The shameful secret behind the popularity of spy movies

It seems that some tend to attribute too much credit to the goings on of shadowy operations. No wonder when we consider the longevity of the spy fiction genre.

via The Week

Shape of Walther PPK

Shape of Walther PPK (Photo credit: Wikipedia) (GNU)

Moviegoers love spies. James Bond is probably the most successful franchise in history. And when you consider all the spinoffs, descendants, books, television shows, and media-spanning imitators, it’s probably fair to say that spying is one of the top two or three subjects of popular media in America, along with superheroes and light sabers.

Most spy fiction portrays spies as noble and almost superhumanly skilled, both physically and intellectually. James Bond is always a master at whatever the screenwriters can dream up, up to and including sword-fighting with a half-dozen different kinds of blades. Jason Bourne speaks a dozen languages, fights like an MMA specialist, drives like a rally car champion, and can break into CIA headquarters without even breathing hard.

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Criterion Collection Announces October Titles

Criterion Collection cover of La Dolce Vita

Criterion Collection cover of La Dolce Vita

The Criterion Collection has announced their October 2014 titles.

via Criterion.com

My Darling Clementine

John Ford takes on the legend of the O.K. Corral shoot-out in this multilayered, exceptionally well-constructed western, one of the director’s very best films.

La Dolce Vita

The biggest hit from the most popular Italian filmmaker of all time, La dolce vita rocketed Federico Fellini to international mainstream success—ironically, by offering a damning critique of the culture of stardom.

F for Fake

Trickery. Deceit. Magic. In F for Fake, a free-form documentary by Orson Welles, the legendary filmmaker (and self-described charlatan) gleefully reengages with the central preoccupation of his career: the tenuous line between illusion and truth, art and lies.

The Complete Jacques Tati

Though he made only a handful of films, director, writer, and actor Jacques Tati ranks among the most beloved of all cinematic geniuses.

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A Hacker Artist Sent the NSA an ‘Uncrackable’ Encrypted Mixtape

The audio cassette greatly increased the distr...

The audio cassette greatly increased the distribution of bootleg recordings in the 1980s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) (GNU)

Math evens the playing field and assists in sticking it to the man.

via Motherboard

In late May, hacker artist David Huerta, co-organizer of Art Hack Day and Cryptoparty, sent the NSA one hell of a snail mail. Huerta built a DIY encrypted mixtape using an Arduino board and a transparent acrylic case, containing a “soundtrack for the modern surveillance state.” It’s a mixtape the NSA won’t be able to listen to because of the power of private key-based cryptography.

Originally, Huerta wanted to make a traditional mixtape and share it with friends and co-workers. But, without a cassette recorder, he didn’t get very far. That’s when his DIY hacker artist instincts kicked in, and he started building the encrypted mixtape at NYC Resistor.

“I made my own version of a mixtape with an Arduino and wave shield sandwiched in between two laser-etched pieces of transparent acrylic,” he wrote. “The use of a giant-ass Arduino and wave shield was chosen since the (shitty) 44KHz wave file format gave it roughly the same audio quality I figured a wiretapped AT&T phone conversation would have.”

Huerta settled on the transparent acrylic cassette casing as a symbolic gesture of transparency.

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260 Foot Crater Has Mysteriously Formed In Siberia

An unexplained hole has formed on Siberia’s Yamal Peninsula. The crater has formed in a specifically gas-rich area, the name of which actually translates to the “end of the world.”

via i09:

An expedition to the crater has been organised by the Yamal authorities. The team includes two experts from the Centre for the Study of the Arctic and one from Cryosphere Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

….

According to the Siberian Times, initial reports and images were suspected to be fakes, but the new images taken by Russian engineer Konstantin Nikolaev suggests it’s very much real. The feature is thought to have formed about two years ago.

Scientist have posited a number of theories to explain the crater, though it’s not likely to have been caused by a meteorite impact, nor does it exhibit the features of a sinkhole. One website claims that it’s evidence “of the arrival of a UFO craft” to Earth.

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Sentient Sleep Paralysis Mist Caught on Tape?

From Examiner:

“I’m a rationalist and a very skeptical person with no previous interest in paranormal activity, but after doing some research it seemed like there was a possibility that this entity is real,” Pike said.

On one evening last week Pike decided to place a camera in his bedroom to document what he was experiencing on his sleepless nights. Pike set up a camera facing the bed and went to sleep with the lights on. The footage that he captured was shocking. In the video, around the 30-second mark, an eerie mist rises to the ceiling from Pike’s bed.

“I have watched the footage over and over trying to figure out some logical explanation for what could have caused the image of what seems to be a ghost, but I haven’t been able to come up with a solution,” Pike said about the video. “I am really starting to believe that I captured the entity I saw during my paralysis on video.… Read the rest

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Drugs and Alcohol Are (All?) In The Mind

hypnosisWhat if all drug and alcohol states are actually in the mind?

A performance by a Hypnotist at Toronto’s Idea City suggests just that. It would make the trillions spend on alcohol and dangerous drugs seem ridiculous and unnecessary.

Hypnotist Albert Nerenberg, stage name Neuron, elaborates on an old hypnotist parlour trick of hypnotizing someone into being drunk. Instead Nerenberg demonstrates that volunteers could be made very drunk, high on cocaine, experience ecstasy and even to hallucinate while hypnotized. The event was shot for Canadian Television.

“While this does require deeper states of hypnosis,” said Nerenberg. “It seems like the sky’s the limit. I’ve put people on LSD, Ecstasy, DMT and even fictional drugs that don’t exist.”

The best thing is there appears to be no side affects.

“I’m not talking about subtle contact highs here. People describe these experiences as completely real and we see physical side effects. Accelerated heart rates, pupil dilation, full hallucinations,” said Nerenberg.… Read the rest

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An Atheist’s Defence of Irrationality

Dr. Isaac Asimov, 1965

Dr. Isaac Asimov, 1965

Raghunath Joshi writes:

Isaac Asimov said ‘I am an emotional atheist. As to the claim that God exists, my suspicion is so strong that I don’t want to waste my limited time believing/acting on it’. Even though I am an atheist, I can appreciate religion when ever it results in kindness honesty and courage, like the writer Kurt Vonnegut when he says ‘Believe in all harmless untruths if it makes you kind, happier and more truthful’.

In all of the arguments that we, atheists make against religion, the underlying thread is ‘logic’. The problem with using logic is that we HAVE to stop it at one point in the line of argument. It is so because logic can’t create a meaning of one’s life. It can only help us derive a moral structure from a fundamental premise such as ‘compassion towards’ / ‘happiness of’ / ‘freedom of’ all living creatures.

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Bored. Of Everything.

Im BORED (3303387519)Umair Haque (author, economist, slayer of zombies) says he’s bored – of everything – in his essay “The Bullshit Machine” on Medium. It’s a common condition, but one mysteriously under-investigated. For anyone wishing to get to the bottom of this affliction, check out Albert Nerenberg’s documentary Boredom.

Here’s a tiny confession. I’m bored.

Yes; I know. I’m a sinner. Go ahead. Burn me at the stake of your puritanical Calvinism; the righteously, thoroughly, well, boring idea that boredom itself is a moral defect; that a restless mind is the Devil’s sweatshop.

There’s nothing more boring than that; and I’ll return to that very idea at the end of this essay; which I hope is the beginning.

What am I bored of? Everything. Blogs books music art business ideas politics tweets movies science math technology…but more than that: the spirit of the age; the atmosphere of the time; the tendency of the now; the disposition of the here.

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