MonthNovember 2006

A neuroscientific look at speaking in tongues

The passionate, sometimes rhythmic, language-like patter that pours forth from religious people who ‘speak in tongues’ reflects a state of mental possession, many of them say. Now they have some neuroscience to back them up.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania took brain images of five women while they spoke in tongues and found that their frontal lobes – the thinking, willful part of the brain through which people control what they do – were relatively quiet, as were the language centers. The regions involved in maintaining self-consciousness were active. The women were not in blind trances, and it was unclear which region was driving the behavior.

The images, appearing in the current issue of the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, pinpoint the most active areas of the brain. The images are the first of their kind taken during this spoken religious practice, which has roots in the Old and New Testaments and in charismatic churches established in the United States around the turn of the 19th century. The women in the study were healthy, active churchgoers.

‘The amazing thing was how the images supported people’s interpretation of what was happening,’ said Dr. Andrew B. Newberg, leader of the study team, which included Donna Morgan, Nancy Wintering and Mark Waldman. ‘The way they describe it, and what they believe, is that God is talking through them,’ he said.

continue reading via the New York Times

A factory of one’s own

According to MIT’s Neil Gershenfeld, the digital revolution is over, and the good guys won. The next big change will be about manufacturing. Anyone with a PC will be able to build anything just by hitting ‘print.’

(Fortune Magazine) — Imagine a machine with the ability to manufacture anything. Now imagine that machine in your living room. What would you build first? Would you start a business? Would you ever buy anything retail again? According to MIT physicist Neil Gershenfeld, it’s not too early to think about these questions, because that machine, which he calls a personal fabricator, is not so far off – or so far-fetched – as you might think.

Gershenfeld is director of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA), an interdisciplinary outfit studying the intersection between information theory and industrial design. He also teaches a course called How to Make (Almost) Anything.

Five years ago the National Science Foundation awarded the CBA $14 million to build a manufacturing lab full of futuristic hardware. That includes a nanobeam writer that can etch microscopic patterns on metal, and a supersonic waterjet cutter that generates 60,000 pounds of water pressure, enough to shear through almost any material. The CBA factory can churn out anything, from the tiniest semiconductor to an entire building.

continue reading via

RAW 80% recovered and still enjoying election night

I enjoy Election Day — without taking it literally. Whether the bandits in Washington predominantly call themselves Democrats or Republicans never changes anything important, and those citizens rushing about to participate in this feast of fools seem pixilated.

I also enjoy Easter without believing in magick eggs, Xmas without believing in elves or Santa, and Halloween without believing men from Mars just landed in New Jersey.

From Hit and Run.

The Thirteen Scariest People in America

Get yer hate on! See AlterNet article for complete details:

Scariest Presidential Candidate: Sam Brownback / Senator (R-Kansas)

Scariest Judge: Edith Hollan Jones / Chief Justice of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Scariest Opportunity Killer: Richard Berman / President, Berman and Company

Scariest Proselytizer:: Rev. Rick Warren / Author of The Purpose Driven Life

Scariest Snoop: Derek V. Smith / CEO, ChoicePoint

Scariest Polluter: Don Blankenship / CEO of Massey Energy Co.

Scariest Scientist: Leon Kass / Member of The President’s Council on Bioethics

Scariest Cop: Joe Arpaio / Sheriff, Maricopa County, AZ

Scariest Drug Dealer: Billy Tauzin / CEO, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America

Scariest Academic: Kevin MacDonald / Professor of Psychology, California State University at Long Beach

Scariest Hidden Persuader: Michael J. Petruzzello / Managing Partner, Qorvis Communications

Scariest Billionaire: Richard Mellon Scaife/Oil and Banking Heir

Worst Insurer: Edward M. Liddy / CEO, Allstate

New York Plans to Make Gender Personal Choice

Separating anatomy from what it means to be a man or a woman, New York City is moving forward with a plan to let people alter the sex on their birth certificate even if they have not had sex-change surgery.

Under the rule being considered by the city’s Board of Health, which is likely to be adopted soon, people born in the city would be able to change the documented sex on their birth certificates by providing affidavits from a doctor and a mental health professional laying out why their patients should be considered members of the opposite sex, and asserting that their proposed change would be permanent.

Applicants would have to have changed their name and shown that they had lived in their adopted gender for at least two years, but there would be no explicit medical requirements.

continued via the New York Times

Just fyi, Canada Alberta is willing to trade Toronto for New York. In fact, we’ll give you most of Ontario in exchange…

Steal back your vote

Two from Greg Palast:

How they stole the mid-term election

Steal Back Your Vote

The Wikipedia Knowledge Dump: deleted Wikipedia articles

Clifford Pickover‘s new blog collects deleted Wikipedia articles, including on on Enochian angels.

The Wikipedia Knowledge Dump.

Second Attention: Lectures on Consciousness Expansion

Audio of lectures by the likes of Timothy Leary, Robert Anton Wilson and Alex Grey. Plus a couple of videos.

Second Attention Media Archive

(via Reality Carnival)

Honky-Tonk Dragon on racial seperation in Masonry

Friend, Brother, and Technoccult contributor Ben, aka Honky-Tonk Dragon, weighs in on the issue of racial seperation in Masonry:

Flawed and antiquated as it is, I love Masonry, I’ve found a lot of Light, acceptance, and friendship there. But being a radical conservative, traditionalist liberal, I found a lot of distasteful hippocracy in the split of Black and White lodges. There is a lot of concern among Masons that Masonry is dying, that young men do not see it as relevant to their lives, or even worse, that those who do see it only as a means of networking and professional advancement. I personally believe a lot of that has to do with the fact that many young men who might otherwise be drawn to an organization whose goal is the fraternal, collective pursuit of refining personal morality, are turned off by racial segregation. What is so moral about enforcing and maintaining racial segregation? Especially in an organization which claims to be egalatarian, and encourages men of all faiths, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu to come together as brothers?

Full Story: Honky-Tonk Dragon.

Trailer for The Number 23

Yup, it’s coming. 23 has manifested in Hollyshitwood. Will it be good? Hard to say.

Statistically, what is the ratio of “good” that comes out of there? It’s a Joel Schumacher film. He has Falling Down to his credit (more of Michael Douglas’s doing, me thinks), and some fans of Flatliners, Tigerland (which I enjoyed), and The Lost Boys. Giving him a half-point for the last three, we’ll call that two and a half decent full films out of the 24 listed directorial entries (to date) on IMDb, which gives him an 10.4% chance to make another decent film. Take into account that the screenwriter attached to The Number 23 hasn’t done anything prior to it… and we’re looking at a winner. Yay.

More scientificalistically, taking all the IMDb rankings for his 24 films wields us an overall average of 6.18 for Schumacher films. More yay.

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