Charred Wood


There are experiments one must conduct in youth.

I am told that if you enjoy he taste of whiskey, what you really enjoy is the taste of oak. Oak that has been charred to open up the pores and breakdown some of the carbohydrates into sugars, made into a barrel and had alcohol put into it. Then one waited a decade for the flavors to leach into the alcohol.

This offends me in several ways:

Making barrels is expensive.

Lumber large enough to make barrels is expensive and a waste of good wood.

The ‘angel’s share’ to evaporation is inefficient.

The reduction of woods to the cooper’s choice seems limiting.

I propose a very slow experiment. Too slow for one my age:

Put ethanol in glass jars. Char chips of several types of wood. Put in the jars and seal them. Keep them dark and cool. The word ‘cellar’ is paradigmatic.

Wait a long, long time. Perhaps half a decade or more for a preliminary analysis. More then a decade for a mature deliberation.

In fifteen years you may have invented an industry. Or you may have wasted a cubic meter of cellar space. The upside in knowledge and profit is well beyond the downside risk. Just remember to avoid fire danger.

I would not try this experiment, but you have time, and very few people young enough to make this experiment will think of doing so before they are too old to profit from it.

I propose you could try flavors which might lead to something new and uplifting.


White Oak as a control

Red Oak as our oak forests are tending this way.

Mesquite – Lovely flavor, but nobody would make a barrel out of it.




Juniper – The gin folks may have an idea.

Cedar – perhaps too aromatic



Nut shells – essentially wood, large pores, and very inexpensive



Other interesting but waste woods. After all, there was no reason to believe oak would taste good. Or sassafras. That might be a good try too.

There is my idea. Do what you would with it.

All We Learn From History….

I received this in the aether:

Earlier you sent an email (the email disappeared) saying that having a high IQ helps you predict things I think, and that people are not impressed by it. What was it, elections? I forgot.

Not so much IQ as wisdom and intelligence.

All we learn from history is that most don’t learn anything from history, and those who do stand on the sidelines shouting warnings like Cassandra with about as much influence as she and Laocoön had.

On the other hand, I have made a nice profit this year by investing when a panicked market collapsed. I thought about mentioning this on Friday when the marked fell so badly. Alas, concrete work and plumbing kept me from investing this time.

That’s not even wisdom: that’s reading a graph. Even with four major wars – two World wars – the Great Depression, the Dust bowl, three ecological scares, an incipient American Dictator – well, two – … and the catastrophic Obama ‘Recovery’, and changing the very nature of our and world currencies, this is how investment looks:

Put 50 years of investing in there anywhere. Note that the graph is logarithmic.

Do you know of Martianus Capella?

When the fall of Rome was obvious to those who thought, and no one else, he compiled a book of the things people needed to know to run a civilization. This was before science, so it is not my list, but it was kept alive in small places and provided some little light there was in a dark time. That is what some can do with intelligence against the tide of history.

He spat into the wind, but he spat with calculation.

Insincere Compliments

All compliments should be at least partially insincere. Compliments, like love, have the potential to make us better people. If one is only given a compliment, or love, when he deserves it beyond all doubt or controversy, then it means nothing. It is just as if a grading device has measured a status. There is no compliment or love then. How miserable would we be, how lacking in grace, how unwilling to love, would we be if we gave each other no recognition ungrudgingly? What would inspire us to aspire?

By the way, shouldn’t it be a ‘cere compliment’ to avoid a double negative?

Why I Believe Not In ‘g’


‘g’ is what the statistical psychologists call the factor derived from tests to represent general intelligence.

I don’t believe in it.

I see a bunch of upper-class, belle-epoch Anglo-Americans and French deciding how to measure intelligence. Of course they chose those skills which would enchant those interested in parlour games. Memory, vocabulary, general knowledge, a skill in manipulating words. Real skills. Useful skills. Especially to upper-class folks with permanent incomes.

Around World War II the Army and their people developed vocational versions. You’ve seen isometric views of connected blocks which one must rotate in one’s mind and decide which picture is a possible version of the platonic original. Or various visual analogies. Such tests were harder and removed the vocabulary biases of the original type of tests. Much better for people who weren’t well educated in the same schools as the test’s authors. But word manipulation at many times is thinking. And men do much better in the image rotation than women. Women do much better in verbal tests than men. Generally speaking.

If you derive a factor from both types of tests to statistically infer general intelligence, that is ‘g’.

All these tests show something real. Something attractive in Western Civilization. I just don’t believe it is intelligence. This is a conflict of interest for me. I do exceptionally well in such tests. In years of observing people who do well in such tests and people who do poorly in such tests, I have come to my conclusions. It is similar to my opinion on word problems. If you cannot do word problems, you do not know math. If your mind twisting cannot change the world you are not accomplishing anything.

I have come to believe that a Darwinian approach is defined by reality. Those who over the centuries do well are the general groups which have greater intelligence. Distilling that into a test for individuals would be the work of a career.

I have also come to the conclusion that it is not entirely genetic. I suspect it is mimetic. I think abilities are reflected in cultural and linguistic clades. This is why I judge culture and languages. The English language of 1900 is a more accurate and robust creature than the English of 2020. Since 1500 AD, the people who have thrived most are not designated by race or religion, so much as by language. The English and Spanish speakers have prospered beyond belief. Look at the English of 1400. How could I think in that language? The Bantu formed a nation and culture which marched across Africa culminating in the Zulu. Is that racial or mimetic?

Think how learning another language changes how you regard English. At some point you realize that the English language method is not the only method. In some ways not the best. In some ways clumsy. When I learned Esperanto I found an interesting language which challenged how I thought. I also found a language which was too simplified to say some things. I am still conflicted. Look at the title to this entry. ‘Why I don’t Believe in ‘g” is clumsier and rather odd. This form seems odd because you grew up thinking that way. I feel strange to agree with the ancient scholars that teaching grammar is something of great importance.


     I was in the grocery store today They were trying to sell potato salad. This reminds me of what potato salad and pumpkin pie always remind me of: Platonism.

     When I was a young man I read that an eminent British mathematician at the height of his powers  was, by religion, a Platonist. I sniggered. Who could take such an idea seriously?

     Years later when I was learning to cook, I had to rethink my opinions. A poor college student, such as myself, could live on ramen, starve, or learn to cook. First, I learned how to cook rice. Then I learned how to make it taste so that I wouldn’t cut my wrists. In my head there was a taste and texture I hoped to achieve. I did surprisingly well. Eventually.

     At some point I was alone and away from home during the holidays. I was foolish enough to buy pumpkin pie. Store-bought pumpkin pie tastes like grade-school paste. As a holiday food, it is enough to bring someone up on charges of heresy. The problem is that everybody has a specific and intense idea what pumpkin pie tastes like, and every family has a different idea. The point of a corporation’s pumpkin pie recipe is to look like pumpkin pie and to not offend anybody. They are not selling pumpkin pie. They are selling the idea of pumpkin pie to lonely people. Libbey has a different, and superior, technique: they sell canned pumpkin less than they sell the decently acceptable recipe on the back of the can. If they can establish a population imprinted with that taste as their ideal, then they have a captive market of people who think that flavor and texture is the holiday. It’s acceptable, but it isn’t what I know in my heart is the true pumpkin pie. Now that Mom is gone, I must approximate what pumpkin pie really is. I know the truth. I just have to make it. I know it is out there, but I have never quite found it.

     One success was potato salad. There are more potato salads than the are Protestant denominations. And most of these variations as contradictory and as subtly wrong. Sloth leads to heretical potato salad. There are true abominations at any church get-together. I had in my head a specific idea. I achieved a very close result to the heavenly ideal which I see in my head. I know because when my brother came home he was mad for it. I could make it marginally better at the cost of twice the work. In the spirit of Libbey pumpkin and Nestle chocolate cookies I append the bare bones of my recipe. There is no point filling in all the details, you will approach your own Platonic ideal.

     So was Roger Penrose really a Platonist? I suspect he was in the sense that he was trying to achieve in mathematics or art an Idea he could perceive with total certainty. Does he believe in an actual, unapproachable place where such actualized ideas dwell? As him. But hurry.

     I was reading a monograph on the Orphic Leaves. [ I know. So, sue me.] I had an epiphany – rather a Platonic word, that – which convinced me that I know what they were about. Moral certainty. Would it convince the author of Rushing Into the Milk ? No, I don’t think so. But, had I time and leisure I might take a lifetime to test my conviction. Note that I don’t have a dispassionate hypothesis. I have a, possibly incorrect, certainty. Maybe I am a Platonist.







Potato Salad

6 Potatoes, cut in 10mm cubes, boiled, and drained.

4 Hard Boiled Eggs

4 Pickles

4 Tablespoons Mustard

½ Teaspoon Celery Seed

¼ Cup Dried Onion Flakes

1 Teaspoon Salt

2 Teaspoons Sugar

1 ¼ Cup Mayonnaise

2 Tablespoons Vinegar

Fearful Men

We will not walk in fear, one of another…. We are not descended from fearful men.

We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men – not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular

A Small Thought

We have heard much screaming over Mr. Trump suggesting we might destroy cultural sites in Iran. Not ancient sites, obviously, but the more recent islamic ones which support the ‘mandate of allah.’

This is not just bad, but evil. Destroying cultural artifacts is more evil than killing. More evil than starving. More evil than letting girls burn to death in their flaming school because there were not properly dressed.



So why is it not egregiously evil to destroy cultural sites in America? Statues of Robert E. Lee. Murals of Columbus. Thomas Jefferson?

Buddhas of Bamyan

Based on the verdict of the clergymen and the decision of the supreme court of the Islamic Emirate (Taliban) all the statues around Afghanistan must be destroyed.”

“According to Islam, I don’t worry about anything. My job is the implementation of Islamic order. The breaking of statues is an Islamic order and I have given this decision in the light of a fatwa of the ulema (clerics) and the supreme court of Afghanistan. Islamic law is the only law acceptable to me.”

“Only Allah, the Almighty, deserves to be worshipped, not anyone or anything else.

— Mullah Mohammad Omar[2In 2014, media reported destruction of multiple, Sunni and Shiite, mosques and shrines throughout areas captured by ISIL.[6] Among them were the Al-Qubba Husseiniya Mosque in Mosul, Sheikh Jawad Al-Sadiq Mosque, Mosque of Arnā’ūt, Mosque of Qado, Mosque of Askar e- Mullah and Saad Bin Aqeel Shrine in Tal Afar, Sufi Ahmed al-Rifai Shrine and tomb and Sheikh Ibrahim shrine in Mahlabiya District and the so-called Tomb of the Girl (Qabr al-Bint) in Mosul.[6] The Tomb of the Girl, reputed to honour a girl who died of a broken heart, was actually believed to be the tomb of medieval scholar Ali ibn al-Athir.[7]

In June 2014, ISIL bulldozed the two buildings in the complex of the shrine of Fathi al-Ka’en.[8]

On 24 September 2014, the Arba’een Wali Mosque and Shrine in Tikrit, containing forty tombs from the Umar era, was blown up.[9] On 26 February 2015 ISIL blew up the 12th century Green Mosque in central Mosul.[10]

In Mosul, ISIL also targeted several tombs with shrines built over them. In July 2014, ISIL destroyed one of the tombs of prophet Daniel (located in Mosul) by planted explosives.[11] On 24 July 2014, the tomb and mosque of the prophet Jonah was destroyed with explosives.[12] On 27 July, ISIL destroyed the tomb of Prophet Jirjis (George).[13]

On 25 July 2014, the 13th-century shrine of Imam Awn al-Din in Mosul, one of the few structures to have survived the 13th-century Mongol invasion, was destroyed by ISIL.[citation needed] The destruction was mostly carried out with explosive devices, but in some cases bulldozers were used.[6]

In March 2015, ISIL reportedly bulldozed to the ground the Hamu Al-Qadu Mosque in Mosul, dating back to 1880. The Hamu-Al-Qadu mosque contained an earlier tomb of Ala-al-din Ibn Abdul Qadir Gilani.[14] In the same year ISIL ordered the removal of all decorative elements and frescoes from mosques in Mosul, even those containing Quranic verses that mention Allah.[15] They were regarded by ISIL as “an erroneous form of creativity, contradicting the basics of sharia.” At least one imam in Mosul opposing that order was shot to death.[15]

Leaning minaret of the Great Mosque of Al-nuri. Destroyed by ISIL on 22 June 2017 during the Battle of Mosul.

ISIL also destroyed Sufi shrines near Tripoli, Libya, in March 2015. The shrines were destroyed by sledgehammers and bulldozers.[16]

In June 2015, it was announced that ISIL had blown up the ancient tombs of Mohammed bin Ali and Nizar Abu Bahaaeddine, located close to the ruins of Palmyra.[17]

In 2016, ISIL destroyed the Minaret of Anah located in Al Anbar Province, which dates back to the Abbasid era. The minaret was only rebuilt in 2013 after the destruction by an unknown perpetrator in 2006.[18][19]

In 2017, ISIL destroyed the Great Mosque of al-Nuri and its leaning minaret. This was the mosque where ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the establishment of the Islamic State caliphate three years prior

In June 2014, it was reported that ISIL elements had been instructed to destroy all churches in Mosul.[21] Since then, most churches within the city have been destroyed.

  • The Virgin Mary Church was destroyed with several improvised explosive devices in July 2014.[22]
  • Dair Mar Elia, the oldest monastery in Iraq, was demolished sometime between late August and September 2014. The destruction went unreported until January 2016.[23][24]
  • The Al-Tahera Church, built in the early 20th century, was possibly blown up in early February 2015.[1] However, there is no evidence that the church was actually destroyed.[25]
  • St Markourkas Church, a 10th-century Chaldean Catholic church, was destroyed on 9 March 2015, according to the Iraqi government official Dureid Hikmat Tobia. A nearby cemetery was also bulldozed.[26]
  • Another church, which was reportedly “thousands of years” old, was blown up in July 2015. According to Kurdish sources, four children were inadvertently killed when the church was destroyed.[27]
  • The Sa’a Qadima Church, which was built in 1872, was blown up in April 2016.


ISIL also blew up or demolished a number of other churches elsewhere in Iraq or in Syria. The Armenian Genocide Memorial Church in Deir ez-Zor, Syria was blown up by ISIL militants on 21 September 2014.[29][30]

On 24 September 2014 ISIL militants destroyed with improvised explosive devices the 7th-century Green Church (also known as St Ahoadamah Church) belonging to the Assyrian Church of the East in Tikrit.[31]

The Mar Behnam Monastery in Khidr Ilyas near Bakhdida, Iraq was destroyed by ISIL in March 2015.[32][33]

As of 5 April 2015, ISIL destroyed the Assyrian Christian Virgin Mary Church on Easter Sunday in the Syrian town of Tel Nasri. “As the ‘joint forces’ of Kurdish People’s Protection Units and local Assyrian fighters attempted to enter the town”, ISIL set off the explosives destroying what remained of the church.[34] ISIL had controlled the church since 7 March 2015.

In May 2014, ISIL members smashed a 3,000-year-old neo-Assyrian statue from Tel Ajaja.[37] Later reports indicated that over 40% of the artifacts at Tel Ajaja (Saddikanni) were looted by ISIS

In January 2015, ISIL reportedly destroyed large parts of the Nineveh Wall in al-Tahrir neighborhood of Mosul.[41] Further parts of the walls, including the Mashka and Adad Gate, were blown up in April 2016.[42]

In the Syrian city of Raqqa, ISIL publicly ordered the bulldozing of a colossal ancient Assyrian gateway lion sculpture from the 8th century BC.[43] Another lion statue was also destroyed. Both statues originated from the Arslan Tash archaeological site.[44] The destruction was published in the ISIL magazine, Dabiq. Among the lost statues are those of Mulla Uthman al-Mawsili, of a woman carrying an urn, and of Abu Tammam.[citation needed]

On 26 February 2015, ISIL released a video showing the destruction of various ancient artifacts in the Mosul Museum.[10] The affected artifacts originate from the Assyrian era and from the ancient city of Hatra.[10] The video in particular shows the defacement of a granite lamassu statue from the right side of the Nergal Gate by a jackhammer. The statue remained buried until 1941 when heavy rains eroded the soil around the gate and exposed two statues on both sides.[45] Several other defaced items in the museum were claimed to be copies,[10] but this was later rebutted by Iraq’s Minister of Culture, Adel Sharshab who said: “Mosul Museum had many ancient artifacts, big and small. None of them were transported to the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad. Thus, all artifacts destroyed in Mosul are original except for four pieces that were made of gypsum“.[46]

Palace of Ashurnasirpal II in Nimrud, pictured in 2007. ISIL reportedly bulldozed the city in March 2015

On 5 March 2015, ISIL reportedly started the demolition of Nimrud, an Assyrian city from the 13th century BC. The local palace was bulldozed, while lamassu statues at the gates of the palace of Ashurnasirpal II were smashed.[47] A video showing the destruction of Nimrud was released in April 2015.[48]

On 7 March 2015, Kurdish sources reported that ISIL had begun the bulldozing of Hatra,[49][50][51] which has been under threat of demolition after ISIL had occupied the adjacent area. The next day ISIL sacked Dur-Sharrukin, according to a Kurdish official from Mosul, Saeed Mamuzini.[52]

The Iraqi Tourism and Antiquities Ministry launched the related investigation on the same day.[52] On 8 April 2015, the Iraqi Ministry of Tourism reported that ISIL destroyed the remnants of the 12th-century Bash Tapia Castle in Mosul.[53] As of early July 2015, 20% of Iraq’s 10,000 archaeological sites has been under ISIL control.[54]

In 2015 the face of the Winged Bull of Nineveh was damaged.[55]


Temple of Bel in Palmyra, which was blown up by ISIL in August 2015

Following the capture of Palmyra in Syria, ISIL was reported as not intending to demolish the city’s World Heritage Site (while still intending to destroy any statues deemed ‘polytheistic‘).[56] On 27 May 2015, ISIL released an 87-second video showing parts of the apparently undamaged ancient colonnades, the Temple of Bel and the Roman theatre.[56] On 27 June 2015, however, ISIL demolished the ancient Lion of Al-lāt statue in Palmyra. (It has since been restored, and is in storage in a Damascus museum until it can be determined that the statue can be safely returned to Palmyra.) Several other statues from Palmyra reportedly confiscated from a smuggler were also destroyed by ISIL.[54] On 23 August 2015, it was reported that ISIL had blown up the 1st-century Temple of Baalshamin.[57][58] On 30 August 2015, ISIL demolished the Temple of Bel with explosives. Satellite imagery of the site taken shortly after showed almost nothing remained.[59]

According to the report issued on September 3, 2015 by ASOR Syrian Heritage initiative, ISIL also destroyed seven ancient tower tombs in Palmyra since the end of June over two phases.[60] The last phase of destruction occurred between August 27 and September 2, 2015, including the destruction of the 2nd-century AD Tower of Elahbel, called “the most prominent example of Palmyra’s distinct funerary monuments”.[60] Earlier, the ancient tombs of Iamliku and Atenaten were also destroyed.[60] The Monumental Arch was also blown up in October.[61]

When Palmyra was recaptured by Syrian government forces in March 2016, retreating ISIL fighters blew up parts of the 13th-century Palmyra Castle, causing extensive damage.[62]

ISIL has also looted and demolished the Parthian/Roman city of Dura-Europos in east of Syria.[63] Nicknamed “the Pompeii of the desert”, the city was of particular archaeological significance.

It was reported on 1 January 2019 that Syrian authorities recovered two Roman-era funerary busts smuggled from Palmyra from an abandoned ISIL site in the Al-Sukhnah countryside.[64]

ISIL has burned or stolen collections of books and papers from various locations, including the Central Library of Mosul (which they rigged with explosives and burned down),[70] the library at the University of Mosul, a Sunni Muslim library, a 265-year-old Latin Church and Monastery of the Dominican Fathers, and the Mosul Museum Library. Some destroyed or stolen works date back to 5000 BC and include “Iraq newspapers dating to the early 20th century, maps and books from the Ottoman Empire, and book collections contributed by about 100 of Mosul’s establishment families.” The stated goal is to destroy all non-Islamic books.

Saudi Arabia

The Tomb of Eve, also known as Eve’s Grave and Eve’s Tomb, is an archeological site located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (21°29′31″N 39°11′24″E). It is considered by some Muslims to be the burial place of Eve. Prince Faisal, Viceroy of Hejaz, destroyed it in 1928. In 1975, the site was also sealed with concrete by religious authorities, who disapprove of pilgrims praying at tombs.

The house of Mawlid where Muhammad is believed to have been born in 570. Originally turned into a library, it now lies under a rundown building which was built 70 years ago as a compromise after Wahhabi clerics called for it to be demolished.

The house of Khadija, Muhammad’s first wife. Muslims believe he received some of the first revelations there. It was also where his children Zainab bint Muhammad, Ruqayyah bint Muhammad, Umm Kulthum bint Muhammad, Fatimah, Qasim and Abd-Allah ibn Muhammad were born. After it was rediscovered during the Haram extensions in 1989, it was covered over and it was made into a library.[citation needed]

A Hilton hotel stands on the site of the house of Islam’s first caliph, Abu Bakr.[23]

House of Muhammed in Medina, where he lived after the migration from Mecca.[21]

Dar e Arqam, the first Islamic school where Muhammad taught.[22] It now lies under the extension of the Masjid Alharam of Mecca.[citation needed]

Qubbat’ al-Thanaya, the burial site of Muhammed’s incisor that was broken in the Battle of Uhud.[13]

Mashrubat Umm Ibrahim, built to mark the location of the house where Muhammad’s son, Ibrahim, was born to Mariah.[citation needed]

Dome which served as a canopy over the Well of Zamzam.[21]

Bayt al-Ahzan of Sayyida Fatima, in Medina.[21]

House of Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq, in Medina.[21]

Mahhalla complex of Banu Hashim, in Mecca.[21]

House of Ali where Hasan and Husayn were born

In August 2017, the 1792 monument to Christopher Columbus in Baltimore, the oldest in the United States, was destroyed by a sledgehammer, and the perpetrators posted a video online of themselves destroying it

The monument to Christopher Columbus in New York City’s Columbus Circle, whose hands were defaced with red paint on September 12, 2017.

A statue of Columbus in Yonkers, New York was decapitated

The statue of Joan of Arc, in the French Quarter of New Orleans, was painted with the words “Tear it Down” in early 2017.

In August, 2017, a bust of Abraham Lincoln in West Englewood, Chicago was spray-painted black and later covered in tar and set on fire.

Under cover of darkness, city workers removed a statue in August 2017 of former Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney that had been on the State House’s front lawn for 145 years. Taney authored the Supreme Court’s 1857 Dred Scott decision, which held that African-Americans could not be U.S. citizens. The city’s Republican mayor said through a spokesman that it was removed “as a matter of public safety.”

Shih Huang Ti, the first emperor of China, ordered both the construction of the Great Wall and the burning of all the books written before his time.

The Fear Monger’s Shop

How to Frighten For Fun and Profit


The first rule of fear mongering is: One cannot prove a negative.

People feign ignorance, but they know this.

The second rule of fear mongering is: A pungent idea is hard to get out of one’s mind.

The reason Kleenex pops up is that there are little faeries trapped in the box. Every time you pull one out, the next fairy escapes and pops up the next sheet. And the fairy dies. Try to disprove that. Try to forget it.

The third rule of fear mongering is: We all think we are fakes.

I built my own sidearm. It was a lot of work. It took a long time. It is worth thousands more than I spent on the parts. I am very proud of it. But if anyone wants to take me down, they need only say, ‘No, you did not build that.’ I did not manufacture every part. I did not harvest the iron and chrome ore. I did not prospect the mine. ‘How can it be worth that if you only paid for the parts?’ Or, did you bake a cake from scratch if you did not grind the flour? Harvest the grain? Sew the field? Domesticate wheat from spelt? Make your own flour mill? I can only claim to have done anything in those people’s view if I created the universe. That seems a high bar.

When I have a truly original idea which enlightens a small part of the world, someone can tell me that someone else thought of it decades or centuries ago. I would have to spend my entire life to disprove it. Or they say, ‘So what?’ I am particularly susceptible to that last one, and my brother has know of this weakness since we were little boys.

The fourth rule of fear mongering is: We are suckers for things we know not.

You study at school for a long time. You know an immense amount about tiny areas of human thought. You comport yourself as an expert. And you are. But there is so much to know. Some times and places it is an economic risk to admit to ignorance. Someone important says to you, ‘You are educated. What do you think of this MIT engineer’s plan to refine titanium electrolytically?’ [I fell for that one.] Do you want to pretend to wisdom you do not possess? Do you wish to appear less than they think you to be?

The fifth rule of fear mongering is: We live in the most special time in history.

This is the most important election ever! If we don’t do it now it cannot ever be done! If we do not achieve utopia today, then we will have used too much of the planet’s resources, and all our descendants will be cursed to living on a ball of mud and excrement forever without the means to do anything major ever again.

The Date of Doom is generally between the time of retirement and expected lifespan for academicians and writers. When Vinge invented the modern Singularity, he placed it between 2012 and 2020. He did not expect to be called to the carpet. He might be dead. He might be retired. He might be too old to berate. And it might happen.

When Ray Kurzweil took over the Singularity from Vinge, he set it at 2045, He would be 97 then.

For politicians, the deadline is their last viable election. Al Gore told us that if we did not do anything about global warming, then ‘Our children by 2012 will not know what snow was.’ [I took that as a promise. Now we are headed into a fimbulwinter. Dagnabit.]

Alexandria Occasio Cortez tells us the world will be lost ‘In twelve years’ if we do not follow her. Do you believe her political career will be viable by 2029? She obviously believed she will be out of office or a permanent fixture by then, past caring about her predictions.

The last rule of fear mongering is: We want to do something good. Something important.

Tending our own gardens is not good enough. We must remake the world or save the planet. Anyone who can talk us into such a goal has us forever, for it will never happen.



Disappointment and Humiliation

I am disappointed in my fellow Americans. Less than a month ago we had two groups of true-believing UFO aficionados close together in Las Vegas and Rachel, Nevada. People who pine to see the alien autopsy remains. The crashed flying saucers. The reverse engineered spacecraft. Maybe even the Ark of the Covenant.

And yet, Nobody pranked them! When will there be another chance like that? What engineering student couldn’t put up some clear bags of hydrogen towing a silver balloon and flaming magnesium ribbon! Perhaps leading to the hydrogen filled balloons. A UFO shaped dirigible drone. A black quadra-copter with a load of laser pointers and some compact speakers. A trebuchet loaded with road flares. A fleet of Japanese lanterns, for pity’s sake. When will there be another such gathering of the easily gulled?

Where is the practical spirit to humiliate one’s fellow man?

Maybe I can set up a totally ridiculous presidential candidate….


The Loving Curse of History

A balanced thought from Cyril Kornbluth:

The Loving Curse of History

Bless the bright Cro-Magnon for inventing the bow

And Damn him for inventing missle warfare.

Bless the stubby little Sumerians for miracles in gold and lapis lazuli

And Damn them for burying a dead queen’s handmaidens alive in her tomb.

Bless Shih Huang Ti for building the Great Wall between northern barbarism and southern culture,

And Damn him for burning every book in China.

Bless King Minos for the ease of Knossian flush toilets,

And Damn him for his yearly tribute of Greek sacrificial victims.

Bless Pharaoh for peace,

And Damn him for slavery.

Bless the Greeks for restricting population so the well-fed few could kindle a watch-tower in the West,

And Damn the prostitution and sodomy and wars of colonization by which they did it.

Bless the Romans for their strength to smash down every wall that hemmed their building genius,

And Damn them for their weakness that never broke the bloody grip of Etruscan savagery on their minds.

Bless the Jews who discovered the fatherhood of God,

And Damn them who limited it to the survivors of a surgical operation.

Bless the Christians who abolished the surgical preliminaries,

And Damn them who substituted a thousand cerebral quibbles

Bless Justinian for the Code of the Law,

And Damn him for his countless treacheries that were the prototype of the Wretched Byzantine millennium.

Bless the churchmen for teaching and preaching,

And Damn them for drawing a line beyond which they could only teach and preach in peril of the stake,

Bless the navigators who opened the new world to famine-ridden Europe,

And Damn them for syphilis.

Bless the Redskins who bred maize, the great preserver of life,

And Damn them for breeding maize, the great destroyer of top-soil.

Bless the Virginia planters for the solace of tobacco

And Damn them for the red gullies they left where forests had stood.

Bless the obstetricians with forceps who eased the agony of labor,

And Damn them for bringing countless monsters into the world to reproduce their kind.

Bless the Point Four boys who slew the malaria mosquitoes of Ceylon,

And Damn them for letting more Sinhalese be born than five Ceylons could feed.

Bless the founding fathers for the exquisitely Newtonian eighteenth-century machinery of the Constitution,

And Damn them for visiting it in all its unworkable beauty on the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

– Cyril Kornbluth