At least when it comes to marijuana, the war on drugs is over.
Two states have passed marijuana legalization laws that fly in the face of national drug policy.
Polling on the issue shows a rejection of prohibition. The opinions of law enforcement commanders has begun to shift.
Now, for the first time, when a marijuana lobbyist calls a member of Congress, they get asked for money, not hung up on, Allen St. Pierre, the executive director of NORML told Business Insider. And, as St. Pierre was proud to point out, the man in the White House personally invented a new way to smoke marijuana in high school.
Times They are a-Changin’
Read more at businessinsider.com
Encryption used in Apple’s iMessage chat service has stymied attempts by federal drug enforcement agents to eavesdrop on suspects’ conversations, an internal government document reveals.
An internal Drug Enforcement Administration document seen by CNET discusses a February 2013 criminal investigation and warns that because of the use of encryption, “it is impossible to intercept iMessages between two Apple devices” even with a court order approved by a federal judge.
The DEA’s warning, marked “law enforcement sensitive,” is the most detailed example to date of the technological obstacles — FBI director Robert Mueller has called it the “Going Dark” problem — that police face when attempting to conduct court-authorized surveillance on non-traditional forms of communication.
read more at news.cnet.com
“We act out because, ironically, we think it will bring us some relief. We equate it with happiness. Often there is some relief, for the moment. When you have an addiction and you fulfill that addiction, there is a moment in which you feel some relief. Then the nightmare gets worse. So it is with aggression. When you get to tell someone off, you might feel pretty good for a while, but somehow the sense of righteous indignation and hatred grows, and it hurts you. It’s as if you pick up hot coals with your bare hands and throw them at your enemy. If the coals happen to hit him, he will be hurt. But in the meantime, you are guaranteed to be burned.”
It started in Berlin: Anarchists, donning black bloc attire, hit the streets at night in pairs, small groups or alone to smash and dismantle the CCTV surveillance cameras adorning the city streets.
They posted videos and photos of their exploits online and called the guerrilla project Camover. The German collective gave a playful interview to Vice U.K. in which they explained that they are “a diverse group of people: Shoplifters eluding capitalism who don’t want to be monitored, passengers who don’t want to followed step by step and anarchists fighting everything that wants to control us.”
Read more at systemiccapital.com
Suppose that every memory, written word, and piece of technology on earth was destroyed at once, leaving humanity to start from scratch. Everything we have come to know about science would eventually be discovered again. Given a few thousand years, people would figure out chemistry, and rediscover all of the same elements we know about now. People would once again understand biology, including it’s evolutionary origins. People would eventually see that motions of other galaxies in the sky, and work out the details of the big bang.
This is the glorious part about science, it can and would all be replicated. I can assure you, however, that your story about a talking snake would be gone forever.
We are the first intelligent animals to know that death is inevitable and that will happen to us some day. It’s a scary thought. However, death may actually be the most beautiful thing we have. Right now we believe that we have one consciousness, but we don’t. Our consciousness is incredibly complicated. The brain has multiple neuronal groups, each responsible for a small part of our whole conscious. And each of those neuronal groups are made up of billions of individual neurons. When our consciousness is being expressed, it’s actually expressed through the firing of electric current through groups of neurons, so it’s always different every fraction of the second. We are actually continuously re birthing and dying in our minds, but our brain makes it seem as though it’s one continuous entity. It’s beautiful. We are merely constructs of the mind, and the mind is constructs of biology. Biology is a construct of incredibly complex chemistry down to the molecular level, and each molecule is a construct of the most fundamental physics that govern our universe, all gaining mass through the Higgs field that runs through the entire universe.
If you really think about it, our consciousness is based on physics, therefore it is physics. And since the universe is based on physics, then basically we are the universe. Each of us is just the universe expressing itself in different forms. And we are living during a very brief moment in time where humanity is discovering this truth, and has the scientific evidence to back this fact up (the Buddhists were right all along.)
You, yourself, are the product of billions of years of evolution. You budded off your mother, who budded off hers, who budded off hers… going all the way up to the first life form that existed on this planet. All the people that exist today are part of that line of organisms that never died, all those organisms that evolved through natural selection. Each of us can be traced back to that very first life form. I honestly feel amazed every time I think about this. And honestly, we all should. Evolution is a beautiful thing. And the most amazing thing about it is that it’s our work of art… Because we are the universe. We created ourselves. When we are studying atoms, we’re only atoms studying itself. We should stand in awe at our creation and look ahead at what we can continue to create in this brief moment of time that we have in this form. It’s amazing how we are wired to appreciate ourself, an infinitesimal beauty. It’s a gift that we are giving to ourself to admire.
And the most amazing thing is that we gave ourself the gift of what we perceive as consciousness, so that we can spend time appreciating our own existence.
If you enjoyed reading this, I suggest you watch:
Thank you America. We are making progress.
The GOP is dying out. Bigotry is being seen as such. The people have spoken.
“It’s just a ride.
But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that. You ever noticed that? And let the demons run amok. But it doesn’t matter, because … It’s just a ride.
And we can change it anytime we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money. A choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear wants you to put bigger locks on your door, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love, instead see all of us as one.
Here’s what we can do to change the world right now, to a better ride:
Take all that money we spent on weapons and defense each year and instead spend it feeding, clothing, and educating the poor of the world, which it would many times over, not one human being excluded, and WE CAN EXPLORE SPACE, TOGETHER, BOTH INNER AND OUTER, forever … in peace.”
~Bill Hicks (1961 – 1994)
A pair of scientists at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco has found that a compound derived from marijuana could stop metastasis in many kinds of aggressive cancer, potentially altering the fatality of the disease forever.
“It took us about 20 years of research to figure this out, but we are very excited,” said Pierre Desprez, one of the scientists behind the discovery, to The Huffington Post. “We want to get started with trials as soon as possible.”
“Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology. It’s like, it’s very much analogous to trying to do geology without believing in tectonic plates. You’re just not going to get the right answer. Your whole world is just going to be a mystery instead of an exciting place,”
Is national gay kiss day at your local Chick-Fil-A! Get your asses in there and show some love!
‘As soon as we realize it is within us to do such amazing acts and not endowed through some divine intervention the sooner we’ll strap ourselves in and start fixing all the broken shit in the world.’
~rza1m (youtube comment)
“Religious freedom doesn’t mean you can force others to live by your own beliefs” – Barack Obama
‘Right now, it is raining methane on Titan. The planet Uranus, apparently trying to live up to it’s name, is orbiting the sun sideways, while Venus spins backwards. There are stars exploding, black holes gorging, galaxies colliding.
And here we sit, on a planet pock-marked by collisions, rocked by earthquakes, shaken by storms. A planet doomed to be fried by radiation as it’s magnetic fields collapse, until finally the sun grows into a red giant and leaves nothing of the Earth but dust.
Here we sit, glasses on our noses, inhalers in our pockets, braces on our teeth, waiting to die as our heart muscle expires, our cells decide to grow forever, or a blood vessel just pops, and sometimes in unnatural ways, too.
Here we sit, and some of us say, behold, look at the order of it all.’
“These people who are making a big deal out of gay marriage? I don’t give a fuck about who wants to get married to anybody else! Why not?! We’re making a big deal out of things we shouldn’t be making a deal out of. They go on and on with all this bullshit about ‘sanctity’ — don’t give me that sanctity crap! Just give everybody the chance to have the life they want.”
Ok, a few answers to this:
(1) America was settled, at least initially, by religious fundamentalists who wanted to set up a sort of theocratic republic (before anyone jumps down my throat and says, “The founding fathers were not Christians” – yes, I know, I’m not talking about Jefferson or Paine or Franklin, the people who signed the Declaration of Independence and wrote the US Constitution – I’m talking about the people who went to America in the 1600s. This left a DEEP cultural idea in the American people that they were a ‘chosen people’ living in a ‘promised land’ etc. God loves America; so for an American not to love God back is seen as a sort of treason.
(2) The popular religion that developed in the USA, especially along the frontier and in the South, was anti-intellectual. Unlike in Italy, where the Catholics have a hierarchy and a trained priesthood, the dominant form of Christianity in the USA comes out of evangelical traditions and ‘revivalism’, where anyone with a spattering of Bible knowledge and a good shouting voice could start a church. This led to a very simplistic, literalist, bible-based theology. The broader education and humanist philosophy of the priests in catholic (and anglican and lutheran) churches in Europe mitigated against this trend and produced a religion which is in some ways more ‘porous’.
(3) More generally, the USA has an anti-intellectual culture. In most of continental Europe people look up to and respect ‘book learning’ and being a civilised, cultured human being. In the USA (in most parts) this would be looked down on – it’s what you DO that matters, how much money you make. This anti-intellectualism means that those who have a rational, scientific view of existence can easily be criticised as being ‘out of touch’ with ‘good honest god-fearing Americans’. (Read in redneck voice): ‘Them danged atheists thinks they is better than us folks, just cos they done got themselves a college edjikatishion’. It’s like the horrible reverse parody of the democratic ethos.
(4) Being part of a protestant church is a major commitment. It’s not something you just do as a social ritual, like catholicism can be. You have to make a choice, profess Jesus, get baptised by immersion, sign the members’ roll, turn up to meetings, sit on committees. This tends to harden the edges of the ‘in-group’ and the ‘out-group’. In a catholic country, everyone (or nearly so) is culturally catholic, even if they do not believe in god or go to church; you can’t be a ‘cultural baptist’ – you are either In or Out (and, according to the Ins, everything Out is evil).
(5) After the second world war, the USA had a massive internal propaganda system designed to attack socialism and the left. Communists were ‘atheists’, Communists were bad and anti-American, ergo atheists were bad and anti-American.
(6) The USA does not have a good welfare system. Indeed, the whole country is based on a sort of individualist myth, where the only reason that one guy is working 70 hours a week and struggling to get by with two minimum wage jobs and no healthcare, while someone sits by their pool and has a private jet, is that the first one is ‘lazy’ (i.e. unfavoured by God – remember, Protestant God Wants You to Work Hard) and the second is ‘hardworking’ (i.e. Blessed by God). This means that: (i) there is a lot of fear – fear of sickness, fear of unemployment, fear of annoying the boss, fear of random economic actions outside your control. Fear drives people into fearful, nasty, exclusive versions of religion – a ‘hunker down’ against ‘the world’; (ii) people need the social network and support provided by a church, because the state provides so little – thus atheists are a threat to people because people are terrified of being convinced by them, having to leave the church, and thus losing their social network and support system.
(7) This is the crucial one – it draws on 1 and 5, but goes beyond them and is vitally relevant today: There is, in the USA, a thing called ‘Christianity’ that has little to do with Christianity as it is generally understood in Europe, or in the longer view of the Christian tradition. It is a heavily nationalistic, militaristic, masculine, authoritarian cult, with Jesus as the Cadillac-Driving All-American Hero who has come to save his Chosen People from Gayness, Socialised Medicine, Arabs and Long Haired Hippies. This might best be called, “Amerireligion”. This was deliberately created after the 1960s by the American right, who wanted a way to stop the changes begun by the Progressive Era and the New Deal and to restore the dominance of the old ruling class. The civil rights and anti-vietnam war era brought it to a head. The right saw an opportunity to appeal to the gut-instincts of the white working class blue collar American male by playing on his prejudices – particularly on matters such as race, alternative lifestyles and the sexual revolution. So there was a deliberate demonisation and vilification of those who were seen as ‘different’ from that red-blooded white-skinned American male ideal – they were ‘liberal hippy tree hugging dirty commie atheist bastards’ – not to be trusted, because they were ‘anti-American’ (when ‘American’ is defined by the hard right). So, basically, American christians hate atheists because their religion is really a sort of tribal nationalism, and they’ve been played for fools by right-wing politicians.
How do you get poor and middle class people to vote for tax cuts for billionaires, constant war, erosion of civil liberties, and destruction of public services? Easy, tell them that if they don’t American Jesus will cry – and then the Gays and the Foreigners and the Nasty Atheists – and all who don’t Love American Jesus will continue to shaft them. Why are they unemployed? Not because NAFTA killed the jobs, but because God angry with America for teaching evolution. It’s the ultimate ‘bait-n-switch’. So what’s the answer to the current economic crisis – the worst in American history since the Great Depression? Is it a massive public investment and job-creation programme like FDR did? No, that would be Communistic Atheism. Instead, we must appease the All-Blessing God of America – by banning pornography!
The level of cognitive dissonance must be overwhelming. Faced with that, no wonder so many American Christians act with rage and hostility to the mere presence of atheists.
Breathe. Please. Just breathe.
Make sure you’re alone at the computer so you can sort of meditate, just you and I and r/atheism in a room with you.
Close your eyes and imagine yourself, just your physical self, sitting where you are for five seconds and then open your eyes. I want you to notice something; you’re a human being.
I want you to look at your right or left hand, whichever is dominant. You can bring it to your face so you can see better. Look at the tiny little wrinkles in your hand and in your knuckles, every little fold of skin, every tiny minute detail. Look from the hairs on your wrist to the tips of the nails on your fingers. Just observe them. Imagine all the little cells and substances that make up your hand; the components of the bones, the skin, the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, the nerves, the keratin in your nails, and the other tissues that make up your hand.
I want you to think about your hand. Then I want you to realize something; at this moment, you are thinking. You are reading what I’m writing and comprehending and analyzing what I say. You are consciously and unconsciously evaluating the information I am giving to you. Your computer can’t do what you are doing at this point in time.
Think about your parents. Don’t dwell on anything negative, just a neutral image if you have to. Just the fact that someone, another human being gave birth to you. Think about the fact that someone gave birth to her many years ago, and someone else also gave birth to the person who gave birth to her. Think about how far back this chain goes. Great-great-great-great grandmothers, back to ancestors far in the past, back to common ancestors of the great apes, back to common ancestors among mammals, and chordates, and animals, and plants, and all living creatures. Think about how throughout that long lineage, you are carrying many of the same genes that all those ancestors before you had. Perhaps not a lot, but some at the very least, or at least some derivatives of those genes. Think about the genes that make up your body and how they differ from your relatives’ genes and your friends’ genes. You are a unique individual, statistically speaking. And there’s something else you should realize.
Here is a fact: You are a product of nearly 5 billion years of biological evolution and adaptation. You are here because you are a success, and you exist because you deserve to exist. Every cell in your hand is operating under that principle, and is trying its best to make you survive, to make you into the best human being you can be. Every cell in your body knows that you have a tremendous potential to become great and do good things. Think about how incredible it is to have a brain. Imagine how strikingly powerful and capable it is in its abstract processing abilities, despite its flaws and limitations. It’s staggering, isn’t it? That’s you, and that’s your own capacity. As a human being, you can use your own brain and your own two hands to improve your own and everyone else’s life by thinking, solving problems, constructing solutions, arguing for rationality, and helping those around you. You have some tremendous goddamn potential.
We at r/atheism don’t believe in a god or gods. We don’t need to study catechisms out of fear, regret, guilt, hatred, jealousy, deference, pity, or any other reason. We don’t need to confess every transgression against our fellow men and abuse our psyches trying to reconcile imperfection with ideals. The reason: we realize that we are human beings. We are the product of five billion years of evolution out of harsh, unfriendly environments and limited resources. As a result, while we are incredibly powerful creatures, we are also very fallible. But we don’t have to be defined by these fallibilities. We make mistakes, but here’s another fact: We are designed to make mistakes because we are a product of an imperfect process. That doesn’t make us worthless or pointless. That gives us a challenge to overcome. And we will succeed no matter what because we are goddamn brilliant and our genome is brilliant and our cells are brilliant. Extensively flawed, yes, but also brilliant, and if I wasn’t already clear enough, our existence has enormous potential.
But our potential is locked inside, and there’s really only two keys that unleash it: complete luck and hard work, and you’re better off placing your bets on the second choice. Your grades are slipping, man, and its not entirely your fault. But the blame game is irrelevant here, the point is that it’s a problem that needs fixing. You need to make high grades if that’s your priority. Take another 5 seconds to close your eyes and imagine what you want to be when you grow up. If you don’t know what you want to be, then pick something cool and draw on that just for the moment, like an astrophysicist or a professional tennis player. Your grades are probably going to need to be high in order to achieve what you want, even for an athletic goal (it’s easier and more secure this way in the long run). You want something, and low grades are in the way. That’s a problem, because you’re a human being. But you also have a solution, because you’re a human being. You’ve got hands and brains, and you can employ them however you want; let’s use them for constructive ends, like bettering your grades. You just have to exert willpower to stay away from unproductive activities on the computer and make yourself put in time and energy toward studying, and there are people who can help you do that better than I can. And at the same time, we can use your resources to improve your physical health, and then your mental health and self esteem. Because we are a goddamn civilization, and we can cooperate with others to solve problems we can’t solve entirely on our own. Because the payoff will be vastly worth the input effort, even if it takes time. And the best part is that you don’t need to condemn yourself with destructive religious zeals that were forced into you to do it. You can live happily as an agnostic atheist, as much of r/atheism can demonstrate, and you will certainly be more fulfilled if you appreciate yourself for what your evolutionary success and your intrinsic capacity are worth. And if you ever doubt that you are worth anything to a society, read this again and just think about what it means to be an evolutionary success, and what it means that you are alive while literally quintillions of potential possible human beings weren’t.
Don’t waste your opportunity to live and do something great. You can never make a mistake so terrible that it warrants punishing yourself by giving up the one thing we must cherish most: our humanity. Because you’re pretty goddamn brilliant for a chimpanzee, and I think that with proper guidance and some support, you can accomplish a lot of great things, with or without a religion if you need or don’t need one; that’s your choice.
As life forms in an otherwise empty universe as far as we have seen, we need to preserve the things that we have in our advantage in order to enjoy the limited time we have in this world as much as possible, and I think r/atheism, some good, dependable friends you can rely on, and a little bit of courage and persistence will let you do just that.
-sincerely, the rational human race.
“As we mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we must remember that this Supreme Court decision not only protects a woman’s health and reproductive freedom, but also affirms a broader principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters,”
~ President Barack Obama, January 23rd, 2012
I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.