Author Archive | Breshvic

America Comes Out With Student Debt

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Picture by flickr user Jagz Mario (CC)

Student debt activist Kyle McCarthy details some of the latest news  and personal stories in the ongoing battle against usurious corporations like Sallie Mae.

via Kyle McCarthy at Armchair Advocates:

For many today, higher education is being pushed further out of reach due to skyrocketing tuition and overwhelming student debt. In fact, from 1978 to 2011, tuition increased more than 900%, 650 points above US inflation.

And as tuition has climbed, so has student debt. Over the past eight years, total educational debt has nearly tripled in size and the average monthly student loan payment is $500. Today, nearly 40 million Americans hold more than $1 Trillion in student loan debt, which is having drastic effects on individual student-borrowers, families, and the American economy. With the increase in borrowing, people have delayed major purchases such as houses and cars. In 2011, first-time home purchases decreased for the first time since 2006, and One Wisconsin Now estimates that the student debt crisis translates into over $6 billion in lost automotive sales each year.

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Art Bell Returns!

Picture: Kelly Murphy for "Dark Matter"

Picture: Kelly Murphy for “Dark Matter”

No, he wasn’t in an underground bunker, and he wasn’t abducted!

Without much fanfare, the godfather of paranormal late night talk radio has returned to the airwaves. This time, beaming from an extraterrestrial satellite orbiting the globe and back into homes, Art Bell has signed a contract with Sirius/XM to bring spookiness back to dark nights huddled around the radio. Still operating from his desert enclave in Pahrump, the grizzled master of ceremonies proves that he’s still got the panache to handle topics scientific and… well, we’ll just say fringe.

His first interview back behind the mic was with Coast-to-Coast veteran and world-renowned physicist Michio Kaku, now famous as a popular science advocate for his work on Explorations in Science, Big Think and countless other outlets. An appropriate choice considering Art’s new show is named Dark Matter, and the CUNY Professor of Theoretical Physics opens our ears and minds to the cosmic, the subatomic, and the quantum in the same way that Art Bell had introduced us to the astral, the demonic, and the ghostly over his career.… Read the rest

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Glitch Art Goes Big

bitmap glitch skull by Flickr user letloosethelambs (CC)

I love outsider art and creative détournement, and so when something as innovative and unsettling as ‘data-moshing‘ and ‘glitch art‘ grew, I took notice. It may have been the inevitable combination of remix culture, hacking/programming, and the new aesthetic, but it definitely makes for some some interestingly (and intentionally) bad art.

Not every artistic endeavor gets recuperated by the mainstream (it sometimes feels as though they are randomly selected), but rather than kvetch about it when they do, it’s interesting to see in what way they are utilized. Glitch art is so jarring, often painful to watch and surely more challenging to create, that I am genuinely surprised that anyone would actually want glitches in their corporate Matrix.

But two pop-culture franchises have utilized it within the last few weeks. The first was the brilliant episode of Adventure Time, “A Glitch is a Glitch“, in which the villainous and buffoonish Ice King shortsightedly releases a virus to corrupt and destroy the entire Land of Ooo.… Read the rest

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3D-Printed Guns Get Better

Flickr user perpetualplum (CC)

As both gun nuts and control nuts violently yell at each other in Washington DC and in the mainstream media, the very-real gradient of rational opinion-holders debate reasonable alternatives. Bans notwithstanding, as low as 6% oppose simple background checks. Inventors are talking about the feasibility of smart gun technology. There’s been talk for ages of numbering bullet casings. Most importantly, we’re actually starting to reevaluate our archaic mental health infrastructure and attitudes toward the nature of killers and perpetrators of gun violence. Plenty of intelligent minds are reminding us that, as with terrorism, your odds of getting gunned down are still pretty low. But best of all, we’re looking at the societal problems on the whole, and smaller DIY solutions.

The rational people, I mean.

There are still those who see any move to regulate any aspect of guns as total despotism. And there are those who think that big, bad (um… inanimate) guns are lurking around every corner, waiting to strike.… Read the rest

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Sate Your Documentary Addiction

I’m overburdened with media! I’ve a pile of books to read, news to collate, new music to parse and podcasts to digest. My Netflix queue overfloweth. And if I ever get time to devour something in my free time, sadly, it usually isn’t the pure escapism of fiction. I think I’ve been reading non-fiction and watching documentaries for so long, my brain is now wired to be impatient with what should be delicious candy.

My problem is that I continue to welcome all recommendations from friends, co-workers, DJs, online sources, journalists and Disinfonauts. But I am thankful that the terse and listographic nature of the internet, as well as the myriad of sources for content organization, have actually streamlined this process. A digital native, I irrationally worry that I’ll be missing some current event or corner of the world’s many subcultures.

I’ll die before I give up on trying to subsume it all into my subconscious!… Read the rest

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Congressmen Say Their Own Personal Debt is OK, but not Government Debt

Flickr user: Images_of_Money (CC)

Ah, “elected” government, where hypocrites are paid to advocate for causes they may or may not even agree with, and legislate rules that they themselves don’t follow. And apropos of budget hysteria and economic terrorism being wrought against popular public programs, the trumped-up fears are not only false (the debt crisis is imaginary, and only 6% of the country is aware that the deficit is actually falling) but it’s no surprise to anyone that the ‘debt-fixing’ warriors don’t have the same view of their own debt as they do of the country’s, or yours.

As Josh Israel of ProPublica points out, fourteen of the most vitriolic enemies of vital programs themselves live with the personal irresponsibility of private debt (to the tune of millions).

These hypocrites include:

  • House Budget Committee Member Tom Rice (R-SC):Wrote: “At a time when hardworking American families are living off of a budget, the federal government should be no different.
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FBI attempts to explain UFO memo

FBI.gov

I can’t decide which part of this story is more interesting, that the most popular file in the FBI’s Vault is a short memo referencing flying saucers, or that the FBI thinks that some sixty years later they can assuage the frenzy of ufologists and paranormal investigators with hand-waving explanations.

Of course, this isn’t the first time the government has disavowed as opposed to disclosed. But let’s face it, if this one-page memo from 1950 is the lynchpin in the case for government knowledge of extraterrestrials, it’s not a particularly overwhelming indictment. Though addressed to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover from Guy Hottel (then head of the FBI’s Washington, D.C., field office), it purports second-hand allegations from a redacted informant, and starts with the incredulous tone of ‘so-called flying saucers’ and concludes ‘no further evaluation was attempted.’

Via Yahoo News:

The file, published by the vault in April 2011 under the Freedom of Information Act, has been viewed nearly a million times, the FBI said, in part because media outlets “erroneously reported that the FBI had posted proof of a UFO crash at Roswell, New Mexico [in 1947] and the recovery of wreckage and alien corpses.”

“A bizarre memo that appears to prove that aliens did land in New Mexico prior to 1950 has been published by the FBI,” the Daily Mail declared in 2011.

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An AI that “solves” Super Mario Bros.

Picture: Nintendo, Flickr user labnol (CC)

Super Mario Bros. has been around for 28 years, and is an important part of not only gaming history but international popular culture, and has spawned untold bundles of merchandise, fan films, street art, and even ghost stories. The ways that people are engaging with the iconic sprites from our childhood are seemingly unending; they engineer numerous mods, remixes, and even path-finding algorithms that allow bots to play for our amusement (appropriately called ‘Infinite Mario‘).

Moving this last concept towards its ultimate end, computer scientist Tom Murphy has now designed a program that can “solve” NES games like other mathematical problems.

via  Nobel Intent (WIRED UK):

At SigBovik 2013, [Tom Murphy] presented a program that “solves” how to play Super Mario Bros., or any other NES game, like it’s just another kind of mathematical problem. And for those who know that SigBovik is an annual computer science conference dedicated to spoof research, hosted on April 1 every year, Murphy stresses that this is “100 percent real.”

He outlines his method in a paper, “The First Level of Super Mario Bros.

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‘Motorville’, Animated Short About U.S. Addiction to Oil

Motorville is an animated short film by Patrick Jean about a hungry city map in America that travels to a foreign nation in hopes of feeding it’s oil deprived body made up of “streets, highways and freeways.”

via Vimeo Staff Picks:

http://vimeo.com/62468031

The short film features sounds design by David Kamp and additional animations by both One More Production and Stephen Vuillemin.

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Man Arrested for Shooting Robot

Flickr users: ewen and donabel (CC)

Ohio man Michael Blevins, 62, has been arrested and charged for harming a robot. Is this the next logical news item we should expect to see in a world with cybernetic hate crime?

Via Noel Brinkerhoff of AllGov:

[Blevins] was holed up in his home in Waverly, intoxicated and armed with multiple firearms, when police responded to reports of shots being fired inside the residence.

Wanting to avoid a confrontation, local police sent two surveillance robots inside the home to find Blevins. Upon seeing the larger of the two robots, Blevins opened fire and damaged the roving technology.

Police later stormed the house and used an electronic stun gun to subdue and then apprehend Blevins without any human getting hurt.

He now faces two felony counts of unlawful possession of a dangerous ordnance and vandalism of government property, among other charges.

Go to AllGov for more, or the original coverage from the Chillicothe Gazette and the Singularity Hub.… Read the rest

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