Author Archive | majestic

A Real Story About Sex In Prison

Daniel Genis’s essay for Deadspin about his ten years in prison may surprise some people. If any of you have contrary experiences, let us know in the comments:

When I tell people that I recently finished serving a 10-year prison sentence for armed robbery, mostly in maximum-security facilities, I often feel a question lingering in the air. The moment I sense it, I try to respond to the awkward silence in some offhanded way, though it is hard to be blithe and whimsical when you’re telling people you were never raped in prison.

I can speak only for myself, but in my own time in the New York State system, I rarely saw or even heard about non-consensual sex between men. Perhaps I was just very lucky. Maybe I’d been incarcerated only in the “softer” corners of the penal system. Rape does happen, and all over any prison there are signs with a number to call to anonymously report it, which I always thought was less a matter of sodomy than of legal liability.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

HPV Vaccine Blamed For Mystery Illness

Colombia - Bolivar - El Carmen de Bolivar.svg

Colombia – Bolivar – El Carmen de Bolivar, by Shadowxfox (CC)

The benefits versus harm of vaccines is a hot topic at the moment, especially in Los Angeles where whooping cough is making a resurgence, allegedly due to wealthy parents withholding their children from vaccinations. That’s not to say that all vaccines are good or bad; consider the events in Colombia where a town has been plagued by a mystery illness that’s been squarely blamed on the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, reported via AFP/Yahoo News:

El Carmen de Bolivar (Colombia) – A mystery illness is plaguing girls in this town in northern Colombia, and locals say a vaccine against the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus, or HPV, is to blame.

First their hands and feet feel cold. Then they go pale and cannot move. Some convulse and fall to the floor.

In El Carmen de Bolivar, near the port of Cartagena, dozens of teenagers have experienced similar symptoms.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Censors At Work

CensoredHave you ever really thought about the historical role of the censor? Here’s a lengthy and academic look at censorship, adapted from the conclusion to Robert Darnton’s Censors at Work: How States Shaped Literature and published in the New York Review of Books:

What is censorship?

If the concept of censorship is extended to everything, it means nothing. It should not be trivialized. Although I would agree that power is exerted in many ways, I think it crucial to distinguish between the kind of power that is monopolized by the state (or other constituted authorities such as religious organizations in some cases) and power that exists everywhere else in society. Censorship as I understand it is essentially political; it is wielded by the state.

Not that all states impose sanctions in the same way. Their actions might be arbitrary, but they clothe them in procedures that had a tincture of legality.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Heaven’s Gate: The Online Legacy of a Suicide Cult and the Webmasters Who Stayed Behind

Heaven's GateLong-time disinfonauts know all about Heaven’s Gate, but did you know that the suicide cult’s website is still live and “they” answer email? Gizmodo investigates who’s keeping it going:

Every month, the bills get paid on time. The emails get answered, and any orders filled. Which, for HeavensGate.com, is positively extraordinary. Because as far as the public is aware, every last member of the suicide cult died 17 years ago from a cocktail of arsenic and apple sauce. A few stayed behind, though. Someone had to keep the homepage going.

Today, at first glance, the fully functional, 17-year-old website seems like just one more of the many GeoCities-era relics that litter the internet. Visitor counts, flashing text, Word Art gradients; the whole gang’s here and then some. Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll find that almost every link adds yet another layer to a wildly extensive dogma, totally earnest in its interweaving of disembodied space aliens, Jesus, secret UFOs, prophets to whom aliens speak, comets coming to save us, and the suicide it takes to get there.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Bizarre ISIS Plot To Behead Random Australian Foiled

Australian Federal Police with Ian Thorpe.jpg

Australian Federal Police with Ian Thorpe by Graeme Bartlett (CC)

Is this story too strange to be true? Or just strange enough? ABC Australia reports that ISIS planned to grab a random person from a crowd in  Sydney, Australia, and behead them:

Police say a large-scale anti-terrorism raid in Sydney this morning has foiled a plot to “commit violent acts” in Australia, including a plan to behead a member of the public.

More than 800 officers launched the raids as part of Operation Appleby in suburbs across Sydney’s west and north-west, with a further 70 police involved in raids on properties in Brisbane’s south.

Police said 15 people had been detained in Sydney as part of the operation between NSW officers, the Australian Federal Police and ASIO.

Court documents are expected to reveal that the raids, at 25 different properties, were aimed at a cell which planned to behead a member of the public in Sydney.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Wealthy L.A. Schools’ Vaccination Rates Are as Low as South Sudan’s

I know there are lot of pro- and anti-vaccination readers who are going to want to weigh in on this, so without comment from me either way, consider the resurgence of whooping cough in LA, where vaccination rates are, according to The Atlantic, “as low as south Sudan’s”:

When actors play doctors on TV, that does not make them actual doctors. And that does not mean they should scour some Internet boards, confront their pediatricians, and demand fewer vaccinations for their children, as some Hollywood parents in Los Angeles have apparently been doing.

The Hollywood Reporter has a great investigation for which it sought the vaccination records of elementary schools all over Los Angeles County. They found that vaccination rates in elite neighborhoods like Santa Monica and Beverly Hills have tanked, and the incidence of whooping cough there has skyrocketed…

Parents in these schools are submitting a form called a “personal belief exemption,” which states that they are not vaccinating their kids due to “a diffuse constellation of unproven anxieties, from allergies and asthma to eczema and seizures,” reporter Gary Baum writes.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Federal Government Is Supplying Schools With Assault Rifles, Grenade Launchers and Other Military Gear

How mad is this? In addition to turning America’s local police forces into paramilitary occupying forces, the Federal government is also sending assault rifles, grenade launchers and all sorts of other military gear to public schools. Yes, you read that right, story via the Wall Street Journal:

A federal program that has drawn criticism in recent weeks for supplying surplus military gear to local police has also provided rifles, grenade launchers and armored vehicles to public schools, some of which were unprepared for what they were getting.

Stag2wi.jpg

In the wake of school shootings in Sandy Hook, Conn., and elsewhere, some school security departments developed SWAT teams, added weapons to deal with any contingency and called on the federal government to help supply the gear. But now the program is facing renewed scrutiny from both outside observers and police using the program.

In south Texas, near the Mexican border, the sprawling Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District has 34,700 students and operates its own SWAT team, thanks in part to military gear it was given in recent years.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Mayans Defeat Monsanto In Guatemala

Anga Bottione-Rossi00Who’s got the cojones to stand up to Monsanto and send them packing? The Mayans of Guetamala, that’s who!

IC Magazine reports on the recent victory of the Mayan People’s Movement against Monsanto’s attempt to bring their patented, genetically engineered seeds into Guatemala, displacing traditional seed diversity:

On September 4th, after ten days of widespread street protests against the biotech giant Monsanto’s expansion into Guatemalan territory, groups of indigenous people joined by social movements, trade unions and farmer and women’s organizations won a victory when congress finally repealed the legislation that had been approved in June.

The demonstrations were concentrated outside the Congress and Constitutional Court in Guatemala City during more than a week, and coincided with several Mayan communities and organizations defending food sovereignty through court injunctions in order to stop the Congress and the President, Otto Perez Molina, from letting the new law on protection of plant varieties, known as the “Monsanto Law”, take effect.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Science Says the Universe Could Be a Hologram, Computer Program, Black Hole or Bubble

What is the Universe? A hard question to answer , no doubt, but Smithsonian Magazine suggests there are ways to check:

The questions are as big as the universe and (almost) as old as time: Where did I come from, and why am I here? That may sound like a query for a philosopher, but if you crave a more scientific response, try asking a cosmologist.

This branch of physics is hard at work trying to decode the nature of reality by matching mathematical theories with a bevy of evidence. Today most cosmologists think that the universe was created during the big bang about 13.8 billion years ago, and it is expanding at an ever-increasing rate. The cosmos is woven into a fabric we call space-time, which is embroidered with a cosmic web of brilliant galaxies and invisible dark matter.

It sounds a little strange, but piles of pictures, experimental data and models compiled over decades can back up this description.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The Cult of CrossFit

Here at disinformation we’re always alert to weird cults, whether of the suicide variety (Heaven’s Gate) or the brainwashing/cash-draining variety (Scientology). We’ve been following a new cult that’s sweeping America – CrossFit – although we’re not sure that it’s in any way insidious.

Recently I caught up with JC Herz, who’s penned the definitive book on CrossFit, Learning to Breathe Fire: The Rise of CrossFit and the Primal Future of Fitness, to answer some questions:

JC, I discovered CrossFit myself a few years ago when I looked up “what is fitness.” For those who don’t know can you briefly describe what CrossFit it and how it addresses my original search question?

2007 CrossFit Trainer certification

The CrossFit catechism is: “Constantly varied functional movement executed at high intensity across broad time and modal domains.” Which is technical jargon for: Move your whole body (not single muscles in isolation) and heavy weight, lots of different ways, going flat-out for anywhere between four minutes and half an hour.… Read the rest

Continue Reading