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Archive for the month “October, 2012”

In Commemoration

Upon the occasion of my 59th birthday, This.

@ Maria Konovalenko

Ignoramuses?  Really?

Well, it is the web, there’s bound to be at least a few, so fair enough, but aren’t you painting with a terribly broad brush?

I sincerely doubt there are any who genuinely desire a return to the cyclical wars that plagued Europe’s history.  That said, is it really so ignorant to lament the method selected to interrupt the progression of violence?  And even if that laudable end does justify the questionable means, how is the present day manipulation of the political design somehow more worthy than those men and women who actually created the political process that began its existence as the Common Market?

Looking at the map you so helpfully provide, I remember a train trip I took once upon a time.  Starting at the cambio in the train station in Brindisi, Italy (where I exchanged my Greek Drachma for Italian Lira), I rode up the length of Italy through Rome – and a lovely few days stay that was – into Austria and on to Munich, (in then West) Germany.  Eventually, from there it was more riding the rails to the channel and across (via ferry – the channel tunnel was only an epic engineering design challenge at the time :)) to London, England.

Taking in the whole of the trip, I (along with pretty much everyone else on the continent) routinely exchanged for, and spent in a sense of routine security, Greek Drachma, Italian Lira, German Marks, French Francs and British Pounds (not to mention a good many US Dollars along the way).  Contemplate the economic burden each of those countries currently struggles with and tell me more about the “convenience” of “one currency”.   There is a value to be had from being able to apportion one segment of a common market from the rest via a regional (read: national) currency.  That each trades at a variable rate depending upon the circumstances of the day is a feature of the process, not a bug.  It’s the trade mechanism that adds the value, not the hypothetical “currency” traded in, I submit.

You undoubtedly have memories of your own country’s experience of an enforced, artificial political union.  Look about Moscow (indeed, all of Russia along with the rest of the old USSR) and decide for yourself; is the convenience of a universal currency, lack of internal borders and “peace” better or worse than what you see outside your window today?

Peace is the (mostly unintended) by-product of people vying for competitive success, deliberately just shy of the extremes of effort.  People thinking for themselves, about their own best interests – which necessarily include consideration of those about them with whom they interact, sometimes at great personal remove.  Looked at in that light, don’t you think giving a group of people looking to their own main chance a prize for doing the obvious might be fairly construed as just the tiniest bit silly and pretentious?

Please understand, it’s not the people of “Europe” whose efforts at not destroying their own stuff for a change is what is being called into question.  Only the urge among a pretentious few to award them for doing so, as if the rest of the continent were somehow too dim as a group to recognize the value of their own efforts at making and taking care of their own stuff.

That is ignorant.

I think of life extension in much the same way; who benefits from my (or anyone, really) having a longer healthy lifespan?  Obviously me, of course.  Maybe those around me (that is going to vary I’m afraid; I can be a bit of an a-hole at times) (I know, shocking isn’t it? :)), and arguably the rest of the country through the added taxes and societal fees we all pay.  The real value is to be found in the availability of the same result to everyone desiring it.

And why exactly would some government agency or bureaucrat have any interest in making such opportunity available to any of us except as doing so benefits them directly?

No.  Life extension is the innate human rights and freedom we are all born with extended.  No more, nor less.  That’s the prize European people, not to mention all the rest of us, should be working towards awarding ourselves. 

Peacefully, necessarily.

Dear Uncle

Now with update, too!

About my T-shirt idea; maybe you should consider answering the “When” question just a bit more indirectly than I originally suggested.  In place of the proper English spelling, maybe use the euro sign, a “u” with an umlaut, whatever letter that backwards-looking N is in the Cyrillic alphabet, and an upside-down lower case “t” instead*.

Granted, there will be some reduced emotional impact in response to our campaign in support of medical research (and I strongly recommend this lie exercise of our 1st Amendment rights to everyone who might consider buying one of these) as a result of this dissimulation, but we will all be the happier to have avoided the Bovril-themed boxcars transporting us to the Brideshead Gaol alternative.

* I’m too stupid to figure out how to make my keyboard actually make those letters appear on the screen.

Update 10/22/12:  Kevin Baker nailed it in comments.  Now to see if Uncle takes advantage of this financial risk opportunity.

A Transhuman Strategic Model

Maria Konovalenko is a young Russian woman who works for the Science for Life Extension foundation in Moscow, FRS  On her personal blog she recently put up a post titled Transhumanism Presentation in Tallinn at the NMR Meeting at which she made a live stage presentation of the following notion:

the opportunity to share our ideas about transhumanism as the ideology that can be used as the basis for uniting researchers and increasing the amount of funding.

  The idea seems to be most simply put as, while cooperation between disciplines can extend the available funding, the shortage of research funding is universal to all disciplines of study and won’t be relieved until there is widespread “social mandate” sufficient to compel politicians to allocate public monies appropriately.

It could work.  Maria cites the lunar landings of the ’60’s and ’70’s as support of this technology development model.  I, having personally been alive throughout that whole period of human history, wish to take this opportunity to suggest that there may be a better model to consider, one that doesn’t require that whole [fill in the blank] War framework of competition so critical to the US/USSR Moon Race.

Here in the US, we famously (and rather tiresomely upon occasion, I admit) point to the Preamble to the US Declaration of Independence in support of all manner of sometimes quite silly ideas.  But in this case, I believe the phrase “… that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” might have a more direct and broad application than Maria (and apparently a good many other people) may yet realize.

There are two basic formative concepts of human governance; that power (political or societal generally speaking) and the right to express it comes from an organized government of some description, or that governments are organized to compound and coordinate expression of the power inherent to individual human beings.  In the US, the fundamental socio/political structural assumption is that government expresses some portion of the combined power of the individual citizen’s majority will (this isn’t a political diatribe – we can have that screed/counter-screed go ’round some other time please).  My thought is that there is a transhuman business model in that concept – one that exceeds national borders and is potentially as inclusive of ordinary humanity as honest business practice and scientific research methodology can reasonably provide.

The Transhumanist model Maria and her employer seem to be promoting appears to be largely aligned with the Strategy for Engineered Negligible Senescence first proposed by Aubrey de Grey.  What seems necessary to advance and expand the reach of SENS-type life extension research and human therapies is a determinedly inclusive model of individual investment in, along with individual access to, life extending therapy(s).  Bearing in mind that this is a strategic model and will provoke more questions than answers, consider the following criteria:

1) In the US, a common retirement investment program for individual citizens is the 401(k) retirement plan; person invests a given amount weekly, taxes aren’t due until the money is withdrawn during retirement.  An international bank of solid reliability, for examples sake I’m going to say Swiss, accepts individual and group purchases of ownership shares in a life extension R&D and therapeutic clinic.  Actually, the bank sells stock with a face value of SF1000 in units of 1/100th of a share, referred to as a “point” of ownership, for SF10 each.  There is no trade in stock, nor any form of speculative market permitted (and discouraged by substantial tax and other financial penalties imposed on all participating parties to a trade or speculative market transaction); funds raised are equally divided into R&D and commercial therapy outlets.  To avoid concentration of ownership in the more economically powerful country’s citizenry, charitable organizations are encouraged to purchase blocks of stock for dispersal to their aid recipients in various self-help projects.  The bank creates an individual trust account (with stipulated inheritance details provided by the individual purchaser) as part of the stock sale and any profits eventually earned are deposited in the trust account.  The bank receives SF.001 for every point of stock sold and provides the trust arrangement as a customer service.  Other than the hopefully minimal occasion for collection of inheritance taxes, national governments receive the benefits of their citizenry’s extended tax paying lives.

2) Product quality (either commercial or initially research efforts) must be transparently held to rigorous standards.  I know it’s a stereotype, but it’s a well-earned one, and German standards of research evaluation and product manufacture QC ought to be the starting point from the outset.  Not restricted to German people doing the checking necessarily, but people dedicated to strict compliance with Teutonic attention to detailed accuracy of a certainty.

3) Half of all stock sales funds goes to R&D.  45% of all stock purchase funds goes to therapy clinic development.  5% of stock sales funds is reserved for administrative expenses (coordinating between different component labs and clinics and “government policy outreach” – what we call “lobbying” in the US).  I propose 100 million full value shares for the initial offering.  Once therapies and products do become available for sale, profits are divided among the investors apportioned on a per-share basis.

4) It seems apparent that initial stem cell-based therapies and procedures will largely be of a cosmetic nature.
That is what it is, and what it is is an already massive market.  Early life extension products and therapies promise to range from direct unguents and infusions (to include IV introduction of client-derived pluripotent stem cells) to eventually client stem cell cloned replacement organs and other body parts (this would require a cooperative arrangement with a surgical hospital I would assume); most patients wouldn’t be trauma sufferers.  Even for those that are, taking a cosmetic approach to correcting their injury isn’t an unworkable initial methodology.  

So, how to bring all this together?

Paris Hilton and Rooney Mara.

Paris Hilton has all-too-publicly tried her hand at several businesses and a parade of questionable activities and relationships; she has apparently finally found her place in life (mostly) out of the tabloids and her business niche solidly in the fashion industry – reputedly to the tune of US$100 million.  Ms. Hilton has her own perfume and couture outlets; she also has every reasonable expectation of being given a respectful hearing by her family’s various charitable foundations and trusts.  Hilton Hotels are located around the world; having a Paris Hilton-sponsored life extension therapy clinic co-located with her more usual business product line in every Hilton Hotel world-wide strikes me as a viable starting point for negotiation of a mutually advantageous opportunity for all parties.  The hotel gets added clientele, Paris’ business gets added patronage (initially from people well able to afford her product line) and life extension therapies and treatments get an advantageous premises from which to treat their patient clientele (paying guests of the hotel, of course).  Eventually, the life extension clinic model will extend beyond the confines of any hotel chain, but that’s just an added opportunity for Hilton Hotels (and many others) to broaden their investment portfolio.

Patricia Rooney Mara has a university degree in “international social policy, and nonprofits” and has founded her own non-profit charity Faces of Kibera.  In American football (the one with helmets, ferocious hitting and very sporadic contact of the human foot with the ball in play), the familial names Rooney and Mara are synonymous with words like “dynasty” and “greatness”.  Both families remain financially involved with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Giants respectively and have each been responsible for the creation of a number of charitable foundations and trusts.  If Miss Patricia’s charity were to purchase a quantity of the stock under discussion, financed by both branches of her family’s other charities, and use stock “points” as either an incentive for aid recipients to work to gain ownership for themselves (or local group entities) or as a product for local market development and local jobs (sales, education, etc), a fairly controlled environment could be created within which to develop tactics and practices for other charitable organizations to base their efforts on elsewhere around the world.  In addition, Ms. Mara’s personal education and public reputation makes her about as promising a spokesperson as can be realistically imagined, I think.

After Maria Konovalenko herself, of course.

Seriously. 

Paris Hilton and Rooney Mara have the assets to represent the “how” of life extension research and therapy very well indeed both on the commercial as well as the investment levels of discussion, but Maria Konovalenko is the one with the passion and the insight into the subject to present the “what” that comprises this novel and extraordinary conceptual worldview to an as-yet unconvinced and distracted public.  Everyone wants to buy something valuable or desirable; Maria Konovalenko has the assets to explain what life extension is and why it should be both real and attainable by ordinary people everywhere.

To sum up; at the least, a minimum of obstructive governmental policy and regulation will certainly be necessary for life extension research to achieve any of its promising potential as human therapies and treatments.  I submit that the primary key to life extension strategic success, however, lies in organizing and focusing the inherent power of the individual human being.  Only people have the capability to create from disparate components and intellectual imaginings objects that never existed before, and the faith and imagination to work for their eventual attainment.

For life extension to become more than a series of failed temptations and dashed hopes, it needs to involve people from all walks of life and every corner of the globe (I’ve always wanted to use that phrase).  Regular people who might not even be able to reliably spell life extension need to have a realistic hope of gaining personal investment in a means of attaining personal financial gain in a world of advancing technology development that leaves them less and less opportunity to succeed in life – with or without extension.

And that last point may be the ultimate saving grace of extending life after all.

Post-Debate Thoughts

Everybody has their reaction to last nights initial Presidential Debate up for all to see; here’s mine:

Mitt Romney is the more polished debator.  This has multiple potential applications for an elected executive office holder.

Barack Obama did nothing to support the image that has been constructed about him in the media these last few years.  This will have consequences on election day as most voters tend to be swayed by the degree a candidate appears to conform to their (the voters) expectations about the candidate.

One other note; many are making note of both candidates “character”.  The test for that will be found in both men’s behavior at the subsequent debates.  This was only the introductory tune-up match, more a test of each campaigns capability than it was of either man or party platform yet.

The Suck Really Blows

After a quick rummage through the closet, I got out my couth and decorum guidebook and looked up the proper response to this.

Herself needs to put up another donation link that says “Tam’s Snot Locker Fund”, because using her current ammo fund link is just a tad bit morbid under the circumstances, don’cha agree?  Doubt I’m the first in line and certain I won’t be the last, but you take my sincerity Tam and stack it up with all the rest – the good doctor will help you spread it around where it will do you the most good I’m sure.

And after the biopsy, remember the first rule of blogging – it didn’t happen without pictures.

🙂

Edited to add: I can’t make up my mind whether Triple Barrel Booger Blower is completely over the top or just a bit “too soon”.  I’m not an ARFCOMmie (Hi Kevin! :)), but it’s in the same spirit and all …

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