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Dallas, Texas, United States

Friday, December 30, 2011

Optihumanist Principles 2011

For the 2011 annual revision of my Optihumanist Principles, I added a new section entitled "Work is Life". In writing this, I wanted to communicate that the Idea of Progress implies that work both improves and increases life.

I just finished reading Gilgamesh: A Graphic Novel by Andrew Winegarner. This illustrated book for adults is based on the prebiblical Epic of Gilgamesh. Although the hero Gilgamesh comes tantalizingly close in his quest for physical immortality, the story concludes with his acceptance of a more limited immortality through enduring achievements. We are now at the point in our own Epic of Humanity where our work toward physical immortality could soon vindicate the original hero.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Brain Machine Interfaces

I recently finished watching the science fiction television series Caprica, a spin-off of the new Battlestar Galactica. It shows a society transitioning to the adoption of new technologies such as exploring virtual realities for entertainment using brain machine interfaces (BMIs). The story transitions to uploading minds into those same virtual realities for continued existence after physical death.

I also finished listening to the non-fiction audio book Beyond Boundaries: The new neuroscience of connecting brains with machines -- and how it will change our lives (2011) by neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis, M.D, Ph.D. Dr. Nicolelis is building BMIs both to understand how the brain works and to enable the completely paralyzed to interact with their environments. He concludes with speculations about the future that would appeal to any fan of "Caprica".

I think BMIs implanted in the body will gain rapid public acceptance as medical devices initially and then later as entertainment devices. The fact that they also give us what could be considered as enhanced super-human powers will be as welcome as wireless smartphone technology is today. I think the adoption of other transhumanist technologies will follow a similar course.

Under my former research advisor Larry Cauller, Ph.D., now retired, I did some research on implantable wireless peripheral nerve interfaces (PNIs). That led to me to new research on what I called Spike Interface Embodied Virtual Environments (SIEVEs).

Friday, October 28, 2011

Optihumanist Music

I created an Optihumanist Music webpage. It features links to the music by my friend Scott Badger.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Periodic Table Song

I uploaded my Periodic Table Song. I did most of my creative work on this while I was in the shower.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Healthcare Spending

Being bedridden today reminded me that your health is second in priority only to your children. When you are too sick to function, your life stops.

It also occurred to me that it makes sense that healthcare spending keeps rising. I think modern industrialized society is at the point now where the costs of other needs such as food, clothing, shelter, and entertainment will continue to drop. I am amazed at how little nutritious food costs now in dollars per calorie. Likewise, it is somewhat stunning how many hours of electronic entertainment you can now access for a flat monthly fee in the form of music, videos, and games. Once we fully transition to delivering education electronically, I expect that we will see further price drops in that realm as well. Except for cases of conspicuous consumption, it appears that consumers can easily become satiated to the point of saturation with regard to our non-medical needs.

With regard to healthcare, however, there appears to be no limit to our requirements. As our healthcare increases, we live longer; as we live longer, our healthcare needs increase.  As expected, and as it should be, healthcare spending will continue to rise as a percentage of our personal and national income.

I think this trend will continue until we finally figure out how to cure aging. After that, I do not know what we will spend our money on.  In the meantime, check out the financial benefits of a Health Savings Account.  And if you are choosing a new career field, consider the outlook for healthcare.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

NE = Quit Signal?

I uploaded a slideshow that I presented recently to the Atzori Lab on the role of norepinephrine (NE) as a neuromodulator:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Magnet Checklist

I recently finished listening to the audio version of the book The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. This book documents how simple checklists are saving lives. I was so impressed with this book that I added it to my Top Ten Books List.

I was inspired to create a checklist for my daily maintenance tasks. I created it using round refrigerator magnets on strips of painters tape.

Each task is written on its own strip of tape with the strips ordered by priority or sequence. I used foot long strips of painters tape of the type that is easy to peel off and reposition. The strips are mounted on the side of a refrigerator or metal bookcase so that magnets can be placed over the tape under the TODO or DONE columns.

For the magnets, I used one and a quarter inch diameter round magnets since they are large enough to discourage toddlers from swallowing them. The kind that I bought were beveled to make them easy to pull away from the metal surface. Sometimes I will position a magnet partway between the TODO and DONE columns to indicate that I have made partial progress.

On some daily checklist tasks that seem overwhelming or tedious, I try to work on them a little bit each day. Even at just a tolerable minimum of five minutes a day, you can start to see some progress over time.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

My Full Name

I like to use my full name on the things that I write. As far as I can tell, nobody else in the world shares this name so it is my way of saying "I was here".

I want to disclaim, however, one case that I know of in which a person wrote under my name with the intent to deceive others into believing that it was me. This person typically wrote on websites and blogs associated with Unitarian Universalism (UU). He had a grudge against UU and chose me as he knew that I had been a member of that organization.

To a lesser degree, I also want to disclaim things that I wrote where editors then changed the wording to the extent that it changed the meaning. This includes letters to the editor of newspapers and the letter to the readers on the back cover of my book. I have stopped writing letters to the editor for this reason. In the age of the Web, I think self-publishing is the way to go.

To an even lesser degree, I disclaim computer code that I have written where someone else then subsequently modified it without adding their own name to it. Their modifications, both good and bad, are then inappropriately attributed to me. In this situation, I would prefer that they add their own name or "unattributed" even if their changes are minor.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

HumanLight Book Exchange

For our HumanLight celebration party a few months ago, one of our planned activities was a used book exchange.  This last time I made some improvements to the exchange.  Here is how it works:
  1. Announce the used book exchange in the party invitations
  2. Clear a table for the used books that the guests bring
  3. Put a clear glass bowl on the table
  4. Put a pen on the table
  5. Put outdated business cards on the table
  6. For each guest, put a card in the bowl with their name and the number of books that they brought
  7. At the designated time during the party, announce the beginning of the book exchange
  8. Before the drawing begins, invite those guests that are willing to come to the front and talk about the books that they brought
  9. Randomly draw a card from the bowl
  10. Call out the name on the card
  11. Invite the selected person to choose a book from the table
  12. Subtract one from the number on the card
  13. Unless zero, write the new number on the card and then put the card back in the bowl
  14. Repeat drawing cards until there are no more in the bowl
  • For a group of guests such as a family, create a separate card for each individual and divide up the number of books that they brought together among the cards in the group.  Having a separate card for each person helps the guests learn the names as they are called out.
  • Because each participant has just one card, everyone has an equal chance of being selected in each drawing no matter how many books someone else brought. Once they have chosen a number of books equal to the number that they brought, guests can leave the book exchange to mingle.
  • While randomly selected guests always have the option to skip their turns, encourage everyone to leave the party with the same number of books that they brought.
  • The hosts drawing the cards might want to exclude their own names from the drawing and instead choose from the remaining books after the other guests have left.

    Tuesday, March 29, 2011

    Transcendent Men

    I bought a copy of the DVD Transcendent Man: The Life and Ideas of Ray Kurzweil. In this documentary video, an old friend states that Kurzweil had ambitions from a young age to create inventions that would help the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and the lame to walk. After I saw what he had achieved, I knew this belonged in my list of Optihumanist Heroes Movies.

    I also added to the list the television episode "I Dismember Mama: A Story About Saul Kent". You can watch this video on YouTube in three parts:
    Transcendent Man

    Sunday, February 27, 2011

    Optihumanist Heroes Movies

    I recently watched a movie about Dr. Jack Kevorkian.  This inspired me to create a list of Optihumanist Heroes Movies.

    When you watch these biographical movies, it is interesting to note that many of the heroes were supported by other heroes. In some cases, the hero had to proceed alone. Their efforts to preserve their individual rights benefited all of us.

    You Don't Know Jack

    Sunday, January 30, 2011

    Immortality Links

    You can watch the NOVA scienceNow video Can We Live Forever? online.

    The same topic is covered with good humor in the Cracked article 5 Ways Science Could Make Us Immortal.

    Here is the secret to immortality as described thousands of years ago in the Epic of Gilgamesh.

    Tortoises can live a long time, as described in the io9 article Turtles could hold the secret to human immortality.

    The Wired article Creepy ‘Human Fish’ Can Live 100 Years describes one hundred-year-old blind cave salamanders.

    I have pre-ordered The Transcendent Man: The Life and Ideas of Ray Kurzweil on DVD.

    I just discovered Terasem Radio.