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Has the First Person to Achieve Immortality Already Been Born?

Aubrey de Grey

Aubrey de Grey

The answer to this question, posed by Motherboard, is swiftly supplied by Cambridge University gerontologist and co-founder or the California-based Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) Research Foundation, Aubrey DeGrey:

“The first thing I want to do is get rid of the use of this word immortality, because it’s enormously damaging, it is not just wrong, it is damaging. It means zero risk of death from any cause—whereas I just work on one particular cause of death, namely aging. It is also a distraction, it causes people to think this whole quest is morally ambiguous and technologically fanciful.”

So now that’s clear, what does DeGrey want to achieve in his quest for, um, indefinite life?

“If we ask the question: ‘Has the person been born who will be able to escape the ill health of old age indefinitely?’ Then I would say the chances of that are very high,” he said.

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Joss Whedon, Lionsgate Targeted in $10 Million ‘Cabin in the Woods’ Lawsuit

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I think the authors and filmmakers of Battle Royale have more grounds to sue Suzanne Collins for The Hunger Games franchise than this guy has suing Joss Whedon and co.

Tim Kenneally via Yahoo News:

Joss Whedon and Lionsgate have been slapped with a $10 million lawsuit by a writer who claims that the 2012 film The Cabin in the Woods was ripped straight from the pages of his book.

Gallagher claims that he published The Little White Trip: A Night in the Pines in 2006 and registered the book with the Writers Guild of America the following year. According to the lawsuit, Gallagher published two runs of the book totaling 7,500 copies and hawked them in areas including Santa Monica, Calif., the Venice Beach boardwalk and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The similarities between Gallagher’s book and the film are myriad, the suit claims.

“Comparing the Book to the Film, the plots, stories, characters, sequence of events, themes, dialogue, and incidents portrayed in the two works are fictional and, in many respects, the elements in the two works are virtually identical,” the complaint claims.

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Nature’s Global Warming Fix

Mikael Miettinen (CC BY 2.0)

Mikael Miettinen (CC BY 2.0)

Robert Hunziker writes at CounterPunch:

Mother Earth has experienced five extinction events, but she’s still standing.

Like a prizefighter, she is the Milky Way Galaxy Grand Champion.

Our tenacious planet is armed to fight and conquer global warming without fancy gadgets or special geo-engineering techniques. She can do it on her own, having proven herself time and again, restoring one extinction event after another, and the rest.

We only have to give her a chance, some elbow room to strut her stuff.

Good news, there is no reason to go thru another extinction event to see if nature still has “her stuff.” She does!

In large measure, it’s about dirt versus soil: “Absent carbon and critical microbes, soil becomes mere dirt, a process of deterioration that’s been rampant around the globe. Many scientists say that regenerative agricultural practices can turn back the carbon clock, reducing atmospheric CO2 while also boosting soil productivity and increasing resilience to floods and drought.

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Equality by Lot: A Brief Animated History of Sortition

This short animated clip offers a succinct history and explanation of how the ancient Athenians came to use sortition (the selection of random citizens through lottery to fill government roles). It questions whether or not such a system could be used in today’s modern world. Could this ancient practice help eliminate greed and corruption from the political arena by restoring the integrity and efficiency of the democratic process? As America gears up for yet another brutal election cycle, these are worthy questions to be asking…

This clip comes courtesy of the fantastic blog, Equality by Lot, and they have also transcribed the video:

What did democracy really mean in Athens? – Melissa Schwartzberg

Hey, congratulations! You just won the lottery. Only the prize isn’t cash or a luxury cruise. It’s a position in your country’s national legislature. And you aren’t the only lucky winner. All of your fellow lawmakers were chosen in the same way.

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In China, ‘Cooperative Marriage’ Means a Gay Man and a Lesbian Woman Wed Each Other

A bridal store in Zhejiang province, China. Photo by Flickr user Bill L. CC BY 2.0

A bridal store in Zhejiang province, China. Photo by Flickr user Bill L. CC BY 2.0

via Global Voices:

This article and radio report by Ruth Morris for The World originally appeared on PRI.org on April 2, 2015, and is republished here as part of a content-sharing agreement.

Gays and lesbians are getting married in China — but not in the way they might hope.

Same-sex unions are still illegal in China, and members of the Chinese LGBT community face the same intense parental pressure as their straight friends to get hitched and produce grandchildren.

“In our culture, a person who doesn’t get married will be considered to be disobedient towards their parents,” says a gay man identified as John, a lawyer in his 30s.

So John turned to a solution known as a ”cooperative marriage:” He married “Xiaodan,” who is lesbian, a year ago. In a nation where being gay is not acceptable, John and Xiaodan asked not to be identified by their real names.

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Why Creationists Are Praying We Never Find Alien Life

It might be easy to pick on creationists, but it’s so much fun… this time by Mark Strauss at Slate:

Could primordial soup be served ice-cold and made with a liquid other than water? Astrobiologists believe that it’s possible on Titan.

Titan multi spectral overlay.jpg

Not quite God’s green Earth: Titan viewed from from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.

 

Although the temperature on Saturn’s massive moon is a chilly minus 179 degrees Celsius, it has a thick nitrogen atmosphere rich in organic molecules and a surface speckled with methane lakes. These ingredients, according to computer simulations recently conducted at Cornell University, could combine to form cellular membranes, which are crucial for the evolution of complex cells. “Ours is the first concrete blueprint of life not as we know it,” said one of the researchers in a news release. Another expressed hope that we might someday send a probe “to float on the seas of this amazing moon.”

But the creationists at the hilariously misnamed Discovery Institute, a prominent advocate for intelligent design theory, had a different spin on the story.

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The Abuse of Satire: Garry Trudeau on Charlie Hebdo and Free-Speech Fanaticism

via Gary Trudeau's Biography

via Gary Trudeau’s Biography

Garry Trudeau (author and illustrator of the long-standing comic, Doonesbury) was recently honored with the George Polk Career Award at Long Island University, and he used the opportunity to talk about Charlie Hebdo, free-speech fanaticism, and our growing culture of “punching down.” Trudeau is no stranger to controversy – his strip has been censored numerous times throughout its many decades – so it’s interesting to hear his take on these issues:

The Muhammad cartoon controversy began eight years ago in Denmark, as a protest against “self-censorship,” one editor’s call to arms against what she felt was a suffocating political correctness. The idea behind the original drawings was not to entertain or to enlighten or to challenge authority—her charge to the cartoonists was specifically to provoke, and in that they were exceedingly successful.

Traditionally, satire has comforted the afflicted while afflicting the comfortable. Satire punches up, against authority of all kinds, the little guy against the powerful.

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Greatest trick of the rich? Making us believe they pay all the taxes

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liz west (CC BY 2.0)

 

Dylan Matthews via Vox:

Typically when politicians fight about taxes, they fight about the income tax. That is to say, they fight about the tax that rich people hate — not the taxes poor people hate.

This leads to a really perverse dynamic, wherein the taxes the privileged pay are worthy of attention and the ones the poor pay are ignored. It paints a picture where the government is being supported on the backs of the wealthy, and the poor and middle class are free-riding. It leads to plans for various kinds of tax cuts and tax reforms that matter massively for the rich and very little for the poor.

The issue here is the ceaseless focus on the federal income tax. A report from the Joint Committee on Taxation found that most Americans (65.4 percent of filers) pay more in payroll taxes than income taxes.

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