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Failure Is Success: How American Intelligence Works in the Twenty-First Century

514zcaXr01LTom Engelhardt’s new book “Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World” is now out!

via Tom Dispatch:

What are the odds? You put about $68 billion annually into a maze of 17 major intelligence outfits. You build them glorious headquarters.  You create a global surveillance state for the ages. You listen in on your citizenry and gather their communications in staggering quantities.  Your employees even morph into avatars and enter video-game landscapes, lest any Americans betray a penchant for evil deeds while in entertainment mode. You collect information on visits to porn sites just in case, one day, blackmail might be useful. You pass around naked photos of them just for… well, the salacious hell of it.  Your employees even use aspects of the system you’ve created to stalk former lovers and, within your arcane world, that act of “spycraft” gains its own name: LOVEINT.

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When Nitrous Tears a Rift Into the Sex Dimension

youbelongtothecity4Due to illness, your psychoactive sermon on Occult alien contact will air next week. In the interim, I thought I’d run this fun anecdote about unintentionally tearing a hole through the subjective time space continuum by means of nitrous inhalation. Why am I posting this?

Well for one, my new book is basically my magickal origin story/journal and this happened long before I ever started trying to do this sort of thing on purpose. Two, a couple of people have asked me about the use of nitrous in magickal work in the past and it’s not something I’ve put a ton of effort into (have maybe done it 4 times in the past decade), but I certainly have some odd stories from my hard partying past. The fact that buying nitrous is legal by some odd technicality in the drug war goes well beyond being slightly nutter. Any 18 year old kid can get this shit, we used to at the mall.… Read the rest

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Politics of Social Media: Where You’re Likely to Find Conservatives and Liberals

via Mediaite:

Politically inactive conservatives generally populate Pinterest, while politically inactive liberals tend to use Instagram. Them’s the facts, according to new data revealed by audience measurement service Quantcast this month.

As the helpful chart below demonstrates, Facebook is the most politically balanced platform (likely because it has so many users), while the majority of social media “skew Democrat and [politically] inactive”:

Comparing-Social-Platforms1

A few other noticeable details:

1) Pinterest is the most conservative social media outlet, thus confirming existing stereotypes about the site being used by older, wealthy women from the midwest states.

2) Disqus is the most politically active social media outlet. Anyone surprised? It also skews conservative, which explains a lot. (But that’s also somewhat surprising, as we’ve noticed at Mediaite that articles about conservatives doing silly things tend to have lots of liberal comments, and vice versa.)

3) Twitter apparently leans the furthest left among all social media.

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Circle of Abstract Ritual

Circle of Abstract Ritual from Jeff Frost on Vimeo.

“This film took 300,000 photos, riots, wildfires, paintings in abandoned houses, two years and zero graphics to make. It changed my entire life.” – Jeff Frost

Circle of Abstract Ritual

Circle of Abstract Ritual began as an exploration of the idea that creation and destruction might be the same thing. The destruction end of that thought began in earnest when riots broke out in my neighborhood in Anaheim, California, 2012. I immediately climbed onto my landlord’s roof without asking and began recording the unfolding events. The news agencies I contacted had no idea what to do with time lapse footage of riots, which was okay with me because I had been thinking about recontextualizing news as art for some time. After that I got the bug. I chased down wildfires, walked down storm drains on the L.A. River and found abandoned houses where I could set up elaborate optical illusion paintings.

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First US Ebola Case Diagnosed in Dallas

Inevitably, Ebola has jumped across the Atlantic Ocean and a patient in Dallas, Texas has been diagnosed with the virus, reports CBS DFW:

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control have confirmed that a person in Dallas definitely has the Ebola virus. Tuesday’s official determination makes the Dallas patient the first diagnosed Ebola case in the United States.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are holding a press conference at 4:30 p.m.

It was late on the evening of September 29 that CBS 11 News learned a patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas was feared to have been exposed to the Ebola virus.

Health officials said given the information that the unnamed patient had been in the West Africa area where the Ebola virus exists and the type of symptoms they were exhibiting, testing was being performed.

After the information was related to the CDC the health institute sent a team to North Texas just in case the patient was infected with Ebola.

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State Imprisonment Rates 2012-2013

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Via Brennan Center for Justice

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Head over to The Brennan Center for Justice for an active map that gives exact statistics for each state.

via Vox:

Over the past few years, federal* and state* governments have been trying to shrink their prison populations. Recent data suggests there’s a lot more work to do.

On one hand, the number of inmates in federal prisons is finally starting to decline. On the other hand, the total number of inmates in state prisons is creeping back up after four years of decline — and those state increases more than offset the decrease at the federal level.

But even the aggregate numbers don’t tell the whole story. Some states reduced their prison populations in 2013, while others didn’t. And much of the upward trend this year was caused by rising prison populations in a few big states — states that had been working to shrink their prisons in the past, but fell off pace this year.

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Neal Stephenson: Innovation Starvation, the Next Generation

By Orin Zebest via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By Orin Zebest via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

via Slate:

For a big part of my life, I assumed that the scarce resource—the thing that was preventing me from getting to Mars, or having my own personal jetpack—was clever ideas. Since I see myself as an idea person, that was a pleasant thing to believe. It’s flattering to think that you are one of the special few who hold the keys to the future. In the last decade and a half, though, I’ve spent a lot of time working in idea factories of various types, and I’ve come to see how wrong I was. I had fallen for a 19th-century vision of how it all works: the lone inventor sitting in the lobby of the patent office with his better mousetrap on his lap, waiting for the world to beat a path to his door. My thinking along those lines led to a 2011 piece titled “Innovation Starvation.” This led in turn to a partnership with Arizona State University to create Project Hieroglyph, which asked science fiction writers to help imagine new futures.

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An Ancient Way to Heal The Mind Finds New Scientific Support

By daveynin via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By daveynin via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Sometimes, scientists like to research things that most of us already assume. I suppose it doesn’t hurt to have some proof and evidence to get us off the couch and into the woods.

via Psyblog:

Taking group walks in nature is associated with better mental well-being and lower stress and depression, a new large-scale study finds.

The study is one of the first to show that simply walking in nature doesn’t just benefit the body, but also the mind.

Sara Warber, one of the study’s authors, said:

“We hear people say they feel better after a walk or going outside but there haven’t been many studies of this large size to support the conclusion that these behaviors actually improve your mental health and well-being.”

The study evaluated a British program called ‘Walking for Health’ and it involved nearly 2,000 participants (Marselle et al., 2014).

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Brain Wave May Be Used to Detect What People Have Seen, Recognize

By Hubert Figuière via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

By Hubert Figuière via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

Thanks to Disinfonaut, Earth Star, this was brought to my attention. What do you think of this? Groundbreaking science aside, is this another step to having “thought police” in our society? This type of science could easily be abused and exploited, but it could also prove useful.

via Association for Psychological Science:

Brain activity can be used to tell whether someone recognizes details they encountered in normal, daily life, which may have implications for criminal investigations and use in courtrooms, new research shows.

The findings, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, suggest that a particular brain wave, known as P300, could serve as a marker that identifies places, objects, or other details that a person has seen and recognizes from everyday life.

Research using EEG recordings of brain activity has shown that the P300 brain wave tends to be large when a person recognizes a meaningful item among a list of nonmeaningful items.

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