When a Singularity Bites You in the Ass

 How to avoid autopsy and long ‘down-time’

(ischemia) ~85% of the time!

By Mike Darwin



It has taken me roughly 30 years to learn that having the technological capability to achieve some marvelous end is only a small part of the battle to actually achieving it.  This is profoundly true in the world of biology and medicine because, unlike as was the case with “free speech” and “private life,” there was no Martin Luther and no Thomas Paine to definitively divorce these areas of human endeavor from the grasp of the religious moralists, the secular ethicists, and the social busybodies of the earth. The life sciences have yet to have their Martin Luther’s 95 theses nailed to the doors of the places in which this culture’s moral tyrants currently reside. The separation of Church from private life which began with Luther, and of private life from state, which began with the Magna Carta and the US Declaration of Independence, could take us only so far.

Now, we are in an interesting place and time, because never before have potentially lifesaving technologies been being generated at such a phenomenal rate. And yet, they remain outside our grasp as surely and solidly as if there were an impenetrable Prespex wall between them and us. We can look, but we can’t touch.

Beyond our physical inability – or seeming physical inability – to access those lifesaving capabilities, we also pay a heavy price in a different way. Our vision and perspective becomes warped. We literally become unable to see how we might help ourselves, because we have been conditioned to be dis-empowered. We lose the ability to think outside the box and we begin endlessly replaying the failed or marginal strategies that the existing system does allow us to pursue.

However, a close look at our predicament will reveal that that Perspex wall works mostly for the masses – for them – and not for us. If we are careful and clever, we can reach through it and extract much of the technological benefit sitting there. We can do this, but they can’t. Once we understand that, it has the potential to change our perspective on everything in terms of our chances for survival, and for our chances of living productively and in comfort, while much of the rest of world may well pursue a very different path.

That’s what this article, and the ones that follow it, are about. This article is preparatory, it’s a kind of foreplay to prepare you for the powerful penetration of the ideas that are to follow.

Of  Singularities & Hams

Figure 1: Jamón ibérico de bellota is a gourmet ham made from black Iberian pigs fed only acorns during the months prior to their slaughter.

 The first few times it happened, I hardly noticed, and I can’t remember the specifics. But when it really began to annoy me I can  remember, quite clearly, perhaps because I was already in a foul mood and the surroundings were extraordinary. We had been taken out earlier in the day to see the pigs from which the jamón ibérico de bellota is made. The vile, dusty, slobbering and altogether horrid beasts are fed nothing but acorns so that their flesh is rendered especially succulent and flavorful after elaborate smoking and aging. They were moving about with indifferent belligerence, unaware that their kin were to  be on the supper menu late that afternoon. The visit to their quarters made me thankful I did not eat land vertebrates and reminded me uncomfortably of some of my compadres at the Hacienda; the several “Mr. Bigs” who had gathered to discuss the creation of a new cryonics enterprise.

As we sat down to dinner in the courtyard of the Hacienda that evening, I was seated at a table with several middle aged cryonicists and two older ones, (sadly, including myself). It wasn’t long before I was bombarded with the question I would soon find irritating, and eventually come to loathe: “Have you had genomics testing done?”

Figure 2: The courtyard of the Hacienda where my dinner companions assailed me over my lack of diligence in having my genotype analyzed to determine my disease risks.

“And why would I have that done, I asked?” My questioner, an enthusiastic thirty-something, leaned forward a bit and explained to me how rapidly the cost of sequencing DNA base pairs was dropping, and that it was now possible to tell all kinds of things about an individual’s risk for diseases by genotypic analysis.

“It costs only  $200 US; I just had mine done.”

Others began to chime in. Since it was an international crowd, the stories were fascinating and I was content to listen. Some had discovered they had Neanderthal lineage, others had discovered less exotic, but no less unexpected genetic heritage. Finally, the conversation returned to me, the apparent elder statesman and, presumably, the example setting cryonicist at the table: why hadn’t I had my genotype evaluated, and much more importantly, why didn’t I have any plans to do so?

“Look, ” I said, “I think genomics  technology is going to be incredibly valuable. I think its most immediate value is going to be in pharmacogenomics – in determining which drugs work for which individual people and which drugs don’t work, or are actually dangerous for given individuals. A bit later, this technology will likely have real prognostic value. But not now, and not for me. I’m in my early-50s. My relatives are already sick, dying or dead of illnesses that are genetically mediated. I know what my genetic risks are. In fact, from my family history alone, I’ve known what those risks are for roughly 20 years now. Both my parents are now in their 80s, and I have a very good idea of what they are going to die of. And if they don’t die of those things, well, it will be from an accident, an infection or something not likely to be readable in the tea leaves of my genome.

 Figure 3: The Hacienda on the arid Spanish countryside outside Madrid where we took our repast and discussed singularities, past, present and future.

Interestingly, my parents have had every single disease that has also killed their parents, their aunts and their uncles: cancer, hypertension, atherosclerosis, alcoholism, type II diabetes, and Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). I’m pretty sure that AD is going to claim my mother’s life, and I’d say it is probably down to atherosclerosis, and possibly cancer or emphysema, in the case of my father. With the help of modern medicine, my folks have so far dodged all of the other genetically mediated bullets that have been shot at them. So, I know my genetic risks  (and to those I’d add the risk of some peculiar autoimmune diseases in late life are present in my maternal bloodline).

But by far my biggest risks, which would not yet (to my knowledge) show up on any genotypic test are Bipolar-2 Disorder and homosexuality, both of which have a devastating impact on longevity, dramatically increasing the risk of a broad range of pathologies, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia, substance abuse, other mental illness, and all cause mortality. My point is that in most cases where genes influence destiny, you’re best clue is the evolved or evolving fate of your kin – unless you are an anonymous orphan, that is.”

Still, they wouldn’t give up. The implication was that I must have genomic testing. And, truth to tell, I had, and have, no objection to it. It’s not like I am opposed on religious grounds, as if it were fortune telling. “In fact, I think it’s a nifty conversation piece and personally interesting in the bargain. It’s just that I’d have a lot higher priority uses for my $200 in terms of the dramatic medical advantages it could buy me as a cryonicist, if I had $200 to spend on such things! It would make a wonderful Newton Day gift, the kind of thing you’d like, but would never buy for yourself.”

Now that, that statement really set them off! I had thrown gasoline on a fire. Didn’t I know that the exponential decrease in the cost of DNA sequencing constituted a Singularity in biomedicine, one that was, even as were sitting there that very moment, revolutionizing medicine? “Sure.” I said, “But  there are singularities happening all the time. The thing is, most singularities in medicine unfold over a period of decades, and very few individual patients gain benefit from them on the basis of special, unique, or insider knowledge.”

But, I had lost them. They were having none of it, and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if I’ve lost you as well. I was irritated and frustrated and I had already lost my temper badly earlier that day. So, I decided to bite my tongue and proceed in relative silence with the rest of the meal. But what I really wanted to say to those gentleman was that, “you wouldn’t know what to do if a medical singularity were to come right up here and bite you in the ass, because it already has!”

One of the (many) reasons the meeting had crumbled was the intransigence of one of the Mr. Bigs, who wanted cryonics with the stipulation that there be essentially no ischemic time. He had his approach to solving the problem which was, well, this meeting was some years ago, and I wonder if Mr. Big is still alive?

It was a strange situation. Mr. Big was clearly not a well man and he knew this to be the case. What I suggested was straightforward, involved nothing either exotic nor illegal and was something that I knew would work, based on the sorry experience of seeing it not work with men exactly like him. I tried to explain to Mr. Big that it was now possible to “simply” look inside of him, from top to bottom, and get a fairly accurate assessment of what his risks were for deanimating in the near future. Given his medical history, which he shared with me,  I also suggested that he have a condition treated which would, probably sooner rather than later, cost him his life, or leave him profoundly disabled. He was having none of that, either!

Instead, a few hours later, here we were seated together at dinner and Mr. Big was extolling the virtues of genomic testing as a way of avoiding premature cryopreservation-  to me.  A true, nearly unalloyed medical singularity had arrived for cryonicists, and for the previous two days they had snuffled and shuffled around each other with same indifferent belligerence of the hogs in the pen nearby who were awaiting their conversion to jamón and their journey away from the Hacienda in someone’s belly. It is at moments like this, which come with increasing frequency, that I sneak a quick look out of the corners of my eyes to see if I can catch a glimpse of some dimple or ripple in the fabric of reality that will clue me into the fact that my life has really been just a joke in very poor taste  – on me.

I’ve struggled mightily with how to effectively communicate the idea that for cryonicists, a singularity of truly incredible magnitude has arrived and that it is one which, in theory, should be available for use by us now. I’m reasonably sure I’ll fail in that task and that no matter how I might have framed the argument, or presented the evidence, the outcome will remain the same. And therein probably lies yet another powerful lesson about why Singularities, wherein everything is transformed in the blink of an eye, never really happen.

How ‘Fast’ are Most Medical Singularities?

Medicine, ironically  much more so than entertainment or warfare, is bound up with the sensitive issues of ethics and morality, which have historically complicated and often slowed the propagation of paradigm changing, or so called “singularity events” within its confines.  Vaccination, contraception, anesthesia, organ transplantation, mechanical life support, resuscitation medicine, in vitro fertilization and embryo and gamete cryopreservation have all been slowed or blocked altogether as a result of religious or ethical concerns. (1,2,3) Indeed, surf the net or turn on TV today and you will see hordes of angry people decrying vaccination, contraception, and arguing furiously over life support. Support for vaccination, ~212 years after Jenner, is even eroding in the nation that spawned it!

The idea that wound infections – sepsis – were caused by a contact-transmissible agent was definitely proved by 1848, in the form of the exhaustive statistical work documenting the effectiveness of antisepsis conducted by Semmelweis. By 1860, the theoretical grounding for the basis of that transmissible agent, germ theory, was in place. Scattered throughout Europe there were a few men who understood the new paradigm and could no doubt foresee many of its practical implications in medicine. These men must have been as frustrated as cryonicists in the middle of this last( 20th) century – men like Pasteur and Koch. If ever there was a singularity in medicine, this was it. And yet, what happened?

Figure 4: President (then General) Robert E. Lee of the Confederate States of America receiving his critical Magic Lantern briefing on the revolutionary, but heretofore unappreciated work of the Hungarian physician Dr. Ignaz Phillip Semmelweis, concerning the importance of antisepsis for the control of infections in battlefield and surgical wounds. The information proved of a vital strategic advantage in helping the Confederacy to successfully prosecute the war against Union forces. Lee is seen here in the sitting room of his home in Arlington, Virginia in this classic painting by John Elder.

Perhaps it might be more instructive if we ask ourselves what should have happened according to the Singulatarian, or even according to the “popular” model of how  powerful, beneficial ideas with virtually no downsides spread through the culture. For instance, one of the most popular “what if” questions in the realm of alternate history is, what if this or that had been different that would have altered the outcome of the United States Civil War?(4) Military historians all have their favorite “what ifs” in this regard, but mine, well mine wouldn’t be military at all, but would come down to a long, drawn out Magic Lantern (PowerPoint) presentation given to a very receptive General Robert E. Lee, on the eve of the Secession. The subject of that presentation would be the revolutionary findings of two maverick Europeans; Dr. Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis, and  Dr. Louis Pasteur, as they apply to battlefield medicine and the recovery and survival of injured troops in the conflict to come.  The Confederacy lost the war for many reasons, but in the end it came down to a lack of manpower and the disproportionately draining and depressing effect that combat related sepsis had on the South. [At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it ;-).]

Lee would listen, his military surgeons would be briefed on the Confederacy’s “secret weapon” and the tide of history would be turned. Wild and playful imaginings? Yes, but they constitute a considerably more reasonable scenario for the rapid adoption of asepsis in the US (or even half of it!) than just about any other you are likely to come up with, because the reality of what happened is almost incomprehensibly tragic.

Figure 5: In his magnificent painting entitled The Gross Clinic, Thomas Eakins graphically captures the state of surgery in the US during the decades following the US Civil War. These grotesquely unsanitary conditions had by this time to a large extent become a thing of the past in surgical theaters through much of Europe.

Figure 6: Even 14 years later, when Eakins revisits the them of the operating theater in his painting The Agnew Clinic, full adoption of asespsis and antisepsis had not occurred in the US.

Semmelweis’ work had already been published and disseminated around Europe by 1848, and by 1861, the year the American Civil War was opening, Lister was reprising Semmelweis’ discovery of antisepsis in Scotland, not with chlorine, but with carbolic acid. The sad reality was that the Americans (North and South) were so pigheaded regarding germ theory and the value of asepsis and antisepsis to medicine, that it would not be until well into the 19th century before that particular singularity fully took hold of the United States.(5)

Indeed, Lister made an “evangelical” tour of US medical schools in 1876 to little avail.(6)  Whilst the Listerian revolution was well underway in Europe by then, the situation in the US was to remain, as it was so vividly portrayed by Thomas Eakins in his magnificent oil, The Gross Clinic, which was painted the year before Lister’s missionary visit to the germ loving heathens across the pond. Fourteen years later, when Eakins painted The Agnew Clinic, we can see the beginnings of asepsis just starting to take root in the form of basic cleanliness being imposed in theatre. Clearly, antisepsis/asepsis are an example of a technological singularity in medicine, albeit one that took onto a century to fully unfold!

The Problem of Bite Back

But beyond these arguably irrational roadblocks slowing the progress of technological singularities in medicine, there are two others: the very real problems of their rational management on both the macro and the individual (patient) scale.

Figure 5: Edward Tenner’s excellent book, Why Things Bite Back explores many examples and a number of reasons why technological advances often fail to reach their expected potential, and in fact, not infrequently turn out to be self limiting, or even self defeating.

Some of the technological singularities just listed, vaccination, for instance, can have very serious practical, economic and societal consequences. Rapid and widespread introduction of vaccination into equatorial Africa by Christian missionaries, absent the concurrent introduction of agricultural and other infrastructure, resulted in a population explosion and mass famine which has not abated to this day. Oral contraception has resulted in huge demographic and social changes occurring within a single human generation; a heretofore unprecedented event in the history of our species.

While medical advances are usually perceived as an unalloyed good for the patients who will benefit from them, this is rarely, if ever the case. The discovery of x-rays opened the interior of the human body to non-invasive examination, but it also exposed the patients so viewed to initially unsuspected exposure to damaging radiation – a problem that persists in radiologic medicine through the present. Beyond the problem of unforeseen or unknown dangers, there is also the problem of technological bite back, or what Edward Tenner has called the “revenge of unintended consequences.”(7) This is a major adverse effect of technological singularities, and one which often robs them of much of their anticipated bounty – not just for societies, but for individuals as well.

As I’ve just pointed out,  new medical technologies are sharply constrained in their utility at their start due to our inexperience with their bite back potential, and with the possibility of unknown  direct adverse affects of the technology  itself. However, every great once in awhile there are peculiar exceptions, and it just so happens that cryonicists are ideally positioned to enjoy just such an exception, starting now.


1. Fasouliotis, Sozos J, Schenker, Joseph G, TI, Cryopreservation of embryos: Medical, ethical, and legal issues. Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics. 13:10 56-76;1996.

2. Simmons , RG, Fulton , J, Fulton, RF. The Prospective Organ Transplant Donor: Problems and Prospects of Medical Innovation. OMEGA–Journal of Death and Dying. 3:4;319-339:1972

3. Carrell. JL, The Speckled Monster: A Historical Tale of Battling the Smallpox Epidemic, Dutton, 2003, ISBN-10: 0525947361.

4. McKinlay, Kantor, If The South Had Won The Civil War, Forge Books, 2001, ISBN-10: 0312869495.

5. Murphy, FP, “Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis (1818–1865): An Annotated Bibliography,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 20(1946), 653-707: 654f.

6. Herr, HWJ, Ignorance is bliss: the Listerian revolution and  the education of American surgeons. Urology;177:457-60,2007.

7. Tenner, EW, Why Things Bite Back: The Revenge of Unintended Consequences, Vintage, 1997, ISBN-10: 0679747567.

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12 Responses to When a Singularity Bites You in the Ass

  1. cath says:

    Thomas Eakins, not Samuel, was the painter, and in my view of art history, how powerful these paintings still are compared with the Impressionists who were painting at the same time in France, chocolate box images of upper middle class life and the French countryside. Why Eakins and the other US painters who were documenting the powerful changes wrought in society by science and industry were ignored and denigrated by the art history world, and still largely are (the essentials of art history have little changed in 50 years) was the subject of my Master’s thesis and a few lectures and publications of mine on art and science.

    But this is my pet topic, and even though I think it relates generally to the embedding of science in culture, and the abuse of art and its weakness now to the shaping of minds and thought about science generally, in a broader sense it relates to the article above in that it is another symptom of LACK of IMAGINATION. So, as Mike writes, we don’t see current singularities, we don’t predict downsides, because of a failure of imagination.

    I shall be clear and create the distinction between “fancy” and “imagination”. Most of science fiction is fancy. The great futures of nanotechnology, cloning, uploading, bio-modifications predicted over so many preceding years are merely the exercise of fancy. Nearly all cryonics literature both fictional and non-fictional is fancy. They are simple expansions of human desires, without the moral, spiritual ( I use this word to describe a human attribute that exists separately from any supernatural causes) and complex thinking about history, the present and the future that results in COGENCY.
    Cogency will spot the singularity, is a higher form of thought, and can lift us out of the pig pen. Fancy will only stop us tearing at each others throats so that we present well as carcasses at table. Write on, Mike, right on!

    • chronopause says:

      Cath, Sorry for the screw up, I do know who THOMAS Eakins is; please note I made the mistake only in the caption, not in the text)! He has a special importance to me apart from his fabulous artistic capture of the developing sciences in America. Eakins was among the very first to investigate motion using photography and he was fascinated with the body as an aesthetic experience on all levels (including dissection). He and Muybridge were just about the first to unabashedly photograph and display the male form nude, and Eakins’ “Watering Hole” is one of the many prints I own. I also have great sympathy for the brutally disinhibited and homosocial way Eakins lived his life, as well as for the great misery it caused him. I have no idea if he was gay and could care less; his art is not homoerotic it is homosocial; something lost on almost who look upon it, straight or gay.

      My speculation as to why the culture doesn’t embrace artists like Eakins is probably best answered by their reaction to some of the paintings of Joseph Wright of Derby. My home is extremely crowded with art and artifacts, and on the backside of my kitchen cabinets hangs a framed print of Wright’s “An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump” which he painted in 1768: http://i293.photobucket.com/albums/mm55/mikedarwin1967/Kitch1.jpg . Wright occupies a similar position to Eakins with respect to the scientific and industrial revolutions unfolding in England, at that time. If you ever get the chance, Wright’s “Bird in an Air Pump” painting is on display at the National Galley in London. It is magnificent – no print can begin to do it justice. I’ve spent hours studying it, and it is instructive to see the public’s reaction, which is superficial, and preoccupies itself with revulsion at the “scientist’s cruelty to the bird.”

      Similarly, when most people enter my home and take a seat in in my living room – and it is a LIVING room, the more curiosity they evince, the more uncomfortable they become. Insects in 20 million year old Dominican amber, mechanical human heart valves, a twig from the descendant of the apple tree under which Newton lazed at Woolsthorpe, Trinitite from the first atomic explosion, fossils, meteorites, animals flayed open under glass. Most quickly excuse themselves to avoid fleeing in horror http://i293.photobucket.com/albums/mm55/mikedarwin1967/Livng2010.jpg . Those who make it far enough in to see the Wright print are uniformly aghast. “How could you have such a cruel thing in such a place in you home?” summarizes the usual refrain. They should count themselves lucky they don’t get a glance into my office, the walls of which are covered with cryonics images that I find aesthetically pleasing http://i293.photobucket.com/albums/mm55/mikedarwin1967/Office2010.jpg. They don’t like this kind of art for the same reason they don’t like the artifacts: it reminds them of their own mortality and of the mechanisms operating beneath their own skin from which they’ve become wholly alienated. Meat comes in plastic packages and has nothing to do with animals being butchered. THEY eat animals slaughtered under conditions I find unspeakably repellant and which I refuse to partake in; but accuse me of cruelty for experimenting on animals under conditions vastly more benign and infinitely more caring!

      If you live surrounded by things that force on you a consciousness of their great age or of the great toil, suffering and triumph of the men who made them, or even of man’s place in the cosmos as we now understand it, well, that is overwhelming and frightening. It is something people, “average people,” must work to prepare themselves for before visiting a museum. And it bears noting that most average people never go to museums alone. They go in groups, or with children – anything to be insulated from the reality of what is properly on display in such places.

      Fancy and fantasy are the comfort foods of the mind. I understand human terror at the alternative, and I sympathize with it. I simply cannot abide it in cryonicists. — Mike Darwin

      • Taurus Londono says:

        I enjoyed the photos of your home. Relatively humble and highly personal…not unlike the surroundings I’ve chosen for myself. Thanks, Mike.

  2. cath says:

    Yes, Wright of Derby, another artist I examined in my thesis … the sad part how he went on the “grand tour” of France and Italy and came back not painting those glorious paintings from the Enlightenment, but ruins and grottos of the standard neo-classical fare such as by Poussin. There are reasons for what happened, which I explored from an historical perspective, and on which I could write chapters with some authority of scholarship and arts practice.

    I particularly wrote on the “Experiment with an air Pump” and read the image in its art historical context, which also gelled with an 80 page research paper in German I sourced. The white bird is portrayed exactly as the dove, symbolic of the Holy Spirit
    is portrayed in Renaissance and Mediaeval paintings, so it is emblematic of the death of religion. The cruelty reading is ridiculous and a post-modernist subjectivist reading that excludes conveniently (who wants to WORK at this art thing!) the historical context of the work. Wright hung around with Goddard and Erasmus Darwin.

    As to Eakins’ paintings of the clinics, your technical reading is great, but the REAL advance is in the portrayal of women … in “The Gross Clinic” the figure of the woman recoils in horror from the surgery. In “The Agnew Clinic” the woman is a patient (looks a bit like a mastectomy) but most importantly is the presence of the professional woman as nurse, who gazes fully and compassionately at the surgery, self-possessed and WORKING. Who is not to say that these sticklers for cleanliness didn’t sway the acceptance of sterile technique, they just pushed things along. Also for this painting the post-modern reading is that it portrays the subjection of women by men. Again, historically, this is ridiculous, as Eakins was thrown out of (from memory) the Philadelphia Academy of Art for encouraging women students to draw naked men alongside the men students. I believe many of his women students campaigned for his reinstatement. He was a magnificent humanist. This subject matter was AN IMPOSSIBILITY for the Impressionist style as it demands direct treatment.

    This is not directly related to your article, but a full exegesis will, I hope, be forthcoming. Also, in its own way, it is an important topic for the understanding of how the humanities has so much turned away from the sciences.

    • chronopause says:

      I would very much like to read your thesis. What’s more, I’d like to gently remind you that you said you were willing to showcase some of your art here. That is something I really want to see. Please, don’t forget this very positive thing; so much of what has to be said here is negative, for now, I’d love to see art – something that rewards on so many more levels than the written word can here.

      I find your comments on Eakins’ portrayal of women fascinating and insightful. I liked, admired and sympathized with women when I was young – up until my 40s, really. In retrospect this is surprising, because it has been a long, painful journey for me to “see” people well. I think that I could probably found a whole demi-school in child psychology/psychiatry by the simple act of giving any child who can operate one a digital camera one and letting him photograph what he “sees.” It wasn’t until my mid-30s that I had a voila moment of insight into the reality that other peoples’ minds worked differently from mine, and from each others, which occurred as a result of (yes) cryonics and cameras. It is a story I’ve told often before, but it is so critically important to understanding the differences in individual people’s ABILITY to perceive the world, that it bears repeating often.

      In the era before the digital camera, it required a great deal of skill to take even reasonable quality pictures for publication. This was impossible for me (f-stops, calculations…) and I hadn’t the time or money to learn “empirically.” So, I assigned an Alcor staff member the task of photographing the dog TBW experiments. There were two purposes in this: one was to document them historically, and the second was to inform people of what we were doing by publishing them in Cryonics Magazine. When the first round of photos was processed, I was disappointed and irritated. The photos consisted exclusively of pictures of things – not just any things, but small things, like dials, LCD readouts, sub assemblies of equipment, a mouthguard in the animal’s mouth… There was not a single long shot and nary a human being in any of the photos. It was amazing – it was actually impossible to tell what was happening – that even a TBW experiment was being done from looking at those pictures!

      Then I did something extremely foolish, stupid, or perhaps more accurately, ignorant. I castigated the staffer for shooting several rolls of film on “nothing,” and for failing to document the experiment properly. First, it was my responsibility to lay out the shots that I wanted, and second, I had, for awhile, anyway, missed a powerful insight into how human minds differ so RADICALLY, not just in how they process incoming information, but even in their ability to SEE it. It would be over a decade later before I realized that one of the greatest attributes and achievements of art and artists is overcome this limitation by visually “forcing” or “leading” people to SEE what they were simply blind to seeing at all before. I did quickly learn that many of the conflicts between me and this staffer were a direct consequence of the huge difference in how we perceived the world. With a little time and patience this person became a competent photographer of the dog work, and I was really gratified to learn that, in some cases, it was possible to change peoples’ perception, at least somewhat.

      Some years later I had the reverse of that experience when I assigned an Alcor member/volunteer to photograph a cryopreservation case. His photos were almost entirely of the faces of the people doing the procedures. There are, again, no long shots, and no shots at all of equipment or the procedures themselves. This young man was a very empathetic and pleasant person who was also gay – and very sensitive to style and fashion. His photos were, of course, never used as they should be – which is in juxtaposition to the procedural photos, because they show, beautifully, the HUMAN reaction to the biomechanical events unfolding. In short, they showed WHY we were doing these things to this patient. They are thus transcendentally informative, and arguably the more important component of the two sets of photos – though of course, they lack the necessary context alone.

      So, the purpose of this long digression is to explain that my learning about how people are constrained in their ability to actually see and perceive the world was news to me in my mid-30s! Eventually, I realized that I had my own constraints and that they were, in part, a serious inability to see people in a multidmensional way. Further, I had very little ability to see women at all. As I studied my own photos, I realized that I had very little ability to physically see women, or to subsequently recognize a woman I’d casually met; unless we had interacted intellectually in some way. Some fraction of homosexual men are not of the “touchy-feely” variety, and their visual perception wiring for other people is thus almost wholly dominated by their sexual template. I’ve hear countless heterosexual men say, “I can’t help it, but I’ve never looked at a woman without quickly assessing whether I’d have sex with her.” And, of course, the old but true cliché that men don’t look women in the face, but rather are looking at their breasts, or legs, or feet, or some other area of erotic interest, is quite true. Most gay men do exactly the same thing with other men (different areas of the anatomy) and it takes a lot of conscious effort and self discipline NOT to do this with straight men.

      As a consequence, I didn’t perceive women well and I relied upon individual and largely sequential experiences in shaping how I dealt with them. By the time I was in my mid-40s I began to realize that, as a class, I really didn’t like women. I am sure there are countless psych-theorists who could good give all kinds of complex analysis about why that is so, based on who knows what in my childhood – or whatever. But, from my perspective, the change was based on hard experience unique to my own peculiar niche in the culture.

      As a class (statistically) women HATE cryonics. They loathe it viscerally and they will use just about any tactic imaginable to stop men they care about from getting involved in it. But more than that, women and gay men are usually the principal nucleators of opposition and trouble for cryonics in hospitals and similar institutional settings. Ditto for animal research and ditto for torpedoing human research protocols. This is NOT to say that many women are not helpful and compassionate – because they are and they have made life or death differences in MANY cryonics cases. Rather, it is to point out that if in a preponderance of situations you begin to notice that your woes stem from a certain class of people (Republicans, Democrats, Communists…) your guard begins to go up.

      With the passage of more time and the increasing penetration of women into the worlds of business and medicine, I began to observe something that was profoundly disturbing to me. Women in positions of power, on average (and relentlessly) blocked certain classes of initiative. Not only were they far more “careful” and risk averse than men, they had what appeared to be an inherent loathing of what I can best describe as “dangerous,” “highly exploratory” and “adventurous” undertakings. Their approach was both relentlessly incremental to major problem solving, and it was profoundly averse to causing present suffering for future gain. Many gay men also share these traits which is not surprising, because homosexuality markedly “feminizes” the male brain.

      From my perspective, this risk adverseness was incredibly damaging. It was demoralizing to individual men and it stifled radical innovation. Women were now in positions of power and they were utterly self confident about the value of themselves, and of their decision making. After years of oppression, they were now going to show the men who had run the world that their view and voice were not just important, they were MORE important. There was implied blame for the violence and cruelty of the culture that was placed exclusively on men. As I quickly learned, those things are HUMAN traits, and it is only HOW they are expressed that varies (statistically) between the sexes.

      From my perspective, this throttling of daring innovation and risk-taking exploratory behavior by women, which I’ve observed first hand, has had a devastating effect on my assessment of them as a class. To my considerable horror, it has made me understand why, historically, there has been such a separation between the sexes socially. And my conclusion has been (to date) that there are critically important reasons for homosocial society. Boys do not mature or function intellectually in the same way girls do, and coeducation has been a disaster for boys. Similarly, adult men need to interact with other adult men a significant part of the time absent the influence of women. It has been fascinating to see the differences in how males function and behave in homosocial societies abroad, and in homosocial settings here in the West.
      Women are now omnipresent in all social settings in the West. This has lead to the dominance of something in social intercourse that I call the, “Oh honey but,” phenomenon. Two men in a social gathering will begin to have an intense discussion on any idea-based topic – it doesn’t matter what. When the intensity reaches a certain level, one of the men’s femsale female companions, if he has one, will interject some moderating comment to derail the conversation, often prefaced by “Oh honey but…” There is an inherent desire to defuse or to suppress conflict – but alas, all controversial ideas and thus quantum advances, provoke or are rooted in conflict! There is also the inherent selfishness of talking intensely about a single topic, because that is necessarily exclusive of the “group” which, something which on average, women seek to suppress because it is “unfair.”
      In quietly monitoring conversations around the world, I am struck by how much, on average, women’s conversation is NOT about ideas, in fact is almost devoid of idea-content – and instead is almost exclusively about people, places, things and their interactions with each other. This is devastating to intellectual discourse and advance, and I began to realize why there were drawing rooms and sewing circles in the past, and why only a few women made it into the drawing rooms and only gay men made it into the sewing circles.
      So yes, to return at long last to where I began, I missed Eakins’ portrayal of women. I see it now. — Mike Darwin

      PS: It’s been years since I’ve read any biographical material on Eakins, but I believe the proximate event that caused his dismissal from the school he had founded was that he took a woman student into his office and demonstrated to her the hip thrusting movements used in intercourse. As I recall, there was no erotic subtext to this, but it was a terrible scandal at the time.

      • Mark Plus says:

        Remember the comparison I made years ago between gynecology and veterinary medicine?

        As for cryonics’ ability to act as “female kryptonite,” in a way that has minimized female politics from disrupting the functioning of Alcor’s board. (CI has some women on its board, but I don’t have inside information about what goes on there.)

        You have to wonder what would happen if some of Alcor’s women organized to try to get their representatives on the board to make it more “diverse.” Facebook’s all-male board of directors has had to deal with this problem, but then something about Facebook provides women with supernormal stimuli, and its female popularity and financial success have made membership on its board a prestigious goal for some of them. By contrast, apparently the relatively few women who sign up for cryosuspension on their own initiative (not the time servers who sign up just to please the men in their lives) just don’t feel strongly enough about their lack of representation to want to do something about it.

        As for other differences, I’ve noticed that men tend to define themselves more conceptually, in terms of what we know, believe or have the ability to do. You carry these cognitive resources with you in your person, so they make it easier for a man interested in cryonics to anticipate the prospect of temporal dislocation, just like it makes it easier for men to migrate to new places, often owning only the clothes they stand in.

        Women, by contrast, as you’ve observed, Mike, tend to define themselves in terms of “people, places, things and their interactions with each other.” Though I also have the impression that the women cryonics does attract seem less stereotypically feminine than most, for example the over-representation of women who have avoided having children.

        • chronopause says:

          Mark, your error is a grave, but completely understandable one. Sometimes appearances can be misleading. As near as I can tell, the Alcor Board, and much of the CI Board, is comprised entirely of women, very old women ;-). Or perhaps I should rephrase and observe that castrati are not men, and lawyers (with the exception of criminal, Constitutional and few other subtypes) are a group of self selected bureaucratic, and utterly castrated minds who I would not insult the class of women by equating with them. The lawyer (solicitor) is the distilled essence of what I call the “vapid cautionary;” they are creatures that exist solely to protect the status quo, discourage risk, and throttle innovation. The very idea of the modern solicitor brings to mind a word from my youth, now long out of use, the “sissy.” The word is derived from “sister” and literally refers to an “effeminate man,” but its broadest use in the culture was to label whinging, timid and gutless boys as just that. It is derived from “sister” because as almost anyone who has had a sister will tell you, that’s how sisters behave in response to the impulsive and often risky and aggressive behavior of boys. They also relentlessly try to STOP such behavior.

          Males are nasty bits of business. I’m not trying to say that the masculine condition is an unalloyed good. I myself am NOT a typical heterosexual male – my brain has been feminized by the biological changes wrought by homosexuality, so I am at some intermediate point on the masculine spectrum. I’m deeply grateful for that, because otherwise, I would be completely blind to the fact that such a spectrum existed, and more importantly, to what it was like to EXPERIENCE a state that can provide unique insight into both worlds of experience.

          I do believe that women have absolutely essential and balancing contributions to make to the culture, and to cryonics – though it pains me to say so ;-), because of my own bitter experience. I am also biased, as are straight men in their interactions with women. The culture teaches us that straight men can’t deal with women objectively because they are constantly thinking about humping them. There is an element of truth to this. But the deeper truths are that they fail to function “as expected” because they are biologically, constitutionally blinded, in the same way the two photographers I used as examples were. They simply lack the cognitive tools to deal with women well. To a lesser extent, this is also true of women vis a vis men. But it is to a much lesser extent because women are innately expert at dealing with social interactions and reading people – to a point. The other major reason they fail to function as expected is because the expectations are wrong; incompatible with reality: a fiction largely manufactured in the early and middle parts of the 20th century.

          What still shocks me about women is their near total lack of understanding (again, statistically) of the nature of that exploratory-risk-taking-violent component in men, and its divorcement from the “tender values of the heart.” When I hear women talk about how they take men home and “tease” them sexually, or do this socially in dating situations, I am stunned at their cluelessness. They clearly have zero insight into the psycho-physiological state of arousal in males – particularly in young males. The idea that you would take a man to bed and then just decide, “Oh well, not now,” leaves me awestruck in the same way that I am awestruck when I see someone playing games with wild bears in Alaska, or even domestic dogs, wherein they offer food and then yank it away. This in no ways justifies rape, or a failure to acknowledge that “No means no.” But what it does show is a chasm of ignorance so vast, that it begs any hope of ever being bridged. It is akin to the same kind of irresponsible behavior that no sane and thoughtful person would engage in, such as deliberately walking on the street alone, at night, in an impoverished, crime ridden, violent neighborhood,dressed to the nines with a Rolex watch, an i-Pad and shoulder bag of other costly electronic goodies. Any thoughts about how that foray might end? — Mike Darwin

          Such is the human condition today. Among the most clueless of the clueless are the Transhumanists. I like Danila Medvedev (the father of the Russian TH movement) – he is smart, full of ideas, interesting and passionate. On a long train journey from Moscow to Voronezh we were arguing about the role of emotions in cognitionm and about their utility in daily life, and Danila took the position that emotions were deleterious – something to be gotten rid of so that clear, rational thinking was possible. This lead me to me to observe that the core problem with Transhumanism is that has neglected the very important reality that in order to become trans human, it is first necessary to master being human. It is in the very nature of Transhumanism that it selectively filters from the population people who have been frustrated in their task of learning to be human. It’s very appealing to be told that your failings are virtues, and that you can skip ahead in evolution from being untermensch to being ubermensch. There is charm in this, because is it the essence of boyish desire to awake one day and find that you are Superman. — Mike Darwin

  3. cath says:

    I learned by a lot of looking to read images, also by reading art criticism and drawing, drawing, drawing. After Thomas and I sold the Sunnyvale house when we were both out of work, we rented a small apartment and to continue my art I bought for $1.20 a bus ticket every day for an all day ride on the number 22 bus from Alum Rock to Menlo Park, with every type of humanity riding on the bus, and I drew faces and developed visual memory. Yes Mike, artists perfected the nuances of body language in the Renaissance long before the psychologists came forward with their more crude analyses.

    After attending a state girls school, I went to university and basically hung around with the nerdy maths type boys. I made only two good girl friends at primary school, one studied chemical engineering and ended up at the top of her field as an arts conservator, making trips to Antarctica to conserve Scott and Mawson’s huts for her PhD. (Her art teacher mother intervened when she found her and my brother manufacturing explosives from fertilizer in the garden shed when they were 9 yrs old) The other was a teacher. My next good female friendship was formed in my late twenties at art school, and this woman founded a regional gallery, was CEO of a famous artist’s estate and won a Churchill travelling fellowship.

    My mother was an agricultural chemist, my grandmother university educated and her cousins amongst the first to study medicine in Australia and one founded an academic college for girls. My father uniformly admired women with scientific abilities, and of my mother’s closest friends, one was a mathematician and the other a physicist and psychologist. All had families and full time work.

    I had to work at social skills too. I like nothing better than a vigorous intellectual debate about ideas. When I was in California, Thomas and I debated differences in points of view vigorously and in public, resulting in the rumour we were splitting maritally amongst some Alcor North people. We were astonished. I had never thought agreement by a married couple on an intellectual matter was mandated public behaviour! I also remember debating at an Alcor North training session with you and Keith Henson the arithmetic involved in weighing out a chemical and making the desired strength of solution. Since this was my bread and butter work in the pharmaceutics field, performed many times per day for many years, and I was correct in my calculations, I ended up thinking that status or sexism was lurking in the interaction as I repeatedly went through the arithmetic and was repeatedly drummed down. (No hard feelings, by the way). What you have written about your maths abilities and feelings about women explain a lot.

    Sadly Mike, I actually agree with you about a lot of female behaviour, and have been at the end of a lot of censorship by women. I remember being at a party in Silicon Valley ( non cryonics) in the midst of a vibrant discussion about ageing research and the hostess interrupted me and said “Look in here and at you. You’ve already got one.” I was in my thirties and surrounded by about six or seven attractive young males in their twenties, on the porch, and in the lounge room were a bunch of listless twenty-something women. (I am not physically very attractive.) So I said “sorry guys” and faded into the wallpaper. But every individual has to be taken at their individual worth. Since taking up “ranching” at about fifty years of age, I’ve learnt to ride, work with cattle in the yards, drive a tractor, and met a number of strong intelligent women that run large grazing properties by themselves well into their seventies. I prefer the company of farming people in the local pub, most of whom are not “rednecks”. I find it harder and harder to tolerate the namby-pamby cossetted middle class kids of my city-based friends. The local art schools no longer teach etching in print making classes because it’s “toxic”. My one hour drive to the printmaking group is orders of magnitude more dangerous!

    I observe that families of any educational background that encourage debates in the children, around the dinner table or wherever, end up with people of either sex able to debate ideas vigorously, confidently and without ad hominem attacks.

    Mike, fair comment, I’ll send you photos when I am next on the internet. I can get a bit paranoid about copyright on the net… something that has stopped a lot of royalties for my sister who is a composer of music. I’ll e-mail you some. In the past I’ve used watermarking.

    • chronopause says:

      I try to treat all people (men and women) as individuals. Mostly, that’s not hard to do. When my prejudices do come into play, I’d like to think they are manifested only in the form of increased vigilance towards any given class of person until I know them as an individual and can discard the stereotyping. But, I have no way of knowing how well I succeed at doing that. My guess is that I’m like everyone else, in that I’m blinded by my prejudices from time to time – probably shockingly more often than I know. Sometimes it’s very hard being a human.

      As to the maths business at the Sunnyvale training session 20 years ago. I have no memory of it, and that’s a good thing because it almost certainly means that it was nothing more or less than my absent maths skills. I can also say that so low is my estimation of my own mathematical ability that the notion that the gender of anyone questioning it being material has never occurred to me, until now. When you are as much of a moron as I am in that area, you are also completely absent the ability to discriminate amongst geniuses (e.g., everyone who has basic the competence I lack).

      I’m not surprised you had difficulties in school and in fact, I doubt that your gender would have spared you. I have no idea if it made things worse, or better. Boys can be both psychologically and physically vicious. My observation of girls is that the cruelty is mostly of the psychological variety, although I’m told this changing and that girls now use many of the same physical torments that were once the exclusive province of males. In any event, I am very glad I am not a child today. The Internet and mobile communications offer whole new vistas of harassment and torment and I get a second hand view of that from my partner who is a secondary school teacher. That’s as close as I ever want to come. — Mike Darwin

  4. cath says:

    Sent you some e-versions of emulsion versions of oil paintings, so if there’s trouble, let me know. Partly the point I wished to make above was that historically women from the middle ages have always run businesses in their own right, and it is largely with the rise of the Victorian middle class that WOMEN became “feminized” culturally. Think of all those 19th century paintings and novels of the women as weak invalids, the tapeworm eggs eaten to enhance beauty. We are just coming out of it.

    To me the effeminacy in society is caused by over-urbanization. The “other immigrants” were the rural poor, those that often were hardworking, lacking in education, replete with experience of REALITY, and the latent or overt intelligence and inventiveness of their children once educated usually at second or third tier colleges drove the economy forward as their parents drove it with their willingness to work for low wages. Western countries have run out of the rural poor, but certainly the more recent overseas immigrants to Australia are from the trading classes or religious sects whether of greater or lesser fundamentalism that have been on the losing side of the competition for resources. They stay in the cities, unlike many of the previous immigrants

    Recently I have read analyses of the demographic changes of rural immigrants in India and China who live cheaply on the fringes of the large cities and whose children, once educated, provide the basic drive and innovation for the economy. The top-tier educated ones don’t, and live off the fruits of the rural immigrants. After another generation or two, the rural immigrant’s now middle class kids go “soft” and demand jobs whose actual productivity and accountability can only be guessed at. And as is so often the case cause turmoil (e.g. Tunisia). I think that largely the educated city middle class kid in Australia is an uncompetitive product in the globalised economy.

    They ARE on the whole namby pamby. Whilst kids in the local town are prevented from doing etching, the six to twelve year old boys AND girls at the local tiny village have classes in bull-riding after school. Metroeducators tell them they are very low in skills (meaning e-skills) but don’t see that after school most of these kids are riding horses, motorbikes, driving the farm ute, can shoot straight, drench sheep, pull a calf and run through the bush unafraid of venomous snakes, storms or anything REALITY has to throw at them. They are children of men AND women who deal with flood, fight fires, time and time endure crop failures in drought but go right on. Recently I heard on the BBC of “nature deficit disorder”, kids who fall out of bed and cannot climb a tree because of lack of the requisite physical skills having spent most of their time in apartments with e-amusements. Welcome to the singularity and transhumanism!

    I started to think this way about over-urbanisation on 26th January, 2010 (Australia Day) when the local volunteer Bush Fire Fighters group met for its fundraising barbecue and to hear the Australia day ambassador speaker. The now-wealthy immigrant from Lebanon, who told the crowd of locals, tired from years of drought and fighting some of the worst fires in Australian history, how boring Australian culture was before the waves of immigrants who settled here in the latter part of the twentieth century. He told us how dull our food was, and that we didn’t eat garlic!

    No mention of our hard-won stable democracy, egalitarian society or even that in the presence of the assembled company that here was a truly great Australian institution, the local volunteer bush brigade, who might even have had a hand, risking life and forgoing wages or farm duties, in saving his or his well-to-do chums’ play houses dotted through the flammable bush country on the coast. No, we didn’t EAT GARLIC!!! I could have slapped him for his bigotry and insensitivity.

    Being a realitosexual, that is, I get the hots for blokes who deal with physical realities
    to earn a living, I am worried about transhumanism and the arrival of the singularity.
    I am glad you said that humanism must come before transhumanism, Mike, for that is where I was leading to. And maybe for a lot of people it is off-putting. There is something of self-hatred or self-contempt about someone so intent on changing him or herself so radically and eagerly, and this is well written about by Eric Hoffer in his 1952 book “The True Believer”.

    I didn’t much feel bullied as a kid, most of it went over my head (the psychology) and I could be elated at watching a caterpillar metamorphose before my eyes and by painting and drawing so that I was a bit of an outsider, academically good, hung around a lot with “the bad girls”, who actually liked me. I just found most girls boring. What happened later amused me, because I found personality and intellect (before I got too old and weatherbeaten) were every bit as attractive as physical charms. I wasn’t upset by my calculations not registering at the training session, the important point is that no-one else in the group came forward, and that is when I started wondering just how conservative or hierarchical cryonics people on the whole are, despite advanced technological thinking, and that relates to your comment about castrati.

    Another silicon valley party was also very funny …. A kind of bulletin-board users get together. Thomas and I walked into a room of young men earnestly tapping at keyboards, attempted to start a conversation with some of them, only to have it die. The hostess was a drop-dead gorgeous twenty something in a bikini that rode high over her hips since it was hot and unusually muggy and there was a pool, and she sailed in and out with the (now-presumed) cybersexuals not even casting a furtive glance at her. Simply a weird and funny set-up.

    Eventually I caught her eye and broke the ice by saying in a loud voice “I guess you had to shave your box to wear those swimmers. You look great!” She grinned like sunshine and Thomas and I enjoyed her company for most of the rest of the day. She sensed the high weirdness of the occasion, too.

    • chronopause says:

      I am excited to see the art you’ve sent! I’ll be looking for it anxiously.

      I was clueless as to how socially and intellectually out of place I was until my first year in secondary school. The kind of bullying I received was not difficult to ignore, it was impossible. Currently in the US, there is an enormous campaign to stop bullying, in large measure because, with the advent of the Internet and omnipresent cameras, it has become visible to the population at large, and it has also become lethal – something unheard of in my day. When I left school at the end of the day it was like an oppressive weight was lifted – I was free for 12 hours and could try and find happiness in the things I enjoyed. Today, the torture continues round the clock. Personally, I’m conflicted and confused about the idea of eliminating bullying, because while it was a bitter and scarring experience, it was also unarguably important to my development. I was clueless, but I was made to get a clue. Had that process been delayed into adulthood, I think it would have been far worse. It also laid bare what I could expect from “ordinary” people in the way of cruel treatment – something I had had no prior experience with. It was a Nietzschean experience.

      One of the most valuable things the powers that be in cryonics could learn is to understand that cryonics, as it is currently presented, acts as a powerful filter for a narrow range of specific personality types. Further, it acts as a series of filters or separators depending upon whether those recruited are recruited as activists, involved members,”customer-members,” or “hired hands.” The efficiency of this process is amazing to me, and it has taken me a long time to understand it, even as poorly as I do. Once the phenomenon is understood, and some of its mechanics are also understood, the question arises as to whether the kind of people being strained out from the population as a whole is an inescapable artifact of cryonics itself, or whether the character of the recruits could be radically altered by re-crafting the way cryonics is articulated and presented? That’s a critically important querstion to me to answer, because one class of people cryonics filters for with exquisite precision is the sociopath. IMO Robert Nelson was the first of these (and the most visible) to do great harm, but there have been many others, and the damage they’ve wrought has arguably been just as great, if almost invisible to the pubic, and to cryonics community itself. Beyond this extreme type, there is the more general problem of lack of diversity and a monoculture of people who are “information handling types” who are largely divorced from handling matter and the problems that attend thereto.

      I must give Jerry Leaf great credit for seeing this years before I did. He was very unhappy with the introduction of Nanotechnology into cryonics and he had considerable contempt for the kind of people it attracted. He would not infrequently express his feelings with a snort and shake of the head, but he was never either able, or willing to articulate his reasons at length. I know he thought the idea of Nanomechanical cell repair machines was so much hokum, because we did have discussions about the limits of reversible damage, and how repair might be undertaken, when possible. But what I failed to grasp was his distaste for what the ideas of Nanotechnology in cryonics were doing to the composition of people being recruited. On the other hand, it was those very ideas that were in part responsible for the expansion in recruitment – which had been slight prior to their introduction. This experience has served to make me achingly aware that the message can and will shape the medium you find yourself immersed in. That’s one of my core objectives here – to recast the message in a way that is at once more honest and more effective at recruiting the kind of people cryonics needs if it is to prosper – and that we personally need if we want to survive. As it is, cryonics is a uni-dimensional and inhuman thing which makes most people with empathy and feelings uncomfortable to be involved with. It also disproportionately empowers people who are just plain deadly and dangerous to deal with.

      What’s more, the concentration of such “weirdness,” to use your adjective, is self-sustaining and off-putting. — Mike Darwin

  5. cath says:

    I omitted to thank you for enlightening me on Eakins’ dismissal. Clearly I have been reading the Bowdlerized version of his history. What a naughty boy he was!

    I did a thought experiment on what you wrote about cockteasing and mugger-teasing (with the help of my rabbits), and, assuming the behaviour has a heritable component, came up with the conjecture that these people could be on the cutting edge of evolution. Neuroscientists have observed we may have entered the technological growth curve with too much limbic/amygdala activity, too little pre-frontal cortex and not enough of the inhibitory impulses that would contribute to the morsels of free will we may actually have. So possibly cockteasing selects for limbic liveliness, prefrontal planning and free will in the form of self control. With day after abortion pills and jailing of those who fail the rape or mugging test to reduce fecundity, there is the type of selection happening that is needed. Perhaps we should applaud these foot soldiers, care for those whose judgment leads them to harm, and award them collectively (along with some of the contributors to LessWrong who work at the level of the already-born individuals), the Nobel Prize for peace.

    In some societies a raped woman is considered to have dishonoured her family, and is either killed or forced to marry the rapist. As in the shotgun wedding, this seems to be a union of poor judgment with lack of self control, and where could that lead?

    Why rabbits? The does determine reproductive behaviour, and these charming creatures love sex with the right buck. They will pair for life, pine when separated, and show much affection for each other. But a doe encountering a reluctant or inexperienced buck she likes will tease mercilessly. She gives pelvic thrusts to his head, then turns her bottom to him, lifting her tail, glides her body at right angles repeatedly over his body, which a happy couple will do in mid air to stir each other on, and when the light comes on in his happy little head, will often repeatedly run away just before he ejaculates. When the event takes place, usually several times, the buck upon ejaculating grunts and falls on his side, with an expression in his eyes like he is seeing Jesus. Apart from bonding, this ensures a large packet of sperm, for these creatures ovulate on mating.

    Until keeping angoras, I had encountered the massively destructive and tasty European rabbit as introduced pest to Australia, or the ranks of New Zealand White rabbits in the laboratory. When people think that extended life would not bring about much benefit, I talk about how the rabbit flowers as a creature under domestication, with a lifespan 5 to 6 times the wild rabbit, protected from predation, the plasticity of its limited brain can be remarkable. Google “rabbit sweden sheep” and view the You-tube of the rabbit working a small mob of sheep like a dog. This rabbit was housed in a barn with the sheep, adjacent to a farm where the farmer trained working sheep dogs, and at 4 years old, started working the mob of sheep like a dog. I have trained one dog OK, but Stephen has trained many very well, and in the video he sees the rabbit executing some pretty smart moves. So if a rabbit can do this at four, what could we do with our wet chemistry as it is now, at a healthy four hundred? A few people have come to think about this, and it isn’t the “uploading” option.

    I liked a lot of what Ben Best wrote in his recent article in Long Life magazine, that he had at least 200 yrs of current reading to catch up with, develop his potential for relationships, travel. That can strike a chord. Indeed, sculptors use stone age technology to still stir me, and I haven’t exhausted the possibilities of charcoal and paper yet. If someone gave me the option of a thousand years the way I currently live as the only way I could have extended life, there would be no hesitation. What I do now, how I view myself, is sufficiently good. Aesthetically, I prefer imperfection. Imperfection is life and the possibility for change. I don’t need a utopian vision or massive improvements to want a long, long life. Of course I’d love to travel to the stars, have all sorts of add-ons etc, but they are not necessary.

    In the early days of socialism, educated men worked at labouring jobs beside the less educated, particularly on the docks and in manufacturing. They didn’t opine on their superiority as rational educated beings compared with the uneducated and emotional
    “masses”, but worked well and uncomplainingly at hard, physical jobs, whilst talking about how things could be better, over a life time. Not fluttering and twittering to create revolution and a power gap that the more organised of any persuasion could fill, even if that might have happened, but slow, steady, compassionate and honest work.

    I’m serious about this as a suggestion for an insurgency. Leave the safety of the IT world, get a very basic job, be seen as a basic person with the desires and drives of any one on this earth, and mention things could be otherwise, quietly and simply. I recommend the reading of all of George Orwell’s writings, particularly his essays, before doing this.

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