abril 28, 2012

One Shot

"It has been often said that, if the human species fails to make a go of it here on Earth, some other species will take over the running. In the sense of developing intelligence this is not correct. We have, or soon will have, exhausted the necessary physical prerequisites so far as this planet is concerned. With coal gone, oil gone, high-grade metallic ore gone, no species however competent can make the long climb from primitive conditions to high-level technology. This is a one-shot affair. If we fail, this planetary system fails so far as intelligence is concerned. The same will be true of other planetary systems. On each of them there will be one chance, and one chance only." Fred Hoyle

abril 26, 2012

Eutanásia e Soylent Green

"[...] All hypocrisy aside [Soylent Green] speaks to another area of future shock that's dear to my heart: the the death with dignity right to die. GREEN has the best assisted suicide scene in all cinema! When Eddie G. can't stand it no more, he heads off to 'Home' - a giant white (air-conditioned!) edifice that draws the shambling old city dwellers in like the light at the end of a filthy smog-encrusted, rat-crowded tunnel. It's no coincidence that once one decides to shuffle off their mortal coil everything becomes suddenly magical and precious. Heston finally cries when he sees the Cinemascope vistas that only the voluntary suicides are allowed access to in the magic chamber. Beforehand, when you enter "Home"; a man and a woman in white flowing robes let you pick the color of the blazing light you want to subsume you in the chamber.

I love that retro-futuristic suicide chamber so much I want to live there! I want to encourage the building of just such a room as a place not just for dying, but tripping... instead of the usual clinical hospital setting where most legally approved medical experiment therapeutic tripping is done. In fact, if you substitute exposed brick for one of the walls and make the screen just a tiny smaller, and put the bed on the floor, it would look a lot like my old apartment!

Most of all I wish my 100 year -old granny could have access to an assisted suicide set-up like that one. They won't let her just die in her nursing home, just because she's fairly healthy for a 100 year old woman... it's just she's bored. She can barely hear or see anymore, and can't walk because of a bad hip, and can't really think straight for long periods... I know she'd at least like to have the option, as she meanders through the years; her own mom died at 107--and the last17 years (!) kind of sucked) the doctors are hovering to make sure she sticks around in this earthly, withered form as long as possible.

It's ironic that our collective denial of death has sealed the doom of this planet and made dying so unpleasant. Western medical science is convinced dying is a violation of our basic human liberties, and they're too busy curing every disease nature can come up with to consider whether they've doomed us all in the process. It's left for hundredth monkeys like me and Chuck Heston to ask the tough questions and make the grisly suggestions.Erich Kuersten

abril 10, 2012


"[...] There are things I know I learned from studying philosophy. The most dramatic I learned immediately, in the first semester of freshman year, in a class taught by Sydney Shoemaker. I learned that I don't exist. I am (and you are) a collection of cells that lurches around driven by various forces, and calls itself I. But there's no central, indivisible thing that your identity goes with. You could conceivably lose half your brain and live. Which means your brain could conceivably be split into two halves and each transplanted into different bodies. Imagine waking up after such an operation. You have to imagine being two people.

The real lesson here is that the concepts we use in everyday life are fuzzy, and break down if pushed too hard. Even a concept as dear to us as I. It took me a while to grasp this, but when I did it was fairly sudden, like someone in the nineteenth century grasping evolution and realizing the story of creation they'd been told as a child was all wrong. [2] Outside of math there's a limit to how far you can push words; in fact, it would not be a bad definition of math to call it the study of terms that have precise meanings. Everyday words are inherently imprecise. They work well enough in everyday life that you don't notice. Words seem to work, just as Newtonian physics seems to. But you can always make them break if you push them far enough.

I would say that this has been, unfortunately for philosophy, the central fact of philosophy. Most philosophical debates are not merely afflicted by but driven by confusions over words. Do we have free will? Depends what you mean by "free." Do abstract ideas exist? Depends what you mean by "exist." Paul Graham