Fight for it

Congress just put a price stamp on our lives, $500 billion for large corporations, only $100 billion for us. We don’t matter. Our government has proven incapable of doing its job, that is, protecting its citizenry, but that was always a lie anyways, wasn’t it?

Governments exist to govern, to control, not to protect. Otherwise it’d be called a “protectorate” (ignoring the definition of that word more often used in the common parlance). The state serves to protect class interests, that class being the ruling class. Their stock options matter more than one million Americans, they’ve told us that.

Meanwhile a 17 year old kid died recently because he lacked healthcare, they (and their parents) were too poor to afford treatment for COVID-19, and they had to pay the ultimate price for being born poor, at 17 years old. Meanwhile Joe Biden is laughing onstage, saying “no healthcare for you, no, I don’t care if you die because you lack healthcare, I`m a capitalist shill and proud of it, no shut up and get in your place you damn pleb.”

The world is falling all around us, and those of us who want to do something about it, who see the urgency of the situation, are ridiculed and called “extremists,” “alarmists,” “radicals,” so on and so forth. May I put out there that the real extremists are the people wanting one million Americans to die for their stock options, the people who value profit over people, the people who fight tooth and nail against Medicare 4 All but then demand early access to vaccines?

This system needs to change, I`m not dying for some fucking billionaire, if anything, he should die for me. It’s time for a general strike, and by Jove it’s time for even more than that, it’s time for revolution, a complete societal overhaul. The planet dies but the people in power don’t care, they only care about what the next fiscal quarter looks like. Time is running out, and those who are responsible for this crime against humanity will get away with it if we don’t demand justice.

Freedom is taken, not given, now show some class solidarity and get out there and fight for it!

(excerpt from a book I just started writing)

Ozymandias

I feel like the poem “Ozymandias” by Mary Shelley sums up this global situation fairly well:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

We keep this shit up (especially with climate change) and that ruined statue in the desert will be all that’s left of us.

Planting trees

https://www.skepticalscience.com/pros-cons-planting-trees-gw.html

This is a new article from Skeptical Science that raises several important points, summarized below:

First is that even if you plant enough trees to cover the entire world without tearing down cities and farms, you’d only suck out a third of the carbon put out by human emissions over the last two centuries. Trees also need time to grow and mature, and often take years to do so, even decades and centuries for trees like the behemoth California redwoods out west. You also need to ensure these new forests you’re planting are biodiverse and filled with genetic variation, otherwise you wouldn’t get very far.

Planting trees is good, there’s no doubt about that, but the money being fronted towards this is better spent helping, say, indigenous peoples keep their lands in the Amazon, or preserving and restoring already existing ecosystems like the beleaguered pine forests of the Rockies.

Coronavirus and climate change.

You know, I`m glad for the urgent response to the Coronavirus situation, it’s genuinely this bad, but it’d be a million times greater if these assholes in power did the same for climate change, which is a threat entire orders of *magnitude* greater in scope and danger than COVID-19. Things won’t be the same even after this pandemic’s over, I get that, but we have the chance of returning to some new kind of “normalcy.”

With climate change we won’t get that chance, we’re running out of time, the fate of the entire species depends on us acting on it *now*. I don’t want my descendants to be living in dirt hovels near the poles in the far future because of the actions of a few billionaires now.

Indeed, the response to coronavirus is essentially the response to climate change fast tracked, with pundits and politicians claiming it’s a “hoax,” then when that was no longer feasible saying it was “under control,” and then when the stark situation become all too apparent it was almost too late. Ring a bell?

Darwin and animal cognition

As dogs, cats, horses, and probably all the higher animals, even birds, as is stated on good authority, have vivid dreams, and this is shewn by their movements and voice, we must admit that they possess some power of imagination. … Few persons any longer dispute that animals possess some power of reasoning. Animals may constantly be seen to pause, deliberate, and resolve. It is a significant fact, that the more the habits of any particular animal are studied by a naturalist, the more he attributes to reason and the less to unlearnt instincts.

– Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man

He’s not wrong, even bees are now known to dream, and the higher animals have shown much inventiveness that we, in our arrogant and anthropocentric view of nature, have denied to them. What is clear now that intelligence has existed on this planet for a long time, and the wonders of man are the result of inheritance of the intelligence and cleverness of our distant, primeval ancestors.

My cats recognize that door knobs open doors, for example, and puffins have recently been seen to use tools:

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/12/watch-puffin-use-tool-scratch-itch

The difference between humans and other animals is one of degree, not of kind, and to downplay or dispute that fact is to not only deny animals of what is rightfully theirs, but to deny humanity of our own dignity as well.

Sulfur played vital role in the development of life on earth

https://www.astrobio.net/origins/how-sulfur-helped-make-earth-habitable-before-the-rise-of-oxygen/

Sulfur played a vital role in the history of life on earth a new study says, and the fact that sulfur was abundant in the early earth, meaning plenty of material for microbes to metabolize to serve as fuel for photosynthesis, means that the abundance of sulfur in the early earth played a vital role in the oxygenation of the earth’s atmosphere.

However, because sulfur quickly degrades in an oxidized environment, the sulfur chemistry of early life on earth was “quickly lost to time,” as the article says.

Because sulfur is quickly oxidized in an oxygen-rich environment, and then removed from the atmosphere by precipitation and run-off into the ocean, the sulfur chemistry of early Archean life was phased out and lost to time. However, by understanding the mass independent fractionation process, it should be possible to learn more about the atmosphere of the pre-oxygenated Earth and the conditions in which the first life on Earth lived.

The process behind the mass independent fractionation of sulfur remains uncertain, but the two most popular hypotheses are either photolysis (the breaking apart of molecules) by ultraviolet light from the Sun, or reactions between elemental sulfur. “However, the actual phenomenon, reaction or mechanism is still to be identified,” says Dmitri Babikov, a Professor of Physical Chemistry and Molecular Physics at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The article says that sulfur isotopes could serve as potential indicators of environments similar to that of the early earth’s, but that today’s technology is too limited to be of any help in identifying such indicators in potential exoplanets. Let’s hope the Jim Webb telescope is launched soon, for much is yet to be learned about the universe at large.

A summary course in logic

I’ve decided to take it upon myself to correct a few basic misconceptions about the nature of logical fallacies.

First thing’s first is what is called the “fallacy fallacy” (https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Fallacy_fallacy) wherein a fallacious argument is taken to be incorrect ”because” it is fallacious, rather than merely being an example of faulty reasoning.

Take the following statement:

Bears have fins, only mammals have fins, therefore bears are mammals.

The conclusion is correct, while the reasoning is demonstrably false. An argument can still be correct even if it is fallacious.

Let us examine another statement:

Bears have fur, only mammals have fur, therefore bears are mammals.

The conclusion is the same as the above statement, but unlike the previous statement, the reasoning here is not demonstrably false, meaning that the reasoning here is sound.

So, to reiterate, an argument doesn’t have to be incorrect because it is fallacious, for logical fallacies have nothing to do with matters of “correctness,” it only has to do with flaws in reasoning.

On natural hierarchies and material conditions

I was disputing whether or not right wing “anarchism” is legitimately anarchism or not. The devil’s advocate in the discussion told me that right wing “anarchists” reject “constructed hierarchy,” while still believing in so-called “natural hierarchies,” I rejected that therefore right wing individualism is true anarchism, because anarchists reject all hierarchies.

The discussion eventually lead to one about solipsism, natural law, the great man theory of history, so on and so forth, and it lead me to write this little entry about that conversation and where it lead me. So, here we are.

Right wingers believe in natural hierarchy, it’s an essentialist viewpoint, but as we shall see there all natural hierarchies are spooks, there’s no such thing as a “natural order of things,” as per Hume’s guillotine, “an ought cannot be derived from an is.” The world isn’t static and immutable, it is constantly changing. My opponent brought up the right wing belief of the “cycle of history,” summed up like this: “Strong men create good times, good times create weak men, weak men create hard times, hard times create strong men ad nauseam.

This is way too much of an overgeneralizing statement, and ignores material conditions. I pointed out the exact conditions of the Cold War couldn’t have occurred without the invention of nukes, even if there are rough analogues to Cold War esque situations in the past (which there are, but that’s a discussion for another time). My point being that the invention of nukes is what lead to the Cold War, and the Cold War wouldn’t have occurred without them.

Material conditions are important, natural orders don’t exist, the world is not static, and tomorrow will be different from today, as the actors of history are always changing, as is the setting itself.

Patriotism

People here will often shout that we should be “proud of our democracy and freedoms,” but as Westerners we should know that our democracy comes at the expense of other people’s democracy as we plunder their resources and hold them in economic vassalage. You tell me I should be proud to be an American, or a member of the EU, but why? The fact I was born a marginalized, working class American is completely out of my control, I could’ve been born an orphan in Syria for example, all of us could have. Not to mention that these countries were built off the back of slavery and genocide, which still happens to this day, there’s a reason indigenous peoples protest Australia Day, Canada Day, Columbus Day, so on and so forth, because our prosperity is at their expense.

So, tell me, why should I be patriotic? There’s a difference between gratitude and pride after all, I am grateful I was born in the US versus, say, Somalia, but I have no reason to be proud of that. And even so, being born here, I still am a marginalized person living a precarious existence, I have more in common with the people of the global south than I do the capitalist class here.

Mathematics of the evolution of the human-chimp lineage

Kleinman has challenged me to “do the math of the chimp-human lineage,”
since six million years is roughly equivalent to six hundred thousand
generations, and herein I’ll show how it’s far easier to calculate than
he thought. On average, at conception, you start out with 150 new
mutations right off the bat, something Kleinman should be aware of, and
since for the purposes of this calculation six million years = six
hundred thousand generations, we will calculate 150 times 600000 and see
what we get.

150 x 600000 = 90000000

So, knowing that at conception you have 150 mutations right off the bat,
and that there has been roughly six hundred thousand generations since
the LCA of both humans and chimps, we can safely assume a minimum of
ninety million mutations having occurred since then cumulatively in each
generation from the past to the present.

Kleinman’s one pony trick, the so-called “replication issue,” is easily
solved when one realizes we’re dealing with relatively small populations
isolated from each other by both time and space, and hence mutations
could spread far more easily in such small populations than they can in
a population as large as that of modern humans, which for most of
history was also relatively small, having ballooned only in the last 10k
years since the invention of farming.

The Good DrDr may contest this by asking how many of these mutations
were “beneficial mutations,” and as we shall see only the environment
determines whether a mutation is beneficial, neutral, or negative,
something DocDoc contests but is true nonetheless.