Tag Archives | Alternatives

The insane history of how American paranoia ruined and censored comic books

secretlondon123 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

secretlondon123 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

via Vox:

One of the most hurtful things you can say to a comic book reader is that comic books are for kids.

It’s a chilling insult that the stuff they read — the stuff they love — never advanced beyond its funny-page beginnings. But it’s also — often unknown to comics fans — a blunt reminder of one of the worst things to ever happen to comic books.

Some 60 years ago, during the era of McCarthyism, comic books became a threat. The panic culminated in a Senate hearing in 1954. This, of course, isn’t to say that McCarthyism and the comic book panic were comparable in their human toll. But they share the same symptoms of American fear and a harsh, reactive response to it.

The reaction to the suspected scourge was the Comics Code — a set of rules that spelled out what comics could and couldn’t do.

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3D Printed Male Chastity Device Prototype: Personal toy for men

hhaasa

via 3D Print:

For those couples seeking to spice up their personal lives with a bit of power play, leaving the woman in charge of the action (as it were), some inventive makers are hard at work prototyping new devices. We’ve looked recently at Dame Products’ 3D printed prototype for the female-use Eva product; now it seems to be the men’s turn for their own toy.

One of the latest prototypes out there, comes from Shapeways user pedro69, and has been tested out by a friend of his who runs the Become Her Slave blog, which focuses on men who want their female partners to dominate them. This new prototype — the Keyholder Dream (KHD) X3 Espresso Short — is a “male chastity device” that keeps a man’s bits securely in place and puts him at the (playful) mercy of his partner, who quite literally holds the key.… Read the rest

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America Is Built on Torture, Remember?

takomabibelot (CC BY 2.0)

takomabibelot (CC BY 2.0)

via Pacific Standard Magazine:

The release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report has sparked a great deal of outrage—and justifiably so. The details are grim and sickening: The report says that the CIA tortured innocent people, threatened to murder and rape the mothers of detainees, and used rectal feeding or, essentially, anal rape, as a punishment. The report paints a picture of heedless brutality, cruelty, and sadism.

Given the details from Abu Ghraib, and the long-known, supposedly sanctioned techniques like waterboarding, these revelations aren’t exactly surprising. But they still have the power to shock. Andrew Sullivan, who has been a bitter and committed critic of American torture, summed up the reaction of many when he suggested that readers “reflect on a president [George W. Bush] who cannot admit to being the first in that office to authorize such an assault on core American values and decency.” To numerous critics on the left and some on the right as well, the torture seems like a violation of the basic American commitment to freedom, justice, and human rights.

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James Randi: debunking the king of the debunkers

an-honest-liar-film-festival

via The Telegraph:

There are few public figures who’ve had decades of an almost perfectly positive press, as James Randi has. The 87-year-old debunker of the paranormal was Richard Dawkins before God invented Richard Dawkins – angry, verbally aggressive, a hero to the kinds of people who don’t believe in Big Foot and are rational enough to become sleepless with fury at the brainlessness of the idiots who do.

Author and thinker Isaac Asimov once claimed Randi’s “qualifications as a rational human being are unparalleled”, whilst the New York Times has called him our “most celebrated living debunker”. More recently he’s been the star of an award winning documentary film telling his incredible story.

Originally a magician and escapologist known as The Amazing Randi he graduated, as a young man, to the more serious business of exposing con-men and the self-deluded who claim supernatural powers. His long life and career has been devoted to the pursuit of truth above all else.

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The epigenetics of The X-Files

X chromosome inactivation can definitely be explained by epigenetics. X-Files? Less certain. Image from Reinius et al., BMC Genomics 2010, 11, 614.

X chromosome inactivation can definitely be explained by epigenetics. X-Files? Less certain. Image from Reinius et al., BMC Genomics 2010, 11, 614.

via The Guardian:

The X-Files was my absolute favourite television show in the 1990s. My flatmates and I would tune in every week to watch intrepid FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully track down assorted aliens, psychics, vampires, ghosts, and government conspiracies. We bought the soundtrack CD; we even had a poster on our living room wall. It was A Big Deal, for all seven seasons (some people think there were nine seasons, but I refuse to admit that seasons eight and nine – or the second movie – ever happened).

Dana Scully was a scientist, always looking for a perfectly rational explanation for the strange phenomena encountered each week. Many of these explanations were based on genetics, especially in the “monster-of-the-week” episodes featuring assorted freaks and other abominations not part of the main alien conspiracy storyline.

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Fifty More Ways to Leave Leviathan

Matthias Ripp (CC BY 2.0)

Matthias Ripp (CC BY 2.0)

via Fee:

It’s been over a year since we published “50 Ways to Leave Leviathan.” That successful piece showed how innovation and entrepreneurship are gradually undermining the top-down, command-and-control approach to governance.

It is happening quickly by any historical standard, but it is also happening incrementally in ways that cause us not to notice. The bigger the pattern, the more slowly we tend to recognize it. The bigger the implication, the more resistant we are to acknowledging it.

We even take it all for granted. In reality, the ground is shifting beneath our feet. Those in power feel it, and it scares them. The innovation can be slowed, but it can’t be stopped, much less reversed. This great transformation is already underway.

The theme, as always, is human freedom, which is the insuppressible urge within all of us to live full and ever more prosperous lives, regardless of the barriers put in the way.

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Why Elon Musk is probably not freaking out over plunging oil prices

Elon Musk's Twitter Photo.

Elon Musk’s Twitter Photo.

via Quartz:

One of the indirect casualties of tumbling oil prices in recent weeks has been Tesla. Shares in Elon Musk’s electric automaker have sunk by about 25% over the past three months.

Lower gas prices, in theory, eliminate one of the key advantages of owning an electric car: They cost much less to run than normal cars, at least when gas prices are high. So the decline in oil prices is not great news for the company.

On the other hand, there are reasons to not be too alarmed about it. If you can afford to buy a Tesla, the cost of gassing it up is probably not your chief concern. (Its current flagship Model S costs about $70,000, though a “cheaper” new car, the model 3, is expected to cost at least half that when it is released in 2017.)

And don’t forget, Musk himself expressed alarm about the rapid rise in Telsa’s share price earlier this year.

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Turning E-Waste into Light

Kevin Dooley (CC BY 2.0)

Kevin Dooley (CC BY 2.0)

via IEEE Spectrum:

Bangalore-based IBM Research India has a bright idea for keeping discarded lithium laptop batteries out of landfills: repurposing their cells as energy supplies for the powerless. The idea, presented at this weekend’s fifth annual Symposium on Computing for Development (DEV 2014) in San Jose, has passed a small proof-of-principle test run with Bangalore’s working poor.

The IBM researchers used disused lithium batteries to create a new device they dubbed the UrJar—a multilingual monicker uniting the Hindi word urja for energy with jar. Hardware R&D firm Radio Studio, India, built the units. The first phase was tear-down. Radio Studio disassembled laptop batteries to isolate those cells that could still hold several hours’ worth of charge—over 60 percent of cells on average, according to their sampling.

Cells that passed quality control were repackaged in a housing with basic electronics, starting with a charging circuit to limit the rate and level of charge on the lithium cells and thus minimize fire risk.

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The Game Is Rigged: Why Americans Keep Losing to the Police State

Tony Webster (CC BY 2.0)

Tony Webster (CC BY 2.0)

via Canada Free Press:

“The truth is that the State is a conspiracy designed not only to exploit, but above all to corrupt its citizens.”—Leo Tolstoy

My 7-year-old granddaughter has suddenly developed a keen interest in card games: Go Fish, Crazy Eights, Old Maid, Blackjack, and War. We’ve fallen into a set pattern now: every time we play, she deals the cards, and I pretend not to see her stacking the deck in her favor. And of course, I always lose.

I don’t mind losing to my granddaughter at Old Maid, knowing full well the game is rigged. For now, it’s fun and games, and she’s winning. Where the rub comes in is in knowing that someday she’ll be old enough to realize that being a citizen in the American police state is much like playing against a stacked deck: you’re always going to lose.

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Tweets from the afterlife: social networking with the dead

The possibility of a posthumous digital social life seriously challenges our notions of death. Shimal Ahmed (Fulhi), CC BY-SA

The possibility of a posthumous digital social life seriously challenges our notions of death. Shimal Ahmed (Fulhi), CC BY-SA

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
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By Bjorn Nansen, University of Melbourne; James Meese, University of Melbourne; Martin Gibbs, University of Melbourne; Michael Arnold, University of Melbourne, and Tamara Kohn, University of Melbourne

Media technologies have operated as both a means of communicating news of a death and memorialising the deceased for a significant period of time, moving from traditional epitaphs, eulogies, wakes and inscription in stone to centuries-old obituaries printed and circulated in newspapers. So where are we now?

Digital commemoration emerged as the internet became readily accessible and an integral part of people’s communicative practices. Initially, during the 90s, it took the form of memorial websites hosted by the families and friends of the deceased.… Read the rest

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