Tag Archives | Society

Take Me to the Death Cafe

hans van den berg (CC BY 2.0)

hans van den berg (CC BY 2.0)

Sophie Elmhirst writing at Prospect Magazine:

In the middle of the graveyard in Vissoie, a small town in the Swiss mountain valley of Anniviers, stands a grey stone cross. For years, the cross was the focus of a local competition among the town’s teenagers. The brief was simple: turn up at midnight, sit by the cross, and whoever lasts the longest wins. By day, the task doesn’t seem too onerous. The graveyard is absurdly picturesque, perched on the side of a hill next to the church, the valley dropping away to a river, mountains on the far side rising up against a faultless blue sky. Even the graves are palatable: there’s no ornate Victoriana here, no ghoulishness or mawkish angels, no sentimental inscriptions; just a few rows of simple wooden crosses planted in the ground. (A rule was declared in the town that the dead should all be commemorated identically, to prevent wealth-displaying one-upmanship.)

Not long ago, Bernard Crettaz, an eminent Swiss sociologist who was born and raised in Vissoie, sat on a stone wall by the shared grave of his parents—Pierre and Genevieve—and recalled his year of competition.

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American Fascism

frames w english subtitles from the anti-fascist movie 'ordinary fascism' (Обыкновенный фашизм, 1965)

frames w english subtitles from the anti-fascist movie ‘ordinary fascism’ (Обыкновенный фашизм, 1965)
Karl-Ludwig Poggemann (CC BY 2.0)

 

By Laurence W. Britt via Information Clearing House:

The cliché that people and nations learn from history is not only overused, but also overestimated; often we fail to learn from history, or draw the wrong conclusions. Sadly, historical amnesia is the norm.

 We are two-and-a-half generations removed from the horrors of Nazi Germany, although constant reminders jog the consciousness. German and Italian fascism form the historical models that define this twisted political worldview. Although they no longer exist, this worldview and the characteristics of these models have been imitated by protofascist1 regimes at various times in the twentieth century. Both the original German and Italian models and the later protofascist regimes show remarkably similar characteristics. Although many scholars question any direct connection among these regimes, few can dispute their visual similarities.

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Pot Is Making Colorado So Much Money They Literally Have To Give Some Back To Residents

Jeffrey Beall (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Jeffrey Beall (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Via High Times/Kristen Wyatt  AP:

DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s marijuana experiment was designed to raise revenue for the state and its schools, but a state law may put some of the tax money directly into residents’ pockets, causing quite a headache for lawmakers.

The state constitution limits how much tax money the state can take in before it has to give some back. That means Coloradans may each get their own cut of the $50 million in recreational pot taxes collected in the first year of legal weed. It’s a situation so bizarre that it’s gotten Republicans and Democrats, for once, to agree on a tax issue.

Even some pot shoppers are surprised Colorado may not keep the taxes that were promised to go toward school construction when voters legalized marijuana in 2012.

“I have no problem paying taxes if they’re going to schools,” said Maddy Beaumier, 25, who was visiting a dispensary near the Capitol.

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If Obama Gets His Way, Sharing This Story Will Soon Be a Felony

Johan Larsson (CC BY 2.0)

Johan Larsson (CC BY 2.0)

Gregory Krieg Via Policy.Mic

On Jan. 20, this website published a story titled, “If This Is Your Password, Change It Immediately.” The article included a list of the 25 personal passwords — “password” and “abc123″ among them — most commonly found in databases of personal account information routinely leaked by hackers. The material came from SplashData, an internet security firm that seeks out vulnerable targets and reports on them to an often endangered public. The list of passwords appeared in various forms on outlets including CBS NewsNPR and the BBC, to name a few.

Later that night, President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address made the case for a new proposal to rewrite and tighten federal cybersecurity laws, so that no “foreign nation” or “hacker” would have the ability to “shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets or invade the privacy of American families.

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“Slave Monitoring Device Maker” Apple posts the biggest quarterly profit in history

Yeray Hdez Guerra (CC BY 2.0)

Yeray Hdez Guerra (CC BY 2.0)

Via BBC

US technology giant Apple has reported the biggest quarterly profit ever made by a public company.

Apple reported a net profit of $18bn (£11.8bn) in its fiscal first quarter, which tops the $15.9bn made by ExxonMobil in the second quarter of 2012, according to Standard and Poor’s.

Record sales of iPhones were behind the surge in profits.

Apple sold 74.5 million iPhones in the three months to 27 December – well ahead of most analysts’ expectations.

In a conference call with financial analysts Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook said that demand for phones was “staggering”.

However, sales of the iPad continued to disappoint, falling by 22% in 2014 from a year earlier.

Apple quarterly results

$18bn profit

(£11.8bn) – biggest ever by a public company

$142bn

(£93bn) net cash reserves

  • 74.5m number of iPhones sold
  • 39.9% profit per product
  • 22% fall in sales of iPads

Apple (Figures for three months to end December 2014)

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Drone maker DJI will disable its units over Washington, DC, after White House crash

Michael MK Khor (CC BY 2.0)

Michael MK Khor (CC BY 2.0)

Ben Popper Via The Verge:

Following the crash of one of its Phantom drones at the White House on Monday and a response from President Obama that more regulation of drones was needed, Chinese drone maker DJI will reportedly be disabling its units from flying over the DC area. According to the FAA, it was already against federal regulations to fly in that region, not to mention the fact that the pilot told the Secret Service he was drinking.

DJI previously stated to The Verge that it programmed its drones to stop flying when they reached a certain distance from airports. Using the GPS, DJI can track a drone’s position at all time and establish which zones are off limits. But this would mark the first time DJI is preventing flight over a metro area.

“DJI will release a mandatory firmware update for the Phantom 2, Phantom 2 Vision, and Phantom 2 Vision+ to help users comply with the FAA’s Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) 0/8326, which restricts unmanned flight around the Washington, DC metropolitan area,” the company wrote in a press release this morning.

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If There Are Gods, They Are Evil

See-ming Lee (CC BY 2.0)

See-ming Lee (CC BY 2.0)

Via Reason and Meaning:

Here is a brief summary of a piece by B.C. Johnson, “Why Doesn’t God Intervene to Prevent Evil?” It offers a devastating critique of the possibility that there is an all powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving god. 

Are there any good excuses for someone (or a god) not saving a baby from a burning house if they had the power to do so? It will not do to say the baby will go to heaven, since one suffers by burning to death. The key is the suffering.  If the suffering was not necessary, then it’s wrong to allow it; if the suffering is necessary, the baby’s going to heaven doesn’t explain why it’s necessary.

It doesn’t make sense to say that a baby’s painful death will be good in the long run, and that’s why the gods allow it. For that is to say that whatever happens in the long run is good; since if something happened it was allowed by the gods, and it must therefore be good in the long run.

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Another State Fights War on Solar and Energy Efficiency

Via Mary Anne Hitt at EcoWatch

Despite poll after poll showing that Americans want more clean energy, Indiana legislators are pushing bills that would reduce energy efficiency and make it harder for Hoosier state residents to go solar, just as the solar industry is getting on its feet in the state.

Last week, Indiana’s Senate Utilities Committee heard from a packed room about its bill that would let utilities set energy efficiency goals. Last year the state decided to end the popular Energizing Indiana efficiency program. Now some in the legislature have created Senate Bill 412, which is very one-sided in favor of utilities who sell electricity and doesn’t protect the average person from monopoly interests.

Energy efficiency is a proven tool to lower electricity bills and save money for people across the state.

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The coming food disaster

David Schubert via CNN:

One would expect that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has the best interests of the public in mind, but its recent decisions have cast serious doubt upon this assumption.

One in particular could have a dramatic impact on the safety of the U.S. food supply: It is the mandate of the EPA to regulate the use of agricultural chemicals like insecticides and herbicides, as well as to determine their allowable limits in food and drinking water.

Herbicides (weed killers) are mixtures of chemicals designed to spray on weeds, where they get inside the plants and inhibit enzymes required for the plant to live. The active ingredient in the most widely used herbicide is glyphosate, while some herbicides contain 2,4D. 2,4D is best known as a component of Agent Orange, a defoliant widely employed during the Vietnam War.

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