Author Archive | ralph

Penn Jillette Skewers President Obama on Hypocrisy and His Drug Use (Video)

Penn's Sunday SchoolVia Penn’s Sunday School:

On a recent episode of his podcast, Penn Jillette unleashed his thoughts on the Obama administration’s handling of the War on Drugs, calling President Obama’s actions “beyond hypocrisy” regarding his own admitted drug use.

Penn said: “He would have done hard fucking time! And if he had done hard fucking time, he would NOT be President of the United States of America, and he would NOT have gone to his fancy ass college, and he would NOT have sold books that sold millions and millions of copies and made millions and millions of fucking dollars, he would NOT have a beautiful, smart wife, he would NOT have a great job. He would have been in fucking prison, and it’s not a goddamn joke!”

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Anonymous Online Speech: Soon To Be Banned In New York?

Government Speech

Illustration: Helodrgt (CC)

WTF Albany? Remember the authors of the Federalist Papers? Victoria Bekiempis writes in the Village Voice:

Legislation is pending in Albany that would make illegal anonymous online commenting, City & State tweeted this morning. Looks like Wired was among the first to report on the measure.

The bill’s backers, according to the mag, want to curtail “mean-spirited and baseless political attacks” and “spotlight on cyberbullies by forcing them to reveal their identity.”

The legislation would make New York-based websites, such as blogs and newspapers, “remove any comments posted on his or her website by an anonymous poster unless such anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post.”

The measures would also apply to messages on social networks and message boards or “any other discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages,” Wired points out, and requires that sites offer “a contact number or e-mail address posted for ‘such removal requests, clearly visible in any sections where comments are posted.’”…

Read More: Village VoiceRead the rest

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SpaceX Takes Star Trek’s ‘Scotty’ (And Others) to The Final Frontier

James Doohan

Doohan at the Dryden Flight Research Center in 1967.

Aside from the news that the United States’ space program has effectively been privatized in the wake of the retirement of the Space Transportation System (Shuttle) program, this noteworthy craft was carrying the ashes of over 300 people. That’s $2,995 per gram of ashes into Earth orbit. As Clara Moskowitz writes on Space.com:

Scotty has finally been beamed up. The ashes of the actor James Doohan, who played Scotty on the 1960s television series Star Trek, were launched to space this morning (May 22nd) on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The unmanned Falcon 9 blasted off at 3:44 a.m. EDT (0744 GMT) from here at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, carrying the Dragon capsule filled with cargo bound for the International Space Station. Also packed aboard the rocket was a secondary payload carrying remains from 308 people, including Doohan and Mercury program astronaut Gordon Cooper, according to ABC News and Reuters.

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‘Covert’ U.S. Drone Operation in Yemen Mapped Out on Twitter

YemenThese “covert” operations are seemingly becoming more difficult to keep “covert” … Reports Chris Woods and Jack Serle of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism:

Though the hour was late, Yemen’s social media was still very much awake.

A US drone’s missiles had just slammed into a convoy of vehicles in a remote part of Yemen, killing three alleged militants.

The attack—like all other US drone strikes outside warzones—was supposed to be clandestine. Yet within minutes Sanaa-based lawyer Haykal Bafana was reporting the strike in almost-realtime. Just after 1 a.m. on May 17 he posted the following on Twitter:

NOW | Missile strike on car in Wadi Hadhramaut. Near city of Shibam. Suspected US drone attack.

As Bafana later explained to the Bureau, his relatives live in Shibam, a town of 30,000. ‘When the drone struck, the town—which was then experiencing a power cut—had completely lit up. My relatives got straight on the phone to tell me about the attack.’

‘No attacks so far’

The day prior to the strike Bafana had already tweeted that drones were behaving suspiciously in the area.… Read the rest

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9-Year Old Counter-Protests Westboro Baptist Church With ‘God Hates No One’ Sign

No WBCThis kid is a genius. Mark Memmott reports on NPR:

Patty Akrouche says she’s “never been prouder” of her 9-year-old son, Josef Miles, than she was this past weekend.

As Akrouche wrote on her Facebook page, she and Josef were on the campus of Washburn University in Topeka when they encountered some of the protesters from the tiny Westboro Baptist Church, which has gained notice in recent years for protesting against homosexuality, abortion and other issues outside the funerals of military veterans and celebrities.

Westboro’s followers are infamous for their signs that — using an F-word we won’t repeat — say ‘God Hates [Homosexuals].’

“Josef was determined to make his own statement so we went to the car and with pencil and his sketch pad, he made up his own little sign that reads ‘GOD HATES NO ONE,’ ” his mom wrote…

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The (Not) Censored TED Talk on Income Inequality

TEDYou can read all the hubbub about this from Noah Kristula-Green on Daily Beast. And here a small bit of TED curator Chris Anderson’s reason (see full explanation here) on why the video was not initially posted:

At TED this year, an attendee pitched a 3-minute audience talk on inequality. The talk tapped into a really important and timely issue. But it framed the issue in a way that was explicitly partisan. And it included a number of arguments that were unconvincing, even to those of us who supported his overall stance. The audience at TED who heard it live (and who are often accused of being overly enthusiastic about left-leaning ideas) gave it, on average, mediocre ratings … Our policy is to post only talks that are truly special. And we try to steer clear of talks that are bound to descend into the same dismal partisan head-butting people can find every day elsewhere in the media.

Judge for yourself here:

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Now You Can Be Aquaman: “Dolphin Speaker” Produces Full Range of Dolphin Sounds

DolphinI wonder if the military will discover any conscientiousness objectors using this technology with the dolphins they have been training. While it is public knowledge they are used to rescue naval swimmers and locate underwater mines, the speculation remains on how many are used kamikaze-style to attack ships. As Rebecca Boyle reports in Popular Science:

Communication with dolphins is getting better all the time — they’ve been using iPads, for one thing, and humans have been working on a type of Rosetta Stone-like two-way translation device. A new gadget could improve matters even further, by allowing humans to produce the full range of dolphin sounds. The acoustics researchers who developed it call it the Dolphin Speaker.

Plenty of work is being done with dolphin sounds, but they have mostly focused on dolphin vocalizations and their hearing anatomy. Dolphins can not only hear and produce clicks, whistles and burst pulses well outside of the range of human hearing, but they can vocalize at several different frequency ranges at once.

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Noam Chomsky on President Obama’s Performance and Occupy Wall Street (Video)

The right-wing blogospere is having a field day with Chomsky saying, “I don’t usually admire Sarah Palin, but when she was making fun of this ‘hopey-changey’ stuff, she was—she was right. There was nothing there.” However, he follows that statement with, “And it was understood by the people who run the political system. So it’s no great secret that the U.S. electoral system is mainly public relations extravaganzas….” which, one assumes, would apply to Sarah Palin as well.

Watch the entire interview at Democracy Now! and full transcript here.

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Military Dogs Being Euthanized As ‘Equipment’ Under Obscure Law

070213-F-7234P-002There is no shortage of people looking to adopt these dogs. Reports Scott MacFarlane on WSB-TV:

They survived running toward death and danger, but some locally trained military dogs of war are not making it home.

Instead, they’re being euthanized.

Channel 2′s Scott MacFarlane learned of an obscure U.S. law that is making it tough for military dogs to be adopted after their service is over.

Army Sgt. David Varkett survived his tour of duty in Afghanistan, because his unit included Nooshka, a 5- year-old dog that sniffed out an improvised bomb before it exploded. “This dog has saved my life and many others,” Varkett said. “She became a little local hero, finding those IEDs.”

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A Pastafarian Is A U.S. Soldier (Finally)

FSMThanks for the find from Cory Doctorow on BoingBoing:

Justin Griffith, an atheist in the US military, tells the story of how he ended up with ATHEIST/FSM on his dogtags. It all started when he enlisted as an atheist, only to have his recruiter record his religion as “Baptist.” Even switching recruiters didn’t end up with the error corrected. At boot camp, recruits were only allowed one “holy book” from their stated religion, so he brought The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which became the most-loved book in camp, much-borrowed and re-read by the other recruits. Even his drill sergeant liked it. Kinda.

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