World

Get Away From There, Prince William

Prince William, Kate Duchess of Cambridge
Britain's Prince William, third left, looks over the cliff edge as he and his wife Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, left, observe abseiling and team building exercises at Narrow Neck Lookout near Katoomba, Australia, Thursday, April 17, 2014. Ryan Pierse / AP

You're making us nervous

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been hanging out Down Under and today they took a trip to Australia’s Blue Mountains to check out some cliffs. As you can see, Kate stood back at a reasonable distance, but William decided to live his life on the edge. Like, almost literally on the edge.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING PRINCE WILLIAM? YOU’RE MAKING US NERVOUS. Please, make better choices.

Appreciation

11 Terrifying Bunnies That Will Totally Freak You Out Before Easter

Grab the basket of chocolate eggs because you're going to need some comfort food after looking at these scary--dare we say, hare-raising--rabbits before Easter this Sunday.

  • Rabbit Swimming with the Fishes

    Wong Maye-E / AP

    You’ll get the Jaws theme stuck in your head the minute you see this image of a diver dressed as the Easter Bunny swimming among sharks, rays and other species of fish in the Shipwreck habitat at the South East Asia Aquarium of Resorts World Sentosa on April 17, 2014.

  • Frank the Demonic Rabbit in Donnie Darko

    In the 2001 horror flick, a six-foot rabbit that bares fangs (James Duval) announces the world will end in 28 days, six hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds and is generally a “terrifying symbol of innocent childhood fantasy gone horribly to seed,” according to TIME’s list of “10 Memorable Movie Rabbits.”

  • The Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog

    Also on that TIME list: In Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), King Arthur and his posse from Camelot encounter the sharp-toothed bunny from guarding the cave “that marks the end of their sacred quest” and “slays three of Arthur’s finest before the crew manages to take out the creature by deploying the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.”

  • The White Rabbit in Wonderland

    Archive Photos/Getty Images

    On the set of the film Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1973) with Fiona Fullerton (Alice), Michael Crawford plays a particularly spooky interpretation of the fictional character from the Lewis Carroll series that is always late, late, late.

  • Creepin’ at the Easter Egg Roll

    Mark Wilson / Getty Images

    This bunny looks like it is trying to sneak up on President Barack Obama at the 2013 event on the White House South Lawn. Perhaps it is trying to find the right moment to solicit the commander-in-chief’s support on some pet project?

  • Bunny Dummy

    Paul Drinkwater/Network/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

    Walter the Easter Bunny looks pretty in pink but not impressed during a shtick with ventriloquist Jeff Dunham on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on April 21, 2000.

  • Snow Bunny

    Rainer Jensen/dpa/Corbis

    Bathing season at lido Strandbad Wannsee in Berlin, Germany, typically kicks off on Good Friday, even if it’s freezing. But the dark teeth on the rabbit snowman in this Mar. 29, 2013, photo is scary enough to make swimmers either run for warm shelter as fast as they can or swim as far away from it as humanly possible.

  • Orange You Glad to See Me?

    Getty Images

    …Because there’s no shortage of stock images that turn the most innocent concepts into the most terrifying photos.

  • And This…

    Getty Images

    …case in point, this image of “strong bunny protecting eggs.” Doesn’t the Easter Bunny bring eggs to children, isn’t that kind of its job? Why is this one hoarding them? What a jerk.

  • Spring Showers

    Though not as violent as the shower scene in Psycho, this scene of a rabbit lying motionless while being bathed in a sink is still off-putting.

  • Bloody Bunny

    In this prank, people get close to an old tree trunk because they think they are looking at a rare flower, but it turns out to be a bloody bunny head.

society

The Rapture of the Nerds

Gabriel Rothblatt, a pastor at Terasem, photographed at the Terasem ashram in Melbourne Beach, Florida April 7, 2014
Gabriel Rothblatt, a pastor at Terasem, photographed at the Terasem ashram in Melbourne Beach, Florida April 7, 2014 Bob Croslin for TIME

A new religion has set out to store memories for centuries and deliver its believers into a world where our souls can outlive our selves

In the backyard of a cottage here overlooking the water, two poles with metal slats shaped like ribcages jut out from the ground. They look indistinguishable from heat lamps or fancy light fixtures.

These are satellite dishes, but they aren’t for TV. They’re meant for dispatching “mindfiles,” the memories, thoughts and feelings of people who wish to create digital copies of themselves and fling them into space with the belief that they’ll eventually reach some benevolent alien species.

Welcome to the future. Hope you don’t mind E.T. leafing through your diary.

The beach house and the backyard and the memory satellites are managed by 31-year-old Gabriel Rothblatt, a pastor of Terasem, a new sort of religion seeking answers to very old kinds of questions, all with an abiding faith in the transformative power of technology.

“Technology does feel and smell and look and act like a God.”Beneath the cottage is a basement office where the mindfile operation is headquartered. Next door is an ashram, an airy glass building with walls that slide away to reveal a backyard home to a telescope for stargazing and a space to practice yoga. Tucked behind a shroud of greenery, most neighbors don’t even know this house of worship exists.

The name Terasem comes from the Greek word for “Earthseed,” which is also the name for the futuristic religion found in the Octavia Butler sci-fi novel Parable of the Sower that helped inspire Gabriel’s parents, Bina and Martine Rothblatt, to start their new faith. Martine founded the successful satellite radio company Sirius XM in 1990. (Martine was originally known as Martin. She had sex reassignment surgery 20 years ago.)

Organized around four core tenets—“life is purposeful, death is optional, God is technological and love is essential”–Terasem is a “transreligion,” meaning that you don’t have to give up being Christian or Jewish or Muslim to join. In fact, many believers embrace traditional positions held by mainstream religions—including the omnipotence of God and the existence of an afterlife—but say these are made possible by increasing advancements in science and technology.

“Einstein said science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind,” Martine Rothblatt tells TIME. “Bina and I were inspired to find a way for people to believe in God consistent with science and technology so people would have faith in the future.”

Sure, it’s easy to dismiss people who think they can somehow cheat death with a laptop. But Terasem is a potent symbol of a modern way of life where the digital world and the emotional one have become increasingly entwined. It is also a sign, if one from the fringe, of the always evolving relationship between technology and faith. Survey after survey has shown the number of Americans calling themselves “religious” has declined despite the fact that many still identify as “spiritual.” People are searching, and no longer do they look to technology to provide mere order for their lives. They also want meaning. Maybe, it’s time to hack our souls.

DIGITAL SCRAPBOOKING
While there may seem nothing so new-fangled as thousands of people broadcasting their innermost thoughts to outer space, technology has always played a role in shaping religious practice and belief.

“Technology does feel and smell and look and act like a God, at least sometimes,” says John Modern, a Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin & Marshall College. “So it’s certainly logical that someone would see the power of technology and locate their faith in it.”

Some believers in Terasem are motivated by a longing similar to one shared by followers of more familiar faiths–a desire to be reunited with people who have passed. Linda Chamberlain, cofounder of the cryonics company Alcor Life Extension Foundation and an active Terasemian, anticipates that one day in the future she’ll be reanimated alongside her husband Fred, who passed away a few years ago, and they can explore space together. Giulio Prisco, an Italian physicist who practices Terasem, says he hopes he’ll finally be reunited with his mother.

Though from the outside Terasem might look a little kooky, some ideas at its center resonate with Silicon Valley’s mainstream where millions of dollars are being spent to research how technology can alter the end of life and beyond. People like Google’s Larry Page and PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel are investing in projects focused on life extension and rejuvenation.

Bina and Martine Rothblatt
A portrait of Bina and Martine Rothblatt (left to right) photographed in April 2010. George Tolbert

Portraits on the wall of Terasem’s Florida headquarters show people who have attended the organization’s meetings in the past, some of whom are among the tech industry’s most radical thinkers. Marvin Minsky, who helped start MIT’s artificial intelligence lab, is there. So is Google engineer Ray Kurzweil, one of the world’s most prominent proponents of transhumanism, an intellectual movement that shaped Terasem and animates many avant garde ideas in Silicon Valley.

Born nearly a century ago with a spike in popularity in the 1990s, transhumanism advocates for the ethical use of technology to transcend biology and enhance humanity’s physical and intellectual abilities. Google Glass, artificial limbs—even birth control, as one transhumanist told me—are ways in which we can harness technology to upgrade our biology. And one day, if the mindfile system works the way it’s supposed to, we just might be able to leave our physical bodies behind and transmit our brains into computerized vessels.

Johnny Depp puts a face, or at least a voice, to that far-out vision with the release of Transcendence Friday. Depp plays a terminally ill artificial intelligence researcher who uploads his consciousness into a computer, a plot that will land many of the ideas behind Terasem in movie theaters around the world.

“Some folks have seen this coming for 40 or 50 years,” says director Wally Pfister, who won an Oscar as the cinematographer for Christopher Nolan’s mind-bender Inception. “The moment they saw the power of computing they said, ‘Okay, at a certain point this is going to get to the point where we can either transcend the human mind or merge the human mind or build it into something greater, and that’s fascinating.”

The ability to control the universe like some sort of galaxy genie probably isn’t going to happen no matter how many times you watch The Matrix, and even if it does, it’s not going to be any time soon. But though the majority of transhumanists identify as atheists or agnostics, some have flocked to new religions like Terasem, which satisfy a yen for a spiritual sustenance in people whose lives are increasingly devoted to technology.

Terasem counts its Florida cottage and a solar-powered cabin in Lincoln, Vermont as its primary homes. It’s in Vermont that the Rothblatts keep a robot named BINA48. The machine is modeled after Martine’s wife, Bina, and was built to see just how precisely a robot loaded with mindfiles can resemble a living, breathing human being.

Roboterdame Bina48
Bina48 talks to her designing engineer Bruce Duncan at a press date in Wetzlar, Germany, March 15, 2013. Frank Rumpenhorst—DPA/AP

Terasem’s followers are dedicated to studying and raising awareness about what they call “personal cyberconciousness”—the creation of mindfiles. They believe that by ritualistically recording your thoughts and feelings with great detail, you can ultimately assemble a digital copy of yourself, available for future use.

To start, you write down or record a video of you talking about a thought, memory or feeling, and upload it to a website. You can also choose to have each mindfile beamed out into the universe—hence the satellites. So far more than 32,000 people have created free mindfile accounts.

The mindfiles are stored on servers located in both Vermont and Florida, and by using Terasem’s services you accept their promise that they will protect those files for the long-term future, making it possible for some not-yet-invented software to organize those files into an approximation of your consciousness so they can be uploaded into an artificial body 50, 100, 500 years from now.

“A lot of people have problems digesting” the idea, Gabriel says. “Instead of saying ‘mindfiling,’ I say ‘digital scrapbooking.”

The basement of the Terasem Movement Inc. cottage is the heart of its CyBeRev project, housing servers where users’ files are stored and the desk of a full-time programmer who keeps the shop up and running.

The cottage is also where Lori Rhodes, who helps run Terasem Movement Inc., the group’s educational non-profit, and Nikki Knudsen, Terasem’s financial manager, have their offices. The irony that people who smoke cigarettes make up a significant part of the staff for a movement dedicated to life extension isn’t lost on them.

Both Knudsen and Rhodes came to Terasem by happenstance: Knudsen, 38, was introduced through Rhodes’ sister, and Rhodes, 51, who had previously worked as a paralegal, found Terasem in 2005 through an online job advertisement for a compliance manager.

“Most people say, ‘Oh, it looks like a cult,’” Rhodes says. “My older sister did. When she first looked at it, she told me, ‘Don’t work for that organization. It looks like a cult and you’ll be blacklisted in the legal community.”

“But any religion starts with just a few members,” Rhodes says. “And I guess organized religion is cultish.”

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL
Until 2011, Gabriel was a manager at a local pizza restaurant. Now, he spends most of his time running for Congress in a longshot campaign to get on the Democratic ballot to challenge Rep. Bill Posey this fall.

One afternoon this winter, Gabriel set up a small table advertising his candidacy at a home and garden expo. The crowd was made up of mostly white, upper-middle class baby boomers searching for the perfect garden hose or a nice new backsplash for their freshly renovated kitchen.

“When we can joyfully all experience techno immortality, then God is complete.”In a district that went 59 percent for Posey, a Republican, in 2012, Gabriel’s status as a Democrat may be just as much a stumbling block as Terasem. “He’s probably for Obamacare,” said one man as he walked by Gabriel’s table.

“My opponent has already begun using Terasem against me,” Gabriel tells me one night over dinner about Corry Westbrook, a former legislative director for the National Wildlife Foundation. “She says I’m inexperienced and bizarre…that I’m part of a cult.” Later, after giving me a tour of the ashram, he says that Westbrook has taken to telling people he “worships computers.” (Westbrook did not return requests for comment.)

Though one of Terasem’s core tenets is “God is technological,” Gabriel insists that’s not to be taken literally—instead, it’s meant to convey the notion that the way that you envision God directly influences your life.

It’s not exactly difficult to see how someone could misinterpret a bold statement like “God is technological.” It just sounds kind of nuts. Plus, a religion governed by a zealous devotion to technology is bound to attract critics.

Rhodes puts it more bluntly: “Some people call it the rapture of the nerds.”

“For us God is in-the-making by our collective efforts to make technology ever more omnipresent, omnipotent and ethical,” Martine says. “When we can joyfully all experience techno immortality, then God is complete.” (Martine, who rarely speaks to the press, answered questions sent by e-mail.)

When you possess this amount of reverence—and, yes, faith—in the power of science, it starts to mirror religious belief, particularly when the possibilities you believe future technologies will have—like omnipotence and the ability to resurrect the dead—are similar to ones mainstream religions ascribe to God. This is how technology becomes religion, and how God becomes a computer.

Now, in 2014, technology can do almost everything for us—alleviate loneliness, send taxis and hairstylists and groceries to our doorstep, even make people resigned to a life of silence hear again—but it can’t bring the people we love back from the beyond.

At least, the Terasemians say, not yet.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the ownership of the Melbourne Beach home where the Terasem movement operates.

Food & Drink

Chocolate Prices Are Soaring, So Just to Be Safe, Everybody Should Probably Panic

Chocolate Stack
Getty Images

The sweet treat could soon become more of a high-end luxury item

Alright, chocoholics, listen up. (Everyone who just really loves chocolate but would never call themselves “chocoholics” should also listen up.)

Here’s the deal: cocoa prices are surging, which means chocolate is poised to become more of a high-end luxury item, NBC News reports. If costs continue soaring, chocolate could become “like champagne,” says Edward George, head of soft commodities at Ecobank. “Something which is a luxury, but not all of us can afford.”

Last year, prices rose 20 percent, and so far this year, cocoa futures are up 10 percent, largely due to demand from emerging markets. In China, for example, chocolate consumption has tripled over the last four years. We all should have kept quieter about how delicious it is so it could have remained our little secret!

“If prices go up too much (chocolate makers) shift to substitutes and instead of cocoa butter, which gives that melt-in-the-mouth flavor, you can use palm oil, or even cotton seed oil,” George told NBC News.

But, like, no. We would like chocolate to maintain its melt-in-the-mouth qualities but also remain affordable. So if any economists would like to drop their other work and focus on this clearly more pressing issue, that would be great, thanks.

Crime

Couple Steals Car So They Won’t Be Late For Court

164388046
Handcuffs Daniel Allan—Getty Images

It didn't go very well

James Manning and Teresa Castillo hit bottom …and then started digging.

The California couple is accused of stealing a car in order to make it to criminal court, where Manning was facing charges of possession of a controlled substance.

According to The Modesto Bee, the police discovered the crime last Friday afternoon, when a car dealership in Redding, California reported that a 2001 Mitsubishi had been stolen from their lot. (Yes, someone stole a 2001 Mitsubushi.) Via the car’s GPS locator, police were able to track the vehicle and surprisingly found it sitting in the Tuolumne County Courthouse parking lot.

Police staked out the vehicle and stopped Castillo when she approached the car. She claimed to have purchased the car for $200 (which is far below the car’s stated Blue Book value) earlier in the day, specifically to make it to Manning’s court appearance in Sonora, CA.

Police tracked down Manning inside the courthouse to corroborate her story, but after questioning, he admitted to having stolen the vehicle. When cops searched the car, they found marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

Castillo and Manning were then booked into Tuolumne County Jail on felony charges of possession of stolen property and possession of a controlled substance.

No word on the outcome of Manning’s initial court appearance or whether he made it there on time.

[Via The Modesto Bee]

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Science

Science Confirms It: Springtime Is Sexy Time

Spring.
Getty Images

A scientific study said that human fertility rates are actually impacted by changes in the seasons and weather

Spring is a time of renewal for the Earth—temperatures rising, plants springing forth, the summer ahead. But science says it should also mean a renewal of your sex life.

It’s not just the abundance of all that exposed skin outside; human fertility rates are actually impacted by changes in the seasons and weather, according to scientific study. As Jared Keller writes in Pacific Standard, “the perfect time of year to conceive… is when the sun shines for about 12 hours and the temperature hovers between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.” In other words, right now.

A 2002 study found that there are two seasonal peaks in adolescent sexual activity: the early summertime months and the winter holidays. What’s more, summertime sexy time was more likely to occur between partners who weren’t previously romantically involved.

Slate discovered that those in hotter areas like Miami tend to have more sex than their cold-weather counterparts, though they explain that any pheromones getting released might be denatured by the heat.

We better hurry up and get busy, before it just gets too hot to stay in the same bed as another sweaty human.

Arts

A Mrs. Doubtfire Sequel Could Be On the Way, Dear

Mrs. Doubtfire
20th Century Fox

Nothing's official yet, but more than 20 years later, your favorite nanny could return to the big screen

Hellooooo!

Well, great news everyone. More than 20 years later, Mrs. Doubtfire — the most hilarious and creepy comedy of the 90s — might be getting a sequel.

Fox 2000 is reportedly developing the film, with Chris Columbus returning as the director and Elf writer David Berenbaum handling the script, according to the Hollywood Reporter. And, of course, Robin Williams would star as the ineffable Euphegenia Doubtfire.

A sequel has been rumored in the past, so we don’t know for sure if it will ultimately make it all the way to the big screen this time around. But once Berenbaum was tapped as the scribe earlier this year, the project gained new momentum, according to the Hollywood Reporter. All we know is: if it really happens, we’ll celebrate like this.

Either way, it doesn’t look like Mara Wilson, who played Robin Williams’ youngest daughter, will be in it. She announced on Twitter that she’s simply not interested in being a part of it, but we think it’s really because she’s mad at someone for eating her begonias. That, or she is still recovering after being the victim of a run-by fruiting.

society

How Men And Women Differ When Drawing Up The ‘Perfect Body’

Spoiler alert: They all look like supermodels

In case you needed more fodder for a “depressingly unrealistic body expectations” Pinterest board, lingerie shop Bluebella.com polled 500 men and 500 women to create mashup images illustrating how the sexes differ when it comes to their “perfect body.”

And so began a game of commodifying different celebrities’ body parts to be photoshopped into the super-celebrity body. Here’s the “perfect” woman:

BlueBella.com

“It’s great to see such a range of ages and shapes,” BlueBella founder Emily Bendell said.

She praised men for picking curvaceous ideals, like Kim Kardashian’s breasts and Michelle Keegan’s “shapely tummy.”

Note: This is how “shapely” is getting defined

Meanwhile, women were progressively throwing out a lifeline to the over-40 crowd. “Who would have thought mother of two in her 40s in Gwyneth Paltrow would come top of the female poll for the best toned tummy?” Bendell asked. “And it is great that in her sixth decade Elle Macpherson is still seen as a style icon by so many women.”

And here is the “perfect” man—one of whom perplexing boasts Harry Styles’ hair:

BlueBella.com

Totally different.

“What this survey shows,” said Bendell, “is that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.”

viral

Watch the Super Mario Bros. Theme Performed With 48 Wine Glasses, 2 Pencils and a Frying Pan

Game over.

+ READ ARTICLE

The theme song of the classic arcade game Super Mario Bros. is played using 48 wine glasses, two pencils, and a frying pan in this video produced by Dan Newbie, a computer science student and filmmaker. Sounds like the perfect trick to learn for future dinner parties.

WATCH: Super Mario Bros. Theme Played on Ancient Chinese Instrument

MORE: Parks and Recreation Re-imagined as a Super Mario Bros Game

U.S.

Joe Biden’s First Selfie Is Just Awesome

Eleven hours after opening the Instagram account @vp, Vice President Joe Biden uploaded a snap featuring President Barack Obama with the caption "Found a friend to join me." He really couldn’t have featured a more prominent guest star

Eleven hours after opening an Instagram account, Vice President Joe Biden uploaded his first selfie.

And what a selfie.

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