Author Archive | majestic

Dubai Police Will Wear Google Glass Eyewear With Facial Recognition Technology

Should you happen to visit Dubai and notice a bespectacled cop looking at you, chances are he’s running you through the local police department’s facial recognition database to see what they’ve got on you. Report on this Orwellian policing initiative via Reuters:

Dubai police plan to issue detectives with Google Glass hands-free eyewear to help them fight crime using facial recognition technology, a police spokesman in the wealthy Gulf Arab emirate said.

Google Glass Sunglasses

The wearable device consists of a tiny computer screen mounted in the corner of an eyeglass frame and is capable of taking photos, recording video and playing sound.

The spokesman confirmed a report in Dubai’s 7 Days newspaper that software developed by Dubai police would enable a connection between the wearer and a database of wanted people.

Once the device “recognized” a suspect based on a face print, it would alert the officer wearing the gadget.

The gadget would be used in a first phase to combat traffic violations and track vehicles suspected of involvement in motoring offences.

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The ‘Insane’ Conspiracy Theories of Naomi Wolf

Naomi wolf 2012Now just to be clear about this, the adjective “insane” is from VOX, not from us, so make what you will of Naomi Wolf and her “conspiracy theories” as perceived by Max Fisher:

Author and former Democratic political consultant Naomi Wolf published a series of Facebook posts on Saturday in which she questioned the veracity of the ISIS videos showing the murders and beheadings of two Americans and two Britons, strongly implying that the videos had been staged by the US government and that the victims and their parents were actors.

Wolf published a separate Facebook post, also on Saturday, suggesting that the US was sending troops to West Africa not to assist with Ebola treatment but to bring Ebola back to the US to justify a military takeover of American society. She also suggested that the Scottish independence referendum, in which Scots voted to remain in the United Kingdom, had been faked.

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Berkeley Drafts Cell Phone Health Warnings

Mobilize3It looks as though the message of Berkeley, California, filmmaker Kevin Kunze’s documentary Mobilize is getting through to lawmakers, starting in his hometown, as a bill to require retailers to provide health warnings on cell phones is introduced. Report from KALW San Francisco:

Do you hold your cell phone against your ear? Your user manual probably warns against it.

Bret Bocook knew how to use a cell phone. So he didn’t bother to look at the instruction manual until five years ago – after he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

“I consider myself a very informed person,” he said. “And I still was not aware of the fact that I was effectively smoking three or four packs of cigarettes a day when I was using my cell phone for 20 years, as far as cancer risk.”

Bocook spoke at a San Francisco news conference a year after he collapsed in the shower because a brain tumor the size of a baseball had stopped his heart.

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Building An Elevator To Space

Space elevator structural diagram--corrected for scale+CM+etcNo, it’s not science fiction, reports Gizmodo:

Forget buying a stairway to heaven. Serious people are trying to build an elevator to space.

That’s not a metaphor, and yes, a space elevator sounds like plot point from an Arthur C. Clarke novel. Which makes sense, because it is. It’s a risky but well-considered plan to create a workable transit system between the ground and a set point outside the Earth’s atmosphere. But the space elevator isn’t only a mad-eyed Willy Wonka steampunk daydream. If some indefatigable elevator crusaders have their way, it will be ripped out of the annals of science fiction and safely constructed into reality.

A futuristic plan (that’s over 100 years old)

The idea is futuristic, but it’s also quite old: In 1895, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, a rocket scientist in Russia, drew up an early proposal for a space elevator, and the basic concept remains unchanged. Enthusiasm for the endeavor has waxed and waned in the space exploration community over the years, but right now, a few high-profile projects are bringing the outlandish-sounding space elevator into focus again.

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Pope Listens to Advice of Angels; Says You Should Too

Sitzender Engel auf der Treppe, Mädchen auf der Treppe. 1910.jpg

Listen to your guardian angels, disinfonauts. From the Catholic News Agency:

In his homily for the Feast of Holy Guardian Angels, Pope Francis told those gathered for daily Mass to be like children who pay attention to their “traveling companion.”

The doctrine of the angels, the Holy Father stressed, is not imaginary, but “reality.” Citing what Jesus has said, “I send an angel before you to protect you, to accompany you along the path, so that you do not make mistakes!”

According to the tradition of the Church, each of us has a guardian angel who protects us and helps make us aware of things, the Pope said at the Santa Marta residence Oct. 2. Often times, we have the feeling that “I should do this, this is not right, be careful.” This, he said, “is the voice of” our guardian angel: our “traveling companion.”

Our guardian angel will “carry us” throughout our entire life.

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How Animals Get High

Yup, your pet wants to get high too. Animal New York explains how:

Everyone likes to get high. Whether from your morning cup of coffee, taking 2C-I to trip balls, or a surge of endocannabinoids after doing exercise, we love the feeling. This is rooted in a common chemistry that all creatures share.

Scientists and cat toy makers have long known that animals too enjoy the fruits of our shared biology. They go for the chemical shortcut to fun times as much as we do. Here are just a few.

CATS

These perennial internet favorites seek out a certain chemical in catnip (Nepeta cataria), called nepetalactone. The mechanism of action is unknown at this time, but what is well known is how cats react when they sense it nearby. They want it.

Once cats notice catnip, they rush over to the stuff. They begin pawing at it, chewing, licking, and generally rolling around like a happy cat.

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Origins of HIV Revealed

ElecMicro of HIV Retrovirus serum isolate Samp-HM47.jpg

ElecMicro of HIV Retrovirus serum isolate Samp-HM47. Picture attributed to uLtRa_GoLiAtH (CC)

It’s never been completely clear how the HIV virus came about, giving rise to various conspiracy theories about it being man-made. The Independent reports on a new study revealing a “perfect storm” of factors giving rise to the virus’s emergence:

A “perfect storm” of factors that came together in colonial Africa early last century led to the spread of Aids in the human population and eventually a full-blown pandemic infecting more than 75 million people worldwide, a study has found.

A genetic analysis of thousands of individual viruses has confirmed beyond reasonable doubt that HIV first emerged in Kinshasa, the capital of the Belgian Congo, in about 1920 from where it spread via the colonial railway network to other parts of central Africa.

Scientists believe the findings have finally nailed the origin of the Aids pandemic to a single source, a colonial-era city then called Leopoldville which had become the biggest urban centre in Central Africa and a bustling focus for trade, including a market in wild “bush meat” captured from the nearby forests.

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A Field Guide To American Truthers

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Photo: Damon D’Amato (CC)

Truthers. What does that word mean to you? Turns out there are quite a few flavors of “Truther” in today’s America. Drew Magary reports for The Concourse (note that his essential book for 9/11 Truthers is one of ours!):

There were no truthers back in the 20th century. I grew up in the Golden Age of Kennedy Assassination Conspiracies, but the word “truther” was never used to describe Oliver Stone or any of the other folks who decried the Magic Bullet theory. (DISCLOSURE: I saw JFK when I was in high school and took every scene as gospel and totally bought into the whole thing for a while.) Conspiracy theorists were just that, and nothing more.

But the advent of the internet has allowed conspiracy theorists to blossom—to become even more deeply immersed in their own version of the truth. You can find “proof” of pretty much anything online if you’re willing to look and you are strong of faith.

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The Middle Class is Poorer Today Than it Was in 1989

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Photo by Brendel (CC)

No surprises for guessing who hogged the gains in the economy over the last 25 years. Yes, you guessed it, the wealthy 1%, per the Washington Post:

The fundamentals of the economy are, well, okay.

It’s been slow and steady, but the recovery has chugged along enough to get us back to something close to normal. The economy has surpassed its pre-crisis peak, unemployment is at a six-year low, and stocks have more than tripled from their 2009 low. It’s not the best of times, but it’s certainly not the worst — which was a very real possibility after Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy threatened to send us into a second Great Depression.

President Obama and his fellow Democrats, naturally, would like to claim some of the credit for that. If voters credited them with this economic turnaround, Obama and his party might have a better chance of holding the Senate this fall, an outcome that looks precarious.

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