January 2010


Frank Ryan writes in New Scientist:

When, in 2001, the human genome was sequenced for the first time, we were confronted by several surprises. One was the sheer lack of genes: where we had anticipated perhaps 100,000 there were actually as few as 20,000. A bigger surprise came from analysis of the genetic sequences, which revealed that these genes made up a mere 1.5 per cent of the genome.

This is dwarfed by DNA deriving from viruses, which amounts to roughly 9 per cent.On top of that, huge chunks of the genome are made up of mysterious virus-like entities called retrotransposons, pieces of selfish DNA that appear to serve no function other than to make copies of themselves. These account for no less than 34 per cent of our genome.

All in all, the virus-like components of the human genome amount to almost half of our DNA. This would once have been dismissed as mere “junk DNA”, but we now know that some of it plays a critical role in our biology. As to the origins and function of the rest, we simply do not know…




Dan Koeppel writes in Popular Mechanics: You’re six miles up, alone and falling without a parachute. Though the odds are long, a small number of people have found themselves in similar situations…



One of the alarmist predictions for 2012 concerns the supposed cyclical climax of solar flare activity (see the Larry Joseph section in the disinformation documentary 2012: Science or Superstition). Although NASA felt…


Matthai Kuruvila writing for the San Francisco Chronicle: Call it the Walmart of weed. In a 15,000-square-foot warehouse just down the road from the Oakland Airport, an entrepreneur is opening a one-stop…


Art Bell was joined for the entire program by one of his favorite guests, theoretical physicist Dr. Michio Kaku, for a discussion on a variety of science-related topics.

Kaku provided an update on the problem-plagued Large Hadron Collider (LHC), while quashing a theory that suggested the giant particle accelerator was being sabotaged from the future…


From The Star Tribune: Rep. Michele Bachmann has become the latest high-profile conservative to bag the rapidly unraveling Tea Party Convention in Nashville next week. The Minnesota Republican, who has become something…



Alternet reviews Mitch Horowitz’s Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation:

If witch-burning Puritans are the original jocks of American history, then the mystics surrounding Johannes Kelpius are the first goths. While the rest of the British colonies were still dutifully worshipping their angry Christian god, Kelpius and his followers—who fled Austria to settle in Philadelphia during the late seventeenth-century—busied themselves with astrology, alchemy, Kabbalah, and other “dark arts” with tangled roots in the Italian Renaissance, the Rosicrucian Enlightenment, and various (often fabricated) antiquities. We meet Kelpius early in Mitch Horowitz’s Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation, an uneven but always interesting account of 400 years of New World Strange. Among the several misconceptions Horowitz seeks to dispel, the most foundational is the idea that Colonial America provided shelter only for persecuted Christian sects. Almost from the beginning, North America was also home to a fair number of those who, like Kelpius, had more arcane spiritual interests.

Horowitz never claims that these beliefs were as formative an influence as Christianity in the making of America, but after finishing his book, one can’t help but wonder if maybe Ouija boards don’t belong next to King James in every motel room…








Crap FuturismAfter reading Gizmodo’s “8 Things That Suck About the iPad” and seeing this image illustrating that article for me, I really though the iPad was nothing more than a bulky, expensive iPhone. But there is one difference, it’s not a phone — something that you want to be totally reliable (work all the time). While many people jailbreak their iPhone to provide greater control over what you can do with it, I have been resistant to due to concern I might screw it up.

But after reading Annalee Newitz’s io9.com article about the iPad I realize the iPad is a device that you buy to hack. Not only that, it must be hacked. She makes the excellent point that Apple’s latest “must-have” device is nothing like a computer, it’s more like a television:

Apple is marketing the iPad as a computer, when really it’s nothing more than a media-consumption device — a convergence television, if you will. Think of it this way: One of the fundamental attributes of computers is that they are interactive and reconfigurable. You can change the way a computer behaves at a very deep level. Interactivity on the iPad consists of touching icons on the screen to change which application you’re using. Hardly more interactive than changing channels on a TV. Sure, you can compose a short email or text message; you can use the Brushes app to draw a sketch. But those activities are not the same thing as programming the device to do something new. Unlike a computer, the iPad is simply not reconfigurable.


Via Technoccult: Klint Finley: Could you give us a brief overview of what “neurodiversity” means, or at least what it means to you? Kassiane: Neurodiversity, the word, simply means the whole variety…



Audio from Jeff Rense Program (author Nick Bryant interviewed).

The Frankin Scandal is the story of a nationwide pedophile ring that pandered children to a cabal of the rich and powerful. The ring’s pimps were a pair of political powerbrokers who had access to the highest levels of our government. Nebraska legislators nearly exposed the ring in 1990, but its unveiling had the potential to produce seismic political aftershocks.The legislators’ efforts resulted in rash of mysterious deaths and the overpowering corruption of federal and local law enforcement, including the FBI, Secret Service, and Justice Department, effecting an immaculate cover-up of the trafficking network.



AFP reports that the Super Bowl on Sunday will include commercials from venomous conservative Christian organization Focus on the Family. The spots star Heisman Trophy-winning college quarterback Tim Tebow discussing the amorality of abortion.

CBS is supposed to have a ban on advocacy commercials during the Super Bowl. The below ad, produced by the United Church of Christ, was previously rejected for its message of tolerance of gays…but in tough economic times, you take all the ad money you can get.


The Guardian reports that schools in Southern California have removed the dictionary from classrooms because it contains dirty words. No, really. I think this is how civilizations collapse: Dictionaries have been removed…