Sep 3, 2018


Focus on the Children

The Catholic Church is exposed. A number of wide-ranging, deeply researched reports of molestation, rape, abuse, corruption, and concealment have been released in close enough time to one another that the magnitude of the horror might actually—for the average American, anyway—sink in. It all feels monumental, if also powered in part by coincidence. The recently published Pennsylvania report, in which a grand jury details the sexual abuse of more than 1,000 children by more than 300 priests and systematically argues that church officials were complicit, was two years in the making. It didn’t need to be released two weeks before BuzzFeed published Christine Kenneally’s yearslong investigation into the abuse of children—some of whom didn’t survive—by nuns and priests at St. Joseph’s Catholic orphanage. But it was, and the effects of those stories are stacking up. These two reports came out just three months after every Chilean bishop offered to resign over a massive sex abuse scandal, and a year or so after Netflix documentary series The Keepers revisited an unsolved murder and allegations of abuse in a Baltimore Catholic school. That these are all different—but all cover the same institutional atrocity—is the kind of perfect storm that may get us to focus in ways that the abuse of tens of thousands of children worldwide has not managed to. Humans find numbers like that hard to absorb.

But we respond well to drama, and there are two competing stories right now about the Catholic Church. Call it the people vs. the palace. Alongside this tide of testimony from long-suffering victims and determined investigators, there’s the theater of ex–papal nuncio Carlo Maria Viganò’s “memo” calling for (among other things) the resignation of Pope Francis. Viganò is a hard-line conservative known for helping to arrange Pope Francis’ notorious meeting with anti-gay-marriage activist Kim Davis—which exacerbated tensions Pope Francis and Viganò. (The pope has been generally rather accepting of homosexuality; his U.S. visit included a private audience with a gay man and his partner.) Viganò timed his memo to catch the pope at a strategic weak point. Already reeling from the church scandals, Pope Francis was also visiting Ireland, which recently legalized abortion, indexing a growing distance from the faith. He was vulnerable. If this political maneuvering feels gilded and distasteful, it should. The more you read of the abuses, and of church officials shrugging it off, the less interesting the petty details of Vatican palace intrigue become. Of course the abuse of children would become yet another occasion for liberals and conservatives to plot against each other.

Pope Francis: Don’t reject gay children, take them to a psychiatrist

Pope Francis has said that families shouldn’t shun their children for being gay, but should seek psychiatric help instead.

The head of the Catholic Church made the comments while travelling back from a visit to Ireland, where LGBT+ rights had been a key dividing issue.

. . .

Speaking to journalists on the plane back to Rome, the Pope was asked what he would tell a father whose son comes out as gay.

“I would say first of all to pray— then, to not condemn, to talk, to understand, to make space for the son or daughter,” he responded, quoted in Italian newspaper La Stampa.

Hunger striking former bishop faces excommunication for Protect LDS Children movement

Sam Young, a former LDS bishop who staged a 23-day hunger strike to call attention to his church's practice of interviewing youth behind closed doors and asking questions about sexual activity, may now be excommunicated.

Young posted a photo of a letter from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on social media, notifying him that a "formal disciplinary council" would be held to address his actions.

. . .

The church sited its grievances against Young, stating that he had:
  1. "Encouraged others to vote opposed to Church leaders."
  2. "Organized more than one public “action” that expressed opposition to the Church or its leaders"

Scientists may have uncovered what dinosaur DNA looked like

The Earth has preserved dinosaur bones for millions of years, but DNA breaks down much faster. Fortunately, scientists have worked out a way to predict what dinosaur DNA may have looked like.

Using DNA from modern-day turtles and birds -- long-lost relatives of our ancient "terrible lizard" friends -- researchers at the University of Kent, in the UK, were able to piece together a history of DNA that dates back some 255 million years.

We know there were dinosaurs with spiky tails, dinosaurs with extremely long necks and dinosaurs that crushed the bones of prey in their teeth. We don't see these traits in birds often (though that would be cool), so one might expect that the way their DNA is arranged would be wildly different.

Not the case.

Physicists Say They've Come Up With a Mathematical Model For a Viable Time Machine

Physicists have come up with what they claim is a mathematical model of a theoretical "time machine" - a box that can move backwards and forwards through time and space.

The trick, they say, is to use the curvature of space-time in the Universe to bend time into a circle for hypothetical passengers sitting in the box, and that circle allows them to skip into the future and the past.

"People think of time travel as something as fiction. And we tend to think it's not possible because we don't actually do it," said theoretical physicist and mathematician, Ben Tippett, from the University of British Columbia in Canada.

"But, mathematically, it is possible."

Scientists thought this patch of the Arctic would be the last to melt. It's breaking up

Sea ice north of Greenland is usually frozen year-round, and scientists believed it would stay that way longer than virtually anywhere else in the Arctic. That's why some are so surprised — and concerned — that the region has thawed multiple times this year.

The ice is some of the oldest and thickest in the Arctic, according to reporting by CNN and The Guardian. But scientists have observed something unusual this year: Miles of open water.

The geography of the area usually helps to pack the ice and keep it from melting. The ice smashes up against Greenland's coast, at times piling 70 feet high, CNN reports.

The trend is so strong that the region has commonly been called "the last ice area," The Guardian reports.

Scientists Have Found Secret Tunnels Between The Skull And The Brain

Did you know you have tiny tunnels in your head? That's OK, no one else did either until recently! But that's exactly what a team of medical researchers have just found in mice and humans - tiny channels that connect skull bone marrow to the lining of the brain.

The research shows they may provide a direct route for immune cells to rush from the marrow into the brain in the event of damage.

Previously, scientists had thought immune cells were transported via the bloodstream from other parts of the body to deal with brain inflammation following a stroke, injury, or brain disorder.

This new discovery suggests these cells have had a shortcut all along.

Genetic error led humans to evolve bigger, but more vulnerable, brains

Newly-discovered genes that helped supersize human brains along with DNA retrieved from extinct humans, which can still be found in people living today, are expanding scientists' understanding of how our species evolved.

One of the major features that distinguish humans from other primates is the size of our brains, which underwent rapid evolution from about two to three million years ago in a group of our ancestors in Africa called the Australopithecines. During this period, the human brain grew almost three-fold to reach its current size. Scientists know this from skull remains, but have puzzled over how it happened.

This year, the mystery was partially solved by Professor Pierre Vanderhaeghenat the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology in Belgium. Prof. Vanderhaeghen, who was conducting his work as part of the GENDEVOCORTEX project, went on a hunt for the genes that drove the growth of human brains.

Scientists had suspected that brain expansion began in our human ancestors when they evolved genes that are switched on in the foetus, when a lot of key brain development occurs. Prof. Vanderhaeghen therefore looked for genes present in human foetal tissue, but missing from our closest living relatives, apes.

It's Official, The Transhuman Era Has Begun

We have both an event and a timeline that clearly puts transhumanism front and center of our changing world.  Over the next decade, yes a decade, health technology will emerge as both profound and functional—saving lives, extending lives and even redefining life.  The Gartner report pushes the bounds of our "human sensibilities" with the introduction of even a contemporary lexicon that includes "nutrigenomics" and "grinder biochacking".  I don't know about you, but I had to look them both up to get a solid understanding of these terms.  Of course, these ideas aren't new.  And the brave new world of biohacking, I mean grinder biohacking, is fodder for edgy and future forward media outlets as well as the nightly news.  What interests me is the shift to a more commonplace reference like Gartner report.  Their analysis of over 2,000 innovations from quantum computing to augmented reality, lead them to choose that fine line between man and machine.  It's important and a bold wake-up call to humanity.

. . .

It's clear that the moral and ethical issues—real and imagined—will be inexorably connected to each other. Further, these emotional hot spots will impact movement forward. The proverbial inflection point chart for human transformation may actually steal the spotlight from the Gartner Hype Cycle and become the "big idea" slide that appears everywhere from Gartner to Meeker to even your PowerPoint slide.

What used to be something looming in the future and taking shape only from yesterday's science fiction movies, is now a very present reality.  It's taking shape at the speed of life.  The blurred distinction between man and machine will redefine our world and lives. And it's beginning to take shape in a real and tangible way today.

AI Vs. God: Who Stays And Who Leaves?

Intolerance, crusades, national differences, terrorism and interpersonal disagreements – all those to some extent resulted from conflicting religious views.

What about the lack of a religious belief? A major emergent trend of the last century came not from religious teachings but from the Scientific Enlightenment and hard data.

. . .

Scientific progress, and Internet and mobile coverage proliferation in the last 8 years alone might have decreased the numbers dramatically. Still not as much as to liquidate the spiritual beliefs of the vast majority of the world's population.

So, the fact is this: technological progress as it is will take time and generations of change to convert the world's population from monotheistic religions to transhumanism.

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