Author Archive | Joseph Allen

Heroin Addicts: Powerless to a Flower

Opium Poppy:  Papaver somniferum

Opium Poppy: Papaver somniferum

Editor’s Note: This opinion piece was written by a contributor. It examines substance addiction, a controversial topic. No endorsement is implied by its publication. The Disinformation Company encourages you to speak with your medical provider(s) regarding this or any other health-related topic.

An old drinking buddy of mine overdosed on heroin recently. He moved out to the Pacific Northwest to skate or die, and wound up doing both, joining a hundred other Americans who go out that way every day. I hadn’t seen or thought about him in years, but by coincidence, I was in town when he passed. A mutual friend told me there would be a memorial at a local skate park. I stopped by to pay my respects.

I found a bundle of droopy balloons hovering over beer can tabs, a condom wrapper, and a melted candle. Mourners had written dedications all over the squeaky balloon skins.… Read the rest

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Ray Kurzweil Wants to Make Google Sentient

Hal_console

Man’s best friend?

What is smarter than hoovering up the personal information and innermost thoughts of every person on the planet and then stuffing it into a single database?  Creating an artificial intelligence system capable of understanding it.  From The Guardian:

Google has bought almost every machine-learning and robotics company it can find, or at least, rates. It made headlines two months ago, when it bought Boston Dynamics, the firm that produces spectacular, terrifyingly life-like military robots, for an “undisclosed” but undoubtedly massive sum. It spent $3.2bn (£1.9bn) on smart thermostat maker Nest Labs. And this month, it bought the secretive and cutting-edge British artificial intelligence startup DeepMind for £242m.

And those are just the big deals. It also bought Bot & Dolly, Meka Robotics, Holomni, Redwood Robotics and Schaft, and another AI startup, DNNresearch. It hired Geoff Hinton, a British computer scientist who’s probably the world’s leading expert on neural networks.… Read the rest

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Racism May Not Be “Natural” (But Being an Asshole Is)

From "2001: A Space Odyssey"

Brain scans have shown that when people see faces of other races, their amygdalas light up like home security systems.  Some tout this as evidence of hardwired racial bias, evolved to keep the oddly colored “other” out of home territory.  But as Robert Wright points out in this recent article, there would be few opportunities for interracial conflict in our geographically dispersed evolutionary past.  The “other” would primarily be distinguished by different visual cues such as tribal emblems, because hostile neighboring tribes would generally be of the same race.

More recent brain scan experiments done on children show that, like menstrual cramps and unstoppable boners, neurological race rage doesn’t kick in until after puberty.  While the question of “nature vs. nurture” is still open, this suggests that cultural forces are at work.

Wright’s line of reasoning is pretty solid when he says, “[T]hough we’re not naturally racist, we’re naturally ‘groupist.’”

Via The Atlantic:

There’s never been good reason to believe that human beings are naturally racist.… Read the rest

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PZ Myers Calls Eben Alexander’s Visions Brain-Damaged ‘Bullshit’

Harvard-educated neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander woke up one morning with a bad case of E. Coli eating his brain. Before he could say “alakazam,” his neocortex had shut down completely, while his incorporeal body was whisked away on butterfly wings into the depths of the Infinite Beyond. He saw visions, was given messages, and upon returning to consciousness, wrote down his story, which he summarized for Newsweek.

Upon reading this account, blogging biologist and professional party-pooper PZ Myers basically accuses Dr. Alexander of being retarded.  Relishing in his contempt for any Swedenborgian realities that may lie beyond atoms and the void, Myers wipes his ass with Newsweek on his famous science blog Pharyngula:

I’ve got to wonder who is responsible for this nonsense, and how it gets past the staff at Newsweek. Every once in a while, they’ve just got to put up a garish cover story touting the reality of Christian doctrine, and invariably, the whole story is garbage.

Read the rest
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Tennesseans Evolved Thumbs After All

Courtesy of Brandt Hardin

Courtesy of Brandt Hardin

People think Tennesseans are remarkably stupid. Like the late Bill Hicks, who continually mocked my state during his comedy routines. “In many parts of our troubled world, people are yelling ‘Revolution!’” he ranted. “In Tennessee they’re yelling ‘Evolution! We want our thumbs!!‘” Whenever Tool or A Perfect Circle would come to town, singer Maynard Keenan always asked Tennessee audiences to put their thumbs in the air. As we held our opposable digits over our heads, Keenan came with the punch line: “Just making sure you have them.” What can I say? Stereotypes are hilarious.

So it is without resentment that this Tennessean wishes Charles Darwin a happy 203rd birthday today. I would love to celebrate with a heapin’ helpin’ of chilled monkey brains, but ’round these parts that would require cannibalizing the locals.

Despite the creationists’ best efforts, Darwin’s theory of natural selection reigns as the unifying concept in biology, and continues to give wider context to such disparate fields as ecology, epidemiology, and psychology.… Read the rest

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Cosmic Cycles of Violence: John Lennon and Dimebag Darrell Gunned Down on December 8

Courtesy of Brandt Hardin

Courtesy of Brandt Hardin

From RockStarMartyr.net:

Pantera’s furious music was propelled by guitarist Darrell Abbott’s maniacal claws ripping across a Washburn fretboard. The music was aggression distilled, warfare on vinyl, the hellish harmonics of testosterone-pumped teenagers smashing beer bottles and crucifixes, the pentatonic expression of sociopathic sexual impulse turned loose on loose pussy, power chords and possession, amplifiers and alcohol, whammy bars and whimsical youth. Pantera was pissed. And yet, no one remembers the jolly Dimebag Darrell being particularly pissed in day-to-day life. Not nearly as pissed as John Lennon was, anyway.

Behind the lead Beatle’s circular granny glasses and tireless promotion of peace burned a fury unmatched by most metal enthusiasts. Lennon was pissed at his parents, pissed at his bandmates, pissed at his stay-at-home wife, pissed at Her Majesty the Queen, pissed at America’s war machine, pissed at the world for not giving peace a chance. Lennon was fucking hostile.… Read the rest

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ODB, STDs, and Government Cheese

ODBDid “the Government” kill the Ol’ Dirty Bastard?  From RockStarMartyr.net:

Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s slurring, incoherent “singin’ rappin’” rhymes hit the mic so hard, you have to wipe oozing spittle off your face after listening to his deranged tracks. He spoke the tough truth from the mean streets, delving into the dark crevices of ghetto crackhouses and bitch’s booties, coming out the other side covered in doodoo brown and flashing a steel grille grin all the while. Some believe that the big “G” government” took notice and were highly pissed about it.

Raised in the housing projects of Brooklyn, ODB broke out with the “world domination” scheme masterminded by his cousins, RZA and GZA, whose hip hop exploits are succinctly described by Dirty’s biographer, Jaime Lowe:

“The foundation of Wu-Tang is in its lore, its urban mythology, its appropriation of kung fu, chess, Buddhism, Islam, bible studies, cartoons, comics, Staten Island; anything they came across was woven into an intricate web of culture and identification and a constructed community that bordered on cult.… Read the rest

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Robert Johnson Opened the Gates of Hell for Elvis Presley

© Brandt Hardin

Courtesy of Brandt Hardin

Robert Johnson supposedly made a deal with the Devil to obtain his blues licks and Elvis Presley was the televised Son of God. How appropriate that they share a death day at RockStarMartyr.net:

Even after the abolition of slavery, life in the Mississippi cotton fields was brief, brutal, and as boring as an aging preacher’s Sunday sermon. No wonder fieldworkers sought the fleeting comforts of cheap moonshine and loose women at the Saturday night juke joints.

Robert Johnson could mix it up with the best of them, but he was never one for hard work. His bizarre, spider-like fingers weren’t intended for cotton-pickin’ and penny-pinchin’. They were made for crawling across guitar necks, whiskey bottles, and the legs of middle-aged sugar mamas. If Johnson was going to suffer hell to make a dollar, it would be as a wayfaring musician. His road was full of adventure and ecstasy, but ended in hell just the same.… Read the rest

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An Inside Look At Bonnaroo 2011

RFID chips, a privately-funded police state, cult recruiters, and enough soma to make Indra tap out.  Is it just another music festival, or a dress rehearsal for dystopia?  From a rigger’s diary at RockStarMartyr.net:

© Darin Seaman

© Darin Seaman

It took nearly 24 hours of unbroken sleep to recover from my Bonnaroocleosis. Like other workers, performers, and festicle-goers in attendance, I’ve been hacking up silty brown lung-dumplings and blowing whole coal fields of black boogers into rolls of tissue.

The annual Bonnaroo dust storm could be a preview of the world after a nuclear cataclysm, where those so privileged will wring their desperate satisfaction from tingling chemicals, sun-seared flesh on display, and the pulsating rhythm of pleasure machines, leaving pathetic Plebeians to pick through the scraps.

Once again, I had a blast under the mushroom cloud.

Monday, June 6: Say “Moo” motherfucker

I’m late as usual to pick up Glen the Red, a fellow rigger who packed his camping gear and work tools hours ago.… Read the rest

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Bob Marley Died Dreaming of Babylon on Fire

© Brandt Hardin

Courtesy of Brandt Hardin

Fire up a spliff and bow to this man at RockStarMartyr.net:

Bob Marley shined a ray of hope upon the starved and battered denizens of the Third World with his soothing reggae rhythms. The singer rose up from the brutal Jamaican ghetto to emerge on the international music scene as a charismatic voice of conscience, holding up the bitter legacy of European colonialism to the shame of well-fed “baldheads.” He sang an apocalyptic song of freedom, tapping Rasta prophecies that promised the return of Africans to their homeland, “Zion,” and the total destruction of decadent Western society — Babylon. As the tumultuous 1970s drew to a close, Marley and his fellow Rastafari were certain the end was nigh.

Bob Marley’s world ended in a Miami hospital bed thirty years ago this week on May 11, 1981, while the First World’s marketing gurus captured and framed his image in ganja green, blood red, and merchandising gold.… Read the rest

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