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06 Aug 18:01

Stet

by Greg Ross

“In all the proof that has reached me, windrow has been spelled window. If, in the bound book, windrow still appears as window, then neither rain nor hail nor gloom of night nor fleets of riot squads will prevent me from assassinating the man who is responsible. If the coward hides behind my finding, I shall step into Scribner’s and merely shoot up the place Southern style.” — American author Gordon Dorrance (1890-1957), note to his publishers

“By the way, would you convey my compliments to the purist who reads your proofs and tell him or her that I write in a sort of broken-down patois which is something like the way a Swiss-waiter talks, and that when I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will remain split, and when I interrupt the velvety smoothness of my more or less literate syntax with a few sudden words of barroom vernacular, this is done with the eyes wide open and the mind relaxed and attentive. The method may not be perfect, but it is all I have.” — Raymond Chandler, to the editor of The Atlantic Monthly

A publisher once took the liberty of editing an introduction that Mark Twain had contributed to a book on Joan of Arc. Twain returned a commentary on the edits. Some highlights:

  • First line. What is the trouble with “at the”? And why “Trial?” Has some uninstructed person deceived you into the notion that there was but one, instead of half a dozen?
  • Amongst. Wasn’t “among” good enough? …
  • Second Paragraph. Now you have begun on my punctuation. Don’t you realize that you ought not to intrude your help in a delicate art like that, with your limitations? And do you think you have added just the right smear of polish to the closing clause of the sentence?
  • Second Paragraph. How do you know it was his “own” sword? It could have been a borrowed one, I am cautious in matters of history, and you should not put statements in my mouth for which you cannot produce vouchers. Your other corrections are rubbish. …
  • Fifth Paragraph. Thus far, I regard this as your masterpiece! You are really perfect in the great art of reducing simple and dignified speech to clumsy and vapid commonplace.
  • Sixth Paragraph. You have a singularly fine and aristocratic disrespect for homely and unpretending English. Every time I use “go back” you get out your polisher and slick it up to “return.” “Return” is suited only to the drawing-room — it is ducal, and says itself with a simper and a smirk. …
  • II. In Captivity. “Remainder.” It is curious and interesting to notice what an attraction a fussy, mincing, nickel-plated artificial word has for you. This is not well.
  • Third Sentence. But she was held to ransom; it wasn’t a case of “should have been” and it wasn’t a case of “if it had been offered”; it was offered, and also accepted, as the second paragraph shows. You ought never to edit except when awake. …
  • Third Paragraph. … “Break another lance” is a knightly and sumptuous phrase, and I honor it for its hoary age and for the faithful service it has done in the prize-composition of the schoolgirl, but I have ceased from employing it since I got my puberty, and must solemnly object to fathering it here. And besides, it makes me hint that I have broken one of those things before, in honor of the Maid, an intimation not justified by the facts. I did not break any lances or other furniture, I only wrote a book about her.

The full list is in his autobiography. “It cost me something to restrain myself and say these smooth and half-flattering things to this immeasurable idiot,” Twain wrote, “but I did it and have never regretted it. For it is higher and nobler to be kind to even a shad like him than just. If we should deal out justice only, in this world, who would escape?”

04 Jun 23:05

Caffeine in a Salt Shaker Is the White, Energy-Boosting Powder No One Asked For

by jason.koebler@vice.com (Jason Koebler)

Image: YouTube screengrab

Ever eaten a salad and thought "wow, this lettuce is nice, but I sure wish it gave me a buzz, too?" Well, wonder no longer: CaffeinAll is here to turn anything and everything into an Energy Food™.

Powdered caffeine has been around for a minute, but CafeinAll, a new product from the folks over at Caffex (who brought us caffeinated marshmallows), promises to be something different. The particularly brazen idea, essentially, is to turn all foods into Red Bull replacements. 

Let Caffex explain. No, really. Let them explain from the beginning, like the, very beginning. The product's explanatory video literally starts with the line "this is Earth," which you'll learn is a planet where a type of living thing known as humans live and have created something known as the internet. You might have heard of it. And now, humans not unlike those who created the internet and skyscrapers have also created "the world's only odorless, non bitter, take-with-you-anywhere, use with anything caffeine powder."

"Now any of your foods or drinks can become high powered energy foods," as opposed to being that stamina-sapping waste of time you've grown used to.

Here, I've done some math:

  • Strawberry + CaffeinAll = Energy Strawberry
  • Marshmallow + CaffeinAll = Energy Marshmallow 
  • Steak + CaffeinAll = Energy Steak
  • Peanut + CaffeinAll = Energy Peanut
  • Cocaine + CaffeinAll = Moderation
  • Palcohol + CaffeinAll = Big No-No ("NEVER Mix Caffeine and Alcohol!" Caffex explains)

"You know what the cool thing about energy drinks is? You get energy! You know what sucks? You spend a small fortune on these beverages and are usually left with a cracked out sugar hangover and upset stomach," a publicity firm for Caffex said to me in an email. "Want energy popping pancakes in the morning? Energy infused granola bars? Want to see your lunch salad take off like a rocket? How about a protein shake guaranteed to motivate your ass at the gym? All of this is possible with CaffeinAll."

You get the idea. 

CaffeinAll isn't even a new thing—it has been around since last year, but the goal of selling this in a salt shaker is a new idea. The company has launched an IndieGoGo campaign to help them with the new packaging. And, to be fair, Caffex isn't the only company trying to find new ways to get you to take caffeine. Remember that caffeinated toothbrush patent? And there's any number of others ways to get your fix.

In any case, literally advocating that people turn anything they want into that thing + caffeine seems somehow, I don't know, crazy? 

And, really, why mess with putting it on food at all? It's an odorless white powder, and caffeine goes "directly to your bloodstream" as one of its creators, "Steve," explains in the video. What happens if you snort it?

"It would wake your ass up immediately," the company's spokesperson told me.

When eating it, "one shake does the trick for a lot of people. But, if you're a deadline driven writing rockstar who is used to consuming large amounts of caffeine than it might take two or three shakes. Start with one," he told me. "I would wait on the snorting."

Anyways, have at it, folks. Be careful out there.

30 Mar 03:38

Redatores anônimos de leis

by admin

Deputados federais enfrentam eleições duras. A ideia de que as eleições são “coronelistas” não encontra respaldo nos dados dos estudiosos – ou seja, a competição política não diminui, mesmo se um candidato, por conseguir recursos para aquelas cidades, tiver o apoio dos prefeitos de uma certa região. Segundo o cientista político Fernando Limongi, da Universidade de São Paulo (USP), nas eleições de 2002 apenas três parlamentares receberam mais de 40% de seus votos em redutos eleitorais.

Vista do plenário do Senado: muitos projetos de lei são preparados por consultores legislativos, a pedido dos parlamentares (Foto: Ana Volpe / Agência Senado)

Vista do plenário do Senado: muitos projetos de lei são preparados por consultores legislativos, a pedido dos parlamentares (Foto: Ana Volpe / Agência Senado)

Por isso, para ter mais chances de vencer, o deputado precisa se diferenciar dos seus rivais. Tem de propor algo que dê repercussão na mídia, que o ajude a se tornar representante de outros grupos sociais além daqueles que sempre votam nele, com adesivo no carro e tudo. Pode propor um projeto que tenha chances razoáveis de ser aprovado durante o mandato de quatro anos ou de pelo menos tornar certo assunto parte da agenda pública. É preciso ter uma ideia ousada. O deputado federal Nilmário Miranda (PT-MG), por exemplo, quis estender o direito de representação parlamentar para os índios, com a proposta de emenda constitucional 320/2013.

Do ponto de vista do direito das minorias, a iniciativa é brilhante. Os índios têm direito ao voto como qualquer cidadão brasileiro, mas estão espalhados pelo território do país. Somam pouco menos de 0,5% da população, de acordo com dados do Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE), com cerca de 817 mil pessoas. Vale lembrar que quase metade dos indígenas vive em cidades. O sistema eleitoral brasileiro, proporcional de lista aberta, torna cada estado um distrito eleitoral (ou seja, um deputado paulista só pode ser votado em São Paulo e assim por diante).

Se uma tribo está espalhada por vários estados – ou mesmo por municípios distantes no mesmo estado –, eleger um deputado índio torna-se bem difícil. E aí a representação dos índios no parlamento passa a depender da boa vontade de deputados mais preocupados com outras causas ou da má vontade de deputados parodiados pelo grupo “Porta dos Fundos”.

Ao ter uma ideia como essa, os deputados podem ligar o computador no gabinete e mandar uma mensagem para a consultoria legislativa da Câmara dos Deputados. Os consultores são responsáveis por quatro tipos de trabalhos: escrever discursos, elaborar pareceres (contrários, favoráveis ou sem posição) para os deputados que relatam projetos, elaborar projetos de lei e outros tipos de propostas legislativas e realizar estudos sobre assuntos de interesse dos parlamentares. Não trabalham nos gabinetes, mas sim em uma área separada. São contratados por concurso, realizado mais ou menos a cada dez anos, e não estão subordinados a nenhum deputado específico.

A mensagem do deputado pode conter apenas o início de uma ideia, como “gostaria que índios tivessem representantes específicos no parlamento”. O diretor da consultoria legislativa delega o trabalho para uma das 21 áreas temáticas. Um consultor é designado para tornar a ideia do deputado um projeto concreto – no exemplo, seria uma proposta de emenda constitucional (PEC).

Leia mais: O lado desconhecido do Congresso

infográfico

Quem são os consultores?

Trabalham hoje na Câmara dos Deputados 157 consultores legislativos e, no Senado, 184. Há mais consultores por senador (2,27) do que por deputado (0,30). “O Legislativo federal no Brasil optou por um tipo de assessoramento que é singular no mundo. É centralizado e apartidário. Isso é diferente do que ocorre nos Estados Unidos e em muitos países da Europa. Nesses países, a opção foi pelo assessoramento partidário”, afirma Ricardo Rodrigues, consultor legislativo da Câmara dos Deputados. “Nos Estados Unidos, o assessoramento técnico especializado é realizado no âmbito das comissões temáticas por consultores contratados pela presidência de cada comissão, com base em afinidade partidária e ideológica. A exceção, nos Estados Unidos, fica por conta do Congressional Research Service (CRS), cujo trabalho é realizado por pesquisadores de forma apartidária. Entretanto, o CRS faz apenas pesquisa e não participa do processo legislativo como acontece com as consultorias da Câmara e do Senado aqui no Brasil. Na Europa, o assessoramento legislativo é realizado por pessoal contratado diretamente pelos partidos políticos.”

Dentre os consultores da Câmara, 74 tinham mestrado ou doutorado, segundo os dados da própria consultoria enviados em janeiro. O motivo para essa alta qualificação é fácil de explicar: o salário inicial de um consultor é de R$ 25.105, de acordo com um edital para selecionar consultores publicado em 28 de janeiro de 2014 (quase os R$ 28 mil do teto constitucional, o salário máximo de um servidor público).

Pergunto a uma consultora legislativa, com experiência no ensino superior, se esse salário é o sonho dos seus alunos. “Imagina. Eles querem ser gestores do governo federal [especialistas em políticas públicas e gestão governamental, isto é, funcionários que ocupam altos cargos na burocracia e recebem R$ 12.960 de salário inicial] ou lobistas”, disse. “Mas nosso salário é ótimo e temos uma função pública importante. É por isso que estou aqui.”

O cotidiano dos consultores legislativos não é a rotina enfadonha associada a muitos empregos em Brasília. Além de auxiliar a elaboração de projetos de lei, uma parte importantíssima do trabalho da consultoria é fornecer pareceres. A consultoria legislativa serve para melhorar a qualidade da informação disponível para os parlamentares sobre assuntos específicos. “Quando um senador é relator de uma medida provisória, o trabalho da consultoria é muito intenso”, afirma Rafael Silveira e Silva, consultor legislativo do Senado. “Algumas MPs são extremamente complexas e exigem consultores especializados no assunto. Também somos convidados pelos senadores para, com eles, participar de reuniões nos ministérios e sempre assessoramos o relator na redação do parecer.”

O relator pode, é claro, ignorar todas as sugestões da consultoria legislativa. Mas é pouco provável que ele faça isso. Afinal, o consultor especializado saberá mais sobre os efeitos possíveis daquela política pública do que o próprio parlamentar.

O deputado ou senador pode pedir um parecer favorável ou contrário a um determinado projeto, mas pode também deixar a critério do consultor legislativo designado para formular a primeira proposta de parecer. “Na maioria das vezes, o pedido de parecer vem sem orientação”, diz Ricardo Martins, consultor legislativo da Câmara dos Deputados. “É um indicativo de que o parlamentar confia na consultoria, pois quer primeiro ouvir nossa posição para depois formar sua própria ideia.”

Segundo Martins, na área de Educação, Cultura e Esporte, os pareceres tomam 75% do tempo dos consultores. “Além disso, ajudamos os deputados a fazerem projetos de lei e os assessoramos nas comissões permanentes. São reuniões semanais ordinárias e reuniões especiais. Quanto mais complexa é a pauta de assuntos, mais temos que estar à disposição para esclarecer dúvidas de conteúdo ou técnica legislativa”, afirma o consultor.

Crítica da qualidade técnica da assessoria dos gabinetes, a cientista política Graziella Testa, que já trabalhou na Câmara dos Deputados e hoje faz doutorado na USP, diz que “os consultores legislativos acabam se tornando ‘assessores de plenário’, pois tiram dúvidas pontuais que a maioria dos assessores de gabinete não consegue”.

Isso não causa tanto ciúme na Câmara quanto no Senado. “Os consultores legislativos da Câmara dos Deputados têm muito mais proximidade com os parlamentares”, disse-me um consultor legislativo do Senado, que pediu para não ser identificado. “O senador tem um caráter imperial. A cultura organizacional é outra. Os assessores dos gabinetes evitam que os senadores tenham contato próximo com os consultores.”

Leia mais: O lado desconhecido do Congresso

A relação próxima pode ser evidenciada pela quantidade de trabalhos pedidos à consultoria da Câmara dos Deputados. Entre 2011 e 2013, os deputados do Partido Verde (PV) pediram cada um, em média, 127 trabalhos à consultoria, contra 69 do PMDB, 68 do PT e 62 do PSDB.

Se os assessores de gabinete fazem um trabalho legítimo de natureza política, e até eleitoral, os consultores legislativos, necessariamente concursados, ajudam os representantes a expressar suas preferências políticas de maneira, digamos, constitucional e tecnicamente correta. São duas faces complementares de um lado oculto, discreto, de Brasília.

OBS.: Foram excluídos os partidos com menos de dez deputados federais. O total de trabalhos da consultoria, caso esses partidos fossem incluídos, seria 34,448. O tamanho da bancada de deputados federais é de 1-Dezembro-2011. Os dados sobre número de trabalhos se referem ao período de 1-jan-2011 a 31-julho-2013.

31/03, 22h00: Atualizada para corrigir o número da PEC que permite aos índios eleger representantes.

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06 Apr 15:23

"Nearly Unbreakable" Encryption Scheme Inspired By Human Biology

by timothy
rjmarvin (3001897) writes "Researchers at the U.K.'s Lancaster University in the U.K. have reimagined the fundamental logic behind encryption, stumbling across a radically new way to encrypt data while creating software models to simulate how the human heart and lungs coordinate rhythms. The encryption method published in the American Physical Society journal and filed as a patent entitled 'Encoding Data Using Dynamic System Coupling,' transmits and receive multiple encrypted signals simultaneously, creating an unlimited number of possibilities for the shared encryption key and making it virtually impossible to decrypt using traditional methods. One of the researchers, Peter McClintock, called the encryption scheme 'nearly unbreakable.'

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02 Apr 06:26

If You Can’t Beat ‘Em …

by Greg Ross

ds stencil

When stencil artist DS added his “Bad Kitty” to a London wall in 2012, he was dismayed to find a man removing it only eight hours later.

So he took a photo and used that to create a new stencil on the same spot.

He returned the next day, hoping to get a photo of a man removing a stencil of a man removing a stencil. “I thought it would rip a hole in the space-time continuum or something,” he told the Daily Mail.

But “He came when I was across the road having breakfast, after a while, and having his photo taken next to it lots of times, he left it.”

21 Mar 20:08

Chordify transforma músicas online em partituras para músicos amadores

by Daniel Junqueira

Sentar com o violão na cadeira do computador e tentar reproduzir aquela música que você tanto gosta nem sempre é fácil. Claro, existem sites dedicados a fornecer partituras espalhados pela web, mas e se você é daqueles que adoram as coisas mais obscuras do mundo da música? O Chordify pode ajudar.

O Chordify é um serviço gratuito que transforma a música que você quer em acordes. Você pode enviar um arquivo para o serviço, ou um link para algum site (Deezer, YouTube ou Soundcloud), e ele fornecerá a partitura para aquela música. Nem sempre o resultado é perfeito – mas ao menos os músicos amadores terão por onde começar, certo?

O serviço foi criado por Bas De Haas para a sua tese de doutorado. Ele explica que o processo de transcrição é extremamente complicado de ser feito por uma máquina:

“O problema com transcrição polifônica completa é que o computador não sabe quantas vozes e instrumentos soam juntos e quais são as características dos instrumentos”, explica De Haas. “Quando você transcreve acordes, examinamos a mistura como um todo e examinamos quais as frequências proeminentes no espectro”

O processo de transcrever a música é um pouco complicado e até mesmo demorado. Inicialmente, o áudio é cortado em diferentes partes por um sistema de análise de harmonia criado por De Haas e seu parceiro José Pedro Magalhães. Os acordes então são definidos para se encaixarem no áudio. Então sai a partitura para a sua música, e você está pronto para fingir ser um músico talentoso. [FastCompany via PSFK]








17 Mar 11:00

I Had a Scammer Tortured by Police in Tanzania

by Henry Wismayer

Illustrations by Cei Willis

It was when they manhandled him onto the table, tethered him to a water pipe coming out of the ceiling, and pulled his pants down to his ankles that I experienced a change of heart. For weeks I’d been consumed with hatred for the man on that table. But it’s funny how your perspective changes when someone is about to be tortured, especially when you’re the one that put him there.

It had begun, like many tales of misadventure, in that most anarchic staging post for travel: the Tanzanian bus station. Ever been to one? This is how it goes: The long-distance buses tend to leave at dusk or before; schedules are mind-bogglingly irregular; a tourist tax on the price of a ticket is all but inevitable. Like transport hubs the world over, they’re a magnet for the wretched, the transient, and the dispossessed. And you endure it all for the privilege of cramming yourself into a bus driven by some prepubescent boy-racer in a country with a traffic-accident rate six times worse than that of the UK.

Arriving in the southern town of Mbeya at 10 PM one balmy evening in May, shattered after a 14-hour kick from Dar es Salaam and in a hurry to reach Malawi, I’d steeled myself for another onslaught. At the bus station, arrayed on an expanse of cracked concrete, an collection of ticket offices advertised destinations with a chaotic matrix of handwritten signs and sheets of printer paper pinned to the wall.

And then—and this should have been warning number one—the guy came to me. He was a stocky guy with a wolf's smile and these protruding eyes that gave him the look of a toad. He wore a white polo shirt with a label on the breast that read "AXA Coach Service"—one of Malawi’s biggest people carriers. We’ll call him "Mwizi," which is Swahili for "thief." He showed me bus tickets reassuringly marked with the blocky AXA logo that promised to take us all the way from Mbeya to Blantyre—Malawi’s commercial hub—620 miles south. Too good to be true.

Sure enough, the next morning it all felt wrong. Mwizi seemed agitated as he half-cajoled, half-bundled us onto a minibus bound for the border post. And as it pulled away, through the window, I could see something in his eyes—guilt, I figured later, for when I got to the Malawian side of the border there was no connecting bus to Mzuzu. The tickets were fake. And having gotten our passport stamps and relinquishing our Tanzanian visas, it would have cost us more than the price of the ticket to return—the perfect swindle.

Getting scammed is an everyday feature of the tourist experience, but this was a whole new level of chicanery. It wasn’t the loss of money that pissed me off, but the bare-faced charade, the smiles and reassurances. Not that we were alone: Relaying our tale of woe to other travelers in Malawi, it soon became clear that just about every credulous backpacker taking that route had fallen for the same routine, performed either by Mwizi or others operating just like him.

But poor Mwizi hadn’t reckoned on one thing. I was due to travel up to Rwanda for an assignment in a month’s time, and to get there I needed to pass back through Mbeya. I would be back, and I would have my vengeance.

One month later, I arrived at Mbeya Station at dusk. Looking back, I wonder what retribution I could have pursued to avoid what came later. Perhaps I could have been more subtle—I could have waited for a sight of Mwizi, then ambushed him to demand my money back, and perhaps given him a slap. But I didn’t do subtle. Instead, I simply stormed over to the ticket offices like a wronged colonial big man, shamefully exploiting my white skin, and prowled about barking maniacally until some policemen noticed me and waddled over to investigate.

Word spread. The culprit was found, bundled through a sea of onlookers by many hands. When he saw me, his eyes fell to the ground. Without ceremony, Mwizi was roughly handcuffed and frogmarched north through unlit backstreets. “I had half a mind to just stampede the office and smash your face in,” I spat, sidling up to him as we walked in the gloom. “You did the right thing calling the police, then,” he said. “I am very strong.” This bravado evaporated as soon as Mbeya’s Central Police Station loomed into view.

The station was a squat, nondescript oblong surrounded by barracks, with a wide portico leading into a reception room bisected by a high counter. Police officers strutted in and out, each of them sporting the paunches that seem to go hand-in-glove with power in Tanzania. The lieutenant at the desk—a brutish, heavy-browed man in a bomber jacket—confiscated Mwizi’s personal belongings and another officer dragged him behind the scenes, “for processing,” they said. And then, through the doorway behind the counter, that horrifying scene: the table, the water pipe, the pants around the ankles, the pair of trembling legs sticking out of the green boxers, and the horrible realization that I put him there.

Looking up from his ledger, seeing my face crumple with dismay, the lieutenant at the front desk kicked the door closed with his heel. Ten seconds later, the screaming began.

“I just wanted my money back,” I gibbered.

What had I been expecting? I knew that the Tanzaniam police weren't about to win any prizes for their human-rights record. Deaths in custody are common here; extrajudicial killings are widely reported. Even as Mwizi’s shrieks rang through the building, there seemed to be no consistency in the way the police were dealing with the succession of desperate characters crossing their threshold. One man who came in beside a cowering woman, her eyes submerged by bruises that he had presumably just punched onto her face, seemed destined to escape with a reprimand.

Ten minutes later, Mwizi was dragged back into the vestibule looking forlorn and watery-eyed. It was immediately evident from his hobbled walk and hunched posture that they had beat him in the legs and stomach. I’d known that this was a possibility, but I’d been so blinded by rage that I hadn’t cared. Now, faced with the consequences, I wanted out.

He grimaced as he was forced back to the ground. “It was a mistake,” he whimpered, more for the benefit of his tormentors than for mine. Then, fixing my eye: “I have a family.” He cradled his wrists, which had been welted by the cuffs. His upper lip was trembling.

“You did it from your own free choice,” bellowed a policeman. “Why are you complaining about torture? You have to pay for your crime.” He turned away to castigate a bandy-legged woman who had just been dragged in.

Basic compassion demanded a change of tack. “I have no interest in seeing this man punished further,” I said, with false authority.

“Mzungu [a Bantu word for a person of European descent], we have already treated him,” spat a burly officer. “His relatives will be coming tomorrow morning with your money.”

Seeing me waver, Mwizi snatched his chance: “If they torture me like this again, it is better to die,” he said, before being dragged away again.

At nine the next morning, I was led through the bowels of the police station and into a dingy anteroom stacked high with yellowing case files. An obese female officer sat behind a desk in a creaking wooden chair. Mwizi was there—the picture of exhausted contrition. A deal was struck. Mwizi would have a month to gather the money he’d pilfered. His friends paid the necessary bribe, and we walked out, blinking into the sunshine, at 10 AM.

We did the obvious thing and went for a beer. Slurping greedily from a bottle of Nile Gold, Mwizi told me what they did to him in the room, how they hung him over the water pipe by his cuffs and smashed him about the legs and stomach with an iron bar. He’d spent the night in a lightless cell with 100 men stuffed inside it. “They kill people for less here,” he murmured pitifully.

I still felt a nagging urge to have it out with Mwizi, but by now my anger had all dried up. Here was this man with a wife and two boys seeing a weekly drip of pampered Westerners pass through his town with backpacks full of laptops, Kindles, and $750 cameras. The money he'd stolen from me—around $35—was pocket change to me, and I am by no means rich by Western standards. For him that cash meant food, shelter, and the survival of his family. In a country where everyone has to fight for himself, where corruption is rife and the police respond to a foreigner’s accusation with an iron bar, would I have been above doing the very same thing?

Three weeks later, as I disembark from the Abood bus from Morogoro, Mwizi is waiting at the door. He gives me a bear hug, and over a beer he tells me of his efforts to start making an honest living in the tourism sector, an industry to which he is apparently naturally predisposed. He admits that he has not obtained all of my money. I tell him that I am glad he has tried, and grateful for the 30,000 Tanzanian shillings (around $18) he has amassed in so short a time. I reiterate that I had never intended to have him so severely punished.

“If you hadn’t done that, I might have made the same mistake again,” he declared grandly. “God is very clever. I am thinking of you as a prophet. Now I want to change my life.”

That afternoon, back at the border, I step into the money changer and reach into my pocket for Mwizi’s hard-earned penitence. But my fingers find nothing—and then I remember the man on the minibus, who’d pressed rather too emphatically against my side to let a woman get off, and realize that the money has been pinched. I shake my head, suppress a moan, and shuffle off to get the fuck out of Tanzania.

11 Mar 17:03

The Book Report : Ghosts Make Better Friends: A Book Report on 'Wait till Helen Comes'

by Gabrielle Moss

Photo by Flickr user Steve Jurvetson 

The Book Report is a series that promises to deliver exactly what it promises: reports on books by the people who’ve read them. Catch evenings of live, in-person Book Reports that will remind you of the third grade in the best possible way with hosts Leigh Stein and Sasha Fletcher every month at the Gallery at Le Poisson Rouge, on Bleecker Street in Manhattan. The next one is tonight at 7 PM.

There often comes a moment in a young girl’s life—somewhere between the time when you start making your Barbies bone each other and the time when you start holding a furious vigil over your vulva looking for your first pubes—when things take a turn for the spooky. A brief, golden phase marked by an interest in Ouija boards, witchcraft, and playing Blood Mary at a sleepover until one girl cries so hard that she has to call her mom and go home. You know, girl stuff.

It makes a lot of sense that girls around this age get into ghosts, since the transition from childhood to adulthood is so fucking bizarre and nonsensical that it might as well be the transition from life to the beyond, right?

And adulthood seems so stuffed with secrets, you might as well turn to ghosts—our grand cultural ambassadors of secrets!—for some insights. Ghosts, we’re led to believe, know not only the secrets of space, time, and existence—they also know whatever secrets they’ve picked up while watching all of us cry and masturbate all the time. Ghosts know important facts, for instance that you should make unselfish life choices, or that your uncle killed your father, or that you shouldn’t disrespect ancient burial grounds by building mid-priced suburban homes on top of them. Ghost, much like popular girls in high school, are so far on the inside track that they don’t even have to run.

According to the many tween books I read in the early 90s, it is easier to make friends with an actual ghost than an actual popular girl, who most likely is too busy attending rainbow parties to let you in on her secrets. And in fact—according to many of those same books—it was easiest of all to make friends with a ghost of a girl your own age, one who passed from this mortal coil before she could even figure out if she was cool enough to be invited to rainbow parties. And the greatest of all these pre-teen girl-ghost friendship books was Mary Dowling Hahn’s 1986 novel, Wait till Helen Comes.

Here is what I remembered this book being about: These kids are on some farm, and there’s this ghost. The littlest kid is obsessed with the ghost, even though everyone else sees that this ghost is bad news. This ghost is like the friend you make in high school who gets you into shoplifting and gateway drugs—she’s cool because your family hates her. But then the ghost does something weird, and the older sister has to figure out how to make the ghost go away. My takeaway from the book then was that ghosts were scary and could accidentally kill you, but were also probably more fun and interesting than anyone else you knew (again, like your friend from high school).

Here is what it turns out that this book is actually about—and I am about to throw a bunch of girls names at you, so let’s just establish who’s who with some mnemonic devices up front:

–Molly is the good girl, like Molly Ringwald in any of her fine 80s films.

–Heather is angry and starts trouble, like Heather Locklear on Melrose Place.

–Helen is the beautiful, otherworldly, all-powerful one, just like Academy Award–winner Dame Helen Mirren.

Got it? OK, let’s go!

So there are these two—let’s not mince words here—total fucking self-involved artist assholes with children from previous marriages. The mother has good girl tween Molly. The dad has Heather: a seven-year-old girl who watched her mother die in a fire four years ago. No one seems to have taken Heather to a psychologist, or even talked to her about what happened, so of course she is an emotionally disturbed nightmare baby.

She becomes even more of an emotionally disturbed nightmare baby once these two asshole parents take their blended family away to start a new life way out in the countryside, at the very beginning of the summer. What the fuck are these kids supposed to do out there all alone all summer? Their semi-negligent hippie parents could give an uhhhhhhh. They’re just sooo happy to finally have the space to build a studio and throw vases that they’re gonna sell at the craft fair. And you just know these vases look like giant withered clay vulvas. You can FEEL it.

Heather, the little girl, then befriends Helen, a little girl ghost. Molly thinks the ghost is bad news, but why would these parents listen to her about a ghost? The parents think ghosts are a myth, just like Bigfoot or the need for a child suffering from PTSD to be under the care of a licensed mental health specialist. Crazy talk!

Eventually, Molly realizes that Helen is trying to lure Heather into a spooky pond, so that she will die and become a ghost, too. Helen proves her loyalty to Heather by breaking everyone’s shit, including the vases the parents were going to sell at the craft fair. (Nooooo! Not the vases for the craft fair!)

So then Helen tries to lure Heather to the spooky pond, Molly saves her, and—through a lucky combination of magical intervention and microfiche research—Molly and Heather figure out that Helen accidentally started a fire that killed her mom and stepdad when she was alive, and no one ever found their bodies.

Molly and Heather then discover the charred bones of Helen’s parents and show them to Helen. Helen apologizes to the bones, and then she gets instantly raptured away, Left Behind–style. Heather then admits to Molly the real reason she was acting like an asshole was: She accidentally set the fire that killed her own mother. But then she confesses it to her father, and everything is fine. The end.

Now, in our traditional thinking about ghosts, ghosts are powerful because we imagine death as this moment of really intense psychotherapy, where all your hang-ups just kind of glide away, leaving you able to absorb wisdom and knowledge beyond the boundaries of your previous corporeal existence.

The idea that ghosts don’t actually learn anything from being liminal beings from beyond space and time—that they’re just the same shitty, petty losers that we all are in life, stuck with the same baggage for eternity—is the most horrific premise I have encountered in a lifetime of horror fandom, and this alone makes Wait till Helen Comes one of the scariest books that I have ever read.

And we’re not even touching on Heather. I mean, I’m pretty sure that the intended takeaway of this book is like that old recovery motto, “You’re only as sick as your secrets”—uncovering them gives you strength and power.

And reading this book 20 years ago, I would have believed that Heather’s quick confession to her dad would have fixed up all her problems. But as someone who’s blown a solid chunk of her own adulthood spelunking into her own family secrets, I’m not sold. Heather’s life isn’t hard because she kept a secret. It’s hard because almost everyone around her, from the man who sired her to the ghost who befriends her, is a selfish dick. They both just want her to sacrifice her whole existence to give them what they believe is their ideal lifestyle, be it that of a kooky artist or an angry ghost. What if even after her big confession, everyone Heather trusts still keeps on mismanaging her trauma anyway? What if by the time she’s an adult it’s too late and she can’t dig her way out? Will she be the one luring people into whatever her own spooky pond turns out to be?

What if she doesn’t get raptured up to heaven as soon as she figures out her family secrets? What if none of us do? What if we’re just stuck with our families and our secrets, stuck staring at a pile of old, scorched bones, and spending the rest of our lives trying to make sense of them, and not even spooky little dead girls in Victorian nightgowns can help us?

And I mean, this is fucked up, but we’re all thinking it, so I’m just gonna say it: Isn’t the main selling point of death that you’ll stop being so lonely and neurotic and full of shame about weird texts that you sent while you were drunk? If you carry all that shit to the other side, if you’re still as much of a needy and nervous and self-conscious wreck as you ever were, well, Christ—you might as well live.

 

04 Mar 22:48

Dromedário

by Helen Valverde
Não é que eu não rime. Eu rimo, mas com o que nem está mais aqui. Porque hoje em dia eu corto palavras, corto palavras, corto palavras. Sou uma impiedosa com as palavras. Às vezes não sobra nenhuma.
28 Dec 03:00

Lei 12.933, de 26 de dezembro de 2013 – dispõe sobre a meia-entrada para estudantes, idosos, pessoas com deficiência e jovens carentes

by Edson Pires da Fonseca
Presidência da República Casa Civil Subchefia para Assuntos Jurídicos LEI Nº 12.933, DE 26 DEZEMBRO DE 2013. Produção de efeitosMensagem de Veto Dispõe sobre o benefício do pagamento de meia-entrada para estudantes, idosos, pessoas com deficiência e jovens de 15 a 29 anos comprovadamente carentes em espetáculos artístico-culturais e esportivos, e revoga a Medida Provisória no 2.208, […]
27 Aug 13:11

18 Magical Moments with Lilu Blue Royal Lada and Katherine

by pyrit

Ever since his cat and his daughter met, Russian photographer Andy Prokh has had a pet project; this sweet photo series of Lilu Blue Royal Lada and Katherine; two beautiful Best Friends Furevers.

“I like to take photos of them because I love them both.” -Andy Prokh

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Via 123 Inspiration


Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: Caturday, Kittens, Matchingks, Primates
25 Nov 06:53

Unquote

by Greg Ross

“People who count their chickens before they are hatched act very wisely because chickens run about so absurdly that it’s impossible to count them accurately.” — Oscar Wilde

16 Aug 02:30

Creepy Kids in Creepy Vintage Ads

by Tim Urban
Message to every American currently between the ages of 55 and 110:  I know your secret.

You had an incredibly weird childhood.  

Here you are, living in 2013, pretending like your lives are normal, when as it turns out, your formative years were anything but normal.  They were bizarre.  And so were you.  That's the only way to put it.

I know this because I just spent all day looking at disturbing ads from the 1900s, 10s, 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s, all featuring children, and forgive me if I need a few days before I want to be around you again.

Denials will be useless, as I've carefully compiled ample evidence below.  Let's take a tour, category by category:

Girls Who Are a Weird Level of Hungry


This little girl needs to just settle down.  That manic expression and those eager fucking hands are completely over-the-top.  It's just shitty white bread with jelly. 



Okay yes, those slabs of low-grade ice cream look pretty delicious.  But they don't warrant total captivation.  Let go of the bars and get ahold of yourself.



I get it, it's a big plate of meat and you're hungry, but again, just rein it in a notch.  You're not a dog.



Speaking of which, this girl is behaving like an uncivilized animal.  You can want the Cocoanut and still act dignified.


Kids With Old Faces


That's way too many eye wrinkles for a 6-year-old.



Okay both people in this ad need to get a fucking grip.  I would reprimand the kid, but we can all see where he learned to act like a psycho.  In any case, he should probably spend less time lusting over a glass of V-8 and more time worrying about the fact that both his face and hairstyle look like a 75-year-old Republican.



Aren't you a little young to get someone's attention with an 85-year-old person word like "say"?  And why are you drinking so much soda—you're like 7 months old.



Oh well this is a great life path.  So apparently the kid in the previous ad decided to make a career out of his little act and actually got a job with Hires' Rootbeer.  All the soda has taken its toll, as he now looks 50.

We might as well explore this phenomenon, now that we're here—

More Infants Drinking Soda


The Soda Pop Board of America was just like, "So let's write down the things we want to be true and then make that the ad."



Pure pleasure!  Yes, you've really achieved something here by giving a fizzy, sugary drink to someone who has been alive for 50 days and getting a positive reaction.



That's it.  Shove it down the newborn's throat.

Segues nicely into:

Parenting At Its Finest


Modern parents give their 2-month-old a pacifier.  Maybe a blanky.  In 1905?  They handed the baby a razor and told it to start shaving.



Sun deprivation is the least of this baby's problems, considering that he's locked in the bathroom.  This is literally a product for parents who are incubating their child in the gross, dark corner of the bathroom, never letting them see or know about the outside world.



On the sad little girl's chest, it says, "Papa says it won't hurt us!"  So papa's reasoning is, "I got a gun that has a child lock on it—now my 2-year-old daughter can finally sleep with a gun."



"You see so many good things in Du Pont Cellophane."  Like, apparently, babies being murdered via suffocation.



No comment.

Babies With Intelligent Observations About Their Mother's 
Cigarette Addiction


Really, lady?  Your smoking habit has escalated to the point that your non-sentient infant can't help but comment on it, and you respond as if you're just talking to an adult, articulating the merits of this particular brand of cigarette?



Well now what the hell is going on here?  Does this kid work for Marlboro?  Where did he learn to pull manipulative shit like this?



Let's just list the facts here:

1) This mother has a smoking addiction
2) She also beats her baby sometimes
3) The baby knows both #1 and #2, and has actually learned to outsmart this horrible woman by knowing her patterns well enough to use her addiction to mitigate the abuse.

Let's move on.

Impossibly Annoying-Looking Redheaded Boys Excited To Put Food In 
Their Shit-Eating Mouths


I can barely look at this picture it annoys me so much.



A somewhat self-aware kid might not appreciate such an obvious and derogatory nickname.  But Ginger here is so fucking giddy to drink this soda that no other thought can enter his brain.



This kid looks rowdy as fuck.  Good thing he took a break from egging the neighbors' houses to climax over a glass of orange juice.



Yeah I bet you do "wish you had a million oreos."  You know why?  Cause you're a creepy 50s ad kid who is outrageously into food.  Let's also note that this isn't a photo, it's a drawing—and they still chose to make him a red head.  I'll never understand the 1950s fetish with prepubescent redheaded boys.


Murderous Nightmare-Inducing Children


This is some kind of judgment by Pears' Soap.  They had an ad team and a budget.  They had time.  And at the end of it all, they decided to go with a drowning baby trying to claw itself from the jaws of death.



Oh you know, just a murderous little girl covered in blood-colored dye.  Zero remorse in her sociopathic facial expression.



Okay here we get to the kid that is going to haunt my sleep for the next few weeks.  This is not a human child.  All I can picture is being his parent and walking into his room at night to check on him, and when I'm standing over him, suddenly his eyes open wide in that smile, and his head starts spinning around and I'm in the shit trying to escape.


Here he is again.  When he's not knifing his parents to death, he keeps busy with his ad modeling career.



He's not even trying to be non-sinister here.  Somehow, the ad team at Karo cooking products looked at this ad and decided it was ready to go to the presses.


Incredibly Racist Children


"Why doesn't your mamma wash you with fairy soap?" What a braggy little bitch.  Also worth noting is the first class ire going on on the black girl's face.



This girl just fully goes for it.  Full-force bigotry.  Two other questions—why is the boy wearing a dress, and why is the girl wearing shoes in the ocean?



Another gem from Pears' Soap.  Their claim is that black people are actually just really dirty white people .  See?  This nice white girl gives him the first bath of his life, and—voila!  He's white!  The dude looks as shocked about it as I am.


And of course, if washing doesn't work, well, you can always use paint!

Some kind of time you grew up in, 55-110 year olds.

Roly-Poly Rosey-Cheeked Rapey-Looking Four-Year-Old Boys 
Smugly Eating Something Sloppily

I really don't know what else to say about this prominent genre of ad in the 40s.  Let's just meet at the bottom.

 





I think I've made my point.

55-110 year olds—any explanation for yourself?

---------

For an update on what our favorite Facebook characters are doing for the holidays, visit our holiday roundup.


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28 Oct 04:00

Headlines

1916: 'PHYSICIST DAD' TURNS HIS ATTENTION TO GRAVITY, AND YOU WON'T BELIEVE WHAT HE FINDS. [PICS] [NSFW]
21 Oct 14:17

A Perpetual Pussycat

by Greg Ross

jock v at chartwell

When Winston Churchill died in 1965, he left his country home Chartwell to the government with a curious stipulation: It must always maintain “in comfortable residence” a marmalade cat named Jock.

The original Jock had been given to Churchill two years before his death by his private secretary, Sir John “Jock” Colville, and quickly became a favorite. When the cat died in 1975, 10 years after the prime minister, he was replaced with a Jock II, and the line has continued.

The current resident is Jock V, who “jumps into the sink at every opportunity.”

25 Sep 22:02

Working Conditions

by Greg Ross

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jane_Austen.jpg

Half of Jane Austen’s oeuvre was written on a tiny table in the family parlor, subject to continual interruptions. In his Memoir of Jane Austen, James Edward Austen-Leigh wrote:

The first year of her residence at Chawton seems to have been devoted to revising and preparing for the press ‘Sense and Sensibility,’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice’; but between February 1811 and August 1816, she began and completed ‘Mansfield Park,’ ‘Emma,’ and ‘Persuasion,’ so that the last five years of her life produced the same number of novels with those which had been written in her early youth. How she was able to effect all this is surprising, for she had no separate study to retire to, and most of the work must have been done in the general sitting-room, subject to all kinds of casual interruptions. She was careful that her occupation should not be suspected by servants, or visitors, or any persons beyond her own family party. She wrote upon small sheets of paper which could easily be put away, or covered with a piece of blotting paper. There was, between the front door and the offices, a swing door which creaked when it was opened; but she objected to having this little inconvenience remedied, because it gave her notice when anyone was coming.

He adds: “I have no doubt that I, and my sisters and cousins, in our visits to Chawton, frequently disturbed this mystic process, without having any idea of the mischief that we were doing; certainly we never should have guessed it by any signs of impatience or irritability in the writer.”

26 Sep 14:16

Home Page

by Greg Ross

http://paperhouserockport.com/highresolution/sunporch.jpg

Elis Stenman built a house out of paper. In 1922 the mechanical engineer began designing a summer home in Rockport, Mass., using wood for the frame, floor, and roof but fashioning the walls from newspaper pressed about an inch thick and coated with varnish.

“Actually, I guess he was supposed to cover the outside with clapboards, but he just didn’t,” Stenman’s grandniece, Edna Beaudoin, told the Cape Ann Sun in 1996. “You know, he was curious. He wanted to see what would happen to the paper, and, well, here it is, some 70 years later.”

In 1924 Stenman moved in and began making furniture, also out of newspaper, rolling it into logs, cutting it to length with a knife, and gluing or nailing it into usable finished pieces (one placard reads THIS DESK IS MADE OF THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR).

Stenman died in 1942, and his family has maintained the house ever since, showing it to curious visitors. “I think probably the most common question is just ‘Why?’” Beaudoin says. “We just really don’t know where he got the idea to build a house out of paper. He was just that sort of a guy.”

19 Aug 04:00

Exoplanet Names

If you have any ideas, I hear you can send them to iaupublic@iap.fr.
21 Jul 12:28

Ô da Folha, cadê os muçulmanos, os judeus, os mórmons, os ateus?

by Carlos Orsi
O jornal Folha de S. Paulo publica, neste domingo, um caderno sobre o catolicismo no Brasil. Uma das principais atrações é o resultado de uma pesquisa (divulgada também pelo irmão popular do grupo, o Agora) indicando queda na proporção de brasileiros que se declaram católicos -- não exatamente uma novidade, mas algo bom de lembrar nestes tempos de oba-oba vaticanício. Há, no entanto, algo curioso no gráfico: ele aponta "católicos", "evangélicos pentecostais", "evangélicos não pentecostais" e "espíritas kardecistas".

Por alguma mágica do Datafolha, sumiram do Brasil os judeus, os muçulmanos, os budistas, as pessoas sem filiação religiosa definida e, claro, os agnósticos e ateus.

Ora, ora. Deixe de ser implicante, seu ateu pentelho. Esses grupos não aparecem porque "dão traço" na população, como, por exemplo, faz a audiência dos canais de TV católicos. São irrelevantes demais para serem contados.

O problema com essa explicação, em tese perfeitamente razoável, é que ela é falsa. Os próprios números do Datafolha mostram isso: somando-se os valores apresentados -- 57%, 19%, 9%, 3% -- o total é de 88%. Oitenta e oito por cento. Se 12% da população, uma parcela quatro vezes maior que a de kardecistas e três pontos superior à de evangélicos não-pentecostais é "traço", alguém precisa rever seus conceitos, para citar uma frase popular. Ou esses 12% desapareceram do mapa. Milagre do papa Chico? Mas, espere um pouco, eu ainda estou aqui. No mapa. Então, não deve ser.

Ah, sim: é importante notar que a tabela publicada pela Folha (e pelo Agora) tem como título "Evolução da Religião entre os Brasileiros". Não "Evolução da Religião Entre os Cristãos Brasileiros", ou "Evolução do Cristianismo no Brasil", mas "da Religião", assim, em geral. Da onde se depreende que, para o editor do caderno, só cristianismo conta como religião, ou só os cristãos -- parte deles, na verdade -- contam como brasileiros.

Felizmente, há outras fontes de dados, menos viciadas, como o Censo 2010 do IBGE e o Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, que durante a semana publicou uma análise honesta da evolução da religiosidade no Brasil. De acordo com o Pew, em 2010 eram cerca de 8% os brasileiros "sem religião" e 5% os de "outras religiões", incluindo-se aí os espíritas. Sendo que, na parcela mais jovem da população -- de 15 a 29 anos -- 10% já se declaram sem religião.

Os números do IBGE são bem mais detalhados. O instituto registra 8% da população em geral, ou mais de 15 milhões de brasileiros, como sendo "sem religião", grupo formado, em sua maioria, por pessoas sem filiação religiosa (mais de 14 milhões) ateus (615 mil) e agnósticos (124 mil). Para pôr essas miudezas em perspectiva, o total de ateus é 17 vezes maior que o de muçulmanos, mais de duas vezes maior que o de budistas, seis vezes maior que o de judeus, o triplo do de mórmons e ainda cerca de 20% maior que o de praticantes da umbanda e do candomblé somados.

Agora, mesmo se o uso da frase  "Evolução da Religião entre os Brasileiros" tenha sido apenas um lapso -- quando, na verdade, o que se pretendia medir era a "evolução do cristianismo" -- dois problemas: um, o de que a ausência de, pelo menos, uma categoria "outros" torna a leitura deficiente, já que o pobre leitor que quiser saber qual a proporção de cristãos que pulou do barco terá de ler o caderno com uma calculadora do lado. Outro, a categoria "evangélicos não pentecostais", que está longe de ser clara.

O texto diz que ele se refere a "igrejas protestantes com séculos de existência". Mas onde essa categorização -- "evangélicos pentecostais" ou "não pentecostais" -- deixa as testemunhas de Jeová e os mórmons? Há mais de 1 milhão de testemunhas de Jeová no Brasil, afinal. E os católicos ortodoxos, que são poucos mas estão aí, entram exatamente aonde?

Seria curioso saber quantos desses 12% apagados da realidade nacional pela Folha são leitores do jornal. De acordo com o Pew Forum, 16% dos brasileiros com, pelo menos, ensino médio completo pertencem às categorias "outras religiões" ou "sem religião". É de se supor que leiam jornais -- ou que leriam, se fossem respeitados. #Ficaadica.
15 Jul 15:11

How America Interrupted Wilhelm Reich's Orgasmic Utopia

by Jason Louv


Reich being escorted to Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary, March 1957.

It was the greatest incidence of scientific persecution in American history.

In July of 1947, Dr. Wilhelm Reich—a brilliant but controversial psychoanalyst who had once been Freud’s most promising student, who had enraged the Nazis and the Stalinists as well as the psychoanalytic, medical, and scientific communities, who had survived two World Wars and fled to New York—was dying in a prison cell in Lewisberg, Pennsylvania, accused by the government of being a medical fraud engaged in a “sex racket.”

That “racket” would one day be called the “sexual revolution.” But it was still 1947 in America—an America not even ready for psychoanalysis, still a nascent science that Harper’s and the New Republic had categorized, right alongside Reich’s theories, as being no better than astrology. (Reich, Harper’s had decided, was the leader of a “new cult of sex and anarchy.”)

If the American public wasn’t ready for Dr. Freud, then how much less prepared would they be for Dr. Reich—a man who, at his Orgonon institute near Rangely, Maine, was researching the energetic force of the orgasm itself?

Reich had taken Freud’s theories far. Too far, according to the FDA. Starting with Freud’s connection of sexual repression to neurosis, Reich had theorized that it was the physical inability to surrender to orgasm that underlay neurosis, and eventually turned people to fascism and authoritarianism. Reich migrated from Freud’s simple talking cure to what he called character analysis, a therapy designed to help his patients overcome the physical and respiratory blocks that prevented them from experiencing pleasure. Finally—and most dangerously—he claimed that the orgasm was an expression of orgone, the joy-filled force of life itself. With phone-booth-size devices called "orgone accumulators" he could harness this force to cure neurosis, disease, and even affect the weather and help crops grow.

For these lines of inquiry, the FDA demanded Reich appear in court to defend himself in 1954. He refused, stating that claims of scientific truth should be settled by experiment, not in court. The court responded by issuing an injunction against the sale or transportation of his devices across state lines, and proceeded to systematically burn his books and journals. Not only Reich’s writing, but any written material that contained the word “orgone” was fair game for destruction. (Paranoid and embattled, Reich would refuse offers of help from the ACLU, believing it to be filled with communist subversives.) FDA agents also began destroying his devices and laboratory with axes—but that wasn’t all. The FDA would carry their persecution of the Austrian psychoanalyst much, much further.

What was it about this man and his theories that invoked the wrath of nearly every political and scientific faction of his time? What was it about the “sexual revolution” that earned Wilhelm Reich a 789-page FBI file? What provoked a systematic campaign of attacks hardly suggestive of a sane and rational America that had just won the war against the book-burning Nazis—and more reminiscent of the Inquisition, the incineration of Giordiano Bruno, or the ending of Frankenstein, in which angry villagers with torches and pitchforks burn down the mad scientist’s castle?

Read the rest at Motherboard.

12 Jul 22:54

Untitled

by Greg Ross

This poem’s title is Untitled –
Not because it is untitled,
But because I am entitled
To entitle it Untitled.

If I’d not titled it Untitled,
It would truly be untitled …
Which would make me unentitled
To entitle it Untitled.

So it is vital, if untitled,
Not to title it Untitled,
And to leave that title idled,
As a title is entitled.

– Kenneth Leonhardt

11 Jul 22:13

Math and Science Popular With Students Until They Realize They're Hard

by timothy
First time accepted submitter HonorPoncaCityDotCom writes "Khadeeja Safdar reports in the WSJ that researchers who surveyed 655 incoming college students found that while math and science majors drew the most interest initially, not many students finished with degrees in those subjects. Students who dropped out didn't do so because they discovered an unexpected amount of the work and because they were dissatisfied with their grades. "Students knew science was hard to begin with, but for a lot of them it turned out to be much worse than what they expected," says Todd R. Stinebrickner, one of the paper's authors. "What they didn't expect is that even if they work hard, they still won't do well." The authors add that the substantial overoptimism about completing a degree in science can be attributed largely to students beginning school with misperceptions about their ability to perform well academically in science. ""If more science graduates are desired, the findings suggest the importance of policies at younger ages that lead students to enter college better prepared (PDF) to study science.""

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11 Jul 21:54

DuckDuckGo, o motor de busca para quem quer fugir da vigilância na internet

by Adam Clark Estes

Você gosta de privacidade? Quer fugir da vigilância e evitar spam? Gosta de simplicidade? Se respondeu sim a alguma dessas perguntas, você vai amar o DuckDuckGo.

DuckDuckGo é uma criação de Gabriel Weinberg, e, antes do vazamento do escândalo da vigilância do PRISM no mês passado, era apenas um bebê. Mas quando o mundo ficou sabendo do PRISM e o “acesso direto” do governo dos EUA a servidores de empresas como o Google, Weinberg e companhia observaram o tráfego subir. O DuckDuckGo, afinal, é o único mecanismo de busca que promete não rastrear os usuários e ainda oferece anonimidade total. E seus resultados são muito bons, também!

ku-mediumO engraçado sobre o DuckDuckGo, que se tornou um paladino da liberdade de vigilância na internet, é que os recursos de privacidade vieram depois de todo o projeto. “Eu meio que recuei para isso”, explicou Weinberg ao The Guardian nesta semana. “É difícil definir minhas políticas. Eu observo de cada questão seriamente e tiro minha própria conclusão.”

E, de repente, milhões de pessoas estão considerando a questão da privacidade online também. Após o The Guardian divulgar o caso do PRISM em junho, todo dia é um novo recorde no DuckDuckGo, e nesta metade de julho o site faz 3 milhões de buscas diariamente, quase o dobro do que fazia no começo de junho. Weinberg diz que o crescimento no tráfego ocorreu apenas pelo boca a boca, e algumas menções na imprensa. “Nossos usuários sabem que não rastreamos e estão falando isso para amigos e parentes”, ele disse.

E vem mais por aí. Com a onda de novos visitantes, muitos percebem que o Google não é a única opção para busca, e também lembram que o Google coleta e armazena muitos dos seus dados. Ah sim, e o Google compartilha seus dados com o governo dos Estados Unidos sem o seu conhecimento nem consenso.

Se isso parece algo que você gostaria de fazer parte, então comece a fazer buscas no DuckDuckGo. Como ele usa cerca de 50 fontes – incluindo Bing, Yahoo! e Wolfram Alpha -, você vai conseguir resultados similares aos oferecidos pelo Google. O DuckDuckGo é ainda melhor que mecanismos tradicionais de busca em alguns pontos; ele combina resultados, remove links irrelevantes e spam para que sua busca mostre conteúdo relevante. Além disso, uma opção de busca anônima usa o Tor para rotear sua pesquisa por uma série de camadas criptografadas. Você pode até fazer busca por voz com uma nova extensão para o Google Chrome.

Existem algumas ausências notáveis, como a falta de recurso de autocompletar. E como mecanismo geral de busca, o DuckDuckGo não vai oferecer resultados precisos como se você usar um recurso vertical como Amazon, Facebook ou YouTube. Mas não se preocupe: o DuckDuckGo sabe disso e tem uma solução chamada Bang. Você pode redirecionar sua busca para sites específicos ao adicionar códigos como “!amazon” “!facebook” “!yt” e mais. Você pode até fazer isso no Google: adicione “!g” e o DuckDuckGo fará uma busca criptografada (leia: anônima) no Google para você.

Então este é o DuckDuckGo. Se você já ouviu falar nele, mas não testou ainda, dê uma chance. Se nunca ouviu, seja bem-vindo. Eis a sua chance de manter seus dados longe de espionagem e publicidade ao mesmo tempo que consegue fazer boas buscas. E o melhor de tudo, você vai parecer descolado quando seus amigos descobrirem que você usa um mecanismo de busca que eles nunca ouviram falar.

10 Jul 22:59

Open and Shut

by Greg Ross

A man’s wife disappears and he’s accused of killing her. At the trial, his lawyer tells the jury, “Ladies and gentlemen, I have amazing news. Not only is my client’s wife actually alive, but she’ll walk through that door in ten seconds.”

An expectant silence settles over the courtroom, but nothing happens.

“Think about that,” the lawyer says. “The fact that you were watching the door, expecting to see the missing woman, proves that you have a reasonable doubt as to whether a murder was actually committed.”

He sits down confidently, and the judge sends the jury off to deliberate. They return in ten minutes and declare the man guilty.

“Guilty?” says the lawyer. “How can that be? You were all watching the door!”

“Most of us were watching the door,” says the foreman. “But one of us was watching the defendant, and he wasn’t watching the door.”