10 unsettling astronomical incidents and phenomena

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pul9r0jfbug&list=PL1WRbGpKFCAJMfdKHM-zwe5qecY3r910n&index=11

This is a video by the excellent as always Mr John Michael Godier listing, and explaining, some unsolved astronomical phenomena. While the general rule is that “it is never aliens, until it is,” some of the phenomena listed are so strange that aliens remain a serious possibility. One of these is the Wow signal, which to this day defies explanation, it was recently proposed it may have been due to comet emissions, but this was shot down by the scientific community because if comets were emitting at the hydrogen line radio astronomers would have noticed it by now.

I recommend giving it a watch, it’s a good reminder there’s lots we still don’t know about our universe.

Formalhaut

PBS Space Time Video

In this PBS Space Time video the forming solar system of Formalhaut is explored, with lots of Lord of the Rings puns to go around ever since the now infamous “Eye of Sauron” photo was released. Interestingly the star is a member of a tristellar system, it’s stellar siblings are a red dwarf and a flare star respectively.

Formalhaut’s solar system is also (probably) home to two planets, a hot Jupiter and a probably terrestrial planet called “Dagon,” how’s that for a cool name? Interestingly enough the orbit of Dagon indicates it was formed further in, closer to Formalhaut proper, but was thrown out into its current orbit by a close encounter with the aforementioned hot Jupiter. Something similar is posited to have happened in our solar system early on with the gas giants, as they all formed relatively close together but something threw them further apart.

Formalhaut may very well be a glimpse into what would have happened during the formation of our own solar system, as it is a solar system in formation right now as we speak.

Consciousness and Death

Death is a complicated, and disconcerting, thing that we must all eventually face in the end. After all, there is no escaping from the Grim Reaper, merely delaying his arrival. However, what if there is some way that death isn’t…… permanent? In today’s entry we’ll be discussing what death really entails for consciousness and the loss thereof.

When people often talk about “death” they often speak of an “eternal oblivion,” but such speak implies that there is an objective you to experience that eternal oblivion, when we all know that the very word “death” implies the cessation of existence, of nonbeing; nothing can experience the state of not existing because you don’t exist, it’s not a state you are in. This ties back into my earlier forays into discussing antinatalism wherein I explained how some of the arguments for antinatalism are flawed because they presuppose an objective you existing to experience nonexistence, see those other posts for more detail, linked above.

Death is more akin to a mere interruption in consciousness, a bit like sleep really, except that in the traditional naturalistic view of death you don’t wake up. However, with recent advancements in our understanding of nature, as well as technological advancements in the near future that could theoretically enable you to emulate entire human minds, that might not necessarily be the case.

Even if we don’t find a way to emulate entire human minds on computers there always exists the possibility of a Boltzmann brain, which is essentially a thought experiment revolving around how the universe we live in isn’t as chaotic as thermodynamics says it should be, and how the possibility of a single consciousness, or “brain,” arising from random quantum flunctuations is more plausible than the current phase of the universe we find ourselves in, which itself spends most of eternity in a state of thermal equilibrium. If true, this thought experiment holds enormous consequences, but that’s a topic for another time entirely.

It’s entirely plausible, indeed even probable, that over a long enough period of time something with the same memories and thoughts and feelings as you have will arise out of mere random quantum flunctuations, this being a Boltzmann brain, and without delving into the “swamp man” thought experiment of the late and great American philosopher Donald Davidson, is you for all intents and purposes, and henceforth you’d “wake up” from the incredibly long slumber that is death.

Hence, even if it takes a really long time to “wake up,” not even the grim reaper himself can hold on to you forever. So if the inevitable prospect of death frightens you, think of the bright side, for you will wake up eventually, even if it takes a long-ass time to do so.

 

“Boys will be Boys”

This statement is used to refer to the notion that “men are trash” and that there is no changing how a man would behave. The term “boys will be boys” is rubbish for several reasons, first of which I’ll be discussing is that it’s an example of the naturalistic fallacy, “that’s just the way things are.” Sometimes people, especially of the MRA crowd, will even say this is how it should be, not just how it is. An easy refutation of this is Hume’s law, also known as “Hume’s guillotine,” which states that “an ought cannot be derived from an is.” In short this is saying that just because this is how things work now doesn’t mean this is the way things should be.

Another problem is that it serves as an excuse for people to continue to act like trash, if a man rapes someone all you have to do to excuse his behavior is say “boys will be boys” and everything will be “fine” for want of a better word. This is bullshit, and is excusing wrongdoing because, as explained above, “that’s just how things are.” It provides an excuse for people to continue problematic behavior without trying to improve themselves, because after all what’s the point in fighting something that’s “natural,” in one’s “nature” to do so.

Before someone comes here and quacks “Not all men” of course not all men are like that, but such a statement individualizes an issue that is ultimately systemic. I too have been guilty of perpetrating this bastard concern trolling before, and that’s ultimately what it is: concern trolling. The bastard phrase “boys will be boys” trivializes and excuses a systemic injustice, it provides cover for shitty people to continue being shitty and it should stop being used, it would be ideal if the sentiment behind it would vanish as well but one can only control actions, not thoughts, although if you get people to act a certain way after a while they’ll start thinking that way too.

So please, stop saying “boys will be boys” and giving these utter pieces of shit cover. Is it really that hard to do so?

What Denisovans looked like

Scientists recently utilized genetic evidence to reconstruct what Denisovans looked like, and the results are astonishing. For one they would’ve had wider skulls than both neanderthals and modern humans, as well as having a longer dental arch. It brings these ancient humans to life in a way that mere bones never could, and it’s humbling to think that these people were among our ancestors, because they were.

Reconstruction available here

On Civility and Change

Civility is a buzzword often thrown around a lot to dissuade people from trying to achieve meaningful change; in order to exact such change one must be confrontational. Nonviolent protesting does NOT mean nonconfrontational protesting. Calls for “civility” are thrown around to imply “both sides” are equally at fault for the unequal power disparity between the two groups, it’s a bullshit argument, nothing more than a smokescreen designed to allow the people benefiting from the status quo to continue reaping the fruits of their ill-gotten gains.

They know that “civility” does not enact meaningful change, that’s why they call for people to be “civil,” because nothing will be done about the oppressed group’s grievances without confrontation. So-called “moderates” are really anything but, the moderate position would be to call for the wrongdoers to be brought to justice and for the victims to receive justice. Therefore so-called “moderates” are actually people who stand to benefit from the system as it is, rather than the people actually suffering at the bottom.

One of the moderate’s favorite pets is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, note how during the riots of the Black Lives Matter movement you had pundits saying “what would Dr King think of this?” Dr King would join them, he was no moderate, he was nonviolent yes, but he wasn’t nonconfrontational. King himself went to jail dozens of times for nonviolently, but confrontationally, protesting the injustices of Jim Crow. Furthermore, King was a socialist, but don’t expect these clowns to tell you that. By the end of King’s life he was becoming even more radical, as he saw that no meaningful change was being enacted, and the gains the Civil Rights Movement have made have been rolled back over the following half-century since the heyday of the Civil Rights Movement.

 

My problems with ancoms and tankies

While I find myself agreeing with many tenets of anarcho-communist philosophy, such as the abolition of unjust hierarchies and the like, from my experience ancoms ignore the fact that there needs to be a certain set of material conditions in order for true communism to develop, at best you’d get socialism wherein the workers control the means of production. Take this passage from Kropotkin’s The Conquest of Bread (1891) for instance:

The quantity of imported provisions having decreased, consumption having increased, one million Parisians working for exportation purposes having been thrown out of work, a great number of things imported to-day from distant or neighbouring countries not reaching their destination, fancy-trade being temporarily at a standstill,—What will the inhabitants have to eat six months after the Revolution?

We think that when the stores containing food-stuffs are empty, the masses will seek to obtain their food from the land. They will see the necessity of cultivating the soil, of combining agricultural production with industrial production in the suburbs of Paris itself and its environs. They will have to abandon the merely ornamental trades and consider their most urgent need—bread.

Chapter 16 “Decentralization of Industry”

Kropotkin here assumes that the people of Paris, after the revolution, will be able to secure food production by themselves, the population of Paris even at the time was several hundred thousand, and a single city wouldn’t be able to secure that foodstuff without land and technology, which at that time neither of which would have been sufficient for Paris to become a self-sufficient city or “commune.”

Today we have the means to create a genuinely communist society, all the workers have to do is overthrow the bourgeois state and seize back the means of production. However, a dictatorship of the proletariat would be necessary in order to ensure that counterrevolutionaries and reactionaries don’t reverse the course of history back to barbarism, as well as to ensure that opportunists don’t come in and fuck things up as they did during the Russian Revolution, Stalin initiated a thermidor, a reaction, to the revolution and only paid lip service to Marxism and even basic Leninism.

I also disagree with the idea of a party being the vanguard and leading the revolution, namely because it merely changes hands of the control of the means of production from the capitalists to the party bureaucracy while still subjecting the proletariat to their every whim, see how, for example, the Red Army crushed the Kronstadt rebellion or how Mao crushed the Shanghai Commune of 1925-1927, while still proclaiming themselves to be of the “people.”

A true revolution can only occur when the working class itself becomes politically conscious of its situation and rises up as a result, this can be done by means such as mass strikes as advocated by Luxemburg, or by the usage of syndicalist unions as advocated by De Leon, or by other means, but the so-called “communist revolutions” of the 20th century weren’t genuine communist revolutions, nor were they socialist since barring a few cases, like Catalonia during the Spanish Revolution, did the workers genuinely control the means of production.