The Mabus Problem: Fighting Anonymous Harassment on Social Media

Gargoyle

I'm not much of a video gamer (I spend my free time writing!), but I've been following the work of Anita Sarkeesian, a media critic whose non-profit group Feminist Frequency critiques sexism in popular culture, with a special focus on video games. Her series Tropes vs. Women in Video Games points out lazy, sexist clichés that game designers resort to repeatedly: damsels in distress, women in refrigerators, scenes of sexual violence just to make the game world darker and "grittier", and so … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Ayn Rand vs. Carl Sagan

Voyager2

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IIThe decay of Colorado is accelerating. Men that Dagny knows personally, men who love their jobs and swear that they'll never leave, that they'll resist whatever blandishment or temptation is claiming their fellows, or at the very least that they won't disappear without an explanation, are vanishing one after another without a word. Since I'm nothing if not scrupulously fair to Ayn Rand, I'll cite this passage as a well-executed example of building … [Read more...]

Is the Internet Killing Religion?

HumanityInSpace

In recent weeks, we've seen a fierce debate ignited by a study which argued that the Internet is responsible for the dramatic growth in American religious disaffiliation over the last two decades. Since 1990, the number of Americans with no religion has skyrocketed by almost 25 million people. The study's author, Allen Downey, believes that the increasing uptake of the Internet is the best-correlated causal factor.While I'm not committing myself to Downey's conclusion, I find it very … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Publish or Perish

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IThe last few industrialists of Colorado are disappearing, and the John Galt Line has been reduced to mostly-empty trains pulled by rickety, coal-burning locomotives. Having run out of leads in her quest for the magic motor, Dagny has finally resorted to contacting Robert Stadler. He comes to New York to see her, and she tells him about her discovery and gives him the incomplete papers she found in the factory:She watched him as he read. She saw the … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Government Science

SpaceShuttle

Atlas Shrugged, part I, chapter VIIIn our last installment, Rearden Steel and Taggart Transcontinental were reeling after the State Science Institute put out a press release condemning Dagny and Hank's use of Rearden Metal to build the Rio Norte Line. In desperation, Dagny has traveled to New Hampshire to visit the State Science Institute and the man in charge of it, Dr. Robert Stadler:At the age of twenty-seven, Dr. Robert Stadler had written a treatise on cosmic rays, which … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: The Promise of In Vitro Meat

CoffeeWithBacon

Earlier this month, the first ever lab-grown hamburger was eaten at a taste test in London. The tasters' reports were guardedly positive:Upon tasting the burger, Austrian food researcher Ms Ruetzler said: "I was expecting the texture to be more soft... there is quite some intense taste; it's close to meat, but it's not that juicy. The consistency is perfect, but I miss salt and pepper."This is meat to me. It's not falling apart."Food writer Mr Schonwald said: "The mouthfeel is like … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: Making the Blind See Again

Eye

As science marches on, the miraculous cures that past ages dreamed of are slowly becoming reality. We're gaining the ability to engineer new body parts, like windpipes and bladders, outside a person's body and successfully transplant them to replace a damaged or cancerous organ. Bionic exoskeletons to let paralyzed people walk again are becoming commercially available. And this month, the FDA approved the first artificial retina, designed to restore limited vision to people with certain kinds of … [Read more...]

The Twitter Report: A Thing of Beauty

DATwitterWordCloud

The blogger Geoff Ó Laoidhléis is apparently some kind of Twitter detective. I enjoyed his post from December exposing a "pro-life atheist" organization as a probable astroturf group, by observing that the vast majority of their Twitter followers weren't atheists at all, but Catholics. More recently, he performed the same analysis on an alleged gay pro-life group.Earlier today, I heard from Geoff on Twitter, with an offer to analyze my followers list - this time, for purely aesthetic p … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: Bring on the Autonomous Cars!

SelfDrivingCar

In a previous post, I wrote about the extremely cool technology of 3D printers. Today I want to geek out about another imminent technological advance I'm even more personally excited for: the self-driving car.This technology is exactly what it sounds like: a robotic car that senses its environment with ultrasound, radar and computer vision, automatically avoiding obstacles, obeying signs and traffic signals and following GPS routes to a programmed destination. But the transformative … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: The 3D Printing Revolution

For a mental health break, this weekend I wanted to write about something extremely cool: 3D printing, an emerging technological trend that's been covered by, among others, the Telegraph, the Economist, PC World, as well as right here at Big Think's IdeaFeed. As opposed to traditional "subtractive" methods of carving or sculpting, 3D printing is an "additive" method of manufacturing that builds up solid objects one thin layer at a time. The basic concept is the same as an inkjet printer, only … [Read more...]


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