The Null Device


Another interesting piece about neurotheology, or the neurology of mystical experience, including Michael Persinger's research into electromagnetically inducing mystical experiences:

"We have systematically removed most of the illusions about ourselves, such as being at the centre of the Universe," says Persinger, who is not religious. "The last illusion, or delusion, is that we are special creations who are looked after by someone in a big-parent kind of way. The only way to verify this is by the scientific method, and my research shows that religious experiences are created by the brain. The experiences are real enough to the person undergoing the experiment, but we are activating the areas of the brain that produce the phenomenon."
Fascinatingly, Persinger is exploring how the Thomas pulse can be used to therapeutic effect: "If you are dying of cancer and I can stimulate you so that you no longer feel the dimensions of the Universe, so that you can see into infinity, you no longer feel that there is an end. That can relieve anxiety."

(a rather novel take on the religion-as-opiate metaphor. Perhaps we can expect to see religious-experience vending machines for the troubled and disconsolate in the future?) (via 1.0)


Retro gaming action: the Java Arcade Emulator, with which you can play a selection of old arcade games using only a Java-enabled web browser (and a fast machine; it's perhaps a bit scary to think how many CPU cycles on a modern high-end PC it uses to emulate one Z80 CPU cycle in interpreted Java). And then someone's written a Linux/X11 interpreter for SCUMM, the old LucasArts graphic adventure game system. I recall those games (Day of the Tentacle and such) looking pretty nifty back in the days before live-animated 3D or whatever the kids are playing today. (I'm showing my age, aren't I?)
(via Wil Wheaton and Slashdot, respectively)

emulation java retrocomputing videogames 4

Defending liberty: Nancy Oden, a committee member of the Green Party USA was detained at an airport and prevented from boarding a flight to a political meeting in Chicago, because her name showed up in a list of dissidents (presumably because of her anti-war activities), thus flagging her as a potential terrorist. Meanwhile, a Miami company has sacked one of its minimum-wage employees for having Communist sympathies.

He said Goodwill officials began asking him about his beliefs the day after the televised MDCC debate. Three days later, they told him that ``because of your views on the U.S. government, you are a disruptive force and cannot work here any longer. Get your things and go,'' Italie said.

(Perhaps he should be grateful he's not in Indonesia or somewhere, where the economically expedient means of dealing with subversive employees is to enlist the services of the local right-wing death squads.) (via Unknown News)


The Sunday Times has a look at the [1,000|7,000]-page, [7|11]-volume Encyclopedia of Jihad, the terrorist manual circulating amongst radical Islamic groups, and instructing in explosives, boobytraps, poisons and ... typography.


Awarding the henhouse to the meanest fox in the woods: More details have emerged of the US Department of Justice's deal with Microsoft, and it's not good. Under the deal, Microsoft will be exempted from antitrust laws where authentication (i.e., Passport/Hailstorm) and security are concerned. Which essentially amounts to Bush's administration giving Microsoft's monopoly state protection.


Details about the CIA's Project Acoustic Kitty, in which they attempted to use live cats as bugging devices:

"They slit the cat open, put batteries in him, wired him up. The tail was used as an antenna. They made a monstrosity. They tested him and tested him. They found he would walk off the job when he got hungry, so they put another wire in to override that."

(via news)