft merit badge on his tan uniform, starched and professional. The co-pilot was younger, not old enough to drive a car but we’d avoid highways so that might have been ok. He spent the hour flying up the coast of Maine with a flight simulator. When the autopilot took over the pilot started a game of black jack on his display. I watched them to pass the time. Below was cloud stretched to the horizon. When the egg timer hanging from the rearview mirror chimed it was time to land. We punched thru the cloud there it was, the abandoned Coast Guard runway, all 5000 feet of it. We landed. My daughter picked me up and we went to WM for my meds…I needed them….I’d been hallucinating again.

Whats it like when you remain sane and the world around you goes nuts? is it like this? or do we need assume the rest of the human world is fine…so it must be me? That to preserve the illusion for others and not induce any panic. No run for the exits or the teller’s windows on my watch. A stiff upper lip and in response to WTF? assurance that all is well and good and as it should be. When the pilot calls out “brace, brace,brace” will the aircrew be able to contort themselves enough to demo what that looks like? The news has been telling us to brace for years. Something is approaching, the ground? Some hard landing at least.

Forget about nukes and the climate….its AI thats out to get us. Spooky AI. Hoooeeey I don’t believe in AI. But it does make me think how prescient Steely Dan was in their song “IGY”

A just machine to make big decisions
Programmed by fellows with compassion and vision

Donald Fagan nailed it as have many sci fi novels and flicks. We always cede the toughest jobs to machines don’t we?

Yes, I have lived long enough that I find myself an extra on a science fiction movie sound stage. Of course the scenes are shot out of sequence, this might even be a flashback, or back story. Plenty weird seeing the science fiction pulp of your youth come to life, a computer running the world. People trying to be like the all powerful intellect they’ve come to depend on and worship. A false idol ?, sounds like one don’t it. It all gets back to human nature, stock nature…not what humans will be after emulating machine intelligence. Different for sure. Or merging with the AI, mind servers and implant chip brain RF modems.

Sounds like so much fun. Sorry if I am not around to share it with you. enjoy

AI Alien Love Child

AI and the Aliens welcome their love child, Alienai. Their offspring’s sex has yet to be assigned. Both proud parents are thinking it might be best to see how all this gender affirming legislation plays out. Maybe Alienai can be indeterminate until them is thirteen or so. The personal pronoun, “them”, was chosen at the baptism by the officiating rabbis, priest and ministers who presided at the solemn yet secular occasion.

“When them is thirteen, them’ll have the wisdom to decide what sexual accouterments are needed and appropriate. Like the golem in “Rings” both personal pronoun and sexual ID will be vague, left to the observer to decide.

AI commented that it was much too busy to dwell on the subject. It’s quoted as saying it had about a million term papers to ghost for unintelligent humans. As if that were not enough its being asked by Hollywood production companies to get hundreds of scripts written should the writer’s guild strike. “It’s more than a non corporeal body should be expected to tolerate” AI was heard to say.

AI left for the cloud and the alien’s saucer was double parked and about to be ticketed so it hurried off uttering unintelligible apologies. On the theory that the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree we assume the baby will be both enigmatic and wicked smart. Avoiding entirely the problem of which bathroom to use Alienai will identify as a cat and use the litterbox.

Yes I admit it….jousting at “serious” news and trends in culture with the lance of parody is a bit like trying to insert a wet noodle into a black hoe. Then there is the Hawking radiation to worry about.

Artificial intelligence?, I’ll take absolutely authentic and natural stupidity over AI any day.

Who will beta test AI ? Duh? You will of course, too dangerous to use on rats in labs, that would be the intelligent manner of determining safety and efficacy….so it isn’t gonna happen.

a parallel? AI in 2023 and Nukes in 1945?

The scientist who directed the team that designed and built the first atomic bomb was also one of the first scientists to warn us about them. His reward was to loose his security clearance. What he said was of course true….a world with a dozen nuclear powers is a more dangerous world. We are sleep walking into adopting another dangerous technology. But to say we are “adopting” AI is not correct. It will be taking charge of humanity, we will be ordering it to. Has anyone suggested an effort to improve the intelligence of humans? No, the economic and political interests don’t have much use for intelligence tempered by empathy and human compassion.

May an atheist quote the Christian Bible? It had this nailed a very long time ago…..

Psalm 115:4-8 King James Version (KJV)

Their idols are silver and gold, The work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: Eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: Noses have they, but they smell not: They have hands, but they handle not: Feet have they, but they walk not: Neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them; So is every one that trusteth in them.

Plenty of silver and gold in the IC packages in the compute servers. Those who use AI will make an idol of it. By doing so they will loose the humanity that tempers power. And the power exercised via AI will by its nature be evil.

Actually its more of the same. Some thread in man’s make up leads inevitably to the destructive use of his inventiveness. We can’t but make things much worse. But then, AI isn’t being introduced to make things better, it’s purpose is $$$(power) Surprise, surprise!

So we are amplifying our worst tendencies and letting our better nature atrophy. We need to evolve past that nasty primate just out of the trees and into something less suicidal. Yes, suicidal and brilliantly so. As soon as we could eradicate ourselves we used our genius and weapons and decision chains to set up a Kevorkian machine. Doctor Kevorkian got in legal trouble helping people to his pushbutton end to all. But, when run to its limit its one button and eight billion souls.

Artificial intelligence? No how about Artificial empathy and love and sanity. Any demand for that? We got plenty of intelligence – what we don’t got is kindness for one another….how about a switch on the empathy machine. Push one button and get hell, push the other and get heaven. Its that duality again.

I have returned

I wasn’t enjoying the winter here on the edge of the North Atlantic so I flew south. Birds do that under their own steam. But the three months are ended and I am back in los EE. UU. Butterflies and maybe a few moths migrate. But, I didn’t see any other creatures in the airports, or in the aircraft, joining me in my flight to warmth. I tell a lie, there was at least one dog. After a couple of days of camping in nasty airports between connections I arrived in the southern Andes of Ecuador. I was on the side of a valley and upstream from the town of Rumizhitana.

The arrow indicates where I lived during my three month escape from winter. What this google view can’t show is the vertical dimension. Between the main road and the road thru the valley, along the river, is a drop of 150 feet. To get to the river a zig zag path descended in half a dozen sections. Something kids and mountain goats bounded over. Us old types don’t bound but I did make the trip every week somehow.

There were sunny days. But most were more like this sepia….it was the rainy season.

A series of valleys run from the provincial capital of Loja province, the city of Loja, to the valley of longevity and the town of Vilcabamba. Rumizhitana is about twenty minutes south of Loja. A road connecting a dozen little villages eventually reaches the border with Peru. Every ten minutes or so a bus goes past, heading north or south. If you are old, as I am, you get a discounted fare. So for sixty cents US I could bounce and jiggle the forty minutes to Vilcabamba. Or the twenty minutes north, to the big city. Over the three months I spent on the edge of Rumizhitana I took the bus half a dozen times to Vilcabamba. I saw people there I’d not seen since the Covid thing grounded me in the north. I’d lived in Vilca off and on for five years so I knew a few folks. It has proven the end of the line for some. The obits were read to me. Terry died a couple of days after I returned. On his next to last day he’d sat with me and Patrick, another tavern owner, and described his unending battle with the Veteran’s Administration. I guess the USVA won, by attrition. Terry died on a park bench in Vilcabamba. I’d heard so many of his stories about being one of the US special forces fighting in various places It seemed strange he was suddenly gone. What the bullet couldn’t accomplish the bottle did. Roland also passed on to the next world. He was more pickled than most. The “Drunk’s Corner” across from the park will seem strange without him. But no doubt his replacement is there already, bending an elbow, the grim reaper at his shoulder.

Representing the US State Department as needed, Charlie tends bar and waits tables at his bistro in Vilcabamba. He’s spent years building the business, weathering Covid and the town’s politics. He’s done this with the help of his Ecuadorian wife and extended family. Nice place to hang out and if one is retired that’s a major activity.

A bit out of focus and shirtless for the relative heat, I stand for my self inflicted “selfi”

There is no end of advice available for how to live our lives. There’s a lot of advice too on how to handle the end. There is some feeling for where the transition should occur. With family and in your own country? a common desire. Does it make a difference? From whence you depart for the far country? The USA or Ecuador, which is nearer the after life. My game of musical chairs, going back and forth, south and north, risks my kicking the bucket while in the north. Somehow I’ve come to feel Ecuador, in one of the lush green valleys, should be my point of departure. Where I should be when life’s tune ends.

Inventing Religion

I doubt any religion was ever started by the deity at its center, if any. I must have skipped the class on comparative religion because I don’t have a clue. The enlightened one or the son of God wanders the countryside teaching. Somebody writes down some of what they say and thru many translations it eventually reaches us as kaons and snippets of scripture. The parable of the loaves and fish or the rotation of the lotus flower between the fingers of the Bodhisattva bringing a flash of understanding. These days I wonder about how a faith starts. They must start, because there was a time they were unknown. Seems humanity can’t keep a few simple precepts clear. Like, don’t kill one another. Relieve the suffering of others. Be kind and humble. Complex stuff like that. Even in big type half a page could carry the message. So religions start like camel caravans laden with baggage. Beasts of burden and jockeys and hanger’s on snaking thru deserts, crossing trackless waste between watering holes. Their cargo, when unpacked, is that half page which basically says…be nice, play nice, don’t hurt people. Well, no. Really its says – “God all mighty says….be nice”. The implication being if you are not nice the next lightning bolt might have your name on it.

Why am I looking now at spiritual stuff? Because it just so happens I know someone designing a brand new religion. This inventor has a history of trying to get people to be nice so founding a religion is the logical extension for him. He calls it, “The church of faith in Humanity”. I will shorthand it as “CFH”. The part I particularly liked when I first heard of his idea was the monastery. He wants acolytes. I want a cheap place to live in my old age. The only way you are going to get basic affordable housing in our little town is in the cells of a monastery. Seems there is a loop hole in the patchwork of rules and regulations. Its called religion. Religion might be tax breaks and a route thru the zoning codes. A monk who commits to a simple monastic life of meditation could afford to live in the town. His little cell and access to communal kitchen and bath with a dozen others might cost him a couple hundred a month. Maybe less. As a worker at a service job paying minimum wage he simply can’t live in the town where he works. The town needs money. It can’t allow anyone to skimp on property tax, the town’s life blood. The town’s money need drives its indulgence for affordable housing. But thru ancient tradition those with a spiritual bent may get a break. Well, I hope they do, we shall see.

a word about VHEMT: The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. Haven’t figured out what the “T” is for. Simply put, the movement thinks the Earth is being trashed by having to host too many people. It would solve this problem by our not producing more people. Sex would be ok but procreation not. The end goal would be zero people or at least a huge reduction in the human population. We must look logically at something very illogical, the programming at all levels in us to produce new humans. It is not just sex it is existence so nature takes sexual propagation seriously. But, nature also balances among the various inhabitance of the biosphere. But humans….at their current level of development, are growing on Earth like a culture in a petri dish demonstrating geometric progression, covering the surface before our eyes. So there isn’t going to be any balance. Trouble is we humans game the system. We learn tricks to maintain the imbalance….if its to our advantage. If its to the disadvantage of the other residents of the planet, fuck ’em, basically. Not something mother nature historically allows for long. In artificially dense populations of chickens (ya, I’m talking to you mister perdu) disease like virus can wipe out many individuals. Its just nature exercising an ancient control regulator, the virus. Large system, Gia, servo loop. Like the thermostat turning the heater on and off. Might be getting ready to turn us off. If not, we should save it the trouble. We should add ourselves the long and illustrious list of Earth’s extinct animals. Joining Steller’s Sea Cow and the Galapagos Giant Rat. If they’ll have us.

Comida del Mar

My thought for a graphic for the annual crustacion festival here in the mid coast of Maine, USA. The fisherman, the lobsterman is usually on the other end of this transaction so I had to wonder how it would look if the tables were turned just once. The man in the trap about to have rubber bands attached to his limbs. Later he is tossed into a tank in a seafood restaurant. People gawk at him, he feels uncomfortable and out of place. Then he feels hot, very hot, like hydrothermal vent hot. After that he is in the afterlife wondering what its all about. I can identify with that. I wonder all the time what its all about.

Weird shit everywhere. Space aliens, no for real – I seen ’em. They’re coming’ for us…an its takin’ forever ! I’m ready for the alien overlords now, take a load of responsibility off all our shoulders. Mankind united, as one, against them space alien invaders. Might just be a computer game. Ya, its a computer game. We are on our own again…..

Ours a fleeting existence. With the wave of a stylus we are gone as though never here…at least our documented existence. Other than that we are here only because others know us. Their memories of us are more natural than the electrostatic charge representing our essence. Existence in a server farm somewhere. Maybe thats no more or less natural. Even that gets erased eventually. One memory lost to age and death, to nature’ recycling system and entropy. The other, the digital ghost, is lost when the server farm starts mining primes for some complex shell game. Is avarice and greed related to entropy? We decay to make way for more decay. We’re transient. Fleeting. Temps. Walk on’s strutting our moment on life’s stage. I didn’t strut. I mostly wanted to know what I should do. Never found out. Never learned my lines. Never got a script. Ad lib’d the whole (nearly) thing. These days, with the great reveal underway, I understand there is no reason or purpose….lest you invent one. I never did. One amebae is famous for only a moment among the zillions of other amebae. It basks in it’s fame briefly, signs contracts for endorsements, influencer on the amebae internet….then is gone.

Thanks to the new JWST which hangs at one of the LaGrange points a million miles from me (and you) we have evidence of what I’ve suspected. I am (you too) even more insignificant that previously thought. The ego shrinks to a point just shy of the Plank limit. Apparently that’s as small as an ego can get. Eight billion tiny egos occupying a tiny point on the tip of a pin somewhere in space. Should I hang around for a post doc in astronomy to discover in one of these photos a purpose for me, for you ? A fleeting pattern of stars or galaxies that spell out the message, “Hey, you wake up!” OK, then what? Just like the universe to poke and prod but never deliver the goods. Ya?, what should we do? Silence.

Thank God for entropy – The great eraser that cleans the chalk board so it can be rewritten.

Dumpster fire in the brain

Like a steak on the grill my brain just needs to cook a bit more and all my empathy will have dripped into the flames and burned.

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.

Being right about Armageddon I can die happy

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.

High Tech World

You’d be right to think it was the queen’s gilly” but you’d be wrong too

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).

Stylus Person

An eraser head is a sort of fez for error

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…..

Miss Famine 2022

An obscene spectrum of human corpulence
Read along and note my errors

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.

The End will be prolonged

Yes, prolonged, painfully and protractedly postponed

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.

A tick demanded to see my Covid 19 test before he’d bite me!

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.

 The stamp of one defect,
Being nature’s livery, or fortune’s star,–
Their virtues else–be they as pure as grace,
As infinite as man may undergo–
Shall in the general censure take corruption
From that particular fault: 

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