The Junky’s Christmas

Back in 1993, The Junky’s Christmas by William S. Burroughs, was made into a short claymation film. It was directed by Nick Donkin and Melodie McDaniel, produced by Francis Ford Coppola, and narrated by Mr. Burroughs himself. If you haven’t already watched it, it’s a treat for Burroughs and animation fans alike.

You can watch the short film in its entirety below:

h/t Dangerous Minds.

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Exonerated Seventy Years After Execution

Earlier this week, a judge vacated the decision against George Stinney Jr, a black teen who was convicted of murdering two white girls in South Carolina. For Stinney, this came 70 years too late.

Despite not having evidence that Stinney committed the crime, and Stinney’s sister testifying that she was with him the entire day, it took the all-white jury just 10 minutes to convict and sentence him to death. At 14 years old, Stinney was one of the youngest people executed in the US and actually had to sit on a phone book to fit in the electric chair.

Unfortunately, Stinney is not the only innocent person which has been put to death. Today, it is estimated that 4.1% of all defendants sentenced to death in the US are, in fact, innocent.

Capital punishment is still widely supported in the United States and legal in 32 states.… Read the rest

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Apple ‘failing to protect Chinese factory workers’

via BBC:

Poor treatment of workers in Chinese factories which make Apple products has been discovered by an undercover BBC Panorama investigation.

Filming on an iPhone 6 production line showed Apple’s promises to protect workers were routinely broken.

It found standards on workers’ hours, ID cards, dormitories, work meetings and juvenile workers were being breached at the Pegatron factories.

Apple said it strongly disagreed with the programme’s conclusions.

Exhausted workers were filmed falling asleep on their 12-hour shifts at the Pegatron factories on the outskirts of Shanghai.

One undercover reporter, working in a factory making parts for Apple computers, had to work 18 days in a row despite repeated requests for a day off.

Another reporter, whose longest shift was 16 hours, said: “Every time I got back to the dormitories, I wouldn’t want to move.

“Even if I was hungry I wouldn’t want to get up to eat. I just wanted to lie down and rest.

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In the Beginning was the Code: Juergen Schmidhuber at TEDxUHasselt

The universe seems incredibly complex. But could its rules be dead simple? Juergen Schmidhuber’s fascinating story will convince you that this universe and your own life are just by-products of a very simple and fast program computing all logically possible universes.

Juergen Schmidhuber is Director of the Swiss Artificial Intelligence Lab IDSIA (since 1995), Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Lugano, Switzerland (since 2009), and Professor SUPSI (since 2003).

He helped to transform IDSIA into one of the world’s top ten AI labs (the smallest!), according to the ranking of Business Week Magazine. His group pioneered the field of mathematically optimal universal AI and universal problem solvers. The algorithms developed in his lab won seven first prizes in international pattern recognition competitions, as well as several best paper awards.
Since 1990 he has developed a formal theory of fun and curiosity and creativity to build artificial scientists and artists.… Read the rest

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23 Things Terence McKenna Said Best, From DMT Sex To Telepathic Octopi

NOAA Ocean Explorer (CC BY-SA 2.0)

NOAA Ocean Explorer (CC BY-SA 2.0)

via Reset.me:

At 25, a friend introduced me to “Surfing Finnegans Wake,” in which a nasally man lectures for three hours, ostensibly off-the-cuff, on the psychedelic, boundary-dissolving experience of reading James Joyce. I remember thinking his voice sounded extra-terrestrial. It was Terence McKenna. Here’s a quote from the lecture, which will hopefully be blurbed on the next jacket cover of Finnegans Wake: “This [Finnegans Wake] comes about as close as anybody came to pushing the entire contents of the universe down into approximately 14 cubic inches.”

A year or so later, having forgotten about McKenna, I found the Psychedelic Salon, a podcast hosted by a friendly man named Lorenzo. It had hundreds of archived talks given by what seemed to be a community of people dedicated to psychedelics, and to a counter-culture movement of sorts. I wasn’t prepared to discover McKenna’s oeuvre.

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Atheists Unveil Anti-Christmas TV Specials

“Yes, Virginia, there is a ‘War on Christmas’,” declares the Washington Times, reporting on AtheistTV‘s holiday lineup:

Conservatives have been mocked for insisting there’s an ongoing war on Christmas, but now it looks like they may have simply been ahead of their time.

American Atheists unveiled Wednesday the “War on Christmas” line-up on its television channel, AtheistTV, featuring “original programs proclaiming the truth about Christmas on December 24 and December 25, featuring scholars and celebrities from the atheist community.”

Atheist TV

“Christmas is hard for many atheists, so we will provide programming free from superstition and fairy tales that allows families to watch together and not worry about being preached at,” American Atheists President Dave Silverman said in a statement.

Conservatives like Fox News talk-show hosts Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly have long warned of a “War on Christmas,” citing moves by retailers, public schools and local governments to remove references to Christmas from displays and celebrations.

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The Truth About Krampus


We know there’s more than a few Krampus fans in the disinfoverse, so no doubt you’ll enjoy reading “the truth” about the German Alt-Santa courtesy of Al Ridenour at Atlas Obscura:

Thanks to the internet, popular American understanding of European Christmas traditions has grown by leaps and bounds over the last decades. There’s also confusion too, some of it swirling around that wily old devil, Krampus.

Accompanying St. Nicholas on his gift-giving rounds to direct a little switch-swinging intimidation toward the naughtier kids, the Krampus has become the most well-known of other Central European characters playing a similar role. Originally appearing under that name in Austria and Southern Germany, his distinctive devilish appearance is not easily confused with Northern Germany’s hooded Knecht Ruprecht or Holland’s “Moorish” Zwarte Piet (“Black Peter”).

It was in 2004, that collector Monte Beauchamp launched a series of books that did much to familiarize Americans with Krampus via reprinted collection of turn-of-the-century Krampus postcards.

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Paramount Cancels ‘Team America’ Showings, Theaters Say

team-america-2

via Deadline:

Forget those plans by Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and other theaters to run Team America: World Police in place of The Interview. The Austin-based chain says that Paramount has now decided not to offer South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s 2004 satire that focuses on Kim Jong-il, the late father of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Alamo says that the cancellation at its Dallas theater is “due to circumstances beyond our control” and says it will offer refunds to those who have already bought tickets. Cleveland’s Capitol Theater also tweeted that Team America“has been canceled by Paramount Pictures.”

http://deadline.com/2014/12/paramount-cancel-team-america-1201329597/

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Is String Theory About to Unravel?

trailfan (CC BY 2.0)

trailfan (CC BY 2.0)

via Smithsonian:

In October 1984 I arrived at Oxford University, trailing a large steamer trunk containing a couple of changes of clothing and about five dozen textbooks. I had a freshly minted bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard, and I was raring to launch into graduate study. But within a couple of weeks, the more advanced students had sucked the wind from my sails. Change fields now while you still can, many said. There’s nothing happening in fundamental physics.

Then, just a couple of months later, the prestigious (if tamely titled) journal Physics Letters B published an article that ignited the first superstring revolution, a sweeping movement that inspired thousands of physicists worldwide to drop their research in progress and chase Einstein’s long-sought dream of a unified theory. The field was young, the terrain fertile and the atmosphere electric. The only thing I needed to drop was a neophyte’s inhibition to run with the world’s leading physicists.

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Tennessee Town Passes Policy Banning Negative Comments About The Town’s Government

via Tech Dirt:

The commissioners of a small Tennessee town have just voted to ban negative comments about it from social media. This stupid move was prompted by “criticism and lies” being posted online, which supposedly “hampered” the town’s government from performing its duties.

South Pittsburg City is a town of 3,000. This fact will limit the damage done by its city commissioners’ new policy (which passed with 4-1 vote), but only because the town itself is tiny.The ban, however, is super-broad. (via Ben Swann and BRACE YOURSELF for always-awesome AUTOPLAY)

It applies to all city elected representatives, appointed board members, employees, volunteers, vendors, contractors and anyone associated with the town in an official capacity who uses social networks. The policy says those persons can’t post anything negative about the city, its employees or other associates.

Examples include posted videos, blogs, online forum discussions, Facebook and Twitter, Commissioner Jeff Powers said.

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