Memetic Press At HeroesCon!

It’s true, though kind of a last minute thing.  Yours truly will be holding down a table at HeroesCon in Charlotte this weekend, for all three days.  Also, some of you may have noticed the addition of an AFTER info page on this website… If so, keen powers of observation.  Soon all your relevant AFTER info will be posted there, so keep checking back.  I’ll update after the convention with pictures and such.

Out for now…

– Paris ‘Rev’ Battle

And Then There Were Two

M/O

Well I made a promise, and I kept a promise. I vowed not to speak again on the campaign until we were down to two official candidates. Little did I know.

Honestly, probably best I kept quiet about the internal affairs of any party. I get disgusted enough by the majority of BOTH their antics in pursuit of swing votes like my own, so we’ll leave it at that. I will only say I think ‘superdelegates’ are a colossally asinine idea.

Anyway, without getting too deep into the situation, I’ll just make a list of my most recent observations concerning how Senators Obama and McCain are likely going to throw down before November.

BADAAAAAASSSSSSS!!!!!!!

BAADASSSSS!

So first off, the right honorable Senator Barack Obama, finally wresting victory from the jaws of a deluded loser. It’s not as though this win wasn’t self-evident since at least early March, but the upshot to this, er… unexpected delay is that Obama’s campaign has had extra time to craft their general election strategy. Of course, so has the GOP.

Regardless of all that, the question of the hour seems to be swirling around possible running mates. Some people are under the impression that Obama has utterly no choice but to extend the offer to Hillary. I’m not sure what dimension these observers are living in, but it appears to be one where John Edwards doesn’t exist. Or Ted Strickland. Or Chet Culver. Or any one of a NUMBER of well-thought-of complimentary Democrat governors dotting the landscape. Why, I ask you logically, would Obama pick a running mate fully half his own party just told him they can’t stomach? Guys like Edwards and Strickland are well-known faces in some battleground states, including my own. Or, failing that, someone with military or foreign policy to balance out the fact Obama has about two squirrel shits worth of experience in it.

Have I mentioned that for the first time in my life, I’m in a swing state? Places like North Carolina represent the unpredictable nature of this campaign. Everything that may work for or against Obama in this area (high turn-out among blacks, draw of college kids that normally don’t vote, the defection of white Democrats toward McCain) is purely speculative. This state hasn’t voted Democrat for a president since 1976, but all the rules are changed now.

So in short: Fresh off beating the unbeatable Clintons, clearly invigorated, and clearly coming with a plan, the Obama campaign promises to be one of the most dynamic in modern history. And what’s even better, it looks like he’s got decent competition…

Son, Your Ego\'s Writing Checks Your Body Can\'t Cash.

“SON, YOUR EGO’S WRITING CHECKS YOUR BODY CAN’T CASH.”

Enter Senator John McCain, who is doing his level best to appear unimpressed by this whippersnapper that’s got all the young’ns excited. Which is a tough job, considering that this election came in a package marked “change”, and it’s going to be perpetually difficult to convince younger voters that one of the oldest candidates to ever run is a paragon of radical thinking.

Still, young people don’t do so well deciding Presidential elections in this country, so there’s that.

Either way, McCain’s campaign so far looks a little dualistic in nature, if not schitzophrenic. On the one hand, now that the general election is officially on, McCain can highlight his strongest appeal among swing voters. That is mainly that most Republicans can’t stand him. It looks like the campaign has firmly decided to say “fuck the conservative base”, assuming they’ll opt to vote AGAINST someone named Barack Obama even if they despise McCain. Which they do. Makes sense; it’s presidential politics 101. Court the crazies in your party till it’s down to two, then run back toward the middle as fast as you can. Also, careful not to bang your head on the other guy, cause he’ll be coming the other way, doing the same shit.

On the other hand, John McCain isn’t moving a goddamn inch on the economy. Consider for a moment the STATE of the economy and reflect what a strange tactic that is. His first general election attack on Obama is an engagement in McCain’s weakest field, money matters. His line of attack is to try and define Obama’s most liberal economic tendencies as a BAD thing. There’s even been some recusitating of the old ‘tax and spend’ label that used to scare people away from Democrats. At the beginning of a long hot summer of high gas/food prices, home foreclosures, and a screaming for SOMETHING to be done about it, John McCain’s campaign is attempting to turn Obama’s “change” message into a LIABILITY. All the while his own economic plan looks pretty much exactly like Bush’s did in 2000. They pull this off, and McCain could go down as one of the most brilliant politicians in history.

And then there’s the real (forgive me) elephant in the room, McCain’s own potential VP nominees. As much noise as the media is making about who might ride with Obama on the dusty campaign trail, his decision is far less critical than McCain’s on the matter. If McCain wins, he’ll be 72 when he’s inaugurated. He has lingering health questions by perception if not fact, and Democrats are going to key in on that. The voters will know (or at least suppose) that his vice-presidential candidate is MORE than just an academic feature of the campaign. It ideally needs to be someone who could be President, if need be. An easy guess would be any one of the people who showed up at his cook-out in Sedona in April; Mitt Romney, Bobby Jindal, and Charlie Crist, for example.

There For The Taking

So that’s how things are looking now, other than the bump-by-bump potshots starting up over the sordid pasts of lobbyists and buddies-of-3rd-world dictators that everyone seems to have working for them. Apparently now it’s against the rules to have anyone with dirt on the team. I always thought it’s how these people GOT their jobs. Weird.

On a personal note, I will say I’m excited, as a political junkie and as an American. Because it looks like we’ve finally got an election with two real stand-up guys in it. Or as close to stand-up as 20+ years in the American political system and the virtue of having risen to national prominence on two book deals and a speech can possibly be.

Out for now…

– Paris ‘Rev’ Battle

On The Destiny Of Humankind

Destiny

Recently, conversations have come up more than once in the Memetic offices concerning the nature and purpose (if any) of humankind. Both heated and lukewarm discussion have run the gamut from amused dismissal of the very question on the grounds of irrelevence to passionate backing of the notion that human beings only be allowed to name their purpose individually. The nuance of idea has been staggering.

This, folks, is what happens when we switch brands of weed around here.

Regardless of the catalyst, all this talk sent me back to my master world-view, to review my own position on humanity and what in the hell it might be useful for. After careful consideration, some checking on the most recent science, and a healthy dose of promethazine for the inevitable spinning-head nausea this sort of philosophizing causes, I am now prepared to humbly lay out the building blocks of humankind’s ultimate purpose, as I see it. Bear in mind, this is theory at BEST, but mostly just a wild speculative notion loosely based on observed patterns. Feel free to post your own answers to some of these questions. We at Memetic Press encourage healthy debate as much as we encourage occasionally switching brands. First thing to consider:

WHAT MAKES HUMAN BEINGS DIFFERENT FROM OTHER LIFE?

This is the question I answer with the most recent science, because I think the fundamentals have been conceptually as well as physically (sort of) mapped out in considerable detail. It all boils down to the cerebral cortex.

Lunch!

This is the outer skin on your brain. A lot of animals have these, but in human beings its about six to eight times denser than our next nearest kin, the lovable chimpanzee. And it is FAR denser than the cortex of, say, a seahorse, which I assume resembles Quizno’s cheap-assed sandwich wrappers. Point is, our cerebral cortex is so thick and dense that it folds over on itself, causing the brain to have that wrinkly look we’re all familiar with.

This happened because our ancestor’s primitive monkey brains started growing faster than our skull could keep up for some damn reason, densifying the material on the outside. Theories as to why this occurred vary widely. Some more interesting hypotheses include fish in the diet and/or eating a shit-ton of psychedelic mushrooms. Whatever the reason, it happened, and left our hairy forebear one super-smart monkey. He could outsmart all the other monkey-men, thereby getting all the monkey-bitches, and making lots of super smart monkey-babies. Monkey-babies whose descendants would invent Tennessee, the Butler Act, and eventually drag Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan into court to argue over whether or not monkey-men ever existed in the first place.

Damn Dirty Slut

ABOVE: YOUR ANCESTORS

And the whole process left us with an instrument which allows us a whole range of abilities BETTER than other creatures, and at least one which appears to be fundamentally unique. Basically, it gave us imagination, which is the root component of a variety of functions. Everything from long-term memory to long-term goals, and figuring out how to connect the two in the shortest possible distance. All this when the only information your senses are providing is the back of the toilet stall you got caught staring at while getting all thought-heavy about your future and shit.

The ability to imagine, to envision, to design… The core of all our technological prowess and artistic efforts. The ability not only to ask the non-sensory questions of ‘Why?’ and ‘What If?’… but to actually engineer their answers, and PERSIST in imagining them long before we had the ability to confirm those answers. That, in a nutshell, is humanity.

SO WHAT’S SO GREAT ABOUT THAT?

Actually a very good question. It’s quite one thing to accomplish everything that humankind (and its cerebral cortex) have accomplished. It’s another thing entirely to assign meaning to all of it with no basis for universal comparison. We have no other civilizations to compare ourselves to critically, except in our own imagination. Serious questions arise during such a process.

So we’ve developed complex tool use, division of resources, specialist society, and worldwide predominance on six of seven continents. Our presence has been felt beyond crush depth in the darkest sea and beyond oxygen atop the highest mountain. The ever-imaginative cortex aids us by providing us the ability to invent scuba gear less than a hundred thousand years after coming up with a damned rock ax. Before that, the only way a species was getting into an environment out of it’s sphere of influence was to wait several million years for evolution to give it gills. Other creatures show our practices, and we reflect other creatures predatory natures, certainly. But the fact remains: Our ant colonies are places like New York. And our scout bees have been to the moon. When humans do it, we do it big.

See How We Grow

But again: So what?

The speed of it, basically. As fast as we can come up with answers concerning natural law, the universe, or practical application of the elements thereof, that damned cerebral cortex can envision new questions. Hence the scuba gear, for example. What this means in the long run is that eventually our reasoning of potential outcomes to this thing called evolutionary process is going to hit a perceptual end… a sort of finite point for practical application of knowledge beyond which theory alone will remain dominant for the foreseeable future. Much in the same way that we can already see to the very edge of space, time, and existence with a telescope that’s actually about to be REPLACED, eventually humankind’s consciousness as a whole will have to be forced to thinking of cause and effect on a “where does the species go from here” scale.

It’s worth noting that several intellectual movements and scientific disciplines are of the opinion that this decision may have to be addressed in my lifetime.

What makes human beings ultimately unique is that it WILL be a decision. We can envision, and so we can choose. For the first time in the biological history of Earth, a species will be able to DECIDE how it evolves, instead of letting that remorseless bitch Mother Nature handle it.

GREAT, ONE MORE THING TO WORRY ABOUT. SO WHAT DO WE DO?

Well, cast your votes how you like, but I’m throwing my support to the “get the hell off this planet” approach, at least initially. It seems a no-brainer to me mathematically that every dominant species has sort of a “magic window” of a few scant half-million to a million years before some cataclysm or another delivers it a cosmic nut-shot. It would be a damn shame if we, the first with the ABILITY to see the bad shit coming, didn’t take a few simple survival steps. You financial types (the sort that ask how much a Mars’ colony is gonna cost) think of it as diversification. Set up a habitat on multiple planets in this solar system, then we only have to worry about something really going wrong with the SUN. Under those circumstance, one asteroid can no longer kill us all, if we can refrain from killing each other. And that’ll likely leave us a good four billion years to come up with how we get to another star. So we evolve into a multi-planet species.

I know there’s still a lingering “so we survive, what’s the point” to this scenario. And if you’re looking for a wild speculative take on it… Well, I’ll give you one, fuck it.

A lot of people have been exposed to the Gaia Theory. This says (very loosely) that the Earth and all its systems can be properly viewed as a single organic entity. Further researchers have suggested it’s also a complex adaptive system. I propose that the one (a biological something) automatically assumes the other in the sense that evolutionary forces must work on the ‘Gaia’ system of Earth the same as with her component parts. Even sea shores evolve. Mountains wear away, volcanoes rise, temperatures change, and the Earth evolves as much as her pieces do by themselves.

So with that being my supposition, I would put it to you brave reader that humanity’s true function is simple and direct: We are the reproductive system of the Gaia organism. Earth finally grew a pair of balls, and it is us.

Imagine a ship bringing the first terraforming engines to the surface of Mars. After scientific (and financial) breakthroughs, some human tribe or another succeeds in determining the best way to transform the planet into a breathable Earth-like environment. What just happened was reproduction… We lowly products of our planets natural processes were the biological jackpot capable of both envisioning and carrying out such a complex leap forward in evolution. Though us, our planet can now make copies of itself.

My God, It\'s Full Of Stars

So there you go… whether for holistic oneness with something higher than yourself, or simple fucking survival instinct: Anyplace human beings CAN go, we should. With bold spirit or, failing that, reckless abandon. Just get there before we all wind up like the dinosaurs.

Out for now…

– Paris ‘Rev’ Battle