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How Humans Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Death – Article by Jaeson Booker

How Humans Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Death – Article by Jaeson Booker

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Jaeson Booker


Okay, for this, we have to go back. Way, way back. Before we made history, before we made civilization, before we humans did a lot of things. We may not have even been fully human at the time this happened. But at some point, we became self-aware. This process probably took some time, I doubt it was an “AH-HA!” moment that suddenly changed everything. But we then had the ability to comprehend ourselves: to view ourselves as an independent entity, separate from others, and could reflect on this. And, amid all of this self-revelation, with so many new existential possibilities, we got mauled by a second revelation: we saw other people dying. They got old, they got sick, they stopped moving, and then other animals and bugs started eating them (or, perhaps, we were the ones doing the eating; see “Cannibalism Normal for Early Humans?” by John Roach, National Geographic News, April 10, 2003). And we acknowledged that they were like us, that we one day would meet the same fate.

Well… that sucks. All of this possibility, all of these questions, a whole world to explore, and it turns out we’ll cease to exist before we get to experience even a small fraction of it. Damn. Well… what can be done of it? This question, as soon as humans figured out more advanced communication, was probably many times on their minds. From here, there seem to be three routes.

The first and most depressing, yet also the most pragmatic at the time: accept it and enjoy the time you have. “S**t happens. There ain’t nothin’ you can do about it.” This prospect was probably hard for many to face, causing them to try not to think about it instead (a habit many people still have today). But at the same time, it was probably the only realistic-seeming prospect for some time. Death happens. What can be done of it? No use feeling bad about something that can’t be controlled. Are you going to throw a fit every time it rains?

The second, and easiest to adopt: telling yourself it’s not true. Acknowledging you and everyone you love won’t exist one day is a tough pill to swallow, a pill many don’t want to take. But if nothing can be done about it, the only way around the pill is either ignoring death or believing differently. Over time, believing differently got easier and easier. It probably wasn’t done intentionally, but any idea we might not die when we shed our mortal coil probably spread faster than smallpox. Flowers came back every spring, after ‘dying’: where did you go? Trees went stark and bare, but came back to full health in the spring. How do we know this doesn’t happen to humans? Perhaps we were in our winter, and one day, human spring would come, and all the dead humans would sprout back up like daisies.

Over time, the resurrection pill probably went from easy-to-swallow to a-bit-more-difficult-to-swallow. Generations passed, with the stories being told, but human spring never came. We understood that seeds were the reason plants came back, and that it wasn’t an actual resurrection after all. And if you chopped-down a tree, it didn’t turn green next year. This is all speculation, of course, but at some point humans invented a concept that fixed this: the soul pill.

Ah, the soul, man’s best friend. Suddenly the body had nothing to do with all of those things people really cared about. All of those things humans tied so closely with their identity: emotions, reason, consciousness itself, all of these things the soul had covered for us. You could get pierced by a sword, fall off a cliff, be burned in a forest fire, but none of these perils could kill a soul. Whatever happened, no matter how bad things got, you were, ultimately, okay – because your soul would live on. To quote the Iron Giant: “Souls don’t die”.  Ah, death, thou shalt die at last.

But after a while, things started to change. We were starting to learn a lot, and a bunch of the earlier myths were turning-out to be false. Lightning wasn’t the wrath of any deity, the sky didn’t lead to any spirit world, humans weren’t created by anything but instead evolved, and a whole lot of the things we associated with “the soul” could be explained by a thing called a brain. Worse still, when this brain was changed, so did our personality. (See the Wikipedia entry on Phineas Gage.) This was depressing for many who saw the signs. And that soul pill, once so easy to swallow, was becoming harder and harder to get all the way down.

Which brings us to where you walked in. Many of us are still having issues with that soul pill, but many still don’t want to swallow that “we’re all gonna cease to exist” pill. For those who rejected the soul pill, many instantly grabbed a glass of water and hurriedly swallowed the other pill. They were proud of swallowing that tough pill, and annoyed with those struggling with the soul pill for not being brave-enough to do what they did. They found new ways to discover meaning, despite knowing they would die. Death was natural. Population had to be kept under control. They could live on through other means: their children, their legacy, the people they helped. The last thing these tough-pill-swallowers wanted to do was regurgitate something that had been so hard to get down in the first place. Which is why both types of pill-takers really hate the third pill.

The third pill: actually doing something about it. This solution had started around the time of the other two, but after a brief flare-up of popularity, had quickly died down due to failing to produce any results. Magic, the philosopher’s stone (the dream of the alchemists), blood sacrifices, breathing the air of virgins, and cannibalization of the young: these were all very embarrassing failures of this pill. After these blunders, no one really wanted anything to do with it anymore. And this is how things stayed for a long time. But even though the mentality toward this solution has stayed relatively the same for a long time, it’s potential was slowly changing. We were starting to understand how the body worked, and improve people’s health. We learned we were made up of these tiny things called cells, and that those cells were manufactured using even smaller things called DNA and RNA. And with all of this new-found knowledge, many were starting to wonder if discarding the third pill might have been a bit premature.

Up until very recently, the response has not been very nice to advocates of the Do-Something-About-It pill. And even today, there are many who call such advocates insane, immoral, greedy, and anything else you that’s meant to sound bad or misguided. The advocates of the soul-pill and the tough-pill could finally agree that this other pill had to go. Religions declared such aspirations evil and against God’s will. Scientists worked hard to separate themselves from these advocates as much as possible, not wanting to be lumped in with what sounded to many like some sort of icky cult.

So, the swallowers of the first two pills march forward, parading ideas of death and aging being natural, that seeking anything else is wrong and selfish, and we should just accept our situation. It is these two pills that have enabled people to justify a holocaust that is occurring every day – a holocaust that will one day claim us all, unless the third pill is ever swallowed and digested properly by humanity. Aging has killed more than all wars, famines, and plagues combined, yet most march onward, without making any attempts to halt it. Governments invest in fighting cancer, heart disease, and countless other ailments—ignoring the underlying cause of most of these problems, which is aging itself. Every year, there are drives for charities to fight different cancers, entire months and hues devoted to some (See “Pink porta-potty fundraiser aimed at flushing breast cancer“, CBC News, October 2, 2017), yet none toward combating aging. People stake trillions of dollars toward remedies to make them look younger, but almost none to aiding the effort of actually making them younger. They plan out their wills, their life insurance, and their funerals, but ignore opportunities to preserve themselves (for instance, cryopreservation, as offered by the Alcor Life Extension Foundation or the Cryonics Institute) for a chance to keep living, even if it is more affordable than they think.

But, despite the opposition, this solution has been making progress. We have seen progress in stem cells (“Anti-aging stem cell treatment proves successful in early human trials” by Rich Haridy, New Atlas, October 23, 2017 ), biotechnology (“A Silicon Valley scientist and entrepreneur who invented a drug to explode double chins is now working on a cure for aging” by Nikhil Swaminathan, Quartz, January 6, 2017), and machine learning used to better understand the aging process and how to treat it (“Artificial Intelligence uncovers anti-aging plant extracts” – Press Release by Insilico Medicine, October 31, 2017). The third pill is getting more and more enticing. Many older people, having swallowed one of the first two pills decades ago, have no desire to change their existential outlook now. But many younger ones, those who have not yet chosen a pill, and finding the other two inadequate, are starting to wonder if the third pill is for them. Time will tell which pill will ultimately win out, if any, but for now, for the first time ever in human history, the Do-Something-About-It Pill has an actual chance to shine and show what it is truly capable of.

Jaeson Booker is a software development engineer who has worked as a journalist. He earned a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Political Science from Salisbury University, a Bachelor of Applied Science (BASc) degree in Molecular Biology from the Texas A&M Univerisity in Corpus Christi, and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Wilmington University.

The Discovery Doctrine in International Law, with Respect to the Islands of La Encarnacion and San Juan Bautista – Article by Stan Vaughan

The Discovery Doctrine in International Law, with Respect to the Islands of La Encarnacion and San Juan Bautista – Article by Stan Vaughan

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Stan Vaughan


Editor’s Note: In accord with Article III, Section XXII of the U.S. Transhumanist Party Constitution, which states that “The United States Transhumanist Party supports efforts at political, economic, and cultural experimentation in the form of seasteads and micronations”, the U.S. Transhumanist Party has published this guest article by Stan Vaughan, explaining the historical basis in international law for the claims by the Kingdom of Ourania on the uninhabited Pacific Islands of La Encarnacion and San Juan Bautista. Find out more about the Kingdom of Ourania here and read here about the State Visit made by King Immanuel X of Ourania to the Republic of Molossia on June 17, 2017. The arguments made herein by Mr. Vaughan are his own analysis, and members of the U.S. Transhumanist Party are encouraged to study it, review the relevant history, and form their own views and perspectives on it. The United States Transhumanist Party does, however, wish Mr. Vaughan the best in forwarding the recognition and development of the Kingdom of Ourania, which may, if successful, lead to innovations in seasteading and construction of floating cities. We anticipate publishing future updates regarding the Kingdom of Ourania as they become available.

~ Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman, United States Transhumanist Party, July 2, 2017

Flag of the Kingdom of Ourania

Public international law seems to recognize five ways to acquire insular areas. These are 1) cession, 2) occupation, 3) accretion, 4) subjugation, and 5) prescription. [Raphael Perl, The Falkland Islands Dispute in International Law and Politics: A Documentary Sourcebook (New York: Oceana Publications, Inc., 1983) (hereinafter cited as Perl) 12-13.]

This essay discusses how international law applies to the islands of La Encarnacion (a.k.a. Ducie) and San Juan Bautista (a.k.a. Henderson) in the South Pacific Ocean.

La Encarnacion

The island of La Encarnacion (a.k.a. Ducie) was discovered by a Spanish expedition led by Portuguese sailor Pedro Fernandes de Queirós on 26 January 1606, during an expedition that began in Callao, Peru. Supported by Pope Clement VIII and Philip III of Spain, Queirós was given the command of the San Pedro, San Pablo, and Zabra. The fleet was nicknamed Los Tres Reyes Magos (“The Three Wise Men”).  La Encarnacion (a.k.a. Ducie Island) was the first of eighteen discoveries on the trip. Queirós temporarily named it Luna Puesta, then finally settled on La Encarnacion.

The island was rediscovered by Edward Edwards, captain of HMS Pandora, who was sent in 1790 to capture the mutineers of HMS Bounty. He re-named the island Ducie in honour of Francis Reynolds-Moreton, 3rd Baron Ducie.

On March 10, 1867 it was claimed by US Captain John Daggett of Massachusetts for the United States under the Guano Islands Act (enacted August 18, 1856).

The State Department (William Seward, Secretary of State) considered later in 1867 that the claim would remain dormant or only in abeyance until such time as US citizenship of Captain Daggett was proved, which was done, reviving the dormant US claim.

San Juan Bautista

Pedro Fernandes de Queirós, leading the same Spanish expedition that discovered La Encarnacion, was also the first European to discover another uninhabited island on 29 January 1606. De Queirós named this island San Juan Bautista.

Captain Henderson of the British East India Company ship Hercules re-discovered the island on 17 January 1819 and re-named it Henderson Island.

Claim by the United Kingdom and the Implications of the Discovery Doctrine

In 1877, the islands were purportedly included under the protection of the United Kingdom by an Order in Council that claimed jurisdiction over all previously unclaimed Pacific Islands.

However, La Encarnacion and San Juan Bautista were not unclaimed islands, both having been claimed by Spain in 1606. Such claims were recognized via the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), Treaty of Paris (1763), Nootka Convention (1790), Treaty of Madrid (1814), and the First Hague Convention (1899).

The Discovery Doctrine is a concept of public international law expounded by the United States Supreme Court in a series of decisions, most notably Johnson v. M’Intosh in 1823. Chief Justice John Marshall justified the way in which colonial powers laid claim to lands. Here we will not dispute the controversial aspects of the doctrine concerning inhabited lands, but focus on the uncontroversial aspects of terra nullis (discovery of uninhabited land).

Marshall found that ownership of land comes into existence by virtue of discovery of that land, a rule that had been observed by all European countries.

At the time of the 1776 Declaration of Independence, discovery of terra nullis gave the discovering sovereign absolute title to the newly discovered land. This was amended in 1790 by the United Kingdom / Spain Nootka Convention, which said that, thereafter, newly discovered lands must also be occupied as well. However this treaty did not in any way affect previous discoveries and claims.

Sovereignty could effect cession in a treaty between ceding and acquiring sovereigns, and at no time in history has Spain ever ceded its sovereignty over La Encarnacion and San Juan Bautista to the United Kingdom, which specifically acknowledged Spanish sovereignty to these two islands in both 1744 and 1787, as will be discussed herein later.

Thus, prior to either the purported Edwards 1791 “rediscovery” or the 1819 Henderson “rediscovery”, both islands had been shown on the 1787 King of England Samuel Dunn/Thomas Kitchen map (shown below) as the Spanish possessions La Encarnacion and San Juan Bautista, both previously recognized by the discovery doctrine in international law as belonging to Spain. Thus the 1877 British Order of Council extending British purported sovereignty over all unclaimed islands has no basis in international law, which also says that the purported 1902 “annexations” of these islands are illegal under de jure international laws.

Spain, the United Kingdom, as well as the United States all are parties to the 1899 First Hague Convention, which prohibits and considers such annexations as unlawful.

Further, all three recognize the aforementioned discovery doctrine, George II having recognized in 1744 the islands as having been discovered by Spain, and George III in 1787 having recognized such discoveries by Spain under the names La Encarnacion and San Juan Bautista.

Thomas Kitchin (or Thomas Kitchen (1718–1784)) was an English engraver and cartographer, who became hydrographer to the king. The 1787 Samuel Dunn “A General Map of the World” shows La Encarnacion and San Juan Bautista, as does the 1744 map by Emmanuel Bowen (cartographer to UK King George II and father-in-law to Thomas Kitchin, his apprentice) at correct latitudes south of Tropic of Capricorn and correct longitudes.

Above, the 1744 King George II map of the world with the islands of La Encarnacion and San Juan Bautista at correct latitude south of Tropic of Capricorn and at correct longitude as well, and among those marked as “islands discovered by de Quiros of Spain”.

Above the 1787 King George III map of the world lists La Encarnacion and San Juan Bautista by their actual Spanish names, an acknowledgement of their absolute title by Spain 4 years before the so-called re-discovery of La Encarnacion as Ducie 1791 or the 1819 re-discovery as Henderson instead of San Juan Bautista.

In correspondence from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office dated 29 March 2017 and postmarked 13 April 2017, the United Kingdom does not dispute the above facts.

Thus, there is no such island as “Ducie” island – only the previously claimed by Spain La Encarnacion Island. There is no such island as “Henderson” island, only the previously claimed by Spain San Juan Bautista Island.

Before the 18th century, discovery alone was sufficient to acquire absolute title to a terra nullis (A. Keller, O. Lissitzyn, & F. Mann, Creation of Rights of Sovereignty 1400-1801 (1938)).

See also William E. Hall, “Discovery gave not merely inchoate title but an absolute title” (International Law 126-127, 214-215, 8th edition, 1924).

International Law Regarding So-Called Annexations

Direct Annexation, by the end of the Napoleonic period, ceased to be recognized in international law as an accepted means of territorial acquisition. Thus, as in the case of La Encarnacion and San Juan Bautista Islands in the South Pacific, the purported annexations (and renaming of the islands), which the United Kingdom proclaimed in 1902, not only violated this principle, but was further illegal by the First Hague Convention of 1899, which had been signed 29 July1900 already by the UK, USA, and Spain. The UK had not acquired these islands by any treaty or cession from Spain, and as earlier pointed out, had already under King George II and King George III by their names and locations recognized their discovery by Spain and thus absolute title from 1606.

In 1948, Emilio Pastor Santos, a researcher of the Spanish National Research Council, claimed there was a historical basis that many islands in the Pacific, formerly parts of either the Viceroyalty of New Spain, or the Viceroyalty of Peru, actually still belonged to Spain and “continue legally under Spanish sovereignty.” These include “a number of small islands in Micronesia (Kapingamarangi or CoroaMapia or GüedesOcea or Matador, and  Rongerik or Pescadores). […]This is because the text of the German–Spanish Treaty of 1899 which transferred sovereignty of certain Spanish possessions in the Pacific to Germany, namely the Northern Mariana Islands (except Guam) and the Caroline Islands (including Palau), failed to include these smaller islands.”  (Wikipedia, “Mapia Atoll”)

On 12 January 1949, after presentation of the research to the Council of Ministers of Spain, the Spanish Foreign Minster declared this as de jure, and the Cabinet of Diplomatic Information of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared as follows: “The Ministry recognizes that it is a certain fact and historic truth that Spain reserves a series of rights certain groups of islands as not having been ceded by Spain.”

This situation resulted in the Kingdom of Ourania contacting Spain and acquiring a number of islands formerly either part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain or the Viceroyalty of Peru, but with the proviso they can never be re-assigned to the United Kingdom at any time in the future, unless the UK first returns Gibraltar and restores the territorial integrity of Spain concerning Gibraltar.

Stan Vaughan is a chess champion who resides in Southern Nevada. He ran for State Assembly District 15 as a Republican in 2016. He now represents the Kingdom of Ourania in its efforts to attain international recognition and form a floating city in the vicinity of the claimed islands of San Juan Bautista and La Encarnacion.  

U.S. Transhumanist Party Discussion Panel on Life Extension – February 18, 2017

U.S. Transhumanist Party Discussion Panel on Life Extension – February 18, 2017

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Gennady Stolyarov II


Listen to and download the audio recording of this panel discussion at http://rationalargumentator.com/USTP_Life_Extension_Panel.mp3 (right-click to download).

For its second expert panel, the U.S. Transhumanist Party invited Bill Andrews, Aubrey de Grey, Ira Pastor, and Ilia Stambler to discuss life extension and the quest to reverse biological aging through science and technology.

This two-hour panel discussion, moderated by Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II, took place on Saturday, February 18, 2017, at 10 a.m. U.S. Pacific Time. In this interactive venue, many opportunities for fresh discourse arose on the possibility of achieving dramatically greater longevity within our lifetimes. The substance of the discussion begins at 4:25 in the recording.

Questions the panelists considered include the following:

(i) How would you characterize the current state of efforts to reverse senescence / lengthen human lifespans?
(ii) How does progress in the areas of research you have delved into compare to your expectations approximately 10 to 15 years ago?
(iii) What are the most significant challenges and obstacles that you perceive to exist in the way of achieving serious reversal of biological aging?
(iv) What key technologies and methods of delivering treatments to patients would need to be developed in order for longevity escape velocity to be affordably achieved society-wide?
(v) What political reforms and societal / attitudinal changes would you advocate to accelerate the arrival of effective treatments to reverse biological aging and lengthen lifespans?
(vi) Are you concerned about any current political trends and how they might affect the progress of research into combating biological aging?
(vii) What can laypersons who are sympathetic to your goals do in order to hasten their realization? How can the effort to defeat aging become as popular and widely supported as efforts to defeat cancer and ALS are today?
(viii) What lessons can the history of anti-aging research offer to those who seek to advocate and help achieve effective scientific breakthroughs in this area in the coming years and decades?

References

Genetic stabilization of transthyretin, cerebrovascular disease, and life expectancy” – Paper by Louise S. Hornstrup, Ruth Frikke-Schmidt, Børge G. Nordestgaard and Anne Tybjærg-Hansen. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. 2013;33:1441-1447, Originally published May 15, 2013.

Recognizing Degenerative Aging as a Treatable Medical Condition: Methodology and Policy” – Paper by Ilia Stambler. Aging and Disease.

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Panelists

Dr. Bill Andrews is the President and CEO of Sierra Sciences – http://www.sierrasci.com/. As a scientist, athlete, and executive, he continually pushes the envelope and challenges convention. In his 35-year biotech career, he has focused the last 23 years on finding ways to extend the human lifespan and healthspan through telomere maintenance. As one of the principal discoverers of both the RNA and protein components of human telomerase, Dr. Andrews was awarded 2nd place as “National Inventor of the Year” in 1997.

Dr. Aubrey de Grey is the biomedical gerontologist who researched the idea for and founded SENS Research Foundation – http://www.sens.org/. He received his BA in Computer Science and Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Cambridge in 1985 and 2000, respectively. Dr. de Grey is Editor-in-Chief of Rejuvenation Research, is a Fellow of both the Gerontological Society of America and the American Aging Association, and sits on the editorial and scientific advisory boards of numerous journals and organizations.

Ira Pastor has 30 years of experience across multiple sectors of the pharmaceutical industry, including pharmaceutical commercialization, biotech drug development, managed care, distribution, OTC, and retail. He is the CEO of BioQuark, Inc. – http://www.bioquark.com/ – and Executive Chairman of ReAnima Advanced Biosciences – https://reanima.tech/.

Dr. Ilia Stambler is a researcher at Bar Ilan University, Israel. His research focuses on the historical and social implications of aging and life-extension research. He is the author of A History of Life-extensionism in the Twentieth Century – www.longevityhistory.com. He is actively involved in advocacy for aging and longevity research – www.longevityforall.org.