Excruciatingly Large Things

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Mu Haiku: Love looks not with eyes, but with the mind (and a couple of brain-implants)

→ by Danieru
A "data cable" made from stretched nerve cells could someday help connect computers to the human nervous system. The modified cells should form better connections with human tissue than the metal electrodes currently used for purposes such as remotely controlling prosthetics.

"The nervous system doesn't like nasty hard metal or plastic"...

...Christopher James, who works on brain-computer interfaces at Southampton University, UK, gives the work a cautious welcome. "This approach does sound like a good idea," he says. "Although directly attaching electrodes to the brain has been shown to work, the long term effects are not known." - link
Pick your technology; click in a cable or two and you're away! Instant access! Artificial augmentation! Battery-powered perfection!

Human beings are the first creatures on this planet to live in symbiosis with their technologies, so why not break through the digital-barrier; push beyond the techno-horizon - moulding digital daydreams into a neural love-matrix between you and your favourite pocket calculator.

According to some, the day of our coalescence is already upon us, but where will it end? Can a data cable deliver more than a shock to the cerebellum? How about hate, joy, pain? How about love?
When sensations, emotions, and ideas become digital, it’s as easy to share them with a dozen friends, or a thousand strangers, as it is to send them to one person.... We’ll be able to broadcast the inner states of our minds.

~ Ramez Naam, More than Human
Are you ready for my inner-state?

(Convert my binary expurgence into homosapien speak here)
The problem here, as I see it, is in our idea of the brain. Sure enough, whilst a lot of our pre-programmed subroutines work in reflection of a million years of evolution, much of what we take for 'human thought' is uniquely sculpted into each of us. We may both see an image of Charlie Chaplin, but since my life and your life have had divergent inputs since before we were born, the likelihood of us perceiving the same Chaplin, whether logically or emotionally, has to be minuscule.

Sure, there are connections between the substance of our thoughts - cultural biases and archetypes which determine how we were both built - but who's to say that love for me and love for you are the same thing? To mediate our emotions via neurally extended data management would be like strapping a Super Nintendo to a Lunar Module and expecting the next moon mission to pass by unhampered.

I see what you see but not how you see. Do you see?

So here's today's Mu Haiku mission, plunging a 5 - 7 - 5 data stream into the heart of the techno-lovesphere:

Love looks not with eyes, but with the mind
(and a couple of brain-implants)

How about this little ditty for starters:
Send the heart reeling,
with a googleplex of love:
melt my motherboard.
Write your own Mu Haiku here and help a weblog reach its first ever online-orgasm...

What happens if the form of your brain took such a different path that you got a label as a consequence? Would you still find time to love in between psychological assessments? Sometimes it's the physical rather than the mental which makes all the difference:
[The patient] happened to be a schizophrenic homosexual who wanted to change his sexual preference. As an experiment, Heath gave the man stag films to watch while he pushed his pleasure-center hotline, and the result was a new interest in female companionship. After clearing things with the state attorney general, the enterprising Tulane doctors went out and hired a “lady of the evening,” as Heath delicately puts it, for their ardent patient.

“We paid her fifty dollars,” Heath recalls. “I told her it might be a little weird, but the room would be completely blacked out with curtains. In the next room we had the instruments for recording his brain waves, and he had enough lead wire running into the electrodes in his brain so he could move around freely. We stimulated him a few times, the young lady was cooperative, and it was a very successful experience.” This conversion was only temporary, however.

~ Judith Hooper and Dick Teresi, The Three-Pound Universe
Mu to that!

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Mu Haiku: In Honour of Ancient Ocean-Detritus and its Dark, Oozing Legacy

→ by Danieru
All this talk of climate change; of the continued abuse of hydrocarbon bonds got me thinking. How are we expected to put our oil addicted world into perspective if we haven't got a perspective on the oily substance itself? It's all very well setting targets; cutting emissions; pretending we care. My iPod is made of zooplankton! And I want to know what you intend to do about it!

The universe manufactures new substances like you wouldn't belieeeeeve. Increasingly fiercer temperatures in ever larger suns turned a multitude of hydrogen, over billions of years, into the plethora of atomic nuclei we breathe in today. More than that, you are a carbon, hydrogen, oxygen derivative! The very texture of your compounds is a testament to the suns which exploded many billions of Earth revolutions before you were expelled; BEFORE THERE WAS EVEN AN ORIFICE FROM WHICH ONE COULD BE EXPELLED!!!

So I look around my elongated living space, every glance intensified by the shimmering materials I take for granted. And in the shit encrusted remains of the bird's nest of civilisation which material strikes the greatest chord in my being? That elusive, bendy, snack-crackle-plastic of course, which spreads itself like butter on the surface of society. Innumberable teeny-weeny ancient sea-critters, squished in droves for many a millennia and deposited on the doorstep of mankind in a glorious, oozing mass of black, toxic waste. We plunder the Middle East for zooplankton baby, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

But what of this organic mush, this expensive organ soup? How can we, the hydrocarbon generation, fiddle with our iPods, our smart-cars our Dyson Super-Vortex-Mega-Vacuum-Cleaners without a smile and a wink at our microscopic brethren?

Are we so arrogant as to forget the little guys?


Let's write a Mu Haiku...

In Honour of Ancient Ocean-Detritus and its Dark, Oozing Legacy:
Ancient Ocean-Goo,
clogging up the Middle East,
makes iPods shuffle.
You better write one too...

Project yourself, right now, into the middle of the middle of the Middle East. A tanker is guzzling the black gold right from the ground, its driver loads himself into the cabin, fires up the engine and trundles his way through the devastated oil fields. In the back of his tanker he holds more than a gallon or two of the black stuff. He holds a billion years of organic produce; a gut load of Earth's own belly juice; the legacy of a zillion sea critters with a million Earth atmospheres baring down on them. Do we fight these wars for more than profit? Sure we do... It's enough to get the guys in power real excited:

"If they turn on their radars we're going to blow up their goddamn SAMs. They know we own their country. We own their airspace...We dictate the way they live and talk. And that's what's great about America right now. It's a good thing, especially when there's a lot of oil out there we need."

- Brig. General Looney: Washington Post, June 24, 1996
Mu to that!

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Mu Haiku: Ode to a Trillion Unicellular Love-Machines

→ by Danieru
Next time you go for the proverbial dump consider the process involved in turning one plate of badly cooked meat and veg into a self perceiving, website reading, procrastinating you. It occurs to me that the chance of atoms, manufactured billions of years ago in suns long since expressing their life cycles, would end up as the tip of a runny nose or the coating of a swollen spleen must be nigh on gargantuan. Are humans best understood as the creative intermediary between abstract amino-acids and piles of rotting faeces? 6 billion humans turning a rocky planetary outcrop into festering worm compost via the action of merely thinking.

But let's not let our microbial egos get too big here; your bowels are a lot less you than you may think:
The human large intestine is a 5-foot long, dark, dank and twisting corridor whose repetitive contractions function to squeeze the last remaining drops of water and the final bits of nutrient from feces before expulsion from our bodies.

Aiding the large intestine in this task are trillions of microbes that reside in the gut, where they help digest foods we would otherwise have to avoid. In this way the bugs contribute to our overall health.

Some of these tiny settlers are with us from birth, imparted from our mothers, while others gradually colonize our bodies as we grow. This microbial community is as diverse as any found in Earth's seas or soils, numbering up to 100 trillion individuals and representing more than 1,000 different species.

"This is the densest bacterial ecosystem known in nature," Jeffrey Gordon, a microbiologist at Washington University in St. Louis, told LiveScience. "The density of colonization of the distal gut is just enormous." - link

You are an ecosystem my friend, and the trillions of bacteria lodged in your gut are merely a miniscule representative for the trillions more which compose your substance.

Take a nose dive straight into self-denial, for without the microbes there's very little you left to claim:
Most of the cells in your body are not your own, nor are they even human. They are bacterial. From the invisible strands of fungi waiting to sprout between our toes, to the kilogram of bacterial matter in our guts, we are best viewed as walking "superorganisms," highly complex conglomerations of human cells, bacteria, fungi and viruses...

...scientists concentrated on bacteria. More than 500 different species of bacteria exist in our bodies, making up more than 100 trillion cells. Because our bodies are made of only some several trillion human cells, we are somewhat outnumbered by the aliens. It follows that most of the genes in our bodies are from bacteria, too. - link

...it's time to stop thinking of yourself as a single living thing at all, say the scientists behind the new work. Better to see yourself as a "super-organism," they say: a hybrid creature consisting of about 10 percent human cells and 90 percent bacterial cells. - link
You're a walking, talking Petri-dish. An anatomical configuration. Even the fungi have more claim to your soul than you do... And all the loves you have lost, the human abstractions, each an enduring flutter across the surface of your stream-like life, each of them is an ode to biological ecosystems too. For microorganisms, in multitudinous symbiosis, have helped mankind to give birth, to love, to create, to expel the soul of beauty we hold so dear and rot us to nothing post rigor mortis. The little ones are more important than you...

Get over it and write a Mu-Haiku!

Ode to a trillion unicellular love-machines:
Oh eukaryotes!
Abdominal fungal growth,
digesting my soul.
Write your own Mu-Haiku here...

How in our arrogance we forget the beauty in the insignificant. Their numbers are plenty, their residence on this Earth far exceeds our own and yet in selfish circumstance we believe that we have outgrown them. This arrogance hides their wondrous impact on our lives. Their simple beauty obscures our deepest contemplation daily:
Why is there a 13 to 20 second delay between farting and the time it starts to smell?

Actually, the fart stinks immediately upon emergence, but it takes several seconds for the odor to travel to the farter's nostrils. If farts could travel at the speed of sound, we would smell them almost instantly, at the same time we hear them.

- Facts on Farts...
Mu to that!

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Mu Haiku: 'Cos Aliens got better things to do!

→ by Danieru
Aliens! Wide-eyed, short-statured, extraterrestrially-elongated aliens!

In a universe as vast as this one (assuming you aren't one of those un-evolved creationist types) alien life of some form or other appears to be a statistical certainty. Yet, in an imagination as narrow-minded as this one (assuming you are human; a species carved neurological intelligence by evolution mere cosmological moments ago) bipedal, communistic, space-faring, master races are ten to the dozen. What's the likelihood we're talking extraterrestrial bollocks here?

In an attempt to find a systematic means to evaluate the numerous probabilities involved, Dr. Frank Drake formulated The Drake equation in 1960. While it was formulated after the objections raised by Fermi's Paradox, Drake's equation has become a common and respected means of estimating the frequency of occurrence of interstellar civilizations.

The Drake equation has been used by both optimists and pessimists, with varying results. Dr. Carl Sagan, for example, suggested as many 1 million communicating civilizations in the Milky Way in 1966. Another published estimate from Frank Tipler in 1982 placed the value at just one e.g., human beings are the only extant intelligent life.

Critics of the Drake equation claim that since the variables cannot yet be determined with any real confidence, estimating the number of extraterrestrial civilizations based on it is methodologically flawed, an idea which the wide diveregence in estimates seems to support.
Even given the scale of the Milky Way galaxy alone, the abundance of life out there must be beyond our comprehension. Thing is, the form this life will take and the ways in which evolutionary forces will carve out niches for it in abstract realms of reality we have no chance of ever witnessing, is also far beyond our comprehension. Once you get past the human revolving varieties of physiology, psychology and neurology available to our memetically governed intelligences there ain't no Ologies left! Give it up space-cadets, eat yourself some terrestrial fried chicken, spawn a bipedal offspring or two. The universe'd think better of you if you did:

But throughout every conspiracy, every mathematical impossibility, every Star-Trek rerun and drab George Lucas extravaganza a voice calls at me from across the deepest voids of space, a whispering vibration in the fabric of space-time cast across the Milky-Way long before humans had the capacity to understand its phraseology. Appealing to my anthropically mediated mentality; the battle cry of all intelligent life everywhere:
Keep looking, space-baby...
So today's Mu Haiku, if you choose to accept it - why aren't they here yet?

'Cos Aliens got better things to do!

The 5 - 7 - 5 ideas veritably flood my monkey-like cerebral cavity:
Martian relief from
this Galactic loneliness?
Space-Tentacle porn...
Go create...

But still, if that excuse doesn't cut it for you, I won't take offence if you reach for the tin-foil helmet and Lucas-affiliated sound effects sword. You have every right to wish the aliens upon us, just don't let your imagination dwell too deep my friends; you're gonna need your conspiracy-nut wits about you if they do turn up:
In one case, before thought screen helmets were available, an abduction was thwarted when a victim had her husband wrap her with string. Her husband hid the scissors, and the aliens could not remove the string so they did not take her. They were very angry. Some abductees report that aliens try to remove their helmets and cannot do so when the helmets are secured with tape or string. - link
Mu to that!

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