Longevity Report 23

Volume 3 no 23. First published October 1990. ISSN applied for.

Here the Snakes Hang Thick from the Cypress Trees ... Bob Brakeman

Status Report John de Rivaz

Comments from Liverpool(Space Settlement and others) James V--

Rose Hips Brian Haines

Letters (Adrafinil, Water Filters, Identity, SOD, H2O2, Depression)

A Theory of Finance for Cryonic Suspension Benjamin Best

The Vinpocetine Story OMT (note - this link puts you into LR62, where an updated reprint appeared)

Venturist News

Gene Therapy John de Rivaz

Here The Snakes Hang Thick From The Cypress Trees Like Sausage On A Smokehouse Wall

by Bob Brakeman

Blackwater Hattie lived back in the swamps, where the strange green reptiles crawl,

Where the snakes hang thick from the cypress trees, like sausage on a smokehouse wall

Where the swamp is alive with 1000 eyes, and all of 'em watchin' you;

Stay off the track of Hattie's shack, in the back of the Black Bayou.

Way up the road from Hattie's shack, lies a sleep little bayou town;

Talk of swamp witch Hattie will lock you in when the sun goes down;

Rumours of what she'd done and rumours of what she'd do,

Kept folks off the track of Hattie's shack, in the back of the Black Bayou.

One day brought the rain, and the rain stayed on and the swamp water overflowed;

Skeeters and the fever grabbed the town like a fist; Doc Jackson was the first to go;

Some said the plague was brought by Hattie - there was talk of a hangin' too;

But the talk got shackled by the howls and the cackles from the back of the Black Bayou

Early one morn 'tween dark and dawn, when shadows filled the sky,

There came an unseen caller on a town where hope had run dry;

In the square there was found a big black round vat full of gurglin' brew

Whisperin' sounds as the folks gathered round - "It came from the Black Bayou".

There ain't much pride when you're trapped inside a slowly sinking ship;

They scooped up the liquid, deep and green, and the whole town took a sip;

Fever went away and the very next day the skies again were blue;

Let's thank ol' Hattie for saving our town - we'll fetch her from the Black Bayou.

Party of ten of the town's best men, headed for Hattie's shack;

Said "Swamp witch Magic is useful and good, and we're gonna bring Hattie back";

Never found Hattie, never found the shack, and they never made a trip back in;

Cuz a parchment note they found tacked to a stump said "Don't come lookin' again!"

When Jim Stafford wrote and sang Swamp Witch on MGM Records in l973, it sold a million copies and kicked off his career. His song didn't create a swamp witch or bayou legend, it just repeated a 300-year old one.

That deep-bayou legend is a colourful one.

But it's not the only one.

There is, in southern Louisiana, a shadowy soggy expanse of land called by multiple names. It'll answer if you say "Bayou country", or "Cajun Country," or "Acadiana", or "French Louisiana". The inhabitants are (aside from Swamp Witches) the Acadians - the descendants of the French Canadians chased out of northeastern Canada by British terrorists1 in the 1700s. Because the refugees found Southern Louisiana congenial they settled there at the end of their 2000 mile emigration. They drifted deep into the cypress swamps and out along the curves of the Bayou Teche and the Bayou Lafourche and far into the Ultimate wilderness of the Atchafalaya Basin. They hunted, fished and trapped, and they dominated the growth of Frenchified towns like Saint Martinville and Saint Francisville and New Iberia and Napoleonville and Thibodeaux and Breaux Bridge. They used the swamps and the bayous and the flood-basins and The River2 the way people in other parts of the US used highways and telephones - as their main transportation and communication methods. They produced most of the world's sugar cane (the local bayou-country radio station of course has the call-letters KANE), they created the greatest of the antebellum megamansions (Shadows-On-The-Teche)3 and they crafted a legacy of legends: legends of Evangeline, and swamp witches - and immortality.

There didn't appear to be any snakes hanging from that particular cypress tree, at that particular moment. Just as well, for the old man doing the speaking was nervous enough already. He was afraid that the goddess heathen northerner listening to him might laugh at him (which didn't happen) or that he might later publicize the matter (which is happening right now, as you read this article). As he stood under the cypress tree on the outskirts of the restored old-French village of Loureaville, he said that everyone in his family for generations had heard about - it. "It" was an immortality potion. "An" is a misnomer, for he was pretty sure there was only one; the I-potion was something that you could sometimes get from swamp witches deep in the Atchafalaya Basin, and sometimes from old voodoo women in the thin strip of watery land between the Bayou Lafourche and the Mississippi. Had he ever tried it? Nope; but he heard of people who had, and it seemed they just went right on past 100 and just kept right on busily not dying.

The northerner doing the listening heard similar stories in other locations around the bayou country. From a young girl whose hobby was riding around on the Teche Queen, the local paddlewheeler; from a couple who worked, on and off, at the most beautiful of the southern state parks, the Evangeline Park in Saint Martinville; from a man tying his little boat up to a grouping of cypress-knees4 not far from Paincourtville; and from four members of a family who lived in the shadow of the Sunshine Bridge, the only bridge over The River anywhere between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Sometimes the story was of an immortality-potion; sometimes it was of an immortality-spell; and sometimes the tale was of what one might call an immortality-accident. A guy is struck by lightning, lives through it and then lives through everything, because he never dies. Whether everlasting life was conferred through potion or spell or accident, what was important was not the likely truth-content of the tales-being told; it was the way the tellers reacted to what they believed to be true (in the more extreme cases) or hoped might be true (in the others).

After listening for months/years to all the stories, and after spending enough time in the New Iberia/Saint Martinville area to be accepted as not entirely a northern foreigner anymore I began shifting my emphasis from patiently listening to the stories over to asking the storytellers what they thought about the concept of an immortality potion, spell or accident, if such things really did exist. Their responses were such a pleasure to listen to that I was glad I hadn't, earlier, badmouthed them for believing in all that trash in the first place. Almost without exception, the response to the idea that immortality was lurking out there somewhere - somewhere amid the 300-year-old live oaks dripping with Spanish moss - was radically favourable. I thought I might hear some selections from the DON'T PLAY GOD L.P. (Now available on record, CD and tape from Pious Records, a subsidiary of Born Again Communications). Those unheard selections would have taken the predictable/antagonistic attitude, the attitude which suggests that such things as questing after immortality represent tampering with God's will (or Nature's will, or the Howard Hughes' will, or somebody's Will ...), and that therefore those are things which should be avoided; we should accept our lot, and if that lot encompasses rotting in good health, so be it.

But so be it was not what I was hearing in the Parishes5 of southern Louisiana. Each person who told an immortality story told it with enthusiasm and approval, not with revulsion and disgust. Upon the original telling, and also under later cross-examination, it was clear that these Acadians liked the immortality idea. There was longing in their voices, not loathing. The only complaint of people talking about swamp witches who had immortality potions was that they didn't know where any of those swamp witches lived. The only complaint of people describing old-voodoo women who knew immortality spells was that they lacked their addresses. The only protest anybody had about guys living forever because they were hit by lightning was that they weren't those guys. Just to be sure that these people were not omitting the don't tamper with God's will motif just because it hadn't occurred to them I suggested it, and they all laughed. The laughter was occasioned by different thoughts in different people, but they all had the same core-thought. Some people said that God likes humans and therefore wants us to live as long as possible; some said that God had never told them not to mess with immortality, so they saw nothing wrong with the idea; some said: if Jesus could do it, why not the rest of us? What all the responses had in common was the insight/opinion that there's no particular reason to think that any deities floating around out there should be in favour of annihilation.

With either no exceptions or almost none (my notes are slightly inconclusive on this point, and so is my memory), the bayou people who'd heard the immortality stories thought they were interesting precisely because they represented such a good idea. As one man in the town of Lafayette put it "We're not just talkin' about extending the life of our cars here".

Two final points. The first is that many people proved what a good idea they thought immortality-technology was by turning around the interrogation. They started grilling me on whether I knew any way to find any of the swamp witches or voodoo women who knew about this kinda stuff; these were obviously people who knew a good idea when they heard one. The second concluding point deals with the religious nature of the bayou country: The is no more devoutly Catholic, militantly Catholic, or conservatively Catholic area in America. If people subjected to the kind of monster-indoctrination dropped on bayou children from the age of one can still come out saying I'd like to look into this physical immortality stuff, there may good cause to be only 90% cynical about the future of the human race instead of 98%

EPILOGUE: Of course at some point in each discussion with the bayou people I did have to make the point that the immortality stories they'd grown up hearing were wrong, that they were mythical, and if they seriously wanted to pursue physical life extension, they would have to look in other directions (cryonics, gerontology, research and so on.) More on their reactions to that in a later article.

1. Those who will protest that, at least with respect to the English government, the phrase "British terrorist" is a redundancy, will not be argued with.

2. In southern Louisiana, no one would ever ask "Which one" when someone refers simply to "The River" ... for of course in Louisiana and the rest of America, there is only one.

3. In calling Shadows-on-the-Teche "the greatest of the antebellum megamansions" I may be inadvertently generating some business for the Postal Criminals - complaint-letters from readers who recall that elsewhere I've applied that superlative to Houmas House in Burnside Louisiana (where Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte and dozens of other movies have been filmed), to Oak Alley in Vacherie Louisiana (whose half mile long line of 300 year old live oaks provides the most memorable grounds environment of any of the southern states), and to Ashland Belle Helene, in Darrow Louisiana (ABH's case can be summarised by saying that in throwing megasuperlatives ABH's way, I might actually mean them).

4. Cypress knees are little waist high stump like protrusions of wood that dot the half water half land realms of Louisiana.

5. If you're in a state which has zero counties but 64 "parishes" it's just possible that you're in a state where the Catholic Church has some influence. (More on that later in the article).

EPILOGUE to the EPILOGUE: Jim Stafford's Swamp Witch* is one kind of introduction to the life and images of the bayou country, and this article has been another kind. For further reading on the watery universe centring on the bayous and The River, in Louisiana and Mississippi, see the present author's The Sound of the Riverboat Sings in Your Heart Like a Star and By the Light of Lanterns on the Levee, both published and republished in various immortalist and libertarian journals during the 1970s (and now available at no charge from Bob Brakeman Inc., 2444, Crooks Road Suite 49, Troy, Michigan 48084, USA.)

* Although 100% of the images in Swamp Witch are from Louisiana and no place else, Stafford in various live and recorded versions of his song has sometimes used the phrase "Okeechobee Town" in place of "bayou town". Since 99% of the American bayous are in Louisiana, Mississippi or Alabama, and almost none in Florida ( where Lake Okeechobee is located), a rumour that Jim Stafford's reason for using "Okeechobee" was that "he likes the sound of it and what the hell with geographic technicalities" appears to be true.

Status Report

Despite our special offer, we didn't get many people renewing by the closure date. However it is a very bad time of year to get people interested in anything like that, and in fact our circulation at the end of the last volume was very slightly up compared with the previous year's figure. The volume made a loss of about 50 which is not bad really since Immortalism was once described as selling something you haven't got to people who don't want it. With the increased subscription I am hoping to go on to getting the newsletter printed professionally, as really the results are so much better. The occasion of the cryonic conference in October should be a good opportunity to distribute a large number of free copies as a promotional exercise, and hopefully gain new subscribers. It will also be mailed to previous subscribers who never renewed, either to the last or previous volume, in the hope that they may change their minds when they see the improved quality of production and content.

The decision whether to continue printing professionally will be taken once the circulation figure becomes more apparent after this exercise.

Comments from Liverpool:

from James V--

First in response to my recent letter in support of Space Settlement you replied to the effect that the technology needed to sustain the life support systems of an O'Neill satellite would mean that everyone would have to be so much under the orders of the "governor" that there would be little room for "individualism". I wish to dispute that.

For one thing I doubt if there will be any "governor" - not for long anyway - I have heard it said before that Space Settlements will be under the rule of a governor appointed from Earth (usually the suggestion is that the appointing body should be that malevolent, Khymer-Rouge-loving body - the United Nations). To this assumption I reply "rubbish". If the American Colonies found the rule of Britain, three thousand miles away intolerable, Lithuania struggles to pull away from Moscow, a thousand miles away and Scotland often finds rule from Westminster only a few hundred miles away, galling, how can anyone expect an O'Neill settlement out in the Asteroid Belt to accept orders from someone appointed by people millions of miles away back on Earth?

No, most of the settlements will became independent states in their own right. The first settlements will quite possibly be at the Larange (=gravitationally stable) points of Earth orbit, and these may indeed only get limited autonomy from the mother planet, but later most settlement, are likely to built much further out in the asteroid belt and there is no way these would long tolerate orders from Earth, and any attempt by the Nations of Earth to impose their rule would be likely to lead to a situation similar to that of the American War of Independence.

Nor would it be possible for the government of a settlement to be very authoritarian as you suggest. Recent events in the Soviet Union and the rest of Eastern Europe have shown that dictatorships cannot indefinitely support that very same advanced technology which you cited as the reason rule on the settlements could he authoritarian. The reason is that dictatorships by their very nature cannot be told that they are wrong even by the experts- and will usually simply listen to those "experts" who tell them what their particular dogma sys to be true. Hence Nazi Germany losing the race to build that atom bomb because of their refusal until too late to believe the findings of 'Jew-Bolshevik' physics, and the Soviet Union wrecking its agriculture due to its endorsement of the fraudulent biologist Lysienko under Stalin, and its disastrous "virgin lands" agricultural project under Khrushchev.

Democratic governments, by contrast, can be told they are wrong, and if they do not listen (and as often as not they don't ) then sooner or later they get turfed out by the electorate. That is why no dictator could long flourish on a settlement in space, nor any De Gaulle type authoritarian pseudo-democrat. Any that did arise would in all likelihood perish along with the settlement they ruled.

That is not to say, of course, that there will be no curtailment of personal freedom on the settlements. Every society has some curtailment of personal Liberty and complete freedom is an unattainable myth. For one thing, we must get back to those inescapable life support systems. These will need maintaining, and maintenance will not only require skilled professional work, but also quite a bit of routine "donkey work." It is not unreasonable to expect then that all citizens, except those exempt for reasons of health or duties abroad will be required to take their turn at routine maintenance duties as a sort of National Service. Indeed it is quite probable that such National service will be organised on something resembling the Swiss system, with duties for a few weeks every year or every second year. Cries of horror from the "Individualists", but has that system dulled Swiss individualism? Certainly not if the appearance of Swiss towns where almost every house is painted a different colour in contrast to the near uniformity of most British and American towns and villages. Nor has annual National Service dulled the often fierce and stubborn particularist autonomy of the cantons,which is frequently the bane of the Federal government in Bern. I might add, at the risk of being labelled a Maoist, which I am not, or even a Taoist, that it might be no bad thing for a scientist, or a bureaucrat, or a teacher or even a farmer(possibly exempt?) to sweat it out on menial work now and then.

Just how individualist are we here in the West anyway, when millions mindlessly play follow the leader, copying the clothes and hairstyles of pop stars or footballers, flock every weekend to identikit nightclubs or discos, and every Bank holiday to Blackpool or Brighton or Skegness, and annually migrate to Butlins or Spain or Corfu where they spend most of their time in wine bars or discos (or Bingo halls if they're older) indistinguishable from the ones back home? That doesn't sound very individualistic to me!

On the other hand, if by individualism you mean Wild West style individualism (and you did cite the Wild West as an example), with psychopathic gunslingers and filthy, verminous, toothless subsistence farmers, then quite frankly, you can keep it. I very much doubt if the Wild West really was that individualist anyway. I can't help wondering what would have happened to anyone who, got up and told the "preacher" he was talking a load of rubbish!

From my experience, Britain and America are among the least individualistic of societies. Without any compulsion, the social pressures to conform are so very strong that only the very strong willed, the very disillusioned, or the very traumatised will resist in more than a couple of small ways. Nor is this mindless following the leader confined to the unintelligent or uneducated in whom it is almost excusable as they have never been taught or encouraged to think for themselves, it is even more prevalent among the upper class socialites and the new Yuppie class. (Try going to a couple of Yuppie pubs and see.)

By the way, I certainly consider myself to be an individualist. I don't follow, and am not even aware of fashion, never go to nightclubs or discos and would prefer to go to non tourist localities for holidays (like Komodo "Dragon Island" in Indonesia). I never watch " soaps" etc. etc. but I would have no objection to working for a few weeks every year on the life support systems of an O'Neill settlement if I lived on one. If all immortalists are just going to be "individualists" of the types outlined above then the cause of immortalism will never get off the ground, because no-one will do anything not l00% in conformity with their own pet ideas, and we will never be strong enough to resist attacks from those opposed to us.

Where do you get the idea that you could get a terraced house in the North of England for 5,000? A two up two down terrace in the worst parts of Liverpool would set you back at least 18,000 - 19,000 (see the enclosed advert from the Merseymart). Personally, I would nottake a house in an area like that as a gift. They do not even gain in value.

A few words now on the martial Arts, since a few correspondents seem to be suggesting that an interest in any kind of combat sport is in some way pathological. I have been for many years a practitioner of that most British, and most maligned of all the combat sports - Boxing, and in all those years I have never noticed any sign of psychopathy or pathology in any boxer or trainer or boxing fan. Of course, there are boxers who are thugs outside of the ring, and there are boxers who are thieves, or drunkards, or conmen, just as these vices are found in any other walk of life. In fact, all the vices and virtues of humanity are present in boxing in more or less the same proportions as you would find anywhere else, and I dare say that the same applies to the other combat sports like Karate or Judo. The media, of course, all too often concentrates on the wilder antics of some boxers, and conveniently forgets the vast amounts of money boxing, both amateur and professional, raises for charity, and the work so many boxers, both famous and unknown do among deprived and disadvantaged children, and the disabled. True again, boxing writers often use a bloody and gladiatorial imagery when writing about the sport. But then, Imagery is only imagery not reality, and boxing writers have seldom if ever been boxers themselves. This imagery means little more than the catchphrase of a well known former Latin American Football coach who used to tell his team before matches "Go out there and kill them."

My trainer, Mr Jack Tansey, was until his recent retirement, also a truant officer for the local education authority,in Liverpool, and he told me that he had always found boxing a very good way of putting unruly teenage lads back on, the straight and narrow with giving them the wrong image among their peers in school or in the neighbourhood in the rougher areas of town. (having come from one of those areas myself, I can tell you that a boy who has too much of a goody-goody or even a cissy image will have a very hard time indeed.) Of course, boxing is no social cure-all. If someone has very strong criminal tendencies either through genetics or through family influence, then neither boxing nor anything else is going to stop them from becoming criminal, but among the merely high-spirited, or the misled, or those who are inclined to get into trouble simply through boredom, boxing has usually proved effective. After all, boxing is a very demanding sport both physically and mentally, much more so than the likes of soccer or rugby , and the lad who spends 3 or 4 evenings a week sweating his guts out in the gym dreaming of being the next Nigel Benn is not going to have either the time, energy, or the inclination to go mugging or burgling, especially since he'd know that if he did he'd never be allowed in an ABA registered gymnasium again. I have no reason to believe that what I have said about boxing applies any less to any other combat sport or martial arts. Since I am also a member of a shooting club, I suppose that makes me in the eyes of some a doubly dangerous psychopath. But there are no bodies in my cellar or skeletons in my cupboard (unless I am leading a Jekyll and Hyde life unknown to my current personality.) That's not to say that if attacked in the street, I would not use my skills,because I most certainly would. Not being a Christian I have never believed in turning the other cheek, and as far as I am concerned anyone who would just attack a passer by deserves all they get and worse and has no right to complain about the consequences, and I believe that if more people took that attitude the world would become a safer place for decent people. (Nor do I swallow the old, "broken homes" "social deprivation" excuses usually trotted out by those who wish to defend the villains. Plenty of people who come from broken homes or social deprivation never turn to crime or unprovoked violence.) Not that I ever have been attacked. If there is no other advantage in been known to have been trained in boxing there is one - thugs do not attack you!

Please also find enclosed an article on longevity from the Sunday Express dated 11 February 1990 if you have not already seen it:

How to Stop Life Flying By: Scientists at Basle University under Professor Walter Gehring claim to have identified a "death gene" that causes the destruction of cells. They have increased the lifespan of house flies by 50%, and plan tests on a mouse.

Editorial Comments

Firstly may I thank Mr V-- for so kindly writing to us with his views on these subjects. They are all important for us to debate, and I will keep my comments brief so that others can write in.

The point that I have been making about individualism all along was not so much political one (for example, it doesn't matter to me whether the local authorities' expenditure is governed from Truro, London or Brussels, just as long as it is kept as low as possible consistent with a reasonably sensible standard of civilisation.) To do what takes one's fancy, in my case producing Longevity Report, requires time and effort. Because living on a planet the government can't justify making people account for how they spend their time, I am able to do it, and (at present) am allowed to support my income by unproductive means such as stock market investment. But in a much smaller community, I would suggest that everyone supported by it must have a very important role in maintaining it. It would not be a matter of a few weeks/year "National Service" as Mr V-- suggests. If you don't have a damn good reason for being there, you won't be allowed on the thing. If you have a few thousand pounds invested on Earth it won't help the running of the colony. (If you have several million, then that would be a different story, but the numbers of people who do are so small as to be insignificant to my arguments.)

I commented in an earlier issue that two people can be said to be in love if the unmodified behaviour of each pleases the other. I now extend this to groups. The ideal group (or space colony) is one where everyone does what he wants to do and when he wants to do it, but each of the individual actions add up to benefit the group.

Incidentally I have no objection to manual work - it is slave labour that I object to! There is a whole lot of difference to digging the garden or repairing a shed because you want the result or even just a change from clerical work, than doing it because someone tells you to. (Some Socialists have argued that the consumer debt repayment/wage cycle is a form of slave labour too.)

I see the point about following trends, but people aren't forced to do it. I think that to live on a space colony one would have to accept that one would be told what to do a lot of the time, and also told what not to do as well. (Just like if you live in the country you can keep poultry for example, but if you live in flat it may theoretically be possible, but there is probably a bylaw against it.)

Boxing, I think, is a poor example to bring up when supporting the martial arts - not that I know much about it, but I would have though that a "game" where the object is to damage your opponent's brain rendering him unconscious is different from any other where the object may be to simply knock him off balance or hold him down on the floor for a count, even if accidents do result in injuries. It has been suggested that boxers are padded and an electronic system counts points, which would be fine, but unfortunately it is claimed that this would remove the excitement of the sport. Undoubtedly boxing is the "smoking" of the sporting world.

I would certainly agree that every citizen ought to have the right to defend himself, but the law only allows you to use reasonable force, and the definition of "reasonable" has made many a lawyer's fortune. Once one had learned something like boxing, the law regards use of it as the use of a deadly weapon, ie the citizen has to justify it as much as if he had used a knife, for example. That said, I would be surprised if many juries would convict in either instance if it was a clear cut case of citizen against villain as opposed to one shady character against another.

The price of 5,000 was quoted two years ago for basic terraced houses in need of updating. The examples quoted by Mr V-- were immediately habitable properties with fitted kitchens and all modern conveniences, and property prices have held up much better or even risen in the north as opposed to the south during the lull in the housing market.

Rose hips

By Brian W. Haines

In answer to the call for a recipe for rose hip syrup I can refer the enquiry to the standard cooking books. It is hard work and entails pounding the hips into a paste then sieving the hips through a very fine mesh culinary sieve. They are then blended into a warm syrup made of fresh sugar and brought gently to simmer. Instead of sugar pure glucose syrup can be used which can be purchased at most chemists.

For myself I have discovered it is better to drink rose hip tea made with a good quality tea and dried rose hips. In this way you gain the benefit of the vitamin C at the same time as milkless tea. If lemon is added it rather destroys the fragrant nature of the rose which is so refreshing.


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From Mr Mike Zehse

re Adrafinil: Why does one need to monitor the enzyme Alkaline phosphatase? Is it available in UK? Who is the manufacturer?

I hope the proceedings of the European Cryonics Conference will be video and audio taped. If not, why not? [I'm baffled as to why university and polytechnic lectures aren't made available on tape. It seems a highly inefficient mode of disseminating information to make everyone sit in front of a jaded lecturer and attempt to précis his or her remarks in longhand!]

Editorial reply:

I know no more about adrafinil than is printed in the article. Answers to these questions may be obtainable from the references. If anyone looks them up and gets the answers, then I would be grateful if they would write in as other readers may be interested as well. This article seems to have touched a nerve. The following letter was received the same day:

From Mr James McNabb.

Adrafinil: The name means nothing. Do you know the proper chemical name? A friend working on the synthesis of new drugs that improve the activity of the brain is interested as he may wish to alter the structure slightly to find out what effect this may have.

Water filters: At the moment a lot of effort is being put into the production of zeolites with different pore sizes. The pore size seems to be determined by the ratio of silicon to aluminium in compound and by choosing the pore size correctly ions (or chemicals) of a particular molecular size can be held back, only desirable ones being allowed to pass through. The zeolites can be made from caustic soda, scrap aluminium, scrap silicon (from old transistors and integrated circuits). Some reader may know where scrap silicon is available.

Perhaps a do-it-yourself industry could be started.

Editorial comments:

I am dubious as to using anything containing aluminium in a water filter. However harmless it may be in reality, someone somewhere is going to make the connection with Alzheimer's disease and aluminium and have a field day in the popular press. I was interested in the possibility of marketing natural zeolites for odour elimination some while back, but unfortunately was unable to locate a cheap source of supply. Now there are several firms doing it, some on a multi-level basis. Even a small quantity is very expensive by the time it reaches the end user. Ideally it should have been imported directly from the mine in 56lb bags and transferred to smaller bags for sale. However the existing system runs through too many intermediaries.

If zeolite can be made, can't sand be used as a source of silicon? There is so little silicon in a transistor or integrated circuit that recovery would be impractical. Virtually the entire mass of such objects is the plastic packaging and metal connecting wires. I must say the idea of grinding up sand, old milk bottle tops or aluminium cans and caustic soda to make something useful is something that I am sure would attract media interest as part of the green movement.

From Mr Anthony Giles

The article Identity and Death by Mike Morley posed a number of interesting points. Personally I don't subscribe to his views that identity wouldn't be transmitted between two states. However, I think that this is more due to my training in computers, I'm so used to the transfer of programmes between systems that I don't see any real problem in scaling up the argument to the human mind. It seems to all come down to how you feel identity is stored. If you believe that the identity is something more than the patterns in the brain (or body) then the argument is valid - perhaps the process would miss something.

A possible solution to this would be to (nondestructively) copy a person's brain into another brain (without the knowledge of the subject) and ask the newly formed person who he is. If the new person says it isn't the subject then it would prove that identity is more than what's stored in the body. Unfortunately if it said it was then it wouldn't necessarily mean that identity is just stored in the brain, but it would help to isolate what personality is. Of course the experiment is beyond present day technology. Perhaps it all comes down to what the subject believes. If he believes he is the person he was then he is. If he doesn't then his personality has changed due to the resuscitation from suspension, and thus he isn't who he was - if you see what I mean.

In one of the books by William Gibson (Mona Lisa Overdrive and I think one of his short stories as well). The idea that a mind could be stored on a computer that then believes it is that person is given. It then questions whether the person is that person or does it just think it is? It's an interesting question to say the least! If you believe that personality is just stored in the mind, then if the machine simulates the processes of the mind then surely just because it's a different medium, it shouldn't make any real difference - the personality is being maintained. This is one of those issues that gets bogged down in serious philosophical ideology. An interesting debate could be had on the issue, unfortunately as with all philosophy a clear cut answer is unlikely to ever be found.

Whilst on the subject of books. The books Dreams of Flesh and Sand and Dreams of Gods and Men by Quinn (I think) mention immortality in the first and nanotechnology in the second. They're not major plot aspects through the entire book, but I have a sneaking suspicion that he has read Engines of Creation. I'm not recommending the books (they're O. K. - but not particularly good science fiction), but its the first set of novels I've read that has ever mentioned nanotechnology.

Anyway. I think that's all I had to say on the issue - if I had the time I'd try to write a longer piece on my views on personality and cryonics, but

I've got a lot to do at the moment.

Editorial Comment

Mr Giles is one of the few Fractal Report readers who ventured to try Longevity Report as well, and I am grateful for him for taking the time to express his views to us.

His thought experiment with regards to surreptitiously copying a person may not be quite relevant to the matter of survival. Suppose that you had a copy made of yourself and saw that it survived. Would you be willing to suffer execution with the knowledge that the copy would continue where you left off?

Going back to Mr Giles' thought experiment, supposing that the copy asked the original to share his assets with him, would the original agree? And indeed, would the copy be happy with half the original's assets, or would be believe all of them to be his? It is interesting to consider these points again where the initial condition is that the original had given his consent to the duplication.

This has important implications for cryonics. Although theoretically the slogan could be "You can't take it with you, therefore you have nothing to lose by trying cryonics," the reality is very different, with high costs associated with membership dues and making arrangements for your assets and yourself to be transferred to the cryonics organisation without the delays, uncertainties and possible injustices of probate. People who are uncertain of the transfer of identity are in fact facing similar economic considerations to those I have raised in the preceding paragraph.

These considerations also apply in the outside world amongst mortalists. They are faced in parents' estate planning when children have very different lifestyles and views on life. Do they pass one their assets to their genes despite different memes, or do they seek out beneficiaries with the same memes but not the same genes? (Of course the sensible choice would be cryonics, but few will take this option.)

I hope that in the months to come when Mr Giles finds a quiet period in his workload that he will write down his views on personality and cryonics. These will be of value to all those that are studying how different individuals perceive cryonics.

The writing down of one's thoughts on these matters usually also helps to clarify them to oneself, and I would urge all readers of Longevity Report to carry out this exercise.

From Ms Suzanne R. Stebbing

I've come across some more anti-aging products as follows:

Amrit Kalash MA4

A herbal concentrate containing rare herbs, and MA5 herbal tablets. These work well together and contain natural SOD like substances with catalase. This is available from Maharish Ayer-ved Health Centre, Mentmore Towers, Leighton Buzzard, LU7 0QH. This is not only anti-aging, but is used to control or even cure diseases such as cancer if linked with a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Oxy Toddy

is another product, and it contains pure Aloe vera Juice, Pau d'Arco Tea, vitamins and minerals from Boddy Toddy taken from prehistoric vegetable matter, and, above all, preserved with 25% hydrogen peroxide food grade, 20 drops per ounce. This is used to treat arthritis, malignant cancer and other very serious disorders. Full details are available from Alwyne Pilsworth, Avalon, Finkell Street, Gringley on the Hill, Doncaster DN10 4SF. Include 34p for full details and literature.

I know someone personally who has taken Oxy Toddy to cure advanced cancer of the breast including a perforated ulcer. This was confirmed by a doctor. The ulcer healed up in about 5-6 weeks taking two ounces daily. This was also confirmed by the doctor. The tumours on the other breast are also slowly diminishing. The patient is also on Tamoxifen 20mg twice a day. Mr Pilsworth also reported other incidents of breast cancer and ulcers being cured with hydrogen peroxide. It is also recommended to take anti-oxidants such as superoxide dismutase at separate times to the hydrogen peroxide therapy to control the excess free radicals that results. Hydrogen peroxide should always be well diluted and taken a hour before meals, drugs or vitamins three hours afterwards.

I don't know much about the drug Tamoxifen, but it doesn't seem to have any known side effects. It is supposed to control bleeding in cancer ulcers.

Do you know where growth hormone is available in England? Is adrafinil available without prescription?

Editorial Comment

I don't know anything about these products. Of course, as interesting as they are, the claims made in this letter are anecdotal, ie they aren't under rigorous scientific conditions. If any other readers has information on these products I am sure that we would be interested to know about them.

Tamoxifen is an anti-oestrogen used for treatment of anovulatory infertility and female cancers by reducing the levels of female hormones. It is made be Lederle and ICI, and unfortunately there are quite a few side effects listed, although these needn't affect all patients: Hot flushes, vaginal bleeding, pruritus vulvae, fluid retention, gastro intestinal distress, dizziness. Doctors are advised to withdraw the treatment if visual disturbances are produced.

Growth hormone is available as a prescription only medicine for injection under a number of makes: Genotropin, (Kabi) Humatrope (Lilly), Norditropin (Novo Nordisk), Saizen (Seronon). The cost to the NHS per injection ranges from 30 to 100 approx.

These figures are not a mistake or misprint. The intended use is to prevent dwarfism in children.

However readers of Life Extension - A Practical Scientific Approach have learned over ten years ago how to make the body produce more growth hormone by taking amino supplements. This book is available from us at 11.20 post paid.

At the present time Adrafinil is not available in the UK by any means, but obviously we hope that this situation may change in a year or so, given the interest shown in this article.

From Mrs Vicki M. Littledale

[Sent after receiving A Remarkable Medicine Has Been Overlooked.]

My life has been extremely unsettled for some time and I have only just finished reading A Remarkable Medicine Has Been Overlooked. Phenytoin certainly does seem to be a remarkable medicine and what came through clearly in the book is that no one, with a few exceptions, is interested in the health of others unless it pays grand dividends. Jack Dreyfus is to be congratulated in his dogged pursuit to interest parties who could so easily bring health and a happier life to so many.

I feel he would never have given up his cause, because he had experienced the awful trauma of fear and if there is a way out of that and there are others looking for that way then people in authority must eventually heed and take notice.

Thank you very much for sending the books, the second of which I have given to my GP. He says he does know of this drug although I did not have the opportunity of asking for what it is prescribed.

It's like walking on eggs without breaking them trying to ask a doctor relevant questions about one's health without upsetting him in some way.

The impression is given that the patient knows nothing and should know nothing other than to just take what is prescribed. I no longer consult my earlier GP but go to his locum who is far more helpful.

I have recently consulted an ENT specialist who has again diagnosed Meniérè's disease.

Although this disorder was originally diagnosed 28 years ago I needed such a statement to be put in writing again as I was having sick leave from time to time due to a GP who would not prescribe Serc (or in fact anything else) and put my sickness down to stomach upsets.

No one believed me so I saw the specialist and my employers are now consulting with my GP's locum.

It is a terrible experience not to be believed and my life at the office has been unbearable.

The specialists prescribed Serc 16mg three times a day Stugeron 15 mg three times a day, and I have felt so tired and worn out all the time. I have been taking these two tablets since last Friday. Today (Tuesday) I seem to have a bit more life in me and hope it will continue.

I did ask a health worker at the Community Health Council if there are any known side effects of phenytoin and was a bit concerned when she told me it can cause liver (or was it kidney) damage.

In the book you sent, Jack Dreyfus mentions adverse side effects but does not specify. Have you heard what such side effects may be?

I do thank you again for the books and most certainly can understand why this particular medicine came to mind as a treatment for my problem. I recognised myself very well. A real help, as one cannot talk to others about such problems or they'd be sending for "the men in the white coats". Very interesting about the prisoners and if government would take such finding seriously perhaps we wouldn't have three men sharing the same cell - surely such situations can only cause more problems?

Editorial Comment

Thank you very much for your letter. It is always nice to hear that I have been of help.

Your analysis of the medical profession certainly fits in with what a number of readers of Longevity Report have reported, and I would like to print your letter if you agree.

Phenytoin is normally used for the treatment of epilepsy, and has been used for many years for this purpose, and only very few of them have adverse reactions. Therefore it is not a new drug whose rare side effects are largely unknown. If you are treated under the supervision of a physician, he will know what to look for if you are reacting badly to the drug, and can take you off it before any damage is done. That is why it is available on prescription only.

However that said, it does seem possible from the rest of your narrative that you may be depressed because your life has been depressing, as a result of your treatment at the hands of the medical profession. Now that you have got a firm diagnosis and your GP is prescribing you proper drugs for your condition, your life will improve. I have used antihistamines for hay fever, and after a while I found that the drowsiness effect wears off. You may have been better advised to start taking one a day for a week, then two a day for another week and finally three a day. This is the attitude that Pearson & Shaw, authors of Life Extension - A Practical Scientific Approach adopt for many medicines. But as you already say that you are already feeling less of the side effects, you are probably past the worst by the time you get this.

I would particularly draw your attention to the article on Adrafinil in Longevity Report 22. Although this is not available in the UK at present, it should be available one day. There are many more such articles scheduled for future issues.

Further Comment from Mrs Littledale

Thank you very much for your prompt reply to my recent letter, and for the Longevity Report which I read with some sadness.

It is beyond my understanding that a cryonics organisation has any place in our requirements at all. There seems to be no identity with God for our creation and the meaning of life and term of living. Surely immortality is a state of having made some kind of impact on the world in one's natural span. Man seems to be trying to make inroads into areas that are beyond his understanding. Surely a body without a spirit is an insult to our creator and as the spirit leaves the body soon after death how does man re-create that? It is all very sad.

On visiting my GP last week I was able to take the conversation about Phenytoin a step further. He told me that at the present time he prescribes this drug only for epilepsy. However he said I could have it if I wanted it as he would "try anything." I said I didn't want it at present but would keep it in mind. He has also written to my employers that he recommends I be retired on medical grounds due to Meniere's Disease. I am now waiting to see what this will accomplish. I don't think I have ever felt so sick, both physically and mentally as I have done over the past 4 years since joining [employers deleted by editor]. One seems to lose a personal identity and those who make the most noise make the rules. I feel sure I would be of some worth as a volunteer in my local hospital caring for the elderly patients which I did some years ago during a spell of unemployment soon after my husband died.

Further Editorial Comment

Thank you for your letter. I note your remarks about cryonic suspension. Personally I don't feel that the nature of the universe suggests a caring personal god, but I respect the belief of those that do. If, as many believe, life is a precious gift, then surely it is not debasing it to preserve it for as long as possible? If there are limits as to how far one should go in preserving it, where are these limits? For example, if you fall over and cut your finger, should you wash it, or let infection kill you? Have your heard the Woody Allen quote "Some people want to live on in their works, but I would prefer to live on in my apartment"?

If there is a God and he has plans for "spirits", then surely the simple act of freezing someone won't thwart them! Mankind will always make inroads into areas that are beyond his understanding. When he has entered these areas, then he will understand them. Cavemen couldn't have understood electronics, for example, but gradually mankind made faltering inroads into the technology and understood it. It has been argued that if God didn't want this to happen then he wouldn't have given people brains.

I certainly agree that your present employment is probably not the best place for you to work, and hope that you can find employment in something that you personally value. It may well be that you will feel better if you can work at something that you want to do rather than just as a career. If you can get paid early retirement and then do something voluntary where you are under no pressure this should be ideal.

A Theory of Finance for Cryonic Suspension

by Ben Best

B.Sc. (Pharmacy) B.Sc. (Physics), BBA (Accounting and Finance)

Alcor suspension member

To have one's remains perfused with cryoprotectants and cryonically preserved at liquid nitrogen temperatures for an indefinite period is a costly proposition. Costs can range from $40,000 to $140,000 (Canadian Dollars) at minimum. Since these costs arise after the time of legal death, life insurance seems like the only affordable means of financing cryonic suspension for most people.


Life insurance is sold as term insurance or whole life insurance. The annual premiums on term insurance are considerably less than those on whole life insurance. With term insurance, the insured person buys a policy for some fixed term such as one, two, five or ten years. The life insurance company is basically making a bet with the policyholder that he or she will not die within the term. Using statistics on death rates and making a similar bet with large numbers of people, the insurance company makes a profit. The cost of term insurance increases with the age of the policyholder - increasing dramatically past the age of 60.

Whole life insurance (also called cash value insurance) locks the insured and the insurer into a long-term contract which guarantees the insured that the policy will eventually pay-off the face-value of the policy. The policy will guarantee payment even though the policyholder can stop paying premiums at a certain age. And the policy can be cashed at any time for the accumulated cash value.

Essentially, a whole life policy is a combination of a savings plan and renewable term insurance. The insurance company makes a profit on the savings plan by making sure that the return to the insured is less than the return to the company from the savings money. Because insurance companies are conservative, they set the rate of return to the insured quite low. Since the insured is paying premiums to cover a package of term insurance plus savings plan, it makes calculation of the rate of return on the savings portion difficult.

In purchasing whole life insurance, few people take adequate account of the effects of inflation. With a 5% inflation per year, $100,000 will have a real value of $60,000 in 10 years and $7,700 in 50 years. And inflation could easily exceed 5%. What this means for a cryonicist who purchases a whole life policy is that the coverage of the policy is likely to prove inadequate or the payment could exceed the real return (or both).

Whole life insurance has the purported advantage that rates remain constant over the lifetime of the insured. But this rate structure does not imply any real deviation from the principle that term insurance is less costly in one's 20s than in one's 50s. What it really means is that the insured makes overpayments in the early years of the plan, and underpayments in the later years. These overpayments are even more punishing because they must be paid in times of financially-pressed youth and because inflation makes the real-dollar value of the earliest payments the most expensive. At about the time the insured begins making the underpayments, inflation will have rendered the total value of the policy inadequate. And being locked-in to a whole life policy guarantees a financial loss if the policy is cashed-in before maturity. There are some people who require the psychological pressure of a whole life policy in order to save any money at all, but for anyone else, whole life insurance is a very inefficient way to save.

Insurance and savings (investment) don't mix. Too many people are awed by the quoted returns on whole life policies. It looks like something for nothing, but it certainly isn't. Playing with a programmable calculator can yield an astonishing result for most people. Investing $2,000 at a 10% annual return every year for 40 years results in nearly a million dollars. That is what a 25 year-old could expect at age 65 from such disciplined savings. Of course, at 5% yearly inflation, the real value of a million dollars will only be $250,000, but that is still a respectable sum.

A Canadian has an additional incentive to do his or her savings outside of a whole life insurance policy using the Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). The RRSP is tax-sheltered, tax-deductible savings. A Canadian can put 20% of his or her income (up to a maximum of $7,500 in 1989) into an RRSP every year. The amount saved reduces taxable income -- meaning an immediate tax refund of $1,000 or so for every $3,000 saved. And the interest from the RRSP is non-taxable. A taxpayer can put money into an RRSP up until the end of February of the year following the tax year in question. Because of the tax refund, it even pays to borrow money for an RRSP --and RRSP loans are very easy to get for anyone with a steady income, particularly from trust companies.

A good way for a Canadian to finance a cryonic suspension, therefore, is to buy term insurance and invest generously in an RRSP. By the time term insurance becomes too expensive to buy, the RRSP should contain enough money for the suspension. By putting enough money in the RRSP, it should be adequate to finance both a suspension - and a modest retirement. RRSPs, like insurance policies, have named beneficiaries (although they are taxed on the death of the plan-holder if the beneficiary is not a spouse).

Non-participating insurance is usually preferable to participating insurance. A participating policy purportedly gives the policyholder an opportunity to collect a "dividend" or refund if the insurance company pays out less money than it takes in, but in practice these policies contain an immediate overcharge, some of which is dribbled-back to the policyholder.

Renewable term insurance is preferable over non-renewable since a cryonicist is committed to long-term coverage. Also, difficulty in collecting on a policy can be much less if the policy has been held for over two years. Some additional security may be gotten from having a number of small policies rather than a single large one.

Group insurance should be sought where possible, since it usually offers considerably lower rates. Group insurance is available to university graduates, professionals, members of certain organizations and employees of many large organizations.


Before suspension, a cryonicist wants the security of term insurance plus an investment that will result in a growth in principal greater than the rate of inflation. After suspension, a cryonicist wants an investment that will preserve the principal despite inflation, cover the costs of suspension maintenance and even continue to allow the principal to grow in real terms (ie, in inflation-adjusted dollars). The larger the sum of money allocated for suspension, the better the chance that the suspension maintenance costs will endanger neither the preservation of principal against inflation nor the growth of principal in real terms.

Banks have a role in safeguarding money, but they pay interest on savings accounts to induce people to save (give the bank the use of the money). The economist Irving Fisher proposed that the nominal interest rate (the interest rate you see quoted by the bank) is actually composed of two components: 1. a real interest rate plus

2. an inflation rate forecasted by investors (savers). Investors demand a real return for their money. If interest rates are not at least as great as inflation, an investor (saver) is better off to buy gold, real estate or something that has real value. An unexpected surge of inflation may mean that interest from savings will be less than inflation in some particular year, but interest rates will necessarily rise to reflect the change in inflation expectations.

There is a market for money, and interest is the price paid for that money. Generally speaking, the interest offered will be greater for a long-term savings account or a bond than for a savings account from which one can withdraw money without notice. Moreover, there tends to be a risk premium: government bonds, particularly those of the federal government, normally pay lower interest than corporate bonds because they are deemed to be in less danger of default. This concept that higher risk is associated with higher return is also the justification for the fact that income from stocks is generally higher than that from bonds or other savings instruments.

The ultimate source of wealth in a free society is the activity of those involved in the production of goods and services - primarily the business community. Although government does provide some goods and services such as highways and education, its ability to do so depends on taxes or borrowing (the ability to borrow depends on the ability to tax). Banks can pay interest on savings because they can collect a larger interest loaning the money to businesses. Businesses can afford to pay borrower's interest because their profitability is greater than the interest rate. The structure of any free society depends on this relationship, despite the fact that there can be short-term deviations. Ultimately, if banks cannot collect higher interest rates from businesses, they cannot pay interest to customers. If business cannot make enough profit to pay taxes, governments must default on their bonds. Even the value of gold or real estate is dependent upon the ability of business to produce wealth. Over the long-term, returns from business must be greater than returns from "risk-free" investments like government bonds or savings accounts. The "risk-free" nature of those investments is dependent upon that fact. And since the primary form of business organization for large-scale production is the corporate form, investing in business means buying shares (stock).

Unfortunately, most people's perception of investing in stock is clouded by the image of financial "hot-shots" concerned with insider trading, hedging options, etc. The stock market is seen as being volatile and prone to catastrophic crashes. But a cryonicist needs to take a long-term, not a short-term view. A cryonicist is not interested in trying to make profits from short-term fluctuations in the stock market or in paying the commissions that accompany heavy trading. A cryonicist is interested in buying shares in the ownership of the business community -- the investment that offers the greatest long-term return and the best protection against inflation. Businesses must respond to inflation (rising costs) by raising prices if they want to survive.

There is sound empirical evidence for the wisdom of this long-term investment strategy. Stocks, Bonds, Bills and Inflation, 1926-1982 by Roger Ibbotson and Rex Sinquefield examines the historical data very carefully. In the period from 1926 to 1982 the average returns in the United States from stocks, long-term corporate bonds, long-term government bonds, and government Treasury bills (T-bills) were 11.58%, 4.44%, 3.78% and 3.18%, respectively. Adjusted for inflation, the real returns were 6.4%, 1.5%, 0.7% and 0%, respectively. Real standard deviations were 22.2%, 5.6%, 5.7% and 2.2%, respectively. Note that the time period covered includes the 1929 stock market "crash", the depression, three wars and some bad periods of inflation. The greater volatility of stocks (high standard deviation) should not be a source of worry for cryonicists who understand the underlying economic principles. Actually, there has been a downward trend in standard deviation of stock price from 33.5% in the 1926-1935 period to 16.0% in the 1976-1981 period.

Many people adopt the "conservative" strategy of a portfolio combining equities (stocks) with fixed-income instruments (bonds, investment certificates, savings plans, etc.). This is "conservative" only for the short-term investor. It is a hedge against economic downturns in any particular year. Insurance companies and many other institutional investors must adopt this strategy because they cannot risk a loss for even one year. But this strategy also guarantees a lower return for the long-term investor. The long-term investor has nothing to gain in protecting against short-term losses. A guaranteed way to lose money is to sell stocks after a market crash (the "buy-high, sell low" formula). If a stock-market crash resulted in a 20-year depression, not only would stock prices be low, but the probability of defaults on bonds would rise to near certainty. This includes government bonds and T-bills, given the current size of government deficits (although the "default" would probably take the form of sudden hyperinflation to erode value).

A good investment strategy would be to buy board lots (100s) of stock in reputable companies, preferably in a self-directed RSP with a brokerage house. A board lot can cost in the $2,000 range and eliminates the purchase fees associated with odd lots (less than 100 shares). The stocks should be in reputable, reliable businesses, not "get-rich quick" speculative enterprises. A wide diversity of industries should be sought. The stocks are bought for lasting possession, so one commission is paid rather than the many commissions paid by those who buy and sell in hopes of reaping gains from short-term movements in stock prices. Mutual funds offer the advantage of instant diversification, but involve management fees. Eight stocks chosen at random should have an 80% price correlation with the market as a whole. A mutual fund can be included in your portfolio to receive dividends from other stocks.

Most people find themselves unable to do any real saving until they reach their 50s, by which time their income is maximized and their children have left the home. The home (house) itself may well be an excellent investment, although not a very liquid or imperishable one. Dedicated cryonicists will have disciplined themselves to save or will sell their homes for more modest accommodation as time approaches when term insurance becomes too expensive.

Retirement and Life Extension

RRSPs must be terminated by the age of 71. The money can be transferred to a tax-sheltered annuity fund (RRIF), but this too must end by the age of 90. An annuity fund could contain fixed-income securities as well as equities if it is to be relied upon for pension income. But a cryonicist/life-extensionist could easily be reduced to poverty and inability to finance a suspension by age 100.

With careful planning and a commitment to that plan, a cryonicist/life extensionist should have no reason to fear the advancing years. Money withdrawn from an RRIF need not be completely spent. If one can live modestly and reinvest in stocks outside a tax-sheltered pension plan, the prospect for a growing estate can continue so long as the estate can continue to grow more (on average) than the amount which is withdrawn for income. Recently, Canadians have been allowed a lifetime capital gains exemption of $100,000, although that figure will certainly change in the next 50 years. A very large estate can fund a suspension, maintenance costs of a suspension and pension costs of a retired person, while continuing to grow.

For the true immortalist, "retirement" is not a viable concept, although rest periods may be reasonable, particularly when one is trapped in an aging body. An immortalist seeks life work that nourishes the soul while funding material needs. A life extensionist may find 65 or 71 too early a time to retire, particularly if youth has been extended. A personally-owed business, or a career as a writer or consultant would be mandated for those who had not accumulated great wealth by these ages.

Funding Suspension Maintenance

There are two main strategies currently available for funding suspension maintenance. One is the "charitable" trust and the other is a gift given in good faith to a cryonics organization. Unfortunately, neither of these strategies is very reassuring. In discussing facts, there is no intention to slight any organization.

For personal protection and control, one would like to establish a trust. But there are laws against "perpetuities" (trusts lasting more than 21 years after the death of a "life-in-being") in most nations of the world, including Canada and the US. A "dead" person has no rights of contract. Nonetheless, there are no laws against perpetuities for charitable trusts. The problem with this is that a trust to save one's life through cryonic suspension seems hard to rationalize as being a "charity". Ultimately, the government decides what is a charity, and it is not unreasonable to believe that cryonic suspension could be ruled uncharitable.

Liechtenstein is one of the few countries that does not have laws against perpetuities. Liechtenstein is adjacent to Switzerland, a country where trusts can last 80 or 90 years beyond the "life-in-being". Actually, Switzerland would be an ideal country for a suspension facility not only because of its favourable legal and banking climate, but because of its social and political stability. Switzerland has not been involved in a foreign war since the year 1515.

It is possible to get around the problem of trusts by simply having members give all suspension maintenance funds to a cryonics organization upon legal death. Trusting the organization takes the place of a legal trust. However, trusting a cryonics organization involves two kinds of trusting:

(1) trusting the integrity of the management and

(2) trusting the competence of the management.

If a cryonics organization does not have policies that take adequate account of inflation, it can easily fail financially. Having a personal trust at least allows you the prospect of perishing because of your own financial mismanagement, rather than that of someone else (although it loses the economies of pooled assets).

The best way to maintain principal during suspension is still with equities. This defends against inflation and maintains maximum long-term growth. A portion of the suspension fund could be in fixed-income securities so that maintenance costs can be guaranteed, but this is not necessary. Better principal-maintenance might be achieved simply by selling equities as cryonics-maintenance costs require.

Pointing out weaknesses in financial policies should be a step to stronger policies. Immortality cannot be achieved by giving-up when current policies are found to be inadequate. Even a weak policy is better than none -- and, in fact, is often a necessary step towards a strong one. Life involves learning and growth. This essay is written in the hope of continuing this process forever.

Genetic Engineering

I had thought for a long time that genetic engineering was something used to improve the next generation, and therefore of no interest or importance to immortalists. However this is a complete misconception of the concept.

Genetic engineering can alter the genes of existing people, and therefore improve them or cure them of deficiencies. A long article in The Financial Times of 9 August emphasised this point.

Dr French Anderson, of the US National Institutes of Health has been granted permission to correct a rare inherited defect in the immune system, known as ADA deficiency. This will be the first instance of gene therapy on human patients, and will be carried out later this year.

Dr Stephen Rosenberg, another NIH researcher, hopes to use the treatment against melanoma. He says that if his techniques work, they should be applicable to many other forms of cancer.

Gene therapy has been available since the early 1980s, but human trials been held back by the regulators, during which time people have been suffering and dying from cancer surgery. According to the Financial Times, researchers have had to face a "formidable" barrier of regulations, but FDA approval, the last in a line of many, is expected within a couple of weeks.

Some opponents of genetic engineering have tried to block it on the grounds that it is unwarranted interferences with natural or god-given process of life. (I suppose surgery isn't?) They are also concerned that gene therapy will lead to irreversible transformation of the human species, ie they were in the same error that I was as indicated by the first paragraph in this section. However gene therapists point out that the treatment of diseases affect only the individual patient, and is much like in organ transplant in that respect. None of the inserted genes would be passed down to succeeding generations.

An experimental "gene gun" that fires tiny capsules of DNA into cells was tested at Duke University, North Carolina. Du Pont, the giant US chemical company, has commercial rights to the process.

Dr Anderson chose a politically appealing therapy to try for his first application. ADA deficiency is a genetic disease that affects children, and leaves them defenceless against infection. ADA is an enzyme essential to the development of the immune system. This therapy corrects an inherited defect. Presumably, though, those who were treated would live to pass on the defective genes, so there must come a time when correction of the germ line would be appropriate.

Another genetic defect gives a susceptibility to heart disease. This also could be treated.

The melanoma treatment is not correcting a defect. It is in effect a radically new drug delivery system. It modifies the immune system to deliver a protein called tumour necrosis factor to the cancer cells and exterminate them. When the process is proved efficacious, it can be applied to other cancers, and indeed other diseases. It would be more effective than the present pharmaceutical process, where medicines are manufactured outside the body and fed or injected into it.

Venturist News

At the Venturists' Fourth Annual Board Meeting, held on 1 July in conjunction with their 4 July festival, they elected the following persons to their board:

President Mike Perry PhD computer science, cryonics organisation staff member (COSM)

Vice President Max More Editor Extropy. Doctoral candidate in philosophy.

Secretary Joe Hovey 2 bachelor degrees. Expertise in computing and accountancy. COSM

Treasurer David Pizer Businessman.

Directors: Jerry Searcy Clark County Public Works. Likes astronomy.

Russell Whitaker EMT training. Electronic communications expert.

Marce Johnson Golden West College. Cryonics organisation Volunteer.

Mork Voelker Doctoral candidate. Active in space activities.

Harry Braun Environmental expert.

Director and Don Ward Business manager.

statutory agent

They have also created the first "order" to their organisation, The Order Of Universal Immortalism (OUI). It advocates that the dead, even those who were not frozen or otherwise preserved, might ultimately be resurrected by a scientific process. The Universal Immortalist is committed to the position that it is worthwhile to investigate the possible alternatives to eternal death in a rational manner. He doesn't have to be convinced that it is possible to recover the dead, only that it is worth keeping an ear to the ground to see if some means might ultimately be developed. Of course the chances of this happening are orders of magnitude below the chances for cryonic or even morphostatic revivals, but this order seeks to attract individuals with a viewpoint similar to the Russian philosopher N.F. Fyodorov. He was a Christian who believed that it would be the ultimate task and duty of humanity to raise its own dead by scientific means.

Further details of this order are given in the June 1990 edition of Venturist Monthly News.

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