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Farming body parts and more

by Bruno Deshayes on 08 Dec 2016 permalink
The flow on effect of stem cell research is that right now you can use spray-on skin graft for burn victims. You can also grow mice teeth in a petri dish. It is not a matter of "if" but a matter of "when". Dr Who encounter with a warlord machine driven by the brain of a pig is not too far away. Welcome to your brave new world!

Should we welcome such technological breakthroughs with open arms or with a grain of salt? What does the overall political and economical landscape tell you?

Western democracies cannot even balance their budget. Healthcare is an ever deeper financial hole. People contract staph infections in our hospitals instead of coming home healed.

The jury is still out on genetically modified crops. The only people who seem to make money out of it are the lawyers who battle it out on behalf of those who want to establish their intellectual property. All they do is interfere with the design of creation.

The human genome project is public domain but the research made from it is passed to the private sector. After Silicon Valley the gold rush for IPOs is now biotech.

If you could trust mankind to govern the world with equity such inroads of science would abide well. What we see instead is an innate push to lower standards. Many unemployed security agents of the former Soviet Union have recycled themselves into organised crime. Even something as mundane as email spam is a curse that cripples internet communication.

We live in a season of extremes. Some would have you believe that it is commendable for same sex couples to marry. Their hope is that in-vitro fertilisation will give them access to human embryos they can pick and choose for themselves - like children on demand. Would you like to be born in a family like that?

It seems there is no limit to what people can achieve if they put their mind to it. People already worship science as the proof that mankind will be self-sufficient.

Right now what I would need is a money tree. Every week it would grow ten 100 dollar bills. Surely the DNA of such a plant wouldn't be too hard to synthetise!

Can't you see there is an undercurrent to enslave people rather than setting them free? The culmination of this movement will be when some charismatic figure will rise to power and claim to solve all the world problems - at the cost of you forfeiting your soul to him.

Obviously I have read the last chapter of the book so I know how the story ends.


Your privacy out the window

by Bruno Deshayes on 01 Dec 2016 permalink
Do you realise there isn't a safe place in a shopping mall or public lobby where you can pick your nose with impunity? Surveillance cameras everywhere!

No wonder sunglasses sales are up even in winter. Some obscene folks have been dismissed on the spot for installing unauthorised cameras in the ladies toilets. But think of those who didn't get caught and replay to themselves their choice video-clips. What can a security guard do to escape the boredom of the job? Unless she is female...

You can now buy a video camera in the shape of a fountain pen. It is being promoted for evidence gathering to realtors, police officers, counsellors, negotiators, etc... Just like your phone calls are being recorded by every call centre "for training purposes..." it seems everybody with a litigation mindset is investing in Get Smart technology to spy on you.

Then again why would you need to panic? Just like photographs can be retouched, video clips can be edited to modify the soundtrack and make you say words you never uttered. It won't be long before those technological breakthroughs will make such evidence in court inconsequential at best.

People don't trust each other (I wonder why...) and Big Brother is watching everywhere. People are ignoring their neighbours and call for a housesitter to mind their home while they're away. You can setup a webcam in your home and monitor it on your mobile phone to check if pussy finished her sardines and onions. I am sure some hard pressed parents have used the technology to save on childcare. But what is OK for a cat is abuse for an infant. Then again better some child monitoring that nothing at all...

Do you know there is a new discipline in computing called forensic analysis which can spot what you looked for on search engines even without having access to your computer? Marketers have been clamouring for this since everything has to be converted to metrics in order to improve the bottom line and gain market share.

We live in a connected world and we leave our fingerprints wherever we go. Not everything is negative There are applications to check your reach in social media. We know head hunters, HR folks at your work and other anonymous entities are checking your posts if you happen to be the interest of the day.

There used to be a sign in my supermarket: "Smile, you're on camera". They didn't say by how much this tactic reduced shoplifting but my buddy at spynet installations is hiring new apprentices... If spying creates employment then surely it must be good for the economy.


Social media going full circle

by Bruno Deshayes on 24 Nov 2016 permalink
Once upon a time you would subscribe to social media to re-connect with former co-workers, distant family members etc... in the hope of keeping the relationship alive by sharing photos and other snippets of life.

Well, now you can use social media to meet complete strangers face to face! Of course people addicted to dating sites do that all the time - but I am talking about leveraging an interesting tool to widen your horizon. MeetUp allows people to create and advertise an interest group. 3 years ago all activity seemed to be in the US. Today I found some 500+ groups in Sydney alone! What a parabolic growth!

What is refreshing about this phenomenon is that face to face contact is so much richer than online encounters. People can easily project a persona in cyberspace and they can fool you pretending to be someone they are not. I am talking about all those self-appointed marketing experts who shamelessly peddle yesterday's ideas - knowing full-well that reality has moved on.

When you are across a coffee table with somebody, you have to keep eye contact and pay attention. They share something and then it is your time to talk. You just can't press the back button and click on the next entry on your search results! You have to devote your full attention to you interlocutor or else come across as a jerk.

I have sifted through several types of groups: social groups organising activities such as sport, movie-going, bushwalking, music performances, etc... There is definitively a need for people to get a chance to re-connect after divorce, moving to a new city or other life upheavals. Other groups cater for expats or those who seek native speakers to learn a new language and culture.

Finally there are the business groups. Not everyone is a member of your local chamber of commerce or professional association. As technology and markets evolve constantly, everybody is facing the onslaught of the global village. Some international heavyweight is sure to invade your patch at some point of time. Small business owners working from home constantly need to be plugged into the grapevine and extend their sphere of influence.

With the constant decline of the printed press, companies and organisations find this an appropriate channel to advertise their cause by calling you to their cocktail parties.

So - yes, social media has gone full circle. We are human beings filled with emotions, choices and interests. We do not want to be cyberpunks spied upon by marketing trawlers. We want to be validated in our opinions and we have to re-learn how to pay attention to strangers one on one.

Paul Szilard says:
I couldn't agree more. You certainly have a gift in writing, and I think you ought to explore the possibility to get some of your articles published in the appropriate journals - and get paid for it. Well written and poignant.


More oneliners, please

by Bruno Deshayes on 17 Nov 2016 permalink
If you're too open minded, your brains will fall out.

Age is a very high price to pay for maturity.

Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you a mechanic.

Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

If you must choose between two evils, pick the one you've never tried before.

My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance.

Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.

It is easier to get forgiveness than permission.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite government program.

If you look like your passport picture, you probably need the trip.

Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of checks.

A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good.

Eat well, stay fit, die anyway.

Men are from earth. Women are from earth. Deal with it.

No husband has ever been shot while doing the dishes.

A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand.

Middle age is when broadness of the mind and narrowness of the waist change places.

Opportunities always look bigger going than coming.

Junk is something you've kept for years and throw away three weeks before you need it.

There is always one more imbecile than you counted on.

Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.

By the time you can make ends meet, they move the ends.

Thou shalt not weigh more than thy refrigerator.

Someone who thinks logically provides a nice contrast to the real world.

I find common sense not to be very common.

Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves for they shall never cease to be amused.


How not to take offence

by Bruno Deshayes on 10 Nov 2016 permalink
Forgive and let go. Opportunities abound for us to get ticked off at what someone else does. Does that mean you have to let everyone trample all over you just to have peace? Obviously that wouldn't be peace...

Yet we are called to love our enemies. Ouch! That's a hard ask... It's only possible if you are totally assured of your identity in Christ. Remember He wants to be your burden bearer. Whatever you can't handle just pass it over to Him...

Well said preacher - let me step on your foot and see if you scream or squirm in pain... Yet as you mature spiritually you find that your tolerance level rises. You are able to put up with more imbeciles than before. In fact they are not imbeciles at all - they are precious in God's sight - they just don't know it yet. Why don't you tell them?

So you've made your point and they still laugh their head off. Forgive and let go. You have done what you could.

There is ingrained in us a call for justice - a desire to put wrongs right. Things always start in your own backyard. We have an authority to exercise. How you use that authority will determine if you will be granted more.

Are there people who feel wronged by you? Is it worth apologizing to them? What would be the best approach? Can a relationship be restored? What is the value of a new friend to you?

People do things that are careless, irresponsible, selfish, dangerous, plain stupid. But there is always a tomorrow... The past is the past and you can't go back and fix it. There is one thing though you have control over: Will you let that offense spoil your future? How can you move on from the issue? The perpetrator is probably oblivious to it all but you are the one bound by anger, bitterness and distrust. Well this is the deal: As you forgive others, God will forgive you. Now that's a tall order. You realise the economy of forgiveness goes around full circle.

As you cotton on with God you realise His character will ooze out of you. They are things you don't know about the offending party. What you know though is that God knows everything. In the light of eternity He has a perfect answer for every problem you face. You created a few problems of your own if you're honest. He can fix your broken pieces. Will you let Him?


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