Archive for February, 2013

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Global Power Elite? Yes. Masterminding Your Doom? Maybe not.

[ Comments Off ]Posted on February 14, 2013 by admin in Lifestyle & Culture

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

You may not want to throw your tinfoil hat away, but you can at least take it off briefly to absorb some fascinating empirical data that demonstrates the shocking concentration of power in the world.

Are you the sort of person who, as a result of reading lots of Noam Chomsky and pursuing rigorous internet research (i.e., spending hours on Prison Planet and InfoWars), have become aware of the vast global cabal that is masterminding control of the planet? You know, those less-than-one-percenters in the Bilderberg Group, Goldman Sachs, and the leaders at G8 meetings who control the future of 99% of humanity? Well, you can take your tinfoil hat off now. Because it turns out all your wingnuttiness was justified after all. At least in part. Today a friend (hi Kim!) tipped me off to some research that I missed over a year ago, in spite of the fact that it briefly went viral. I must have been frittering my time away at an Occupy meeting at the time, which is too bad; a lot of the research lends some weight to the whole 99% motif, and might have lent some rational thinking to the hyperbole and poorly-conceived strategy that characterized that movement in so many locales. As a person who is sort of addicted to information, and has always been fascinated with how the power in the world is actually structured, I was excited several years ago by collections like the Free Press’ Who Owns the Media , the Columbia Journalism Review’s Who Owns What, the Open Secrets Lobbying Database, and the graphical connections database website They Rule. That last one is especially fun, and it’s summarized here pretty well, if the interface doesn’t immediately make sense to you. But in spite of these amazing collections of data and the ability to peruse such a huge volume of information, I was always a little frustrated by the bias or poor visual presentation of collections like these. Which is why I felt sort of like a crackhead on a coca plantation today when my friend shared a link to Who controls the world? Resources for understanding this visualization of the global economy. That link is to the TED Talk summary of the amazing research done by Stefania Vitali, James B. Glattfelder, and Stefano Battiston . Part of what’s amazing about the research is that although the basic data was available, no-one had analyzed it this way before. They not only take massive amounts of empirical data, they do all the heavy lifting for you, so even an ignoramus like me can understand it. And what story does it tell? Well, Glattfelder shares it much more eloquently in his Ted Talk (video also below), but in a nutshell, it tells the story that the world’s wealth and power is in fact concentrated in the hands of a shockingly small number of stakeholders. And when I said at the top that your wingnuttiness was justified in part? Well, I was referring to the bit that may disappoint the more paranoid amongst us – the fact that there’s no empirical evidence of collusion amongst these key stakeholders. Oh well. Guess you’ll have to do your own sleuthing if you want to keep the paranoid flame burning. Video below. Read the rest of this entry »

Is Rupert Sheldrake Crazy, or on the Cutting Edge of Science?

[ Comments Off ]Posted on February 13, 2013 by admin in Editorial & Opinion

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

One thing you can always count on with unexpected paradigm shifts in science is that no-one expected them.

You’ve probably heard of the experiments in which a neurosurgeon touches a part of a subject’s brain with an electrode, and it triggers a vivid memory. A fascinating phenomenon, to be sure, but did you know that the experiment was performed prior to 1950 by Wilder Penfield, that it occurred in less than five percent of patients, and that the results have not been replicated with any regularity since? The idea that this was somehow a commonplace occurrence entered the popular mind largely as a result of the 1967 book I’m OK, You’re OK, and contributes to the misconception that science has any truly clear idea of how memory works, or where memories are stored. This is not to diminish the groundbreaking work that Penfield did; modern neurosurgery literally wouldn’t exist without his work in general. But it highlights something about the current common perception of science, something which may actually be getting in the way of the kind of exciting discoveries that we typically associate with it as an endeavor. And that is the notion of “science as dogma”. Historically, the thing that really put religion or metaphysics at odds with science was the simple idea that while science didn’t preclude possibilities, it demanded an actual demonstration of the theory presented. Rupert Sheldrake explores the problem of science as dogma in a piece on HuffPo called Why Bad Science Is Like Bad Religion, a piece which better articulates some things I’ve said myself.

But who the heck is Rupert Sheldrake, and why should we care what he thinks? Well, while Deepak Chopra may hail him as a visionary, the more skeptically-minded consider him a bit of a nut. I personally didn’t know anything about him until I read this interview recently, in which – while he talked about scientific heresies like morphogenic fields and experiments in paranormal phenomena – he also talked about the damage done to science by its own establishment – in part by the way that science has become largely driven by its ability to produce profitable results – but also how science seems to be stuck in its own reality-as-machine faith. He cites how no-one is likely to talk about how, for instance, the Human Genome Project has been a disappointment, primarily because Read the rest of this entry »

Fear of a Black Pope, Hamster Drag Racing, and Flying Cats

[ 5 Comments ]Posted on February 12, 2013 by admin in Missing Links

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

What do helicopter crashes, dead cats, hamster housekeepers, and the “Scumbag Pope” meme have in common? They’re all part of this week’s roundup of links we don’t think are worth sharing but do anyway.

I’m not the sort of person who likes to make jokes about other people’s religions. That’s why all the Pope jokes I’ve rounded up below were created by OTHER people. Except the “Poprah” gag, which was my solution to one of two potential impending crises. If you’re a fan of wingnut prophecies and were disappointed by all the recent end of the world failures, don’t fret. The world is ending again! Already, the lunatic fringe has latched onto a prophecy  that says that if the next Pope is black, and is named Peter – and there’s a good chance he will be both  – that this is one of the signs of the end of the world. But never mind that. If you live in America, you’d have to have your head in some pretty deep sand to not realize that having a black president – while it is never, ever voiced directly – makes a lot of folks edgy. Imagine what having a black POPE would do to this crowd. But everybody loves Oprah, right? VOILA! POPRAH! More papal humor below, along with this week’s selection of YouTubity and GIF’s, as well as some thoughts on the usefulness of hamsters. Read the rest of this entry »

Can YOU Solve the Mystery of “Who Is Ted Is God”?

[ 1 Comment ]Posted on February 11, 2013 by admin in Lifestyle & Culture

Monday, February 11th, 2013

So you think you’re good at the internet? We challenge you to uncover the truth about Ted Solomon More aka Ted R Kurts aka TED IS GOD.

The other day, I got an anonymous email from someone who had read our piece from 2010 about David Lewis Anderson and the Bizarre Mystery Of Anderson Multinational. They assured me that after months of research, they had confirmed the fellow’s existence, and claimed to in fact know a couple in Arizona who were close friends with him. I’ve received similar emails from concerned anonymous tipsters before, one claiming Anderson now lived in India, one claiming that the sender WAS Anderson, and another claiming that the tipster had verified that the whole thing was an ARG (Alternate Reality Game). And none of them offering any actual evidence to support their proclamations. Personally, I’m still convinced that Anderson is indeed a time traveler who simply leaves a messy trail, and these messages are all actually from him, traveling back in time to try to obfuscate his true nature. But this last tipster shared something else. The sender informed me that for months they had been researching “Ted Is God”, an odd online trail left by some guy presumably named Ted, who may or may not be God. Well, he’s probably not God, but I like to play it safe – I mean, who am I to tell God he’s not God, right? So anyway, I took the bait. The sender shared no links or other details, they just mentioned “the Ted Is God guy”, so off I dove into the rabbit hole. I quickly found a string of domains with similar content that all had copy like this, except in RED BOLD TEXT which I will spare you in the excerpt below: Read the rest of this entry »

Fed Up With The Shape The Economy Is In? Why Not Create Your Own?

[ Comments Off ]Posted on February 8, 2013 by admin in Lifestyle & Culture

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Part one of a three part series on why we should probably buck the banks and start printing our own money.

The Epson R2000 is probably quite
adequate for the task at hand.

Have you ever wished you could just print your own money when you need some? I mean the US government does it, why can’t you? Well, the simple fact that you can may surprise you. Most of the laws that make printing your own money illegal have to do with printing someone else’s money. If you print off a bunch of US hundred dollar bills, there’s a really good chance you’ll end up in jail. Even if you’re just a brilliant aging artist who’s really just obsessed with doing a good job. But the fact is that as much as the people (and by “people” we mean banksters and politicians) who make it their entire life’s purpose to reap personal benefit from screwing you over a fictitious commodity would prefer that you think otherwise, in most of the states in America, there is nothing stopping you from creating your own fictitious commodity and using it for every day commerce. In fact it’s already happening with varying degrees of success all over the country; there are about 150 currencies on this Wikipedia list of local currencies, from the Berkshire BerkShares to the Detroit Cheers, to the Fairfax Fairbuck. And aside from these physical currencies, there are huge economies evolving right now that are entirely digital, like BitCoin or Ripple, and recently, even Amazon is getting in on the “let’s make our own money” game with Amazon Coins. I personally find it ironic that the people who claim to be the only ones who know how to manage currency and the economy are the ones who have made such a mess of both. All the while somehow managing to maintain their own hordes of cash and liquidity. Okay, actually it’s not ironic at all, we’re just a bunch of ignorant suckers who are taking part in the biggest con in the history of the world. Aren’t you getting tired of it? So let’s take things into our own hands. We couldn’t do any worse than the goons at the Fed, could we? And the time is ripe for a paradigm shift. One of the core problems with global economics right now is that speculative wealth is entirely untethered from the real-world resources that create it. There is a literal monopoly on the production and control of currency and wealth simply because we make it easy for the centralized power of banks to exist, simply by sheepishly playing along with the big Ponzi scheme. So there’s an interesting angle – maybe we could file a class action suit against the federal government and banks for colluding to monopolize the money supply! We jest of course. This is part one of a three part series; we’re just having some fun here, but in parts two and three we’ll look at the history of money, and the realistic obstacles to decentralizing the control of it. For now, I’m going to go make millions of dollars. On my fancy Epson inkjet.

Context here if you don’t get this joke

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