Sitting in a tin can

12 05 2015

Okay, so, a question for those in favor of life-extension: why?

Is this just about “more”: more time to do more things, see more sights, experience more experiences? That if you could live to 1000 years you could do so much more than if you could live only to 100?

I asked this question to my intro-level bioethics students today, and for those in favor, the notion of “more” came into play.

But then there was the issue of how those 1000 years would play out, relative to a life lived within the confines of a century. Would you reach adulthood at ~20, as we do today, and then live 980 years as an adult? Or would live just be stretched, such that instead of two decades to reach adulthood, you’d take 2 centuries?

And if the latter’s the case, then, really, aren’t you just living life much more slowly—playing the same record at very low rpms, as opposed to playing many more records?

And even if you were able to do more—if you reached adulthood, and then the aging process slowed—what about that more is better? If all that happens by living 10x as long is that you get to do 10x as much as the same things you already do, then. . . what? Instead of 15 jobs you have 150, or instead of 15 sexual partners you have 150, or instead of 1000 fantastic meals you have 10,000—is life-extension really just about extension? about the ability to do more. . . of the same?

Does your life change substantively by being able to do more of the same? Or is it really just the same, only longer?

The idea of extending life to do more of the same seems to me, someone who sees life as an equivocal good, as not worth it. Living some magnitude longer would, to someone like me, only make sense if living 1000 years allowed you to do things you couldn’t otherwise do.

Like space travel. Really.

Right now we can send people into near space. We may at some point in the next few decades figure out how to set up an outpost on the moon, and some are already talking about colonizing Mars, but even Mars settlement would likely be a one-way trip, as almost certainly would be anything further out: You’d live long enough to get there (wherever “there” is), but not enough to come back.

Live a millennium, however, and you could go and come back. Can’t do that with a mere 100 years.

Beside that, however, and it seems that everything you could do in a thousand years is just a magnification of what you could do in a hundred. But with all that more, it’s still nothing more than that.

~~~

There is another way to look at life-extension, of course, and that’s an a compensation for a lack. That is, we know that people can live more than 100 years, but if someone dies at 85, it might be said that she had a good go-round.

If someone dies at 45, however, well, that seems a bit young. And there are populations around the globe—not as many as there used to be, but still there—where the average life-expectancy is below 50 years of age.

Would altering our social practices such that life-expectancy is raised for those at the low-end count as life-extension? Or is life-extension something beyond the (current) outer-bounds of life-expectancy?

And if one is good, why not the other?

~~~

I’m not convinced of the equivalence implied by that last question, but I can’t quite dismiss it, either.

There might be some kind of curve of “more” that goes up and up—that is, one gains something that he wouldn’t have had before—and then after a certain point, flattens out.

Alas, even if one were to accept this more-curve in theory, there is the little matter of determining that “after a certain point” point.

And the immortalists, well, the immortalists would say that even if does flatten out, that one continues to exist at all is all that matters.

To which this equivocationist can only say, Huh.





I got cat class and I got cat style

22 04 2015

Time and thoughts are both scattering. Nothing serious, just: life.

So how about some pictures of tiny Jasper?

Jasper July09a

Jasper Jul09h

Jasper Jul09d

He was a smelly, feral little boy, and lordy, did he do a number on my feet, ankles, and calves.

He’s pretty clean now, and only rarely goes gonzo. And, of course, he’s big.

009

But I still call him my kitty-boy.





If you don’t want to pay some more

18 03 2015

So. I made considerably more money this year than last—which is good, sure, that’s good.

But: this means that instead of getting a state tax refund, I’ll be paying. Which is not good.

Yeah, yeah, I choose to live in a high-tax locale, and I generally support redistribution blah blah, but I’m not going to let a little political hypocrisy get in the way of some personal complainin’.

Anyway, since I owe NY money, I’ll wait to file that return: it’s almost the same amount that I’m getting back from the feds, so right around the time that money comes in, it’ll be time to pay out. BASTARDS!!!

I do have one question, however: if I made so much more money, WHY AM I SO BROKE? Where did all that money go?

Damn.





Marchons, marchons

16 02 2015

FINALLY.

I’d collated all (+/-) of TNC’s posts on the Civil War, then at some point began annotating the list. There were two large chunks (120+ posts total) which remained naked.

Until today.

Since I didn’t have work for my second job—office was closed for President’s Day—I thought I might as well start backfilling those annotations. I didn’t think I’d finish them, but at some point thought, Ah, what the hell.

I’m sure I’ve missed posts I should have included and included posts I should have missed, and some of my annotations are. . . odd, but the mess is now more or less complete as of today.

~~~

Another reason for doing this might have a little something to do with another bout of self-pique: yesterday I turned a bunch of my dissertation research into printer paper—did I really need to keep a copy of a DOE ELSI Contractor-Grantee Workshop from 1997?—and proceeded to have a mini-meltdown.

Nothing serious, and nothing I haven’t had experienced before.

It happens whenever I confront all of the work I have done and how little I have done with that work. If the paper of all of that research wasn’t wasted, it seems like the research itself was. Yes, I created a dissertation out of all of it, but beyond that, nothing.

Nothing.

The dissertation matters unto itself, but it’s also supposed to serve as the cliff from which one is to dive ever further into the work. And for me, it didn’t: I peered down from different overlooks (my bioethics fellowships), but ultimately backed away.

Reasons, reasons: I had my reasons, but those reasons were no good.

And so, periodically, I am reminded of what I tossed away when I walked away, and not having any good way to deal with that deliberate waste, I stew.

Today, at least, I did something productive—if not with my own work, at least with someone else’s.





Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

26 01 2015

Yes, it’s January in New York, so cue the surprise at the prospect of snow.

I snark because I care.

Anyway, WNYC had a half-snarky/half-serious segment on the impending deluge, during which they asked what folks are doing to prep. One woman bought flowers.

Me? I’ll be hitting the gym in a few hours, as there might be issues* in getting to it tomorrow.

And milk, I need milk: I dunae like dry cereal.

Other than that, it’s winter in New York.

*The train system really does make a difference in my indifference: I don’t have to worry about the state of the roads in my travels. That said, the MTA is apparently planning to shut down some of the express lanes tomorrow and use them for train storage. (No, I don’t know what that’s about.) And while CUNY’s semester begins Wednesday, my class doesn’t meet until Thursday, so, again, I gots no reasons to fret.





My dog reminds me of this whole world

19 01 2015

Death sucks.

I mean, I don’t what, if anything, it’s like for the dead, but for those who live past the dead, it sucks.

Two and a-half weeks ago, Jon Katz announced on his blog, Bedlam Farm, that his charming and ornery mule, Simon, had died.

Shortly thereafter, he noted that Lenore, the “Love Dog”, was out of sorts; she died less than a week after Simon.

Then, this morning, I popped over to Love & Hisses and found Robyn Anderson’s obit for her beautiful 5-year-old tabby, Corbie.

I cried for each of these creatures.

Yes, these are animals, not people, and these are not my animals—I had never met nor expected to meet any of them—but they were familiar to me, a presence, and now they are absent.

Such absence, of course, puts me in mind of my own critters—Chelsea and Bean, Jazz before them, and the family pets before them—and made me sad all over again.

While Katz doesn’t believe in the Rainbow Bridge, as Robyn does, he does believe that his animals will have a life beyond this life. I have no such belief in life beyond life—tho’, as an agnostic, I can’t/won’t completely rule it out—but understand the desire to believe that those who were here are not gone forever, but simply moved on to another place.

As a general matter, I consider death simply a part of our condition as living creatures: we are born into life and leave it at death, or, more succinctly, everything living, dies. For some it may come too soon, others, too late, and for some, as a relief.

I would like to live a while longer, but not everlastingly longer, and to have some sense of my death, when it does finally come. It will be my end, and I will be no more—a closing, not a loss.

No, the loss is for the living, when others are no more.





Take a chance

11 01 2015

Have I mentioned I’m lazy? I think I’ve mentioned I’m lazy.

Not in every aspect of my life, but certainly in too many. One of the more benign, yet highly irritating, forms is my middle-aged-onset laziness with regard to t.v. and movies: I don’t want to watch something in which I don’t know what happens.

This goes beyond not minding spoiler alerts into not wanting to endure uncertainty. I know something’s going to happen, and it about kills me not knowing the what and the when and the how.

I think that’s why I like procedurals: there’s such an established pattern with the plot that any anxiety over what-next is smoothed into mere waiting by the predictability of the genre: in Criminal Minds, for example, there’s the initial crime, then a second crime, then either the nabbing of a third victim (during which clock-ticking the team discovers something from the past) or a failed attempt that gives the team crucial information to identify the guy. Then they find the victim.

Bones had (has) its own pattern, as did Numbers, but they all had/have a pattern. I might roll my eyes at the predictability, but you betcha I rely on it.

That bothers me. Not that I like procedurals—who am I hurting?—but that I’m unwilling to try something else that I might like, might miss a movie which could move me, all because I get so wrapped up in not knowing the what-next that I can’t sit still for the what-is. And even when I am willing to try a new show—Flashpoint, Bletchley Circle, Lie to Me—what are they?

Prcedurals.

Pitiful. I used to watch so many different types of movies, read so many different types of novels, and while I might still read fiction, it’s not as much as I’d like. I used to enjoy, if not not-knowing, then at least, the getting-to-know or the finding-out. Not knowing was a chance, not a threat.

A little predictability isn’t the worst thing, but so much, too much, makes me feel small. I don’t always need to be big, but I miss the chance.








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