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Global Brain: Chapter 19 - 20 - 21 Discussion 
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Post Global Brain: Chapter 19 - 20 - 21 Discussion
Global Brain consists of 21 chapters total, so I'm creating 7 seperate threads breaking the book into 3 chapter segments. Hopefully this format will keep the discussion somewhat organized and on track. You do not need to keep your discussions within these 7 threads.

Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 10/30/05 4:30 pm



Mon Jan 13, 2003 1:28 pm
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Post Sub-culture wars
Bloom describes how society moves "from open hand to clenched fist" quite vividly in Chapter 19...

Quote:
Postmodern fundamentalists* are masters at the craft of enemy creation and the manufacture of a siege mentality. Their world abounds in villains - one worlders with black helicopters, Satanic secular humanists, Beelzebubian New Agers, homosexual conspirators, Zionist bankers Illuminati, Trilateral commissioners, Great Satans, real estate developers, mink farmers, abortionists, and genetic engineers. Bringing the sense of battle to fever pitch is the myth that we are on the brink of the mother of all subculture wars, that of the final days in which an avenging Nature, Allah, or Jehovah will wipe this old iniquitous world away. The impure and unbelieving (that means you and me) will die in manners horrible to contemplate. When all is stripped and cleansed through nuclear flame, greenhouse flood, or the bloodbath of the scimitar, the righteous will finally take their place at the right hand of God, of Nature, or of racial destiny. Unfortunately, extremists armed with weapons of mass destruction can turn eccentric visions of apocalypse into self-fulfilling prophecies." (p. 197 )


*Isn't that an oxymoron? :rollin

Edited by: LanDroid at: 2/24/03 12:57:47 pm



Mon Feb 24, 2003 1:55 pm
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Post Inter-species global mind
Bloom describes some examples of internal symbiosis between species.

Quote:
Some roaches evolved into termites, and from a triple-species web - insect, bacteria, and protozoan - a lumber munching way of life was born. Meanwhile, viruses teamed up with parasitic wasps to penetrate the immune system of live caterpillars on which both fed their shippet of it's own chormosome. Our body, too, has a knowledge base it gains from plug-ins to the microbial brain. At first, we used microbes accidentally. Bacteria in our intestines provided us with skills we didn't have. They manufactured pantothenic acid, a vitamin without which we would stop growing, develop skin sores, and end up prematurely gray. "Friendly bacteria" also fed our needs for folic acid and for vitamin K. (p. 208 )


Now humans are using the biology of other species to manufacture drugs.
Quote:
One example was Alpha=1=antitrypsin, a cystic fibrosis treatment which was almost impossible to obtain by normal means. However, a team at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, Scotland, amnaged to insinuate the gene necessary to produce the stuff into the milk-making machinery of a sheep named Tracy in 1988. By 1998, she'd had eight hundred granddaughters, many of whom were pumping out the rare healing substance in their daily milk.

The udders of microbially reengineered goats poured forth anti-thrombin III, which prevents unwanted blood clots. (Retroviruses - our archenemies when they cause AIDS - turned out to be among our best allies in reconfiguring goat genes so they'd pull off this feat.) On the way was mild frothing with a vaccine for hepatitis B and with monoclonal anti-bodies, a hopeful candidate for cancer research. (p. 212)


Bloom also describes the inter-species battle of the flu pandemic. We are familiar with the Spanish flu which killed 20 million people shortly after the human slaughter of WWI. You may also recall the wholesale slaughter of chickens in Hong Kong in 1997 to prevent another outbreak. Bloom reminds us how close we came to disaster at that moment. "The modus operandi of this flu virus was so unfamiliar to the immune system that according to Webster (expert on the Spanish flu of 1918 ) , it could have wiped out half of the world's population - 3 billion victims, a figure decidedly immense."

It appears a similar strain has appeared in the last week or so...

Quote:
Said Webster, the next fatal worldwide influenza pandemic was now a "certainty". (p. 215)

Edited by: LanDroid at: 2/24/03 1:26:50 pm



Mon Feb 24, 2003 2:25 pm
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Post Summary
The last chapter summarizes the book, a welcome technique in such a far ranging exploration. It's difficult to summarize a summary, so I'll just quote one controversial section.

Quote:
Current evolutionary theory holds that an individual is "fit" only if he or she can maximize the number of his or her offspring. Even a brilliant thinker like Richard Dawson says that the ultimate individual is not you and me, but a gene within us driving us remorselessly, and that that gene is selfish to the nth degree. Such contemplations leave out the universal nature of networking. Less than a second after a false vacuum burped this cosmos into being, entities like quarks and leptons precipitated, separated, and set up boundaries which gave them their identity. Yet all were laced together in spite of their autonomy. When the strong force, the weak force, and the electromagnetic force failed to hold them, there was always gravity. The cohesive forces are more intricate in social systems, but the principle is the same: you can run, but you can never get away. You can put distance between yourself and the center of your nation or your family, but you can never totally cut your lines of connectivity. Even when we turn inward, an army if invisible others speaks through our thoughts, twists our emotions, and populates our privacy. We are wired as components of an internet which literally shapes our brain, orders what we'll hear and see, and dictates what we'll comprehend as reality. (p. 219 )




Mon Feb 24, 2003 2:36 pm
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Post Postmodern Fundamentalists
I don't think "Postmodern Fundamentalist" is an oxymoron at all. Fundamentalists often view everything outside their faith with the same analytical suspicion that academic postmodernists have for classical literature or history. "Atheists believe in evolution because they want to act like animals" is a crude version, but not entirely unlike postmodernism in viewing a theory as a product of motive rather than something describing "reality".

You'd be surprised how much of what Fundamentalists hate reflects their own process of digesting and mapping the world. "Ivory tower academics" are accused of being insular and not connected to real experience. I would say that describes fundamentalists perfectly. "Liberals apply moral relativism to everything" seems to describe people who believe it was OK for Moses to slaughter the Midianites, including women and children, because "God told him to". Most "liberals" hold a more consistent ethic of human rights.

Not that fundamentalists are alone in projecting their own faults onto others. We all do it, and that's why it's so hard to objectively describe society.




Thu Feb 27, 2003 9:30 pm
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