Tag Archives | Spirituality

The loneliness of the long-distance drone pilot

Aaron Sankin via The Kernel:

Bruce Black had been preparing for this moment for most of his life.

Growing up, he always wanted to be a pilot. After graduating from New Mexico State University in 1984 with a degree in geology, Black was commissioned as an officer in the Air Force. He spent years as an instructor pilot before quitting to join the FBI, where he specialized in chasing down white-collar criminals, but the pull of military was too strong. He eventually found himself in the air above Afghanistan.

Black flew constantly. Once, in the spring of 2007, Black’s job was to serve as another set of eyes high above a firefight happening on the ground. An Army convoy had been patrolling near a site of a previous strike and gotten ambushed by Taliban fighters while returning to base. Black was acting as a crucial communications relay, sending life-and-death updates back and forth from the men and women on the ground to the Pentagon and a network of support staff located around the world through the military’s version of the Internet.

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Dualism vs. Monism in a Nihilist Context

Hartwig HKD (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Hartwig HKD (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Via Spinoza Ray Prozak at American Nihilist Underground Society (Anus.com):

This world may be a simulation. We may be figments of the imagination of a daydreaming god. We may be pure mathematics, or data in some cosmic computer. Or we could be physical beings, or some combination of the above. However, if this world has one characteristic to rely on, it’s this: it creates the same response to the same causal impetus.

That means if you pick up a ball and hold your arm up away from your body and drop the ball, it will fall — every time. Even if a friend sneaks a hand in there to catch it, it will begin falling first. If you put a support table under your hand so the ball doesn’t drop, the effect can be observed that the instant the table is removed the ball drops.

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Police Find 21 Porcelain Dolls Tied to Stakes in a Swamp

 

Jill Reilly at The Daily Mail:

Twenty-one dolls on bamboo stakes have been mysteriously found in an Alabama swamp.

Autauga County sheriff’s deputies traveled by canoe into Bear Creek Swamp on Tuesday to recover the dolls, whose faces and hair were painted white.

Most of the dolls are porcelain and have the appearance of being antique, reports The Montgomery Advertiser.

Autauga County Chief Deputy Joe Sedinger said authorities tried to contact the timber company that owns the land, but no one got back to them.

‘I noticed the dolls several weeks ago while driving through the swamp working on a stolen vehicle report,’ he sad.

To see more pictures and continue reading, go here.

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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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No, Astrobiology Has Not Made the Case for God

Via Lawrence M. Krauss – The New Yorker:

Recently, the Wall Street Journal published a piece with the surprising title “Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God.” At least it was surprising to me, because I hadn’t heard the news. The piece argued that new scientific evidence bolsters the claim that the appearance of life in the universe requires a miracle, and it received almost four hundred thousand Facebook shares and likes.

The author of the piece, Eric Metaxas, is not himself a scientist. Rather, he’s a writer and a TV host, and the article was a not-so-thinly-veiled attempt to resurrect the notion of intelligent design, which gives religious arguments the veneer of science—this time in a cosmological context. Life exists only on Earth and has not been found elsewhere. Moreover, the conditions that caused life to appear here are miraculous.

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Building Moral Robots, With Whose Morals?

BEAR, or Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot, is designed to help soldiers in need. But other robots could take on roles as combatants. Credit Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center

BEAR, or Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot, is designed to help soldiers in need. But other robots could take on roles as combatants.
Credit Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center

I certainly wouldn’t trust the politicians or corporate money-mongers. Heather Goldstone proposes three sources: The Geneva Convention, Asimov’s Laws of Robotics, and/or The Ten Commandments. Whose morals would you want AI to model?

Via at WCAI:

Giving robots morals may sound like a good idea, but it’s a pursuit fraught with its own moral dilemmas. Like, whose morals?

Stop and look around you right now. You’re sitting in front of a computer and, chances are, there’s a phone or some other “smart” device in your vicinity. As our devices get more capable, and we become more reliant on them, there’s increasing hand-wringing over whether our relationships with technology have gone awry.

In some circles, the conversation has a particular urgency to it – because they’re talking about whether or not robots could – or should – be entrusted with life and death decisions, and whether such robots could ever be conferred with anything comparable to our morals.

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Psychopath vs. Empath: the War Between Truth and Deception

good_vs_evil_by_flyinfrogg

Gary ‘Z’ McGee writes at Waking Times:

“The supreme mystery of despotism, its prop and stay, is to keep men in a state of deception, and cloak the fear by which they must be held in check, so that they will fight for their servitude as if for salvation.” –Baruch Spinoza

Are you fighting for your servitude as if for your salvation? Then you have been well-deceived. You have been sheeple-compromised. Your thoughts are not your own. Your actions are not your own. You are in all ways a conditioned puppet who is under the delusion that it is free, and the psychopaths of the world are your uncompromising puppet masters. The questions you need to be asking yourself are these: “Am I willing to do what it takes to become free? Am I ready for the uncomfortableness of undeceiving myself? Would I rather be slapped by the truth or kissed with a lie?

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A Circus of the Senses: Are we all born with Synaesthesia?

Derek Lee (CC BY 2.0)

Derek Lee (CC BY 2.0)

Shruti Ravindran writes at Aeon:

Vladimir Nabokov once called his famed fictional creation Lolita ‘a little ghost in natural colours’. The natural colours he used to paint his ‘little ghost’ were especially vivid in part because of a neurological quirk that generated internal flashes of colour whenever letters of the alphabet appeared within his mind. In his memoir Speak Memory (1951), he described a few of them:b has the tone called burnt sienna by painters, m is a fold of pink flannel, and today I have at last perfectly matched v with “Rose Quartz” in Maerz and Paul’s Dictionary of Color’. The condition he had was synaesthesia, a neurological oddity that mixes up the senses, making those who possess it see as well as hear music, or taste the shapes they set their eyes upon.

Synaesthetes such as Nabokov see letters and numbers wreathed in fixed, seemingly idiosyncratic colours.

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The Octave of Energy – Robert Anton Wilson

Felipe Gabaldón (CC BY 2.0)

Felipe Gabaldón (CC BY 2.0)

Via Deoxy.org/Robert Anton Wilson

The Law of Octaves was first suggested by Pythagoras in ancient Greece. Having observed that the eight notes of the conventional Occidental musical scale were governed by definite mathematical relationships, Pythagoras proceeded to create a whole cosmology based on 8s. In this octagonal model Pythagoras made numerous mistakes, because he was generalizing from insufficient data. However, his work was the first attempt in history to unify science, mathematics, art and mysticism into one comprehensible system and as such is still influential. Leary, Crowley and Buckminster Fuller have all described themselves as modern Pythagoreans.

In China, roughly contemporary with Pythagoras, the Taoists built up a cosmology based on the interplay of yang (positive) and yin (negative), which produced the eight trigrams of the I Ching, out of which are generated the 64 hexagrams.

In India, Buddha announced, after his illumination under the Bodhi tree, the Noble Eightfold Path.

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Mummy Mask May Reveal Oldest Known Gospel

This mummy mask was one of the masks that the researchers took apart to reveal ancient papyri. This mummy mask is similar to the one that contained the first century gospel fragment. Credit: Courtesy of Prof. Craig Evans

This mummy mask was one of the masks that the researchers took apart to reveal ancient papyri. This mummy mask is similar to the one that contained the first century gospel fragment.
Credit: Courtesy of Prof. Craig Evans

Owen Jarus writes at LiveScience:

A text that may be the oldest copy of a gospel known to exist — a fragment of the Gospel of Mark that was written during the first century, before the year 90 — is set to be published.

At present, the oldest surviving copies of the gospel texts date to the second century (the years 101 to 200).

This first-century gospel fragment was written on a sheet of papyrus that was later reused to create a mask that was worn by a mummy. Although the mummies of Egyptian pharaohs wore masks made of gold, ordinary people had to settle for masks made out of papyrus (or linen), paint and glue.

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