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Of all the bewildering diversity of new of consumer choices on offer before the middle of the century that would have stunned people from only a generation earlier, none was perhaps as shocking as the many ways there now were to be dead. As in all things of the 21st century what death looked like was dependent on the wealth question.
Certainly, there were many human beings, and when looking at the question globally, the overwhelming majority, who were treated in death the same way their ancestors had been treated. Buried in the cold ground, or, more likely given high property values that made cemetery space ever more precious, their corpses burned to ashes, spread over some spot sacred to the individual’s spirituality or sentiment.
A revival of death relics that had begun in the early 21st century continued for those unwilling out of religious belief, or more likely, simply unable to afford any of the more sophisticated forms of death on offer.
From string theory to the multiverse, the theories of modern physics look increasingly exotic and untestable. But while they may be good for selling books, are they bad science? Do we need a return to empirical experiment, or should imagination be allowed its playground?
Cambridge string theorist David Tong, experimental physicist Tara Shears, and author of The End of Science John Horgan seek the place where facts and fantasy collide.
This lecture was submitted via the Disinfo contact page.
via Pacific Standard:
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Folks speak blithely about their guilty pleasures. But if you get a little thrill when you contemplate the worldwide obliteration of society in a horrific Armageddon, have you crossed a line from “person with a guilty pleasure” to “person who is a dangerous psychopath”?
This was a question that wrecked most of one afternoon following a discussion of Ebola with some co-workers. We were brainstorming ideas for stories about the awful pandemic, and the topic of American preparedness came up. Although Ebola seems decently isolated on our shores, public health officials are girding our infrastructure for worst-case scenarios.
I made the following confession: Although obviously the West African Ebola crisis sickens and saddens me, and although I of course don’t want Ebola to run rampant … whenever I hear about the idea of our nation crumbling in an apocalyptic plague, I get an amoral twinge of excitement.
I’m regularly asked for something to eat by people on the subway or on the streets of New York City. Complying with such a request may well be illegal before long if a trend in other American cities expands. Story from Yahoo News:
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Reading through the latest report from the National Coalition for the Homeless might spark one of those moments when you wonder, what would Marie Antoinette say? French peasants who had no bread to eat were so enraged by rumors that their queen uttered the phrase “Let them eat cake” that she ended up decapitated. Well, the coalition’s modern-day researchers found that since January 2013, 21 cities have restricted or flat-out banned feeding the homeless at all—and 10 municipalities have similar ordinances in the works.
At the heart of the bans and restrictions, write the authors, is the misguided belief that feeding people who are sleeping on the streets or in shelters encourages homelessness.
This week I have added /r/Shinto and /r/Buddhism to the list of subreddits I follow, including /r/Christianity which I am currently banned from on Reddit for talking about psychosis as a rite of passage in mystical experiences related to sorcery. The moderators of the Christian sub claimed that the books I referenced, which were found in University as a student, are not academic. Seemingly because they don’t line up with their views.
Some of the books I had referenced, besides the one by T. M. Luhrmann cited below, were Gothic Ireland: Horror And The Irish Anglican Imagination In The Long Eighteenth Century by Jarlath Killeen. Killeen talks about gothic horror and the liminal as an Anglican identity, transubstantiation as a form of cannibalism, and erotic necrophilia. The Darkened Room: Women, Power and Spiritualism In Late Victorian England by Alex Owen documents the epidemic of hysteria caused by interests in mediumship and psychosis understood as a rite of passage.… Read the rest
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It hasn’t even been four full years since the first plug-in hybrid and electric cars went on sale across the globe, and in many places plug-in cars are still few and far between. Yet across the world, consumers are turning to plug-in cars in greater numbers, with the top ten countries now accounting for over 600,000 plug-in vehicle sales according to a tally by Hybrid Cars.
Most of these sales happened after 2010, when the Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt (the two top-selling plug-in cars worldwide) went on sale, though there are a handful of EVs accounted for dating back to 2006. The numbers show that plug-in sales have increased at a staggering pace, with the total number of electrified vehicles jumping from 180,000 in December of 2013 to over 405,000 little more than a year later in January of 2014. Plug-in car sales have since climbed past 500,000 by the end of summer, and Hybrid Cars accounts for at least 603,932 plug-in vehicle sales at the end of last month.
I can definitely picture Max Renn (Videodrome) sitting on this chair with his gaping stomach-hole.
h/t Boing Boing.
Cao Hui, “Visual Temperature — Sofa,” 2008.
Mixed Materials: Resin, Fiber, etc. 98x106x108 cm.
I’m queuing this post at 10:30pm and can barely keep my eyes open. Sleep is my favorite treat. Unfortunately it shouldn’t be considered a “treat,” but rather a necessity.
via The Atlantic:
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I’m sure a lot of subway riders are skilled nappers, but this car seemed to be particularly talented. Going over the Brooklyn Bridge on a recent morning, just as the sun was coming up, a row of men in nearly identical black suits held on to the straps with their eyes closed. Their necks were bent at the slightest of angles, like a row of daisies in a breeze, and as the car clanged over the tracks and the sun pierced through the grimy train windows, it finally dawned on me they were all sound asleep. Not even the bumps and the light could stop them from sneaking in 15 more minutes of shut-eye before work.
MIT Technology Review has unearthed an old, previously unpublished essay on creativity by Isaac Asimov. Here’s the beginning:
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How do people get new ideas?
Presumably, the process of creativity, whatever it is, is essentially the same in all its branches and varieties, so that the evolution of a new art form, a new gadget, a new scientific principle, all involve common factors. We are most interested in the “creation” of a new scientific principle or a new application of an old one, but we can be general here.
One way of investigating the problem is to consider the great ideas of the past and see just how they were generated. Unfortunately, the method of generation is never clear even to the “generators” themselves.
But what if the same earth-shaking idea occurred to two men, simultaneously and independently? Perhaps, the common factors involved would be illuminating. Consider the theory of evolution by natural selection, independently created by Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace.
Most speculate that this was a meteor or bolide, though there are skeptics.
via Mysterious Universe:
So, what was it? The colors reminded some of an electrical transformer explosion but it was too large to be that and there were no reports of any noise. The Astronomical Society of Recife (SAR) says the height and high brightness of the flash indicates a meteor or bolide.
A meteor is certainly plausible, although variety of colors is out of the ordinary when compared to the singular white, green or orange colors most often reported in these types of sightings. No other explanations have been offered so far from official sources.
Unofficially, this Brazilian UFO is still up in the air.
What do you think?