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Showing posts from February 17, 2019

The Myth of the Reaper

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Most people have heard of the grim reaper, and if not in those words exactly, they at least know of a hooded skeletal figure that carries around a weapon used to collect souls and transfer them to the after life, what ever your belief tells you that is. Some times he is even depicted as carrying an hourglass, waiting for your time to run out.
But where did he come from? When did the term grim reaper begin to be used? And just how far back can you trace him? And what exactly is he?
The Grim Reaper, as he is often named, is the personification of death. He is portrayed, usually in western cultures, as a skeletal figure in a long hooded robe tied around the middle and carrying a scythe or a sickle. He uses this tool to collect the souls of the dead and to carry them to their after life. The term "Grim reaper" along with the now near universal image of him came about during the Middle Ages in various paintings and writings of the time. He is also known as one of the four Horsem…

Why Do We Care For The Bodies Of The Dead?

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The ancient Greek Cynic philosopher Diogenes was extreme in a lot of ways. He deliberately lived on the street, and, in accordance with his teachings that people should not be embarrassed to do private things in public, was said to defecate and masturbate openly in front of others. Plato called him “a Socrates gone mad.” Shocking right to the end, he told his friends that when he died, he didn’t want to be buried. He wanted them to throw his body over the city wall, where it could be devoured by animals.
“What harm then can the mangling of wild beasts do me if I am without consciousness?” he asked.
What is a dead body but an empty shell?, he’s asking. What does it matter what happens to it? These are also the questions that the University of California, Berkeley, history professor Thomas Laqueur asks in his new book The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains.
“Diogenes was right,” he writes, “but also existentially wrong.”
This is the tension surrounding how humans tr…

Exploring Existential Depression

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From a clinical perspective, depression is typically categorized as psychological, situational or some combination of the two. What we often overlook is the spiritual aspect of depression, which is not clinical, but existential. This subtle, cloying sense of incompleteness doesn’t so much paralyze us as haunt us, ringing hollow in our deepest heart.
We are graced with free-will: the ability to make choices. We are also charged with the responsibility of architecting our own lives, creating that life by virtue of the choices we make. For some of us, our journey may bring us to a place where we begin to question our choices as we try to make sense of our circumstances and find meaning in the sweet mundane.
Those questions may arise from a burgeoning dissatisfaction with the Babbitesque complexion of our lives, or the stark realization that our life—fraught with carpools, soccer games and sleepovers—is no longer our own. We may, by the same token, find ourselves burdened by a crisis of …

The Good Samaritan Experiment / New Podcast

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Setting: Early 1970s, campus of Princeton University in New Jersey.
Two behavioral scientists, John Darley and Daniel Batson, were interested in studying the psychology of pro-social behavior. Why do people do good things for others?
To examine this question, they decided to study students at the Princeton Theological Seminary. In other words: Princeton students who were studying to be priests. You kind of figure that these folks should have goodness down!
The basic point of the study was to see if dispositional or situational factors are more influential in determining pro-social behavior. In other words, when someone is kind to another, is that because he or she has some innate qualities within that lead to kindness—or because some situational factors simply determine and allow for kind behaviors.
So they set up an epic study. Across three days in late Fall, they had a bunch of seminary students come to a building, meet with a researcher, and fill out a bunch of surveys. The surveys…

CRISPR-Cas: Editing Life

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The plan for all living things is written in the genes. The central dogma of biology states that the flow of genetic information in a cell goes from DNA to RNA to protein. The order of the four nucleotides that make the business end of a DNA molecule codes for a gene and that sequential order of the DNA code determines the protein to be made. The proteins, in turn, provide a specific function to the cell and, subsequently, to the whole organism. Life on this planet depends on the reliability of the information stored in the DNA.
As we strive to learn more about the way life operates, manipulating genes is a necessity for the molecular biologist. Cloning genes, mutating genes, transferring genes are staples of the molecular biologist’s toolbox that we use to manipulate and study genes.

New Molecular Tools There have been huge strides in molecular technology since the discovery of DNA as the chemical of inheritance in 1943 and the determination of its structure in 1953, but manipulatin…

The "True" Story of the Bilderberg Meetings

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The original article was posted on CNBC on June 6, 2018; one day before last years Bilderberg Meetings.

Some of the planet's most powerful people will take part in the infamously secretive Bilderberg meeting that begins Thursday to discuss their most pressing concerns, including Russia, free trade and the "post-truth" world.
Political leaders and experts from industry, finance, academia and the media will take part in the annual conference, taking place this year in Turin from Thursday to Sunday.
So far, 131 participants from 23 countries have confirmed their attendance, Bilderberg's organizers said. Some of the names on this year's guestlist include the president of the World Economic Forum, Borge Brende, the CEOs of Airbus, DeepMind and Total, as well as Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England and Ryanair's Michael O'Leary. The meeting is chaired by French businessman Henri de Castries and he leads the organization's "steering committee.&q…

Welcoming Death

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“To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”  J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”  J.R.R.Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Instead of trying to deny death perhaps it can be welcomed. There are several cultures, religions and philosophies that treat death as a lesser evil than suffering in life. The author of the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes welcomed “a time to die” in a mood of profound pessimism. This also is found in Buddhism: the Buddha’s view was that life is essentially suffering and desire is at the root of this suffering. Only the extinction of desire through strenuous spiritual exercises will stop the endless cycle of deaths and rebirths so that the blessed state of nirvana, or permanent extinction, can be attained.

In some cultures it has been respectable to seek death by suicide. During the migrations of a community of Australian food-gatherers the …