Friday, November 26, 2004

Off to Iraq

I'm off to Iraq, it seems. To take a job in the Green Zone for a fantastic amount of money. I sure hope I survive. My wife and son are two people I sure would like to see again. But my friend down there who has offered me the job has been there two years already and tells me it's pretty safe in the zone and that he won't send me outside. The riskiest bit is the ride to and from the airport. I'm excited. It shall be an adventure. Something to write about, assuming I survive. I do have to sort out to jobs here in Budapest I'll have to discontinue. But this can be done. The benefit of the move will be freedom in six months time. Freedom to do whatever my heart desires. Freedom to write a book? Freedom to do what? Freedom to move to the sea? I suppose I'll have six months in Iraq to think about it.

This is a rare opportunity, one that comes to but a few. I suppose I've been blessed. Let's pray the blessings continue.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Business Plan for the next 500,000,000 years

1. Physical Immortality
2. Interstellar flight
3. Where to leave your brain

1. Physical immortality is key to all future business planning. It's what makes long-term business planning possible. John Maynard Keynes, the fabled economist, is often quoted, "in the long-run we are all dead." But what if we weren't? What's stopping any of us from living forever, or at least a heckuva lot longer? Couldn't it be possible for a man to be cloned, the genes of his clone modified so that the clone would be born without a brain - just a brain stem to sort out the vital functions - and the clone put into a high-speed incubator where fed by growth hormones and special nutrients it would become fully grown in less than a year? Then the brain of the man could be removed from his, say, 85-year-old body and transplanted into the fresh clone body. The nerve connections could all be made with the help of nanotechnology. The nerves in the brain would be matched up with the nerves in the brainstem. Once the brain has been successfully transplanted, period of physical therapy would be in order, to be sure. It might takes some years - decades even - for the whole process to be fully successful. That is, it would take some time to sort things out before an old-timer could quickly, safely and effectively begin a new life in a freshly cloned body. But such is the case with technological development. The fact remains, phyisical mortality is the most pressing health issue facing humainity. Of course it's solution should be sought with all the resources we can possibly muster.

It's not as daunting a challenge as would first appear. It might well require a good deal of animal testing, thereby causing their suffering and sacrifice. But laboratory animals from fruit flies to white mice to colts to monkeys have been and continue to routinely sacrificed for the sake of medical research geared toward saving, prolonging and improving the lives of people. Naturally, the less animal sacrifice and suffering the better. Once the project is properly managed, with grants and institutes set up to perform:

+ genetically modifed cloning
+ high-speed gestation and maturation
+ nanotech-aided nerve identification and matched connection-making
+ new body adjustment therapy

. . .then the scope will seem less like science fiction and more like the sort of large scale health research projects that take place today. Just a few years ago, an HIV+ diagnosis was a death sentence. Today it's a treatable condition. Phyisical immortality is of a different scale, sure, but do-able with the reach of known technology. What's more, with the most affluent of the world's population now starting to approach maturity, old age, the potential for private sector funding is enormous. And like the space program before it, the benefits of spin-off technology would be immense: spinal cord repair, organ farming, new insight into pathology and immunology, to name but a few.

The work of Harvard graduate Dr. Peter White demonstrates the feasibility of this concept:

In the 1970s, Dr. White demonstrated for the first time that a primate brain could be removed and kept alive if it was quickly attached to the circulatory system of another monkey. Although attached to the living body of another rhesus monkey the transplanted head, once the anesthesia wore off, was alert and aggressive in its expressions. The eyes even tracked the nurses and doctors as they moved around the operating theater. The monkey survived for eight days.

"With the significant improvements in surgical techniques and postoperative management since then, it is now possible to consider adapting the head-transplant technique to humans," Dr. White wrote in an article published in Scientific American magazine in 1999. - Volume 2, Number 48 - April 27, 2001

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Rainy Saturday Morning

No trip to the organic farmer's market this morning. It's raining and cold. My son Eldar reclines on the easy chair watching Star Trek. He celebrated his fifth birthday a week ago. He went yesterday to the birthday party of a classmate, a girl named Marta who also turned 5. When we left Marta's house, the little girl's mother encouraged her to kiss Eldar goodbye on the cheek. Eldar responded by kissing Marta on the cheek. This struck me as somehow inappropriate, encouraging little kids to be so physically affectionate.

My wisdom tooth was removed recently and a neighboring tooth is clearly cavity-riddled. And for some reason, there's a section of bone jetting into my mouth from the region where the wisdom tooth once was. So I've been suffering oral discomfort. I go to the dentist again on Wednesday, my third dentist so far in this ordeal. But I trust her. Her injections are not painful.

Today the plan is to place Eldar with his babysitter and for Lucia and I to celebrate her birthday with friends.

Eldar is on me

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Peacehike II

Yesterday saw the achievement of Peacehike II. Three hikers set forth from the beautiful mountain village of Paradsasvar, set in a valley surrounded by the high peaks of Hungary's Matra range. We climbed a succession of mountains, crossing a ridge to Mt. Galya, the second highest peak in the Matra range.

It was a steep climb much of the way, rewarded by magnificant views of the surrounding peaks and the villages dotting the valley below. Rasheed, Ralica and I continued ate lunch on a ridge over looking the Sasvar castle. We continued on to the summit of Mt. Galya, then headed down to Matraszentimre, the highest permanent settlement in Hungary.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Day After

So it seems that George Bush will be in office for four more years. How dull. It could have been so interesting to see some fresh measures taken to improve the state of things on this planet. Those political activists keen on pursuing positive change gravitate more to the Democrats. Republicans, on the other hand, opt instead to do things like produce armoured taxicabs to transport US brass around the dangerous streets of Iraq. Instead of working hard to enable positive change, to make things better, they opt instead to gain advantage from reinforcing for their dependents. Republicans play on fear and greed while Democrats are more about hope and inspiration. It appears that the forces of fear and greed have triumphed in the US.