The Lottery of Birth Is Like a Thought-Provoking Dinner Party

Displaying incandescent theorizing yet lurching storytelling, The Lottery of Birth parses modern societies in a profound, haphazard manner. Watching it is like attending an erudite dinner—the conversation isn't preordained, but it's insightful nevertheless. A docu-essay, the film's mission is to reveal biases we unknowingly adopt due to our having been raised in a society. The film's argument is presented via narration and talking-head interviews with intellectuals from the realms of politics and cognitive science (notably, Daniel Dennett and Howard Zinn), which are often accompanied with generic stock footage or, curiously, bizarre shots of subway escalators. While the visuals are mostly insignificant—someone just reading the script wouldn't miss much—the film...
See full article at Village Voice »

The Swapper Review

Despite its relatively lackluster title, The Swapper, developed by Facepalm Games, is more than just a game, it is an experience that questions the very existence of the human soul. In a world where a device, that allows humans to clone themselves and swap between bodies, is created, what is it that makes us who we truly are?

The Swapper is a very clever puzzle platformer that creates an ambiance of complete desolation. The player, an unnamed character, is dropped onto the Space Station Theseus with no clear goal or direction. In order to progress into the deeper parts of the station, you must complete puzzles and collect orbs. While it’s not necessary to collect every orb to progress through certain parts, in order to complete the game all puzzles need to be completed.

The further into the station that the player goes, the more clues they’ll find about what truly happened.
See full article at We Got This Covered »

Eight Principles of Successful Optimists

Eight Principles of Successful Optimists
Everett Collection Thomas A. Edison didn’t give up, and neither should you.

So, you may have heard that world has a few problems. Climate change, the energy crisis, species extinction, economic meltdown, poverty, population growth, resource shortages… the list goes on. It’s easy therefore to accept the standard story of the future: that it’s all going to be rubbish, that vested interests will always win out and the best you can do is get your head down,
See full article at Speakeasy/Wall Street Journal »

Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate by Terry Eagleton

In Reason, Faith, and Revolution, Terry Eagleton calls God Is Not Great “stylish, entertaining, splendidly impassioned, [and] compulsively readable.” But he also shows how shallow Hitchens’s conception of religion is, and how feeble a straw man he set up for himself. (Eagleton includes Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion and Daniel C. Dennett’s Breaking the Spell in his indictment; he refers to the whole crowd as Ditchkins for rhetorical purposes.)
See full article at PasteMagazine »

The Neuroscience of Humor

What makes an April Fools' prank hilarious? A cognitive scientist's (actually funny) new book shows how the brain breaks down the elements of a joke and why we laugh. Sharon Begley reports.

If you don't care about damage to your reputation, career, or marriage, there is no shortage of April Fools' Day pranks you can pull, such as gluing someone's handset to his landline phone and then calling him from nearby (anywhere with sight lines to the entire phone getting lifted to his ear) or-a classic-balancing a paper cup of water atop a partially open door. While reasonable people can debate whether the results are hilarious or sophomoric, chances are a disinterested observer would at least crack a smile. Cognitive scientist Matthew Hurley of Indiana University wanted to know why.

The result, as laid out in a new book, Inside Jokes: Using Humor to Reverse-Engineer the Mind, is the most
See full article at The Daily Beast »

A roll of whose dice?

Is the universe deterministic, or random? Not the first question you'd expect to hear in a thriller, even a great one. But to hear this question posed soon after the opening sequence of "Knowing" gave me a particular thrill. Nicolas Cage plays Koestler, a professor of astrophysics at MIT, and as he toys with a model of the solar system, he asks that question of his students. Deterministic means that if you have a complete understanding of the laws of physics, you can predict with certainty everything that will happen after (for example) the universe is created in the Big Bang. Random means you can't predict anything. "What do you think?" a student asks Koestler, who says, "I think...shit just happens."

He is soon given reason to doubt his confidence. (From this point on, there are spoilers.) "Knowing" begins 50 years ago with a classroom assignment; grade school children are
See full article at Roger Ebert's Blog »

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