Tag Archives | Activism

Ralph H. Baer, a father of video gaming, dies at 92

Baer is credited with developing the pattern-matching game Simon.

Baer is credited with developing the pattern-matching game Simon.

via Washington Post:

At the dawn of the television age in 1951, a young engineer named Ralph Baer approached executives at an electronics firm and suggested the radical idea of offering games on the bulky TV boxes.

“And of course,” he said, “I got the regular reaction: ‘Who needs this?’ And nothing happened.”

It took another 15 years before Mr. Baer, who died Dec. 6 at 92, developed a prototype that would make him the widely acknowledged father of video games. His design helped lay the groundwork for an industry that transformed the role of the television set and generated tens of billions of dollars last year.

Mr. Baer “saw that there was this interesting device sitting in millions of American homes — but it was a one-way instrument,” said Arthur P. Molella, director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation.

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Bush Joins Bid to Block Senate Release of CIA Torture Report

453px-George-W-Bush

via Bloomberg:

Current and past U.S. officials, including former President George W. Bush, have mounted a campaign to try to block the release tomorrow of a Senate report detailing harsh interrogation tactics previously used by the CIA on suspected terrorists.

The opposition comes as Democrats on the Senate intelligence committee plan to release an executive summary of the 6,200-page report, which found the CIA used extreme interrogation methods at secret prisons more often than legally authorized and failed to disclose all the activities to lawmakers and other officials.

Despite warnings of retaliation abroad against Americans from those opposed to making the report public, the Obama administration supports its release, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said today.

“The president believes that, on principle, it’s important to release that report, so that people around the world and people here at home understand exactly what transpired,” he said. Earnest said the administration has taken steps to improve security at U.S.

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In 179 fatalities involving on-duty NYPD cops in 15 years, only 3 cases led to indictments — and just 1 conviction

via New York Daily News:

A Daily News analysis of NYPD-involved deaths starts with the 1999 slaying of unarmed Amadou Diallo in a hail of bullets in the Bronx and ends with last month’s shooting death of Akai Gurley in a Brooklyn stairwell. Where race was known, 86% were black or Hispanic.

A Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict white NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the chokehold death of Eric Garner — a black father of six — stunned large swaths of the city and added fuel to a nationwide surge of protests over police killings.

But history shows the odds were always in Pantaleo’s favor.

A Daily News investigation found that at least 179 people were killed by on-duty NYPD officers over the past 15 years. Just three of the deaths have led to an indictment in state court. In another case, a judge threw out the indictment on technical grounds and it was not reinstated.

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Senator Jay Rockefeller singlehandedly kills Freedom of Information Act reform

Senator Jay Rockefeller introduces Sylvia Mathews Burwell, a native of Hinton, West Virginia, before her nomination hearing on 9 April 2013 in the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs for the position of Director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV — CC by 2.0.

via Boing Boing:

The House unanimously passed a bill that would bring much-needed improvements to the Freedom of Information Act; the Senate had bi-partisan support for it, too — but outgoing Sen Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) singlehandedly killed the bill in a closed-door committee meeting.

He offered vague, bullshitty excuses for this, citing nonspecific issues with privacy that don’t bear even cursory scrutiny.

For 509 other members of Congress, these concerns were not enough to halt progress of much-needed reforms. It’s not clear which provisions the Senator is referring to, or what experts across the federal government he is referring to, because this short statement, issued at 6:30 PM on Friday after a full day of advocates, journalists and citizens asking for an explanation, doesn’t explain.

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After 35 Years I Tried Magic Mushrooms Again—Here’s What Happened

Darron Birgenheier (CC by-sa 2.0)

Darron Birgenheier (CC by-sa 2.0)

via Reset.me:

Though I began researching Acid Test, a book about the revival of research into the use of psychedelic drugs for healing, in 2007, my interest in the subject really began 30 years earlier, when I was a college student at the University of Florida. The UF campus is surrounded by a rural landscape, including thousands of acres of palmetto and pine-studded pasturage used to raise cattle. My friends and I had learned to slip gingerly through barbed wire fencing and, keeping an eye out for shotgun-wielding ranchers, hunt for recently deposited piles of cow dung, from which sometimes sprouted the creamy, brown-tipped caps of psilocybin mushrooms. We plucked the mushrooms with rising excitement, as if we were pulling nuggets of pure gold from a mountain stream instead of fungi from cow shit. We knew the power contained within. Steep them in a pot with tea and drink, and before long we would see the world, and ourselves, from a novel vantage point.

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Altamont at 45: The most dangerous rock concert

Screengrab from a video stream which shows a static photograph of Meredith Hunter shortly before being stabbed to death.

Screengrab from a video stream which shows a static photograph of Meredith Hunter shortly before being stabbed to death.

via BBC:

The Altamont concert, with its notorious murder caught on film, occurred 45 years ago. Many consider it to be the end of the ‘60s, Owen Gleiberman writes.

Forty-five years ago, on 6 December 1969, a free rock concert headlined by The Rolling Stones at the Altamont Speedway outside San Francisco devolved into a disaster of violence that instantly took on mythical status. Virtually overnight, Altamont became the anti-Woodstock, the rock dream turned nightmare, the official last nail in the coffin of the ’60s. It’s always easy, of course, to overload a single event with symbolism, but it’s hard to deny that Altamont truly was all of those things. Shortly after the Stones began their set, a member of the California Hells Angels – who were loosely hired to police the event – committed a gruesome murder right in front of the stage, stabbing a drugged-out youth named Meredith Hunter several times in the back.

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Nobody’s Paying Us To Get Arrested: Low Wage Strikes Spread

via Common Dreams:

In a dismal week, a rare, under-reported shard of hope: Thursday’s strikes by thousands of low-wage workers spread to over 190 cities, jumped industrial divides – fast food to home care, convenience stores to airports – and merged issues of race and class, with many of the largely black and brown crowds demanding in the wake of Mike Brown and Eric Garner not just a living wage, but justice.

The often emotional Fight For $15campaign has already seen hourly wage successes around the country, with ten states passing higher wage bills, 22 establishing wage floors above the federal minimum, and Seattle passing a record-high $15 minimum wage. Fuelling the changes have been damning new reports from Walmart, the country’s biggest and most infamous employer, that its obscenely rich owners have ducked millions in taxes and given almost nothing away – except for Alice Walton’s hobby project of a $1.2 billion art museum holding a $500 million collection – while paying workers so little that taxpayers have to provide $6.2 billion a year in public assistance so they can survive.

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Rocket Fuel from Human Waste

Matt Biddulph (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Matt Biddulph (CC BY-SA 2.0)

via IEEE Spectrum:

Getting rid of human waste has been a problem for NASA since the earliest days of space exploration. That’s why the U.S. space agency is funding researchers to figure out how to transform such waste into rocket fuel for future space missions.

The human waste of astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station has usually been dumped with other trash in space capsules that burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere, according to SPACE.com. But engineers in Florida have developed a anaerobic digester process that can turn such organic waste into biogas—a mix of methane and carbon dioxide. Additional processing can also create water and oxygen.

“The idea was to see whether we could make enough fuel to launch rockets and not carry all the fuel and its weight from Earth for the return journey,” said Pratap Pullammanappallil, an associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering at the University of Florida in Gainesville, in a press release. “Methane can be used to fuel the rockets.

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I Told a Grand Jury I Saw a Cop Shoot and Kill an Unarmed Man. It Didn’t Indict.

Elvert Barnes (CC BY 2.0)

Elvert Barnes (CC BY 2.0)

via Mother Jones:

Many years ago, during the 1980s, I witnessed a killing: a New York City cop shooting an unarmed homeless man near the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was later called as a grand jury witness in the case. The grand jury did not indict the officer.

It was a summer evening. I was heading to play softball in Central Park. At the corner of Fifth Avenue and 79th Street, I got off my bicycle to walk toward the Great Lawn. The west side of Fifth was crowded with New Yorkers enjoying the beautiful night. People were streaming in and out of the park. Sidewalk vendors were doing brisk business. The vibe was good. And in the midst of the hubbub, I spotted a fellow wearing dirty and tattered clothing. His hair was filthy, his face worn. It was hard to determine his age.

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The Pentagon wants your advice on tech for the year 2030 time frame

(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

via Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence:

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is asking for ideas from the private sector on breakthrough technologies to guide military investment for the next decade and beyond, according to an article by futurist Patrick Tucker Wednesday in Defense One newsletter.

“On Wednesday, Defense Department officials issued a request for information calling on interested parties ‘to identify current and emerging technologies … that could provide significant military advantage to the United States and its partners and allies in the 2030 time frame,’” Tucker said.

It’s part of the Pentagon’s “ambitious plan to develop technology to put the United States decades ahead of rival nations like China and Russia in short period of time.”

The problem: predicting the tech future isn’t as simple as it used to be. “New breakthroughs are copied, innovated against and rendered obsolete as quickly as the Internet spreads to new portions of the globe.

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