Well, it’s Wednesday, the day after Valentine’s Day. I know it’s not technically the Ides of February or anything—at least I think I know that—but there ought to be an official day for the day after Valentine’s Day, some equivalent of Boxing Day after Christmas. Maybe we could call it Barfing Day; that might be both fun and appropriate.
I was thinking that yesterday would have been an excellent day for me to have a heart attack. It seems an appropriate potentially fatal healthcare crisis to have on a day when everyone is sharing “heart-shaped”* treats, many if not all of which are not great for the coronary arteries. However, though I did in fact find myself once sprinting to beat a light and then later sprinting to catch a bus—one can’t get much more cliché than that when it comes to myocardial infarctions—I felt not a hint of chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, or what have you. Disappointing. And the only nausea I felt was that sort of subjective nausea that isn’t a true physical feeling, but which is a projection of disgust over the very silly and stupid things people say and do.
This queasiness was not in response to Valentine’s Day activities! Don’t get me wrong. I thought Barfing Day was a good follow-up day because eating too many sweets in one day can lead to GI upset. For the most part, I think it’s nice that people express love, romantic and/or otherwise, to those important to them. It may be frustrating that it’s such a ritualized, scheduled expression of love, but unfortunately, if it were not for such rituals, it’s probable that many people would never make or think of any such expression at all.
Sometimes, it seems, humans need rituals to make them realize their own feelings, and perhaps even to confront their own feelings. This can apply to bad feelings as well as to good, as when, on the approach to a holiday such as Valentine’s Day, someone realizes that the person with whom they are currently linked is someone with whom they don’t really feel that strong a bond. Hopefully such a realization occurs before too much has been invested in a relationship.
I suppose the need to act in recognition of such a fact can sometimes lead to a stereotypical Valentine’s Day breakup, which is harsh, but perhaps better than the alternative of a long, unpleasant relationship with increasing acrimony and emotional (if not physical) abuse. Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know; I’m making this up as I go.
In distant parallel to the above, I sometimes think that maybe we should lace all Valentine’s Day candies with hormone blockers or something along those lines to diminish the sex drive of those who eat them. Surely, anything that can be done to decrease the breeding of new humans is probably going to be a benefit for the rest of the planet, and evolution just isn’t likely to get to that solution on its own.
On second thought, that may actually be a foolish notion. Honestly, I’d worry more about people if they didn’t have any children, because the nurturing of children is one of the most potent triggers and encouragers of love—not to mention forethought—in humans. As I think Fagin said in the musical Oliver, I think I’d better think it out again.
Anyway, that’s all for you guys to worry about. I’m giving up on it, and with any luck, none of what humans do will have any impact on me, other than perhaps to alter slightly the rate of decay of my corpse. Though it would be useful, I think—and as I’ve written before—to enact a policy, or even a tradition, of storing the bodies of the deceased in deep ocean subduction zones, to get them out of the carbon cycle.
Cremation seems like a terrible idea; it just gives everyone one last lunge to increase their individual carbon footprint!
It probably doesn’t make much difference, though, honestly. Such minor sequestering and the like on local, individual level is unlikely to accumulate into anything of significance to the global atmosphere. I think it will only be the development of new science, technologies, and processes that will engineer out the excess carbon from the atmosphere, perhaps using some adjusted and enhanced equivalent of photosynthesis on an industrial scale (among other thing). After all, photosynthesis takes carbon dioxide and water—potent greenhouse gases—from the atmosphere and ultimately converts them into carbohydrates and fats and such. These can then be sequestered, if necessary, or converted to bioplastics, and biofuels, to use for things we currently do with fossil fuels.
The local energy for those processes can be derived from the products of the photosynthesis (ultimately from the sun) and so on, so that even when not truly “carbon-negative” it will be at worst “carbon-neutral”.
Of course, it’s stupid to be carbon neutral as a matter of personal, aesthetic judgment. Carbon is the backbone of life as we know it, and probably will be for most if not all other life in the universe, if there is any.
I know, in these matters, “carbon” is just a shorthand for greenhouse gas reduction and whatnot, but I wonder how many people really think about that when they use the term, especially when one considers that water vapor, which is more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas, has no carbon in it at all, and methane, which is also more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, has only one carbon atom for every four hydrogen atoms. And a molecule of methane burns to make one molecule of CO2 and two molecules of water.
If more people were more scientifically literate and careful in their thought, a great many of our problems would probably be diminished, so my biggest local lament here is that many of the more vocal activists on all sides may refer to things like carbon and economics and communication and the like without even really thinking about the words they are saying. Such words in such cases aren’t tools of communication, but are, as Eliezer Yudkowsky notes, just soldiers going into battle. What a horrible bastardization of the greatest invention of the human species.
In closing, I just want to let you know that I recorded myself reading aloud the last blog post I made on my alternate blog Iterations of Zero, and I’ve turned it into a video to put on YouTube. I’ve embed it here, below. It’s only three minutes long, and some of that is a lead-in moment of silence.
You can read it or listen, whatever you like, but I hope if you “watch” it you’ll give it a “thumbs up” on YouTube.
It’s a brief discussion of a thought experiment or story of a person trapped in a peculiar prison and trying to send messages for help without alerting the jailer, but it’s not as simple as it seems, and it’s not actually fiction.
*And they are truly sort of heart-shaped, especially if you look at the interior shape of a heart.