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Dallas, Texas, United States

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Optihumanist Principles 2015

Wikipedia states that the Mormon Transhumanist Association syncretizes Mormonism and Transhumanism.  Here syncretization suggests a fusion which attempts to smooth over and reconcile the incompatibilities between differing belief systems.

Previously I wrote that I was going to redefine my own microreligion Optihumanism to be a combination of American Religious Humanism and Transhumanism.  One incompatibility between the two is that most Religious Humanists accept aging and death as natural and reject extreme life extension medical technologies such as cryonics.  An incompatibility on the other side is that most Transhumanists reject religion in all forms, including those with no supernatural elements.  

Overall, however, I call this a combination rather than a syncretization as the two go fairly well together.  In fact, I think it is inevitable that most Religious Humanists will eventually become Religious Transhumanists as future advances in medical technology are gradually accepted into the mainstream.  With regard to the acceptance of future forms of sentient life, most Religious Humanists come from religious traditions such as Unitarian Universalism which have historically provided welcoming environments to outsiders.

My newly updated Optihumanist Principles for 2015 reflects this combination.  It is a much shorter statement than my previous efforts and, by being shorter, I hope less exclusionary.  It is divided into four brief sections, the third of which espouses Transhumanism and the others which wrap it within the tradition of the Humanist Manifesto.

I will be revising the rest of the content at the Optihumanist website over time to reflect this shift.  This will include an update to my list of recommended books.  Some candidates that I am reading now include:

Friday, November 27, 2015


We had a great Thanksgiving dinner this year. My wife Shannon cooked the turkey upside-down so that the breast meat would stay moist. She also served all of the traditional side dishes such as stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, and sparkling cider.  At my request, we also had miniature pecan tarts because I recently became curious about butter tarts after hearing them referenced in the song "Steal My Sunshine" by Len.

It was the largest turkey we ever had so there was a lot left over for the next day.  As is our family tradition, Shannon served us "turkey pancakes" for breakfast this morning. To make turkey pancakes, she cuts leftover turkey into bite-sized bits and mixes it with the leftover stuffing. Raw eggs are then added to hold the mix together when patted into a pancake shape. After pan-frying, the "pancakes" are served with leftover cranberry sauce and gravy. It is one of my favorites.

Today was also Family Day, a holiday which is celebrated by eating dinner with your children. We have been having supper together as a family almost every night for over half a year now and it seems to be working out. Sometimes it is the only opportunity that I have all day to communicate with a busy teenager.

In addition to Family Day, another holiday that I have added to my list of Optihumanist Holidays is Luxhom. Like Vitaspes, the word Luxhom is a word that I made up by joining two Latin words. Lux means light in Latin and is also the English word for the name of the metric unit for illuminance. Hom is short for hominis which means human. In the same way that Christmas stands for "Christ mass", I was looking for a two-syllable variation on the name for the new holiday HumanLight.

HumanLight is celebrated on December 23rd which coincides roughly with the date of the Winter Solstice and the end of the ancient week-long Roman holiday Saturnalia. Until just recently, our family has always celebrated HumanLight on that day.

Starting last year, however, we started celebrating HumanLight on December 25th which coincides with Christmas and the ancient Roman holiday Dies Natalis Solis Invictus, the birthday of the Unconquered Sun. Shannon did not like that our holiday was winding down while others were still ramping up so we pushed our celebration back a couple of days.

So what now is Luxhom? Luxhom is a holiday like HumanLight except that it is celebrated on December 25th.

Saturday, October 17, 2015


I visited Scottsdale, Arizona last weekend to attend the triennial Alcor conference.  While I was there, I met members of different religious transhumanist organizations, including:
I call my own microreligion Optihumanism.  Recently I have been thinking about redefining Optihumanism to be the union of American Religious Humanism and Transhumanism.  This would broaden its scope to be more inclusive while drawing upon the heritage of two established traditions.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Super Blood Moon

I took photographs of the super blood moon a couple of days ago by holding my mobile phone camera up to the eyepiece of our telescope.  I was able to share this experience with my wife and our boys.  The next time there is a super blood moon, all of my sons will be men.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Pacific Northwest

I recently visited the Pacific Northwest for the first time.  A number of my friends and family members have moved out there over the last few years.  They just love it and have been sending me pictures of the beautiful scenery.

I was curious to see it for myself as I have been thinking about moving from landlocked Silicon Prairie to somewhere with access to the ocean, that is not as hot, and that has less mosquitoes.  By coincidence, I discovered while I was there that one of my oldest friends had recently made the jump from Silicon Valley to Portland just a few months ago.  Apparently, this is a trend.

If you visit Port Angeles, take a quick drive up into the mountains to see the unique clear blue waters of Lake Crescent.  While in Seattle, be sure to ride the Ducks, amphibious tour buses that drive into the water to become boats.  Go see why Portland was ranked one of the world's most livable cities.

My thanks to my Pacific Northwest family and friends for showing me their new homes and giving me tours of their new home cities.

Oregon City, a suburb of Portland, the "City of Bridges"
Downtown Port Angeles
Port Angeles Waterfront
Lake Crescent
Seattle Waterfront
Lake Union
Riding the Ducks

Friday, July 31, 2015

First Catfish

I recently caught my first catfish.  I think this is the first fish that I have caught that was bigger than a panfish.  All of my previous catches might have been bluegill.

Unlike a bluegill, this catfish did not put up much of a fight.  Within a few seconds of my first cast of the chicken liver into the water, I thought I might have felt a tug.  I could not tell for sure so I started reeling it in slowly.  I stopped reeling after a bit as there was no resistance.  When the line kept moving toward me, however, I then realized that I had something.

The body of this catfish was pretty scrawny relative to the size of its head.  It looked like it had seen better times.  When I released the fish back into the water, it swam away languidly.  Until just recently, nobody had been fishing this cattle watering "tank" on the family farm for many years.  I suspect that the catfish population contained in this tiny pond is at a Malthusian limit.

My son Tom paddled around in a kayak while fishing.   Unlike his younger brothers, Abe and Ted, Tom has yet to catch his first fish.  The next time we go to the farm, we might take him to the other pond where there is plenty of bluegill that love redworms.

As the sun started to set, you could see Venus just above the crescent moon.  It was bright enough that you could see it reflected in the water.  Later and more faintly, a third point of light joined the others, mighty Jupiter.

My thanks to my brother Steven for hosting this event and taking the picture of me with my catch.  Click on the photos below to see them full-size.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Indoor Children, Outdoor Pets

I have allergies and as a child I was asthmatic.  I am allergic to cats and probably dogs as well.  Some of my children are likewise allergic to pets.

There are homes of family members and friends with pets that my children and I cannot visit because of our allergies.  When we do enter these homes, sometimes the allergic reaction is severe and sudden.  This makes me wonder:  With one in ten people being allergic to pets, why do people have pets in their homes?

I have also seen homes that were ruined by pet odors.  The owners are living in it without seeming to notice what is obvious to visitors.  Plus, pet owners are constantly having to manage the waste of their pets.  I wonder:  With the unsanitary conditions that pets create, why do people have pets in their homes?

I think people have pets in their homes to satisfy their drive to care for children.  Both young children and pets provide unconditional love and inspire instinctive affection.  The young children grow to become less affectionate juveniles, independent adults, and then lifetime friends.  The pets rapidly reach senescence.

A home is a place to raise children.  When all of the children have left the nest, there is a temptation to fill the void with indoor pets.  Doing so can ensure, however, that the home will no longer be healthy for visiting children, including any future grandchildren.

If it were not for the domestication of animals such as dogs, human civilization might not have flourished when it did.  Pets do have a place in human families.  That place is outdoors.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Last Wedding

Congratulations to my cousin Bethany.  I was privileged to attend her wedding ceremony yesterday.  Her husband Jason appears to be a great catch.

This was, perhaps, the last wedding within my generation of siblings and cousins.  Any future wedding that I attend will belong to the next generation.  Who will be next?

Here is a picture of my daughter Ada at the wedding site.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Older Than We Feel

I have come to the conclusion recently that we are older than we feel.  We move forward in time in a bubble of the present with the past gently fading away behind us.  It is only evidence from the past that can remind us that we are deeper than we remember.

When we reflect upon our personal histories, it can be astounding how much has transpired within our own lifetimes.  The quantity of past and current homes, possessions, pets, travels, friends, co-workers, schools, jobs, births, and deaths that we have known force us to conclude that we have existed for a long time.  The sheer weight of it would be oppressive if we could recall the experiences all at once.

While it is probably for the best that we do not look back too frequently, there must be some value in this new conclusion of mine.  What benefit is it to know that you are old even if you cannot feel it?  Does the story of how you came to your present circumstances have any bearing on where you go from here?  Or does it become more irrelevant as times goes on?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

First Fish

A month or so ago, I decided it would be a good idea to spend some quality time with my boys by taking them fishing.  This was going to require some ramp-up as I had not been fishing in many years.  To my recollection, I had not successfully caught a fish since my childhood even though I had gone fishing as an adult a few times since.

I started buying all of the required fishing tackle.  I read fishing books, watched fishing shows, and subscribed to a fishing magazine.  I made my fishing checklist.

I took my sons to a few community fishing lakes here in the Dallas metropolitan area where we either fished or just scouted them out for future fishing.  The boys and I had fun exploring, getting muddy,  and playing with the tackle.  We did not catch any fish, however.

I also fished a pond at the family farm near La Salle, Texas while I was down there helping my brother Steven clean up the old farmhouse. I had no luck the first time I went but he encouraged me to try again.  I am happy to report that this morning I caught my first fish as an adult.  I have a fuzzy memory that this might have been the very same spot where I caught my first fish as a child.

Steven at Lake Limestone near Groesbeck

Abe and Ted at Towne Lake in McKinney

Ted at Twin Lakes South Pond in Dallas

Ted at Synergy Lake in Richardson

Ted at Synergy Lake in Richardson

Ted at White Rock Lake in Dallas

David at family farm near La Salle

Update 2015-04-15

My son Theodore caught his first fish today.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Up Series

Previously I posted about the joy of reading or watching a series with your spouse in which you discuss each installment or episode before going on to the next.  With regard to the last series that I enjoyed this way, I wondered afterwards whether I could recommend it.  The final conclusion to this fictional story about intertwined lives left me wondering what the writers were trying to say.

Authors of fables can make the circumstances, events, and outcomes fit whatever moral they want to project.  Writers of historical fiction revise the reality to accommodate the lesson.  Historians, biographers, and documentary filmmakers, on the other hand, do not have as much discretion.

The documentary film series that my wife Shannon and I are currently watching together on Netflix streaming is the Up Series.  The films in this series were made in a span of forty-nine years.  This strobe light biography interviews children at age seven and then again every seven years up to where they are helping to raise the children of their children.

The first film in the series starts with a premise that predicts outcomes for each actor.  The subsequent films, however, document the personal histories of individuals living in a world without a script where bad things do happen to good people.  The only lessons to be found in these stories are the universal themes common to all mortals:  birth and death, love and grief, pride and regret.

After I finished watching each film, I enjoyed making predictions to my wife about what would happen to the people next.  The directors laid out their own predictions by choosing which interview edits to use as foreshadowing.  Unlike the directors, however, I only had to wait days, not years, to see if my guesses were correct.

The later films in the series focus less on future outcomes and more on retrospection.  The subjects of this experiment are bluntly asked to self-assess.  As a viewer comparing one life to another, I benefited from this series in that it helped me refine my personal definition of what it means to live a successful life.

I look forward to watching the next film in the series.  The release will be seven years after the last which is now just four years from today.  This might seem like a long time to those accustomed to binge-watching but I have been made to learn patience by enduring the periods between releases in the Star Wars franchise.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Dallas Boat Show

My wife Shannon and I went to the Dallas & Fort Worth Winter Boat Exposition this morning with our sons Abe, Ted, and Jim. While we were there, the children were given Junior Firefighter Dallas Fire-Rescue badges. My brother Steven and I are going to scout out Lake Limestone soon.