Spare Me Posthumanity

I was reading up on Transhumanism because I thought it would make an interesting blog topic. Mind officially blown. I decided that it’s way too intense and complicated for it to be broken down into one of my random musings. (In other words, I am feeling too lazy to make the effort.)

But within that topic I came across the idea of Posthumanism, and it made me muse, indeed. The website whatistranshumanism.org describes it like this:

“Many transhumanists wish to follow life paths which would, sooner or later, require growing into posthuman persons: they yearn to reach intellectual heights as far above any current human genius as humans are above other primates; to be resistant to disease and impervious to aging; to have unlimited youth and vigor; to exercise control over their own desires, moods, and mental states; to be able to avoid feeling tired, hateful, or irritated about petty things; to have an increased capacity for pleasure, love, artistic appreciation, and serenity; to experience novel states of consciousness that current human brains cannot access. It seems likely that the simple fact of living an indefinitely long, healthy, active life would take anyone to posthumanity if they went on accumulating memories, skills, and intelligence.

“Posthumans could be completely synthetic artificial intelligences, or they could be enhanced uploads, or they could be the result of making many smaller but cumulatively profound augmentations to a biological human. The latter alternative would probably require either the redesign of the human organism using advanced nanotechnology or its radical enhancement using some combination of technologies such as genetic engineering, psycho pharmacology, anti-aging therapies, neural interfaces, advanced information management tools, memory enhancing drugs, wearable computers, and cognitive techniques.

“It is difficult for us to imagine what it would be like to be a posthuman person. Posthumans may have experiences and concerns that we cannot fathom, thoughts that cannot fit into the three-pound lumps of neural tissue that we use for thinking. Some posthumans may find it advantageous to jettison their bodies altogether and live as information patterns on vast super-fast computer networks. Their minds may be not only more powerful than ours but may also employ different cognitive architectures or include new sensory modalities that enable greater participation in their virtual reality settings. Posthuman minds might be able to share memories and experiences directly, greatly increasing the efficiency, quality, and modes in which posthumans could communicate with each other. The boundaries between posthuman minds may not be as sharply defined as those between humans.”

Okay, so is anyone else a little freaked out by this concept? Yes, it would be nice to have an enhanced capacity for learning, and who wouldn’t want a little extra vigor? But I really don’t want to live forever. I think that would become tedious and depressing. If I couldn’t count on an expiration date, I’d take everything for granted and not appreciate or value anything. I would procrastinate even more than I already do. Nothing would be precious. It would all feel inevitable.

I wouldn’t mind not feeling “tired, hateful, or irritated about petty things,” but I’m not so sure I’d want to be able to control my desires or mental state completely. Everything would become predictable. There’d be no surprises and nothing to get excited about. What would be the point?

And do I really want to risk augmentation? Too much could go wrong. Not only that, but would I want to live in such a superior state that I could no longer relate to humanity? I would hate to view people as mere primates. And while I might be able to communicate more effectively with my fellow posthumans, I would cease to be able to communicate with anyone else, and that would be tragic. And I genuinely believe that the most valuable sign of intelligence is the ability to get your point across to anyone, regardless of their IQ.

And then there’s the fact that certain people, if given these enhanced powers, would not use them for good. And because they would be so far ahead of us mere mortals, there would be little, if anything, we could do about it. That scares me.

While I can’t predict the future, and I’m sure that there are things around the corner that I can’t even begin to imagine, one thing is for certain: I wouldn’t want to meet a posthuman in a dark alley, or anywhere else.

Posthuman

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Rural Retirement

I hear a lot of people talk about moving when they retire. They want to head to a third world country to get the biggest bang for their buck. Or they talk about moving way out in the boonies, where housing prices are lower and the cost of living, in general, isn’t as costly. These ideas make sense, but there are several factors to consider.

First and foremost, to my mind, is healthcare. The older you get, the more prone you are to catastrophic health issues. Do you have quick access to a hospital if you have a heart attack or stroke? More importantly, is it a hospital you feel you can trust to give you the best care? It’s all well and good to live in a shack on an island in the middle of the south Pacific, but it would be unfortunate to have to fly 3,000 miles to cope with an unexpected allergic reaction to coconuts.

Another thing to consider is the isolation factor. The older you get, the more isolated you become. Younger people get impatient with your slower pace and your antiquated opinions and your oft-repeated stories. That seems to be a part of the circle of life. But do you want to isolate yourself even further by putting miles between yourself and your family and friends? Sure, Skype exists, but it doesn’t feel as good as a hug.

Also, it’s important to remember that rural locations don’t have as much ready access to the services you might well need. Counseling. Grief support. Adult Protective Services. Home health aids. Tow trucks. Public transportation. Grocery stores. Maids. Airports. Libraries. Pizza delivery. While it’s possible to get by without these things, it’s a lot less pleasant.

The thing that would drive me the most crazy would be the boredom. And boredom, combined with isolation, can lead to depression. I never thought I’d say this, but you can only read so many books, especially if your eyesight is failing. You can only play so many games of solitaire, or watch so much TV.

I’d miss being able to go to restaurants and concerts and movies and festivals. I’d miss having options. I don’t want to bury myself in a casket before my time. I will want to continue doing things when the mood strikes, even if it doesn’t strike as often as it once did.

Yes, it’s a great idea to stretch your retirement dollar, but look before you leap. The sacrifice you make may be more extreme than you intended. You get what you pay for. Find a healthy balance.

Rural Retirement

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Self-Care in the Coming Year

I absolutely hate New Year’s Resolutions. Most of them fall by the wayside within weeks, and cause us to start off the new year with a sense of failure. Who needs that?

So this year I’m going to try something new. Instead of setting myself on the path of success or failure, I’m merely going to give the year a theme.

This year’s theme, for me, is self-care.

I hereby set the intention to continue to exercise regularly at my YWCA, because I feel better when I do. I also plan to take my need for a decent amount of sleep much more seriously. I want to drink more water, read more books, and take more naps. I also want to be kinder to myself, and listen more closely to what my inner voice is trying to tell me.

I want to continue to practice being the responsible adult in my own life, while allowing my inner child to come out to play more often. I want to stick up for myself more, and also speak up when I need help or support. I want to place myself first for a change, so that I can be the best me that I can be when I show up in the lives of others.

I want to make responsible food choices, try new things, and remember to breathe. I want to take the opportunity to tell people that I love them even more than I currently do. I want to ask more questions.

If I focus on this year’s theme without holding myself to a rigid set of rules, I think that it will yield amazing results, if only because of the positive energy it will produce within me. Wish me luck! (See what I did there? Asking for help already! Woo hoo!)

Self-Care.jpg

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A Sugar-Coated Memory

My husband and I recently went to an aqua fitness class at our local YMCA. I love these classes. You get all the exercise with none of the joint pain. And you get to listen to upbeat music while you’re at it.

One of the songs they played was Sugar, Sugar by The Archies. (Here’s the original 1969 music video, if you’re in the mood for an earworm as you dance down memory lane. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

Hearing it in the pool, dear husband turned to me and said, “Remember getting this record on a cereal box?”

Omigod, I do remember that! I remember being so excited as I carefully cut it off the cereal box with a pair of blunt scissors. I remember playing it on my record player, and being amazed that it worked. Technology, man. You can’t beat it.

I just looked. You can still buy one of these records on ebay for 20 bucks. (Makes me wish I had saved mine, and had also bought out the grocery store. What a windfall that would be now. Hindsight.) But I have nothing to play it on, so there’s no point in investing in this little bit of nostalgia at this point.

The product description mentions that these records showed up on boxes of Super Sugar Crisp in 1969. A perfect song for that cereal, I’d say. It was all about the sugar back then.

That sends me off on another tangent. I ate Super Sugar Crisp by the boatload. I’d eat it straight from the box while watching cartoons. That was back when it didn’t occur to parents to even be concerned about ingredients. The manufacturers didn’t wise up until about 1985, when the name of this cereal was changed to Super Golden Crisp here in America, and then later just Golden Crisp. Not that the recipe has changed at all. It’s still on the market. And it’s one of the many reasons why so many of us are in need of aqua fitness classes in the first place.

Still, I feel sorry for today’s youth. They wouldn’t know what to do with a cereal box record. They probably don’t know what a guilt-free cereal binge is like, let alone one with an awesome soundtrack.

Pour a little sugar on it, honey!

The Archies

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Mid-Month Marvels: Bionic Pets

A recurring theme in this blog is the celebration of people and/or organizations that have a positive impact on their communities. What they do is not easy, but it’s inspirational, and we don’t hear enough about them. So I’ve decided to commit to singing their praises at least onc e a month. I’ll be calling it Mid-Month Marvels. If you have any suggestions for the focus of this monthly spotlight, let me know in the comments below!

Recently I came across this amazing video about a company called Bionic Pets. Derrick Campana, the founder of this company, used to make prosthetics for humans, but then a vet approached him and asked if he might help a black Labrador that was missing a leg. He did so, and never turned back. Since then he’s helped thousands of animals, including birds, goats, cows, elephants, dogs, sheep… you name it.

What fascinates me most about his business is the variety of prosthetics he must get to fabricate. Each animal’s anatomy differs greatly, so he has to use his expertise to solve unique problems every time. That has got to be very satisfying. I would love a job like that.

He says the large animals are actually easier to work with because he has more surface area to deal with and there’s a greater margin of error. That makes a lot of sense. Can you imagine trying to make a leg for a duck that isn’t going to constantly fall off? Talk about a challenge. And this guy has done it.

I really admire people who are not only in helping professions but also fill a niche that has very few experts. And in this case, Campana is giving animals a quality of life that they wouldn’t experience otherwise. Amazing.

RT_motala_elephant_3_sr_140422_4x3_992

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Photoshopping Yourself

I’m proud to say that I have never worn a girdle in my life. If I had grown up in a certain era, I wouldn’t have worn a corset or a bullet bra either. To me, these things are just about as bad as foot binding.

Oh, but they don’t call them girdles anymore, do they? That would be so unacceptable. Now it’s shapewear. Or booty lifters. Or body suits. Or sculpting waist cinchers, tummy controllers, thigh slimmers, waist trainers, control tops, body briefers, high-waisted shaper shorts.

Do you really need high-waisted shaper shorts? Why is this important in life? Isn’t it already easy enough to feel freakish in this world without shoving yourself into a glorified sausage casing?

The Macy’s website crows, “This genre of miracle garments has become the Photoshop for your real life, three-dimensional body.”

JC Penney’s says, “Shapewear for Women Will Keep Everyone Guessing. Every occasion calls for a totally unique outfit, so it’s important to stock up on all the essentials you’ll need for anything life might throw your way.”

SPANX says, “SPANX shapewear is your secret weapon to help you conquer whatever is on your agenda – day or night.”

I can’t begin to tell you how appalling this is to hear when you are someone who refuses to even wear an underwire bra.

Ladies, the message these things are sending to you is that you aren’t good enough as is. You have to force yourself into an unnatural shape to be acceptable. They’re trying to tell you that you need help.

These companies are definitely not trying to make you feel better about yourself. If they were, you’d only buy one of their garments, and no more. That would be bad for business. They benefit and profit from you feeling inadequate. But they can’t have your money unless you give it to them.

These messages that they perpetuate are toxic and unfair and untrue. It’s a rare man who feels the need to lift his booty. If you can’t get through life without Photoshopping your body, there’s something seriously warped about the circles in which you travel.

Ask yourself this: Why do women have to shrink themselves to fit into a man’s world? Are we really that intimidating? Do we really need to be so tightly controlled?

Throw out your SPANX and let your body freakin’ breathe. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for the next generation of girls. I promise that the world won’t come to an end.

Perma-lift

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Mid-Month Marvels: Lifetime Learning Center

A recurring theme in this blog is the celebration of people and/or organizations that have a positive impact on their communities. What they do is not easy, but it’s inspirational, and we don’t hear enough about them. So I’ve decided to commit to singing their praises at least once a month. I’ll be calling it Mid-Month Marvels. If you have any suggestions for the focus of this monthly spotlight, let me know in the comments below!

__________________________________

When I first got to the Seattle area, I didn’t really know anyone, and I was kind of lonely, so I decided to take a pottery class at the local community college. I learned more in that class than I anticipated (and I blogged about it here.) That’s also where I learned about the Lifetime Learning Center.

This center believes, as I do, that you’re never too old to learn something new. According to their website, their mission is to promote successful aging and maintain the social, cognitive and physical well-being of adults within our community. They do this by providing a variety of reasonably priced classes that meet once a week. (A $15.00 registration fee is required each quarter, and most classes are $35.00 per 8 week session.)

They don’t require that you be a senior citizen to attend their classes, but that is their target audience. And I think that’s wonderful. Learning is a great way to keep the mind sharp, and it gives you purpose and reduces isolation. We could all do with a bit of those things.

A quick glance at their course catalog definitely got me interested. Here are some of their offerings this quarter:

  • A History of the American Musical

  • Crochet

  • Intermediate Ukulele

  • Life Stories Writing Group

  • The Earth and the Oceans

  • Marxism

  • India: The Past is Present

  • Quilt Making Basics

  • Watercolor: An Innovative Approach

  • Beginning Bridge

  • The Tempest

  • Positive Psychology: Choose Your Own Adventure

  • Contemporary Arguments About Philosophy

If and when I retire, and my schedule becomes more flexible, I hope that I remember to take advantage of the classes on offer at the Lifetime Learning Center. Because I don’t want to ever stop learning.

I hope you’ll support this organization, and/or see if your community offers something similar.

OLÉ!
These are NOT students at the Lifetime Learning Center, but I’d like to think that the dynamic is the same.

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