Articles by disinfogreg

The Guardian has some revealing infographics:

Yep, the United States spent a staggering $607bn (£402 bn) on defence in 2008. Currently engaged in what will likely be the longest ground war in US history in Afghanistan. Harbourer of thousands of nuclear weapons. 1.5m soldiers. Fleets of aircrafts, bombs and seemingly endless amounts of military technology.

The defence budgets of the other top nine countries can be neatly accommodated inside the US budget.

So the US is an aggressive, war-mongeringing military machine, right? And the numbers prove it. But is that true? Is that the whole picture?


Via English Russia:

One Russian farmer decided to equip his cow barn with … LED TVs.

He has got from somewhere the information that cows get more happy and productive if they watch the movies with the juicy green fields. So he got a non-stop loop of world’s recognized green Swiss Alpine fields and got the most slim LCD TVs on market in Russia and then called the team of workers to install that all.

Now they go into statistics to measure the outcomes. They compare the results from two groups of cows, one is watching TV another is deprived of this humanity most spread entertainment thing.


The Daily Beast seems to think so. What’s next… smell-o-vision?
boobies-3d

It was just a matter of time before the Avatar-technologies that set Hollywood all aflutter—and that are similarly exciting the makers of next-generation televisions—reached the adult-film world. (Think about it: What genre should benefit most from 3-D’s ability to bring the viewer closer to the action on the screen?) But it turns out Sridix’s film has been in the works for a year, and it could have been released long ago, but he delayed it for the release of James Cameron’s epic in December so that his innovative film could ride the wave. “We had to wait for Avatar to come out,” he says proudly, “and be huge.”

Thanks to the record-breaking box office of Avatar, the 90-minute Shortcuts 3-D—which promises to immerse viewers in an even more “intimate and sensual universe”—is set for a mid-April release on DVD as a result of a distribution deal inked with France’s most famous high-end porn company. Initial sales won’t be huge, given that the first-generation 3-D televisions are only now arriving in stores. But the filmmakers and distributors are gambling on consumers’ curiosity: Will the actress or actor on the screen really seem to be a naked nymphomaniac in your living room?

Amid the current surge to provide enough content to convince folks to fork over thousands of dollars for 3-D televisions, much of the talk has been about the dozens of 3-D feature films set for release and sports events like the 2010 World Cup, which will be broadcast in 3-D, but it is worth remembering that pornography has already proven itself as a driver of technological adaptation. A generation ago, the porn industry tipped the balance in favor of VHS video, undercutting Betamax tapes, and Hollywood soon followed suit.


This is potentially a big deal, for a big country, via Gizmodo:

If you head to Google.cn, you’ll be re-directed to Google.com.hk with a message saying “Welcome to the new home of Google China search.” So that’s that, I guess.

Google is officially no longer censoring search results for China, sending all searchers to its uncensored Chinese-language Hong Kong site instead. Just as Google said it would do after it discovered some pretty serious corporate espionage hackery coming from what turned out to be government-related sources in China, they’re pulling out much of its business in the country. Google isn’t closing down all of its Chinese offices, keeping some sales and R&D staff on board there, but clearly they’ll be making some serious cutbacks to staff.

It’s a big victory to free speech advocates, who were never happy with Google’s decision to self-censor its search results in order to do business in the country. But it’s not great news for people inside China, especially scientists, who are used to relying on Google daily.


roasted-pepper-736227WASBIR HUSSAIN writes on the Associated Press:

GAUHATI, India — The Indian military has a new weapon against terrorism: the world’s hottest chili.

After conducting tests, the military has decided to use the thumb-sized “bhut jolokia,” or “ghost chili,” to make tear gas-like hand grenades to immobilize suspects, defense officials said Tuesday.

The bhut jolokia was accepted by Guinness World Records in 2007 as the world’s spiciest chili. It is grown and eaten in India’s northeast for its taste, as a cure for stomach troubles and a way to fight the crippling summer heat.

It has more than 1,000,000 Scoville units, the scientific measurement of a chili’s spiciness. Classic Tabasco sauce ranges from 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville units, while jalapeno peppers measure anywhere from 2,500 to 8,000.


Via gizmag.com:
jetprotect-cs300k-counter-surveillance-camera

The sniper is without doubt the most fearsome of opponents – capable of taking your life from great distance. Current anti-sniper counter measures depend on the sight or sound of the initial shot, and by that time, it may be too late. Now a new device which uses the same “red-eye” effect of flash cameras and projects it hundreds of meters, can identify binoculars, sniper scopes, cameras and even human eyeballs that are staring at you. It is hence the first machine that can offer 24/7 warning that you are being watched or targeted, BEFORE a shot is fired.

The CS300K™ Long Range Counter Surveillance Camera is the brainchild of high tech surveillance equipment manufacturer JETprotect, and will be a welcome addition to the armory of those who currently spend a lot of money on trained guards watching CCTV monitors.


Breezy, secluded lair for an evil scientist, or professional couple. Pets OK!

via theday.com

lovely_plum_island_g

The federal government will study the potential environmental impacts of selling Plum Island to a private owner for redevelopment or keeping the 840-acre island in federal hands after the research lab for highly infectious animal diseases is moved to Manhattan, Kan.

In a notice published Thursday in the Federal Register, the General Services Administration announced that it would undertake an Environmental Impact Statement to guide the anticipated sale of Plum Island and a 9.5-acre support facility in Orient Point, N.Y.

The island, located in Long Island Sound about 1.5 miles from Orient Point, has been the site of the high-security Plum Island Animal Disease Center since 1954. It is the only national lab for research into foot-and-mouth virus, which is highly contagious to livestock, as well as classical swine fever, vesicular stomatitis virus and foreign animal diseases. It was run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture until 2003, when it was transferred to the Department of Homeland Security.

Paula Santangelo, spokeswoman for the General Services Administration, said the labs at the facility are still operating at full capacity. The Homeland Security Department states on its Web site that the target date for the opening of the Kansas lab is 2014.



Maybe I’ll have a Pepsi instead. Via Art Threat:

What can make a giant tremble? When a penniless student group gets a threat from New York lawyers — in this case, Coca-Cola’s lawyers — on account the students want to show a film condemning human rights abuses, the optics suggest that the giant has something to hide. ‘Screening truth to power’, it seems, has its consequences.

Earlier this month, Coke threatened legal action to prevent the screening of a new documentary film The Coca-Cola Case. The $141 billion company (with annual revenues of $28 billion) threatened a small non-profit media-arts group called Cinema Politica which shows documentary films for free at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec and through a network of independent locals across Canada, in the United States, and in Europe and Latin America.



This has go to be the worst place on Earth to take a “trip,” via Gothamist:

The author of a new book about the CIA’s hallucinogenic drug tests during the Cold War says there’s evidence the agency used NYC commuters as their experimental subjects. He found documentation of the subway tests — which allegedly occurred in 1950 — while researching his nonfiction account. “The experiment was pretty shocking — shocking that the CIA and the Army would release LSD like that, among innocent unwitting folks,” H.P. Albarelli told the Post.

One piece of evidence cited in A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA’s Secret Cold War Experiments is a declassified FBI report from Aug. 25, 1950. “The BW [biological weapon] experiments to be conducted by representatives of the Department of the Army in the New York Subway System in September 1950, have been indefinitely postponed,” it says. Dr. Henry Eigelsbach, a former CIA research scientist, says that the aerosol LSD tests did in fact happen, though little is known about their scale and results.


If it’s well known that animals have a heightened perception of developing weather patterns, this would be no exception, via motherboard.tv: Japan is bracing itself for bad times after scores of the…



Shocker! via The Washington Post: VATICAN CITY (Reuters) — One of Pope Benedict’s ceremonial ushers and a member of an elite choir in St Peter’s Basilica have been implicated in a gay…


Has the iconic/ironic hipster mecca finally reached the tipping point?
via freewilliamsburg:

Somebody threw rocks through the windows of Williamsburg’s American Apparel last night, in what looks to be a bout of “retail terrorism.”

I called up the store to ask just what happened, and was told that yes, indeed, someone threw rocks inside the store but then they were caught by the police. I asked if they think the leggings assassins were acting maliciously, or just drunks, and they said, “Yea, they wrote that on their blog. They have blogs. Someone took pictures and put them up on a blog.” I asked which blog that was, but they didn’t know.

Update 1-1:44 pm: Heard from a tipster who knows an employee at a nearby establishment. That person’s report from the scene makes it sounds a heck of a lot scarier than just a few kids throwing rocks! Per his recollection, there were about 50 guys dressed all in black, wearing masks, and “causing total mayhem” all along No. 6th St, “dumping out trash dumpsters and setting everything on fire in the streets, and then smashing all the windows of the american apparel.”


Congratulations GOP, your hypocrisy levels are now officially hilarious! Yet still, so very sad.

via Huffington Post

Early Wednesday morning, State Sen. Roy Ashburn (R-Calif.) was pulled over and arrested for drunk driving. Sources report that Ashburn — a fierce opponent of gay rights — was driving drunk after leaving a gay nightclub; when the officer stopped the state-issued vehicle, there was an unidentified man in the passenger seat of the car.

Ashburn has issued an apology for the incident:

“I am deeply sorry for my actions and offer no excuse for my poor judgment. I accept complete responsibility for my conduct and am prepared to accept the consequences for what I did. I am also truly sorry for the impact this incident will have on those who support and trust me – my family, my constituents, my friends, and my colleagues in the Senate.”



Rejoice earthlings! If you have not received the transmission yet, MoAM is back from orbit.

via wired:

The sonic space cadets in Man or Astro-man? mashed surf, sci-fi, punk, samples and Tesla coils into a jagged rock juggernaut, touring nonstop in the ’90s before burning out at the dawn of the ’00s. But the Alabama-based band has rebooted for the ’10s, and returns to interface live with fans on a U.S. tour next month.

Contrary to unpopular opinion, the quartet wasn’t just waiting around for developments in nanoscience to help repair its worn-out biocircuitry (although the band members are totally fine with that idea).

Also, check out this great interview over at Chunklet.


Not sure how I feel about this very American expression of homeowner rage:

from death+taxes

It’s undeniable that the recession has unleashed anger across the nation. And that anger’s rapidly devolving into madness. From Joe Stack’s flight into an IRS building to Terry Hoskins, the man who bulldozed his house ahead of foreclosure, seemingly average Americans are lashing out in crazy ways. While Stack’s attack qualifies as the most dramatic outburst, the Hoskins incident, hardly isolated, provides a far more telling glimpse into the ways the economic crisis has soured, and scorched, the American dream.

Owning a home once ranked as the primary goal in the American experience. It was the pinnacle of national striving and homes were icons. Now, as millions face foreclosure, that dream has turned into a nightmare. At his wit’s end about a potential foreclosure, and undoubtedly angry with the bank, Ohio man Terry Hoskins decided to take matters into his own hands and destroy his home. “When I see I owe $160,000 on a home valued at $350,000, and someone decides they want to take it — no, I wasn’t going to stand for that, so I took it down,” explained Hoskins. It’s a compelling tale, one that gives a face to universal public frustration. It’s also turned Hoskins into something of a hero.

Scores of people are praising Hoskins’ middle finger to big business. That’s not surprising. It was, after all, a somewhat charming way to get back at the bank. Rush Limbaugh called his and Stack’s actions “defiance.” Neighbors and sympathizers have started a website to collect donations for Hoskins, who still owes the bank and IRS hundreds of thousands, and may lose his business. Local businesses are showing their support by selling t-shirts and hats that depict a bulldozer and read “Take ‘Er Down.” It’s unclear if “‘er” means the banks, the government, or just foreclosed homes. A sympathetic singer, meanwhile, has written a ballad about Hoskins.

It doesn’t matter to many that Hoskins insists he didn’t do it to “stick it to the man.” He unwittingly embodies public anger, and the public likes to see a mirror image. Though Hoskins gained widespread exposure for his antics, he’s hardly the only American taking drastic steps to avoid foreclosure. He’s just the most flamboyant and, therefore, spellbinding.




Prophetic and creepy. See more photos at dailymail.co.uk

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An apparently lifeless John Lennon lies on the ground, his fellow-Beatles by his side. The haunting picture was taken in 1968 – 12 years before Lennon was gunned down by a crazed fan, Mark Chapman, in New York City.

It was one of many images taken by society photographer Tom Murray during the Fab Four’s last official photoshoot in 1968, which lay forgotten in an envelope for decades.

It was among a number of photographs which were made public today after lying forgotten about for years.

‘From two rolls of film there are 23 surviving shots. The colours are astonishing and it’s basically because the original slides were kept in the dark in an envelope for so many years.’


I’m starting an urban scorpion farm, just to get in on the the action:

by Clay Dillow for popsci.com

Scorpion venom and intense pain generally go hand in hand, but a group of researchers at Tel Aviv University are rethinking that relationship, using a better understanding of the peptide toxins found in scorpions’ pain-inducing payloads to create a breed of non-addictive, side effect-free painkillers.

Pain is communicated to the brain via a certain type of sodium channel embedded in our nervous and muscular systems. Understanding the way these sodium channels convey the sensation of pain from certain parts of the body to the brain is key to manipulating these signals to reduce or eliminate feelings of pain. Figure out how to manipulate those mechanisms, and we could be on the way to a much less painful future.

Luckily for us, scorpions — friendly little critters that they are — have spent the past few million years evolving sophisticated toxins that can really turn up the level of excruciation. By modifying those same molecules, researchers believe they can customize compounds that are highly effective at numbing specific kinds of pain in specific parts of the body. What’s more, because these compounds are natural and tailor-tweaked, they can be engineered to perform without side effects like addiction or the state of lovely but intoxicating loopiness induced by other painkilling compounds like morphine.

Therein lies the benefit, of course; anyone who’s had wisdom teeth pulled or dealt with a serious ligament tear knows that a bottle of conventional pain meds can get the job done, but the side effects can be mentally impairing and even dangerous should one become chemically dependent. With bio-mimicking pain compounds, doctors could treat chronic discomfort without fearing that patients might end up in the streets trying to score that next hit of scorpion.


This makes me wonder how much influence the masons still have in the Good ol’ U.S. of A.

via euobserver.com

A French freemason has said that part of the movement is keen to open a bureau in Brussels to lobby against the rising influence of religious organisations in the EU institutions.

“The masonic orders should practice politics in the positive sense of the term: So that despite their own partisan divisions, they speak out on the side of secularism and voice their disagreement with this or that governmental or European decision,” Jean-Michel Quillardet, the former Grand Master of the Grand Orient de France, told Belgian daily Le Soir in an interview out on Wednesday (17 February).

“It is necessary to impose the universal idea of the Enlightenment, which consists of the notion that people are citizens and European citizens before being Jewish, black, Maghreb, homosexual, heterosexual.”

Mr Quillardet explained that the Grand Orient de France has already created a cell which attempts to bring together all the lodges in Europe.

“We told him that apart from its Christian roots, Europe owed much to Greek and Roman philosophy, Renaissance humanism and the Enlightenment. We obtained representation for masonic orders and for groups which defend secularism in Bepa,” he said, in reference to the Bureau of European Policy Advisers, a high-level policy analysis unit in the EU commission.


Small plane crash into Echelon building in Austin, TX, housing IRS employees. No fatalities reported yet:

According to Alex Jones’ PrisonPlanet.com:

UPDATE: NTSB Investigating Austin Plane Crash As An Intentional Act

Comment: How long before this is blamed on a Tea Party acitvist/Ron Paul supporter or 9/11 truther?

12:42 p.m.: The pilot of the plane had set his house on fire beforehand, stole the plane and crashed it intentionally, a federal official told CNN.

12:40 p.m.: Federal officials said two F-16 fighter jets were launched as a precaution after the crash, though terrorist intent was not indicated.

UPDATE: NTSB official told Fox News that they are investigating Austin, Texas plane crash as an intentional act, and said it appears the pilot set his own house on fire and then got in his plane and flew it into the building. An NTSB spokesman, however, told FoxNews.com that “we can’t confirm any of that.”

An IRS office is located inside the building, NTSB told Fox News.