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Submission + - Why so many people–including scientists–suddenly believe in an after (macleans.ca)

hessian writes: Recent polls across the developed world are starting to tell an intriguing tale. In the U.S., religion central for the West, belief in heaven has held steady, even ticking upwards on occasion, over the past two decades. Belief in hell is also high, but even Americans show a gap between the two articles of faith—81 per cent believed in the former in 2011, as opposed to 71 per cent accepting the latter. Elsewhere in the Western world the gap between heaven and hell believers is more of a gulf—a 2010 Canadian poll found more than half of us think there is a heaven, while fewer than a third acknowledge hell. What’s more, monotheism’s two destinations are no longer all that are on offer. In December a survey of the 1970 British Cohort group—9,000 people, currently 42 years old—found half believed in an afterlife, while only 31 per cent believed in God. No one has yet delved deeply into beliefs about the new afterlife—the cohort surveyors didn’t ask for details—but reincarnation, in an newly multicultural West, is one suggested factor. So too is belief in what one academic called “an unreligious afterlife,” the natural continuation of human consciousness after physical death.

While most of the current bestselling accounts of afterlife experiences are recognizably Christian—at least in outline—signs of changing beliefs can be found in them too. Nor are the new travellers—who include a four-year-old boy and a middle-aged neurosurgeon—what religious skeptics would think of as the usual suspects. Colton Burpo, now 13, “died” 10 years ago from a ruptured appendix, and spent three minutes of earthly time in heaven—some of it in Jesus’s lap, some of it speaking with a miscarried sister whose existence he had never been told about—before being pulled back to Earth by his surgical team. Since 2010, when his father, Todd, a Nebraska minister, published his account of what Colton told him, Heaven is for Real has sold more than 7.5 million copies. If Colton’s story sounds like a contemporary take on an ancient Christian motif—“unless you become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3)—the same can’t be said about Eben Alexander’s post-religious cosmic experience.

Submission + - Jeff Hanneman, Guitarist, Dies at 49 (nytimes.com)

hessian writes: Jeff Hanneman, a guitarist for the influential metal band Slayer, who helped shape the group’s sonic assault and wrote some of its most popular — and controversial — songs, died on Thursday at a hospital near his home east of Los Angeles. He was 49.

(I know a lot of people in tech listen to a lot of Slayer. Please consider this article as on-topic in that light.)

Submission + - Game Preferences Among Atheistic and Religious Individuals (tandfonline.com)

hessian writes: Burris and Petrican (2011) recently showed that atheists are less capable of internally simulating vivid, emotionally evocative experiences relative to those who identify with religion. Consequently, relative to religious individuals, atheists were expected to find the engaging, multisensory experience offered by virtual gaming environments to be an especially appealing form of play. This hypothesis was supported. Indeed, atheists did not rate narrative-oriented tabletop games more appealing than did religious individuals, and rated them as less appealing compared to agnostic/no religion individuals. The disparity in atheists' game preferences was further polarized by individual differences in psychological absorption. Atheists' preference for “what you see is what you get” video game environments over tabletop games that require greater imaginative effort for less immersive benefits may reflect a broad orientation that provides an experiential basis for disbelief in the unseen.

Submission + - Can you break this code from Boards of Canada? (hou2600.org)

hessian writes: This is probably another dumb marketing scheme, but it looks like viral inseminators have been sneaking around this URL for a Boards of Canada promotion. Unlike most of these, however, it involves some actual hackery content

Any ideas? I know nothing about this ‘Boards of Canada’ band (except the soundtracks from Until the Light Takes Us) but I have to admit a quickening of the pulse at an OpenVMS prompt.

Submission + - Conservative Opposition to Internet Sales Tax Getting Louder (unitedliberty.org)

hessian writes: The Senate moved closer to passing the Internet sales tax on Thursday. The chamber had already started debate on the measure, dubbed the “Marketplace Fairness Act,” but the vote last week bypassed any hope of a filibuster. Some conservative groups are increasing their efforts in opposition to the tax.

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), headed by Grover Norquist, presented the constitutional case against the Internet sales tax. The case is in response to recent comments by David French, a lobbyist for the National Retail Federation, who said, “The industry is evolving very rapidly, and the law today is a 20th-century interpretation of an 18th-century document that is holding back the entire retail industry as it adapts to 21st-century consumer preferences and demand.”

Submission + - Earth's core far hotter than thought (bbc.co.uk)

hessian writes: New measurements suggest the Earth's inner core is far hotter than prior experiments suggested, putting it at 6,000C — as hot as the Sun's surface.

The solid iron core is actually crystalline, surrounded by liquid.

But the temperature at which that crystal can form had been a subject of long-running debate.

Experiments outlined in Science used X-rays to probe tiny samples of iron at extraordinary pressures to examine how the iron crystals form and melt.

Submission + - The STEM Myth (policyshop.net)

hessian writes: As the EPI report lays bare, the common wisdom about our STEM problem is mistaken: we are not facing a shortage of STEM-qualified workers. In fact, we appear to have a considerable STEM surplus. Only 63 percent students graduating with a STEM degree are able to find STEM jobs. Beyond that, if there was an actual shortage of STEM workers, basic supply and demand would predict that the wages of STEM workers would be on the rise. Instead, wages in S sTEM fields have not budged in over a decade. Stagnant wages and low rates of STEM job placement strongly suggest we actually have an abundance of STEM-qualified workers.

The EPI report tends to focus on the relevance of these findings to guest worker programs and other immigration issues. The tech industry has long suggested that it cannot find STEM workers in America and therefore needs immigration changes that will enable it to bring in more workers from abroad. Skeptics have rebuffed that the tech industry really is just interested in cheaper STEM labor and that its proclamations about a dearth of STEM-qualified domestic workers is just a convenient cover story. This report provides ammunition to the latter camp to say the least.

Submission + - Bioengineers Build Open Source Language for Programming Cells (wired.com) 2

hessian writes: The BIOFAB project is still in the early stages. Endy and the team are creating the most basic of building blocks — the “grammar” for the language. Their latest achievement, recently reported in the journal Science, has been to create a way of controlling and amplifying the signals sent from the genome to the cell. Endy compares this process to an old fashioned telegraph.

“If you want to send a telegraph from San Francisco to Los Angeles, the signals would get degraded along the wire,” he says. “At some point, you have to have a relay system that would detect the signals before they completely went to noise and then amplify them back up to keep sending them along their way.”

Comment That was the allusion, not what SirGarlon missed. (Score 1) 199

But a Machiavellian, like any true politician, does it for his own sake, not for theirs -- and Machiavelli thus talked about how to reconcile this fundamental selfishness with the need to keep the people's support.

This is what I was alluding to.

SirGarlon doesn't understand, and when he says:

the closest relevant chapter in _the Prince_ is

I realize that he's projecting -- this was the only thing he could find that he thought was relevant, and he mistook that for reality at large. An unfortunate mistake.

In the process, he missed about a dozen more relevant quotations. That's why you read more than the Cliff's Notes, kids!

Comment Think outside the box. (Score -1, Flamebait) 199

If government is allowing you to see these "leaks," they're benefiting in some way from the environment that results.

To assume that government is actually constrained by such things is to assume benevolence in government; perhaps it is most beneficial for them that you think this is all they have to reveal.

It's not paranoia to realize that in an age of utter selfishness, people will hoard power and use it deviously. What would Machiavelli do?

I dunno, release about a billion documents unrelated to what he's actually trying to hide.

Comment Not all of us do. (Score 1) 79

Why do americans put the metal genre under the "rock" tag?

Not all of us do, and in fact, I'm very glad to meet someone else who agrees with me that this is an important distinction.

Metal is its own genre, composed by its own standards. It emerged from rock (specifically, prog rock, soundtracks to horror films, loud hard rock and early punk combined) but it is not rock.

If you're up for some analytical historical data, would you read The Heavy Metal F.A.Q.?

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