A Real Story About Sex In Prison

Daniel Genis’s essay for Deadspin about his ten years in prison may surprise some people. If any of you have contrary experiences, let us know in the comments:

When I tell people that I recently finished serving a 10-year prison sentence for armed robbery, mostly in maximum-security facilities, I often feel a question lingering in the air. The moment I sense it, I try to respond to the awkward silence in some offhanded way, though it is hard to be blithe and whimsical when you’re telling people you were never raped in prison.

I can speak only for myself, but in my own time in the New York State system, I rarely saw or even heard about non-consensual sex between men. Perhaps I was just very lucky. Maybe I’d been incarcerated only in the “softer” corners of the penal system. Rape does happen, and all over any prison there are signs with a number to call to anonymously report it, which I always thought was less a matter of sodomy than of legal liability.

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HPV Vaccine Blamed For Mystery Illness

Colombia - Bolivar - El Carmen de Bolivar.svg

Colombia – Bolivar – El Carmen de Bolivar, by Shadowxfox (CC)

The benefits versus harm of vaccines is a hot topic at the moment, especially in Los Angeles where whooping cough is making a resurgence, allegedly due to wealthy parents withholding their children from vaccinations. That’s not to say that all vaccines are good or bad; consider the events in Colombia where a town has been plagued by a mystery illness that’s been squarely blamed on the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, reported via AFP/Yahoo News:

El Carmen de Bolivar (Colombia) – A mystery illness is plaguing girls in this town in northern Colombia, and locals say a vaccine against the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus, or HPV, is to blame.

First their hands and feet feel cold. Then they go pale and cannot move. Some convulse and fall to the floor.

In El Carmen de Bolivar, near the port of Cartagena, dozens of teenagers have experienced similar symptoms.

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Waiting for the Internet’s ‘Mad as Hell’ Moment

[Editor's Note: This post originally appeared on Medium.com. It was republished with permission.]

Follow Drew Reed on Twitter


Dear reader: This article ended up being longer than I set out to make it, and you, the average Medium reader, are notorious for not finishing articles. So I’ll make a deal with you, based on a tactic I stole from John Oliver. Finish this article, and at the end I’ll give you that which you most crave in your online existence: a GIF of a cute little hamster eating a miniature burrito! Mmmkay? As Oliver says, the GIF is “as magical and as uncomplicated as you think.”

They’re telling us that we’re living in a “golden age” of television. Game of Thrones! House of Cards! Army of Darkness! OK, so that last one wasn’t a TV show, but you get the idea. TV is now a place for serious people to talk about serious things and be taken seriously.… Read the rest

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Body Counts Rise As Chaos Deepens: Is There A Way Out?

Logo of Boko HaramAs a journalist, I became something of a body count expert. It started with the Vietnam War, where I soon learned to distrust the exaggerated counts of enemy dead made by our self-styled “intelligence” agencies.

That didn’t mean that people, alas, weren’t dying in droves, but not quite the people they were claiming to have killed, even if the sheer number was desensitizing and hard to relate to.

It’s still like that, what with the daily drone victims, collateral damage estimates and killings on battlefields and villages from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and Iraq.

Now we can add Nigeria to the countries in pain with massacres by the Boko Haram, and their own military goons, and, with the collapse of a mega church in Lagos that looked like the ‘planned demolition’ fall of Building 7, claiming the lives of 67 visiting South Africans and we still don’t know how many Nigerians. That House of God, known as a Synagogue Church, could not protect praying parishioners from the slaughter.… Read the rest

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Live Webcast of Supernova

X-ray, Optical & Infrared Composite of Kepler's Supernova Remnant

X-ray, Optical & Infrared Composite of Kepler’s Supernova Remnant

This was brought to my attention by a science loving Disinfonaut.

via I Fucking Love Science:

Located 38 million light years away in the constellation Dorado, visible in the Southern Hemisphere, the intermediate galaxy NGC 1566 appears to have had a recent supernova. The event was discovered within the last week by researchers in Chile collecting data for the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASASSN).

The supernova candidate, dubbed ASASSN-14ha, cannot readily be seen with the average amateur telescope. To make up for that unfortunate fact, the folks at Slooh Community Observatory will be doing a live broadcast of observations from Pontificia Universidad Católica De Chile (PUC).

“Supernovae are the most violent events in the universe. And among the most useful, since their brightness can help pin down the distance to their parent galaxy,” Slooh astronomer Bob Berman stated in a press release.

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Censors At Work

CensoredHave you ever really thought about the historical role of the censor? Here’s a lengthy and academic look at censorship, adapted from the conclusion to Robert Darnton’s Censors at Work: How States Shaped Literature and published in the New York Review of Books:

What is censorship?

If the concept of censorship is extended to everything, it means nothing. It should not be trivialized. Although I would agree that power is exerted in many ways, I think it crucial to distinguish between the kind of power that is monopolized by the state (or other constituted authorities such as religious organizations in some cases) and power that exists everywhere else in society. Censorship as I understand it is essentially political; it is wielded by the state.

Not that all states impose sanctions in the same way. Their actions might be arbitrary, but they clothe them in procedures that had a tincture of legality.

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What Movies Are You Watching This Weekend?

Still from The Zero Theorem.

Still from The Zero Theorem.

Do any of you Disinfonauts have movie plans for the weekend? Two films I’ve been highly anticipating are opening tonight: The Zero Theorem by Terry Gilliam and Tusk by Kevin Smith. Though, I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to get to a theater in the next few days. I did, however, finally finish reading The Trial by Franz Kafka and am hoping to find some time to watch Orson Welles’ version on Netflix. Do you have anything you want to check off your Netflix queue? Or any recommendations for me to add to mine?

I did catch As Above, So Below a couple of weeks ago. I’m probably one of the only people left who still has hope for the found footage subgenre, but I usually end up disappointed. As Above, So Below’s storyline had a lot of potential as Paris’ catacombs are fascinating, and I was excited to see how the filmmakers would utilize them.… Read the rest

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The Hijacking of Philosophy

By dakine kane via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

By dakine kane via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

via Things That Shouldn’t Still Exist:

By my estimate, the majority of people who begin reading this are already of the opinion that philosophy is little more than a tedious form of mental masturbation, and worse, almost entirely useless.  My response:  I must sadly agree.  On the other hand, I only concede under the assumption we are speaking about 98% of the philosophy you learn in school and that most supposed “philosophers” choose to focus on.  Therefore, if you think philosophy sucks and has little bearing on anything real, I don’t blame you.  However, do read on as I would like to explain how it has been hijacked over the last 50 years.  In particular, the modern connotation of the word “philosophy” seems to largely exclude it’s most useful facet:  ethical philosophy, or as I refer to it, personal philosophy.

Below is a brief history on the progression of my thought processes and how I came to give a shit about any of this:

I can remember back to when I first began to have thoughts of depth.  My parents moved us out of state between fourth and fifth grade, so not only was I friendless, but also suddenly in the lowest grade at a brand new school.  Before that, I had lots of friends and mindless social interactions, but unlike the elementary grades, middle school was full of cliques.

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