Author Archive | Brother Elias

What Happens When One State Accidentally Decriminalizes Prostitution?

I have never paid for sex, but I have nothing against prostitution. If the results of it being illegal engender a greater risk than it being legal, then perhaps the Government should do the right thing.

English: Customer and a prostitute (a money po...

English: Customer and a prostitute (a money pouch is hanging on the wall), tondo of a red-figure kylix. Munich, private collection, ARV 923,29. Deutsch: Liebesakt; Innebild einer Rotfigurigen Trinkschale um 480-470 v.Chr.; Privatbesitz, München. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) (PD)

via Policy.Mic

Everyone makes decisions with unintended consequences. Not everyone accidentally legalizes prostitution.

That honor belongs to Rhode Island, where legislation produced an inadvertent six-year social experiment during which prostitution was allowed as long as it happened indoors. (You can see one alleged brothel pictured above.) Researchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research dove into what happened, and the results were surprising.

“Decriminalization caused both forcible rape offenses and gonorrhea incidence to decline for the overall population,” the study says.

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Stop Giving Airtime to Crackpots

Here in America, there’s whole political ideologies consisting of crackpots and media pundits whose bread and butter is wingnuttery.

via Slate

English: "The removal of the cracked melt...

“The removal of the cracked melting pot” (1884), painting by Constantin Meunier (1831-1905) Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Brussels, Belgium (Photo credit: Wikipedia) (CC)

In very welcome news, BBC journalists have been told to stop inviting crackpots on news shows in the name of balance.

Oh, I do so love this. It’s precisely the right thing to do, sorely needed and sorely overdue. In this specific case, back in 2012 the BBC was criticized for news shows inviting on people with fringe views, especially when the science being discussed was solidly understood.

Obviously, the topic most abused in this way was the reality of global warming. That should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying any attention at all.

But more broadly, most TV news shows do this, especially when they are done with a talk show format.

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Resident Discovers Home Was Once Serial Killer’s ‘Torture Chamber’

Silent screams

Silent screams (Photo credit: sunbeer) (CC)

This is one of those incidents where it’s better not to know. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

via Phantoms and Monsters

How would you react to the news that your home was once used as a torture chamber by a serial killer?

It sounds like a made-for-TV movie, but instead it’s a real life nightmare for one St. Louis woman. It’s a typical North County ranch house on a tree-lined street.
Catrina McGhaw signed the lease without worry. Her section 8 voucher covered $810 in rent. Until a family member told McGhaw to check out a cold case documentary about serial killers airing on the A&E Network.

McGhaw is living in the same Ferguson, Missouri house serial killer Maury Travis used as a torture chamber. The landlord even gave her the dining room table; the same one from the crime scene photos.

“When she showed us the house, she said you can have this table if you want,” McGhaw said.

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A Saga of Shrooms and Nude Modeling

Psilocybin

Psilocybin (Photo credit: Spencer Mann) (CC)

I must give it to this guy, I know from experience that tripping in public is a brave move. I can’t say I have experienced nude modeling though.

via Medium

The great thing about drugs is that they’re an instant cure for boredom. And I’ve been pretty bored lately. Rather than do something constructive, I decided to entertain myself by picking up a half ounce of shrooms and doing some nude modeling at an art studio. I figured it would be an interesting story to tell at the bar afterward with some friends. Maybe have a few drinks, a few laughs, and forget about the whole thing the next day.

 Wrong.

 It’s this kind of impulsive naivete’ that resulted in one of the more horrific and sexually confusing episodes of my life.

 I’m not entirely sure how legal this whole thing is, so I wont get into specifics, but what I can tell you is that the studio I decided on was actually a large theatre in a decent area of town that doubled as both a visual arts center as well as a ritzy cinema.

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Climate Change Denying Physicist Compares Carbon Dioxide to Jews

ball-and-stick model of CO2: carbon dioxide

ball-and-stick model of CO2: carbon dioxide (Photo credit: Wikipedia) (PD)

What? I don’t even… Where do they find these people?

via io9

During an appearance on CNBC, Physicist William Happer was asked about his view that human beings are not causing climate change. His response: “The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler. Carbon dioxide is actually a benefit to the world, and so were the Jews.”

Happer, a professor at Princeton University who specializes in atomic physics and optics (but not climate), has been a longtime crusader against the oppression of carbon dioxide. In 2009, he testified before the U.S. Senate:

I keep hearing about the “pollutant CO2,” or about “poisoning the atmosphere” with CO2, or about minimizing our “carbon footprint.” This brings to mind another Orwellian pronouncement that is worth pondering: “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” CO2 is not a pollutant and it is not a poison and we should not corrupt the English language by depriving “pollutant” and “poison” of their original meaning….CO2 is absolutely essential for life on earth.

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The shameful secret behind the popularity of spy movies

It seems that some tend to attribute too much credit to the goings on of shadowy operations. No wonder when we consider the longevity of the spy fiction genre.

via The Week

Shape of Walther PPK

Shape of Walther PPK (Photo credit: Wikipedia) (GNU)

Moviegoers love spies. James Bond is probably the most successful franchise in history. And when you consider all the spinoffs, descendants, books, television shows, and media-spanning imitators, it’s probably fair to say that spying is one of the top two or three subjects of popular media in America, along with superheroes and light sabers.

Most spy fiction portrays spies as noble and almost superhumanly skilled, both physically and intellectually. James Bond is always a master at whatever the screenwriters can dream up, up to and including sword-fighting with a half-dozen different kinds of blades. Jason Bourne speaks a dozen languages, fights like an MMA specialist, drives like a rally car champion, and can break into CIA headquarters without even breathing hard.

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A Hacker Artist Sent the NSA an ‘Uncrackable’ Encrypted Mixtape

The audio cassette greatly increased the distr...

The audio cassette greatly increased the distribution of bootleg recordings in the 1980s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) (GNU)

Math evens the playing field and assists in sticking it to the man.

via Motherboard

In late May, hacker artist David Huerta, co-organizer of Art Hack Day and Cryptoparty, sent the NSA one hell of a snail mail. Huerta built a DIY encrypted mixtape using an Arduino board and a transparent acrylic case, containing a “soundtrack for the modern surveillance state.” It’s a mixtape the NSA won’t be able to listen to because of the power of private key-based cryptography.

Originally, Huerta wanted to make a traditional mixtape and share it with friends and co-workers. But, without a cassette recorder, he didn’t get very far. That’s when his DIY hacker artist instincts kicked in, and he started building the encrypted mixtape at NYC Resistor.

“I made my own version of a mixtape with an Arduino and wave shield sandwiched in between two laser-etched pieces of transparent acrylic,” he wrote. “The use of a giant-ass Arduino and wave shield was chosen since the (shitty) 44KHz wave file format gave it roughly the same audio quality I figured a wiretapped AT&T phone conversation would have.”

Huerta settled on the transparent acrylic cassette casing as a symbolic gesture of transparency.

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Why libertarians must deny climate change, in one short take

Part of the frustration of dealing with certain curmudgeons, for me at least, is misunderstanding how they can deny something as plain as day. Perhaps you feel same, maybe this will shed some light on such, and allow you to move forward.  Mind you, this article is a couple of years old.

via The Guardian

Don't Forget To Pay The Ferryman

Don’t Forget To Pay The Ferryman (Photo credit: Cayusa) (CC)

In a simple and very short tract, Matt Bruenig presents a devastating challenge to those who call themselves libertarians, and explains why they have no choice but to deny climate change and other environmental problems.

Bruenig explains what is now the core argument used by conservatives and libertarians: the procedural justice account of property rights. In brief, this means that if the process by which property was acquired was just, those who have acquired it should be free to use it as they wish, without social restraints or obligations to other people.

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Stopping harmful climate change is surprisingly cheap

brass tacks

brass tacks (Photo credit: MicroAssist) (CC)

If some of us can get past distractions such as percentages of scientists, political theatrics, corporate think tanks, etc. We may be able to get down to brass tacks and talk about money.

via New Scientist

Saving our skins might be surprisingly cheap. To avoid dangerous climate change, the world needs to boost spending on green energy by $1 trillion a year. That sounds scarily large, but we could cover a lot of it using the subsidies currently handed to fossil fuels.

Governments have agreed to limit global warming to 2°C, because more than that may be impossible to adapt to. “We need to drastically transform our energy system,” says David McCollum of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria. “It is high time we thought about how much capital is needed.”

McCollum’s team plugged that gap by analysing six different models that combine data on greenhouse gas emissions, energy scenarios and investment costs.

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Looking For The Best Strategy? Ask A Chimp

English: Human and chimpanzee skull and brain

Human and chimpanzee skull and brain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Researchers at Caltech elucidate the superior short term memory of chimpanzees, amongst other things.

via EurekaAlert!

If you’re trying to outwit the competition, it might be better to have been born a chimpanzee, according to a study by researchers at Caltech, which found that chimps at the Kyoto University Primate Research Institute consistently outperform humans in simple contests drawn from game theory.

The study, led by Colin Camerer, Robert Kirby Professor of Behavioral Economics, and appearing on June 5 in the online publication Scientific Reports, involved a simple game of hide-and-seek that researchers call the Inspection Game. In the game, two players (either a pair of chimps or a pair of humans) are set up back to back, each facing a computer screen. To start the game, each player pushes a circle on the monitor and then selects one of two blue boxes on the left or right side of the screen.

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