The PATRIOT Act is uglier than you thought, and what to do about it

Via Boing Boing: ‘The most outstanding and urgent hour of audio you’ll hear this week is the On the Media history of the PATRIOT Act (MP3), and the most important website you’ll visit this week is Sunset the PATRIOT Act, which lets you do something about it.

The On The Media special tells the story of how the PATRIOT Act was not only passed without any debate, but without any chance for Congress to read it, but goes on to point out all the ways in which mass surveillance, torture, and other gross abridgments of liberty were carried out without support from PATRIOT.

Our great and good friends at Fight for the Future, ringleaders of the SOPA and Net Neutrality fights, are using Sunset the PATRIOT Act activist site to pour the heat on the Senate, who have until the close of today’s session to kill the mass surveillance parts of PATRIOT….’

29 Obscure Regional Words and Phrases We All Should Start Using | Mental Floss

Via Mental Floss: ‘The Dictionary of American Regional English, or DARE, contains all of the weird and wonderful words and phrases that make up the vocabulary of the 50 states. First published in 1985, the catalog of regional nuances is an ever-evolving document of American English as it’s spoken—but recently, DARE has fallen into danger due to lack of funding. A campaign is underway to raise $25,000 to help the organization retain its employees and continue its mission. To celebrate DARE and the treasures it contains, here are 29 words that should really extend beyond their regions….’

Interesting — not many of these are from the Northeast, and I have only ever heard one of the 29 (#7) used in conversation. If you come from a different region of the US, do some of the listed terms from your region sound familiar? Are they anything you have actually encountered?

Psychosomatic disorders: When illness really is all in the mind

Via 3quarksdaily: ‘The word psychosomatic refers to physical symptoms that occur for psychological reasons. Tears and blushing are examples of this, but they are normal responses that do not represent illness. It is only when psychosomatic symptoms go beyond the ordinary and impair our ability to function that illness results. Modern society likes the idea that we can think ourselves better. When we are unwell, we tell ourselves that if we adopt a positive mental attitude, we will have a better chance of recovery. I am sure that is correct. But society has not fully woken up to the frequency with which people do the opposite – unconsciously think themselves ill….’

War resisters can be heroes too

Via Vox: ‘Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day often get equated, but there is an essential distinction between the two. Veteran’s Day honors all who have served the American military in wars. Memorial Day honors those who’ve perished. It’s an annual reminder that wars have grave human costs, which must be both recognized and minimized.

Those costs are not inevitable. We ought to also set aside time to remember those throughout American history who have tried hardest to reduce them, to prevent unnecessary loss of life both American and foreign: war resisters….’

What I’m reading, with gusto, now

The end of the world is just the beginning in NEAL STEPHENSON’s new novel (via Boing Boing): ‘The #1 New York Times bestselling author, known for Anathem (the Locus Award winner for Best Science Fiction Novel that the New York Times called “immensely entertaining”) and Reamde (which Cory Doctorow called “a triumph” in these pages) strikes again with exactly the kind of complex and mind-altering epic you’d hope for.

SEVENEVES. (You say “seven eves” with no pause.)

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was described as being about “the end of the world and the happy-go-lucky days that follow.” Well, these End Times aren’t as freewheeling, but they’re endlessly fascinating, stocked with characters and concepts that will immerse you completely in their fracturing world. (Prepare yourself with the GLOSSARY.)

The story: A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space.

But the complexities and unpredictability of human nature coupled with unforeseen challenges and dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remain . . .

Five thousand years later, their progeny—seven distinct races now three billion strong—embark on yet another audacious journey into the unknown . . . to an alien world utterly transformed by cataclysm and time: Earth.

A writer of dazzling genius and imaginative vision, Neal Stephenson combines science, philosophy, technology, psychology, and literature in a magnificent work of speculative fiction that offers a portrait of a future that is both extraordinary and eerily recognizable.

As he did in Anathem, Cryptonomicon, the Baroque Cycle, and Reamde, Stephenson explores some of our biggest ideas and perplexing challenges in a breathtaking saga that is daring, engrossing, and altogether brilliant….’

Psychedelics and the Religious Experience

Derek Beres via Big Think: ‘The mystical is chemical. When …

 egoistic brain centers shut down, crosstalk occurs between neural regions that don’t otherwise communicate. Religious literature has expressed the sentiments that result for eons: unity, serenity, peacefulness, compassion. Given the frayed wires so many humans grapple with today, I’m not sure what could be more therapeutic, or spiritual, than this….’

Ireland Votes to Approve Gay Marriage, Putting Country in Vanguard

Via ‘Ireland became the first nation to approve same-sex marriage by a popular vote, sweeping aside the opposition of the Roman Catholic Church in a resounding victory Saturday for the gay rights movement and placing the country at the vanguard of social change.

With the final ballots counted, the vote was 62 percent in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, and 38 percent opposed….’

5 Pros And Cons Of Leaving Your Child In The Wilderness

5 Pros And Cons Of Leaving Your Child In The Wilderness |

Chris Bucholz via ‘Despite the perfectly healthy and sane number of times I’ve taken my child for a walk through the deepest, darkest part of the woods, I’ve never even come close to losing him in there. But, as my psychiatrist loves to ask me, what if? What’s the worst that could happen? To find out, I turned to the ever-growing number of books and movies featuring feral children that I’ve extensively collected while giggling over the past year, and I pored through them looking for common themes. The next time my shrink smugly asks about my woods/children practices, I’ll be ready with an answer….’

“The 5 Coolest Superpowers The Religious Right Thinks I Have”

Belinda Carroll via ‘When we in the gay community got our “Now That You Are Queer” welcome packet, it never said how much responsibility came with it. It implied that being gay was just a matter of having great sex, awesome parties, and some light weather-changing capabilities. We in no way realized that we were going to cause some of the largest disasters in human history….’

Beware of These Pricing Tricks Retailers Use to Fool Your Brain

Via Lifehacker: ‘Retailers are darn good at inventing tricks to separate us from our money. Whether it be through the price points they choose, how they market their products, or their discounting techniques, they are experts at getting inside our brains and influencing our buying decisions. Here are a few of the most popular pricing tricks retailers’ use, along with some easy ways to fight back…’

Cleveland cops shot at 2 unarmed black people 137 times. No one is going to prison for it.

Via Vox: ‘A Cleveland police officer on Saturday was found not guilty of two counts of voluntary manslaughter for taking part in a 2012 shooting that killed two unarmed suspects, the Associated Press’s Mark Gillespie reported.

Michael Brelo, who is white, was one of several police officers who fired nearly 140 bullets into a car occupied by Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, both of whom were black and unarmed, following a police chase that involved more than 100 officers. Brelo was the only officer charged for the shooting, so none of the cops involved will be convicted unless someone else is charged.

The chase and shooting prompted a US Department of Justice investigation that found a pattern of abuse and misuse of force at the Cleveland Police Department.

The Justice Department will review the shooting and verdict in another investigation’

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

                              — Wendell Berry (1973)

9 questions about the Illuminati you were too afraid to ask

Via Vox: ‘Will the Illuminati kill me for reading this article? If they do still exist, you already know too much.’

Ruth Bader Ginsburg officiated a same-sex wedding, and everyone’s looking for clues

Via Vox: ‘The month before a huge Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage is expected, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg presided over a same-sex wedding, and her words and gestures are being scrutinized for hints of how the case might come out.The New York Times’s Maureen Dowd was a guest at the wedding of Shakespeare Theatre Company artistic director Michael Kahn and New York architect Charles Mitchem. After the ceremony, Dowd wrote in her column that Ginsburg had pronounced the two men married by the powers vested in her by the Constitution of the United States, and that she’d emphasized the word “Constitution” and given “a sly look.”‘

Annals of the Age of Idiocy (cont’d)

Via Vox: ‘Forty-six states now have laws that explicitly ban texting while driving. But smartphones can distract drivers in many other ways, too, a new survey commissioned by AT&T shows.While it found that texting was the most common distraction, lots of drivers said they emailed, browsed the internet, checked Facebook, took selfies or other photos, or even video chatted while driving’

Giant ice shelf in Antarctica will be gone within the decade

NASA says a giant ice shelf in Antarctica will be gone within the decade | The Verge

Via The Verge: ‘Antarctica‘s once-massive Larsen B Ice Shelf is melting rapidly, and will likely be entirely gone by the end of this decade, according to a new report from NASA. A team led by Ala Khazendar of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) found the shelf is developing large cracks while its tributary glaciers rapidly disintegrate.”Although it’s fascinating scientifically to have a front-row seat to watch the ice shelf becoming unstable and breaking up, it’s bad news for our planet,” Khazendar said in a statement. “This ice shelf has existed for at least 10,000 years, and soon it will be gone.” ‘

Four Quasars in One Nebula: An Incredible Astronomical First

Four Quasars in One Nebula: Scientists Find an Incredible Astronomical First | Motherboard

Via Motherboard: ‘[A] team led by cosmologist Joseph Hennawi has discovered four of these objects—a quasar quartet—huddled together in a nebula 10 billion light years away. This is the first time such a large gaggle of quasars has ever been imaged, and according to Hennawi team, the odds of finding such an event are 10 million to one.’

How Big Pharma Can Save Antibiotics From Superbugs

Via WIRED: ‘[The] problem of a lack of commercial investment in antibiotics can be solved relatively quickly and without a dramatic increase on what governments and private patients spend on antibiotics globally today (approximately $40 billion US dollars a year)…’

Maybe Our Ancestors Knew The Real Secret Of A Good Night’s Sleep

Sleep No More (anthology)

via io9: ‘I have a friend who says three in the morning is the time we all spend laying awake, staring at darkness, and thinking about all the mistakes we’ve made in our lives. Everyone reading this knows that she’s right. But it doesn’t need to be this way. We could use this time productively, the way our ancestors did.

The concept of first sleep and second sleep is a very old one. As the light waned in the evenings, people would go to bed and sleep for about four hours. In the middle of the night, they’d wake up and stay awake for a few hours. People would usually use this time for quiet recreation. They’d talk a bit, eat a little, perhaps read or pray, and most people agreed that this was the best time for married couples to roll around on the mattress.

After a few hours, they’d get sleepy once again and settle back down to sleep. The second sleep would see them through until dawn, when they’d get up and take on their day. It’s easy to see why the concept of two sleeps was popular. Instead of being dead tired at the end of the day, you could fall into bed and sleep for a few hours before waking up and having fun. It would allow a more complete break between one day and the next, a little bubble of “me time” between working days. And it might eliminate those three o’clock thoughts.’

This synesthetic website turns words into drum beats

Daft Punk in DJ Hero

via The Verge: ‘I mean, the headline says it all really. This is a website you go to and type something in and then that something gets turned into a drum beat. You can literally stick any words you like into it — famous words, rude words, long words, made-up words, you get the idea. The whole project is the creation of developer Kyle Stetz and follows in a long line of musical-keyboard-procrastination tools. (See also Daft Punk keyboard and Patatap.) You’d be mad not to at least type your name in.’


Beware Simple Stories

English: Chris Anderson is the curator of the ...

via MacDrifter: ‘I’ll tell you a secret that is likely to make me a pariah among the nerds. I don’t like Malcolm Gladwell or Seth Godin or really most of the TED genre of pop culture factoids. I’m sure they are all fine upstanding citizens of the world but their brand of storytelling does not appeal to me. I avoid most science journalism as I avoid life-hack mythology. This is my problem with pop science and the cult of science tourism. It is too final. Too conclusive. Too bite-sized. These morsels of facts are portrayed as in-depth studies. They are wrapped with a crudely drawn distribution curve on the cover and published to a tourism market anxious to become the indisputable happy hour experts on the psychology and physics of self-driving cars. They lead to unearned certainty in our wold views and act as bludgeons against later course corrections. I’m skeptical of big problems with small answers.’

Hersh: Everything We Were Told About Osama bin Laden’s Killing Was a Lie

The newest Seymour Hersh blockbuster in the London Review of Books has one big claim: virtually the entire story of Osama bin Laden’s death was an elaborate fiction.

Bin Laden wasn’t hiding out in Abbattobad, as we’ve been told—he was effectively under house arrest, placed there under guard by Pakistan’s security services with financial help from the Saudis. We didn’t track down his address through diligent intelligence work—a Pakistani informant ratted him out to the CIA in exchange for the $25 million reward. And we didn’t kill him in a firefight—he was abandoned by his Pakistani guards and gunned down in cold blood by U.S. troops. The whole operation was supposed to remain secret, with bin Laden’s death publicly chalked up to a drone strike, but an unexpected helicopter crash at the site of the raid forced the U.S. to concoct a complex symphony of lies. According to Hersh. The article, if you believe its almost entirely anonymous sourcing (not that there’s anything wrong with anonymous sources!), casts the Obama White House’s account of the operation as a frantic and harried cover-up designed to valorize a “homicide,” as one anonymous commando put it. Though the Hersh account is by no means new—Hersh fails to credit her, but national security writer R.J. Hillhouse wrote a blog post in 2011 that included substantially the same claims, and generated some mainstream press accounts—his stature in the spook world and track record with previous stories means his account is getting traction. Here are the U.S. lies about the raid, as catalogued by Hersh… (more, via Gawker)

Loretta Lynch is a win for the police state, says Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald via Boing Boing: “She is essentially a fairly conservative, pro-security state, pro-penal state federal prosecutor who has spent her career supporting and upholding this evil system of mass incarceration. To cheer her simply because of the historic nature of her appointment — which, of course, is significant, her being the first African-American woman to serve in that position — without regard to the things that she’s actually going to do in pursuit of these policies, I think is mind-numbingly irrational.

I do think Eric Holder was pretty horrible in lots of important areas; but in other areas, he was actually quite good — like civil rights enforcement and advocating for more equity and fairness in the criminal justice system. I don’t expect Loretta Lynch to be [that way]…”