When Chocolate Was Medicine

Chocolate has not always been the common confectionary we experience today. When it first arrived from the Americas into Europe in the 17th century it was a rare and mysterious substance, thought more of as a drug than as a food. Christine Jones traces the history and literature of its reception.

Poseidon taking chocolate from Mexico to Europe, a detail from the frontispiece to Chocolata Inda by Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, 1644.

Poseidon taking chocolate from Mexico to Europe, a detail from the frontispiece to Chocolata Inda by Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, 1644.

 

In the seventeenth century, Europeans who had not traveled overseas tasted coffee, hot chocolate, and tea for the very first time. For this brand new clientele, the brews of foreign beans and leaves carried within them the wonder and danger of far-away lands. They were classified at first not as food, but as drugs — pleasant-tasting, with recommended dosages prescribed by pharmacists and physicians, and dangerous when self-administered. As they warmed to the use and abuse of hot beverages, Europeans frequently experienced moral and physical confusion brought on by frothy pungency, unpredictable effects, and even (rumor had it) fatality.… Read the rest

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Reinventing the Cultural Narrative with Evolver – Free Radical Media Podcast

In this installment, the Free Radical Media crew talks with Lou Sagar, CEO of Evolver.net and the Evolver Network, which includes the Evolver Social Movement and Reality Sandwich. We discuss the potential of transformative culture, “conscious consumerism,” New Media, herbalism, alternative economic models, the Evolver movement and the culture in which it exists. We had a fantastic, open-ended conversation with Lou on this reality and the realities that can be built in the future.

Find out more about Evolver on their website.

Reality Sandwich

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Teen Who Stormed Dutch TV Obsessed with Freemasons and New World Order

You probably won’t find too many kids with fake guns bursting into TV studios in the United States demanding airtime, mostly because people with real guns would be likely to shoot them. In Europe, on the other hand, not that many people carry guns, so Dutch teenager Tarik Z actually made it on air in Holland (he was also a lot better dressed than most of his American counterparts).

The Telegraph reports that he’s really into some of the classic conspiracy theories, like the Freemasons and New World Order:

Former classmates of a teen who stormed the studios of Dutch national TV demanding airtime before being arrested described him on Friday as a “normal guy”, but one fascinated by conspiracy theories.

tarik z

“Clever, pleasant and a bit of a loner, but certainly not a crazy guy,” one of the 19-year-old’s former classmates at Delft Technical University told the daily Algemeen Dagblad.

Another former classmate told the NOS public broadcaster, where the drama played off, that the teen, seemingly normal, had a rich imagination and was “often in his own world.”

“In recent years he was interested in conspiracy theories involving the Free Masons and a ‘new world order’,” the student said.

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Harmony Korine’s ‘The Legend of Cambo’

While his parents were out working four jobs, Cambo spent his time learning how to survive in the rough backwoods of Alabama. When they went through a brutal divorce, he naturally fled to the woods to be alone. No traffic, no people, no responsibility—just pure survival.

The plan was to wait out his adolescence there until he could legally live life without his parents. He ended up spending two years alone in the wild. This episode of Profiles by VICE, from director Harmony Korine, tells Cambo’s story.

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If Obama Gets His Way, Sharing This Story Will Soon Be a Felony

Johan Larsson (CC BY 2.0)

Johan Larsson (CC BY 2.0)

Gregory Krieg Via Policy.Mic

On Jan. 20, this website published a story titled, “If This Is Your Password, Change It Immediately.” The article included a list of the 25 personal passwords — “password” and “abc123″ among them — most commonly found in databases of personal account information routinely leaked by hackers. The material came from SplashData, an internet security firm that seeks out vulnerable targets and reports on them to an often endangered public. The list of passwords appeared in various forms on outlets including CBS NewsNPR and the BBC, to name a few.

Later that night, President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address made the case for a new proposal to rewrite and tighten federal cybersecurity laws, so that no “foreign nation” or “hacker” would have the ability to “shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets or invade the privacy of American families.

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Blasphemy Laws: A Crime Against Humanity

Benjamin Franklin once wrote that, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Yet when it comes to disparaging the Prophet Mohammed, two additional certainties become readily apparent: first, that a wide swath of the Islamic world is immediately going to erupt into spasms of chaotic and senseless violence, and second, that their leaders will redouble their perennial efforts to have the United Nations nullify the West’s most sacred human right – freedom of expression – through the passing of a so-called “blasphemy law,” which would criminalize defamation of religion.

For the past decade or so, ever since these efforts first began in earnest, one of the prime counterarguments has been to point out how any such repressive forms of broad censorship are inevitably used to primarily punish and suppress political dissidents, or to otherwise discriminate against unpopular segments of the population.… Read the rest

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William S. Burroughs: The Possessed

Thelema Now! host Frater Puck discusses William S. Burroughs, possession, synchronicities and chaos magick in a new documentary short from Imperium Pictures.

Imperium Pictures is currently completing The Gent (a feature starring Genesis P-Orridge, Alex Grey, Howard Zinn et al) and a short on solid rocket fuel developer/occultist Jack Parsons in which British director Ken Russell portrays Aleister Crowley.

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“War on Whistleblowers”: Another Whistleblower Sentenced

In 2013, just weeks before revelations by Edward Snowden and PFC Chelsea Manning, we released War on Whistleblowers: Free Press and the National Security State.

Two years later, the aggressive war on whistleblowers is still being waged. This Monday, Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer, was found guilty of 9 criminal counts and is likely on his way to a lengthy prison sentence for telling the truth.

Now, War on Whistleblowers is more relevant than ever. Watch the trailer below and go here for more information.

Four renowned cases of whistle-blowing serve as the backdrop to a much larger story of what happens to people who resort to the media to expose fraud and abuse:

  • Franz Gayl (Deputy Branch Head for the Space and Information Operations Integration Branch) — a lifelong Marine Gayl blew the whistle to stop unnecessary death and dismemberment of soldiers by replacing Humvees with MRAP’s (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles) in Iraq.
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