Archive | September 9, 2013

Are Military Suicides Doing It For The Money?

United_States_Army_Suicide_Prevention_PosterIt has been well documented that US military servicemen and women have been committing suicide at alarming rates, but now it appears that their motivation may not be entirely due to the terrible things they’ve seen and done: for some of them, it’s for the money. Alan Zarembo reports for the LA Times:

Army Spc. James Christian Paquette walked into the benefits office at Ft. Wainwright, Alaska, with a question: Did his military life insurance policy pay in cases of suicide? He was assured that it did.

Less than two weeks later, he shot and killed himself — and his family collected $400,000.

His widow struggles with the question of whether he would have proceeded with his plan if suicide had not been covered. “He just wanted to know we would be provided for,” Jami Calahan said. “It may have been a weight taken away.”

The role of life insurance has not been closely examined in the quest to understand why 352 active-duty service members took their own lives last year — more than double the number a decade earlier.

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‘Sweeping Girls Off their Feet': Harmless Prank or Rapey, Unwanted Assault on Personal Space?

I love a good prank, but I’m not altogether convinced this is a good one. I can’t say I enjoy the idea of some stranger coming along and picking up my wife or my sister, and I know that they wouldn’t. (I can go so far as to guarantee that they would probably regret putting their hands on the former, if not the latter. She’s not the sort to go along with that kind of thing.) What do you think about this video?

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Scientists Baffled By Mysterious Tiny Towers Spotted In Peruvian Jungle

tower

Ever get the feeling we have no idea what’s actually going on? Via Wired Science:

Something in the Peruvian Amazon is making weird, intricate structures that resemble white picket fences surrounding an Isengard-like spire. No one has any idea who the mysterious craftsbug (fungus? spider?) is, or what the structure is even used for.

Troy Alexander, a graduate student at Georgia Tech, spotted the first of these structures on June 7. The little, seemingly woven fence was parked on the underside of a blue tarp near the Tambopata Research Center, in southeastern Peru. He later spotted three more of the bizarre enclosures on tree trunks in the jungle.

“I have no idea what made it, or even what it is,” said William Eberhard, an entomologist with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

“I’ve seen the photo, but have no idea what animal might be responsible,” echoed Norm Platnick, curator emeritus of spiders at the American Museum of Natural History.

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John Carpenter’s ‘THEY LIVE’ Turns Twenty-Five

They Live!John Carpenter’s They Live (1988) doesn’t sound like a classic movie: A drifter wanders into Nowheresville USA — a Los Angeles neighborhood devastated by an economic recession. After witnessing some suspicious activity surrounding a strange church, the man discovers a box of special sunglasses which reveal that the reality he’s come to take for granted is anything but what it seems. Add a starring role for professional wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and one would assume They Live was potboiler sci-fi with a clever gimmick and a B-list “star.”

The problem with this assessment is that it forgets that this is a movie made by a man who practically created slasher films with Halloween and whose ability to infuse cliche-filled genres with deep, emotional and subversive content made him a legend.

They Live is a conspiracy-laden masterpiece of popcorn paranoia that manages to be as entertaining as it is startling. A class war battering ram of a movie, the flick makes the moneyed into monsters while elevating its blue collar lead to the status of a revolutionary hero.… Read the rest

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On Sovereignty And Double Standards

double standardVia The New Inquiry, Aaron Bady explains that acting arbitrarily is the point:

American foreign policy is full of double standards. But if we observe the hypocrisy of our leaders and are scandalized by it—John Kerry lunching with the Assads, Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein—then we actually misunderstand what “foreign policy” is and is for.

If American foreign policy is anything, it is not even-handed and impartial. It is a state arrogating to itself the right to make arbitrary choices, to make the rules while other countries only follow them. And to prove that distinction the US must not only establish “red lines,” and enforce them, but it is the very arbitrary nature of those red lines which allows them to function as signs on the international stage. Lawlessness is how a state proves itself sovereign; submission to law is the sign of the weak.

“Legality” only obscures the real issue, which is why we are hearing so much talk about it, why so many commentators are pretending it matters.

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Editor’s Note: Suicide

NOPE. NOT IN THE LEAST, BROTHER.

NOPE. NOT IN THE LEAST, BROTHER.

We’ve had several posts recently that have examined the topic of suicide. It’s a very complicated issue, and a difficult one to parse out in an environment where anonymity can sometimes bring out the very worst (and sometimes best, I admit) in people. Thankfully, the Disinfo crowd is a pretty civil one.

If you’ve followed my podcast (and writing) here, then you know that I’ve always striven to be honest with you, especially when it comes to my own personal issues. I have a very long family history of suicides, and I myself have dealt with depression and anxiety my entire life.  I talk about those things because I feel like they’re nothing to be ashamed of, and by speaking up then there’s a chance that someone else might not feel like they’re alone in dealing with this stuff.

If I had not resisted those self-destructive impulses (Let’s jump off the parking garage… Let’s drive the car into a telephone pole… Let’s eat a bullet… ) and the negativity (You’re doomed… You’ll never fit in… You’re an embarrassment… ) and spoken up, I would have missed out on a ton of stuff, and I don’t even mean the usual “sunshine and bunnies” things.… Read the rest

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