Archive | March 24, 2014

Texas Town Gives Ted Nugent Over $16,000 To Go Away

Pic: Lenny Francioni, US Navy (PD)

Pic: Lenny Francioni, US Navy (PD)

Like the Mongol hordes of old, Ted Nugent will sometimes accept tribute in lieu of destroying your town.

Via UPI:

A Texas town was so intent on ridding themselves of the Motor City Madman that city officials opted to pay out more than $15,000 to have Ted Nugent not play on the Fourth of July.

Longview was in negotiations to have Nugent play at the Fireworks and Freedom Celebration on Independence Day, but backed out after Nugent called President Obama a “subhuman mongrel” while campaigning with Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott earlier this year.

According to city spokesman Shawn Hara, Longview had other concerns that led to Nugent being paid $16,250 to end contract negotiations. The amount was half of Nugent’s guaranteed performance fee.

Read more at UPI.

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Former President Jimmy Carter Uses Snail Mail to Thwart NSA Spies

PIC: NARA (PD)

PIC: NARA (PD)

During a recent appearance on Meet the Press, President Jimmy Carter prefers snail mail over email when it comes to sensitive communications with foreign leaders because he suspects the NSA monitors his email. Perhaps he’s right, but what makes him think that Washington’s spooks won’t intercept and steam open his physical correspondence, too?

Via Slate:

Because of privacy concerns, former President Jimmy Carter has returned to snail mail to avoid surveillance. Carter told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday that he thinks the NSA may be monitoring his email.

“I have felt that my own communications were probably monitored,” he said. “And when I want to communicate with a foreign leader privately, I type or write the letter myself, put it in the post office and mail it. … I believe if I sent an email, it will be monitored.”

Carter said in the interview that he thought the government has “abused our own intelligence agencies.”

Read the rest at Slate or watch the video after the jump.

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Michigan Township Presses Felony Charges After Man Speaks Too Long At Public Meeting

Naturally, they say the man’s arrest wasn’t planned. Having been a small town reporter for a while myself, I can just about guarantee that’s a lie. The city aldermen on my beat planned everything about their meetings in advance. All of the discussions, voting, and everything else that happened was just for show. I’ve heard of people being ejected from meetings, but never charged – especially with a felony. Clever  – and by clever, I mean insidious – way to keep him from voting, too.

Via BoingBoing.net:

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Computer Knows When You’re Faking Pain

PIC: cryteria (CC)

PIC: cryteria (CC)

It looks like taking a sick day may get a lot harder. A UC San Diego research team says computer programs can tell the difference between genuine pain and fake pain a lot better than human beings:

Via Medical News Today:

They note that in social species like humans, faces have evolved to show valuable information in social contexts, and this includes expressions of emotions and pain.

However, “humans can simulate facial expressions and fake emotions well enough to deceive most observers,” says Prof. Kang Lee, senior author from the University of Toronto.

According to the study, there are two motor pathways in the brain that control facial movement:

  • Subcortical extrapyramidal motor system – which drives spontaneous facial expressions of felt emotions
  • Cortical pyramidal motor system – which controls voluntary (faked) facial expressions.

While humans are unable to consistently spot the subtle differences between the two, the team says a computer can.

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‘How to Poo on a Date’ Wins Oddest Book Title of the Year

poo datePersonally I'm wondering how this topic could take up an entire book. From Reuters:
A tongue-in-cheek book that purports to deal with an awkward but critical issue, "How to Poo on a Date", scooped an award for the Oddest Book Title of the Year on Friday. The winner of the Diagram Prize, awarded annually since 1978 and based on a public vote since 2000, beat out other titles including "Are Trout South African?" and "Working-Class Cats: The Bodega Cats of New York City". The prize, which carries no cash award, is run by The Bookseller, a British-based business magazine and website for the book industry...
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RIP Gwar Frontman Dave ‘Oderus Urungus’ Brockie

Pic: Oderus Urungus (C) - Gwar publicity photos.

Pic: Oderus Urungus (C) – Gwar publicity photos.

Sad news for fans of the bizarre thrash metal band Gwar: frontmanDave Brockie, AKA ‘Oderud Urungus’ is dead. He was 50 years-old, and the last original member of the Richmond, VA based band. Investigators do not suspect foul play.

To describe Gwar and their music as “conceptual” would be putting it mildly. The band’s elaborate mythos portrayed them as once-mighty galaxy-roaming warriors of chaos who were banished to Earth for their arrogance. All of the members of Gwar wore elaborate (and elaborately disgusting) costumes and went by stage names like Jizmaa Da Gusha and Pustulus Maximus. The band’s membership changed often, and new members regularly assumed the stage identities left vacant by outgoing members.

Gwar’s music was written for maximum tongue-in-cheek offensiveness, and moral guardians of all sorts bought the act hook, line, and sinker. Their wild theatrics made them popular guests on shows like Jerry Springer and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.Read the rest

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Federal Government Finally Funds Research that Explores Positive Uses of Marijuana

marijuanaThe unstoppable marijuana train rolls on, thanks to Rick Doblin and MAPS. From AllGov:

For those conducting studies of the harmful effects of marijuana, the federal government has usually been willing to share from its stash, which comes from the only federally sanctioned pot farm in the country. But those looking to find positive uses for the drug have always found Uncle Sam to be bogarting his joint.

Until now. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has finally approved the sale of federally grown marijuana for a study that would research whether pot could help veterans cope with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The Food and Drug Administration approved the study back in 2011, but University of Arizona Professor Suzanne Sisley, who will conduct the study, and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which is funding it, were unable to get marijuana.

“MAPS has been working for over 22 years to start marijuana drug development research, and this is the first time we’ve been granted permission to purchase marijuana from [the National Institute on Drug Abuse],” the group said in a statement.

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KIRO On Cobain Death Investigation Story: Police Dept. Flacks Arguing ‘Semantics’

Cobain2-1024x722

PIC: Seattle Police Department (PD)

The internet was abuzz Thursday when Seattle CBS affiliate KIRO reported that the Seattle Police Department was reopening their investigation into Kurt Cobain’s apparent suicide. You may recall my skepticism about the report, commenting “Something about this story seems sketchy to me (…)” in a Disinfo post linking to KIRO’s original announcement. It looks like that skepticism was well-founded. Well, maybe.

In a statement posted to their website the SPD confirmed reports that  veteran cold case department detective Mike Ciesynski was reviewing the Cobain file, but the case remained closed. April 5th marks the 20th anniversary of the musician’s death, and the department stated that the review was conducted in anticipation of any questions that might arise from the public. The statement also mentioned that the detective had found four undeveloped rolls of film during his review.

KIRO didn’t issue a retraction. In a follow-up report to the initial story, the station argued that whether the case had been reopened or not was a matter of “semantics”:

“After KIRO 7 first reported the re-investigation Thursday morning, the Seattle police public affairs unit took issue with semantics, saying the case was not technically “reopened” — despite the new interviews and processing of film that had not previously been developed.”

Ciesynski’s own comments might have added to the confusion.… Read the rest

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Is the Central State a Necessary Evil, or a Flawed Form of Government?

StateOutDate_Disinfo_300x250[disinfo ed.’s note: the following is an original essay by Gregory Sams relating current events to his new book The State Is Out of Date: We Can Do It Better .]

Does anybody really believe that politics is working, aside from those in power? As the powerful new tools of our information age chip away at the mask of the sovereign state, endemic corruption is revealed across the political spectrum. People are taking to the streets en masse in protest, sometimes bringing down corrupt regimes only to see the same corruption and inefficiency arising in new regimes. The Egyptian people fought hard for freedom and won a choice between authoritarian masters. In the Ukraine, one group of corrupt thugs recently violently replaced another group of corrupt thugs, with their respective backers arguing on the international stage over which corrupt thugs hold the moral high ground. The world’s great democracies denounce an overwhelmingly popular vote by the people of Crimea, and call the gentle Russian intervention a hostile and unacceptable violation of sovereignty.  After Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, the hypocrisy of it is overpowering.… Read the rest

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