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Twin Peaks recap: ‘The Return: Part 8’ – EW.com

Subscribe to A Twin Peaks Podcast: A Podcast About Twin Peaks on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts to unwrap the mysteries in EWs after-show every Monday during the Showtime revival.

Let it be weird.

No need to explain it. No need to figure it out. No need to tame it with reason or theory.

Just let it be weird. For now.

Part 8 of Twin Peaks: The Return was the David Lynch on heroin wed been promised. For the most part, it was a mesmerizing rush of pure-cut WTF, albeit one that made a certain amount of sense for those versed with the shows symbol system and Lynchian motifs. Still, I officially gave up trying to make sense of everything during my first viewing right about the time the eyeless transhuman entity known as Experiment started barfing foamy ejaculate containing speckled (Easter?) eggs and a creamed corn glob of BOBs face. I quit taking notes, quit pressing PAUSE so I could Google things like The Manhattan Project, quit sweating that I wasnt getting it. I decided to accept Gotta light? as an act of pure Strangelove. I stopped worrying about it and just enjoyed all the crazy bomb drops.

This is not to say we wont be trying to understand it in this recap. We will! We should! Part 8 was this shows version of Losts Across the Sea episode a big bang creation myth for the evil that haunts and poisons Twin Peaks America and gave rise to abominable mutants and brought otherworldly cosmic horror to a fallen world; it was Lynchs version of a 50s sci-fi/horror movie. (From this perspective, you could see the episode as a big bang creation myth for pop culture.) Still, everything I have to offer in the way of being Mr. Explainer is mostly speculation, and the last thing I want to do is confuse you more than you might be. So Ill try to be disciplined in my theories. I do hope Lynch and Mark Frost will offer some illumination for what we saw here in the episodes to come, especially since some of it was actually hard to see; this was a dusky, dim episode, appropriate for a story about spiritual darkness, but some images were hard to make out. Example: the shot of the BOB embryo harvested from the chest of Dirty Cooper. But for now, Im okay to just let it be weird, and delight in that weirdness. Also, its my girlfriends birthday, and I promised Id celebrate her with an energetic, attentive presence unimpaired by a recap-broken brain. Priorities, people.

Part 8 opened with Dirty Cooper and Ray, newly sprung from prison, traveling by yellowy rental car at night to a place Ray liked to call The Farm. Fitting for a creature from the deep web of Black Lodge space, Dirty Cooper used one of his dark devices some kind of black magic cell phone full of cheat codes for techno-reality to exorcise the vehicle of three tracers and/or cast them upon a truck. (Poor hexed scapegoat truck!) He then threw the phone out the window, the big litterer. The earth cried from mans indifference to the environment, and not for the last time in this episode.

Tension between these two criminals: palpable. Dirty Cooper knew that Ray had accepted a $500,000 contract to rub him out. But he needed to extract some information from his treacherous associate before he made him say hello to his little friend hidden in the glove compartment. (No, not Ike the Spike a gun!) What Dirty Cooper didnt know was that Ray was pretty hip to all this. He had no intention of giving up whatever it was that he knew a string of numbers; coordinates, I believe unless the man he called Mr. Cooper wished to pay for them, or so he intimated; I think Ray has no intention of giving Dirty Cooper anything he wants. Ray also knew all about the concealed weapon, and he wasnt worried abut it for a few reasons, including the fact that he had a revolver of his own, courtesy, we might assume, of the warden whom Dirty Cooper blackmailed last week. Truly, there is no honor among thieves and their corrupt jailers.

Dirty Cooper directed Ray to exit the highway and take a smaller road to their final destination. This led to some long, Lynchian shots of Cooper and Ray driving in silence or shots from their point of view of the car following highway lines and directional markers and pushing into darkness across rough, uneven, unpaved terrain. In retrospect, Lynchs filmmaking choices foreshadow the protracted odyssey to come: This was an episode that basically departed from the shows main narrative (such as it) to go off-roading into the wilderness of Twin Peaks mythology.

Ray stopped the car in the woods because he had to take a leak, because by now, it just wouldnt be an episode of Twin Peaks without someone peeing. (The shows biggest whizzer, coffee-chugging Dougie, was MIA this week.) Perhaps Dirty Cooper could smell the bulls on Ray. He retrieved the gun, checked the chamber, and demanded that Ray cough up the digits in his head. Ray spun around with a gun of his own. Dirty Cooper was the first to pull trigger but the gun didnt fire. Click-click-jammed! Tricked you, fer, quipped Ray, who then put Dirty Cooper down with two bullets in the chest.

And thats when s got weird. (Recap continues on page 2)

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Twin Peaks recap: ‘The Return: Part 8’ – EW.com

Butcher review – ThisisXbox (press release) (blog)

Butcher is essentially a fast based 2D side scrolling bullet hell shooter from Transhuman Design and published by Crunching Koalas. Originally released on the PC last October, Butcher is a very hard game; indeed the games own tagline is The Easiest Mode is Hard. Beyond that is Harder, Hardest and then Impossible. So is it really as difficult as it seems?

You are a cyborg charged with exterminating the last of humanity. This most reductivist plot equates to shooting everything that moves, and everything that moves is shooting at you. The pixelated visuals deliberately evoke the likes of Duke Nukem and DOOM as does the just keep moving and shoot gameplay itself. Controls are a bit tricky to begin with and important to master, with the right stick and right trigger aiming your reticule and firing, whilst the jump button is on the left trigger. Movement is on the left stick with down allowing you to drop through most floors. Clever level design adds a lot of verticality meaning you are always leaping about on the move from the constant threat that the many enemies bring. As the difficulty levels ramp up, they take away a third of your health and there are no longer any medkits or armour drops, as if it wasnt already tough enough.

Each level comprises of 4 progressively longer and more difficult grim and grimy stages. Quite often you will get locked into a room and wont be able to progress until you have cleared out all of the grunts and dive bombing jet pack wearing enemies. Youll pick up old faithful weapons like assault rifles, shotguns, rail guns and of course, chainsaws to tear through and obliterate the waves of enemies. You will paint the screen crimson with their bloodied entrails as they scream in agony. A loud throbbing industrial metal soundtrack again reminds us of those early 3D shooters, and it does capture the spirit of DOOM. This game is hardcore and it is tremendous fun.

You only get one life to complete a level, the health bar drops quickly on damage and often one false move means youll have to start over again. You can certainly clear the early levels in just a few minutes, but after a while, as the levels in the stages get longer and more complex, the red mist and controller rage begins to seep in, and I find at that point its best to walk away for a bit. This is definitely a game where you will need to Git Gud. I found I was not particularly Gud and I will admit I laughed when the repeat a single level 10 times achievement popped. Before any others had. I should add that if youre prepared to sacrifice your self respect, a casual mode has been included. This whacks your health up to 400% and doubles the values of pick ups. Apparently

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Butcher review – ThisisXbox (press release) (blog)

Video and Photos: Trans Marchers Celebrate the Passing of Trans Human Rights Bill – Torontoist

June 24, 2017 at 11:25 am news

I’m marching today because I finally have the freedom to be the person I always wanted to be”

By Zach Ruiter Photos by Mitchel Raphael

The mood was jubilant as thousandstook part in the 9th annual Toronto Trans MarchonFridayevening. Marcherstook off from Bloor Street at Church, headed southdown Yonge Street, turned left on Carlton Street, endingup inAllan Gardens.

This years march was the fifth year the procession has been officiallypermitted to proceed down Yonge.

For Shadmith Manzour, who marched on Friday, the Trans March is about highlighting the capacity for everybody to really be true to themselves and be proud of who they are.

Many participants were celebrating the recent passing of federal trans rights legislation, Bill C-16, which introduces protection for gender identity and gender expression within the Canadian Human Rights Code and the Criminal Code. We were [one of] the first countries to pass equal marriage and we are the first country to grant rights to trans people, said Rachel Lauren Clark, a Trans March participant.

Somemarchers were reluctant to celebrate the new protections. Theres huge problems with homelessness, with suicide, and violence against transgender people especially trans women of colour, Qaiser, another marcher, says. And well need a lot more than Bill C-16 to address those problems.

The Trans March has established itself as one of the most important events in thePride calendar because it is equal parts a celebration of individualityand a defiant act of resistance and protest against the everydaytransphobia in our culture.

Filed under Cheri DiNovo, kristyn wong-tam, Paul Ainslie, Pride Toronto, Bill C-16, LGBTQ, PFLAG, Pride 2017, toronto trans march, trans rights, transgender

2017, Ink Truck Media All rights reserved.

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Video and Photos: Trans Marchers Celebrate the Passing of Trans Human Rights Bill – Torontoist

Meet The Biohacking Pioneers Who Are Redesigning Their Own Bodies – Co.Design (blog)

By Meg Miller 3 minute Read

In 2012, 25-year-oldJames Young was in a rail accident in which he lost both his left arm and left leg. An avid video gamer, Young taught himself how to use a controller using only one hand and, occasionally, his teeth. At the 2016BodyHacking Con in Austin, Young debuted a $76,000 carbon-fiber arminspired by the video gameMetal Gear Solid. The high-tech limbhe designed not only gives Young the dexterity todo most of the things he could before his accident, it also charges his phone, displays his social media feeds, and features a mount for a miniature dronecontrolled froma panel onhis forearm.

[Photo: courtesy David Vintiner and Gem Fletcher]Young, who designed the limb along withprosthetic sculptor Sophie de Oliveira Barata, is 1of 30-odd subjects shot for an ongoing photo series by photographer David Vintiner and creative director Gem Fletcher. The series, Transhuman, documents a rapidly growing international movement of the same name. Spanning the fields ofmedicine, technology, philosophy, art,and academia, transhumanism looks at the ways technology canenhance the physical and psychological capabilities of humans beyond the natural limits of biology. Like Young, some within the movement are developing bionic limbs for differently abled bodies. Others experiment with machines to enhance their sense of sight or touch.

Fletcher and Vintiner discovered the transhumanism community through a meet-up that takes place in the basement of a University College London building. In 2015, the pair released partof the ongoing series, called Futurists, which captured many of the main figures in Londons transhumanism scene.

The latest series of images,Transhuman, expands the scope to subjects throughout Europe and the United States.The movement itself is in intense flux, Fletcher tell Co.Design. Its going through a period of rapid growth, so there are new people in the movement all the time. Its truly a shape-shifting subject matter.

[Photo: courtesy David Vintiner and Gem Fletcher]Fletcher andVintiners subjects frequently introduce them to others in the movement; Fletcher says that the community, though international, is relatively tight-knit and inclusive. Meet-ups like the one at UCL, or the BodyHacking conference Young attended in Texas, have made it easy for members to meeteach other. Some, like Aisen Caro, who invented a set of headphones that allows humans to experience echo-location, are scholars. (Caro is aPhD candidate in human informatics at Tsukuba University). Others, like the London-based F_T_R design studio, are inventing ways to blur the lines between the physical and digital worlds. F_T_Rs Skinterfaceproject is a full-body suit equipped with actuators that convey a sense of touch to the wearer while she is experiencing a virtual worldwhile wearing a VR headset, for example.

[Photo: courtesy David Vintiner and Gem Fletcher]Another technology featured in theTranshuman seriesis a fantastical-looking wearable called the Eyesect, designed by the interdisciplinary lab The Constitute. The Eyesect is an otherworldlyheadset that covers the users head completely, and comes equipped with two handheld cameras. The camera feeds what they are seeing onto a screen inside the headset, giving viewers a sense of 360-degree vision. You can move around the camera eyes, so that you have complete freedom to look up, down, forward, and backward all at the same time, says Fletcher. It gives humans the experience that lots of different animals have with this expansive spatial perception.

[Photo: courtesy David Vintiner and Gem Fletcher]Fletcher and Vintiner will continue the series, traveling next to Russia to shoot subjects there, and adding insome film and sound elements to the project as well. The movement is evolving at an exciting rate, says Fletcher, andmore people are gettinginvolved,particularly when it comes to biohacking. The most popular forms of small bodyhacks theyve seen are peopleexperimenting with DIY RFID (radio-frequency identification) implantsthat allow themtounlock doors or turn on lights with the swipe of a hand, for instance. Also popular in this community areimplantable biomagnets,whichallow people to interact with the world in new wayslike by picking up magnetic objects with the touch of a finger.

Its becoming more accessible, Fletcher says of the transhumanism movement. We keep seeing more and more people with chips or small implants. Its almost like the popularity ofpiercings in the 90s.

Meg Miller is an associate editor at Co.Design covering art, technology, and design.

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Meet The Biohacking Pioneers Who Are Redesigning Their Own Bodies – Co.Design (blog)

Our Outdated Debates – First Things

Could the intensity of Americas abortion debate be like the last burst of light from a dying star? Thanks to social trends, especially those arising from technology and transhumanism, our familiar forms of argument are becoming obsolete.

The New York Times recently ran a series of opinion pieces for and against abortion, framing the debate in familiar terms. The pro-life movement is increasingly young, female, and spunkyso it does not appear to be on its way out. Statistics indicate that Americans, especially younger Americans, favor some restrictions on abortion, and a record number of millennials think abortion should be illegal altogether. Meanwhile, abortion-rights advocates have turned up their rhetoric, seeking to celebrate or normalize abortion. Presenting abortion stories as a badge of honor is increasingly popular. Teen Vogue has spent the better part of a year aggressively marketing abortion to pre-pubescent girls.

Structured in this way, this debate will have no winner and no loser. Abortion and the arguments surrounding it will slowly become antiquated. I believe this for three reasons.

Abortion rates are decliningas are rates of conception. In 2016, birth rates in the United States hit an all-time low: 59.6 births per 1,000 women. Both these trends are due in part to the effectiveness of long-term contraception. Abortion providers have hitched their wagons to universal access to low-cost contraception; ironically, this choice is hurting their business. It turns out pregnancy is a pre-condition for abortion, and Western Europe and North America are no longer fertile markets. This likely accounts for Planned Parenthoods aggressive efforts to relax abortion restrictions abroad, in Africa and South America.

The fewer abortions and fewer pregnancies we have, the less salient the abortion issue will become. The pro-life movement has done little to combat the poverty of imagination that makes children into commodities to be discarded or fetishized. This singularity of vision means that we have failed to make a positive case for children as a social good, a sign of a society that is vibrant and alive, a source of joy, and a sign of hope. Addressing this poverty is a complex intellectual task, one that requires articulating the humanness of the human, and presenting children and childrearing as fundamental to the common good. It requires making a case for having children. This task is more difficult, and for a long time it seemed less urgent, than arguing against violent death and Roe v. Wade. But today we see the consequences of not adequately attending to it.

Finally, technological advances are enabling transhumanist ideologies and eroding our understanding the humanness of the human.

Transhumanism holds that, with the aid of technology, human beings can and should evolve beyond our current physical and mental limitations. Transhumanists point to the history of human manipulation of the environment, of medicine, and of bodily ornamentation to argue that transhumanism is merely one step on the road of progress. Absent a persuasive and compelling vision of human nature and human dignity (in other words, of the humanness of the human), transhumanism exerts enormous pressure on the social imagination. In less than a decade, scientists have perfected human cloning and gene editing. They have created the first inter-species entitya human-pig chimeraand developed a functional artificial womb. Such technologies hold tremendous possibilities, but it would be nave to imagine that they dont pose fundamental challenges to our ideas of what it means to be human.

These scientific and technological innovations should spark lively debate and fresh articulations of what it means to be human and what role technology should have in shaping culture. Yet the sacred neutrality of science shields technology from serious critique. In a study released earlier this year, scientists from the Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia detailed artificial womb technology, which has the possibility of revolutionizing care for pre-maturely born infants. This study seems to have been met with general indifference.

What public conversation did take place occurred within a legal-moralistic framework, a framework that fails to persuade when we lack a vision of what it means to be human. Pro-choice and pro-life advocates both focused on the same reality: the visibility of developing life. Pro-choice advocates were predictably concerned that the advent of artificial womb technology will have the adverse effect of humanizing the unborn. Pro-life advocates, on the other hand, expressed cautious enthusiasm that artificial wombs might humanize the unborn.

Scientists and researchers tell everyone not to worry. The lead researcher on artificial womb technology insists that scientists will never push the limits of viability to the point where womens bodies are functionally replaced by technology, and human gestation becomes mechanized. When you do that, he says, you open a whole new can of worms. But thisassurancerings hollow in an age governed by an ethos of what we can do, we may do. Thus, when legitimate ethical concerns are met with dismissals like Thats a pipe dream at this point, one ought to beware the qualifier, at this point. The scientific community has shown very little ability to regulate itself.

Technological possibility will increasingly eclipse the very terms of our debate over abortion, and I suspect that abortion politics as we know it is on its way to being a relic of the pasta particularly brutal way we eliminated human life back when humans used to have children.

Jessica Keating is director of the Office of Human Dignity and Life Initiatives in the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame.

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Our Outdated Debates – First Things

Transhuman Aliens – TV Tropes

“We were like you once, but now we are different… certain weaknesses have been removed.” Related to the Earth All Along ending, and sort of like Was Once a Man for an entire species, this is where a group of alien/future creatures (typically those encountered by normal humans) are revealed to be the future evolutionary path of humanity. These creatures are often monstrous in appearance and behavior and this idea generally has a strong element of Humans Are the Real Monsters. Compare with Not Even Human; in this case, they are worse because they are. Note that there are occasional instances of uplifted humans who having experienced The Singularity are benevolent and god-like. Compare/contrast with Human All Along and Human Subspecies. Not to be confused with Ultraterrestrials. See also No Transhumanism Allowed and Transhuman.

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Transhuman Aliens – TV Tropes

The Futurist: The Top Ten Transhumanist Technologies

The Lifeboat Foundation has a special report detailing their view of the top ten transhumanist technologies that have some probability of 25 to 30-year availability. Transhumanism is a movement devoted to using technologies to transcend biology and enhance human capabilities.

I am going to list out each of the ten technologies described in the report, provide my own assessment of high, medium, or low probability or mass-market availability by a given time horizon, and link to prior articles written on The Futurist about the subject.

10. Cryonics : 2025 – Low, 2050 – Moderate

I can see the value in someone who is severely maimed or crippled opting to freeze themselves until better technologies become available for full restoration. But outside of that, the problem with cryonics is that very few young people will opt to risk missing their present lives to go into freezing, and elderly people can only benefit after revival when or if age-reversal technologies become available. Since going into cryonic freezing requires someone else to decide when to revive you, and any cryonic ‘will’ may not anticipate numerous future variables that could complicate execution of your instructions, this is a bit too risky, even if it were possible.

9. Virtual Reality : 2012 – Moderate, 2020 – High

The Technological Progression of Video Games

The Next Big Thing in Entertainment, Part I, II, and III

The Mainstreaming of Virtual Reality

8. Gene Therapy : 2015 – Moderate, 2025 – High

The good news here is that gene sequencing techniques continue to become faster due to the computers used in the process themselves benefiting from Moore’s Law. In the late 1980s, it was thought that the human genome would take decades to sequence. It ended up taking only years by the late 1990s, and today, would take only months. Soon, it will be cost-effective for every middle-class person to get their own personal genome sequenced, and get customized medicines made just for them.

Are you Prepared to Live to 100?

7. Space Colonization : 2025 – Low, 2050 – Moderate

While this is a staple premise of most science fiction, I do not think that space colonization may ever take the form that is popularly imagined. Technology #2 on this list, mind uploading, and technology #5, self-replicating robots, will probably appear sooner than any capability to build cities on Mars. Thus, a large spaceship and human crew becomes far less efficient than entire human minds loaded into tiny or even microscopic robots that can self-replicate. A human body may never visit another star system, but copies of human minds could very well do so.

Nonetheless, if other transhumanist technologies do not happen, advances in transportation speed may enable space exploration in upcoming centuries.

6. Cybernetics : 2015 – High

Artificial limbs, ears, and organs are already available, and continue to improve. Artificial and enhanced muscle, skin, and eyes are not far.

5. Autonomous Self-Replicating Robots : 2030 – Moderate

This is a technology that is frightening, due to the ease at which humans could be quickly driven to extinction through a malfunction that replicates rouge robots. Assuming a disaster does not occur, this is the most practical means of space exploration and colonization, particular if the robots contain uploads of human minds, as per #2.

4. Molecular Manufacturing : 2020 – Moderate, 2030 – High

This is entirely predictable through the Milli, Micro, Nano, Pico curves.

3. Megascale Engineering (in space) : 2040 – Moderate

From the Great Wall of China in ancient times to Dubai’s Palm Islands today, man-made structures are already visible from space. But to achieve transhumanism, the same must be done in space. Eventually, elevators extending hundreds of miles into space, space stations much larger than the current ISS (240 feet), and vast orbital solar reflectors will be built. But, as stated in item #7, I don’t think true megascale projects (over 1000 km in width) will happen before other transhumanist technologies render the need for them obsolete.

2. Mind Uploading : 2050 – Moderate

This is what I believe to be the most important technology on this list. Today, when a person’s hardware dies, their software in the form of their thoughts, memories, and humor, necessarily must also die. This is impractical in a world where software files in the form of video, music, spreadsheets, documents, etc. can be copied to an indefinite number of hardware objects.

If human thoughts can reside on a substrate other than human brain matter, then the ‘files’ can be backed up. That is all there is to it.

1. Artificial General Intelligence : 2050 – Moderate

This is too vast of a subject to discuss here. Some evidence of progress appears in unexpected places, such as when, in 1997, IBM’s Deep Blue defeated Gary Kasparov in a chess game. Ray Kurzweil believes that an artificial intelligence will pass the Turing Test (a bellwether test of AI) by 2029. We will have to wait and see, but expect the unexpected, when you least expect it.

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The Futurist: The Top Ten Transhumanist Technologies

New iOS Games and Apps of the Week: PS4 PlayLink and more – The iPad Guide

Sony announced PlayLink for the PlayStation 4 at E3 this week. The new app allows users to play games on their console by using the touchscreen of their iOS device. Sony previewed a few upcoming PlayLink titles that will be availble at launch. Check out the descriptions and trailers below.

PlayLink will be available for free on both the App Store and Google Play on July 4th.

That’s You! – An audacious comedy quiz which challenges you and up to five friends to get personal and find out what you really think about each other. Featuring over 1,000 varied questions, reveal your daring side by taking part in doodle challenges and snapping selfies.

Hidden Agenda – This narrative-driven adventure drops you into a detective thriller rife with chilling moral dilemmas that may determine life or death. Up to six of you can join in to make tough decisions about how the story unfolds, but not all of you will be working towards the same objective

Knowledge is Power – Answer a variety of trivia questions and outsmart up to five opponents, with power plays and challenges thrown in to keep you on your toes. This game is all about speed and accuracy in the face of some wickedly crafted distractions from your opponents are you up to the task?

Frantics – Arcade-style fun and manic mini-games are all the rage in Frantics, where you and up to three friends have to face off in a variety of challenges. Bluff, battle, negotiate and co-operate your way to victory, but beware mischievous host The Fox is also on hand to stir things up.

SingStar Celebration – Hit the high notes with upbeat tracks, massive hits and your favorite party classics. Whether its your birthday, Christmas, New Years Eve or even just a Saturday night SingStar Celebration is the perfect playlist to any party, with up to eight players able to join in the fun. Use your SingStar mic or combine your smartphone with the SingStar Mic App, and get ready for your big moment.

Players who pre-register for Pocket Knights 2 at http://www.pocketknights2.com will receive exclusive rewards. The sequel to the hit RPG is set to launch worldwide on the App Store after soft launching on Google Play. You can visit the mini site link posted above or Facebook for more details about the game.

Feral Interactive announced that Hitman: The Complete First Season is coming to macOS on June 20th. The Mac version will include all six international missions and three bonus missions from the Linux version of the game.

Here are this week’s noteworthy App Store releases:

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New iOS Games and Apps of the Week: PS4 PlayLink and more – The iPad Guide

Home – Believer

BELIEVER gained worldwide recognition for their boundary-breaking, artistic form of progressive metal music. The early albums threwopen the doors to collaborations between metal and orchestral musicians and sealedthe bands legacy. BELIEVERsfocus on creativity and innovation has earned praise from fans and musicians worldwide.

March 20, 2017 | Progressive metallers BELIEVER are back with new music. New songs from Believer will be released throughout 2017, culminating in the release of a physical product to be announced later this year. Believer fans will enjoy (or not) digital releases every few months with new artwork from Eye Level Studios Michael Rosner to accompany each release. The first installment, titled 1 of 5, contains two songs and wasreleased via Trauma Team Productions on March 18, 2017. The songs were mixed by Kevin Gutierrez at Assembly Line Studios and mastered by Bill Wolf of Wolf Productions.

As Believer fans know, the bands sound is constantly evolving as they explore new creative directions with each release. Kurt Bachman (Guitars/Vocals) explains, At this point our goal was to write good songs, but to also make ourselves feel a bit musically uncomfortable. We have long admired the musicianship of Rush, Yes, Kansas, etc, but it was their ability to write great, memorable songs that has always inspired us. After 30 years, I would say that with these songs, we are combining the Believer sound with our very early musical roots and having a fun time doing it!

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Home – Believer

Afrofuturism Tries to Find its Footing in Virtual Reality – The Chicago Maroon

Last Friday, the Stony Island Arts Bank showcased the work of international female art collective Hyphen-Labs.Their newest project,NeuroSpeculativeAfroFeminism(NSAF), attempts to revive the aesthetic movement of Afrofuturisma magical-realistscience fiction exploration of black culture and historyby incorporating contemporary design, neuroscience, and technology to preserve black culture in the digital age.

The NSAF project is highly ambitious; it places real-world objects alongside a virtual reality (V.R.) AfroFeminism experience. Unfortunately, Fridays promised V.R.demonstration flopped; the headset would not function properly, disappointing about 30expectant attendees.

NSAFs products seek to address the daily needs of black citizens in the digital age. One such product was a pair of huge, pink door-knocker earrings that record video on command. These conspicuous earrings, the group explained, could help many black women feel more secure in their everyday life. Another innovation was a digitally-printed headscarf, inspired by traditional African headscarves. What is more, the headscarf technology combats facerecognition algorithms by overloading the software, rendering the wearer untraceable. In an age of constant surveillance, the headscarf works to make black women feel more secure.

Hyphen-Labssfeature creation was a mixed-media, chiefly V.R.neurocosmetology experience. The viewer enters a spacehalf neurosurgery bay, half hair salonwhere, the event description stated, black women pioneer brain modulation and cognitive enhancement by embedding electrodes into extensions and braiding techniques. The need for a hair salon, according to the group, stems from technology designers failure to produce headset designs that accommodate larger hair.

When Hyphen-Labs was describing the fictionalcharacterswho inhabit the neurocosmetology salon, they introduced a black woman named TechnoAfricanum-Culturist, a billion-year-old trans-human.

What is a black woman whos a trans-human? an artist rhetorically asked the audience. [It is] where your technology is inextricably linked to your self. TechnoAfricanum-Culturist, for example, reportedly holds the balance of all of the universes in her larger-than-life silver afro.

The project, however, had some striking weaknesses. Headsets continued to malfunction during the event, and the productsthough they claimed everyday utilitywere impractically niche. Hyphen-Labs, moreover, includes only one black member.

Some of Fridays attendees appeared uncomfortable.One woman in the audience later asked, in reference to the digitally printed headscarf, as women, whether white, black, Asian, we all are vulnerable, so why did you specifically choose one particular group when pretty much everyone could wear [the headscarf]?

Acknowledging that I am not a member of the target demographic, I cant judge the appropriateness of this kind of artistic creation, but the project nonetheless struck me as drawing on cultural stereotypes in dangerous ways. There is no question that black culture must be preserved and promoted, but there must be a way to express its spirit without reasserting only its most visible tropes into the conversation. It felt odd that the artists would choose to address larger social issues through capitalist consumerism and by reducing women to their cosmetic choices. I getthe unshakable feeling that a black futuristic womans larger-than-life silver afro is analogous in this situation to, say, a Jewish futuristic mans larger-than-life silver yarmulke.

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Afrofuturism Tries to Find its Footing in Virtual Reality – The Chicago Maroon

Rubio Announces 5-EP Series With Two Bone-Chilling New Tracks – Remezcla (blog)

In this musical landscape of on-demand streaming and disposable playlists for every mood and occasion, its really a blessing when an artist gives us the opportunity to slow down and really listen to their music. That is part of the beauty of Rubios new EP series. Rubio is the solo electronic project of drummer, singer, and Chilean national treasure Fran Straube, who is best known for fronting and drumming in electronic rock band Miss Garrison. Following last years self-titled debut EP, Straube has just released atwo-song EP, with promises of four more to come in 2017 through Jungla. Its a way ofexploring her sound on this project while keeping fans involved in the experience for a whole year. Plus, the strategy gives us time to fully explore each song.

The first of this series, titled R, consists of Luz and Indonesia, two songs that warrant repeated plays and engaged listening. With this new material, Straube reminds those who follow her many musical endeavors that her gift for rhythm applies to digital beats just as much as it does to analog percussion. The first Rubio EP pushed the envelope for stylish downtempo and dabbled in dembow, managing to be simultaneously cool and sultry. This new EPcito is even more experimental in some ways, and a touch more minimal. (If you must playlist these songs, slide them in between the latest Arca and Nicolas Jaar.)

If R can be taken as a kind of digital seven-inch, then Luz, featuring a vocal assist from Carlos Cabezas of seminal Chilean electronic group Electrodomsticos, is the A side. Together, the two avant savants deliver a smooth electrobolero, their smoky, intertwined vocals haunting the track like a ghost in a shell. Much like Al Sol de Noche, Straubes most recent album with Miss Garrison, the sci-fi vibes are thick here. Luz would be perfect for soundtracking a Bladerunner-style android adventure film set in present-day Santiago de Chile. Lado B Indonesia holds its own by being both more challenging and more pop. With just the right amount of auto-tune on an anthemic vocal hook, Straube becomes a transhuman chanteuse, riding a jazzy production with subtle Southeast Asian references.

Its hard not to look ahead and wonder what othersurprises the EP series will reveal. You can probably figure out what the next four EPs will be titled. The only other thing we can tell you is that, once this journey is over, all the songs will be put together as a limited physical release.

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Rubio Announces 5-EP Series With Two Bone-Chilling New Tracks – Remezcla (blog)

This dad is a genius biohacker. But he could lose his kids because of it. – Fusion

In the name of science, Rich Lee has done things to his body that most of us wouldn’t dare imagine. He’s implanted permanent earbudsin his ears that allow him to listen to music on the sly. He’s implanted magnets in his finger and experimented with eyedrops that would allow him to see in the dark. Most recently, he installed tubes of armorunder the skin of his leg toact as a sort of built-in shin guard.

Lee is what’s known as a grinder, part of a community of biohackers that use their own bodies as laboratories to push the limits of the human form. The human body, theyreason, is a machine that can be “hacked” forimprovement in the same way you might add features to a computer or a car. Lee sees himself as a mad scientist, tinkering with his own physicality in search of perfection.

But to Lee’s ex-wife, his biohacking isn’t just an odd hobbyit’s a disturbing and potentially dangerous one that makes him a worse parent. She’s arguing in court that it poses such a hazard to their kids that Lee shouldn’t get custody of them.

When Lee divorced from his wife last November, they split the custody of their 9-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son. Then last month, after Lee’s shin surgery,his wife filed a motionto give her full custody, citing Lee’s biohacking as the primary reason.

“I stopped sharing joint physical custody,” the motion says, “because Rich has chosen to expose our children to his disturbing behavior of do-it-yourself surgeries and bio-hacking.”

His ex-wife did not respond to a request for comment through her attorney, but her court filings lay her position out clearly.”I am disturbed by Richs self-destructive behavior,” the motionreads, “and believe it has a negative impact on our children.”

Lee’s tinkering, in other words, isn’t self-improvementit’s self-mutilation. Lee counts himself among the camp of hackers and scientists who don’t necessarily view the human body in its natural form as better. Their growing contingency, though, faces a stiff opposition from a majority of people who feel messing with nature is aslippery slope.

When he’s not playing mad scientist, Lee manages a warehouse for a packaging sales firm in southwestern Utah. He got into biohacking back in 2008. He was flipping through old magazines left behind by his recently deceased grandmother, and found himself upset by headlines from decades past promising things like the end of disease andeternal life.

“I was upset at futurism,” he told me. “All these predictions just never came true.”

If Lee wanted to live in a transhumanist utopia, he decided he was going to have to make it for himself.

He started smalla magnet in his finger,an RFID chip in his hand. Over the years, Lee’s experiments playing Frankenstein with his own body became increasingly extreme. He documented them on YouTube,turninghim into a fixture of the grinder community.His latest project in development is the Lovetron9000, an implant he hopes will turn his man parts into a bionic, vibrating penis.

“Making implants and other kinds of mad science ismy passion in life,” Lee told me. “And my kids have always been really proud of it.”

According to her legal filing, Lee’s ex-wife had always been disturbed by her husband’s surgeries, but she says they became more extreme recently.

“He has gotten several implants this past year and they are increasingly more invasive and dangerous,” his ex-wife’s motion reads. “It also concerns me that he is dismissive of the impact his self-surgeries have on the children. He posts them on social media and YouTube; our kids can easily access either.”

Lee’s ex-wife argues that exposing their kids to the sometimes gruesome world of DIY implants is not good for the kids.

In addition to restricting custodyto just visitation rights, her motion asks the court to bar Lee from “involving the children in or exposing the children to his bio-hacking/trans-human/grinder lifestyle and activities.”

But Lee argues that his kids have always been curious and enthusiastic about his strange hobby. He doesn’t let his kids see the grizzly stuff. And his kids, he said, love bragging to friends about their “cyborg dad.”

Horrified at the thought of losing custody of his kids, Lee started a GoFund me campaign to raise money for a lawyer, asking people to “help cyborg Dad regain custody.”

“I strongly believe that one’s body is theirs to do what they want with. I choose to customize mine through various technological interventions.,” he wrote on his GoFund me campaign page. “That does not make me an unfit parent and shouldn’t make my kids love me less. I fear that the courts system in my small conservative town will not understand that parents being into body modification and biohacking ARE NOT FORMS OF CHILD ABUSE.”

So far, he’s raised more than $6,000 and sparked outrage among the biohacker community. In a time when technophobia is in the zeitgeistwhen Americans are wary of the effects of genetic engineering and other sci-fi sounding advancementsit’s easy to view Lee’s case as a referendum on biohacking itself. Implanting armor into your shins doesn’t just make you audacious and perhaps a little wackyit could makeyou unfit to be a parent to your kids.

“I believe in a person’s right to augment their body however they want,” Lee told me. “If one parent is trans or gets a tattoo or whatever, it doesn’t change their ability to love a kid.”

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This dad is a genius biohacker. But he could lose his kids because of it. – Fusion

Man merges with machine – SunLive (blog)

Some science-type bods are getting a bit excited because they believe mankind may be on the brink of merging with machines.

Transhumanism, they call it. Not to be confused with trannie-humans. The theory is that we’ll soon have some machine parts implanted in us, to keep up with the relentless march of technology.

Innovative billionaire Elon Musk says humans must merge with machines. And Elon would know, he’s the clever bugger who built a rocket that not only blasted off last week, but then reversed back into its parking space. Amazing that someone can do with a space rocket, what most Tauranga drivers can’t manage with a Corolla.

Anyway, he reckons a direct brain/computer interface is an absolute necessity for humans to evolve as a species and keep up with the machines.

If we don’t merge with the machines, we will become useless and irrelevant, reports New Atlas. At RR, we worry that this may have already happened to Winston Peters.

Although there is a General Election coming up and with his particular system of cryogenics, anything is possible.

Science documentaries

Transhumanism sounds very much like science fiction, and I am well qualified to speak on this subject of future science because I’ve seen a lot of science documentaries, such as Cherry 2000′ at least five times and various other films featuring robots, androids and Mr Vader. Of course, we grew up with Space Family Robinson every afternoon on a black-and-white television. From this vast study of science spanning many decades, I can tell you, humans generally lose in the end. But they get a small consolation, such as living happily ever after with Melanie Griffith.

Personally, I came very close to merging with machines on several occasions in my younger years. Once, while venturing too close to the wringer washing machine, part of my fashionable sixties clothing was inexplicably drawn into the double wringer roller mechanism. My short and precarious life flashed before my eyes as I was about to be interfaced with the Whiteway. Or was it a Maytag?

Previous columns have also delved into character-building experiences with the bean slicer; although these incidents tended to be more like the bean slicer attempting to rid the planet of humans with digits, rather than any peaceful symbiotic bonding.

We all have those crisis moments in life when we’ve thought: What would Steve Austin do?’ Most of us failed, because we did not have the slow-motion function installed. Any attempts to re-enact The Six Million Dollar Man’ stunts soon ended up in a shambles more closely resembling the closing sequence of The Benny Hill Show’.

Androids among us

The closest thing we’ve seen to transhumanism in real life would have to be Michael Jackson, who, until his untimely expiration, was a human perfectly blended with a Tupperware set.

I’ve long suspected there are already androids walking amongst us and they’re doing a darn good job of keeping it a secret, except for Mike Hosking, of course. He was interfaced with Encyclopaedia Britannica from an early age, because he knows everything.

Then there’s a musician who has so many piercings and rings in his face, he can double as a shower curtain.

Peter Dunne is rumoured to have survived a brush with a crop duster and Gareth Morgan must have at some point suffered a close encounter with a six-pack of Energizer batteries, because he just keeps going and going and going.

Built-in compass

Lepht Anonym is a Berlin-based biohacker who advocates cybernetics for the masses, says New Atlas. Lepht [who identifies as genderless] has performed numerous body modifications over the past decade, including implanting neodymium metal discs under his/her fingertips to enable the physical sensing of electromagnetic fields, and several internal compass implants designed to give a physical awareness of north and south magnetic poles. Here at RR, we hope Lepht has joined Scouts or Guides, because he/she would be well ready to go for his/her Map Reading and Orienteering Badge.

The new generation of kids may as well have machines grafted into their brains. They already walk around with mobile devices planted constantly in their faces, they experience virtual lives; nothing is true or proven until it’s been shared on instabook or facegram and nothing accepted as a true record of history until it has reached 20 likes and a minimum of four smiley faces.

In fact it’s a gas

Transhumanist thinking goes beyond the mere fusion of human and machine. It includes genetic modification to help us live longer and be smarter, till eventually we transcend our physical bodies with the aid of technology.

Little do these scientists know, that level of transhuman longevity has already been achieved by a pioneer in the field; not by implants of computer or machinery; but with select drugs, decades of liquid infusion, excessive noise application and being born in a cross-fire hurricane. Long live Keith Richards.

I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots Albert Einstein.

brian@thesun.co.nz

For more science revelations and other true stories, go to Facebook and like’ blogger, Rogers Rabbits.

Originally posted here:

Man merges with machine – SunLive (blog)

If you cry at work, pretend it’s because you’re very passionate about … – Boing Boing

Research has shown that crying at work comes off as unprofessional and weakens your promotion prospects — and surveys suggest that people cry at work a lot, anyway. So how can you balance your human emotional needs with the necessity of presenting yourself as a productive unit of gut-flora for the transhuman, immortal artificial life form that has absorbed you?

In a 2016 paper published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, a group of business-school researchers led by Harvard doctoral candidate Elizabeth Baily Wolf present the results of a study on how people perceive their co-workers’ tears, and which emotional explanations are most favorably perceived.

They evaluated five notional explanations for crying at work — fighting with co-workers, being assigned undesirable work, being discriminated against, negotiating for higher pay, and being overcome with passion for your job — and found that subjects viewed the final explanation (overwhelming workplace passion that spills over into tears) as reflecting the most workplace competence.

Of course, this strategy only works for work-related tears, and sometimes people cry at work for personal reasons (though if spotted, you could try to pawn it off on the job). Nevertheless, this dynamic tends to truly crystallize in the performance review, the best known venue for workplace crying. If involuntary tears start welling up during harsh criticism from the boss, instead of apologizing for getting emotional, blame them on passion for your job. The boss might perceive the tears as noble, even endearing, rather than weak.

Workers are generally told to leave their tears at home. Jennifer Porter, a managing partner at the Boda Group, an executive coaching firm, advises clientsparticularly womennot to cry on the job.

If you can find strategies to not cry at work, it’s in your career best interests, she said. Wolfs research confirmed that holding back tears still beats all other options. In one of her experiments, when given three options for a potential project partner, participants chose the person who hid distress over someone who admitted to cryingno matter what the reason.

Managing perceptions of distress at work: Reframing emotion as passion [Elizabeth Baily Wolf, Jooa Julia Lee, Sunita Sah and Alison Wood Brooks/Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes]

The Experts Guide to Crying at Work [Rebecca Greenfield/Bloomberg]

(via Naked Capitalism)

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If you cry at work, pretend it’s because you’re very passionate about … – Boing Boing

Transhuman Treachery – TV Tropes

“But in general, take my advice, when you meet anything that’s going to be Human and isn’t yet, or used to be Human once and isn’t now, or ought to be Human and isn’t, you keep your eyes on it and feel for your hatchet.” Part of the Horror of being infected by The Virus is its ability to corrupt the mind of a victim, subordinating them into a Hive Mind or outright making them a sociopathic shell of their former self, intent only on killing or infecting their former loved ones. But then there’s times that a transformation doesn’t brainwash, de-soul, drive insane, or demonically possess the victim. Other times the Viral Transformation causes changes that are purely cosmetic, granting amazing abilities albeit at great cost and (usually) a horrifying appearance. So what do these unwilling tranformees do? Become Phlebotinum Rebels or Vampire Refugees and use their powers to fight these monsters? Nope. They engage in Transhuman Treachery. They sell out humanity and ally with who- or what-ever did this to them, regardless of whether or not they wanted to kill all vampires, robots, mutants, or aliens five minutes ago. There is no shock, only joy at becoming “more” than human and being able to flout society’s rules. If this FaceHeel Turn is too quick, it gives the impression that some other trope is at work, like The Dark Side, or With Great Power Comes Great Insanity. However, this trope may be justified a couple of ways. If The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body it doesn’t matter that vampire Dan doesn’t want to drink human blood, he has to, and trying to be friendly won’t last. Alternately, someone seeking the Curse That Cures may make the painful choice to switch sides to save their life. If the setting has an ongoing “race war” against what the character has become, if they don’t join their new race they’ll quickly face death. However most of the time the switch in alliances comes about with alarming speed and lack of concern. At best you’ll see these Big Bad Friends offer the transformation to a friend or loved one… and kill them if they refuse. The Dark Side, they have cookies. It seems resisting these new biological impulses or avoiding becoming drunk on power is reserved solely for protagonists with Heroic Willpower. A possible cause of Beware the Superman, this is the third sin in the Scale of Scientific Sins. Compare Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing and Species Loyalty. Contrast Monsters Anonymous. May lead to forming an Anti-Human Alliance. Can overlap with Super Supremacist. Contrast Pro-Human Transhuman or Humanity Is Infectious, depending on the details.

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Transhuman Treachery – TV Tropes

Could This Transhumanist Be the next Governor of California? – Big Think

Its a good time to be a transhumanist politician. As faith in the political establishment declines, new technologies, from gene editing to artificial intelligence, are transforming our lives faster than ever. The transhumanist author and politician Zoltan Istvan agrees. He thinks the time is ripe for pro-science and technology governance, and for leaders who will embrace the technologies that could fundamentally transform our conceptions of what it means to be human.

Istvan is a maverick who appears to thrive in an ‘outsider’ role. He self-published a sci-fi novel, The Transhumanist Wager, in 2013, which became a surprise bestseller on Amazon. In 2016, he made an unlikely run for US president as the leader of the Transhumanist Party. Now, hes making a bid for Governor of California in the 2018 election under a Libertarian Party ticket.

As a libertarian, Istvan believes in promoting maximum freedom and personal accountability, a sentiment that gels well with his championing of human enhancement technologiesand robot and cyborg rights.

Like all transhumanists, Istvan believes in using science and technology to enhance human capabilities and transcend current biological limits. He wants to be smarter, live longer, and eventually merge with advanced technologies to become a posthuman beingone that is impervious, or at least resilient, to aging, and most mortal risks.

jason-silva-on-transhumanism

All Aboard the Immortality Bus

The primary role of transhumanist politicians and parties at present is not to win elections, but to spread awareness and garner political clout. Istvan acknowledges this, and he plays the role well.

When running for president in 2016, he drove around the country in a coffin-shaped Immortality Bus spreading the word that death should be conquered. He got a lot of media attention and helped to generate awareness about transhumanist ideas and technologies. He also seemed to be the only candidate actively desiring to be superseded. Eventually, Istvan hopes that an artificial intelligence will become president, as he thinks it will do a better job.

In 2017, the political newcomer set his sights on a smaller goal: California. He also made the pragmatic decision to switch to the Libertarian Party, which has a larger support base than his own Transhumanist Party. But Istvan hasnt abandoned transhumanism. Many transhumanists are libertarians, or have libertarian sympathies, and Istvan believes that he can promote libertarian and transhumanist interests in tandem.

Henotably opposes federal regulations that could hamper the development of advanced technologies, like artificial intelligence and gene editing, which have many marketable applications, from driverless cars, to the broad and growing field of personalized medicine. These industries are big in California, and Istvan believes they will be instrumental in promoting economic growth.

But what if robots end up taking all the jobs? As a left-leaning libertarian, Istvan thinks that some form of basic income will eventually be necessary to solve this problem.

The gubernatorial candidate is also a passionate defender of the joint transhumanist-libertarian view that the individual should have the right to choose what they do with their own body. The principle ofmorphological freedom,as its called in transhumanist circles, includes basic forms of DIY biohacking (Istvan has an RFID chip implanted in his wrist, which opens his front door)and extends to much more ambitious forms of body modification, like gene therapy, and other biomedical interventions that could stop or reverse aging, enhance physical and cognitive prowess, and even delay death.

Like many transhumanists, Istvan is also adamant that the government needs to classify aging as a disease. He views the fight against aging and death as a (trans)human rights issue, a stance he explained in a 2017 interview:

My entire goal, and one of the things I’m standing behind is that we all have a universal right to indefinite lifespans. That’s something I can promise you in the 21st century will become one of the most important civil and ideological rights of humanity. That everybody has a right to live indefinitely.

Who Wants to Live Forever?

Apparently, quite a few people. Billions of dollars are being spent by tech corporations and entrepreneurs to unlock the secrets of human biology, reverse aging, and cure disease. Googles Calico Labs, a $1.5 billion initiative,focus purely on anti-aging and life-extension research, and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan havepledged $3 billionto cure all diseases by the end of the century.

PayPal co-founder and prominent libertarian transhumanist Peter Thiel is another keen investor in life-extension initiatives. He famously expressed interest in”parabiosis”an experimental procedure in which individuals over 35 receive blood transfusions from those under 25 in the hope of experiencing regenerative effects. Thiel hassaid of death:

You can accept it, you can deny it or you can fight it. I think our society is dominated by people who are into denial or acceptance, and I prefer to fight it.

Oracle founder Larry Ellison has also donated in excess of $430million to anti-aging research, and is similarly outspoken about the tragedy of death:

Death has never made any sense to me Death makes me angry. Premature death makes me angrier still.

But the question remains, is life-extension actually possible? Biogerontologist and co-founder of the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senesence (SENS) Foundation, Aubrey de Grey, thinks so.

aubrey-de-greys-plan-to-stop-aging

De Grey believes that aging, and age-related diseases should be thought of as the various types of molecular and cellular damage that the body does to itself as a side effect of its normal metabolic operation. De Greys research focuses on figuring out how to repair that damage and prevent it from developing into a pathology of old age.

Other scientists, like the theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, and the Harvard geneticist George Church are also optimistic that cheap genomic sequencing, gene-editing techniques like CRISPR-Cas9, and the explosion of genetic and lifestyle data will help us to unlock and reverse the biological mechanisms of aging in the near future.

Is Life Extension Ethical?

Of course there aremanywho think that living indefinitely is infeasible, or just plain wrong. Like the Jewish historian Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, whobelieves that death gives life meaning and that without it we would be less human. She also wonders: What will people live for, if they live indefinitely? and notes that in the Jewish tradition:

The ideal of indefinite postponement of death is the highest form of human hubris, one more example of human rebellion against God who created humans as finite beings whose life narrative has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Other common concernsare population growth, resource scarcity, the fear that the old will refuse to make way for the young, and the worry that only the rich will benefit.

In a more philosophical vein, the American astronomerSeth Shostakhas mused that if we radically extend our lives but remain biological we could become ultra risk averse and avoid doing everyday things like getting into a car. With so much potential ahead of us, even a small probability of dying would seem unacceptable.

Yet when it comes to upgrading the human condition, Istvan thinks we should go for broke. When asked what he thought about a posthuman future he declared:

Oh I’m totally embracing it! I have called for the end of humanity as we know it. The reality is that I think the human body is frail. I don’t want to say the human body is evil, but I don’t like it. I’m not a fan of the human body. I think it’s something that is designed to be replaced and replaced as quickly as possible.

He makes a bold statement. And, like any politician, he argues (in line with Aubrey de Grey) that it will be good for the economy.

the-economics-of-immortality

But just how open minded is California? It’s previously embracedthe Governator, butifIstvan were elected it could end up with a real-life cyborga human who gets upgraded to be more like a machine. For his part, Zoltan Istvan thinks that this is exactly what California, and humanity, needs.

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Could This Transhumanist Be the next Governor of California? – Big Think

411’s Comic Reviews: Super Sons #1, Wild Storm #1, More – 411mania.com

Hello and welcome to 411manias weekly Comic Book Review Roundtable! Each week well be serving up a warm dish of reviews from Marvel, DC, and anything else that captures our interest. What did you pick up this week? Let us know in the comments.

Want to write a review? If you can write at least one review a week, consistently, email me at [emailprotected]!

Now on with the show!

The Wild Storm #1

Review by Steve Gustafson

I couldnt be more excited to see these characters that are so near and dear to me reintroduced under the guiding hand of Warren Ellis. WildStorm represents an incredibly fun and exciting period in my career, and I cant wait to see what Warren and Jon have in store for fans in February.Jim Lee, DC Comics Co-Publisher

When I was talking about this book with a couple of friends all I had to do was ask them, What do you think of Warren Ellis? Depending on how you answer will dictate if this book is for you or not. This book is a checklist for Ellis style of writing and its an enticing reintroduction to familiar characters with new iterations of Grifter, Voodoo, the Engineer, Jenny Sparks and others.

Ellis and artist Jon Davis-Hunt do what they do best in establishing a covert world filled with spies and dangers around every corner while giving a the world a shady view and a new purpose.

A troubled woman, barred by her employer from continuing her research, walks miserably through New York City. It takes her a moment to notice that everybody else is looking up. A man has been thrown from the upper floor of the Halo skyscraper.

And that womanAngela Spica, sick from the transhuman implants shes buried in her own bodyis the only person who can save him.

What she doesnt know is that the act of saving that one man will tip over a vast and secret house of cards that encloses the entire world, if not the inner solar system. This is how the Wild Storm begins, and it may destroy covert power structures, secret space programs and even all of human history.

The writing and concept are enough to make this a recommended book but if youre looking for action, this isnt going to be the one for you. While Davis-Hunt is beyond capable, hes not given a whole lot to work with outside static scenes of characters talking. Nothing wrong with that but those looking for a by-the-numbers superhero brawl should know what theyre getting into. This is definitely not your old Wildstorm.

Wild Storm #1 is a tremendous new take from Ellis and Davis-Hunt that lays the lines for a new Wildstorm that wont be content with following the rules of the old Wildstorm.

Rating: 9.0 out of 10

Super Sons #1

Review by RobF

The long and complicated relationship between Superman and Batman takes on a new dynamic in Super Sons 1. Peter Tomasi and Jorge Jimenez bring us the story of frenemies Robin and Superboy as DC presents the latest edition of Worlds Finest.

On one hand we have Damien Wayne, the son of Batman. Raised by Bruce Wayne and Alfred, his life is dominated by control and order. Largely arrogant and defiant, the latest Robin is quite a handful. Jonathan Kent, the son of Superman and Lois Lane, is the latest to don the Superboy mantle. His parents have raised him with humility and valor. Its this type of contrast in child-rearing that makes Robin and Superboys relationship so interesting. Their rivalry is what makes an issue light on action a worthy read.

Jorge Jimenez does an admirable job with the artwork. His cartoonish style is appropriate for this type of story. He actually makes the boys look like boys, even super powered ones.

Tomasi clearly shows he understands these characters well. This is one of the more interesting interpretations of the Batman/Superman relationship. The chemistry between Damien and Jonathan is strong and I can see them growing up together in the DC Universe.

Rating 8 out of 10

Justice League of America: The Ray Rebirth #1

Review by Stephen M. Lyon

The Ray is one of four characters being introduced into the Justice League of America through a series of one-shot comics. While Killer Frost provides an introduction into the league without an origin story, and Vixen and The Atom provide a hybrid of origin story and current conflict, The Ray sticks to a simple origin story. This is a wise move,as The Ray is the character probably least known by the new JLA readers. This title provides a story which gives a basic foundation for the hero, but it does not give everything away, allowing for there to be some mystery to be explored as the JLA series progresses. It begins with his childhood and his development into adulthood when he finally reveals himself to the world. This is a necessary title to pick up for anyone who wants a fundamental understanding of the JLAs new members.

The book begins with a young boy, Ray Terrill, sitting in a dark room. Hes watching television and his mother comes in with a birthday cake, without candles; she gets exasperated when he asks for some, reminding him that hes allergic to light (even artificial light, meaning tv use must be sporadic). It shows a flashback to him playing with a friend, and the friend uses a camera which emits a flash, and results in the friend being injured (though were not told how). We then flash forward to Ray when hes 16, and he decides hes sick of being a recluse, and decides living isnt worth it if hes trapped inside, so he ventures into the night. While out, his powers are triggered and he begins to realize that he has the ability to feed on light, but that he has to work to control it or the results can be devastating; it can be weaponized, he can use fly, and he can make himself invisible. It ends with him reuniting with his old friend from childhood, saving his life, and his deciding to become a superhero.

Much like the previous one-shots, this is a very simple story. However, it introduces the reader into the world of The Ray in preparation for the new JLA series, which I am continually becoming more excited about.

Rating: 7.0 out of 10

Steve here! Thats all the time we have. Tell us what youre reading below and see you back here next week! You can now find our reviews on ComicBookRoundUp.com!

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411’s Comic Reviews: Super Sons #1, Wild Storm #1, More – 411mania.com

Boy doll from American Girl slammed by pastor – WND.com

(WBTW) ASHEVILLE, NC An Asheville pastor is upset about American Girl revealing a boy version of its dolls.

He sent a message to his church congregation voicing the concerns last week.

After serving in the military, Reverend Keith A. Ogden knew a life of preaching was ahead.

I got into ministry in 1995 when I was stationed in Korea, he said.

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Boy doll from American Girl slammed by pastor – WND.com

In Conversation With: Priyanka Lama at London Fashion Week … – VERVE

Fashion

Text by Sadaf Shaikh

How have you incorporated the theme of The Indian Pastoralists in your showcase? The Indian Pastoralists represent the varied artisanal communities that inhabit a few pockets across the mountains in India. I have taken inspiration from the life of the highland communities of Lachen and Lachung in the foothills of the Sikkim Himalayas. Almost trans-human in nature, as believed in folklore, they have been living in self-sustaining societies, in harmony with nature. Untouched and unaffected by modernism, they live in a metaphysical state.

What are the elements that influenced your collectionThe Unreached?As the name signifies, these are communities that have rarely been written about or researched on. My designs takea deconstructed approach from the bakhu and honju, which are traditional garments worn by the women from that region.

What are the local elements that you have tried to retain?I have used the indigenous Eri and its yarn waste exclusively for this collection. The fiber is natures own upcycled product, where the cocoon is technically waste after the silkworm transforms and leaves, earning its name of peace or non-violence silk.

What does the P.E.L.L.A woman symbolise?A P.E.L.L.A woman finds poetry in fashion. She is someone who appreciates the beauty of true craftsmanship and has an eye for the most inconspicuous of details.

How have you maintained abalance between an Indian and global aesthetic? My work blurs the boundaries of what we perceive is Indian or global. I think it is very important to appreciate design in its true form, regardless of origin or destination.

What are the techniques and textiles used? P.E.L.L.A as a label incorporates zero-waste design techniques in pattern-making. This means eliminating waste in the design phase itself. You will see garments made out of a single block of fabric which is used to create the silhouette. The finishing is painstakingly hand-rolled and blind-hemmed to create a boundaryless design.

London isDiverse. It has a beautiful mix of people from all around the world, and the very fact they are acceptingis beautiful.

A show that you would want to attend at London Fashion Week J.W.Anderson.

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In Conversation With: Priyanka Lama at London Fashion Week … – VERVE

Welcome to the era of transhumanism – New Atlas

In a compelling webseries from 2012 entitled H+, we were introduced to a future world where much of the population has a hi-tech implant, allowing individuals a direct neural interface with the internet. As often is the case in science fiction, things don’t turn out well for those technological pioneers. A virus infects the implant and chaos quickly descends on a human race that has become biologically fused with technology.

The series was an overt examination of a transhumanist future, with the title H+ being an appropriation of the common transhuman abbreviation. Five years after the series’ birth, we live in a present even more entrenched on a path towards the realization of transhumanist ideals.

Early in February 2017, innovative billionaire Elon Musk reiterated an idea he had floated several times over the past year: Humans need to merge with machines. Musk sees a direct brain/computer interface as an absolute necessity, not only in order for us to evolve as a species, but as a way of keeping up with the machines we are creating. According to Musk, if we don’t merge with the machines, we will become useless and irrelevant.

While Elon Musk does not self-identify as a “transhumanist,” the idea of fusing man with machine is fundamental to this movement that arose over the course of the 20th century. And as we move into a tumultuous 21st century, transhumanism is quickly shifting from its sci-fi influenced philosophical and cultural niche into a more mainstream, and increasingly popular, movement.

Zoltan Istvan, a prominent futurist and transhumanist, is currently making a bold political run for the position of Governor of California. “We need leadership that is willing to use radical science, technology, and innovation what California is famous for to benefit us all,” Istvan declared in a recent editorial published by Newsweek. “We need someone with the nerve to risk the tremendous possibilities to save the environment through bioengineering, to end cancer by seeking a vaccine or a gene-editing solution for it.”

Simply put, transhumanism is a broad intellectual movement that advocates for the transformation of humanity through embracing technology. Thinkers in the field opine that our intellectual, physical and psychological capabilities can, and should, be enhanced by any and all available emerging technologies. From genetic modification to make us smarter and live longer, to enhancing our physical capabilities through bioengineering and mechanical implants, transhumanists see our future as one where we transcend our physical bodies with the aid of technology.

The term “transhuman” can be traced back several hundred years, but in terms of our current use we can look to 20th century biologist and eugenicist, Julian Huxley. Across a series of lectures and articles in the 1950s, Huxley advocated for a type of utopian futurism where humanity would evolve and transcend its present limitations.

“We need a name for this new belief,” Huxley wrote in 1957. “Perhaps transhumanism will serve; man remaining man, but transcending himself, by realizing the new possibilities of and for his human nature.”

Huxley’s ideas were arguably inspired by influential speculative fiction of the mid-20th century from the likes of Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Heinlein, and consequently his more specific transhumanist philosophies went on to influence a generation of cyberpunk authors in the 1980s. It was in this era that the first self-described transhumanists began appearing, having formal meetings around the University of California.

With the pace of technological advancement dramatically accelerating into the 21st century, transhumanist thinking began to manifest in more specific futurist visions. Cryonics and life extension technology was one focus of transhumanists, while others looked to body modification, gender transitioning and general biohacking as a way of transcending the limits of our physical bodies.

Plenty of criticisms have been lobbed at transhumanists over the years, with their extreme views of the technological future of humanity causing many to question whether this is a direct pathway to losing touch with what makes us essentially human. The fear that we will merge into some kind of inhuman, god-like, robot civilization quite fairly frightens and disturbs those with more traditional perspectives on humanity.

Science fiction classically reflects many fears of transhumanist futures, from Skynet taking over the world to a Gattaca-like future where genetic modification creates dystopian class separation. But prominent transhumanist critic Francis Fukuyama has soberly outlined the dangers of this modern movement in his book, Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution.

Fukuyama comprehensively argues that the complexity of human beings cannot be so easily reduced into good and bad traits. If we were to try to eliminate traits we considered to be negative, be it through genetic modification or otherwise, we would be dangerously misunderstanding how we fundamentally function. “If we weren’t violent and aggressive we wouldn’t be able to defend ourselves; if we didn’t have feelings of exclusivity, we wouldn’t be loyal to those close to us; if we never felt jealousy, we would also never feel love,” he writes.

Some of the more valid concerns about the dawning transhumanist future are the socioeconomic repercussions of such a speedy technological evolution. As the chasm between rich and poor grows in our current culture, one can’t help but be concerned that future advancements could become disproportionately limited to those with the financial resources to afford them. If life extension technologies start to become feasible, and they are only available to the billionaire class, then we enter a scenario where the rich get richer and live longer, while the poor get poorer and die sooner.

Without exceptionally strong political reform maintaining democratic access to human enhancement technologies, it’s easy to foresee the rise of a disturbing genetic class divide. As environmentalist and activist Bill McKibben writes: “If we can’t afford the fifty cents a person it would take to buy bed nets to protect most of Africa from malaria, it is unlikely we will extend to anyone but the top tax bracket these latest forms of genetic technology.”

The looming specter of eugenics hovers over a great deal of transhumanist thought. In the first half of the 20th century the term became disturbingly, but not unreasonably, associated with Nazi Germany. Sterilizing or euthanizing those who displayed characteristics that were deemed to be imperfect was ultimately outlawed as a form of genocide. But as the genome revolution struck later in the century a resurgence in the philosophical ideals of eugenics began to arise.

Transhumanist thought often parallels the ideals of eugenics, although most self-identifying transhumanists separate themselves from that stigmatized field, preferring terms like reprogenetics and germinal choice. The difference between the negative outcomes of eugenics and the more positive, transhumanist notion of reprogenetics seems to be one of consent. In a 21st century world of selective genetic modification, all is good as long as all parents equally have the choice to genetically modify their child, and are not forced by governments who are trying to forcefully manage the genetic pool.

Prominent transhumanist advocate Nick Bostrom, labeled by The New Yorker as the leading transhumanist philosopher of today, argues that critics of the movement always focus on the potential risks or negative outcomes without balancing the possible positive futures. He advocates that the mere potential of a negative future outcome is not enough to stifle technological momentum.

Bostrom lucidly makes his point in an essay examining the transhumanist perspectives on human genetic modifications. “Good consequences no less than bad ones are possible,” he writes. “In the absence of sound arguments for the view that the negative consequences would predominate, such speculations provide no reason against moving forward with the technology.”

At first glance it would seem like the transhumanism movement would be synonymous with atheism. In 2002 the Vatican released an expansive statement exploring the intersection of technology and religion. The statement warned that changing a human’s genetic identity was a “radically immoral” action. The old adage of the scientist playing God certainly raises its head frequently in criticisms of transhumanism. Zoltan Istvan even penned an op-ed entitled “I’m an Atheist, Therefore I’m a Transhumanist” in which he, rather weakly, attempted to blend the two movements.

But there are some compelling intersections between religion and transhumanism that point to the possibility that the two sides are not as mutually exclusive as one would think. A poll by the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, founded by Nick Bostrom, discovered that only half of the transhumanists it surveyed identified as either atheist or agnostic.

Lincoln Cannon, founder of both the Mormon Transhumanist Association and the Christian Transhumanist Association (the very existence of these entities says something), has been advocating for a modern form of post secular religion based on both scientific belief and religious faith. Cannon sees transhumanism as a movement that allows for humanity to evolve into what he labels “superhumans.”

In his treatise titled, “The New God Argument,” Cannon envisions a creator God akin to our superhuman future potential. He posits an evolutionary cycle where we were created by a superhuman God, before then evolving into becoming our own superhuman Gods, from which we will create new life that will worship us as Gods and continue the cycle anew.

The New God Argument presents a fascinating case for an evolution of religious thought, but it also pushes transhumanism into the realms of spirituality in ways that are bound to make many of the movement’s advocates uncomfortable. Another more extreme religious offshoot of transhumanism is Terasem, a self-described “transreligion.”

Terasem recalls a 1990s-styled new-age sentiment with its four core beliefs: life is purposeful, death is optional, God is technological, and love is essential. Founded by millionaire entrepreneur Martine Rothblatt, Terasem functions as both a spiritual transhumanist movement and a charitable organization that invests into technological research. The movement is especially focused on cryonic technology and researching ways to preserve human consciousness through downloading one’s thoughts and memories into either a mainframe or an independent social robot.

At the turn of the century, a transhumanist community began to form that fused the ethos of computer hacking with a body modification movement determined to create do-it-yourself cybernetic devices. These “Grinders” embraced cyborg technologies that could be directly integrated into their organic bodies.

Biohacking can take the form of pharmaceutical enhancements that hack one’s body chemistry, to implanting electronics into the body such as magnets or RFID and NFC tags. These transhumanist grinders sit at the furthermost borders of the movement, experimenting on their own bodies with occasionally quite extreme DIY surgical procedures.

Lepht Anonym is a Berlin-based biohacker who advocates cybernetics for the masses. Lepht (who identifies as genderless) has performed numerous body modifications over the past decade, including implanting neodymium metal discs under fingertips to enable the physical sensing of electromagnetic fields, and several internal compass implants designed to give a physical awareness of north and south magnetic poles.

But the biohacking movement is moving in from the fringe, with several tech start-ups arising over the past few years with an interest in developing a commercial body modification economy. Grindhouse Wetware, based on Pittsburgh, has been prominent in creating technology that augments the human body.

The company’s most prominent device is called the Northstar, which is an implant that it is hoped will have Bluetooth capabilities allowing the user to control their devices with simple hand movements. The first iteration of the device simply had an aesthetic function with LED lights under the user’s skin that mimic a form of bioluminescence. Future uses for the Northstar could see it interfacing with your smartphone, tracking biometric data, such as blood sugar, or acting as a controller for a variety of devices connected to the internet of things.

Transhumanism is moving inexorably into the mainstream as technological advances accelerate. Proponents advocate we dive head first into this brave new cybernetic world, while traditionalists grow increasingly nervous.

Regardless of one’s personal view there is undoubtedly an enormous number of people lining up to have that first brain/computer interface implanted into their head, or to genetically cue a set of specific characteristics for their baby. We live in exciting times that’s for sure … now excuse me while I re-watch Gattaca and hope it doesn’t turn into a documentary-like premonition of our future.

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Welcome to the era of transhumanism – New Atlas


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