Category Archives: Philosophy

Extreme longevity: The Series – Part I: The Will to Live

 

English: Black coloured infinity sign in circl...


The Will to Live

I am of the belief that a good thesis requires a sturdy foundation. Moreover, I would suggest that a Cartesian foundation, being a truism or otherwise self-evident idea, is the best of foundations. For, such a bottom-most building block assures that the entire proposal is at least based upon something solid and without contention. With a self-evident belief as the foundation, we can then build whatever we might want. Ideally, we shall build up a thesis with pieces that follow from the foundations that lie below them. Additionally, the more self-evident or self-justifying beliefs that are used as foundation, the more room there then is to expand, importantly, with confidence. So, I will start with a foundation that I believe is truly one of the most self-evident truths of the Universe as it is understood by humans, particularly those that are familiar with the life sciences, no matter what level in the hierarchy.

The foundation: That which is alive, wants to stay alive.

This is of course referred to as the will to live. This might not be so self-evident as “I think, therefore I am“, but I do believe it is on the same level as an oversimplified variant of the Anthropic Principle, “Humans evolved on Earth because the Earth was perfect for evolving Humans”.

I must of course address the naysayers who will want to talk about the suicidal. From a purely biological standpoint, individuals that feel this way are not rational living beings and thus must actually be categorized as separate from the otherwise uncategorized “alive”. One who is suicidal is not solely “That which is alive”. They must be considered differently as “That which is alive, but does not want to be”. This is a completely separate state of being from simply “alive”. That which is alive, is simply alive. It takes its life as a given and accepts it. These beings that are alive, want to stay alive.

That which is alive, but does not want to be either does not take its life as given or it does, but rejects it. These beings are not alive, per se, but are conditionally alive, in that, they do not want to be.Another way to demonstrate the contrast is in the dichotomy of “To be” or “Not to be”. “To be” is to be that which is alive. “Not to be” is to be that which is not alive, or to be alive without wanting to be.

Those that be continue to be while those that not be do not.

To summarize, this can be represented as a simple transposition:

That which is alive (A), wants to stay alive (W).
or, If A, then W (A -> W)

That which is alive, but does not want to be (~W), is not alive (~A)
or, If ~W, then ~A (~W -> ~A)

Thus, because “That which is Alive, wants to stay alive” is self-evident, then “That which is alive, but does not want to be, is not alive” is also self-evident. Therefore, “That which is Alive, wants to stay alive” cannot be ruled as fallacious by simply invoking the existence of the suicidal.

(The apathetic are an interesting case. However, for the sake of brevity, that which does not make an effort to not be is still alive. To be considered that which is alive, but does not want to be requires a will to not be. To be alive does not require a will to be, but instead is equal to that will.)

And… we have my self-evident Cartesian foundation. Oh yes, this whole post was simply to establish that my foundation was self-evident. That’s the thing with the “self-evident”. It’s only self-evident after being demonstrated that it is. I might suggest that this is a bit ironic, yes?

So what thesis am I building a foundation for? Stay tuned for Part II… (a teaser)

Dear World, Give me a million (or so) dollars, and I will cure aging. Yes, you. And yes, me, CURING AGING. Let us end mortality.

The path to extreme longevity for Homo sapiens is not one that begins in the far and distant future. No; this path will be revealed as soon our resources  are put in the right place.

Here, I will convince you of the above truth. I will concurrently demonstrate that I am the right person to lead us into this frontier.

 

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Some perspective on perspective. You’re a solipsist and you don’t even know it.

 

Human presence, light pollution

Human presence, light pollution (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Population Clock, provided by the US Census Bureau. You must go there and watch the population clock go up for a bit to feel what I felt. Do it.

In the US: A human is born every 8 seconds (on average). A human dies every 12 seconds (on average). Worldwide, it looks like there’s a net gain of 3 humans every SECOND.

Naturally, it’s not like I was unaware that there are over 7 billion human beings on this planet. Nevertheless, a static number does not make one feel quite as insignificant as a dynamic rate seems to.

Just consider that. Somewhere on this planet, within every third of a second (at most, but taking deaths into account probably less), a woman is becoming a new or more of a mother, a man is becoming a new or more of a father, a family is welcoming a newcomer, someone is now a sister or a brother, a newborn is taking its first breath of the atmosphere with its own lungs.

In many cases, this third of a second where, statistically, an abstract number increases by 1, has been preceded by several hours of labor by the child-bearer, with several hours of stress and concern by her friends and family. It has been preceded by even more months of preparation and anticipation. It has been preceded by more emotion, expectations, worries, and hopes than I personally can even comprehend, never having gone through this myself. All of this then comes to a critical point, somewhere on this planet, for some family, for some woman, for some new human, every THIRD of a second, constantly, without a break, without stopping, AT ALL.

Honestly, I can not say exactly HOW that makes me feel. The knowledge that so much human emotional energy is constantly in flux around one very specific sort of event, being in this case childbirth, makes all of my petty concerns seem…

Then I remember that I am not even CONSIDERING the end of a life. I am not considering that while there may have been the net gain of 260,000 people in a 24 hour period, that the other 7 BILLION people (26923 times as many people; Note, assuming, illogically, a linear model, it would take 73 years of consistent net gains of the same rate as today to reach our current population) have their own emotional flux ongoing. 7 billion human beings breathing the same gaseous matrix of atmosphere as I am; walking on this same heterogeneous lump of matter as I am; consuming and defecating and laughing and kissing and making love and snorkeling and sleeping and putting on shoes and picking their nose… and who am I? Who are you? Whether you call yourself one or not or even know what the word means, I have never quite realized how solipsistic every microcosmic consciousness really is until just this moment.

I think that it’s about time we get some perspective on perspective.

I shall fight for truth. I support the war on ignorance

I will fight for Truth. The War on Ignorance starts now.

Your womb is full of tiny dead baby corpses.

This is so close to being the straw that breaks the camels back. I literally almost can not take it anymore. I can not and will not live in a country where such a large proportion of the population is so willfully ignorant and uses their religious beliefs to guide what aspects of science and reality they choose to take as truth.

The United States was once a great nation. We used to be at the cutting edge of all scientific disciplines. We pushed forward the frontiers of universal understanding. Our quality of life was relatively incredible compared to essentially every other country. Our knowledge of medicine, biology, chemistry, engineering, and so on was utterly unsurpassed. Fundamentalism did not used to be so mainstream, although starting with the Scopes Trial, it started to gain traction in the National Spotlight. It did not used to be sinful to want to have an accurate understanding of the universe. Now, we have near 50% of the country who think that scientists and other such thinkers have an agenda to promote godlessness and faux-environmentalism for the benefit of liberalism run amok.

I don’t know if I can take it. I don’t know if I should. But, running away is really not the answer. This country still has all of the promise and resources it once did, but the values that a huge population embraces are completely backwards and downright immoral in the wake of need for human enlightenment given the tribulations that the world is and will be facing.

Citizens and residents of the United States, lovers of science, thinkers of thoughts, those who treasure rational discourse for the sake of understanding, movers of technological and societal advancement, please, I beg of you, remain not docile. We must stand up against this absolute ignorance that is plaguing the minds of so many in this once great nation. We can not sit around motionless and allow our governance to be affected by such foolish fundamentalist beliefs. If you have the ability to communicate truth to those whose minds are absent of it, to those who actively perpetuate their own false comprehension of reality to the masses, please no longer allow it to slide. These are leaders of government, teachers, professors, parents, bloggers, journalists, bankers, small business owners, friends, enemies, and most importantly children. We can not allow the fundamentalist gobbledygook to disseminate to the most impressionable.

There is no force more destructive, more malicious, more truly immoral, in this age of information and absolute potential, than willful and defensive ignorance. We who can do, must do what we can to bring an end to this insufferable tragedy of national intelligence.

Please. We, the thinkers, must declare war on ignorance. Do not allow one more casualty to fall. Truth can save billions of lives.

Project consciousness in, project consciousness out

Note: This was originally written in September 2009, shortly after the beginning of my first year of my PhD. I was sitting in a class session for a course titled, based mostly on tradition, “Biosynthesis of Macromolecules”, which in reality would be more accurately called “Advanced Molecular Biology”. It’s remarkable at all that I was actually in class. Yeah, I’m one of those. This writing may be interesting because it was one of the first times I tried to put my insights about reality into words. Apologies for any aspects that may seem esoteric. This writing is meant to be understood however you understand it. Keep that in mind, and have fun.

While being in Biosynthesis of Macromolecules, insights are abound, abound are insights, and all scientific reality begins to demonstrate itself to be lesser than it itself claims.

Eyes closed, and listening silently while focusing on a breath, the science becomes clear; not the content of the science, but, again, the science itself.

The order of the macrocosmos appears ostensibly to approach higher complexity somewhat counterintuitively given that observation of energy states dictates what should be decay rather than growth. Mass and energy are equivalent simply because mass and energy as entities do not exist. (Oh great, another daoist rant, but really maybe no yes?) By exist, it is meant that there is no individual mass, and there is no individual energy, and quantized states are based solely upon a sentient being’s attempt at experiencing the un-experienceable. Unexperience is a foundation of the modern age, and it is only appropriate that awareness seems to be increasing as the construct begins to collapse in on itself with, very paradoxically, the construct itself being the vector for its own collapse. Project consciousness in; project consciousness out.

(The term universe is meaningless, and all further mention of existence will be referred to as the multiverse. The universe implies a single entity. There is no independent existence, but instead a continuous plastic polymer better referred to as the multiverse: a conglomeration of all membranes of the universal projection.)

There exists no independent observer, but only one observer. The multiverse is its own observer. The multiverse itself exists because a multitude of perturbations from observation led to certain wavefunction collapses which preferred matter over anti-matter (or otherwise, as within the multiversal chain there are surely portions made up entirely of anti-matter or other forms of ‘exotic matter,’ any arbitrary designation will do), but again it is important to note all of this discussion is completely and entirely stuck on form. The multiverse itself is an illusion propagated by the multiverse observer, the universal vibration, the Aum, God, Brahman, Zoroaster, the Dao, ad nauseam. Form is abound because perturbation of the projected sentient beings that projected out: form! form! form! If form is projected out, then again, form is projected in and more form is abound until the multiverse is simply saturated with the illusion of form.

Form emerges and gains complexity (as opposed to the decay mentioned earlier) as a result of evolution. Evolution is the stream of perturbation resulting from the multiverse observing itself. The universal vibration oscillates on a wave (at a frequency) constructive to that of evolution, and evolution oscillates on a wave  (at a frequency) constructive to that of the universal vibration. (Listen to cicadas if you want to hear them). Understand that there is not a really good word for what is meant by frequency. Frequency refers to the constant perturbation resulting from the multiverse observing itself.

At any moment the vibration is constant, and unchanging, and it is not easy to understand something being both dynamic and static simultaneously (particle-wave duality hits the spot), and this is exactly the nature of it. To again sample Daoism: the duality is an illusion. Dynamic is constantly chasing static and static constantly chasing dynamic to bring about one single constant steady state, but it is not that the constant state is formed from the combination of dynamic and constant but instead that dynamic and constant are projected in and projected out due to the multiverse’s observation of itself.

Form and complexity emerge, driven by evolution which is on a wave (at a frequency) constructive to the universal vibration, but there are no individual time points. There is only a single moment that appears to change analogous to how the frequency represents a wavefunction, moving up and down ostensibly changing, but there is not really change, and there is no other moment. Complexity is abound because sentience projects complexity out, and therefore complexity is projected back in. Project consciousness in, project consciousness out, project consciousness in, project consciousness out.

Wikipedia throws Britannica off of a Ziggurat

Oh Wikipedia, How I love Thee. Part I

Oh Wikipedia, how I love thee.

Though your hair may sometimes catch a snowflake of unverified information, and your eyes may sometimes catch a grain of original research from a 12 year old Japanese kid who learned English the day before, you really are a fantastic encyclopedia.

Growing up in the information age has really been a blessing for one with pretty insatiable curiosity, apologies for the cliche. I mean. I just really love looking shit up. And thanks to the fact that most people who even care to figure out how to edit Wikipedia are those who have at least a bit of moral fiber, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit, is really a damn fine resource.

Everyone had that teacher who used to practically cry about how Wikipedia is not an appropriate reference because it is not a primary source. Well, first of all, no encyclopedia is a primary source. If your teacher had a creepy infatuation with the Encyclopedia Britannica, you know, one where all the pages in the Bo-Cu, Pe-Pu, and Va-Ziggurat book sections stuck together for some reason, and allowed you to use it as a source but not Wikipedia, they suffer from a condition we call Being a Fucking Moron (BFM, look it up: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Being_a_fucking_moron) (They also probably really like ancient Persia). If that is someone’s reason for not allowing use of Wikipedia, let them know that there is, in fact, a cure. Though, it is important to note that the treatment for someone suffering from BFM may require the use of some sort of device or mechanism that allows someone who doesn’t know shit to learn something. Actually, Wikipedia has a great article on Primary Sources and their usage (note: people suffering from BFM may collapse into an infinite loop if this specific treatment is attempted).

Right, so if you can’t use the articles on Wikipedia as a source for that term paper you started 59 minutes before class under the influence of a trifecta Adderall/Caffeine/Modafinil Rage (Disclaimer: Drug combination to be used only by those with more than two hearts) that kept you up all night procrastinating, vacuuming the cat and and shoveling a way out of your living room so that the mole people would stop eating all of your hot pockets, then what the hell is the point of Wikipedia existing? Well, all the reasonably good articles on our beloved Wikipedia will have loads and loads of sources. These will hopefully, and usually, be cited within the sentence pointing you directly to the respective reference at the bottom of the page. In 90% of cases these references will reflect the primary source or at least a source leading directly to the primary source that, for instance, allowed one noble Wikipedian to finally convince the community to stop putting that annoying [citation needed] tag after their favorite Helen Keller Speech after which this sweet gas station/convenience store took their name. In the other 10% of cases you’ll get super useful 404 pages that you can very easily tell were in a non-English language to start with, and thus it is very likely that little sliver of information about how Shamu was named after Genghis Khan’s sobriquet for his genitalia may be questionable (only a little bit). So if your teacher says you can’t use Wikipedia as a source for whatever reason, even if they are suffering from BFM (some cases are simply incurable), you can be the better and just use one of the references cited on the page you’re after.

I know you are just dying for the next edition of OW,HILT (pronounced “Ow, Hilt”, like what your TA would say after their head slammed into the back of your Wiki-sword). Next time, I’ll be talking about the joys of editing wikipedia and how I once got into an edit war with one of the creators of YouTube… and I was all like “HEY! What I am trying to contribute is just as valid as what you are trying t—…oh.”

Hard Magic: Book I of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia

(Please note that this review does focus on the content of the book even though it was written specifically for the audiobook version available on Audible (http://www.audible.com/pd/ref=pr_rev_1_3_s?asin=B004XMIMHE) narrated by Bronson Pinchot. Nonetheless, even if you are not into audiobooks, this review and all of my book reviews are still completely relevant to the text copy excluding information about the narrator, of course.)

Larry Correia‘s Hard Magic: Book I of the Grimnoir Chronicles is simply the best audiobook I have ever encountered

English: New York Times Bestseller Larry Corre...

Larry Correia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

World War I was fought, in part, with magic. Hydrogen powered dirigibles dominate the skies because wielders of fire have the ability to prevent Hindenburg-like incidents. An already genius mind supplemented with magic creates unimaginably brilliant savants (Cogs) that advance technology far beyond the conceivable. Nikola Tesla provides an extremely deadly alternative to nuclear weapons… and still, I’m not even giving away the good bits!

Hard Magic is packed full of ideas, historical figures, and characters that bring a parallel universe to life so elegantly, so robustly, that you will be utterly convinced that it must exist. Every chapter begins with an in-universe quote, often from a political or scientific heavyweight of the time (who also lived in our current universe), that provides a peak inside the heads of those native to the that other reality, allowing us a glimpse into how living in a world where magic exists impacts society, ethics, science, romance, …Earth itself.

Bronson Pinchot is a truly fantastic voice actor, perhaps even dethroning James Marsters

39th Emmy Awards - Sept. 1987- rehearsal.

Sometimes Jon Stewart doppelganger Bronson Pinchot (Balki from the 1980’s Perfect Strangers) absolutely dominates as narrator. His articulation, tone, and pacing along with the accents provided for each individual character, of which there are maybe like 50, is as perfect as one could ask for.

 

English: The actor James Marsters at Grand Sla...James Marsters, Spike from Buffy and narrator of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (Reviews for this Urban Fantasy masterpiece of a series to follow soon), has become my favorite audiobook actor due to his ability to harness the very being of and truly speak as whichever character he’s reading for.

 

Nonetheless, in this book Pinchot provides a depth of character that is unsurpassed (though since listening to Butcher’s newest, Cold Days read by Marsters, I am a a touch undecided). Difficult characters to read for are abundant in this book, but Pinchot shines through all of them. He completely achieves the subtle and well-earned haughtiness of Japanese soldiers and officers, enhanced with magic, who are unquestionably the deadliest of deadly. Simultaneously, he becomes the orphaned southern sweetheart Faye, whose childhood innocence is ripped away from her just as she begins to learn how truly remarkable her gift is. But Pinchot’s true talent is invoked as soon as the book begins and throughout as he reads for the Pale Horse, an individual whose ability is to bring death however they wish to whomever they wish with just a single touch.

Hard Magic has the bases for historical fiction, urban fantasy, and science fiction absolutely covered. If you like the Dresden Files or other urban fantasy-type novels, you will definitely enjoy this book and the sequel.

I will concede that a few moments felt eerily like a few superhero movies I have seen. Around the half point of the book, it seemed like I was witnessing a story based within the X-Men Universe. But, do not fret over this. While inspiration and genre sampling from such sources may indeed have an impact on this story, I assure you that it really is so much more than simple power flinging and devastation. Though, to deny that there is a considerable amount of power being flung about and devastation being wrought would be dishonest. Sure, there’s a lot of action. But, it is so well done that it doesn’t feel overbearing.

Hard Magic is a truly thrilling fantastically historic narrative with lessons to be learned about the rights of those who have the ability to bring great change to the universe. Does society benefit most from a survival of the fittest mentality? Does the world going forward have no place for weakness? Should diversity be embraced and understood?

Who gets to decide which ideas are the most morally true? The individual(s) who wield(s) the most power? The masses at large? Or should the only thing we truly fight for be the ability to choose how we live our own lives? Power and control is only in the hands of those who are allowed to keep it. I believe that this truth can apply to any situation where a strong foundation is required for the continued existence of those dependent upon it.

Find these lessons within, and enjoy a damn good story while doing so.