Thank You For A Great First Year!

It’s Thanksgiving Day here in the US of A, and I’m celebrating by spending the day with my family and giving thanks for my wonderful life. One of the greatest blessings of the past year has been to publish my first novel, eHuman Dawn, with Story Merchant books. Looking back, I can’t believe it’s been one year since I began my official journey as a published author.

Yes, it's true, on November 26, 2013, eHuman Dawn was first published as an eBook on Amazon.

TIME TO CELEBRATE!!! For the next week, in gratitude for all that’s happened and to honor this creative project, eHuman Dawn is FREE on the Kindle. That means if you haven’t read it yet, now is the time. Download and read it. Share it with others. And if you feel so inclined, write a review on Amazon. All of these things keeps the dream alive.

In the year since eHuman Dawn was first published, I’ve launched a blog, a Twitter and Facebook account, written the sequel, presented at Bay Area transhumanist conferences sponsored by the Brighter Brains Institute, joined the advisory board of the Lifeboat Foundation, made several new friends and completed a third novel that has absolutely nothing to do with eHumanity.

I’m not a best selling author yet, but the numbers are climbing. I’d say it’s been a very, very good start, and I want to thank everyone who’s supported me, whether as a reader, a reviewer, online in discussion or at the conferences. All endeavors in life take a village, and a writing career is certainly better when shared with others.

What’s on the agenda for the next year? Well, expect to see more blogging and speaking. I’ve joined the Brighter Brains speaker hub and am available to speak at technical conferences of a variety of topics. Check out my page on their site and share with those who might be interested.

I’ll also be publishing a short story in an upcoming anthology to be published by the Lifeboat Foundation and yes, it will take place in the eHuman world.

Most excitingly, the sequel to eHuman Dawn will hopefully be ready for publication in the late winter/early spring!! I’m also going to begin work on the screenplay for both novels, in hopes of bringing the true dream to life…The eHuman Trilogy on the big screen. Yes, I said trilogy, which means I’ll also begin writing the third and final installment.

And if there’s any time left, perhaps I can get my agent interested in that mysterious novel that has nothing to do with eHumanity one bit. Anything is possible.

So thanks again for all your support. This has been a great start and I owe it all to you. Did I mention eHuman Dawn is FREE on the Kindle until 12/01??? Just want to be sure you saw that.

Here’s to another great year.

Sex is Fun! The Future of Family Planning

"Sex is natural sex is good, not everybody does it, but everybody should..."
~ George Michael

I’ve been thinking lately a lot about sex and family planning in the age of genetic testing, IVF and other advancements. It all started with a conversation I had a few months back with a beautiful, young, Silicon Valley startup founder who is female and fast approaching thirty-six years of age. She told me that she had already frozen her eggs once and was considering doing another round as insurance to her future as a mother. “Right now is not a good time to have a child,” she’d said. “We’re about to consider another round of investment in the company and that means more hours in the office for me.” I thought about it and agreed—to birth a brand new business and a baby at the same time seems like setting yourself up for failure. When I was a young professional though, women didn’t talk like this. We didn’t have the option to freeze our eggs for the future, and even though I’m only five years older than the lovely executive, I entered the realm of professional motherhood long ago, before such technology was considered mainstream. 

Next, I ran across an article about Apple and Facebook, which have begun to offer the benefit of freezing eggs to female employees. Wow! How times change. I began to wonder, what would I have done if this had been an option when I was just getting started? I’m not sure. Would I have saved my eggs for later, in exchange for investing myself in my career back then?

This past week, the idea of saving off your eggs, and sperm, was in the news again. Carl Djerassi, the “father of the pill” has been quoted as saying,

"Women in their twenties will first choose this approach [in vitro fertilization, IVF] as insurance, providing them with freedom in the light of professional decisions, or the absence of the right partner, or the inexorably ticking of the biological clockFor them the separation between sex and reproduction will be 100 percent."

The article continues by giving the reasons for this family planning choice, that both men and women will opt to harvest their eggs and sperm in their twenties, before sterilizing themselves. Then, later in life, they’ll use genetic screening combined with IVF to begin their families when the time is right.

I understand the career aspect for women, but why would men do this? I’ve spoken to several twenty something males who’ve answered in a very similar manner—they really can’t afford children. Combine their high student debt with a poor job market and this generation can’t afford a house, much less a child. So saving off their sperm and getting a vasectomy allows them to have a girlfriend, without the fear of brining a kid along for the very bumpy financial ride called Millennial life after college.

Thus it appears that the current generation is all for this idea. IVF is working fairly well for infertile couples, why not wait and use the technology in this way for fertile couples? I think that this is mostly a good idea, but it also lacks the realities of those who’ve found themselves in their 40’s longing for a child, but unable to conceive. IVF takes a toll on the female body, and it doesn’t always work. Miscarriage is painful to the heart and the entire process can suck the joy of living right out from under you. Until it works, and then the pain was worth it. But sometimes, it doesn't work and the couple finds themselves out $40,000 and looking at other options.

Yet I can still see this as our future. With the technology to screen for disease, we’re already running down the path of normally fertile couples using IVF as a means to conceive. Add the fact that both male and female Millennials are interested in postponing parenthood for financial reasons, and it’s not crazy to imagine a world where sex is 100% for fun.

And here’s one more thing to consider…the ectowomb. As author and Transhumanist Zoltan Istvan wrote in his highly successful article on the subject, “So, here’s a prediction: Instead of adapting our jobs to accommodate the demands of biology, we will adapt our biology to accommodate the demands of our jobs. The fact that only women can give the gift of life is an enviable distinction, yet it is also a burden that can make it harder for working mothers to reach the pinnacle of their professions. One way to ease this burden would be to move away from pregnancy as we know it and toward a reliance on artificial wombs.”

Wow! Can you imagine it? Known as ectogenesis, this technology would allow women to be as old as they wanted when they started their families, and avoid some of the hardships of IVF. In addition, men could start a family with a new sense of freedom as well. This is still in the realm of science fiction, but IVF and designer babies were once myth as well.

Many people are against these sorts of technologies and I understand that. Raising children is seen as sacred, why change the way it’s been done for millions of years? But I’m not in the business of maintaining the current moral standards, instead I’m one who looks into the future, asks “what if?” and follows the line of thinking right down the rabbit hole. I myself will not partake in these family planning adventures. I’ve had my children and am in the homestretch at this point in time. But who knows, maybe my “grandchildren” won’t arrive in the traditional way at the traditional time. Perhaps instead they’ll come from an ectowomb when my son is 60 years old himself? Would I love him, or the child, any less? Hell no! Life is life and precious to me, regardless of the path it has taken to get here.

I Voted Today: Big Fucking Deal

It’s Election Day in good ol’ America. Yippee. Hooray. And yes, I voted, but not because I felt strongly about any one candidate or proposition on the ballot. It was my friend Greg Zerkis’ Facebook status that got me to drag my ass into the polling station.

He wrote, “If you fail to vote then you are failing democracy. If you don't like the options, run for office.”

Well, thanks a lot Greg. Way to guilt trip me. Obviously there are a million reasons why I can’t run for office—I’ve smoked marijuana and enjoyed it, I have no religious affiliation, I have two children so I can be easily threatened by dark operatives if necessary, I’m not afraid to drop the F-Bomb, I don't think sex is dirty and support alternative lifestyles to traditional marriage, I have no political connections, I can’t abide red tape, partisan nonsense, or illogical ideologies even the slightest bit without wanting to strangle someone and most of all, NONE of the parties on the ballot represent my views.

That’s right, NONE of them. I went into the booth today and was disappointed to see only two choices for each office—Democrat or Republican. Really? That’s the best we can do? Vanilla or chocolate? Not a single Independent, Green or Libertarian. Hell, not even a Peace and Unity party candidate. It was bland and dismal. The same names, the same faces. To make matters worse, I’ve watched enough Abby Martin, Jon Stewart, Bill Moyers and even Fox News to know that Democrats and Republicans aren’t really different. Sure, their sound bytes during elections are crafted by their handlers in order to make us believe we have a choice, but in the issues that really matter at this juncture in time, like the military industrial complex, citizen rights, the environment, education and campaign finance, they’re pretty much on the same page.

So I went into the voting booth, which was really just a shaky table with blinders on either side, and cast my votes almost randomly. Well not entirely, I’d investigated the propositions before hand. I left the polling place, holding my “I Voted!” sticker wondering, “If none of the parties really represent my truest values as a human being, what party platform would?”

Dare I ask myself such a question? Yes, I dare, and as I drove home surrounded by redwoods and Santa Cruz Mountain beauty, what I need from my leaders became crystal clear. In an attempt to both celebrate this glorious day that represents all that’s beautiful in democracy, I’ve taken the time to write them down. So Greg, not only did you get me to vote, you also inspired this week’s blog.

A political party that I could get behind with all my heart and mind would have the following platform:

1.    Human and planetary health and wellness are the cornerstones of our strength as a nation.
2.    Investments in technology, engineering and science will create the tools necessary to implement a nation of engaged, vital human beings.
3.    Investments in the arts support our quest for a technically advanced society, for we recognize that art is the vehicle for true innovation and creativity.
4.    The education of every person is guaranteed and educators are supported and rewarded for their work.
5.    Money is a story we have all agreed upon, and we’re willing to change that story for the good of all, regardless of profit margins or long dead economic theories.
6.    Local governments are trusted and empowered to carry out 1-5 to the best of their abilities, for they will have intimate knowledge and understanding of what the people of any given region need to thrive.

Each of these ideas can be worked into more details, but I think this covers what I want from my government. If human and planetary health were the most important goals of our society, we could begin to tackle homelessness, hunger, poverty, environmental destruction, pollution, agriculture, animal husbandry, illness, health care, child care and elder care, to name a few. With the health of every person and the planet guiding our policies, rather than profit or money, the nation would be different. I put it first because then we’d know how to invest in technologies that enable free and clean energy, affordable health care for all, and a chance at a meaningful life. Joblessness and debt would eventually be addressed as well, because we’d be willing to invest in the arts, teachers and education, creating an extraordinary workforce capable of inventing and seeing the solutions of the future.

And most importantly, if we had the courage to rethink the story of our money, and trust to let it go and rewrite a new, more egalitarian and modern version of currency, we’d see local and crypto currencies flourish, and even de-growth policies would be allowed because the stock market and quarterly profits would be declared nonsense, illogical and even dangerous on a finite planet with a growing population.

Lastly, why emphasize local governments? Because I believe that within the community of neighbors, we know how best to use technology, education and currencies to take advantage of our specific location on the planet. The internet has made us global, and that’s a good thing—by combining open sourced technology at a global level with educational, environmental, and humanitarian policies at the local level, we can move towards a place where the terroir of humanity is kept alive and thriving, rather than a complete standardization of what it means to be human. Thus the dance of technology and individualism can be kept alive, rather than one forcing it’s hand against the other.

If these are my values, then what political party choices do I have? I think a blend of The Venus Project, the Green Party, the Libertarian Party and the Transhumanist Party, recently formed by Bay Area local, Zoltan Istvan. I know, I should just pick one, but each individually seems lacking. If I ever ran for office, I'd need a platform founded on the six basic sentiments I’ve listed above. What would I call it? I have no idea.

What I do know is that all of the Third Parties deserve our time and attention, for the bi-partisanship of Washington DC has failed us miserably. Perhaps as some of these independent movements gain steam, I’ll be drawn to support one of them whole-heartedly. Until then, I’ll just keep dreaming.