August 13, 2012 · by xalieri · Posted in Everything Else  

petroglyph logoI promise not to cross-post everything I put up at the Journal of American Hoodoo, but my latest article, The Trouble with Science, might appeal to some of my old readers here, or back at Tales from the Third Lobe, or Letters from Heck.

Here’s a teaser excerpt:

R136 stellar nursery, Hubble Space Telescope, 2009We look up in the sky and see ten thousand points of light (give or take a few orders of magnitude depending on location and light pollution) and then, because knowing where the stars are in the sky helps us pinpoint where we are in the seasons despite the vagaries of the weather, we draw lines around them and connecting them and give the drawings names. And we make up stories about the drawings so that we can remember them, and remember that the positions of the stars are important, and, if we’re clever enough with the stories, why.

That’s “why the positions of the stars are important to us”, not any bigger sort of why, like “why are stars the things that are important”. Certainly not a “what”, like “what are stars”. Nor a “how”, as in “how do the positions of the stars drive the planting and harvest cycles”.

Well, that’s not true. The stories can actually address such things. It’s just that when they do, the risk of bullshit is dangerously high.

If that strikes your fancy, go check it out.





Also it uses the phrase “nice singularities don’t explode”.



August 3, 2012 · by xalieri · Posted in Everything Else  

Don’t think I don’t know chapter and verse on this.

Here. Here is the Biblical source all the gay-hatin’ folks are quoting:

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood [shall] be upon them.

— Leviticus 20:13, King James Bible, Cambridge edition

And here are about a zillion other translations and paraphrases, with some commentary and cross references as well.

I know the Bible. Additionally, I know history and context as well.

The first five books of the Christian old testament is a fourth- or fifth-generation translation of the old Hebrew Torah, which contains — and some famous and learned rabbis will back me up here — some 613 commandments. These were the rules you had to live by to be a Hebrew in the days of the Temple, constructed c. 950 BCE, destroyed by the Bablyonians in 586 BCE, rebuilt over a 23-year period from 538 BCE to 515 BCE, desecrated and reconsecrated a couple of times over a four or five hundred year period, then destroyed again in 70 AD. This destruction rendered huge chunks of these commandments a bit moot, because quite a number had to do with how to perform sacrifices at the Temple, and what you had to do to be able to actually be allowed in to worship and make your sacrifices, and a huge chunk of those only applied to the priests anyway.

Go look. Seriously. It is, indeed, an education.

But get this. This is the United States of America. Most of us aren’t Jews, and none of us are Jews 2000 to 3000 years ago in Judah. We don’t kill guys we catch having gay sex. We don’t. There are seven billion people on Earth now. We don’t have to keep up the numbers in our populations to make sure we can compete with the neighbors for drinking water and grazing land. All the borders are drawn and most of them are pretty firm. Also, we don’t buy slaves from Canada and Mexico. We don’t sell our daughters. “Traditional” marriage is no longer a guy, as many wives as he can afford to buy from the daughters of his fellow tribesmen, a couple of concubines, and whatever housemaids can’t run fast enough. We don’t make our rapists marry their victims. We have refrigerators now. Because we understand the intricacies of trichinosis and salmonella and botulism, we can eat all the bacon and shellfish we want. Because we don’t need to make a symbol of our purity as God’s Chosen People, we don’t have to eat kosher and can wear cotton/wool blends. With the blessings of indoor plumbing, we don’t all have to discreetly wander thirty paces outside our roving encampments with a shovel to bury the morning bowel movement.

I wonder, quite frequently, how pissed off Jewish people get at the ignorant Christians who pick and choose among their holy ancient 613 mitzvot to try to pretend piety in whatever ways further their own interpretations of what’s icky no matter how much it disrespects Jewish culture. Seriously, if you want to try to keep whichever of those 613 commandments are still relevant in the absence of a Temple in Jerusalem, in an age where we don’t keep slaves or invade our neighbors and kill every last woman and child and all the pets and livestock and take their land, where the use of the death penalty — especially at the hands of a crowd armed with rocks — is severely frowned upon by the local constabulary, where you only get to have one legal spouse, and where you can’t kill or sell off any family members you’re not fond of, then by all means go talk to a rabbi about becoming a Jew.

They’ll look at you like you’re crazy — and do interviews and run a background check to make sure you aren’t — but they’ll be happy to talk to you about it.

For everybody else, please understand where you live and what year it is.

Understand that, in a nation of modern Gentiles, the 613 mitzvot do not apply to us in any way. We have our own laws that, for the most part, work out fairly well for us. These laws allow us all a metric crap-ton of freedom to decide what’s a sin and what isn’t, and when you try to make the laws enforce your moral whatsits, you can be assured someone else will get the law to enforce theirs at the expense of your freedom, and it will all go downhill pretty rapidly from there.

And Christians — Gentile Christians — let me remind you that the entire purpose of the New Testament was to give you a break on that huge list of commandments. You were given two. TWO, and that’s all. Here they are:

But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

— Matthew 22:34-40, King James Bible

If you have the same edition I had growing up, those last four sentences would have been in red, for having come out of the mouth of Jesus Himself.

If you don’t think your neighbor includes anyone and everyone you can bump into at work, on the sidewalk, at the store, at the cinema, in a restaurant, or online — wherever — and that includes the one in every ten people on Earth that were born with a predisposition to be attracted to their own gender, then you don’t understand the word neighbor. And if you don’t want all of your neighbors to have every right that you have and every joy that you’ve ever experienced and every opportunity for advancement and happiness that you’ve ever had or could ever have, then you don’t understand the word love, and certainly not in the context of as thyself.  I would also go so far as to say that if you think your God endorses bigotry against any portion of His own handiwork, then you don’t understand the word God either.

But by all means, declare your opinion that gay sex is icky and that guys marrying guys or women marrying women squicks you out, and go out of your way to declare a special holiday to go eat a chicken sandwich at your gay neighbor. Because you’re doing that out of love, right?

Right. Just count your blessings that this isn’t the era of fire and brimstone. Because I wouldn’t want to be standing anywhere near you.


July 30, 2012 · by xalieri · Posted in Everything Else  

There are around 315,000,000 people in the United States, and we do our damnedest to make sure they all have a voice. (Unless we suspect they’re going to vote against our side, anyway.) But it’s not just voting — it’s all the little ways people voice opinions: what we decide to watch, what we buy, what we say in public, the bumper stickers we put on our cars, what we wear, what we read and what we post… All of it. We’re proud of our rights for free speech and free expression.

And then there are our organizations. Our companies and corporations, churches, clubs, labor unions, civic organizations, political parties, state/local/federal government agencies, various advocacy groups for causes and candidates, military outfits, lobbying groups, etc. It seems they all have opinions too, and voice them. And spend and spend and spend on arguments and ads and lobbying, both in the media and in DC. And that all seems okay until you realize that every single one of them is made up of people. Who already have voices. And wallets. Members get to speak twice, and the people who administer the funds get to speak last and loudest of all.

It seems to me that the theory behind trying to make sure that everyone has a voice is to show our equality, democratically. No person is any better, any more worthy to be heard than anyone else, and by joining voices we can voice a consensus.

All the money flowing around — including, clearly, money from overseas flowing in to inflate campaign funds to the largest numbers we’ve ever seen in US politics — gives a lie to our theory of equality. All that money says “Rich people are more worthy to be heard than poor people.” And some of us look at that statement and shrug, and think maybe it’s true, because aren’t rich people our employers? Aren’t they better educated, and more free from everyday concerns to think about the complicated things we don’t have time for? Haven’t rich people shown themselves to be more competent at business and industry that supports us all?

That’s quite an ideal case. It might even be true for some. But there’s a fallacy. Or several.

All it takes to be wealthy is money. You can work hard to earn it, true, and in that case wealth shows value as a reward for hard work. But you can also just have it given to you by a kind relative. Or you could find it. Or you could steal it. Or you can have worked hard for it many, many decades ago and have not lifted a finger since then. Because money is, in an interest-based economy, its own source of continuing income. It has gravity and attracts loose bills to the pile merely by existing.

Similarly there are plenty of ways to be poor that have nothing to do with your worth as a human being. You could have poor judgment and lose any amount of money on a stupid investment. Or you could work in a sector of industry that tanked and had all the jobs outsourced overseas and experience lengthy unemployment and reeducation costs. Or you could suffer an expensive illness that insurance, if you have any won’t cover. Or you could be a victim of a natural disaster or tragedy or crime that destroys your property or absconds with your assets. Or somebody with bigger lawyers than yours could ruin you by forcing a lengthy expensive legal defense. Or … really, there are an awful lot of ways to become poor. I’ll stop now.

Regardless, it’s a rare wealthy person that will spend their wealth helping you voice your opinion so you don’t get drowned out. Mostly they voice their own, and speak in their own best interests. And to hell with you.

All of that is bad enough, in terms of equality of voices, but let’s get back to these organizations. An incorporated organization can own its own property — and this includes any number of churches, political organizations, nonprofits, commercial corporations, holding companies, advocacy groups, etc. It’s a work of fifteen minutes to file paperwork to establish any of the above and get a tax ID and associate it with a checking account. Any individual can own a functionally unlimited number of these, all with their own separate rules of operation and taxability status, and, as things stand now, every single one of them has its own “right” to free speech and free expression, essentially enfranchised by a bizarre interpretation of the constitutional amendment that freed the slaves. And any person with the money to fund them to their limits and/or the authority granted to direct their spending — even if they’re the boss of a workforce in the tens or hundreds of thousands, even if the workforce and income streams are from outside US borders — can direct their financial speech, in a functionally unlimited fashion, to warp the political landscape any way they see fit, largely without the approval of any other person who might be a member of the organization.

They own themselves, and can generate their own income merely by already having money, and investing it.

Do you feel small enough now?

Your voice is overruled. Drowned out. If you work for a company, the owners can take the profits you earn them and use them to make the voice of your effort say anything you like. And you can consider that to be under duress, too, because good luck finding another job in this weather if you give up the one you have. If you’re in a union, it’s the same thing. It probably works okay for you until it comes to a point where the union has to negotiate to protect its own power and funds at the expense of your best interests, and when that happens, you’re in the same situation. The people running the organization will vote in their best interests every time and there’s nothing you can do about it unless you’re in a position to remove them and replace them with someone who will, in fact, work for you. This puts unions a step up on the typical corporation because you can have a say in who runs your union, but only shareholders, not employees, can replace whoever is at the top. The CEOs and presidents work for them, not you, and shareholders don’t care about you because money you get is, by definition, money they don’t get. And nobody can replace the guy who owns a private corporation if he’s out to push for legislation or a candidate that will screw you.

Not all organizations are bad. By all means, be a member of any group that actively supports your interests. Work for companies that have a long-term vision beyond the bottom line. Give your spare dollars to charities and political action groups that buy media to support your causes and candidates and legislation that makes your world a better place. But you also have to vote. Fire any legislator who thinks it’s a good idea to give for-profit corporations, holding companies, publicly traded or private companies, investment banks, commercial banks, and non-US interests a functionally unlimited voice in our political arenas either on issues or in support of parties or candidates. Write your Representatives and Senators at the state and federal level and demand that they introduce legislation that favors the individual voice and the individual welfare over predatory stacks of money that see their constituents as nothing other than resources to be silenced and exploited.

Use your voice while you still have one. Use your voice before it is inevitably completely and utterly drowned out by the voices of these machines, these invasive species, we have built out of bylaws and papers of incorporation.


July 27, 2012 · by xalieri · Posted in Everything Else  

If it’s been quiet here, it’s because I’ve been a bit busy elsewhere.

petroglyph logoTo wit, allow me to introduce you to the Journal of American Hoodoo: a showcase for exploring the syncretic phenomenon of how everyday people think about the world. Many of the pieces already up are there for the purposes of inviting discussion, covering the depiction of the way we think in art, fiction, and daily events. If you have anything you care to say on the topic, I’m happy to welcome guest pieces and start opening things up to the public.

Additionally, today I have a bit of a lengthy piece on Disinfo called “Sentient Organizations: A Cryptozoological Approach” dealing with recognizing the inherent living (and learning) principles that govern all of the organizations of which we are members, from families and friend-groups and clubs all the way up to religions and corporations and political parties and governments. I think of organizations like these as sometimes beneficial — usually, in fact — but lately they’re starting to act like invasive species, and predators and parasites, and we’re no longer at the top of the food chain where they’re concerned. And since humans are a renewable and bountiful resource to them, they certainly have stopped seeming like they have our best interests at heart and are starting to exploit us and screw with our breeding to make us more tractable. And less ethical.

And so you’ll know it’s not all about me, here’s a site I’ve discovered recently that is absolutely fantastic reading: Renfusa, a Baconian Utopia of really amazingly cool topics delivered in a package that is one of the most entertaining I’ve seen in a long while. The articles cover a plethora of obscure and strange topics from human history, presented entirely without sensationalism or exaggeration, but dumped clearly and factually on an appetizing plate for your consumption. It’s only been around for a month or so, so it’s easy to get caught up and stay current. If you like the stuff I trot out here, it will be right up your alley.



June 7, 2012 · by xalieri · Posted in poetry  

There’s a trick you can do with iron to make it float up into the sky, and that’s to foam it up with enough vacuum so that it has, for a mass of its volume, a lower density than the atmosphere at 50,000 feet. Say, 150 to 200 grams per cubic meter. And then you anneal the outer layers so that no air can get in. It’s the proverbial lead balloon, and, get this, the larger it is, least dense toward the middle, most solid toward the outer skin, the stronger and more buoyant it can be. Make it the size of an aircraft carrier. Make it bigger than that. Embed silicon in the structural foam, aligned just so, and when you drop it into atmosphere and ballast it so it sinks even lower, the compressive force of the atmosphere on the piezoelectric structure generates a polarized electric charge you can put to work.

It helps to do all this in space, up where vacuum is free. Where silicates and carbonates and iron and nickel and other clever little atoms are in fairly cheap supply. The chief export of space exploration is space itself, hard vacuum, measured by cubic kilometers. And you can use it to raft together floating cities, lowered down in chunks on cables out of the sky from geosynchronous satellites. The old Indian Rope Trick. Who’d have thought?


There’s a trick you can do with iron to make it float up into the sky. You can always tell when you run across somebody who knows this trick because they weigh down their pockets with iron and steel, and line their shoes with it and wear it on their wrists and fingers as jewelry. Some go as far as to ring their waists with it, studded into a belt or, more drastically, embed it in their skin with mundane-looking piercings that they pave over with tattoos. They carry iron and wear iron and eat and drink iron and remain light on their feet and glide up and down stairs, enjoying the lift but trying not to be noticed. If you carry a compass, these men and women will deflect the needle, and modern-day GPS devices and mobile electronic devices with these things built in get confused and tell lies to their owners.


There’s a trick you can do with iron to make it float up into the sky. You light the fire of civilization under it.

You light the fire of civilization under it, and it oozes from lumps of rock under the soil and boils up to the surface, extruding itself into beams and girders that climb each other and stretch upward for miles, aggregating in huge clusters that eventually fling pieces of themselves into the sky until they stick there, orbiting, and then launch themselves, infected with this self-refining virus, at nearby celestial objects.


There’s a trick you can do with iron to make it float up into the sky. It requires a knife and an artery.

There isn’t a lot of iron in the blood itself, and maybe that’s why it doesn’t leap very high. But the iron in the head and the iron in the heart, the iron in the name and the iron in the shadow, all of these detach like an octopus letting go of an old friend and speed into the sky like an arrow.

You can launch an iron-laden shadow into the sky, easy as anything, with a light from underneath.


There’s a trick you can do with iron to make it float up into the sky. Kiss it. Stroke it with a feather. Anoint it with fragrant aromatic oils. Entice it with warm breath and chocolate and the deep-throated hum of a lullaby. These things make many things weightless, stop all downward acceleration and momentum, but the effect on a lump of iron, in particular that mass that rides the chest and shoulders like a drowning child who suffocates a would-be rescuer, is surprising and dramatic.


May 9, 2012 · by xalieri · Posted in Everything Else  

This is an open letter to every cop in America. More than that. This is an open letter to everyone in the United States that carries any kind of badge, whether you are plainclothes or uniformed, police or sheriff’s department or state or federal agent or secret service or marshal or any other branch of enforcement. Everyone with a badge and an oath, and possibly also a weapon.

Here is my question.

What the mother-loving hell is wrong with you?

No, shut up. I don’t want to hear an answer yet. Because right now, all you’re going to say is that there are a tiny few bad apples out there making everyone look bad. And dear God, I’ll grant you that. Here. Take a few minutes to scan the internet for video of your brothers and sisters in arms beating, tazing, shooting, and pepper-spraying citizens to death. It won’t take you long.

Cameras are everywhere now. They cost about a dollar to make. They watch everything we do. They watch everything you do. In some political and cultural backwaters your bosses have even tried to make it illegal to film you, so that just in case you’re caught doing something heinous, there won’t be riots and people won’t burn down your houses. That is how often you guys are screwing up.

And I’m not talking about your bad apples. I’m talking about all of you.

Here. Let me tell you how all of the rest of you are screwing up.

You know who the thugs are in your departments. You know who, in your department, is hopped up on steroids and meth to the point they can’t fend off the paranoia and rage. You know who is so cripplingly narrow-minded they can’t be trusted to enforce or defend even-handedly. You know who it is in your department who never touches a holstered weapon without the core motivations of fear or rage or disgust. You know — and yet you serve with them. You have their backs. You make excuses. You fib on reports. You tamper with evidence. You hide the bodies. You keep these criminals, these betrayers, these animals on the streets where we work and live and play. You keep us in danger.

I know some of your names. I’ve shaken some of your hands, shown respect all of my life, bought the occasional coffee or pint of beer for you. I’ve sat down at the dinner table with a few of you — and been forced to swallow my bile hearing racist tales of how proud you are of shortening the lines of people claiming unemployment or welfare checks. I’ve met the good ones and the bad ones, and I can’t understand how you can’t see that your bad brothers and sisters are worse than no protection at all.

I’ve never called any of you pigs. Never. And out of respect for those of you who have saved my life and property without me even knowing about it, I never will. But some of you are animals, and that is a fact.

You know who they are better than any of those you are sworn to serve and protect ever will. It is your job to defend us from them. Look at these videos. You are not doing your job. Worse, you are doing the complete opposite of your job.

We are allowed to defend ourselves from one another, but we are not allowed to defend ourselves from you. You are privileged. Crimes are worse, punishments are worse, consequences are worse if we ever raise a hand to someone with a badge. Because we all know that once people see that cops bleed just like anyone else, and that we outnumber you hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands to one, it will get mighty ugly indeed. People know your names. People know where you live and where you sleep.

Do your job. Lock up the criminals you know about. Stop aiding and abetting known criminals in your ranks — even if they are your bosses. At bare minimum, take away their weapons and badges so we can defend ourselves from ignorant thuggery on equal terms.

And if you can’t do that, please resign yourself and stop making matters worse by defending them or looking the other way. Because when there’s no one left to protect them, they will fall, one way or another.


April 27, 2012 · by xalieri · Posted in Everything Else  

Change minds, change reality. That’s what people are saying, right? Human minds create the reality they live in, and a little faith is the most powerful thing in the universe….

It sounds beautiful and hopeful, doesn’t it? We experience the whole of reality — or rather the tiny slice of that whole that we can actually perceive — through our brains’ interpretations of our senses. Doesn’t it make sense that if we change how our minds work, it changes our experience of the world, which is effectively changing the world, at least for us personally, and for anyone else we can convince?

Sure. And cranking up the brightness on our televisions makes the world a brighter place.

Let me give you two scenarios. Two people, who are nearly identical, who have the same dream. They both decided at a young age that they really love dragons and they want them to be real.

Please note: for the duration of this exercise I am leaving out the question of the wisdom of pursuing this dream.

In the first scenario, our dreamer concentrates on the imagery of dragons: what they look like, what various landscapes would look like with dragons included, either flying in the sky or perched on the tops of sturdy buildings or distant mountain peaks. Eventually he learns to see them anywhere and everywhere. Nearby hawks in the sky, patrolling for squirrels and loose house-pets, look like stratospheric dragons. Certain peaks look like perched dragons. Or maybe that entire mountain range is a huge one in repose. Many clouds are also dragons, bringing beauty or fury at whim.

After many years of looking, he discovers he has been surrounded by dragons all along, and now he is happy.

In our second scenario, our dreamer focuses on old stories and legends, descriptions, and tales of their fantastical exploits. A lot of old fables have roots in actuality, even if weak, distant, and thready. She also explores the wealth of data on dinosaurs and the birds that have descended from them evolutionarily. She goes to college and gets degrees in genetics and evolutionary biology, and gets funding to replicate the experiments to reactivate genes on chickens to get them to express teeth and tails. Fifteen years into her plan, she sits stymied, waiting for funding and ethical approval to explore further and research how to create organisms to order, either for commercial purposes or to fill niches in endangered ecosystems where extinctions have left things unbalanced and threaten diversity — for which a dragon, possible within five more years of research and experimentation, might be the perfect answer.

She’s not happy at the moment, and she might never be, depending on funding and legislation, but she’s a lot closer to real dragons than our first dreamer, who has made himself happy by torquing his mind with a near-delusion.

Does it sound like I’m judging? Maybe I’m judging.

It’s easier to make yourself happy by disconnecting from reality and indulging in a little self-delusion, but in my view that’s a little selfish. For instance, maybe other people want dragons to exist too but lack the imagination to be satisfied by insubstantial metaphors. Maybe other people are fairly desperate for dragons to not exist — but will still be impressed and inspired by your success if you pull it off.

Wishcraft, prayer, positive thinking — that’s all just cranking the knobs on the television. And it’s all a little necessary, because 1) it’s good to have your own hand on your knobs, so to speak, and 2) sometimes the setting you thought was normal is just too dark, and 3) why the hell shouldn’t you make yourself happy now and then as long as you have the option?

But seriously, it’s revving the engine while you have the clutch down. You don’t go anywhere no matter how powerful the engine sounds. If you want to move — really move — you have to have your gears engaged with reality. You have to wave the mists and fogs of faith and hope away and see what’s really there, and then you have to do all the tedious work that takes you from where you are — once you can see where you really are — to where you want to go. And being work, you don’t get to be happy until it’s over — which is why it’s awesome to set a lot of little goals and take a lot of breaks so you don’t get tired and succumb to despair.

The universe is huge and functionally infinite in terms of potential and possibility. There isn’t much of a limit to the things that we can make with the components at hand, even if we start out in the direction of what we were firmly convinced was impossible at the outset. But we won’t ever bring our dreams to fruition if we waste all of our energy wishing really hard and begging for our desires to fall into our laps like a dog under God’s dinner table. All we can do that way is make ourselves happy with the idea of crumbs. We short-circuit actual success by finding a way to pretend we already have it.

Engagement of the gears with reality means preparing to be unhappy, preparing to sweat, to get dirty, to earn a few smashed fingers and blisters, and preparing for opposition from people who think your goals are stupid. If you don’t feel that load on the system, then you’re spinning your wheels and playing with the fairies in your head.

Nothing says you won’t get help from surprising directions, but don’t count on it.


April 19, 2012 · by xalieri · Posted in Everything Else  

From The prolongation of the lifespan of rats by repeated oral administration of [60] fullerene:

3.3. Chronic toxicity and effects of C60 on lifespan of rats

Fig. 3 shows the animal survival and growth. After five months of treatment (M15) one rat treated with water only exhibited some palpable tumours in the abdomen region. Due to the rapid development of tumours (about 4 cm of diameter) this rat died at M17. As rats are known to be sensitive to gavages, we decided to stop the treatment for all rats and to observe their behaviour and overall survival.

All remaining animals survived with no apparent sign of behavioural trouble until M25 (Fig. 3a). At the end of M25 the animals of the control groups showed signs of ulcerative dermatitis with ageing while C60-treated animals remained normal. As the growths of all surviving animals showed no significant difference until M30 (Fig. 3b) indicating that the treatment did not alter their food intake, we continued observing their survival.

At M38 all water-treated control rats were dead (Fig. 3a). This agrees with the expected lifespan of this animal species that is thirty to thirty six months. At this time 67% of olive-oil-treated rats and 100% of C60-treated rats were still alive.

The survival distributions for C60-olive oil-treated rats and controls were estimated by the non-parametric Kaplane–Meier estimator (Fig. 3) and compared by a log-rank estimated test. The estimated median lifespan (EML) for the C60-treated rats was 42 months while the EMLs for control rats and olive oil-treated rats were 22 and 26 months, respectively. These are increases of 18 and 90% for the olive-oil and C60-treated rats, respectively, as compared to controls.

The log-rank test leads to Χ2 values (one degree of freedom) of 7.009, 11.302, and 10.454, when we compare water-treated and olive oil-treated rats, water-treated and C60-treated rats, and olive oil-treated and C60-treated rats, respectively. This means that olive oil extends the lifespan of rats with respect to water with a probability of 0.99 while C60-olive oil extends the lifespan of C60-treated rats with a probability of 0.999 and 0.995 with respect to water and olive oil treatments, respectively.

So I guess doubling the expected lifespan of a lab rat after seven months of daily dosing counts as no measurable levels of toxicity to C60 buckyballs. Hunh.




Baati T, et al., The prolongation of the lifespan of rats by repeated oral administration of [60]fullerene, Biomaterials (2012), doi:10.1016/j.biomaterials.2012.03.036

April 10, 2012 · by xalieri · Posted in fiction  

Home is a dimly lit expanse of cold rocky sand on a miles-broad ledge on a high mesa. The air is unnatural thick soup of argon, neon, nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor, carbon dioxide, and a lovely tinge of methane and ammonia that gets worse as one climbs higher. Out here, halfway down the slopes, people come out and breathe it on purpose, seeking their own level of balance between remaining functional and giddy, stupefying inert gas narcosis. Miles further down are the ponderous waves of the slow-motion ocean that splash and gnaw at even the highest slopes. Gravity is high, but the dense soup provides plenty of buoyancy. Outside on the ledge any tiny child speaks with a creepy basso profondo that carries for miles.

“Earthlike” said the brochure more than two hundred years ago. “Earthlike” on a cosmic scale leaves abundant room for nuance. “Breathable atmosphere” it boasted, referring, as it turned out, to a vaguely half-mile-thick layer granting access to a couple of percent of the unsubmerged surface, not pointing out that the layer can shift up or down by a couple of miles over the course of three or four days at the whim of demonic weather driven by the tidal forces of a massive speed-demon moon. Many, many liberties were taken with the word “breathable.” Breathable, maybe, alternately by hyperoxy or laugher euphoriacs who bring their drum clubs out to the very edge of the ledge to be licked by the icy, syrupy salt spray from the growling sea, booming away in call and response to the distant ocean’s own rhythms, each group competing to see which can best commune with the spirit of this place.

Speaking of, there’s something alive in the water. Or maybe the water itself is alive. How do you draw a line between a snail and its shell? Certainly it’s not currents or tides that makes the plumes of water reach our shelf, or even higher. This ocean is even more like unbound cytoplasm than the samples of the seas we brought here from Earth for comparison.

At least the ledge is warm, balmy and unchanging all year long. This place has no seasons.

Eight generations it took to arrive still alive to our little outpost in the afterlife, gradually drifting the gravity, the air mixture, and the lighting to try to ease the shock of arrival. We had to change our target points a hundred times in the course of our trip as we got better ideas of where we would have to settle on Earth’s “twin” and what the blue starlight would look like filtered through clouds of ammonia and methane crystals, strobed by very impressive lightning. We sang like whales to one another down the hallways through the muck we tried to learn to breathe. We were insane to the level of our constituent cells by the time we got here and snaked down the cable for the elevator. Two generations have been born here, and the youngest still have attacks of uncontrollable laughing and terrifying hallucinations.

Every ten or twenty years or so after we left Earth was supposed to lob a care package out after us, strung out on a line behind us like beads. We should have gotten two or three of them by now. Info updates on scientific advancements we wouldn’t have the resources to discover ourselves. Third and fourth priority seed banks. Chocolate and coffee, just in case. Letters from family left behind. None of them have shown up.

Last time I took the week-long ride up the lift, I went straight to the observatory, like everyone else does, and looked at the scope-image of old Sol, 295 years in this world’s past. The people there, if there still are any, won’t spot the light from our landing flare for another 245 years. And from their view it took us 350 years to get here. From ours, it was about half that. The light we see is still T+200 years or so, but we’re long past the range of being able to discern any kind of intelligent signal against the background. We are alone and cut off.

Why are we even here?

The oldest of us are great-great-grandchildren of anyone who signed up for this voluntarily. Even if we refitted and fueled up and high-tailed it home, it would be our own descendants trying to make sense of whatever it was they found there, the better part of a thousand years after the last word from them we ever heard, less a few hundred years of time dilation. On the path things were on, even a hundred years could make for incomprehensible changes. For all we know, they worked out FTL travel and have agents here ahead of us that we’ve yet to find. For all we know, civilization collapsed completely and any contemplation of space travel is taboo, and we are near-forgotten myths at best.

And now that we are here, the ocean reaches higher for this ledge than it does anywhere else on the planet, far higher than it ever did in our surveys before we came down. Once every couple of weeks someone jumps — but there’s no way they could make it out far enough to hit the water before they hit the sloping cliff-face below. Every couple of weeks a small team suits up and rappels down to retrieve a body, successful as often as not. Sometimes the jumper times it right when a surge comes up to grope at the edge, and maybe, just maybe, the ocean accepts its gift and carries it back down to its bosom.

Forty years. A thousand jumpers. Five hundred corpses retrieved and processed and fed to the gardens. Five hundred lost, too far down to find or recover, or perhaps dissolved into the frigid soup. Maybe all of that reaching up of the surge is an attempt to grab a few more. Or put back the ones we have given it.

I am the first one the sea ever gave back.



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