Author Archive | Joseph Allen

Damanhur: My Sci-Fi Theophany Under the Mountain

December, 2007. The distant Alps are covered in snow. Small flakes swirl in the wind, dancing around red clay statues of muscular giants and voluptuous goddesses, reminiscent of Egypt. Most prominent is the falcon-headed god, Horus, facing the Fire Altar where the looming statues converge.

I start to walk into the grove of the Earth Altar, but my guide Shama tells me I should go no further.

“It is dangerous for anyone who is not spiritually prepared,” she warns me. “Very dangerous.”

I would be willing to chance it, but I suppose rules are rules.

In the distance is Monti Pelati, the sacred mountain of the Damanhurians. It is said that more Synchronic Lines converge there than any place in the world. These lines are like the Earth’s magnetic field — only magic. They were discovered psychically by the founder and leader of the Damanhurians, Falco.

This is a place of power, of mystery.… Read the rest

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The Shadow Scholar – The Man Who Writes Students’ Papers Tells His Story

AnonymousIf you ever wondered why America’s great centers of learning churn out this endless parade of half-asses and mouth-breathers, our friend Ed Dante tells us how they make the grade. From the academic journal The Chronicle Review:

The request came in by e-mail around 2 in the afternoon. It was from a previous customer, and she had urgent business. I quote her message here verbatim (if I had to put up with it, so should you): “You did me business ethics propsal for me I need propsal got approved pls can you will write me paper?”

I’ve gotten pretty good at interpreting this kind of correspondence. The client had attached a document from her professor with details about the paper. She needed the first section in a week. Seventy-five pages.

I told her no problem.

It truly was no problem. In the past year, I’ve written roughly 5,000 pages of scholarly literature, most on very tight deadlines.

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DARPA Continues to Refine the Art of Surveillance

DARPA is developing another successor to Total Information Awareness.  Dubbed ADAMS (Anomaly Detection at Multiple Scales), the project aims to sift through billions of military emails to recognize an immanent threat — homocide, suicide, or intelligence leaks.  Wired’s Danger Room and CNN cover the project from different angles:

Darpa(Wired) The military is scrambling to identify disgruntled or radicalized troops who pose a threat to themselves or their buddies. So the futurists at Darpa are asking for algorithms to find and pre-empt anyone planning the next Fort Hood massacre, WikiLeaks document dump or suicide-in-uniform.

This counterintelligence-heavy effort isn’t Darpa’s typical push to create flying Humvees or brainwave-powered prosthetic limbs. But the Pentagon’s far-out R&D team has made other moves recently to hunt down threats from within.

The idea behind the Anomaly Detection at Multiple Scales, or Adams, effort is to sift through “massive data sets” to find the warning signs of looming homicide, suicide or other destructive behavior.

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Top 50 Psychiatrists Paid by Pharmaceutical Companies

An interesting look at the highest paid drug dealers in the psychiatric industry.  What is the price of a medical doctor’s immortal soul?  This list shows about $200,000 for the shrewdest players.  Escobar would be proud.  From PsychCentral:

green_pillsWho were the top 50 psychiatrists in the U.S. paid by the top seven pharmaceutical companies?

This past week, ProPublica, an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest, recently decided to answer that question by compiling a list of 384 physicians and health care providers who earned more than $100,000 total from one or more of the seven companies that have disclosed payments in 2009 and early 2010. Click here for the full list of 384 physicians.

We combed that list and found the top 50 psychiatry earners for the past two years (2009-2010). You can click on any name below to learn more about the physician.

According to an accompanying article to this data, ProPublic notes that “[p]ayments to doctors for promotional work are not illegal and can be beneficial.… Read the rest

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Reality TV in the Age of Credulity

Joseph Allen writes on Confessions of a CyberCasualty:

kill your tvI recently got my foot smashed to hell while doing something stupid. Crippled and couchbound, I indulged the great American painkiller: Reality Television. That just made me more stupid.

We all know the Idiot Box is an insidious device. The TV snares your attention and lulls you into a passive stupor, polluting the subconscious with compulsive memes and corporate logos. It’s like getting blown by an android in a Wal-Mart stockroom. Yet there I was, swilling beers and letting Jersey Shore, American Idol, and truTV’s All Worked Up drown me under electromagnetic waves of human detritus.

Reverend Ron is a redneck repo man with a bleached flattop and cameras in his face. Ron cruises Lizard Lick, NC with Bobby the badass sidekick, reclaiming unpaid vehicles from ignorant white trash and whippin’ ass when necessary. That’s what All Worked Up is all about.… Read the rest

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Cybershark Feeding Frenzy

An article (largely inspired by Disinfo posts—thank you) that contextualizes recent developments in an increasingly nosey society, published by Taki’s Magazine:

BBRO1-270x192The perverse coupling of surveillance and exhibitionism forms a cornerstone of American technocracy. Most Americans, be they liberals or libertarians, are unnerved by government agents, corporate data-miners, or high-tech Peeping Toms probing their personal details. And yet invasive, weirdly intimate technologies multiply like digital cockroaches, all but devouring the expectation of privacy taken for granted only a generation ago. Progress is simply too en vogue to resist.

Reality television brings a glamorous air to perpetual surveillance. The genre has enjoyed immense popularity over the last decade—comprising nearly a fifth of new broadcast programs this season—with cameramen poking into American life’s every facet. From moneyed luxury’s heights to the working-class struggle’s dregs, everyone’s in line for their 15 minutes of fame.

Consequently, the art of living on film is continually refined. But the recent success of TLC’s Sister Wives sounds an ominous warning as to who may be watching behind the camera’s prying eye.… Read the rest

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We Are Living In A Screenworld – Reality Isn’t In The Real World Anymore

storyimages_eviltvsmallMichael Ventura writes on AlterNet:

Not so long ago, I taught a graduate writing seminar in which I got caught in an argument about virtual vs. “real” experience. Two students—among the brightest in the class—insisted that they could go to Rome via a computer program through which they could view every street, turn this corner and that as they pleased, look at every ruin and work of art, and their experience would be as real, as engaged, as if they’d actually been there. n “But,” said I, “a pigeon couldn’t shit on your head.”

Granting that any experience can be called “real,” in that it is an experience, I argued that there are differences in the nature of virtual and actual reality. For one thing, on your walk through a virtual Rome, you aren’t even walking: you’re sitting. And what’s Rome without the wonderful smells of food? Even if your virtual Rome is accompanied by recorded sounds of Rome, that’s nothing like the sounds of racket, traffic, music, and language, the melodious cacophony of Italian, spoken all around you.

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Beneath the Surface: Nashville’s Flood of 2010

Almost completely ignored by the national media (eg. CNN’s big headline on May 3 was — and I cringe — “Catastrophic” Flood Being Ignored?, which was just an iReport), the flood destroyed thousands of homes and killed at least 34 people.

This is a first-hand account, posted on  “Confessions of a CyberCasualty”:

JoeBot, "Disaster Tourist" (Photo: Andrew Edman)

The rain came on May Day without mercy, drenching Middle Tennessee for nearly two days. The downpour finally let up on Sunday — May 2 — immediately drawing disaster-tourists with cameras in hand.

I join them downtown on 1st Avenue, by the Cumberland River. The water marker reads 47′, and it’s climbing fast. Gawkers gather around to document the progress.

The riverfront stage is completely submerged at this point, but that doesn’t stop the show. We all watch an endless parade of municipal trashcans, propane tanks, dock stairs, basketballs, and uprooted trees floating down the river.… Read the rest

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