Author Archive | Breshvic

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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The Genetic Killer

Another proposed “solution” to the mass shootings in America is sure to upset many camps; privacy advocates, mental health care advocates, and even those calling for the heads of the murderers. Soon we will have the results of genetic analysis of Adam Lanza, which may be used by scientists to model genetic predispositions of violence, or by defense attorneys in their pleas. This controversial science is being criticized from all sides, condemned as “misguided and could lead to dangerous stigmatization.”

via Vaughan Bell at Mind Hacks:

But the request to analyse the DNA of Lanza is just the latest in a long line of attempts to account for the behaviour of individual killers in terms of genetics.

Perhaps the first attempt was for a case that bears more than a surface resemblance to the Sandy Hook shooting. In 1998, a 15-year-old high school student called Kip Kinkel killed both of his parents before driving to school and shooting 24 students, one of whom died.

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The Worst Do-Nothing Congress Since the 1940s

The 112th Congress, which opened on January 3, 2011 and ended January 3, 2013, was not only one of the most unpopular in history (less popular, in fact, than cockroaches, traffic jams and Nickelback), but it was also one of the laziest.

Perhaps lazy isn’t the right word… Obstructionist? Divided? Constipated! That’s the word I was looking for. The current US Congress would rather lie in a pool of its own partisan shit than stand for principled progress for the American people, who used to be their constituency some thirty years ago.

Of the more than 3,900 bills introduced, by the end of the year only 238 had been adopted, a passage rate around 6%.

From David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff from AllGov:

It is worth noting that 32 of the successful bills involved the naming of post offices and other buildings, while many others were of similar import.

Only 61 real bills went to President Barack Obama’s desk for signing, and he signed them all.
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Wall Street’s Steeply Increasing Republicanism

We’ve seen massive amounts of dark money in politics co-opt and buy our former democracy wholesale. This was especially clear in the post-Citizen’s United elections in the U.S., with special interests, corporations and/or lobbyists spending billions of dollars (that they otherwise argue they need to keep hold of with preferential legal and legislative treatment).

Wall Street, in particular, holds sway over the thinking in Washington, D.C. Our elected policy-makers are increasingly owned, or at least bought and paid for, in other words; whores. So they’re exercising their freedom of speech, and just as with their other shady deal-making, they tend to bet big. Wall Street gave big to the Democrats and Obama in particular in 2008. They gave to him early on before backing Romney as ‘one of their own’ in the financial sector.

But is there anything to the idea that their toxic objectivism is severely conservative nowadays? Open Secrets Blog, a great research site from the Center for Responsive Politics that was instrumental during the election, before and since, for exposing the flow of money from profiteering barons to pandering politicians.… Read the rest

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Perpetual War Without End

Perpetual War Without End by Breshvic Penicillin

As we enter another year of drone strikes, cyber-warfare, espionage, pre-emptive strikes, funding of coups, instigation, and still those combat boots on the ground, many Americans are shaking the daze of election-year, fiscal debt lies, and popular culture distractions from their minds. Just how long are we going to be embedded in the Middle East? Why does it seem we are moving on to parasitically do the same in Africa? Are these theatres of war par for the course? Have we been witnessing a new Vietnam? Fed up citizens everywhere are sick of the deaths of civilians, the war crimes, the cover-ups, the secrecy, the lies.

Glenn Greenwald, one of the few tirelessly crusading journalists left, rounds up the talking head hypocrisies and obstinate thinking of our leaders and policies associated with the War on Terror. Like the War on Drugs, this ideological jihad has no specific end date; it can’t possibly by definition.… Read the rest

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The Handbook of Human Ownership

A friend and cohort recently sent me a link to the Handbook of Human Ownership: A Manual for New Tax Farmers by Stefan Molyneaux of Free Domain Radio. I don't agree with every point he makes, but the satirical and wry delivery of a supposed powered elite's motivations, their twisted view of history and philosophy is fairly compelling. I may just be a newly devoted listener to this spectacular "veneer of critical thinking."
"If a reporter imagines that he is some sort of free-thinking iconoclast, he is in complete denial about the reality of his enslavement. This denial always manifests itself in hysterical attacks against anyone who dares to point it out, or who actually is a free thinker... To sum up: if we attack the slaves, we lose. If the slaves attack each other, which is so easy to orchestrate, we win."
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Smart Guns Don’t Kill People

Picture: Steve Cross

Technologist and New York Times columnist Nick Bilton explores the development of ‘smart guns‘ designed only to work with the owner’s grip or palmprint. These biometric devices are not entirely new, but are still unable to make it into the marketplace. Smart gun tech may have appeased the most idealogical contenders of either side of the debate on Sandy Hook and other gun massacres: they would not have prevented the killers from being able to use any of the firearms in question, but allowed the original owners to keep them without any infringement of their rights.

Nick Bilton via the NYT’s Bits Blog:

For example, the iGun, made by Mossberg Group, cannot be fired unless its owner is wearing a ring with a chip that activates the gun.

But you would be hard pressed to find this technology on many weapons sold in stores. “The gun industry has no interest in making smart-guns.

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CLOUDS Interactive Documentary: Exploring Creativity Through the Lens of Code

I'm so glad the CLOUDS project was fully-funded by Kickstarter! Part research project, part documentary, this is a prime example of what I'm looking forward to in the future of art; immersive dreamscapes of information driven by creative content and lucid interactivity! Eventually, the audience will have total digital participation with the media at our disposal, and opens up all sorts of questions regarding authorship, artistic intent, storytelling, and our relationship to technology, media and message. What would Marshall McCluhan say?
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Have US Police Forces Become Too Militarised?

International news agency Al-Jazeera (which also happened to recently purchase Current TV here in the states, y'all) asks whether the United States' police forces have become too militarized. For those of us who get our news from independent, mostly online sources, this seems obvious. Anyone who was involved with or follows the Occupy movement has seen how local and state law enforcement have refitted themselves as paramilitary organizations. Each week, seemingly every day, there are dozens of stories of police harassment, abuse, brutality, and infringement on civil rights; usually against people of color. It may not be that this is a trend on the rise, but as others have suggested, that there are simply more cameras and recording devices out there facilitating our constitutional right to keep the cops accountable. But there can be no doubt that the addition of SWAT tactics, zero tolerance, racial profiling, stop-and-frisk, warantless surveillance and wiretapping, armored tank-like vehicles, severe use of 'nonlethal' weapons, and the trigger-happy cowboys themselves have increased faster than you can say 'counter-terrorism' or 'fusion center.' Add in some DHS-supplied drones and you've got a local militia with a fraternal code of silence and protection from the very laws they were once sworn to uphold.
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The Difficulties of Discourse

Picture: City of Anthrax (PD)

The futility of political discourse seems all-too-evident in America, whether at the highest levels of power concerning the nonexistent ‘fiscal cliff’ or the debt ceiling, or around the family reunion dinner table concerning guns and health care. Both ‘sides’ are guilty of pseudoscientific claims, misrepresenting the opposition, sowing division with unnecessary ‘othering’, and usually no real clue as to where they actually stand on the issues or why they stand there at all.

Authors like Alex Berezow and Hank Campbell, Chris Mooney and Jonathan Haidt claim to have found the secrets behind flawed political brains, usually on the opposite ‘side’ than their own. Many studies and online polls posit to have found the mechanisms by which liberals and conservatives operate; liberals are smarter, conservatives are happier, liberals stereotype more, conservatives bow to authority more. While many of these trends can and do show up again and again, it ignores the diversity within and without party lines, the cognitive dissonance along the ideological spectrum, and the subtler reckonings of individual issue orientation.… Read the rest

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