my thoughts about The Alcor Adventure video...

From: john grigg (
Date: Sat Apr 21 2001 - 22:51:03 MDT

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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