Maybe Ancient Aliens Are Out There After All

Steve Jurvetson (CC BY 2.0)

Steve Jurvetson (CC BY 2.0)

Micah Hanks at Mysterious Universe:

The concept of alien life visiting Earth, particularly in ancient times to plant the seeds of knowledge amidst early human minds, has gone through a renaissance over the last few years. Every few decades, trends (including this one) will appear to go through short little bursts of revitalization, almost like mystery signals leaping from the otherwise desolate void of space, and calling to us with promises of things greater and more distant than ourselves or the knowledge we have attained.

While the concept of “ancient aliens” has been entertained by some of the brightest minds, the concept is generally attributed to–of all people–Carl Sagan, who posited as early as 1966 that what he called paleo-contact might account for knowledge brought to Earth by extraterrestrials, in a book he coauthored with astrophysicist I.S. Shklovski called Intelligent Life in the Universe. Earlier roots predating Sagan and Shklovski’s writing have been linked to H.

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Jimmy McMillan Evicted

jimmy mcmillanDo you remember Jimmy McMillan who famously ran for New York City Mayor with the slogan “The Rent Is Too Damn High!”? (Check out the movie DAMN!)

New Media Rockstars reports that he’s being evicted:

Jimmy McMillan, the politician who became a meme for his stance of “The rent is too damn high,” just got evicted from his New York apartment. But it wasn’t, according to Jimmy, because the rent was too high, but rather because it was too damn low. Jimmy, who lived in an apartment that charged $872 a month(!), claims his landlord evicted him because he wants to do away with rent-controlled properties and charge more. The landlord claims it’s because Jimmy’s primary residence is located elsewhere, which breaks the terms of the rental agreement…

[continues at New Media Rockstars]

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Functioning brain tissue grown in 3-D structure

Examples of mature Purkinje cells grown from human embryonic stem cells CALB and L7 are Purkinje-cell specific late markers. GRID2 is a marker for a Purkinje-specific glutamate receptor. LHX5 is a marker for the early Purkinje cells.via RIKEN

Examples of mature Purkinje cells grown from human embryonic stem cells
CALB and L7 are Purkinje-cell specific late markers. GRID2 is a marker for a Purkinje-specific glutamate receptor. LHX5 is a marker for the early Purkinje cells.
via RIKEN

Via RIKEN:

Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Japan have succeeded in inducing human embryonic stem cells to self-organize into a three-dimensional structure similar to the cerebellum, providing tantalizing clues in the quest to recreate neural structures in the laboratory. One of the primary goals of stem-cell research is to be able to replace damaged body parts with tissues grown from undifferentiated stem cells. For the nervous system, this is a particular challenge because not only do specific neurons need to be generated, but they must also be coaxed into connecting to each other in very specific ways.

RIKEN researchers have taken up this challenge, and the work published in Cell Reports details how sequentially applying several signaling molecules to three-dimensional cultures of human embryotic stem cells prompts the cells to differentiate into functioning cerebellar neurons that self-organize to form the proper dorsal/ventral patterning and multi-layer structure found in the natural developing cerebellum.

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Drone maker DJI will disable its units over Washington, DC, after White House crash

Michael MK Khor (CC BY 2.0)

Michael MK Khor (CC BY 2.0)

Ben Popper Via The Verge:

Following the crash of one of its Phantom drones at the White House on Monday and a response from President Obama that more regulation of drones was needed, Chinese drone maker DJI will reportedly be disabling its units from flying over the DC area. According to the FAA, it was already against federal regulations to fly in that region, not to mention the fact that the pilot told the Secret Service he was drinking.

DJI previously stated to The Verge that it programmed its drones to stop flying when they reached a certain distance from airports. Using the GPS, DJI can track a drone’s position at all time and establish which zones are off limits. But this would mark the first time DJI is preventing flight over a metro area.

“DJI will release a mandatory firmware update for the Phantom 2, Phantom 2 Vision, and Phantom 2 Vision+ to help users comply with the FAA’s Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) 0/8326, which restricts unmanned flight around the Washington, DC metropolitan area,” the company wrote in a press release this morning.

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The Price of Legal and Medical Marijuana Makes the Black Market Stronger

Dank Depot (CC BY 2.0)

Dank Depot (CC BY 2.0)

I live in Maine and I smoke weed. Though, I don’t smoke as much as I used to. I’ve gone from someone who was stoned all day to someone who partakes on occasion. Still, even now that I have mellowed, I want easy access to marijuana, and where I live I have always had that. I don’t think I have ever had to go without. If I don’t know where to find it, one of my friends does.

In 2009 Maine became the 5th state to provide for dispensaries of medical grade marijuana for persons with debilitating and chronic medical conditions. I am sure I could get medical marijuana. I have been diagnosed with anxiety disorder, and a card isn’t hard to get. There are all sorts of friendly doctors around that will write a scrip. The people I know who have tried to get it, from some of the boozebags I know to my lawyer, have all been successful.… Read the rest

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Office puts chips under staff’s skin

Screenshot from BBC's news coverage.

Screenshot from BBC’s news coverage.

And it begins.

Rory Cellan-Jones at BBC:

Want to gain entry to your office, get on a bus, or perhaps buy a sandwich? We’re all getting used to swiping a card to do all these things. But at Epicenter, a new hi-tech office block in Sweden, they are trying a different approach – a chip under the skin.

Felicio de Costa, whose company is one of the tenants, arrives at the front door and holds his hand against it to gain entry. Inside he does the same thing to get into the office space he rents, and he can also wave his hand to operate the photocopier.

That’s all because he has a tiny RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip, about the size of a grain of rice, implanted in his hand. Soon, others among the 700 people expected to occupy the complex will also be offered the chance to be chipped.

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If There Are Gods, They Are Evil

See-ming Lee (CC BY 2.0)

See-ming Lee (CC BY 2.0)

Via Reason and Meaning:

Here is a brief summary of a piece by B.C. Johnson, “Why Doesn’t God Intervene to Prevent Evil?” It offers a devastating critique of the possibility that there is an all powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving god. 

Are there any good excuses for someone (or a god) not saving a baby from a burning house if they had the power to do so? It will not do to say the baby will go to heaven, since one suffers by burning to death. The key is the suffering.  If the suffering was not necessary, then it’s wrong to allow it; if the suffering is necessary, the baby’s going to heaven doesn’t explain why it’s necessary.

It doesn’t make sense to say that a baby’s painful death will be good in the long run, and that’s why the gods allow it. For that is to say that whatever happens in the long run is good; since if something happened it was allowed by the gods, and it must therefore be good in the long run.

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Did the Chernobyl Disaster Cover Up Something Even Worse?

Did you hear the one about the Russian Woodpecker? Newsweek tells the tale:

Dormant for a decade and a half, the Russian Woodpecker appeared to return in December 2013. Once, the notorious tapping of the massive Soviet over-the-horizon radar had frustrated and puzzled Western radio operators, who could discern neither the origin nor purpose of the strange signal. It was coming from somewhere behind the Iron Curtain; its frequency, 10Hz, made some think it was intended for mind control. In 1981, an NBC newscaster wondered, “Are they trying reduce us to a zombie stumbling and groping around and waiting to be told what to do?” And, no, he wasn’t hosting Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live.

DUGA Radar Array near Chernobyl, Ukraine 2014.jpg

DUGA Radar Array (Russian Woodpecker) near Chernobyl, Ukraine. Photo: Ingmar Runge (CC)

 

Even after the fall of the Soviet Union, the 14,000-ton military radar installation in northern Ukraine, near the border with Belorussia, has remained a mystery to outside observers, largely because it sits right next to the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station, where a reactor meltdown in the spring of 1986 rendered the surrounding area uninhabitable for the next, oh, several thousand years.

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Why We Need to Abolish Competition and Embrace Arguments | Interview with Margaret Heffernan

Abby Martin interviews Margaret Heffernan, author of ‘Willful Blindness’ and ‘A Bigger Prize’, about the destructive impact of competition and alternative models of incentivizing people to work together for the greater good.

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Another State Fights War on Solar and Energy Efficiency

Via Mary Anne Hitt at EcoWatch

Despite poll after poll showing that Americans want more clean energy, Indiana legislators are pushing bills that would reduce energy efficiency and make it harder for Hoosier state residents to go solar, just as the solar industry is getting on its feet in the state.

Last week, Indiana’s Senate Utilities Committee heard from a packed room about its bill that would let utilities set energy efficiency goals. Last year the state decided to end the popular Energizing Indiana efficiency program. Now some in the legislature have created Senate Bill 412, which is very one-sided in favor of utilities who sell electricity and doesn’t protect the average person from monopoly interests.

Energy efficiency is a proven tool to lower electricity bills and save money for people across the state.

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