Sunday, April 26, 2009

pandemic beginning?

I'm usually not the kind of guy that buys into the hype about diseases, but this swine flu has me jittery.  Probably mostly because I teach in a school with many ties to Mexico, and the flu has been discovered in Kansas.  Dickinson county, which is a couple of hours away, but right down the interstate from me.

It's times like this that being a teacher might not be the healthiest career choice.

I'm encouraged by the fact that so far the cases have been mild, so if I catch it soon, it will hopefully be milder than when it becomes more virulent and wipes out a third of the United States.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I love cell phones... except for talking

I have this thing about talking on the phone.

I hate it. 

I always have hated talking on the phone. I don't know why.  It just kind of fills me with dread.  I wouldn't last 10 minutes as a telemarketer.  I would rather talk to someone IRL, or email or text.

I like text.  I'm one of those people waiting for texting to replace voice-mail.

But voice-mail is still better than talking to people on the phone for real.  I have a paid account to slydial, and I use it often.
It's so weird.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

can wires be human?

I'm predicting an argument in a few minutes.

As part of a science book club, we've been reading The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil.  Some people consider Kurzweil a prophet of technological superiority, and some consider him to be a crank.  I'm somewhere in the middle.

Kurzweil predicts that most of us alive today will reach the point where we will modify ourselves enough to be considered "nonbiological" - we will have replaced some (or all) of our flesh and bone with synthetic and nanorobotic substitutes.

One of my friends (a biologist, natch) is horrified at the idea, saying we would lose our humanity.  She thinks there is something necessary about our messy biology.

I totally disagree.  To say that we stop being human if we become electronic, I think, assumes that there is something beyond our bodies and brains that makes us human.  I think that is one of the ways supernaturalism still sneaks into our thinking.  I mean, if humans are self-contained in their skin, then our humanity is also self-contained. We really just define human as "us".  Then we would still be human even if we replaced it all. 

Otherwise, where is the point at which we stop being human?  When we replace half of our internal organs?  Three-fourths?  The brain?