X-Message-Number: 21946
Date: Wed, 11 Jun 2003 04:05:26 -0400
Subject: Communique From the Central Party

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A day or so ago, Charles Platt wrote a rather curious email comparing the
Cryonics Institute to the former Soviet Union.  Originally I had wanted
to write a reply that ran something like:
"In Cryonet Message #21913, Capitalist Lickspittle C. Platt issued yet a
craven counterrevolutionary deviationist bourgeois denunciation of the
Cryonics Institute, Beloved Motherland of all progressive freedom-loving
cryonics toilers.  
"The outraged cries of cryonics laborers of all stripes instantly reached
the ears of Comrade R.C.W Ettinger, Founder of the Revolution, who paused
from his ceaseless struggle on behalf of the masses, to allow myself, D.
Pascal, a humble Party member, to refute the foul counterrevolutionary
bile spewed upon all progressive freedom-loving peoples by the shameless
lies of reactionary Trotskyite running dog Platt.  
"Revisionist insect Platt disseminated the following vile slanders --   
Then I thought I would trot out the errors in Platt s post (quite awful
ones, really), refute them in good Moscow Trial Party style, etc., etc.  
It really was very tempting.  Commie prose can be a joy to do,
particularly now that it's mercifully dead and gone, and Cryonet can
always use a good chuckle.
But -- I just couldn't quite get myself to press the Send button. 
Although there's nothing that quite makes one want to laugh so much as
Charles Platt in one of his deadly serious Robespierre moods, he has a
way of bringing up serious issues that shouldn't be lost sight of,
rhetorical absurdity or no.
So, to deal with substance:
The situation's this.  CI and Alcor, long struggling for the same
admirable goals, have, for almost as long, been handicapping themselves
and one another by ignoring and/or sniping at one another.  Where mutual
cooperation might have advanced both organizations, separation advanced
A dismal situation. From which we d begun to emerge when Alcor President
Jerry Lemler graciously and wisely proposed a Cryosummit meeting, which
CI President Robert Ettinger equally graciously and wisely agreed to host
at CI HQ itself.  It took place, the participants found to their pleasure
that the opposite side was not quite as mangy as legend had maintained,
hands got shaken, agreements were made.  A good thing all around.
One of those agreements, though, has had a tough time getting properly
implemented.  Specifically, CI and Alcor agreed to try to get people from
each organization to attend and watch the other's suspensions.  Good
idea, right?  Each might learn something from the other's procedures, and
each could watch and make sure the other side didn't goof up and neglect
to report it.  Better information-sharing; more security and rigor.  Both
sides saw the benefits.  Both said OK.
As with most things cryonic that look real good in theory, though,
practice proved to be stickier.  There were two problems in particular.
First, it proved very tough to line up people to do the observing. 
Observers are like travelling teams:  you've got to contact them, wake
them up, get them packed, call the airlines, fly them over, and then
expect them to sit there till the procedure starts -- that is, assuming
the person in question doesn't linger on indefinitely, or even recover. 
And unlike travelling teams, observers get paid squat.
Now how many people do you know that are willing to drop everything, the
job, the family, etc., to go at the drop of a hat, God knows where, for
God knows how long , to see a deceased person be operated upon?  CI did
not find a lot of takers.  Nor, I gather, has Alcor.  (Though Tim Freeman
should be applauded by all of us with many an encore indeed for even
considering to take on the burden.)
The second problem proved equally as tough.  Simply put:  a lot of cases
are last-minute cases.  Sometimes we get calls when people are at the
point of death.  Sometimes we get calls when they're past the point of
death.  And when a member dies, or is about to, neither CI nor Alcor is
going to sit there and twiddle its thumbs waiting for an observer from
the B Team to get their x-rayed Reeboks back from Airport Security and
pop through the door.
This last-minute scenario applied to the last two CI cases in question. 
Papers were signed, and suspensions begun,  the very same day.  And not
in Arizona, but over two and a half thousand miles away.   Which Charles
could have found out just by popping us an email.  But, instead he writes
Cryonet, to upbraid us for neo-Stalinism.  Wails Charles:
>>Alcor has never received any such invitation or notification of an
impending case from CI <<
This is not true.  (Not that I mean to imply Charles is lying, just
mistaken.)  Robert Ettinger contacted Jerry Lemler about at least two
cases; I sent along a couple of notices myself.  I didn't in the last two
cases.  Mea culpa.  Things just move too fast sometimes.  That's how it
is.  And frankly, when no one can be lined up to come even on those
occasions when one *does* send a notice, sending a notice does cease to
be a high priority.  
Charles also finds it odd that, quote, "the man who complains perpetually
that he lacks sufficient information about vitrification solutions is
congenitally averse to revealing even the most basic facts about
procedures which are applied to CI patients."
What I find it odd is how someone can accuse CI of maintaining no less
than Stalinist levels of secrecy at the same time he himself mentions a
report on a CI suspension written (self-critically, in great detail, and
at great length) by CI Director Ben Best, a report subsequently published
in The Immortalist and is available online right now on the web (see
www.benbest.com).  This is concealment?  As KGB operations go, it strikes
me as bordering on perestroika.  I admit, we don't have people of Ben's
caliber available to report on every such operation in equal detail every
time.  Would that we did.  But full-time scribes are not always available
and not always right on the spot.  
The fact remains, as far as the exchange of observers idea goes, CI is if
anything in the lead as openness goes.  In a suspension where we did have
time, namely the recent Toronto case, CI allowed (and indeed encouraged)
attendance by Alcor people.  At least one Alcor member did attend part of
the time; former Alcor people were there, prospective Alcor members were
there, CI concealed nothing from them, and the proceedings and procedures
were noted in detail.  The converse hasn't happened.  Says Charles,
"Alcor has been remiss in not publishing detailed accounts of its own
most recent half-dozen cases..."  OK, but did CI's Chief Operating
Officer, nostrils flaring, hit Cryonet and compare Alcor to the Gulag
Archipelago?  No.  We understand what everyone understands, that
circumstances don't always allow for things to go the way you might want.
Now when there's a problem, men (and women) of good will  get together
and try to figure out the nature of the problem and come up with a better
solution.  CI still cordially invites Alcor people to -- again -- observe
our operations.  But clearly the observer idea isn't operating that well
in a lot of cases.  Maybe there's some other approach.  Perhaps the
organizations might videotape suspensions, say, and allow people from the
other side to review them.  Now that's just a personal notion, details
yet to be worked out.  Even that might not work all the time -- some
member's families don t want *any* information *whatsoever* released to
anyone outside CI, and CI has to respect that.  Moreover, if Alcor's
ambulance can break down, Alcor's camcorder presumably can too.  No
system is perfect.
But this is how you solve problems.  By accepting as a premise that
you're dealing with someone roughly as honorable as you yourself are, and
trying to work things out.  Not by questioning their integrity and
comparing them to totalitarian states.  Negative rhetoric just poisons
the whole situation.
Currently the cryonics world is approaching a significant moment in its
history.  Perhaps, a significant opportunity.  Robert Ettinger has said
that he'll be stepping down from the Presidency of CI this year.  Other
people may (regrettably) be taking over many of Jerry Lemler's duties at
Alcor.  So new directions in leadership in both companies may be
emerging, and -- just possibly -- better and more cooperative relations
between CI and Alcor may emerge too.  Developments that could benefit
both sides.  This is what cooler heads at Alcor should be thinking about.
 Not unproductive acrimony.  At this particular point in time, do both
organizations really need to get into mud-tossing, and silly mud-tossing
at that?  Better that we should use our heads to try to figure out how to
better help out one another, and our members.  And, hopefully, emerge all
the stronger and the better united for it.  
End of Central Party communiqu .
 -- D. Pascal, Commissar
P.S.  Long Life to Comrade R. C. W. Ettinger, Father of the Revolution!

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