MonthSeptember 2008

An interview with DEA whistleblower Sandy Gonzalez

Sandalio ‘Sandy’ Gonzalez recently retired after a 32-year career in law enforcement, 27 as an agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), eventually ascending to his highest-ranking position as head of operations in South America.

Three years ago, Gonzalez’s career came to an abrupt end after he blew the whistle in a horrifying case now known as the ‘House of Death,’ in which Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents stand accused of looking the other way while one of their drug informants participated in torturing and murdering at least a dozen people in the border town of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

Full Story: Reason

Creative Japanese barcodes



More: Weird Asia News

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Pirates die strangely after taking Iranian ship

A tense standoff has developed in waters off Somalia over an Iranian merchant ship laden with a mysterious cargo that was hijacked by pirates.

Somali pirates suffered skin burns, lost hair and fell gravely ill ‘within days’ of boarding the MV Iran Deyanat. Some of them died.

Andrew Mwangura, the director of the East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme, told the Sunday Times: ‘We don’t know exactly how many, but the information that I am getting is that some of them had died. There is something very wrong about that ship.’

The vessel’s declared cargo consists of ‘minerals’ and ‘industrial products’. But officials involved in negotiations over the ship are convinced that it was sailing for Eritrea to deliver small arms and chemical weapons to Somalia’s Islamist rebels.

Full Story: The Times (of South Africa)


HumanCar Powered by Human Energy, Not Ethanol


Charley and Chuck Greenwood, a father-son combo, think they know the secret to the future of cars: rowing.

And they founded their company HumanCar to prove that human energy, not biofuels, is the gasoline of the future. Their Imagine_PS car seats up to four in a low-slung chassis; the passengers get to help row the lightweight car.

Think of it as an ergonomic, efficient and sneaker-saving Flintstone’s car for an oil-free future. The front two ‘drivers’ get to steer, which is done with a talented and coordinated lean.

“Body steering comes from the hips,” CEO Chuck said. “It’s just like a properly performed ski turn.”

But revolutionizing steering is not the point of these Oregon entrepreneurs. “It’s about thinking about days per life versus miles per gallon,” CEO Chuck Greenwood said.

When powered by four people rowing, the car will go about as fast as the ‘drivers’ would on bicycles, on average.

Full Story: Wired

Portland newspaper draws protestors over DVD insert

About 70 protesters gathered outside The Oregonian Monday morning to reprimand the newspaper for distributing an hourlong DVD, “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” as paid advertising in its Sunday editions.
In a brief news conference, speakers characterized the DVD as Muslim-bashing propaganda promoting fear, hate and division.

“It is a moral obligation of a newspaper in a community to inform, not misinform,” said the Rev. Chuck Cooper, director of ministries of Micah’s Village, a progressive Christian community near Clackamas.

“Obsession” conflicts with Oregon values of equity, diversity and inclusion, said Kayse Jama, executive director of the Center for Intercultural Organizing in North Portland, which organized the demonstration with help from The Good Faith Coalitiom and other faith and human rights groups.

The Oregonian distributed the DVD because it has an obligation to make its advertising as open as possible under the principle of free speech, Publisher Fred Stickel said. Newspapers generally accept all advertising that is not illegal or blatantly immoral.

Full Story: Oregon Live

(Thanks Mark!)

Kudos to the Oregonian for supporting free speech.

September 29, 2008: A Weird Kinda Day.

DNC 2008 memorial police shirt beat the crowds

First of all, there’s the nearly unbelievable story of the Denver Police Union’s commemorative T-Shirts from the 2008 Democratic National Convention.? There’s a caricature cop with a club, and the caption “WE GET UP EARLY, to BEAT the crowds” — seriously.? Here’s the story courtesy of Denver’s ABC affiliate station…and it had to be Channel 7, right?? It’s been that kind of day:

dow closes at 777

Like the Universe had to rub it in? The lead quote everywhere is from Barney Frank…he’s got a different context in mind but it’s remarkably appropriate: “One of the Truly Great Coincidences in the History of Numerology” The law of averages recieved a further blow when the markets released their closing statistics: “Dow plunges over 7%, S&P over 8%, Nasdaq over 9%” — but before jumping to occult conclusions, let me recommend two great reads from back when Rigorous Intuition was really dropping gems: The Banality of the Weird and most of all, The Higher Coincidence.

Welcome Justin Boland, latest Technoccult guest editor

That last post was from our latest guest editor Justin Boland (aka Humpasaur Jones) of Skilluminati and Brainsturbator.

Since he, very sadly, isn’t able to make it to Esozone this year, he’s gonna be blogging here for the next couple weeks while I’m busy with the final preparations for Esozone, and the event itself.

(there should be a couple more Technoccult TV episodes being released before Esozone, though… stay tuned!)

Paul Davies, Wil McCarthy and Alien Nanotech Probes

Late-night viewing of some “morphing UFO” footage has brought me back to a concept that’s always fascinated me: a Universe swarming with nano-scale ET intelligence.? This could mean anything from tiny spaceships, to Earth itself being a high-tech, alien-scripted “stage” where what we perceive as dead matter is anything but.

“The tiny probes I’m talking about will be so inconspicuous that it’s no surprise that we haven’t come across one. It’s not the sort of thing that you’re going to trip over in your back yard. So if that is the way technology develops, namely, smaller, faster, cheaper and if other civilizations have gone this route, then we could be surrounded by surveillance devices.”

That’s Paul Davies, thinking out loud along the same lines. (For more excellent brainfood from Davies, check out his recent 2007 Scientific American article, Are Aliens Among Us? — which is focused on microbial and nanoscale lifeforms, not shapeshifters posing as human.)

Although it remains mostly experimental and speculative, humans have worked out the mechnics of nanoscale engineering to a remarkable degree.? Decades ago, the concept of matter being able to change it’s fundamental properties instantly could only be attributed to magic and sorcery, but now it’s downright normal.? From the visionary Wil McCarthy’s classic article, Ultimate Alchemy:

Electrons that are part of an atom will arrange themselves into orbitals, which constrain and define their positions around the positively charged nucleus. These orbitals, and the electrons that partially or completely fill them, are what determine the chemical properties of an atom – such as what other sorts of atoms it can react with, and how strongly.

This point bears repeating: The electrons trapped in a quantum dot will arrange themselves as though they were part of an atom, even though there’s no atomic nucleus for them to surround. Which atom they resemble depends on the number of excess electrons trapped inside. What’s more, the electrons in two adjacent quantum dots will interact just as they would in two real atoms placed at the equivalent distance, meaning the two dots can share electrons between them – they can form connections equivalent to chemical bonds. Not virtual or simulated bonds, but real ones.

Now we’ll take it a step further: Quantum dots needn’t be formed by etching blocks out of a quantum well. Instead, the electrons can be confined electrostatically by electrodes whose voltage can be varied on demand, like a miniature electric fence around a corral. In fact, this is the preferred method, since it permits the dots’ characteristics to be adjusted without any physical modification of the underlying material. We can pump electrons in and out simply by varying the voltage on the fence.

This type of nanostructure is called an artificial or designer atom, because it can be manipulated to resemble any atom on the periodic table. It’s not a science-fictional device, but a routine piece of experimental hardware used in laboratories throughout the world.

Also check out the “free multimedia edition” of Wil McCarthy’s book-length (and excellent) expansion on this topic, Hacking Matter.

The Age of Apathy, and I.D.G.A.D.

‘By far the most dangerous foe we have to fight is apathy – indifference from whatever cause, not from a lack of knowledge, but from carelessness, from absorption in other pursuits, from a contempt bred of self satisfaction’- William Osler (Canadian Physician, 1849-1919)

“It may well be that our means are fairly limited and our possibilities restricted when it comes to applying pressure on our government. But is this a reason to do nothing? Despair is nor an answer. Neither is resignation. Resignation only leads to indifference, which is not merely a sin but a punishment”- Elie Weisel

“Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all-the apathy of human beings.”- Helen Keller

“The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”- Plato

“The biggest conspiracy has always been the fact that there is no conspiracy. Nobody’s out to get you. Nobody gives a shit whether you live or die. There, you feel better now?” -Dennis Miller

“The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment”- Robert M. Huchins

“Is it ignorance or apathy? Hey, I don’t know and I don’t care”- Jimmy Buffet

(I originally wrote this to take a look at the apathy prevalent in our society today without intending to look at this as a ‘generational thing’ because it generalizes entire groups of unique individuals, but I discovered that in order to talk about the current situation it was necessary to go back in time and look at the sociological trends that got us here.)

Recently someone sent me a link to the famous article written by Tom Wolfe, ‘The ?Me’ Decade and the Third Awakening’. When it first came out it in the mid-seventies it caused quite a stir. So much so that it became the label for an entire group of young people growing up at that time. ‘The Me Decade’ or ‘The Me Generation’ went on to become the ‘Baby Boomers’ new title. ‘See me, feel me, touch me, heal me.’ Analyze me, listen to me, and talk to me, me…me!! After reading through the article, it occurred to me that Voltaire was right. ‘Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose’. The more that things change, the more they stay the same.

Some friends and I were talking over dinner when their 20 year old son commented on the attitude of some of his generation. He said that his peers are (and I quote) ‘very spoiled, selfish, and unrealistic about work and life in general. They tend to be self-indulgent, messy, and wait for others to take care of things. Some want a good paying job without having to be too inventive or work too hard for it, and many are foolish about handling money. Immediate self-gratification is expected and pursued. There is a tendency to blame others for things and many have to be rescued from their own lack of experience or incompetence.’

The youth of ANY generation has some of these qualities, so what’s different?

Much of the ‘Me Generation’ were the product of hard working parents who grew up during the Great Depression, and who fought and lived through WWI and WWII. Scarcity was the norm, and family and community were of priority. The future rebels of the 60’s grew up hearing about war and the enormous struggle to make ends meet in the quest for the ‘American Dream’. The anti-war protests, civil rights movement, sexual liberation, and other movements of the 60’s and 70’s, were led by a youth whose idealism and vision led them to believe that united together they could ‘change the world’. In essence this was correct. Many things did change, and some issues we’re still fighting for today.

The idealism and self-exploration of the sixties eventually morphed into the self-indulgent, narcissism of the 70’s and 80’s. Out of the communal focus of free love and equal rights for everyone, a scream for individuality and uniqueness emerged. New religious movements and psychotherapy became common place, and intense self-examination and hedonism became acceptable and encouraged. The mottos ‘Do Your Own Thing’, and ‘Do What Thou Wilt’ eventually morphed into disco glitter and glam, metal, punk and goth and ‘whatever turns you on’. ‘You create your own reality, baby. Go and get it!’

The advance in technology in the 90’s created a time of opportunity and optimism. With the ‘dot-com boom’, company mergers and spinoffs, and a fairly decent job market, the growth and expansion seemed limitless. Then suddenly, along with the event of 9/11, the ‘opportunities’ came to a screeching halt. The dot-coms went bust. Corrupt accounting practices were uncovered in large established companies. Many good paying jobs were outsourced or eliminated completely, and rampant corruption was found in the justice department, the political arena, business, financial, and housing markets, which left us little reason to hold on to such positivism.

In today’s social climate much of the idealism and self-indulgence of the past has now turned into apathy. The predominant attitude of today is filled with apathy, victimization, and what I call ‘I.D.G.A.D’ (‘I Don’t Give A Damn’ or I.D.G.A.S: ‘I Don’t Give A Shit’, if you prefer). And this isn’t limited only to the youth. Many adults fit this same profile.

What the HELL happened?!

For many people computers, video games, television, and cell phones take up most of their time and serve as a distraction to what is really going on around them. The rising cost of living and the dwindling of job opportunities have some people working two or three jobs just to pay the bills. Our Bill of Rights are being slowly stripped away by our government, ‘Big Brother’ is watching, and some people are so stressed out that they’re taking pills supplied by Big Pharma to put them deeper into zombie mode.

Take action and try to change things?
Who has the time, energy or motivation?
Lawsuits won by Big Business (which are intimately connected to our politicians and everything else) leave shareholders, disgruntled employees, and potential whistleblowers asking ‘why bother?!’

Information, communication and entertainment are an instant click away. The desire for attention and our ’15 minutes of fame’ are satiated though social networking sites, forums and blogs. The disconnection and isolation the instant world has brought leave many people yearning for community. Which ironically leaves some people all alone with their computers and gadgets trying to ‘connect’; searching for some sort of validity through their virtual worlds.

In spite of the fact that technology has been used mainly as a tool for the expression and exploitation of ‘self’, there has also been an increase in people using it for creating a force to combat the corruption that attempts to blind, silence, and control us. With our rights to protest being threatened (and in some cases protesters themselves being labeled as ‘terrorists’), it’s time to ‘wake up’ and take back the power that we have to make a difference. To take control of our anger and what we’re doing in the virtual world and manifest it onto the physical. Can’t find the time? Take some time off from your networking sites, games, texting and T.V, etc. and get out there. Don’t like this message?


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