Religulous – Bill Maher and Director of Borat Team Up [video]

this is a preview for a new movie called Religulous with Bill Maher (real time with bill maher, politically incorrect) directed by Larry Charles (Seinfeld writer, Borat director, and all around badass) about religion. looks pretty awesome.

can’t wait.


amazing speech: neuroanatomist describes her stroke [video]


you have to listen to this amazing speech from this year’s TED (a really cool conference with presentations from the world’s foremost experts on a wide variety of things).

in it, this woman recounts the experience of her stroke, talks about the nature of the brain and nirvana. it is truly awe-inspiring.
seriously. i almost cried. at work.

watch it now:

update: now on youtube:

breathtaking underground temple [pics]

i don’t even know what to say about this. it’s simply spectacular.

From the daily mail article:

“…in the foothills of the Alps in northern Italy, 30 miles from the ancient city of Turin, […] 100ft down and hidden from public view, lies an astonishing secret – one that has drawn comparisons with the fabled city of Atlantis and has been dubbed ‘the Eighth Wonder of the World’ by the Italian government.”

“It all began in the early Sixties when Oberto Airaudi [aka Falco] was aged ten. From an early age, he claims to have experienced visions of what he believed to be a past life, in which there were amazing temples. ‘My goal was to recreate the temples from my visions,’ he said”

“A house was built on the hillside and Falco moved in with several friends who shared his vision. Using hammers and picks, they began their dig to create the temples of Damanhur […] no planning permission had been granted, they decided to share their scheme only with like-minded people.”

“Volunteers, who flocked from around the world, worked in four-hour shifts for the next 16 years with no formal plans other than Falco’s sketches and visions, funding their scheme by setting up small businesses to serve the local community.”

“…weaving their way underneath the hillside are nine ornate temples, on five levels, whose scale and opulence take the breath away. Constructed like a three-dimensional book, narrating the history of humanity, they are linked by hundreds of metres of richly decorated tunnels and occupy almost 300,000 cubic feet”

i suggest reading the whole article.

a short thought-experiment by carl sagan

this is a pretty clever little venture into the world of human belief.

here’s a taste of what you’re in for: “Suppose that several people of your acquaintance, including people who you’re pretty sure don’t know each other, all tell you that they have dragons in their garages–but in every case the evidence is maddeningly elusive.”

it’s pretty short, just read it.

could you follow every rule in the bible for a whole year?

..well this guy did.

from the man who brought you “i read the entire encyclopedia,” comes: “i grew a beard and followed archaic regulations!”

this guy identified 700 rules/prohibitions he found in the bible and stuck to them.

he said of the experience:
“I would say I’m more thankful. I focus on the hundred little things that go right in a day, instead of the three or four things that go wrong. And I love the Sabbath. There’s something I really like about a forced day of rest. Also, during the experiment I wore a lot of white clothes, because Ecclesiastes says let your garments always be white, and I loved it, so I look like Tom Wolfe now. Wearing white just made me happier. I couldn’t be in a bad mood walking down the street looking like I was about to play in the semifinals at Wimbledon.”

..and so how did his wife take it?

“Parts of the Bible say that the man is the head of the household and should make the decisions, which did not translate into reality in our household. She found that a disturbing part of religion.”

..and then he gets deep:
“We all talk about freedom of choice, but there’s something very attractive about freedom from choice. Religion provides structure, mooring, anchoring. Should you covet? No. Should you give 10 percent to the needy? Yes. It really structures your life. After my year I felt unmoored, overwhelmed by choice. I have adjusted, but I’m still overwhelmed by choice, as we all are in America.”

read the whole interview with this guy here:

update: npr interviewed this guy

school sucks balls: an intellectual essay.

as someone who went through both public and private schools in multiple cities, countries, and continents, including quite a few years of the best schools the american public school system has to offer, i can tell you from personal experience that the entire structure of american education has pretty much gone to shit (not that it was ever all that great of an idea in the first place).

this is a nice essay i came across that represents my feelings on the subject fairly accurately.

here are some highlights:

“…as long as [our country’s children] are learning meaningful, useful, and interesting worthwhile things, there should be no point in forcing them to fail in subjects that have no purpose or meaning for them. […] there is an “opportunity cost” in trying to teach [things] to people [who are] not likely to learn them and not interested in learning them at the time. Those students’ time could be much better spent [being taught] things they appreciate…”

“Schools ought to be places that nurture individual and social strengths, not places that, at great expense, forcibly try to inculcate and remediate what students cannot learn and what teachers in some cases cannot teach. In an ideal world, teaching would inspire students to want to learn as much as they can all their lives, and give them the foundation to do that. “

…and don’t think for a second that our way is the only feasible way anyone has come up with. there are lots of civilized countries around the world, and some have far superior educational systems. there are plenty of great educational philosophies and alternative schools that work wonders.. why don’t we make one of the ways that work the standard?

to read the full essay, click here.