Comments are encouraged and should be based on the content of the Phrenicea website.

mikeandbiljana write:
you have such a pessimistic view of the future and its really sad. it is people like you that contribute to the future being so dim and unpleasant. reality is what we make it and you should ask yourself if what you are displaying on your site is what you really want to happen. well it's a good thing that there are more of those who believe in something better than that which you have come up with. we hope that your outlook on the future can change and that you also contribute to realizing the future as something better yet... all the best to you and good luck with your sad future life you are creating for yourself... think about it..

Phrenicea replies:
Hello mikeandbiljana,
Thank you for taking the time to write.

The goal of the Phrenicea site is to stimulate interest, thought and discussion about the future. In that respect we have been successful as evidenced by your email. Whether you believe none, some or all that is presented is not important. What is important is evaluating whether the trends observed today potentially could lead to a Phrenicea-like world.

We believe too many of today's trends are not heading positive — especially in terms of individual privacy, destruction of natural habitats, global health, climate and financial systems, growing dependence on technology, social mores, and many more. If you can remain optimistic despite these realities than that is wonderful.

Your assumption that we want the fictitious Phrenicea to become a reality is presumptuous. To the contrary, we hope that perhaps in some way we can help to make the future a brighter place for all.

Best regards,
The Editors

Jeff Thieret writes:
Reading just a bit of your [Two Cents] blog, I have a few comments:

RE: Humanity's survival is "strictly up to us": Pray we don't suffer a direct hit with a gamma ray burst, a magnetic pole reversal, a super volcano eruption, a large asteroid/comet hit, or catch a massive solar/magnetic flare.

RE: Global warming: Scientific data does indeed indicate the Earth is warming. Problem is, it has been warming since the Maunder Minimum period in the middle ages, with CO2 rises starting 200 years after the temperature rise, and reaching higher levels in the early parts of the 20th Century, well before wide-spread global industrialization and tropical rain forest slash and burn tactics could have contributed to the rise. Then CO2 levels drop during the peak period of industrial carbon output. The temp-200 year to CO2 model doesn't match up to sensationalized claims, but does match data from Greenland and Antarctic Ice core samples and Arctic/Antarctic sea bed samples going back 100,000 years. This appears more a natural cycle than a man-made catastrophe.

So we need to be ever vigilant, but absolutely must not overact. The 3rd World needs cheap energy, better health and pure water. Sending solar arrays to them will not power their medical facilities adequately when diesel power units will. Diesel fueled water pumps will provide the necessary ground water output to stave off severe drought in many areas where wind power will not. And the physics of our Sun and the state of the solar system must be better understood before we declare humanity a devolving virus that must rely upon a network of connected brains in order to innovate, versus discovering the wonders of our world by one's self in the traditional, time-honored manner that got us to where we are in the food chain.

Cheers, Jeff
[Editor's note: Jeff Thieret is affiliated with Carnegie Mellon University, and is a retired Air Force colonel. Jeff's name used with his permission.]

Phrenicea replies:
Hi Jeff,
Thanks for visiting phrenicea.com and taking the time to send comments. We welcome differing perspectives. While I fully respect your point of view, I will try to explain and justify my positions which prompted your contrarian email.

RE: "Pray we don't suffer a direct hit with a gamma ray burst...."
Being an agnostic, I'm not convinced that praying would matter if such mega-catastrophes were imminent. However, my opinion is that the occurrence of one of your said events is infinitely more improbable than our demise through the misuse of our technologies that magnify disproportionally individual impact vis-à-vis nature and society. That's the basis for my "strictly up to us" quote. I shudder to think how we will control or contain thousands or millions of individuals empowered with the eventual capability to destroy all of humanity as our technical and biological knowledge advances.

RE: Global Warming
As I try to convey in my blog entries, we can argue back and forth for decades about whether global warming is real and/or caused by human activity. My take is that we should err on the side of caution and modify our behavior to keep conservation in mind in our daily lives. If the Third World is to pursue catching up with the already developed nations through the burning of fossil fuels, then we should at least try to encourage the use of newer technologies to maximize efficiency and minimize pollutants. Life can go on, but with a conscious attempt to conserve and preserve.

As far as "discovering the wonders of our world by one's self in the traditional, time-honored manner that got us to where we are in the food chain." First off, I'm not too proud of our record in climbing to the top of that chain. Our innate arrogance has caused many species to go extinct or endangered, and our disrespect for the natural world has done much environmental harm. Just in my lifetime I have seen too many roads, malls, residential developments, etc. wipe out the natural landscape and indigenous life; and this is going on well beyond my purview. And again, I'm not sure how long we'll be able to yield to the tradition of allowing "one's self" the luxury of self-control and self-determination unbridled. As I indicated above, I shudder to think how we will control or contain thousands or millions of individuals empowered with the eventual capability to destroy all of humanity as our technical and biological knowledge advances.

It's a pessimistic view, but I believe today's threat of violent terrorism by radicals is just a glimmer of what's in store on a much grander and more dangerous scale.

Regardless of our particular beliefs about the future which can only be proven with the passage of time, it is fortunate that we have this opportunity to share differing viewpoints.

-John Herman

Dr. David P. Clark writes:
Hey you!

You claim: "Titles as well as surnames serve no functional purpose."

Not true - humans are hierarchical by nature with alpha males etc and titles indicate status.

Note how "comrade" has faded away and the Russians have reverted to Mr, Mrs etc now that the Soviet Union has collapsed. 100 years ago futurists like yourselves would have claimed that "comrade" would displace Mr, Mrs, Miss and other titles.

Consider the USA and its bogus pretense of being classless and having no aristocracy. In the end all US politicians insist on their pseudo-aristocratic titles. So of course do the military and the academics.

Dr. and Professor (but not comrade) David P. Clark
Department of Microbiology
Southern Illinois University
[Editor's note: Dr. Clark's name used with his permission.]

Phrenicea replies:
Hello Dr. and Professor (but not comrade!) David P. Clark,

Thanks for your thoughtful email. We especially appreciate contrary opinions.

We understand your point of view, particularly being immersed in an academic environment where Dr. and PhD command reverence and respect (And rightly so, given the effort!).

However, our point is that a person's overall identity will be associated with their genome, and not some appellation or title bestowed by parent, guardian, peer organization, social group, etc. Taking the scenario further, with Phrenicea rank or position is based on biology - not commercial capitalism, the accumulation of material things or subjective criteria.

That is not to say that there won't be a preoccupation with status and hierarchy, an inherent human condition that is arguably a vestige from our evolutionary past.

We invite you to visit the "no-money" page for more on this topic.

Again, thank you for visiting our site and taking the time to send a comment.

"Cyclops" writes:
i like your website. However, it lacks the good old scary predictions of all the others. ie. the death by asteroid impacts, the plagues, the nuclear wars scenario, etc etc etc. Keep up the good work!

Phrenicea replies:
Thanks for emailing! The Phrenicea scenario's intent is not to frighten per se, although some people think living in cubicles or not having fresh food to eat is pretty scary. We hope to make you think about what is going on today and to be concerned about certain trends.

For example, someday we may be paying as much for fresh water as we are for oil. Try taking a shower knowing that! (And don't laugh — people would have laughed 30 years ago if they were told they would be buying expensive drinking water in bottles.) Another possibility is that there might not be enough work to go around for all the people who are living. Pretty scary, but not in a overtly violent way.

As we say, "The future is all in your head!" — so keep on thinking about it!

Eileen D. writes:
I already use P&G's new Swiffer Duster (which works very well) around the house. The real problem is "I don't want to do it anymore." I do all the other chores but there just seems to be too much dust to deal with.

Now Phrenicea should think of some way to make dust disappear!

Phrenicea replies:
Wow, that's a tough one. We've encountered many challenges before this, but not one of such magnitude. The creative minds at Phrenicea are stumped.

So — until we can fathom a solution — you'll just have to keep on "swiffering"!

J.R. writes:
Regarding the question [above] from "Eileen D." about dust:
[She should know that] Most dust is dead "human" skin so there is no solution unless she wants to live in a Clean Room her entire life!

By the way — where is Kurzweil's chart on Computer processing speed vs. Human brain processing speed?

Phrenicea replies:
Who knows, perhaps poor Eileen is already cocooned in her Clean Room! We hope not!

Regarding Kurzweil's chart:
Ah, the arrogance of us humans. Smaller, bigger, lighter, heavier, faster, shinier — or whatever is your relative gauge of our perceived superiority — among ourselves or vis-a-vis Nature. In reference to your comment; it appears this time it is our so-called advanced state in integrated circuits and processors. Yup, we sure are smart!

Processing speed, a typical parameter Kurzweil and his cohorts mistakenly use to compare computers to the human brain, is not a major factor in intelligence or consciousness. If it were, then our Pentium computers should already be sentient and communicating with us via our email software, if not our sound cards and speakers.

Processing speed isn't a major factor in intelligence.

It is our speculation that the more we learn about the human brain, the more we'll be in awe of its complexity and the ILLOGICAL way that it functions. That is part of the Hard Problem: the brain functions ILLOGICALLY while we're assuming our logical computers will be able to supplant evolution's haphazard creation. That basic disparity is why the computer will never approach or replace the brain. That's our opinion, which is the basis for the Phrenicea scenario and website.

We greatly appreciate the time you spent to visit our site and to send us an email; and we enjoy the opportunity to receive and respond to contrary analysis and opinion.

John S. H. writes:
One of Phrenicea's Q&A responses made the declarative statement, "that global warming will become a worldwide concern beyond just talk." How is Phrenicea going to respond to those thousands of celebrated and famous scientists that disagree with the global warming theory? And also to me!

Mother Nature since the beginning of time has been creating havoc with the earth's environment with volcanic eruptions, which spread dust and a multitude of gasses into our atmosphere, jungle rot, forest fires, as do our treasured wet lands that emit all sorts of gasses and strange odors. Mother Nature however, eventually cleans up all that mess with a magic formula that neutralizes all of the above natural phenomena; otherwise our civilization would not exist.

Incidentally, where are all the proponents of global warming whenever there is a never-ending deep freeze as it is occurring this winter season? But as soon as there is a 3-day heat wave during the summer, our liberal press come out and spew their unproven agenda all summer long. Phrenicea is controversial, but on the subject of global warming it is definitely leaning towards the liberal camp.

Mallard Fillmore
©2003 Reprinted with Special Permission of King Features Syndicate.

Phrenicea, I believe, did not give this subject sufficient thought because global warming is still an unproven theory and too soon to become a scientific fact. Phrenicea has a lot to learn, revise, and change as we all do as time goes on.

Phrenicea replies:
First we want to make it clear that we are responding to your email, and not to the "thousands of celebrated and famous scientists" wherever they are.

Next we want to define "global warming." It is a fact, at least since we're able to measure, that the average worldwide temperature is increasing. That is "worldwide" — not your easy
The stark realization is that our survival as a species is now up to us.
chair, your state or even your hemisphere. It is a fact that the last several years have been the warmest on record. The debatable issue is whether this warming is ultimately deleterious to our environment and our way of life.

History is replete with scientific controversy. Very few believed Copernicus when he proposed the sun and not the earth was the center of the universe [solar system]. Again, very few believed Galileo when he offered proof with his telescope. Few believed the earth was round until the return of Columbus from his trans-Atlantic voyage. Few believed Darwin's theory of evolution — that such complex life forms could evolve. Eventually, with further study and tests, the majority of learned persons were convinced of these radical propositions.

This may or may not turn out to be the case with the global warming controversy. But given our relative ignorance now, wouldn't it be wise — for our children's sake — to err on the side of caution?

You mention Mother Nature's "magic formula." That magic formula is nothing more than time, large chunks of it. Nature's tendency is to establish a state of equilibrium after what
Mother Nature could care less if we live or die. She is not liberal, conservative or cognizant of our vainglory and pettiness.
could be described by us as catastrophe or a "wild card" event. But the quantity of time required is enormous — thousands and millions of years. To put our time here on earth in perspective: picture a tall skyscraper to represent the age of the earth. We humans have been around for what would only be a thin coat of paint on the roof. And it's only the last couple of centuries that we increased the rate of change on this earth beyond what was natural before.

Our egocentric thinking often masks the reality that nature does not care about us, and is not there to protect or ensure our survival. She could care less if we live or die. She is not liberal, conservative or cognizant of our vainglory and pettiness. The stark realization then is that our survival as a species is now up to us — and that our penchant to change the earth is outstripping nature's capability to repair damage we inflict. Worrisome too is that the "we" will soon expand to include the developing nations as they strive to catch up with the U.S., Japan, Russia, Canada, Australia and Europe.

We appreciate your email, and hope this issue never becomes too hot to handle!

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