Sunday, May 30, 2010

Intelligent Design Does Exist and God Has Nothing to do with it...

Several days ago, largely un-noticed by the world in general due the the massive oil fuck-up by corporations gone wild (sounds like a video idea, does it not), an announcement was made which could change life on Earth forever. What portents it heralds, we know not.

The announcement to which I refer is the creation of a totally new scientific field, ushered in by an important achievement that gives us unheard of new abilities. This new field is the field of Synthetic Biology, and the achievement to which I refer is the creation of a synthetic life form. Much like a micro-sized Frankenstein, a couple of scientists inserted a completely man-made DNA sequence into a hollowed-out cell membrane, which then began to reproduce becoming the first human-created life form.

This is groundbreaking in many ways. Quite shockingly, the impact of this has been missed by many who should be concerned about the future it foretells, and what it means to many longstanding cultural and religious dogmas. In an era when many religious people are concerned about protecting unborn fetuses, what does this mean to their arguments? Is a synthetic life form somehow not alive? Can synthetic life, taken to it's highest form, have a soul? How come man can create life when only God should be able to do this? Does that mean there is no God?

I am truly shocked the religious zealots in our midst have not latched onto this. In 50 years, this is going to be huge and will completely invalidate much of their belief paradigm. Man will have taken the role of creator.

Before we start worrying about Tyrell Corporation taking over our little anarcho-capitalist dystopia, let's discuss a little about what this little scientific achievement can develop into. That future we all imagined with big clanking metal robots... It's all gone. Nope. No Star Wars. In the future, the real robots will be grown in a test tube using designer DNA. Biologically designed custom life-forms for every task. Computers and digital electronics not needed.

If you need a worker that is 3 feet tall with long fingers to get into that hard to get spot, now you are in luck, because Wal-Mart will have them. If you need workers who can perform back-breaking labor in extreme heat, well, they will sell them too. And when you have this ability, where does it end? When does life end and robot slave begin? The comparisons with Blade Runner and Gattaca have already begun, and rightly so.

Very soon, humans will be living in a far different world than we can currently imagine. With the rise of artificial intelligence and quantum computing, coupled with the ability to create designer life at will, how will humanity retain it's humanity? Imagine if you will, a post-climate change world, where humans have redesigned life to survive the hostile conditions.When this day comes, will we still be true humans? What about this new world filled with synthetic creatures, created by us, the new human gods?

Reference: Scientific Abstract about Synthetic Biology

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Live at the Napa Insane Asylum, It's the Cramps...

The has to be the coolest thing to ever happen in Rock and Roll. Screw the Beatles! The most insane band ever, actually played at a real funny farm. It is a wonder the doctor's let them leave when they finished playing. To my knowledge, this is the only time Punk Rock has been used by doctors for therapeutic purposes. The doc's actually invited them to play. How cool is that for 1978!

The Cramps have always been my all time favorite band, this just seals the deal. With the death of Lux Interior, last year, Rock and Roll truly died. With any luck, he will rise from the grave and slay the evil Jonas Brothers and all that other crap that infects the radio in these sad times.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Uncanny Dragon's Blood Tree

Most of you have probably seen the little packs of incense sold in shops under the name Dragon's Blood. I have always wondered what exactly it was.

This stuff comes from the Dragon's Blood tree, found in the Socotra Archipelago. It is a tree that is surrounded by many myths, that has the unique quality of bleeding red sap. It has been used medicinally for centuries, mostly for respiratory disorders and diarrhea. For a short while, it was also used as a toothpaste, though I imagine it made quite a sight, as it is also a very potent dye.

It is most widely known as being one of the ritualistic plants used for magical purposes, mostly in American Southern Hoodoo, and New Orleans Voodoo. It was used to make Dragon's Blood Ink, a special type of ink used for drawing seals and talisman's. It is also a traditional component of the famous Mojo Hand.

The unique island from which it comes, is classed as a UN World Heritage Site, and the biodiversity found there is largely untouched by man. Lately, an influx of tourists has caused a bit of a decline in this unusual plant, and scientists fear for it's future when climate change really hits, as it is found nowhere else in the world.