FedEx And UPS Refuse to Ship a Digital Mill That Can Make Untraceable Guns

This is a fine example of the world getting more and less scary at the same time.  It give me hope!


The new generation of “maker” tools like 3-D printers and milling machines promises to let anyone make virtually anything—from prosthetic limbs to firearms—in the privacy and convenience of his or her own home. But first, those tools have to get to customers’ homes. That’s going to be difficult for at least one new machine with the potential to make homemade firearms, because FedEx is refusing to deliver it.

Sex biology redefined: Genes don’t indicate binary sexes


The simple scenario many of us learned in school is that two X chromosomes make someone female, and an X and a Y chromosome make someone male. These are simplistic ways of thinking about what is scientifically very complex. Anatomy, hormones, cells, and chromosomes (not to mention personal identity convictions) are actually not usually aligned with one binary classification.

The Nature feature collects research that has changed the way biologists understand sex. New technologies in DNA sequencing and cell biology are revealing that chromosomal sex is a process, not an assignation.

As quoted in the article, Eric Vilain, MD, PhD, director of the Center for Gender-Based Biology at UCLA, explains that sex determination is a contest between two opposing networks of gene activity. Changes in the activity or amounts of molecules in the networks can sway the embryo towards or away from the sex seemingly spelled out by the chromosomes. “It has been, in a sense, a philosophical change in our way of looking at sex; that it’s a balance

Iran is the sex change capitol of the world?

We’ve been enjoying Amazon’s, “Transparent”. I’ve adored Alexandra Billings for years. A bit of trans-googling revealed this shocker.

The Ayatollah and the Transexual

That Maryam Khatoon Molkara can live a normal life is due to a compassionate decision by one man: the leader of the Islamic revolution himself. By Angus McDowall in Tehran and Stephen Khan
Thursday 25 November 2004
Maryam Khatoon Molkara is the first to admit that she has had a complicated life. A plump, good-looking, middle-aged woman with strong features, she is ladylike and not a little flirtatious. “Marry me,” she said. “Take me away and we’ll live in Italy.”
Keen not to complicate matters further, your correspondent declined the offer. Ms Molkara used to be called Fereydoon – Mr Fereydoon Molkara. And now she is a transsexual living in the Islamic Republic of Iran: someone who has volunteered to go under the veil. During the past 54 years, she has seen seismic shifts in both her body and her homeland.
Recently dozens of transsexuals – including a former Republican Guard – have been able to openly seek treatment to switch sexes. And it is largely thanks to Ms Molkara and a personal campaign that saw her twice appeal directly to the very man who charted Iran’s shift to theocracy – the Ayatollah Khomeini.

Hot Sauce & the Neurobiology of the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict

[Script:] You can look at the neurobiology of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict through the prism of hot sauce. A glance at online hot sauce offerings shows that for millions, as one label proclaims, “Pain is good”. That certain people enjoy suffering is both common knowledge and punchline. “How many Jewish mothers does it take to change a lightbulb?” “It’s alright I’ll just sit here in the dark.” According to University of Pennsylvania researcher professor Paul Rozin, masochism, “the enjoyment of what appears painful or tiresome.” Exists on a spectrum of human pleasures- duh!. Riding on roller coasters, taking super hot baths, an affection for astringent drinks, the delight of sore muscles after a hard workout and many other human activities all the way to self mutilation can be considered forms of what professor Rozin calls “benign masochism”.

He studied the eating habits of Mexican children. Mexican babies react negatively to capsaicin, the chemical that makes peppers hot. As well they should. Capsaicin hurts. Capsaicin activates type C nociceptive fibers, which then release something called substance P, the “p” should stand for “pain” but it doesn’t. Substance P release is better known to your brain as “ouch!”

But our brains can be trained to experience the “ouch” as “oooh”. Mexican children and others grow up being told “the pain you’re feeling, that’s good!” In time it’s mom over matter. Cuisines from Indian Vindaloo to Chinese Szechuan to Buffalo chickens wings delight in the misery their recipes inflict. The malleability of our pain experience was dramatically demonstrated by great neuroscientist Jane Fonda. In the days BJF, before Jane Fonda, we exercised trying to avoid the pain. “I told the doctor, ‘It hurts when I do this’. He said, ‘Don’t do that’”. But post-Jane the goal was to “Make it burn.” With three little words pain became pleasure. Hurt was transformed from danger to desire The switch has to do with the interaction of two areas of the brain, the anterior cingulate cortex, a feeling part of the brain and the right ventral prefrontal cortex, a thinking part. It appears that our brain’s thinking parts can be reprogrammed so the that nociceptor (pain fiber) activation and the discomfort it entails seem just, exactly what we want.

Culture can pleasurize even severe forms of pain. Generations of Catholic school children have literally prayed for the chance to emulate the church’s glorified martyrs and suffer their gruesome tortures to prove their pubescent faith. Virtually every American is taught to revere Nathan Hale’s famous last words, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”

European Jewry seems to revel in its historic hurts. Every summer we are religiously commanded to get depressed about the destruction of the second temple by the Romans in 57 CE. We celebrate Purim, a tale of one man who merely had a DESIRE to attack the Persian Jews centuries ago. A story exactly no one thinks is true and of course our seemingly endless outpouring of Holocaust memorials. Palestinians may embrace their suffering even more intensely. In March 2014 the elected Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh declared, “We are a people who yearn for death just as our enemies yearn for life!”

If the Palestinians and Israelis have developed cultures that on some neurologic level enjoy even desire the pain and suffering they inflict and inspire. Maybe part of the solution is to give both sides some alternative form of agonizing pleasure… hot sauce anyone?

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    Be Brave. Be strong. We WILL go on.

    It is easy to imagine biblical Egyptians saying this to themselves after the defeat of their army at the Red Sea. I am fond of referring to the plagues as “Egypt’s 9/11”. It is obviously tough to lose a conflict and people always try to cheer themselves up. After Israel’s 2006 loss to Hizbullah in the Second Lebanon war this vid became a popular “stiff upper lip” rallying cry.

    “Be brave, be strong we WILL go on.” from Aaron Freeman on Vimeo.

    Jewish Pain/Jewish Healing Rabb Ed Feinstein @ Aitz Hayim Cent. for Jewish Living, Glencoe, IL – YouTube

    Rabbi Ed is a very smart, provocative thinker and regular guest scholar at our congregation.  I find these comments provocative, insightful and worthy  of serious consideration.  Other times, he is also a VERY funny guy!

    Jewish Pain/Jewish Healing Rabb Ed Feinstein @ Aitz Hayim Cent. for Jewish Living, Glencoe, IL – YouTube.

    Why Aren’t More Americans Fired Up About Inequality? | ThinkProgress

    Why Aren\'t More Americans Fired Up About Inequality? | ThinkProgress

    John Jost, a professor of psychology and political science at NYU, and various colleagues over the years have developed a theory called “system justification” that shows how people are “motivated to defend, bolster, and rationalize the social systems that affect them — to see the status quo as good, fair, legitimate, and desirable,” because it serves their own internal needs and desires as humans.   It helps them “manage uncertainty and threat and smooth out social relationships,” and “enables people to cope with and feel better about the societal status quo and their place in it,” as the authors write.

    People do not always defend an unjust status quo and system justification varies across groups and situations.  Similarly, system justification may be motivated by different reasons for those who are relatively advantaged or disadvantaged within society.  But for most of us, it appears that there’s a powerful need in our own lives to reduce difficult feelings and anxieties when confronting the limitations of our social and economic order.  As Jost and his co-authors note:

    In several studies we find that giving people the opportunity to justify the system does indeed lead them to feel better and more satisfied and to report feeling more positive emotions and fewer negative emotions (e.g., Jost et al., 2008; Wakslak et al., 2007). Furthermore, chronically high system-justifiers, such as political conservatives, arehappier (as measured in terms of subjective well-being) than are chronically low system-justifiers, such as liberals, leftists, and others who are more troubled by the degree of social and economic inequality in our society (Napier & Jost, 2008a).

    The hedonic benefits of system justification, however, come with a cost in terms of decreased potential for social change and the remediation on of inequality. Wakslak and colleagues (2007) demonstrated thatsystem-justifying ideologies, whether measured or manipulated through a mindset-priming technique, do indeed serve to reduce emotional distress — including negative affect in general and guilt in particular — but they also reduce “moral outrage.” This last consequence is particularly important, because moral outrage motivates people to engage in helping behavior and to support social change (Carlson & Miller, 1987; Montada & Schneider, 1989). Thus, the reduction in moral outrage made people less inclined to help those who are disadvantaged, measured in terms of research participants’ degree of support for and willingness to volunteer for or donate to a soup kitchen, a crisis hotline, and tutoring or job training programs for the underprivileged (see also Jost et al., 2008).

    Why Aren\’t More Americans Fired Up About Inequality? | ThinkProgress.

    Video: Interview with John Jost