Author Archive | Disinformation

When Chocolate Was Medicine

Chocolate has not always been the common confectionary we experience today. When it first arrived from the Americas into Europe in the 17th century it was a rare and mysterious substance, thought more of as a drug than as a food. Christine Jones traces the history and literature of its reception.

Poseidon taking chocolate from Mexico to Europe, a detail from the frontispiece to Chocolata Inda by Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, 1644.

Poseidon taking chocolate from Mexico to Europe, a detail from the frontispiece to Chocolata Inda by Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, 1644.

 

In the seventeenth century, Europeans who had not traveled overseas tasted coffee, hot chocolate, and tea for the very first time. For this brand new clientele, the brews of foreign beans and leaves carried within them the wonder and danger of far-away lands. They were classified at first not as food, but as drugs — pleasant-tasting, with recommended dosages prescribed by pharmacists and physicians, and dangerous when self-administered. As they warmed to the use and abuse of hot beverages, Europeans frequently experienced moral and physical confusion brought on by frothy pungency, unpredictable effects, and even (rumor had it) fatality.… Read the rest

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“War on Whistleblowers”: Another Whistleblower Sentenced

In 2013, just weeks before revelations by Edward Snowden and PFC Chelsea Manning, we released War on Whistleblowers: Free Press and the National Security State.

Two years later, the aggressive war on whistleblowers is still being waged. This Monday, Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer, was found guilty of 9 criminal counts and is likely on his way to a lengthy prison sentence for telling the truth.

Now, War on Whistleblowers is more relevant than ever. Watch the trailer below and go here for more information.

Four renowned cases of whistle-blowing serve as the backdrop to a much larger story of what happens to people who resort to the media to expose fraud and abuse:

  • Franz Gayl (Deputy Branch Head for the Space and Information Operations Integration Branch) — a lifelong Marine Gayl blew the whistle to stop unnecessary death and dismemberment of soldiers by replacing Humvees with MRAP’s (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles) in Iraq.
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Science for the People!

CC-BY: BSSRS/Wellcome Images

CC-BY: BSSRS/Wellcome Images

There’s a smell in Battersea, south-west London. Today, there are streams of the internet devoted to a whiff of toast commuters notice on the train over the river. It’s something to do with local coffee roasters, apparently. But in the early 1970s, the area was very different economically, and the stink wasn’t nearly so pleasant. The strong stench – described at the time as “like dead bodies” – was colloquially known as “The Battersea Smell”.

There was various speculation about causes. Most likely was that the stench came from one or two local factories – the gin distillers John Watney and Co and the glucose manufacturers Garton Sons and Co. But no one really knew. Moreover, the local council seemed to be actively avoiding trying to find out, and avoiding attempting to do much about it.

As a local paper at the time noted, “We can get to the moon, phone relatives in Australia, perform miracles of surgery but a simple matter like getting rid of a smell seems to baffle everyone.”

Residents were especially annoyed as the local council insisted they use (expensive) smokeless fuel to cut air pollution yet seemed to do nothing about the stink.… Read the rest

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EFF’s Game Plan for Ending Global Mass Surveillance

We have a problem when it comes to stopping mass surveillance.

The entity that’s conducting the most extreme and far-reaching surveillance against most of the world’s communications—the National Security Agency—is bound by United States law.

eff

 

That’s good news for Americans. U.S. law and the Constitution protect American citizens and legal residents from warrantless surveillance. That means we have a very strong legal case to challenge mass surveillance conducted domestically or that sweeps in Americans’ communications.

Similarly, the United States Congress is elected by American voters. That means Congressional representatives are beholden to the American people for their jobs, so public pressure from constituents can help influence future laws that might check some of the NSA’s most egregious practices.

But what about everyone else? What about the 96% of the world’s population who are citizens of other countries, living outside U.S. borders. They don’t get a vote in Congress. And current American legal protections generally only protect citizens, legal residents, or those physically located within the United States.… Read the rest

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“Mobilize” Q&A Video + Free Screenings in VA and VT

Disinformation’s Mobilize will be screening for free in Arlington, Virginia and Norwich, Vermont on January 30th. Special thanks to all of the non-profit sponsors who put together these events. More details and information about screenings can be found on the official Mobilize website.

Back in December, the San Francisco Public Library hosted a free screening of Mobilize. Above is a video of the Q&A with the filmmakers including: director Kevin Kunze, CABTA’s Ellie Marks, UC Berkeley’s Joel Moskowitz, and EHT’s Lloyd Morgan.

If you can’t make it to the Vermont or Virginia screenings, Mobilize is available as a download, stream (below video), or as a DVD. Visit the product page for more information.

Mobilize from TDC Entertainment on Vimeo.

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President Obama’s State of the Union Sale

State Of The Union (201501200003HQ)In President Obama’s State of the Union address last evening, he mentioned many subjects that are integral to our country and our lives (for Americans reading this, that is, but most of the issues affect everyone – like drone strikes). Many of those key topics are reflected in our award-winning library of documentary films.

We think everyone needs to see these films while the country considers President Obama’s agenda, so we’re giving you a chance to purchase them at 40% off the list price (just use the coupon code “StateofUnion at checkout)

Here’s what the president had to say and why our films are so relevant:

“As Americans, we respect human dignity, even when we’re threatened, which is why I’ve prohibited torture, and worked to make sure our use of new technology like drones is properly constrained.” – President Obama 1/20/15

Related films:

UnmannedUnmanned: America’s Drone Wars: A film by Robert Greenwald that takes a hard look at the impact of American drone use in Pakistan.… Read the rest

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Transhumanism: Longevity & Immortality

Transhumanism barnstar.png

Antonu (CC)

[Excerpted from Transcendence: The Disinformation Encyclopedia of Transhumanism and the Singularity by R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell]

Living beyond the perceived limits of an individual human life seems to be the central obsession of transhumanist culture. Transhumanists are against death. Many of the projects and developments discussed in this book are explicitly aimed at the defeat of the Grim Reaper. If you think death is okay, a transhumanist might call you a deathist. A deathist is an enemy of transhumanism, just as a capitalist is an enemy of communism, or a Marxist is an enemy of capitalism.

BEGINNINGS

The quest for extreme longevity through contemporary science method began to gather steam in the latter half of the 20th century. In 1962, American physics professor Robert Ettinger proposed that the biological sciences would someday soon find a key to immortality, and that cryonic preservation was a way that a person living in the 20th century could keep himself intact until that great day.… Read the rest

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Criticisms of Transhumanism

Anti transhumanism

[Excerpted from Transcendence: The Disinformation Encyclopedia of Transhumanism and the Singularity by R.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell]

Empowering individuals and transcending what were long considered human limits: these goals are exciting to some, but they’re disturbing and frightening to others. Let’s put major objections to transhumanism into one or more of four categories: that it’s unfeasible, directly dangerous, indirectly dangerous, or immoral.

“IT WON’T WORK!”

It’s easy to be skeptical about technological predictions. After all, nobody commutes by personal helicopter or nuclear-powered automobile, or has a kitchen robot cooking dinner. Nuclear power never made electricity “too cheap to meter,” and controlled fusion has been twenty years away for about sixty years now . . . and still is.

Some say that mind uploading is impossible, pointing to the assumptions implicit in the concept: the idea that “you” (your self, mind, or soul) is something distinct from your body.This philosophical dualism is seen as inconsistent with the materialism transhumanists otherwise profess.… Read the rest

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Transcendence: RU Sirius & Jay Cornell on Transhumanism

TranscendenceR.U. Sirius and Jay Cornell are the authors of Transcendence: The Disinformation Encyclopedia of Transhumanism and the Singularity. Transhumanism has been a hot but divisive topic on disinformation, so we felt there was a need to foster greater understanding of just what transhumanism is, and is not, hence the format of the book is an A-Z encyclopedia.

We asked Jay and R.U. to answer a few questions about the book and the topic in general:

RU, you have long been associated with the transhumanism movement; can you tell us how you got hooked and what your personal interest in transhumanism is?

RU: In a sense, I go way back to the 1970s, although I wasn’t familiar with the term transhumanism then. I think the only person using it at that time was a guy named F.M. Esfandiary. I was, if you will, turned on and tuned in by Timothy Leary and his cohort in conscious evolution Robert Anton Wilson.… Read the rest

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The Charlie Hebdo Cartoon Covers

By now everyone is aware of the Paris assassinations of the Charlie Hebdo journalists. We feel sure that Charb and his team would want their work to go far and wide in response to the acts of the murderous Islamists who carried out France’s worst terrorist incident since the 1960s, so here are a couple of the cartoon covers that, in the eyes of some, required the death of the people who created them:

charlie hebdo

For those interested in supporting what’s left of Charlie Hebdo, its lawyer, Richard Malka, has confirmed that next week’s edition of the magazine will be published on Wednesday and will have a print run of one million, instead of the normal 60,000 copies.

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