MonthNovember 2007

Sunday School for Atheists

TIME — ‘When you have kids,’ says Julie Willey, a design engineer, ‘you start to notice that your co-workers or friends have church groups to help teach their kids values and to be able to lean on.’ So every week, Willey, who was raised Buddhist and says she has never believed in God, and her husband pack their four kids into their blue minivan and head to the Humanist Community Center in Palo Alto, Calif., for atheist Sunday school.

An estimated 14% of Americans profess to have no religion, and among 18-to-25-year-olds, the proportion rises to 20%, according to the Institute for Humanist Studies. The lives of these young people would be much easier, adult nonbelievers say, if they learned at an early age how to respond to the God-fearing majority in the U.S. ‘It’s important for kids not to look weird,’ says Peter Bishop, who leads the preteen class at the Humanist center in Palo Alto. Others say the weekly instruction supports their position that it’s O.K. to not believe in God and gives them a place to reinforce the morals and values they want their children to have.

Read the article here.

links for 2007-11-30

Outside the Box featuring Bruce Lipton

After some brief news updates on the incremental collapse of the US economy, Alex talks with Bruce Lipton (www.brucelipton.com) about his … all ? book, Biology and Belief. His experiments, and those of leading edge scientists, have examined in great detail the mechanisms by which cells receive and process information.

The implications of this research radically change our understanding of life. It shows that genes and DNA do not control our biology; that instead DNA is controlled by signals from outside the cell, including the energetic messages emanating from our positive and negative thoughts.

More Outside the Box.

Firing Up the Blue Brain

“Excellent news for fans of computer technology, neuroscience, and people who think that us telling the machines what to do is totally backwards. We reported on the attempts of the Swiss Mind Brain Institute to simulate the neocortical column of the rat last May, and they’ve recently announced success of the first phase of their project. They’ve successfully simulated the neocortical column of a rat – only a fraction of a full brain, but they proved that you don’t get to do world-shattering research when you settle for second-best by choosing one of the most complicated and vital pieces of any mammalian cortex.

They also proved that even world-class scientists still have to compete for funding, following up this amazing achievement with bold claims that the same process could simulate an entire rat brain within three years, and a human brain within ten. ”

(via The Daily Galaxy)

(see also “A Working Brain Model”-Technology Review)

Jack Kirby: Gods, Myths, and UFOs

Isn’t it strange that our mythical Gods and Goddesses live “up there”- as opposed to the terrible spirits and demons who reside in the hot, fiery core of the regions “down there?” Can it be that some part of us has its roots in deep space? Are we descended from a species that is not planet bound? There, again, is the eternal question! Why is there this mass obsession with the sky?

Despite the numerous “saucer flaps,” and the intriguing speculations concerning artifacts of dead civlizations, is it the opinion of this writer that the true revelations which will lay bare our beginnings are still matters for the distant future. Our capabilities for achieving the truth are unfortunately too limited in this age. The hope lies with the evolution of instruments forged in the technical tinker shops of today. When they’ve reached the proper stage, they will guide our hands to the truth.

Full Story: Jack Kirby.

(Thanks James K!)

UCLA Mathematician Works To Make Virtual Surgery A Reality

“A surgeon accidently kills a patient, undoes the error and starts over again. Can mathematics make such science fiction a reality? The day is rapidly approaching when your surgeon can practice on your “digital double” – a virtual you – before performing an actual surgery, according to UCLA mathematician Joseph Teran, who is helping to make virtual surgery a viable technology. The advantages will save lives, he believes.

“You can fail spectacularly with no consequences when you use a simulator and then learn from your mistakes,” said Teran, 30, who joined UCLA’s mathematics department in July. “If you make errors, you can undo them – just as if you’re typing in a Word document and you make a mistake, you undo it. Starting over is a big benefit of the simulation. “Surgical simulation is coming, there is no question about it,” he said. It’s a cheaper alternative to cadavers and a safer alternative to patients.”

(via UCLA Newsroom)

Wicca Goes Video: Magick TV Celebrates 2nd Anniversary

“Magick TV is celebrating its 2nd anniversary this month. Magick TV is part of the video revolution that exploded in 2006 with the expansion of Youtube.com but began as a way to expand Wiccan and Pagan video offerings on the net. Today, they have different videos on the net, from short glossary lessons, to Pagan prayers, to Living the Wiccan Life Interview Show. Magick TV is helping the Pagan community not just wait for mainstream news and entertainment outlets to report, but to create a platform for them to report their own news and provide much needed information.”

(via PR Web)

Magick TV

It’s sad…

That 7 years of Bush has made be think that Huckabee might not be so bad.

Update: Yeah, not so much. Guess it does it worse than Bush.

links for 2007-11-28

My 5 favorite blogs, right now

No offense to anyone left off… these just happen to be the 5 that I find to be absolute “must reads” right now.

Brainsturbator – Of the sites on this list, this one is probably the one of most interest to readers of this site. The occult, mad science, fringe culture. Best of all, this is not a link blog, practically post is a substantive original article.

Election Central – Since Joshua Marshal seems to be mostly dedicated to posting links to other parts of his TPM Empire, the TPM site Election Central has emerged as my favorite progressive blog. Election Central tracks the minutia of not just the 2008 presidential election, but all US elections of note.

Hit and Run – Reason Magazine’s blog has perhaps the best coverage on the ‘net of the ever expanding police state and the erosion of civil liberties. You may have noticed that quite a lot of my links here come from Hit and Run.

OVO blog – a new blog, from Trevor Blake. Trevor’s been publishing the OVO zine for something like 2 decades, and has been blogging on American Samizdat for a few years as well. The OVO blog features extensive coverage of the damage done by religion, and the occasional old school fringe culture gem.

Robot Wisdom – Jorn Barger, the proprietor of Robot Wisdom, coined the word “web log” and his is the first, and possibly still best. Every time I visit I find something worth while. Jorn’s links run the gamut from celebrity gossip to artificial intelligence to James Joyce scholarship.

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