E-mail Dave : email@example.com
Dave's Diary : index
A correspondent e-mails to ask if I am still alive; yes.
I try to register "wta.com" on behalf of the World Transhumanist Association. I discover instead that a dastardly domain-name speculator has snatched it before me. He now wants $3 000. It had been "on hold" before Internic deleted it. Apparently speculators run self-executing programs against the Internic database and grab any plums as they get flushed. I was several hours too late. Curses. I suppose this is somewhat less shocking than the $10 000 demanded by the registrant of the obvious three-letter acronym for one of my (virtual) commercial companies [owner "Domains For Sale"]. My deep sense of moral indignation is tempered by the fact that I, too, have been staking my claim to a share of the namespace in anticipation of the info-warfare that lies ahead. Mark's rather nifty little script means one can register a domain name, set up a virtual server, bill a client and give anyone remote ftp access in four clicks of a mouse without getting out of bed. Cute. Perhaps this makes one a "system administrator" as well as "webmaster"; it is hard to be sure.
I haven't yet discovered my optimal dosage of reboxetine. It's a relatively clean and subtle agent which fills a real gap in the Anglo-Saxon market. I aim for pretty much complete MAO-b inhibition with 10 mg daily of selegiline (l-deprenyl) and perhaps 80% MOA-a inhibition with 300 mg moclobemide. This is not a mixture which is wise or prudent for everyone. I wash it down with 30mg of DHEA and the usual witches' brew of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. I also eat snacks, though the dangers posed by consuming such old-fashioned chemical cocktails may cloud one's enjoyment of its taste. For one knows there are no safe foods, only safe dosages. On any particular pharmacological regimen, it takes a while before I discover who and what I'm going to be. Strictly speaking, one can make only an informed guess in advance. Alas, I rarely have the patience to wait as long as I probably should do for a proper washout-period. Ideally, washouts allow one's receptors fully to re-regulate. And of course there are various exogenous variables, notably one's flightier friends, who have a habit of complicating the process of self-appraisal by triggering metabolic cascades in all the wrong places.
An eye-opening morning spent reading the Sunday papers. It seems a sexy blonde temptress from the Daily Mirror managed to entrap the Home Secretary's 17 year old son into selling her £10 of cannabis in a public house. Impaired judgement and reasoning ability marked by paranoid ideation are disturbingly common among advocates of Zero Tolerance in The War Against Drugs; and, sure enough, the Cabinet's leading law-and-order hawk proceeded to shop his son to the police as a suspected drug dealer. At least the poor lad won't be joining the half million victims currently incarcerated in the American gulag on drug-related charges. The development of safe, clean and empathetic euphoriants, together with research into germ-line gene therapies aimed at making high-functioning ecstasy part of the hereditary post-human condition, promises to enrich our conception of mental health beyond all recognition. The capacity to undergo any form of aversive experience will be treated as a genetic disorder. Alas the post-Darwinian prospect of invincible life-long happiness is still some way off. It's hard to imagine the present UK government at the forefront of future debate. Possibly some of the money to fund the major health research project required might be diverted from the UK's "Defence" budget. Presently billions of pounds are being invested in thermonuclear weaponry via the UK's surreal Trident program. This was dreamed up to counter the threat of Soviet expansion - the likelihood of which seems to have somewhat diminished. Or perhaps the idea of releasing funds to promote living happily-ever-after in a chemically-catalysed paradise belongs to a dangerous fantasy-world of self-delusion.
Richard Gott has just uploaded Can the Universe Create Itself? It considers the problem of the first cause and whether "the laws of physics prevent the universe from being its own mother?" Gott endorses Vilenkin's case that if the inflationary state preceding the Big Bang is meta-stable, it must have a finite beginning. Yet rhetoric aside, a Vilenkin universe didn't really start "from nothing". It quantum mechanically "tunnels" from a tiny, classically-allowed universe oscillating at the Planck magnitude to an inflating universe of the kind explored by Guth and Linde. To get "something for nothing" without violating the conserved constants, it's tempting to assume a Tryon-syle scenario: our universe is itself a zero-point-energy quantum fluctuation. But one is still left with a "problem that can tear an individual's mind asunder": a fluctuation of what? Gott's answer is that the universe is still created from something, and that something is itself. As is allowed by the curved and multiply connected spacetimes licensed by General Relativity, Gott posits an early epoch of closed time-like curves, CTCs, and the production of multitudes of "baby universes" from an inflating metastable vacuum [Gott doesn't deal with Godel-type spacetimes and scenarios where closed time-like curves are ubiquitous - "such an early region of CTCs could well be over my now, bounded to the future by a Cauchy horizon"]. Although the bubble universes typically collapse to form black holes, occasionally one of the later bubbles - "either through natural causes or the action of advanced civilisations" - will tunnel to create a baby universe. One of these "later" bubbles turns out to be the "original" inflating meta-stable vacuum which one started with. Importantly, Gott observes that "If the universe contained a region of CTCs, there would be no first cause. Every event would have events to its past. And yet the universe would not of existed eternally in the past." One gathers that Linde, for instance, in his "eternal chaotic inflation" scenario, argues that inflation never ends; yet I'm not clear if that endlessness - Linde believes that there exists a never-ending fractal structure of inflating universes embedded inside each other each of which universe itself lives inside a magnetic monopole - must make it (mind-bogglingly!) eternal. For it strikes me, by extension, that if CTCs were in fact ubiquitous, then one need nowhere have any (IMO) vicious infinities or eternities in the future either. Every event would have events to its future. And yet the universe would not exist eternally in the future, any more than it does in the "past". For various aesthetic and philosophical reasons, I entertain a scenario in which our "Big Bang" and the "Big Crunch" are numerically identical (I learn from Huw Price this notion is christened by Zeh "the Big Brunch".) I e-mail the admirable Mitch Porter, who's not quite as smitten as me by metaphysics on stilts, to see what he thinks. He tactfully reminds me that Gott's review deals entirely with the non-empirical part of cosmology. He asks what does it really mean to say that one universe tunnels into being from another when we are talking about histories, and not just spacelike hypersurfaces? Hmmmm. And in any case, whatever the status of CTCs, they can't in any obvious sense explain the deeper problem of why anything exists. As is usual at this point, a mental fog descends in DP-world. I know it's time to start uploading fluffy animals instead. I fear my own attempt to derive something from nothing - and extract the properties of everything from a physical analogue of rich mathematical properties of zero - needs to be tightened up a little.
The winter weather is particularly brutal down here in Brighton. Yet they don't call us Brits the bulldog breed for nothing. I risk a nasty dose of organic VR by pitting my body against the elements and walk to the Media Centre for an Important Business Meeting. They say a rising tide lifts all ships. Sadly, quite a few of the Media Centre's acronym-jungle of IT companies are terminally holed beneath the water-line. It would be nice not to join them or get assimilated by the local chapter of the Borg. I'd been very keen to acquire my own server and connectivity. This enables BLTC to set-up and run a multitude of cross-promoting sites with friends, allies and ideological fellow-travellers; and give free web-hosting to impecunious charities - the definition of which is proving to be alarmingly relaxed. Now the bills are stacking up ominously. So I must resume my efforts to impersonate a businessman, a role which far exceeds my design-specifications, without getting seduced from the overriding purpose of it all. Fortunately, I don't think such diversion is too likely. The meme that has colonised me, turning an ineffectual cipher of an analytic philosopher manqué into a zealot with a demented glint in the eye, is evidently pretty robust; at least when it gets fed and nurtured with the right dopaminergics. This gives one hope that some day, in more naturally fertile territory, it will triumph.
Sigh. More bills. More bank managers assuming the mantle of moral philosophers. Well, desperate times call for desperate measures. I own [or did own. DP 2008] investor.co.uk; but, what a surprise, Microsoft own the vastly more desirable investor.com. Never mind; I register and set up a virtual server for invester.com [sacrificed 2006]. It will offer "financial advice for the illiterate". To be tactful, I add "this site looks best with MS Internet Explorer". For just how many people can spell 'investor' with confidence anyway? [A quick search engine test confirms this surmise - blue-chip corporates and all]. Now it's time to start polishing one's epigrams. In deference to the immortal language of Chaucer, Milton and Shakespeare, I dream up such gems as "smarter investors invest in invester.com". And just in case anyone misses the drift of one's deathless marketing-prose, I add another file with the coyly suggestive caption of "invester.com: $20 000". I then notify the search engines accordingly. One is told that Big Bill's lawyers have a keen sense of humour. Is a figure of $20 000 too cheap as a prospective, um, administrative transfer-fee for a prime piece of virtual real estate like invester.com I wonder? Just as my saintly mother joined lots of UK building societies (US: mutuals) to benefit from the imminent cash windfalls which their stock-market flotation promised investers...er, investors..., but then abstained from voting in favour of conversion because her principles forbade demutualisation, I too suffer from certain scruples about making money. Happily, with any luck such moral queasiness won't entirely prevent me from keeping the wolf from the door. I am not, I hope, a vulgar domain-name speculator. One deplores the $150 000 paid for business.com. Yet if someone wishes to offer an unsolicited contribution to party funds, I will probably be too polite to decline. It seems, anyway, that more and more of the wired population are using the domain name system as a quick-and-dirty directory service. I sometimes do so myself. The overloaded search engines are awash with spam and useless irrelevancies. Of course, in default of a good memorable domain name for one's site(s), one may still hope to get widely bookmarked, hotlinked and "branded". Yet surfers can be unaccountably remiss in such matters - not to say fickle, lazy and impatiently click-happy. Actually, a remarkable number of other surfers, by contrast, seem to spend their idle hours quasi-randomly typing words into their address bars simply to see what comes up [at which point, naturally enough, I try typing in "serendipity": it's gone.] Higher-version browsers default to the "gold-standard" .com. Supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party, for instance, the ultra-nationalist Hindu revivalists likely to form India's next government, are fond of just typing in "bjp". If I weren't fired by a wish to promote universal peace and love, I might be tempted to place a fulsome tribute to the rival Congress Party on bjp.com. [sacrificed 2008. DP] Currently it offers news from the Brighton Journal of Philosophy. Alas I have little natural sense of humour; ideologues rarely do. Today's other moves on my part are indeed more ideologically-motivated, or at least aimed at boosting HedWeb's hit-count. Cutebabes has, well, a cute babe. Moving up- market rather than down - for there is a morally serious purpose behind all this tomfoolery - The Good Drug Guide sheds its incongruous pictures of fluffy animals. It's now repackaged in vaguely reputable guise at the austere biopsychiatry.com. The more populist-sounding drugz.com [sacrificed 2006], on the other hand, will cater to the louche end of the market. And I suppose neither britishmeat.com nor britishbeef.com are likely to play host to the house journal of the horrific UK meat industry. While at work toiling in the vineyards of The Virtual Empire On Which The Sun Never Sets, I am e-mailed to ask if britishbooks.com is for sale. If so, what is the price? I pause. A quick bit of detective-work reveals a Canadian-based site at firstname.lastname@example.org [now apparently defunct]. Ah. This probably seemed a good idea at the time; but perhaps it's not a good URL to put on one's t-shirt.
A day of virtual housekeeping. I spend hours repairing dead and expiring links. One school of thought claims link-decay is the scourge of civilised world; but in my present frame of mind, I'm inclined to take a dimmer view altogether. Apparently decay runs at around 5% per month for external links. Vandalising other people's web-sites by wrecking their hotlinks is far more culpable IMO than spraying graffiti on city walls. For that at least is presumably Art. One solution to link-rot, much favoured by commercial sites, involves shunning external pointers entirely. This also stops people escaping and spending their money elsewhere. Though visitors frequently get lost in Hedweb, they've never yet managed to spend any money, and there are several thousand potential exits.
I receive a visit from the generalissimo of Stukenburg Telecom. Stefan believes the majority of the world's ills are caused by a deficiency of his patent wonderbrew, Herbal Life. He markets this curious elixir with a near-religious intensity of conviction and messianic fervour on every conceivable occasion. [By contrast, my own experience of catalysts to spirituality derives mostly from time spent in churches. In deference to the Divine Webmaster, however, it must be said that the sacrament consumed owed a greater debt to Alexander Shulgin than the late Jesus of Nazareth; and is arguably more neurotoxic] With a reputation as an omnivorous pill-popper, I must strike Stefan as a promising customer for his merchandise. How could I say 'no' to such a delightful concoction? Yet I'm a little queasy over the quoted prices and the Herbal Life marketing structure. Its shape would have been instantly recognisable by the Egyptian pharaohs; though they might have found its internal structures too rigidly autocratic.
I wade through the log files for the Brighton Journal Of Philosophy (BJP) with arching eyebrows. The stats are undergoing a phase of exponential growth. It's clear the Indian general election is hotting up. The official BJP web-site on our server is creaking under the strain [like your metaphors? ed] as lots of newly-wired Indian visitors investigate its delights before fanning out into the sunlit uplands of HedWeb and beyond. I shall not relax, of course, until The Hedonistic Imperative is bedtime reading in the back-streets of Calcutta; but meanwhile this is a promising start. In the end, I am forced to give up scrutinising the raw log-data. It's time to install a decent site-analysis tool; but I fear our Unix guru, Mark, has been seduced into moonlighting for a firm who pay him - a scurvy trick! Heaven-knows what the ill-directed BJP traffic will be like when the sub-continent gets serious about the Net in a big way; but then I've long wanted multiple T3 connections [bandwidth-machismo seems to have supplanted bragging about processor-speeds among competitive IT males; I wonder if the DHEA is starting to normalise my unnaturally low testosterone levels?] India itself is in the grip of a spirited electoral campaign in which measured political comment and ironic understatement are at something of a discount. The right-wing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party seems likely to win. I field misdirected queries from BJP acolytes with a certain unease; these guys are serious. As it happens, I inherited the bjp.com domain name from Hippy Tom. Tom is an exotic throwback to the 1960s who has gone away to seek Enlightenment in the East, allegedly never to return. [I too would like to go East on a quest for spiritual truth. My worry is that I'd find amoebic dysentery instead; so I'm staying put in Brighton until I can afford the less demanding rigours of the Intercontinental Hilton.] Hippie Tom had inexplicably neglected to pay for his shrinking portfolio of domain assets before departing for India. Yet in any case, his professed willingness to trade it for a few beads of wampum already hinted at the biggest Indian takeaway since the natives lost Manhattan. Happily, we were able to rescue bjp.com from falling into the hands of speculators. These digital low-life have grabbed virtually all the three-letter acronyms. And already, there have been requests for advertising banners on our home-grown BJP site. I am asked to think of a suitable logo for the World Transhumanist Association. This leaves me wondering what motif can best convey its fearless iconoclasm while maximising clickthrough from BJP visitors. A slain sacred cow perhaps? Hmmm. Possibly not.
I am reading the weighty History of Europe by Norman Davies. It is a stylish but grisly tome whose subject matter is incongruous with the DP genteelisms found here. A wry and mellow authorial voice amounts, I reckon, to a deceit on the reader. But could one really get away with expressing one's thoughts in a perpetual anguished scream? Writing entirely in capital letters on the Net is generally reckoned the province of cranks. Excess capitalisation is said to look like "shouting". Shouting supposedly conveys the "wrong" tone. Yet is the cosiness of urbane lower-case discourse really more evocative of, say, the horrors of The Thirty Years War; or of even the mundane viciousness of so much of everyday Darwinian life? Sometimes I think a non-stop scream would be far more apt. More substantively, Davies' volume relies on a naive pre-Everett metaphysic which looks increasingly untenable in the light of our best theory of the world, universal quantum mechanics. His narrative is in consequence highly selective and readable. Yet even if the oblique autobiography constituted by a Davies-imposed narrative structure didn't rest on the fiction of a unique macroscopic classical history - as distinct from countless googolplexes of classically inequivalent branches - the choices of what to include and what to omit in a such a volume might seem impossibly arbitrary. As a utilitarian, I am apparently committed to the theoretical existence of some kind of objective mattering-metric for history [or for Hilbert space etc]. This mattering-metric dictates what's inherently worth prioritising - or neglecting - for expository purposes on the basis of the pleasure-pain axis. Construed in the broadest sense, this axis may conceivably be a universal feature of sentient life; though much more plausibly there is scope for 'neutralism' - the occurrence of experience which isn't part of, or infiltrated by, the affective spectrum at all. By any such pleasure-pain touchstone, however, a decent history of the world hasn't even been contemplated, let alone written; and could probably never be read. In fact, what such a god's-eye cosmic synopsis should include is extraordinarily problematic even from a utilitarian perspective. For there may be a strong sense which everything which exists not merely entails, but is constitutively 'entangled' with, everything else. If so, it is all equally vital and impossible non-arbitrarily to omit. In this context, I am asked by a correspondent why I am professedly a negative utilitarian - with its apocalyptic implications, irrespective of their idleness in practice - if I don't think the experience of pain in one's life is needed to appreciate pleasure. Grant for the moment that our descendants are indeed likely to enjoy gradients of genetically pre-programmed life-long bliss. What sense, then, does it make to be a negative utilitarian if one promotes the advent of an imminent post-Darwinian Era of paradise-engineering? After all, on this scenario, suffering will have vanished for ever [if all time like-curves are open: dubious] in most branches of the cosmic wave function? My response is not very cheerful. Perhaps if (ontological) reductionism were tenable, as distinct from methodologically useful, then the occurrence of the Good Bits of existence could be truly separated out from the Bad Bits. Unfortunately, as is experimentally confirmable by EPR and the world's spooky space-like "correlations" or "entangled" states, this convenient categorical carve-up is naive. Radical holism isn't the prerogative of New Age tree-huggers and emeritus professors. There really is a sense in which All Is One. For a world [conceived in 'block-universe'-fashion] without Treblinka would be a world in which the symmetry of the universal wave equation was violated - physically impossible. Perhaps it is really logically impossible, too, if [one suspects] the world itself is the expression of [something analogous to] the ontology of zero; just as the whole of mathematics can be derived from the properties of the empty set [This conjecture is not without problems]. In any event, I worry in pessimistic vein that agony and sublimity are ultimately indissoluble, part of the same cosmic quantum event. The world's frightfulness is needed - and even (very) subtly QM-interferes with the Good Bits - in order to yield the biological blueprint for paradise I'm so keen to promote. Indeed if one believes that the QM formalism encodes all there is to be said about Reality [for IMO the world is exhausted by the totality of 'first-person' facts that breathe fire into the equations: we just don't know how to read off the values of subjectivity from the solutions to the field- [string-, m-brane-etc] theoretic formalism], then the sometimes unbelievable nastiness of raw pain is mutually entailed by the unbelievable gorgeousness of pleasure no less than the properties of 7 and 42 logically entail each other. The textures of niceness, nastiness and the taste of peanut butter are inextricably bound up with each other. Thus in abominating some foul act of cruelty, one might as well rail against the mathematical properties of the number 42. No one can be held morally accountable for a disguised logico-mathematical entailment. The endemic hellishness of the Darwinian Era is needed for the hierarchy of sublime aeons ahead. I fear this cruel structural interdependence may hold in all the googolplexes of little multiverses bubbling away in the ever-inflating Super-Universe. At this point, I remember for some reason that I haven't yet decided how to develop scepticism.com.
I spend a stressful day spent trying to organise the dispatch of drugs abroad. [A transhipment of heroin? A few kilos of cocaine perhaps? Not quite. If only it were so easy.] A great many brands of clinically useful mood-brightener ("antidepressant") are unobtainable in much of the old Soviet block and - for different reasons - in over-regulated Amerika (e.g. moclobemide, nomifensine, adrafinil, reboxetine etc). Local import-regulations are generally confused and confusing; customs policy is typically determined by the mood of the duty officer and the phases of the moon; and I'm left tearing my hair in frustration.
I am reading Tihkal. Tihkal and Pihkal are among the most important books ever written. Their author, Alexander Shulgin, ('the Calvin Kline of designer drugs') is now 73; and still going strong. Tihkal and Pihkal describe how to synthesise compounds which will one day form the basis of a true science of mind. A grown-up experimental science of consciousness is essential to a deep understanding of anything at all. The post-Galilean paradigm is destined to replace today's energetic but sterile third-person shadow-chasing pursued in one ugly little Darwinian psychiatric ghetto. In time, primeval man's anomalous 'psychedelia' will give birth to new virtual worlds in our transhuman successors. Often, proto-transhumanist accounts of eras ahead still presuppose our lives will be spent immersed in the traditional 'perceptual' modes of awareness represented by quasi-classical virtual worlds - perhaps played out with hyper-intelligent intellects, cool gadgets, indefinitely extended life-spans and a few more tasty technological superlatives thrown in. Action-man adventurism was certainly adaptive for the genetic vehicles thrown up by early information-bearing self-replicators. In billions of nervous systems across the planet, [naive realists skip here] a plastic somato-sensory homunculus executes survival programs interacting with its virtual environment in an egocentric travesty of a classical macroscopic universe. When we're awake, our extra-neural musculature acts out these dramas; and some of the mind-dependent simulations causally co-vary with patterns in the external environment more faithfully than others. Yet a lot of the changes we undergo are insubstantial scene-changing. Radical incommensurabilities (yuk!) in the generic medium of consciousness - incommensurabilities in generic aspects of our experience so pervasive they are not explicitly represented in our categorical framework - are, I think, much more likely to be definitive of future eras. Momentous phase-changes in consciousness will be coupled with new modes of selfhood and introspective awareness, new structures of mentalese, newly heightened and intensified self-consciousness, and conceptual schemes drawn from modalities of experience which haven't yet been synthesised. Even Tihkal and Pihkal, at least as we read them now, are effectively just collections of magical formulae whose significance we can't truly divine in one shallow medium of awareness. Today, formal chemical hieroglyphics are impotent to evoke the kind of physiologically exotic mental states needed for a comprehension of their implications. For the core of both Shulgin's volumes lies in their huge nominal 'appendices'. Running to hundreds of pages, they catalogue members of the phenethylamine and tryptamine families and their different modes of synthesis. The laboratory recipes contained are helping the chemical demi-monde to keep the forbidden lore alive in the face of official suppression, censorship and persecution - the functional equivalent of book-burning, but far more insidious. To question whether or not a particular psychedelic-catalysed epiphany is 'real' i.e. does it 'correspond to' [or causally covaries with etc] the mind-independent world is, I think, to set off in pursuit of a monumental red herring. One might as well impugn the agonies of victims of "phantom" pain on the grounds that evolution had given its sufferers no mandate to undergo such maladaptive phenomena - or dismiss phenomenal green on the grounds that grass molecules are intrinsically colourless. For when one is oneself unutterably changed by taking these compounds, one is ipso facto creating something new, not just reflecting and refracting something old. In fact the tryptamines and phenethylamines are unlocking bizarre psychochemistries of existence in categories of experience that drug-naive scientific rationalists never previously dreamed were possible in our ecological niche. Quite outrageous exotica lie across gaps in the evolutionary fitness landscape which will one day be bridged by quasi-systematic design rather than drug-ignited eruption. Their interest does not depend on eventual recruitment by genes via natural (or even artificial) selection to track extraneous environmental patterns. Selection-pressure allows qualia to masquerade as something they're not, namely features of the mind-independent world: visual experiences, for instance, would still be intriguing even if they didn't causally covary in awake subjects with anything extra-cranial. And who would ever guess their potential for (virtual) world-making if they were accessible to otherwise sightless organisms only when on psychedelic drugs? At any rate, the outcome of the next millennium's rewrite of the whole vertebrate genome will set today's chemical slumlands (and their mean little behaviour-space of options) in historical context. It is a context that we ourselves will never really know. The outlandish modes of existence triggered by a chemical blitzkrieg of DMT, for instance, are more intense, compelling and overpoweringly real than contemporary dreaming or waking consciousness. Yet they are not part of the official definition of Reality. So their mention here tends merely to evoke an insipid sense of oddity. Statistical (ab)normality in a particular era, however, is a poor foundation for (un)reality, and our own conception of how things are is probably just an adaptive and mind-dependent delusion.
"Fleeing pigs save their bacon" [Times headline] "Two young pigs remained at large last night after escaping from an abattoir minutes before they were due to be slaughtered. Their getaway, including a swim across fast-flowing water, has impressed police and animal behaviourists. A police spokesman said: "These were two porkers determined not to end up as breakfast bacon and they pulled off a great escape." Their adventure began last Thursday as three five-month-old Ginger Tamworth boars went to market at Malmesbury, Wiltshire. arriving at the abattoir, one animal met his fate without incident. But the other two wriggled free, leading their captors on a ten-minute chase around the slaughter-house. The two pigs then squeezed through a fence, trotted to the banks of the river Avon and swim to the other side. They hid in local woodland, evading a posse of police and locals. Harry Clarke, one resident who spotted the escapers, said: "They were a lovely ginger colour and vanished very quickly and stealthily into the undergrowth. We had pork chops that day and I felt very guilty. Peter Neville, an animal behaviour expert, called the Ginger Tamworth breed "real survivors, renowned for their escape bids. Some modern pigs bred just for meat have lost much of their common sense, but not the Tamworth. They should survive well in the wild.'" [The Times] The story is recounted with the same jaunty air of a boy-scout adventure yarn. More fitting would be the horrified tone appropriate for describing how Jewish infants were stuffed screaming into the gas-chambers by the SS. It would be nice to think the reporter's jauntiness stems from a self-protective distancing and dissociation - or at least a calculated editorial decision. But as far as I can tell, it comes from a sense that the events are genuinely funny.
More news from the UK's War Against Drugs. An unarmed man has been shot dead by police while he was in bed with his girl-friend. Police described his death as 'regrettable'.
I have a meeting with David Taylor. He has turned the local ISP into a commercial organisation. If some of the motley guests on our server paid for the service, we might do the same; but it transpires they are all penniless widows and orphans.
I read the first convincing [to me] evidence that accurate quantum computation is possible. It will be dependent on the error per operation falling below a threshold value: atomic states are very 'fragile', so an adequate backup error-checking and restoration system is essential to maintaining accurate information. Quantum computing heralds many mouth-watering new technologies. It may even eventually yield the first unitary non-organic artificial minds in the phenomenological sense: only organic systems are likely to have the micro-functional architecture capable of supporting the warm coherent quantum states (controversially) needed for 'experiential manifolds'. Yet possibly for hormonal reasons, I don't always get quite as excited by gadgetry and hard-core hi-tech as many IT males. Nor does the ability to factorise thousand-digit numbers set my heart racing. IMO the revolutionary prospect of the new paradigm is good news because it will hasten the demise of the Darwinian Era, and dreadful news because it offers further corroboration of the reality of the hell-branches I try paradoxically hard not to think about. The biological capacity for aversive experience has been a horrific genetic disorder which flourished in early life. This was on account of the selective advantage it conferred on the early genetic vehicles whose reproductive success it encouraged. Differentiated DNA-driven nastiness has now led, however, to the development of organisms blessed with the capacity to rewrite the sinister little bits of code that created them. Most urgently, then, the unimaginable power of quantum parallelism should be harnessed to nanotechnology and micro-robotics for the design and implementation of a naturalised heaven-on-earth. There are millions of utopian wonderworlds to choose from. If suffering is to be purged from the living universe altogether, and not just from the higher vertebrates on land, then its abolition will demand self-replicating miniaturised nano-robots and retroviral vectors equipped for a marine environment. Why is quantum computation needed? Well, seemingly intractable problems e.g. the combinatorial explosion threatened by the prospect of calculating the effects of multiple alleles of tens of thousands of genes conditionally expressed in a multitude of different environments, become manageable only once the massive power of quantum parellelism is exploited. Completion of the biological infrastructure of earthly paradise should foreshadow blueprints for its extension to as much of the multiverse as is accessible to benevolent agency. Scientific paradise-engineering will allow the exact texture of experience, and not just the broad functional architecture of nervous systems, to be calculated and manufactured atom-by-atom by computer-driven nanomachines with exquisite precision - the kind of precision-engineering which today, in a tragic inversion of priorities, is deemed fit only for inanimate objects but not subjects, luxury cars but not sentient organisms. Actually, hunter-gatherer phenomenal-minds/virtual worlds [or, more generally, the parameters of the vertebrate CNS] represent just one way to organise experiential manifolds. This paradigm grossly restricts their generic flavours and functional architecture - if it is indeed quantum-mechanical coherence, and not some ill-defined chimera called 'intelligence', which is fundamental to conscious mind. [Stubbing my toe this morning reinforced my anti-intellectualist leanings: it is our most 'primitive' experiences, phylogenetically and ontogenetically, that are the most intense, whereas thought-episodes are so ethereal and elusive they can doubt their own existence.] If minds in the guise of egocentric virtual worlds are indeed merely one sort of experiential manifold among many, then surprises far more intellectually mind-wrenching than the elimination of aversive experience are in store. The sociology of a post-human pan-galactic civilisation of native-born ecstatics, however, is still a little murky. Who knows what we'll want. Mitch Porter challenges me to provide an account of what everyday life will be like in post-Transition society. Other than speculations on all-pervasive VR, this is a challenge whose details I have so far ducked. Perhaps there won't be an everyday life. Biotechnology permits - but will ideology allow? - every moment of existence to be charged with the momentous and divine significance glimpsed today by temporal-lobe epileptics or tryptamine-driven visionaries. A cascade of peak experiences, orgasmic beauty and awe-inspiring revelations can be played out one after the other. Today I can never see the world in a grain of sand for more than a few seconds; and then I get bored. In the future, we can each enjoy that I've-just-won-the-National-Lottery moment every day of the week [I find using such crass analogies typically strikes a deeper chord than wordy vaporourings about 'sublimity' and self-fulfilment]. Perhaps, on the other hand, I'm wrong and we're not on the brink of a Post-Darwinian Revolution at all. The trite dystopias of humanistic punditry may take root instead. Perhaps the ritualistic dominance-and-submission powerplays of our evolutionary past will haunt our near-future in the way they haunt our traditional science fiction. But whatever else occurs, I just can't believe that our impending mastery of the neurotechnology of mood and aversive experience will be matched by the sustained and systematic malice needed to perpetuate suffering in the living world indefinitely. Its functional successor, mapped by the bumps and dips of gradients in genetically precoded sublimity, may perform an analogous role to the textures of Darwinian nastiness. They may even be mandatory if great science and art are to flourish - for a completely uniform plateau of bliss would be as inimical to intelligent agency as uniform depression. But just as [theological] Heaven was allegedly divided into multiple orders, (all those seraphim, cherubim, archangels, thrones, powers etc), and no one suggests that the lowly angels are really miserable, such may be the fate of their biological counterparts a few generations hence. Moments of mere cosmic mega-bliss aren't actively unpleasant. One will just look forward to things getting better again soon.
I wake up early and in a good mood. As usual, I methodically work my way down the kitchen sideboard. It is carefully laid out with toothsome pills and nutritional supplements. I haven't yet quite come to terms with fact that generic DPs are not chronically sub-clinically depressed. Angst-ridden melancholia was long part of the fabric of my virtual world and implicit self-identity. HI itself is presumably a disguised autobiography masquerading as a universal biological blueprint. A life defined by a different temperament and dominated by a different mode of aversive experience - whether terror, paranoid psychosis, obsessive anxiety or any of the other myriad disorders of the human spirit - would presumably have dwelt more vividly on the frightfulness of its own peculiar inner demons; and gone on to describe how this flavour of nastiness will be wiped out with biotechnology. My own intimation of Hell, however, took the form of indescribably dark mood. So it plays a perhaps disproportionate illustrative role in HI. Personal idiosyncrasies aside, it is clear that all mind-brains are equipped with an astonishing battery of mood-modulating negative feedback-mechanisms. Many of them might have been maliciously designed to stop the psyche being happy even under wave-on-wave of calculated psychochemical assaults. My own vulnerability to anomic dysphasia - yep, that's what it's apparently called - at anything with even the slightest central anti-cholinergic action makes a cleanish NARI like reboxetine to combat 'noradrenergic' melancholy a godsend. I have a suspicion that - if taken on its own - reboxetine may need an extra dopaminergic kick; and anticholinergic effects are still not totally absent. I'll still probably try nomifensine when I can get hold of a regular supply; but it's well-nigh unobtainable here [can anyone help?]. I hope to try the selective dopamine reuptake blocker amineptine soon. And I'd still chew coca leaves all day if given half the chance. We are still waiting for the design of safe and sustainable clinical analogues of E. Alas it is a long time since I've madly wanted to hug all the world, as distinct from a rather narrowly-defined sub-section thereof. Unfortunately I am not a practising chemist; if I were, perhaps I wouldn't have patience for diaristic musings and time spent doodling away at philosophical belles lettres. At least on the new regimen, an ill-defined sense of urgency is suggestive, inter alia, of a slight [probably dep-driven] dopaminergic overdrive. I'm confident that the cognitive distortion my mood-brighteners exert is not too great; or rather my overall metaphysic is still formally intact. Apparently the legacy architecture of connection strengths and activation weights defining the ancestral DP mind remains more-or-less intact. This ensures I retain familiar traits as expressed in social interaction. But the world in general does seem a better place. The terrible things don't seem to matter so much, even though I am more motivated to do something about them. Part of the DP pre-frontal cortex still 'knows' they matter far more than it can possibly conceive. But, happily, it doesn't realise the implications of what I'm writing even as I type in these words. Thank God. More generally, I suspect that abnormally happy, hyper-dopaminergic people don't recognise how terrible some kinds of physical pain can be. This is because they are chemically shielded from the worst aspects of its affective dimension. So-called antidepressants are often effective at alleviating 'physical' pain too; so conversely perhaps depression often makes physical pain even much more dreadful. Of course, I know I would soon lapse into the fatalistic inertia of early DPs if the pills ran out. So let's hope they never do. My sympathy with the plight of the world's oppressed drug dealers stems not from a love of commerce but from the fact they are mostly self-medicating users - not all of them can earn an honest penny as members of the Federation Of Licensed Domain Name Speculators And Allied Operatives. And though one judges some of their methods are a bit rough-and-ready, I'll concede it is possible I too might order a hit on anyone interrupting my chain of supply with the delicate compunction of a Brooklyn mafioso. This course of action would not be a very good advertisement for HI; and I trust it can be avoided.
An e-mail arrives from a Hong Kong/Chinese businessman. It seems he shares my affection for the charming old English village of Eton (population: 4 000) where I spent many a happy boyhood year [really? ed.] At any rate, he offers US$3 000 for eton.com. Normally it is elderly widows and orphans from afar who make inquiries about acquiring our domains. These penniless unfortunates have an unerring knack of alighting on the most valuable financial names in our portfolio for the purposes of their charitable good works. In the case of the Hong Kong offer, I decline on principle, while noting that among serious players in the domain name market, £15 000 for a quality .com is regarded as small change. As indeed it probably is. I just don't happen to be one of them. As humans, we naturally confuse the name of an object with the object itself, a fundamental principle of magic, so I reckon the values of these (relatively) scarce but desirable pieces of virtual real estate are soon going to soar. At today's giveaway prices, however, £15 000 would just about buy a year's education at the school of the same name. Quite what one would really pay for is debatable. Tory MP Alan Clark once described his old place of education as "an early introduction to human cruelty, treachery and extreme physical hardship"; and it's proved an excellent preparation for a career in the Conservative Party. One gathers that English 'public' schools were formerly little better than sexual concentration-camps, though today the overt brutalities have been largely mitigated. The phone-boxes of Brighton suggest their more traditional services are on offer at cheaper rates and administered by more alluring bodies. In the traditions of classical antiquity, it might be best if the public schools were razed and the ground sown with salt. More drastic solutions might be considered too, but with advancing years I think I'm mellowing. Happily, the Internet should soon make compulsory education [and its cruel intellectualist ideologies and rituals] redundant for the world's oppressed youngsters; and IMO the sooner the better.
I am listening to The Best of the Lightning Seeds. It's achingly good. I momentarily forget my post-E destiny as an emotionally frigid neurochemical robot and realise tears have come to my eyes - probably a result of my coming off moclobemide but possibly an expression of my innate soul-stuff.
I receive an e-mail from a representative of pharmaceutical firm Parke-Davies. One of their executives has evidently done a reverse-search on the illustrious Park Davies name. Apparently HedWeb cropped up. "Hello David, Do you have a link to Parke-Davies on your site? Thank you for a reply." I realise they haven't penetrated very far into the digital badlands. One almost blushes to respond. "Hi Katy, Yes! It is for one of Parke-Davis' formerly marketed retail items which 'could make the coward brave, the silent eloquent, and render the sufferer insensitive to pain'. I gather, however, that it is not among your current product-range". When Is It Best To Take Crack Cocaine? competes for popularity with Melissa en déshabillé and frolicking teenage elephants as HedWeb's most visited destination.
I am delighted to learn HI is under discussion by a study group in California. Blueprints for paradise-engineering deserve to be rescued from philosophical manifesto-writing - which is admittedly better than knee-jerk dismissals and cries of "Brave New World" - or the drug-addled lunatic-fringe. The compelling moral urgency of any project to use biotechnology to abolish suffering from the living world means it needs to be extricated from the company it keeps. One possible vehicle, perhaps, will be an academically respectable Transhumanism. Nick Bostrom of the LSE has asked me to help co-ordinate setting up the World Transhumanist Association. I am chary at first because I'm so unrepresentative. Onward, upward and forward seems to be the prevailing sentiment; rugged individualism, hard-nosed technophilia and gung-ho dynamic optimism is the prevailing temperament. I don't think there are many negative utilitarians among them. By contemporary standards, these guys are psychologically pretty robust. And one suspects that a welfare state for bunny rabbits doesn't seize the imagination of the more tough-minded alpha males in the transhumanist community.
I bid farewell to Al the Ethnobotanist. He's just embarked on a collecting expedition to Amazonia with his favourite concubine. He's the sort of fellow who believes in conducting in-depth field-studies and serious quality-control; so I fear he may be away for some time. I too wish I could travel to South America to enjoy its stunning landscapes, rich cultural heritage and the opportunity to chew coca leaves all day. Sadly, this isn't currently feasible. As Webmaster, I am instead entrusted with the task of finding someone to manage Al's online ethnobotanical seed-catalogue. Alas I don't know any ethno-horticulturalists who might be drafted in to run the service, though Brighton's practising ethnopharmacologists seem to be flourishing. The latter make a habit of doing far too much hands-on research to run a viable commercial business; and they'd probably munch the seed-corn of the future for breakfast.
I receive a phone call from Australia. Dan Geinster had supposed himself to be the world's only negative utilitarian. Querying a search-engine, he then located a solitary non-breeding specimen on the other side of the world - unfortunately male, and decked out in mock hedonistic plumage as well. I hope Dan carries through his projected book on NU. It will be the first (to my knowledge) of its kind. Alas 'negative utilitarianism' is not a rallying-cry best calculated to unite the minds of a generation or a slogan destined to echo down the ages of history. I still think it encapsulates the only morally serious ethic there is.
I increase my daily reboxetine dosage from 8 to 10 mg. Hunter S. Thompson eat your heart out. I hold the l-deprenyl steady at 10 mg, but I again try dropping the moclobemide altogether. I find that anything which durably 'enhances' serotonin function can turn down the dial of life a little too much; and moclobemide is perhaps the best cure for dysthymic philosophising I've ever come across. It is some time since I chemically reinvented myself. I suspect more potent dopaminergics are in order. Compared to the seismic shifts of identity induced by psychedelics, the sort of chemical fine-tuning of the psyche I currently practise is tame milk-and-water gradualism; but psychedelia's rollercoaster regime of permanent revolution and non-stop crises of identity can leave one yearning for some half-remembered fantasy-world of 'normality'. Living on the same daily drug regimen, on the other hand - or in drug-naive ignorance - it is easy to fall into a rut. So I do still indulge in cautious self-experimentation both in choice of dosage and agent. Manufacturers' recommended dosages have more to do with anxiety over lawsuits from vexatious litigants than recipes for serious life-enhancement. So I study them with interest rather than credulity. On a given cocktail, one finds a particular identity tends to 'freeze out' after the cellular receptors etc have re-regulated in two or three weeks or so. It can take awhile longer before one becomes familiar with the new DP. Sometimes the new kid on the block just feels like a real weirdo who just needs to be put out of its misery; but serotonergically 'enhanced' DPs can feel too normal and soma-fied to get much done. My drug-catalysed lineage is full of failed identities. Of course, in pursuit of the mythology of self-transformation, I might someday try three months of chanting, mystical austerities, cognitive therapy or whatever. Yet these techniques are not very cost-efficient. Their metabolic pathways are obscure and remote from the limbic wellsprings of the soul. Of late, I've also been taking lysine supplements, a most unexpected discovery. I swallow them not to enhance libido or develop an imposing musculature, but because I find the growth hormone(?) released elevates my mood. I prefer not to think of myself as a rat who just wants to get high. Deep down, nonetheless, I've an awful suspicion we're all the same. What matters is mattering itself and not the intellectual capacity to talk about it.
A disconcerting number of my friends have taken to having babies. I find myself clucking and cooing away at their offspring's repertoire of bodily functions like a demented turtle-dove. Actually, I'm one of Nature's squeamish prudes by temperament. My own preferred mode of reproduction would be budding, something along the lines of a hydra. Alas this feat lies beyond the reach of contemporary biotechnology; so I must settle for being an uncle instead. As a high-density Everettista, I find it hard to take the fuss over cloning seriously. If 10100+ near-identical Daves have drifted off in minimally interfering quasi-classical branches since I started this entry, why get worked up about the prospect of a few googols more? We all tend to proliferate wildly enough as it is. Once the technique does become routine, it is unclear whether cloning will ever replace sex as the dominant post-human reproductive mode. It's really a question of taste. [The neural architecture of motivation, emotion and textures of significance felt by our descendants are arguably even harder to guess than their technological capabilities. I find the capacity of organic nervous systems to imbue features of our virtual worlds with significance is more fascinating than any catalogue of the individual objects of desire themselves. Insentient functional analogues of mattering in silicon etc robots don't inherently matter, whereas (some) of our own states self-intimatingly do.] Sexual reproduction flourished in the evolutionary past because of the superior effectiveness of genetic shuffling in the arms-race against disease. The microbiological conquest of nasty pathogens and parasites, however, should allow our post-human descendants to exercise the option of cloning themselves safely. Extra-uterine development from conception to term in artificial wombs should dispense with the need for hosting the dangerous semi-alien parasites who tend to colonise female innards today. After watching Alien, this is not a fate that greatly appeals to me; though as a sex-linked disorder, it is one from which I am mercifully exempt. But I still melt at the sight of humanoid babies. Indeed, overcome with the romance of it all, I gurgle away in atavistic delight at the latest little bundle of fun which has arrived en famille to visit BLTC HQ. Goo goo gaga. After doing a passable imitation of a gibbering imbecile, I feel strangely pleased with myself. I may have the odd quirk, but it's reassuring to find one is still basically normal.
I am enjoying a lively correspondence with the anarcho-capitalist wing of West Coast transhumanism. I fear my advocacy of a global welfare state for other species, and a state-sponsored regime of paradise-engineering for everyone who wants it, strikes them as pitifully weak-minded. So does my fond indulgence of simple but intense [animal] minds. But I reckon intelligence is something valuable only instrumentally. It's called for when there's something wrong with one's state of mind (or virtual world) that needs changing; and so ultimately I'd far rather do without it. Likewise, the recherché pleasures of overgrown intellects might be better viewed as signs of Heath-Robinson inefficiencies in the reward-centres of the brain rather than advanced badges of sophistication. Sometimes I'd like just to hit the hedonic 'on'-switch. For tactical purposes if nothing else, I judge it's unhelpful to the promotion of universal HI to allow its advocacy to be labelled in any way as 'left-wing'. Yet I despair at the dewy-eyed romanticism about the market mechanism and consumer capitalism which would be thought mawkish if expressed in love-poetry. The hedonic treadmill in the CNS ensures that narrow productivist visions of a transhuman utopia, whether socialistic or capitalistic, will simply fail. True, within a few centuries, ubiquitous multi-modal immersive VR will yield the technical capacity to deliver any, and every, form of functionally "sensory" experience that anyone could ever want. Sex-and-power wet-dreams will get woven into exciting wish-fulfilment narratives driven by fabulous plot-lines. However, these exotic fantasias will never pall only because euphoriant drugs and genetic engineering will wreak more profound changes in the "inner" world of the psyche. Thanks to mature hedonic science, ecstasy will become our birthright; and our life-stories will be written in its presently unexplored textures. Traditional consumer capitalism depends for its existence on a scarcity of desired goods and services set in a peculiar biological context: the pleasure-pain axis of the hedonic treadmill. Artificial VR, by contrast, will effectively supersede the old scarcity-driven paradigm ('organic VR'). In organic VR, 'good experiences' - typically conceived as desired objects, services or states of affairs [really: one's emotionally encephalised cortical simulations of the mind-transcendent world] - are themselves a scarce resource. But the global penetration of utopian VR will ensure the scarcity-paradigm is effectively extinct, though it will still be simulable in VR - could anyone be bothered. Granted this post-scarcity scenario, then it's doubtful that futurologists can apply old-fashioned marginalist economics and project it into the future where Nozick-style 'experience machines' are likely to become common. Perhaps they will become universal. A correspondent does rightly tax me, however, for my failure to define precisely in what sense we are on the brink of a 'Post-Darwinian Era'. Surely there will still be competition between genes? Yes, in one sense. But when we can choose which alleles (genotypes) to select and manufacture with reference to their anticipated effects, it's no longer a case of natural selection acting blindly on random mutations. Alleles that promote the life-long emotional super-wellness of their vehicles will be selectively favoured (by conscious design) over their nastier counterparts. Moreover the hard-won demise of the ageing process will mean reproduction on earth necessarily becomes rare. Quasi-immortality [read: broken continuity - unless sleep is abolished too] will be a widely practised option, and selection pressure (in the traditional sense) negligible. At the level of the phenotype, the old suite of psychological adaptations - the archetypal Darwinian psyche, including the many faces of suffering and the hedonic treadmill - will be replaced by designer superminds who don't let their own interests get sacrificed to selfish DNA. There might seem to be a problem or two here. Won't there still be some sort of selection pressure against ecstatics, or anyone with a genetic predisposition to become an ecstatic, even once ageing is controlled and eventually cured, thereby bringing generational churn to an end? I don't think so. Instead, genes which identifiably predispose to serious nastiness and (today's normal) malaise will now be at a selective disadvantage instead. [How much pain would you premeditatedly wish to inflict on your prospective child or genetically-enriched clone? How much should you be allowed to?] If and when ageing does get phased out, presumably a few centuries hence, then reproduction (on earth at least) will need to be very tightly controlled. One's libertarian impulses stir uneasily here. Ultimately, this control will presumably be vested in, or at least delegated by, the world government super-state, albeit, one trusts, by a democratically accountable superstate. On Earth, reproduction of any kind among any higher vertebrate species will have to be closely regulated. It will be relatively infrequent. Our pets too will be quasi-immortal: quite feasibly, post-humans will keep (imperfect) digital back-up copies of themselves and their companion animals which can be organically implemented in case of catastrophic accidents. Moreover any emotionally undoctored quasi-immortals still extant will always be susceptible to becoming ecstatics - I trust they will be, at the very least, moderately highly-functioning ecstatics - if they ever decide to taste just once (through curiosity, novelty-seeking, momentary "weakness" etc) the pharmacological subset of the delights on offer. Short of draconian or literally genocidal State intervention, it seems unlikely there will be movement in the other direction - from ecstatics opting to regress to the emotional primitivism of the Darwinian Era. This is because the one thing that ecstatics (or rats on pleasure machines) don't do is get bored of endless well-being and seek in consequence to depress their wonderful moods: it's physiologically impossible for them to undergo such perversities. I reckon the impending controversy over the introduction of all-embracing well-being will one day seem as farcical as the mid-nineteenth century commotion over the introduction of surgical anaesthesia. Of course this won't happen for a while. The Post-Darwinian Transition is likely to be far more long-drawn-out. But its genesis ought to be scientifically researched and not just conjectured.
With a total absence of shame, the UK meat industry is launching a surreal 'try a little tenderness' campaign. Eating the corpses of members of other species we have butchered for their flesh is, we learn, 'the recipe for love'. The stomach-churning 'rendering' practices of UK agribusiness forced herbivores to practise cannibalism and triggered the human equivalent of BSE. Yet it is the entire global meat 'industry' - with its mechanised death-factories and barbarous factory-farms for our fellow creatures - which needs to be closed down. In time, it will be replaced by the mass-manufacture of genetically-engineered ambrosia. Dining on designer foods is kinder and cheaper than eating each other. The genetic revolution in prospect will eventually institutionalise world-wide gourmet veganism. But I fear the promise of this post-Holocaust era can be used as an excuse for doing nothing in the meantime. When appraising the significance of cruelty to others, it's so easy to be swayed by 'external' appearances. Simplistically, and on a naive realist misreading of 'perception', one apparently looks at a pig, or a cow, or a sheep, and thinks: "how can that really matter?" Given this analysis, however, one might as well contemplate a (human) brain, or perhaps just our neural pain centres or the 30-40 thousand odd cells of the mesolimbic dopamine system, and think: "how could that cheesy lump of warm porridge [bundle of excitable nerve cells etc] matter, even to itself?" But I take it they do matter, sometimes desperately, albeit not under that description - particularly if one were then told that it was, say, one's mother being tortured. Whatever the genetic or philosophical roots of our psychopathic treatment of other life-forms, I know that individually it is natural to feel quite helpless to do anything that will make a difference and bring the horror to an end. Personal purity and absolution from guilt is necessary but sterile. On britishmeat.com, Melissa and I launch a "British Meat: the recipe for BSE" web site. It is at least a little more balanced than its sanitised official counterpart; and perhaps it can serve as our token contribution to the UK's export drive.
I discover the googolhedron. For wholly obscure reasons, this gives me a small frisson of delight. Googol and googolplex already have sitting tenants. So soon googolhedron.com takes its rightful place in the domain name system [But only if you get around to paying for it. ed]. Its stylised representation will not be as difficult to portray as one might naively expect. I've never been a good enough mathematician to take platonism seriously as a metaphysic. Yet it would be nice to know why a world exhausted - I reckon - by concreta can simulate the existence of pure abstracta with such uncanny fidelity. [Is the fidelity of the simulation logically entailed by the exact and ubiquitous conservation of a condition analogous to zero?] I used to care desperately about such mysteries. With my grip on the external world hanging by a tenuous inferential realist thread, I wanted to escape from the spectre of semantic solipsism-of-the-here-and-now. The egocentric predicament haunted my angst-ridden adolescence; and the spooky thought-episodes of early DPs each felt like lonely monads. Needless to say, the mystery of meaning, whether nominally inside or outside the (somato-sensory or cranial) head, was shelved, not solved. For possible worlds, so to speak, empirically equivalent to ours but with no real semantic facts seem not just conceivable but plausible; but presumably so only if real semantic facts do exist to express the fact of their notional possible existence. More prosaically, we may one day evolve civilisations of sophisticated a-life with experiential manifolds [e.g. minds/virtual worlds] in our quantum computers. Their [presumably only pseudo-semantic] grip on their extra-experiential environment may be tighter than our own. What do they still lack that we've [supposedly] got? Worlds whose inhabitants lack a capacity for authentic self-transcendence, whether 'semantic' or 'perceptual', seem intuitively so much more naturalistic in their ontology than those endowed with abstract 'meanings' that are somehow expressive of 'propositional content'. In such ersatz worlds, escape from the solipsistic prison would be a genetically adaptive delusion fostered by selection pressure. So does abstract 'propositional content' really exist? No, I don't see how it could in any naturalistic scheme of things. It leads to complete ontological anarchy. And it offends one's parsimonious Everett-driven conception of the number of principles needed to make a world. But surely the world really must have a feature somehow analogous to meaning, the sort of meaning that 'ain't in the head' Otherwise, reality is exhausted by the contents of this here-and-now; and it is literally meaningless to posit anything else. Thus I assume intimations of the nature of this inscrutable feature can be grasped only by positing something akin to reified 'propositional content'. I have a proof, but unfortunately it is too large to fit into the margin.
Like reports of the first cuckoo, the threat of legal action always seems to come earlier each year.
I watch Titanic. It's absorbing from start to finish. As is usual in disaster movies, I find I have single-handedly rescued everyone, usually several times, by the final curtain; but then I guess I'm just that kind of guy.
DP Interview Dec. 2003
DP Drug Regimen August 2005
Social Media (Facebook etc) 2012-2014