X-Message-Number: 16089
From: "john grigg" <>
Subject: my thoughts about The Alcor Adventure video... 
Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2001 22:50:15 

Hello everyone,

I have viewed The Alcor Adventure video six times so far and now feel ready 
to discuss it.  An excellent investment at $25 considering how it would be 
an excellent primer to show curious friends and family.  I hope everyone on 
this list purchases a copy from Alcor!

Having read the article in Cryonics by the video's creator Billy Seidel, I 
knew it was quite a challenge for him in deciding on the right approach as 
well as viewing length.  We all owe him a debt of gratitude for his hard 

As the video progresses, Billy Seidel walks the viewers through the process 
of considering cryonics in the various ways one must(price, odds of working, 
ethics/religion, what experts say, which org to join(oddly it wasn't CI or 
ACS lol!) and then a "signing up" is done at the end.  In this way many of 
the questions and objections a curious newcomer might have would be answered 
and a feeling of resolution would be reached.

He does this all in a very systematic way as in one scene we see him check 
off the following...
good idea? yes
can I afford it? yes
is my religion ok with it? yes
have recent technological advancements made cryostasis even more possible? 

The video starts out with a view of Billy's hands at a desk with him as the 
narrator(not Charleton Heston or Patrick Stewart! lol)  He starts out with, 
"this is going to be difficult, because what I'm thinking about may not even 
be possible at all."  I was surprised by his candor in starting out.

He explains with a chart he draws how someone born this year may never die 
from disease or old age but those older(us!) will need something to get us 
over the hump.  If we can only make it to the time a hundred-years hence 
when medical technology is so advanced that what kills us now won't kill us 
then.  As Billy puts it "so, the big problem is getting to the future!," and 
he then states "Alcor says they can do it with biostasis."  Finally, he 
declares "I'd better give them a call."  And the adventure begins...

He reviews some reports and graphs done by various people to show we do have 
some chance of making it via cryonics despite the hazards of things such as 
fire or natural disaster.

Max More is the first person interviewed(very briefly!).  Max very matter of 
factly explained how a sensible person should carefully study the matter and 
then make a decision.  Max admits there is no guarantee but as science 
progresses things look tremendously better that cryonics will work.  He gave 
an example of how many cells and tissues can now be frozen and then brought 

The graphic at the bottom of the screen introduced him as a philosopher.  
While, he is this by education I would think "president of the Extropian 
Institute" and/or "business consultant" could have also been good titles.  
Maybe, he just wears to many hats to label with just one like many people 

Natasha Vita-More is next up.  I especially liked how she explained cryonics 
should be seen as a form of insurance and the ultimate safety net.  Natasha 
shot down the notion that cryonicists are "thrilled" in some fetish-like way 
at the idea of being frozen.  So, I guess I'm the only one then! LOL!

Natasha's graphic for her career was "metaculture." My mother wanted to know 
exactly what a metaculturist does! lol  I thought maybe "artist" and/or 
"media personality" would have been better for people to understand.

Natasha is such an attractive woman but the lighting was bad for the 
interview.  Her eyes were dark holes due to shadows which really bothered 
me.  I wish more attention had been paid to lighting.  I realize Billy 
Seidel had limited time and resources, but still.

Rudi Hoffman, our resident financial pro, shared that cryonics is not just 
for the wealthy because of the incredible leverage one can get with life 
insurance.  How did I just know that Rudi would bring that up? I loved how 
on his shirt were embroidered the words "cryonics insurance!" :)

I really chuckled when Rudi said cryonics was not just for the rich or "the 
lunatic fringe of high-tech wierdos!"  I sure hope no one here is included 
in the latter group!! lol!  I think in some people's minds all cryonicists 
and transhumanists are given that label but times are changing.

While poor Natasha was covered in darkness, Rudi was aglow like a star.  
Either it was his very sunny personality, luck or he knows how to position 
himself for an outdoor interview.

Louise Gold was interviewed with Peter Voss.  Peter Voss simply stated that 
cryonics is experimental but what do we have to lose anyway?

I liked Louise Gold's enthusiastic comment that as good as life may be now 
it could be SO MUCH better in the future if you have faith that science and 
humanity can work together for good.  And with that in mind cryonics is the 
thing to do.

At one point Billy showed a number of books which have been prominent within 
the cryonics world.  Giving due respect, he showed Robert Ettinger's 
"Prospect of Immortality" first and then a pile of other books.  I smiled at 
one title which went something like, "The Boomer's Guide to Living Forever!"

As the narrator Billy Seidel asked why more people had not yet signed up for 
cryonics.  Kathleen Cotter, the Alcor cryostasis team coordinator, explained 
that most people havn't joined because they don't understand what cryonics 
offers.  And that in time we could be living centuries.

Matthew Sullivan, the Alcor facility operations/patient care manager, stated 
society has taught us death is both desirable and unavoidable.

And Dr. Terry Grossman(author -Boomer's Guide to Living Forever) said he is 
surprised more people have not yet signed up.  He felt this way since many 
people say they so badly want to see how the future develops.

Personally, I tend to think more people have not yet signed up for cryonics 
because the procedure is not currently fully reversible!  But, that would 
not make for inspiring public relations.

When Alcor's three year plan of renovation has been successfully implemented 
and the Timeship is being used then we will REALLY have something to catch 
and hold the public eye.  Not as good as reversible suspended animation but 
still impressive.

I would hope a follow-up video is made several years from now where David 
Pizer's venturist community will be mentioned and lauded.  Perhaps, even a 
brief interview with Robert Ettinger to give credit to the father of 
cryonics.  Of course, his "children" at Alcor have gone their own way...

I loved every glimpse given of the Alcor Asilomar conference panels.  The 
panel on myth-cracking was shown with Natasha Vita-More moderating.  Ralph 
Merkle gave the best answer he could think of in explaining why a religious 
person could consider cryonics acceptable and even imperative.  Merkle's 
argument was that we are here to do God's work and have an imperative to 
live longer and healthier lives to carry out the almighty's work.  Merkle 
said this was the most compelling argument on the matter which he knew of 
though he himself is not religious.

It was funny seeing Merkle shrug in a self-conscious way when Greg Fahy 
explained how cryonics was gaining prominence with such scientists as Merkle 
lending their support.  He didn't seem so terrible then! lol

Fahy also explained how transhumanist/cryonicist subjects such as nanotech 
were know getting respectful treatment and it was so refreshing considering 
how just a few years ago Scientific American had slammed the infant 
technology.  Then the Scientific American article which discussed 
Alcor(including a big, glossy pic of Linda Chamberlain standing next to 
dewars) was shown.

This video gave the needed attention to vitrification and how it far 
surpasses the old way of freezing.  A panel excerpt showed Wowk and Fahy 
explaining the leap forward which it is.  Photos were displayed to show 
advantages in cell and molecular integrity.  This really helped get the idea 

Dr. Rob Newport also very succinctly told how vitrification is so much 
better over the structural damage freezing would cause.  It was another of 
the "mini-interviews" which Billy Seidel used throughout.

Finally, Kathleen Cotter, Alcor biostasis team coordinator, shared again the 
facts regarding vitrification's superiority over conventional freezing.  The 
point was definitely well made by several people! lol

Dr. Max More(hey, he is a doctor of philosophy!) made me really chuckle when 
on a panel he said that people who would say they would be bored with a 1000 
year lifespan would also be bored now and not know what to do with 
themselves next week!! lol

One person who stood out to me in the video was Dr. Jerry Lemler.  He really 
struck me as a caring and zestful person.  I loved how he talked about how 
being free of disease/angst/money worries/travel restrictions in a future 
post-reanimation world would be so wonderful and almost unimaginable in 
today's world.  Dr. Lemler said he loves every precious moment of today and 
wants that second journey.

Dr. Greg Fahy as a panel speaker stated things will change and get better as 
time passes for immortals, and it would actually TAKE effort to stay bored 
in those circumstances!  I don't think he knows some of my friends! lol  I 
think some people think it's cool to be "bored."

I got a big kick out of Jack St. Clair!  He had an infectious english 
enthusiasm which I found very warm.  He had a sort of "everyman" feel to him 
which could touch someone otherwise unaffected by the other speakers.  I 
could see Jack being a gameshow host. :)

As things progress for Jerry Seidel in the video(as he explores cryonics and 
decides to join up) he pays a visit to Alcor.  Linda Chamberlain greets him 
with a warm smile at the door and whisks him to the conference room.

Linda gives a little history about Alcor and explains a matter of paramount 
importance to their organization.  That stabilization/standby teams are the 
key to stopping decay from the moment the heart stops.  This she feels sets 
Alcor apart among other organizations.

Stem cell research was brought up here in her interview(and earlier in some 
detail) to show that biological regeneration really is not science fiction 
but coming our way soon.

She pleaded that people not try to sign up friends and relatives while they 
are on their deathbed or right after death!  Linda explained the whole 
procedure takes time and so don't procrastinate.

And Linda relieved any people's worries out there of coming back as old and 
infirm people! lol  With nanotech, she explained, if they can bring you back 
at all then making you young will be a breeze by comparison.

Next, Fred was interviewed.  Billy hit him with the question of whether the 
money given over to Alcor is safe from dishonesty.  Fred explained that a 
board of five people separate from the operating organization board preside 
over the care of these funds and that at least three members have family in 
biostasis(I'm trying to not say "suspension" anymore!).

I noticed Fred Chamberlain has definitely been working out and had a proud 
set of biceps.  Only he and Natasha got to show off this way! lol

Billy asked Fred about the "immortals who might get very bored" question.  
Fred replied that even now people can opt out by committing suicide with a 
gun!!  So, don't worry about getting bored!  This resulted in laughs on the 
video but made my family and I feel a little awkward...  I understand that a 
little dry gallows humor can be stress-relieving sometimes, especially for a 
person who runs an organization which must deal so much with death.

Fred shared that a variety of people from different walks of life are signed 
up for cryonics.  I guess some people stereotype cryonicists.  I have read 
articles saying those signed up are usually "single and lonely white males 
who are atheistic computer programmers and live in silicon valley!"

Fred discussed vitrification and how it can benefit cryonicists even before 
it helps the general public in the form of organ transplantation.  
Vitrification certainly got good coverage in this production!

Toward the end we see Billy reading a letter from Alcor congratulating him 
on having joined.  He says "well, that's it, I made it!"  Billy goes on to 
tell "I have everything in place and my lifeline to the future is complete."

Photographs are shown of people who are currently in biostasis.  Most I did 
not recognize but FM-2030 was one I certainly did.  As this very touching 
sequence played out Billy stated "I feel like I really belong someplace, I 
belong to a community that stands for something important and not just for 
me but society as a whole."

"We have lost too many valuable individual's to the war with death, how much 
more could they have contributed to the human race if they had had more 

"I know I made the right choice."

We then see Billy walking across the desert in twilight to signify the 
journey we have taken together.

The ending of this production was so strong.  I do not see how someone could 
not have been deeply touched by it.  He took cryonics and really showed the 
humanity behind it.

During the closing credits a corner of the screen shows various bits from 
interviews done.  Kathleen Cotter says she chose Alcor because they are 
simply the best.

Dr. Newport goes on a flight of intellectual fancy and states he might want 
to come back as an intelligent butterfly!  Now, what kind of people did Rudi 
say are sometimes attracted to cryonics? lol  Personally, I want to be a 
dolphin that can change into an eagle.  I mean to say a dolphgle! ;)

Dr. Lemler stated Alcor was the most stable and secure cryonics organization 
and that is why he chose it for he and his family.

Lastly, Jack St. Clair puts forward a very warm and forthright invitation to 
the viewer.  "Simply contact Linda or Craig and come and join us!  We want 
to save our lives and so why don't you save your own as well?  There 
couldn't have been a better final person for it.

To conclude things, Billy Seidel had an Alcor contact information graphic 
run for a LONG time.  I mean you could go eat dinner, come back and there it 
would still be!  So, if you have someone in your home who says "don't ever 
rewind the vcr because you will wear it out!"  Don't worry, Billy has you 
covered! :)

I wish just a few things had been different.  Real film instead of video 
would have been so nice(superior in image resolution) but I realize the 
production price would have been very prohibitive.  I just hope the next 
production for Alcor is done with film or a digital tech so advanced it does 
not matter.

Lighting was a problem.  I did not like seeing things/people in shadows so 
much or looking somewhat washed out by light.  Again, I realize both money 
and time was limited.  Things were done "on the fly" at the Alcor 
conference.  I just hope next time this will be corrected.

I wish the production had been maybe fifteen minutes longer to flesh out 
some subjects.  Funding of cryonics comes to mind.  I'm sure Rudi would not 
have minded! lol  I could tell the interviews had been heavily cut and I 
wish more of what was said had been included.  I felt a little "editing 
whiplash" as I saw The Alcor Adventure.

The public today is so used to seeing very glossy, professional and 
entertaining productions on network and cable television.  I was concerned 
that this video's minor shortcomings in production will lesson the impact 
and opinion of some newcomers to cryonics and Alcor.

I realize the serious investigator will look past such things but some 
people are superficially judgemental.  Making judgements strictly based on 
how another person is dressed is a good example.

Ultimately, it was still an EXCELLENT production and my total 
congratulations to Billy Seidel.  If you want a short and concise video 
which will cover all bases in introducing cryonics and Alcor; well, this is 



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