Sunday, July 06, 2008


We had a fine weekend, my wife and I. We spent a part of Saturday in Portland, walking around, shopping at the Loyd Center at Ann Taylor, where my wife found some size 2 slacks for work, finally, after much disappointment at regular stores in Vancouver, our new hometown. Then we took in a movie, "Bloodline", which expands on and furthers the Holy Grail story found in Holy Blood, Holy Grail and The Jesus Papers. In the end, director Bruce Burgess presents some striking evidence that will leave you agape. So watch it if you can before the Vatican burns the film at the stake. Later we ate Indian food which Mertie liked and which I hated. Not that I haven't had good Indian food, but this was so bad that I gagged when I followed one taste with the taste of a cucumber gruel. Really... I gagged. On a Sunday of love, we later walked along the river hand in hand and watched a horribly bad movie about sixteen wheelers gone astray on the Fear Network in the evening. We have yet to find a really good movie on that channel.


"Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it, whatever he does to the web, he does to himself." —Chief Seattle


In complete disagreement, I imagine, with Ray Kurzweil is Baroness Greenfield. We came across this passage in Top 75 Questions of Science

“Changing a gene will change a protein that is made in the brain, and it will have lots of widespread and varied effects. Anyone gene participates in many functions, and many functions have the participation of many genes. Those genes in turn will be active or not according to what happens in your individual lifestyle. Gene therapy and genetic screening will be helpful, but we have to be very cautious about getting people all excited about these genes.” —Susan Greenfield (a baroness and member of the British House of Lords, researches neurological diseases)


Also in 75 Questions, we came across these fascinating thoughts about robots and humans by Marvin Minsky.

“We don't make most appliances look like people. The new point to me is the idea that we don't want people to learn to order around servants that look like people, because that's catching. If you tell a household robot to do unspeakable, disgusting, or just boring things, you'll get the hang of telling other people to. And most human interactions are rotten already. People lie, cheat, do all sorts of awful things.” —Marvin Minsky (computer and robotics pioneer)


Steven Wise is an animal-rights lawyer, and this is what he has to say about animal consciousness in that same magazine, 75 Questions.

“At least two basic legal rights should be granted immediately. The first is bodily integrity. We may not eat chimpanzees; we may not use them in invasive biomedical research; we may not do anything to their bodies that we may not do to the bodies of our 3-year old children. The second right to which they are immediately entitled is bodily liberty. We may not kidnap them from Africa. We may not enslave them in steel and concrete cages. In countries in which they reside but are not native, we may place them in sanctuaries for their own benefit. In Western law, autonomy is a sufficient condition for basic legal rights. Autonomy requires that individuals be conscious, able to desire and act intentionally to achieve those desires, and have a sense of self sufficiently developed to allow them to understand that the life they're leading is their life, that what happens to them matters to them. Strong cases for the attribution of these two basic legal rights can be made for all the great apes, including chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans; for cetaceans, such as dolphins; and for elephants and African gray parrots.”

That magazine, Top 75 Questions of Science, which I bought for my flights to and from Ohio has been an interesting brief on many matters which science is causing us to consider. It worked exactly as I meant it to. I did not have to give complete and deep attention to the reading, yet it filled some of my otherwise boring hours on planes and in airports.

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