Author Archive | Breshvic

‘Seagulls’: Short Film About Surveillance Drones Shadowing a Girl

It won’t be long before the foreboding surreal visions of the short film “Seagulls” come to pass. Artist Mato Atom shows us a world where we are not only surveilled by the omnipresent drones, but followed from our very birth throughout our lives, for some creepy, sinister, unknown purpose.

via Gizmodo:

seagulls from Mato Atom on Vimeo.

Watch the entire video on Vimeo.

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5 Questions John Brennan Dodged in His CIA Confirmation Hearing

Picture: White House (PD)

Between Dianne Feinstein’s adulation of the drone program (and her lies that civilian deaths were in the single digits) and the Republican filibuster of Chuck Hagel (based on his non-existent relationship with the non-existent “Friends of Hamas”), there actually was a confirmation hearing this past week from our lazy, incompetent Congress. John Brennan, who some may remember was blocked in 2008 due to the objections of civil libertarians, is on schedule to become President Barack Obama’s newest right-wing torture-happy appointee to the head of the CIA. He will continue to perpetuate myths of national security and intelligence work, the merits of extreme rendition and shady intervention in foreign affairs.

Mother Jones‘ Adam Serwer has compiled a great list of the unanswered questions of accountability and transparency in this hearing, what has now become a hallmark of the Bush/Obama era and will certainly be the norm during Brennan’s tenure.… Read the rest

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Mutiny Radio: Year Two

This week, Eddie Winters will be undertaking an attempt at the world’s longest podcast recording in San Francisco. This rounds out several weeks of events celebrating Mutiny Radio’s second year of existence.

Via Mutiny Radio:

Tune in to Mutiny Radio or stop on in at the corner of 21st and Florida (deep within the Mission of SF, California) for some history in the making! Legendary Disc Jockey Eddie Winters along with
Co-Host Alex Q. Huffman will be attempting to make the longest podcast ever recorded.
This will be the event of a lifetime which may be the very event that ends Eddie’s life! There will be food and drinks, Live Stand up performances by the Bay Area’s most …talented comics, Celebrity phone-in Interviews, Live Quija Board sessions, Eddie Winters #1 fan competition, Pietro Laugh-Off, prizes and give-aways too! This is an open, global event where we will give away a prize for the longest distance caller to phone in.

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Supercomputers and Slang

We’re still waiting for machines to pass the Turing test. Recent film work with the chatbot Cleverbot shows the futility of passing the bar for natural conversation. But there are certainly things that bots do better than us, and even those humans who are trying to stifle their progress.

Via Fortune:

Eric Brown, a research scientist with IBM (IBM), is the brains behind Watson, the supercomputer that pummeled human opponents on Jeopardy! in 2011. The biggest difficulty for Brown, as tutor to a machine, hasn’t been making Watson know more but making it understand subtlety, especially slang. “As humans, we don’t realize just how ambiguous our communication is,” he says.

Case in point: Two years ago, Brown attempted to teach Watson the Urban Dictionary. The popular website contains definitions for terms ranging from Internet abbreviations like OMG, short for “Oh, my God,” to slang such as “hot mess.”

But Watson couldn’t distinguish between polite language and profanity — which the Urban Dictionary is full of.

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NYPD’s Staggering Stop-and-Frisk Stats

FestnahmeNYPDAfter much concern from nonprofit groups like the NY Civil Liberties Union (and public outcry), the NYPD has finally released the numbers of their precinct and racial demographics of all the 2011 stop-and-frisks. Emerging accounts and audio have indicated a high order of racial profiling, and the results of NYPD’s own internal reporting confirms that this bias exists in practice.

via  at Animal New York:

Ninety percent of stops in all of the city were of black and Latino people, and many of the neighborhoods with the most stops are majority black or Hispanic.

Brooklyn’s 75th precinct, covering East New York and Cypress Hills, ranked first, with 31,000 stops. Ninety-seven percent where of blacks and Latinos. In second came BK’s 73rd precinct, covering Brownsville, which logged 25,167 stops, 98 percent of which were against people of color. Queens’s 115th precinct, covering East Elmhurst Corona and Jackson Heights, came in third with 18,156, 93 percent were of blacks and Latinos.

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Corporate Profits Have Grown By 171 Percent Under Obama

Picture: Flickr user borman818 (CC)

Pat Garafalo at Think Progress makes an interesting point. While those poor, downtrodden elites like to brand the Obama administration as the “most anti-business” in history, the data tells a far different story.

According to a Bloomberg News analysis, corporate profits have grown by 171% during the Obama era:

U.S. corporations’ after-tax profits have grown by 171 percent under Obama, more than under any president since World War II, and are now at their highest level relative to the size of the economy since the government began keeping records in 1947, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Profits are more than twice as high as their peak during President Ronald Reagan’s administration and more than 50 percent greater than during the late-1990s Internet boom, measured by the size of the economy.

This profit growth is the highest since 1900, while wages have stagnated and the same powerful people have fought to keep the minimum wage down in some states.… Read the rest

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Your Consciousness is Editing Itself

Our brains have a lot of ways of tricking us. In many ways, they are worse enemies to our faculties of logic and critical thinking than even some exterior forces, for the ‘tricks of the mind’ often facilitate demogogues, cult leaders, and even magicians with their illusory machinations.

New research led by cognitive scientist Claire Sergent has found that conscious experience can be altered retrospectively. Specifically, the information of visual input can be ‘altered’ by the brain a split second later by distracting our attention elsewhere.

"Cueing Attention" circles used in the study

Via Mind Hacks:

The research involved asking people to stare at a centre point of a screen with two empty circles either side.

At some point, one of the two circles would fill with randomly oriented stripes for just 50ms (one twentieth of a second) and afterwards the participants were asked to say which direction the stripes were pointing in.

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The Violence of Mexican Drug Cartels

We’ve all read of the horrific border violence plaguing Mexico and the American Southwest, as well as the complicity of both governmental agencies and markets in the diabolical perpetuation of the corrupt Drug War. This stunning animation smacks the viewer with facts and statistics while also appealing to our humanity through the stark stories of violence.

The Violence of Mexican Drug Cartels” was designed by ishothim and published by Visual.ly (which has the stated goal of using ‘infographics and data visualizations [to] tell your story’).

via Laughing Squid:

“Tens of thousands are being murdered, and over a million are being forced to flee their homes. U.S. laws and policy play a major role in the conflict’s violence. This video is about understanding the complexities of the war and why it is happening.”

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Why a Moon Hoax Would Have Been Impossible

While I love delving into a conspiracy as much as the next esotericist, some are definitely more goofy than others. The idea that we never actually went to the moon, and instead NASA (or the Air Force) hired Stanley Kubrick to hoax the entire event has always struck me as more absurd than the ‘official story.’ That they would repeatedly fake further space adventures beggars belief. But it can be tiring to dispel the various anomaly-hunting, misrepresentations of science, and outrageous claims one by one.

Photographer and filmmaker sg collins has decided to cut all of those claims off at the pass, by turning the conspiracy hypothesis against itself; by 1969, while the rocket technology required for space travel had been developed over decades, the video technology necessary to fake the moon landing had not.

Via Gizmodo:

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Al-Jazeera Buys Current TV, Pundits’ Heads Explode

Picture: Flickr User Mike Licht (CC)

Current TV was sold to Al-Jazeera English for a reported $500 million dollars. Eliot Spitzer has quit his show, while the Young Turks made a point of saying they are independent, and thus owned by neither organization.

Time Warner Cable opportunistically jumped at the chance to drop Current with the ‘change of ownership’ clause in their contract. Time Warner contends it was not a political move, but cited ‘lack of demand’ and their already-streaming online free content as factors. According to the New York Times, Time Warner Cable wrote: “We are keeping an open mind, and as the service develops, we will evaluate whether it makes sense, for our customers, to launch the network.”

The point has been made at AlterNet that Time Warner subscribers are hit with the cost of political organizations they may not even want, with FOX charging $1 per month for its content and MSNBC 20 cents.… Read the rest

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