Updates and Random Philosophy on Living

Haven’t had a great deal to report the last few days.  We’ve had lots of snow and it’s been quite cold.  Too cold and snowy to go anywhere unless necessary.  So I’ve been staying home, catching up on my reading, and taking long naps in the afternoon.  I’ve been sleeping a little more during the days, but mostly to pass the long drawn out cold days.  I still go to bed around 10pm and am usually awake for good by 5 or 6am.  My apartment is feeling quite like a regular home now rather than just the monk’s chamber I let it become the last couple years.  It helps that I put a few pieces of art done by an old friend and have a regular cleaning person come in once a week and help me keep on top of things.  Still have a few unresolved maintenance issues, but those will be knocked down before too long.  Rome wasn’t built in one day and I won’t be pulling out of my depression and anxiety induced exile and isolation all at once either.  It is coming along though.

One of my fellow tenants had a birthday party the other day.  About ten of us went to her party.  It felt good to be socializing again when people weren’t being irritable and rude to each other.  It just seems that most people I meet in person anymore are more short tempered and on edge than usual lately.  I was talking with an old friend of mine who lives here and he’s noticed the same thing.  So I’m not the only one noticing the subtle and not so subtle changes.  One of the reasons I don’t socialize much in person anymore is precisely because so many people I meet are in irritable and short tempered moods.  The fact that almost no one I know in person shares my interests in science, history, philosophy, and literature makes things even tougher.

It is true that social media and my smart phone are the bulk of my socializing now.  I know most people will think this is sad but I actually love social media and communications tech.  They have given me access to people with similar interests and concerns that I wouldn’t have had in high school.  My teenage years, other than a handful of confidants I could tell even my darkest secrets to, were quite lonely.  As an adult now near age 40, I have more social interaction than at any point in my life besides my college years.  And it is exactly because of social media, internet, and communication tech.  I know many people condemn what social media can be used for and think we would be better off without it.  I call their bluff on that.  I call the bluff on all nostalgics who are fearful of change and want to go back to the past.

I know many people, especially in my USA, are nostalgic about the past when only one income could support a family in a house in the suburbs.  Yet you don’t hear the same people decry the lack of opportunities for women, high taxes on rich people and large businesses, lack of variety in entertainment and fashion, Jim Crow laws, Cold War paranoias, cost of even long distance phone calls. I ran up long distance bills over $100 two months in a row as recently as 1999 because my two best confidants lived in other towns.  My parents were not amused by that.  Yet, here it is in 2019 and I talk to far more out of town people, and even out of country people, then I could have ever imagined even my wildest Star Trek optimist fantasy.  And twenty years isn’t that long.  It’s just enough time to get a newborn baby to adulthood.  The world has changed that much.

Social media, like all other tech changes, is a tool that can be used to go great good or great harm.  Nuclear energy provides a significant source of power to civilization with relatively quite few facilities.  Yet the same tech can be used in weapons that can end all life on our planet.  Mass media can spread the ideas of personal freedom, self responsibility, civic duty, and show our similarities to billions of people quite easily.  It also empowered some truly sick and depraved monstrous people just in the last one hundred years.  Religion can give people hope, a connection to something beyond ourselves and our surroundings, and a sense of taking care of others in even the darkest times humanity ever faced.  It can also justify some truly evil actions.  Even farming led to humanity going from only a relatively few people who managed to survive the ice ages in isolated bands to being the masses we are now making plots to travel off world and settle other planets.  It has also led to the extinction of many other species, the decline of biodiversity, war, easily transferable diseases, and a loss of connection of most people to the natural world.  And yet, I wouldn’t give up any of these advances among any others.  Even the same chemicals that make the fertilizer for our food crops can be used as deadly poisons and weapons of mass terror and destruction.

Changes are a constant of human existence.  Changes even in nature are constant too.  With human existence, change will continue to come.  In fact, they will come even faster and be more disruptive than at any point in history in the lifetimes of all but the oldest people in our civilizations.  These changes can be delayed but they will come whether we are as individuals or nations are preparing or not.  We no longer live in a world where only one nation or race has the monopoly on knowledge and progress, as if we ever did.  The old ways of doing things, the ancient appeals to religious, gender, racial, national, socioeconomic, ageist differences and discriminations are losing the effectiveness they had in the past.  Even homeless people in our largest cities and farmers in the poorest countries in the world have smart phones and access to the collective knowledge gathered through the trials, bloodshed, tears, and revolutions of history.  This is a level of computing power that not even the U.S. Department of Defense had as recently as 1980, the year I was born.

Yes, information tech has greatly advanced just in my lifetime.  Some will scoff and say, this hasn’t translated into any other aspect of life.  I can’t afford my rent even on two jobs but I’m supposed to be happy with having access to Google and Facebook.  Give it time.  Other aspects of our lives will catch up eventually.  It is tragic that many people go homeless in my country while thousands of houses and apartments sit vacant and idle waiting for someone to call such places a home just because of the prices.  Individual workers are more productive now than ever yet wages have barely budged in my country in terms of inflation since at least the 1970s.  My critics will say even with communication tech advancing as well as the social progress we’ve made, our standard of living has actually gone down.

For many this is true, at least in USA.  Our standard of living hasn’t caught up with our efficiency, tech, medical, and social advances.  At least not yet.  We are still in the process of a great change, one that is even more chaotic and impacting than the Industrial Revolution was two hundred years ago.  In short, we have science fiction like technology, industrial era education, renaissance era governing, legal, and business institutions, Bronze Age spirituality, and Stone Age bodies and psychology.  Of course there are going to be conflicts.  We will work these out, it just won’t happen nearly as fast as many people want.  Changes like we are going through took centuries during the start of farming, generations during the renaissance and industrial ages, and now on the scope of only years.  No wonder people are stressed.  We are not experiencing the death of our species or our civilization no matter how much some people fear or even want.  We are in transition.  And I welcome this transition and it’s highs and lows.  Stay tuned.  Things are only going to get more interesting and chaotic, yet full of opportunities too.

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Changes Over One Lifetime

I’m going off subject for this post.  Today, June 28 2018 would have been my grandmother’s 100th birthday.  She died of a stroke in 2015 at the age of 97.  Fortunately for our family, she was very sharp mentally right up until her stroke.  She would often talk about the things she saw and experienced in her lifetime.  Grandma Foster could just as easily recall events from her teenage years during the Great Depression as she could events that happened within the last week.  In some ways, she was like having a local historian in our family.

Today I would like to talk about some of the changes that occurred since my grandmother’s birth that early summer day in 1918.  One hundred years isn’t really a long time in terms of our recorded civilizations, let alone on the time frame of the cosmos.  But we have seen many changes.  And I would like to mention some of these.

In 1918, when my Grandma Foster was born, World War I was still going on.  The Spanish Flu Pandemic was at it’s hight.  The old Ottoman Empire was still in existence.  The Russian Revolution was going on.  China was still a very poor country.  India was still a possession of the British Empire.  Much of Africa was divided into European colonies.  Automobiles had been available to the working and middle classes for only a handful of years.  Industrial magnates like John Rockefeller, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Nikola Tesla, etc. were still alive.  It was mostly urban areas in America and Europe that had electricity.  Coal and steam powered almost all industrial processes.

Technologies that my Grandma Foster saw rise during her lifetime included regular radio broadcasts, anti biotic medications, hybrid crops, nitrogen based chemical fertilizers, radar, reliable rockets, nuclear weapons and energy, jet propulsion, reliable airline travel, television, computers, more fuel efficient automobiles, plastics, reliable contraceptive pills, super highway systems, easily available credit cards, lasers, the beginnings of space exploration, organ transplants, test tube children, cellular phones, active searches for alien intelligences beyond our solar system,  high speed railways (granted not so much in America as in Europe and East Asia), the internet, near free information via wikipedia, near free self broadcasting via youtube and podcasting, social media, the beginnings of inexpensive renewable power, the rise of automated drone technology, the rise of robotics, the human genome project, the beginnings of affordable electric automobiles, the discovery of anti matter, and the early research into fusion power, genetic engineering, 3D printing, and artificial intelligence.

Cultural changes my Grandma Foster saw witness to involved women’s suffrage, the beginning and end of Prohibition, the rise and fall of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Communist Russia, World War II, the decline of children in the work force, the increase of women in the work force, the assassination of Gandhi, the Civil Rights movements of the 1950s and 1960s, the rise of rock and roll music, the Vietnam War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Pearl Harbor, the assassination of John Kennedy, the turmoil of the 1960s, the rise of cable and satellite television, the first people on the moon, the fears of nuclear war and it’s after effects, the popularization of hip hop music and urban culture, the launch of space probes to almost all of our solar system, the Hubble Telescope, the popularization of science fiction and futurism, the rise of awareness of industrial pollution and the beginnings of the efforts to undo the effects thereof, the AIDS epidemic, the end of colonialization, the rise of China as an industrial and scientific power, the rise of the United Nations and globalization, the beginnings of the decline of nationalist furvor that was the norm for most of civilization, the rise of the European Union, the North American Free Trade Agreement, the War on Terrorism, the first black man to be U.S. president, the first women Supreme Court justices, the beginnings of the declines in the marganializations of religious, sexual, cultural, etc. minorities, the beginnings of plans to colonize space, the realizations of the potential benefits and drawbacks of artificial intelligence, and the rise of better treatment for the disabled, mentally ill, and pretty much anyone who didn’t conform to the average norm.

All of this I mentioned was just in the lifetime of someone I was blood relation to.  As you could see, the rate of changes only accelerated as time went forward.  I’m sure there are changes I forgot to mention.  My grandmother was old enough to remember people who were Civil War veterans and probably met people who were born into slavery or at least their children.  I write all of this to state that yes, the world changes over time.  People change over time, and not just because older generations die off and younger ones take their places.  I think of some of the changes I’ve seen just in my 38 years living as a human.  I really don’t recognize much of what I saw in the mid 1980s now and some of the attitudes and practices of even my childhood has me wondering “what were we thinking” and even “what was I thinking.”  Change is constant.  Change is inevitable even if not predictable or even in coming.  Or as one science fiction writer put “The future is already here.  It just isn’t evenly distributed.”

Mid Winter Doldrums

It’s been a while since I last wrote.  I couldn’t do much online after my computer crashed over a week ago.  I managed to recover my mac and I now have a new PC too.  Being offline more or less for over a week made me realize just how much I use my computer.  I managed to recover my mac by watching several how to vids on youtube.  I’m glad I found some advice that worked for my problems.  It saved me from going to the shop.  Now that I have both my mac and PC back, I feel like I can move on.

During my forced hiatus from my online activity, I did some reading and more sleeping than was probably healthy.  Sometimes I just slept out of boredom.  I still had my phone so I kept in contact with family and friends.  But it was kind of lonely at times as many of my friends I keep in contact with via social media sites.  And of course I couldn’t post blogs without a keyboard.  I tried to post via my smart phone, but my fat fingers make typing on the phone almost impossible.  I’ll never complain about people using shortcuts in their text messages anymore after that.

Overall I’ve felt good.  It’s been quite cold with snow for the last couple weeks.  Haven’t gotten out as much as I should because of that.  I just can’t endure cold weather as well as I could even a few years ago.  Been stable overall even if a little lonely and kind of unmotivated.  It doesn’t really bother me anymore that I don’t want to go out much.  I know, that should bother me.  But I have been an introvert my entire life.  And sometimes I don’t mind going entire days without talking to anyone anymore.  I couldn’t make it a permanent thing, but I can isolate for a few days and be content if needed.

I don’t have any plans for any major changes or shakeups for the next few weeks.  Right now I’m just taking it one day at a time as we go through winter.  I really don’t like driving on ice and snow anymore.  And we’ve had continuous snow cover since before Christmas.  But we have another four to six weeks of this left.  I should feel guilty for isolating and not socializing this winter but I really don’t this winter.  And I’m not exactly sure why I isolate so much.  Maybe the depression is creeping back in.  Or maybe I’m more selective about whom I spend my finite time with as I age.

Science and Technology Advances of 2016, Part 2

This is the second part of my science and tech of 2016 entry.  Remember that these are advances and findings that were announced just this year.  This is only one year. Remains to be seen what 2017 will hold.

35. Scientists formally announce HGP-Write, a plan to synthesize the human genome.

36. A Stanford clinical trial finds that stem cells injected directly into the brain of chronic stroke sufferers revived dead brain circuits and restored patients’ ability to walk.

37. A way of pumping CO2 underground and turning it from a gas into solid carbonate minerals is demonstrated in Iceland, offering a potentially better method of carbon capture and storage.

38. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital announce a new method for long-term culturing of adult stem cells.

39. China introduces the Sunway TaihuLight, the world’s fastest supercomputer, capable of 93 petaflops and a peak performance of 125 petaflops.

40. Dutch scientists announce that crops of four vegetables and cereals grown in soil similar to that on Mars are safe to eat.

41. NASA scientists announce the arrival of the Juno spacecraft at the planet Jupiter.

42. China completes construction on the world’s largest radio telescope.

43. Scientists at Rice University announce a new titanium-gold alloy that is four times harder than most steels.

44.  Solar Impulse 2 becomes the first solar-powered aircraft to circumnavigate the Earth.

45. Neonicotinoids, the world’s most widely used insecticide, are found to reduce bee sperm counts by almost 40%, as well as cutting the lifespan of bee drones by a third.

Okay, so it’s not all good news.

46. A new “vortex” laser that travels in a corkscrew pattern is shown to carry 10 times or more the information of conventional lasers, potentially offering a way to extend Moore’s Law.

47. Using the DNA from over 450,000 customers of gene-testing company 23andMe, researchers identify for the first time 15 regions of the genome associated with depression.

48. Researchers pinpoint which of the more than 4,000 exoplanet candidates discovered by NASA’s Kepler mission are most likely to be similar to Earth. Their research outlines 216 Kepler planets located within the ‘habitable zone’, of which 20 are the best candidates to be habitable rocky planets like Earth.

49. A team at the University of Oxford achieves a quantum logic gate with record-breaking 99.9% precision, reaching the benchmark required to build a quantum computer.

50. MIT announces a breakthrough which can double lithium-ion battery capacity.

51. HI-SEAS IV, the latest Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, an experiment to simulate a human colony on Mars, concludes after exactly one year.

52. Carbon nanotube transistors are shown to outperform silicon for the first time.

53. The development of 1 terabit-per-second transmission rates over optical fiber is announced by Nokia Bell Labs, Deutsche Telekom T-Labs and the Technical University of Munich.

54. A Japanese team accurately sequences a tardigrade genome, finds minimal foreign DNA, and discovers a protein that confers resistance to radiation when transferred into human cells.

55. SpaceX founder and entrepreneur Elon Musk reveals his plan to send humans to Mars on a new spacecraft, with unmanned flights beginning as early as 2022.

56. A study led by the University of Cambridge finds that body-worn cameras led to a 93% drop in complaints made against police by the UK and US public.

57. The British Journal of Sports Medicine reports that playing golf can increase life expectancy by five years.

58. President Obama renews a vision for US government involvement in a human mission to the planet Mars by the mid-2030s.

59. Using 3D imaging techniques on 20 years of photographs by the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers estimate there are 2 trillion galaxies in the observable universe, about 10 times more than previously thought.

60. A new automated system that can achieve parity with humans in conversational speech recognition is announced by researchers at Microsoft.

61. Researchers at James Cook University in Australia report that adding a type of dried seaweed (Asparagopsis taxiformis) to the diet of cattle could reduce their emissions of methane by 50-70%.

62. Scanning people’s brains with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is found to be significantly more effective at spotting lies than a traditional polygraph test.

63. Researchers in the UK announce a genetically modified “superwheat” that increases the efficiency of photosynthesis to boost yields by 20 to 40 percent.

64. Lab-grown mini lungs, developed from stem cells, are successfully transplanted into mice by researchers at the University of Michigan Health System.

65. The University of East Anglia reports that global emissions of CO2 did not grow in 2015 and are projected to rise only slightly in 2016, marking three years of almost no growth.

66. Scientists at Rockefeller University identify which genes in a microbe’s genome ought to produce antibiotic compounds and then synthesize those compounds to discover two promising new antibiotics.

67. The United States Geological Survey estimates there are 20 billion barrels of oil in Texas’ Wolfcamp Shale Formation, the largest estimate of continuous oil that USGS has ever assessed in the United States.

68. Researchers at the Salk Institute use a new gene-editing technology known as HITI, which is based on CRISPR, to partially restore vision in blind animals. Their technique is the first time a new gene has been inserted into a precise DNA location in adult cells that no longer divide, such as those of the eye, brain, pancreas or heart.

69. Researchers from Caltech and UCLA develop a technique to remove mutated DNA from mitochondria, which could help slow or reverse an important cause of aging.

70. Large-scale testing of a potential HIV vaccine known as HVTN 702 begins in South Africa.

71. Researchers at UC Berkeley design a wall-jumping robot known as Salto, which is described as the most vertically agile robot ever built.

72. Researchers at Tohoku University in Japan demonstrate a super flexible liquid crystal (LC) device, which could make electronic displays and devices more flexible, increasing their portability and versatility.

73. Scientists use a new form of gene therapy to partially reverse aging in mice. After six weeks of treatment, the animals looked younger, had straighter spines and better cardiovascular health, healed quicker when injured, and lived 30% longer.

74. Ebola virus disease found to be 70–100% prevented by RVSV-ZEBOV vaccine, making it the first proven vaccine against the disease.

 

Reading, Learning, Advances, and Hope

Ever since I changed medications back in March I gradually started reading more.  For several months before I changed my psych medications I had little interest in reading.  I had gotten rid of some of my books.  I still had several hundred ebooks and I kept my books I wanted to reread.  But I hadn’t been reading much for a long time.  I had just lost interest in reading.  I was watching a lot of educational videos on youtube and netflix.

Now it was quite unusual for me to lose interest in reading.  I have known how to read even from my earliest memories.  I didn’t have to be encouraged to read as the village library was a second home to me.  While most of the neighborhood kids were playing basketball or throwing around the football during our summer afternoons, I was spending my time at the library.  I never really did like fantasy books or get too much into fiction.  But I absolutely loved books about different animals, different plants, different nations, and the high achievers of history.  Reading so much nonfiction during my summers off from school really helped me in my classes once school started.  Sometimes I would read ahead in the textbooks because I wanted to know what would be covered next.  I read ahead especially in science and history books.  I didn’t have to be encouraged to read.  I had to be forced to put down the books and get physical activity with the neighborhood kids from even an early age.

I read because I thought learning something new was entertainment.  It actually makes me feel good physically to learn new things.  Reading a good book and learning new ideas gives me a high that no booze, money, or woman could possibly give me.  I know I’m weird for loving learning, at least I’m weird in my culture.  But I certainly wouldn’t want to ever be where I couldn’t read.  That’s why I would prefer to go hard of hearing rather than lose my eye site.  It’s sad that not very many people continue their education after high school or college.  For me that’s when my self education really took off.  I’ve learned more history, economics, philosophy, biology, chemistry, and literature since graduating college than I did when I was in school.  Being in school laid the foundation but my love of reading took it to levels that not many achieve on their own.  I would rather read a book than go to a nightclub.  I have always been that way.

I know some people think they were born in the wrong era and would have been happier in medieval times or in the old west.  I don’t look to the past like that even though history was one of my best subjects in high school.  Part of me wonders at what excellent things my five year old nephew will see in his lifetime should he live to be in his late nineties like my grandmother.  I think about some of the changes she saw just in her lifetime.  She went from being in awe of Henry Ford’s automobile to having a Facebook account that she used to keep up with friends and family.  She didn’t even have indoor plumbing in her house until after she was married.  My grandfather used to trade in his car after it had over 50,000 miles because it was wearing out.  Now a car can last much longer even with minimal maintenance.  My five year old nephew will never know a world before the internet or basic automation.  He will never know a world where we didn’t know the human genome.  He will probably never own a music CD.  If self driving cars gain wide spread acceptance, he might not even need to own a car or even have a driver’s license.  I can’t imagine what he will see in his lifetime, let alone his children’s lifetime.  For me things have gotten really interesting just in the last twenty five years.  I wouldn’t want to live in the past.  I would be even more ridiculed in the old west because of my reading.  I would have been burned at the stake as a heretic in medieval times.  I would have been a terrible hunter in the Ice Ages.  My only hope then would have to become the tribal medicine man providing I didn’t kill myself from doing experiments with poisoned plants and mushrooms.  In short I love learning and seeing advances.  I love seeing the advances I have seen just since I was old enough to pay attention thirty years ago.  I can hardly wait to see what advances come by the time even I’m an old man.  It’s things like these advances and seeing people becoming less accepting of violence, sexism, bigotry, and cruelty that give me hope for the future of my species.

 

Solving One Problem Only To Go Onto Another

Finally got over my injured back.  I can do everything now I once could.  Took almost a month of ice, ibuprofen, tylenol, and chiropractic treatment.  I’m so glad I didn’t have a job when this happened as I probably would have been fired or forced into burning all my sick leave.  I’m so glad those issues are gone.

Now I am on to other problems.  My pc crashed this morning. No doubt the warranty is already expired. Seriously folks, I don’t know why you’re worried about murderous and evil AI, Terminator robots, HAL, and Skynet. Just wait a few months and their software will inevitably crash, especially if they are running Windows. That’s how the humans will win the ‘war against the machines.’  Fortunately I also have a Mac.  I’ve had macs for years and had only one crash on me.  Yet it was under warranty and I didn’t pay a dime to get it fixed.

Naturally, my pc had to crash on a weekend and at the end of the month when I’m low on funds.  Rarely can you schedule this stuff to crash at 4pm on a Thursday afternoon, though that is when my car crash happened 🙂  Some people are probably thinking Murphy’s law: “If anything can go wrong, it will.”  Personally I’m also thinking Peter Diamandis and his take on this: “If anything can go wrong, fix it.  To hell with Murphy.”  Throwing a hissy fit simply isn’t going to make Monday come any sooner or reboot my dead in the water computer.  Sometimes you just got to roll with it.

Trying to Understand the Workplace With a Mental Illness

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I will give you a head’s up.  This is going to be a serious rant.  And I am going to, at least for this post, stop holding your hand and give you feel good platitudes about the life of a mentally ill individual.  This is a rant that is long overdue.  So here goes.

As a grown man afflicted with a severe mental illness, I readily admit I do not understand the thinking and actions of normal people.  I never have, even before I became mentally ill.  Seriously, there are things you normals do and complain about that seem insane to me.  But since that is the norm instead of the paranoia, delusions, crippling depression,and hallucinations of schizophrenia, the complaints and senseless actions of the normal are not construed as the manifestations of mental illness.

Today I would like to discuss the world of the workplace.  Ever since I was four years old and old enough to listen in on grown up conversations, I have heard adults complain ceaselessly about their jobs.  I’ve heard you complain about how your boss is an idiot.  I’ve heard you go on without end about how incompetent and lazy your coworkers are.  I’ve heard you complain about how unreasonable and demanding your customers are.  I’ve listened to you gripe about how bad government agencies and regulations are hampering your business and productivity.  Since my parents were health care professionals, OSHA was one of their favorite whipping boys. I have heard you normals complain about how mind numbing and soulless your job is. And I have definitely heard about you normals complain about taxes.

Ah, taxes.  Kind of appropriate so close to tax deadline here in the U.S.  You complain about how you pay too much in taxes, how the rich pay too little in taxes, and I have sure heard you complain about how people on disability and unemployment don’t deserve what they get in tax payer funded programs.  As if throwing these people in jail and asylums would be any cheaper.  And to line the disabled up in ditches and kill them is absolutely unethical and uncivilized.  I have heard you normals complain for thirty  years about how bad your jobs and lives suck. I for one am absolutely sick and tired listening to you normals complain about your jobs.  KNOCK IT OFF ALREADY!!! And I have to this very day never once heard even one of you idiot normals formulate a plan as to how you were going to get out debt, start that potential dream business, leave that abusive husband or codependent girlfriend, or how you were going to make sure your kids do better in their adult lives than you.  You are the primary reason your life turned out the way it is.  You are the reason you stayed at that dead end job in that dead end town just like four generations of your forefathers.  For once in your life complain about how bad you suck and actually do something to make sure your life stops sucking.  The facts are your job is lousy and your life is lousy because you settled for lousy.  Stop settling, start making great plans, or shut the hell up.

I admit what I have told you is harsh.  But you know what, I am harsh only because I care and love the human race and want to see us go on and keep doing cool things.  We have done some pretty cool things as a species already.  Cooking meat over fire, writing, the printing press, basic education for the young, fire arms, astronomy, mathematics, the steam engine, space travel, the internet, anti biotic medication, robotics, etc.  We’ve done some pretty cool stuff ever since we parted ways with our monkey relatives.  Having purpose and goals to strive for is what drives our species. Monkeys didn’t develop a cool civilization or make great inventions because they didn’t have any purpose or goals beyond mating, eating, and flinging manure at each other.

Having a goal and a purpose is a complete game changer. It isn’t just the brilliant scientists and engineers that need to have the purpose for their lives.  I often think you normals complain about your “mundane” jobs and your current situations only because you have no goals or purpose.  But your job working in a heated office or working with advanced tools on a construction site are anything but mundane.  Such jobs either did not exist or were much tougher even fifty years ago.  And yet here you are complaining about how bad your job sucks and your coworkers are lazy fools. Oddly, some of your coworkers would have the same complaints about you, especially if they saw you at your worst. You, for whatever reasons, killed your dreams as you tried to settle into something safe and secure.  In the early 21st century, being safe and secure and not rocking the boat is death.

I never got a chance to chase my dream of being a medical research scientist.  The schizophrenia killed all chance of that.  Some consider me a failure or a nonhuman because I can’t work a job for my living.  I hear too much of this outdated Puritanical nonsense about ‘if you don’t work, you don’t eat’ or ‘by the sweat of your brow you shall earn your bread.’  What an idiotic stance.  We are now to where most of our manufacturing work can be done by machines.  It won’t be the multinational sending thousands of jobs to Asia that will be an issue. Soon most manufacturing jobs (even the ones in Asia) will be done by robots.  And many new technologies will replace many old style business models.  Google ‘3D printing’, ‘robotics’, and ‘automation’ if you don’t believe me.  There are even companies in both the U.S. and China experimenting with building inexpensive housing units entirely with gigantic 3D printers.  Shoot, it won’t be long before most telemarketing and customer service call centers will be handled by computer programs.  So will bookkeeping, accounting, and many insurance and finance jobs.   Did those autoworkers in Detroit or steel mill workers in the Rust Belt suddenly become worthless nonhumans not deserving their daily bread because machines can do their jobs faster and more efficiently? Nope.  Will the armies of customer service reps, tax preparers, bookkeepers, finance workers, and other white collar workers lose their status as human beings because they are unemployed because machines will be able to do their jobs?  No.  Does a man or woman only have value because they make money?  Not a chance. Seriously, there are over one billion people on this planet (mainly in Africa, rural Asia, and Latin America) that live on two dollars a day or less. You couldn’t buy a Big Mac at McDonald’s for that. Are they less worthy of their lives because they don’t have much money?  Certainly not. I think these people are quite resourceful and creative to stay alive on such low wages, especially the ones who don’t have debts.

A job does not give a human value.  Never has and never will.  Neither does the size of a person’s bank account.  I know that flies in the face of generations of protestant work ethic and the mentality most Americans have in identifying themselves by what they do for money.  I cringed every time I was asked ‘what do you do’ when I first meet someone.  What do I do?  I breathe, I sleep, I laugh, I cry, I lust, I love, I play Skyrim, I watch baseball, I hallucinate without drugs, I eat Chinese food, I write, I ask questions, I learn, and I am a great friend.  But I know you want to know how much money I make so you can categorize me and rank me.  But it’s quite tactless in America how much money someone has (which is odd consider how much money is revered in this country).  Maybe the upcoming shakeups our civilization will experience within the next twenty years will force us to reexamine how we identify ourselves.  With so many people most likely being without paying jobs because machines and computers can and will do the jobs better, we will have to stop identifying with our jobs and stop condemning those who don’t have work.  We may have to take drastic actions to keep civilization from descending into chaos.  Desperate hungry and homeless people don’t make rational decisions.  We may even have to completely overhaul or tax and social safety net systems.  We may even have to resort to the whole universal basic income to keep the economy afloat and keep civilization functioning.  I love civilized life and not just because I’m bad at hunting and fishing.  I believe civilization has accomplished some cool things, led to billions of people with billions of talents being born through the ages who wouldn’t have been born had civilization never happened.  I want to see this thing keep going.  And things won’t get better by people believing a person has value only as far as they can earn money by their jobs.