Archive for January, 2013

Christianity Explained

He was still trying to sift Tyrer’s information into perspective, along with the astonishing sight of all these grown men, and two revolting-looking women, singing in unison, getting up, sitting down, solemnly droning out prayers, bowing their heads to their very strange God who, after the service, Tyrer had explained was actually three people, the Father, his Son who was crucified like a common criminal, and a kami. “So ka?” Hiraga had said bonze-operplexed. “So, Taira-san, woman name Madonna who not God has son God—but she not God—and she pillow with kami who not God but like hatomoto of God with wing who not husband, husband also not God, but father is, so father of her son is grandfather, neh?”

“No, there was no pillowing. You see . . . “

Again he listened, eventually pretending to understand so he could question Taira about the enmity of the two churches. And when, head aching from concentration, he had discovered the reason for the schism—and the resulting scale of hatred and mass killings and universal wars—he knew for certain in some areas gai-jin were totally mad: the split was only because an old bonze called Luther, three hundred-odd years before, had decided on a different interpretation of some minor point of dogma that had been invented by another bonze fourteen or fifteen centuries before him. This man, clearly another lunatic, had decreed, amongst other things, that poverty was to be sought, and no pillowing with women would, after death, send you forever to somewhere called Heaven, where there was no sake, no food and no women, and you were a bird.

Barbarians are beyond belief. Who would want to go to such a place? Anyone could see at once that old bonze was like any other ambitious, disgruntled fool who, after a lifetime of pretending to be chaste, just wanted to have a wife or concubine openly like any ordinary sensible bonze or person.

—James Clavell, Gai-Jin


And darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

—Genesis 1:2-3

So. Seems it was pretty smart, for that Yahweh guy, to kick things off, with light.

Because Science Men, rooting around in the brainpan, have determined that when things go wrong in there, they can sometimes be made right, with light.

By blending gene therapy, neural engineering let there beand fiber optics, experimenters at more than 800 laboratories world-wide are making neurons into switches they can directly control by beaming a selected wavelength of laser light to a targeted cell in a living brain.

So far the light is only shining on animals. This is some of what it does:

Light on: Mice freeze in fear. Light off: They scamper freely. Researchers at Stanford University and MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory had activated light-sensitive neurons in the brain’s hippocampus involved in the memory of fright.

Light on: Addicted mice lose their taste for cocaine. Light off: They avidly seek the drug. Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston and the University of Iowa had targeted neurons in a part of the cortex—the brain’s outer layer associated with seeking a reward.

Light on: Epileptic seizures stop. Light off: The spasms resume. Researchers at Stanford and at the Pierre and Marie Curie University in France had targeted neurons in the mouse brain’s cortex and thalamus known to be overactive during seizures

Light on: Depressed mice become more socially active and more eager for sugar. Light off: Listlessness and indifference to sweets return. Scientists at Stanford and MIT had targeted the dopamine neurons, which make a chemical thought to elevate mood in a reward circuit located in the midbrain.

Appropriately, this Wonderment began with our great good friends, pond scum.

For generations, microbiologists had known that single-celled bacteria, fungi and algae survive thanks to proteins that respond to visible light. When illuminated, these “opsin” proteins change the flow of electrically charged ions within the out of the deepscell, to help the cell turn light into energy or as a sensory cue. In 2002, German researchers isolated one from green algae—a class of proteins called channelrhodopsins—that responded only to blue light

Taking advantage of that find, Dr. Deisseroth and Dr. [Edward] Boyden [of MIT] attached the gene to a virus that targets brain cells. Then they wanted to see if that altered virus would insert the light-sensitive protein into a neuron, so that the brain cell would become responsive to light. “We gave it a try in neurons and it worked the first time,” said Dr. Boyden. “It is important to be lucky.”

Yes. It is.

So, someday, soon, it can all be made better. Just switch on the light.

Keep Those Doodies Rollin’

Once upon a time, humans who arrogantly assumed themselves more “advanced,” thought the ancients were all wet, with such wisdom nuggets as “as above, so below.”

Not so much anymore. Not when Science Men are discovering stuff like how dung beetles, when pushing their balls of doody around, are guided by the Milky Way.

When dung beetles roll their tiny balls of poop across the under the milky way tonightsands of South Africa on a moonless night, they look to the glow of our Milky Way galaxy as a navigational aid, researchers report.

“Even on clear, moonless nights, many dung beetles still manage to orientate along straight paths,” Marie Dacke, a biologist at Sweden’s Lund University said in a news release. “This led us to suspect that the beetles exploit the starry sky for orientation—a feat that had, to our knowledge, never before been demonstrated in an insect.”

The Science Men devised an Experiment, in order to confirm the relationship between the pint-sized poop-pushers, and the stars.

First, they built a 10-foot-wide circular arena in a South African game reserve and watched what troops of nocturnal dung beetles did on moonlit nights, moonless nights and cloudy nights. They fitted the bugs with little cardboard caps to block their view of the sky. They even fitted some of the bugs with transparent plastic caps, just to make sure that any differences they saw were due to the sky blockage rather than the presence of the caps.

Then the scientists took their dung-beetle arena into the Johannesburg Planetarium and ran the same experiment, to eliminate the possibility that the beetles were using terrestrial landmarks to plot their course in the dark. The planetarium was programmed to show the night sky with the Milky Way, or the Milky Way without the brightest stars in the sky, or the brightest stars without the Milky Way, or just the diffuse glow of the Milky Way with no stars at all.

The bottom line was clear: Those bugs could keep track of how the fuzzy streak of the Milky Way was oriented in the sky, to let's fight over shitmake sure they rolled their balls of dung in a suitably straight line.

The Milky Way is Important to the dung beetles, because “without the proper orientation, the beetles might circle back to the dung pile, where they’d have to face all the other beetles trying to steal away their tiny balls of poop.” As Science Man Marcus Byrne of the University of Witwatersrand explained:  “The dung beetles don’t care which direction they’re going in; they just need to get away from the bun fight at the poo pile.”

This may explain why humans too veer off in so many different directions. Because humans are also too often about stealing each other’s shit. And so they “don’t care which direction they’re going in; they just need to get away from the bun fight at the poo pile.”


Sometimes tough choices have to be made.

Take the folks there at Rakwena Crocodile Farm in South Africa. With heavy rains Thursday forcing the Limpopo River over its banks, the farm people, “fearing that the raging floodwaters would crush the walls of their house,” elected to open gates that would hiallow their charges to escape from confinement and then wander across the land.

Their charges being, well, some 15,000 crocodiles.

“There used to be only a few crocodiles in the Limpopo River,” said Zane Langman, whose father-in-law is—or was—the chief Rakwena croc farmer. “Now there are a lot.”

The New York Times reports that “efforts to reach the farm and the local police directly were unsuccessful, with no one answering the phones.”

Gee. Like that is a surprise. With 15,000 loosed crocodiles padding about, there are probably no longer a lot of intact humans in the vicinity. And crocodiles do not use the phone.

According to the BBC, neither the police nor the armed forces are engaged in attempting to recapture the beasts. Their excuse: no one has asked them to. A uniformed spokesbeing, one Hangwani Mulaudzi, stated “an official request would have to be made by the farm to involve the armed forces, which has not happened.”

Of course, if there are no longer any functional homo sapiens on the farm, such a request cannot be made.

Meanwhile, “villagers have been warned not to try and capture a crocodile on their own,” Mulaudzi said.

Seems sound advice.

Nevertheless, it is civilian volunteers who are participating in the roundup.

During the floods Mr. Langman set out in a boat to rescue his neighbors. “You want to get them, but you wonder the whole time if you’ll make it there,” he said[.] “When we reached them, the crocodiles were swimming around them. Praise the Lord, they were all alive.”

Crocodile-roping is reportedly most successful at night. According to the apparently insane Langman:

“At night time we have more success and we can see their red eyes—it’s much easier to see them. They are reasonably active so you have to jump on them and catch them[.]”

One might reasonably ask: why in the world would anybody “farm” 15,000 crocodiles?

Seems this pursuit is quite common along the river: “the land along the Limpopo is home to dozens of game reserves and crocodile farms, some housing tens of thousands of reptiles.”

The Rakwena reptiles “are mostly bred for their skin, which is exported to Europe and parts of Asia to make shoes, jackets and handbags.”

Rakwena “is also a tourist attraction, with visitors able to go on guided crocodile tours.”

Now, no guides are needed. Even if they were available. For the crocodiles are everywhere. And anybody who wants to go see them, is welcome to do so.

Meanwhile, apparently some of the freed animals are taking up rugby.

South Africa’s Beeld newspaper quoted Mr Langman as saying that some of the crocodiles had been recaptured on a school rugby pitch in Muskina, a town on the border with Zimbabwe about 120km from the farm.

So: 120 kilometers. Or 75 miles. They move fast, these people. All 15,000 of them.

Rugby-playing crocodiles. Coming soon. To SportsCenter. Watch for it.

She Could Be Heroes

Senior defense officials say Pentagon chief Leon Panetta is removing the military’s ban on women serving in combat, opening hundreds of thousands of front-line positions and potentially elite commando jobs after more than a decade at war.

Associated Press

A World War II study determined that, after 60 days of continuous combat, 98 percent of all surviving soldiers will have become funpsychiatric casualties. A common trait among the remaining 2 percent was a predisposition toward having “aggressive psychopathic personalities.” Lt. Col. Dave Grossman in his book On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, notes: “It is not too far from the mark to observe that there is something about continuous, inescapable combat which will drive 98 percent of all men insane, and the other 2 percent were crazy when they got there.”

War is necrophilia. This necrophilia is central to soldiering just as it is central to the makeup of suicide bombers and terrorists. The necrophilia is hidden under platitudes about duty or comradeship. It is unleashed especially in moments when we seem to have little to live for and no hope, or in moments when the intoxication of war is at its highest pitch. When we spend long enough in war, it comes to us as a kind of release, a fatal and seductive embrace that can consummate the long flirtation with our own destruction.

War ascendant wipes out Eros. It wipes out delicacy and tenderness. Its communal power seeks to render the individual obsolete, to hand all passions, all choice, all voice to the crowd.

War is the beautiful young nymph in the fairy tale that, when kissed, exhales the vapors of the underworld.

The ancient Greeks had a word for such a fate: ekpyrosis.

It means to be consumed by a ball of fire. They used it to describe heroes.

Chris Hedges

For Whom The Bell Tolls

Those who have wondered why I have not posted here much lately should know that I have been consumed by fear and trembling, pretty much paralyzed in the young'un eating santaknowledge that my cats consumed Santa Claus.

Things in life were going pretty well here, until Christmas morning.

Then I arose to discover that two of the felines with whom I share the Manor had caught and killed Santa when he came down the chimney to dispense presents.

The first sight to greet my eyes, on that fateful morn, was the young’un cat plunging into Santa’s drawers, there to feast upon a morsel of his loins.

This harrowing scene is depicted in the photo offered above.

I tried to drive the wanton Claus-consumers away from the fallen fat man, but they snarled and spit and sedulously stood their ground.

By the time I got to the guy, he had gone the way of all flesh.

All that remains now are the upper portions of his pants.

Depicted in dust to dustthe photo there to the right.

I don’t know what is going to happen. I presume the cats will be brought up on charges: at the very least, Assaulting a Figment. I fear I myself shall be charged as an accessory.

So if this site goes dark, you’ll know the reason why. We have all been transported to The Hague.

And, if you didn’t get what you wanted or expected this Christmas, you now know about that, too. Santa never made it to your place. He fell in the line of duty. Here in the Manor.

The Hardest Part Is To Shoot Ramon

Among the people who will not be inaugurated president today is the strange and unusual slave-holder and Hebrew-fearer Pawn Rawl.

In 2012, the 311-year-old Rawl sought the presidency for something like luvs her sum rawnthe 13th time. But no one wanted him.

He ran non-stop, like some chipmunk on speed, from one end of the nation to the other, and back again, throughout the entirety of the GOoPer primary campaign. But in the end he received only 2,095,795 votes. Or roughly the same number of ballots cast in November for Barack Obama in the city of Chicago alone.

Rawl was a favorite of the extraterrestrials who owned and controlled the 2012 GOoPer primary campaign. And so he was induced to remain in the race even after such falling bodies as the pizza topping (Herman Cain), the bedbug in a skin-suit (Newt Gingrich), the farm animal (Rick Perry), and the raccoon (John Huntsman) had crashed and burned.

Perhaps the high point of Rawl’s campaign was when his eyebrows slid off his face during a televised debate.

For reasons that passseth understanding, Rawl had decided he needed to apply eyebrow toupees. When, there on the TV, the things proceeded to melt and migrate all over his dim-bulb phiz, and in a perfect expression of the hapless mendacity that defines everything about the man, his people announced that “allergies” had caused Rawl to suddenly sprout fake, mobile eyebrows.

When a Rawl hot-air balloon deflated and fell to earth onto some i will shoot the germsroad outside a hamlet in South Carolina, it became apparent that the man was but a pale copy of the humbug Wizard of Oz. But by then no one cared.

Rawl not only failed to attain the presidency, but also gave up this year his seat in Congress, where various assorted Texas yeehaws, retroverts, and knuckledraggers had sent him over the past decade, so that he could periodically take to the floor and there mumble darkly about Money.

Rawl has long been a favorite of the sort of people who shoot speed in both arms and then stay up all night cleaning their guns and obsessing about assaults on the American dollar.

Rawl is a partisan of gold, because he has determined that paper money is crawling with germs spread by black and brown and other Wrong people; precious metals, it seems, can retard both the presence and potency of these germs.

Too, people who should otherwise know better would occasionally hug Rawl to their heavy-breathing bosoms, because he spoke out against the US mucking about in foreign lands, and because he disfavored the surveillance state.

What these people failed to get is that Rawl abjures foreign wanderings because he believes all non-Americans to be a form of monkey. He would not war on them, but neither would he give them a crust of bread. He doesn’t want to get involved, in whatever it is that’s going on out there in the world, because he Knows it is the Work of the Jews.

Similarly, his suspicion of the surveillance state arises from fears that gub’mint boys i'm smelting, smeltingmight interfere with the plans of he and his posse to beat with big sticks any black or brown or red or yellow people who happen to wander into their stores and there attempt to purchase a donut.

Now, in retirement, Rawl can return to his primary concern: Occupy Womb Street. Out on the campaign trail, Rawl made no secret of the fact that in an America According To Pawn, all doctors who performed abortions would be lashed into jail, and so would all the women who sought them.

So much for this “libertarian” protector of “freedom.”

All the vaginas, belong to him.

Here at red, we are occasionally able to access alternative universes.

And so today is presented a dispatch from one such Reality. Find below, the inaugural address, of President Pawn Rawl.

The Problem Of Beets

Beets in any form are, strictly speaking, a food for the rougher sort of cow. Their one merit from the human point of view is that alcohol may 7932404644_7ee502f57c_zbe extracted from them. The main trouble is that beets contain 85 percent of concrete. I once boiled a couple of them during an entire afternoon without the slightest result—if anything, they seemed to get harder. Turn, gouge, and glare at them as I would, not one single gleam of intelligence could I get from those beets. In the evening I forked them again, but they had apparently made up their minds to be stubborn, and my own blood was up too. Finally I forgot the water and they were left high and dry. I have always felt that the joke was on them. I must confess that I am against beet soup, too, especially cold. Cold beet soup always gives me the decided impression that life is just a grim joke of the gods, and adding sour cream to it doesn’t help much. The fact that the people who put sour cream in cold beet soup are Lithuanians seems a very flimsy excuse.

—Will Cuppy, How To Be Hermit

When I Worked

January 2013