My Novels

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

I spent a busy day -- and then learned that DH will not be home for our evening meal. Sometimes this happens, though less often as he's gotten more seniority in his career. Still, it is somewhat frustrating, since I had spent time making a delicious cold slaw earlier. I planned on having spaghetti, although I was only going to eat zucchini squash with the sauce and pasta, not ground beef. Oh well. I'll just look at this as an opportunity NOT to eat, and possibly lose a little more weight. {I'm staying at 91 lately, so maybe this will get me down to 90.}

Went on my long bike ride this morning, since it is a gorgeous day, mild 50s, no wind. We have had the wind pick up late this afternoon, but it was calm and sunny this morning, perfect for my ride in the park.

I'm not superstitious, but IF I were (or even if I were religious) I would have to wonder if Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. aren't cursed. It seems like nothing but BAD, BAD and WORSE times under their presidency. Gas prices are becoming appalling (not that it bothers me, since I live in the city and have a small, economical car that uses very little gas), and war is looming. The economy has not just run afoul, it's in a deep ditch, and NOT improving. Times are just dismal. Osama is still on the loose, and ranting about terrorism for the USA (what happened to getting him as a goal of Bush?) And you never hear a discouraging word from a Republican, but you'd think they'd realize their fearless leader is laboring under some kind of awful warped vision. Oh well, enough ranting.

At least there was this good bit of news from AP today:

Meanwhile, House and Senate negotiators have agreed to limit a Pentagon anti-terrorism project that civil libertarians said could probe too deeply into Americans' private affairs. The Pentagon will be barred from monitoring Americans' health, travel and financial data compiled on the Internet, in e-mail and computer databases, a congressional spokesman said.

We'll see if this turns out to be true. I'm skeptical, myself.

Here's some excellent article links about scientific progress on humans overcoming mortality:

The Secret of Life --
Cracking the DNA code has changed how we live, heal, eat and imagine the future


Now, at the golden anniversary, we celebrate how much we have learned since then, including how little we know. For years scientists thought we human beings must have about 100,000 genes stitched onto our 23 pairs of chromosomes, only to discover that the number is less than a third of that. Like a vaccine against pride, the sublime achievement of the human intellect reveals that we have only twice as many genes as a roundworm, about three times as many as a fruit fly, only six times as many as bakers' yeast. Some of those genes trace back to a time when we were fish; more than 200 come directly from bacteria. Our DNA provides a history book of where we come from and how we evolved. It is a family Bible that connects us all; every human being on the planet is 99.9% the same.
It is not only our genes we are learning to play with. What if we could create mosquitoes, those flying hypodermics, that instead of spreading malaria spread a vaccine protecting humans against it? Back in 1965, scientists fused mouse and human cells. Today whole animals are being patented; pigs are bred with human cells in hope of finding a source of organ transplants for the 70,000 people on waiting lists in this country alone. And that raises the question: If an Australian biotech company creates a creature that is part human, part pig, what law would apply to it? Should a company be allowed to patent a cloned human embryo, then market its cells to help fight disease? What if the embryo is made of human DNA planted in a cow's egg?

The first insecticide was made from powdered chrysanthemums in China nearly 2,000 years ago. Now biotech companies test bananas that contain a hepatitis vaccine and tomatoes that fight cancer. Dow makes a kind of corn that can turn into biodegradable plastic. Other companies have field-tested a cross between a flounder and a tomato to see if a fish gene can help a fruit stay fresh in freezing weather. The U.S. and the rest of the world are locked in a fight over how much to tinker with and how much to tell about what is now inside what we eat.

Makes you sort of wonder exactly WHAT you are buying at the grocery store and eating, doesn't it? And since we humans don't seem TOO much more complex than a roundworm, I guess the hypothetical god was amused by our thinking ourselves so superior. It's obvious we've become what we are from evolutionary means, NOT some creationist idiocy.

Future Visions


How will genetics change our lives? TIME invited a panel of scientists and science writers to close their eyes and imagine the world 50 years from now. This is what they see

Ray Kurzweil
Inventor and author of The Age of Spiritual Machines
Within a quarter-century, we will have completed the reverse engineering of the human brain and will understand its principles of operation. We can then implement similar "biologically inspired" methods of information processing using far more powerful computational technology. This will combine our human strengths in pattern recognition and emotional and artistic intelligence with the speed, capacity and knowledge sharing of machines.

The emergence in the early 21st century of this new form of intelligence, one that can compete with and ultimately significantly exceed human intelligence, will have profound implications for all aspects of human endeavor, including the nature of work, learning, government, warfare, the arts and our concept of ourselves. Our biological intelligence is for all practical purposes fixed, whereas nonbiological intelligence is at least doubling in power every year, so by 2053, it will dominate.

I don't know about you, but I'm thinking that with all the crap going on in today's mad, mad world of humans...this MIGHT be an improvement: Extinction of humans due to their developing a new, better form of nonbiological intelligence.

------That's all for today folks! ;-)

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