Monthly Archives: December 2013

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Global Cancer Scare – Article by Bradley Doucet

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The New Renaissance Hat
Bradley Doucet
December 29, 2013
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The coverage of the World Health Organization’s latest data on global cancer rates in today’s Globe and Mail was typical of the media in general: “the disease tightened its grip in developing nations struggling to treat an illness driven by Western lifestyles.” And a glance at the WHO’s GLOBOCAN Cancer Fact Sheet maps seems to confirm that “Western lifestyles” are the culprit, since living in a wealthier part of the world increases your risk of getting cancer. But what’s wrong with this picture?
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The main problem is that it makes it sound as if life in developing nations is getting worse as it becomes more like life in the wealthier parts of the world. This is pure hogwash. The WHO’s own data shows that life expectancy at birth rose from 2000 to 2011 in all regions of the world. Globally, it rose from 66 to 70 years; in Africa, from 50 to 56. People may be dying more than they used to from various cancers, but they’re clearly dying less from other causes, and the one more than makes up for the other.

Don’t get me wrong: Helping people afflicted with cancer in poorer parts of the world is a fine thing to do. But the best way to help in the long run is to help them get richer so they can help themselves. This undoubtedly would make them even more like us in terms of “lifestyle” and would undoubtedly lead to even higher rates of cancer. But it would also lead to less dying from other causes, and longer life expectancy overall. I’m willing to bet that’s a trade every person living in the developing world would be happy to make.

Bradley Doucet is Le Québécois Libre‘s English Editor and the author of the blog Spark This: Musings on Reason, Liberty, and Joy. A writer living in Montreal, he has studied philosophy and economics, and is currently completing a novel on the pursuit of happiness. He also writes for The New Individualist, an Objectivist magazine published by The Atlas Society, and sings.

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Why Prioritize SENS Research for Human Longevity? – Article by Reason

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The New Renaissance Hat
Reason
December 29, 2013
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Why do I vocally support rejuvenation research based on the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) over other forms of longevity science? Why do I hold the view that SENS and SENS-like research should be prioritized and massively funded? The short answer to this question is that SENS-derived medical biotechnology has a much greater expected utility – it will most likely produce far better outcomes, and at a lower cost – than other presently ongoing lines of research into creating greater human longevity.

What is SENS?

But firstly, what is SENS? It is more an umbrella collection of categories than a specific program, though it is the case that narrowly focused SENS research initiatives run under the auspices of the SENS Research Foundation. On the science side of the house, SENS is a synthesis of existing knowledge from the broad mainstream position regarding aging and the diseases of aging: that aging is caused by a stochastic accumulation of damage at the level of cells and protein machinery in and around these cells. SENS is a proposal, based on recent decades of research, as to which of the identified forms of damage and change in old tissues are fundamental – i.e. which are direct byproducts of metabolic operation rather than cascading effects of other fundamental damage. On the development side of the house, SENS pulls together work from many subfields of medical research to show that there are clear and well-defined ways to produce therapies that can repair, reverse, or make irrelevant these fundamental forms of biological damage associated with aging.

(You can read about the various forms of low-level damage that cause aging at the SENS Research Foundation website and elsewhere. This list includes: mitochondrial DNA mutations; buildup of resilient waste products inside and around cells; growing numbers of senescent and other malfunctioning cells; loss of stem cells; and a few others).

Present arguments within the mainstream of aging research are largely over the relative importance of damage type A versus damage type B, and how exactly the extremely complex interaction of damage with metabolism progresses – but not what that damage actually is. A large fraction of modern funding for aging research goes towards building a greater understanding this progression; certainly more than goes towards actually doing anything about it. Here is the thing, however: while understanding the dynamics of damage in aging is very much a work in progress, the damage itself is well known. The research community can accurately enumerate the differences between old tissue and young tissue, or an old cell and a young cell – and it has been a good number of years since anything new was added to that list.

If you can repair the cellular damage that causes aging, it doesn’t matter how it happens or how it affects the organism when it’s there. This is the important realization for SENS – that much of the ongoing work of the aging research community is largely irrelevant if the goal is to get to human rejuvenation as rapidly as possible. Enough is already known of the likely causes of aging to have a reasonable expectation of being able to produce laboratory demonstrations of rejuvenation in animal models within a decade or two, given large-scale funding.

Comparing Expected Values

Expected value drives human endeavor. What path ahead do we expect to produce the greatest gain? In longevity science the investment is concretely measured in money and time, and we might think of the expected value in terms of years of healthy life added by the resulting therapies. The cost of these therapies really isn’t much of a factor – all major medical procedures and other therapies tend to converge to similar costs over time, based on their category: consider a surgery versus an infusion versus a course of pills, for example, where it’s fairly obvious that the pricing derives from how much skilled labor is involved and how much care the patient requires as a direct result of the process.

On the input side, there are estimates for the cost in time and money to implement SENS therapies for laboratory mice. For the sake of keeping things simple, I’ll note that these oscillate around the figures of a billion dollars and ten years for the crash program of fully-funded research. A billion dollars is about the yearly budget of the NIA these days, give or take, which might be a third of all research funding directed towards aging – by some estimates, anyway, though this is a very hard figure to verify in any way. It’s by no means certain the that the general one-third/two-thirds split between government and private research funding extends to aging research.

On the output side, early SENS implementations would be expected to take an old mouse and double its remaining life expectancy – e.g. produce actual rejuvenation, actual repair, and reversal of the low-level damage that causes aging, with repeated applications at intervals producing diminishing but still measurable further gains. This is the thing about a rejuvenation therapy that works; you can keep on applying it to sweep up newly accruing damage.

So what other longevity science do we have to compare against? The only large running programs are those that have grown out of the search for calorie-restriction mimetic drugs. So there is the past decade or so of research into sirtuins, and there is growing interest in mTOR and rapamycin analogs that looks to be more of the same, but slightly better (though that is a low bar to clear).

In the case of sirtuins, money has certainly flowed. Sirtris itself sold for ~$700 million, and it’s probably not unreasonable to suggest that a billion dollars have gone into broader sirtuin-related research and development over the past decade. What does the research community have to show for that? Basically nothing other than an increased understanding of some aspects of metabolism relating to calorie restriction and other adaptations that alter lifespan in response to environmental circumstances. Certainly no mice living longer in widely replicated studies as is the case for mTOR and rapamycin – the sirtuin results and underlying science are still much debated, much in dispute.

The historical ratio of dollars to results for any sort of way to manipulate our metabolism to slow aging is exceedingly poor. The thing is, this ratio shouldn’t be expected to get all that much better. Even if marvelously successful, the best possible realistic end result of a drug that slows aging based on what is known today – say something that extracts the best side of mTOR manipulation with none of the side-effects of rapamycin – is a very modest gain in human longevity. It can’t greatly repair or reverse existing damage, it can’t much help those who are already old become less damaged, it will likely not even be as effective as actual, old-fashioned calorie restriction. The current consensus is that calorie restriction itself is not going to add more than a few years to a human life – though it certainly has impressive health benefits.

(A sidebar: we can hope that one thing that ultimately emerges from all this research is an explanation as to how humans can enjoy such large health benefits from calorie restriction, commensurate with those seen in animals such as mice, without also gaining longer lives to match. But if just eating fewer calories while obtaining good nutrition could make humans reliably live 40% longer, I think that would have been noted at some point in the last few thousand years, or at least certainly in the last few hundred).

From this perspective, traditional drug research turned into longevity science looks like a long, slow slog to nowhere. It keeps people working, but to what end? Not producing significant results in extending human longevity, that’s for sure.

Ergo…

The cost of demonstrating that SENS is the right path or the wrong path – i.e. that aging is simply an accumulation of damage, and the many disparate research results making up the SENS vision are largely correct about which forms of change in aged tissue are the fundamental forms of damage that cause aging – is tiny compared to the cost of trying to safely eke out modest reductions in the pace of aging by manipulating metabolism via sirtuins or mTOR.

The end result of implementing SENS is true rejuvenation if aging is caused by damage: actual repair, actual reversal of aging. The end result of spending the same money and time on trying to manipulate metabolism to slow aging can already be observed in sirtuin research, and can reasonably be expected to be much the same the next time around the block with mTOR – it produces new knowledge and little else of concrete use, and even when it does eventually produce a drug candidate, it will likely be the case that you could do better yourself by simply practicing calorie restriction.

The expectation value of SENS is much greater than that of trying to slow aging via the traditional drug-discovery and development industry. Ergo the research and development community should be implementing SENS. It conforms to the consensus position on what causes aging, it costs far less than all other proposed interventions into the aging process, and the potential payoff is much greater.

Reason is the founder of The Longevity Meme (now Fight Aging!). He saw the need for The Longevity Meme in late 2000, after spending a number of years searching for the most useful contribution he could make to the future of healthy life extension. When not advancing the Longevity Meme or Fight Aging!, Reason works as a technologist in a variety of industries. 

This work is reproduced here in accord with a Creative Commons Attribution license.  It was originally published on FightAging.org.

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A Brace of Papers from the Longevity Genetics Community – Article by Reason

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The New Renaissance Hat
Reason
December 29, 2013
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You’ll find quite a few papers on longevity and genetics in the preprint queue of Current Vascular Phamacology at the moment. This is a portion of the output of that part of the research community focused on developing a full understanding of the molecular biology of how aging progresses and varies between individuals and species. Biology is fantastically complex, and obtaining that full understanding will be a much, much more challenging endeavor than merely successfully treating or reversing aging.

Treating and even curing aging are goals that might be achieved without a full understanding of exactly how aging progresses. Consider this: you don’t need anything even close to a full molecular model of the progression of rust to greatly extend the life of metal equipment through scrubbing and protective coating. Exactly the same argument about knowledge and action can be applied to biology and medicine. Knowing what the damage is and having a complete understanding of how that damage progresses to cause the visible symptoms of aging are two very different things, the latter much more complex than the former, and only the former actually needed to produce useful therapies.

Nonetheless, most of the present work and funding in the aging science community is focused on developing an understanding of how degenerative aging progresses, not on damage repair and treatment of aging. So most of the output of the research community looks much along the lines of these first few papers I’m going to point out today.

The Challenges in Moving from Ageing to Successful Longevity

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During the last decades survival has significantly improved and centenarians are becoming a fast-growing group of the population. Genetic factors contribute to the variation of human life span by around 25%, which is believed to be more profound after 85 years of age. It is likely that multiple factors influence life span and we need answers to questions such as: 1) What does it take to reach 100?, 2) Do centenarians have better health during their lifespan compared with contemporaries who died at a younger age?, 3) Do centenarians have protective modifications of body composition, fat distribution and energy expenditure, maintain high physical and cognitive function, and sustained engagement in social and productive activities?, 4) Do centenarians have genes which contribute to longevity?, 5) Do centenarians benefit from epigenetic phenomena?, 6). Is it possible to influence the transgenerational epigenetic inheritance (epigenetic memory) which leads to longevity?, 7) Is the influence of nutrigenomics important for longevity?, 8) Do centenarians benefit more from drug treatment, particularly in primary prevention?, and, 9) Are there any potential goals for drug research?

Genes Of Human Longevity: An Endless Quest?

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Human longevity is a complex trait which genetics, epigenetics, environmental and stochasticity differently contribute to. To disentangle the complexity, our studies on genetics of longevity were, at the beginning, mainly focused on the extreme phenotypes, i.e. centenarians who escaped the major age-related diseases compared with cross sectional cohorts.

In association studies on candidate genes many SNPs, positively or negatively correlated with longevity have been identified. On the other hand, the identification of longevity-related genes does not explain the mechanisms of healthy aging and longevity, but it opens a huge amount of questions on epigenetic contribution, gene regulation and the interactions with essential genomes, i.e. mitochondrial DNA and microbiota.

Centenarian Offspring: a model for Understanding Longevity

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A main objective of current medical research is the improving of life quality of elderly people as priority of the continuous increase of ageing population. Accordingly, the research interest is focused on understanding the biological mechanisms involved in determining the positive ageing phenotype, i.e. the centenarian phenotype. Centenarians have been used as an optimal model for successful ageing. However, it is characterized by several limitations, i.e. the selection of appropriate controls for centenarians and the use itself of the centenarians as a suitable model for healthy ageing. Thus, the interest has been centered on centenarian offspring, healthy elderly people. They may represent a model for understanding exceptional longevity for the following reasons: to exhibit a protective genetic background, cardiovascular and immunological profile as well as a reduced rate of cognitive decline than age-matched people without centenarian relatives.

Phenotypes and Genotypes of High Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol in Exceptional Longevity

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A change in the lipoprotein profile is a metabolic hallmark of aging and has been the target for modern medical developments. Although pharmaceutical interventions aimed at lipid lowering substantially decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, they have much less impact on mortality and longevity. Moreover, they have not affected death from other age-related diseases.

In this review we focus on high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the levels of which are either elevated or do not decrease as would be expected with aging in centenarians, and which are associated with lower prevalence of numerous age-related diseases; thereby, suggesting a potential HDL-mediated mechanism for extended survival. We also provide an update on the progress of identifying longevity-mediating lipid genes, describe approaches to discover longevity genes, and discuss possible limitations. Implicating lipid genes in exceptional longevity may lead to drug therapies that prevent several age-related diseases, with such efforts already on the way.

It has to be said, however, that some areas of research are close enough to the development of actual rejuvenation treatments – those addressing at least some of the root cause damage of aging rather than downstream consequences – that even the scientific mainstream is coming around to the idea. The impact of cellular senescence on aging is one such field, as several obvious and existing applications of medical technology may aid in removal of the senescent cells that accumulate with age, and early work in mice confirms that such treatments should prove helpful:

Cellular Senescence in Ageing, Age-Related Disease and Longevity

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Cellular senescence is the state of permanent inhibition of cell proliferation. There is mounting evidence that senescent cells contribute to ageing and age-related disease by generating a low grade inflammation state (senescence-associated secretory phenotype-SASP). Even though cellular senescence is a barrier for cancer it can, paradoxically, stimulate development of cancer via proinflammatory cytokines. There is evidence that senescent vascular cells, both endothelial and smooth muscle cells, participate in atherosclerosis and senescent preadipocytes and adipocytes have been shown to lead to insulin resistance.

Thus, modulation of cellular senescence is considered as a potential pro-longevity strategy. It can be achieved in several ways like: elimination of selected senescent cells, epigenetic reprogramming of senescent cells, preventing cellular senescence or influencing the secretory phenotype. Some pharmacological interventions have already been shown to have promising activity in this field.

 

Reason is the founder of The Longevity Meme (now Fight Aging!). He saw the need for The Longevity Meme in late 2000, after spending a number of years searching for the most useful contribution he could make to the future of healthy life extension. When not advancing the Longevity Meme or Fight Aging!, Reason works as a technologist in a variety of industries. 

This work is reproduced here in accord with a Creative Commons Attribution license.  It was originally published on FightAging.org.

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Progress Toward Peace in 2013, But Dark Clouds Remain – Article by Ron Paul

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Categories: Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
Ron Paul
December 22, 2013
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It is the time of year we feel a sense of joy and optimism. We are preparing for the holidays and looking to spend time with our families and friends. This year as we look back we see several developments that leave us feeling optimistic.
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A US attack on Syria was averted to a large degree because the American people did not want another Middle Eastern war. Public pressure was so strong that President Obama was forced to back down from his threats to launch missiles at Syria over an alleged Syrian government chemical attack. We have just recently discovered that US claims at the time were based on highly manipulated “intelligence.” The president narrowly avoided another Iraq debacle, where the US went to war based on lies and fabrications. This time the American people were much more skeptical. That is good news!

A US attack on Syria would have brought us one step closer to the neocons’ ultimate goal of an attack on Iran. The administration’s decision to step back from the brink with Syria has consequently opened the door to an historic US diplomatic engagement with Iran.

Yes, the neocons have suffered a number of defeats this year for which we have great reason to be thankful and optimistic. However, it would be foolish to believe that a couple of defeats will end their obsession with American exceptionalism, war, and the US global empire. Though the neocons have had several set-backs, they will continue their efforts. And there are some dark clouds on the horizon that we should closely watch.

The Senate, for example, seems intent on ruining the Christmas spirit – a time when Christians celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace – with new threats against Iran, even as diplomacy has achieved what decades of sanctions could not.

While US Senate efforts to include new Iran sanctions language in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2014 (NDAA) were unsuccessful, those pushing for more sanctions on Iran even in the midst of a diplomatic thaw have not given up. Last week 26 Senators – drawn equally from each party — introduced the Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act, which would impose severe new sanctions on Iran and on countries who do business with Iran.

Perhaps worse, the Act states that it is the sense of the Congress that if Israel attacks Iran, the US Congress should:

“[A]uthorize the use of military force, diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence.”

Even though a “sense of Congress” has no force of law, these are the kinds of blank checks that lead to world wars. Though not binding, language like this is meant to establish US policy over time, so that if Israel does attack Iran, enough Senators will be on record supporting US involvement that they feel compelled to vote for war. This is the game they played for more than a decade with Iraq legislation.

The Senate bill is unlikely to ever become law, but even if it did, it would not succeed. Its demand that the rest of the world stop doing business with Iran just as Iran has shown such diplomatic flexibility would likely be ignored.

Congress – under the influence of the Israeli and Saudi lobbies — is seeking to derail the Obama Administration’s diplomatic efforts with Iran. We can be optimistic over the steps toward peace this past year, but we should remain vigilant. The war lobby will not give up so easily.

Ron Paul, MD, is a former three-time Republican candidate for U. S. President and Congressman from Texas.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

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Why I Wrote a Children’s Book on Indefinite Life Extension – Article by G. Stolyarov II

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The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
December 21, 2013
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My greatest fear about the future is not of technology running out of control or posing existential risks to humankind. Rather, my greatest fear is that, in the year 2045, I will be 58 years old and already marked by notable signs of senescence, sitting at the kitchen table, drinking my morning coffee, and wondering, “What happened to that Singularity we were promised by now? Why did it not come to pass? Why does the world of 2045 look pretty much like the world of 2013, with only a few cosmetic differences?” My greatest fear is that, as I stare into that mug of coffee, I would recognize that it will all be downhill from there, especially as “kids these days” would pay no more attention to technological progress and life-extension possibilities than their predecessors did. My greatest fear is that they would consider me a quixotic old man, fantasizing about a future that never was, while they struggle to make ends meet in an ever-more hostile economy (which would look much like our own, except farther along in the sequence of gradual decay, because nobody cares), strangled by labyrinthine restrictions arising out of Luddism and change-aversion within the widespread society. In short, my greatest fear is that our present will be our future, except that I and the present generation of longevity activists will lose our youthful vitality and will ourselves be rapidly approaching the abyss of oblivion.

So I needed to do something. I am not a doctor or biologist, but I did vow at the age of five that I would devote my life to the struggle against senescence and death – so I needed to make good on that promise. My articles, videos, and occasional donations to life-extension endeavors are all well and good, but I also wanted to make a unique contribution that could turn the tide of cultural attitudes toward life extension and toward death itself. After years of brainstorming and months of concerted activity on the part of both me and my wife and illustrator Wendy Stolyarov, the result is Death is Wrong – an illustrated children’s book on life extension that is the first of its kind.

Death is Wrong - by Gennady Stolyarov II, Illustrated by Wendy Stolyarov

Death is Wrong – available in both paperback and Kindle editions – fills an important void. Virtually everyone learns about death as a child, and the initial reaction is the correct one: bewilderment, horror, and outrage. Yet there has been no resource to validate these completely correct first impressions. Almost immediately, the young ones are met with excuses and rationalizations, so that they might be consoled and return to a semblance of normalcy. Over millennia of facing indeed inevitable demises, humans have constructed elaborate edifices of rationalization, designed to keep thoughts of death from intruding upon their day-to-day lives. While understandable in eras when technological progress could not have been expected to attain radical life extension (see Benjamin Franklin’s famous lament that he was born too soon), today such evasions of the grave wrong of death are among the most counterproductive attitudes imaginable. Now that technological progress could bring us into the bright age of indefinite longevity within our lifetimes, every atavistic remnant of the old death acceptance poses a barrier that must be surmounted. The fewer barriers life-extension progress encounters, the faster indefinite lifespans will arrive for us; the more of us will be preserved from oblivion.

While transhumanists and life-extension advocates have made headway with conveying their aspirations for the future to some of the most technically educated and philosophically inclined adults, the mainstream of society remains pervaded by the old death-acceptance arguments – religious and secular: from the fear of “playing God” to the specter of overpopulation. Every mind held captive by these traditional and Malthusian pro-death prejudices is a mind that will at best not help life-extension progress and at worst hinder it greatly – a higher likelihood for the most intelligent purveyors of the death-acceptance mindset. People who embrace these notions and find them credible (despite the relative ease of debunking them using logic and evidence) largely do so because the fallacies were ingrained into them since childhood, with no counterarguments being presented or even posited as conceivable. So, if the antidote to these fallacies is to be most effective, it must be administered in childhood.

Death is Wrong will be easily understood by most eight-year-olds, though my aim is to encompass as young an audience as possible. The beautiful and detailed illustrations will help keep young minds engaged as they read about long-lived organisms found in nature, as well as the great advocates of life extension from the past and the present (featured in the book are Francis Bacon, Benjamin Franklin, Marquis de Condorcet, Friedrich Nietzsche, Alan Harrington, and Aubrey de Grey). The book discusses successes in animal life extension, along with providing a concise introduction to Dr. de Grey’s SENS program and the seven principal types of damage that must be addressed in order to reverse senescence. Parts of the book are autobiographical: they describe my own experiences as a child finding out about death and vowing to combat it. The book also focuses of refuting the common pro-death rationalizations and presenting young readers with all of the amazing opportunities and possibilities that can only exist if humans live much, much longer than is presently the case. At the end is a call to action and a list of further resources for young readers to find out more and to become involved with the life-extension movement.

Some may question my tactic of assailing death itself directly – an approach that strikes at the very attitudes enabling acceptance of the Dragon-Tyrant in the room (not the elephant, because elephants are largely innocuous). Yet this is not the time for prevarication or for dampening the rhetoric to the point where one only advocates greater “healthspans” or “compression of morbidity” or any incremental stopping place for progress. While the achievement of indefinite lifespans (and functional immortality, through improvements to the safety of humans’ environment and to the institutional incentives to avoid violence) will not come all at once, and incremental discoveries and lifespan extensions will certainly be the process leading to the goal, the goal itself – defeating death – should not be forgotten or dismissed. The grave wrong of death is worse than that of slavery – once a ubiquitous institution that every society took for granted. William Lloyd Garrison, the 19th-century abolitionist, recognized that the way to get slavery to disappear was to emphasize the feasibility and desirability of its complete eradication: “Urge immediate abolition as earnestly as we may, it will, alas! be gradual abolition in the end. We have never said that slavery would be overthrown by a single blow; that it ought to be, we shall always contend.” [1] Truer words were never spoken when it comes to the abolition of innocent human death. For those of us life-extension advocates who cannot participate in the research directly (other than donating money and other services to aid the researchers), the most promising path to follow is the example of William Lloyd Garrison. We should emphasize the urgency, the moral necessity, the undeniable justice of abolishing the death of innocent humans as soon as possible. We need to transform the culture so that it comes to reject death much as it was transformed to reject slavery after millennia of blithe acceptance. Then the research funding will flow, the votes and political rhetoric will follow, and even theologies and philosophies will be reinterpreted to view the fight against death on Earth to be the natural conclusion of every religious faith and secular ideology.

The spread of Death is Wrong to children is just one piece of the strategy of advocating for the abolition of the death of innocents. I would admire and embrace every activist project – including other children’s books – aimed toward this same cultural transformation. For those who have been wondering how they personally could contribute to the prospects of achieving indefinite longevity within our lifetimes, I hope that this book offers inspiration as well as some concrete possibilities for action. Even a single pro-longevity activist in a community could make a tremendous difference by donating copies of Death is Wrong to libraries, schools, bookstores, and children’s activity groups – or directly to children with whom the activist is acquainted.

Perhaps, if enough of today’s children read Death is Wrong, they would not view us life-extension advocates as hopeless oldsters lost in unattainable fantasy, thirty-two years into the future. Rather, they would be young alongside us, working to build a human civilization truly worthy of the name – one that is permeated by peace, prosperity, virtue, and a striving to ceaselessly progress as humankind comes to inhabit, develop, beautify, and ennoble the universe at large.

[1] Quoted in William H. Pease and Jane H. Pease, eds., The Antislavery Argument (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1965), p. xxxv.

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“Death is Wrong”: Illustrated Children’s Book on Life Extension – Announcement and Short Excerpt – Video by G. Stolyarov II

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Death is Wrong is the ambitious new book for children and for life-extension advocates of all ages.

If you have ever asked, “Why do people have to die?” then this book is for you. The answer is that no, death is not necessary, inevitable, or good. In fact, death is wrong. Death is the enemy of us all, to be fought with medicine, science, and technology. This book introduces you to the greatest, most challenging, most revolutionary movement to radically extend human lifespans so that you might not have to die at all.

You will learn about some amazingly long-lived plants and animals, recent scientific discoveries that point the way toward lengthening lifespans in humans, and simple, powerful arguments that can overcome the common excuses for death. If you have ever thought that death is unjust and should be defeated, you are not alone. Read this book, and become part of the most important quest in human history.

This book was written by the philosopher and futurist Gennady Stolyarov II and illustrated by the artist Wendy Stolyarov. It is here to show you that, no matter who you are and what you can do, there is always a way for you to help in humanity’s struggle against death.

The First Edition of Death is Wrong was published by the Rational Argumentator Press.

References

Paperback version on Amazon
Kindle version on Amazon
Paperback version on Createspace

Reviews

“Not too grammatically complex, and not too excruciatingly simplistic, Death is Wrong is a blunt dose of reality, quick to the punch and holding nothing back. This is the book I wish I’d have read as a young child.”

~ B. J. Murphy – The Proactionary Transhumanist. Read the full review.

“I thought the book was fun to read and important in what it tries to accomplish.”

~ Zoltan Istvan – Psychology Today. Read the full review.

 

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“Death is Wrong” Reviewed by Zoltan Istvan in “Psychology Today” – Post by G. Stolyarov II

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The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
December 17, 2013
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I am pleased to announce some excellent news regarding a development that will hopefully accelerate the spread of life-extension ideas to children and to the general public. Zoltan Istvan’s article on my new children’s book Death is Wrong and his interview with me and my wife Wendy Stolyarov was just published on Psychology Today. You can read it here. Psychology Today is a high-traffic site with a high potential for influencing public outlooks on life, death, and life extension.  I welcome your comments both at the bottom of this post and on the Psychology Today page.

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After 100 Years of Failure, It’s Time to End the Fed! – Article by Ron Paul

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The New Renaissance Hat
Ron Paul
December 15, 2013
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A week from now, the Federal Reserve System will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding. Resulting from secret negotiations between bankers and politicians at Jekyll Island, the Fed’s creation established a banking cartel and a board of federal-government overseers that has grown ever stronger through the years. One would think this anniversary would elicit some sort of public recognition of the Fed’s growth from a quasi-agent of the Treasury Department intended to provide an elastic currency, to a de facto independent institution that has taken complete control of the economy through its central monetary planning. But just like the Fed’s creation, its 100th anniversary may come and go with only a few passing mentions.

Like many other horrible and unconstitutional pieces of legislation, the bill which created the Fed, the Federal Reserve Act, was passed under great pressure on December 23, 1913, in the waning moments before Congress recessed for Christmas with many Members already absent from those final votes. This underhanded method of pressuring Congress with such a deadline to pass the Federal Reserve Act would provide a foreshadowing of the Fed’s insidious effects on the US economy—with actions performed without transparency.

Ostensibly formed with the goal of preventing financial crises such as the Panic of 1907, the Fed has become increasingly powerful over the years. Rather than preventing financial crises, however, the Fed has constantly caused new ones. Barely a few years after its inception, the Fed’s inflationary monetary policy to help fund World War I led to the Depression of 1920. After the economy bounced back from that episode, a further injection of easy money and credit by the Fed led to the Roaring Twenties and to the Great Depression, the worst economic crisis in American history.

But even though the Fed continued to make the same mistakes over and over again, no one in Washington ever questioned the wisdom of having a central bank. Instead, after each episode the Fed was given more and more power over the economy. Even though the Fed had brought about the stagflation of the 1970s, Congress decided to formally task the Federal Reserve in 1978 with maintaining full employment and stable prices, combined with constantly adding horrendously harmful regulations. Talk about putting the inmates in charge of the asylum!

Now we are reaping the noxious effects of a century of loose monetary policy, as our economy remains mired in mediocrity and utterly dependent on a stream of easy money from the central bank. A century ago, politicians failed to understand that the financial panics of the 19th century were caused by collusion between government and the banking sector. The federal government’s growing monopoly on money creation, high barriers to entry into banking to protect politically favored incumbents, and favored treatment for government debt combined to create a rickety, panic-prone banking system. Had legislators known then what we know now, we could hope that they never would have established the Federal Reserve System.

Today, however, we do know better. We know that the Federal Reserve continues to strengthen the collusion between banks and politicians. We know that the Fed’s inflationary monetary policy continues to reap profits for Wall Street while impoverishing Main Street. And we know that the current monetary regime is teetering on a precipice. One hundred years is long enough. End the Fed.

Ron Paul, MD, is a former three-time Republican candidate for U. S. President and Congressman from Texas.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

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Revolutionary France’s Road to Hyperinflation – Article by Frank Hollenbeck

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Categories: Economics, History, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
Frank Hollenbeck
December 15, 2013
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Today, anyone who talks about hyperinflation is treated like the shepherd boy who cried wolf. When the wolf actually does show up, though, belated warnings will do little to keep the flock safe.

The current Federal Reserve strategy is apparently to wait for significant price inflation to show up in the consumer price index before tapering. Yet history tells us that you treat inflation like a sunburn. You don’t wait for your skin to turn red to take action. You protect yourself before leaving home. Once inflation really picks up steam, it becomes almost impossible to control as the politics and economics of the situation combine to make the urge to print irresistible.

The hyperinflation of 1790s France illustrates one way in which inflationary monetary policy becomes unmanageable in an environment of economic stagnation and debt, and in the face of special interests who benefit from, and demand, easy money.

In 1789, France found itself in a situation of heavy debt and serious deficits. At the time, France had the strongest and shrewdest financial minds of the time. They were keenly aware of the risks of printing fiat currency since they had experienced just decades earlier the disastrous Mississippi Bubble under the guidance of John Law.

France had learned how easy it is to issue paper money and nearly impossible to keep it in check. Thus, the debate over the first issuance of the paper money, known as assignats, in April 1790 was heated, and only passed because the new currency (paying 3 percent interest to the holder) was collateralized by the land stolen from the church and fugitive aristocracy. This land constituted almost a third of France and was located in the best places.

Once the assignats were issued, business activity picked up, but within five months the French government was again in financial trouble. The first issuance was considered a rousing success, just like the first issuance of paper money under John Law. However, the debate over the second issuance during the month of September 1790 was even more chaotic since many remembered the slippery slope to hyperinflation. Additional constraints were added to satisfy the naysayers. For example, once land was purchased by French citizens, the payment in currency was to be destroyed to take the new paper currency out of circulation.

The second issuance caused an even greater depreciation of the currency but new complaints arose that not enough money was circulating to conduct transactions. Also, the overflowing government coffers resulting from all this new paper money led to demands for a slew of new government programs, wise or foolish, for the “good of the people.” The promise to take paper money out of circulation was quickly abandoned, and different districts in France independently started to issue their own assignats.

Prices started to rise and cries for more circulating medium became deafening. Although the first two issuances almost failed, additional issuances became easier and easier.

Many Frenchmen soon became eternal optimists claiming that inflation was prosperity, like the drunk forgetting the inevitable hangover. Although every new issuance initially boosted economic activity, the improved business conditions became shorter and shorter after each new issuance. Commercial activity soon became spasmodic: one manufacturer after another closed shop. Money was losing its store-of-value function, making business decisions extremely difficult in an environment of uncertainty. Foreigners were blamed and heavy taxes were levied against foreign goods. The great manufacturing centers of Normandy closed down and the rest of France speedily followed, throwing vast numbers of workers into bread lines. The collapse of manufacturing and commerce was quick, and occurred only a few months after the second issuance of assignats and followed the same path as Austria, Russia, America, and all other countries that had previously tried to gain prosperity on a mountain of paper.

Social norms also changed dramatically with the French turning to speculation and gambling. Vast fortunes were built speculating and gambling on borrowed money. A vast debtor class emerged located mostly in the largest cities.

To purchase government land, only a small down payment was necessary with the rest to be paid in fixed installments. These debtors quickly saw the benefit of a depreciating currency. Inflation erodes the real value of any fixed payment. Why work for a living and take the risk of building a business when speculating on stocks or land can bring wealth instantaneously and with almost no effort? This growing segment of nouveau riche quickly used its newfound wealth to gain political power to ensure that the printing presses never stopped. They soon took control and corruption became rampant.

Of course, blame for the ensuing inflation was assigned to everything but the real cause. Shopkeepers and merchants were blamed for higher prices. In 1793, 200 stores in Paris were looted and one French politician proclaimed “shopkeepers were only giving back to the people what they had hitherto robbed them of.” Price controls (the “law of the maximum”) were ultimately imposed, and shortages soon abounded everywhere. Ration tickets were issued on necessities such as bread, sugar, soap, wood, or coal. Shopkeepers risked their heads if they hinted at a price higher than the official price. The daily ledger of those executed with the guillotine included many small business owners who violated the law of the maximum. To detect goods concealed by farmers and shopkeepers, a spy system was established with the informant receiving 1/3 of the goods recovered. A farmer could see his crop seized if he did not bring it to market, and was lucky to escape with his life.

Everything was enormously inflated in price except the wages for labor. As manufacturers closed, wages collapsed. Those who did not have the means, foresight, or skill to transfer their worthless paper into real assets were driven into poverty. By 1797, most of the currency was in the hands of the working class and the poor. The entire episode was a massive transfer of real wealth from the poor to the rich, similar to what we are experiencing in Western societies today.

The French government tried to issue a new currency called the mandat, but by May 1797 both currencies were virtually worthless. Once the dike was broken, the money poured through and the currency was swollen beyond control. As Voltaire once said, “Paper money eventually returns to its intrinsic value — zero.” In France, it took nearly 40 years to bring capital, industry, commerce, and credit back up to the level attained in 1789.

Frank Hollenbeck, PhD, teaches at the International University of Geneva. See Frank Hollenbeck’s article archives.

This article was published on Mises.org and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution United States License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

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Short Review of New Children’s Book, “Death is Wrong” – Article by B. J. Murphy

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Categories: Art, Science, Transhumanism, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
B. J. Murphy
December 14, 2013
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The qualm of death is a very uneasy burden we all suffer from. We dedicate hours of our time, spent in colloquy, discussing the myriad risks of life, though subsequently the tender rage to resist to ensure that life lives on. But then, when do we spend our time in preparing our children – the next generation – for what is to come, what is to discuss, and what is to fight for?

I believe this wonderful children’s book, provided by the Stolyarovs, is a very grand step forward in achieving this. Not too grammatically complex, and not too excruciatingly simplistic, Death is Wrong is a blunt dose of reality, quick to the punch and holding nothing back. This is the book I wish I’d have read as a young child.

As science matures and technology continues growing at an exponential pace, especially in the medical sector, the words written here in this book will not only live on forever via the vast archives of historical literature, they will live on forever through the lives of the indefinitely extended – the cyborgs, the transhumans, the posthumans, etc.

While certainly not religious myself, I believe this loosely correlated – albeit relevant – quote from the Judeo-Christian bible will suffice as final remarks in tribute of this book’s noble message to you, the reader:

“The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26

B. J. Murphy publishes The Proactionary Transhumanist blog, where this review originally appeared

Death is Wrong - by Gennady Stolyarov II, Illustrated by Wendy Stolyarov

Death is Wrong – by Gennady Stolyarov II, Illustrated by Wendy Stolyarov

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