The Matthew Shepard Act would have made such things "hate crimes" under Federal Jurisdiction, not only subject to the prejudices of sheriffs who might think they have better things to do than investigate just another piece of informal garbage collection of human trash.
Would have. It's recently been dropped from consideration, the Senate and House versions were too disparate. They had more important things to consider this year.
Our discussions evolved to talking about hate. We know a lot about that, from the receiving end. So we got to wondering why? Why is Hate?
And that led to thoughts about life in the Universe, as you will see below.
Hatred is not a software mistake. It's an intrinsic property of the hardware.
We're screwed, and perhaps (if it's a logical development in the evolution of thinking hardware) life in the whole universe is screwed too.
I've come to think of hate as necessary, an inevitable by-product in the evolution of intelligence (selection and competition are the only way to produce intelligence we know of).
If intelligence is also an inevitable result in the evolution of life, and intelligence = hatred = self-destruction, it means no life forms survive a certain stage and, for all intents and purposes, the universe is a giant, dumb desert.
Z (guess who that is) replied
The frightening thought is that we may be the exception - that we as a species are atypically hate-free in comparison with others.
Getting OT for a second.. I believe that prokaryotic life is probably fairly common. I believe that eukaryotic life is very, very rare indeed. It may require a double planet in the Goldilocks zone (for tides and speciation from continental drift), with a Gas Supergiant or failed star outside to make sure the reset button doesn't get pressed too often.
But back on topic...
But the reason I'm comparatively optimistic is that I deal with safety-critical systems. The hardware will fail, there will be everything from SEUs (errant beta particles flipping bits) to cosmic rays frying chips and latching memory bits high or low. But it's possible to get things to work anyway, despite this. Hate is probably inevitable, but actual persecution rather than dirty looks is not.
So what to do when everything seems so hard? Move the mountain one teaspoonful at a time. It's better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness. Personally, I do both simultaneously, it makes me feel better.
K then said
Zoe, please speak blue collar english in the second paragraph. I don't understand a couple of the critical words.
I pretty much got it all bar the goldilocks reference.
I am inclined to agree that how people deal with hate is probably easier to adjust than hate itself, however moving a mountain with a teaspoon and only the light of a single candle would require either a very very big teaspoon or a extra extra long burning candle, no?
That is a very old theory popularized by Sagan in the 70s. The idea is that life like ours can only appear in a planet with similar conditions to ours: in the Goldilocks belt (a belt around the central star where the radiation is not so high to kill life, but the radiant energy received is enough to produce warm temperatures needed for life), with a double-planet (like the Moon-Terra system, we only see one face of the moon because we are a double planet) and with a giant gas planet close enough to catch marauding asteroids and comets (Jupiter, for us).
Now, exobiologists toy with larger vistas: life that is not exactly like ours, but with many significant differences. The discovery and analysis of archaebacteria in the 90s opened us more possibilities. There can be life which is much sturdier to radiation and heat than thought before, much more sturdier to high salt concentration, to low pHs, to the presence of sulfur, methane and ammonia.
But we're limited in our thinking. We think that life can only evolve through direct competition, that it requires independent beings struggling with each other so that they improve with the passing of generations, because that's all we know.
However, I think there are many more alternatives. I'd consider a gradation of life not so much based on the environmental conditions or the building blocks used, but only on the frequency with which the larger molecules form.
Type A planet: one where the formation of self-replicating chains is scarce. Competition is mostly indirect, evolution takes much longer due to less pressure (fewer organisms). The result could be collaborative intelligence, since violence was seldom necessary and collaboration had a higher value. The beings would need to be very large creatures, to obtain all the resources they need, which are likely to cover a vast area. The resulting intelligence will be very alien to us. Intelligence's chances of survival are high.
Type B planet: the formation of self-replicating chains is more common, but not too common. Collaboration is a must within a group, the conditions would not favour individuals. Sentience and later intelligence would be communal enterprises, same with warfare. Creatures will be of a reduced size, to perform according to the need of the colonies. Larger creatures, due to the relative scarcity of resources, would be exterminated. Intelligence developed in such an environment would be extremely aggressive in the out-group, but collaboration would be strong in the in-group. Intelligence's chances of survival would be low.
Type C planet: even more common self-replicating chains. Creatures can be independent organisms thanks to the abundance of resources. The competition will happen at two levels: in-group and out-group, with the balance of one or the other changing according to the region and external events. Smaller life forms, due to the possibility of individual selection, would become secondary and often parasitic or co-dependent with the larger species. Intelligence's chances of survival would be low.
Type D planet: literally full of life, to the point that the self-replicating chains are all part of the same organism. They join and instead of evolution through external competition, evolution is an internal affair. The entire planet could develop into a sentient, self-aware being. Selection would be against the environment, with diverse internal structures of the mega-creature adapting to diverse challenges. Needless to say, intelligence evolved in such a way would be extremely foreign to us as well. Intelligence's chances of survival: high.
Type B planets are close to what to us is ant life: they form colonies that are like one organism, collaboration in-group is strong but war out-group is merciless. Selection favours specialization into some basic types (warriors, workers, queens) and deviations from the basic types is equivalent to destruction. Type C planets are like our own, with intelligence existing in us larger animals (mammals). In a true Type B planet, their "insects" would be able to reason as a colony. Individual-based intelligence would be unknown.
Z then replied
Sorry Kara, my bad. Communication is mostly the responsibility of the sender, to make sure the message is decipherable by the receiver.
Prokaryotes - simple life.
Prokaryotes are a group of organisms that lack a cell nucleus and some other stuff to do with the internal structure. Most are unicellular, but some prokaryotes are multicellular organisms. They have a single chunk of unoganised DNA.
Prokaryotes consist of the bacteria and the archaea. Archaea were originally thought to live only in inhospitable conditions such as extremes of temperature, pH, and radiation, but have since been found in all types of habitats.
Prokaryotes are hardy beasts, quite capable of surviving eons in interstellar vacuum, hitching rides when the planet they're on has a meteorite impact that throws some debis out into space. My personal opinion is that anywhere there is water, you'll find them. Comets, Europa, deep in the Martian rock, you name it. If they evolve anywhere in a galaxy, they'll spread everywhere, before the heat death of the Universe occurs. I think they appear just after Population II stars do. Population II stars have twice-cooked elements, stuff made in the supernovas of Population I stars, things like phosphorus rather than iron and carbon.
Eukaryotes are a different kettle of fish. Far more complex, and can evolve in special circumstances only. Eukaryotes have cellular nuclei, and are often multicellular - ants, fish, plants, fungi, people. Their DNA is organised in chromosomes. Often the cells have prokaryotic structures in them that they have absorbed over the years, and which reproduce when they do.
Less hardy than prokaryotes, but with far more developmental potential. It may require on average over one universe lifetime for them to evolve. That is, unless their home is an Intergalactic Hellhole, subject to volcanoes, floods, fire, drought, continents dancing around, splitting and colliding to cause speciation (and THAT means a rare double planet system), a slightly variable star to bake and freeze them, but not too many large meteorite or comet impacts, just enough to (literally) make Life Interesting. Oh, and lots of liquid water helps too. A Torture Chamber where complex and adaptive life has an immediate advantage over mere stubborn survivors that reproduce well.
I believe that Prokaryotes are basically everywhere, but Eukaryotes are really, really, really rare and precious. They're also the only way I can imagine that intelligent life can form: it's easier to evolve eukaryotes than come up with a scenario where a planetary mass of bacteria can "wake up to itself". That would take far longer than one Universe lifetime.
Eukaryotes may even construct interstellar colonisation vessels, or silicate or hybrid organo-silicate lifeforms to succeed them before they die out. They may thus be able to cause advanced life to survive after their local neighbourhood becomes untenable for any life - such as when the star they depend on goes Red Giant.
But until then, in terms of biomass, the prokaryotes will always dominate. Earth's life is basically prokaryotic, contaminated by primitive unicellular eukaryotes, and a tiny trace, the merest hint, of multicellular eukaryotic life.
I'd recommend getting a game called "SimEarth" - it puts this all into perspective. You realise just how trivial we are in the scheme of things, yet how terribly precious too.
There is a game coming out at some point in the next 20 years called Spore. It promises to be a fun, cerebral ride.
Prokaryotic intelligence is deemed impossible. But Nature has surprised us before, She can do it again.
A peek into the world of TS support groups. And into the thoughts of some TS women. Yes, I know according to many "experts" such as McHugh we're only supposed to be talking about fashion, makeup, how we love the feel of frilly panties (and certainly not about children or science), but there you are. Obviously we're lying, and this post doesn't exist.