Author Archive | majestic

Conspiracy Theories Aren’t Just For Conservatives

911 Was an Inside JobConcluding that “Neither liberals nor conservatives are more credulous or crazy,” co-authors Alfred Moore (Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge, working on the Conspiracy and Democracy project), Joseph M. Parent and Joseph E. Uscinski (Associate Professors of Political Science at University of Miami and authors of American Conspiracy Theories), suggest that “Republicans and Democrats are equally prone to believing in conspiracy theories.” From the Washington Post:

Who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory? Liberals, that’s who. Take Princeton economist Paul Krugman who ominously warns that:

Unlike the crazy conspiracy theories of the left—which do exist, but are supported only by a tiny fringe—the crazy conspiracy theories of the right are supported by important people: powerful politicians, television personalities with large audiences.

Krugman makes a fair point: in moderation conspiracy theories may show healthy skepticism, but in excess they can erode the trust needed for states to fulfill their basic functions and warp the respect for evidence necessary for sound decision making.

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The Weird Album From A Sleep-Talking Lyricist

Jordan Kushins profiles an extremely weird 1964 dream-state spoken word album for Gizmodo:

There are regular ol’ spoken word albums, and then there’s The Dream World of Dion McGregor. This curiosity, distributed by Decca Records in 1964, is a recording of the songwriter talking in his sleep, ostensibly narrating aloud whatever strange nighttime visions running through his brain.

It is, perhaps unsurprisingly, an extremely weird listen through someone’s shut-eye rambles. McGregor was a struggling lyricist in the hours he was awake, and—apparently—an incredibly prolific storyteller when he was not. His creative partner, composer Michael Barr, decided to document the strange tales and, over the course of almost a decade, got audio of McGregor doing his snoozy thang…

[more at Gizmodo]

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Testing LSD On Humans – You’re Next

Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris (Photo: Twitter)

Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris (Photo: Twitter)

Dr Robin Carhart-Harris is the first scientist in over 40 years to test LSD on humans. He talks to The Independent‘s Laurence Phelan about fighting the establishment, battling preconceptions and breaking down egos:

On a hot evening in June, in a crowded room above a London pub, Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, a research associate in the Centre for Neuropsychopharma-cology at Imperial College, is giving a public talk about his work. He is having to make himself heard over the boozy commotion downstairs, where people are watching Chile put Spain out of the World Cup. But there is a slightly giddy atmosphere in the function room, too, because the doctor’s area of research is as exciting as it is taboo: he is investigating the brain effects and potential therapeutic uses of psychedelic drugs.

Carhart-Harris is the first person in the UK to have legally administered doses of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) to human volunteers since the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1971, and his presentation climaxes with a slide showing something no one else has seen before: an as-yet unpublished cross-sectional image of the brain of a volunteer who was in an fMRI scanner while tripping on acid.

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The Most Hated Company In America

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Comcast Center

In our recent poll about the most hated companies, Monsanto was the overwhelming choice of disinfonauts with a landslide 40% of well over 1,000 votes. However, The Verge is profiling Comcast (5th in our poll with just 5% of votes) as America’s most hated company, asking “What happens when the most unpopular company in the US merges with the runner-up?”

Comcast’s corporate headquarters, Comcast Center, is the tallest building in Philadelphia. It’s covered in mirrors, which makes it the perfect metaphor for the company, one former employee says; no matter where you go, the glare is in your eyes.

It seems a lot of people share that sentiment.

Comcast earned Consumerist’s “Worst Company in America” title twice, first in 2010 and again this year, 2014. It ranks at the very bottom of the American Consumer Satisfaction Index, underperforming even the rest of the cable industry, where “high prices, poor reliability, and declining customer service” are endemic.

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Why is the New York Times Pushing Pot?

EP - Detail of a New York Times Advertisement - 1895.jpg

One has to consider that the source of this op-ed by Liz Peek is Republican Party mouthpiece Fox News, but still it’s a question worth asking given the Times’ near-maniacal support of the marijuana legalization movement:

The legalize-pot bandwagon has a new conductor. With the single-mindedness of Hillary Clinton seeking the Oval Office, the New York Times is pushing for legalization of marijuana. The paper has published no fewer than eight editorials or op-eds approving speedy decriminalization of pot in just the past few weeks. What’s it all about?

Let us dismiss conjecture that the Times is gunning for a Public Service Pulitzer, which they have not won for a decade. Instead, two thoughts occur.

First, the Times may view decriminalizing marijuana as the next great progressive wave, following on the heels of same-sex marriage and, in earlier years, abortion rights. A smaller wave, to be sure, but one that liberals (and libertarians) can ride with enthusiasm.

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Russia Wants Bulgarians to Stop Vandalizing Soviet Monuments To Look Like American Superheroes

Паметник на Съветската армия 18.06.2011

The Moscow Times is reporting that Bulgarian pranksters are repainting Soviet-era monuments so that the Soviet military heroes depicted are recast as American Superheroes (h/t to trans-atlantyk posting at reddit’s /r/worldnews):

Russia is demanding that Bulgaria try harder to prevent vandalism of Soviet monuments, after yet another monument to Soviet troops in Sofia was spray-painted, ITAR-Tass reported.

The Russian Embassy in Bulgaria has issued a note demanding that its former Soviet-era ally clean up the monument in Sofia’s Lozenets district, identify and punish those responsible, and take “exhaustive measures” to prevent similar attacks in the future, the news agency reported Monday.

The monument was sprayed with red paint on the eve of the Bulgarian Socialist Party’s celebration of its 123rd anniversary, the Sofia-based Novinite news agency reported.

The vandalism was the latest in a series of similar recent incidents in Bulgaria — each drawing angry criticism from Moscow…

[continues at Moscow Times]

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Solar Panel Arrays Setting Birds On Fire While In Flight

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Who said solar energy wasn’t going to cause casualties? AP’s The Big Story reports on burning birds flying over solar panel arrays with flames and smoke trailing behind them:

Workers at a state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert have a name for birds that fly through the plant’s concentrated sun rays — “streamers,” for the smoke plume that comes from birds that ignite in midair.

Federal wildlife investigators who visited the BrightSource Energy plant last year and watched as birds burned and fell, reporting an average of one “streamer” every two minutes, are urging California officials to halt the operator’s application to build a still-bigger version.

The investigators want the halt until the full extent of the deaths can be assessed. Estimates per year now range from a low of about a thousand by BrightSource to 28,000 by an expert for the Center for Biological Diversity environmental group.

The deaths are “alarming.

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John Oliver Slams Militarization of Police

In the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, John Oliver explores the racial inequality in treatment by police as well as the increasing militarization of America’s local police forces:

“I know the police love their ridiculous, unnecessary military equipment, so here’s another patronizing test. Let’s take it all away from them and if they can make through a whole month without killing a single unarmed black man, then, and only then, can they get their fucking toys back.”

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Google’s Frankenbuger

Burgers (4627873264)“Frankenburger” taste pioneer Josh Schonwald thinks that the $300,000 not-so-great lab grown meat-burger may soon become commercially viable and, perhaps, quite tasty, thanks to funding from Google’s Sergey Brin. He writes at TIME:

They may not taste great yet, but scientists, with the help of Sergey Brin, are ready to change that.

It has been one year since I took part in one of the most surreal and expensive taste tests in human history. No, I didn’t eat a black Périgord truffle seasoned with gold or a bowl of beluga caviar. Last August in London, with 200 journalists and several hulking cameras staring at me, I was one of the two people to taste the so-called Frankenburger: the world’s first lab-grown beef burger, a five-ounce patty grown from cow stem cells that took a Dutch scientist four years of research and $332,000 to create…

The most exciting news I heard last summer was not that a cultured beef burger was actually, finally, being made—nor that I would be the guinea pig flown to London to try it.

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Julian Assange To Leave Ecuadorian Embassy ‘Soon’

30C3 Assange 02What’s next for WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange? It seems only he knows, but whatever his plans, he’s not going to stay in Ecuador’s London embassy much longer reports the New York Times:

LONDON — Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks who was given asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy here two years ago, said on Monday that he “will be leaving the embassy soon,” but he provided no specifics.

In a long and wandering news conference at which he was accompanied by the Ecuadorean foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño, Mr. Assange summarized his case, arguing that he had helped bring about needed change in the British extradition system and saying that his health was suffering after two years at the embassy.

Mr. Assange faces extradition to Sweden, which is investigating allegations of sexual misconduct, and the British police continue to post a 24-hour guard at the embassy at a cost of more than $10 million.

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