Author Archive | BattyMcDougall

What Can DNA Tell Us? Place Your Bets Now!

From Newton to Hawking, scientists love wagers. Now Lewis Wolpert has bet Rupert Sheldrake a case of fine port that: “By 1 May 2029, given the genome of a fertilised egg of an animal or plant, we will be able to predict in at least one case all the details of the organism that develops from it, including any abnormalities.” If the outcome isn’t obvious, then the Royal Society will be asked to adjudicate. Watch this space…

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Crusading British Journalist Combats Stupidity

Aaronovitch explains that the reason some of us qualify as stupid is that we assume conspiracy when an event is really the result of accident or chance. Such beliefs are harmful because they distort reality and lead to “disastrous decisions.”

The book doesn’t really break new ground. The author’s role is commentator. He provides the wise insight we stupid people lack on what’s normal and conventional, along with overviews and updates on the conspiracies he selected for inclusion. Among those are the Protocols of Zion as endorsed by Henry Ford, the Commies-under-the-bed scares that implicated most everybody including the Boy Scouts, JFK and RFK assassinations, world government as the aim of international bankers, Masons, Catholics, Zionists, Communists and whoever else, Marilyn Monroe, Princess Di, alternative histories of ancient civilizations founded by extraterrestrials, and 9/11, and the Da Vinci Code.

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Transhumanist Salvation or Judgment Day?

We’re starting to brush up against real robots, real nanotech, and maybe even the first real artificial intelligence. But will emerging technologies destroy humankind — or will humankind be saved by an emerging transhumanism?

And which answer is more liberating?

If anybody knows, it’s R.U. Sirius. The former editor in chief at Mondo 2000 (and a Timothy Leary expert) has teamed up with “Better Humans LLC.” They’re producing a new transhumanist magazine called h+. But can he answer this ultimate question? Terminator Salvation played with questions about where technology ends and humanity begins.

But what will we do when we’re confronting the same questions in real life?

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Ondi Timoner’s New Movie — ‘We Live In Public’

On the 40th anniversary of the Internet, WE LIVE IN PUBLIC tells the story of the effect the web is having on our society, as seen through the eyes of “the greatest Internet pioneer you’ve never heard of,” visionary Josh Harris. Award-winning director, Ondi Timoner (DIG!), documented his tumultuous life for more than a decade, to create a riveting, cautionary tale of what to expect as the virtual world inevitably takes control of our lives.

Josh Harris, often called the “Warhol of the Web,” founded Pseudo.com, the first Internet television network during the infamous dot-com boom of the 1990s. He also created his vision of the future: an underground bunker in NYC where 100 people lived together on camera for 30 days over the turn of the millennium.

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Errol Morris: Bamboozling Ourselves

Why do people believe in imaginary returns, frauds and fakes?

Bernard Madoff, A.I.G., W.M.D.’s … How did this happen? Do we believe things because it is in our self-interest? Or is it because we can be manipulated by others? And, if so, under what circumstances?

Last year, two different books on that subject appeared within months of each other. Not only did both tackle the question of fakery, they were both about the same man: Han van Meegeren, arguably the most successful art forger of all time. Edward Dolnick’s “The Forger’s Spell” was released first (Edward Dolnick’s wife is on the board of The New York Times Company), followed by Jonathan Lopez’s “The Man Who Made Vermeers.” The titles provide a clue to the different goals of the authors — Dolnick’s interest in the nature of the trickery, the spell that Van Meegeren cast; Lopez’s interest in the nature of the man who did the tricking, the man who cast the spell.… Read the rest

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Lost In Space

What really happened to Russia’s missing cosmonauts? An incredible tale of space hacking, espionage and death in the lonely reaches of space.

There are those who believe that somewhere in the vast blackness of space, about nine billion miles from the Sun, the first human is about to cross the boundary of our Solar System into interstellar space. His body, perfectly preserved, is frozen at –270 degrees C (–454ºF); his tiny capsule has been silently sailing away from the Earth at 18,000 mph (29,000km/h) for the last 45 years. He is the original lost cosmonaut, whose rocket went up and, instead of coming back down, just kept on going.

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Video Game Girls Burlesque

Every gamer’s wet dream came true at Bordello on May 9 as Devil’s Playground presented Video Game Girls burlesque. The dancers arrived armed and outfitted for an arcade battle, and included Super Mario Bros. Princess Peach, Metroid‘s Samus Aran, Street Fighter‘s Chun-Li, The Legend of Zelda‘s Link and Princess Zelda, and BloodRayne‘s Rayne. See how they ranked by costume, skills used and execution.

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When Joan Collins Thought She’d Met Banksy

To Joan Collins it must have seemed an unexpected honour too good to refuse — the chance to meet the world-famous, and notoriously secretive, graffiti artist Banksy.

Not surprisingly, she readily accepted the invitation to host a dinner party for the mysterious artist in a grand country home, with other excited celebrities in attendance to share the unique experience.

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