Darpa signs on for Pentagon’s “Space Plane”

DARPA_Logo

DARPA is about to make a reusable spacecraft for the Pentagon. “It would be a spacecraft that most resembles what people see in the movies,” former Air Force command officer Brian Weeden said.

10 launches in as many days, autonomous, carries mid sized satellite payload.

What do you think the payload will be for the Pentagon? Something to win the hearts and minds with? Democracy or Freedom? Nikes? Can’t wait to find out what you think.

via The Daily Caller:

Aerospace and defense contractor Northrop Grumman recently unveiled its concept for the Pentagon’s new space plane, the XS-1 — an unmanned drone-shuttle capable of carrying small and medium-sized satellites into orbit cheaply and autonomously.

“It would be a spacecraft that most resembles what people see in the movies,” former Air Force Space Command Officer Brian Weeden told War is Boring about the concept craft, which is being headed up by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

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British Jihadis to Undergo Forced De-Radicalization

Although the British government’s motives may be honorable, deprogramming anyone sounds scarily close to brainwashing. Breitbart has the story:

Britain’s governing coalition has agreed that potential Jihadis who return to Britain from abroad should be forced to undergo a de-radicalisation programme when they arrive back in the UK.

Iraqi insurgents with guns.JPG

Photo: Menendj (CC)

The proposal is one of a series of measures agreed by the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats who form Britain’s coalition government. Also proposed is a new law to force airlines to share full passenger lists with police and security agencies, and plans to temporarily suspend to passports of UK citizens fighting for ISIS, preventing them from coming home.

According to the Sun, talks over the measures were “tense” and going on well into the night last night, ahead of the Prime Minister’s emergency statement in the House of Commons this afternoon.

The proposals come after the UK’s offical terror threat level was raised last week to severe, meaning that an attack is “highly likely”.

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Neanderthals Created Cave Art

A new discovery at Gorham’s Cave in Gibraltar suggests that Neanderthals were, contrary to their poor reputation, cave artists (and created the hashtag). Report via Chicago Tribune:

Belying their reputation as the dumb cousins of early modern humans, Neanderthals created cave art, an activity regarded as a major cognitive step in the evolution of humankind, scientists reported Monday in a paper describing the first discovery of artwork by this extinct species.

Gorham's Cave.jpg

Gorham’s Cave. Photo by Gibmetal77 (CC)

The discovery is “a major contribution to the redefinition of our perception of Neanderthal culture,” said prehistorian William Rendu of the French National Center for Scientific Research, who was not involved in the work. “It is a new and even stronger evidence of the Neanderthal capacity for developing complex symbolic thought” and “abstract expression,” abilities long believed exclusive to early modern humans.

In recent years researchers have discovered that Neanderthals buried their dead, adorned themselves with black and red pigments, wore shell and feather jewelry and cared for the elderly and infirm, all evidence of complex thought.

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Ignore the IQ test: your level of intelligence is not fixed for life

"intelligence ('cognition') is a vector" by Gisela Giardino via Flickr.

“intelligence (‘cognition’) is a vector” by Gisela Giardino via Flickr.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

By Bryan Roche, National University of Ireland Maynooth

We’re getting more stupid. That’s one point made in a recent article in the New Scientist, reporting on a gradual decline in IQs in developed countries such as the UK, Australia and the Netherlands. Such research feeds into a long-held fascination with testing human intelligence. Yet such debates are too focused on IQ as a life-long trait that can’t be changed. Other research is beginning to show the opposite.

The concept of testing intelligence was first successfully devised by French psychologists in the early 1900s to help describe differences in how well and quickly children learn at school. But it is now frequently used to explain that difference – that we all have a fixed and inherent level of intelligence that limits how fast we can learn.… Read the rest

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Filmmaker Lars von Trier’s Newest Project Will Be a TV Show

Director Lars von Trier leaving the press conference of the film "Nymphomaniac" at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival. By Siebbi via Wikimedia Commons

Director Lars von Trier leaving the press conference of the film “Nymphomaniac” at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival. By Siebbi via Wikimedia Commons

Unfortunately, not much has been revealed, but I’m excited nonetheless. Did anyone ever watch The Kingdom (Riget)?

via IndieWire:

It could be argued that all of Lars von Trier‘s efforts are “without precedent,” singular visions from the mind of a filmmaker that is truly like no other. Because really, who else would’ve put together a five-and-a-half hour epic about a woman addicted to sex that starts with her being found beaten in an alley? And even as von Trier closes the book on “Nymphomaniac,” with director’s cuts of both volumes screening for the first time together at the Venice Film Festival, he’s got another big project on the way.

The director — who vowed never to speak to the press following his Nazi comment controversy at the Cannes Film Festival — appeared via video link at Venice over the weekend during the press conference for “Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director’s Cut” (check out three NSFW new clips here) and revealed his next project.

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When Whites Just Don’t Get It

Kids and piesSome shocking facts support Nicholas Kristof’s op-ed at the New York Times, such as “the net worth of the average black household in the United States is $6,314, compared with $110,500 for the average white household”:

Many white Americans say they are fed up with the coverage of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. A plurality of whites in a recent Pew survey said that the issue of race is getting more attention than it deserves.

Bill O’Reilly of Fox News reflected that weariness, saying: “All you hear is grievance, grievance, grievance, money, money, money.”

Indeed, a 2011 study by scholars at Harvard and Tufts found that whites, on average, believed that anti-white racism was a bigger problem than anti-black racism.

Yes, you read that right!

So let me push back at what I see as smug white delusion. Here are a few reasons race relations deserve more attention, not less:

• The net worth of the average black household in the United States is $6,314, compared with $110,500 for the average white household, according to 2011 census data.

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Race is a Social Concept, Not a Scientific One

"silent diversity" by DryHundredFear via Flickr.

“silent diversity” by DryHundredFear via Flickr.

via Live Science:

Beyond the Ferguson, Mo., media reports on the “racial divide,” the facts require some correction: Despite notions to the contrary, there is only one human race. Our single race is independent of geographic origin, ethnicity, culture, color of skin or shape of eyes — we all share a single phenotype, the same or similar observable anatomical features and behavior.

Science highlights these similarities in our embryonic development, physiology (our organ-based systems), biochemistry (our metabolites and reactions), and more recently, genomics (our genetic makeup). As a molecular biologist, this last one is indeed the most important to me — data show that the DNA of any two human beings is 99.9 percent identical, and we all share the same set of genes, scientifically validating the existence of a single biological human race and one origin for all human beings. In short, we are all brothers and sisters.

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Are we heading for technological unemployment? An Argument

Altar of technology by zeitfaenger.at via Flickr.

Altar of technology by zeitfaenger.at via Flickr.

This piece was first published on Philosophical Disquisitions We’re all familiar with the headlines by now: “Robots are going to steal our jobs”, “Automation will lead to joblessness”, and “AI will replace human labour”. It seems like more and more people are concerned about the possible impact of advanced technology on employment patterns. Last month, Lawrence Summers worried about it in the Wall Street Journal but thought maybe the government could solve the problem. Soon after, Vivek Wadhwa worried about it in the Washington Post, arguing that there was nothing the government could do. Over on the New York TimesPaul Krugman has been worrying about it for years.

But is this really something we should worry about? To answer that, we need to distinguish two related questions:

The Factual Question: Will advances in technology actually lead to technological unemployment?

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What If Everything We Know About Treating Depression Is Wrong?

"How to Overcome Depression" by Kevin Dooley via Flickr

“How to Overcome Depression” by Kevin Dooley via Flickr

Could it be that we’re treating the wrong part of the brain?

via AlterNet:

A new study is challenging the relationship between depression and an imbalance of serotonin levels in the brain, and brings into doubt how depression has been treated in the U.S. over the past 20 years.

Researchers at the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center and Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit have bred mice that cannot produce serotonin in their brains, which should theoretically make them always depressed. But researchers instead found that the mice showed no signs of depression, but instead acted aggressively and exhibited compulsive personality traits.

This study backs recent research that indicates that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, may not be effective in lifting people out of depression. These commonly used antidepressants, such as Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, Zoloft, and Lexapro, are taken by some 10% of the U.S.

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