MonthApril 2009

More Atheists Shout It From the Rooftops

Two months after the local atheist organization here put up a billboard saying “Don’t Believe in God? You Are Not Alone,” the group’s 13 board members met in Laura and Alex Kasman’s living room to grapple with the fallout.

The problem was not that the group, the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry, had attracted an outpouring of hostility. It was the opposite. An overflow audience of more than 100 had showed up for their most recent public symposium, and the board members discussed whether it was time to find a larger place.

And now parents were coming out of the woodwork asking for family-oriented programs where they could meet like-minded nonbelievers.

New York Times: More Atheists Shout It From the Rooftops

(via Disinfo)

GSPOT: Neko reports from Emerald City ComiCon

Still on the tip of DIY art, Neko sends his debut episode from the 2009 Emerald City ComiCon. Nate Powell (Swallow Me Whole, Sounds of Your Name, Walkie Talkie) talks about his start in comics, dressing up as oppressed breakfast cereal characters in his former band Soophie Nun Squad, and why Indiana is such a racist state (and more).

G. Willow Wilson (Air, Vixen: Return of the Lion, Cairo) is asked about the feathered serpent god Quetzalcoatl, flight, symbols, dreams… and how they all relate to her work.

Corey “The Rey” Lewis (Sharknife, Peng!) vigorously discusses his online roots, his online comics par excellence Seedless (updated every Wednesday) and Rival Schools (finished), and where his ideas come from. And the burning question: when will we see him draw a comic by Warren Ellis?

Camilla D’Errico (Nightmares & Fairy Tales, BURN, The Fallen) teases us with a little info about her upcoming project with Grant Morrison (which has, since this was recorded, changed to “The New Bible“). Much gushing, of course, follows. Also discussed: her project with Avril Lavigne, the upcoming videogame she’s working on, the upcoming books, her blasphamous Jesus comic book in high school, her love of manga… and why she hasn’t read Final Crisis yet! Featuring the music of Divorce Chord (Nate Powell’s current band) and The Secret Meeting… plus, some sekrit songs that you may or may not recognize.

And if that wasn’t enough… Lyxzén Suicide tells a joke, “Spider-Man” is asked a very important question, “Stan Lee” says something very NSFW, and more high weirdness.

The GSpot- Live from the Past: Emerald City ComiCon

Torture Porn: Will Be Waterboarded for Food

I’m simply not comfortable with paying someone to be waterboarded, even if it is “for charity” and even if it is Sean Hannity.

Anyone else thinking of Videodrome?

JG Ballard’s final short story: “The Dying Fall”

Three years have passed since the collapse of the Tower of Pisa, but only now can I accept the crucial role that I played in the destruction of this unique landmark. Over twenty tourists died as the thousands of tons of marble lost their grasp on the air and collapsed to the ground. Among them was my wife Elaine, who had climbed to the topmost tier and was looking down at me when the first visible crack appeared in the tower’s base. Never were tragedy and triumph so intimately joined, as if Elaine’s pride in braving the worn and slippery stairs had been punished by the unseen forces that had sustained this unbalanced mass of masonry for so many centuries.

The Guardian: “The Dying Fall” by JG Ballard

(via Bruce Sterling)

Rushkoff encouraging Craig’s List to offer “craigbucks”

Futurist Douglas Rushkoff, famous for correctly predicting the rise of social media, is trying to convince Craigslist’s Craig Newmark to create “craigbucks.” He thinks it’s the obvious next step in the evolution of money. “People could buy and sell things exclusively on Craigslist using craigbucks,” Rushkoff enthuses. “Sure they’ll want to keep their Visas and their MasterCards, but they’ll want a specialized, alternative form of cash too.”

The idea is not as far-fetched as it may seem. Economists already have a term for this kind of community-specific money; they’re called “complimentary currencies” and they naturally take root when conditions are right. For example, in 2006, a Chinese online social network called QQ produced “QQ coins” that became widely traded, used for almost a billion dollars a year in transactions. Even though the currency was designed just to buy things on the QQ network, other websites started accepting QQ coins for payment of even non-virtual goods, and a black market sprung up to convert QQ coins directly to Yuan. The Chinese government cracked down: They feared that QQ could trigger inflation of the Yuan by increasing the total money supply in China.

Portfolio: The Future of Money: DIY Currencies

(via Disinfo)

U.S. Soldier Killed Herself — After Refusing to Take Part in Torture

With each new revelation on U.S. torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and Gitmo (and who, knows, probably elsewhere), I am reminded of the chilling story of Alyssa Peterson, who I have written about numerous times in the past three years but now with especially sad relevance. Appalled when ordered to take part in interrogations that, no doubt, involved what we would call torture, she refused, then killed herself a few days later, in September 2003.

Of course, we now know from the torture memos and the U.S. Senate committee probe and various new press reports, that the “Gitmo-izing” of Iraq was happening just at the time Alyssa got swept up in it.

Alyssa Peterson was one of the first female soldiers killed in Iraq. A cover-up, naturally, followed.

Huffington Post: U.S. Soldier Killed Herself — After Refusing to Take Part in Torture

(via OVO)

Senate report: Rice, Cheney OK’d CIA use of waterboarding

Top Bush administration officials gave the CIA approval to use waterboarding, a controversial interrogation technique, as early as 2002, a Senate intelligence report shows.

On July 17, 2002, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, who later became secretary of state, said the CIA could proceed with “alternative interrogation methods,” including waterboarding, when questioning suspected al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah.

The decision was contingent on the Justice Department’s determining the method’s legality. A week later, Attorney General John Ashcroft had determined the “proposed interrogation techniques were lawful,” the report said. […]

In a meeting that included Vice President Dick Cheney, CIA Director George Tenet, Ashcroft, Rice and their legal counsels, “the principals reaffirmed that the CIA program was lawful and reflected administration policy,” the report said.

CNN: Senate report: Rice, Cheney OK’d CIA use of waterboarding

(via OVO)

More on the “troubled teen” industry

troubled teen industry

A follow-up to this post day before yesterday about the troubled teen industry.

The Cult That Spawned the Tough Love Teen Industry

Mount Bachelor, the school mentioned previously, was a CEDU school prior to being purchased by Aspen. CEDU is a first generation offspring of Synanon, the original abuse-as-therapy cult.

For Their Own Good

A Business Built on the Troubles of Teenagers

A web site for abuse survivors

Oregon tech companies better off now than during dot-com bust. Plus: Oregon companies bucking the trend

In relative terms, this recession has been much less hard on Oregon’s high-tech industries than the dot-com and telecom busts were early this decade. And though the state’s technology manufacturing base continues to erode, a new cluster of Web services companies have sprung up and created a vibrant culture around social-networking technology.

Hopes are high they could lead Oregon technology out of this latest downturn, though their economic impact is muted.

Many of these small companies have set up shop in previously rundown buildings downtown or on Portland’s inner east side. They share a passion for social media, which connects people online through a series of tools including wikis, blogs and the instant-messaging service Twitter.

Prominent examples include Jive Software, AboutUs and SplashCast. Dozens, maybe hundreds, of even smaller companies are bootstrapping themselves with just a handful of employees and their laptops, using low-cost open-source software to launch their businesses with a minimum of startup costs.

OregonLive: Oregon’s high-tech better off now than in dot-com bust

The article’s side panel lists a few companies that are “bucking the trend” during the recession:

Ensequence Inc.

Jive Software

TriQuint Semiconductor Inc.

Jackie Chan’s freedom and control comments deliberately mistranslated?

Okay, the rampant Western media frenzy over Jackie Chan supposedly saying that “Chinese people still need to be controlled ” during a panel discussion at the Boao Forum in Hainan, China is…well, getting out of control. This is the kind of Western media bullshit that makes Westerners look like they’re frothing at the bits to use anything they can to paint China in a negative political light: “Oh look, even lovable kung-fu funny-man Jackie Chan has betrayed his own, selling out both himself and his kind to the evil Communist regime!” To which the Western masses reply in unison: “Gasp!”

The relevant excerpt from the Associated Press:

“I’m not sure if it’s good to have freedom or not,” Chan said. “I’m really confused now. If you’re too free, you’re like the way Hong Kong is now. It’s very chaotic. Taiwan is also chaotic.”

Chan added: “I’m gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled. If we’re not being controlled, we’ll just do what we want.”

And a Chinese report of what Jackie Chan said to foreign reporters:


He himself is now very conflicted with regards to whether freedom is better, or is not freedom is better, because if [people] are too free, it will be just like Taiwan and Hong Kong, which have become very disorderly. So, he has slowly come to feel/think that, “Chinese people still need to be regulated.”

Jackie Chan Said “Chinese Need To Be Controlled”, Or Did He?

I’m not sure what Chan said is much better than what he was reported as saying, but I’m far less sure of just what it is he actually said now.

(Thanks Sydney)

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