Bond, Antibond

In quantum chemistry, electrons don’t orbit the nucleus the way that planets orbit stars. Rather, the odds of finding an electron at various points in the space around the nucleus are what’s calculated. For an atom in its lowest energy state, this probability distribution has a spherical symmetry, with the highest probabilities found in a shell around the nucleus, but with positive, if ever smaller with distance, probabilities for finding it anywhere in the universe. This arrangement, harkening back to the Bohr atom which proposed a more planetary style of motion, is called an orbital, to distinguish it from an orbit. I guess orbitoid sounded too kooky.

For higher energy atoms and in chemical bonds, the shape of the probability distribution is much more complicated. Nuclei, being positively charged, tend to repel each other, but some arrangements of orbitals and nuclei position much of the electron density between two positive centers, such that they shield the nuclei from each other and attract them somewhat. This produces the chemical bond and is known as a bonding orbital. Now, you need to balance positive and negative charges in order to have a neutral molecule, so one thing you do when setting up your calculations is just keep adding electrons (according to the rules) to the orbitals defined by some arrangement of nuclei until everything balances out.

It turns out that only the lowest energy orbitals are bonding. There are higher energy orbitals in which the rules place the electrons, but these do not shield the nuclei from each other the way they do in bonding orbitals. These are called, perhaps unsurprisingly, anti-bonding orbitals. Let’s say you have an arrangement with one bonding and one anti-bonding orbital, and you need to fill them with four total electrons to achieve electrical neutrality, two in the bonding orbital, and two in the antibonding one (one usually deals with electrons in pairs when doing such things). It turns out that “anti-bonding orbitals are more anti-bonding than bonding orbitals are bonding”. Thus, not only do you not get net chemical bonding, you don’t even get a sort of “meh” asociality between the nuclei. You get an actual repulsion.

All this is to try to set up a metaphor, or at least to create a conceptual space in which to seek a metaphor. In the popular science headline clickbait webiverse I notice that there appears to be a consensus that people tend to dislike the idea of losing a hundred bucks more than they like the idea of finding a hundred bucks. It’s a cognitive bias. No doubt there is endless evolutionistiod, genetic determinism type jibberjabber about how there must have been a survival benefit to thinking this way blah blah blah. Even if strong arguments could be made in that direction, it’s certainly not obvious that any such benefit obtains in our current social environment. This phenomenon seems to be consistent with, or perhaps even instrumental in, promotion of negative-sum rather than positive-sum outcomes.

I wonder how hard it would be to find additional examples of similar phenomena, perhaps within thermodynamics itself (my instinct would be to look for entropy-related arguments), but also within game theory, computational neural networks, or even such fascinating novelties as “Wolfram Physics”. I should try to scour various philosophy-of-mind works such as Daniel Dennett’s oeuvre to see if I can find a trace, or even explicit exposition, of this trope. Actually, before that I should follow the clickbait and familiarize myself with the actual work.

Art Project 1

I have numbered this post, as I imagine I will do more of these. I was actually going to schedule two normal posts, which I will get around to, but I have a new scanner, pottered around with it, and thought to do a Thing or two. This post comprises this paragraph and two Things.

Go Placidly Amid Your Poison Waste

Ground means real estate, but what’s this sacred? If it involves the blessings of some mystical ([being]s) who [(listen)s] to us and/or cares what we want, the word can’t well be used non-ironically. Sacrality is a feature of material reality. Whether we agree on that or not, I think it possible that we can agree that if anything at all is sacred, one hallmark of its sacrality is its affordance to all the ability to self-actualize, to pursue humanitarian projects (those that are positive sum (i.e. win-win)), or even zero-sum, for all who are averse to the kind of positive sum social outcomes I, and for some we, envision.

One hallmark of the profane, then, is an engendering of the negative sum. Denial or withdrawal of the mentioned affordances. Deprivation of health, healthcare, wealth (hallmarks of non-profane wealth, sensu this post, yea, this blog (perhaps I should start an official glossary-like hallmark compendium), include a maximum, set at a vaguely upper-middle class level), or bodily autonomy (yes, I am talking non-misogyny here). These are thereby profane.

Profane. Sinful. Punishable. A popular sacrality is that of real estate: sacred ground. In my experience said sacrality is usually expressed in terms of mystical concepts, whether abstract or credulous. But considering the prequel, if any ground at all is sacred, then all ground is sacred. Not that pollution is wrong, but laxity in dealing with it is. Profane. Sinful. Punishable. Failure to corral pollution, wanton habitat destruction, deliberate fact denial (agricultural non-sustainability, global heating, rising fascist tendencies with substantial financial support), these are all profane. Sinful. Punishable. Ignoring them, denying them, minimizing them: profane, sinful, punishable.

The sacred requires paying what it takes to safeguard our nuclear and domestic etc. landfills, and all other endpoints of our activities of global living, our rivers, estuaries, reefs, gyres. The whole fucking atmosphere, you fucking fuckers! Fuck you! God fuck you! I am ashamed that I must emphasize that that last sentence was not non-ironic. How hard is it to stop shitting in our own living rooms? It is a shame that I must emphasize that that last sentence was a metaphor. Do you really want another sneering quip? Recycling as much as techno-economically possible, containing the remainder, minimizing pollution’s land use and leakage (solid, liquid, gas). Restoration of degraded land to higher ecological functioning. To maximize sacral land, one possible desideratum: preserve all waste, and maximize its odds for future utility or upgrading. Store ideally all your poison waste….

Some hymns have great chords and cadences, some organists present them awesomely. The ones that require you to sing the least to (or about) some god-person are the better ones. But I cannot sing even the best of them with a straight face (“That Cause Can Neither Be Lost Nor Stayed”, which has excellent chords, cadences, and melodies). In high school I could (I sang Händel and was in musicals), but I lost that ability perhaps the very minute I settled on urbanity as my milieu. On the other hand, I am not averse to the word sacred, as related above. In fact, to the extent that what I mean by the word and that what you mean by the word have a large cognitive intersection, I am totally happy with singing some kind of hymn with you. I am proud to say that that last sentence was metaphysical. Perhaps it is a bizarre elaboration to note that I am a baritone.

Versions of Space

I no longer stay up late or get up early to watch a Falcon 9 launch, not even of crew, although if launches are going to happen during more normal hours I generally make time. I do go to the extra effort for Falcon Heavy launches, and will be doing so for Starship launches of course. Other rockets I’m not so interested in, although if there’s anything especially exciting about them, I try to make time. For example, I simply couldn’t be bothered to stay up late enough to watch the recent SLS launch. I did set an alarm and it woke me up, but I was so sleepy, and that particular rocket such a boondoggle, I preferred to just go back to sleep. I felt kind of guilty, as if it had failed spectacularly I would have been very disappointed not to have watched it live. I don’t want it to blow up (I want it cancelled!), but if it did blow up I would at least enjoy some live-action Schadenfreude.

Anyway, my non-watching of Falcon 9 launches isn’t a lack of interest, it is rather a lack of angst. Earlier, if a Falcon 9 failed, it would’ve been a big deal, and I would’ve wanted to’ve “been there” when it happened. Landings were still a novelty (in fact, when I do watch a Falcon 9 these days, I’m really in it for the landing, unless the payload is special). Now, even if there is a failure, the rocket is a workhorse with a long track record, and any accident, while critical, won’t mean the end of the idea, although the fleet would probably be grounded for a while.

If I remember correctly, I have defined Space 2.0 to mean that we are starting to employ at least partially reusable launchers. Society is now in transition to Space 2.0, with everybody trying to do their own version of Falcon 9. Higher version numbers should come with full reuse, so perhaps I should declare Starship, when and if it succeeds, as the first iteration of Space 2.1, although that rocket feels so momentous I wonder if it should have a much higher fractional version, say 2.5, or even go up to 3.0. I have a vague memories of defining 2.x numbers differently in various blog posts or asocial media snippets, but am not motivated to track this down – the whole Space 2.x idea is an evolving concept, not an attempt to impose my opinions or achieve scientific levels of self-consistency.

Additional advances such as routine lightsail and/or nuclear thermal propulsion, would have higher fractional values if not bumping up a whole version number. As with my memories of software versions, I feel like reserving Space 3.x for more “complete” implementations of space transportation. Back in the olden days for example, Windows 3.11 was a sort of culmination of The Great Satan’s initial stab at GUI. PageMaker 3.0 was kind of the first version of that application that really felt “complete”. I have distinct, if possibly false, memories of other software “finally arriving” with version 3. With 1.0 you simply get your crap, any crap, out there before the competition, to start establishing market dominance. With 2.0 you back and fill with bug fixes and some of the features you had to cut to ship 1.0. With 3.0 you finish adding those cut features and a few that become obvious from customer use and competition. I do think my metaphor kind of breaks, because PageMaker really made some great leaps by the time it had reached 5.0, and Internet Explorer 5.0, for what it was when it came out, and compared to the competition, was possibly the high point for that app, although again IE 3.0 was really the first version that was relatively usable.

One of my fantasies is to live to be 106 (while retaining my faculties), to see what is happening 100 years after Apollo 11. Space 4.0 or higher by then, I hope.


I hereby suggest  that, to “be like me” (q.v. Policy), readers attempt their own version of the following:

Strive for five. Five servings (1/2 cup each) of fruits and/or vegetables per day. Difficult for me: absent a toothsome sauce or cooking tricks, I pretty much dislike, or at best, have no interest in, the taste and texture of vegetables. Instant menu fatigue. Thus, I like to serve my vegetables with a thick stew, which I think of more as a sauce and call “glop”, in combination with carbs like rice or pasta to help in the vegetable-choking-down process. I do like dehydrated figs, so with those as a desert-like-substance, I need but four servings – two cups – of actual veg daily. I break that up into two or three meals. My stews are usually meat-based, with plenty of veg as well, although I also make quite a bit of a decent vegan chili. By choosing among various stew recipes, my approach provides a diverse freezerful of relatively delicious, nutritious meal starters. I also sometimes make a casserole.

Convenience. Minimize cooking and clean-up labor. I often make two glops on one day. I can reuse pots and pans with just a rinse rather than a full wash. It doesn’t take the whole day, and there is but one big washing-up to do at the end. I design my recipes to produce about two weeks’ worth of glop.

Creative. I adapt recipes I find online or in books or the newspaper, increasing the thickness and flavor density to counteract the intended dilution with veg and carbs. With some fiddling I can usually adjust them for serving to guests rather than foisting my boring-ish mix-it-all-together daily presentation upon them.

Vegetables. I try to always have carrots, celery, peppers, alliums, and a brassica on hand, alternating among onions, leeks, and shallots, or cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli; often I have leftover veg from glop or other cooking. I cycle through red-orange-yellow peppers, never green. I variously boil, fry, or roast them in large quantities for easy incorporation into a microwavable bowlful.

Carbs. I mostly use white rice to make a pilaf with tomato bouillon, some vegan broth powder, and powders of chili, onion, and garlic, but I try to occasionally utilize potatoes and pasta. As with the veg I make a large quantity. Sometimes I mix the finished carbs and veg together to make preparation even easier. Just spoon the ingredients into a bowl, cover and nuke for several minutes at 50%.

Protein. I try to minimize my meat intake, avoiding the worst offenders as much as menu fatigue allows. Beef or pork rarely, mostly chicken and salmon. “Best Vegetarian Chili” by Cook’s Illustrated and rotisserie chickens are my major protein sources. I often add a few tablespoons of quinoa to my rice.

Sauce. The sauce/stew alone should be a little too concentrated: salty, umami, chili heat, as it will be diluted by the veg and carbs. I shoot for about two servings of protein in one two-cup freezer container. Salmon and the evil meats are great alone, but they also serve well to extend the chicken or chili, so that everything lasts a little longer than it would have.

Cooking. I chop the veg to about bite size. Roasting is a great way to make them less unenjoyable. Frying is also acceptable, and if I boil them I reserve the liquid to make rice with. Rotisserie chickens are convenient, but if my store is out, I can roast some bone-in skin-on thighs. Either way I get chicken stock as well. In the rare circumstance that the chicken supply chain is stalled I allow myself some pork or beef. I strive to have two or three sauces in play, cooking a vat of sauce, or a bunch of veg or rice, once a week or so. Every so often I let things lapse, meaning I’ll need to have a major cooking session.

Revulsion Guilt

So, I’ve mentioned that I’ve been wondering about different ways to better promote my ambitions webwise. On the Youtube side of things, I thought to search for “how to make youtube videos”. As with many simplistic searches in popular topics, the first returns were many ads, which I ignore, followed by some videos, a few of which I opened and immediately closed as being incompetent or bullshit. In fact, the very first one was just a scruffy looking dude walking into a crappily furnished room (guess that was his signature entrance) and starting to tell his audience how important making good Youtube videos was (with crappy sound), and how by patiently watching through his comprehensive video we would all learn important things so that our important videos blah blah blah. I’m guessing that nowhere in his advice is something to the effect of you have to grab the person’s interest in a few seconds, forget the thirty seconds already allocated by a patient person (me!) to his incompetence.

After three or four crap videos in a row, I did some refining of my searches, and stumbled across one that was obviously a much better produced affair. Equally ambitious in reality as the first, crap, one, and a much better professional-looking instance of the kind of video I might think I would want to produce.

Now comes the revulsion, and it may be all on me, a knee-jerk reaction without the knee perhaps. As the host of the nicely produced video was explaining his motivation, he used the term “purpose driven”. To me, this is a reference to a book by some famous Christianist guy, whose name I forget and don’t want to remember, perhaps of the Big Box Church variety. The “prosperity gospel” where they deliberately ignore or distort almost everything ascribed to Joshua ben Joseph about how to get into heaven. Conservative (USA-style) Christianity, as nazi-adjacent as they can get while still stringing along the hopeful, forgiving, naïve, not-quite-aware-they-are-nazi-adjacent folk in their congregation. Note that my mention here of heaven and mystical beings should not be taken to mean that I have devoted my life to, or even countenance, an illusory world view based on half-remembered ghost stories.

Disturbed that I could have such a visceral disgust reflex based upon a few simple words, I started paying a bit more attention. The host had what I call a neo-nazi haircut, very short on the sides and becoming slightly fuller on top. I’ve heard it, or something like it, called a “high and tight”. I’m not very familiar with words or phrases from the fashion and personal grooming industries. Eventually I realized that the host was pushing expensive and quite desirable high-end gear, the kind of stuff I might think about considering if I was already an active video producer, and closed the video. I did some desultory searching on the guy’s name, and found that there are a lot of self-identified Christianists gloating about what a man-of-god the fellow is.

Possibly, I will return to the video. Just because it originates from a person who appears at a first, admittedly tipsy, glance to be a vile shitstain, vile shitstains often seem to be gifted at the kind of symbolic self-promotion that sweeps up vast tranches of otherwise perfectly ordinary folk who just want to get along. Look at Leni Riefenstahl or Fox News [sic]. And perhaps I’ve gotten him wrong. Not all deluded god-botherers are wrong about everything.


What’s next for belikeme? I’ve sorta proved to myself that I can, on average, when not crushed by life events, maintain a weekly page about this or that. I’m almost up to 52 – a year’s worth of weekly writings, and as of this post I have almost another year’s worth of draft posts at various stages of completion. However, as stated in my marginalia, I am blogging with intention – to promote my humanitarian agenda. Thus, while blogging is one aspect of my hopes and dreams, it is not the only component, and of course trivial maunderings promote mainly my charisma, such as it is, rather than my goals. So, what are the components I’ve been thinking about?

Keep Blogging. I’ll try to keep on plodding my weary way, posting my pages Sunday mornings at eight. One of my ambitions is getting several posts scheduled, then taking a few weeks off. As it is now, I’m somewhat more likely to take a week off and then have to post two entries at once in order to maintain my average. As with today’s two posts. After a while I might do some kind of restrospective.

Upgrade Blogging. I keep having ideas about additional categories of blog post, such as one Wednesday a month posting some kind of culinary experiment, or even trying my hand at posting fiction. I have a couple of short story ideas and a novel idea, and I’ve even done a bit of experimenting with that material. I don’t want to be a writer per se – assuming I actually get around to posting fiction, I don’t have any related desires besides what I’ve already started toying with.

Videos. I’ve taken to watching several Youtube videos most nights. PBS Spacetime, Sabine Hossenfelder, Scott Manley, Paul Davids, and several others. The channels I watch regularly have a definite schtick going on, and I assume there are tricks of the trade that have them doing particular intro and outro scenes, and various gestures and idioms within the body of the video. There must be a list of these kinds of things that I could choose from in developing my own look and feel. I already have some ideas about making it unique, but these may turn out to be impractical. Perhaps my search phrase should be “how to make Youtube videos with a crappy phonecam and laptop mike”.

Data Science Projects. Somebody is wrong on the internet! I sometimes think it might be great to take a meme or claim or slogan that seems outrageous, track down some reliable data about it, and put everything together in a nice report, supporting or denouncing the meme. Having done this kind of thing professionally (data wrangling, not meme busting), I realize how much work it is, and unless I was getting paid actual money, it wouldn’t be worth it unless it was closely related to my aims, which involve making money. I can envision doing this, maybe, once a quarter. It could be a “Wednesday Post” along with any fiction or foodie stuff.

Promotion. Yuck. One topic I search on occasionally boils down to “Why doesn’t Google know my blog exists?”. There is lots of advice on how to get noticed, almost all of which involves the kind of self-promotion and semi-dishonesty that keeps me avoiding any kind of actual entrepreneurship or small business doings. I have to work my way into habits that I can compartmentalize away from my other activities.

Given my sloth and responsibilities, much of the above, is, naturally, aspirational. Still, without aspirations, respiration leads to nothing but pointless perspiration.


If you made me the effectively immortal and locally omnipotent King of Mars, I would deny access to the Robert Zubrins and Elon Musks of the world, at least for thousands of years. My first goal would be to establish a magnetic field to stop the hydrodynamic stripping of the atmosphere. I’d hate to see all my efforts degraded. A solar powered electromagnet at, say, L1, would be fine, but if one could actually spin up a liquid core, that would be cool too. Then I would poison the planet.

That is, I would bombard it with iceteroids of cyanide (HCN), ammonia (NH3), and water (H2O). Well, the water isn’t toxic but the other two are. Hit Mars incessantly with volatiles. Other atoms as needed to achieve the desired balance. Get the atmo inside that triple point so that widespread liquid surface water would be available. This bombardment would pulse some frictional heat in – one could even disassemble Phobos and Diemos to create a hard hot rain, maybe even doing the same with some asteroids. Sill, sustainable heat retention would be necessary, perhaps a large Fresnel lens associated with the L1 electromagnet.

Create seas and lakes and streams and see if any Mars life finds that water and starts proliferating. Pump it down deep injection wells. I’m really only interested in using highly sterilized robots, which would build mines, refineries, and factories for indigenous, production of the necessary infrastructure. After a thousand years of terraforming and another thousand to search or wait for native life, I would start inoculating.

Algae cells and spores of ferns and mosses. Paulinella. By the way, when I speak of algae, I include cyanobacteria without specifying “blue-green” (Nucleus, schmucleus; photosynthesis and nutrient removal are my sibboleths). And look at Paulinella: a cyanobacterial symbiosis far more recent than that of the other eukarytoic photosynthesizers. Yet another alga to me. Heck even some non-oxygenic photosynthesizers like Chlorobium (not quite algae to me, at this time).

During this microbial and macrophyte proliferation, I would continue my embargo on surface humans. I want to see what evolution does under ambient conditions, sort of let things metaphorically anneal, before subjecting my world to the more directed attention of deliberate interventions. Create sort of an abbreviated, truncated, curtailed carboniferous era. I note that if a plethora of indigenous life erupts during the first thousand years of waiting, I might well delay my indulgence in terraspermia, and proceed most carefully when I do start, again with the goal of annealing, in this latter case with an “alloy” rather than a pure “metal”. Eventually, human settlement would be allowed. Again, much more carefully if there is indigenous Martian life. So, with a thousand years for bombardment and infrastructure development, potentially ten thousand for indigenous life development followed by another ten thousand of terrestrial plant life introduction, I might start adding animals, eventually allowing humans in.

What a spell. Lovely fantasy. Anyway, the more I think about it, the less interested I am in developing Mars for habitation. For exploration I’m not yet worried about surface contamination, but drilling disturbs me. I think I would ban it until we get really convincing evidence that we can do effective planetary protection.

Shire Moss Forest

 “Mister Small” and I set forth for the Olympic Peninsula late one Seattle afternoon. We contrast somewhat: I am a tissue of impatience, Small a tissue of tardiness. For us to catch the various buses and ferries, I had to rush him, leading to his inadequately shoe-garbing, prompting blisters ’cause of all the running. Still, we got across the Sound, in time for the last bus to Brinnon, dined at Halfway House, and camped illegally at the State Park, heading up the Dosewallips early the next morning. Road hiking, packs heavy as they could be. Small insisted on spending a contingency day agonizing over his blisters, a dozen miles in by road-walking, just before the actual trailhead. He thought the delay was my fault for pushing him, except because he is such a tardy-ass, it was his fault. We were sort of adopted by some very nice people in an RV (this was essentially the end of the road for vehicles), who foisted some kind of shake-and-bake chicken on us. I didn’t really want to have any, but I did anyway. Small is quite gregarious and engaged with our new friends happily.

It’s a fine long hike up to Hayden Pass, by way of Bear Camp, where we camped but saw no bear, possibly due to the availability, and requirement to utilize, the provided bear boxes. Elsewhen I’ve camped at sites named Mosquito Creek and Deer Lake (how many Mosquito Creeks and Deer Lakes are there in the world?), which were more aptly named, wildlife-wise. The bears came the next day, as we arrived at Hayden Pass. The younger and more impatient member of our duo, I was way ahead of Small as we crested in the early afternoon. The pass opens out onto a broad grassy (sedgy? vetchy?) slope that was festooned with shiny black spheres of some kind. I soon realized that they were Black Bears, evidently gorging on grubs or tubers or something. Disturbed by my presence, some sort of lurched up and trundled downhill for a bit before halting for some more gorging.

Hayden Pass to the Elwha (not quite the headwaters) is a long, fairly regular downward grade, knee-smashing and kind of annoying when you’re getting tired and the sun is getting low and you probably got started too late because of the blisters. We camped in the dark, following a noteworthy encounter with a rather irritated solo camper (it was late, we were loud) but the next morning our travails were redeemed as we entered the magical realm.

The Elwha is the main river of Olympic National Park. The Olympics themselves are a broad expanse rather than a narrow ridge. The peak of Olympus, surrounded by similar not-quite-as-high peaks, is not a really dramatic viewpoint, or so I hear, and difficult to distinguish. With plenty of redundancy in the glacier coverage and snowpack and whatnot, a remarkably regular climate obtains. Temperate rain forest, though not quite the kind along the coast! The one river you’d want to undam if what you want is an awesomely restored salmon ecosystem. Which has been done.

One of the most awesome segments along the Elwha is what I call the Hobbit Forest. For some reason, perhaps fire, there is a large spread of forest with only old trees, the youngest at least forty years old. Hardly any shrubby undergrowth. The ground is covered with moss, so it looks like a colonnade of tree trunks springing up vertically from the smooth forest floor. Whatever the trees are, they are self-pruning. The colonnade-covering and flat (though sloped, to be sure: we were descending a river gorge) green floor and the local soundscape really conspired to form a memorable transport to the Hiking Epiphany Realm.