Author Archive | majestic

New streaming apps could boost citizen journalism

If any disinfonauts are live streamers let us know via twitter (@disinfo) so we can let the rest of y’all know to check you out. AFP via Yahoo News says you’re the future of citizen journalism:

When three buildings collapsed and ignited a blaze in New York, a smartphone app brought the live video feed to anyone online wanting to watch.

The disaster took place, coincidentally, the same day as the launch of Twitter’s new livestream app Periscope, which became a window for the breaking news event.

The event showed how Periscope and rival app Meerkat, which can deliver live video through Twitter to anyone online, could become an important tool for citizen journalism.

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By feeding live video through Twitter to anyone online, these apps eliminate the need to upload to YouTube or transfer to broadcasters like CNN to get a wide audience.

While social media has empowered citizen journalism for years, the use of live video could become a powerful tool for these reporters and change the way people get news.

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Inmates Drink Ayahuasca As Therapy In Brazilian Prison

Imagine this: a prison system that actually wants to turn its inmates into better people. As unlikely as that might seem in a world where the prison-industrial complex is spreading its dark shadow worldwide, in Brazil one prison is actually trying to send back prisoners to society as improved people by treating them with ayahuasca (for more information on ayahuasca review our archive). The New York Times reports from:

JI-PARANÁ, Brazil — As the night sky enveloped this outpost in Brazil’s Amazon basin, the ceremony at the open-air temple began simply enough.

Dozens of adults and children, all clad in white, stood in a line. A holy man handed each a cup of ayahuasca, a muddy-looking hallucinogenic brew. They gulped it down; some vomited. Hymns were sung. More ayahuasca was consumed. By midnight, the congregants seemed strangely energized. Then the dancing began.

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The foul brew: Ayahuasca. Photo by Sascha Grabow (CC)

 

Such rituals are a fixture across the Amazon, where ayahuasca has been consumed for centuries and entire religions have coalesced around the psychedelic concoction.

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The Hedge Clippers: Exposing Hedge Fund Politics

The Hedge Clippers are taking up where Occupy Wall Street left off, picketing the homes and meeting places of prominent hedge fund titans, reports the New York Times:

Two weeks ago, several busloads of New Yorkers made a pilgrimage to Greenwich, Conn., to visit the waterfront estate of the hedge fund titan Paul Tudor Jones II, where, suffice it to say, they were not invited in to see the china. It was a rainy Saturday afternoon and the protesters, many of them ordinary working people who have felt cheated by the inequities of a tax system that favors the rarefied few, were there to call attention to Mr. Jones’s educational agenda, built on the premise that theextravagantly rich know better how to teach reading, and to his support of Republican candidates and causes in the New York State Legislature that disadvantage the poor and working class.

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It is this kind of political spending, a total of $1.6 million over the past 12 years, they maintain, that undermines his philanthropic efforts through the Robin Hood Foundation, the poverty-fighting charity he created.

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The Hotly Contested Link Between Science Denial and Conspiracy Theories

Interesting link between denial of science and predilection for conspiracy theories via the Washington Post:

In 2013, the University of Bristol psychologist Stephan Lewandowsky and colleagues published two papers containing a provocative claim: A tendency to endorse conspiracy theories, they suggested, makes people more likely to challenge various aspects of science, too. Across the two papers, they linked conspiratorial beliefs to science rejection on no less than five issues: climate change, vaccines, genetically modified organisms, and the ties between HIV and AIDS and smoking and lung cancer.

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Since then, the research has been widely discussed and criticized — particularly the conclusion about climate science rejection — and now, the intensity of the debate seems set to go up yet another notch. The reason is that the journal Psychological Science has just published two papers on the matter: one, a statistical critique of the Lewandowsky papers, and the other a response from Lewandowsky and his co-authors (also discussed in a blog post here).

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Guerrilla Radio: How some prison inmates hack, rewire, and retool their radios to create walkie-talkies

Take notes from this Marshall Project post: you’ll want to retool your radio too come the Apocalypse:

Prisoners face numerous restrictions when communicating with one another or the outside world. But where there is a rule, there is often a workaround. At Pelican Bay State Prison in Northern California, inmates have yelled to one another through drainpipes under their cells; inmates in Texas talk through cans connected with twine; and in facilities throughout the country, little paper notes — known as “kites” — are literally handed off. As technology has developed, so have the communication methods; cell phones and iPods are regularly smuggled to inmates by visitors and guards. And occasionally, the technology is already inside the prison. Some inmates have learned how to transform their radios into devices that allow them to talk to each other and even eavesdrop on guards.

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Once an inmate has purchased an analog radio from the prison commissary (they usually cost less than $30), he can open it up and pull apart a coil, which changes the range of frequency that the radio can access.

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U.S. Army’s JADE HELM 15 Exercises Ignite Conspiracy Theories

The Army’s plans to conduct military exercises outside the confines of military bases in Texas has the usual suspects (um, Alex Jones and his InfoWarriors) decrying a military coup, or something like that.

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The Houston Chronicle reports, somewhat more calmly:

Plans for a 17-city Army Special Operations exercise in Texas stirred some ultra-right-wing fears of a government takeover in the Lone Star State, but local law enforcement say they’ve long been aware of the drill.

Operation Jade Helm will bring a coalition of forces, including the Green Berets, SEALS, and special operations commands from the Air Force and Marines to Texas for two months of “realistic military training” in a simulated “hostile” territory between July and September this summer.

Army Special Operation Command spokesman Mark Lastoria said soldiers would practice “emerging concepts in special operations warfare” in Texas.

“Training exercise Jade Helm is going to assist our Special Operations Soldiers in refining the skills needed against an ever changing foreign threat,” he said.

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NASA Wants To Give The Moon A Moon

Why on earth would NASA want to give the Moon its own moon? Wired reports:

It sounds almost like a late ’90s sci-fi flick: NASA sends a spacecraft to an asteroid, plucks a boulder off its surface with a robotic claw, and brings it back in orbit around the moon. Then, brave astronaut heroes go and study the space rock up close—and bring samples back to Earth.

Except it’s not a movie: That’s the real-life idea for the Asteroid Redirect Mission, which NASA announced today. Other than simply being an awesome space version of the claw arcade game (you know you really wanted that stuffed Pikachu), the mission will let NASA test technology and practice techniques needed for going to Mars.

The mission, which will cost up to $1.25 billion, is slated to launch in December 2020. It will take about two years to reach the asteroid (the most likely candidate is a quarter-mile-wide rock called 2008 EV5).

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Vampire Science: Why I Consumed My Own Blood

The consumption of human blood has long been a (somewhat taboo) obsession. Michael Moseley decided to do it but in a “scientific” context, for BBC News:

In 1897 Bram Stoker’s Dracula was published, helping fan an interest in blood-drinking human vampires that has never gone away. In the novel, Count Dracula feeds on human blood and transforms himself from a little old man with white hair into a dark-haired super-athlete.

Stoker’s novel, and others that came before it (such as “Carmilla”, a novel about a lesbian vampire) were in turn inspired by centuries of mythology that have surrounded blood, mainly focused on its alleged powers to heal and restore.

In Roman times the sick, particularly epileptics, were encouraged to attend gladiatorial combats in the hope that they would be able to cure their illnesses by drinking the blood of a freshly killed gladiator

In later centuries, medical practice focused more often on blood letting than blood consumption, but the belief in the power of blood to restore and rejuvenate persisted.

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Doctors’ Secret Suicide Epidemic

“At least 400 U.S. doctors kill themselves every year. Many are struggling with depression, anxiety, or addiction,” reports Gabrielle Glaser for Daily Beast:

Greg Miday was a promising young doctor with a prestigious oncology fellowship in St. Louis. He spoke conversational Spanish, volunteered with the homeless, and played the piano as if he’d been born to it. He had rugged good looks, with dark wavy hair and a tall, athletic build. Everybody—siblings, patients, friends, nurses, professors, fellow doctors, and above all, his physician-parents—adored him.

Doctors' Strike

On the evening of June 21, 2012, Greg drew a bath, lit candles, and put his iPod on speaker. He drank a copious quantity of vodka, and placed family photos on the ceramic ledge of the tub. At some point, he scribbled out a note that read:

“Dear Some,

My Family, I love you.
To others who have been good friends, I love you too.
This is just the end of the line for my particular train.

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Death, Redesigned

How the hell do you redesign death? Jon Mooallem on how a legendary design firm, a corporate executive, and a Buddhist-hospice director take on the end of life in a very #longread at the California Sunday Magazine:

There’s an ugliness — an inelegance — to death that Paul Bennett gradually came to find unacceptable. It seems to offend him the way a clumsy, counterintuitive kitchen tool might, or a frumpy font. At first, that disgruntlement was just “a whisper in my mind,” Bennett explains. “But it’s gone from being a whisper to a roar.” The solution, when it finally occurred to him, felt obvious. “Oh,” he told himself. “You need to redesign death.”

Death

Photo: Sameer Vasta

Bennett is 51 — 30.7 years to go, if the demographic data is reliable — a blindingly energetic British man with unruly brown hair. He works as chief creative officer at Ideo, the global design firm that’s renowned for its intuitive, wizardly touch. Over its 25-year history, as Ideo has expanded from simple product design into branding, organizational design, and management consulting, it has worked in virtually every corner of our economy: A list of recent clients includes Genentech, Bank of America, the Centers for Disease Control, JetBlue, and the Today show.

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