The story of Delyte Morris and the Southern Illinois University he created is what Robert A. Harper calls “a story of unlikely success and a tragic end.” It does read like an American tragedy, somehow, based in a rustic start, ambition, ingenuity, and the fallibility of good intentions.
Instead of trying to predict how soon the world will end or reaching for a static, reassuringly rigid worldview, we need to take in new information every day, brush our teeth with it, readjust our internal model of the world as we go.
She had likely been in more countries and combat zones than WWII correspondent Ernie Pyle and had helped save many lives, maybe even someone in your family. But few remember her from life, the records are mostly lost, and I know of no markers.
Extreme and eccentric though they be, transhumanists represent a movement to take control of human evolution. Artificial intelligence will, they predict, accelerate itself into a superintelligence far more powerful than anything our human brains are capable of. The consequences? Nothing less than immortality, some say. Certainly an end to much of our disease and suffering. Maybe an end to us.
Lake Charles, Louisiana, is a particularly sensitive canary in the coal mine of global warming. Not only is southwest Louisiana low-lying in the age of sea-rise; the land is also subsiding faster than just about anywhere on earth, and water courses through everything.
We talk about paying attention, as though it is a debt—and these days, attention is definitely currency. We still use money and buy material stuff, but these transactions all begin by gaining our limited attention.
In Louisiana’s future, the EPA says, there will be “retreating shores,” stronger and more frequent hurricanes, more flooding, more heat than ever, and reduced crop and fishery yields. And as disasters linked to climate change increase in scale and number, we can all expect to pay for them, with interrupted commerce and supply lines, higher insurance rates, and more federal aid for recoveries like this one.
Wealth and technology have allowed development in regions of the country without adequate water, but when wealth and technology fail to sustain, we will be forced to pay greater attention.
Ursula K. Le Guin created an alternate history for our wayward species so suitably epic in scope, theme, and detail that it rivals anything Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Robert Heinlein conjured during the so-called Golden Age of Science Fiction.
There is a reason we use the word “intimate.” Sex cuts closer to our core than any other physical act. It can rip away the garb and the façade, break through the boundaries, ease loneliness, soothe anxiety, restore a sense of self.