Saturday, November 14, 2015

Probably quite a few racists, but they won't be offending anyone at Yale

...[A] plague gripping the isolated, fading towns dotting this part of Appalachia. Frontier communities steeped in the myth of self-reliance are now blighted by addiction to opioids – “hillbilly heroin” to those who use them. It’s a dependency bound up with economic despair and financed in part by the same welfare system that is staving off economic collapse across much of eastern Kentucky. It’s a crisis that crosses generations...

 ...Steve Mays, Lee County’s de facto mayor, is a Republican. He has a picture of McConnell on the shelf behind his desk. “I like Mitch. He’s very supportive of me when I need grants or something. He always tries to come through for me,” said Mays.

But just a few months earlier, McConnell had claimed “massive numbers” of people were receiving food stamps “who probably shouldn’t” and described the programme as “making it excessively easy to be non-productive”.

This put Mays in a bind. His party routinely demonises people who receive welfare – but many of his voters rely on it. Mays said he regarded welfare as “a trap”, but acknowledged that without it the town would die.

...[H]e acknowledged the seeming contradiction of people voting for a party that was so scornful of the government assistance their town survived on.
“You’re right, Republicans are against that. But that’s not why people around here are registered Republican. It’s because of local candidates or family history. My dad was Republican. I’m raised a Republican and voting Republican. That’s just the way it is,” he said.
This is routinely, and sometimes sneeringly, characterised by Democrats in other parts of America as poor white people voting against their own interests. It’s a view that exasperates Davis.
“They say, why aren’t these people voting their self-interest? People always vote their self-interest if they can see it. If they believe the government doesn’t work, if they believe that the Democrats don’t really give a shit about people like them, don’t want to be in the same room with them, they want their vote but don’t want to hang out with them, then as they see it they’re voting their self-interest,” he said.

 Emphasis mine.


Saturday, September 19, 2015


 Let’s go back to 451, which I found myself re-reading recently. It begins with Guy Montag burning a house that contained books. Why? How did it come to be that fireman burned books instead of putting out fires as they always had?

The fireman have been doing it for so long they have no idea. Most of them have never even read a book. Except one fireman—Captain Beatty—who has been around long enough to remember what life was like before. As Montag begins to doubt his profession—going as far as to hide a book in his house—he is subjected to a speech from Beatty. In it Beatty explains that it wasn’t the government that decided that books were a threat. It was his fellow citizens.

“It didn’t come from the government down,” he tells him. “There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship, to start with, no!”
In fact, it was something rather simple—something that should sound very familiar. It was a desire not to offend—of an earnest notion to literally have “everyone made equal.” And it’s at the end of this speech that we get the killer passage:
“You must understand that our civilization is so vast that we can’t have our minorities upset and stirred. Ask yourself, What do we want in this country above all? People want to be happy, isn’t that right?…Colored people don’t like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don’t feel good about Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Burn it. Someone’s written a book on tobacco and cancer of the lungs? The cigarette people are weeping? Burn the book. Serenity, Montag. Peace, Montag. Take your fight outside. Better yet, to the incinerator.”
And before you get offended, let’s clarify what Bradbury means by minorities. He’s not talking about race. He’s talking about it in the same way that Madison and Hamilton did in the Federalist Papers. He’s speaking about small, interested groups who try to force the rest of the majority to adhere to the minority’s set of beliefs...

...In the 50th anniversary edition, Bradbury includes a short afterword where he gives his thoughts on current culture. Almost as if he is speaking directly about the events above, he wrote: There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running around with lit matches.”


Emphasis mine.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Hops, the Original War on Drugs

...The Protestant reformists were joined by merchants and competing royals desiring to break the brewing monopoly of the church. The result was, ultimately, the end of a many-thousand-year tradition of herbal beer making in Europe and the narrowing of beer and ale into one limited expression of beer production, that of hopped ales or what we today call beer.

The majority of historical beer writers insist that this was only because (after some 10,000 years) our ancestors accidentally discovered that hops was antiseptic enough to preserve beer. Our ancestors were neither that blind nor narrow in their empiricism. Hops kept the beer from spoiling, yes, however a number of other herbs possess strong antibacterial properties and can help beer "keep."

Many of those herbs were commonly used in ale, for instance wormwood and juniper. But hops possesses two characteristics notably different than the herbs it replaced - it causes the drinker to become drowsy and it diminishes sexual desire. Protestant literature of the time, denoting the "problems" associated with the gruit herbs, contradict contemporary beer historians and are in actuality some of the first drug control manifestos on record.

Emphasis mine. I had a local gruit yesterday and it was delicious, like a bloody mary made love to a lager.


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Horrible hormones

Like a mindless zombie controlled by a menacing overlord, the spider scampers back and forth, reinforcing its silky web. Not long from now, the subservient arachnid will be dead, its web transformed into a shelter for the spawn of the creature that once controlled it, according to a new study.

No, this isn't science fiction; it's the somewhat terrifying (but very real) tale of the orb-weaving spider Cyclosa argenteoalba and the parasitic wasp Reclinervellus nielseni, two species that carry out a strange relationship in Hyogo prefecture, Japan.
Together, the wasp and the spider provide a perfect example of host manipulation -- an ecological process in which one species (the parasite) and its young (the parasitoids) manipulate the behaviors of another species (the host) to their advantage.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday Musical Interlude

You can lead a man to a drink But you can't make him take a sip You can lead a man to a link But that don't mean he gonn' click What's this? Y'all ain't really on no deep shit I peeped it, scared of a motherfuckin' secret Society and only bein' with people you agree with You scared of a chalice scared of death Only thing worse is your silence Illuminatis enlightened, the OWL see in the darkness Masonic roots still survive from the book of dearly departed Egyptologist and scholars Symbologists at the college Will all acknowledge that ancient Kemet is where it started Way farther back than the knights Or the Rite of the Scottish You need to wake up, no new Bugatti My enemy tryna stop me but I don't stand a chance If I can't identify 'em properly Illuminati as we know it started in Bavaria Years before it landed on the shores of America The mission: abolishment of government and religion They were enemys of the state And they was hated by the Christians They was Poets, they was Scholars Early Illuminati was sorta like the students In Victor Hugo's Les Miserables The modern day politicians would diss 'em Turning them into martyrs This in turn inspired the founding fathers The vast majority Masons who were the subject of the Illuminati Found this fascination the order was insipiration And ain't no disrespect to the masons But you try to keep secrets then it leads to speculation Only those in league with Satan need to hide infomation That's how you catch a ride to your final destination Where the proof, show 'em proof put it all on the table When the facts are intact ain't no need for a fable Good versus evil is primitive Real life's more complex, what's your context? They put the symbols on the dollar bill, the monument, the obelisk They honouring Columbia the children of the colonists You can trace it back to the root trace it back again It's really just another case of stealin' from the African Racism and vanity justify the sale of flesh You property like cattle or produce but are you still as fresh? Population control is real, you know the deal But still perpetuate the cycle of violence We known to hold the steel No, I don't need no fuckin' chorus Use to read so many books Thought I was a hoarder down at Borders Like Behold the Pale Horse or The New World Order But you really don't know what you reading If you really don't know the author A lot of Satan worship is just government propaganda Unsubstantiated lies with no proof a bunch of slander Of course there are forces against you and that's a fact Don't get caught in the distraction, it's bigger than any rapper The truly oppressed ain't got the luxury of inventing a monster The devil incarnate is much realer than the devil in concert What they doing so sinister Worse than any blood sacrifice you can imagine Iller than any cinema The Federal Reserve, the World Bank and the IMF Helping the poor get poorer you in debt until your dying breath Food, vaccines, humanitarian aid They want control of the region, they really tryna get paid Obey thy consumer make a product out of man Where's the conspiracy? It's always been the plan Y'all niggas scared of one world currency But still paying your taxes It ain't the Illuminati that worry me Lack of spiritual energy, suicidal tendencies Unwitting soldiers in the armies of the enemy I'm leaking information so follow me down the wormhole Same reason that they called Bradley Manning a turncoat

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Imaginary Pressure

Imagine your life without time, without a constant sense that you’re running behind, frustrated that yet again you are losing the battle against the irresistible force of the ticking clock. Imagine not wishing there were more hours in the day.

We haven’t always been obsessed with time. In fact, as the historian E.P. Thompson highlighted half a century ago, before the Industrial Revolution clocks were largely irrelevant. Instead of a time orientation, people had a task orientation. They had jobs to do, and so they did them in the natural order, at the natural time. This worked for a largely agricultural society. However, the factories of the Industrial Revolution needed to coordinate hundreds of people to get them working at the same time, in synchronicity—and that required clocks. 

So business leaders imposed clock time on their workforce (not without resistance), and eminent leaders, such as Benjamin Franklin, reinforced the value of this with statements like “time is money.”


Friday, May 29, 2015

Civil society

Who decides what is justice? Do we defer to the state, or wait until they leave to dispense our own justice? Be very careful with your answer.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Just think, once we change the definition of smoking we can move on to changing the definition of citizen. We won't even need any new laws, it's so easy!
Qatar has the highest ratio of migrants to citizens in the world, with only 225,000 citizens in a population of 1.7 million. Yet the country has some of the most restrictive sponsorship laws in the Persian Gulf region, leaving migrant workers vulnerable...

...Qatar currently holds a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council, winning an election to its second consecutive term in May 2010...

...A major barrier to redressing labor abuses is the kafala (sponsorship) system, which ties a migrant worker’s legal residence to his or her employer, or “sponsor.” Migrant workers cannot change jobs without their sponsoring employer’s consent, except in exceptional cases with permission from the Interior Ministry. If a worker leaves his or her sponsoring employer, even if fleeing abuse, the employer can report the worker as “absconding,” leading to detention and deportation. In order to leave Qatar, migrants must obtain an exit visa from their sponsor, and some said sponsors denied them these visas.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Model Society

How to Regulate E-Cigarettes and Other Electronic Smoking Devices
A Model Ordinance & flowchart

As the popularity of electronic cigarettes skyrockets, many communities have been increasingly concerned about the appeal of these products to minors, and about the potential risk to public health posed by e-cigarette vapor in places otherwise required to be smokefree, such as schools, hospitals, workplaces, etc.

Some communities already have local laws that regulate the sales and use of tobacco products. For those communities, regulating e-cigarettes can be as simple as amending the definitions of “tobacco products” and “smoking” to ensure that those terms are broad enough to cover the full range of emerging electronic devices and the ways in which they are used.

For communities that don’t have local laws regulating tobacco, we've developed a new model ordinance...

...For California communities that are interested in viewing model policy language relating to e-cigarettes, please contact us to request technical assistance


Emphasis mine. The quotes are theirs.

Baby steps, descending.

I do not like thee, Doctor Fell,
The reason why - I cannot tell;
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell
                                                 - Tom Brown

Tuesday, March 31, 2015


 Researchers in Britain and the U.S. have found that a medieval concoction meant to treat eye infections also has the ability to kill the MRSA superbug.

The Daily Telegraph reported that the recipe, which dates from the 10th century, calls for two species of Allium -- a scientific type that includes garlic, onion, and leek -- as well as wine and oxgall, or bile from the stomach of a cow.

The paper reports that the recipe specifically calls for the mixture to be brewed in a brass vessel, purified through a strainer, and left to sit for nine days before use...

The Telegraph reports that the mixture killed about 999 of 1,000 MRSA bacterial cells present in mice wounds. Dr. Kendra Rumbaugh of Texas Tech University, told the Telegraph that the 1,000-year-old remedy worked "as good, if not better than" traditional antibiotics.


Friday, March 20, 2015


ISIS attacks in Syria. ISIS attacks in Iraq. ISIS attacks in Yemen. Whom is ISIS attacking, and who do you suppose is next?

Can the next Great War happen without us? Life isn't always a movie. Or it is, but sometimes you're not in it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Perfect Flaws, Carbon is Life

Purposefully introducing flaws into graphene used in fuel cells can improve the cells and make them more efficient, researchers are reporting.

While the honeycomb structure found in pristine atom-thick graphene is beautiful, allowing it to have a number of tiny holes results in a proton-selective membrane paving the way for improved fuel cells, they say...

"We found if you just dial the graphene back a little on perfection, you will get the membrane you want," says Franz J. Geiger, a Northwestern chemistry professor. "Everyone always strives to make really pristine graphene, but our data show if you want to get protons through, you need less perfect graphene."

...Naturally occurring defects in the graphene - tiny pinholes where a single carbon atom is absent - triggers a chemical conveyor belt that shuttles protons from the water on one side of the membrane to the other in a few seconds, they found.

In conventional membranes, which can be hundreds of nanometers thick, the desired proton selection takes minutes, compared to the quick transfer in a one-atom-thick layer of graphene, they say.

"...Imagine an electric car that charges in the same time it takes to fill a car with gas," says Geiger.

In simple terms, graphene, is a thin layer of pure carbon; it is a single, tightly packed layer of carbon atoms that are bonded together in a hexagonal honeycomb lattice...

It is the thinnest compound known to man at one atom thick,
the lightest material known (with 1 square meter coming in at around 0.77 milligrams),
the strongest compound discovered (between 100-300 times stronger than steel and with a tensile stiffness of 150,000,000 psi),
the best conductor of heat at room temperature (at (4.84±0.44) × 10^3 to (5.30±0.48) × 10^3 W·m−1·K−1) and also
the best conductor of electricity known (studies have shown electron mobility at values of more than 15,000 cm2·V−1·s−1). was previously impossible to grow graphene layers on a large scale using crystalline epitaxy on anything other than a metallic substrate. This severely limited its use in electronics as it was difficult, at that time, to separate graphene layers from its metallic substrate without damaging the graphene.

However, studies in 2012 found that by analysing graphene’s interfacial adhesive energy, it is possible to effectually separate graphene from the metallic board on which it is grown, whilst also being able to reuse the board for future applications theoretically an infinite number of times, therefore reducing the toxic waste previously created by this process. Furthermore, the quality of the graphene that was separated by using this method was sufficiently high enough to create molecular electronic devices successfully.

While this research is very highly regarded, the quality of the graphene produced will still be the limiting factor in technological applications...

Being able to create supercapacitors out of graphene will possibly be the largest step in electronic engineering in a very long time.

Emphasis and light formatting mine.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Bigger court, better outcome, Land of the Freest

 The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that police must obtain warrants before snooping through people’s cellphones, delivering a unanimous decision that begins to update legal understanding of privacy rules to accommodate 21st-century technology.

Police agencies argued that searching through data on cellphones was no different from asking someone to turn out his pockets, but the justices rejected that, saying a cellphone holds the most personal and intimate details of someone’s life and falls squarely within the Fourth Amendment’s privacy protections.

“The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote in the unanimous opinion. “Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple — get a warrant.”

...Legal analysts said the ruling will change the way police operate but predicted investigators will adjust.

Privacy advocates, meanwhile, said the ruling should ignite a broader rethinking of protections at a time when Americans are putting more personal information online.

...Complicating matters further is the question of where the information is stored. The Obama administration and the state of California, both of which sought to justify cellphone searches, acknowledged that remotely stored data couldn’t be searched. Chief Justice Roberts said with cloud computing, it’s sometimes impossible to know the difference.

The court did carve out exceptions for “exigencies” such as major security threats.


On Monday night, Alain Philippon, a Canadian citizen, was passing through customs at a Nova Scotia airport when border patrol officers demanded that he provide the password to his smartphone. Philippon refused.

He was promptly charged with obstructing border security, a criminal charge under the Canadian Customs Act, which he plans to fight in court. Philippon’s legal battle against this absurd abuse of power is principled and important. It is also probably futile. Canada’s laws surrounding search and seizure are flimsy, malleable, and—by American standards—draconian.


With so much potentially incriminating evidence available to the police, you might think that there would be privacy protection in place to stop authorities probing your handset – but you’d be wrong.

According to legal experts, police have wide-ranging powers to search mobile phones providing they have a “reasonable suspicion” that a crime may have been committed. Once inside a handset, they could well stumble across other evidence, which could also be used in court.

“The baseline rule has to be that there is a reasonable suspicion that an offence has been committed for a phone to be inspected and to do an on-the-spot search,” said Tracey Stretton, legal consultant for data-recovery specialist Kroll Ontrack. “If you see a man after a car accident, you wouldn’t need a warrant because you could have a reasonable suspicion that a traffic offence had been committed.

“If you’re looking into one crime and find something else on the phone, then I guess the police would follow that line of inquiry. They wouldn’t stop to get a warrant because they now have suspicion of a further offence.”


All emphasis mine.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

We stress the limited scope of the ruling...

An Ohio community cannot use its zoning laws to ban fracking because state law trumps its home rule stance, the Ohio Supreme Court decided Tuesday...

"It's a win for the oil and gas industry in this case, but I'm not sure that it actually answers the ultimate question of whether (state law) trumps all local ordinances that attempt to regulate oil and gas," said Matt Warnock, co-chairman of law firm Bricker & Eckler LLP's Shale Task Force.

...The dispute started when Ravenna-based Beck Energy prepared to drill a natural gas well on leased residential land in the town. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources approved a permit but the city sued, arguing Beck Energy violated the municipality's zoning and drilling rules.

But Beck Energy countered that Ohio's home-rule law allows local government to create ordinances only if they don't interfere with state laws.

The state Supreme Court agreed, upholding the judgment of the 9th District Court of Appeals.

"This is a classic licensing conflict under our home-rule precedent," the court wrote in its decision. "We have consistently held that a municipal-licensing ordinance conflicts with a state-licensing scheme if the 'local ordinance restricts an activity which a state license permits.' "

Three justices dissented, including Justice Judith Lanzinger, who argued the two can coexist.

"There is no need for the state to act as the thousand-pound gorilla, gobbling up exclusive authority over the oil and gas industry, leaving not even a banana peel of home rule for municipalities," she wrote in her dissent. "I would reverse the judgment of the court of appeals and remand to that court for further proceedings..."

Justice William O'Neill, another dissenter, wrote... "What the drilling industry has bought and paid for in campaign contributions they shall receive."

Emphasis mine.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Noble Undertaking

Cash in, cash out, cash money's on the cut.

Citigroup is one of three Wall Street banks attempting to keep hidden their practice of paying executives multimillion-dollar awards for entering government service...(c)ritics argue these “golden parachutes” ensure more financial insiders in policy positions and favorable treatment toward Wall Street...

The handouts recently received attention when Antonio Weiss, the former investment banker at Lazard now serving as counselor to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, acknowledged in financial disclosures that he would be paid $21 million in unvested income and deferred compensation upon exiting the company for a job in government. Weiss withdrew from consideration to become the undersecretary for domestic finance under pressure from financial reformers, but the counselor position—which does not require congressional confirmation—probably still entitles him to the $21 million. The terms of the award are part of a Lazard employee agreement that nobody has seen.

These payments are routine at major banks, several of which have explicit policies, found in filings with the SEC, outlining automatic awards for executives who rotate into government. Goldman Sachs offers “a lump sum cash payment” for government service, for example. 


Thursday, January 8, 2015

In full flower

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think the system is changing at all?
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I don’t live here.
RUSSELL BRAND: I think this is an international problem. You’ve just had the American midterm elections, in which $4 billion was spent on the campaigning, when we’re told there’s not enough money to deal with what would seem to me to be more—like, you know, it was interesting recently, you know, like that FEMA, that U.S. agency that lent out money to people who were victims of Katrina and Sandy. They wanted their money back that they lent to people that had suffered in those hurricanes. And this is simultaneously, $4 billion has been spent on campaigning in midterm elections. And, like, we live in a system where tax breaks and tax avoidance are easy if you understand the law. So, the degree of systemic change required is so significant, I don’t see any point in voting for it. But no one’s saying, "We will do something about that..."

...AMY GOODMAN: Well, the amount of money, for example, that goes into—in the name of fighting against drugs. Like yesterday, our big special was on Mexico—
AMY GOODMAN: —and these 43 students who disappeared in the state of Guerrero. And it turns out that the mayor and the police turned them over to drug gangs. And the question is—
RUSSELL BRAND: Good, good.
AMY GOODMAN: —going right up to the president, the billions of dollars, for example, the United States has given the Mexican military and Mexican police, in the name of the so-called drug war, where has it really gone? And is it in fact a real war, but a war against people, particularly poor people and indigenous people?
RUSSELL BRAND: Some people would argue, like in that brilliant film by Eugene Jarecki, The House I Live In, he argues that what’s actually happening is that the bottom 15 percent of society are no longer needed because of the collapse of the manufacturing industry, so it’s a lot better to just criminalize them and put them in prison. So, yeah, it’s like it’s a proxy war on poverty. It’s a proxy race war. I certainly think that argument holds. I mean, I think addiction can affect people from any economic or social background, but those who tend to suffer most are those without money. And there’s no doubt that social conditions have a huge impact on people’s tendency to get addicted to substances. I think if people live in communal environments where they’ve got access to support and—forgive me for using the word—love, then they’re less likely to get addicted to drugs.