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Posts Tagged ‘msm’

Guardian UK’s Remarkable Wikileaks Interactive War Log Murder Map (Google Map)

October 23rd, 2010 No comments

It is simply not possible to comprehend that the one-page War Logs detail that the Guardian UK pulled from Wikileaks’ files is only from one day. It’s especially pivotal when you look at the October 17, 2006 timeline in list form — and then you see the jaw-dropping Interactive Map Timeline where you just sit there, and watch the day unfold on an interactive Google Map. I can’t urge you to see what Guardian has done with this application strongly enough; never has something so brutal been presented so viscerally and yet without sensationalism, horror or crassness. (The NYT did a not-so-interactive-but-they-call-it-interactive map of December 20, 2006, and it doesn’t compare with the Guardian’s presentation.)

While many are polarized about how they feel regarding Wikileaks, and the war logs, the scope and implication of what’s been shown is astounding. It’s especially troubling to read the Defense Department’s response in light of new information that reveals details which support and could help rescue and bring home the local (Berkeley) hikers who were kidnapped and are still being held.

Top 25 Newspapers on Twitter

October 19th, 2010 No comments

As conversations continue about old media survival, newspapers doubling down on print (while others back away as carefully as possible), and newspapers even resorting to Foursquare-style gaming structures to ensure reader returns and higher engagement, I have to love this list of the Top 25 Newspapers on Twitter. No matter where you stand on Twitter and its effect on news, this list is a pretty interesting barometer for a quick temperature-take of who’s on it (and who’s not). It’s both pleasing and saddening to see my own hometown paper low on the list, and with less followers than I have personally (I quit over their ridiculously short sighted online editorial policies a la SEO spamming). Such is the state of social connection with readership; numbers like this are starting to come off as a statement of overall health.

If you were to rank the Top 25 U.S. newspapers by Twitter followers, the order would be much different than if you were to rank them by circulation.

When it comes to Twitter followers, The New York Times is the top bird with more than 2.6 million followers. To illustrate how impressive this follower number is, The Wall Street Journal only has 464,591 followers in the #2 spot. The New York Times is the ONLY newspaper from the Top 25 with more Twitter followers than print circulation. (…)

1. @nytimes – 2,668,948
2. @wsj – 464,591
3. @washingtonpost – 204,514
4. @latimes – 83,335
5. @usatoday – 72,929
6. @newyorkpost – 57,605
7. @clevelanddotcom – 38,863
8. @chicagotribune – 34,490 *
9. @denverpost – 32,755
10. @dallas_news – 24,726

(…read more, blog.journalistics.com)

Photo: Screaming Turtle by Eric Cheng.

Portrait of a Troll: Michigan Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell

September 29th, 2010 No comments

andrew ShirvellI think a book profiling the everyday, offline lives of digital serial stalkers and trolls would be fascinating. Chilling and upsetting, like this news item, which is going to piss you off, but still compelling. I think what stands out most for me here is this glimpse into that thing we all wonder at some point: in real life, who — and what kind of person — is that online vicious troll? Hateful stalker trolls leave evil comments, they impersonate, they threaten their target, they make hate blogs, they target across various social networks, they do everything they can think of to distort their target’s image, and they consider serial attacking an individual to be a hobby. We tend to think they’re male and live in their parent’s basement, and are around age 14. Not in this case… To the outside world, online trolls “pass” as regular people, for the most part. Just like Michigan Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell, now revealed to be one of the sicker anti-gay obsessed trolls to be exposed yet. I still have two stalker trolls who have harassed me for years. And like him, they claim “First Amendment rights” whenever we all scratch our heads and try to figure out ways to make them stop. Most online attackers, like Shirvell, also tend to have a history that makes their hardcore trolling sadly unsurprising.

However, I don’t think anyone expected that the person who dedicated his “off hours” time to a sick hate blog targeting one gay young man, the new head of student government at the University of Michigan, to actually be Michigan’s Assistant Attorney General. Here’s a snip from the CNN piece, click through to watch him explain to Anderson Cooper that he is a “citizen exercising my First Amendment rights.”

(…) Using the online moniker “Concerned Michigan Alumnus,” Shirvell launched his blog in late April.

“Welcome to ‘Chris Armstrong Watch,’” Shirvell wrote in his inaugural blog post. “This is a site for concerned University of Michigan alumni, students, and others who oppose the recent election of Chris Armstrong — a RADICAL HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVIST, RACIST, ELITIST, & LIAR — as the new head of student government.” Among other things, Shirvell has published blog posts that accuse Armstrong of going back on a campaign promise he made to minority students; engaging in “flagrant sexual promiscuity” with another male member of the student government; sexually seducing and influencing “a previously conservative [male] student” so much so that the student, according to Shirvell, “morphed into a proponent of the radical homosexual agenda;” hosting a gay orgy in his dorm room in October 2009; and trying to recruit incoming first year students “to join the homosexual ‘lifestyle.’ ” (…)

Shirvell said he works on the blog during his off-hours.

On “AC 360,” Shirvell made no apologies for his blog postings, which include a picture of Armstrong with “Resign” written over his face. The same picture also had a swastika superimposed over a gay pride flag, with an arrow pointing toward Armstrong.

Shirvell acknowledged protesting outside of Armstrong’s house and calling him “Satan’s representative on the student assembly.” (…read more, cnn.com, via @ejacqui)

John Sweeney Revisits the Church of Scientology

September 26th, 2010 No comments

The BBC’s John Sweeney investigated the Chrurch of Scientology back in 2007 and had a now-infamous meltdown during the process. I reported on that meltdown, with video and John Travolta’s reaction when it happened in May ’07. In this fascinating article (with video) he returns to not only the topic of the “church” but also to revisit the people he spoke to — at least one of whom has since left the church — and finds his worst fears finally confirmed.

In 2007, while investigating the Church of Scientology for Panorama, reporter John Sweeney had a dramatic on-camera confrontation with a church spokesman named Tommy Davis. The church was accusing the reporter of bias and it attempted to stop the documentary from being broadcast – a campaign backed by Scientology A-lister John Travolta. Sweeney has returned to investigate the church again.

Panorama Archive: Scientology and Me

I never meant to shout.
Strangers had been on my tail. Scientologist Tommy Davis and his colleague Mike Rinder – my handlers – had been on my case, day in and day out.
They had taken me to an exhibit called ‘Psychiatry: Industry of Death’ on Hollywood Boulevard, where a Scientologist told me psychiatrists set up the Holocaust. I feared I was being brain-washed.
And then I lost it – big time.
The Church of Scientology put out my impression of an exploding tomato onto the internet which millions had a laugh at courtesy of YouTube.
It was no way for me to behave. I apologised then and I apologise now.
Shortly after that programme, Scientology & Me, aired in 2007, I received a tip-off that Mike Rinder had left the church.
Three years on and my old adversary came to me to shed some light on what had been going on behind the scenes in the days leading up to my infamous meltdown and screaming session in Los Angeles.

via BBC News – Panorama – John Sweeney revisits the Church of Scientology.

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Courtney Love Calls Out Sucka VC’s and Major Label Cartels

September 21st, 2010 4 comments

This is from 2000, but oh my is it more relevant than ever.

I never, ever, ever thought I’d tell you that Courtney Love should be listened to. (Never been a fan.) If she really wrote what she said here, she did the math and calls out the RIAA and major label cartels and dot-com Mad Men VC fuckwads (oh, they’re all the same now) for strangling artists out of their rent. She spells out something that is just as relevant ten years later — especially in the new tech bubble.

Think I’ve been smoking what she’s been smoking? You tell me. You tell me if you’ve ever wanted to create, write, make something you know people want and have run up against corporate distribution mafia tactics/traditions, smelled the sweat of piracy fear from your hard work’s gatekeepers, or realized your work will never get recognition or given distribution access based on merit.

Read this transcript of Love’s talk in Salon and in place of the word ‘musician’ insert ‘writer’ ‘author’ ‘blogger’ ‘developer’ or ‘filmmaker’ or even ‘sex worker’.

This is a cultural slap I’ve been waiting for — this is one of my favorite parts:

When you people do business with artists, you have to take a different view of things. We want to be treated with the respect that now goes to Web designers. We’re not Dockers-wearing Intel workers from Portland who know how to “manage our stress.” We don’t understand or want to understand corporate culture.

I feel this obscene gold rush greedgreedgreed vibe that bothers me a lot when I talk to dot-com people about all this. You guys can’t hustle artists that well. At least slick A&R guys know the buzzwords. Don’t try to compete with them. I just laugh at you when you do! Maybe you could a year ago when anything dot-com sounded smarter than the rest of us, but the scam has been uncovered.

The celebrity-for-sale business is about to crash, I hope, and the idea of a sucker VC gifting some company with four floors just because they can “do” “chats” with “Christina” once or twice is ridiculous. I did a chat today, twice. Big damn deal. 200 bucks for the software and some elbow grease and a good back-end coder. Wow. That’s not worth 150 million bucks.

(…) I know my place. I’m a waiter. I’m in the service industry.

I live on tips. Occasionally, I’m going to get stiffed, but that’s OK. If I work hard and I’m doing good work, I believe that the people who enjoy it are going to want to come directly to me and get my music because it sounds better, since it’s mastered and packaged by me personally. I’m providing an honest, real experience. Period.

When people buy the bootleg T-shirt in the concert parking lot and not the more expensive T-shirt inside the venue, it isn’t to save money. The T-shirt in the parking lot is cheap and badly made, but it’s easier to buy. The bootleggers have a better distribution system. There’s no waiting in line and it only takes two minutes to buy one.

I know that if I can provide my own T-shirt that I designed, that I made, and provide it as quickly or quicker than the bootleggers, people who’ve enjoyed the experience I’ve provided will be happy to shell out a little more money to cover my costs. Especially if they understand this context, and aren’t being shoveled a load of shit about “uppity” artists. (…)

* Courtney Love does the math – Courtney Love – Salon.com (This is an unedited transcript of Courtney Love’s speech to the Digital Hollywood online entertainment conference, given in New York on May 16.)

New Words AGAIN!?!?!?!? WTF!?!?!?!?!?

September 21st, 2010 1 comment

Frederick James Furnival finds your lively patois invigorating. Now STFU.

Yes, it’s about that time of year. The WTF? New Words!!! time of year. Making the rounds of blogs and the mainstream media are sure to be the amused observations that the Oxford American Dictionary has added X word or Y expression or Z piece of trendy teenspeak to its pages, reportedly giving schoolteachers agita and providing children and adolescents (who are the only people using the dictionary, right?) with new ways to abuse the American language and claim that they, not bland-ass adults with IQs of 103, are the arbiters of culture. Weird, huh!?!? New words added to the language, almost like it was, like, a living thing or something, huh!?!?

I think we can all agree to bawl and shout and jump up and down and wear party hats and dance some sort of goddamn jig or something about the arrival of such internet- and text-friendly terms as “BFF,” “hashtag,” “defriend,” “LMAO” and “TTYL” into the Oxford American Dictionary.

In fact I, personally, am so unbelievably excited to drone on with faux-hipness and thinly-disguised self-important pseudo-intellectual snootiness about how fascinating it is to see these new terms enter the dictionary that I’m considering applying for a job at a newspaper.

But I’m just so damned busy puzzling over the complete list of additions at the Oxford University Press blog that I’d prefer to keep writing for Techyum, which doesn’t have deadlines. I mean, like, dude. “Bromance?” “Hashtag?” “Hater?” “LBD,” “Paywall?” “Social networking?” Okay. “Steampunk?” “Lipstick lesbian”? Um, all right. “Tag cloud?” Sure. “Tramp stamp?” Like, NSS.

But “gal pal”? “wardrobe malfunction”? “waterboarding”? “webisode?” “the new black?” “my bad”? “what’s not to like?” “like herding cats”? “made man”? Were these things, like, queued up since 1986 or something? Or did I actually become very slightly ahead of the curve on language while I was busy trying to sleep through the press conference on the latest Hollywood remake of Cat on a Roomba Slapping a Pit Bull?

And when it comes to single-source words like “hockey mom” and “truthiness,” or obvious marketing tags like “staycation” — are these honestly new words or clever ideas intended to hawk a political, sales or satirical agenda? In the era of social media, does a large enough number of hits on Google entitle any stumbling Memeasaurus to add whatever crap to the dictionary gets a round of applause at a rally in Knoxville?

Because y’know, Oxford…I kinda feel an attack of Slapsgiving coming on.

America’s Next Teen-Mental-Health Panic? Self-Embedding!

September 8th, 2010 No comments

Grenade embedded in forehead. Vietnam war-era X-ray from the Otis Historical Archives Nat'l Museum of Health & Medicine.

CNN has a fairly level-headed post by Elizabeth Landau on something called self-embedding behavior, in which “teens” shove things under their skin.

Not to be confused with subincision, a body modification done in, like, a tattoo parlor, or, say, pacemakers, which are considered totally normal because old people get them, this is a pathological behavior that runs roughly parallel to self-injury or “cutting,” a far more common practice. Another treatment of the subject interviewing the same doctor is at Cryptozoology-Paranormal blog Our Strange World, with one of the creepiest doctor photos I’ve ever seen in my life.

The CNN article references a study in Radiology — one I couldn’t find in a quick scan of the current Radiology TOC — as follows:

Metal. Plastic. Crayon. These are just some of the materials that teenagers have used to injure themselves by puncturing their skin with objects, or putting objects into the wound after cutting. This is called self-embedding behavior, and some teens do it as a way of coping with tough times.

A new study in the journal Radiology found that 11 patients aged 14 to 18 engaged in this behavior out of 600 patients who had received treatment for removing foreign objects embedded in soft tissue.

To its credit, the article itself doesn’t claim that this behavior is “on the rise” or anything almost certainly spurious like that (at least based on the presented data).

But….11 patients? Let me repeat: ELEVEN PATIENTS????? Does that warrant a lead that says “teenagers” do this behavior?

While grammatically correct, sure, it follows a headline of “Teens self-mutilate, embed objects in skin.” Furthermore, the piece is actually essentially a distillation of a much more elaborate article in Time, in which the following assertion is made:

Read more…

This Is Your Brain on Technophobia. Any Questions?

August 26th, 2010 1 comment

Creative Commons photo by Dylan Parker, now with added terror.

Having listened to Terry Gross and Fresh Air since Lucy was in short pants — or, at least, sometimes it seems that way — I can count on the fingers of both hands the number of times I’ve found the show vapid, idiotic, or just off-base. Not a bad average, sure. But yesterday’s show had me unlacing my shoes.

The guest was Matt Richtel, whose series Your Brain on Computers graces the pages of the New York Times. In this series, which is well-written, well-researched and basically reasonable, Matt Richtel enlists an army of scientists and people walking on treadmills to promulgate the idea that “a little technology is good, but too much technology is bad.”

The talented and persuasive Richtel pushed the same broke-ass idea throughout yesterday’s Fresh Air, with Ms. Gross putting on that ultra-credulous Amazing Discoveries propeller beanie she sometimes wears — I strongly suspect to cover up the “I-don’t-really-give-a-damn” sleepiness in her voice.

If that’s true, I don’t blame her. Because, honestly, we’re still having this discussion? Because, you know, back in the day we had it about comic books.

I’m pretty sure the media has no idea what a “digital device” is — the definition seems to change with the needs of the accusation being made or the research being performed. Generally, as rendered by the media, the term seems to mean smartphones if you’re texting but not cell phones if you’re talking; it means netbooks if you’re on Facebook but not laptops if you’re crunching numbers in a spreadsheet. Text about your work and you’re workaholic but use an ap to manage your household budget and you’re frugal. Text about friends and you’re obsessive or superficial; stare blankly at a redwood tree and suddenly you become some kind of superior being.

This is the Tarzan myth writ large, the Edwardian-era howdah pistol replaced by the Blackberry. The “natural man” doesn’t need any of that shit; he just grabs the most fearsome lion in Africa by the nutsac and bitchslaps him, right?

Yeah…maybe.

While I don’t disagree with any single given point in Richtel’s NYT series or the Fresh Air interview, I think the whole debate about whether mobile communications are changing our brain stinks of moral panic. As far as I can tell, it’s gaining critical mass. I might not have gotten so cranky about it if another NPR show I greatly admire, Marketplace, hadn’t sullied my ears yesterday with the promo for today’s piece on the congestion of mobile networks by data as opposed to voice. Good as the story was, the promo leaned heavily on the idea that it’s somehow messed up that more mobile traffic is text, chat, social networking, etc. than voice. The strong implication in the promotion was that people who use mobile networks for data are screwing it up for the “normal” people who “just want to talk on the phone.”

Read more…

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The Long Psilocybin Goodbye

August 24th, 2010 No comments

Dried Cubensis

Public Domain photo by Eric Fenderson.

I’ve got PTSD and depression both after reading today’s Health.com/CNN article on ecstasy, psilocybin (psychedelic mushrooms) and ketamine for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. The author, Ann Harding, quotes retired FDA medical officer Bruce Stadel, M.D., as saying, “These drugs in the 60s were just let loose without any proper study. [Now] they’re going through the FDA, through the process of clinical trials.”


What’s traumatizing is reading the description of the hoops the researchers have to jump through to generate a reasonable placebo environment. These measures are not without their necessity, I’ll admit — after all, a placebo control for magic mushrooms is not like one for statins in a cholesterol study. Assuming the drug has any effect at all and was given at an effective dose, what kind of a pinhead wouldn’t notice they’d eaten mushrooms? It kind of nullifies the placebo control when the psychotherapist’s face starts melting, right? Kinda hard to miss that.

So here’s what they do in an NYU study led by Stephen Ross, an addiction expert.

Patients are given a silver chalice containing either a psilocybin pill or a placebo.The patient then lies down on a brown sofa surrounded by artwork, sculptures of Buddha, and, on a nearby bookshelf, a little glass mushroom with a red cap. For the next six hours, the patient listens, with eyes shaded, to a combination of classical, Eastern, and tribal music.

A pair of therapists — who don’t know whether the patient has taken an active drug or placebo — stay in the room for support, though they encourage the patient to remain in a meditative state.

I’ll concede that this sort of thing may be a reasonable accommodation for a study on psychedelic drugs, but…tribal Music? Buddha? Really? Read more…

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Hysterical Technophobic Screaming May Cause Hearing Loss

August 19th, 2010 No comments

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Creative Commons image by Dabdiputs.

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle references a study from Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital that points to a significant increase in hearing loss among adolescents aged 12-19, compared to a 1988-1992 study.

The type of loss seen was significant enough in about 1 in 20 subjects that it may affect their ability to learn in the classroom.

The new study, published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (only the abstract is viewable to non-members), is a textbook case of what I love about science, because it actually covered a significant number of subjects (more than 4,000), and the researchers admit that while MP3 players might be the cause, they aren’t necessarily. In fact, the type of damage seen usually isn’t associated with loud noises.

Other possible causes mentioned in the Chronicle article are better survival rates for premature babies (who have a greater prevalence of hearing problems) and unspecified genetic disorders. Nonetheless, the Chron feels obligated to point out “..anecdotally speaking, who hasn’t seen a teenager blasting his iPod on BART?”

That’s okay, though; San Francisco gets to hold up the “not flipping out” side of the mainstream-media spectrum. Eight hours ahead and apparently drunk on cheap vodka at the tail end of a speed orgy, the Telegraph waves its hands in the air and sobs hysterically about the evils of technology, headlining its article on the same study “iPods and MP3 players ‘linked to teenage deafness’” and adding a cherry subtitle “iPods, MP3 players and increased exposure to live music has led to a surge in hearing loss in teens, research suggests.”

And when journalists tell us that “research suggests” something? Class? What do we do? Anyone? Anyone?

That’s right. We slap them! Get ahold of yourself, Telegraph. Technology isn’t evil; neither are teens. They’re just drawn that way.

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