Author Archive | majestic

Why Freezing Yourself Is a Terrible Way to Achieve Immortality

Photo: Alcor Life Extension Foundation (CC)

Photo: Alcor Life Extension Foundation (CC)

Just in case you were thinking of cryogenically freezing yourself until technology exists to stop you from dying of whatever ailment you think will terminate your current existence, Gizmodo suggests it may not be such a great idea:

What happens after we die? It’s a question that has plagued the human mind since we first developed the concept of “death.” The search for an answer—and, more importantly, a means of circumventing its effects—has encited organized religion and served to shape one of the foundations of human culture.

We’ve built pyramids to house our dead in the afterlife, constructed terracotta armies to protect them, sacrificed the living in their honor, and even developed preservation techniques to ward off decomposition—all in the effort to somehow defy the permanence of death and resurrect at least a part, however intangible, of the deceased person.

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The Line to Kiss Sheldon Adelson’s Boots

Sheldon Adelson cropSheldon Adelson. Do you know that name? Remember it because he’s the gambling business billionaire bankrolling the Republican Party’s furthest-right elected politicians. David Firestone outlines how the latter are prostrating themselves before the Israel-uber-alles Adelson in an op-ed for the New York Times:

It’s hard to imagine a political spectacle more loathsome than the parade of Republican presidential candidates who spent the last few days bowing and scraping before the mighty bank account of the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. One by one, they stood at a microphone in Mr. Adelson’s Venetian hotel in Las Vegas and spoke to the Republican Jewish Coalition (also a wholly owned subsidiary of Mr. Adelson), hoping to sound sufficiently pro-Israel and pro-interventionist and philo-Semitic to win a portion of Mr. Adelson’s billions for their campaigns.

Gov. John Kasich of Ohio made an unusually bold venture into foreign policy by calling for greater sanctions on Iran and Russia, and by announcing that the United States should not pressure Israel into a peace process.

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Why Wu-Tang Will Release Just One Copy Of Its Secret Album

wu tangYou have to admit, the latest idea from RZA and the Wu Tang Clan is going to start a debate that’s well worth having: should an album of recorded music be prized as a unique work of art in the same way as a painting? From Forbes:

Somewhere on the outskirts of Marrakech, Morocco, inside a vault housed beneath the shadow of the Atlas Mountains, there sits an engraved silver-and-nickel box with the potential to spawn a shift in the way music is consumed and monetized.

The lustrous container was handcrafted over the course of three months by British-Moroccan artist Yahya, whose works have been commissioned by royal families and business leaders around the world. Soon, it will contain a different sort of art piece: the Wu-Tang Clan’s double-album The Wu – Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, recorded in secret over the past few years.

Like the work of a master Impressionist, it will truly be one-of-a-kind—in lieu of a traditional major label or independent launch, the iconic hip-hop collective will make and sell just one copy of the album.

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Yes, You Are Under Surveillance

disinformation staffers often joke that all of their communications are being monitored, but guess what, you’re under surveillance too. Julia Angwin explains for The Week:

Anti1984 We are living in a Dragnet Nation — a world of indiscriminate tracking where institutions are stockpiling data about individuals at an unprecedented pace. The rise of indiscriminate tracking is powered by the same forces that have brought us the technology we love so much — powerful computing on our desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Before computers were commonplace, it was expensive and difficult to track individuals. Governments kept records only of occasions, such as birth, marriage, property ownership, and death. Companies kept records when a customer bought something and filled out a warranty card or joined a loyalty club. But technology has made it cheap and easy for institutions of all kinds to keep records about almost every moment of our lives.

The combination of massive computing power, smaller and smaller devices, and cheap storage has enabled a huge increase in indiscriminate tracking of personal data.

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Why Did Facebook Really Buy Oculus Rift?

oculusThe tech blogs are outdoing themselves to gush praise on Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s megabillions bet on virtual reality company Oculus Rift sample the excitement below from Gizmodo); but do disinfonaut skeptics have other ideas as to what’s driving Zuckerberg’s interest in VR?

The news today that Facebook will buy Oculus—the makers of the best virtual reality experiencein existence—caused paroxysms of upsetment and surprise. That’s fair! But once the smoke clears, this could turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to the most promising technology we have.

If you’ve been tracking Oculus since its early days as a Kickstarter project, today’s acquisition is frustrating. Facebook is your trying-too-hard uncle; Oculus is the homecoming queen. Of course seeing them together would give you the creeps.

It shouldn’t. Oculus offered a beautiful dream, but you can only get so far on Kickstarter funds. Facebook offers the financial wherewithal to make the Oculus Rift a truly mass product, to realize its vision beyond just a gimmick-driven game engine.

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FBI Monitored Occupy Houston But Failed To Warn Of Sniper Assassination Plot

99percent2Alternative news sites are buzzing today over news that the FBI may have known about an assassination plot against the leaders of Occupy Houston. Democracy Now‘s Amy Goodman interviewed Ryan Shapiro:

Transparency activist Ryan Shapiro discusses a growing controversy over the FBI’s monitoring of Occupy Houston in 2011. The case centers on what the FBI knew about an alleged assassination plot against Occupy leaders and why it failed to share this information. The plot was first revealed in a heavily redacted document obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund through a FOIA request. The document mentioned an individual “planned to engage in sniper attacks against protesters in Houston, Texas.” When Shapiro asked for more details, the FBI said it found 17 pages of pertinent records and gave him five of them, with some information redacted. Shapiro sued, alleging the FBI had improperly invoked FOIA exemptions. Last week, Federal District Judge Rosemary Collyer agreed with Shapiro, ruling the FBI had to explain why it withheld the records.

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Multiple Banker Deaths Rattle Banking Industry

Canary Wharf 200810We’ve been reporting on the multiple suicides by bankers around the world for a while now, and the rash of seemingly unrelated deaths has the banking industry asking “why?” The bankers’ ubiquitous news service Bloomberg reports:

Coroners in London are preparing to investigate two apparent suicides as unexpected deaths by finance workers around the world have raised concerns about mental health and stress levels in the industry.

The inquest into the death of William Broeksmit, 58, a retired Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) risk executive found dead in his London home in January, will start tomorrow. The inquest for Gabriel Magee, a 39-year-old vice president in technology operations at JPMorgan Chase (JPM) & Co., who died after falling from the firm’s 33-story London headquarters, is scheduled for late May.

The suicides were followed by others around the world, including at JPMorgan in Hong Kong, as well as Mike Dueker, the chief economist at Seattle-based Russell Investment Management Co.

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