Thursday, December 1, 2016

First "Class", First Book

First, I am taking Biophysics.  The first class here is "Biometric Principles and Design", and the first textbook is one I can afford on my own.

I am taking part in a national boycott of all Drumpf products, including those of his family (#GrabYourWallet).  Unfortunately, Amazon carries Drumpf products.  I have no problem switching to Nook from Kindle, but I am hoping we can persuade Amazon to dump Drumpf products before my Prime membership is up for renewal.  In the meantime, I will use Amazon Smile, which donates to the charity of your choice when you make a purchase, and I am limiting my Amazon shopping.  I'm using Target as a great alternative for clothing and household items, and Chewy for pet supplies.

But because I've already paid for a year of Prime and used the benefits, because I now limit my Amazon purchases, and donate to anti-conservative-extremist causes with any purchases, and lastly because the CEO of Amazon has been critical of Trump as well as owning a newspaper that has been highly critical of Drumpf, I'm going to hold off cancelling my account just yet.  I've written and complained, as have thousands of others, and I believe we may get them to dump Drumpf products in the future.  If not, it's goodbye Amazon.

Anyway, tomorrow I'll buy the book.  I may even start reading it this weekend if I can fit it into my plans.  What is certain is that I will be using a lot of my time off this month to get this first class underway.  I'm both excited and determined.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

MIT Online: What I'm Really Going To Be Up To

Ok.  I think the title of the blog lets you know I'm a bit of a cynic, but sometimes I'm not.  In that I'm not defeated, and I'm not a give-up kind of person in the face of bullshit.

So.  What I want to do is take action.  Why I have a blog is to chronicle that action because I'm hoping all this activity will be self-driving.  Self-feeding.  For me.  Here's the idea:

I'm going to take biology via the MIT free online courseware.  And then I will take engineering via the same.  I have a goal in mind, something we need to crack - and it's hilarious to me that this is more microphysics than macro.  Or astro, to be more accurate.  I am having a reverse Lawrence Krauss effect.

I was fortunate enough to have drinks with Dr. Krauss a few years ago. He told me about how his studies in particle physics led him to be more interested in astrophysics. My whole life I've been very interested in astrophysics and always thought space was where it's at.  But now, considering our species, I'm more interested in inventing something that will ensure we can later venture further into space.  If we're all dead, we're not going anywhere.  Of course, with the higgs boson discover, Dr. Krauss is again interested in particle physics, but in how it relates to astro, or more specifically, dark matter.  But I digress.

I want to study photosynthesis intensely and I want to see what I can do to create something that will, in a plant-like way, consume pollutants out of the air and simultaneously produce energy and maybe even oxygen. I've gone from outer space to inner space.

I think keeping track of what I do and how far I get here will help me to keep going.  That's why I'm here.  I want to record my progress.  I want to describe the online free school experience.  I hope to get support in the form of readers.  I don't want to give up on our species simply because there seems to be a lot of idiots out there that can't wrap their minds around the seriousness of the situation.  Or willfully deny it.

That's why I'm here, blogging again after what seems like a million years.  If these are the last days of humanity, I'd rather go out trying to do something about it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

As If the World Were Not Enough

The self-destruction to me is a bit puzzling.  And I know all about addiction, I know all about what I'm doing to myself, and still I keep smoking.

I can't seem to string together more than three days without a cigarette.  After that something in my mind just decides not to be determined anymore and thats when I go and get more cigarettes.  It's stupid, incredibly stupid.  I'm not young and the collective damage through the years must be severe.

There's a great book that helped me quit but it didn't help me stay quit.  There's drugs that I've tried but stopped because of the nightmares they produced.  Now I'm relying on my anger, but even that fades and I wind up smoking again.

My sister is going to have cancer surgery in ten days.  Which makes me feel like a much bigger asshole.

I want to save the world but I can't save myself.

It's a new day. I'm not giving up on quitting.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Just How Fucked Are We?

I initially purchased this url to rant about the denial of science (and indeed what's right in front of one's face) that's running rampant in the United States.  I purchased this url a couple of years ago, because I like to snap up urls if I think of something funny/interesting and it's available. 

Now.  Now, this denial and deflection of the real issues has resulted in the election of an insane man to the presidency, a man that promises to rush our species to the bottom.  One that denies what our planet is telling us, one that denies that acceleration of this doom has already begun, one that can't wait to make this dire situation worse.

I understand the greed behind the fossil fuel industry.  However, what use will money be when the human population begins to starve because we've killed off the things we survive on?  I don't get the short-sightedness of such greed.  I don't understand it at all. Others diversify and change with time - whole industries were able to do this - why the single-mindedness?  There would be no crisis for them if they'd taken some of their profits and used it to R&D new technologies.

As with evolution, to me it seems a very simple principle:  adapt or die.

So this weirdly seems like a case of "we won't adapt, so the whole species has to die". It's genuinely baffling.

I can't deny the fact that we are in a crucial moment regarding the survival of our species, and to me it looks like we have just signed our own death sentence.

That's why these may be the last days of humanity.  In a literal sense. I don't know what kind of creatures will survive in the world we are now designing with smoke and heat.  I doubt we can call them human - if anything of our species remains.

A race to the end.  If the guy that won the electoral college actually believed in Christianity (which I don't think he does, not one bit), and was a fundamentalist/extremist as well, then this running pell-mell to our doom would make morbid sense to me.  Because most religions have some kind of catastrophic end-times story; and the more fundamentalist the faith, the more these end-time scenarios are believed (and believed to be happening in the present).  Some actually crave it. (Here's an excellent little site that shows you how many religious "end days" you have survived since your birth.) But that's not the guy the electoral college elected.  As far as I know, the only god he believes in is himself, and he used religious belief as it has always been used.  To lead the easily led.   But even there, I don't think he used religion to lead them.  He simply knew exactly what to say to the rural white religious, and they ate it right up.  Most everything I've seen that attributes him to being "God's choice" was stated by the religious, not by the candidate.

I read an excellent opinion piece about who he is, what he wants, and the people he has conned.  But the end game puzzles me.  Those profiting from fossil fuels are, I am sure, quite aware of the consequences of our current actions.  So why encourage the end?  To be rich and dead?  It makes no sense.

But I do think we're fucked.  Whether or not we allow Nazis to take power in January, I think it may already be too late.  I want to have hope in our species, but we need to start working now, and much harder than we currently are, to correct the problem if we and the life we live off of are to have a chance of surviving.

With Nazis in the White House, we will have horrific treatment prior to the runaway greenhouse effect.  We will have death.  Women will die from being relegated back to second class in untold numbers.  Not just from the lack of care for our health, but those who enjoy harming others enjoy harming females most.  And if women are relegated to second class again, what's to stop them from doing what they want with us in all aspects of our lives?

LBGQT people will die.  Something they find icky and have superimposed into their religion will be punished.  Yes, superimposed.  While the bible is literally filled with hatred of and degradation to women, there's barely a full sentence about people who are not hetero.  But again, the haters will be emboldened, the LBGQT people will be shoved back to second class, and those that enjoy harming others will have the state sanctioning their crimes.

Black people will die.  After so many years of struggle and just trying to be heard and being murdered by the bad apples in our own police force, after all the fighting and hope and fucking baby steps toward equality, the end game is that it would all be for nothing.  The deep-seated hatred of the Other fostered by the very political party that never delivers to it's own poorest constituents will be unleashed.  As long as poor white xtians are being stroked with the idea that they are somehow superior to those with more melanin in their epidermis (or in any way different from them), and as long as they believe those Others are to blame for their woes, they won't notice that the con they adore is actually the one fucking them. That's why it's called a con.

Religion has been doing that since we could think about thinking.  Get people to swallow a huge, gigantic whopper, and it's that much easier to get them to swallow any manner of others.  Sure, it may have begun because we're a species that likes explanations, but it's proliferation was due solely to men wise to the fact that it was a great tool to manipulate and control people.

With Nazis in the white house, all manner of people of color will die. People who are not Christian will die. Mexican immigrants and Muslim Americans will be rounded up and interred. If you think that can be accomplished without significant death you are lying to yourself.  These are my fucking neighbors.  These are human beings.  Again, I like our species and would like to see us survive. But apparently that's too much to ask for from rural white christians that think different skins on our species somehow separates us, or that females have been designated by god to be treated as slaves.  We're not different breeds and we are all human and there's no supernatural finger pointing to any one of us to indicate our superiority.  Its all a fucking scam, and for people like me it's astounding the vast, overwhelming number of people that are suckers for the con.

But EVERYONE will die if we don't take care of our greenhouse gas problem.  Everyone.  We do not have enough technology in place to grow food in quantity enough to counterbalance what ecological destruction will do to farming and our oceans.  We will have ten billion people on the planet soon.  We do not have the technology in place to feed these people if we can no longer farm or fish.  We do not have space arks and we do not have vast underground bunkers (well, there are some bunkers, but it's a pretty grim future and there's certainly not enough space for everyone), and we do not have a rescue plan.  This is it, like it or not, and we need to come together as a species if we'd like to go on as a species.

Fuck it, we can barely breathe anymore.  Pollution is now the #1 killer in the world of our species (and I would bet of most others).  And we ignore all of this.  You see not a whisper of this in most mainstream news.  The climate was barely mentioned at all in the presidential debates, or indeed by the candidates.  Well, except that one said they believe in it and wants to do something about it and the other said it's a hoax invented by the Chinese.  Then later said he didn't say that.

Yes, I think we're fucked.  I think there was a glimmer of hope prior to the election, but putting an insane person in the White House is basically signing the death warrant on our species (and, again, many many many others).

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Free Education All Over the Net

There are lots of places that offer free courses online.  I decided to take advantage of MIT's online coursewear because it's such a well-respected school of science, and particularly of engineering.

Naturally, the books are not free.  But if you're interested in checking out their online courses, here's the link:

If you've ever wanted to learn code, which I encourage everyone to learn:

I will be adding to this post as I remember more sources.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Bewildering Times In Which We Live

As we are possibly winding down the "apex" of our species, it's amazing the sheer multitude of things that we are cognizant of that are harbingers of our own destruction.  I find it a bit sad, as I like our species and would like us to survive, but these days optimism comes in short bursts in between cold reasonable despair.

Climate change.  Bee population decimation.  Fascism proliferating globally.  A global society, like it or not.  Religious extremism.  Nationalist extremism.  Fracturing the crust for fuel leaving poison and compromised crust integrity behind.  Shrinking forests, advancing deserts.  Ocean population decimation.  Human atrocities - some countries treat their entire female population as property, still.  Human destruction.  Humans being human.

I do like our species.  And prior to the US election just a couple of weeks ago, I might have been able to grapple with thinking about the various problems we as a global and conscious species need to deal with for our survival.

However I do not see anything beyond this possible slide into fascism, this glacier of authoritarianism which has amazingly been rolling in, defiant of our not-so-distant past.

Weirdly, it's this giant weight of things to deal with and because we may be entering a new fight with modern Nazis that made me decide that I need to do whatever I can, while I can.  It may not come to anything, and we as a species may be done for, but while I'm still here I think it a good way to pass the time.

And I'm not talking about blogging.  Christ, no.  But I do like to write and I do want to record what I'm about to do and I do want that to be public.  I've entered a very distinct "fuck it" phase.

No, what I am about to do is take advantage with MIT's online courses.  I have a specific goal in mind - more on that later - and it will involve taking full (from beginning to end) courses in both biology and engineering.  I guess that no matter what time or freedom is left to me, I find this important and I'd like to spend whatever time and freedom is left to me pursuing this goal.

Other things I'm dealing with, just to set the parameters/give you a bit of background (but honestly, this is a blog, I'm sure I'll find the time to expound selfishly about what makes me me at some point):  I'm trying to quit smoking.  I think I'm going to attempt an angry technique this time.  I seem to have myself convinced that I can't last three days without them.  Might be a good idea to be pissed about that.  Also, my beloved sister is about to have a second cancer operation with a second round of chemo.  We live in separate cities, but I plan to do my part for her this time by sending things that are funny.  She told me she wants to laugh.

There.  First post.  A stretch before a walk.  Or a run.  I still can't really tell how fucked we are, but I must admit - the diagnosis isn't good.