Creationism vs Unlimited Knowledge

A rather cool thought from Oxford physicist David Deutsch‘s book  The Beginning of Infinity, (p. 81)

“The prospect of the unlimited creation of knowledge in the future conflicts with creationism by undercutting its motivation. For eventually, with the assistance of what we would consider stupendously powerful computers, any child will be capable of designing and implementing a better, more complex, more beautiful, and also far more moral biosphere than the Earth’s, within a video game – perhaps by placing in such a state by fiat, or perhaps by inventing fictional laws of physics that are more conducive to enlightenments than the actual laws. At that point, a supposed designer of our biosphere will seem not only morally deficient, but intellectually unremarkable. And the latter attribute is not so easy to brush aside. religions will no longer want to claim the design of the biosphere as one of the achievements of their deities, just as today they no longer bother to claim thunder.”

I suppose if they thought about it, they’d claim thunder, since it’s part of God’s Creation, but I think I know what he means. Maybe.

Bye Bye BOP Times

My last BOP Times column was on Saturday, and I’m rather wondering if I broke the record for shortest-ever newspaper columnist gig. (I started in July.) The reason given was cost cutting, though I know the paper is revamping both its content and its format — going tabloid, uh, compact, in March next year — so who knows. I put a lot into the columns (all of them are listed here) and learned a whole heckuva lot doing all the research, talking to lots of people. It was actually pretty cool getting to know the BOP just that little bit better. In fact, I’ve got lots of good stuff stored up that I didn’t get to use that I’ll likely put into pieces for Werewolf and elsewhere. But, meantime, summer (!!) and finishing up other writing projects, seeing The Book through publication and plotting and scheming the wee campaign roadshow, which I’ll be posting more about over the next couple of months. (All you pro-choicers out there, please stay tuned!)



The Book: It Must Be Real

I was in the middle of going through my “Fighting to Choose” manuscript yet again, when a Tweet from an ALRANZ comrade pointed me to the fact that The Book is now listed on Victoria University Press’s Web site as “forthcoming in 2013”. (And thankfully, the press managed to crop the Norfolk Pine that’s coming out of my head in that author pic.) So, it must be real.

I started this journey in 2007, researching and writing. So I figure it’s understandable if I continue to pinch myself, almost exactly 5 years later. Obviously there will be a lot more to come on the book, including in the second half of 2013, a wee book tour-slash-roadshow called the Pro-Choice Highway.

Also, an article I wrote, and gave as a talk, called (links to a PDF) “The Rise of the Fetal Citizen” has just been published in the Women’s Studies Journal. This abstract essentially explains what the paper is all about:

Woman + Fertilised Egg: The Metamorphosis. (Graphic by Zenaida)

Woman + Fertilised Egg: The Metamorphosis. (Graphic by Zenaida)

The use of fetal sounds and imagery in the cultural and political struggles over abortion has expanded markedly in  the past half century. Technologies like ultrasound have not only helped us see the fetus, but have played a crucial  role in the construction of value-laden notions about it. Biological facts have been used to leverage moral notions of, for example, what it means to be a ‘person’, ultimately leading us closer and closer to the creation of a new category of ‘fetal-citizen’. Assuming a continued improvement in medical understanding of and public access to fetal development, I consider the further impact that access might have on pregnant women and fetuses. Will it simply degrade the concepts of ‘person’ and ‘citizen’ beyond usefulness, or is it likely to usher in a Handmaid’s Tale dystopia in which reproduction is ever more tightly monitored and controlled? I conclude that we have already traveled quite some distance along what is essentially an uneasy combination of these two paths, and that  this trend is likely to continue.

Free Trade Is Never Free

The Trans Pacific Partnership trade talks are going on in Auckland this week, and there’s a lot at stake. Unfortunately, because the talks are being held behind closed doors, the public debate sort of bounces around on the edges, informed as best it can by leaks, discussions with negotiators and the so-called stakeholders. Not a good way to plot the future of the country, which is what these talks are all about. This isn’t trade as we tend to think of it – selling butter to the British and hamburger meat to the Americans. As (PDF) I wrote in my BOP Times column, these talks range across pretty much every part of the economy.

Werewolf has devoted its entire November issue (No. 36) to the talks. My focus there was on what 12305714041500807562choochus_Wolf_Head_Howl_1.svg.medmost commentators see as the holy grail for New Zealand in all of this: opening up the U.S. market to our dairy exports. Given that we can’t produce enough dairy for all the demand that’s out there now, where’s all the milk going to come from to supply this fabulous new market opportunity? Think: cows! And polluted waterways. Gordon Campbell wrote the lead article, Into the Cave of Dreams, and also investigated the risk to our money-saving drug buying agency Pharmac.

Professor Jane Kelsey at Auckland University has spearheaded a lot of the pushback over the TPP and gathers all the info at a site called It’s Our Future. She came under attack recently in the New Zealand Herald, but Campbell pretty quickly dispatched the criticism.