25 Jan

Science on Track to Make us Gods

I have been seeing a trend for sometime now of humans applying their intelligence for the improvement of other species. You’re probably more than familiar with genetically tweaked fruits, insects, etc. Recently though, it seems to be more and more about us. That’s right! we are trying to improve the human condition by…(drum roll)…improving humans!

Here is my evidence that we are increasingly on the path to change our species:

  1. There is the recent viable embryos created out of a certain CEO’s cells. Creating a human being out of my own cells would allow me to potentially tweak the next generation’s attributes. Instead of having sons and daughters in the traditional sense, we might just create clones of ourselves, only “improved”. For example, say I’ve always wanted a fast metabolism, long life, and healthier teeth. It is only a matter of time (not much time) before I am able to plug- in a few parameters into a computer, and a few computational cycles (and a microwave ding) later obtain a better baby me.
  2. We are getting more and more comfortable messing with genes. In fact, we are making such fast advances that we are now able to not only understand gene functions, but we can add or remove specific genes, and even create entirely artificial genomes. To those of us who remember the old days of the computer world, when you had to make awesome looking games and demos from the ground up using x86 assembly, this is the genetic equivalent of inventing the C language. We are not yet to the point where we can create a modified human embryo with specific physical attributes (I want my clone male, buff, well endowed, and genius smart), but we are getting there in a hurry!
  3. Nature is helping us! Yes evolution is slow. Yes, mutations are almost always bad. Viruses are mostly bad for us. Yet, this 15 year old just changed her blood type and adopted a completely different immune system from a donor organ. It is only a matter of time before we discover and duplicate the processes involved in her “miracle”. When that happens, we will not only be able to receive donor organs (and limbs) from anyone, it may help us understand how to drastically improve the human body. I know a lot of women who would love to trade in some of their body parts for real better body parts. Forget silicone! Think real breast grown from your own cells!
  4. We will all be nearly immortal. Which means we will have more time to play scientists to improve the next generation. In case you haven’t noticed, the somewhat exponential growth in computer performance had all kinds of hardware limitations along the way that we promptly resolved using computers themselves. What I am trying to say here is that as we get smarter and better with each generation, so will our science, and therefore our ability to affect the next generation of humans.

Don’t be alarmed, you are already obsolete. There is no reason to panic. Your kids are already way smarter and more technologically savvy than you’ll ever be. Chalk it up to improved nutrition, or government experiments on the masses. Whatever makes you feel better about yourself. I am personally very excited to see all of this and I just hope I will live long enough to see humans control their environment by thought alone…what? already? I guess we can accomplish anything we imagine. Let’s just hope imagination can keep up.

18 Jan

Making my first longbow

Around May 2007, I walked into Archery Only, an archery shop in Newark, CA. I rented some equipment and spent a couple of hours on their shooting range. I was hooked! A couple weeks later, I was the proud owner of a brand new compound bow. Months have passed and I have gradually increased the draw weight on my bow until I reached my target 70 pounds (for those of you not into archery, that means it take 70 pounds of force to pull the string back). My girlfriend has been to the range with me a couple of times and is marginally interested in the sport. She has carpal tunnel problems and needs a light bow (unlike my 4 pound monster compound bow).

This long prelude was simply meant to justify my recent endeavor, I have built her a longbow out of home depot redwood! It works so well, I was almost tempted to keep it as my own and buy her something else…almost…

I haven’t finished sanding it to the proper draw weight or length (each archer can pull the string a certain distance back called draw length). I also plan on making the string for it myself. If anyone is interested in how I did this: simple, I used a hand planner on a long piece of wood from Home Depot until I got a shape roughly resembling the longbows I saw on Google. That’s also where I found dimensions and profile drawings.

I can’t speak to the durability of this bow nor to whether redwood was a good choice yet. I assume that her draw weight of around 40 pounds should not put too much strain on it. We’ll see…

10 Oct

Back to the USA…

Vancouver’s Coat of ArmsWell, Vancouver was far less of a hassle than I expected. The consulate had my passport ready the same day and I was left with a couple of days to do some sightseing. Also, Budget car rentals at the Vancouver airport gave me over 100 bucks worth of coupons for all kinds of things from the Aquarium, the museum, McMillan space center etc. In short, I had a blast. I even had time to visit Whistler. I’ll be posting my videos and pictures shortly.

25 Sep

One more trip to Vancouver

Here we go again… I am leaving in 2 days for Vancouver again. This is a repeat of last year’s visa stamping thing at the US consulate there. It should go much smoother this time since they already have most of my information on their computers. I guess we’ll see if I am staying 6 days or a month and a half like last time 🙁

On a brighter note, I have been mucking around with Ubuntu on an IBM Thinkpad T42. I have to say that so far, it pretty darn good after running automatix and bringing over the Tahoma font from the NTFS partition. Performance is acceptable and the features are just amazing. I will be taking this laptop with me to Vancouver and working remotely through VPN, which incidentally was a breeze to configure on Ubuntu.