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Diabolus Rex - 40 min 39 sec ago
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The Transhuman World

Disinformation - 7 hours 41 min ago

via The Institute of Ethics and Emerging Technologies:

Whatever a transhuman is, xe (a pronoun to encompass all conceivable states of personhood) will have to live in a world that enables xer to be transhuman. I’ll explore the impact of three likely-seeming aspects of that world: ubiquitous interconnected smart machines, continuous classification, and virtualism.

Ubiquitous Interconnected Smart Machines

[…] High Frequency Traders aggressively trade in the direction of price changes […and…] may compete for liquidity and amplify price volatility.
(Kirilenko, Kyle, Samadi, and Tuzun 2011)

Newton’s theory of gravity was initially ridiculed for its “action at a distance” mysticism, particularly by those who were beginning to see the universe as a mechanical analog, built from atoms that kept causes close to effects (Kearney 1971). It was the clockwork philosophy of Galileo and many others that led to much of the technology we now take for granted, ultimately co-opting Newton’s ideas. And so a world of machines emerged: big clacking iron things that led to microscopic silent ones, and these have now begun to whisper among themselves.

Whatever a trans-humanist is, xe will live in a world that resembles the dark ages in one respect: where mystical action-at-a-distance occurs due to unknown motivations (Eubanks 2013). Xe will have access to unbounded information, but won’t know why xer toaster oven turns itself on at random intervals. The explanations from the experts will be caught in the clockwork trap of tracing the logical dominoes that fall in order: Well your oven was subject to a zero-day exploit that corrupted the BIOS. There must be something wrong with your firewall. Such explanations leave unanswered the question of the motivation of the person behind the attack and the location of origin, and like a medieval lightning strike may as well be thought of as divine punishment. Let’s look at an example.

Read More: http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/eubanks20141116

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Stung by criticism, Federal Reserve will review how it supervises large banks

Disinformation - 9 hours 41 min ago

via Fortune:

New review lasting “several months” will try to address concerns about “regulatory capture”.

The Federal Reserve is to launch a major review into whether it is too close to the banks it supervises, after a recent spate of criticism alleging that it is still in thrall to Wall Street’s giants.

William Dudley, who heads the New York Fed and is consequently responsible for supervising most of the country’s largest banks, will tell a Senate committee later today that a new review into its supervisory practises will look specifically at the issue of ‘regulatory capture’–the idea that a supervisor tasked with upholding the public interest ends up under the influence of the companies it is supposed to be monitoring.

According to remarks prepared in advance and published on the NY Fed’s website, Dudley will say the review is expected to last “several months”.

Continue reading.

The post Stung by criticism, Federal Reserve will review how it supervises large banks appeared first on disinformation.

Jason Voorhees on Arsenio Hall (July 1989)

Disinformation - Sat, 11/22/2014 - 17:30

Kane Hodder appears on the Arsenio Hall Show on July 28, 1989 to promote the release of Friday The 13th, Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan.

via Reddit.

The post Jason Voorhees on Arsenio Hall (July 1989) appeared first on disinformation.

Home-Schooling, Unschooling and Teenage Liberation

Disinformation - Sat, 11/22/2014 - 16:00

“If you want to influence [the student] at all, you must do more than merely talk to him; you must fashion him, and fashion him in such a way that he simply cannot will otherwise than what you wish him to will.”

So argued the German philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte, said to be a key influence on the Prussian education system, which in turn became the educative model in many countries, including the US and UK.

Sadly, little has changed, according to Jerry Mintz, a prominent figure in the alternative school movement and the founder and director of the New York based Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO).

In a recent interview with The Eternities podcast, he said, “I’m sure that was the template they used and it’s been that way ever since.” Now in its twenty-fifth year, AERO seeks to bolster the alternatives, networking globally to facilitate learner-centred education and help set up schools which share this philosophy.

“The traditional system [has it that] children are naturally lazy and need to be forced to learn. It’s all based on that,” said Mintz. “For example, competition for grades, all the forced homework, all these external rewards, because they don’t believe that anything [to do with learning] is intrinsic.”

“Kids are natural learners. This is backed up by modern brain research. The brain is aggressive, it wants to learn. Over six or seven years [in traditional schooling] it gets gradually extinguished. So, by the time you get to age thirteen or so, it becomes a self-fulfilling process, in which kids do then act as if they are lazy and need to be externally motivated to do anything.

“Ultimately, all knowledge is linked, therefore it doesn’t matter where you start, if you go deep enough, and you’re interested, you will learn anything you want.”

Mintz also sees the bullying epidemic in public schools as the result of their organisational philosophy. “They come up with various programs to stop bullying. But [they] will never, ever work, [because] the system itself is an authoritarian, top-down system which will always have somebody at the bottom to be bullied. There is no way to change that unless you have an egalitarian system in which everybody’s rights are respected. That is true in our [AERO] schools and there is almost no bullying.”

The podcast also features an interview with Daniel Sage, a talented aspiring singer/songwriter and musician, who was mentored by Mintz after his family pulled him out of the public school system at age thirteen. Sage was effectively liberated from a stressed and miserable schooling, then literally abandoned to his own devices according to the radical home-schooling philosophy known as “unschooling”. The unschooling method encourages the exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves. It was only then that Sage discovered a love of music and set upon his path of mastering the guitar and becoming a performer.

Sage’s story is an interesting one for parents considering the switch from mainstream education. He comments, “I would say do it and the reason is: you value your kid’s creativity and happiness. And if you don’t value your child’s happiness, then I would say keep them in school, because they’re going to become very unhappy, and they will rebel and be held back, and they won’t know what they are doing in life. And if you let them figure it out for themselves, then they will.”

Listen to The Eternities podcast with Jerry Mintz and Daniel Sage.

For more details about AERO, including their annual summer conference in New York, see their website www.educationrevolution.org.

Check out the music of Daniel Sage at www.danielsagemusic.com.

The post Home-Schooling, Unschooling and Teenage Liberation appeared first on disinformation.

How Economic and Social Rights Disappeared from the United States

Disinformation - Sat, 11/22/2014 - 14:30

democapitol (CC BY 2.0)

via Dissident Voice:

Several years ago the Occupy movement captured the imagination of an American public disillusioned with the country’s socioeconomic system, which had failed to provide them with a standard of living commensurate with wealth of the richest country in the history of the world. Occupy provided a forum for average citizens to express their dissatisfaction with the status quo, and created a framework to view what was happening in society as a class war waged by the 1% against the 99%.

Many economic and social goals were proposed such as a living wage, free higher education, and single-payer health care system, to name a few. While many would consider those all worthy goals in the public interest, none have been implemented by the federal government.  It is striking that in the 21st century it is even necessary to have this debate in the United States. All of these things and more are birth rights for all U.S. citizens as much as free speech and the right to vote.

For the last 65 years, economic and social rights have been systematically denied to U.S. citizens, who have been led to believe these things are not even rights at all. While Occupy started to remove the wool from our eyes, it was quickly pulled back down.

Human rights are not abstract principles; they are specific privileges listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This monumental accord was adopted unanimously by the UN General Assembly by a vote of 48-0. It served as the basis for a series of international human rights treaties that followed it, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966).

Read More: http://dissidentvoice.org/2014/11/how-economic-and-social-rights-were-disappeared-from-the-united-states/

The post How Economic and Social Rights Disappeared from the United States appeared first on disinformation.

Bill Aimed At Shutting Off NSA’s Water Starts Moving Forward Again

Disinformation - Sat, 11/22/2014 - 13:00

Serge (CC BY-ND 2.0)

via Tech Dirt:

The attempt to nerf the NSA’s new data center in Utah continues. As we covered here at the beginning of this year, legislators and activists began pushing a bill that would cut off the NSA’s water supply if it continued to gather data on American citizens. It’s an interesting move, one that leverages the states’ abilities to combat overreaching federal laws, but one that has gone nowhere so far. The bill was discussed and then tabled indefinitely, supposedly for “further study.”

Apparently, some sort of studying has gone on during the intervening months, because it appears the bill is moving forward again.

On Wednesday, the Public Utilities and Technology Interim Committee discussed the bill that “prohibits cooperation between a federal agency that collects electronic data and any political subdivisions of the state.”

The Salt Lake Tribune has more details.

Committee members expressed some concerns with the bill but no outright opposition. They asked the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Marc Roberts, R-Santaquin, to better define who would be impacted by the bill.

The members also asked questions on whether Utah taxpayers are supporting the NSA.

“I just don’t want to subsidize what they’re doing on the back of our citizens,” said Rep. Roger Barrus, R-Centerville.

As is par for the course in legislative discussions, the prevailing public wind was checked. Apparently, it still blows in the direction of shutting down the NSA’s water supply. Rep. Barrus’ stated concerns about taxpayer subsidies are admirable, if a bit on the tardy side. As it stands now, the NSA is receiving cut rates on both electricity and water — both of which are expected to be used heavily. (The data center is projected to use four times as much electricity as the entire town of Bluffdale and over a million gallons of water a day.)

Read More: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20141120/15304529213/bill-aimed-shutting-off-nsas-water-starts-moving-forward-again.shtml

The post Bill Aimed At Shutting Off NSA’s Water Starts Moving Forward Again appeared first on disinformation.

How the Universe Became Something out of Nothing | Interview with Lawrence Krauss

Disinformation - Sat, 11/22/2014 - 11:30

Abby Martin interviews theoretical physicist and cosmologist, Lawrence Krauss, discussing everything from his belief that all religion will be eliminated within a generation to his view on the origins of the universe.

The post How the Universe Became Something out of Nothing | Interview with Lawrence Krauss appeared first on disinformation.

Why a Young Boy is Claiming To Be Reincarnated Marine

Disinformation - Sat, 11/22/2014 - 10:00

via Discovery News:

A four-year-old Virginia boy is claimed to have had a past life as a Marine killed in 1983, prompted by his parents and a new reality TV show called “Ghost Inside My Child.” The boy, Andrew Lucas, made comments to his mother suggesting to her that he’s lived in a past life and died in a fire many years earlier.

Many people believe in reincarnation, from Shirley MacLaine to the Dalai Lama, but there is no scientific evidence for past lives. Usually, alleged memories of past lives emerge during psychotherapy or hypnosis when people are encouraged to fantasize about other lives they may have led (often of famous or important people such as Cleopatra or Caesar).

It remains scientifically unproven, however, because those who claim to have had past lives are unable to give historically accurate, provable details from other eras. Other times people glean information from films and television shows and unconsciously incorporate them into their memories, in a process psychologists call confabulation.

Read More: http://news.discovery.com/human/psychology/why-a-young-boy-is-claimed-to-be-reincarnated-marine-141118.htm

The post Why a Young Boy is Claiming To Be Reincarnated Marine appeared first on disinformation.

The Fortune 500 Companies Funding the Political Resegregation of America

Disinformation - Sat, 11/22/2014 - 08:30

Reynolds American, Las Vegas Sands, Walmart, Devon Energy, Citigroup, AT&T, Pfizer, Altria Group, Honeywell International, Hewlett-Packard are some of the Fortune 500 companies identified by Mother Jones as major contributors to the Republican State Leadership Committee, which via its Redistricting Majority Project is literally changing the political map to help elect Republicans:

Over the past four to five years, the United States has been resegregated—politically. In states where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans and presidential races can be nail-biters, skillful Republican operatives have mounted racially-minded gerrymandering efforts—the redrawing of congressional and state legislative districts—that have led to congressional delegations stacked with GOP members and yielded Republican majorities in the state legislatures.

In North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, to name just three, GOPers have recast state and congressional districts to consolidate black voters into what the political pros call “majority-minority districts” to diminish the influence of these voters. North Carolina is an especially glaring example: GOP-redistricting after the 2010 elections led to half the state’s black population—1.1 million people—being corralled into one-fifth of the state legislative and congressional districts. “The districts here take us back to a day of segregation that most of us thought we’d moved away from,” State Sen. Dan Blue Jr., who was previously North Carolina’s first black House speaker, told the Nation in 2012.

A major driving force behind this political resegregation is the Republican State Leadership Committee, a deep-pocketed yet under-the-radar group that calls itself the “lead Republican redistricting organization.” The RSLC is funded largely by Fortune 500 corporations, including Reynolds AmericanLas Vegas SandsWalmartDevon EnergyCitigroupAT&TPfizerAltria GroupHoneywell InternationalHewlett-Packard. Other heavyweight donors not on the Fortune 500 list include Koch Industries, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and the US Chamber of Commerce. At the same time these big-name firms underwrite the RSLC’s efforts to dilute the power of black voters, many of them preach the values of diversity and inclusion on their websites and in corporate reports…

[continues at Mother Jones]

The post The Fortune 500 Companies Funding the Political Resegregation of America appeared first on disinformation.

Why Bill Cosby Needs to Respond and the Keystone Pipeline Failure to Pass Senate Is Temporary

Disinformation - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 20:30

Podcast from the Indie Bohemians Morning Show. A Morning Show, for people who hate Morning Shows.

Content-packed show today! Rob Haynes gives us a Sports Report and a Vex on his dislike of magic. Johnny Dam checks in with a DAMage Report, Angie Dorin with a Monkey Minute. Later, in Pop Culture we talk acne, scars and other new Barbie accessories, Will Smith’s children, and the women who smoked pot for the first time and played Cards Against Humanity. Later, the Keystone Pipeline was stopped in the Senate for now, but it will be back. Finally, Bill Cosby: Why he needs to respond to these allegations, the lawyer’s statement was not enough.

 

The post Why Bill Cosby Needs to Respond and the Keystone Pipeline Failure to Pass Senate Is Temporary appeared first on disinformation.

Why Google May Be More ‘Evil’ than the NSA | Think Tank

Disinformation - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 19:30

 

Abby Martin speaks with Taylor Lincoln, Director of Research at Public Citizen’s Congressional Watch Division about a new report detailing how Google is invading users privacies and becoming the most powerful and influential political force in Washington.

The post Why Google May Be More ‘Evil’ than the NSA | Think Tank appeared first on disinformation.

Sorcery and Psychedelics: Dark Fantasy Tropes in Graham Hancock’s Fiction

Disinformation - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 18:30

My sci-fantasy graphic novel TRETA-YUGA, now live on Kickstarter, has been inspired by Graham Hancock’s bibliography (and a host of other authors). I wanted to take the time to trace some of these influences while simultaneously reviewing Hancock’s newly released epic Return of the Plumed Serpent, the second installment of the War God trilogy.

Graham Hancock is a legendary author, and therefore writing about his work can be prove to be immensely daunting. So much has already been said, and yet there are a great number of themes that I do not see discussed in his work.

For better or worse, the psychedelic activism that he has been adamant about in recent years is given more attention than the majestically magic worlds of his fiction, which he considers a more important vehicle for the translation of entheodelic visions that have consumed him in the over 100+ ayahuasca/DMT experiences he’s had. [1]

The roots of the dark fantasy that Graham has mastered in his fiction work runs dubiously deep. While I loved Entangled, it was decidedly more meta (what time tripping story isn’t?) than his War God series. War God has an admirable and deep commitment to the tropes of the historical fantasy genre, making the visions within the text more immersive and cinematic simultaneously.

Whenever genre arguments come up, I’m always reminded of Michael Moorcock’s now infamous 1978 dismantling of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis’ staunch anti-technological views in his essay “Epic Pooh”. Moorcock would never consider his fiction anything other than pulp (and maybe even low-brow pulp at that), but the multiverse he established was a direct influence on the lore of my own YUGAVERSE. The idea of a creating a history rich with interconnected characters over different series, the blending of sci-fantasy, all the things that Gene Wolfe, Jack Nance, and Roger Zelazny playfully contributed to, have all been a massive inspiration.

The seminal “Epic Pooh” was the first New Wave response to the old world fantasy genre traditionalism that has its roots in E.R. Eddison’s near constant assertion that the ever romantic past was somehow better, and less brutal, than both the cyberpunk present and future.

The historical fantasy genre that was in some ways perfected in Nights of the Witch (the first installment of the War God trilogy) becomes even more compelling in the newly released Return of the Plumed Serpent. I believe this is due to Graham being a bit less naïve about how dark sorcery permeated (and was often the cause of) war and conquest in ancient civilization.

The depictions of violence and strategic warfare between the clashing of Aztec and Spanish inquisition is gruesome (sometimes unrelenting so), and yet I feel attached to Hancock’s lovely characterization of Tozi and Cortes, more so than Steven Erikson’s recent stabs at epic war stricken post-modern fantasy. The tendency of recent fantasy to include a ridiculously large number of characters (looking at you here, George R.R. Martin) is one of the things that I miss about Fritz Leiber and the Lovecraft Trio’s tight-knit approach to character evolution in the fantasy genre. [2]

Rightly so Return of the Plumed Serpent has been described as a tale that educates and entertains simultaneously. I would go as far to say that Graham proves, in an offhanded way, what Tolkien meant when describing how mytho-poetic fairy tales could be more metaphysically true than history itself. [3]

The acquisition of magical power in coming of age stories has been done quite a bit in pop culture by Hunger Games and Harry Potter, but Hancock’s freshly intense characterization of Tozi learning the ways of the invisible void grid is one of the more admirable takes on the scenario I’ve encountered in fiction for some time. In some ways the standard for me is still Jean Grey’s battling of the exploding phoenix transformation in Chris Claremont’s early 90’s X-Men. [4]

Tozi’s intelligence and cunning is well developed. Hancock in no way talks down to the intelligence of his readers or insults them with ridiculous clichés. She is not a superior character simply because she’s not a dude with a dick, but you believe in the small steps she takes towards growing in her evolution. The sorcery tropes in general are handled in a far more subtle way than J.K. Rowling’s infamous wizardry obsession, and I do enjoy Tozi, overall, far more than Hermione. Maybe that’s a bit unfair, War God is obviously meant to be read by adults, even with a younger witchy girl as a protagonist. Either way, with only three books into his career in fiction, the real life Indiana Jones has already proven he’s a badass master wizard.

 Eastern Lore

The anime One Piece covers the same occult treasure charting territory as War God, but on the opposite end of the emotional spectrum. The rather obvious danger of long serialization and fictional trilogies is that characters and repeated plot elements become tired if the world building is not expansive enough. Both fictional innerspaces have a potential for the epic lore of a story to be continuously deep as it unravels rather slowly, rather than the far more common experience of ending up flat and stale, something that I miss about the tremendous potential of Naruto and Bleach, in the early stages.

The acquisition of power by young girls is also a predominant theme in anime, encompassing an entire sub-genre called mahou shoujo that parallel’s Tozi’s slow mastery of witchiness. While most every American knows Sailor Moon as the popularization moment of the trope, Princess Knight started it (1953) and the trope was in some ways brought to a kind of strange psychedelic perfection in the experimental Puella Magi Madoka Magica series and films. [5] It’s interesting that global transmedia seems to be recalling not-too-distant memories of paganism, which are quite different from the Rinzai sect of Zen, for instance, in Japan—or any other of the “do not eat the plants” sects of religion.

While pop culture has attempted to make psilocybin initiations something strange and even related to dubious persona’s like NBC’s Hannibal, Graham changed my life by unconsciously encouraging me to explore both the light and dark sides of altered states in relation to my graphic novel YUGAVERSE. Shadow healing can have a profound impact on philosophical disposition, but psychedelic themes do not need to be overt in art in order to be subversively effective, either.

Hancock claims that through his use of ayahuasca he was able to see, in the intense holographic download flashes that characterize the experience, the epic time period of the Spanish inquisition in a new way, one in which magic (white, grey, black) was present in shaping history. Ayahuasca proved that his lifelong fascination for lost archeology was a way of recalling how magical power once sincerely dominated human civilization.

Suddenly readers may see the potential for how Marlene Dobkin De Rios’ work on ayahuasca divination [6] may relate to the fictional landscape. Maybe it is that the dark veiled glimpse of the mirror world can provide a more true version of reality than the purely historical one, but Wonderland is always the greatest of hell and heavens.

In general the biased bibliophile will always declare that imagination and the humanities are the least respected (and certainly least profitable) subjects, but perhaps the most essential in the slow churning alchemy of the Soul.

[1] In a recent interview I conducted, Graham indicated that he actually prefers the smoked DMT admixture changa to ayahuasca at the moment. Primarily because it is less demanding on the body and the visions are as clear while still fast acting.

[2] Like Hancock, Erikson has a background in archeology, which informed the 10 thick volumes (!) of his high fantasy series The Malazan Book of the Fallen. On the subject of false technological doom and the unsustainable idea of civilization, see Erikson’s letter Derrick Jensen about his anarchist book Endgame. While most people prefer Lovecraft to Robert E Howard and Clark Ashton Smith, I’m one of those utterly strange souls who delights in the Smythos as the crystalized perfection of what Lovecraft set out to do, probably because there is more magic and less monsters…but still.

[3] “On Fairy-Stories” by J.R.R. Tolkien, 1939

[4] Grant Morrison’s flawed but thoroughly zany take on Marvel’s beloved figures will probably always be my favorite, however.

[5] Heroines of Film and Television: Portrayals in Popular Culture by Norma Jones, Maja Bajac-Carter, Bob Batchelor is a worthy study.

[6] Fate, Fortune, and Mysticism in the Peruvian Amazon: The Septrionic Order and the Naipes Cards by Marlene Dobkin De Rios’

Benton Rooks co-coined the term “entheodelic storytelling” with Graham Hancock, Jeremy D. Johnson, and Rak Razam. Follow him on Twitter.

The post Sorcery and Psychedelics: Dark Fantasy Tropes in Graham Hancock’s Fiction appeared first on disinformation.

Will Scripted Ferguson Agenda Overshadow the Executive Amnesty Announcement?

Disinformation - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 17:30

via Activist Post:

“Fear is a very powerful weapon, it catalyzes, it causes division, it can be used as an excuse to remove even more civil liberties. Make no mistake America, there are reasons the media are portraying this, in this particular light. You are ALL being manipulated.” (random comment I read the other day…)

History has shown that so many revolutions that many of us have cheered on over the years have turned out to be completely fabricated (or at the very least, co-opted) for an ultimate end game.

Let me start this article by letting you know (in case you didn’t) that every massive rights movement in modern American history has ultimately wound up infiltrated…

Every single one. Remember Occupy Wall Street? These things may even appear to start out organically, but at some point they get co-opted and steered by powerful people for a specific agenda. The question always becomes, “How long has this been going on?” and “What is the endgame?”

The Ferguson situation reeks of COINTELPRO.


Read More: http://www.activistpost.com/2014/11/will-scripted-ferguson-agenda.html

The post Will Scripted Ferguson Agenda Overshadow the Executive Amnesty Announcement? appeared first on disinformation.

Let Me State the Obvious: Transhumanism is Really Influenced by the Drug War

Disinformation - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 16:30

You ever notice how supposedly smart people are often too dumb to realize that there are different kinds of intelligence. I mean, Jimi Hendrix probably wouldn’t be able to write code for shit, but he could play the hell out of a guitar. Last time I checked, Henry Miller isn’t a science legend and LeBron James isn’t a technological icon. I love that sermon that Jesus gave about organic chemistry. I’m pretty sure that’s the one that got him killed. Man, what’s at the movies this weekend? Yeah, a bunch of new films about how to make better computers, totally. I suppose the reason I mention this has to do with the fact that in the last week or so I’ve stumbled upon roughly 5 different articles by highly respected scientists informing me that computers are going be smarter than humans in the near future. Anytime anyone says something like this the appropriate response should be, what the fuck are you talking about? Smarter how? I mean really, are they going to have greater emotional intelligence than us? Creative intelligence? Are they going to be better at raising our kids? Better stand up comedians? No, seriously, what on earth are you talking about?

You’re talking about how they’re going to be able to do math way faster right? Can’t they already do that? I think one of the absolute creepiest technological developments I’ve read about in my life has to do with the fact that computers are now telling us what to do. They’re in charge. This isn’t science fiction, it’s reality. Our economic system is now run by competing algorithms trading stocks against each other at hyper speed, guaranteeing that the people who need resources the absolute least are rewarded an increasing amount of them for reasons that are morally dubious at best. Ahhh, the greed game that the “winners” in our society have become slavishly addicted to. Make no mistake, these profit gouging algorithms are daemonic to their very core. They do not give a shit about us because we programmed them not to. It’s not that they don’t do cool shit from time to time, it’s that they only care about numbers going up and rewarding the hell spawn that is corporate psychology, where inhuman entities are deemed people with rights. People who are legally obligated to fuck everyone over in the name of profit for investors. It’s not me man, it’s the money. Let us never forget that corporate psychology is more dangerous than ISIS, Ebola, Global Warming, or whatever the fuck threat the media is trying to sell us at whatever moment you happen to be reading this. Fuck, corporate psychology is pretty much the cause of all those threats in the first place.

So I find it a bit odd that the justification for honestly believing that someday soon we’re going to achieve immortality by downloading our brains into computers is typically: “but Ray Kurzweil is a high ranking engineer at Google.” Errr, shouldn’t that be EXACTLY why you shouldn’t trust the dude. Isn’t he on this quest because he couldn’t deal with the death of his father? Any technology born from a fear of death rather than designed to create an acceptance of death is destined to create more suffering than it intends to alleviate. Sort of why we’ve currently got mind scrambled human shells piling up in nursing homes at increasing numbers. More to the point, why are people who know nothing about spirituality somehow deciding they’re going to “solve” spirituality. It’d be like me saying I’m going to create robots with my vast knowledge of obscure modern psych rock. It doesn’t make any sense at all, but people pretend it does because we’ve been so utterly brainwashed by materialism. It’s the same reason people pretend that reading the same book over and over in church is going to advance you to a higher plane of existence. Almost nothing we do anymore makes the sort of “rational” sense that atheists quite pompously claim to be governed by. On a supremely rational note, since no scientist actually claims to comprehend the point to something as basic as dreaming, how would you program dreams into a computer exactly? How would you program in an out of body experience? Oh, you didn’t think ahead that far? Of course you didn’t.

This would be where I say we need to listen to our spiritual experts, and not the religious kind. We can’t keep shutting people like me out of the conversation and I’m up there with the best that you’ve got at this point. Completely bewildered by my experiences with transdimensional forms of hyper-intelligence on psychedelics and sexually predatory phantasms while astral projecting, I’ve basically devoted my life to this shit (and I write about things like sex magick on Facebook constantly, friend me). I’ve done so outside of corporate and academic institutions because I realized it would be roughly impossible in a setting where dreams weren’t even mentioned for more than 5 minutes in an intro class on my way to a B.A. in psychology. How fucked is that? You can get a degree in psychology without even talking about dreams. The superstitions of the drug war have so tainted our ability to think rationally about spiritual matters that we’ve gone totally batshit, and yes, this has a lot to do with traditional religious institutions. I love how we in America turn our nose up at 3rd world countries who pass laws banning witchcraft because like, how could they be so superstitious and primitive? I’ve got news for you dipshit, we did the exact same thing and continue to. Shamanism at its very core involves the ritualistic (not recreational) ingestion of psychoactive chemicals, and we’re so terrified in regards to the potentiality of this, we made psychedelic drugs freaking illegal. We’re just now starting to study them again, and holy shit, the results are astounding. They seem to, you guessed it, produce profound spiritual experiences and alleviate the fear of death, just like those crazy Occultniks we’ve systematically murdered throughout history said they would. So wait, are you saying witchcraft isn’t crazy? Yep, that’s exactly what I’m saying. Science is already in the process of proving that.

You know what I don’t think science is going to prove? That you can download your mind into a computer. You know why I don’t think that’s going to happen? It probably has something to do with the fact that it’s purely theoretical. At no point has anyone ever downloaded their mind into a machine. Not once. You know what people have done? Had insanely potent visionary experiences by warping their own brain chemistry. So why is that not seen as the future of spirituality and somehow transhumanism is? Because we’ve completely abandoned the shamanic/Occult philosophy which requires one to think about existence in subjective and metaphorical terms, that’s why. Next time one of your weirdo friends goes on a rant about the great coming technological singularity, ask them one question: What’s that going to be like? THEY HAVE NO ANSWER FOR THIS QUESTION. Why? Because it’s never happened before and they’re thinking in an objective literal manner which separates consciousness from the human experience. You can go to Erowid and read story after story about people being lead through cycles of lives on Ayahuasca and communing with the spirit world. Where are the websites where people talk about their weekends spent downloading their brains into computers? They don’t exist because that’s not actually a thing at this point. You might as well be saying we’re going to design telepathic unicorns with advanced genetics. I mean, we made pugs. I’m not saying it can’t happen, it’s just again, purely theoretical.

It’s easy to forget that when LSD first hit the scene it was viewed as a technological achievement worth of rigorous study, and that the superstitions of religious drug hysteria changed that almost immediately. We’re still struggling to wake up from this madness. Imagine if studying computer technology was stigmatized in the same manner. Where do you think computer tech would be at this point? Pretty much nowhere. It’d require weirdoes pursuing it outside of traditional institutions. Hey, wasn’t I just talking about that? So I’m a bit skeptical of people who think that somehow computers are going to “solve spirituality” or be smarter than humans, not that they won’t be smarter in certain ways. They already are. The difference is that I wholly acknowledge the importance of people who are really good at math. All consciousness is part of a continuum. My art is and always has involved integrating technological progress to distort consciousness. You think I could design a delay pedal? Riiiight. What we need is, again, to quit shutting out those who excel at thinking in subjective and metaphorical terms, those who boldly explore inner realms and go where no one has gone before.

Being one of those freaks, I’ve had one primary vision about the future of technology since I was roughly 18 and started reading about near death experiences. Since we can chemically map what goes on in people’s brains while they’re dying and seem to be transitioning to a higher realm with neuroscience, couldn’t we reproduce that? Couldn’t we make a drug or combination of drugs, hypnotic suggestions, and sound patterns that completely eradicate the fear of death from the human condition? I mean, these people in NDE states typically don’t want to come back to our world rather than the inverse. Maybe that’s the solution to this overpopulation problem that’s killing the environment. Yeah, that’d be the other thing with computers, they’re an ecological fucking disaster which is something the press has swept under the carpet with an impressive efficiency and they’re built in sweatshops to boot. Oh shit, they’re even responsible for one the biggest civil wars in human history. Are you maybe starting to see why I don’t think computers are the answer to everything?

Make no mistake, you don’t want to live forever. All spiritual philosophy historically, even of the religious variety, seems to be illuminating the idea that life is suffering and the payoff is in the other realm. Again, you might want to think about that before you resolve to spend your life attempting to damn yourself here for all eternity. And that’d be the funny thing. Mind bending techniques like psychedelics were banned because our culture deemed them dangerous and you know what? THEY ARE FUCKING DANGEROUS TO OUR CULTURE. The idea that you can get bigger kicks by tinkering with your own dream states on the cheap is an enormous threat to things like consumerism, traditional religion, the war machine, and corporate psychology. I have zero clue why you wouldn’t want those things to die in the first place. Occultist out.

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@Thad_McKraken on the Twitters

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The post Let Me State the Obvious: Transhumanism is Really Influenced by the Drug War appeared first on disinformation.

Kryptos Sculptor Offers Another Clue

Disinformation - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 15:30

Jim Sanborn just can’t believe that it’s taking so long for cryptographers and “Brownies” (as they term fans of Dan Brown’s fiction) to decode his sculpture “Kryptos” outside the CIA’s Langley HQ. The New York Times reports that he’s giving them yet another clue:

The artist who created the enigmatic Kryptos, a puzzle-in-a-sculpture that has driven code breakers to distraction since it was installed 24 years ago in a courtyard at C.I.A. headquarters in Langley, Va., has decided that it is time for a new clue.

Kryptos by Jim Sanborn. Photo: Minh Nguyễn (CC)

By 1999, nine years after it went up, Kryptos fans had deciphered three of the sculpture’s four messages — 865 letters punched through elegantly curved copper sheets that make up the most striking part of the work. (In fact, cryptographers at the National Security Agency cracked those messages in 1993, but kept the triumph to themselves.) The fourth and final passage, a mere 97 characters long, has thwarted thousands of followers ever since.

Jim Sanborn, the sculptor, having grown impatient with the progress of the fans and their incessant prodding for clues — and the misguided insistence by some that they had actually solved the puzzle — provided a six-letter clue to the puzzle in 2010. The 64th through 69th characters of the final panel, when deciphered, spelled out the word BERLIN.

Since then, the fans, many of whom keep up a lively online conversation, have come up empty-handed. And so Mr. Sanborn has decided to open the door a bit more with five additional letters, those in the 70th through 74th position.

They spell “clock.”

This means that the letters from positions 64 to 74 spell out two words: “Berlin clock.”…

[continues at the New York Times]

The post Kryptos Sculptor Offers Another Clue appeared first on disinformation.

Capitalism is God’s Will and the Cat Drank all the Milk: How our Language Creates our Biggest Problems and Why We Can’t do Anything about It

Disinformation - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 14:30

Felipe Del Valle (CC BY 2.0)

I have a confession to make, one that a good number of readers will find disgusting and emetic and prevent many of them from reading further. Others, however, might relate or find it interesting regardless, and so those people will continue to read, which, I suppose, is good enough for me. You see, when I was a child, from a very early age, probably as early as I can remember, I felt all around me the “Presence of God.” It was and is, in all actuality, an impossible feeling to properly describe, but I suppose to some extent that I could say that I felt some sort of “immanent-transcendent energy” “flowing” through me and through my surroundings. Having lived in a rural area hours away in any direction from something resembling civilization, many of my childhood memories consist of me sitting in the backseat of a Toyota 4Runner driving somewhere else, usually toward civilization somewhere. And I remember looking out at the mountains, at the trees, at the desert, at whatever should be passing by my window, and feeling an innate, primordial connection with all of it. I identified with the entire world. Of course I wouldn’t have used those terms, exactly, but in retrospect, I think that’s the best I can explain it with my limited talent in this area.

Anyhow, as I got old enough and more finely initiated enough in our lovely American culture, the language I would eventually come to use was, “I can feel God’s presence.” Again, looking at it in retrospect, I, myself, felt divine, in a sense, as if I was part of something so vast and inconceivable and great, not separate from it. Yet, whenever someone spoke to me about Gahd, I didn’t recognize what they were speaking about from my own experiences. They spoke about Gahd as something far away, distant, judgmental, even rude. Not all the time. There were some people who presented Gahd to me as “loving” and “nurturing” and “merciful” and “forgiving” but these people were far and few in between, and quite frankly consisted primarily of my mother and grandfather, whom I believe probably felt “The Presence of God” to some extent as well. Most people, though, seemed to think Gahd was some dickhead somewhere foisting untold suffering upon his own creations for untold reasons. And when they described this Gahd to me, I couldn’t tell if it was my concept of “God” that was inaccurate, or if it was theirs. (Quite frankly, I didn’t have the self-confidence yet to simply acknowledge that my experience made much more sense to me.)

As I got older, the traditional definitions and descriptions of Gahd continued to make less and less sense, based on my own experiences. And as I read about Taoism and Zen and various animistic and shamanic traditions, I found that many of the experiences I read or heard about seemed to align to my own experiences much more snugly than all of the horseshit I heard from, well… Christians, mostly.

So the question to a lot of people seems to be: Am I a theist, an atheist, or an agnostic?

It’s a stupid question and when you’ve had certain experiences, an insignificant and superfluous one. However, it’s important to many people–of the utmost importance to many. A lot of people care about this kind of question. Others care a lot about whether I’m a “patriot” or not, or a “liberal” or a “conservative.” People care profoundly to know whether I’m in favor of “free-market capitalism” or if I’m a “socialist.” And so on. People really, truly, deeply care about labels.

This is nothing new, of course. I think a lot of us know this, and a lot of us think this kind of behavior and outlook is ridiculously silly. Nevertheless, as I get older, I realize that what people care most about are about those things they know jack shit about. The less somebody knows about something, the more they care about it.

yoppy (CC BY 2.0)

Take for example a couple of simple statements:

  1. The cat is drinking milk.
  2. Capitalism is Gahd’s Will.

With the exception of a handful of extraneous extenuating situations (insanity, primarily) two people aren’t going to get into too much of a tizzy over the veracity of the first statement. You could put Rush Limbaugh and Cornel West in a room together with a cat and a bowl of milk, and even the two of them would come to an agreement as whether it were a true statement or not (assuming, again, that insanity is not in play, which… well, let’s just move on). Either the cat is drinking milk or it isn’t. Both Limbaugh and West probably know quite well what a cat is, and they know what milk is and they know what the verb “drinking” is. They know about all the elements of that statement quite well, and, as a result, they don’t give much of a shit about it.

Now, the second statement. This one’s a little more interesting. We don’t even need personalities as divergent as Limbaugh and West. I’m sure you can walk into any random business or agency and grab two random employees and the odds are probably pretty decent that you’ll end up with two people who don’t agree on the second statement. And if you pressed them to talk about it with each other, there’s a good chance you’d need to either prevent or intervene in a rowdy bout of fisticuffs.

The interesting part about it is, nobody knows shit about that statement. Each person might believe that they know something about that statement, but they really don’t. Nobody does. I don’t. You don’t. Stephen Hawking doesn’t. Einstein wouldn’t. Shakespeare could write a tremendous play or poem about the statement, if he were so inspired, but even he wouldn’t know jack shit about the veracity of that statement.

What is “Capitalism?” What is “God?” What is “Will?” (If we really wanted to get stuck fucking our own thought process, we could go the route of the great Korzybski and ask “What is ‘is’?” But for the sake of the readability of this essayif there is indeed anyI will skip it…for now.)

Who has a straight, definite answer to any of those questions? You may think you do, but you don’t. Again, nobody does. You know how I know this? Because if I asked you to draw me a picture of “Capitalism” or “God” or “Will” you wouldn’t be able to do it. On the other hand, if I asked you to draw me a picture of a “Cat drinking milk,” you’d be able to come up with something, even if you’re a terrible artist like me.

You may think you could draw “Capitalism.” Depending on what you think about Capitalismdepending on how you define ityou might draw a merchant trading some product or service with a customer who holds a fistful of green U.S. dollars in his hand. Or maybe you might draw a crooked bankster sitting behind a computer laughing as the computer shows how he’s swindled billions of dollars from the American people. Or maybe you’ll draw some primitive scene of two members from two different human tribes trading, I don’t know, let’s say copper and spices with each other. Or maybe you’d draw a Walmart.

Whatever you’d draw, though, it wouldn’t literally be “Capitalism.” It would be a picture of a merchant, a bankster, a member of a tribe or a Walmartit wouldn’t be the pure, unadulterated idea of “Capitalism.” Just the same, if I asked you to draw a picture of “God” or “Will” or “Freedom” or any other abstract idea, you could draw me something that you think represents that idea, but you couldn’t draw me the idea itself.

Is this Capitalism?
Dinos P (CC BY 2.0)

Furthermore, if I asked somebody else who disagreed with your interpretations of such terms, to draw me pictures of such terms, their drawings would almost certainly look nothing like your own. So whose representation could we say is the most correct one? Even if somehow, in some imaginary world, we could decidethrough reason, saywhose representation is the most accurate, how many people would believe us or accept it? Reason has shown us quite clearly the reality of the idea of “Evolution,” and yet there are plenty of people who still resist it. This is because the things people know the least about–literally–are the things they care most about.

This is the primary thesis of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractacus Logico-Philosophicus — that the “important” questions of philosophy are unknowable, and might not even be answerable in the first place. Probably, they should never even have been asked. There are not only limitations to language, but language has a tendency to create problems where none exist. None of us know “God” and therefore it is silly for any of us to make any declarations about such a thing, but it is the nature of our language to allow for discussion on such things that language can’t actually correspond to. Propositional statements (or pictures)”point,” and they work best when we can verify what it’s pointing at. When I propose that a cat is drinking milk, we can easily the determine the factuality of the statement. We know what the statement is pointing to or supposed to point to. When I propose that capitalism is God’s Will, what exactly am I pointing to and how can we determine whether the pointing is factual or not?

Let’s discuss the ideas of “Free Will” and “Determinism.” Can you draw me a picture of either of these two things? Again, you can draw representations, but you can’t the actual idea. In a sense, a “Unicorn” is more real than those ideas because most of us can agree on the idea of what a unicorn is supposed to be—it’s a horse-like creature with a dick-like horn protruding from its forehead. And, yet, which discussion is likely to be participated in more passionately? A discussion about free will vs. determinism or a discussion about the nature of unicorns? Even if some crazy, delusional bastard were wandering around town insisting on the reality of unicorns, you might try to talk sense into him for a few minutes, but eventually you’d just give up and get on with your life, unconcerned about the ramificationsif anyof letting that person walk around insisting on the existence of imaginary creatures. But if somebody were wandering around town insisting that free will didn’t exist, my money is on a number of believers in the idea of free will take far too much time and effort to passionately defend their position against whomever it was who disagreed with them. How much ink and glucose has been spent by philosophers on unicorns? How much on the debate between free will and determinism?

In a sense, a “Unicorn” is more real than “Free Will” or “Determinism” because most of us can agree on the idea of what a unicorn is supposed to be.
Rob Boudon (CC BY 2.0)

This is why it’s so difficult to get somewhere on the “important issues.” Both sides alternate between giving excellent articulations and defenses of their stances. Every now and then a genius comes along and seems to present an argument for one side that is damn near impenetrable. Then, decades, perhaps even centuries later, another genius comes along, this time on the other side of the debate, and presents a brand new, totally innovative and ingenious argument that refutes the original ingenious argument from the other side. In this regard, Hegel’s dialectic is correct (and we see this in someone like Kant, whose idealism was a response to the materialism pervading his times, and whose arguments have this weird characteristic that they may be nonsense, but  nonsense which still cannot be easily dismissed). And in the world of philosophy, this synthesizing may never come to an end on certain issues, because every now and again smart philosophers come along with new and interesting definitions for old ideas.

Luckily for those of us who are still intent on being right about things we don’t really know shit about, Wittgenstein later backtracked somewhat upon his original thesis. In the Philosophical Investigations, he comes up with a new idea, one that allows us to communicate and talk about abstract things we know nothing about. This idea is that of “Language Games.”  There’s a catch, though. We can only discuss coherently abstract ideas if everyone involved in the conversation is using similar definitions for whatever words we are using. With this idea you can see how, say, the “Abortion” debate becomes so problematic. If you believe that abortion is murder, then you and anybody else holding the same or similar view can have a conversation about it. However, if you believe abortion is murder and you attempt to converse with someone who holds that abortion is “pro choice” then the two of you aren’t going to get anywhere, because the two of you are literally not having the same conversation. This is what Wittgenstein meant by the idea of Language Games—each game has its own rules and each word in each game has its own use or function, depending on the nature of the game. Think about theologians and scientists. The two are going to have a miserable time discussing just about anything because the two of them are coming from two completely different language games. Terms like “God,” and “Religion” contain two different meanings to the two different groups, and because they’re not concrete, tangible—in Wittgenstein’s terms—factual entities, it’s impossible to determine which definition is correct. This is true regardless, even if we really want to believe one side over the other.

This is why healthy debate only works with people who practice some degree of skepticism. “Open-mindedness” is what some prefer to call it. But beyond sketching out, to the best of my limited abilities, a brain split in half, I can’t draw “open-mindedness”—or “skepticism,” for that matter. So what do I mean when I use these words? As best as I can tell, what I mean is that I don’t walk into a conversation with my definitions etched out in a diamond. I’m at least partially willing to change my definitions. If you can convince me that changing a definition of a word I’m using will somehow be more “right” or closer to “truth,” or perhaps even just make my life easier or more enjoyable in some way, I will likely change that definition.

There are going to be less skeptical readers out there who will say something like, “But, yeah, science has already proven itself. THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD ANSWERS TO NO ONE.” And, sure, to completely dismiss or denounce the efficacy of the scientific method is asinine and misguided. After all, we are surrounded by its successes and triumphs each and every day. There are computers and automobiles and aircrafts and electricity and people have used science to, like, grow enough food to feed everybody and shit. But we only really know a few things about science.

One is that the scientific method is fairly effective at answering scientific questions. Which is to say, that science is quite useful within the confines of its own language game. But if I were to apply the scientific method to, say, a question about which 1990s TV sitcom was objectively the best 1990s TV sitcom, bar none, the scientific method—and its corresponding language game—fails to adequately respond.

The second is that despite acknowledging the usefulness and effectiveness of the scientific method, it’s only fair to acknowledge that beyond the realms of physics and technology, it really hasn’t answered jack shit. Are you bristling, right now? Ok, well then answer this: what does science tell us about “ethics,” “values,” “heroism,” “meaning”  —you know, the shit that actually helps us to lead happy, fulfilled lives. Because you may think that putting a man on the moon, or having electric heating, or electric lighting, or automobiles, or psychiatric drugs makes people happy, but it doesn’t, and it hasn’t, and it won’t. Such things make life more “convenient” or less “difficult,” but they don’t actually determine one’s “quality of life.” And that’s why our culture is one of endless consumption, with naive, ignorant human beings constantly working as cyborgs at their scientific, sterile, boring, automatonic jobs for their monthly stipends and slave wages just so they can go out and buy their electronic toys. So they can meaninglessly fuck other dead-eyed and charred-soul people with their Tinder apps. For all the rest of the days of their meaningless lives—all of them striving to reclaim something they know they lost, trying to fill some spiritual void that all the dead matter in the world is too lifeless to occupy. Not all people, of course. But enough of them to make you wonder why.

Oh, you’re still bristling, aren’t you? This is awkward. Um, well… sure, ok, those questions are complicated, and I’m building strawmen and all that. The point is that even something as effective as the scientific method is only so effective when we are dealing with simple, concrete ideas. You may think you cannot draw out the laws of physics, but we can come pretty damned close with things like: F=G*; or ⅓ BH; or P=MV; or E=MC2. Besides, the laws of physics are not metaphysical or abstract. We see them and experience them every day. But where are the formulas for “God” or “Patriotism” or “Honor” or “Fairness” or “Equality”?

At the end of the Tractacus, Wittgenstein leaves the reader with one of the most poetic lines in all of philosophy. (Which was all the more remarkable for the fact that the predominantly joyless Wittgenstein was one of the most mystifying, opaque and arcane writers in all of philosophy—which is a lot like calling someone one of the fattest, sweatiest, smelliest, most willfully ignorant San Diego Chargers fan. In short: it means something.) He ended his book thusly: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must remain silent.”

Which was good advice. It sort of echo’s Lao Tzu’s whole “The Tao that can be spoken of, is not the true Tao” or whatever. And it also explains so much about why people become so attached to ideas that they know literally nothing about.

People are so concerned with those things they know so little about because one of the things people know so little about is “Reality.” Language becomes one’s reality. Maybe not on an “objective,” “factual,” “scientific” level. But in a post-modern, subjective sense, how people use language—how we define certain words—totally dictates how we view the world. If we define “God” as petty and mean and vengeful, the world is going to reflect that. If we define “God” as loving, caring, merciful, the world is going to reflect that. If we define “God” as nonexistent, the world is going to reflect that. And so on and so forth. And then—as the Investigations suggests—we will surround ourselves with other like-minded individuals who are speaking our same language (it’s sort of an inherent trait of humans that we organize ourselves into tribes) and protect ourselves from other realities that don’t reaffirm our own.

This is the problem with fundamentalism of any sort. There aren’t any “cat-drinking-milk” fundamentalists. There aren’t fundamentalists of any concrete noun or verb. Fundamentalists are people attached to “ideas.” Besides the fact that most of the ideas fundamentalists attach themselves to are fucking stupid, fundamentalists themselves don’t actually know anything about this idea. They think they do. They’ve convinced themselves that the definitions they’ve placed on their ideas are somehow the one and only “true” definitions, and the world they experience seems to support those definitions and ideas—but it’s all a delusion. They identify with their ideas and reality, and they reinforce the illusion of what is often called the “ego.” And if you understand the basic psychology around ego and ego attachment, you start to get an idea of where all of this is headed. (And just as an exercise, I would encourage anyone to draw the idea of “me” or “I.” Don’t draw your “face” or your “body” or anything like that. Draw your “soul” or “spirit” or “mind”—draw the thing that makes you feel like there is a “you.” What did you come up with?)

With all this in mind, I think we return again to the value and validity of practicing an apathetic philosophy. Such a philosophy makes some sort of sense, because being apathetic is being inherently skeptical. Part of the reason someone practices apathy is because they don’t have enough faith in something to care about it. An apathetic person can never be a fundamentalist. Someone who is apathetic isn’t going to weld their identity to ideas that may be, quite frankly, purely imaginary or speculative. The Universe—as far as I can tell, at least—doesn’t seem to actually contain things like “Good” or “Evil” or “Honor” or “Shame” or “Right” or “Wrong” and so on. Such things exist only in the human central nervous system, and what Wittgenstein was trying to get at was that when you understand as much, you are blessed and cursed with the ultimate freedom. You no longer have to be the slave of someone else’s moral and ethical admonitions. You are “free” to determine your own morality and way of life. You are “free” to “choose” your own definitions for life. This idea scares a lot of people—and maybe some day I’ll write another long-winded essay explaining why it’s so scary and why it shouldn’t be—because despite what a lot of people in our culture say, nothing scares them more than being an “individual.” But it’s the only true liberation. The only choice, as far as I can tell, that a person has, is how they’re going to define their life experience. Is “God” a prick, or is “God” a cool, laid-back, blissful entity?

In the meantime, some people will read the first few paragraphs, and having had similar experiences, we’ll be able to have meaningful conversations around those experiences. Others will read about them and poo-poo and dismiss those experiences and make snarky or even mean comments about me and others like me. And I and others like me will do the same in return. As per usual, we’ll divide ourselves and cultivate tribes and mark our respective territories and all sides will pretend we know anything about of which we speak. And the delusion will continue. But hopefully, at the very least, the question of whether I’m a theist, an atheist or an agnostic now comes across as the bullshit question that it is, and maybe that’s a start.

The post Capitalism is God’s Will and the Cat Drank all the Milk: How our Language Creates our Biggest Problems and Why We Can’t do Anything about It appeared first on disinformation.

Activist Comics: End Gerrymandering

Disinformation - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 13:30

You would think that your vote gets counted just as equally as others. But you’d be wrong. The reality is, depending on where you live, your vote is quite likely taken for granted in preemptive zoning by election officials.

This tactic of partitioning voter blocs to count on favorable outcomes as a whole was named after Governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, whose imaginative map of voting districts was said to resemble a salamander. And even though his name was pronounced to sound like “Gary,” most know the term “gerrymandering”–with a soft “g” as in “Jerry”–to mean not just re-districting, but purposely dividing communities to disenfranchise a voting populous.

Re-districiting is something that happens with census reports to adjust for population change, with the aim of accurately reflecting the citizenry. What once may have looked like a normal map, with cities and towns as logical zones to assign Congressional representation, has since become abstract fractal shapes with no rationale or justification other than being drawn around reliable voters. As computers have been engineered to analyze voter data and mapping data, the art of gerrymandering has gotten down to the city block.

In the recent midterm elections, Republicans claim they have a mandate from the 36% voter turnout, despite the fact that in 2012 Democratic House candidates received 1.1 million more votes than Republicans, without reclaiming a majority of the House–thanks to strategic districting. When does a vote not get counted as a vote? When your state officials draw a district that looks like the capital letter “G” (with serifs) then you probably are gerrymandered.

We need realistic, fair guidelines for drawing districts so that they actually reflect citizens and communities, as opposed to undermining them. This is a non-partisan issue, because disenfranchising voters affects everyone, and is largely employed by incumbents, sometimes even in coordination with the rival party. Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who famously dissented in Citizens United, has outlined an amendment to stop this abusive strategy in his book Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution. Thom Hartmann has advocated requiring districts to be simple polygons, to minimize mapping chicanery. In California, voters approved a citizen advisory board that takes part in the re-districting process, holding hearings around the state to gather input from residents. Beyond reform models, we need to challenge these corrupt election officials on the state and local level who think nobody is watching as they selectively muzzle their own neighbors.

In this edition of Activist Comics, the appropriated comic book cover was updated to discuss gerrymandering, but it still features the original interaction between Lois Lane and the bad guys who are driving away in a convertible while laughing and taunting Superman. Sometimes it feels just like that.

END GERRYMANDERING is one of the Fix Six solutions featured in PAY 2 PLAY: Democracy’s High Stakes, a new documentary about standing up to money in politics. Out 12/2 on DVD, available now in iTunes, Amazon, Vimeo, and Disinfo.

This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

Pay 2 Play: Democracy’s High Stakes – Trailer from TDC Entertainment on Vimeo.

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Teacher Guide to The Twilight Zone’s “Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” (Plus Watch the Episode for Free)

Disinformation - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 12:30

By Rebecca Ray at Storyboardthat:

I remember reading this story as a play in middle school. There was something that immediately captured me about the ending and it has stayed with me ever since. Using the story in the classroom can prove to be a great tool for teaching theme, lesson and moral. Watch your students flourish with this lesson plan, which is designed to generate creativity and discussion about what happens when human nature is left to its own devices.

Quick Plot of The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street

Twilight Zone- “The Monsters Are Due on Maple” Street was originally an episode of the 1960’s television show “The Twilight Zone.” Later, the episode was made into a graphic novel. The synopsis of the story deals with insight into human nature and paranoia.

The setting begins on Maple Street as a shadow passes over, accompanied by a flash of light, a whooshing sound, and followed by a power outage. Immediately, people are in the streets conversing over the matter and a theory of extraterrestrial visitors is mentioned. Furthermore, the characters believe that the aliens could be living as a family in the neighborhood who appear human. Soon after, hysteria begins and residents start to accuse their neighbors of various dealings in association with the events. Everyone is a suspect and the neighborhood is growing uneasy.

Panic of monsters steadily builds, until one night when a shadowy figure appears. Charlie, a main character, grabs a shotgun and shoots the shadow out of fear. Unfortunately it is Peter Van Horn, a neighbor returning from his scouting mission; he was killed instantly. Suddenly the lights in Charlie’s house come on and he panics as the crowd begins accusing him of being both a murderer and the monster responsible for the power being out. A witch hunt begins and the neighborhood, turned angry mob becomes hysterical, as terrified residents produce weapons. A riot breaks out and fear causes residents to shoot each other.

The ending scene reveals that the object that had flown overhead was indeed an alien spaceship. The alien observers watch the riot on Maple Street knowing they created the mass hysteria through the manipulation of the power. In the end the residents of Maple Street were the real monsters leaving the aliens to conclude that to conquer Earth will be easy since the humans will destroy themselves.

Read More: http://www.storyboardthat.com/teacher-guide/twilight-zone-the-monsters-are-due-on-maple-street

And now, what you’ve all been waiting for. You can watch this episode for free on Hulu:

The post Teacher Guide to The Twilight Zone’s “Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” (Plus Watch the Episode for Free) appeared first on disinformation.

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