Home AboutGiveawaysRecipesOur Town SeriesReviewsShop
Friday, August 31, 2012
Labels: , ,
So...the olympics ended. 'Bout what? Three weeks ago?

For us here in the antipodes, the big story was the lack of gold medals. We were hoping to achieve a top-five place in the medal tally, and instead spent about three quarters of the tournament battling Aruba and the West African People's Republic of Mbombo for 967th place.

So I clicked CNN yesterday expecting to find that the entire GOP elite had been flattened in Tampa by Isaac, or that a supervolcano was set to kill us all in a hail of fire and destruction (my word, it's true!) and instead, came across a different story. The London 2012 Paralympics have been opened.

With their own opening ceremony and everything! I didn't even know the Paralympics had an opening ceremony. I find this interesting.

Firstly, they got eighty thousand people to the opening ceremony. I'd never have thought. I repeated this number to Mrs Speech several times. Eighty thousand? Really? Every paralympic/disabled/handicapped/'special' sporting event/ceremony/etc that I have ever seen on tv has been watched in person by roughly the same number of people who like to dip their celery in chocolate milk.

But they got eighty thousand. Good on them.

"That was my destiny! And you cheated me out of it!"
I have no dog in this particular fight. I have never watched a Paralympic event or actually, a disabled sporting event of any kind. As a matter of taste, the number of able-bodied sports I will watch is also limited. I refuse to watch much of anything that takes place on or in the water, or involves a horse, or people running, walking funny or riding a bike for long periods of time.

I am, however, highly uncomfortable with patronising disabled people. I cannot imagine how hard it is to live without limbs, sight, hearing or any other basic human function. I'm not sure how I would deal with the daily difficulties of getting around, brushing my teeth, or in general my terrible klutz-iness.

So I find it perturbing that paralympians have their own unique sporting event. And that it's held so long after every able-bodied athlete has fled back to the four corners, that no-one really is focussed on sports anymore. There are supervolcanos to watch for, y'know.

I'm sure at some point in some highly able-bodied IOC meeting, someone jumped to the grand conclusion that it would make paralympians feel awfully special if we just held a whole other olympics for them. But let's call it the Paralympics. Who cares if it sounds like a sporting event for people who jump out of airplanes (which I might just watch).

This is the ultimate in misguided empathy. Good fences do not good neighbours make, in all circumstances. I won't cast aspersions on anyone's intentions, because for all I know those IOC chaps may have had the best for disabled competitors. But every artificial fence that is erected between one demographic and another only serves to isolate them, and us.

I once enquired about living on campus at the University of Queensland. One dorm I phoned, I believe it was St Leo's College, a gentleman with off-handed faux courtesy and an overdeveloped sense of je ne sais quoi, informed me that I was free to apply to live in the dorm, but it was for Roman Catholics, so...

I was not a Roman Catholic. In fact, I'll eat my celery dipped in chocolate milk before I bow to a man in a ridiculous pointy hat.

Every artificial fence that is erected denies someone.

I'm not on an equality crusade. I in fact very much dislike the western contemporary equal-rights fetish which is currently being manifested principally vis a vis gay marriage (which will happen regardless of what we Christians do to try to stop it).

But I'm even more opposed to tokenism. Symbols without real depth. What's the point? Why did the RNC choose to have Sikhs lead them in prayer at the nomination convention? Will Paul Ryan now settle into a life of turban-topped campaigning until the election?

Symbols without real depth are meaningless. Most thinking people can see through patronisation. I imagine disabled athletes live with it a fair bit.

So, why not integrate the Paralympics with the Olympics?

Quad rugby. Ouch.
Seriously, where's the issue? So the circus goes for three weeks instead of two. You deal with a few more athletes, and a few more tourists. And you make people with a disability feel like Olympians.

Disabled sports instantly gains the cachet of the highest-profile sporting event in the world, and the benefit of integrated sponsorship and coverage of disabled sports intertwined with Usain Bolt jogging the last forty metres because trying as hard as you can is so...trying.

The Olympics in turn, gets more participation at the fan level from tourists who are already gee-d up about the Olympics and thus might view wheelchair rugby as a legitimate sport and not something 'they' only 'play' in 'their' games. And with more fan participation comes more money, right?

It can make money, and has the benefit of being good policy.

All it really needs is will. I'm surprised in this day of demanding our rights (see above) that the disabled sporting community hasn't popped its head up and said "excuse me" a bit more on this issue.

Surely it hasn't escaped them that they are being excluded from legitimacy as a result of amateur empathy?
Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Move along. Nothing to see here.
So when I (Mr Speech) launched this thing I just really wanted to get us Speechies blogging. Couldn't do that without launching it.

However, as is sometimes the case with these things it wasn't close to being ready it needed a little polish. A buff. Wax on, wax off sort of thing.

So, if you arrived here in the past couple days and saw the header at the bottom of the page or just a big purple-green thing instead of the page, then, I apologise.

I'm almost done.

Then again, maybe that header could be a little greener...hmmm...

"Weird and creepy, this is. Merm hrm hrm hrm hrm!"
Mrs Speech switched me on the other day to an interesting article on a site called psfk.

In a nutshell, the boffins are going to cheat death for us. Not, in a someday-they'll-get-on-that-whole-thing-and-figure-it-out kind of way, but in so timely a manner, that if all goes to plan, I (Mr Speech) and the missus may actually experience it. So that's nice.

It's being financed by a Russian billionaire named Dmitry Itskov - of course it is! - and involves several stages, with the project advancing as technology does. From what I can tell, these are the basic stages.
  1. By 2020 - Teach a human brain to remotely control a robotic body
  2. By 2025 - Transplant of a human brain into a robotic body at the end of one's life.
  3. By 2035 - Transplant a human mind into a robotic body with an artificial brain at the end of one's life.
  4. By 2045 - Holographic bodies instead of robotic bodies.
I confess, I don't completely understand the last part. A hologram is just light refracted and dispersed and jumbled together, to form an object. It doesn't contain real matter per se, Star Trek notwithstanding. You need a projector to form the image.

I'm not sure how a person would interact with the world as a hologram unless there were projectors all over every building in every street, maintaining your hologram as you walk around. And what if you walked passed a building without a working projector? Would you disappear for a bit until you walked past a building whose machine ain't on the fritz?

But I digress.

It's odd seeing this kind of inventioneering; anyone who's seen the Jetsons has been disappointed in the lack of advancement. Where's my rocket pack? So I can get to my house on the moon? And drive my flying car?

This is the best they've come up with so far? I should have a villa on that there ridge by now.
So it' s nice to see some epic ambition. I was beginning to think we had artificially limited ourselves to 'New Gatorade! Now with 15% more hydrolitic energy!' kind of advances.

I've always been fascinated with the 'fi' in sci-fi. The fiction, the dream, the boundless ideas. Pre-JFK you'd have been called a buffoon if you'd suggested bouncing around on the big white cheesey ball. But the great man himself has just passed and the (rightful) focus on his achievements remind us that great things are possible.

But ay, here's the rub: should we? Or to quote Jeff Golblum (Jurassic Park):

"You were so busy trying to see if you could do it that you didn’t stop to think about whether you should."

I know Mrs Speech is concerned about the robotic bodies and the humans who aren't quite human. Because what they are talking about is digitising a human mind and putting it in a robot.

And then eventually dispensing with the robot and transferring the mind to a digital body.

Wherein lieth the ethics? Will the ethics evolve as we all become accustomed to the convenience of not dying? Will we simply option our digital life sooner? Shuffle off this mortal coil, to be replaced by an electronic one?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not wringing my hands in panic. I think reaching for the stars is good. Achieving is good.

But this thing advocated by Mr Itskov, is a half-finished idea. When a mind can be digitised, it can be stored in any electrical device with an appropriate capacity.

When your mind is stored on a server somewhere, and the real world has been done away with, and the only consciousness you know is in a digital world stored on another server, are things really better? Isn't this where we're headed? Why maintain an actual body, when a holographic body will do?

Why maintain an actual world, when one can be created a la The Matrix and humans can simply play at 'real' instead of experiencing it?

I'm excited by the initial application of this project. Life is good. More life is better. Eternal life on this world...I don't know.

And then there's the unconvincingly muted joy of the video. This guy needs a girlfriend.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Labels: ,

"I'm sorry, your accent is not familiar to me. Would you like to try another?"
What kind of a name is Speech Not Recognised for a blog?

Well, it's a running joke for us which began a couple months ago.

Mrs Speech, who is American and who speak-a-no-Strine, tried to use the speech recognition app on Chrome on my computer.

Speech not recognised.

She tried again.

Speech not recognised.

And again.

Speech not recognised.

She tried to say 'kookaburra' and small tendrils of smoke began emanating from the casing of my machine.

I can do it just fine, though. I'm Mr Speech. Hi, how are you.

So for those of you who know us, welcome. It's been a long time between blogs. When we last left you, the Brisbane floods had pretty much just happened. It's been a long time between blogs.

For those of you who don't know us, thanks for visiting, too!

So this is our second attempt at blogging together. We'll share our lives, our loves, our dreams. Our hopes and fears. Together, we'll achieve our destiny. Something like that.

So join us on our merry little journey. It'll look something like this:

Well, hopefully. Godspeed, Mr Armstrong.