Samir’s Selection 10/27/2014 (p.m.)

  • Every history has a history. Stories about the past have life spans: They are born, and they die, as we do. For example, you may have learned, in some distant unrecoverable scrap of your childhood, that the 16th-century Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León was obsessed with the Fountain of Youth…My body has been annotated, top to bottom, by injuries I can’t even remember suffering. I breathe hard when I walk up short flights of stairs. Sometimes I feel basically done… The Fountain of Youth, whatever it is, would feel like justice. Time is a liquid – it flows, unfairly, through us and past us; we ingest it without effort, without chewing – so it only makes sense that we would look for a liquid to save us. A liquid cure to a liquid curse. Generation after generation, like the mythical Ponce, has chased eternity in liquid form: the patent formula, the fish oil, the coconut water, the juice fast, the wheatgrass, the lotions. Twenty-first-century science promises to chase this myth into the very liquids of our bodies: nanocures that will flow in our blood and restore the fluid inside our cells. Ponce’s quest rages on, and perhaps this is the fountain he was pointing to: the perpetually flowing quest to the horizon – the next, next, next, next. We turn to look where he was pointing, and then suddenly we are gone. Next. To the Editor:William Safire (Column January 1) asks, “Why Die?”My answer is: There has to be a point at which living longer, even in a younger body, won’t confer the sense of increased value to life that we will come to expect. At some point one will grow weary of the act of living itself. Of dressing and undressing, of sleeping and walking, of watching the culture convulse, of hearing the incessant din of existence, the drone of political and philosophic babble, of watching the rise and dropping of hemlines and markets.Life has a lot to offer, but at some point the human mind will have had enough. At some point the individual will long for death, even in the midst of plenty, because death will finally be understood for what it is: the promise of real, profound, irreversible change.EDMOND KEENAN WYNNHealdsburg, Calif., Jan. 1, 2000

    tags: immortality ageing myth Florida artesianwell life death

  • “Whereas the utopia of equality contains a wealth of substantial and positive goals of social change, the utopia of the risk society remains peculiarly negative and defensive. Basically, one is no longer concerned with attaining something ‘good’, but rather with preventing the worst.

    The dream of the old society is that everyone wants and ought to have a share of the pie. The utopia of the risk society is that everyone should be spared from poisoning” — UlrichBeck

    tags: science culture politics publicpolicy publicopinion perception risk anxiety fear correlation statistics badjournalism DDT nuclear UlrichBeck AdamCurtis

  • Throughout the western world new systems have risen up whose job is to constantly record and monitor the present – and then compare that to the recorded past. The aim is to discover patterns, coincidences and correlations, and from that find ways of stopping change. Keeping things the same…Out of ELIZA and lots of other programmes like it came an idea. That computers could monitor what human beings did and said – and then analyse that data intelligently. If they did this they could respond by predicting what that human being should then do, or what they might want….Interestingly, one of the first people to criticise these kind of “recommender systems” for their unintended effect on society was Patti Maes who had invented RINGO. She said that the inevitable effect is to narrow and simplify your experience – leading people to get stuck in a static, ever-narrowing version of themselves…

    tags: power politics control surveillance risk fear culture correlation monitoring AI PattieMaes logic feedback Blackrock investment internet

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


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