Jediism: A New Religion?

What’s Jediism? Devotion to Star Wars? Apparently more than a few people are taking it so seriously that it’s more or less a religion, reports BBC News Magazine:

Followers of Jediism are aiming to build a belief system that goes beyond the Star Wars films. But does it amount to a new religion?

It began as a joke at the expense of statisticians. In the UK’s 2001 Census, 390,127 people – or 0.7% of the population – described themselves as Jedi. A question on religious belief had been asked for the first time in a census and Jedi – from the cloak-wearing, lightsaber swishing rebels in the Star Wars films – was a tongue-in-cheek response.

Jedi census phenomenon 2001

It was a post-modernist Star Wars joke by atheists. Or so many assumed. But for some the force was strong.

An ideas festival at Cambridge University this weekend will look at how new “religious movements”, such as Jediism, the Indigo Children and Wicca, have expanded online.

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Filmmaker John Wellington Ennis Discusses New Documentary “Pay 2 Play: Democracy’s High Stakes”

If our political system is like a game of Monopoly, how can outsiders have a voice when only money speaks? John Ennis documents comical corruption, follows political newcomers, and uncovers intrigue in this colorful journey that connects the dots of Big Money in our ever-challenging election process.

Driven to make the world better for his newborn daughter, Ennis looks for ways outsiders can lead when our country is run by insiders and pay-to-play politics. He journeys through high drama on the Ohio campaign trail, uncovers the secret history of America’s past time, and explores the underworld of L.A. street art on a humorous odyssey that reveals how much of a difference one person can make. From billionaires meeting in secret to citizens taking to the streets, PAY 2 PLAY follows the money and connects the dots in this portrait of People Power rising.


Pay 2 Play: Democracy’s High Stakes will be out on VOD 11/1 and on DVD 12/2.… Read the rest

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LeVar Burton Reads ‘Go the F**k to Sleep’

via The Verge:

LeVar Burton, who’s already great at playing comedic versions of himself when he’s not relaunching Reading Rainbow, did the reading for Rooster Teeth’s Extra Life charity campaign, which helps raise money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals for medical research. This is clearly his gift to fans and supporters. We’re all fans of Samuel L. Jackson, but we have to say this is pretty transcendent.

Read More: http://www.theverge.com/2014/10/26/7073777/this-is-levar-burton-reading-go-the-f-k-to-sleep

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Comparing Religions and Literary Criticism: Where angels fear to tread.

Something people are not doing much of, that they should be doing:

“In this talk, Jeff Kripal discusses his work on a next-generation textbook, “Comparing Religions: A Textbook Initiation”, which is designed to teach undergraduates how to compare religious beliefs, practices, and worldviews systematically and fairly. He discusses why this ability to move back and forth between different worldviews is so crucial for modern professionals, especially in the medical, legal, media, religious, and business worlds.”

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Silicon Valley will destroy your job: Amazon, Facebook, and our sick new economy

By Ben K Adams via Flickr (cc by-nd 2.0)

By Ben K Adams via Flickr (cc by-nd 2.0)

via Salon:

The “sharing economy” makes Silicon Valley rich and takes from the rest of us. We ignore this at our imminent peril

An Amazon River legend says that its famous pink river dolphins sometimes become shapeshifters and assume human form to seduce unwary travelers and lure them to a magical city called Encante. The catch is that this city is underwater. Once you’ve been there you can never go back home.

That’s the thing about myths: There’s always a catch.

Our society runs on a digital myth, which says that the technology-based economy is different, special and somehow not subject to the principles of mathematics and human nature that govern the rest of our lives.  This myth tells us there is something called a “sharing economy,” a wealth-creating phenomenon with no downsides and no human costs. It tells us that we use services like Google and Facebook for “free.” And it insists that corporations like Amazon have unlocked magical technology secrets that allow them to bring the wonders of the world to our doorstep through something like prestidigitation.

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Google Is Not What It Seems

OR Book Going RougeWikiLeaks has a lengthy excerpt from the new book by Julian Assange, When Google Met WikiLeaks (OR Books), in which he describes the special relationship between Google, Hillary Clinton and the State Department:

Eric Schmidt is an influential figure, even among the parade of powerful characters with whom I have had to cross paths since I founded WikiLeaks. In mid-May 2011 I was under house arrest in rural Norfolk, about three hours’ drive northeast of London. The crackdown against our work was in full swing and every wasted moment seemed like an eternity. It was hard to get my attention. But when my colleague Joseph Farrell told me the executive chairman of Google wanted to make an appointment with me, I was listening.

In some ways the higher echelons of Google seemed more distant and obscure to me than the halls of Washington. We had been locking horns with senior US officials for years by that point.

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What will life be like in 2064?

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via World Economic Forum Blog:

That an octopus called Paul had a better success rate than Goldman Sachs when predicting World Cup results (credit to the Wall Street Journal for the headline “Octopus Beats Vampire Squid”) tells you something about the wisdom of guessing the future in public.

Guessing what the world will look like in 50 years’ time, however, is pretty safe, as I won’t be here to see myself proved wrong. Or will I?

If Google’s director of engineering has his way, we’ll all be around indefinitely – in the cloud at least. AI (artificial intelligence) guru Ray Kurzweil is one of a number of technologists, inventors and futurists who believe that the ability to upload our minds to the web, create virtual bodies, and thereby live forever, is within touching distance.

Kurzweil invented the first flat-bed scanning and optical character recognition systems, foresaw the internet explosion and correctly predicted that a computer would beat a chess Grandmaster by the turn of the century.

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In Cold War, U.S. Spy Agencies Used 1,000 Nazis

Most disinfonauts will be aware of Operation Paperclip and the United States Government’s recruitment of prominent Nazi German scientists, but now it appears that the CIA was recruiting way more Nazis than previously suspected, revealed in the New York Times:

In the decades after World War II, the C.I.A. and other United States agencies employed at least a thousand Nazis as Cold War spies and informants and, as recently as the 1990s, concealed the government’s ties to some still living in America, newly disclosed records and interviews show.

At the height of the Cold War in the 1950s, law enforcement and intelligence leaders like J. Edgar Hoover at the F.B.I. and Allen Dulles at the C.I.A. aggressively recruited onetime Nazis of all ranks as secret, anti-Soviet “assets,” declassified records show. They believed the ex-Nazis’ intelligence value against the Russians outweighed what one official called “moral lapses” in their service to the Third Reich.

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