Tag Archives | Society

A Circus of the Senses: Are we all born with Synaesthesia?

Derek Lee (CC BY 2.0)

Derek Lee (CC BY 2.0)

Shruti Ravindran writes at Aeon:

Vladimir Nabokov once called his famed fictional creation Lolita ‘a little ghost in natural colours’. The natural colours he used to paint his ‘little ghost’ were especially vivid in part because of a neurological quirk that generated internal flashes of colour whenever letters of the alphabet appeared within his mind. In his memoir Speak Memory (1951), he described a few of them:b has the tone called burnt sienna by painters, m is a fold of pink flannel, and today I have at last perfectly matched v with “Rose Quartz” in Maerz and Paul’s Dictionary of Color’. The condition he had was synaesthesia, a neurological oddity that mixes up the senses, making those who possess it see as well as hear music, or taste the shapes they set their eyes upon.

Synaesthetes such as Nabokov see letters and numbers wreathed in fixed, seemingly idiosyncratic colours.

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Imagining an America Without Sports

Sam Riches writes at The Pacific Standard:

What if we eliminated the institution of sport—from the high school level to the pros? Ten academics from around the country weigh in.

The National Football League, despite a reported dip in fan support this year, remains the most popular and profitable sports league in America. Though it generates in the range of $10 billion annually, it’s heavily subsidized by its fans, American taxpayers, who provide 70 percent of the capital costs in stadium construction. NFL headquarters, meanwhile, enjoys tax-free status as a non-profit organization and the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, earned more than $40 million last year.

The athletes that make the league a viable business—the majority of them having worked their way up to the professional level after years of labor exploitation in the NCAA—have an average career length of just over three years, according to the NFL Players Association.

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First solar round-the-world flight will take 5 months, stop in 12 cities

Jessica Plautz reports at Mashable:

The team preparing for the first round-the-world solar plane flight announced the route they plan to take, which will bring a cutting-edge aircraft to cities from Muscat, Oman, to New York.

The Swiss cofounders and pilots of Solar Impulse 2, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, said at an event in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday that they plan to begin the flight from Abu Dhabi at the end of February or beginning of March. From there, they will make 12 stops along a 35,000 km (21,748 miles) route.

The stops will include Muscat, Oman; Ahmedabad and Varanasi, India; Mandalay, Myanmar; Chongqing and Nanjing, China; Hawaii, Phoenix, a midwestern city to be determined by weather, and New York City in the United States; and a stopover in Southern Europe or North Africa.

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Hydroponic gardener to raise plants that produce valuable medicines

 

Bob Shaw, St. Paul Pioneer Press writes at Duluth News Tribune:

MAPLEWOOD, Minn. — For Dave Roeser, it’s not just about salad anymore.

St. Paul’s award-winning hydroponic gardener will still grow vegetables but is adding medicinal plants. He plans to raise 100,000 genetically modified plants to produce medicine for cancer, flu and — potentially — Ebola.

“This is exciting,” said Roeser, a retired controller for Hewlett-Packard.

Roeser has been operating a Maplewood greenhouse to produce vegetables for his company, Garden Fresh Farms. He will continue growing vegetables in a new location in St. Paul but has co-founded a new company — MnPharm — to convert the Maplewood greenhouse into a biological drug factory.

Scientists — and Roeser — see great potential in using plants to produce vaccines.

That’s because vaccines traditionally have been made by the cumbersome process of injecting weakened germs into chicken eggs.

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NSA Cyber War Will Use Internet of Things as Weapons Platform; Your Home is the Battlefield

Martin Beek (CC BY 2.0)

Martin Beek (CC BY 2.0)

Daniel Taylor at Activist Post writes:

World War III is a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.” – Marshall McLuhan, Culture is Our Business, 1970

New Snowden documents recently revealed that the NSA is getting ready for future digital wars as the agency postures itself in an aggressive manner towards the world. “The Five Eyes Alliance,” a cooperation between United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, is working hard to develop these weapons of Cyber Warfare.

So called “D” weapons, as reported by Der Spiegel, will paralyze computer networks and infrastructure that they monitor. Water supplies, factories, airports, as well as the flow of money are all potential targets.

The Der Spiegel report does not mention the wider issue of the expanding network of everyday objects and appliances that are connected to the Internet. According to CIA chief David Petraeus the Internet of Things will have a monumental impact on “clandestine tradecraft.” Richard Adhikari writes for Tech News World that the Internet of Things is “…ripe for exploitation by the NSA.”

Consumer appliances are now becoming activated and “smart.” RFID chips and wireless Internet connections enable devices like televisions, refrigerators, printers, and computers to communicate with each other and generally make life easier for us.

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A Wage or A Cage: We Are All Slaves

m.a.r.c. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

m.a.r.c. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

In 1865 the US formally “abolished slavery” with the ratification of the 13th Amendment. The text of the 13th reads as follows:

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

That’s seriously it. Just that. Basically a resigned, “Alright guys, party’s over. No more slavin’ for us”. It even includes an “except”, because hey, there are always exceptions.

It is 2015. Slavery has only been explicitly ‘outlawed’ for the last 150 years. The historical momentum of slavery and the slave trade still informs the mentality of elites today because of its sheer ubiquity and depth as an economic system.… Read the rest

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Wife, daughter, and writer of controversial FEMA camp movie ‘Gray State’ dead in ‘murder-suicide’

graystatefp

Anti Media via WTF News:

The lead writer of a controversial movie was found dead along with his wife and daughter in a Minnesota home Saturday afternoon. Officers went to the house Saturday after a neighbor called to report bodies inside. Three people were found dead and have been identified as screenwriter David Crowley, his wife, Komel, 28, and their 5-year-old daughter.

A statement from Apple Valley police Sunday morning said the case would be considered “an apparent murder-suicide” and the deaths would be investigated as suspicious.

Next-door neighbor Collin Prochnow said he went to the house on Saturday to ‘gather packages that were sitting on the front steps’ when he looked inside and saw the bodies. Prochnow told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the family had not been seen since Christmas and that a dog was also in the house.

David Crowley had been the lead screenwriter for the movie Gray State which depicts a violent police state in post-crisis America as people reject government policy en masse in frustration over economic collapse and the breakdown of society.

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Mummy Mask May Reveal Oldest Known Gospel

This mummy mask was one of the masks that the researchers took apart to reveal ancient papyri. This mummy mask is similar to the one that contained the first century gospel fragment. Credit: Courtesy of Prof. Craig Evans

This mummy mask was one of the masks that the researchers took apart to reveal ancient papyri. This mummy mask is similar to the one that contained the first century gospel fragment.
Credit: Courtesy of Prof. Craig Evans

Owen Jarus writes at LiveScience:

A text that may be the oldest copy of a gospel known to exist — a fragment of the Gospel of Mark that was written during the first century, before the year 90 — is set to be published.

At present, the oldest surviving copies of the gospel texts date to the second century (the years 101 to 200).

This first-century gospel fragment was written on a sheet of papyrus that was later reused to create a mask that was worn by a mummy. Although the mummies of Egyptian pharaohs wore masks made of gold, ordinary people had to settle for masks made out of papyrus (or linen), paint and glue.

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Security is Not a Crime—Unless You’re an Anarchist

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Jannes Pockele (CC BY 2.0)

Nadia Kayyali and Kattza Rodriguez write at Electronic Frontier Foundation:

Riseup, a tech collective that provides security-minded communications to activists worldwide, sounded the alarm last month when a judge in Spain stated that the use of their email service is a practice, he believes, associated with terrorism.

Javier Gómez Bermúdez is a judge of Audiencia Nacional, a special high court in Spain that deals with serious crimes such as terrorism and genocide. According to press reports, he ordered arrest warrants that were carried out on December 16th against alleged members of an anarchist group. The arrests were part of Operation Pandora, a coordinated campaign against “anarchist activity” that has been called an attempt  “to criminalize anarchist social movements.” The police seized books, cell phones, and computers, and arrested 11 activists. Few details are known about the situation, since the judge has declared the case secret.

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The Streets of San Francisco Are Covered in Human Shit

nynbys82m8ttdj5rfs3jAndy Cush writes at Gawker:

Poop on Mission Street. Poop between cars. Poop in the alley. Poop in the Tenderloin. Poop in the escalator—so much poop that the escalator breaks down under the strain of all that poop. Everywhere you look, San Francisco residents are saying, there is poop, poop, poop.

The latest doodoo dispatch comes via a New York Times op-ed by Allison Arieff. She begins:

This past fall, a project started called (Human) Wasteland, which maps reports of human waste throughout the city of San Francisco. Yes, a disproportionate amount of poop on the streets is not from dogs but from humans.

Some in the blogosphere tended to play this for laughs, but the reality isn’t very funny.

Counterpoint: it’s a little funny. There’s a nice poetic justice to the gilded paradise of new-money tech-dudes teeming with the inescapable waste of people left behind or displaced by the awful march of disruption.

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