Tag Archives | Editorial

The Natural History of the Incorporeal Garage Dragon

dragonSkeptics, believers. Lay down your shotguns and knives. Take a moment to bandage and reload, and I will explain to you why an incorporeal garage dragon means that you should not be fighting. As much.

This strange beast, and its fantastical properties, are described in The Demon Haunted World, by Carl Sagan.

“A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage,” he begins, “…Surely you’d want to check it out, see for yourself.”

You do, but you can’t. The dragon is invisible. You could spread flour on the floor to capture its footprints, but, alas, it also floats. You offer to fetch your infrared camera, but, sadly, its fire is heatless. Perhaps a can of spray paint, then, to make the dragon visible? Oh, right. Incorporeal.

You see where he’s going: “Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless,” he writes, “the only sensible approach is to tentatively reject the dragon hypothesis, [but] to be open to future data…”

The garage dragon is a straightforward parable about the scientific value of a non-falsifiable hypothesis, but it contains an important nuance.… Read the rest

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From the Editor’s Desk: Thanks for Your Support, Disinfonauts

Dear Disinfo readers,

With the passing of 2012 – and all of us survivors still recovering from our obsidian knife wounds from December 21 – I wanted to take a moment and thank you all for the unbelievable patience and support that you’ve shown me here.

I’ve been a fan of the Disinformation Company for many years, and coming to work here has been both a dream come true and a huge responsibility. Preserving the Disinfo legacy while preparing for its future is a balancing act, and one that I cannot do without you. The community here has shown incredible grace and good humor as I work to find a good mix of controversial, entertaining and just plain odd content. You’ve been forgiving of my missteps and experiments (may we all remember with a mix of fear and amusement the last weeks of 2012 as The Era of the Midnight Video  Onslaught), and in short, you’ve made me feel at home while I’ve learned the ropes.… Read the rest

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Allow Me to Shake My Cane at You

It’s the 1980’s and a little boy is browsing his parents’ library. Nikola Tesla is a “Man out of Time.” The Illuminati are managing the stagecraft of history. Antiquated diagrams posit a hollow Earth, concealing its own internal sun and refugee Nazi army–and who built the pyramids, now?

Next door, where the grandparents live, Bob Larson is exorcising demons from those unwary teenagers who have haplessly dabbled in D&D and heavy metal. A well-organized conspiracy is hiding the truth of Satanic ritual sacrifice, while the Antichrist is waiting in the wings to implant 666 chips into the palms of all but the most faithful Christians. Ouija boards are serious business and, with a sharp eye and a handy camera, you just might be the one to prove the existence of UFOs. To borrow a phrase; nothing is true, and everything is permitted.

Conspicuously absent are: Absurd rants against the scientific method, comparing the peer-review process to the persecution of Galileo.… Read the rest

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Nothing Happens Unless White Folks Say So

redhook summerJames Mcbride, co-writer of Spike Lee’s ‘Red Hook Summer,’ has penned a pull-no-punches open letter to Hollywood, detailing some serious issues on race and representation in cinema, and what it means to be a storyteller in an overtly commercial studio system. Via Colorlines.

The reviews for Spike Lee’s film “Red Hook Summer” that premiered at Sundance earlier this week have not been good. His comments made after the premiere about Hollywood studios knowing “nothing about black people” made more headlines than the actual film.

An open letter published yesterday by “Red Hook” co-writer, James McBride, is sure to make even more headlines because he takes the film community to task and says “nothing in this world happens unless white folks says it happens.”

Below is an excerpt from McBride’s open letter on the 40 Acres and a Mule website:

Three days ago, at the premiere of “Red Hook Summer” at The Sundance Film Festival, Spike, usually a cool and widely accepting soul whose professional life is as racially diverse as any American I know- lost his cool for 30 seconds.

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A Black Bloc Rebuttal To Chris Hedges

J27 black bloc at US Capitol with black bannerThank you to Calypso_1 for providing the link! A rebuttal by David Graeber to this earlier post, via n+1

In response to “The Cancer in Occupy,” by Chris Hedges.

I am writing this on the premise that you are a well-meaning person who wishes Occupy Wall Street to succeed. I am also writing as someone who was deeply involved in the early stages of planning Occupy in New York.

I am also an anarchist who has participated in many Black Blocs. While I have never personally engaged in acts of property destruction, I have on more than one occasion taken part in Blocs where property damage has occurred. (I have taken part in even more Blocs that did not engage in such tactics. It is a common fallacy that this is what Black Blocs are all about. It isn’t.)

I was hardly the only Black Bloc veteran who took part in planning the initial strategy for Occupy Wall Street.

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St. Kitts & Nevis: Citizenship For Sale

St. Kitts & Nevis

St. Kitts & Nevis

The recent discussions of birth certificates and citizenship have rekindled my interest in living and working abroad, and, consequently, my frustration at just very how hard this is for the average person to accomplish. Each government jealousy guards its citizenship and work permits, even from friendly countries with whom it shares close cultural and economic ties. “I want to immerse myself in Europe’s culture and history,” I reflected, “not pop its cherry. Is there any country in the world which is even a little, you know…easy?” That’s how I learned about St. Kitts and Nevis.

If my coveted United Kingdom is an ice princess that does not deign to look down upon me from her ivory tower, St. Kitts and Nevis is her busty niece who is a sucker for men with flashy cars. St. Kitts and Nevis is a tiny English-speaking island state in the Caribbean; an independent Commonwealth realm whose Governor-General answers to Queen Elizabeth II.… Read the rest

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Should America Expand the Size of Congress?

Dalton Conley and Jacqueline Stevens make a pretty compelling argument in a recent NY Times op-ed:

With the Senate preparing to debate filibuster reform, now is a good time to consider a similarly daunting challenge to democratic representation in the House: its size. It’s been far too long since the House expanded to keep up with population growth and, as a result, it has lost touch with the public and been overtaken by special interests.

Indeed, the lower chamber of Congress has had the same number of members for so long that many Americans assume that its 435 seats are constitutionally mandated.

But that’s wrong: while the founders wanted to limit the size of the Senate, they intended the House to expand based on population growth. Instead of setting an absolute number, the Constitution merely limits the ratio of members to population. “The number of representatives shall not exceed one for every 30,000,” the founders wrote.

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Two Minutes Hate

thai-crackdownFrom Nick Pell at Red Star Times

Four things happened recently that I think require attention. They speak to not just the world that we live in as it is, but the direction where we are headed. It’s a cliche to repeat, but that won’t stop me–the Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times” applies now more than ever.

We do, indeed live in “interesting” times. Times as interesting as 1914, 1929 or 1939. We will live to see days like 1905, 1936 and 1968. Only time will tell if they blossom into 1789, 1871 or 1917, but the alternative is too terrifying to even contemplate.

Full Article at Red Star Times

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“The Left” vs. The Working Class

Hi, I'm a Douchebag and my name is This Guy

From Nick Pell at Red Star Times

“The Communist Party cannot fulfill its mission except by preserving, completely and unconditionally, its political and organizational independence apart from all other parties and organizations within and without the working class.” – L. Trotsky

I am frequently maligned and attacked for not supporting “the left.” Slings and arrows thrown my way include admonishments to “get behind the real movement” and appeals for a “united front” from people who clearly don’t understand what the term means. However, it’s worth pointing out (once again) that I don’t consider building “the left” to be the task of a socialist. The task of a socialist is to help the working class organize to take power. Rather than building block along the road towards this end, the left is perhaps the largest impediment to working class politics both domestically and internationally. Whether you think of the left as being the Democratic Party or any number of social democratic and Stalinist parties internationally matters not at all.… Read the rest

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Countdown

From Nick Pell at Red Star Times

My friend Bill is wont to say that humanity hasn’t quite figured out that it could do something so bad that it couldn’t be fixed. From a certain point of view, I agree. Our ability to fix the messes we create is finite. Never before the last 50 years has humanity been in a position to utterly and totally destroy itself and drag a large amount of other life forms down with it.

Chernobyl was bad, to be sure. However, the damage was largely regional. The BP disaster is creating an Exxon Valdez crash every four days, with no end in sight.

Forget about the very real possibility of a third world war, one that could irreparably render the planet uninhabitable for humans. The fact that multinational oil cartels are building things capable of creating disasters without solutions should be of concern to everyone who likes the planet being populated with hairless monkeys and other endearing life forms.Read the rest

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