Author Archive | majestic

Bored. Of Everything.

Im BORED (3303387519)Umair Haque (author, economist, slayer of zombies) says he’s bored – of everything – in his essay “The Bullshit Machine” on Medium. It’s a common condition, but one mysteriously under-investigated. For anyone wishing to get to the bottom of this affliction, check out Albert Nerenberg’s documentary Boredom.

Here’s a tiny confession. I’m bored.

Yes; I know. I’m a sinner. Go ahead. Burn me at the stake of your puritanical Calvinism; the righteously, thoroughly, well, boring idea that boredom itself is a moral defect; that a restless mind is the Devil’s sweatshop.

There’s nothing more boring than that; and I’ll return to that very idea at the end of this essay; which I hope is the beginning.

What am I bored of? Everything. Blogs books music art business ideas politics tweets movies science math technology…but more than that: the spirit of the age; the atmosphere of the time; the tendency of the now; the disposition of the here.

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Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17: The Inevitable Conspiracy Theories

The usual suspects are surfacing with unlikely conspiracy theories about the latest disaster to affect Malaysia Airlines, the shooting down of its flight MH17 above Ukraine. The “Conspiritard” sub-Reddit has plenty of MH17 craziness, including a link to this story from The Independent:

As the Ukrainian military and separatist rebels continue to deny shooting down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, people have been offering their own theories about the tragedy.

One prominent accusation is that Russia attempted to start “World War III” by ordering rebels in Ukraine to fire at the plane.

A pundit on Before It’s News claimed the tragedy was “clearly” an attempted false flag to launch a new global war by the “New World Order” (NWO).

The post read: “The occult/illuminati connection to this plane crash are laid out in the video below and are absolutely stunning as the NWO attempts to start WW3 as their grip on power falls apart as the US dollar dies and on the same day TWA Flight 800 was shot down in 1996.”

Others believe the Ukrainian government was behind the attack but had aimed to kill Putin, believing the passenger aircraft was his personal jet.

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Almost everyone involved in developing Tor was (or is) funded by the US Government

Tor-logo-2011-flatTor users, beware. Yasha Levine casts doubt on the privacy of the dark net’s favorite anonymity tool, at Pando:

“The United States government can’t simply run an anonymity system for everybody and then use it themselves only. Because then every time a connection came from it people would say, “Oh, it’s another CIA agent.” If those are the only people using the network.”

—Roger Dingledine, co-founder of the Tor Network, 2004

In early July, hacker Jacob Appelbaum and two other security experts published a blockbuster story in conjunction with the German press. They had obtained leaked top secret NSA documents and source code showing that the surveillance agency had targeted and potentially penetrated the Tor Network, a widely used privacy tool considered to be the holy grail of online anonymity.

Internet privacy activists and organizations reacted to the news with shock. For the past decade, they had been promoting Tor as a scrappy but extremely effective grassroots technology that can protect journalists, dissidents and whistleblowers from powerful government forces that want to track their every move online.

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Why Marijuana Often Leads To Paranoia

Portait of a patient from Surrey County Asylum, no. 9 (8408235460)It’s no secret that marijuana makes you paranoid, but now there’s an Oxford University study proving it, as reported by WebMD:

An in-depth investigation has concluded that people who smoke cannabis are much more likely to have paranoia than people who don’t use the drug.

The study also identifies psychological factors that can lead to feelings of paranoia in people exposed to the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, THC.

The team of researchers, led by Professor Daniel Freeman, PHD, of the University of Oxford, found that worrying, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and having a range of unsettling changes in perceptions most likely lead to the feelings of paranoia.

Fearing Harm

A paranoid person is someone who has an unfounded fear that others intend to harm them. Many people have some degree of paranoia. Those who are young, poor, in bad health, contemplating suicide, or using cannabis are more prone to have paranoid episodes.

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Frequent Use of Smartphones, Tablets and Laptops Making Some People Sick

The new documentary film Mobilize warns of the health dangers from cell phone radiation. Now a new study in the journal Pediatrics shows that there are less-predictable health risks from using smartphones, tablets and laptops, including rashes from the frequently used metal, nickel. Report from CBS New York:

We use our electronic devices for all sorts of things – from talking and looking up information to playing games.

But as CBS 2’s Elise Finch reported Monday, the frequent use of such gadgets is actually making some people sick.

Smartphones, tablets and laptops are the devices that keep us connected. But as an article in the most recent issue of the journal Pediatrics pointed out, one 11-year-old boy’s persistent rash turned out to be due to the frequent use of his iPad.

It turned out the child was allergic to the nickel on the exterior of the device.

“A lot of high-tech gadgets — whether it’s phones or tablets or computers — are made of aluminum,” explained CNET senior editor Dan Ackerman.

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The Customer Service Call From Hell (a/k/a Comcast)

Come on now, surely you didn’t think cutting the cable cord would be easy? This 8 minute recording of a call between Comcast Customer “Service” and customer Ryan Block demonstrates why Americans love to hate cable companies:

He describes the Kafkaesque experience on his Soundcloud page:

Please note: this conversation starts about 10 minutes in — by this point my wife and I are both completely flustered by the oppressiveness of the rep.

So! Last week my wife called to disconnect our service with Comcast after we switched to another provider (Astound). We were transferred to cancellations (aka “customer retention”).

The representative (name redacted) continued aggressively repeating his questions, despite the answers given, to the point where my wife became so visibly upset she handed me the phone. Overhearing the conversation, I knew this would not be very fun.

What I did not know is how oppressive this conversation would be.

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Jesse Ventura Claims Loss of Work and Income Due to Defamation

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 2.11.46 PMFormer Governor of Minnesota (and ex-Navy SEAL, pro wrestler, TV host, author and general badass political gadfly) Jesse Ventura is suing the estate of Chris Kyle (who wrote the 2012 bestseller American Sniper) for defamation. In the book Kyle claimed that he punched out Ventura after the latter publicly derided dead SEALs in a California bar popular with SEALs. The trial is ongoing in federal court in St. Paul, MN and needless to say there is conflicting testimony, reported here by TwinCities.com. In this excerpt we learn of the Governor’s loss of reputation and income:

Chuck Webber, an attorney for the Kyle estate, cross-examined Ventura for much of the morning. Webber raised many of Ventura’s own colorful statements in an effort to illustrate that the former professional wrestler and celebrity needed no help from Kyle in sullying his own name.

Those ranged from a news conference outside a courthouse in which Ventura declared he was seeking Mexican citizenship to escape the “Fascist States of America” to a book passage that described “an Army run by Christianist extremists” to another passage saying women had to expect some level of harassment on the street.

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Why Do Banksters Get Help but Not Homeowners?

20070509 CitibankThe Daily Take Team at The Thom Hartmann Program critiques the Citibank settlement at TruthOut:

It’s time to start helping the people, and stop helping Wall Street.

According to an agreement announced earlier today, big bank Citigroup will pay $7 billion to settle a Department of Justice investigation into that bank’s involvement with risky subprime mortgages.

The agreement stems from Citigroup’s role in the trading of subprime mortgage securities, which helped to cause the 2007 financial collapse and Great Recession.

Of the $7 billion total settlement, $4 billion will be in the form of a civil monetary payment to the Department of Justice, $500 million will go to state attorney’s general and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and an additional $2.5 billion will go towards “consumer relief.”

But make no mistake about it. This agreement is another win for the big banks.

Under the agreement, Citigroup will most likely get a $500 million tax write-off.

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Hollow Earth Conspiracy Theories: The Hole Truth

Concave hollow EarthsAh, the old Hollow Earth “conspiracy theory” … the Telegraph rolls it out once again:

Late at night, on October 4 2002, a strange guest appeared on a cult American radio show. Coast to Coast AM with Art Bell had a reputation for exploring weird themes with fascinating guests, but few had ever sounded as excited as this one.

Dallas Thompson was a former personal trainer who had spent his youth in Hawaii but now lived in Bakersfield, California. His life had changed forever following a terrible accident, five years earlier. He’d been driving along Highway 58 during heavy rain when his car had aquaplaned, spinning four times, only to plunge backwards down a 250ft drop.

When Thompson was found, the roof of his blue Honda Accord had been crushed almost to the floor. The fireman who rescued him was amazed he hadn’t been decapitated. As he’d been sitting, helpless, in the wreck, Thompson had had a vivid near-death experience.

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How Dungeons & Dragons Influenced a Generation of Writers

320px-Dice_in_DnD_sessionHey D&D heads, are you writers too? You’re in good company if so, explains Ethan Gilsdorf at the New York Times:

When he was an immigrant boy growing up in New Jersey, the writer Junot Díaz said he felt marginalized. But that feeling was dispelled somewhat in 1981 when he was in sixth grade. He and his buddies, adventuring pals with roots in distant realms — Egypt, Ireland, Cuba and the Dominican Republic — became “totally sucked in,” he said, by a “completely radical concept: role-playing,” in the form of Dungeons & Dragons.

Playing D&D and spinning tales of heroic quests, “we welfare kids could travel,” Mr. Díaz, 45, said in an email interview, “have adventures, succeed, be powerful, triumph, fail and be in ways that would have been impossible in the larger real world.”

“For nerds like us, D&D hit like an extra horizon,” he added. The game functioned as “a sort of storytelling apprenticeship.”

Now the much-played and much-mocked Dungeons & Dragons, the first commercially available role-playing game, has turned 40.

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