Hello, there! I'm Kennita Watson, a cryonicist, a Libertarian, an Extropian, and atypical in almost every way -- and proud of it, too! Welcome to my Web space! The photo to the right was taken using my old digital camera -- a fun toy, but I took it back to wait for the next generation. Here's my favorite picture from my Mexico Cruise; taken with an Olympus Camedia, which I liked better but it was too big. I'm itching for a Digital Elph now --- we'll see if I can hold out till the price comes down.
I find people fascinating, and often amusing, even when they infuriate me. I tend to broadcast my emotions -- great for cooperation and rapport, but bad for poker and diplomacy.
Here are some of my thoughts on the state of the world today.
ReligionI have an evolving world view which allows me to get along much better with my Baptist relatives as well as my Pagan, atheist, humanist, Unitarian, Buddhist, and other friends, without having to avoid the topic altogether.
MoneyMy profession is Software QA Engineer (professional page to come). I've gotten out of the mail-order button and bumper sticker business (which was never big enough to be a lot more than a hobby -- just enough to satisfy the IRS), and I'm casting about for other ventures. I throw away all emailed business propositions unread, so don't bother -- if it takes me more than one second to recognize them, that only makes them more annoying. But I digress.
Palo Alto, CA temp/time is to the left; click for more. If the animation bothers you, press Stop or Esc.
One minor thing I'm trying out is advertising I enjoy. If you appreciate this Web site, and order your books by clicking through here, I get a small commission. See the Poetry and Books section below.
PoliticsI've run for office a number of times on the Libertarian ticket -- CA State Senate, US House of Representatives, CA Secretary of State, and CA State Board of Equalization. In 2002, I am running for CA State Assembly,. For the curious, my politics page describes some of my political positions and past election returns.
I refer to myself as a "kinder, gentler Libertarian", because I think that most people are at least trying to do the right thing, and that (this being reality) we can't teleport from here to the promised land of Libertopia; we'll have to trek across the coercion-strewn wastelands to get there.
Cryonics AdvocacyIn 2005, I started engaging in cryonics advocacy -- that is, promoting cryonics to the general public. My first major project in this regard was to have an information booth at the Frozen Dead Guy Days in Nederland, Colorado (about 18 miles uphill from Boulder). I wore a simple pro-cryonics T-shirt of my own design.
I attended again in 2006, 2007, and 2008, hoping to garner support for attending other events. I started the Cryonics Advocacy Group, and I registered and hosted a Cryonics Advocacy Group Web page, since renamed Go Cryo! and reregistered as gocryo.org. Now to get more content. I'm not sure where it will go now. the Frozen Dead Guy Days Web site went from all these pages in 2007 to this wimpy little notice in 2009. The event is under new management, which seemed to have been trying to kill the event (whether through disinterest or incompetence, I'm not sure); I didn't make it this year.
Emergency ContraceptionRegarding an ongoing cause of mine: Please spread the phone number 888-NOT-2-LATE around to everyone you can, especially young women. 888-NOT-2-LATE is a confidential emergency contraception number. I consider unwanted children a tragedy, and abortion a traumatic second-worst alternative. I think 888-NOT-2-LATE might be easy enough to remember that it might actually do some good if enough people know about it.
For more information about emergency contraception, see the NARAL site or the Planned Parenthood site. For specific instructions on how to use emergency contraception, see Planned Parenthood's Emergency Contraception Fact Sheet.
3/15/2002: San Francisco Walgreens stores step on the emergency contraception bandwagon! Read about it here.
These are written works that I am especially fond of. (Truth In Advertising Blurb) Some of the books with links are sold by Amazon.com (at what I consider a pretty good discount). I get a small commission from Amazon.com if you order one of them through this site. I even get a (smaller) commission if you order any book from them after clicking through this site. (End Blurb)
POETRY AND BOOKS
These are books that I have loved for years, that I consider central to the shaping of my personality and world view, and that I believe that everyone should read. I can't recommend them highly enough.
- A Wrinkle In Time (paperback) (hardcover), by Madeleine L'Engle. Ostensibly a children's book, but I still love it. It gave some of my first lessons in individuality and nonconformity, not to mention a scientific epiphany in the form of tesseracts. If you know a kid (it's billed for 9-12, but I'm no judge, since I started reading at three) who could use a book, I think this is a great one!
- Atlas Shrugged (paperback) (hardcover), by Ayn (rhymes with "mine") Rand. People either love this book or hate it. The first time I tried to read it, at age 16, I was much too sensitive for it, and was so demoralized by the difficulties of the protagonist that I had to put it down at around page 350 and read Peanuts cartoons for a straight week. But when I picked it up again at age 24, I almost literally couldn't put it down: I read it at the table, in bed, in the john, and (which amazes even me now) while I was driving on the freeway (don't worry; the roads are safe now). Somewhere in there I realized that a nickname my mom had always had for me, and of which I hadn't been very fond, came from the book's main character. Now I'm flattered. I'll let you find it for yourself.
- Empire Star, a novelette by Samuel Delany, in a trio named the "Ace Science Fiction Reader", published by Ace in 1971. This one is out of print, so it's not on the Amazon list, but you should be able to get it from your favorite used-book store. Very briefly, and very roughly, it describes plexity (the number of points of view which one can take on) and how, as it mentions a number of times, "intelligence and plexity have nothing to do with each other", as the protagonist progresses from a simplex, to a complex, to a multiplex consciousness. A world-view blower, a good story, and an interesting and plausible explanation for many of the problems in the world today. Here is a good Delany page.
- I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (paperback) (hardcover?), by Joanne Greenberg (Hannah Green). A compelling book about the struggle to achieve sanity. One of the things that struck me is how the insane are all but allergic to lies, which would make it all the harder to survive in a world where we are surrounded by so many.
- Jonathan Livingston Seagull (paperback) (hardcover), by Richard Bach. This book helped me to see how many of my limitations are in my own mind, and how many of them are imposed from the outside, and thus invalid, and about the value of doing what you love, and striving at it until you succeed. All in much less space than most of the self-actualization books I see. Short enough to reread whenever you need a dose of inspiration.
and I couldn't leave off
- The American Heritage Dictionary (paperback) (hardcover). I have my nose in this book all the time, looking up meanings, roots, spellings, pronunciations... I love words, and I don't mind admitting when I don't understand one. This is the best dictionary I've found. I have both the paperback and the hardcover--the paperback for carrying around with a book I'm reading, and the hardcover (which has extra words, and often more complete definitions or etymologies) for particularly difficult ones. When I have more money, I may want a dictionary in each room, just so there's always one handy. I think this book helped teach me self-sufficiency in knowing that I can find the answers to many questions on my own. I assume that American Heritage would start kids off on the right foot with The American Heritage First Dictionary (hardcover only), which was well-reviewed, but The American Heritage Children's Dictionary lost major points for not including phonetic pronunciations.
Must-Read Political SF/Fantasy
All three of these books offer biting commentary on human interaction and the dangers inherent in it, with especial attention to the concept "Power corrupts". One deals primarily with fascism, another with communism, the third with anarchism. I don't think the word "libertarian" appears in any of them. I decided they belonged here when I discovered my mother hadn't read them, and determined that neither she nor anyone else who hadn't read them should go another Christmas without them.
- 1984 (paperback) (hardcover), by George Orwell. A dystopian picture of the direction we seem to be heading. It was written when 1984 was far in the future, and I think it takes some small credit for the fact that we haven't quite made it there yet.
- Animal Farm (paperback) (hardcover), by George Orwell. Another disturbing political picture, less futuristic (as befits communism).
- Lord of the Flies (paperback) (hardcover), by William Golding. This cautionary tale, the most primitive of the three, shows what a disaster anarchism can become if people behave like chldren. Debunks the idea of "sweet, innocent little children" -- in spades! Not surprisingly, they do not like "birds in their little nests agree".
Other Must-Read SF
These are some of the best books I've seen that deal with the emerging technologies of nanotechnology and artificial intelligence as part of the essential fabric of the story, rather than just a throwaway mention or MacGuffin.
- The Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson.
I love The Diamond Age, by Neal Stephenson, for its keep-it-moving style, its treatment of nanotechnology, and its exploration of alternate political systems, but most of all for A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer, arguably the most incredible book ever conceived.
- The First Immortal, by James Halperin.
The First Immortal, by James L. Halperin, is the first mass-market novel that thoroughly explores the topic of cryonics, and an excellent novel it is. It follows Benjamin Smith through his life, before, during, and after his cryonic suspension. It's a wonderful non-technical introduction to the topic.
Works by Stanislaw Lem
This is my favorite poem lately. I find it masterful, lyrical, and amusing. I bow to its author, Stanislaw Lem. As you read it, recall that it was originally written in Polish. Its translator clearly also deserves kudos.
Computer Love Poem
Trurl the Constructor and his friend Klapaucius have many other cybernetic adventures in The Cyberiad : Fables for the Cybernetic Age. The poem above is the culmination of "Trurl's Electronic Bard"; the other (poetryless) short stories in this collection are also full of wordplay and fun. Another of his collections that I'm fond of is The Star Diaries. The combination time-travel/multiple-copies theme of the first story is both hilarious and reminiscent of some Extropian topics. Don't bother trying to suspend disbelief -- just run with it.Book: The Revolution: A Manifesto
The Revolution: A Manifesto by Dr. Ron Paul sets forth his ideas on what's gone wrong with the American Dream of our forefathers, and what we can do to fix it.
Book: The Feeling Good Handbook
The Feeling Good Handbook by David Burns is arguably the best self-help book ever written -- it's certainly extremely well-regarded among both scientists and laypeople. The latest edition just came out in 1999, and in addition to many excellent mood management strategies and exercises, it includes a large section on commonly-prescribed psychiatric drugs.
Poem: It Couldn't Be Done
This poem, "It Couldn't Be Done" by Edgar A. Guest, reflects one of my core beliefs -- the value of optimism. I like owning the complete works of my favorite poets. For Edgar A. Guest, that means Collected Verse. Enjoy!
Book: Clutter's Last Stand
Clutter's Last Stand, by Don Aslett, is a really fun read, and actually helped me clear a lot of clutter out of my life. Where it's come back, it's been because I've ignored the advice in the book.
Book: Getting Things Done
Getting Things Done, by David Allen, is a take-no-prisoners guide to getting organized and getting on with life and projects. Note that this is easier once the clutter is under control.
My Home PageWhy not get free Web space from my ISP? Because ISPs come and go and I tire of moving files around, and because ISPs usually charge extra for custom domain names. I've managed to do this fairly cheaply, if I must say so myself.
I host my domain (kennita.com) at GoDaddy.com. I'm registering other custom domain names through http://www.gandi.net. I've heard a number of positive reviews of them, and they're working great for me; they handled my transfer well, and they cost only about $11/year (at the current Euro exchange rate) instead of the $35 I was being charged by Network Solutions. At those prices, it's no surprise there's no referral credit.
Resources - Virtual UniversityThis online-only university offers a (small by Web standards) number of classes for $20/5-week session (up to four classes/session) in a number of areas, from Advanced Web Page Design to Introduction to Meditation. You can even teach your own course! Check it out at http://vu.org. I've taken a number of their classes and found them very helpful as well as fun.
HPC Connectivity SolutionMy very own computer discovery! I've managed to connect my Windows CE handheld to a Mac running Virtual PC. They said it couldn't be done, but tenacity (some call it stubbornness, and a blatant disregard for my sleep cycle) won out. Here's how I did it.
Donating FoodI get tired of seeing food left over from parties and meetings go to waste at Sun, so I've taken it upon myself to popularize food donations. I'm slowly gathering information; I hope what I have so far is helpful to you.
WEB PERSONALITIESI know a lot of people with very interesting things to say, and who clearly spend a lot more time on their Web pages. Here are some of them:
- Max More -- philosopher; president of Extropy Institute
- K. Eric Drexler -- Ph.D. in Molecular Nanotechnology; author of Unbounding the Future, among other excellent scientific/technical/visionary books, which you can order through amazon.com by pressing on their links below:
- Engines of Creation. Eric's first and most popular book; it has turned many people (including me) on to the breathtaking possibilities that await us in the nearer-than-you-think future. A must-read, I say.
- Nanosystems : Molecular Machinery, Manufacturing, and Computation. This one gets quite technical -- if it takes equations, chemical formulae, and detailed diagrams to convince you that nanotechnology can work, this should do it for you.
- Unbounding the Future : The Nanotechnology Revolution. Lighter and more "popularized" than Engines, but good nonetheless. This one is out of print, but Amazon will look for a copy for you. If you can't wait, and don't mind reading a whole novel at your terminal, you can find it online here.
- Robin Hanson -- economist; social scientist
- Ralph Merkle -- cryonicist; nanotechnologist
- Amara Graps -- astronomer/programmer
- David D. Friedman -- economist; libertarian
- Terry Davidson. These pages don't talk as much about high tech as the rest, but I think they're the most extensive and in some ways the most thought-provoking. They've won many net.awards; check them out! (I can only stand MIDI in small doses; if you reach your tolerance threshold, Reload, and Stop the Movie before it's done loading.)
SOME FUNWhat D&D Character Is Kennita Watson?
Which Heinlein Novel Does Kennita Watson Belong In?
Which Greek Goddess Is Kennita Watson?
Which Mythological Creature Is Kennita Watson?
Which X-Men Character Is Kennita Watson?
Here's a picture of one of the graphics from a bumper sticker that I designed. It's an exercise in including images on my Web page; besides, I like it.
The following is a commercial announcement from Amazon.com; a condition of my being allowed to list their books on my site....
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I hosted my web site and email at your-site.com for a few years because it was cheap -- $5/month if you buy by the year. I jettisoned them in February 2005 when their email was down for almost four days, and their webmail after that. I've switched to godaddy.com, which is also my domain registrar. They seem to do well, though the constant "don't you want this extra service?" is annoying.
This page occasionally maintained by Kennita Watson, naturally. Enjoy!