The Witches’ Ointment

A woman, alone at night, pulls an ointment jar from a chest hidden beneath her bed. Opening the container, she scoops a handful of the foul-smelling goop—the witches’ ointment, lamiarum unguenta—into her palm. She turns to an ordinary broom in the shadows of the corner, the kind that her neighbors foolishly believe has no other use than that of sweeping—maybe killing a mouse or two. At present, this woman intends to do neither. Grasping the besom, she smears the long wooden handle with her witches’ ointment, destroying the freshly woven spiderwebs that now trail her fingertips. Straddling the oily broomstick, she is instantly lifted out the window into the ethers to join scores of other women who have similarly anointed implements, soaring alongside demons that fill out the aerial entourage.

Witch on a broomstick

As they glide over rooftops and clouds, dotting the moon in their wake, all are careful not to mention the name of God or Christ lest they plunge to their deaths.… Read the rest

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Finale Prep: Your ‘Mr. Robot’ Conspiracy Theory Field Guide

Are any of you into the TV series Mr. Robot? It’s developed something of a cult following, not least for its conspiracy and hacker culture dog whistles. The show’s finale was delayed from last week due to the live broadcast shootings in Virginia, but if you’re planning on catching the show tonight, Grantland has a convenient “conspiracy theory field guide” to use on your second screen:

Two weeks ago, I hadn’t really paused to think about how idiotic all my passwords are. If you asked me about honeypots or raspberry pi(e)s I’d assume you were talking Winnie the Pooh or sickly-sweet deserts. The closest I’d come to experiencing true paranoia about consumerism and brands was the hell of submitting to a baby shower registry. (Seriously, though: Big Baby is no joke.) And then I started binge-watching Mr. Robot.

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If you’re reading this, I don’t have to explain to you what Mr.

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The FBI was Afraid that Ray Bradbury was Spreading Communism Through Science Fiction

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According to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the FBI was worried that Ray Bradbury was spreading communist ideals through his writings. They were particularly concerned about The Martian Chronicles because of the “repeated theme that earthmen are despoilers and not developers.” Even more ludicrous, FBI informant Martin Berkeley called science fiction a “lucrative field for the introduction of Communist ideology.”

JPat Brown via MuckRock:

Bradbury’s membership in the Screen Writer’s Guild, as well as his vocal opposition to McCarthyism, drew particular attention. FBI informant Martin Berkeley – notorious for his role as the House Un-American Activities Committee’s “number one friendly witness” – drew a portrait of Bradbury as pinko boogeyman:

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After noting that science fiction “may be lucrative field for the introduction of Communist ideology,” Berkeley goes on to declare the entire field of science fiction writers as a veritable fifth column, intent on crippling America before her enemies.

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‘Refugees Welcome': As EU Slams Door on War Survivors, People Show Another Way

This post originally appeared on Common Dreams. See more of Sarah Lazare’s articles here.

In response to the worst refugee crisis since World War II, European governments are tightening their borders and preparing to escalate military targeting of so-called human smugglers. But many people within the European Union are modeling a different approach by holding rallies and opening their homes to welcome refugees of war and poverty who survive the perilous journey across the Mediterranean Sea.

Over 20,000 people marched through Vienna on Monday to protest the horrific treatment of refugees, the week after the bodies of 71 people were found in a truck on a highway between the Hungarian border and Vienna. In what was billed as a welcome rally, marchers carried signs which read: “I don’t want Europe to be a mass grave.” The crowd included numerous parents carrying children and erupted into Austrian pop songs as they were cheered by enthusiastic passersby.… Read the rest

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The Visit: An Alien Encounter

The Visita mockumentary, documents various government agencies as they try to deal with Earth’s first alien encounter. The film originally premiered at Sundance 2015 and is officially releasing on Vimeo today.

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“This film documents an event that has never taken place – man’s first encounter with intelligent life from space.” The film explores a first contact scenario, beginning with the simplest of questions: Why are you here?

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Male insect roars like a lion while walking on leaf

“Two types of mirid bug engage in roaring duels, possibly to establish dominance or attract females, but how they make the noise is unknown.”

via New Scientist:

They are rather diminutive to be kings of the jungle, but two species of mirid bug make sounds similar to the roars of big cats. These calls have never before been heard in insects, and we’re not sure why, or how, the insects produce the eerie calls.

The roars are too weak to be heard by humans without a bit of help. But Valerio Mazzoni of the Edmund Mach Foundation in Italy and his team made them audible by amplifying them using a device called a laser vibrometer. The device detects the minute vibrations that the bugs produce on the leaves on which they live.

“When you listen to these sounds through headphones you’d think you were next to a tiger or lion,” Mazzoni.

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Why High-Profile Murders Are Ripe for Conspiracy Theories

A history professor examines an American phenomenon for The Marshall Project:

The recent on-air shooting of a Virginia television reporter and her cameraman by a deeply troubled former co-worker prompted the familiar outcry for stricter gun control laws and mental health screening. But a radically different reaction, circulating in various corners of the Internet, suggested that the shootings never happened.

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WDBJ7 reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward, from WDBJ7’s Twitter account.

 

Instead, these online theorists assert, the Aug. 26 attack near Roanoke was part of a vast government conspiracy to restrict their Second Amendment right to bear arms. Similar theories were put forth after the shooting deaths of 12 people in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater, as well as the killing of 26 children and staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Instead of actual gunfire and death, the theories go, the victims and their families are actually “crisis actors,” paid to portray scenes of artificial mayhem in order to gain political capital toward restricting access to guns.

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We found only one-third of published psychology research is reliable – now what?

Books in shelves, categorized, Wu Hsing Tao School, Traditional Five Element Acupuncture & Psychology, Seattle, Washington, USA
Elizabeth Gilbert, University of Virginia and Nina Strohminger, Yale University

The ability to repeat a study and find the same results twice is a prerequisite for building scientific knowledge. Replication allows us to ensure empirical findings are reliable and refines our understanding of when a finding occurs. It may surprise you to learn, then, that scientists do not often conduct – much less publish – attempted replications of existing studies.

Journals prefer to publish novel, cutting-edge research. And professional advancement is determined by making new discoveries, not painstakingly confirming claims that are already on the books. As one of our colleagues recently put it, “Running replications is fine for other people, but I have better ways to spend my precious time.”

Once a paper appears in a peer-reviewed journal, it acquires a kind of magical, unassailable authority. News outlets, and sometimes even scientists themselves, will cite these findings without a trace of skepticism.… Read the rest

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Christian Ministers Predict End of the World – This Month!

Haven’t Apocalypse doomsayers learned that attaching a specific date to the end of the world is a bad idea by now? Apparently not and the current target date is September 27th, per CNN:

There will be blood in September — literally, according to the Internet postings of end-times believers.

The night of September 27-28 will bring a “blood moon.” To skywatchers, it simply refers to the copper color the moon takes on during an eclipse, but to some Christian ministers, the fourth and final eclipse in a tetrad — four consecutive total lunar eclipses, each separated by six lunar months — fulfills biblical prophecy of the apocalypse. (The first three in the series took place April 15, 2014; October 8, 2014; and April 4, 2015.)

In promotion for his 2013 book “Four Blood Moons,” Christian minister John Hagee claimed that the tetrad was a sign of the end.

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The Endless Synchronicity

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Greetings disinfonauts!

As a first time contributor, I would like to introduce myself by sharing some of my thoughts and perspectives on the beloved and cherished mystical experiences many of us have come to know by that oh-so-Jungian term, “synchronicity.” As has been the case for eternity, no matter how profound and mind-boggling that experience might have been for you personally… It’s seemingly impossible to communicate or share that experience with someone else that didn’t experience it themselves. It’s one of those, “you just had to be there,” type of scenarios. So, let me divulge a bit further into my take on this amazingly awesome synchronistic madness with one of my most recent blog posts…

When it comes to this synchronicity business, I’ve got some theories and philosophical view points of my own to shake things up a bit. The most blatant and arguable of those being that, if certain profound moments of our lives are to be taken as synchronicities, then we must accept every moment ever lived in our known universe as a synchronicity.… Read the rest

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