MonthSeptember 2009

Gspot: EsoZone

Joe Matheny interviews Jillian and me for Gspot:

After EsoZone Portland 2009, we will release the “EsoZone Protocol,” a set of guidelines similar to an open source software license that will enable organizers to host an EsoZone in their own city as long as they are free and follow the “unconference” model.

Download it here

Long article on tasers and their use and misuse

The latest case, as of this writing at least, involves a Syracuse mother who was pulled out her car during a routine traffic stop. She was summarily tasered, cuffed and arrested in front of her kids by an officer who left them behind, alone in their car, while he took her to the station and charged her for resisting arrest, driving five miles over the speeding limit, and disorderly conduct — the diaphanous charge controversially leveled on Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. earlier this year.

There’s plenty more where that came from. Did you hear the one about the pregnant woman who was tasered because she wouldn’t sign her speeding ticket, or the pregnant woman who was tasered at a baptism party thrown by her father, a bible-study teacher who was charged with public intoxication in his own backyard and whose wife and son were also tasered? How about the officer who tasered a pregnant woman while inside the police department?

Or the cop who tasered a girl, no lie, in the brain, because he couldn’t chase her down on foot? Or the one that shoved a taser up a man’s ass in Idaho? Or those who tasered and pepper-sprayed an umbrella-wielding man in a Dollar Store bathroom, and after finding out that he was both mentally disabled and deaf still decided to charge him with resisting arrest, failure to obey a police officer and (of course) disorderly conduct, charges which the on-duty magistrate refused to accept? And don’t forget the belligerent baseball fan, the 72-year old grandmother, the bride and groom tasered at their wedding, the bicyclists who were tased after cops tried to run them off the road. And what about that guy who burst into flames? What about the six-year-old who was tasered after threatening to cut his own leg with a glass? (That’ll teach him!)

Alternet: Why Are Cops Tasering Grandmothers, Pregnant Women and Kids?

There’s also some worthwhile material on the benefits of tasers as a (sometimes) non-lethal weapon.

(via Atomjack)

Daily Doom: U.S. Job Seekers Exceed Openings by Record Ratio, Unemployement Rate for Young People at 52.2%

Job seekers now outnumber openings six to one, the worst ratio since the government began tracking open positions in 2000. According to the Labor Department’s latest numbers, from July, only 2.4 million full-time permanent jobs were open, with 14.5 million people officially unemployed.

New York Times: U.S. Job Seekers Exceed Openings by Record Ratio

The number of young Americans without a job has exploded to 52.2 percent — a post-World War II high, according to the Labor Dept. — meaning millions of Americans are staring at the likelihood that their lifetime earning potential will be diminished and, combined with the predicted slow economic recovery, their transition into productive members of society could be put on hold for an extended period of time.

New York Post: The dead end kids

(both via Cryptogon)

LSD research resurgence

Nearly 40 years after widespread fear over recreational abuse of LSD and other hallucinogens forced dozens of scientists to abandon their work, researchers at a handful of major institutions – including UCSF and Harvard University – are reigniting studies. Scientists started looking at less controversial drugs, like ecstasy and magic mushrooms, in the late 1990s, but LSD studies only began about a year ago and are still rare.

The study at UCSF, which is being run by a UC Berkeley graduate student, is looking into the mechanisms of LSD and how it works in the brain. The hope is that such research might support further studies into medical applications of LSD – for chronic headaches, for example – or psychiatric uses. […]

In 1966, the federal government made LSD illegal, and by the early 1970s, research into all psychedelic drugs in humans had come to a halt, although some scientists continued to study the drugs in animals.

SF Gate: LSD’s long, strange trip back into the lab

(What a Wonderful Place to Be)

ArcAttack: Lightning-Proof Musicians Share Their Tesla Coil Secrets

tesla coil music

ArcAttack, previously covered here use Tesla Coils to make music. Gizmodo interviews them about their work:

Gizmodo: What does your setup consist of?

Joe: It would be two DRSSTC (Dual Resident Solid State Tesla Coil) units which are MIDI controlled. There’s a fiber optic cable running to some digital logic boards that are in the Tesla coils.

John: The Open Labs MiKO MIDI console hosts the PC Software (Fruity Loops) that we use to actually sequence the music.

The MiKO is just a Windows machine with a bunch of nice MIDI interfaces, cased in metal—which is nice because we have a lot of EMF emitted from the coils. I actually used to run it off my laptop, but it would crash all the time.

Patrick: The drum machine has a solenoid for every drum, and they’re MIDI controlled also…from the MiKO.

Gizmodo: ArcAttack: Lightning-Proof Musicians Share Their Tesla Coil Secrets

Via What a Wonderful Place to Be, who has a nice round-up of videos.

Throbbing Gristle “Buddha Machines”

gristleism - throbbing grisle buddha machine

Industrial Records Ltd. are pleased to announce the birth of GRISTLEISM, the newest member of our Throbbing Gristle family.

Bastard offspring of now-famous ambient loop player the Buddha Machine, GRISTLEISM is part Industrial sound machine,part noise instrument.

Featuring thirteen original and uncompromising loops, GRISTLEISM delivers a mix of signature TG experimental noise, industrial drone, and classic melodies and rhythms.

Available in three colours – Black, Chrome and Red – the palm-sized unit (size: w67mm x h69mm x d35mm) features a built-in speaker, volume control, pitch-shift control and loop selector switch. GRISTLEISM features more loops and almost twice the frequency range of the Buddha Machine. GRISTLEISM is powered by two AA batteries and is the world’s first and only portable TG aural exciter!

GRISTLEISM was born from a collaboration between Industrial Records, Throbbing Gristle and Christiaan Virant, the creator of the original FM3 Buddha Machines.

Buy from greedbag.com (£24.99)

(via Dangerous Minds)

Depression’s Evolutionary Roots

Depression seems to pose an evolutionary paradox. Research in the US and other countries estimates that between 30 to 50 percent of people have met current psychiatric diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder sometime in their lives. But the brain plays crucial roles in promoting survival and reproduction, so the pressures of evolution should have left our brains resistant to such high rates of malfunction. Mental disorders should generally be rare — why isn’t depression? […]

In an article recently published in Psychological Review, we argue that depression is in fact an adaptation, a state of mind which brings real costs, but also brings real benefits. […]

So what could be so useful about depression? Depressed people often think intensely about their problems. These thoughts are called ruminations; they are persistent and depressed people have difficulty thinking about anything else. Numerous studies have also shown that this thinking style is often highly analytical. They dwell on a complex problem, breaking it down into smaller components, which are considered one at a time.

This analytical style of thought, of course, can be very productive. Each component is not as difficult, so the problem becomes more tractable. Indeed, when you are faced with a difficult problem, such as a math problem, feeling depressed is often a useful response that may help you analyze and solve it. For instance, in some of our research, we have found evidence that people who get more depressed while they are working on complex problems in an intelligence test tend to score higher on the test. […]

Depression is nature’s way of telling you that you’ve got complex social problems that the mind is intent on solving. Therapies should try to encourage depressive rumination rather than try to stop it, and they should focus on trying to help people solve the problems that trigger their bouts of depression. (There are several effective therapies that focus on just this.) It is also essential, in instances where there is resistance to discussing ruminations, that the therapist try to identify and dismantle those barriers.

For those who think modernity or civilization or technology is the problem:

Or, perhaps, depression might be like obesity — a problem that arises because modern conditions are so different from those in which we evolved. Homo sapiens did not evolve with cookies and soda at the fingertips. Yet this is not a satisfactory explanation either. The symptoms of depression have been found in every culture which has been carefully examined, including small-scale societies, such as the Ache of Paraguay and the !Kung of southern Africa — societies where people are thought to live in environments similar to those that prevailed in our evolutionary past.

Scientific American: Depression’s Evolutionary Roots

(via Theoretick)

Very late correction for Loan No More article

Dean Speir commented on my article Loan No More to correct the spelling of his name and my characterization of his relationship to the mainstream gun press:

It’s important to note that calling my absence from the “gunzines” a “blacklisting” isn’t really accurate.

I spent the better part of three years trying to get a gunzine byline, and discovered it was pretty much a closed shop.

Then I got my foot in the clubhouse, and everyone wanted whatever I could provide.

But once “inside,” it became apparent that, like the special interest ‘zines which appeal to the automotive, boating and photography hobby-ists, there was precious little critical writing being done.

And after 12-13 years of trying to get something other than “puffery” in the “mainstream gun press,” and with the advent of the Internet as a more direct conduit for free expression, I retired, bloody but unbowed.

Is there one published who wouldn’t touch my byline with a 12-foot Chechnyan? Absolutely! Harris (Combat Handguns) in NYC.

But I still get inquiries from other Editors wondering if I’m working on anything that might interest their readers.

For the past nine-plus years, whatever fit that category, is self-published at http://www.thegunzone.com, free of advertiser interference and nervous editorial oversight.

These errors were my own, NOT Ross Eliot’s.

The Sun Gets Its Spots (Back)

Get ready for chaos:

Two sunspots are visible on our star’s face for the first time in more than a year, possibly ending an unexpected lull in solar activity.

Solar flares rise and fall on an 11-year cycle, so scientists thought sunspot activity would pick up some time in 2008. It didn’t. And this year has been quiet, too. No sunspots have been visible on the sun for 80 percent of the days this year.

Sunspot activity is correlated with the total amount of energy we receive from the sun. If the sun’s activity were to change remarkably, it would have an influence on global climate. So, in the context of climate change, the fact that the current solar minimum has been the longest and deepest in more than a century has been of special interest.

Wired Science: The Sun Gets Its Spots (Back)

See also: Telluro-magnetic conspiracy toward the Sun

Democrats Are Jarred by Drop In Fundraising

One would think the financial elites would be well pleased with the Democrats right now. Not so. It just doesn’t stop:

Democratic political committees have seen a decline in their fundraising fortunes this year, a result of complacency among their rank-and-file donors and a de facto boycott by many of their wealthiest givers, who have been put off by the party’s harsh rhetoric about big business.

The trend is a marked reversal from recent history, in which Democrats have erased the GOP’s long-standing fundraising advantage. In the first six months of 2009, Democratic campaign committees’ receipts have dropped compared with the same period two years earlier.

The vast majority of those declines were accounted for by the absence of large donors who, strategists say, have shut their checkbooks in part because Democrats have heightened their attacks on the conduct of major financial firms and set their sights on rewriting the laws that regulate their behavior.

Washington Post: Democrats Are Jarred by Drop In Fundraising

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