Category - Nonfiction

Jade Helm and (more) William M. Arkin

I suppose it’s only natural that people would freak out when word of the U.S. Army’s imminent Jade Helm training exercises started making the rounds. Hell, if you’re going to assume the worst whenever some part of the government announces — well, anything — I can certainly understand the impulse.

The whole affair began with a slideshow put together by the US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) called “Request To Conduct Realistic Military Training (RMT) JADE HELM 15.” [PDF] Although this document would be of little interest to most Americans, it immediately set off red flags among internet conspiracy theorists and those who love them. That’s because the terms “training” and “drill” mean “the opposite of training” and “martial law” in conspiracy-talk. For instance, one popular conspiracy theory posits that the Boston Marathon bombing never happened, that it was a hoax, some sort of drill conducted in order to justify the continued expansion of the nation’s “police state infrastructure.” The same has been said about the Oklahoma City Bombing, the civil unrest in Ferguson, and the 9/11 attacks on New York, the Pentagon, and a field outside of Pittsburgh. This rush towards enslavement, it is claimed, will culminate later this month with the Jade Helm plot to establish martial law in the southwest.

(And it’s not just the government that’s in on it. Apparently, Walmart is somehow involved.)

Continue reading on The Conspiracy Review

From Pittsburgh to the End of the World

Adam Parfrey writes of “individuals who have the audacity to consider themselves their own best authority, in repudiation or ignorance of the orthodoxy factories of the Church, University or State. The constructions of these folk researchers may often seem wildly amiss, laughable, disreputable, but are more revealing cultural barometers than the acculturated pabulum of compromised and corrupt professionals.” This type of “folk researcher” is an American institution, as exemplified by such eccentrics as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison and C.T. Russell.

Continue reading on Medium

From The Fountainhead to the Furries: Ten links for fans of Ayn Rand

I channel surfed upon a movie called Ayn Rand and The Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged this evening. Despite the kudos from Dennis Miller, it turns out that it isn’t very good. As usually happens when I’m in front of the TV, I ended up doing some research into the subject from the couch. This quickly led me down a “rabbit hole” of Objectivist weirdness.

Continue reading on The Verge

Propaganda 2.0: why Israel and Hamas are fighting a war with rockets and tweets

As I write this, I notice Hamas’ claim that it has shelled “occupied” Tel Aviv. I hear this not from cable news or The New York Times, or from RT America, the Russian government backed twenty-four hour news network that I have streaming on the Roku across the room. Nor do I learn it from CNN, where Anderson Cooper is busting Sen. McCain’s balls for contesting Hillary Clinton’s possible replacement. No, I learn this from Twitter, which isn’t really worth giving much thought to — until you realize that this tweet comes not from a news outlet, but from Hamas. And another tweet, from the Israel Defense Forces, assures me that, in fact, the Hamas rocket never reached Tel Aviv — “#Hamas propaganda is constantly spreading misinformation,” apparently.

Continue reading on The Verge

See also: Realtime war: Israeli military liveblogs, tweets attack on Hamas

Pittsburgh hostage drama plays out on Facebook

Around 8:15 AM, a twenty-something individual walked into CW Breitsman Associates, a benefits administration firm in downtown Pittsburgh. He asked to speak to the owner, Charles Breitsman. As they entered a private office and the door closed behind them, Breitsman told his daughter to call 911. The office soon cleared of everyone but the two men, and for almost six hours the city had a full-blown hostage situation on its hands.

Continue reading on The Verge

David Carr and the Curator’s Code


The ease with which folks are able to blog, reblog, and otherwise reproduce (as well as remix) other people’s work is definitely among the revolutionary powers of the internet — at the heart of which is the reduction of everything to ones and zeros, which lends itself not only to obscuring the provenance of a particular work, but also to reducing the perceived value of content in general. This is a concern to anyone who values quality content, of course: if people and organizations aren’t getting paid to create, their ability to create is severely limited.

Continue reading at The Verge

From the vaults: Tutti Frutti

This piece originally appeared in Deek Magazine on September 23, 2005.

Little Richard was born Richard Wayne Penniman on December 5, 1932 in Macon, Georgia. The Deep South (like most of America) was a wild place in those days. Richard’s father was a preacher and a bootlegger, selling hooch and salvation as an adherent of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church — a sect of Christianity founded by a farmer named William Miller, who once wrote a book with the unwieldy title, Evidences from Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ about the Year 1843.

Richard spent his youth on the dirt street where hustlers of all types would hang out in the hot, dusty Georgia afternoons, singing to snare marks and move goods. There were old men with vegetable carts, ward heelers making the rounds, soap box preachers selling religion… people hustled whatever they had to get by.

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The Rebellion at Foxconn

Foxconn Technology Group is the largest manufacturer of electronics and computer components worldwide. If you own something by Apple, Nokia, HP, Dell, or if you own a Kindle, a game console, or anything with an Intel motherboard, it was probably made at Foxconn. The company’s main manufacturing plant is located in the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, a sprawling compound described by the Wall Street Journal as “The Forbidden City of [Foxconn CEO] Terry Gou.” Something like 400,000 employees live and work there, work that proceeds at a pace that a Chinese journalist named Liu Zhiyi (writing for Southern Weekend) describes as transforming you into “a component that’s entered the assembly line, just following the rhythm, belonging to that heartbeat at 4am, no way to escape.” While certainly poetic, this also goes some way to explain the twelve-plus employee suicide attempts so far this year (I think we might be up to sixteen or seventeen now — at least ten of which have been successful). It’s gotten so bad that the technology site Engadget (where I am a contributing editor) has been keeping a sort of suicide watch, while my colleagues at the Computex trade show in Taipei were greeted upon their arrival by protesters branding Apple CEO Steve Jobs an “OEM profit bloodsucker.”

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