Author Archive | majestic

The End of Peak Oil

Peak oil has been an alarmist catch phrase for so long that many of us simply assume that oil production has in fact peaked and we’re well on the way to running out of the world’s favorite fossil fuel. Not so, according to this story in the Wall Street Journal:

Have we beaten “peak oil”?

For decades, it has been a doomsday scenario looming large in the popular imagination: The world’s oil production tops out and then starts an inexorable decline—sending costs soaring and forcing nations to lay down strict rationing programs and battle for shrinking reserves.

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U.S. oil production did peak in the 1970s and sank for decades after, exactly as the theory predicted. But then it did something the theory didn’t predict: It started rising again in 2009, and hasn’t stopped, thanks to a leap forward in oil-field technology.

To the peak-oil adherents, this is just a respite, and decline is inevitable.

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The Myth of Religious Violence

323px-Siege_of_NándorfehérvárKaren Armstrong, author of Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence, says in a lengthy essay in The Guardian that “the popular belief that religion is the cause of the world’s bloodiest conflicts is central to our modern conviction that faith and politics should never mix. But the messy history of their separation suggests it was never so simple”:

…[P]erhaps we should ask, instead, how it came about that we in the west developed our view of religion as a purely private pursuit, essentially separate from all other human activities, and especially distinct from politics. After all, warfare and violence have always been a feature of political life, and yet we alone drew the conclusion that separating the church from the state was a prerequisite for peace. Secularism has become so natural to us that we assume it emerged organically, as a necessary condition of any society’s progress into modernity.

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This Man Has 100 Orgasms A Day – and Calls It Hell

Persistent Genital Arousal Syndrome is one of the most bizarre physical afflictions you’re likely to come across, and it’s perfect tabloid fodder for the New York Post. (What astounds me is that he’s gone public with his condition!):

Experiencing 100 orgasms a day may sound like the gift that keeps on giving, but a heartbroken man from Wisconsin can assure you — it’s much more of a curse.

Dale Decker is a 37-year-old husband and father of two who suffers from an uncontrollable condition known as Persistent Genital Arousal Syndrome, Barcroft Media reports.

He first felt the symptoms after he slipped a disk in his back and was on his way to the hospital. Decker inexplicably ejaculated five times on the drive — and says the orgasms have kept on coming ever since.

“Imagine being on your knees at your father’s funeral beside his casket, saying goodbye to him — and then you have nine orgasms right there,” he said.

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CIA Admits It Watched Over Destruction Of Journalist Gary Webb

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Gary Webb is posthumously achieving recognition for his “Dark Alliance” investigative report of the CIA’s involvement in the importation of cocaine to finance its illegal involvement in backing the Contras in Nicaragua. There’s a movie coming out portraying Webb and now The Intercept reveals the CIA’s admission that it was closely watching Webb’s activities and eventual death:

Eighteen years after it was published, “Dark Alliance,” the San Jose Mercury News’s bombshell investigation into links between the cocaine trade, Nicaragua’s Contra rebels, and African American neighborhoods in California, remains one of the most explosive and controversial exposés in American journalism.

The 20,000-word series enraged black communities, prompted Congressional hearings, and became one of the first major national security stories in history to blow up online. It also sparked an aggressive backlash from the nation’s most powerful media outlets, which devoted considerable resources to discredit author Gary Webb’s reporting. Their efforts succeeded, costing Webb his career. On December 10, 2004, the journalist was found dead in his apartment, having ended his eight-year downfall with two .38-caliber bullets to the head.

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Michael Lewis on the Federal Reserve and the Secret Goldman Sachs Tapes

2013 Federal Reserve Bank of New York from Maiden LaneMichael Lewis is the former Wall Streeter who wrote the bestselling books Liar’s Poker, Moneyball and Flash Boys (among others). His dissection for Bloomberg View of the Carmen Segarra tapes (listen here) recorded while she was employed by the Federal Reserve is well worth a read. For those who don’t know, the main revelation is a recording of a discussion at the Fed in which a Goldman Sachs deal is described as “legal but shady”:

…First, a bit of background — which you might get equally well from today’s broadcast as well as from this article by ProPublica. After the 2008 financial crisis, the New York Fed, now the chief U.S. bank regulator, commissioned a study of itself. This study, which the Fed also intended to keep to itself, set out to understand why the Fed hadn’t spotted the insane and destructive behavior inside the big banks, and stopped it before it got out of control.

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Inside the Koch Brothers’ Toxic Empire

koch brothers exposedOnce upon a time Charles and David Koch, the notorious Koch Brothers, were considered to be somewhat under the radar in terms of being the puppet masters of the far right politicians in the United States. In the wake of films like Robert Greenwald’s Koch Brothers Exposed and this expose in Rolling Stone, that is certainly no longer the case:

The enormity of the Koch fortune is no mystery. Brothers Charles and David are each worth more than $40 billion. The electoral influence of the Koch brothers is similarly well-chronicled. The Kochs are our homegrown oligarchs; they’ve cornered the market on Republican politics and are nakedly attempting to buy Congress and the White House. Their political network helped finance the Tea Party and powers today’s GOP. Koch-affiliated organizations raised some $400 million during the 2012 election, and aim to spend another $290 million to elect Republicans in this year’s midterms.

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Why JFK Conspiracy Theories Won’t Go Away

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On the 50th Anniversary of the infamous Warren Commission report on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, TIME looks at reasons why the many conspiracy theories endure:

Half a century ago today, the Warren Commission released its comprehensive 888-page report, concluding that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in assassinating President John F. Kennedy. Since then, exhaustive investigations, such as those by Gerald Posner (Case Closed, 2002) and especially Vincent Bugliosi (Reclaiming History, 2007) have backed up that original finding: Oswald acted alone.

Nevertheless, according to a 2009 CBS News poll, between 60 and 80 percent of Americans believe that President Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy; that is, that there was more than one shooter in Dealy Plaza that November day in 1963.

Consider just a few of the many facts that are not in the conspiracy believers’ favor: Oswald’s Carcano bolt-action rifle — with his fingerprints on it — was found on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository building, where he was employed, in a sniper’s nest he built out of boxes that also had his fingerprints on them.

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Scientists Warn Against Drinking Warm Bottled Water

5100西藏冰川矿泉水Remember the documentary Tapped, which focused on all the many reasons not to drink bottled water? Plenty of people ignored the warnings about BPA and phthalates leaching from the plastic into the water. Now a new study from the University of Florida suggests you really, really shouldn’t drink bottled water, at least if the bottles were stored in a warm place. Via Science Daily:

Americans can take a warning from a University of Florida study of bottled water in China ─ don’t drink the liquid if you’ve left it somewhere warm for a long time.

Plastic water bottles are made from polyethylene terephthalate. When heated, the material releases the chemicals antimony and bisphenol A, commonly called BPA.

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said BPA is not a major concern at low levels found in beverage containers, it continues to study the chemical’s impacts. Some health officials, including those at the Mayo Clinic, say the chemical can cause negative effects on children’s health.

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What Really Happens To Whistleblowers

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Thomas Drake reading at the Beyond Orwell panel, Georgetown University. Photo: Slowking (licensed via GFDL v1.2)

It’s no secret that people who go public with damaging information about the misdeeds of government or corporations become untouchable (see Robert Greenwald’s documentary War on Whistleblowers for examples). But just how tough is it to get a job after you’ve blown the whistle? Almost impossible, finds The Guardian in this investigation:

This week, the Securities and Exchange Commission made history by promising an anonymous overseas whistleblower a reward of $30m.

It doesn’t usually work out that way for whistleblowers. Ringing the bell on abuse in a company or government usually means losing jobs and status. The norm is pariah treatment and low-wage jobs, as well as trips to the welfare office and the lingering threat of prosecution or intimidation.

Consider: it’s not every day that you get to buy an iPhone from an ex-NSA officer.

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Tech Company ‘Proves’ Faked Moon Landing Conspiracy Theory As Hoax

Nvidia, the tech company that makes the graphics card for your gaming PC, says it has debunked the faked moon landing conspiracy theory. Here’s the video, about which Nvidia says “Explore the truth behind the iconic Buzz Aldrin moon landing photo. See how modern graphics innovations can shed new light on a 35-year-old conspiracy theory”:

What do you think, disinfonauts?

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