Archive | December 18, 2013

DMT Use Skyrockets Among American Users

Dmt ideaDisinfonaut DMT tales welcome in the comments! Addiction and recovery site The Fix takes an interest because “Despite powerful hallucinogenic effects and intense vomiting among users, DMT has also been seen as an alternative treatment for addiction”:

DMT, a powerful hallucinogenic compound used in religious rituals among Amazon tribes, has now become a popular recreational drug among U.S. residents.

According to recent reports by the Global Drug Survey and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the number of people in the U.S. who have used DMT in some form has risen every year since 2006, with over a million users reported in 2012. The drug is a key component in ayahuasca brew, a combination of two plants grown in South America that has been used as a medicinal and religious aid for tribal peoples in the region for countless years.

One of the plants in the brew, Psychotria viridis, contains dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, which is a common element in many plants and even the human body itself, which neutralizes the potency of the drug.

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NSA Coworker Recalls Edward Snowden As Principled Genius Who Kept Copy Of US Constitution At Desk

Picture: NSA Hoodie from EFF.

Picture: NSA Hoodie from EFF.

An anonymous former coworker of Snowden’s has come forward to refute the negative picture of the whistleblower offered in a recent 60 Minutes puff-piece on the NSA. Snowden wasn’t a slouch or cheat. He didn’t “steal” access to sensitive data, either: His NSA superiors gave it to him. What’s amazing about that is that Snowden actually wore the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s anti NSA hoodie to work and kept a copy of the constitution at his desk. (“Hey, I’ve got a great idea! Let’s give this guy who is practically screaming dissenting patriot and whistleblower keys to our vault of shadowy, criminal secrets!”)

Via Forbes:

  • Snowden’s superiors were so impressed with his skills that he was at one point offered a position on the elite team of NSA hackers known as Tailored Access Operations. He unexpectedly turned it down and instead joined Booz Allen to work at NSA’s Threat Operation Center.
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Christian Anarchist Group Swipes Bikini Calendars From Mall Kiosk

pfojChristian anarchists employed at a mall got tired of walking past a mall kiosk selling bikini calendars. Christian. Anarchists. Employed. At. A. Mall. Must be a radical Chic-fil-A splinter group. People’s Front of Moo-dea? Good grief, kids. Turn the other cheek(s).

Via Raw Story

A group of Christian anarchists has taken credit for the theft of $2,000 worth of calendars featuring scantily clad women from a Georgia shopping mall in Buford.

“Every day on the way to work, we had to walk by this kiosk. Each passing encounter forced a specific sexuality and beauty standard upon us, and we couldn’t take it anymore,” the alleged thieves wrote on the website JesusRadicals.com on December 4.

The website describes itself as a gathering place for “Christians who are also anarchists.”

The group of three Christian anarchists said one person distracted the sole employee at the kiosk on Black Friday while another person grabbed about 200 calendars off the shelves and replaced them with paper signs that read, “Sorry, misogyny is out of stock.” A third person acted as a lookout.

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Bitcoin RIP?

RIP Bitcoin

Public radio says the much-touted virtual currency is on the way out. Want to bet?

Via NPR:

“Prices of virtual currency bitcoin fell 20% Wednesday and are now down more than 50% from their record high hit two weeks ago amid worries that China is moving to block the purchase and use of the currency by its citizens,” .

Bitcoin’s big slide began two weeks ago, , when Chinese authorities told banks there that they couldn’t trade in the currency. Officials were worried, NPR’s Frank Langfitt reported, about a lack of control over bitcoins that “makes it easier to launder money and finance terrorism.”

Wednesday, , “BTC China, the biggest bitcoin exchange in that country,” announced it has “temporarily stopped” accepting yuan deposits into bitcoin accounts. The news followed reports that “the People’s Bank of China had a meeting on Monday with about 10 major third-party payment processors and ordered them to stop working with bitcoin exchanges.”

The result: “On Wednesday, bitcoin prices fell another 20 percent to $550.02, down more than 50% from its high of $1,147.25 two weeks ago,” the Journal says.

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Future Crime Comes to Texas: Police Can Get A Warrant For Crimes You Might Commit Later

minority-report

Picture: Tom Cruise in ‘Minority Report’

Y’all better not let ‘em think that you’re ‘fixing’ to commit a crime.

Via Raw Story:

An appeals court in Texas ruled last week that police may obtain a search warrant based on the prediction of a future crime.

Officers in Parker County took Michael Fred Wehrenberg and some associates into custody in summer 2010, after watching his home for about a month as part of a drug investigation.

A confidential informant told police that Wehrenberg and others were “fixing to” cook methamphetamine, and investigators searched the house while he and his friends stood outside in handcuffs.

Police said they found pseudoephedrine, stripped lithium batteries and materials used to make meth and then asked a judge to grant them a warrant to search the house.

They did not mention in the warrant application that officers had already gone into the house, and instead only based their request on information supplied by the confidential informant.

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New Compelling Evidence Suggesting The Universe Is A Hologram

hologramIn existential news, Tupac isn’t the only one who may merely be a flat holographic projection. Via Nature:

A team of physicists has provided some of the clearest evidence yet that our Universe could be just one big projection.

In 1997, theoretical physicist Juan Maldacena proposed an audacious model of the Universe in which gravity arises from infinitesimally thin, vibrating strings. The mathematically intricate world of strings, which exist in nine dimensions of space plus one of time, would be merely a hologram: the real action would play out in a simpler, flatter, single dimensional cosmos where there is no gravity.

Maldacena’s idea thrilled physicists because it solved apparent inconsistencies between quantum physics and Einstein’s theory of gravity.

In two papers posted on the arXiv repository, Yoshifumi Hyakutake of Ibaraki University in Japan and his colleagues now provide, if not an actual proof, at least compelling evidence that Maldacena’s conjecture is true.

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Computers Can Be Hacked Using High-Pitched Sound That You Can’t Hear

800px-Sine_waves_different_frequencies.svgGetting pissed off and screaming at your computer still shown to have no effect.

Via Scientific American:

Using the microphones and speakers that come standard in many of today’s laptop computers and mobile devices, hackers can secretly transmit and receive data using high-frequency audio signals that are mostly inaudible to human ears, a new study shows.

Michael Hanspach and Michael Goetz, researchers at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing, and Ergonomics, recently performed a proof-of-concept experiment that showed that “covert acoustical networking,” a technique which had been hypothesized but considered improbable by most experts, is indeed possible.

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Smart Phone, Dumb Person: Woman Checking Facebook Status Walks Off Pier

Pic: fineartamerica.com

Pic: fineartamerica.com

A Taiwanese tourist almost drowned after she walked off the edge of a pier while playing with her phone. Don’t worry: She didn’t lose the phone.

Via BBC:

Police were alerted to the incident by a witness and rescued her in a speedboat after about 20 minutes.

The woman, who apologised, was taken to hospital for observation but police said she was fine.

Senior Constable Dean Kelly of the water police said officers found her floating metres from the pier.

“She was still out in the water laying on her back in a floating position because she told us later that she couldn’t swim,” the Australian Broadcasting Corporation quoted him as saying.

“She still had her mobile phone in her hand and initially she apologised… she said ‘I was checking my Facebook page on the phone and I’ve fallen in’.”

Constable Kelly called on people to pay more attention when using social media around water.

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FDA Readying Possible Ban On Antibacterial Soaps

triclosanWashing your hands with these hormone-disrupting products may do more harm than good. Via the Los Angeles Times:

Just days after unveiling new proposals to limit the use of antibiotic medications in livestock raised for human consumption, the FDA’s new measure takes aim at soaps suspected of promoting the development of bacteria resistant to eradication and of exposing consumers to hormone-disrupting chemicals.

If the products are not shown to be safe, effective and superior to soap and water in preventing disease spread, the FDA said manufacturers will be required to reformulate or relabel them as a condition of continued sale.

The FDA is focusing largely on triclosan (used in liquid soaps) and triclocarban (used in bar soaps). In animals, exposure to high concentrations of these compounds has been found to suppress thyroid hormone concentrations and to have estrogenic effects, including premature puberty in females and low sperm count in males.

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Io Saturnalia!

dinopartyYesterday marked the beginning of the ancient Roman holiday of Saturnalia.

Via Suvudu.

Today marks the beginning of Saturnalia, an ancient Roman holiday dedicated to the pagan god Saturn. Ever heard of it? No? You might actually be celebrating some part of it and not even know it. Hold that thought.

On December 17, the Romans would go to the temples and unbind the feet of their statues of Saturn (Normally they were adorned with felt shoes) and even move their idols to tables for banquets in honor of the god. Government shut down to some degree. It was forbidden to declare war or sentence criminals during Saturnalia.

In the public, the normally rigid Roman class structure was thrown out of the window. Everyone let down their hair a little bit and spoke their minds – even Roman slaves! During Saturnalia, slaves were allowed to criticize their masters without rebuke. Some scholars say that masters and slaves dined together.

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