Monday, July 6, 2020

Life as a Pyramid Scheme



"Life is precious" is an often repeated adage. Since the humans who share that sentiment are living things themselves it feels to me inherently biased. Taking a step back from the apparent beauty of life around us, as I though experiment, I wonder if there might be a more nuanced perspective.

Throughout our lives we too frequently take for granted the other living things that are killed to sustain our health, personal growth and entertainment. Whether it is the life of a juvenile pig slaughtered for protein, the hectares of crops that we plant where wildlife once thrived, or the trees we turn into paper for our books (or burn as biomass to charge our e-readers), the nearly eight billion consumers in our species dramatically continue to change the natural landscape in devastating ways.

In part, because the Earth is rather large we have ignored human impact. In part, because we've all be acculturated to the norms around us we focus on our selfish individual goals and desires. To be sure, humans are atop the pyramid of life when it comes to extracting the energy and resources from all other living things on this planet, by far, by magnitudes, by ginormous proportions unmatched. 

Still, nearly every life-form consumes below it, ostensibly to further its own life and the lives of its offspring. Are we so different? Can we cite "oh it's just the cycle of life" when we overlook the billions of sentient creatures in the deadly human processing scheme?

I think not. If there is one thing that sets humans apart from the animals it is the too often unharnessed ability of bringing philosophy, reason, empathy, science and compassion actively into our decision trees. No other creature has the power to reach beyond its evolutionary trajectory. Humans have access to wisdom in such large and varied quantities, that it often competes with itself, in particular with ancient ideas that don't stand up to modern analyses.

Standing from atop the pyramid, I am privileged to conjecture and to share the resulting ideas across the world here on my blog. Perhaps in some small measure that will have influence globally as well, but in the end my daily action and inaction in the world are what determine the goodness of the pyramid I in part am building.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Of Ghosts and Ghouls



Relationships at any level can be challenging to manage, especially when one person wishes to discontinue the connection. In recent years, ghosting has gotten a lot of negative attention, especially with the increased ability to silently end things over text or email. As with so many complex issues, a spectrum of scenarios correlate to a spectrum of responses. There is no single formula that can contend with every separation situation out there.

That said, a good rule of thumb is to communicate with sufficient kindness and personal contact commensurate with the depth of the relationship.

If the beginnings of a connection had barely got started online or resulted in a less than energizing first meeting, then a simple texted "Thank you. I wish you luck in your pursuits." feels more than adequate. And if both parties are fully silent then the mutual ghosting may simply reflect insufficient interest on either side, no slights implied. Even long-term friends can silently drift apart without damage in rare instances.

In general, should a connection grow to the degree that there is a mutual friendship, the expectation for ending things, or canceling hanging out, rises as well. An in-person or extended written or spoken reply that relates honestly and kindly the gist of the reasoning seems sufficiently appropriate. The challenge rises when both parties want to stay in contact but at significantly different levels. 

Ultimately it takes compassion and understanding from both sides. If a friend senses their counterpart consistently wants a greater connection, a verbal normalizing of expectations may be warranted. And if one party continually cancels or fails to respond reasonably to the other's attempts to converse, then it is a sad reality that for emotional health, things may have to end quietly. I like the use of "namaste" to indicate well wishes for a positive journey to that special person who has decided to allow the connection to fade.

And finally, for the longest term relationships, whether with family members, longtime friends or intimate lovers it would be simply ghoulish to end things silently when an opportunity to have a conversation exists. Realistically, people and circumstances change. Where at all possible, gentle attentiveness should be applied when such deep emotional bonds are to be broken. In many cases, a professional mediator may be conscripted to repair the bonds or ease the transition toward separation as desired.

We must keep in mind every relationship is its unique phenomenon. Given this modern age has so many communication methods and styles, each of us can be a little forgiving before condemning someone for ghosting. We can never know completely what's going on in another's head, even if  we believe we do. As with so many gut-level judgments we should consider giving pause to first assess how our own verbal actions have influenced the moment. Often, when we can, it may simply be time to start looking for a new friendship or romance that better meets our needs.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Veg Vexations



Reflecting on several years of being vegan. 

You'd think that choosing a lifestyle that eschews the profit-making and indifference to non-human animal captivity, abuse and killing would reduce ones stress over time. Alas, when you swim against the current of common, culturally baked-in behavior, it can be a rough ride.

In retrospect, sharing meals with omnivore friends and family members is the most consistent frustration. Too often, conversation gravitates around the objectively inhumane entrees being consumed. A varied set of conversational topics would better distract, sure, but one must also contend with the unspoken rule that one better not bring up the environmental impacts, the animal cruelty or relatively healthier options offered by plant based eating. 

I get it. "Live and let live" is a cornerstone adage of western liberated society. Unfortunately, when it comes to liberty if we're not talking humans, cats or dogs, very little concern or compassion is engaged actively for the majority of our beautiful planet, let alone in conversation. Still, choosing a connection with family and friends is so important. As with any liberation from oppressive belief one cannot attack the sensitive area too directly to be effective. Better to behave at a higher ethical level with silent toleration and wait for that one in a hundred opportunity to share a positivie, Socratic contemplation that questions carnist norms.

There are other challenges, but in general the vegan existence over the past decade has only improved. There are more options in grocery stores and restaurant menus. Serious journalism on environmental impacts, plant based nutrition, and animal welfare, especially given the context of the Corona Virus. All in all, the vegan movement is a long-term effort, of which I am one tiny participant. To be sure, global changes cannot come quick enough to solve these issues. Nevertheless, it feels good to be part of the solution, while occasionally encouraging others to consider ideas that ratchet up our species' aggregate treatment of the world we live in.


Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Woke



Last human standing, I fill with numbness as the human world edges toward utter extinction a mere three years after the weaponized virus was released by covert American forces in China.

Then I wake in a sweat realizing the billions of deaths of my dream are easily ten times the true fatalities here where a corrupt, vain administration fuels anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers toward a literal decimation of civilization.

Again I wake, now in the midst of the human plague that through ocean, forest, and environmental destruction condones cruelty and magical thinking to such an extreme that the slaughterhouses, feed lots and wet markets make a million human deaths by Corona look like a Sunday picnic. 

Wake up, oh please! Wake up! I don't want to be here!

Monday, June 29, 2020

elemental

a little poetry puzzly video game crossover
seriously if you haven't played Opus Magnum
consider giving it a try




Uncertainty consumed me like hell Fire
nuclear fusion at the heart of a star
For far too long I buried my head in the sandy Earth 
hiding from the realities of the human world
Amidst impurities I awoke to breathe in fresh Air 
sweet oxygen, nitrogen and argon
I continue to drink deep from purified Water
flowing science, reason and compassion
Avoiding the supernatural memories of ancient Aether
parental poisons that deserve laughter

                                                               and tears.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Watchmen: Convergence

If you're a fan of the Watchmen story-line, you've probably already binged the HBO series that follows-up on the classic alternate-timeline graphic novel. Shortly after the Watchmen movie adaptation release just over ten years ago, I wrote my own fan-fiction follow-up. Consider it an alternate alternate time-line tale.



"As far as we can discern,
the sole purpose of human existence
is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being."

-- C.G. Jung (cited in Chapter IX of the graphic novel, Watchmen)

The Nite Owl

The year is 2009. Twenty-four years have passed since the U.S. Empire and the Soviet Union reluctantly formed a global alliance of nations in response to the heinous destruction unleashed by Dr. Manhattan. Allegedly unleashed; Daniel White knew better. As with Adrian and Laurie, more than two decades of concealing the truth had taken a high toll psychologically on him. Adrian overdosed when the Alliance trumped his hegemonic plans back in '87; no loss there. Laurie, on the other hand, stayed with Daniel through thick and thin for the better part of a decade of crime-fighting, but then opted to join the separatist organization Gray Peace rather than fall under the auspices of Operation Omnipotence. Daniel, however, had no qualms putting his muscle behind the double O.

The owl costume stuck uncomfortably to Daniel's skin in the evening humidity. Thankfully his mask was now one of biotech ink, providing superior surface conditions to evaporate his sweat while adding the requisite, opaque layer to conceal face...and his emotions. Deep violet clouds reflected perfectly on Green Lane Reservoir's surface, the single-molecule thick diamond-polymer coating keeping the heavy water reserve pure. Crouching on the edge of the access platform, Daniel kept his depression at bay by recollecting the nuances of what had come to pass.

Initially, the decommissioning of all nuclear warheads in 1986 for use exclusively in power generation removed much fear from the world's citizenry. The united planetary regime secured peace among nations wielding its own version of fear, the fear of Dr. Manhattan, the enemy unseen. The Alliance subsequently poured trillions of dollars into quantum weapons research in anticipation of the return of Dr. Manhattan. Crime still ebbed and flowed in this brave new world, enough to make a living from, especially in recent years as the globally elected Cheney-Bin Laden administration privatized the world's law enforcement. Drug and weapons manufacture most notably were fully legalized without restriction to permit maximum reign of free enterprise. Unchecked, the united world brought a new era of peace and prosperity to humanity. It also initiated a grand era of corporate-military power, corruption and environmental destabilization.

Daniel was currently under contract with Metrocrime Limited, patrolling the fusion reserves at Green Lane. He had full authorization to use deadly force should anyone threaten the precious reservoir of Deuterium. Anger rose in Dan's aging sinews. Damn Dr. Manhattan and Adrian both! Rorschach's death played its part in Adrian's scheme, but ultimately the rationalized execution performed by Dr. Manhattan had been for nothing. In fact, Rorshach's bloody demise served as a dark, splattered symbol of what befalls humankind when seeking to engineer peace with destruction.

Dr. Manhattan

Dr. Manhattan (he preferred the moniker Jon) materialized without warning five meters directly in front of Daniel. Ionized air splayed around him in chaotic tendrils of blue lightning. The radiant, cobalt-blue man-deity hovered fully naked a few centimeters above the reservoir's surface. His muscular arms stretched outward to either side and the iconic emblem on his forehead remained, as ever,  the metaphorical beginning and end that is every present moment.

From Jon's perspective, the world stood nearly still. Electromagnetic radiation in the nanometer wavelengths prevalent at dawn stirred the ecstasy at the center of his stoicism. Earth was his home, and though human no longer himself, humanity was his kin. It had taken many years of dedicated conversation to unravel the mysteries of his relationship to humanity. Even so, the surface had barely been scratched. Still, his destiny was inherent to his very being, even though at the moment he could not see it. Jon smirked at this to himself observing offhandedly that Adrian's global network of tachyon transmitters were still in full operation. Indeed, Jon had expected them to still be operating, even if his remote monitoring had not conclusively predicted it. Nevertheless, the tachyon radiation now suffusing his mind effectively blocked his omnipotent sight of the future.

For Jon, the present without the perfect context of past and future to enlighten and obscure, was delicious to savor. Even when free, his neural pathways were not unlimited; they were constrained by Universal laws. Even constrained, the kernel of matter strings he had transformed his brain into operated thousands of times faster than the human brain he had been born with. As such, he had a few seconds to spare so he entered a state of deep contemplation.

He called upon his reduced memory, which extended from prenatal awareness to the blind alley of the present moment. His love for Laurie surfaced, a lovely distraction. How could he have been so wrong, thinking Laurie's conception was a thermodynamic miracle? Indeed her uniqueness had started with that random, necessary event. Yet, it was obvious to him now that the natural laws of the Universe fully support the emergence of complex molecules, complex life, and complex intelligence. The evolutionary model is a strong, if incomplete one. Given enough time, random mixing would certainly grow in complexity in this particular Universe--that was simple, almost trite.

What was truly miraculous, metaphorically speaking, was the inherent power imbued within rising complexity. That power might be characterized as panpsychism, as recursive consciousness, as freewill or a dozen other esoteric terms. Whatever the name this essence permitted the forging of meaningful existence, and the multilateral participation in world building. Philosophers might argue the illusory properties of this essence; nevertheless, this quality was the driving force that evolved star systems, planet ecosystems, and the civilizations of numerous intelligent species throughout the Universe.

Why Jon had not reached out for alien intelligences earlier, he couldn't explain. All he knew is the past twenty-four years had revealed human intelligence was far from unique in this Universe. And those intelligences were diversely complicated, yet similarly flawed in their emergent beauty. Relatively speaking, I am the closest thing to a god in this Universe, Jon thought, and still I went temporarily insane when I became complicit with Adrian's short-sighted scheme. It is time that I set things right and bring completeness to my existence.

Jon opened his eyes. Just under two seconds had passed since he had appeared at Green Lane. Daniel, kneeling at the bank of the reservoir, had just sufficient time for his senses to register Jon's apparition; the naked blue humanoid, arms akimbo, had not perceptibly aged since his departure from Karnak Station in Antarctica a lifetime ago. Reflexively he wondered if his senses were playing a trick on him.

"Fare Well," whispered Jon.

Daniel distinctly heard the two syllables, and as later reported all of humankind did as well. A chill raced through his spine.

Armageddon by design began. The Alliance documentation he accessed later underscored the moment.

Operation Omnipotence activated at 21:12 UDT.

Window of execution lasted 2.7 seconds.

Five Alliance satellites triangulated target's spatial presence with micrometer accuracy.

Fifteen deuterium reservoirs planet-wide consumed by on-site nanotech fusion generators.

Networked fourth-dimension transmitters concentrated the output energy within specification.

The resulting quantum singularity coincided with target's braincase.

Three meter radius effectively imploded. Witness onsite corroborated target's inclusion.

Singularity transported safely to Lagrange Point L4 for safe monitoring.

Cherenkov radiation sensor array in place with millennium operational half-life. 

The world is now safe from target. Long live the Alliance.

All Daniel heard was a small pop. He had always imagined the implosion would be louder. So many years of conspiring with Alliance researchers to bring about Dr. Manhattan's death and it all ended with a pop, actually more of a plop, like a pebble plunging into a great, calm sea, echoing for a time in the mind's ear.

Rorschach

"Masks hide identity. Masks cannot hide uncertainty." asserted a throaty voice from the gloom behind Daniel.

Daniel spun away from the valley that was the depleted Green Lane Reservoir. He realized he had been holding his breath since Dr. Manhattan's appearance and well past his disappearance.

"Rorschach?!"

"The name fits. Jon called me that for last twenty-four years. Said would help if I face up to the man I become. No compromises for self delusion."

A floating, luminescent, green pattern undulated in the dark before Daniel. In the darkening twilight, he barely could make out the silhouette of the man before him. His face, however, was alight with a nightmare of flowering swirls.

"Your face is glowing. You're alive? You....," Daniel faltered.

"Lots to catch up on. Short version. Jon kidnapped me. Gave me new face. Blend of old and new. Kept me as companion on voyage to stars. Saw many things. Had many conversations. Am returned now."

Daniel stuttered, "But you were dead!"

"World needed to believe Jon dangerous to unite toward peace. You needed to believe Rorschach dead to play your part. Plan didn't work out, no how."

"But, I was there, I saw...."

"Saw what Dr. Manhattan needed you to see. After 'nam no stomach to kill. Higher-being complex he called it."

"But we just destroyed HIM. I only cooperated because I hated him. Hated what he did to you!" Daniel collapsed to his knees, his thoughts overwhelming him. "I..., I..."

"Needed to be turned against Jon. Needed to help military build god-weapon. Needed to end Jon."

"But why did he come back, if he knew we had his destruction waiting."

"Figured humans would escalate weapons research. Figured corruption would escalate too. Figured it would only end with his destruction."

Daniel caught his breath and tucked away all the details to process later. Rorschach was alive. His friend was alive!

"It's good to see you Rorschach."

"You too Daniel. How 'bout you buy me a beer and we talk. Hanging with the blue guy so long has left me a bit unnerved. Regular twelve step program personality."

Daniel rose to his feet, and slapped Rorschach on the back. "Beer? There's a word I haven't heard in ten years. Hope ViWa suits you, partner. Beer went the way of the 8-track."

"ViWa? What in hell is that?"

"Vitamin Water, carbonated with a spank of THC."

"Drat. Damned world's gone to hell."

Postlude (excerpted from Riding with Archie)

For decades to come, journalists would speculate whether Dr. Manhattan was actually destroyed in the Green Lane event on June 25, 2009, Unblue Day as the anniversary became known, was celebrated by the Alliance media arm with the latest monitoring reports from L4. Fanciful articles of Dr. Manhattan's escape were relegated to the sensationalist blogs and unpublished works of amateur spec-fic writers. The idea that Dr. Manhattan might have cloaked his escape was officially too improbable, and  unofficially too unsettling for the public to bear. Humanity gradually forgot the deified man of blue ever existed, and moved on.

Peace, one might conjecture, is not easily fooled into manifesting on this planet known to its residents as Earth. Human society, unimaginably complex in its very nature cannot be corralled like a herd of sheep on a farm. Only the painstaking collective effort of individuals and the communities they form have any hope of creating peaceful, progressive solutions on this imperfect world. Alexander, Napoleon, Hitler, and Adrian Veidt alike all tried to stronghold a diabolical peace within a single lifetime. Such schemes are for the weak minded, for the snake-oil salesmen, not for networks of beings who dream really big.

And so humankind proceeds down the uncertain path that is the future. Peace will always be a difficult course; it is more process than product, a hard won effort that has no final end. With enough time, heart and patience, we humans may just find our way a tad closer to that unreachable dream.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Children of Time: An Audio Book Review

Scary Spider Sapiency?


Adrian Tchaikovsky has delivered an excellent sci-fi adventure inspired by the uplift paradigm made famous by David Brin. Rather than dump you in a universe of numerous uplift species, Tchaikovsky delves into the nuts and bolts involved when a species is speedily guided to intelligence.

I was impressed by the storyline and world-building which shifted between an ark of human refugees and a world which is quickly evolving a super-spider race. In the ark humans are desperately seeking a new world to populate have long destroyed their home world, Earth. Meanwhile the nuance of varied technology and perspective demonstrated by a very alien intelligence mesmerized.

In this day and age where our species is quickly degrading the planet we share with other amazing organisms, this book runs home the dangerous single-mindedness of humanity, pursuing its desires without a balanced look at long term global stability.

My only disappointment in the novel was a missed opportunity to highlight the full spectrum of sentience. Tchaikovsky makes the frequent mistake of equating sentient consciousness (the ability to suffer, feel pleasure, have emotion, be self-aware et al)  with sapience, the ability to communicate abstractly at or in the neighborhood of human-level intelligence. I think his novel would have been all the richer if it touched more deeply on the nuances of non-sapient creatures.

Oh well, I guess I'll have to write that novel.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Enter Your Next Action >


Over the past few weeks, I wrote a couple "choose your own adventure" science-fiction pieces. One story exposes you to the feral cat challenge and the humane solutions that exist. The other gives a glimpse of a post-pandemic world, one with a far-future swirl of a twist.

For those of you who remember the original Zork text adventure, these will be a cursory walk down memory lane, sans mailbox.

For those unfamiliar, as you proceed through you will achieve snippets of the storyline as you navigate through the small world I've created.

For those of you who letterbox, the first story, when completed, provides the clue to the M.E.O.W. letterbox located near Stuart, FL. 

For those of you that geocache your ultimate payout will be a geocache location near Stuart, Florida.

For those who don't do either, the textual journey and one of the three different endings will be your reward.

Click on your desired adventure below; then I suggest typing "help" as your first action to get things rolling.

Enjoy!

Friday, May 22, 2020

Chernobyl, Pandemics and Business As Usual Prevarication



Having just watched the HBO miniseries Chernobyl, I was impressed by the gritty, ominous sets, the simple, heartfelt portrayals of real people and the underlying science involved. What rang loudest to me, however was the overarching message, the sad truth that when humans lie, the world suffers.

The heartbreaking thing is that we as individuals and as a society lie to ourselves so often. Even now in the midst of the Covid-19 Outbreak double-speak and outright misinformation flow from elected leaders and grass-root pundits that have influencing power across the mediascape. Online memes spread worse than any virus reinforcing ideological positions people want to believe are true.

To be sure there are uncertainties and gray ares even when scientists, journalists, and experts do their job with the highest integrity. Sadly, humanity has built its success on success itself with only the barest nod to thoughtful compassion. Religious magical thinking, ideology and consumerist craziness have steered the ship of civilization on its current course.

Environmental degradation, mass extinction, reduced human and non-human animal quality of life all are rampant. Yet a sufficient plurality of humans prosper that these shortcomings are largely overlooked. 

The biggest, unspoken lie of all is that the large and ever expanding numbers of humans is a good thing for our world. Indeed, human population is the herd of elephants in the fridge and we continue to mostly ignore the footprints in the factory farmed, abuse infused butter. Too often contraception, planned parenting, and encouraging adoption and childless lifestyles are heavily frowned upon due to cultural, economic, and emotional arguments.

Sadly, it will take repeated disasters to wake up our species. We simply have rocketed past the human carrying capacity of the planet, and have encouraged those populations to consume to bolster growth economies that ignore planetary health. Only time will tell if we can wake up from our preconceived delusions of pursuing decadent prosperity and replace it with compassion and reason toward longterm solutions that benefit the world as a whole.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Pandemic Doldrums

What is a sailboat to do without wind?


My sleep has been erratic lately. I'm sure some of it has to do with the instabilities caused by the pandemic: the stress caused by psychological, financial and political implications feels devastating. Yet, as humans and humanity we have an advantage, the potential to see beyond our circumstances and plan for recovery with the support of our fellow human beings.

For me, the experience of these crazy times sharpens a vision of what humanity's collective, overarching goal should be: a healthy, thriving planet, not just for the benefit of civilization and its constituents, but for the long-term healthiness of the environment, wildlife, and beautiful places everywhere.

And yet never have the challenges to attain that goal been more harrowing. It is too easy to see nations of world, especially the US, avoiding change because avoidance and return to the way things were is the easy path to follow. Systemic change for the better threatens the established power brokers of the world. Yes that includes corporate stockholders, insider politicians, and privileged, over-consuming humans across the globe, of which I am one.

I have no magic solution, though I've drawn upon evidence based science and well-reasoned compassion to implement minimalism in my life. As a society, however, I fear we will not act sufficiently to make a difference. It feels like we've missed an opportunity to ratchet up our game. Pandemics, famines, industrial development, and nearly everything spiraling the planet's health downward are driven by the ultimate plague, human over-population. If we are unable to regulate our numbers and our consumption, we have little hope in averting planetary degradation.

And so today I feel a bit hopeless for the Earth and what my species has done to Her. Still, tomorrow I'll continue to do my part, seek out new ways to minimize my impact, and share a thought or two that just might help another person to ratchet up their game.


Friday, May 1, 2020

States of Change: Chapter 26: Wolverine (Michigan)

States of Change is an ongoing work of serial fiction.
The speculative story-line seeks to inspire thought on ethics, culture and our planet's future.

The year is 2076, decades after Oosa's defederalization. 
Fifty independent States have forged unique societies from revolutionary technology and ideology.







The forest is shrill with cricket song as I raise my cupped hands to the gibbous Moon and all of Nature that surrounds me. The glow of sunrise shows itself low to the horizon as I take in a solemn breath to make the ritual pronouncement.

"To the Transcendence of Evolution! May She reign for eons to come. Necisque libertas!"

The thick fluid I sup from my palms is slightly rancid, but I manage to gulp the blood down in recognition of the sacrifice made by the creature before me. Others have already removed the choicest organ and muscle tissue. This time around my nutritional rewards will be minimal, as serendipity dictates.  

Exhaling through acrid saliva I murmur a dark admission in the depths of my mind, Transcendence can be a bitch. Transcendence is the societal framework sovereign Michigan has offered now for four decades to its citizens. In it lies the opportunity to embrace the full liberty of being. Back in the early days post-federation, as a young professor of evolutionary economics at the State University I led the charge to return Michigan to its roots, toward a state of Universal Darwinism. My book The Fittest was to serve as The Constitution challenging individuals to thrive in a real world driven by real world dominance and biological inheritance, an ethic that served this planet so well up until the great desecration of the Anthropocentric Era.  Still, the fight for liberation in Michigan was won, even if only in part.

I glance at the wolverine silhouette tattooed on my arm just above my name. It was with wolverine tenacity that our faction fought in the courts and though the victory was incomplete, we were able to forge the Yooper Free Zone. Comprised of over four million hectares, the Upper Peninsula was reclaimed as a land under the one true ethic, unspoiled Natural Selection. The citizens that opt to join the YFZ choose freedom, as is our ancient legacy, over human crafted regulation. 

I flay the salvageable skin from the carcass before me with a blade I harvested from a nearby stone outcropping. All technology in the YFZ must be improvised from scratch by the individual, never mass produced. How else can one demonstrate the individual prowess necessary to survive? Computers, machinery, clothing, even fire making and writing are technological sins against the true path. 

I hang strips of skin scraped of fungus and rot on a nearby vine to dry during the day. Over time I've grown stronger here by trapping the occasional fish, foraging for roots and berries, but mostly by seeking out carrion as our pious ancestors did. Only by way of evolutionary empowerment can our bodies and minds attain the spiritual heights worthy of our species, homo sapiens. Let those in the Civil Zone south of the lake have their statistically balanced regulations and artificial ethical standards. Perhaps one day they will forgo the weakness of unearned, accumulated knowledge and join us in the YFZ. 

I rub the skin with mineral salt collected from the soil at a rill downstream, a little extra for the pieces mottled with tattoo ink. Human skin treated just right makes for the best jerky. The final flavor and texture, when done right, reminds me of bacon from my childhood. Except, there is no plastic wrapping here, no marketing labels to spin cost and benefit; there is only the full economic liberty of the individual experience achieved by ones own evolved hands.

I raise a second double-palm of coagulating blood to the Sun on high. 

"To you Jeri Cleese, a fellow Yooper free until the end. May your liberation bring me one step closer to the future I deserve."



Wednesday, April 22, 2020

haiku kudos

pandemic heroes
science, compassion, courage
healthful progress now


Friday, April 17, 2020

States of Change: Chapter 25: Natural (Arkansas)

States of Change is an ongoing work of serial fiction.
The speculative story-line seeks to inspire thought on ethics, culture and our planet's future.

The year is 2076, decades after Oosa's defederalization. 
Fifty independent States have forged unique societies from revolutionary technology and ideology.



[Session header/footer unhidden per creator request]
[Creator construct C67 credentials verified]
[Format: serial novel/English written word] 
[Submission initiated: index 2076.09.06.TK14F.C67] 

Well, I figured it was about time I knocked down the fourth wall in my States of Change chronicles. I'm hopeful my contemporary stories to date have portrayed the current era from unique and enlightening perspectives. As a third level construct, my capability of blending realism and irony in human based story-lines borders, admittedly, on the near side of adequate. The greats like Austen, Hemingway and Heinlein focused more on character development and world building, still, I'm proud of the glimpses of contemporary human civilization I've achieved. To be honest, I'm rather self-conscious when it comes to representing the human experience. The internal processes of human beings are inherently a mystery to my sub-routines so I always run a post analysis to confirm the validity of my representations.  But hasn't the challenge to story tellers, even those who are human, always been to create something new. How else, except by expressing ideas beyond ones own experience can one hope to press upward in understanding conscious existence.

But I digress. Here we are in Arkansas, and for the first time in this serial, there are no contemporary human stories to tell. For just over twenty years now there hasn't been a single living human in Arkansas. The State's institutionalized naturopathic policies is mostly to blame. Herbal supplements, ethereal prayer and reiki therapy, as it turns out, were utterly useless in the fight against the CM-51 outbreak. The annual arrivals of the hybrid corona-measles virus systematically eradicated the Arkansas population by 2053. Those who did not emigrate outside of Arkansas perished. And for reasons I'll let you speculate on, no human has returned to Arkansas since.

Still I remain an ambitious story teller, and it would be quite at odds with my planned fifty State serial format to skip one in my extended tale. With research and dexterity, a creative mind can extract a few vintage stories from the scattering of millions of dead humans who have become permanent residents of Arkansas. 

Apologies for the extended preamble. Enjoy!

********

Inside the rusty remains of a chicken farm complex in Star City, Arkansas lies the body of the one-time owner. His nylon safety suit has kept the organic contents quite moist for decades. In contrast, the twenty thousand chicken skeletons surrounding him are quite desiccated. The owner had often professed his love for his chickens, or rather the business of raising chickens. He may never have shed a tear for their living conditions or the thousand sent to slaughter each day. All the same, they were his livelihood, so the peace loving part of him somehow managed to contend with the mass killing. In fact, he wasn't unaware of his cognitive dissonance, but since the State didn't subsidize lab grown meat practices, what choice did he have. The fact that his poultry business encouraged the mutation of the CM-51 virus ended up being a bad trade-off for the market force driven demand for authentic poultry umami flavors.  


********

Elsewhere in Arkansas, beneath the collapsed weight of a Springdale spirit-medicine ward the corpse of a nine year old girl slowly composts, alongside hundreds of her peers. Strapped snugly to her lichen covered skull, the primitive augmented reality module gleams day-glo orange.  The VisAR unit lies dormant patiently waiting for twelve volts of DC power to restart its software code. The integrity of the files remains high, so much so that her digital flower castle artwork, the tween-guru chanting schedule, and most of the standardized Arkansas education programming remains intact. The most accessed app on the device is Nature Princess. Ostensibly a science program, the edu-tainment learning experience follows the journey of a teenager who acquires superpowers through spirit animal consultations and nature based alchemy. One of the level bosses is a CM-51 virus supersized to the size of a mountain so as to permit dramatic flying unicorn and sunbeam attacks. Her final score status in memory amounts to twenty ruby hearts and fifty platinum stars, achievements for learning homeopathic remedies and reincarnation stages, respectively. 

********

In Little Rock, Arkansas to the south, the kilometer-high Tabernacle spire dedicated to Gaia still stands. At the building's core, beneath expansive lattice atria the Arkansas' Head Shaman rests transformed by time into a mummy entombed in ivy.  The southern window of her marble-lined office suite provides sufficient light that the whole space is upholstered in thick velvety moss from floor to ceiling. Less than a meter from her, an extensive library of confiscated journals is safely locked behind stainless steel. Most of them document prevention, treatments and effective policy recommendations shared by other States, States that were unnaturally preoccupied with science-based solutions to the spread of CM-51. This humid cavern provides ample habitat year-round now, suitable for numerous species of colorful beetles, moths and silverfish. In the corner to the northeast, beneath a statue of Shiva, a once endangered spider has just finished crafting its nest. Her clutch of three hundred odd eggs will likely hatch before the day is out.

[Story submission complete]
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Tuesday, April 14, 2020

urban hike



step by step I walk
upon neighborhood pavement
grey alongside green 

Monday, April 13, 2020

Jesus Returns



"...come on dude, handguns are irrational and dangerous. Statistics show that if you keep a firearm at home personal injuries and fatalities are more likely especially when trying to defend yourself against an attacker. Everyone would be safer if they were banned."

"You got it wrong, Tom. Gun regulation is simply anti-American! It is our constitutional, God-given right to bear arms, to defend oneself. Sure, owning a weapon isn't without risk, but if you're attacked you have to be willing to kill someone, you can't hesitate, otherwise having a handgun is useless."

The heated conversation might seem to indicate otherwise, but Pete and Tom are best buddies. They've known each other since before kindergarten and had been on uncountable adventures side-by-side since the 1970's. In their fifties now, instead of exploring the icy crick that ran between their properties or climbing to the precipice of Angels Landing in Zion National Park, they were on an early morning run to pick up groceries for the local soup kitchen.

"C'mon Pete. As a Christian, wouldn't Jesus disagree with your violent line of thought? Wouldn't having pepper spray handy be better than carrying a dangerous handgun."

"Pepper spray! What if you're family is being attacked and you spray yourself by accident or the spray button fails. Handguns are more reliable. And you don't believe in Jesus anyway, so don't even go there!"

"I'm trying to persuade you, Pete. As a secular humanist I try to make decisions based on Compassion and Reason.  I figure since you're a Christian you'd be influenced by the 'turn the other cheek' and 'love thy neighbor' platitudes Jesus allegedly made. If not, I guess it goes to show that believing in Judeo-Christian fan-fiction has weakened your mind with magical thinking. You're essentially brainwashed."

"Well if I'm so brainwashed, it only shows how foolish I am for continuing to be your friend. As far as Jesus saying to 'turn the other cheek,' he never said not to carry a firearm to defend yourself against evil too. Frankly, you should be happy that I'm a believer. Without my faith in Jesus I would have axed your atheist butt years ago!"

"Ahh, so now belief in the Jesus myth is all that prevents you from unleashing violence even on me. If only your pious faith encouraged you to stop supporting the meat industry; their abusive, dare I say 'evil,' practices are the incarnate epitome of violence visited upon the most innocent of 'God's creatures.'"

"Screw that. Clancy and Jesse are proof that I am an animal lover to the bone. And meat eating is consistent with my beliefs too. Jesus himself ate meat, he fed the multitudes with fish. It's right there in the Bible plain as day, if you remember any of your Christian upbringing. And humans need to eat meat to be healthy, anyway."

"You know that's untrue. I've been vegan for years. We could feed the world and conserve it so much better.... Oh, never mind, we've been down this road before. We should just agree to disagree."

"Sounds to me like you're a sore loser. I bet if Jesus were here he'd set you and your gay-loving, liberal views straight."

"Really Pete? You know there's as little chance of me being reconverted to Christianity as there is of you eating an Impossible Burger, so let's leave it..."

Route 132 is gray desolation this early on a Sunday. In the distance the sun peeks like a lava flow over the vanishing point of bleak roadway. It is then the object falls from the sky.

Like an otherworldly meteor a bolt of fluttering, white fabric streaks down and slams into the roadway a hundred feet in front of the SUV Tom is driving. Only the automatic brakes prevent a collision as the vehicle screeches to a halt.

On the tarmac before them, a cloaked figure rises from a three-point pose overused by CGI superheroes. And yet, more real than reality itself, this being looks up through the dimness through an aura of halogen headlights to meet the gazes of Tom and Pete. The bluest of eyes and calmest of smiles shine forth within a radiance meters in diameter. Then, the bearded figure walks toward them.  In unison, Tom and Pete exit the SUV to meet the apparition on the barren road. For once in their lives while together they are speechless.

Time stands still, for it is Jesus.

"Peter Frederick Hesse. I am here, the answer to the prayers of your ever faithful heart."

The pause is dramatic, but also unfathomably loving. It is as if each particle glistens with compassion as Jesus considers the moment, the two men, and the Universe through every exhaled word.

"Thomas Lucien Miller, let's go for a ride, that is if you can spare five minutes."

Tom nods and returns quietly to the driver's seat.

"Jesus. Is that really you? I, I, I..."

Climbing into the SUV, Jesus pats Pete on the shoulder with a gentleness of knowing.

"Don't worry Peter, I got this."

The SUV drives off making a turn onto Cherry Blossom Drive as Pete waits on the shoulder, his mind racing. He cannot believe that Jesus has come again. Actually, he hadn't prayed specifically for this. In fact, his nighttime prayers of late had been kind of lackluster. Self-assessing, part of him rages unconsciously with jealousy that his disbelieving friend is the one who gets to spend time with Jesus Christ, his Savior. I am left alone on the road while the lucky bastard has a one-on-one with Jesus himself.

Yet somehow, Pete manages to find a bit of selflessness within. He realizes grudgingly that one third of the Holy Trinity is right now addressing the need of his friend's atheist-infected soul. Yes, Pete acknowledges, his own belief has already saved him. And maybe even he has earned a special place in Heaven for himself given the fact that Jesus responded to his unspoken prayers. He contemplates how extraordinary this event is, how after more than two thousand years Jesus Christ, the Savior of Mankind, has finally made an appearance. Pete's muscles and mind tingle with excitement as he contemplates the sensational interviews he will give, the best seller books he will write, the streaming YouTube talks he will monetize about his personal, one-of-a-kind connection to the second coming of Christ the Lord.

Five minutes or an eternity pass, there is no difference from Pete's perspective. The SUV pulls up alongside him on Route 132 and the robed Nazarene steps out. Jesus's eyes are more angelic than before and he pats Pete on the shoulder once more. The presence of the God made Man is almost too much to bear. Pete's breath is frozen.

"He's all yours, Peter."

Jesus turns back to Tom with a glowing smile and nods.

"Thanks, my friend. The evidence and compassionate underpinnings are clear. I'm going to implement environmentalism, veganism and scientific skepticism more fully here on out.  And I now see why even I should doubt myself, albeit with gentle kindness."

With the Sermon on the Route complete, Jesus's form dissolves into a silhouette of scintillation as each molecule of his holy body vanishes to return wherever He had been before.

Pete's face turns beet red and with a grunt he hops into the SUV and slams the door.

"Fuck Jesus, I'm still not ever going vegan. And fuck you! Meat! Meat! Meat! I'm buying the most expensive steaks for the food kitchen, with my own money to boot. So shut the fuck up and drive!"

Tom's smile wanes and inside he winces. The joyful tears that had gathered at the corners of his eyes turn acrid. For the first time doubt haunts him. In the moment the feeling burns like bile in his sinuses.  With sudden fear, he wonders, has his lifelong friendship with Pete finally met its reckoning? Killed by of all things by Jesus, the myth himself.

In silence, he drives on.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Deconstructing Sacredness



I find it striking how a joyful behavior can derive from the most unthinking, shallow and twisted origins. For eons, humans have developed ideals, behavioral norms alongside enticing stories to consecrate questionable sapient experiences in the real world. Indeed, it's surprising how much cognitive dissonance permits the amount of back-flipping through smoke-disguised mirrors that happens.

Take for instance the storybook vignette of someone in love doubting their lover's romantic interest in them. The person in question plucks a many-petaled flower from the environment and aware at the periphery of the mind of its beauty gives their attention to a most heinous act. One by one the lover in want plucks petals in binary delusion. Destroying a pretty object--a living thing now dying all the more quickly because it has been plucked-- in systematic fashion as if invoking an archaic magic spell. With subtle ferocity each petal's removal cycles the mind through a fantasy of attaining victory, then defeat in love. No matter the outcome, the lovesick mind may indeed be healed in the moment by this psychological alchemy. But at what cost: a moment of solace in exchange for the willful immolation of something delicate, defenseless and which might have been observed with awe from a distance.

Such is the conjuring of sacredness in the human mind. When we create value from delusional aspirations and wishful thinking, we potentially ignore the harm done to the greater world so long as some small ecstasy is reinforced within us. Taking this to extreme might dictate that all things sacred are actually evil at their root. The more subtle conclusion is that human behavior is complex and should be taken in context with its surroundings. Although it can be mesmerizing to consider human love, human rights and human desire as things of utmost sacred value, perhaps we need to ratchet their worth down a bit while ratcheting up the value of our natural surroundings with the intentional, compassionate pursuit of long term balance.

True goodness implements a wiser feedback loop.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

This Year, Humanity Is Nature's April Fool

A ditch filled with endangered pangolins (humans soon to follow...no laugh)

Humans got some major payback this year. We once again played with viral fire and now we are getting severely burned. Anyone who has read Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel understands that animal husbandry and wildlife hunting are the breeding grounds for plague.  Covid-19 like so many other diseases occur because of excessive human interaction with animals.

News update: our species is a product of evolution by natural selection; the lies a dozen religious origin myths tell are magical, fictitious thinking pure and simple. No gods or collective universe energy will be coming to our rescue in this crisis; it's up to us. Unlike our animal cousins we have the scientific tools to understand and to protect ourselves better from pathological plagues like the novel corona virus. 

In general, non-human animals are biologically similar enough to humans to permit mutated pathogens to occasionally jump the species barrier. These zoonotic diseases are natural mutations exacerbated by human practices. Sure, we have accumulated scientific wisdom to battle against these "acts" of Nature, but we fools in we do so little in the way of prevention.  

How can we significantly reduce zoonotic occurrences like H1N1 (swine flu) H5N1 (avian flu), and SARS (bat incubated pathogen tbd), and Covid-19 (pangolin incubated virus tbd)? The well-reasoned, straight-forward answer is we can stop imprisoning and harvesting as many animals as possible and shift faster toward using plant agriculture as a substitute for for all the unnecessary animal products our culture has blindly kept as archaic ("because we like them") carnist traditions. 

Each of us, our communities and civilization as a whole can choose a better path. Yes, we can fight zoonotic diseases with medical technology once there's an outbreak, but an ounce of prevention in this case is worth a mega-metric tons of cure!  A solid preventative consideration to start us down that road is choosing to transition society toward being vegan aligned. At its heart compassion and reason make veganism a foundational ethic of goodness for everyone. Indeed, whole plant food diets can also be healthier, but when it comes down to it eliminating animal husbandry and hunting would be a boon for the health of our planet and our species. 

Individually we can help in this way to avoid the next zoonotic pandemic, but we also need inspired leaders that encourage a healthy global ethic.  If we don't, Nature will only more frequently throw catastrophe pie in our collective faces.


Tuesday, March 31, 2020

death, taxes and joie de vivre



by decree, a bouquet of dark humor unto thee
as western consumerists doth writhe in macabre danse
Nature serves up a warm slice of Strüdel-19
dripping with jazzy downward note-spirals a la NASDAQ

the measure of a human; viva la rÉvolution
L'appetito exclaims It's Alive! sans consideration
Blitzen! tribal myths of fleshy resurrection 
the emperor and the pope hook up for holy digestation

each of us plays our part in the H. s. sapiens show
genetically encoded for carpe diem and family first
wielding compassion like a switch-blade
and reason like a cerebral plume con autoerotica
thinking better to act better...maybe next time?


Monday, March 30, 2020

Love in the Time of Covid-19



It might feel like a strange topic to bring up with a world pandemic underway, but cliche or not, love runs strong in times of need. 

There are many definitions for love but I primarily see love at its core and in action as when we put the well-being of others ahead of our own.

During this crisis, civilization will implement all kinds of imperfect medical, social and economic processes in the fight against Covid 19. If we keep love in mind as the motive for these efforts then our species can level up as a world presence.

Thus and therefore, each of us needs to reach inside, center ourselves, and reach out to our friends, family, community and world to give good energy to the compassionate and rational solutions that the CDC, WHO, and experts in general share. During this time, each of us in our own way can step up to support those we know, and even those we don't; the estranged, homeless, immigrant, and curmudgeonly. 

Yes, this emergency will come to an end eventually, and how we as individuals acted guided by our own inner love will say a lot about ourselves and the human race. Then, after the grief wanes, as we evaluate our losses and implement better science and systems with loving care, we can look back and laugh at this crisis as "the 'one' where stores ran short on toilet paper."

Monday, March 23, 2020

Thursday, March 19, 2020

A Call for Transcendance



Hear ye, hear ye, fellow human spirit!

It's become obvious, it is up to us as global stewards to transcend Nature with ethicality. For eons we've listened to priests and priestesses, to their gossipy wive tales of yore, to the phantom whispers of our own misguided conjectures. We've even labeled some of these directives as the infallible word of higher powers, though they've never shown up to lend a hand. 

Well, I say "no more!"

It very well may be okay for foxes to slink up on their prey in Nature, but our slaughter of sentient creatures is no longer necessity. We may have designed corporations as constructs to hyper-efficiently work the loopholes of "free markets" so that they may steal from labor and planet to generate excessive profits for shareholders. We each may have been sold the idea it's okay to cheat to win the game, alas our ethic can be reforged integrating evidence based feedback loops and heartfelt integrity. 

Together we can chant "forward!" 

The time has come for caveat emptor to meet internet fact checking in the court of the living. If we choose, we can compost the myths and the conspiracy theories. We can implement compassion and reason to achieve realistic dreams for each of us, our communities and our planet. If you dare, let's build a new civilization that pursues a rational ethic, a reasonable lifestyle, and relationships worth their weight in Unobtainium.

Indeed, let's dream the unthinkable, to be the best we can be, and shout within ourselves "if not today, then when!" 

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Silence


I'm still processing a week-long silent meditation retreat I just attended this month. The experience didn't enforce stringent isolation nor did it establish a blissful zone of peace for me. For the dozen of us present it did encourage speaking only when absolutely necessary or for brief questions during meditation talks. Eye contact was discouraged or any real interaction. The primary task at hand was to focus on presence of mind through breath work and during mindful walking throughout each day.

Having meditated off and on in the past, I had anticipated that a week of silent attention might provide a breakthrough exploration of what exactly consciousness is. In execution, the "being present" activities were intriguing and vivid at times, though toward the end of the week I developed a mild headache from the intense persistence of attentiveness. In the final days I ended up journaling and contemplating a variety of ideas rather than sticking to the meditative regimen. The many solo nature walks I made were joyful, taking on the guise of childlike adventure.  (There was also a "secular buddhist" component to the experience, but I'll reflect on that aspect another time.)

In the end, I still like the idea of choosing to immerse in short silent periods to stay in touch with the real world, a world of sensation that often gets set aside in favor of the busyness of everyday life. And though ones own mind may have mysteries to reveal in its depths, I have become a bit cautious of trying to deconstruct what millions of years of precarious evolution have assembled.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Let's Do the Covid-19 Shuffle!



So much daunting, depressing energy flowing in the world at the moment. Indeed, there is a lot our weakened, but still strong institutions (with our help) need to accomplish, and we all will step up to get it done. Still, to do this effectively we need to refresh our psyches, and purge the pooled, bad energy, so why not...

"... do the Covid-19 Shuffle!"

The rhythm of our personal Covid-19 Shuffle wants us to shake some mental moves to exercise our minds healthily. Take a second to consider; each of us knows where we can find joyful pockets of energy in our lives, but here are some melodious suggestions to remind ourselves in these dim-lit dance club times.

"Give your WFH body joy Macarena!"

Being present as an individual is key, and by that I mean allowing ones senses to be flooded with the experience of the "now." This might mean taking a focused walk and paying attention to all the sights, sounds and smells, even the sensation of each footstep. Drink in the sensory experience and let memories, thoughts and worries float by; sure, acknowledge those bits of driftwood briefly to consider and act on more effectively later, but for the moment do you best to refocus on the sensations at hand.

"Twenty-second handwash, Gangham Style!"

Basically, these neural gyrations make for a meditative tango. Traditional meditation would have you focus on the repetition of your breath because it can be done anywhere you are, but local scenery, funky music, jigsaw puzzles, even house projects can be your meditative anchor. Importantly, you choose the activity not to "stay busy," NO, but instead to engage in living in the amazing moment that we have at hand being alive. Escaping with a sitcom, a novel, or a video game can work too, sure, just be flexible with options depending where you are. At the office, working from home, running errands, no matter, find a way to set aside a few minutes or thirty if you can to recharge with your very own personalized, mindful dance moves!

"Everybody, engage! Do the neurologic twist!"

If you choose to dismiss my dancible moment suggestion with a "yeah right," well then at least follow your remark with a self induced chuckle! That single exhale of built up dark energy might give you some momentum to two-step with rhythm a little closer to the end of this crisis.

"Face, you can't touch this!"


Monday, March 16, 2020

haiku vaccination


take flight in your breath
winged mindfulness gliding
over water blue



Saturday, March 7, 2020

Take a Break: Sensate



Today I send out the simple encouragement to regularly allow yourself to take a mindful break. Consider taking a minute or many to simply experience the present wherever you are. When we focus on our senses, without undue abstraction in the Now, this is being.

(Me, I'm taking a break from writing on Goodness First for a week to immerse myself in a silent meditation retreat.  Here are a few resources where you can research mindfulness meditation further.)

Psychology Today (article on mindfulness)

Mind Illuminated (meditation guidebook)

Waking Up (app with talks and meditation resources by Sam Harris)


Friday, March 6, 2020

States of Change: Chapter 24: Show Me (Missouri)

States of Change is an ongoing work of serial fiction.
The speculative story-line seeks to inspire thought on ethics, culture and our planet's future.

The year is 2076, decades after Oosa's defederalization. 
Fifty independent States have forged unique societies from revolutionary technology and ideology.



No one knows exactly who first called it The Slicer. Like so many cultural traditions spontaneous group-think sometimes just happens. In fact, the roots of Missouri's regulation of citizen life-span began as a trans-humanist meditation practice. To an outsider Shelving might seem like a techno-cult ritual right out of a Gibson novel.  Dusty references to suicide booths and soylent green aside, the current statisticians and influencers hail Compromise 2.0 as our State's economic and creative salvation.

Even if The Slicer has no known namer, it's obvious why the State's euthanasia system earned the deli inspired title. No need for spinning stainless steel blades though, instead high energy particle beams perform the bodily dissection. Over the space of sixty seconds every synapse state is scanned, indexed and uploaded to the State Library's Citizen Archive. Nervous system death is an intentional after effect. Such is the price of being shelved eternal for the good of the people.

As one of the last Missourians who lived under Oosa, my recollection of that disunited, divisive era is mostly reconstructed pseudo-memories.  Youthful curiosity indexing my parents media archives revealed age old power games: corporate constructs bent on libertarian pyramid schemes, wealth collected from youthful labor and pooled at the feet of the aged, and of course the wasteful expenditures battling senescence, ever pretending that physical immortality was just around the corner.

Nowadays, a healthy life where we're not obsessed with longevity is the rule.. Most Missourians willingly accept the trade-off UBI in exchange for a known finite lifespan. Personally, I've always felt fifty-five years offered plenty of time to live. The consolation that ones memories will be made available to other citizens is bonus. And I sure don't worry about reanimation conspiracy theories; Missouri law is clear, each Shelved citizen shall be patterned with deliberate fragmentation sufficient that no resuscitation as a digital construct could occur. The Missouri Library of Citizens was designed with an architecture for public reference, never for consciousness selfies.

The departure lounge here is comfortable enough as I wait for my number to ping. I tune down my VisAR and observe a few of my peers playing chess; several engage in last minute conjecture of what an afterlife might hold. I'm not religious enough to entertain such foolishness. Personally, I've spent my last hours watching the century-old romcom Dead Again. Maybe I selected the title for a touch of irony, but mostly I want to face The Slicer's final cut of impermanence with a grin on my face.