Tin Foil Hats Actually Make it Easier for the Government to Track Your Thoughts

OMG! It's a conspiracy! That's OK, though, because we know the truth about black helicopters.

Let's say some malevolent group -- the government, powerful corporations, extraterrestrials -- really is trying to read and/or control your thoughts with radio waves. Would the preferred headgear of the paranoid, a foil helmet, really keep The Man and alien overlords out of our brains?

(link) [The Atlantic]

09:38 /Humor | 2 comments | permanent link

The Case for Abolishing Patents

When even the Fed recognizes that patents are nothing more than the ultimate form of rent seeking, maybe we can make some move away from the current system.

Our patent system is a mess. It's a fount of expensive litigation that allows aging companies to linger around by bullying their more innovative competitors in court.

(link) [The Atlantic]

09:13 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link

Ancient Scandinavian Urn Wrapped in Fabric Made of Nettles

I had no idea that nettles could be used for fiber, but it's apparently an ancient technique. Here's some stinging nettle history and here's how to process it for fiber - seems very similar to working with flax.

A textile which was wrapped around an ancient urn in Denmark, previously thought to be cultivated flax, was recently re-examined by scientists and verified as imported wild nettles.

(link) [Latinos Post]

16:57 /Agriculture | 2 comments | permanent link


You can find anything on the 'net. Or in West Virginia.

This bizarre, multi-horned, wooly, white beast is said to stalk the forested areas of Virginia and West Virginia, and remains one of the most enigmatic, large mammals as yet undiscovered in the wilds of the U.S.

(link) [American Monsters]

10:26 /Humor | 0 comments | permanent link

Tennessee fraternity suspended after alcohol enemas

Bottoms up!

The University of Tennessee says it has suspended a fraternity chapter indefinitely and may refocus its alcohol education programs after police said a student was hospitalized following a weekend incident involving alcohol enemas.

(link) [CNN]

20:00 /Humor | 0 comments | permanent link

How to Make a Book Disappear

This perfectly elucidates my main objection to e-books - enabling a digital dark age.

An e-book is not a physical book. That point might seem trite until you stop for a moment to think how much simpler it is, in a certain sense, to destroy electronic than physical traces. There's no need of inciting mass cooperation in book-burning enterprises. No need for secret police or raids or extensive surveillance. The power to remove a book from a device, to remove all traces of it from retailers' websites, to expunge it from a publisher's online record: It would simplify the work of a would-be Soviet Union or Oceania multifold, would it not? It's ugly. For all kinds of reasons.

(link) [The Atlantic]

15:20 /Technology | 2 comments | permanent link

Red Hat's new patent troll weapon: GPL violation

Far too often companies make a business decision to just roll over and play dead when confronted with the prospect of expensive and often fruitless patent litigation - not so in this case! Nice to see a legal salvo headed back at the trolls.

Red Hat has taken a unique step in defending itself from a patent infringement claim from Twin Peaks Software: a counterclaim that Twin Peaks is in copyright violation on mount, the file management app that is licensed under the GPLv2. Not only is Red Hat seeking GPL compliance, it's also going after Twin Peaks for damages and is seeking an injunction on Twin Peaks' own product sales.

(link) [IT World]

10:15 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link

Is medical science built on shaky foundations?

While this concentrates on medical research, the problem is much more widespread than that - remember cold fusion?

More than half of biomedical findings cannot be reproduced – we urgently need a way to ensure that discoveries are properly checked.

(link) [New Scientist]

10:11 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link

Court rules Wal-Mart can fire legal medical marijuana user

If you ever wondered what was meant by the phrase "letter of the law", read this.

Although he lives in a state where medical marijuana is legal, a federal court ruled on Wednesday that a Michigan man could be terminated by his employer for testing positive for the drug.

(link) [The Daily Caller]

10:06 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

The Brilliant Prudence of Dwight Eisenhower

Maybe we could exhume him for this election cycle ...

We know now that Ike was quietly powerful, that he operated with a "hidden hand," as Princeton professor Fred Greenstein once put it. In my new book on how President Eisenhower kept America out of war, I examine his ability to bluff and outmaneuver the Soviets and, when necessary, his own generals. The Eisenhower leadership style sharply contrasts with what we have come to expect in our celebrity culture and tit-for-tat politics. Eisenhower was never showy or impulsive; he disdained partisanship and always played for the long term. He was patient and calm in the face of uncertainty. He needed to be, for he faced an unpredictable and dangerous foe.

(link) [The Atlantic]

08:21 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

Can You Patent Yoga Pants?

Of course you can! Surprised? I'm not ...

If you don't believe the system is broken, read the patent. If you still don't find this totally absurd, perhaps you're an intellectual property attorney ... or should consider a career as such.

A lawsuit over $98 yoga pants feels sort of ridiculous its face. But the case is actually a big deal.

(link) [NPR]

19:19 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link

Hello Kitty Hell

Darth Kitty

Hello Kitty Hell simply must be seen to be believed. But there are certain posts that cannot be unseen - you have been warned.

20:33 /Humor | 0 comments | permanent link

The Agents of Outrage

It was some internal debate in my head that placed this in my Politics category, rather than religion. It could have gone either way, but my musings on the Danish cartoons were placed here, and I do try for some semblance of consistency.

My take on the situation remains pretty much the same, but the worry that I expressed then that the crazy would spread to the perpetrator's monotheist buddies here in the US seems to get closer every day. Just read some of the political rhetoric being tossed about, not to mention the spate of recent mosque controversies. And while no Christian group has attacked a newspaper here (yet), abortion clinics are none too safe from their depredations. More and more I'm coming to believe that it's just a matter of time before we will face the threat of a world wide religious war. As a Heathen and polytheist, I feel completely caught by this - not only do I not have a dog in this fight, I (and other heathens/pagans/polytheists) are the dogs in the middle - liable to catch fire from all monotheist combatants.

I've sometimes referred to the monotheist faiths as Highlander religions - "There can be only one!". And by definition, that's the real recipe for intolerance and violence. It's been somewhat muted in the West after centuries of intra-Christian religious wars, and in the Islamic world by centuries of decline and colonization. But the core (fundamental) belief in One Way Only has remained intact on both sides of the divide, and the monotheist chickens are coming home to roost. As they always will, until and unless people understand that the pathways to the divine (or simply through life) are many and varied, and start treating each other as humans beings, rather than as heretics, apostates, unbelievers and devils.

For the sake of the planet, I hope we learn this pretty quickly, because rather than swords and stakes, these modern chickens have nukes, chemicals, biological agents and drones.

The violence looked spontaneous; it was anything but. Instead it was the product of a sequence of provocations, some mysterious, some obvious. It seemed to start in the U.S., then became magnified in Egypt and was brought to a deadly and sorrowful climax in Libya—all on the 11th anniversary of 9/11. The cast of characters in this tragedy included a shadowy filmmaker, a sinister pastor in Florida, an Egyptian-American Islamophobe, an Egyptian TV host, politically powerful Islamist extremist groups and, just possibly, an al-Qaeda affiliate in Libya. The instigators and executors didn’t work in concert; they probably didn’t even know they were in cahoots. Indeed, some of them would sooner die than knowingly help the others’ causes. Nonetheless, the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was the result of a collective effort, with grievous consequences.

(link) [TIME]

11:37 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

Apple wins 'rubber-banding' patent ban against Motorola

If this UI feature isn't obvious to any skilled practitioner of the art, I don't know what would be. But I guess if you can patent the rectangle you can patent anything.

Apple has eked out yet another legal victory against its Android competition.

(link) [CNET]

10:55 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link

Atheist Asatruar Redux

There's been a round (or two) of posting in the Pagan blogosphere lately concerning the intersections of philosophy, science, humanism and religion (specifically of the pagan or heathen variety). I ran into it first on The Wild Hunt, and then again at egreores, who has written a great deal on the subject over the years. Going back over MacRaven, it seems as though I, too, have written a good deal on the subject. So here's my list of links, a small contribution to the debate:

Interestingly enough, this topic seems to have generated more comments than any other, not to mention several dozen emails over the years asking for more private discussion of "secular humanist heathenry". And I'm still not sure that's what I'd call myself, though it does have a nice alliterative ring to it, kinda like "atheist Asatruar" ...

19:58 /Asatru | 0 comments | permanent link