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If Christmas magic were real, America’s political and business leaders — the people with power and money — would speak on behalf of the nation they’ve debased:
1. To Our Most Neglected Citizens
By the time the Koch brothers wake up on Christmas morning, the wealth the two men will have accumulated throughout the night could get a room for the night for every one of the 633,000 homeless Americans.
To Americans without a place to live, we apologize for a society that allows almost all of its new wealth to be redistributed to people who are already rich.
2. To Our Most Vulnerable Citizens
At the other end of society, elderly people are the most unequal group among us.
Tag Archives | Pop Culture
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2014 had its fair share of landmark scientific accomplishments: dramatic cuts to the cost of sequencing a genome; sweeping investigations of climate change impacts in the US; advances in private-sector space travel, and plenty more. But there was also no shortage of high-profile figures eager to publicly and shamelessly denounce well-established science—sometimes with serious consequences for public policy. So without further ado, the most egregious science denial of 2014:
Basically everything said by Donald Trump:
You can always count on The Donald to pull no punches. He got started early this year, when he pointed to freezing temperatures in parts of the country as evidence that “this very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop” and then told Fox News that the global warming “hoax” was merely the result of scientists“having a lot of fun.”
In September, Trump went on a Twitter screed linking vaccines to autism.
via Pando Daily:
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Instagram recently decided to permanently delete many of the spam accounts it’s discovered on its service. The move was meant to help the network remain “authentic” because “it’s a place where real people share real moments,” Instagram said at the time. But apparently some of the users affected by this decision aren’t happy about its impact.
Business Insider reports “thousands of people” have reached out to Instagram asking it to restore their old follower counts in the wake of what it calls the “Instagram Rapture.” This despite Instagram’s warning that follower counts would change as the result of its New Year’s cleaning — and the fact that those followers were little more than spam bots.
This is in keeping with what some have suspected about Instagram for a while. For example, I argued last year that the addition of video features to the service wasn’t about communication, like co-founder Kevin Systrom said, but about its users’ narcissism:
Instagram is still very much about presentation.
The universe seems incredibly complex. But could its rules be dead simple? Juergen Schmidhuber’s fascinating story will convince you that this universe and your own life are just by-products of a very simple and fast program computing all logically possible universes.
Juergen Schmidhuber is Director of the Swiss Artificial Intelligence Lab IDSIA (since 1995), Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Lugano, Switzerland (since 2009), and Professor SUPSI (since 2003).
He helped to transform IDSIA into one of the world’s top ten AI labs (the smallest!), according to the ranking of Business Week Magazine. His group pioneered the field of mathematically optimal universal AI and universal problem solvers. The algorithms developed in his lab won seven first prizes in international pattern recognition competitions, as well as several best paper awards.
Since 1990 he has developed a formal theory of fun and curiosity and creativity to build artificial scientists and artists.… Read the rest
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At 25, a friend introduced me to “Surfing Finnegans Wake,” in which a nasally man lectures for three hours, ostensibly off-the-cuff, on the psychedelic, boundary-dissolving experience of reading James Joyce. I remember thinking his voice sounded extra-terrestrial. It was Terence McKenna. Here’s a quote from the lecture, which will hopefully be blurbed on the next jacket cover of Finnegans Wake: “This [Finnegans Wake] comes about as close as anybody came to pushing the entire contents of the universe down into approximately 14 cubic inches.”
A year or so later, having forgotten about McKenna, I found the Psychedelic Salon, a podcast hosted by a friendly man named Lorenzo. It had hundreds of archived talks given by what seemed to be a community of people dedicated to psychedelics, and to a counter-culture movement of sorts. I wasn’t prepared to discover McKenna’s oeuvre.
Forget those plans by Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and other theaters to run Team America: World Police in place of The Interview. The Austin-based chain says that Paramount has now decided not to offer South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s 2004 satire that focuses on Kim Jong-il, the late father of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Alamo says that the cancellation at its Dallas theater is “due to circumstances beyond our control” and says it will offer refunds to those who have already bought tickets. Cleveland’s Capitol Theater also tweeted that Team America“has been canceled by Paramount Pictures.”
Due to to circumstances beyond our control, the TEAM AMERICA 12/27 screening has been cancelled. We apologize & will provide refunds today.
— Alamo Drafthouse DFW (@AlamoDFW) December 18, 2014
via Good Times Weekly:
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A beginner’s guide to understanding and exploring the uncanny world of lucid dreams.
“Are you dreaming right now?” asks science writer and dream researcher David Jay Brown. We are sitting in the ivy-draped courtyard of Laili, next to a babbling fountain and a rowdy dinner party of 10.
“No!” I say, sure of the answer to such an absurd question.
“But how do you know?” he asks.
“I just know.”
“Well, have you tested it?” He picks up a fork and taps the wall. In a dream, maybe the tines would bend, he says. In a dream, the words on the menu would scramble the minute you looked away and looked back again. And if you plugged your nose and breathed out, you’d feel the air leaving your nostrils, even though they were plugged.
“Nope, not dreaming,” I say, through a pinched nose. But there’s an epiphany scratching around inside his point: even when fork tines bend with no effort and landscapes transform at the mere suggestion of thought, we accept what we’re experiencing in a dream as real.
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Back in 1973, eternally eccentric filmmaker Woody Allen made Sleeper. Set in the year 2173, Sleeper is, to date, Allen’s sole venture into overt sci-fi. A slapstick comedy, Sleeper pokes fun at other sci-fi classics, notable amongst them Fahrenheit 451 and 2001: A Space Odyssey. The political and social aspects of the film are thinly veiled 1970s sentiment, set in a dystopic inept police state.
What is truly interesting is Sleeper’s perspective on the progress of technology, 200 years from its production. While Woody Allen did not predict technological miniaturization, he did get a lot of things right. Was Woody Allen a tech prophet? Here’s a list of technologies predicted in Sleeper that already exist, 161 years ahead of schedule.
1. Sleeping Pods Not once, but twice in Sleeper are we given glimpses of long-term sleeping devices. I guess that’s appropriate, given the title.
via Viral Nova:
Most of us know the Christmas movie classics like Home Alone, A Christmas Story, and many more. But if you’re not in the mood for that sentimental and gooey Christmas specials, you can add a little bit of grit to your Christmas cheer with some alternative movies. These creepy Christmas flicks will hit you like a heavily spiked egg nog.
A kid receives a very mysterious pet for Christmas, and carelessly disregards the three important rules in caring for the pet. This will turn out to be his greatest mistake.
2. Black Christmas
A murderous psycho invades a house of sorority girls who should have went home for Christmas break.
You heard that right.
Google chairman Eric “NSA” Schmidt once said quite proudly: You Have No Privacy – Get Over It.”
Eric Schmidt Dismisses Privacy: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/12/google-ceo-eric-schmidt-dismisses-privacy
Secrets Are for Filthy People: http://gawker.com/5419271/google-ceo-secrets-are-for-filthy-people
Now Eric wants you to be sure and use Google’s secure servers for your data storage needs.
I’ll respond to that directly: FQ Eric. Sincerely, Chaos_Dynamics
Here’s the story from IT World:
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Google has worked hard to lock down the personal data it collects since revelations in the last year and a half about mass surveillance programs at the U.S. National Security Agency, company Chairman Eric Schmidt said.
The news of surveillance by the NSA and intelligence agency counterparts at allied nations has damaged the U.S. tech industry on “many levels,” with many Europeans now distrusting U.S. tech companies to hold on to their personal data, Schmidt said Friday at a surveillance conference at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.