Saturday, May 30, 2015
1. I know that a few of my friends and readers (Bruce! Brian! Lee!) have done some advanced research in cognitive science and artificial intelligence. And I know that they're pretty stoked about the potential inherent in the research currently being done in that field. But this excellent Nautilus editorial goes into exhaustive detail about some of the very serious risks associated with the "thinking big" attitude that currently pervades this particular scientific arena. It begins:
In 2005 neuroscientist Henry Markram embarked on a mission to create a supercomputer simulation of the human brain, known as the Blue Brain Project. In 2013 that project became the Human Brain Project (HBP), a billion-euro, 10-year initiative supported in part by the European Commission. The HBP polarized the neuroscience community, culminating in an open letter last July signed by nearly 800 neuroscientists, including Nobel Prize–winners, calling the HBP’s science into question. Last month the critics were vindicated, as a mediation committee called for a total overhaul of the HBP’s scientific goals.
“We weren’t generating discontent,” says Zachary Mainen, a neuroscientist at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, who co-authored the open letter with Alexandre Pouget of the University of Geneva. “We tapped into it.”
So, what was wrong with the Human Brain Project? And what are the implications for how we study and understand the brain? The HBP, along with the U.S.’s multibillion-dollar BRAIN Initiative, are often compared to other “big science” endeavors, such as the Human Genome Project, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, or even NASA’s moon landing. But given how much of the brain’s workings remain mysterious, is big science the right way to unlock its mysteries and cure its diseases?Keep reading for some very astute (if somewhat sobering) observations about the current state of tue "consciousness" sciences.
2. This excellent Nick Cohen editorial for The Spectator is the last, best thing you will ever need to read about both the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack, as well as last month's resultant PEN gala "controversy". It begins:
I suppose it is asking too much of a writer called Francine Prose that she write prose anyone would want to read. But on the principle you can only track down terrible ideas by wading through terrible writing you have to endure Prose’s prose.
She attempted to deploy her prosaic talent to explain why PEN, an organisation dedicated to protecting the free speech of writers, should not honour the writers and artists of Charlie Hebdo - murdered by Islamists for exercising their right to free speech.
"The narrative of the Charlie Hebdo murders – white Europeans killed in their offices by Muslim extremists – is one that feeds neatly into the cultural prejudices that have allowed our government to make so many disastrous mistakes in the Middle East. And the idea that one is either “for us or against us” in such matters not only precludes rational and careful thinking, but also has a chilling effect on the exercise of our right to free expression and free speech that all of us – and all the people at PEN – are working so tirelessly to guarantee."
Note the dehumanisation. ... Note her racial obsessions. ... Note, finally, the inevitable appeal to victimhood.If you harbor ANY lingering doubts about either of these two events - the attack or PEN's decision - then please, do yourself a favor, read and digest this editorial fully and completely. You will not regret it.
3. My good friend Frank Swan created this pretty awesome tune (and video) in his friend's apartment here in Toronto using free software and cheap microphones bought at The Source (formerly Radio Shack). Enjoy... and if you like it... SHARE IT!
Friday, May 29, 2015
Back in 1578 came the fascinating discovery of a network of labyrinthine tombs, lurking deep beneath the street of Rome. The tombs were home to the decayed skeletons of early Christian martyrs – believed to be saints on account of their bravery & unwavering support of Christian beliefs.
Many of these skeletons (given the name ‘The Catacomb Saints’ by those who first discovered them) were then distributed across Europe (predominantly Germany) as replacements for the countless holy relics which had been smashed, stolen or destroyed during the Protestant Reformation.
Once delivered, each skeleton was then clothed and adorned into a variety of precious jewels, expensive cloth, crowns, armour and even given wigs. They were put on display inside their designated churches as a reminder to all who visited, for the riches and wealth that awaited them post death – providing they swore allegiance to the Christian faith.
It sounds like a tale straight from a Dan Brown novel doesn't it? Yet it’s all factually accurate.
2. As one of the leading bloggers of the neo-Reactionary movement, Davis M.J. Aurini is someone with whom I share precious little in the way of political sympathies. However, there's no denying the man can write, as he proves in his most recent essay, Attacking the Wrong Degenerates, which begins:
‘Degenerate’ is one of my favourite words. It’s a full-frontal attack on the post-modern celebration of base vulgarity, its erudition assaults semi-literate sensibilities, and implicit in the term are demands for moral standards to separate the wheat from the chaff. It’s the perfect word for denouncing the ills of our times… which is why I hate seeing it come out of the mouths of the callow self-righteous.
Never has degeneracy been simultaneously so flagrant, and so prosaic, as it is today. On the one hand we have other-kin dressing in fur-suits and masturbating to cannibal porn; nothing more needs be said about these creatures, they’re voiding their bowels in public for all to see. It’s the prosaics who truly frustrate me; the milquetoast moral majority; the squares, the chumps, the cowards. Those who snootily look down their nose on anybody who lives with an ounce of passion, while patting themselves on the back for the blameless mediocrity that is their lives.
These are the worst degenerates of them all.
3. Betcha didn't know multi-million copy-selling horror author extraordinaire Stephen King is the man who murdered former Beatle, John Fucking Lennon, didya?! Well, my dear, deluded little sheeple, let the blazingly obvious and gloriously awesome TRUTH wash over you and set you fucking free!
Monday, May 4, 2015
|GROOVY SEXED UP EUROTRASH OMNIBUS COLLECTION COVER!|
In my never-ending quest to find grist for my Kubrickologist’s mill, I recently stumbled across MORLOCK 2001, an incredibly bizarre mid-1970’s comic book published by Atlas Seaboard, a short-lived imprint that specialized in pumping out thinly disguised hit-and-run rip-offs of popular TV shows and films… often poaching ideas from two or three different properties in a single book. For instance, their TARGITT comic featured plots borrowed from the Steve McQueen hit film Bullitt, as well as The French Connection and Dirty Harry. In terms of pure, unadulterated plagiarism, however, MORLOCK 2001 stands head and shoulders above the competition.
This was originally going to be a short and simple blog post pointing out a couple of age-inappropriate references to the films of Stanley Kubrick in a bizarro 70’s kid’s comic book, but the sheer volume, breadth, and shamelessness of the appropriations screamed out for a more complete accounting. So join me now as I comb through all three issues of this short-lived title in order to count down and catalog each and every stolen story element, copied concept, and misappropriated motif in MORLOCK 2001!
|MORLOCK 2001 - THRILLING FIRST ISSUE!|
In Wells’ 1895 science fiction classic, The Time Machine, the Morlocks are a thuggish species of cannibalistic underground mutants living in the eight-hundredth century, AD. They are one of two species descended from mankind. The other species—the gentle, surface-dwelling Eloi—are used by the Morlocks both as slave labor and as a primary food source. Yummy! The only connection to the comic book is that the main character is named "Morlock", for some reason.
2001: A Space Odyssey, obviously, is the title of Stanley Kubrick’s most popular film, and the subsequent Arthur C. Clarke novel. In MORLOCK 2001, however, the titular year only refers to the fact that the events portrayed take place in... the year 2001.
Something else that is immediately apparent is that Morlock's look borrows heavily from two Marvel Comics characters who were coming into their own during roughly the same period: Morbius the Living Vampire, and Quicksilver.
The very first panel on the very first page describes the story's setting as "a rigid totalitarian regime" run on the basis of lies and propaganda. I don't know about you guys, but that kind of sounds like the setting for George Orwell's classic novel of political dystopia, Nineteen-Eighty-Four to me! Keep reading to find out whether or not this intuition eventually pays off (hint: it does).