To Blaze or Not to Blaze: Casual Pot Use & Brain Abnormalities

PIC: Black Zack (CC)

PIC: Black Zack (CC)

A research team at Northwestern has made some interesting discoveries involving casual marijuana use and brain change, which found that “young adults who used cannabis just once or twice a week showed significant abnormalities in two important brain structures.”

Breiter and his team analyzed a very small sample of patients between the ages of 18 and 25: 20 marijuana users and 20 well-matched control subjects. The marijuana users had a wide range of usage routines, with some using the drug just once or twice a week and others using it every single day.

Utilizing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the researchers analyzed the participants’ brains, focusing on the nucleus accumbens (NAC) and the amygdala – two key brain regions responsible for processing emotions, making decisions and motivation. They looked at these brain structures in three different ways, measuring their density, volume and shape. According to Breiter, all three were abnormal in the casual marijuana users.

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Protest with Witchcraft!

alienlightbuddhasigil1Ahhh, the manner by which synchronicity manifests itself into your life when you intentionally tread the path of a sorcerer. You toss around the idea of writing a think piece called “Protest with Witchcraft” for over a year, then finally decide to tackle it and just after you do an article appears on the site you’re writing it for about how street protests don’t work anymore. Then the day before you toss it up another appears about a new wave of witch hunters rising around the world. Of course, I write about this sychromystic high strangeness all the time on Facebook (friend me), and I haven’t even gotten to the oddest part yet. A week or so earlier I out of nowhere decided I needed to re-read A Separate Reality by Carlos Casteneda. I do have the cover tattooed on my right bicep, so I figured I might re-familiarize with what exactly that implies in a magickal context.… Read the rest

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Transcendence is Real

Transcendence2014PosterDo you believe in transcendence, about which Wikipedia says “In religious experience transcendence is a state of being that has overcome the limitations of physical existence and by some definitions has also become independent of it. This is typically manifested in prayer, séance, meditation, psychedelics and paranormal ‘visions’”?

Gearing up for tomorrow’s release of the Johnny Depp movie Transcendence, the Daily Dot claims that it ain’t just sci-fi, it’s “terrifyingly real”:

This Friday, a movie called Transcendence will arrive in theaters. Directed by Christopher Nolan’s go-to cinematographer, Wally Pfister, and penned by first-time screenwriter Jack Paglen (whose script appeared on the infamous Black List), Transcendence is being sold as Hollywood’s next sci-fi epic. So far, reviews haven’t been kind (although they’re still rolling in), and box office predictions have been tepid.

The movie follows Johnny Depp’s Dr. Caster’s journey from being fatally shot to uploading his mind into a supercomputer, where he achieves the all-knowing, all-powerful state he’s only dreamed about before.

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Oklahoma School District To Adopt Hobby Lobby President’s “Bible Curriculum”

Steve GreenA future in which the fanatical billionaire heads of our nation’s largest retail chains dictate what is taught in schools. Religion News Service reports:

The Mustang, Okla., school board voted Monday to adopt the first year of the Museum of the Bible Curriculum, an ambitious four-year public school elective on the narrative, history and impact of the Bible developed by Hobby Lobby president Steve Green.

In September 2016, Jerry Pattengale, head of the Green Scholars Initiative, which is overseeing its development, hopes to place it in at least 100 high schools; by the following year, “thousands.”

If successful, Green, whose family’s wealth is estimated at upward of $3 billion, would galvanize the movement to teach the Bible academically in public schools, a movement born after the Supreme Court banned school-sanctioned devotion in the 1960s but whose steady progress in the last decades has been somewhat hampered.

The Green curriculum ”is like nothing we’ve seen before,” said Charles Haynes, senior scholar at the First Amendment Center and editor of a booklet sent out to all schools by the U.S.

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The Birth of a Conspiracy Theory

Deep Ellum - Conspiracy Bar sign 01Watch LIVE as a conspiracy theory is born (courtesy of Andrew Rosenthal in the op-ed section of the New York Times):

If you spend enough time on the Internet you’ll eventually encounter a conspiracy theory. If you watch closely enough, sometimes you can actually see one being born.

For years now some on the right have speculated that the Obama administration is trying to politicize the national census. Yesterday, Noah Rothman argued on Mediaite that the theory was proven correct by a New York Times article about changes in the way the Census Bureau plans to ask about health insurance coverage.

The idea is that the new questions will show a reduction in the number of uninsured people starting in 2014, which may make it seem as though the Affordable Care Act is working better than it really is. The change in questions will also produce a “break in trend” within the census surveys and thus make it impossible to statistically compare 2013 and 2014 with earlier years.

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Stefan Molyneux On How Cryptocurrencies Can Curb Unsustainable Government Growth

BitcoinThe Next Web catches up with Stefan Molyneux to discuss Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and their impact on government and society:

Via The Next Web:

TNW: To what extent will Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies even things out, taking power back from governmental bodies?

SM: One of the most important aspects of cryptocurrencies is the degree to which they deny inter-generational debt, deficit-financing, and the easy money required for imperialism and war.

As a species, we generally consider ourselves to be very considerate and thoughtful towards the young. Unfortunately, that does not find reflection in our governmental policies, which burden the unborn with staggering debt, none of which would be possible with cryptocurrencies.

The power of the state to create money out of thin air, control interest rates, and pretend that it is providing value to the population, when it is merely debasing their currencies and lowering them into a chasm of debt, will face a serious challenge from Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

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Google X Looked Into Building a Space Elevator

PIC: Superborusk (CC)

PIC: Superborusk (CC)

Richard DeVaul, the head of Google X’s Rapid Evaluation Team told Fast Company that the secretive lab had made some serious inquiries into the feasibility of building a space elevator:

Via Fast Company:

“It would be a massive capital investment,” he said in this month’s issue of Fast Company. But once this hypothetical machine was built, “it could take you from ground to orbit with a net of basically zero energy. It drives down the space-access costs, operationally, to being incredibly low.”

Unfortunately, our current technological landscape has its limitations:

The team knew the cable would have to be exceptionally strong– “at least a hundred times stronger than the strongest steel that we have,” by ­[Google X researcher Dan Piponi]‘s calculations. He found one material that could do this: carbon nanotubes. But no one has manufactured a perfectly formed carbon nanotube strand longer than a meter. And so elevators “were put in a deep freeze,” as [Google X researcher Mitch Heinrich] says, and the team decided to keep tabs on any advances in the carbon nanotube field.

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Scientific Study Says the US is an Oligarchy (In Other Breaking News: Water is Wet!)

Pic: PD

Pic: PD

The Daily Kos has reported on a new study (courtesy of researchers from Princeton and Northwestern) which claims to demonstrate, via science, that the US is an oligarchy:

“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence. Our results provide substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.”

This news shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who has been paying the least bit of attention, though it is encouraging to see that more people are beginning to wake up and acknowledge these facts.

Another disturbing aspect which the author points out:  ”the data used for this study was drawn from study of public policy 1,779 instances between 1981 and 2002.… Read the rest

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The (Unintentional) Amazon Guide to Dealing Drugs

Some fantastic data mining detective work is revealed by Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic:

One day, some drug dealer bought a particular digital scale—the AWS-100— on the retail site, Amazon.com. And then another drug dealer bought the same scale. Then another. Then another.

Amazon’s data-tracking software watched what else these people purchased, and now, if you buy the AWS-100 scale, Amazon serves up a quickstart kit for selling drugs.

Amazon drug list

Along with various scale-related paraphernalia, we find:

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The Way People Think And Act Is Affected By Ceiling Height

ceilingIs your mental range of possibility being stifled by the ceiling above you? From a little while ago, via ScienceDaily:

Recent research by Joan Meyers-Levy, a professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, suggests that the way people think and act is affected by ceiling height.

“When a person is in a space with a 10-foot ceiling, they will tend to think more freely, more abstractly,” said Meyers-Levy. “They might process more abstract connections between objects in a room, whereas a person in a room with an 8-foot ceiling will be more likely to focus on specifics.”

The research demonstrates that a higher versus a lower ceiling can stimulate the concepts of freedom versus confinement, respectively. This causes people to engage in either more free-form, abstract thinking or more detail-specific thought. Depending on what the task at hand requires, the consequences of the ceiling could be positive or negative.

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