The Ultimate Sin [Neolithic Tech Treasures II]

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Tommy the Terrorist

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Jul 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/26/99
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Though the mind's cowardice would like to see death as an
instantaneous process, we know that in reality there is
always some interval between the mortal wound, and the
final extinction. For a man committing the classic suicide
with pistol in mouth, it could be a matter of microseconds
as the shock wave spreads and erases normal cogitation.
For the old Western cowboy, gutshot, it might be two or
three days of slow creeping agony as intestinal bacteria
take root throughout the peritoneum. For a six-year-old
caught near the Hiroshima blast, it might take until he is
thirty-five and a renowned scientist before at last the
leukemia claims him forever.

Likewise, this is true of species. The dodo, upon the
arrival of the first breeding pair of pigs. The populations
(it seems suspect to call them species) of parthenogenic
lizards, which shuck the nuisance of sexual reproduction
and with it all hope of recombining away the errors of
their genomes, so that inevitably they turn out to have
diverged from sexual populations mere tens of thousands
of years ago, because those which diverged earlier are now
already gone. Perhaps also the populations of large-egged
sea urchins, which produce young that survive reliably, but
at the cost of a major genetic selection step, and which
date back in many different lines only a short period of
time, while the ancestral stock is always that which suffers
the additional mortality. Perhaps even the primates as a
whole, which similarly invest great effort in few offspring,
and which have lost essential biosynthetic pathways
("vitamins") to genetic deterioration. It may only be a matter
of time until the plants on which they rely become extinct,
and what then? Failure of due diligence in genetics could
lead to the extinction of whole genera even many millions
of years after the fact - perhaps the most striking case of
a mortal wound with a much delayed effect.

But let us speak now of the mortal wound most of interest
to human politics and human culture - the wound by which
humanity is destroyed, and already dying, and from which
no medicine will save it. When did this wound occur, and who
allowed it to happen?

There was a time of witchcraft in the dawn of man, and the
traces of it surround us and form the basis of much of our
"civilization". We might proudly think of ourselves as an
advanced culture; yet we only recently have discovered that
the beer and the tea we have drunk from time immemorial
possess strong activities to preserve and extend life, from
the most frequent cardiovascular causes of death. The spices
we add to our food were selected when - ten thousand years
ago??? - not merely to taste appealingly, but to inhibit the
growth of dangerous bacteria. One wonders if it is the human
who has been selected to appreciate the taste of the spice
rather than the other way around. The great "medical advances"
of our age, despite all our sophisticated tools and theories of
molecular biology, remain things like aspirin and penicillin and
Taxol, extracted directly from old witch recipes that like as not
date back to the last Ice Age. We live in the shadow of a great
culture, of both its virtues and its sins, and the knowledge of
most of them has been lost to us. Why did the Romans think
that parsley was the key to good health? Was it ONCE a
chemopreventative to colon cancer, perhaps, and only after
thousands of years did breeders eliminate some slight bitter
taste, and with the taste, the medicinal effects? Why can our
stocks of agricultural rice be so easily improved by back
crossing to wild strains? Could it be that it was done right
ten thousand years ago, but people were careless and lost
important genetic virtues from their crops in a hundred Dark
Ages? And then there is the old, old tradition, that the
Babylonians passed on to the Israelites to be put right up at
the beginning of the really old stuff in their old testament,
the stuff about men who lived for nine hundred years, the
stuff about the tree of life. With the theories of antioxidants
and aging, can we completely rule it out? Can we completely
rule out the notion that RIGHT NOW there are viable seeds
sitting in a clay jar sealed with wax in a cave sealed for ten
thousand years, which could give men the stuff of dreams?
But I digress; these were the first batch of Tech Treasures
I supposed, and what I move to now is a darker secret.

When we look to our future - or at least when I look to it,
anyway, when I look to the shuddering things whispered by
the spirit of pestilence... - the significance strikes me of the
collection of DNA samples from two groups; from prisoners,
and from Army recruits. One, of course, is the least
obedient and the least loyal; while the other is supposed to
be the most obedient and the most loyal. What, then, do
you suppose the research would be, that would be done
with such a wide range of population samples if these two
groups have been chosen specifically? Cross-reference,
then, the Dog Genome Project: we know that there, some
breeds are more loyal, and some less - and soon, God help
us all, it will be known what precise things make this so.

But I've spoken of the past before, of some lost culture
of the Neolithic which seems to have rivalled us in many
aspects of genetic manipulation; the culture which domesticated
the plants and the animals and perhaps adapted many of them
for esoteric and potent ends. Perhaps they had no physics or
chemistry, but were merely nine hundred year old Mendels
piddling around in their gardens; but in any case, they did many
remarkable things. Should we consider then, the possibility
that these breeders of loyal dogs and obedient horses, bred
some other more abominable creation - that they bred a race
of slaves to follow their commands, and that THAT RACE IS US???

Consider the most infamous monuments to human stupidity
and human slavery: the Pyramids of Egypt. They postdate
our hypothetical civilization... but why is that? Is it truly
that men before then lacked the resources to build pyramids,
despite their other apparent wisdoms? Or is it that before
then, that any punk with a ridiculous cobra hat to tell the
people he could strike at anyone, who tried to make ten
thousand people do the stupid for the ludicrous at the cost
of their healths and lives, would have been parted from his
eyes and ears and testicles and asshole, and whipped out into
the desert to die like the dog he is? If the Pyramids were
a monument to stupidity and slavery, then maybe before the
Pyramids, men were not so stupid and so slavish.

We may never know when our animal-breeding predecessors
turned their arts to abominations, and converted a culture
of life and enlightenment into a culture of war and slavery.
But on the very verge of the Apocalypse, we can still look
all the way back, and vaguely see that first infamous moment
- and know that it was THEN that the mortal wound was struck,
and all the rest was mere history.

Joseph Hertzlinger

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Jul 28, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/28/99
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On 26 Jul 1999 12:32:31 GMT, Tommy the Terrorist <may...@newsguy.com>
wrote:

>Consider the most infamous monuments to human stupidity
>and human slavery: the Pyramids of Egypt. They postdate
>our hypothetical civilization... but why is that? Is it truly
>that men before then lacked the resources to build pyramids,
>despite their other apparent wisdoms? Or is it that before
>then, that any punk with a ridiculous cobra hat to tell the
>people he could strike at anyone, who tried to make ten
>thousand people do the stupid for the ludicrous at the cost
>of their healths and lives, would have been parted from his
>eyes and ears and testicles and asshole, and whipped out into
>the desert to die like the dog he is? If the Pyramids were
>a monument to stupidity and slavery, then maybe before the
>Pyramids, men were not so stupid and so slavish.

My theory is that it was bronze. Before the Bronze Age, would-be
tyrants could be resisted with stone weapons. During the Bronze Age,
only the State could afford the best weapons. When the Iron Age
started and anybody could afford an iron spear (the AK-47 of three
thousand years ago), the Bronze Age regimes collapsed.

On the other hand, I tried making a similar point on rasw and someone
mentioned that the Incas were able to establish a "divine" monarchy
without bronze.

William Clifford

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Jul 28, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/28/99
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On Wed, 28 Jul 1999 15:11:52 GMT, Roger Carbol <rca...@home.com>
wrote:

>>Tommy the Terrorist <may...@newsguy.com> rote:


>
>>>Consider the most infamous monuments to human stupidity
>>>and human slavery: the Pyramids of Egypt.
>

>I was under the impression that the workers on the Pyramids were
>not slaves, and they were paid a wage.

I heard similiar. The word I got (by no means reliable) was that the
pyramids were built by farmers working during their off season and
that they took ~30 years to complete.

I'd say the most infamous monument to human stupidity and slavery is
the US economy. Oh, the irony.

-William Clifford

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