Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   along with Darwinism itself
Thursday, August 24 2006

There has been some online buzz of late about a study conducted by Syracuse University objectively demonstrating that conservatives produce more offspring than liberals, with the implication that liberals are doomed in the Darwinian sense (along with Darwinism itself!). This is the one bit of good news the right has these days, and they're crowing about it on their blogs. A superficial analysis of the Syracuse study, done in the hypersuperficial manner of an angry right winger, goes as follows:

Though liberals seek to do politically-popular foolishness like cutting and running in Iraq, taxing the rich and the dead, and saving the useless and bug-filled environment, in the end conservatives will, through sheer force of demographics, create a vaguely Talibanesque Coulterian utopia in America. Then we'll all live happy and proud, with plenty more hair cuts and a lot less poetry.

The problem with this logic is evident right here in the rosy right-wing scenario: there is no way a Coulterian utopia can actually persist as an ongoing concern. Cultures that suppress their creative free thinkers are out-competed by the neigboring societies. Creativity is essential to the life of a society, and even if the creative people aren't leaving many offspring, the gifts they provide to society are essential if it is to compete. Darwinian pressures act on more than just individuals; they act on whole societies as well. If Americans end up in some Coulterian dystopia, it's doubtful they'll know much about a science book or geography. They might be skilled in mowing their lawns, quoting gay-bashing Bible verses, or reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, but will they still be able to build nuclear bombs or treat cancer? It doesn't take much for a nation to fall into decline, particularly once it has exhausted its natural resources. Having a bunch of fundamentalist know-nothings makes the situation even worse. There's a reason that creative genes (and, for that matter, gay genes) persist in the population. Societies that have found a way to breed them into oblivion haven't survived.

Now that the north wall of the shop is finished and painted, I had two things I wanted to do with it. On the east end I wanted to store scraps whose longest dimensions did not exceed five feet. On the west end I wanted to install another work bench, this one surfaced with two beautiful old hardwood cutting boards that had come with the house (and had probably mostly been used to cut meat, given that the previous resident had run a butcher shop). By early this afternoon I'd framed out a support system for this new bench, but I wanted it to be supported by extremely solid legs so I could so some serious pounding on it if I needed to. This was the bench where I wanted to finally mount my vice, which has lain forlorn (though plenty useful) on the floor of my laboratory for a couple of years. I would have used oak four by fours as legs if I'd had any left, but I didn't. So I decided to venture into the nearby forest and look for an appropriate piece of fallen timber. By far the best fallen timber in the forest is American Chestnut, all of which is leftover from the Chestnut Blight of the 1920s. It's a testament to how rot-resistant chestnut is that so much remains; it seems to weather away as slowly as the exposed cliffs and boulders of bluestone.
Ray came with me on my timber harvesting expedition and we found a suitable downed chestnut tree several hundred feet south of the house, high up the escarpment from the Stick Trail. The tree had a bole over twenty feet in length that had weathered down to a core averaging about four inches across. I cut the ends of it off and we carried it back, where I quickly fashioned it into a pair of legs. They curved slightly and one had a pronounced knot on the side, but they were perfect for this application.
This evening another guest arrived to spend the night at our house. This was Ashley, one of the friends Gretchen had made at Blue Mountain Center (the retreat she attended in the Adirondacks back in late June-early July). Ashley is an genuine Christian from Alabama, though she is also half Egyptian and now lives in Brooklyn. She's young and this affords her the temporary luxury of being pretty in a way that now eludes most of our contemporaries. Ray hung out with us for about 20 minutes, partly (I suspect) because he'd heard that Ashley is hot. We all sat out on the south deck drinking Lillet Blanc, an extremely expensive fortified wine (think Thunderbird for the Hamptons) that Gretchen had discovered at Blue Mountain.
After Ray left, Gretchen and Ashley took a dusky stroll down the Stick Trail and then we three had dinner a Mi Ranchito, la pupusaeria muy fabulosa en Kingston.

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