Archive | December 16, 2013

Chinese Spy Busted Stealing Iowa Corn Seeds

roflbot(5)A couple of weeks ago we a had a virtual currency heist, now we’ve got Chinese biotech espionage in the middle of Iowa. Man, this world gets a little more cyberpunk with every passing day. I wonder if Google Glass comes in a mirrorshade edition?

Newser:

Federal agents caught an alleged Chinese spy last week trying to smuggle highly valuable “inbred” cord seeds out of the country, prosecutors say. Mo Hailong is accused of stealing the seeds from fields in Illinois and Iowa and trying to evade FBI agents after dropping off seeds at a rented storage facility, reports the Des Moines Register. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $5 million fine for stealing trade secrets worth up to $40 million. What’s the big deal? Inbred seeds possess certain special qualities, like resistance to droughts or pests, reports the Smithsonian.

“It’s really the foundation for Iowa agriculture, so it’s really something that we need to protect,” says an Iowa professor.

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Mike Tyson Has Better Taste In Books Than You Do

Picture: Octal (CC)

Picture: Octal (CC)

Mike Tyson isn’t just a former champion heavyweight boxer, he’s also a heavyweight reader, too. What are some of the books on Tyson’s nightstand right now? Napoleon’s letters to Josephine, a little Kierkegaard, and more than a few volumes devoted to Alexander the Great.

Via Open Culture:

I read everything about Alexander, so I downloaded “Alexander the Great: The Macedonian Who Conquered the World” by Sean Patrick. Everyone thinks Alexander was this giant, but he was really a runt. “I would rather live a short life of glory than a long one of obscurity,” he said. I so related to that, coming from Brownsville, Brooklyn.

What did I have to look forward to—going in and out of prison, maybe getting shot and killed, or just a life of scuffling around like a common thief? Alexander, Napoleon, Genghis Khan, even a cold pimp like Iceberg Slim—they were all mama’s boys.

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Infamous Texting Judge Announces Run For District Attorney

COKER1You may recall the scandalous story of Elizabeth Coker, a Texas judge who was busted texting prosecutors and coaching them what to say in her courtroom.  Coker resignation became effective on December 6. Just two days later, she announced her run for District Attorney on Facebook. Coker said that she has seen the need for improvement in the office of the Distict Attorney “first-hand.”

Via Raw Story:

Coker resigned ahead of a State Commission on Judicial Conduct investigation into text messages and other improper ex parte communications and meetings with prosecutors in the Polk County District Attorney’s Office, the San Jacinto County District Attorney, and certain defense attorneys regarding various cases pending in her court.

The commission noted that she “allegedly exhibited a bias in favor of certain attorneys and a prejudice against others in both her judicial rulings and her court appointments.” Investigators also expressed concerns that Coker “discussed the Commission’s investigation and [her] written responses to the investigation with a material witness prior to that witness’ testimony before the Commission in an apparent attempt to influence that witness, and that the judge may not have been candid and truthful in her testimony before the Commission when questioned about her contact with the witness.”

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Colonization, From Without And From Within

evildeadDave Pollard writing at how to save the world:

Colonization is a loaded word, depending on whether you are the colonizer or the colonized. Throughout the history of our civilization, colonizers (imperialists, conquistadors, missionaries and, most recently, globalization corporatists) have asserted that colonized people were “savages” who needed external rule imposed on them “for their own good”. It matters little whether such assertions were honest, well-intentioned and misguided, or blatant excuses for theft, murder and oppression. The whole world is now substantially a single homogeneous colony, a single culture imposed and enforced by political and media propaganda, economic coercion, and of course, brute force.

The world “colonize” is from the Latin (whose speakers were accomplished at it) meaning “to inhabit, settle, farm and cultivate”. This definition carries no pretense of doing anything for the benefit of the “colonized” peoples. It just means taking over the land and resources, with or without violence and displacement.

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Seeing The American Flag Shifts Beliefs Toward Republicanism Up To 8 Months Later

flagAssociation for Psychological Science on a study revealing the American flag logo as a powerful psychological tool:

A study found that exposure to the American flag led to a shift toward Republican beliefs, attitudes, and voting behavior.

Psychological scientists Travis Carter (University of Chicago), Melissa Ferguson (Cornell University), and Ran Hassin (Hebrew University) challenge the notion that subtle cues in the environment can’t (or don’t) significantly alter people’s political judgments.

Volunteers were asked to complete various surveys on their voting intentions and opinions on the Republican and Democratic parties and their leaders. Some volunteers were subtly exposed to an American flag while others were not. Results found that a single exposure to the American flag shifted volunteers’ voting intentions, behavior, attitudes, and beliefs toward the Republican end of the spectrum, and some of these effects even lasted 8 months after the initial exposure.

To test whether the flag creates a shift specifically toward Republicanism rather than toward whichever party is currently in control, a second experiment was conducted in the spring of 2010 while the Democrats had the majority in both houses and control of the White House.

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False Memories Occur Even Among Those with Superior Memory

400px-Neuron_Hand-tuned.svgRick Nauert writes at Psych Central News:

Some people have the unique talent of being able to remember daily details of their lives from decades past.

But surprising new research finds that even among this select group of memory experts, false memories occur at about the same frequency as among those with average memory.

False memories are the recollection of an event, or the details of an event, that did not occur. UC Irvine psychologists and neurobiologists created a series of tests to determine how false information can manipulate memory formation.

In their study they learned that subjects with highly superior autobiographical memory preformed similar to a control group of subjects with average memory.

“Finding susceptibility to false memories even in people with very strong memory could be important for dissemination to people who are not memory experts.

“For example, it could help communicate how widespread our basic susceptibility to memory distortions is,” said Lawrence Patihis.

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Bots Are Now 61% Of Internet Users

cyberspaceHuman beings on the internet are now a minority, the BBC reports:

A study by Incapsula suggests 61.5% of all website traffic is now generated by bots. The security firm said that was a 21% rise on last year’s figure of 51%.

Some of these automated software tools are malicious – stealing data or posting ads for scams in comment sections. But the firm said the biggest growth in traffic was for “good” bots.

These are tools used by search engines to crawl websites in order to index their content, by analytics companies to provide feedback about how a site is performing, and by others to carry out specific tasks – such as helping the Internet Archive preserve content before it is deleted.

To generate its report, Incapsula said it observed 1.45 billion bot visits over a 90 day period. Dr Ian Brown, associate director at Oxford University’s Cyber Security Centre, said the figures were useful as an indication of the growth in non-human traffic.

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The U.S. Goverment Lobotomized Thousands Of World War II Soldiers With PTSD

margraten-cemeteryThe Wall Street Journal on a forced frontal lobotomy as a grim cure for the horrors of war:

The orderlies at the veterans hospital pinned Roman Tritz, a World War II bomber pilot, to the floor, he recalls. He fought so hard that eventually they gave up. But the orderlies came for him again on Wednesday, July 1, 1953, a few weeks before his 30th birthday. This time, the doctors got their way.

The U.S. government lobotomized roughly 2,000 mentally ill veterans—and likely hundreds more—during and after World War II, according to a cache of forgotten memos, letters and government reports unearthed by The Wall Street Journal. Besieged by psychologically damaged troops returning from the battlefields of North Africa, Europe and the Pacific, the Veterans Administration performed the brain-altering operation on former servicemen it diagnosed as depressives, psychotics and schizophrenics, and occasionally on people identified as homosexuals.

The VA’s practice sometimes brought veterans relief from their inner demons.

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Meet The Robotic Telemarketer Who Swears She Is Human

We now know what ends the most advanced androids will serve: initiating marketing scans. TIME on incredibly creepy robo-calls from a person purporting to be Samantha West, a real live woman, to eerily convincing effect:
When Scherer asked point blank if she was a real person, or a computer-operated robot voice, she replied enthusiastically that she was real. But then she failed several other tests. When asked “What vegetable is found in tomato soup?” she said she did not understand the question. When asked what day of the week it was yesterday, she complained repeatedly of a bad connection. When the number was called a second time, a real live employee of Premier Health Plans Inc., who gave his name as Bruce Martin, answered the phone. He described the company as selling life insurance, health insurance and dental insurance.
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Murdoch Paper Backs Michael Moore Bush-Saudi Claims from ‘Fahrenheit 911′

Michael mooreIt’s always fun to tweak Rupert Murdoch. Showbiz 411 gets in a good jab:

UPDATE- Paul Sperry responds: “Unger and Moore have their own agendas. mine aligns with the FBI WFO case agents and FCPD* detectives who say they’ll never forgive the Bush admin for throttling their investigation of leads back to Saudi Embassy and Bandar himself in McLean. they view the former POTUS as a traitor.”

Earlier this afternoon: 
Shock: today’s Murdoch owned highly conservative New York Post features an opinion piece backing Michael Moore‘s Bush-Saudi claims from “Fahrenheit 911.” It’s the main story on the Post’s website with a huge photo and prominent placement. The story is also featured in a color block headline on the front page of today’s paper.

Moore must get a lot of satisfaction out of this. It’s only taken a decade for a conservative pundit writing in a conservative newspaper to endorse his movie.

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