The Dark Side of the Sun

transcendent

I belong to a couple of Facebook groups on Transhumanism and the Singularity, and I avidly read the articles and posts. But I don't buy into every one of them. Yes, I want fantastic things to happen. Hell, I fully EXPECT fantastic things to happen. But ... a lot of the articles are more about possibilities than realities.  For instance, I think we've been predicting safe, abundant fusion energy -- any time now -- for the past 50 years. I've kinda begun to wonder "What if it just isn't … [Read more...]

GMOs, Part 2: Functional Sociopaths

sociopath

[ Start here: GMOs, Part 1: The Horizon of Sanity ] Given this horizon of sanity, is it possible there are people out there who not only seem crazy but crazy in some really bad way? Well, sure. Perfectly ordinary people, people who function in the real world just as well as you and I do, nevertheless believe and do things that you’d consider insane, even evil. And here’s the thing: The people around them, the ones used to them and well within their horizon of sanity, think they’re … [Read more...]

GMOs, Part 1: The Horizon of Sanity

horizon

I've gotten into several arguments online about GMOs, and inevitably, if you have any reservations at all about genetically modified foodstuffs, somebody will instantly claim you're an idiot, a luddite, a conspiracy theorist, and a wearer of tinfoil hats. (Why do you want to kill the starving children, you bastard?) Science aficionados will earnestly point out that thousands and thousands of studies have shown GMOs to be totally safe. Besides which -- and here's a glib argument I truly hate … [Read more...]

Deserts In The Blind Spot

Layers

Driving through Nevada on vacation a week or so back, I had this epiphany about deserts: In the presence of green and wet, we become blind to deserts, in the same way sociopaths are blind to the existence and reality of other people. On the desert highways of Nevada, you'll occasionally see an oasis off in the distance, a green, lush place — maybe a hay farm, or a little spring-fed resort — and you'll think "Wow, that's beautiful." Your eye is drawn to green, and in that drawing, it … [Read more...]

The Religion of Bears

black bear standing

One of my pet peeves has to do with bears. You know — covered with hair, four big paws, occasionally shows up around human habitation and causes people to freak out? It's not the bears themselves, it's the general reaction to them, the body of beliefs associated with them, that bugs me so much. I lived in a little mountain town in California for 22 years, and there were usually a good dozen or so resident ursids cruising around, usually at night but sometimes in broad daylight. I had … [Read more...]

Beta Culture: Earthman’s Journey – Part 8 of 8

LAKEHank

[ Part 1 — 2 — 3— 4 — 5 — 6 – 7 — 8 ] The Final Doorway The payoff of going through the transition from the House of the Tribe to the House of Humanity is very large. If we can make it across the painful threshold from our small but formerly comfortable dwelling space into this new and grander place, we gain an entire fascinating WORLD of people. People to learn from, to visit, to photograph, to love, to sing to, to listen to, to argue with, to trade with, even to combine … [Read more...]

Beta Culture: Earthman’s Journey – Part 2 of 8

LAKEHank

[ Part 1 — 2 — 3— 4 — 5 — 6 – 7 — 8 ] Cowboyin' The early end of the beef industry involves a lot of labor at identifying and altering young bovines from their original, mint-condition wholeness to something more in line with human designs, as they make their first transition from free beasties to hamburger-on-the-hoof. The work can be done in sheer industrial efficiency, with metal chutes and shock prods and unconcerned hourly workers, or it can be done by working cowboys, in … [Read more...]

Earth Day 2013: Thoughts Like Falling Leaves

earth_day_2012

[This is a repost of a piece I did several years ago, slightly edited for 2013. This essay is also part of the conceptual force driving my thoughts on the need for Beta Culture.] Leaf One Con games and sleight-of-hand magic work because, one, we humans only have so much attention to spare at any one moment, and two, they direct that attention deliberately in one direction. If you look at where the finger points, you miss … well, everything else. Like the movie teen backing through a … [Read more...]

Blue Collar Atheist: Non Sequitur

This is a little nothing, just a bit of me that bubbled up in my head this morning. Maybe it’s a birthday wish for myself. There’s this bird. Well, I should tell you about where and when I saw it, first, so you’ll know why it matters to me. I lived, as some of you know, in the mountains in central California, the High Sierra. I was on the east slope, not far from where California and Nevada butt together, and about midway up the range, not far south of Yosemite National Park. … [Read more...]

Desert Warrior Seeks Millionaire. Sort Of.

I doubt he would ask for help. In fact, presented with this piece, I expect to hear from him, and I’m about half convinced he will be annoyed or embarrassed and ask me to take down the post. (And then, crap, I will have to decide whether to honor his wishes in what really is a personal matter, or ... you know, help him against his will.) But ... I have this friend. He’s a distant friend, an Internet friend, someone I’ve met in person only once. But he’s a Friend, with a capital-F, … [Read more...]