MonthApril 2007

Bush Administration Agrees To Approve Wiccan Pentacle For Veteran Memorials

The Bush administration has conceded that Wiccans are entitled to have the pentacle, the symbol of their faith, inscribed on government-issued memorial markers for deceased veterans, Americans United for Separation of Church and State announced today.

The settlement agreement, filed today with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, brings to a successful conclusion a lawsuit Americans United brought against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in November.

Full Story: Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

People should be able to have whatever they want on their tombstones, whether it’s religious or not. If I were a soldier I’d want “fuck bush” inscribed on my tombstone.

“I deny the power of the holy spirit” would be a good one too.

Robert Wright: How cooperation (eventually) trumps conflict

Author Robert Wright explains ‘non-zero-sumness,’ a game-theory term describing how players with linked fortunes tend to cooperate for mutual benefit. This dynamic has guided our biological and cultural evolution, he says — but our unwillingness to understand one another, as in the clash between the Muslim world and the West, will lead to all of us losing the ‘game.’ Once we recognize that life is a non-zero-sum game, in which we all must cooperate to succeed, it will force us to see that moral progress – a move toward empathy – is our only hope.

For all you conspiracy theorists and so-called anarchists out there. =]

Discordian Society Acquires Limbo from Catholic Church

Follow up to a previous post for those of you who have friends still in limbo. The Discordian Society has stepped up to take over operations.

In a surprise move today, the Discordian Society, a small neo-religious group which worships the Ancient Greek Deity of Chaos called “Eris” (and known to the Ancient Romans as “Discordia”), have announced that they have acquired the non-corporeal realm known as “Limbo”.

Limbo, the theological concept previous belonging to the Christian Catholic Church, was abandoned by the Church last Friday.

Although the Discordian Society is anarchic in structure, a self-proclaimed spokesperson for the movement who identified himself only as “His Wholiness the Rev.DrJon” made the following statement:

“The Discordian Society, in line with previous acquisitions, welcomes the arrival of Limbo into the fold. We look forward to giving the place a clean sweep, a good polish and a nice redecoration. We’d like to thank fellow Pope* Benedict XVI for making this opportunity possible. We’d also like to offer the hand of friendship to those tenants of Limbo who chose to stay. We assure all who do wish to stay that they are welcome to continue to reside in the manner to which they are accustomed, however we will also be undertaking a rolling series of improvements over the coming eons, which should see a marked increase in liveability benchmarks.”

There is no word yet as to what purposes, if any, the Discordian Society plan to put Limbo to, however opinion is divided amongst the Discordian faithful.

(* Discordians believe that every man, woman and child is a Pope.)


The OpenEEG Project: EEG for the rest of us

open eeg

The OpenEEG project is about making plans and software for do-it-yourself EEG devices available for free (as in GPL). It is aimed toward amateurs who would like to experiment with EEG. However, if you are a pro in any of the fields of electronics, neurofeedback, software development etc., you are of course welcome to join the mailing-list and share your wisdom.

Open EEG site.

(via Synchronizm).

Vatican decides not to believe in limbo any longer

A Vatican panel has issued a report that concludes that unbaptized babies go to Heaven, not limbo, as the Catholic church has been claiming for centuries.

In the 5th century, St. Augustine declared that all unbaptized babies went to hell upon death. By the Middle Ages, the idea was softened to suggest a less severe fate, limbo.

In his Divine Comedy, Dante characterized limbo as the first circle of hell and populated it with the great thinkers of ancient Greece and Rome, as well as leading Islamic philosophers.

The document published Friday said the question of limbo had become a “matter of pastoral urgency” because of the growing number of babies who do not receive the baptismal rite. Especially in Africa and other parts of the world where Catholicism is growing but has competition from other faiths such as Islam, high infant mortality rates mean many families live with a church teaching them that their babies could not go to heaven.

Father Thomas Weinandy, executive director for doctrine at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the document “addresses the issue from a whole new perspective – if we are now hoping these children get to heaven, there is no longer any point in worrying about limbo.”


via Boing Boing

Organic Consumer Alliance says “chill” about the FDA warnings circulating today

While the OCA was initially very concerned about this alert, which we recieved from Mike Adams’ News Target organization, after painstaking review of the FDA guidance document we have determined that the document does not call for any NEW regulatory or enforcement action, but merely clarifies existing ways that the FDA classifies (or “thinks”) about different types of products used in alternative and complementary medicine. After some discussion with our colleagues in the natural health freedom movement, we have decided that this document is not of any real significance.

This is not to say that we are happy with the FDA. We are NOT. Due to political appointees from the pharmaceutical and agribusiness industries, they’ve been asleep at the wheel with GMO, synthetic food additive, and pharmaceutical safety testing. It is high time they subject these products to the same type of rigourous scrutiny they seem to have for natural health products. And should the FDA decide to further target natural, non-synthetic health products, we will hit back with all our might.

Though we disagree with Mr. Adams on this matter, we reprint his alert in the spirit of free and open discussion.

Full Story: Organic Consumer Alliance.

(Thanks Vin).

Public favors giving illegal immigrants a break

I’m glad the public isn’t buying anti-immigrant propaganda.

While Congress and the White House remain divided over what to do with the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the USA, a new poll shows the American public appears to have reached a consensus on the question.

A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken last weekend found that 78% of respondents feel people now in the country illegally should be given a chance at citizenship.

Full Story: USA Today.

These bastards, a clearly an ever shrinking minority in this country, are the people congressmen (and presidential candidates) like Tom Tancredo and Ron Paul cater to.

Scientists say nerves use sound, not electricity

The common view that nerves transmit impulses through electricity is wrong and they really transmit sound, according to a team of Danish scientists.

The Copenhagen University researchers argue that biology and medical textbooks that say nerves relay electrical impulses from the brain to the rest of the body are incorrect.

“For us as physicists, this cannot be the explanation,” said Thomas Heimburg, an associate professor at the university’s Niels Bohr Institute. “The physical laws of thermodynamics tell us that electrical impulses must produce heat as they travel along the nerve, but experiments find that no such heat is produced.”

Full Story: CBC.

(via Robot Wisdom).

Whatever Happened to… Chaos Theory?

Chaos theory, the study of how tiny fluctuations can have tremendous effects within a moving system, emerged in mainstream physics about 30 years ago. The signature example of this line of thinking – the “butterfly effect” – is that a butterfly flapping its wings in Taipei can affect the weather over Toronto. Chaos theory, or nonlinear dynamics, is a mathematical way of determining the effects of small changes on systems so complex they look random.

Chaos theory shook through the scientific community. Jupiter’s red spot, fractal geometry, and economic forecasting all became some of chaos’s most celebrated clients. Physicists and mathematicians heralded the birth of a new science, and some saw chaos theory as a revolution on a par with quantum mechanics. The revolution stretched into popular culture. From The Simpsons to Jurassic Park, chaos theory became fashionable and funny, terrifying and true. In the 21st century, chaos theory, for all its previous pomp, makes barely a peep on the mainstream radar. Still, it hasn’t gone away-far from it, says Harvard University physicist Paul Martin. “It’s become part of the arsenal of tools that people use,’ Martin says. ‘It’s a collection of tools, and it’s a way of understanding phenomena that occur over a wide range of fields.” But calling it a revolution was “not wise,” Martin says. The applications of chaos theory touch almost every field, and trying to group them under one umbrella would be a useless and herculean task. “It’s too ubiquitous to be a discipline unto itself, and too many fields use it,” he says. “There isn’t any great virtue in unifying under the one word chaos. It’s not an independent discipline.”

From: Discover.

A proposal to classify happiness as a psychiatric disorder


It is proposed that happiness be classified as a psychiatric disorder and be included in future editions of the major diagnostic manuals under the new name: major affective disorder, pleasant type. In a review of the relevant literature it is shown that happiness is statistically abnormal, consists of a discrete cluster of symptoms, is associated with a range of cognitive abnormalities, and probably reflects the abnormal functioning of the central nervous system. One possible objection to this proposal remains–that happiness is not negatively valued. However, this objection is dismissed as scientifically irrelevant.

From: JME.

(via Robot Wisdom)

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