Southerly by David Haywood

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Southerly: Coming Up For Air

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  • B Jones,

    I read somewhere, perhaps it was in one of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars books, that if you eliminated aging etc as causes of death, people would probably make it to about 700 on average before some sort of accident got them, actuarially speaking. There's a lot about those books that reminds me of discussions here.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 814 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to B Jones,

    actuarially speaking

    But if you knew your body would function healthily and happily for say 2000 years would you be more risk averse?

    Or would you be a teenage hooligan for longer?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3420 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to B Jones,

    There’s a lot about those books that reminds me of discussions here.

    No accident I'm a huge SF fan :).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3420 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    for the universe entropy always increases but for the individual entropy can decrease.

    I would take that one step beyond...
    The Human race has quite a habit of reversing entropy, we are constantly rearranging stuff into complex structures to do the most amazing things. Of course, once you get them home and plug them in entropy does its damnedest to make up for lost time. This process usually takes roughly about the same amount of time that the warranty runs for.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4896 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to dyan campbell,

    obviously abiotic synthesis is not negative entropy

    Hang on a minute…

    Yes, for the chemical mixture as a whole there will certainly be an increase in entropy during abiotic synthesis – but surely from the local perspective (of the complex molecules being formed) there is a decrease in entropy? Isn’t this the entire point of coining the term negentropy?

    I haven’t done the calculations on such chemical reactions (and don’t intend to), but I’d be awfully surprised if their formation generated entropy at a local level.

    At any rate, I must have misunderstood your statement “I feel in my heart that life is… negative entropy”. I thought you were suggesting that immortality would somehow violate 2LT (but technically saying the opposite) – but obviously you were actually making a statement more in the line of poetry?

    At any rate, it’s good that the poetry in your heart is completely in accordance with the laws of thermodynamics – a very cheerful state of being for the festive season!

    P.S. RE: steady state. I had always thought of Life (with a capital 'L') more as 'reciprocating' with the rise and fall of species, etc. But you're quite right, taken over a short enough time period, an individual life-form can certainly be treated as a steady state system.

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 988 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    Let's remember, with all these terms getting tossed about, that there is more that is unknown than is known. That's why we keep looking.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2163 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Who would WANT to be alive for even 150 years? Think about it. Your kids will have had kids will have had kids will have had kids etc. Jeez Wayne. How will you remember their names? Think about the Xmas prezzies. The money you have to put in Xmas cards to all those Gkids, GGkids, GGGkids etc.

    Anyway. Even if it was 700 years you are still dead for a long time. 700/3500000000 is quite a small percentage of life on earth since something emerged from the backward zoo.

    Hello!!! You are born, you live, you die. As one gets older one realises that the end is getting closer and closer by the year. The day……I think it happened for me around 48 years of age. When the realisation that you are really more than half way there.

    Really, when it comes down to it no one gives a shit where your entropy goes. One day it will all disappear down a black hole. Eventually you will reemerge as a piece of Stephen Hawking’s hair and it will start all over again.

    Jeez. I’m a sad bugger. But it’s OK. Hols start tomorrow and I can go and play golf. One of the most meaningless pastimes ever devised by man. But that little white f*&ker sure gets a hammering when I get the big stick at it. And it feels great!

    Now. Where was I Oh yes. I must finish my house. Remodel the kitchen. Replace the leaky plumbing. Clean the laundry. Mow the lawn. Cook. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

    Happy New Year to PS.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1497 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Ross Mason,

    Think of what you could learn over a much longer lifespan...that's one of my major regrets, not enough time to spend studying this and practising that-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Islander,

    Think of what you could learn over a much longer lifespan…that’s one of my major regrets, not enough time to spend studying this and practising that-

    +1

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3468 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Lilith __,

    Yep, the Late great Douglas Adams summing it up...except for the bowl of petunias...love it-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Islander,

    Oh yes, I could actually learn to be a cabinet maker, and then learn to surf and then do chemistry properly and then ...

    I really can't understand anyone wondering what they would do with 700 years, there is so much more to do than one lifetime can encompass.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3420 posts Report Reply

  • David Haywood, in reply to Ross Mason,

    Who would WANT to be alive for even 150 years?... Think about the Xmas prezzies. The money you have to put in Xmas cards to all those Gkids, GGkids, GGGkids etc.

    Yes, we all know what a reluctant gift-giver you are, Ross. Given that my house is currently being held together by the duct tape you selflessly provided -- and that many of my repairs will be taking place with the hammer that you so kindly sent in that same care package (not to mention the excellently useful gorilla-grips that are just the right size for those cramped-access jobs).

    Your mask of curmudgeonliness doesn't fool anyone...

    Dunsandel • Since Nov 2006 • 988 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I really can't understand anyone wondering what they would do with 700 years, there is so much more to do than one lifetime can encompass.

    I think it's the personal relationships that people are thinking of, mostly. Marriage, for one - can you really promise "til' death do us part" when death is several centuries away? Would that be healthy? Even the fifty or sixty years people can get if they marry young is daunting for some. How long do you have to keep track of your descendants? Do you have any personal responsibility to your great-great-great-great-grandchild, like Ross asks? Research seems to suggest that humans have a maximum social circle size. When your family *is* that size...

    I liked Kim Stanley Robinson's take on this in Icehenge, where life was extendible but memory was not - the human brain could store about a hundred years of experiences, so by the time you reached three hundred you'd forgotten the people of your youth. Or another book I've forgotten the title of, where the catch with the process was that by continually regenerating your brain cells it wiped your brain - an immortal, youthful body with the mind of an infant. SFF is very good at exploring the possible ramifications of life-extending technologies.

    I suppose my basic argument, though, is that there's no point not trying to extend the human lifespan, even a lot. If we fail, no change. If we don't - well, it rather depends on how it works, doesn't it? If it's a treatment you have to take in childhood, that's one thing. If it's an ongoing process you can opt out of, that's another.

    Current life extension, however, where people linger on and on in very poor health...that's another story. If that's all we manage - a life where you're old, really old, in ways that restrict you from doing all those things you dreamed of, for more than half of it - I don't know that there's much point to it.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Curmudgeonliess is about being a sad bastard each and every day. I do hope I don't fit that.

    Lucy hit the nail re the GGGkids!

    What annoys the shit out of me is there seems to be this deep ingrained desire to see folk "right". My wife finds it my most annoying trait. I will happily go down and clean the local pool, mow someones lawns, lay concrete, clean the range, coach kids in sport, buy from too many sausages sizzles and even give to charity. But can she get me to finish OUR house?

    But my entropy is running out and down. It is the realisation I am this mere speck of dust in this vast universal expanse that makes my life my one and only opportunity to try and enjoy it and to see others around me having the opportunity to enjoy theirs as well.

    We think too much. And I am glad I still enjoy a good laugh.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1497 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    If we think there are social equity issues now, just imagine the gap that unequal acess to long life would create.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16771 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Ross Mason,

    We think too much.

    quite

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16771 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Sacha,

    If we think there are social equity issues now, just imagine the gap that unequal access to long life would create.

    Look at the social equity issues we have right now about, say, raising the pension age, because of life expectancy differences.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Ross Mason,

    Star dust!

    It is the realisation I am this mere speck of dust in this vast universal expanse that makes my life my one and only opportunity to try and enjoy it and to see others around me having the opportunity to enjoy theirs as well.

    I believe they call that the 'speck tackle'...

    We think too much.
    quite

    Remember that this season folks:
    Don't think and drive...

    or is that actually:
    Don't think, and thrive!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 5060 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    I believe they call that the 'speck tackle'...

    an inspiration for much spam, I hear

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16771 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3468 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    re: The Electric Prunes: full marks to the guy dancing with the autoharp while he sings. Multitasking!

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3468 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    Lucy said

    Current life extension, however, where people linger on and on in very poor health...that's another story. If that's all we manage - a life where you're old, really old, in ways that restrict you from doing all those things you dreamed of, for more than half of it - I don't know that there's much point to it.

    A population doesn't collectively share a linear progression towards increasing ill health in old age - there are actually two distinct clusters of illnesses culminating in death.

    You get the cohort sicken and die in middle age 55 to 70 - think cancers, metabolic diseases, auto-immune, cardiovascular. You see a lot of gall bladder disease progressing to choleocystitis and then liver cancer. You see a lot of COPD, strokes:, cardiac events and conditions requiring expensive and unpleasant ongoing care. Many, but not all of these are lifestyle related issues - alcohol , tobacco and food choices harvest the epigenetically unfortunate at this point.

    Then this drops off for those in the next cohort - the 71 to 81 decade - not all of whom have good lifestyle choices, but in those cases they are epigenetically fortunate. Or they live in areas or have customs that contribute to their longevity, and longevity is so often conveniently linked to excellent health.

    f you have made it to this age in good health, statistics are in your favour that you are likely to proceed to your late 80s or your 90s before significant illness culminating in death spikes again. At this point your illness is less likely to be nearly as expensive partly because don't live that long. and for obvious reasons, they tend not to throw everything expensive at conditions that emerge significantly later.

    There are a host of genetic, epigenetic , environmental, lifestyle and pure dumb luck variables that affect these things of course. But the perception that advances are being made to extend old age are ignoring the actual work being adapted to medicine - medical advances are going to be for what used to be diseases of late middle age,. Some of which are emerging in childhood and adolescence these days. Yipes!

    David said

    At any rate, it’s good that the poetry in your heart is completely in accordance with the laws of thermodynamics – a very cheerful state of being for the festive season!

    For any season, really. I am so fond of reality, it's one of my favourite things. For so many women it's handbags, chocolate or shoes. Not me,.

    Here is poet/philospher/enemy of the state (usa)/singer/activist/ John Trudell talking about the difference between religious and spiritual perception. His point is the spiritual perception is the one that takes stock of reality and helps us find our place in it.

    Yay Christmas holidays! It seems so luxurious to be able to write something at this hour on a weekday. Though I really should be cooking. If I have time I will try to dig out the JAMA and Scientific American articles to back up my public health claims.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    I feel that there's a lot to be said for the 'intimation of mortality' adding to our enjoyment of actually being alive. If we were all (to all intents & purposes) immortal, would that not cheapen what we experience as life?

    Te Ika A Maui - Waitakere… • Since Oct 2008 • 572 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Sacha,

    If we think there are social equity issues now, just imagine the gap that unequal access to long life would create.

    Or would it? There would be so many rich people with lots of time to make more money that there wouldn't be enough to go around and they would all end up poor.
    Tee Hee.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4896 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Stewart,

    Bravo. Bravo. That's what I have been getting together in my head these past couple of days. It seems to me that the ever present threat of our mortality is what keeps us trying to live our best lives. As in, if time is limited, we had better make the most of it.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

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