New Phylum?

Sep. 4th, 2014 12:54 pm
citrakayah: (Default)
Okay, it's not recognized as a new phylum yet, and may very well not be, but this is still freaking awesome.

Wait What

Dec. 20th, 2013 08:51 pm
citrakayah: (Default)
So I'm browsing the cesspool that is the "Could the Federation beat the Empire" debate, which has a multitude of problems, including the fact that, you know, any debate about tech will end in the Federation simply absorbing huge numbers of defectors and replicating the technology en mass.

However.

According to several sites, the starfighters of the Empire produce multiple Tsar Bomba yields and are capable of taking out the Enterprise's shields. Which by itself isn't a problem logically, however, it becomes a problem when we realize:

1. Star Wars weapons typically throw up sparks when they hit something. Like a rock.
2. If the weapons are that strong, then why the hell are you sending the Death Star after Yavin 4 when you could turn the Rebel base (which, if I recall correctly, is made of rock) into dust by shooting it a bunch of times with a wave of TIE fighters?

The only logical conclusion is that somehow everything in the Star Wars galaxy is made of impervium. Everything. Human flesh? Made of impervium, which is how it doesn't melt being in the same general vicinity as the Slave 1's cannons. Water? Made of impervium, which is why it doesn't vaporize from the heat. That platform? Impervium. Asteroids? Impervium.
citrakayah: (Default)
There is always a way out.

Sometimes it's hard to see. Sometimes it takes willpower beyond imagining.

But even the possibility brings tears of joy to my eyes--and I don't tear up easily.
citrakayah: (Default)
I think that one of my main goals this year will be to begin to understand this. It looks very interesting, and it involves things I always wanted to do.

Of course, the fact that in AP Biology we are going to be doing biohacking is helpful, because I'll be taught the basic foundations.

These things called 'BioBricks' I will also have to look into, because... pretend that DNA is an OS. Those things are basically aps, and the idea is that you can mix and match them. To get things like GFP-infused E. coli.

And really, the ability to do this sort of stuff is everybody's right. The idea of having corporations or individuals control genetic coding (except in the most extreme cases, like if there was a retrovirus that could be released into the air and caused blood to instantly clot throughout the body) is frankly disturbing, and I would take great joy in helping transcribe, and put into the public domain, the genetic sequences of organisms and traits.

Unfortunate, OpenWetWare is very... arcane.


In other news, I've learned how to drive, and have my license, but I have found that I hate driving.


So, non-grade related goals for school:

* Make a kinetic sculpture, with noble gases and electric arcs
* Learn biohacking
* Improve my ability in Spanish, start learning hieroglyphics
* Blow stuff up
citrakayah: (Default)
Transhumanism is, at its most basic, the philosophy that humans should rise above the constraints imposed by their physical forms. This can mean anything from downloading one’s consciousness into a computer to making oneself effectively immortal to turning one’s body into a giant duck.

It is my opinion that otherkin (and the associated subcultures) and neuroatypical individuals have a rather useful perspective on transhumanism, as psychologically they are already transhuman. Transhumanism is often criticized for distancing individuals from humanity. Otherkin and neuroatypical individuals, however, call into question the value of ‘humanity’, and what it means.

Transhumanism and Biotechnology: The word ‘transhumanism’ usually (especially in its opponents) conjures up images of a dystopian future populated by soulless Borg-like individuals. Alternatively, it conjures up images of a race of superhumans that have view other humans as ‘lesser’. Even its proponents often view transhumanism in a mechanical light, talking about uploading consciousness into machines.

Much transhumanism is arguably more along the lines of ‘superhumanism’—it promotes augmenting already existing human capabilities, such as intelligence, perception, or physical attributes. In my opinion, true transhumanism requires adding a capability that was not previously there, or substantially changing one’s morphology or physiology.

Generally, transhumanism falls into one of several categories:
1. Improving already existing physical traits
2. Using advanced technology to increase intelligence, improve memory, etc.
3. Substantially altering morphology

The concept of biotechnology is not alien to transhumanists, despite their focus on silicon and metal. Nonetheless, when it does appear, it generally doesn’t involve substantially modifying human body structure. Instead, it focuses on making people immune to disease, or live longer. Or, sometimes, being incredibly tough, strong, and quick. All of these are well enough, to be sure.

But this ignores an entire aspect of transhumanism. Instead of using biotechnology to make a ‘perfect’ human, biotechnology might well be used to give a human animalistic features. Not for any pursuit of perfection, either—instead, because either that individual feels more comfortable in a different form, which they regard as a reflection of their inner self, or because they idealize that form. In otherwords, rather than being a tool to enforce conformity, I regard transhumanist biotechnology as a tool to increase self-expression. Regard tattoos, and how they allow one to express one’s identity. Then apply the same principle to the body itself.

My inner self is cheetah. Ideally, my external body would to some degree reflect this. That means claws, ears, digitigrade stance, fur, tail, muzzle, and, preferably, the ability to shift between four legs and two; that’s as close as I’m going to get to shapeshifting any time soon. I would be delighted to have that form. And I know others who would not only would like to have a form more reflective of their inner self, they have an intense psychological need for it—species dysphoria and all. Unless these same people are making the argument that transgendered people shouldn’t transition, it makes little sense for them to say that those who are transspecies shouldn’t transition. Both deal with the same fundamental concept—the right to change one’s body. Of course, one who opposed transhumanism might argue that the body of a transgendered person, no matter what gender they change to, is still human. But this argument can be dismissed simply by pointing out that exterior form has relatively little to do with the most fundamental innate qualities of someone—and gender and species are very much fundamental qualities.

Transhumanism as it Relates to Identity: Not all transhumanist-like philosophies limit themselves to changes in the body. Transhumanism itself says nothing about changes in psychology—which is understandable, given that much of what they are interested in isn’t particularly radical in the realm of psychological implications.

But we, otherkin and the associated subcultures, would, in all probability, show a heavy preference for the sort of transhumanist technologies that would have radical pyschological implications. Of course, in the realms of the mind, in many respects we are already transhuman. Our behaviors and identity transcend the species Homo sapiens. When I use the term ‘spirit’ in 'spiritual transhumanism' (shorter than 'transhumanism that deals with concepts that often relate to spirituality), I do not use it in the sense of ghosts and angels. I use it in the sense of psychology—but specific parts of psychology, parts often associated with the concept of ‘spirit’.

Spiritual transhumanism is not quite the same thing as removing human tendencies that we might not want, like change blindness or inattentional blindness. Making the mind able to multitask better, for instance, could theoretically be done by altering how information is processed, and while it would be transhuman (or at least suprahuman), it would not be in the realm of spiritual transhumanism, because spiritual transhumanism deals in identity and similar aspects of human psychology. I do not think multitasking falls under such guidelines… though perhaps I should, given how diverse I know identity can be. In any event, altering that aspect of human psychology would, for most people, not alter their identity in any substantial manner. In large part this is due to people believing that they can multitask effectively even when they can’t.

Then the question might be, “What transhumanist technologies would lead to spiritual transhumanism?” Altering body morphology to be somewhat like another species might be the obvious example, but there are others. Extreme adaptation for a specific environment or task could result in changes in identity; if I am given abilities that make me able to survive underwater my identity will likely be different than if I make myself arboreal. Such changes would not have to be physical, though. If my memory is altered so that I can recall things with perfect accuracy and clarity, that very well could alter my identity tremendously. At the same time, though, it might not alter someone else’s identity if they were not acutely aware of the flaws of memory. Gross physical effects are more likely to alter someone’s identity than changes to their psychology, since they may not notice the changes on a conscious level.

The Value of ‘Humanity’: ‘Humanity’. I hear it said over and over again, that it’s somehow terribly important. But what exactly is humanity? Leaving aside the fact that many individuals get along just fine without humanity in the first place, is getting rid of it necessarily a bad thing?

Primarily, opponents seem to be arguing that transhumanism would create a feeling of distance from the human species. It is understandable that they might worry about this. Historically, feeling different when one was in a position of power led to abuse. However, there are several flaws with applying this to transhumanism.

Firstly, as history so aptly demonstrates, one does not need transhumanist technology to feel distanced from the human species. Class, gender, religion, ethnicity, and family ties can make one feel distanced not only from entire populations (Europeans enslaving Africas) but the human species as a whole (many dictators, arguably many people involved in business). And that doesn’t even take into account the atrocities, far, far worse than anything we have inflicted on each other, that we have performed to other species. Species that, in all probability, are sophonts.

Secondly, many people already have the psychology to feel distanced from humans. Sociopaths seem the most obvious example, but many otherkin also qualify. Many of these people, while they feel little to no emotional connection to the human species, nevertheless accord it the same rights and respect that they would any obviously sentient and sapien species. Instead of seeing humans as superior to other species, they often see humans as equals. Given our past history with other species, I think that that attitude is to be encouraged, rather than discouraged and feared.

Thirdly, one can feel an intense desire to protect and nurture what one is distanced from. I personally can testify that this is true. I feel distanced from reality sometimes, and often feel distanced from the human species and from society. Nonetheless, I regard it as my duty to protect them, simply because I am capable of moral reasoning not tied to my emotional reactions. Many of those who are distanced from humans are capable of that as well. Emotional distance does not automatically translate into hatred or oppression.

But would ridding oneself of ‘humanity’ cause problems? I would answer no, based on the idea that someone born with ‘humanity’ will likely have found rationalizations for their morality, rationalizations which could survive the process of losing an emotional connect with the human species. The purpose of rationalization are to give logical weight to emotional processes.

Of course, leaving ‘humanity’ behind would be difficult for someone who had it already. If someone just increased their speed, or made themselves resistant to disease, then they’d quite possibly not lose emotional connect with the human species, consider themselves part of the human species, and retain ‘humanity’. Even changing identity would not necessarily cause one to lose emotional connections with the human species. I don’t identify as anything that lives in the ocean, or rainforest, but I have strong emotional connections with those biomes.

AbyssBox

May. 18th, 2012 06:12 pm
citrakayah: (watching)
This is awesome. Scientists in France have developed an aquarium to keep deep-sea creatures alive; called the AbyssBox.

Most deep-sea creatures can only survive at our pressures for short periods. The crabs (Segonzacia mesatlantica) and shrimp (Mirocaris fortunata) from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge have survived for nearly a year at the Oceanopolis Aquarium in France.

This is newsworthy, front-page of the Science Times worthy, and I didn’t hear about it until now.

TOFUREKY!!

Mar. 20th, 2012 06:44 pm
citrakayah: (Default)
I think I've fallen in love.

Not with an attractive sentient, but with this delicious miracle from heaven known as 'tofurkey'.


In other news, I recently got a ton of art back (and graded), so it should start to be uploaded in. My next art project is of Sekhmet, preferably standing in front of a sea of red beer. And I've found some interesting science projects that I should be able to do in my spare time.
citrakayah: (Default)
I would have posted this earlier, but I was in Chicago and didn’t have much time to write. So when I refer to ‘this year’ I mean 2011, and when I refer to ‘next year’ I mean 2012.

---

It’s been a rather heady year, I suppose, both in a political sense and a personal sense. I’ve joined new communities, strengthened my social links, improved my grades a bit, created quite a few intellectual accomplishments, dedicated more spare time to various communities and causes, and got rather excited about the growing protests. I’ve felt, I suppose, slightly more optimistic about the state of the world, or at least its future state. At the same time, I’m not blind. I know very well that with Section D of the NDAA, the indefinite detention of whistleblowers, Citizen’s United, etc. we of the United States live in a country that is and has been for too long on the brink. And other countries aren’t always doing better, at least not that much better. Corporations continue to rake in monstrous profits, legislators continue to attach horrible things to budget bills (and not just Section D, look at wolf delisting), the media still only cares about ratings... it’s awful here, take it from me. And part of the reason it’s so awful is that so many people are blindly convinced that we’re exceptional, or yak about how the fact that we have it better than, say, the DRC means we shouldn’t still strive to do better.

But there’s hope, and I’m rather pleased to state that my more in-depth involvement with the online community, especially the therian/otherkin one and the friends I have here, tell me that I’m not alone. Even if many of the people who agree with me are on the other side of the Pacific or Atlantic, it gives me some hope.


It’s been a good year for writing. I wrote two essays, Motionless Claws and Kin, that dealt with therianthropy, and one essay here that I promised I’d write, didn’t write for a really long time, and finally produced in a day or so while half-asleep (this is a theme throughout my work). I wrote many poems, all of which are here, and started Music of the Spheres and started writing on the Wanderer’s Library. I wrote the Extinction Chronicles. Preferably I’ll get significantly more done next year, both in reference to essays (mostly philosophical and therianthropic) and in reference to poetry and short stories. And I’ll revise an old essay.

I don’t recall exactly how much I’ve got done in the realm of visual art. I know I’ve finished several pieces for art class that I’m not displeased with, that I did some macro photography over the summer, and that I’m pretty sure that I did the spiraling batik watercolor this year. Much of what I’ve done isn’t online because my scanner is tiny, but I should be able to combine segments into a complete image. Or label small sections ‘close-ups’. I’ll probably finish the oil painting I’m working on next year, and during the summer of course I’ll be taking many photographs and doing some photomanipulation.

I haven’t gotten done nearly as many science projects as I’d like, and by that I mean I’m pretty sure that my total is nada. The only one that I have gotten anything done on, the bioluminescent algae, may well have failed utterly. Unless one counts growing plants as a science project, in which case that’s doing quite well. Next year I’ll be in the West for long periods, and I should be able to do something during that period.


I’ve strengthened my social ties quite a bit, though many of them are online. And a few people I haven’t seen for quite a while online have been being active again recently, though there is one who I used to talk to often but has drifted away. Still, I know she’s alright.
citrakayah: (Default)
1. The bioluminescent algae arrived today. Set-up isn't nearly as difficult as I'd thought, indeed, I don't even need a separate container for it. I'll probably post images as soon as I get it to glow.

Hopefully it will be ready in time for Math and Science Night. And I plan on propagating it, too, which will be trickier. It's easy enough to add growth medium to a flash of algae, it's harder to set up a system where, theoretically, the algae could live forever.
2. I did some glassworking today. My skills are a bit rusty, but I did acceptably. Only got three tries, however, and in one the bead release fell off. On the other two I accidentally burned the bead- I hate single fuel torches.
3. The Therian News Network is currently down. Again. I'm beginning to get tired of this. And speaking of news, my fur has been rubbed the wrong way by this, which I realize is a joke... but seriously, that's not funny.

Thermite!

Oct. 11th, 2011 03:21 pm
citrakayah: (Default)
As you can guess from the title, my Chemistry class did an experiment with thermite yesterday. It was awesome, I got the can which the experiment was done in, and I got a bit of the metal that resulted.
citrakayah: (Default)
Well, this week was interesting, both in the news from the world at large and personal experience. Chemistry is proving to be quite interesting. Besides the standard 'sticking sodium and potassium in water and watching water shoot up twenty feet' I have also, with a group of people, distilled some alcohol, and then lit it on fire. Very beautiful, and I might post a picture. Naturally, my group got some of the best alcohol, and had the most. *purrs* I have good lab partners, which is a pleasure.

My brother's running a Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 campaign. I play an elf sorcerer with an awesome silvanshee familiar. Also, he blew up a boat. A boat! With three fireballs. It's awesome!

Today is the annual arts festival, so I should be fairly busy. I might not have a booth, but I will be there.

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Citrakāyaḥ

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