das update

(cf Combichrist's 'Get Your Body Beat'.) i woke up this morning to a small chorus of little dull pangs that mean 'oshit, son, get your fat ass to a doctor'. so i did; i was about to take a picture of the node site, but first the examining doc made me take off the bandage, and then had to send me to the nurse so she could patch me up with shit tons of gauze and Jelonet and stuff that's making it hard to type right. i had several interesting conversations about why it is that i do this shit to myself, which is something i can never explain properly to non-transhumanists - i've gotta learn to do that, otherwise i'm never going to get anything like a research grant or unbiased medical help. the nurses are alright, but the doctors still think of me as some exotic species of self-harmer.

i have been known to slice my arms open for shits'n'giggles, sure, and do a fair amount of damage in the process (none of this emo cat-scratch bullshit, i've split my arm to the tendons like the little psychopath i sort of am), but this is not something i do when properly medicated. i need a better way of communicating that.

fortunately the doc didn't decide to cut the node out of me just yet and gave me a box of flucloxacillin, which will doubtless play havoc with my system. still, it's not like i'm not grateful.

that is all. also you should check out Project Pitchfork, because their track 'A Cell' is kickass.


Max said...

I hope it all heals all right from now on...

Ideas like transhumanism are very hard to convey to other people. It's as if it were a religious issue. People are pretty stuck in their concept of what's right and what's wrong, what's normal and what's just sick. I once got the point halfway across by making the other guy imagine he was the only person on earth /not/ born with additional senses. He immediately agreed that he'd go through lengths to get those, too. Kind of like a blind person surely finds modern medicine a gift when it can shape a bone piece into a lens that can restore his lost eyesight.

Then, why the hell would you slice yourself up like that? Did you at least film it or take photos? You could be the next 2girls1cup, 1guy1jar, or whatever the current number-noun-number-noun phenomenon is.

Lepht said...

thanks, Max. i have high hopes for the flucloxacillin, since it's a very useful antistaphylococcal drug, and staph is very likely to be the thing that got in; that's the bacterium that gave me seriously nasty sepsis the first time i tried a homebrew insertion.

i get a lot of the "it's not natural" shit, too. i usually respond by demonstrating that natural does not equate to good; vaccines? unnatural. cancer? natural. safe drinking water? unnatural. laser eye surgery? unnatural. anthrax, Ebola and polio? natural as fuck, and so on. you have a good point also about the converse; if this were a standard human sense and i was trying to get it back i am pretty sure i would be rather more celebrated and less feared.

why would i slice myself up when not on my meds? because i've got problems. i did not take photos; for one, there is more extreme stuff out there (go to Encyclopaedia Dramatica and search for 'emo girl cuts herself'). secondly, i was not in control at the time. i didn't feel any pain until it was over, and i couldn't have stopped myself if i'd tried; i just found myself shivering in a bathtub of cool water, emerging from a white haze of consciousless action, with blood fanning out of the wound in spurts.

trust me, you don't wanna see or experience that shit.


Director X said...

I also have a hard time explaining why I am implanting magnets in my hand and super-capacitor arrays in my gut (pending). People either get it or they don't. I usually find it easier to lie. I told my mum it was the latest device in Satanic communication. I told my employees that the magnets were for cheating Pachinko (those Japanese slot machines).

According my conversations with Steve Haworth, there is a researcher somewhere who has discovered that after 6 months, the magnetic implants cause a certain region of the brain to become "dedicated" for the new sense (just as a certain area is dedicated for smell, taste, etc.). I usually tell people that it helps stimulate certain parts of the brain and that is usually good enough for them.

Sadly, I think we will need to leave most of humanity behind.

Lepht said...

i always try to explain it, myself, not least because i would dearly like to see implanted technology become widely accepted. imo the wider public will never accept implants in their own bodies if they don't get over the "why?!" factor; that's not gonna happen if we don't explain what the nodes or anything else we develop are really for. i see your reasoning, but i honestly would consider it better in the long run to try the long-winded explanations, even if you have to explain to them what EMR even is.

re. people either getting it or not: perhaps i have too much faith in the species, but since i understood it myself with little effort, i am sure everyone (with a few exceptions glenn beck) is capable of doing the same. we might work for the betterment of everyone, but we are not better than our unmodified peers.

i have no idea about the research you mention, but wouldn't be surprised owing to the plasticity of the brain. could you dig up a reference if Haworth has one?

i gotta say, if i were asked to leave the rest of the species behind, i would refuse. a technology that creates an elite who are incomprehensible to the paeon majority - that's exactly what i started this DIY thing to get away from.


Ian said...

@Director X--what exactly is the purpose of the supercapacitor array? i can't think of a use for having them in your gut...

@L--i think that the yuck factor is a harder thing to get around than the "why?!" factor, considering that many people have no real reason for doing so, other than the yuks and lulz.

and technically, you're not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition ;-)


Lepht said...

Ian - he's kidding about the gut. i hope he's kidding about the gut. if not, i remind you gents of the smell of sewage.

i'm definitely not doing this for the lulz, though i do a lot of things for mudkips and m00t. i will shut up and stop breaking 1&2 all over the internet now, as should you.

"Ending sentences with prepositions is a habit up with which we must not put." -- Winston Churchill

Director X said...

@Ian: I want to absorb high voltages (primarily from tasers). I'm trying to make myself cop-proof. I have a lot of plans for weaponizing myself too, and the capacitors will come in handy for that as well. Eventually the plan is to create a stun gun subdermal implant that will be kinetically recharged, and discharged at transdermal contact points. There are some theoretical snags to work out of course before I can test it on one of my employees. I'm kind of waiting to see how Lepht's sugru stuff works out on his Northpaw procedure. I have a circuit amplifier that I need to house and I'm afraid the circuit might fry in an enclosed environment (Northpaw has circuitry, no?).

@L: I applaud your faith in humanity. I think that many people will come around eventually but I'll be damned if I wait for them or hold myself back while they catch up. I will spare you my Magneto-esque rantings though. If you invent the perfect sales pitch for the procedures I'll be 100% on board.

I'll try to get a name out of Haworth on the researcher. Haworth is threatening to make a forum on his website specifically for people with magnetic implants to compare notes and experiments. Hopefully that materializes soon.

Ian said...

@Director X--huh, that's pretty cool. it sounds a lot like how the special circumstances people were enhanced with embedded weaponry in the Culture novels.

@L--i guess he wasn't kidding about the supercapacitor array. i wouldn't have been able to tell the difference though--i'm about as good as sheldon at recognizing sarcasm.

and both points taken. although i never would have thought of "up" as a preposition, and either way, had Churchill not been joking, he could have reworded the sentence as "We must not put up with the habit of ending sentences with prepositions," which would have both sounded correct and been correct.


Lepht said...

X - for fuck's sake do not do that. gut surgery is disgustingly prone to infection when done in a sterile theatre with a qualified surgeon doing it, even when the abdominal fascia isn't breached and you're only working with the fatty layer over it; if you intend to breach the gut wall itself you are going to fuck yourself over like the Yankee economy, son. i don't disagree with your ideas per se; although i don't like the idea of weaponisation at all, and you're gonna have a lot of prototyping to do, we've all got the right to do whatever the fuck we want experimentally. go for it - just for the love of humanity don't put anything in your gut. it's not clean enough for anything to take outside of real surgery. there's gotta be another place for that shit.

yeah, the paw has circuitry; a lot of it. enclosing it is one of my main hitches aside from power. you're welcome to compare notes with me on that, and it'll all be going up here anyway. let us know if you find anything out that i don't, and what happens re. Haworth's shit.

Ian - agreed. i had to learn to recognise that shit myself and i'm still never sure if i have it or not. Churchill was definitely joking though. old man was a cunt mostly, but a cunt with a fantastic sense of humour.


Max said...

Odd. I also have problems recognizing sarcasm. Someone should do some scientific research on that. Maybe we all got Asperger's syndrome or something similar.

@L: How'd it get infected anyway? I mean, it's not like this is the first time you're doing stuff like that, and it all looked pretty careful to me, (although I'm really not the authority when it comes to how sterile an environment is)

The pics you posted in that latest post look good. No big blotches, no melanoma, no dead flesh. Humanity -1, Cyborg +1. You're now a level 3 cyborg, congrats.

Note: I'm all for the long, annoying conversations. If even one mind is opened by such a conversation, it's worth it.
Also yeah, you definitely have too much faith in the species. I'll be surprised if we don't blow ourselves up by the end of the century. We're pretty pathetic, IMHO.

Why do I have the Robocop theme stuck in my head? What you're trying to do is extremely dangerous, and I don't see how it'd even work, but then again, I'm an idiot. Don't get yourself killed, and you'll have to realize that weaponizing yourself isn't exactly a very good step in terms of H+ PR.

/me out.

Lepht said...

Max - fuck knows. i test high on Ritvo, as previously posted, but the last psychiatrist was rather adamant that i don't have the "air" of an Asperger's patient.

shit gets infected if a single staph bacterium makes it into a wound that's of breeding temperature, which is all wounds that aren't frostbitten. haven't you noticed the lengths they go to in hospitals - autoclaving everything twice, making EO-sterile disposable steel instruments which are incinerated after use, maintaining an entire room of sterile field during an operation whose barriers nobody is allowed to cross? that's how far you gotta go to prevent any chance of infection.

also, i thank you for the complement, but alas - none of us will count as cyborgs until not only are we dependent on the mechanical parts of ourselves, but they are also dependent on us.

keep having those conversations. just try to avoid the word "cyborg"; it's not very accurate. "transhuman" is perhaps not so bad, but still far from the almost 100% organic state in which you and i exist. "transhumanist" will do fine.


Lepht said...

ps. i also find it very strange that the public equates an enhanced body with a loss of humanity. transhumanists are not losing humanity but gaining it.


Max said...

Err.... just what exactly is Ritvo?

The Humanity/Cyborg thing was a joke, really, but I'm rather surprised the word 'cyborg' is defined that way...
Also, our definition of the word humanity needs major revision anyway, so their argument is flawed from the get go.
What is your definition of 'humanity' as a property? I guess most people would say some BS about souls and god's chosen people, but that just goes to show how pathetic most of us are (that's not to say I'm not pathetic, too. I'm proud to recognize that I am. No wonder the aliens are hiding from us)

I guess 'cyborg' is a good word for getting people who know are open-minded interested, but not so good for getting the point of transhumanism across. So far, Firefox still doesn't recognize it as a word in the English language.

Then, true, I hadn't thought about what troubles the hospitals have to go through to keep infection at bay.

Max said...

Also, it's odd but I know that an analytical knowledge base of social interactions can be better than an intuitive one. I myself used to be kind of an outcast, but in time I managed to learn the knacks of social interaction, so much so that I got invited to certain parties in my final high school year that most of my other, 'normal' (neurotypical?) friends didn't.
It did the job well enough for me.

melladh said...

I'd imagine people look at technological enhancements as losing your humanity because a lot of people, deep down, aren't as interested in enhancements as they would be in killing things off. Instead of adding senses, they might want some removed, all the while knowing how fucking scary it would be if other people had the same. (taking away the ability to feel pain would take away the ability to sympathize with that of others, and such things)
That, and that they just don't listen. New things are scary.

I find that the best everyday-transhumanism comparison is the pacemaker. A pacemaker isn't a replacement heart, it's just a little wakeup call for the heart in case it forgets what it was doing. It's actually quite advanced, monitoring you and sending electrical pulses if need be. That's a far closer step to the tech world than a few magnets, it's just "more justified" due to its ability to save lives. But at one point, someone did think "let's cut this motherfucker up and put some machinery in him!"

If they dismiss that too, well, you could always tell them God said flesh is evil, and you're trying to have flesh make up a lower percent of your total mass, to Please Him, like the good bible told you. *holds up sarcasm sign*

Lepht said...

Max - mea culpa; the Ritvo inventory is a quick'n'dirty checklist test for autistic spectrum-like thinking, administered by rushed psychologists. i fail it, or pass it depending on your definition, spectacularly.

yeah, "cyborg" has a lot of definitions, but they all imply a much more heavily modified organism than a bored biohacker: something dependent on, or so acclimatised to its mods, such that if they were removed it would suffer. it's not enough just to be modified.

humanity: sapience, specifically that of our species, with all the unique qualities of sapiens sapiens. to me that includes bad things as well as good; nuclear genocide is a human thing, as is medicine, as is information.

also, you live in America, right? you're aware that place is fundamentalist, and that in the rest of the world almost nobody would define humanity in terms of YHWH Elohim?

melladh - i know exactly what you mean. a diet of TV and movies growing up means that many people look at anything as all about combat; H+? make weapons, make super-soldiers, make vehicles for your armies, make defenses against the others. it's not really their fault, since it's a cunt to get that mindset out of your head, but it is everywhere and it revolts me.

i know the inability to feel pain is dangerous physically - CIPA patients damage themselves hideously becuase they don't have any warning from the meat - and would doubtless be weaponised too, but i don't know if it's entirely damnable. i know a lot of terminal patients would beg on their knees for such a removal.

amen about the pacemaker. my granda is more of a Borg drone than any of us... yet. glasses are a good one too; they used to physically disgust people much like the nodes do.

oh, i gave up long ago on the hyper-religious. i tend to hail Satan everyday them nowadays.


Max said...

I don't live in America. Luxembourg. Tiny country, no separation between church and state, and religion classes in school. Yeah, go figure. How the hell did such a mental abomination like me get born in such a place? A big plus is there's no military craze. Our military is a joke, and people who join it are generally ridiculed because they do. Anyway, I probably kind of have a bias in those religious things... :-/

Ritvo: Oh right, okay. Should take that some day, sounds like it can be found on the internet somewhere in the form of some nice AJAXy thing.

If humanity means sapience, would sapient, but cold and emotionless aliens (let's call 'em.... vulcans.) have this property? If so, then the issue is merely an issue of definition. I think what most people think when they say 'losing their humanity' is losing the integrity of being untouched by technology, losing some sort of authenticity. (Of course, that doesn't make sense, as without technology we'd be sitting in caves. Even language is a kind of technology)

(Arguing with religious people is fun IMO, if you manage to get down some rules beforehand, like 'no ad hominem attacks', 'no assumptions', 'no supernaturalist arguments', etc. If you get those down, you've already won, and you can have your fun seeing then writhing in mental anguish)

Ian said...

wow, i forgot the comments on this post even existed for a couple days there.

I learned most of my social skills from books and from people-watching (which i do constantly), much like Sai from Naruto, and do pretty well. in fact, i seem to be better at it than many other people. as annoying as it is to have to do things such as constantly repeat myself, point out the ridiculously obvious (although i agree with Max that if i can open even one person's eyes with these skills, it's worth it), and throw in vocalized pauses all the time, when i need them those skills are dead useful.

it's actually interesting--i've actually been diagnosed with Asperger's myself (as well as a mild form of psychopathy, but dw, i'm not about to get up and stab someone 37 times and drink their blood).

@Max--i've actually always thought of biohacking in those terms; i.e. as "You have reached Level 3."

@L--personally, the definition of cyborg that i use is that anyone with any operational mechanical gizmos in their wetware is a cyborg, though i know that many others don't share that definition. the definition you used where the wetware and hardware must be in a mutualistic relationship is pretty interesting, though.

also, your definition of "humanity" isn't very useful. if technology is considered part of humanity, then what if we used genetic engineering to turn ourselves into horses (albeit keeping the same brainpower)? would we still be "human," since we used technology to do so?

besides, i don't keep any sense of "humanity" in mind when i think about biohacking; it's all about being useful, whether it improves my humanity or not. if what many people would tell me is "human nature" is true, then tbh, fuck humanity!! seriously, i wouldn't want anything to do with a species which, for example, is "inherently sinful (whatever that means)" or some other such shit. indeed, many people claim that human nature is just that, or that our one purpose is to worship an imaginary skydaddy.

lastly, i don't think that the US is quite as full of fundamentalist jesus-freaks as most ppl think it is (although still more so than Europe), much like Christopher Hitchens (who, sadly, is being treated for esophageal cancer). indeed, most of the so-called "New Atheists" insist that when they go to the US, even to the so-called "Bible Belt," they are, if anything, more warmly received than in other parts of the world.


Lepht said...

Max - shitsux. be glad you get away from the militarism; even here, it's almost taboo to criticise the military, and criticising the endless wars of attrition is considered the act of a flaky wannabe rebel.

i said sapience specific to this species. i think if we discovered sapience and emotional capability equal to ours in another species, the word 'humanity' would no longer be appropriate.

in other words, let's stop conflating "human" and "emotion-feeling", gents.

Ian - it's not like SA is important.

i had to learn mine like that too, which apparently means there's something wrong with us. vocal pauses are essential to the way a lot of your fellow freaks understand others, by the way.

a lot of people seem to use that definition, but by my reckoning it is far too broad; you could include about half the population in that, which seems far different from the narrow band of organisms people think of when the word "cyborg" is set. still, i fucking hate this kind of semantic argument. the word is simply too popularised and loaded for my liking.

i didn't mean that technology implied humanity, merely that creation of technology is currently a quality unique to humans. since the term is self-descriptive, it's obviously incredibly wide as well...

i seem to have miscommunicated this: my goal in H+ is not to 'improve my humanity', if such a thing is even fucking possible. my only goal is to experiment and gain knowledge. i was trying to point out that transhumanists are generally improving both the ethical outlook and the physical quality of life of the species.

the South is very welcoming, as was Texas. i was very well-treated in both. that doesn't mean that the leftmost US politicians are not still further right on the global political spectrum than the British and European right-wing, or that US law doesn't deny women their fundamental rights to bodily control, etc.


Max said...

I /am/ glad I'm away from that military craze. Who knows, if I'd grown up in the US, maybe I'd long have been sent to Iraq by 'my' country. Did you know they have an inscription in the scopes of a certain kind of rifles that references a bible verse? This even goes so far that some people are supposedly calling them 'Jesus rifles'. Let's hope Al-Qaeda's PR manager doesn't find out about that.

In general, I've found out that the people who tell you why humans are special aren't worth listening to. The interesting people are those who talk about how we're not so different from other animals and how we should get off that high horse of ours.
But I agree: both 'humanity' and 'cyborg' are too loaded and too relative to mean anything by now.

side note: Certain kinds of apes are known to use sticks as tools in the wild. Bonobo apes work rocks into knife-like shards to do heavy cutting. That's technology, baby.

Amen to that comment about how transhumanists improve the human condition. If you want to be precise, technically a hammer is simply an extension of the hand that improves its striking capabilities, thereby improving the body through technology. So whoever invented the concept of tools was effectively a very very naughty (and 'inhuman') monkey.

Ian: People telling you about 'human nature' usually have no idea of it. Let's say they disregard the fact that the term 'human' hasn't exactly been very stationary within the last million years or so (or even the last 200).

Also, I know the US isn't a country consisting of only fundamentalists who jerk off to Jesus, but you have to admit it's worrying that 60+% of US citizens believe in the fairytale of Genesis. Generally, the really crazy people aren't put in institutions, but in offices, and that's what scares me.

Shit knows, if we ever find intelligent life in the universe, there's going to be a lot of new religions just as dumb as those we're stuck with for now. That, or all of their heads will explode. (Hopin' for option B)

Lepht said...

fucking hell, i didn't know about the Jesus rifles. that's Murkan fuckedupness in a nutshell: do what we approve of or we're gonna 'free' the shit out of you and our God will applaud.

humans are special, my friend. we're sentient, and no other species we know of is. other sentients would also be special; you don't think self-awareness is something we can be amazed at?

i also forgot to declare my biases in the last conversation; i am a card-carrying member of the British Humanist Association, and so i tend to rage at people who look at the incredible things this species is capable of and go "they're worthless, they need to die" or "they're no different to the rest of the animals".

advanced technology, then. again with the definitions widened until they mean nothing; i am perfectly aware of bonobos and chimps' behavioural oddities.


Ian said...

@L--well, SA is important enough that i take precious time out of my day to read it, so...

a video about the jesus rifles can be found here.

and yes, i am aware that british politicians are less fundie than american ones; i was just saying that the US is less fundie than most ppl think it is.

@Max--actually, a recent gallup poll said that only 40% of people agreed with the statement "Humans and other animals existed in their present form since the beginning of time." while that's still way too many (hell, even 1% is too many), but it's not as much as many people think. besides, the US is not the only scientifically illiterate country: 17% of britons think that the earth's orbital period is one month (seriously, i'm not joking).

and i agree with you that crazy people are put in office rather than in institutions.


Lepht said...

that shit is motherfucking creepy. and so deliberate, so insidiously invasive - this is not the first time i have been smacked in the virtual face by the sheer arrogance of religion.

do not forget that the US is far more scientifically illiterate than the UK. those two errors you listed - one is wilful ignorance, the other simply a question of education...


Max said...

@L: Pretty much, yeah. Also, American news channels apparently now have a lower percentage of news from outside the US than in the 1950s. Right now, it's basically just the US and the countries they invaded, and then maybe a whimsical viral video from youtube.

Yes, we are sentient, and the fact that our species has become beehive/brain-like without even noticing it is incredible (No owner of a bike knows how one would go about to actually fabricate one from iron, similarly, no human knows all that all of humanity knows. All of us know merely a fragment of the human knowledge base, and many people are specialized in certain kinds of knowledge. Like neurons of a brain. Still, humanity acts like a single entity that knows much more complicated things than one brain could ever hold.)
We have ridiculously powerful brains, so much so that we can alter the world around us, reminisce about the past, and imagine the future, and not find that that's special.
We don't (all) deserve to die, that's stupid, and saying we're 'no different from other animals' is preposterous, too. We are animals, and not apart from them. It's just that we aren't the big skydaddy's chosen people, we're not the crown of evolution, and we have no destiny to fulfill beyond what we define for ourselves.

I merely think that while we certainly are a unique species on this planet, this merely stems from some evolutionary border that we must have crossed several thousand years ago, which launched us into this spiral of ever-advancing human progress. (fun fact: Homo Sapiens Neanderthalensis had a larger brain than we have today. While this doesn't necessarily say it was smarter than Homo Sapiens Sapiens, it did /not/ have much of an affinity for culture. the tools it had didn't change much, and the designs only got transferred down the family tree, not across it. That makes for a slower rate of adaption to new environments, and for less evolutionary fitness. This little fact is thought to be one of the main reasons why they died out and we didn't (so far))(TED.com, 'when ideas have sex'. Wonderful talks, they have there.)

Then, I find your blog rather fun. There are always great discussions here, and there are no moronic youtube comments that make you lose your faith in humanity.

I didn't know the Jesus Rifle story made it to some actual news headlines. I would have thought that the American media would just keep quiet about it to avoid angry emails from rednecks who think there's a woman sitting in the tellyset, but that may just be an indication that I haven't seen the needle on my cynicism gauge because it's off the chart, and not as I had previously assumed because it was down below zero.

Your next comment made me a sad panda. Still, 40% of Americans and 17% of Britons are that stupid? I still think that proliferation should not be a general human right, but again, I should watch my cynicism levels.

@L: A question of education, yes, but if your education doesn't even cover the general layout of the solar system (things like the non-geocentric nature of the universe and (almost) spherical nature of the earth), then I'm sorry, but you should have been taken away from your parents, and they should have been sterilized and given a puppy.

Also, the pope announced that condoms just cause AIDS. Yeah, so much for the arrogance of religion. I actually laugh at people in public who say anything positive about religion. Usually my arguments trump their stubbornness ;)

Stiles said...

I consider myself to be a reasonably well-informed person and this is the first I've heard of the Jesus rifles. Fucking appalling but not surprising, sadly. At least the offending imprints were removed shortly after the ABC News report aired, according to this:


This is why I stick to the northeast and the metro west coast cities of the US rather than the rural areas. People who have forethought and understand cause, effect and consequences (of both the intended and unintended variety) are much more pleasant to be around.

Stress = your mind overriding your body's basic desire to choke the shit out of someone who desperately needs it, or something...

Freedom from religion is as vital as freedom of religion, and in many places in this country people will look at you all kind of sideways if you say you're an atheist or agnostic. Surprisingly, labeling yourself an apostate seldom gets a reaction, as many people don't know the meaning of the word.