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Dave's Diary : May 1996

30 April
I visit London to discuss HI with a hitherto disembodied cyber-critic. We meet at Victoria. Physical descriptions have been exchanged more appropriate to a Cold War spy-thriller. The danger, too, is certainly present; perhaps more so, for one should not philosophise while crossing roads. There is always the salutary example of the late Roland Barthes; linguistic idealists do not deserve the indignity of getting knocked down and killed by a Parisian bus. It transpires that my critic is Swedish-born, betrayed only by his completely flawless English. The fellow is almost frightening in his intellectual seriousness. I feel dilettantish in comparison, more the merchant of a happy-clappy, feel-good self-improvement manual rather than honest-to-god philosophers' philosophy. I recall, slightly wistfully, my ancestral adolescent namesake. He thought happiness was an intellectually corrupting impediment to his all-important search for Truth. The upshot of our meeting? It seems transhumanist-influenced philosophers may feel that the greatest pitfall of genetically pre-programmed sublimity is the risk of our getting irreversibly "stuck", as it were, at some sub-optimal level of development. Getting waylaid in paradise and thus missing the boat to Heaven is less of a worry to the ethical negative utilitarian. So my own current focus of anxiety is rather different. Just as, I believe, certain important mood-congruent thoughts can be entertained only while happy, could there be others, no less important, which were simply inconsistent with any such mode of well-being, however cunningly encephalised? This would be particularly tricky if strategic, risk-involving political choices had to be taken in the transitional era as post-humanity bootstraps its way out of the primordial Abyss. Crucial in this early phase is guarding political decision-makers against the catastrophic loss of self-insight characteristic of contemporary victims of euphoric mania. The problem is, I think, biotechnically soluble; but I'll definitely need to include a decent response in the Objections to HI section shortly. Wow, what a change from welcome but slightly less thought-provoking druggy cyber-messages of "Yo! Keep taking the tablets!" Ethical hedonism is a broad church.

29 April
Sensing a great aching void in my life, I download the latest version of Netscape 3, Atlas. Awesome. Part of me knows I'm being suckered by the hype. Ethically, it's vastly more important to work out how to dismantle the hedonic treadmill than tarting up the scenery with the latest techno-fripperies. Intellectually, too, the changes wrought by psychedelic agents eclipse by orders of magnitude any rearranging of the sensory deck-chairs; computer-driven or otherwise. Their time will doubtless come. I nonetheless find myself getting childishly excited. In computing, every day and in every way, things really do seem just to get better and better.

28 April
There's a splendidly refreshing section in the latest UK pop-science mag The New Scientist. It's devoted, not to some hot piece of techno gee-whizzery, but to an account of the nature and biological substrates of emotion. It even includes an item on the musical taste of baby chicks; their distinct and behaviourally expressed preference, it seems, is for Pink Floyd. Even though behaviourism is intellectually moribund, the impending corpse is still prone to reflex jerks and convulsive death spasms. So emotion still often gets treated as a vaguely woolly and disreputable topic, rather than as something without which our scientific and philosophical endeavours have no significance in the slightest. For it's not just bizarre that anything whatsoever exists. It's odd that anything should matter, or seemingly not matter, as well. Of course, it's easy to say, "Ah, but nothing really really matters, since the universe doesn't care what we feel: we're just projecting our feelings on to it." Yet we're as much a part of the stuff of the world as any other bit. Hence mattering, like greenness, the taste of cinnamon, or any other intrinsic aspect of the texture of consciousness, is as much a feature of the stuff of the universe as any. Mattering isn't, in any deep sense, explained by evolution, either, noisy populist rhetoric aside. Natural selection schematically accounts for why certain states rather than others have been differentially favoured over time. What it doesn't explain are the intrinsic properties of the menu of options itself.

27 April
One of my few regrets about the current DP psychochemical regimen is that it has diminished my capacity to undergo lucid dreams. (An intense dream-life is possibly a depressive residue of my adolescent "hyper-cholinergic frenzy". The neurotransmitter acetylcholine has been dubbed "the stuff that dream are made of"; and indeed one way of inducing vivid dreams is simply to swallow choline tabs before bedtime. In a few people, choline-boosting agents may tend to subdue mood; so prudence is in order). One consequence of a witches' brew which boosts dopaminergic function, however, can be inhibition of cholinergic neurons even in the absence of any direct anti-cholinergic action. It seems nonetheless that this otherwise cognitively undesirable result can be offset by the vital role of meso-cortico-limbic dopamine in enhancing intellectual performance and motivation. At any rate, I think it's a pity dreaming doesn't loom intellectually larger in the lives and conceptual universe of analytic philosophers ("Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake." -Thoreau); or indeed, that when it does figure significantly, they habitually get diverted down sterile sceptical blind alleys ("How do I know I'm not dreaming?" etc.) For if you decide to go to, say, the movies in the course of a lucid dream, then all those tired strictures against homunculi, the Cartesian theatre and pictures in the head just seem to miss the point. This is because unless you're wandering off Astral Planing to visit New Age friends in a faerie realm of Cosmic Consciousness, then the show sure isn't taking place anywhere else. (I find I can fly, lucidly or otherwise, in many of my dreams; but, disconcertingly, none of the zombies I host ever expresses amazement that this is so. I once mentioned my night-time flight habits to a New Age acquaintance. She casually asked how high I travelled. My truthful answer was (sometimes) "stratospherically!". She was mortified. How high one flies, it transpires, is an index of one's relative wisdom and enlightenment. These were two attributes she felt I singularly lacked. Yet now she was confronted with evidence that I, unlike those suspect Transcendentally Meditating "bouncers", was blessed with veritable Buddha-like sagacity). In fact, one feature I find striking about a dreamworld is just that it can be huge. The extensive distances phenomenally occupied (assuming, that is, the dreamer is uninsightfully unlucid and adopts a naively empiricist approach to evidence of his own virtual eyes) illustrate how neuronal firings standardly encode phenomenal spaces/virtual worlds supporting different laws, magnitudes and metrics from the conception of physical space modelled, nominally or otherwise, by one's awake persona. One day, nanotechnology may enable our trans-human successors to experience arbitrarily large universes while at the same time they occupy indefinitely small physical volumes. How small, I wonder? If, as some of the Big Names are now seriously and belatedly contemplating, what-it's-likeness is fundamental to the Universe, and not an anomalous late-grafted add-on, then perhaps more energetic modes of superstring vibration express far greater intensities of "raw feel" than today's comparatively feeble waggles. Theoretical physicists playfully remark that all the really interesting things in the world happened during the very first second. (This was the symmetry-breaking period when the "four forces" of Nature successively "froze out" from the original unified "superforce" extant during the 10-44 sec Planck era.) Opponents of the notion that what-it's-likeness goes "all the way down" are generally over-impressed by physical size. I, on the other hand, tend to be more impressed by our routine God-like powers of virtual cosmogenesis from small webs of nervous tissue. For one knows from dream-life that one can conjure in and out of existence vast cosmic immensities in milliseconds. It's far more disconcerting to think we each do the same simply by blinking when awake. Thus it's not only beliefs and desires which alternate from the occurrent to the merely dispositional, but whole virtual worlds. Yet so long as the psychoneural connections and activation weights mostly retain their integrity, then abrupt cosmic rebirthing is presumably no less feasible, albeit environmentally selected, in day-time consciousness. World-generation implicates the very same VR-world-making super-cells. How genetically adaptive it must be for one's post-infantile development to embody so much common-sense ignorance of the world. Alas it's hard work, and not much fun at all, being a realist only by metaphysical inference. There are times I could actually rather fancy a bit of angst-ridden Heideggerian Being-in-the-world.

26 April
In medieval times, an animal which killed a human being might be accused of murder. A trial date would be set. Counsel were appointed for the defence as well as the prosecution. If the unfortunate creature was convicted by the court, it would then be ceremonially hung. Most probably our descendants will view our analogous tendency morally to blame each other for the way we behave as equally quaint; a form of human exceptionalism which simply reflects our ignorance of the causes involved. I try to bear this in mind when forced to contemplate the actions of the current governing clique in the UK. Yet their willingness to jettison every vestige of principle in their eagerness to export weapons of death and oppression to corrupt medieval despotisms with appalling human rights records illustrates a theory of mine: namely that one can only find the equations of physics beautiful if one doesn't really understand what they entail. A while ago a national newspaper offered a crate of champagne to any reader who could point to a single act of French post-war foreign policy which wasn't motivated by sheer perceived self-interest. I can't off-hand think how one might claim the prize if it had been pitched at governments nearer home.

25 April
I am reading John Leslie's "Universes" (1989, Routledge: ISBN 0-415-04144-9) Much of it strikes me as wholly misconceived; but Chapter Four on the multiplicity of universes is superlatively good.

24 April
In recent months I have become increasingly anxious about the effects on the quality of people's personal relationships of selective serotonin re-uptake blockers fluvoxamine, fluoxetine(Prozac), paroxetine, sertraline and citalopram). This concern stems not from some Damascene conversion to the wisdom of Mother Nature (surprise!), nor an in-depth study of the medical literature, but from a combination of speculation, anecdote and impressionistic evidence. A lot of the people I know take SSRIs, under nominal medical supervision or otherwise. On the positive side, the more widespread treatment of something as horrible and under-diagnosed as depression is mercifully gaining ground. SSRIs are undoubtedly preferable to binge-alcoholism and other forms of uncontrolled recreational drug abuse. If SSRIs retain their prescription-only status, most of the people who'd derive greatest benefit from taking them simply won't be resourceful and energised enough to get hold of them. As it is, SSRIs leave some users feeling "better than well"; help a lot more; and make a few people feel worse (perhaps via indirect adverse effects on dopamine function). Yet one of their potential problems, as well as advantages, is that their long-term potency often goes unrecognised by the user. This is because the effects of enhanced (specific receptor sub-types of) serotonin function include a new-found and somewhat paradoxical sense of "normality" and of things being OK. One doesn't typically think in such terms, but a sense of humdrum ordinariness is a state of chemical consciousness like any other. It's just another (often) genetically advantageous psychological adaptation which evolution has pseudo-randomly stumbled upon and co-opted. Although SSRIs do make a few people initially feel weird, many more users experience over time the very reverse of such common feelings as derealisation and depersonalisation. (The effects of SSRIs are in some ways the opposite of LSD, which works in a different way on 5-HT2a receptors, promotes an intense sense of weirdness, and induces effects which are drastically attenuated when taken by SSRI users). It is this lack of a sense of feeling "drugged" which can cause significant problems, and even life-crises, when people come off their particular agent. For they commonly undergo an ill- recognised "rebound" or withdrawal effect. In the case of Prozac, with its abnormally long plasma half-life and even longer-lived active metabolites, the ex-users often just don't realise what is happening when things start going wrong in their lives a month or more after stopping the drug. But just as problematic as coming off SSRIs can be some of the effects of being on them. I'm not thinking here of the better-known and distressing side-effects now more commonly cited in the literature and clinical practice - sexual dysfunction and, sometimes, diminished emotional depth and intensity of experience. Instead I'm worried about an effect that whose possibility should have been mooted in humans given the results of animal studies. Non-human animals dosed on Prozac (and unlike many equally ardent animal rightists, it's only suffering I find morally obnoxious; I'm all in favour of happy rats and monkeys) may not just drastically rise in the pecking order: in many ways they elude its constraints altogether by declining to assume, even selectively, a subordinate role. Prozac-animated rats and -monkeys aren't wantonly aggressive - they just won't stand for being pushed around. Now this might sound great for people - for the (genetically) adaptive evolution of depression and submissive subordinate status are almost certainly causally linked. Yet, crucially to my concern, all our relationships with each other rest on an unspoken and often unrecognised network of emotional needs and dependencies. Prozac and its friends can radically change these interdependencies. This is great if it means an (emotionally or physically) battered woman is at last enabled to leave an abusive spouse. But it can prove tragic and disastrous in other, far more benign contexts. Such claims are impossible to prove, but I'm pretty sure I've seen Prozac-driven break-ups and bust-ups occur. This shouldn't be construed as a call for scaling back modern psychiatric medicine. On the contrary, we need much more sophisticated everyday psychopharmacotherapy (phew! - luckily it'll be far more fun-filled than such a mouthful probably sounds), not less. Early scientific modern medicine, for example, was frequently inferior to homeopathy. This was because the inert dosages given by homeopaths meant their patients didn't get any worse. Analogously today, toxic psychiatry can still occasionally lead to worse results than the conditions it treats. Fortunately such fears are far less well-founded than they used to be, even a decade ago. Yet I would be extremely concerned if I had a partner who was going to take Prozac, because the drug could well change the subtle psychochemical dynamics of our relationship. Forewarned is not fully forearmed, although it might help a bit. I'd like to see some controlled studies done. But how? It's a methodological minefield, I know.

23 April
The British Conservative Government was today shamed into dropping opposition to a world-wide ban on anti-personnel mines. It also got defeated in the House of Lords on one measure of its viciously mean-spirited and racist Asylum Bill. A government win would have effectively led to shattered victims of torture being sent back to the very states which abused them in the first instance. The trouble with the present administration is that one's capacity for indignation has been drained by years of corrosive free-market ideology - and levels of greed, corruption, and sleaze unparalleled in recent UK history. Thank God they're on their way out.

22 April
A Website whose declared purpose was "to help make the world a better place" would leave many unfortunate visitors squirming. They'd probably want to crawl under the nearest table with embarrassment, never to return. On the other hand, HedWeb's expressed wish to contribute, however marginally, to "eradicating the biological substrates of aversive experience" sounds tough-minded and austere enough, I hope, not to alienate the more robust sort of net-surfer right from the outset. In any case, someone wishing on his worst enemy only a fate better than Heaven surely can't be all bad. At any rate, the full financial clout of BLTC Research was recently deployed to hire a 14 year-old computer-games columnist. What could be a more effective way, within the bounds of HedWeb's exacting standards of ethical decency, of attracting a younger audience of potentially receptive and uncorrupted minds than tapping in to the voice of the New Generation? The Voice's first copy arrives today. Nightmare. An unrelieved hymn to gore and violence. It culminates in a paean of praise to the charmingly named Duke Nuke 'Em. Given my views on censorship, I can scarcely digitally spike it on the false pretext of exercising editorial quality-control. So where am I going to put it? All I can think of for now is giving it the prominence it deserves and uploading it amongst the large and unspoilt acres of amiably herbivorous jpgs. And as far removed as possible from Melissa's mysteriously well-investigated PhotoFun. This will require some thought.

21 April
I go down with a bout of Javaphobia. Java, of course, is a "simple, robust, object-oriented, platform-independent, multi-threaded, dynamic general-purpose programming environment." This is a splendid incantation, and one of which I'm rather proud. I chant it, sing-song fashion, to anyone who asks, and several of the uninitiated who don't. Unfortunately, it also just about exhausts my knowledge of the topic. Why can't picking up one's first computer language occur by a process of effortless osmosis, as if one were learning one's native tongue? Content is King, one is told, but on the Web it's liable to get cast as a minor princeling from a cadet branch of the family. Will nobody return to HedWeb, I wonder anxiously, unless greeted with a flimflam of Javan applets? What can I use, or who can I bribe, to do the job? Do I need an opening applet of dancing chorus-girls singing "Happy days are here again"? The Web is not conducive to inducing feelings of Zen-like tranquillity and contentment.

20 April
I read how studies show ("Studies show" is my favourite way to begin a sentence; with time however, one forgets whether the original source of one's info was The New England Journal Of Medicine or Readers Digest; these days probably the latter) that performance on so-called IQ tests has consistently risen since the War. Nobody knows, or at least nobody knows that they know, why this might be the case. Studies also consistently show that the incidence of clinically defined depression has been dramatically rising too. In both cases, the obvious confounding variables have been factored out or controlled. Wild and fanciful speculation - are our grossly unnatural and extended educational practices leading statistically to hypertrophied cholinergic function which is eliciting compensatory feedback changes elsewhere in the brain? (Hyper-cholinergic frenzy is characteristic of some depressions and perhaps much good (and bad) philosophy. Many smart drugs are designed to boost cholinergic function, and cholinomimetics can indeed sometimes subdue mood, whereas "dumb-drug" anti-cholinergics tend to be mood-brighteners.) By some indices, people who are mildly but not severely depressed tend to show superior insight: apparently they lack, amongst other things, the self-serving, self-deceptive capacity of (so-called) euthymics. Anyway, whether it's unfounded conjecture or otherwise, sometimes excessive meditation on What It All Means leaves one tempted to think that the unexamined life is most worth living. A more useful lesson might be that (post-)human species-self-development really must use a twin-track approach of systematically enhancing both mood and cognitive performance. Overcoming our DNA-driven intellectual snobbery will be easier when, by shallow behaviourist criteria at least, embedded silicon etc computers can comprehensively outperform us. In the meantime, a combination of speciesism and intellectualism leads us to practise the most hideous atrocities on the most frivolous pretexts. We may ask with incredulity, "Why Didn't We Bomb The Death Camps?" while our own mini-Auschwitz's of murder and torment are re-enacting its horrors up and down the country ("But they're only animals (babies/jews/blacks...etc.)") Ah; so that's OK then....

19 April
I wake from some very bizarre dreams. (A dreaming MAOI-taker? Enzyme MAO-inhibition is indeed linked to REM-suppression. Presumably a choice of agents and dosages which offers only incomplete MAO-a inhibition - but virtually total sabotage of type-b - is responsible for my spared dreaming function. Interesting). It's odd how blasé we all are about going completely psychotic for several hours. Or how from a dreamless sleep one can undergo a cold-reboot in seconds and carry on as though nothing had happened. Not everyone shares my conviction that the fundamental difference between dreaming and being "awake" lies in the mode of state selection. One's brain/virtual world states get sharply selected by the environment in the latter but not the former setting; but in neither case does one transcendentally hop outside oneself to explore Reality. So daily enlightenment for the perceptual realist must be a still more miraculous accomplishment than a waking virtual worlder. Be that as it may, later in the day I'm delighted to receive a visit from the admirable sea-green incorruptible of html purism, Aberdonian exile Kieran Turner. Though in most respects a gentle and herbivorous beast, he does like whipping open the bonnet and inspecting one's web page source docs to check for ideological purity. Alas, my venial little Netscapisms and empirically based, suck-it-and-see approach to mark-up tags do not win his approval. Maybe I should learn how to use an authoring tool; Microsoft Word Internet Assistant, perhaps.

18 April
I try a "hedonism" keyword search on Alta Vista. Hmmmm.... It seems heavy-duty ethics tracts are not entirely the norm. Any listing of my own rip-roaring page-turner of a tome is presumably buried beneath the mountain of personal and porno ads. Several of the more ideologically-charged sites, like Chris Bassett's spirited credo, even seem designed to foster the impression that hedonism should be fun... Some people really do have a knack of missing the point.

17 April
I am spending too much time net-surfing. After telling myself I am just logging on to check my e-mail, I awake from a trance-like state three hours later only when my body starts agitating for its next fix of caffeine. In spite of the seemingly mega-death dosages I consume, caffeinism really does seem to be a pretty harmless addiction. Studies have shown it reduces the incidence of depression and enhances male virility in later life. I suspect I'd continue to get caffeinated even if users ran the risk of growing two heads; in part admittedly because past indignities practised on the one I've got at present mean that making a back-up copy might be prudent.

16 April
Read extremely distressing account in the excellent Nando of the vile ways the Japanese and Faeroese kill whales. We tend reflexively to assume that our greater, albeit self-diagnosed, intelligence is bound up with a greater capacity of human beings to suffer. As far as I can tell, however, the capacity for rational inference will at most modulate and complexify suffering. It won't magnify its raw intensity. Given a set of all too plausible assumptions, creatures with larger but biochemically similar pain centres to humans are liable to suffer more - an awful thought. By far my greatest dread in life, and one that leaves the fripperies of this diary seeming utterly trivial, is that (some variant of) the Everett interpretation of Quantum Mechanics is true. This is because if it's correct, then there are googolplexes of branches of the Universal Wave Function with things going on in them far worse than, say, Auschwitz. Their real dreadfulness vastly exceeds my room-101 imagination and even notational resources. Moreover since on standard Block Universe scenarios such branches, like everything else, just (tenselessly) exist, then they are simply an unalterable fixture of Reality. One would have greater confidence that Everett-inspired approaches are wrong were they not consistently misunderstood by (many but certainly not all of) their critics; a lot of whom, perhaps understandably, are unable to take the imaginative leap the relative state perspective involves. Quantum cosmologists and many philosophers of science are starting to come to terms with the fact it has to be taken all too seriously. All I can do, as a mathematically semi-literate outsider, is to cling idly to the sceptical and as yet ungrounded hope that quantum theory will need to be modified; or that wave functions, somehow, really do collapse.

15 April
Read first accounts of Tucson conference on Consciousness. Would have been vastly improved if participants took DMT, ketamine or LSD, not necessarily all at the same time. On a heavier note, one of the best arguments I know against ever trying psychedelic drugs, and one which as a negative utilitarian I'd endorse, is simply that the naïve subject simply can't make an informed choice about what (s)he's about to let him- or her-self in for. Different modes of consciousness are incommensurable - in a sense more extreme than Kuhn ever dreamt of in his conceptions of intra-scientific paradigm shifts. Perceptually-based analogies of a blind man being granted sight etc don't even hint at the outlandish realities which psychedelics make dangerously accessible. On the one hand, the science and philosophy of mind can mature beyond its currently constricted evidential base only when it becomes a true experimental discipline. Yet I'd have to argue on ethical grounds that hard-core psychedelics should be explored only when each trip will assuredly be pleasurable. This can be guaranteed only in a future era when the experimenter's emotional well-being is pharmacologically and/or genetically underwritten. Beautiful mesolimbic euphoriants will systematically infuse whatever types of experience (s)he undergoes. In the meantime, methodologically unselfconscious reams of a priori philosophising and standard-issue third-personal science are a far safer bet emotionally for most of us. Intellectually, alas, they can be pretty thin. One day our dominant, abstract propositional conceptions of knowledge will be enriched if not superseded by state-dependent psychochemical ones. I guess that era is some way off.

14 April
Received a disconcertingly incisive set of comments on The Hedonistic Imperative from an academic(?) at the LSE. Keyword search failed to disclose his place in the great cyber-scheme of things. Frustrating. All across the Net, electronic publishing is liberating thousands of authors from the old-style editorial interference which had been cramping their style. Freedom from such tedious distractions as referees, publishers and the peer-review process is doubtless an intoxicating experience for a writer; though not invariably his audience. Unfortunately defying censorship also tends to involve flouting such things as quality-control. I find I'm courageously doing the former; while one's critics are clearly guilty of the latter.

13 April
Ageing Gatey today got the functional equivalent of anabolic steroids in the form of an ISDN connection. Rang ISP. Were they set to run bonding, I asked nonchalantly, as though here in Lower Rock Gardens we talk of little else. Not yet apparently. I sound suitably crestfallen. I must ring Sam, a true techie's techie. Funnily enough, he'd asked me the same question only an hour ago. As a late-comer to computing I tend, subliminally for the most part, to rely on an unproven form of sympathetic magic. If I use sophisticated technology, some of its sophistication will rub off on me. Counter-induction has consistently failed me so far, so surely it's over-due to succeed.

12 April
A cautionary tale for fellow Net novices on our vulnerability to the vagaries of the search engines and any other info-gathering creepy-crawlies. Here on Hedweb (motto: "A Family Page For A Family Audience") I'd been slightly concerned that one or two of our pictures of herbivorous fluffies innocently frolicking might still prove a little too racy for older surfers. Responsibly enough, the relevant shots have therefore been prefaced with a note intended for parental guidance. A photograph of a pair of frisky young elephant calves, I seem to recall, is preceded by a warning that if pictures of animalistic under-age sex might disturb, the surfer might wish to consider leaving the site for a younger audience. In spite of such advice, two weeks later HedWeb's hit-count suddenly decided to go through the roof. Gratified if somewhat puzzled that a respectable mix of analytic philosophy, poetry and wild-life pictures was proving such a success, I realised that perhaps one's naive good intentions might have been misinterpreted. Oh dear. Anyone wishing to protect the hard-won privacy of their site from the prying eyes of intruding visitors may find it prudent to avoid any similar slip-up.

11 April
Back to Steve Lehar's Plato's Cave. It's the starkest outline I've come across on the Net of a conception of the human predicament which blighted my early youth. Internalise it, and you can feel unutterably lonely, as though condemned to solitary confinement for life and with no prospect of remission, ever. Russell ( "One never sees anything but the inside of one's own head" ) anticipated some such sort of view. Lockwood today holds an interesting variant. I use it myself in the thought-experimental guise in Alone Amongst The Zombies. "Philosophy leaves everything as it is" said Wittgenstein. Oh no it doesn't, Ludwig. Fortunately, these days I'm happier and shallower.

10 April
Received charming e-mail from a vegan ahimsa-driven computer scientist; not a combination I'd hitherto believed biologically possible. Lucy comes round to inspect the c.v. and pics she'd given me to upload. I'm relieved she approves. I'd been a shade worried they might be a little too mischievous for our audience; since this is a (dysfunctional?) Family Page, sort of. But then as the exotic Bruce-creature indignantly remarked, "She's wearing the knuckle-dusters the wrong way round!"

9 April
A frustrating evening spent wrestling with notes on "Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing" and hunting for some coloured buttons for my Web page; no fruitful synergy has yet materialised between the two. Gatey, my pre-Cambrian 486, is running faster now I've zapped the boot-sector virus she'd contracted. I wonder how? My computer gurus unanimously tell me that Windows 95 is the real virus; yet life is too short to learn Unix. All I need is another 24 Meg of RAM and my productivity will be enhanced, I am convinced.

8 April
Moving house allegedly ranks with divorce and losing one's job in the scale of personal traumas. Sacrificing a much-loved home page on the altar of loading speed can only be marginally worse than either, but is still very stressful. Apologies for any dead links that may creep through the revision process.

7 April
It really is time I did something about my amorphous home page. It needs slimming down, too, for the benefit of users who aren't testing their new T3 connections. Also I've developed a hopefully ungrounded suspicion that there may be slightly more to multi-media authoring than sticking pictures off fluffy herbivores, humanoid or otherwise, beside big slabs of prose. Sigh. So much to learn.

6 April
Still fine-tuning my drug regimen. For optimal emotional and cognitive well-being. I prefer essentially complete inhibition of MAO-b together with moderate inhibition of type-a. I recall once reading that 80% plus inhibition of type-a starts seriously to down-regulate dopamine function, but I've just failed in a Medline search. Has anyone got a reference?

5 April
Acceding to popular request, Melissa has kindly given me some more of her poetry and photos. I'll be able to upload them when I've access to a scanner. It seems beautiful poetry is far more widely appreciated among young males than popular sexual stereotype would allow. I really must try to enrich my simplistic gene's-eye view of the world.

4 April
Reading Evolution and Healing: The New Science of Darwinian Medicine by Randolph Nesse and George Williams. Superb.

3 April
My birthday. Triggers predictable ruminations on the nature of time, identity and mortality. Fend off inquiries about my age with my standard rejoinder: the half-life of a typical protein in the brain is about 10 days, so we're all pretty much the same age really. Whimsical thought: Humans regret their seemingly inevitable future temporal boundary. Would it be possible to have creatures who grieved over the fact they had spatial boundaries, but didn't worry about their temporal ones? Would they be any more or less rational?

2 April
Get hold of a 1000-page monster of a book, Netscape 2 Unleashed. What a splendidly empowering feeling that title gives. Dropped from a great height, the tome in question would doubtless make a formidable instrument of medieval siegecraft; but I fear many of its subtleties will be wasted on me for now.

1 April
I decide I'm going to keep a diary.

Dave's Diary : May 1996

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