Moscow judge shuts down Scientology


A Russian judge took a stand against The Church of Scientology in Moscow and ordered it to be dissolved.

via The AP:

The Moscow City Court on Monday (Nov. 23) accepted arguments from the Justice Ministry that the term “Scientology” is trademarked and thus cannot be considered a religious organization covered by the constitution’s freedom-of-religion clause.

h/t BoingBoing.

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Signs of a Dying Society

FBI statistics confirm a dramatic decline in violent crimes since 1991, yet the number of prisoners has doubled over approximately the same period. It's but one sign of a deeply troubling decline. (Photo: PRCJ/file)

FBI statistics confirm a dramatic decline in violent crimes since 1991, yet the number of prisoners has doubled over approximately the same period. It’s but one sign of a deeply troubling decline. (Photo: PRCJ/file)

This article originally appeared on Common Dreams.

While Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning and John Kiriakou are vilified for revealing vital information about spying and bombing and torture, a man who conspired with Goldman Sachs to make billions of dollars on the planned failure of subprime mortgages was honored by New York University for his “Outstanding Contributions to Society.”

This is one example of the distorted thinking leading to the demise of a once-vibrant American society. There are other signs of decay:

1. A House Bill Would View Corporate Crimes as ‘Honest Mistakes’

Wealthy conservatives are pushing a bill that would excuse corporate leaders from financial fraud, environmental pollution, and other crimes that America’s greatest criminals deem simply reckless or negligent.

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Science Is Proving That Tragic Curses Are Real

If you think you’re cursed, you might be right, per Nautilus:

In the first lines of Sophocles’ Antigone, the title character bemoans her fate to the chorus:

How many miseries our father caused!
And is there one of them that does not fall
On us while yet we live?

Antigone must reckon with the choices her father Oedipus made and the slippery, obscure moral inheritance that he leaves her. She ultimately chooses to pay with her life, not for her sins, but for her father’s.

Oedipus and Antigone

Oedipus and Antigone


Children reckoning with and reenacting the sins of their forebears is a key part of the tragic form. The great Greek tragedians—Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides—incorporated ancestral fault into their works, as Orestes, Electra, and Antigone reap what their powerful but monumentally flawed parents sow. The Greeks took the idea of moral inheritance well past the stage, weaving it into the fabric of their society, from elegiac poetry to philosophical treatises to medical literature.

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Why US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is the Biggest Threat to World Peace


Brian Cloughley writes at CounterPunch:

The terrorist threat posed by the barbarians of Islamic State is clearly of most serious concern to much of the world — but there are other threats of equal immediacy, not the least being the determination of Washington to continue confronting Russia and China.

The US Navy Times headline of November 5 summed up Washington’s policy as regards the South China Sea by recording that “Pentagon chief takes jab at China with aircraft carrier stop.”

This intriguing insight to America’s official thinking about China was one result of the visit by intellectual US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to the USS Theodore Roosevelt, an enormous aircraft carrier in the South China Sea where, ten days previously, on  October 27, the guided missile destroyer USS Lassen had been ordered to try to provoke China to react to a coat-trailing confrontational incursion into territorial waters claimed by China.

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From the Soil to the Sky: Thoughts on “Symphony of the Soil”

The soil, the raw Earth, the meat of our world that lays atop the bones… here is the vitality that underlays all life.

I recently watched the documentary “The Symphony of Soil,” which I will further embed below because it so impressed on me once again the importance – and the mystifying complexity – of the ground beneath our feet.

Soils are formed in a hundred different ways, all with their own chemical composition, and all with their own life. One facet of our massively complicated global ecosystem, each tiny portion so intimately vital to the other. Mycelial networks stretching hundreds of miles, bumping into other networks, forming this intricate dance like a natural Internet, the first Internet, transmitting details of weather patterns and other ecological “news” all through their spread. It is an overwhelming idea, a transcendent, beautiful idea –

And our system of global agriculture and capital is destroying it.… Read the rest

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I Will Not Give You the Gift of My Hatred: On Guns Vs. Flowers


Abby Zimet writes at Common Dreams:

Tough week. The devastation in both Paris and the lesser-noted Beirut was swiftly followed by a flood of racist venom, victim-blaming, fear-mongering, zombie right-wing excess, corporate media propaganda, and sheer stupidity flying so blindly in the face of reason it became as deeply unsettling as the violence that sparked it. Thus did a righteous mindless clamor arise in the land to keep out desperate Syrian refugees victimized by and running from the same evil we suspect them of. Never mind facts, and for God’s sake forget compassion: Despite recent data showing that of 68 terror suspects charged in the U.S., none came from Syria, just three were refugees, and most were U.S. citizens, the GOP-controlled House, abetted by 47 Democrats, many local officials and a mob of citizen racists called for closing the doors to our shining land of opportunity.

Rhode Island State Sen.

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The Driving Range


I’m all Paris-ed and “let’s throw up barbed-wire fences to keep us free“-ed out. Feeling kind of dark. So, please indulge as I pitch this one ride out there, to cheer us up…



It’s been slow. It’s that palpable quiet period for cab driving as Thanksgiving looms.

At present I’m cruising the Lower Haight, with the back seat having been cold for the last forty-five minutes. (Sigh.) I guess it’ll be the left up Fillmore now, for the usual rounds; on through the Jazz District, up through well-off Pac Heights, and down into the yuppie ubiquitous Marina.

However, mid-turn, score!

It’s a late 20’s skinny white blonde dude with thick coke-bottle glasses, and sagging jeans, running into the street from the afar bus stop to flag. Dude is swaggering towards me in beat up skater shoes, with gold chain swaying, and one hand waving vehemently in the air as the other holds up his falling pants.

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Why it matters that you realize you’re in a computer simulation


What if our universe is something like a computer simulation, or a virtual reality, or a video game?  The proposition that the universe is actually a computer simulation was furthered in a big way during the 1970s, when John Conway famously proved that if you take a binary system, and subject that system to only a few rules (in the case of Conway’s experiment, four); then that system creates something rather peculiar.

What Conway’s rules produced were emergent complexities so sophisticated that they seemed to resemble the behaviors of life itself. He named his demonstration The Game of Life, and it helped lay the foundation for the Simulation Argument, its counterpart the Simulation Hypothesis, and Digital Mechanics.  These fields have gone on to create a massive multi-decade long discourse in science, philosophy, and popular culture around the idea that it actually makes logical, mathematical sense that our universe is indeed a computer simulation. … Read the rest

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Why I Didn’t Take the Blue Pill

drunken taoistFighting always scared the hell out of me.

And that’s exactly why I have spent a good chunk of my life doing it.

Often, when people who know about my training and fighting in martial arts meet me, they look confused. I am nothing like what they expected. They had pictured encountering a killing machine with a mean streak and muscles growing evenout of his ears, and instead they get my mellow, nerdy, glasses-wearingself. Their surprise is the same even if they don’t meet me in person, and instead just talk to me on the phone. I don’t exactly have a small, whiny voice, but I still don’t exude that aggressive machismo—that gruff, grizzly-bear-who-just-woke-up-in-a-bad mood vibe they had imagined.

I am freakishly sensitive, very emotional, non-confrontational—a happy puppy who wants nothing but peace and love.I have spent thousands of hours with my head buried in books,and I hate conflict—physical or otherwise.… Read the rest

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