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Dallas, Texas, United States

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Migration to Michigan

Here in Texas, we have had a hot summer.  Whenever I wanted to do something outside on the weekends like sailboat maintenance, I had to get out there at dawn to beat the heat.  I expect that future summers will be even hotter.

I started thinking about climate migration again.  I learned that the Great Lakes Region is a climate haven.  Many of my family members and friends are already up there, some having moved within just the last few years.

In my search for a new home, I saw that Michigan came up repeatedly as a future refuge.  Compared to Texas, Michigan is cold but like everywhere else, it is trending warmer.  In a number of decades, it could be quite pleasant.

I also saw that the Cryonics Institute is in Michigan.  I am a twenty-plus-year member of the cryonics organization Alcor located near Phoenix, Arizona where it gets unbearably hot.  A few days ago I became a Life Member of the Cryonics Institute located near Detroit, Michigan where it does not.

Some counties in Michigan have laws that are friendlier toward cryonics than others.  Macomb County, home of the Cryonics Institute, has better laws than some adjacent counties.  It also has good public schools.

Macomb County prides itself on being Boat Town, U.S.A.  It borders Lake Saint Clair which is part of the Great Loop.  They have many yacht clubs, marine businesses, and Coast Guard stations in that area.

As a first step toward my migration to Michigan, I am selling my sailboat and slip here in Dallas.  I will buy another boat after I make the move.  I look forward to sailing up there with other members of the Cryonics Community.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Ensign Croft

Congratulations to my son Thomas Edward Croft on completing his initial training in the United States military.  Ensign Croft is a fourth generation United States military officer.  Our family history includes Air Force, Army, Navy, and now Coast Guard.

Thomas is stationed at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) where he is training to become a medical doctor.  USU is in Bethesda, Maryland just outside of Washington, D.C.  I look forward to seeing where his career takes him next.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Digital Tidying

Recently I finished reading a library copy of The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story by Marie Kondo.  The author explains her approach to minessentialism in somewhat mystical terms but you can often figure out a practical rationale for each of the rules that she teaches.  I found this graphic novel to be a quick easy read and now my family members are enjoying it.

I have recently decided that I need to start digital tidying on a periodic basis.  I think I will start alternating my daily practice of cleaning my physical space with cleaning my virtual space.  My digital maintenance could include uploading all of my files to the cloud and then deleting them off of old laptops, sorting the contents of my cloud folders so that I can find the files that I am looking for when I need them, deleting files that are no longer needed, and making offline backups of my cloud data.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

UU Humanist

I recently attended a Zoom presentation hosted by the Unitarian Universalist Humanist Association (UUHA).  Rabbi Adam Chalom gave a talk on "Imagine There's No Heaven: A Humanist Approach to Mortality and Memorial".  The UUHA just launched a new YouTube channel so the talk might be archived there soon.

While he was speaking, I was thinking of how an Optihumanist memorial service might differ, especially for someone who was in cryonic suspension.  Like a Humanist service, it would not offer comforting words to the grieving survivors that they might meet again in a supernatural afterlife.  Unlike a Humanist service, however, there would be some hope for a reunion in a different kind of afterlife, either physical or virtual, via some future medical technology.

Sunday, April 23, 2023


Congratulations to my daughter Ada Beth Croft and my new son-in-law Coleman Anthony Cotton on their marriage earlier this month.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Safest Commute

I telecommute from my home office so I like to get out of the house when I can.  On weekends, I frequently hang out with the other sailing enthusiasts at the Dallas Corinthian Yacht Club.  Since I work from home, you might say that my third place is actually my second place.

In addition to messing about in boats at the Club, I also enjoy the commute to and from.  It takes about an hour to get there from my home in Far North Dallas so I like to listen to audiobooks and technical podcasts while I drive.  It is usually a peaceful excursion.

Last year while returning from the Club, however, I did get rear-ended while I was waiting at a stoplight.  The road was still slick from a heavy rain so I suspect the car started hydroplaning when the driver applied the brakes.  The damage was minimal so we did not even bother to report it.

The jolt was a reminder to me just how dangerous driving can be.  While the probability of dying in a vehicle accident on any one trip is very low, the probability of dying in a vehicle accident over a lifetime is over one percent.  Until self-driving car technology becomes consistently safer than human driving, motor vehicle crashes will continue to be a leading cause of death.

I am not too worried about my weekend jaunts since I am passing through two of the five safest cities in the United States with particularly low vehicular mortality rates.  If I had to commute for work in the opposite direction toward downtown Dallas during rush hour traffic, however, I would be worried.  The safest commute is the telecommute.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

World Pulses Day

One of the many things that I have learned from the Church of Perpetual Life is that eating legumes is good for you.  The next thing that I learned was what legumes are: beans, lentils, and peas.  More recently I learned that pulses are the edible seeds of legumes.

The United Nations promotes the consumption of pulses by observing World Pulses Day.  They point out that pulses are better for the consumer, the economy, and the environment.  I would add World Pulses Day to my list of Optihumanist Holidays except that it is too close to Darwin Day.

In addition to skipping supper, one of the other changes that I have made to my diet recently is to eat canned beans for breakfast.  I avoid baked beans because of the sugar.  My children do not eat beans but I am hoping to ease them into it.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Skip Supper

Today I added a section to Papa's Anthology of Paternal Advice (PAPA) about meals:

Eat dinner at midday and skip supper.
I have been practicing this for many months now and it has been effective at eliminating my middle of the night heartburn.  I have also been losing weight without having to spend as much time on the treadmill.  I have read that there are numerous other additional health benefits.

This practice is described in the scientific studies as early Time-Restricted Eating (eTRE) or early Time-Restricted Feeding (eTRF) and is considered to be a type of intermittent fasting.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Optihumanist Principles 2022

I am pleased to announce that as of yesterday my son Thomas is engaged to be married.  Next year we might have two weddings in the family as my daughter Ada ties the knot in April.  My congratulations to both for embracing these commitments to their future spouses.

For my annual update to the Optihumanist Principles, I made three changes in two sections:

We adapt to change by adopting processes for change.
We explore and evaluate opportunities for improvement.
We believe in the future.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Eight Billion

Six years ago I wrote a blog entry about humans achieving a population of 7.4 billion. Now we are at eight billion. Congratulations to the parents and welcome to all of the new people!

Back then, the population was expected to level off at less than twelve billion due to declines in fertility. The updated prediction is that we will peak at around 10.4 billion. In graduate school, I had a professor that liked to say that everything in nature is exponential but it appears to me that it is really sigmoidal.

Kurzweil liked to talk about stacked sigmoidal curves. When growth in one technology plateaus, a new technology shifts us up to the beginning of the next sigmoidal. The stacked sigmoidals make up an accelerating curve when seen from a distance.

I think our population growth will be like that.  Once we get some elbow room by colonizing space, both outer and virtual, parents will choose to have more children.  I am hopeful that we can do something to stack the curve before then, maybe something related to housing.

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Peacock Tail

Thinking about the irrelevant criteria has helped me understand the classic arguments debating the purpose of the tail of a peacock.  One hypothesis is that peahens are attracted to the peacock with the largest tail because it signals that the peacock is genetically healthy.  The logic of this hypothesis appears to be that since possessing a large tail is an energy and maneuverability burden which can only be borne by the healthy, a larger tail is indicative of superior genetic health and therefore predicts better reproductive success.

While I think there is some truth to this, it does seems odd that a phenotype that is a liability to the survival of a father would be considered genetically advantageous by the mothers of the future sons.  I think there might be a mistake in the logical jump of assuming that the kind of health required for large tails is correlated with an overall health which leads to individual survival in general.  Another potential logical fallacy might be in assuming that the overall health and long-term individual survival of the father are correlated with more descendants for the peahens.

Suppose instead that the peahens are instinctively selecting the peacock with the largest tail because this decision is more likely to result in their future sons having larger tails which will then be more likely to attract future peahens which will then in turn be more likely to lead to both more grandsons and more granddaughters.  Since these peahens are most likely to mate with the peacock with the largest tail, the evolutionary advantage of winner-take-all breeding will rapidly lead to the great-grandsons having even larger tails than their great grandfathers and the great granddaughters being even more attracted to large tails than their great grandmothers.  The peacock tails keep getting larger as generations pass until the tails become so large that their reproductive advantage of attracting mates is balanced by their disadvantage of attracting predators.

At that point you might think that the size of the tails might stabilize.  Consider, however, that an undesirable side-effect of an otherwise beneficial gene might be neutralized by compensatory genes.  As the genes of peacocks to grow larger tails evolve, the genes to survive with larger tails also evolve to compensate.

Suppose that at one time proto-peahens were not attracted to larger peacock tails and that they mated non-preferentially with the males.  Assume that back then proto-peacocks had tails of whatever size was best adapted to their environment on average.  Now imagine that one day a proto-peahen is hatched with a mutant gene that gives her a slight preference to mate with proto-peacocks with larger tails.
You can see how this slight preference could kick off an irreversible runaway process.  Her sons are more likely to have the gene for larger tails because she mates preferentially with the largest-tailed male.  Her daughters are more likely to have the gene for largest tail preference because she passes that gene on to them.
Now wind back the clock on the thought experiment to the initial condition where proto-peahens have no preference.  Imagine this time instead that a mutant proto-peacock instead of a proto-peahen is born with a gene that gives the proto-peacock a slight preference for a larger tail in the opposite sex.  During a breeding season, the proto-peacock might mate initially with the proto-peahen with the largest tail but can then go on to mate with additional proto-peahens.

There is no winner-take-all effect here in that the male, unlike a female, can successfully mate and reproduce with multiple individuals of the opposite sex with both preferred and less preferred tail sizes within a single breeding season.  The mutant male is going to have daughters with both larger and smaller tail sizes in nearly the same proportion.  Even if the mutant father successfully passes on the new gene for a slight preference to the sons, the sons will still mate with both larger and smaller females which means the granddaughters will still have mixed tail sizes.
Even if the mutant gene for a preference makes it into the grandsons and there are now more females with larger tails due to initial preferential mating, any environmental disadvantage to larger tails could make the larger-tailed females less likely to survive to reproductive age or the next breeding cycle.  This means that both the mutant males that prefer larger-tailed females and non-mutant males with no preference will have more smaller-tailed daughters than larger-tailed daughters because there are proportionally more smaller-tailed mothers.  As there is little long-term reproductive advantage to mating preferentially with large-tailed females, the mutant gene to cause a slight preference in the males eventually dies out due to genetic drift.

This might explain why you are more likely to see phenotypic extremes that decrease the survivability of the individual evolve in male but not the female in many species.  An example of this is brightly colored feathers for males and camouflaged colors for females in some bird species.  The evolutionary advantage of fathering the chicks of most of the mothers in a territory outweighs the disadvantage of being more easily spotted or captured by predators.

For species where raising the offspring to maturity requires the full-time attention of both a dedicated mother and a father, it is less of a winner-take-all competition since males are less likely to fertilize multiple females within a breeding season.  In these cases, you might predict that the males of these species are less likely to exhibit phenotypic characteristics preferred by females that have a survival disadvantage for the individual that are not also present in the females of the species.  Examples of characteristics attractive to the opposite sex that are present in both sexes that are also survival disadvantages to the individual parent might include altruistic behaviors such as nurturing offspring or defending the pack.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Irrelevant Criterion

In a winner-take-all competition in which all of the competitors are overqualified, the winner is selected based on an irrelevant criterion.  This criterion is used to decide which competitor is considered to be the most overqualified.  Since the competitors are overqualified on all of the other criteria, the selection criterion has no other purpose.

In my professional career, I have observed this in employment hiring in which multiple candidates are equally overqualified for the position.  Examples of irrelevant criteria used as tie-breakers in these cases include the prestige of the university attended by the candidate, even if the degree is in an unrelated academic field, and the ability of the candidate to respond to esoteric questions during an interview, even if the knowledge demonstrated is unnecessary to perform the job.  I assume that the intent behind these criteria is to use them as a proxy measure of overall intelligence which is then assumed to predict competency.