Author Archive | majestic

Ping Pong, Taoism and The Big Lebowski

the big lebowski & the long goodbye with an almost full moon  : castro street theater, neon marquis,  san francisco (2013)Guido Mina di Sospiro considers The Big Lebowski to be the greatest movie of all time. His popular essays An Esoteric Take on The Big Lebowski and The Importance of Living: Lin Yutang Meets the Dude – An Esoteric Take on ‘The Big Lebowski,’ Part 2 were both published by disinformation. Now he has a new book out, The Metaphysics of Ping Pong; in that connection he was interviewed by Oliver Benjamin (described by CNN as “the man who founded a religion based on ‘The Big Lebowski’”) for his Dudespaper site:

You’re a big fan of The Big Lebowski and have even contributed an article to our book Lebowski 101 about how the film is influenced by Taoism. Do you feel that Taoism informs the sport of ping pong as well?

Absolutely. And in fact China consistently produces the best players in the world. East Asia, really, remains the place for sublime table tennis: China, Japan and South Korea.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Inside Glenn Greenwald’s Mountaintop Home Office

David Carr, the New York Times‘s star media reporter, visits Glenn Greenwald at his remote office in Brazil, where he’s building the alternative news company First Look Media:

On approaching Glenn Greenwald’s home office high in the jungle-encrusted mountains above Rio de Janeiro, all is tranquil, bucolic even. A gurgling stream at the entrance frames the idyll.

And then the dogs notice the incursion. They bark, yap and yowl, and while it’s less “Heart of Darkness” than “101 Dalmatians,” the sheer volume is mind-erasing.

Should we be surprised that the house of Mr. Greenwald, the legendarily combative privacy and national security reporter, is surrounded by loud, barking defenders — or that they are actually pussycats once you get to know them, as is their rescuer?

The visit to Mr. Greenwald’s jungle redoubt about 15 minutes from the beaches of Rio last week was notable for its contradictions. He is among the most wired journalists on earth, but he lives and works in Brazil, a country with a notoriously flaky Internet infrastructure.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The Ritalin Kid Tells All

Ritalin-SR-20mg-full.jpg

“Ritalin-SR-20mg-full” by en:User:Sponge. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The Fix allows Nick Dothée to defend his diagnosis of ADD and use of the wildly over-prescribed drug Ritalin:

I think I thought I’d wake up one day and this would be fixed – a non-issue. I’d be cured; no longer in constant pursuit of getting my fix, but rather I’d just have it in me, always – the clarity I had as a kid.

ADD: Attention Deficit Disorder. This disorder, and the drugs associated it, have been all-the-buzz in the media for at least a decade or so, but it’s been my daily reality for much longer; I’ve been haunted by those three letters for most of my life.

I was officially diagnosed with ADD, and prescribed Ritalin by the family doctor, around the third grade. Back then, I’d spit out the little yellow pills in the playground drinking fountain at recess.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The White House Tries, Fails to Explain Why Marijuana Should Remain Illegal

WhiteHouseSouthFacade.JPG

Photo: Matt H. Wade. CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The New York Times and the White House are at odds over legalizing marijuana:

No sooner had the Times published its opening editorials advocating legalization of marijuana than the White House fired back with an unconvincing response on its website. It argued that marijuana should remain illegal because of public health problems “associated” (always a slippery word) with increased marijuana use.

Careful readers will immediately see the White House statement for what it is: A pro forma response to a perceived public relations crisis, not a full-fledged review of all the scientific evidence, pro and con. The White House is actually required by law to oppose all efforts to legalize a banned drug.

Besides, it is hypocritical for the White House, whose chefs brew beer for the president, to oppose legalizing marijuana, which poses far less risk to consumers and society than does alcohol.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Obama Admits That CIA Tortured ‘Some Folks’

Still from "Doctors of the Dark Side"

Still from “Doctors of the Dark Side”

Many Americans have called foul over the CIA torture program but up till now the US Government has steadfastly denied using interrogation techniques that were really torture. The documentary film Doctors of the Dark Side, for one, horrifyingly showed the complicity of American doctors and medical professionals in designing these torture techniques for the CIA and military. Now President Obama is finally admitting that it truly was torture, reports ABC News:

President Obama today admitted the CIA tortured al Qaeda detainees after the 9/11 attacks, saying “we did some things that were contrary to our values.”

“We tortured some folks,” the president told reporters at the White House, ahead of the release of a Senate report on enhanced interrogation techniques.

In a rare reflection on the practices that he banned after taking office, the president said, “I understand why it happened” and underscored the tremendous pressure that national security officials were under in the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Atheist TV Channel Launches

atheist tvWell I don’t see why there shouldn’t be Atheist TV, considering the proliferation of Christian and other religious television channels. Plus atheists can be just as rigid and dogmatic as religious extremists… From the New York Times:

Atheists are angry, and watch out, because now they have a television channel.

This week the organization American Atheists announced the premiere of Atheist TV, available through the streaming service Roku and over the Internet. That news will certainly prompt assorted knee-jerk reactions in some quarters, and perhaps some confusion:

“Atheist TV? It’ll be full of incest and smut and debaucheries of all kinds. Oh, wait; that’s HBO.”

“Atheist TV? It’ll be nonstop mockery of conservative Christians and Republicans and Middle America. Oh, wait; that’s Comedy Central.”

“Atheist TV? It’ll be godless wiccans and flesh-eating zombies and serial killers and all manner of other people who lack the Judeo-Christian morals that built America.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Why We Can’t Wage War on Drugs

“The war on drugs was always a war against an idea. But ideas have a shelf-life, too, and this one has lost its potency,” writes Mike Jay at Aeon:

When the US President Richard Nixon announced his ‘war on drugs’ in 1971, there was no need to define the enemy. He meant, as everybody knew, the type of stuff you couldn’t buy in a drugstore. Drugs were trafficked exclusively on ‘the street’, within a subculture that was immediately identifiable (and never going to vote for Nixon anyway). His declaration of war was for the benefit the majority of voters who saw these drugs, and the people who used them, as a threat to their way of life. If any further clarification was needed, the drugs Nixon had in his sights were the kind that was illegal.

Nixon and Kissinger - Flickr - The Central Intelligence Agency.jpg
Nixon and Kissinger – Flickr – The Central Intelligence Agency” by The Central Intelligence AgencyNixon and Kissinger.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Disney World’s MagicBand: ‘Welcome to Dataland, Princess’

Cinderella Castle.jpg

“Cinderella Castle” by Katie Rommel-Esham. Licensed under CC-BY-SA-3.0-us via Wikimedia Commons.

Ian Bogost’s essay at Medium analyzes the unabashed tracking of customers at Disney World, where “Dataland suggests that once data surveillance becomes transactional, it rapidly becomes exhibitionist.” He and his family have just arrived in the Magic Kingdom and been issued with their MagicBand bracelets:

…Later, after deploying my MagicBand to allow entry into our hotel room, I read the My Disney Experience FAQ, which explains the operation of the MagicBand. It’s an uncharacteristic offering for a company so devoted to “magic” as a black-boxed secret sauce. I learn that in addition to the expected RFID allowing short-range communication at touch-points—room entry, park admission, and points of purchase—the MagicBand also includes a long-range radio transceiver, which communicates with receivers located throughout the Disney properties. The FAQ clarifies, in the vaguest possible way, that these long-range readers are used “to deliver personalized experiences…as well as provide information that helps us improve the overall experience in our parks.”

Disney assures guests that the MagicBands do not store any personal information, just a code used to reference your account in Disney databases.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Jesse Ventura Wins Defamation Case, Awarded $1.8 Million

A quick update to my recent post “Jesse Ventura Claims Loss of Work and Income Due to Defamation“: CBS News reports that Jesse Ventura is victorious in his defamation case against the estate of American Sniper author Chris Kyle and the jury has awarded him $1.8 million:

ST. PAUL, Minnesota – A jury awarded former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura $1.8 million on Tuesday in his lawsuit against the estate of “American Sniper” author Chris Kyle.

Ventura was awarded $1.3 million for unjust enrichment, and $500,000 in damages for defamation, CBS station WCCO reports.

On the sixth day of deliberations, the federal jury decided that the 2012 best-selling book defamed Ventura in its description of a bar fight in California in 2006. Kyle wrote that he decked a man whom he later identified as Ventura after the man allegedly said the Navy SEALs “deserve to lose a few.”

Ventura testified that Kyle fabricated the passage about punching him.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Billionaire Warns Of EMP ‘Black Swan’ Danger

Paul Singer is a billionaire hedge fund manager. He’s warning his investors of a potential huge “Black Swan” event, an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that would be massively disruptive, reports CNBC:

Billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer has issued an unusual warning for investors, calling the threat of a widespread blackout from an electromagnetic surge the “most significant danger” in the world.

Called an “electromagnetic pulse” or EMP, the events can occur naturally from solar storms or artificially from a high-altitude explosion of nuclear weapons.

EMP USA.svg
EMP USA” by NACLE2Own work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

“While these pages are typically chock full of scary or depressing scenarios, there is one risk that is head-and-shoulders above all the rest in terms of the scope of potential damage adjusted for the likelihood of occurrence,” Singer wrote to clients of his $24.8 billion Elliott Management on Monday in a standard investment update letter.

Read the rest
Continue Reading