Back on December 19, 2012, I took some time to talk about the Gospel according to Luke. I have updated the original article to correct a minor factual error; while there was a large enough portion of Jews who were literate the word “most” would not have applied. That quibble aside there are those who think that pointing out the historical inaccuracies in Luke render it obsolete or useless. I’m not among that number. The story of Luke, an educated man – actually a doctor, who followed Jesus even though he was not the intended audience (i.e., not a Jew), speaks volumes to the power of Jesus’ message. It resonated so deeply with Luke that he went to great lengths to share it with other non-Jews.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away is a fun saying. And it has some elements of truth in it. Apples are a good source of vitamin C, moisture, and fiber. But they are not a cure-all. Sadly, and this won’t shock you, there are people who take the adage literally. They become completely flabbergasted when they fall ill. Then they stress more than they should and get sicker still. Quite honestly, unless you’re a pirate trying to avoid scurvy, there’s no additional benefit to eating an apple over any other fruit. And there’s no fruit that prevents all diseases.
[Read more…] about FAKE NEWS
Once upon a time being paralyzed was a slow, painful, death sentence. In some cultures (HI KLINGONS!) killing such a person was deemed merciful. As recently as ten years ago all science could do was make life a little more bearable for the inflicted. Comfortable beds and wheelchairs seemed to be as far as science could go. But then things started changing. On April 13th, of this year, I updated several earlier posts about how science was dealing with paralysis. In Australia, they’d come up with a spinal implant that showed promise. A university in California developed a cap that stimulated synapses and helped people regain movement. In 2016 the Keck Institute developed a method using stem cells to help patients regain full mobility. That link will take you to the full article and has contact info if you, or someone you know, may be eligible for the ongoing trials.
[Read more…] about Just a Walk in the Park
Let’s start by facing some facts. Superhero movies, and TV shows, are making so much money right now that there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that Hollywood will stop making them in the foreseeable future. The good news is, if you don’t like them, there are many other options. If you do, then you’re golden and need not worry about much else. Well, global politics and famine and stuff, sure, but not movies. This year saw Marvel demur from attending San Diego Comic Con. They certainly had no need to be there. They could, and did, release trailers on Youtube from where ever they happened to be. And, let’s be blunt, I doubt any of them wanted to sit through fanboy theories about how Avengers: Infinity War should end. [Read more…] about Coming Attractions
Lilfe’s a funny old thing. You show up, with no input on when or where, you hang around for a while, then you die. Some make the most of their time here on this rock, other’s not so much. But, for some, choices are denied them. Somehow their bodies break down and cause them endless suffering. Yes, I’m aware some people’s brains break down as well, but today we’re just focusing on the flesh. You know, that tacky bag of epidermal tissue that tends to wrinkle and holds your bones and organs in. Anyway, a list of common diseases tend to roam the earth denying people their lives. They all tend to force the person to dramatically alter their lifestyle, eating habits, social constructs, and then they kill the person anyway. Some slower than others, but the end result is the same.
[Read more…] about Living a Little Healthier
Yesterday the World News Center’s official girlfriend and I joined the Center for Inclusivity as part of a group to allow parade participants to pass by a group of protesters without having to hear their hateful speech. And, dear God, was it hateful. This was our second year doing this and it seems to be becoming more important than ever for those of us not directly impacted by their hate to stand up, stand firm, and denounce it. For the record, it worked. Denied the ability to call marchers fags and dykes, admitting they refused to accept transexuals at all, and proclaiming anything else their limited vocabularies could disgorge, they took their megaphones and went home before the parade ended. So score one for the pride people. For that I am grateful. But listening to their litany of perceived affronts became draining after a while. Especially, as they blathered on, it became apparent they had no clue what they were actually talking about. It was just one hate filled fallacy after another. And, worse, it was scattered all across the bile spectrum. They were there to hate gays, of course, but also a laundry list of others.
Like I said, they hate the gays. They also, to a one, had an unhealthy fascination with anal sex. One man, an Indian who seemed unclear what was in the book he was misquoting, repeated this phrase numerous times in his allotted time; “There is a penis, you put it in an anus, are you insane?” He yelled it in case saying it wasn’t clear enough. All of the speakers seemed very concerned with this as well, clearly not realizing that anal sex is really popular with straight people too. If subtle jibes such as these didn’t persuade “the gays” to give up their “lifestyle” they resorted to name calling, body shaming (I lost count of how many people, including my girlfriend, they called fat), and pointing out that ALL homosexuals are severely depressed and kill themselves whenever they get the chance. Yeah, these assholes aren’t getting invited to any parties I’ll ever hold.
But that’s not all. They hate Muslims. With a dripping passion. Calling them animals and inhuman at every turn. You know, 9/11 ya’ll, but nary a word about the numerous people who’ve been killed by home grown terrorists. A number which far outstrips anything that happened on 9/11.
And, don’t worry, they didn’t forget the Catholics. Which was funny to me since the bible they cherry pick hate from is the one created by the Catholic church. Anyway, all priests are pedophiles. As are all gays. Therefore all gays are Catholic.
Got it? Yeah, don’t feel bad, neither did I.
That’s like “dogs scratch their heads when they itch, men scratch their heads when they think, therefore thinking causes fleas.”
I suppose I’d better not tell them about the gay saints Sergius and Bacchus. Not that they could pronounce their names anyway but they have enough on their hate plate for now.
They also added any allies to their pile. Cops who won’t kill gays for being gay? They must be purged. Businesses that serve gays? They must be shuttered. Boy Scouts who refuse to toe their restrictive line? They must be shunned as the moral deficients they clearly are. Religions which actually adhere to the teachings of Christ, who had nothing to say about “the gays” but a lot to say about false prophets, must be destroyed in fire.
These folks are really big into eternal fire. Almost as much as they are into anal sex. Plus they seem fond of guns too, 2nd Amendment Solutions seems to be a trademark of theirs, but didn’t have any yesterday.
Also, good news for the double X chromosomes among us, they didn’t forget women. Even going so far as to have their token representative from the Handmaids’ Tale there to remind women to dress down and be subservient. Or, as the witty one of the group reminded us, women need to get back in the kitchen where they belong. Let’s just say they’re not really enlightened and leave it at that.
Nor did they forget “the blacks.” Accusing them of all sorts of easily debunked myths. The odd part of this rant, which was echoed by all of them, is that black lives don’t matter because black women have abortions. Anyone else, not black, who has one was conveniently left out of their screed.
Thank God racism is dead.
Speaking of God, they thanked Him, conveniently ignoring the biblical Asherah, for presidents Bush and Trump. It is the latter who is helping bring back the moral America they pretend once existed.
I’ll ignore the lengthy litany of facts proving contrariwise here and just move on.
On and on it went, finally devolving into a bizarre form of Kabuki theater. They would ramp up the vitriol, those with us would ramp up the volume, the latter would drown out the former, and the marchers would come by and do stuff just to piss off the protesters. Men would kiss men, women would kiss women, one dude kissed me, many glorious asses, of all gender identities, took a moment out of their busy day to twerk in the direction of the Nazi wannabes, various and sundry middle fingers were raised, and, at the end of the day, all of the people who weren’t Nazi wannabes had a great time.
The thing about the protesters is that they’re not there to accomplish anything. They want a confrontation. They want someone to go off on them. They want proof that the people they marginalize are animals and should be treated as such.
They didn’t get that yesterday. They never have. I doubt they ever will. You see, unlike them, the people they hate are civilized.
The headline might seem a touch off putting but it was the best way I could think of to get the point across. While science fiction has long considered the idea that there could be some sort of mandatory maximum age (Logans Run, Star Trek: The Next Generation and others), the idea seemed ludicrous to most. We barely lived long enough to register as a flutter against the geologic scale of time, why would we happily kill ourselves? Way back in January of 2014 I wrote an article about how science had discovered a set of genes which could impact our lifespans. It was a more innocent time. The article more whimsical than worthy of serious consideration.
Well, that was then. This is now.
Christopher McFadden, over at Interesting Engineering, took a look into the current status quo and decided that immortality is no longer a matter of if but when.
The average human lifespan has increased dramatically over the last 100 years. This has been achieved largely, thanks to the fruits of our advancements in technology, science, and medicine – but could we ever achieve immortality?
Using things like vaccinations, we have been able to exterminate life-threatening diseases like smallpox. But pathogens, predators, and accidents aside, could we ever modify the way we live or our very bodies to become immortal?
In order to do this, we will need to overcome some of the major issues that cause us to age, and eventually die. Science has identified four key processes that cause us to age:-
– Chronological aging
If these can be reduced, stopped or eliminated, we may just be able to live forever.
Here are 11 potential technologies and theories that could help us achieve the ‘Holy Grail’ of eternal life. This list is far from exhaustive and is in no particular order.
1. Regenerative Blood Transfusions Could Extend Human Life Spans
Although the concept sounds a little ghastly, dare we say vampiric, it could be used to extend the human lifespan by 10-20 years, perhaps more. Scientists have observed that a protein called GDF11 is very common in the blood of young mice but itis scarce in older mice.
This protein has been shown to increase skeletal muscle and increase heart strength. If it can be replicated and combined with our growing knowledge of synthesizing blood, regenerative blood transfusions could become commonplace in the not so distant future.
2. Longevity Pill’s Could Extend Our Lifespans by 15%
A pill that triggers the anti-aging enzyme Sirtuin 1 could, it is estimated to extend the human lifespan by as much as 15%. One example has been developed by a startup pharmaceutical company called Elysium whose Basis (NAD+ Supplement) is thought to slow down the aging process.
It is the culmination of 25 years of research and has begun human trials – so you might see in a chemist’s near you soon.
3. Nanotechnology Could Fight Cancer and Repair Cells
Self-replicating nanobots could perform vital life to extend functions in the future. They could be used in a variety of complementary ways from directing attacking cancer cells to performing repairs to our bodies at the cellular level.
4. Identification and Introduction of Longevity Genes Could Increase Average Lifespans Above 100 Years
Scientists have been trying to identify “longevity genes” by studying 152 Spaniards and 742 Japanese Centenarians. This recent study did identify several gene variations these groups share.
This is also supported by other work using gene therapy on yeast involving the protein ISW2. This showed that lifespans could be extended by 25% using this sort of technique.
5. Gene Therapy Could Extend Could Make Us Immortal
Studies have shown that if gene therapy can induce cells to express telomerase it can slow down the biological clock. Experiments in 2012 were actually successful on mice and extended their lifespan by as much as a 1/4.
This research is widely recognized as a “proof of principle” for the principle of life extension using gene therapy techniques.
6. Metamaterial Bionics Could Make Us Superhuman
Metamaterials are artificial materials that have been engineered to have properties not normally seen in nature. These could be used to create artificial organs and augment existing organs (like our eyes) to make you stronger and live longer.
Researchers are already exploring using them to replace defective human cochleas.
7. Robotic Avatars Could Make Us Cybernetically Immortal
Scientists believe that we may be able to save and upload copies of ourselves in the future. – so-called “cybernetic immortality”. These could then be installed into robotic bodies or avatars that would, in theory, enable us to live forever.
This process could be repeated ad infinitum as robotic avatars break down, have accidents or become obsolete. Robotic avatars like these are already being researched by organizations like the 2045 Initiative.
8. Molecular Manipulation Could Add 4 Centuries To Our Lives
Some researchers were able to extend the lifespan of some worms by manipulating the molecules that affect insulin and other nutrient signals. If the results could be replicated in humans, it might be possible to extend the human lifespan up to 500 years.
Scientists like Dr. Pankaj Kapahi are currently exploring this field in detail with some very interesting results.
9. Suspended Animation Could Help Us Live Forever
Suspended animation has been a common feature of science fiction for many years, but it could be a viable way to extend human life in the future. Doctors have been able to freeze and revive patients over a period of a few hours – a process called “induced hypothermia”.
This process slows down the body’s metabolism to such a level that it can put the body ‘on pause’. It can, of course, also kill if the timing is off. Such a technique, once perfected and extended, could be used to induce a kind of human ‘hibernation’ that could last, in theory, forever.
10. 3D Printing Organs Could Extend Our Lives
3D printing is developing incredibly fast and could soon be used to routinely print replacement body parts, like the human heart. Advancements have been made very recently by a UK team successfully printing replacement corneas is helping push this technique forward.
If this technique could be extended to using fat and collagen to print new hearts, this could add decades to donors lives.
11. Cloning Organs Could Help You Live Forever
And finally in our list of theories and technologies that could extend our lives is an alternative to printing organs – cloning. Cloning is not a new technology but it could be used to grow new parts of your own body.
Scientists have already been able to grow body parts like ears, bone, and skin and once perfected for more complex organs it will be used indefinitely to extend someone’s life.
Genesis 6:3 ESV
Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.”
Okay, enough science, let’s move on to philosophy and a bit of history. According to the Bible God set the maximum age of man at 120 years. Oddly enough science came to the same conclusion a couple of thousand years later. Since there are many long lived people in the Old Testament it’s generally agreed that somehow things changed. Some people, who are both theologians and scientists (and there are more than you might think) call this change “the God gene.” Something that was inserted into man after the famous flood.
Or, if you prefer, people never really lived nine centuries, and 120 years seemed like forever, so that was a good limit to hang on to.
Either way, 120 years is what we basically have carved out for ourselves.
Now, that’s changing. And rapidly.
Take the GDF11 protein mentioned above. Besides showing promise at turning back your clock, it also has shown promise for quashing Type II diabetes. As for replicating it and giving people “young blood” let’s call it a work in progress.
The gene therapies mentioned above were recently upgraded and attempted on worms (we share some cool genes with them) and, WA LAAA, they lived a lot longer. Like four times longer. Which would put the human bar at 480 years.
Simply put the future is here.
There are those who think that extended lifespans will be great because that means humans can work longer.
There are humans who think that’s a shitty idea and would prefer to use their extended lives doing something constructive or self empowering.
Then your 401K, or other retirement plan, comes into play. They are not designed to last that long.
What’s the point of life insurance?
Til death do us part?
Think of any social norm you can pop into your pointy head and then consider the ramifications.
Long lives? Less babies. What do you need them for?
Less babies would bring us to global population stabilization. But, and this is key, it also means we’ll have to interact more positively with those people. We have one earth and immortal conflicts, no matter how cool they look in Underworld, aren’t really productive.
Technology? People tend to resist change. And, if you’re comfortable where you’re at why would you invent anything new? So you can kiss innovation goodbye.
And, in the end, the question is no longer how long do you want to live but when do you want to die.
Once upon a time your home was your safe place. The locale you could count on to allow you to decompress, relax, maybe sucka brewski and catch up on Game of Thrones. It’s the place where you, and your family, can sit, talk, and compare notes on the day gone by. Homes are, by hopeful definition, happy places. I truly hope yours is. But, as time has gone on, people have added more and more gadgets in their homes. To make life easier, more fun, more secure, or some combination thereof. You can talk to your gadget and it will do your bidding. You can monitor your gadget at your office or on the road to see who is knocking on your door in your absence. You can program music, set times on your lights, and all sorts of nifty things that make you feel as though you’re in charge. I’m sorry to inform you you couldn’t be more wrong if you tried.
Your devices, cool though they may be, are basically designed to let in thieves who want to steal your stuff.
No, I’m not kidding.
I’ll give you an example. Garage door openers. They’re cool, aren’t they? Especially when the weather’s shitty. Just push the little button, up goes the door, and you’re inside safe and dry. In the old days that was all that needed to be considered. Now garage door openers are connected to your home security system, have their own app so you can open, or close, the door from any location, and can provide data on the energy usage in the garage so you can adjust temperatures and so on accordingly.
All great features. But each uses wi-fi to communicate. And, unless you have set up a distinct network for each, which no one seems to do because it’s a hassle and requires unique passwords for each device, you’re home is open to anyone with a laptop and some basic software.
All of this has a name. It’s called the Internet of Things or IoT for short.If you click that link you will find an excellent article by Margaret Rouse explaining how to do the stuff you firmly believe you’ll never have to do. I was going to quote it but I’ve learned that fear is a better motivator than calm advice so, instead, I’m going to tell you how a glorified goldfish bowl brought down a heavily guarded casino.
Yes, this is true. And, yes, it can happen to you.
Oscar Williams-Grut, over at Business Insider, has the whole story.
Nicole Eagan, the CEO of Darktrace, told the WSJ CEO Council Conference in London on Thursday: “There’s a lot of internet-of-things devices, everything from thermostats, refrigeration systems, HVAC systems, to people who bring in their Alexa devices into the offices. There’s just a lot of IoT. It expands the attack surface, and most of this isn’t covered by traditional defenses.”
Eagan gave one memorable anecdote about a case Darktrace worked on in which a casino was hacked via a thermometer in an aquarium in the lobby.
“The attackers used that to get a foothold in the network,” she said. “They then found the high-roller database and then pulled that back across the network, out the thermostat, and up to the cloud.”
Robert Hannigan, who ran the British government’s digital-spying agency, Government Communications Headquarters, from 2014 to 2017, appeared alongside Eagan on the panel and agreed that hackers’ targeting of internet-of-things devices was a growing problem for companies.
“With the internet of things producing thousands of new devices shoved onto the internet over the next few years, that’s going to be an increasing problem,” Hannigan said. “I saw a bank that had been hacked through its CCTV cameras, because these devices are bought purely on cost.”
He called for regulation to mandate safety standards.
“It’s probably one area where there’ll likely need to be regulation for minimum security standards, because the market isn’t going to correct itself,” he said. “The problem is these devices still work — the fish tank or the CCTV camera still work.”
See? That’s the thing. If your stuff works you don’t think about it. The garage door opens, the fish are still alive, your central air unit adjusts your personal climate regularly and correctly, and so on. When you ask Alexa to play three hours of polka classics it doesn’t let you down.
But, and this is important, hackers no longer need to render a device useless to steal your stuff. in fact, the longer it stays active the more they can steal.
“But what can they get from me? My garage door doesn’t know any of my personal info.”
I hear that a lot.
And, you’re correct insofar as it goes. But I bet dollars to donuts you also have an app from your bank on your phone. And, if you’re like many people these days, you also have all your contacts, your schedule, and even more personal information.
If they get into your garage door app they have access to all of that. They will have bypassed your incredible password (usually either password or 123456) and have complete access to everything you carry with you. Given a little more time they’ll also have access to everything on your home computers, which hold the main programs, every time you fire up your computer to check the latest updates on Daenerys Targaryen.
You could easily wake up one morning and find your bank account drained, your friends getting wonderful updates from you telling them about the joys of Viagra, and your family signed up for a variety of expensive things you neither want nor need.
The latter will be items or tickets they will try to get refunded to a clean credit card. It’s easier to do than you might think.
Now you’re broke, turgid, and heartbroken.
And here’s the really shitty part. Unless you have state-of-the-art insurance there’s almost nothing you can do about it. You can stop the bleeding, of course, but getting anything back is nigh on impossible. By the time you discover it your money, and all your info, is in a different country.
And that’s the least of it. They now have your identity, financial history, and personal references. There will be a new you living it up in Moscow by nightfall.
As of this writing over 60% of businesses have no IoT protection. Worse, once in your system they can use it as a starting point to infiltrate your neighbors and anyone else they can cadge a signal from. One such attack shut down electric grids in Europe and America to the tune of $110 MIL.
All that from your garage door opener.
It’s hard to believe that once, not that long ago, movies about superheroes were so few and far between that any attempt to do the genre justice, no matter how lame, was heralded by fans as the best thing to happen to things in the history of things. And, as I noted before, those movies got co-opted by major studios, watered down, and turned into the movie franchises we know and love today. So far so good. I guess. At least the groundwork was laid for superhero movies to start tackling some real world issues. Wonder Woman managed to address, and then move past, the genocide of Native Americans in a single scene, but Black Panther hit the issues of racism and human trafficking head on and never flinched. To be fair to Wonder Woman it had a lot on its plate before the first scene was shot. Many were quick to dismiss a film directed by a woman, starring a woman, about a woman who is famously bisexual. That last part the film dealt with tastefully and with humor.
But now, thanks to the internet and proliferation of choices, an ugly subset of humans have reared their heads and seem determined to force issues that don’t exist. Mostly they want people to choose between Marvel and DC.
The theme runs like this; Marvel makes great movies for the whole family that tend to preserve traditional family values. You can also note that Marvel was the main bastion of white male heroes as an underlying theme there. DC, on the other hand, is a dark place filled with death and sexuality that should be forever shunned. DC’s whiteness is ignored in these cases for reasons I can’t fathom. It isn’t like Batman or Superman are minorities unless you want to stretch the illegal alien motif to its breaking point.
And this silliness isn’t happening in a vacuum. It’s out in the open on Rotten Tomatoes website and many others that allow fan interaction. Most have, to some degree or another, downplayed fan input to keep it from spilling over on their main pages. RT, for example, has no fan scores on its front page. You have to click the movie title to see those rankings.
Now, like all cliches, there is some truth there. Marvel espouses a lighter tone than DC. Marvel also uses the exact same color palette for every film. DC does not. Marvel marketed their films better than any other company, even before they tied up with Disney. And their marketing is consistent from film to film. Except for Black Panther, which caught a bunch of middle aged white guys with their knickers twisted. But they turned that to their advantage, so good for them.
However, there is one major difference between Marvel and DC that does not get addressed since doing so would add some much needed perspective.
Marvel released almost a dozen movies to introduce its universe. DC has, for all intents and purposes, released its universe and will now backfill in with character driven movies. Batman V Superman and Justice League were essentially one long movie to get all your favorites on screen. Marvel has done nothing with their villains but DC released Suicide Squad. While not an amazing movie by any measure, it did get the backstories and introductions out of the way for a slate of characters who will populate smaller films for years to come.
And, this must be noted, fans of DC have bought into this. You wouldn’t know it by the message boards but it’s true. The last five DC releases have earned well over two billion dollars. No matter how you cut that pie there’s plenty for everyone.
Marvel has earned more but, after Infinity War finishes, they only have two or three more possible tent pole films; Black Panther Two (assuming he survives Infinity War), Spiderman II (same caveat as Black Panther) and Captain Marvel. Antman & Wasp is not a major film, although I bet it’ll be a lot of fun. There’s nothing seriously planned for X-Men or Fantastic Four, Deadpool is slated to conclude its run after this movie, and Venom is going to be a hard “R” celebration of violence porn, which I will also enjoy. DC, on the other hand, has numerous films coming out that could each stand as a tent pole; Aquaman, Wonder Woman 2, Shazam, Batman, Cyborg, The Flash, Black Adam with Duane Johnson, the all female crime film featuring Harley Quinn, and, at least, four or five more.
In other words, the playing field is changing.
Okay, that’s a brief look at the business involved, let’s look at the franchises. It is entirely possible to like both of them. I do. My girlfriend, who is late to the superhero game as she never read comics, loves them all. Despite what you see online more people fall into this category than not.
Simply put, there’s no need to hate. The plan for each franchise is wildly different, and the execution of each, while occasionally flawed (I’m looking at you Iron Man III & Man of Two Million Killed), have given fans something they’ve been hoping for all along. a chance to see their heroes come to life.
Both franchises need to do more, much more, to embrace diversity and representation. And fans need to hold them to that. The good news is that fans are. They are doing so the only way Hollywood understands. With their pocketbooks. Little girls, and people of color of all ages, didn’t walk out of Wonder Woman and Black Panther, respectively, crying and hugging each other because there was a funny smell in the ventilation system. Those movies touched them, moved them, and promised more to come.
Hopefully much more.
And there’s another part of this that gets overlooked. DC has been building its television universe to the point that it’s now overflowing off of the CW and developing its own channel. Marvel’s attempts at television have yielded Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Defenders universe on Netflix. All great shows, but they need the cinematic universe to survive, at least by reference. The DC shows work as stand-alone properties. They even have their own Superman and no one blinked. Essentially they have a firmer foundation to build from. Thus they can bring Teen Titans to the screen, currently entitled Titans, and still have those characters appear in films with different actors.
DC, it should be noted, also has the best superhero cartoons out there. Marvel doesn’t even try anymore instead limiting its animation licenses to stuff for Disney’s kids’ channel. Fortunately there is no plan for Spider Babies or anything like that, but the shows do skew young and are brightly colored.
Whoo, that’s a lot of shit to parse. So what does it mean for fans?
Well, for one, it means there will be a hell of lot of superhero stuff they can enjoy if they can get off their high hobby horses and quit sniping. A boy can dream, can’t he? As for me, it means I’m going to be buying a lot of popcorn, continuing to ignore the trolls, and parking my fat ass in a comfy seat right next to my girlfriend to cheer on the capes and cowls as they appear.
The rest of you should try it too. It’s far less stressful and a lot more fun.
But you have to do it without my girlfriend. Get your own.