Author Archive | majestic

The NRA Pissed Off the Wrong Nerd Genius

BillGates2012.jpg

“BillGates2012″ by World Economic Forum – Flickr )CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons).

Cliff Schecter reports that Bill Gates is donating $1 million for universal background checks for putative gun buyers, at Daily Beast:

Somewhere in a large glass tower in Northern Virginia, there’s a guy who runs guns with a French name having a bad day. With good reason.

It was reported Monday that Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder and incredibly wealthy guy, and with his wife, Melinda, have given $1 million to Initiative 594 in Washington state. The ballot initiative, if passed by voters on November 4 (and it currently enjoys overwhelming support), will require universal background checks for all firearm purchases in the state.

Gates is only the latest Washington billionaire to give to the effort, with original Amazon investor Nick Hanauer providing crucial early funding, and more recently upping his overall donation to $1.4 million. Additionally, Gates’s Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, has provided $500,000 for the cause.

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World Health Org Wants Ban On Electronic Cigarettes Indoors

Jessica Nyx Smoking - 2013 AVN Expo Photos Las Vegas (8413506464)I recently was seated on a full airplane next to a nervous man chain-smoking an e-cig (electronic cigarette). Sunlight streaming through the window easily showed the vapor emission, and I could just as easily smell its sickly sweet odor. To say that I wasn’t thrilled to be inhaling his second hand e-cig “smoke” would be an understatement. The World Health Organization (WHO) now confirms my suspicion that you really don’t want to breathe in this stuff, reports BBC News:

The World Health Organization says there should be a ban on the use of e-cigarettes indoors and that sales to children should stop.

In a report the health body says there must be no more claims that the devices can help smokers quit – until there is firm evidence to support this.

WHO experts warn the products might pose a threat to adolescents and the foetuses of pregnant women.

But campaigners say regulations must be proportionate.

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Net Neutrality Is ‘Marxist,’ According to This Koch-Backed Astroturf Group

Why do the notorious Koch Brothers want to end so-called “Net Neutrality” (i.e., the rule that everyone should have equal access with equal speed to the Internet)? Jason Koebler investigates for Motherboard:

A mysterious conservative group with strong ties to the Koch brothers has been bombarding inboxes with emails filled with disinformation and fearmongering in an attempt to start a “grassroots” campaign to kill net neutrality—at one point suggesting that “Marxists” think that preserving net neutrality is a good idea.

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The emails, which come with subject lines like “Stop Obama’s federal Internet takeover,” come from American Commitment, an organization that is nonprofit in name only and has been called out time and time again by journalists and transparency organizations for obscuring where it gets its funding.

In an email I received, American Commitment president Phil Kerpen suggests that reclassifying the internet as a public utility is the “first step in the fight to destroy American capitalism altogether” and says that the FCC is plotting a “federal Internet takeover,” a move that “sounds more like a story coming out of China or Russia.”

The email, sent as an ad to people who have registered to read the Washington Times, asks readers to sign a petition asking FCC chairman Tom Wheeler to acknowledge that reclassifying the internet as a Title II utility is a “lawless Obama administration power grab.”

KERPEN SUGGESTS THAT RECLASSIFYING THE INTERNET AS A PUBLIC UTILITY IS THE ‘FIRST STEP IN THE FIGHT TO DESTROY AMERICAN CAPITALISM ALTOGETHER’

“Americans have been getting faster and faster Internet speeds because of competition in the free economy, not because of anything the government has done,” the petition reads.

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MTV Says The Illuminati Controlled Last Night’s VMAs

When MTV starts posting tongue-in-cheek articles about the Illuminati controlling its Video Music Awards (VMAs), you know that the Illuminati pop music meme has just about run its course:

Last week, we gave you two sides of a much-heated national debate. First, we gave you 16 examples that prove the Illuminati control the VMAs. Then, we flipped the argument on its head, giving 16 more reasons why they totally don’t. Both sides were compelling and convincing enough, but only last night’s epic show could settle the matter once and for all. Take a look at the evidence and judge for yourself.

The Snake Debacle

(C) MTV (Fair Use)

(C) MTV (Fair Use)

PRO-ILLUMINATI: Nicki Minaj sang a song called “Anaconda.” Which is a snake. A satanic snake. Need we say more? Even though she’s, uh, probably not singing about a real snake (we’re thinking it may be a metaphor), the symbolism is so there.

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China’s Supersonic Supercavitation Submarine

Do you know what supercavitation technology is? Nor me, but it’s what the Chinese plan on using to create a submarine (or torpedo) that could travel from Shanghai to San Francisco in 100 minutes, reports the South China Morning Post:

China has moved a step closer to creating a supersonic submarine that could travel from Shanghai to San Francisco in less than two hours.

New technology developed by a team of scientists at Harbin Institute of Technology’s Complex Flow and Heat Transfer Lab has made it easier for a submarine, or torpedo, to travel at extremely high speeds underwater.

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“Superkavitation schema” by Booyabazooka. CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

 

Li Fengchen, professor of fluid machinery and engineering, said the team’s innovative approach meant they could now create the complicated air “bubble” required for rapid underwater travel. “We are very excited by its potential,” he said.

Water produces more friction, or drag, on an object than air, which means conventional submarines cannot travel as fast as an aircraft.

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Cornel West Calls Obama A ‘Counterfeit’

Bertman westProfessor Cornel West has never been one to mince words and in this interview for Salon he tells Thomas Frank that President Obama “posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency”:

Cornel West is a professor at Union Theological Seminary and one of my favorite public intellectuals, a man who deals in penetrating analyses of current events, expressed in a pithy and highly quotable way.

I first met him nearly six years ago, while the financial crisis and the presidential election were both under way, and I was much impressed by what he had to say. I got back in touch with him last week, to see how he assesses the nation’s progress since then.

The conversation ranged from Washington, D.C., to Ferguson, Missouri, and although the picture of the nation was sometimes bleak, our talk ended on a surprising note.

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Catch of the Day: Who Believes in Crazy Conspiracy Theories?

climate changeJust to wind certain commenters up (you know who you are), here’s Jonathan Bernstein’s critique of that article I posted “Conspiracy Theories Aren’t Just For Conservatives,” at BloombergView:

A catch to Andrew Gelman for correcting an attempted but inaccurate catch by Alfred Moore, Joseph Parent and Joseph Uscinski, who thought they had caught Paul Krugman in an error on the always-fun topic of conspiracy theories. Not so!

Here’s Krugman’s original assertion:

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.

Moore, Parent and Uscinski take that quote and attack it on the basis that both liberals and conservatives are equally likely to believe in crazy conspiracy theories. That part, as Gelman agrees, is correct. Plenty of examples in both items for those liberals who are skeptical of it, but I’ll add one more anecdotal one: the belief among liberals in 2003 and 2004 that George W.

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Bill Nye Fights Back

What do you think of Bill Nye, the science guy, disinfonauts? He’s profiled as an heroic but beleaguered underdog by Popular Science:

“Let’s say that I am, through my actions, doomed, and that I will go to hell,” Bill Nye said. He was prepping for a Super Bowl party and making pizza dough from a recipe given to him by his friend, Bob Picardo, who played The Doctor on Star Trek: Voyager. He ducked beneath the countertop, pulled out a KitchenAid mixer and a bag of flour, and then returned to the topic at hand, which was religion and science and what he believed.

Bill Nye

“Even if I am going to hell,” he continued, “that still doesn’t mean the Earth is 6,000 years old. The facts just don’t reconcile.” He turned back to the mixer, sighed, and slumped a little. For a moment, Nye looked weary at the thought of ill-informed parents undoing his life’s work.

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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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