King of Horror

Stephen King

For this spooky October post I found a little gem on YouTube. It claims to be the first ever television interview with Stephen King and since I couldn’t find an earlier one on the site, I’m gonna take their word for it.

The interview takes place one decade into King’s career after he’s written horror classics like Carrie, The Shining and The Stand. It’s filmed nearly ten years after King’s graduation from the University of Maine Orono and is produced by the school’s public access channel.

I’m not a big fan of King’s books, but I’m a big fan of King and his spectral success story and his crazy work ethic. However, the scariest thing here might be the ancient computer that he was producing those early bestsellers on…shudder…

Stay Awake!

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Ancient City Ruled by Genghis Khan’s Heirs Revealed

Archaeologists with the Saratov Regional Museum of Local Lore have uncovered part of the ancient city of Ukek, founded by the descendents of Genghis Khan. Credit: Photo courtesy Dmitriy Kubankin

Archaeologists with the Saratov Regional Museum of Local Lore have uncovered part of the ancient city of Ukek, founded by the descendants of Genghis Khan.
Credit: Photo courtesy Dmitriy Kubankin

via Live Science:

Remains of a 750-year-old city, founded by the descendants of Genghis Khan, have been unearthed along the Volga River in Russia.

Among the discoveries are two Christian temples one of which has stone carvings and fine ceramics.

The city’s name was Ukek and it was founded just a few decades after Genghis Khan died in 1227. After the great conqueror’s death his empire split apart and his grandson Batu Khan, who lived from 1205 to 1255, founded the Golden Horde (also called the Kipchak Khanate).The Golden Horde kingdom stretched from Eastern Europe to Central Asia and controlled many ofthe Silk Road trade routes that connected China to Medieval Europe.

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When Will EPA Meet with Residents Harmed by Fracking?

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Emily Wurth writes at Food & Water Watch:

For over a year now, residents from communities affected by drilling and fracking for natural gas have tried to meet with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Specifically, residents from three affected communities – Dimock, Pennsylvania; Pavillion, Wyoming; and Parker County, Texas—have tried to meet with McCarthy to discuss the EPA’s failure to complete the critical investigations into the connection between their contaminated drinking water and the gas development in their communities.

On October 10, residents of Dimock, Pennsylvania and advocacy organizations held a press conference in front of EPA. During this event, Tom Reynolds, the Associate Administrator of the Office of Public Affairs at EPA, came down to speak with the residents and he promised to respond with available dates for a meeting with Gina McCarthy by Friday, October 17. But we still have not heard back from him.

In July 2013, an EPA region 3 whistleblower leaked a Powerpoint presentation to the Los Angeles Times showing that local EPA officials were concerned about contamination in the drinking water in Dimock, Pennsylvania.

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The Ketamine Key

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K-holes for everyone!

via Psychology Today:

As with everything in the brain, the story isn’t so simple as a single neurotransmitter system like dopamine. Neurotransmitters have complex interactions. Another system using the neurotransmitter glutamate has always been known to be at the heart of depressive disorders. Glutamateis the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain, meaning it is the “on” switch. Problem is, if things are put “on” too aggressively or too much, you get what is called “excitotoxicity” leading to neuron damage and even cell death. There’s some evidence that glutamate overload of glutamate receptors like the NMDA receptor may be responsible for the key symptom of depression, anhedonia. Chronic stress seems to damage the nerve synapses.

In a recent paper (news coverage here), researchers described how they used a noncompetitive inhibitor of the NMDA receptor and partial dopamine receptor agonist, ketamine (originally developed as a tranquilizer/anesthetic agent that is now used mostly in veterinary practice and sometimes in children) to rapidly reverse the symptoms of anhedonia in depressed patients.

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Is Obama Stalling Until Republicans Can Bury the CIA Torture Report?

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Dan Froomkin writes at the Intercept:

Continued White House foot-dragging on the declassification of a much-anticipated Senate torture report is raising concerns that the administration is holding out until Republicans take over the chamber and kill the report themselves.

Senator Dianne Feinstein’s intelligence committee sent a 480-page executive summary of its extensive report on the CIA’s abuse of detainees to the White House for declassification more than six months ago.

In August, the White House, working closely with the CIA, sent back redactions that Feinstein and other Senate Democrats said rendered the summary unintelligible and unsupported.

Since then, the wrangling has continued behind closed doors, with projected release dates repeatedly falling by the wayside.  The Huffington Post reported this week that White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, a close ally of CIA Director John Brennan, is personally leading the negotiations, suggesting keen interest in their progress — or lack thereof — on the part of  Brennan and President Obama.

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Amnesty: US Human Rights Abuses on Display in Ferguson

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Jon Queally writes at Common Dreams:

In a report released on Friday, Amnesty International roundly condemns the excessive force used by local law enforcement agencies in Ferguson, Missouri earlier this year and called for ‘accountability and systemic change’ in order to curb the kinds of human rights abuses increasingly seen in U.S. communities when it comes to regulating street protests and use of force by police.

The report—entitled On the Streets of America: Human Rights Abuses in Ferguson (pdf)—documents the human rights concerns witnessed first-hand by Amnesty investigators dispatched to Ferguson following initial protests in the city spurred by the shooting death of an unarmed African American teenager, Michael Brown, by a police officer Darren Wilson on August 9. The Amnesty team arrived and documented public protest and the behavior of local law enforcement from  August 14 to August 22.

Amnesty’s report makes takes no position or determination on the killing of Brown, but says the shooting and his death “highlighted on a national level the persistent and widespread pattern of racially discriminatory treatment by law enforcement officers across the United States, including unjustified stops and searches, ill treatment and excessive, and sometimes lethal, use of force.”

Focused on both the community response to Brown’s death and the subsequent police reaction to protests, the report’s authors present what they witnessed first-hand in Ferguson in order to highlight some of the national trends of human rights abuses that often, though with less attention, take place in U.S.

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The British-American coup that ended Australian independence

Prime minister Gough Whitlam watches ACTU president Bob Hawke drink beer from a yard glass Melbourne, Australia, 1972. Photograph: News Ltd/Newspix/REX

Prime minister Gough Whitlam watches ACTU president Bob Hawke drink beer from a yard glass Melbourne, Australia, 1972. Photograph: News Ltd/Newspix/REX

via The Guardian:

Across the media and political establishment in Australia, a silence has descended on the memory of the great, reforming prime minister Gough Whitlam. His achievements are recognised, if grudgingly, his mistakes noted in false sorrow. But a critical reason for his extraordinary political demise will, they hope, be buried with him.

Australia briefly became an independent state during the Whitlam years, 1972-75. An American commentator wrote that no country had “reversed its posture in international affairs so totally without going through a domestic revolution”. Whitlam ended his nation’s colonial servility. He abolished royal patronage, moved Australia towards the Non-Aligned Movement, supported “zones of peace” and opposed nuclear weapons testing.

Although not regarded as on the left of the Labor party, Whitlam was a maverick social democrat of principle, pride and propriety.

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The Difference Between a Great Horror Movie and a Great Halloween Movie

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via Screen Crush:

I never watch ‘Halloween’ on Halloween.

That’s not to say that I dislike John Carpenter’s slasher classic. In fact, it’s one of the best horror movies ever made and a masterpiece that I find myself revisiting at least once a year. But when I do revisit it, I tend to watch it in December. Or February. Or even in the heat of the July. The moment October rolls around, I shelve any interest I have in it.

And it’s not alone. You won’t find me revisiting a lot of famous, respected and beloved horror movies when the season of the witch rolls around. No ‘Exorcist.’ No ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre.’ None of those brutal French or Japanese movies that horror buffs like to spring on their unsuspecting friends. The Halloween season brings out something different in me. It focuses my tastes for 31 days. I don’t spend my October watching tons of horror movies, I like to spend my October watching tons of Halloween movies.

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Digital Afterlife: 2045

Excerpt from Richard Weber’s History of Religion and Inequality in the 21st Century (2056)

Excerpt from Richard Weber’s History of Religion and Inequality in the 21st Century (2056)

via The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies:

Of all the bewildering diversity of new of consumer choices on offer before the middle of the century that would have stunned people from only a generation earlier, none was perhaps as shocking as the many ways there now were to be dead. As in all things of the 21st century what death looked like was dependent on the wealth question.

Certainly, there were many human beings, and when looking at the question globally, the overwhelming majority, who were treated in death the same way their ancestors had been treated. Buried in the cold ground, or, more likely given high property values that made cemetery space ever more precious, their corpses burned to ashes, spread over some spot sacred to the individual’s spirituality or sentiment.

A revival of death relics that had begun in the early 21st century continued for those unwilling out of religious belief, or more likely, simply unable to afford any of the more sophisticated forms of death on offer.

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Dreams of the Universe: Is Particle Physics Unscientific?

From string theory to the multiverse, the theories of modern physics look increasingly exotic and untestable. But while they may be good for selling books, are they bad science? Do we need a return to empirical experiment, or should imagination be allowed its playground?

The Panel
Cambridge string theorist David Tong, experimental physicist Tara Shears, and author of The End of Science John Horgan seek the place where facts and fantasy collide.

This lecture was submitted via the Disinfo contact page.

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