Mossy Character writes: 1. Biden is too fucking old.
2. He says he'll run in 2024 anyway?
3. At this point (2) looks solid, considering Biden actually beat Trump and is presiding over explosive vaccination and economic successes.
4. But (1).
5. Speculate! Biden-Harris 2024, Biden steps down 2026 to spend time with the
kids great-grandkids, Harris 2028? Harris-[who]?
Heebie's take: Are 1 and 2 premises or part of the speculation? I assume premises, given 5.
Honestly, time has dilated to the point where I can't conceive of 2028. I suppose seven years ago I couldn't conceive of where we'd be today, either, though. Harris-HRC!!
Barry writes: Hello fellow NYC area reprobates. I'm back in the area and will be staying in Manhattan from about June 12th until June 23rd (though possibly until June 26th) and I'd love to have a meetup with the commentariat. Lurkers are most welcome. Please sound off as to what day would be most suitable, and suggest locations too (allow me to pre-empt you all and be the first to suggest Fresh Salt).
I respond: Irritatingly in this context (although enjoyably in general) I'm out of town all next week, so if I'm going to show it's got to be the 20th-23d. But there's no reason there couldn't be two meetups. Carrotflowers -- if you can make it, you're our first new lurker in ages.
Clearly I'm not reading anything interesting these days, because you all keep getting my dull musings instead. Carrying on!
I have a half-baked theory on forms growth/destruction that people find perpetually surprising - not judging their surprise, but just "why is this such a constant source of glum anxiety, instead of fading into the background?" For example, when I was at home recently, my parents and childhood friends each were ruminating on growth of the hometown - what's been torn down and replaced with apartment complexes, what's been gentrified, etc. The kind of change that makes people vaguely nostalgic. Also relating to the growth of Covid, and inflation.
So my theory is the dumb brain understands growth and decay in linear terms and is perpetually surprised and frightened by anything changing exponentially. That emotionally, we just can't handle exponential change. I'm even wondering if there's an evolutionary reason to fear exponential change. Not on the level of the veldt but on the level of the evolution of nervous systems. If you are an animal that can cover distance at a linear speed, it makes sense that reacting with anxiety to anything that doubles might give you an evolutionary leg up. Slime mold doubling? Plumes of smoke from the volcano? Rapidly evaporating watering hole? Billowing locusts on the horizon? None of that is good.
My mostly-unrelated question, somewhat driven by Stormcrow's "all nostalgia is bad!" is: looking across time and space of human's recorded history, what is the moment when a person could look forward and backwards over the most generations and think, "life looks basically the same"? Like, when you most confidently think "my great^(n) grandchildren will have basically the same life as my great^(n) grandparents"?
(I didn't make this up, though - my uncle had a theory that Buddhism is the religion to cope with monotony of peasant life over generations.)
Mossy Character sends in the link, Hawai'i is not the multicultural paradise some say it is. Now, journalism is not free and it's wrong to undercut a business model of a good magazine, but also I could read this by using the "Reader View" in Firefox. (Pro tip: also very useful for any site with autoplay videos. I use it a lot for recipe websites.)
It's not particularly shocking to read about the extensive racism, mostly because I've been oblivious to the view perpetuated that Hawai'i is otherwise:
Still sociologists in the 1920s and 30s looked at Hawai'i's mix of races and ethnicities, and especially the intermarriage among them, and saw the ultimate racial laboratory, where they could conduct race-related studies. Romanzo Colfax Adams, a leading sociologist at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, promoted the notion that Hawai'i was a so-called melting pot. "After a time the terms now commonly used to designate the various groups according to the country of birth or ancestry will be forgotten," he wrote in 1925. "There will be no Portuguese, no Chinese, no Japanese -- only American."
Anyway, I imagine DaveLHI is better equipped than I to say anything on this topic. (Literally all of you are better equipped than I.)
JP Stormcrow writes: Old white guy "institutionalists" are going to be the death of it all here in Stateslandia. Comey, Mueller, Merrick Garland, Breyer, Manchin. Fuck the lot of these fuckers. That's it; that's the guest post.
Heebie's take: Co-sign x 1000. It's such a "the call is coming from inside the house" sort of fuck you. Such banal milquetoast mild veneer, papering over utter ratfucking. All I can infer is that their #1 commitment - above all else - is to their belief that "I'm already always right". One's superiority hangs in the balance. It's tested by all these people trying to get you to see, but you know best, so fuck those clowns.
(Ok am I missing what Garland has done? he seems to be dragging his feet but do we know that he's betraying us for sure?)
This is intended to be our system for checking in on imaginary friends, so that we know whether or not to be concerned if you go offline for a while. There is no way it could function as that sentence implies, but it's still nice to have a thread.
Nick S writes: I have a pile of unread London Review of Books, I recently picked up an old issue which has a fascinating / creepy article on fungi:
Much of fungal behaviour is mysterious; this is one of the central themes of Entangled Life. Though they seem familiar from woodland walk and supermarket punnet, fungi are strange and challenging organisms. A biological kingdom unto themselves, they do not behave like plants or like animals. They habitually form intimate partnerships with other species, changeable and volatile relationships which slide ambiguously beyond the bounds of the more familiar symbiosis or parasitism. Lichens, for instance, whose existence is often glossed as a symbiosis between plant and fungus, are such compressed bundles of life that it might be better to think of them as miniature ecosystems in themselves, comprising numerous different tiny plants and fungi in dense and inseparable embrace.
The stories range from interesting and scientific
Other researchers have set slime mould loose on tiny scale-models of Tokyo with food placed at the major hubs (in a single day they reproduced the form of the subway system) and on maps of Ikea (they found the exit, more efficiently than the scientists who set the task). Slime moulds are so good at this kind of puzzle that researchers are now using them to plan urban transport networks and fire-escape routes for large buildings.
To lurid and macabre
The fungus Ophiocordyceps infects carpenter ants. Inside the body of an infected ant, it begins to develop a mycelial network. Hyphae travel through the ant's body cavities, into its limbs and organs: an infected insect becomes about 40 per cent fungus. Once this fungal growth is complete, the normally ground-dwelling ant leaves its nest and climbs the nearest plant. At a height of around 25 centimetres - 'a zone with just the right temperature and humidity to allow the fungus to fruit' - it orients itself towards the sun; at high noon, it clamps its jaws round a leaf vein, in a 'death grip'. Mycelium grows out of the ant's feet, plastering it to the leaf. Sutured into place, jaws rigid, the ant's body is then digested by the fungus: a small mushroom grows out of the ant's head, releasing spores which drift down onto the ants passing below, beginning the cycle again.
Massospora, a species completely unrelated to Ophiocordyceps, infects cicadas: it rots away the abdomen of an infected insect, leaving it tipped with a yellowish plug of spores that looks like a mass of pollen. Infected cicadas are not incapacitated or ill: in fact they become 'hyperactive and hypersexual despite the fact that their genitals have long since crumbled away'. Rushing between mates, they become 'flying salt-shakers of death', dusting other cicadas with Massospora's spores.
Heebie's take: It's a great read.