Get A-Life - an interesting read on artificial life and evolutionary computation, from the game of life (playable applet), through core wars, tierra and on to genetic programming. This approach has recently borne fruit to genetic programming pioneer and inventor of the scratchcard, John Koza, who last year patented his invention machine, actually a 1000 machine beowulf cluster running his software, which has itself created several inventions which have been granted patents. [See also: BBC Biotopia artificial life experiment, another odd BBC evolution game, Artificial Life Possibilities: A Star Trek Perspective]
Sad -- such a sweet-looking kid, the smile on the face of a future suicide. Sad -- "If she only knew then how things would turn out…" Sad -- "I chose to kill her." Sad -- "You could see her personality break through the coma." Life is dukkha, said the Buddha -- a Pali term that means something like "suffering" or "the incapability of satisfaction." (Or as Mick Jagger put it, "I can't get no...") Here's the tangible evidence.
Rudolf Vrba-RIP --he escaped from Auschwitz with another guy, Wetzler, in April 1944 and got to Slovakia and Hungary, telling the world of the atrocities in the Auschwitz Protocol. Some Hungarian community leaders, however (Hungary was the only country that hadn't had its Jewish population deported yet), were busy making deals with Eichmann for safe passage away. In any case, the result was that about 1,700 Hungarian Jewish leaders, with their families and friends, ended up in Switzerland, while almost half a million unsuspecting Hungarian Jews ended up dead in Auschwitz. Vrba's report first alerted the world (including the Vatican, Red Cross, and US and British authorities) to exactly what was going on, and helped prosecute some who were tried later. ...Knowing perfectly well that it was the secrecy surrounding their actions that allowed the Nazis to herd unsuspecting Jews and transport them like sheep to slaughter, Vrba and Wetzler — as soon as they got in touch with Jewish community representatives in their native Slovakia — compiled a detailed report. They wrote about Auschwitz and what awaited Hungarian Jews once they arrived: immediate death by gassing.
As the Pentagon ousts plans to turn insects into cyber war machines you'd be forgiven for asking the question: Where does the real digital end and the faked life begin? Are we simulating life synthetically? or just speeding up an entirely natural process? Technologically engineered life is here to stay. Its not far fetched to speculate that simulacra may become all there is.
A true pioneer has left us. Gordon Parks dead at 93. His ground-breaking work as a still photographer of color during the civil rights movement was enough to garner him a place in history but he strove for excellence throughout his life. His first movie, the Learning Tree is a classic and of course he also gave us Shaft. He was a bonafide renaissance man excelling in music and painting and even wrote a ballet based on Martin Luther King. He was truly one-of-a-kind.
what you need right now isn't the righteous anger the rest of the blogosphere will give you. You need more.
For the women of South Dakota: an abortion manual --building on the history and expertise of Jane, , an underground referral and abortion-providing group in Chicago in the 60s, Molly provides the vital info women in South Dakota (and maybe elsewhere soon) need.
How much time do you spend online? The internet is taking over our lives. Worldwide it is changing the way we live. Everything from complete wastes of time to complex profit schemes to finding love, an entire lifetime can be spent online. But is it really the same?
It was an instant icon, with Dan Rather calling it "the best war photograph in recent years." About 100 newspapers ran the photo, dubbing the anonymous warrior the "Marlboro Man." The photograph hit the world on Nov. 10, 2004: a close-cropped shot of a U.S. Marine in Iraq, his face smeared with blood and dirt, a cigarette dangling from his lips, smoke curling across weary eyes. He's quieter now -- easier to anger. He turns to fight at the sound of a backfire, can't look at fireworks without thinking of fire raining down on a city. He has trouble sleeping, and when he does, his fingers twitch on invisible triggers. The diagnosis: post-traumatic stress disorder. The man in the photograph is James Blake Miller, now 21, and he is an icon, although in ways Rather probably never imagined.
Previously mentioned briefly here
Previously mentioned briefly here
The ashes of the recently deceased contains high amounts of nutrient rich phosphates, just perfect for sprucing up that garden of yours. On the iconic peaks of Scotland though Mountaineers have decided that enough is enough.
Roe v. Wade, 33 years old today. With abortion back in the news due to the Supreme Court nomination of Alito, will the Ideological Rumble over the issue ever be settled or are we doomed to see questionable declarations like today's recognition of "National Sanctity of Human Life Day, 2006"? ...creating a society where every life has meaning...-- every life? Really?
39 Pounds of Love "is the inspirational and humorous non-fiction account of Ami Ankilewitz, who was diagnosed with an extremely rare and often fatal form of SMA/2 that severely limits his physical growth and movement yet at 34 years of age, he continues to outlive a doctor's prediction of life expectancy by 28 years and counting. Ami, who weighs only 39 pounds, works in Israel as a 3D animator and creates his art despite the fact that his bodily motion is limited to a single finger on his left hand."
Economist Steven Levitt, author of Freakonomics, has long posited a controversial thesis that legalized abortion help reduced crime, by reducing unwanted children, prone to crime. However, a new paper argues that Levitt (& Donohue) made serious errors in their research. Properly analysed, abortion has no significant effect on crime. Levitt disagrees, of course.
Mating Leopard Slugs entwine - one of the untold wonders of the animal kingdom captured on video.... The BBC gets up close and personal with Life in the Undergrowth in their new wildlife documentary. A must see for any animal, insect or David Attenborough fan... (If the main vid link doesn't work for you try it from here - realplayer needed)
Design your life. Design as a way to think about life.
The origin of life?! I heard from an authority in molecular biology today that a group of researchers funded by the Carnegie Institution and NASA believe they've discovered the origin of RNA, and with that, the origin of life. This new discovery grew out of NASA's Deep Impact mission to study the composition of comets. Specifically, they started investigating a kind of carbon that forms in layers, with each layer slighly offset from the previous one in a helix shape. Significantly, the thickness of these carbon layers corresponds with the thickness of each twist in a strand of RNA. It turns out that the individual building blocks of RNA are capable of bonding to this layered carbon when exposed to UV radiation. Once this has happened, apparently formaldehyde can then bond to the building blocks of RNA on the carbon "pattern", allowing the bonded RNA to slough off into the primordial soup. Over time, some of these RNA strands could fold and bond to themselves, forming DNA. Formaldehyde, the initial bonding material, would eventually be replaced by a more chemically sophisticated substance, creating the chemical bond that we observe today in DNA. Expect a paper on it to be released in approximately three months with all the details.
Death as we know it will die. If you wish to be a prophet, first you must dress the part. No more silk ties or tasseled loafers. Instead, throw on a wrinkled T-shirt, frayed jeans, and dirty sneakers. You should appear somewhat unkempt, as if combs and showers were only for the unenlightened. When you encounter critics, as all prophets do, dismiss them as idiots. Make sure to pepper your conversation with grandiose predictions and remind others of your genius often, lest they forget. Oh, and if possible, grow a very long beard. By these measures, Aubrey de Grey is indeed a prophet. The 42-year-old English biogerontologist has made his name by claiming that some people alive right now could live for 1,000 years or longer. Maybe much longer. Growing old is not, in his view, an inevitable consequence of the human condition; rather, it is the result of accumulated damage at the cellular and molecular levels that medical advances will soon be able to prevent — or even reverse — allowing people to go on living pretty much indefinitely.
The 2004 International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources' Red List of Threatened Species.
“The real world is simply too terrible to admit; it tells man that he is a small, trembling animal who will decay and die." “The defenses that form a person’s character support a grand illusion, and when we grasp this we can understand the full drivenness of man. He is driven away from himself, from self-knowledge, self-reflection. He is driven toward things that support the lie of his character.” Words of Ernest Becker, here summarizing Gestalt therapy and his own existential perspectives in Growing Up Rugged.
"If time has to end, it can be described, instant by instant," Mr. Palomar thinks, "and each instant, when described, expands so that its end can no longer be seen." He decides that he will set himself to describing every instant of his life, and until he has described them all he will no longer think of being dead. At that moment he dies. In memoriam of Italo Calvino, who died exactly 20 years ago. "Calvino's novels" by his friend Gore Vidal. Calvino's obituary by Vidal, il maestro William Weaver's essay on Calvino's cities, Jeanette Winterson on Calvino's dream of being invisible, and Stefano Franchi's philosophical study on Palomar's doctrine of the void. More inside.
Temperance. Silence. Order. Resolution. Frugality. Industry. Sincerity. Justice. Moderation. Cleanliness. Chastity. Tranquility. Humility. Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues. "He committed to giving strict attention to one virtue each week so after 13 weeks he moved through all 13. After 13 weeks he would start the process over again so in one year he would complete the course a total of 4 times."
The Inequality Taboo - Charles Murray defends his ideas, published in the controversial book The Bell Curve.
Did the discovery of evolution lead to Darwin's agnosticism, as claimed? Carl Zimmer wonders. More importantly, can evolution be reconciled with Christianity?
"He is profane, uneducated, impious, lecherous, and unwashed. He doesn’t care much about the war. In most cases, he misses his mother badly. But the American combat infantryman in Iraq is doing just fine." An in-depth (and apolitical) profile of day-to-day life in the 506th Infantry; "the same regiment that immortalized itself as the Band of Brothers in Normandy and Bastogne during World War II."
LifeHut How to do everything from mowing the lawn to being a cool parent.
Science explores 125 big questions that face scientific inquiry over the next quarter-century. [via]
Man Claims Firing Over Drinking Wrong Beer He works for one mega-beer brand and, on his own time, partook of a competitor's.
Richard Feynman wrote letters to all kinds of people. Here are some of them.
M. Scott Peck: I'm a prophet, not a saint M. Scott Peck, author of the ultimate self-help manual, has Parkinson’s and his wife of 43 years has walked out. Interesting profile of M. Scott Peck, the best-selling self-help author who preached self-discipline and delayed gratification despite being a smoker, a drinker, and an adulterer. Via Bookslut. (Possibly nsfw drawing of nude woman.)
Fossil records show Biodiversity comes and goes in a 62 million year cycle. The analysis, performed by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UBC, has withstood thorough testing so that confidence in the results is above 99-percent.
An Objective Legal Look (and more) on Schiavo-- As a Florida law blogger, I have created this page to help people understand the legal circumstances surrounding the Terri Schiavo saga. In my view, there continues to be a need for an objective look at the matter. There is an unbelievable amount of misinformation being circulated. Links to all court decisions, timelines, questions and answers (some shocking)...you name it. All the info available on this tragic situation.
Ghosts in the Machine. How many email addresses do you have? How many forums have you joined? How many people do you speak to online? Where does the trail of your Internet life take you--and what would happen to it when you die? MyLastEmail and DiedOnline haven't been available for a while now. Executors' jobs may get a lot more complicated.
ESA scientists announced that a giant sea is hidden under the Martian surface. With discoveries like this and weird photos like this, how long can it be before we find conclusive proof of extraterrestrial life?
Life - a strong case for life on mars was presented sunday
A pair of NASA scientists told a group of space officials at a private meeting here that they have found strong evidence that life may exist today on Mars. Spirit has also recently taken a very intriguing photo. Of course this is just making things official, since we've known the truth for years.
Draftfreedom --a new group applying their marketing and communication expertise to help prevent the draft. Take a look--maybe this new approach can get thru?
Why haven't you settled down yet? (impermanent no-login link) Time has discovered that people are no longer graduated, married, and parenting by 22.
Twixtersare using their 20s to jump between jobs, apartments and cities instead of becoming adults. The reasons? Colleges
seriously out of step with the real world,the ubiquity of choice, declining wages and plenty more. Personally, I blame the Toys-R-Us ad song for conditioning a generation to not
wanna grow up.
Beyond Life [Java]. Mirek's Cellebration is an beautiful applet for exploring all sorts of cellular automata. Source code and standalone version also available.
The Meaning of Life Project is an attempt to get stories from everyday folks answering the question "what is the meaning of life?" for an eventual book. You only have until Friday to submit your own thoughts here, though I hope for the book's sake they have a blanket ban on mentions of puppy dogs, unicorns, and teddy bears.
Underwear Goes Inside The Pants (video) is a nice little ditty about the condition of the world in 2004.
The Foundation For A Better Life. A non-profit, non-partisan, non-religious, organization that doesn't want your money, but that simply believes, "the values we live by are worth more when we pass them on." What kind of values? Strength. Dedication. Vision. Sacrifice. Soul. Persistence. Commitment. Compassion. Hard Work, Class & Courage, and more. Their billboards and TV ads are all around, but if you're like me, you probably had trouble figuring out who they were from...