Half of stars lurk outside galaxies : Nature News & Comment

Rocket experiment captures glow attributed to renegade stars in intergalactic space.

Source: Half of stars lurk outside galaxies : Nature News & Comment

 

How would our philosophies today be different if our solar system were not part of a galaxy? If we developed in a cosmic void with as little hope of ever reaching another star as of swimming across the Pacific ocean?

The Nor » All Cameras Are Police Cameras

This essay is the first of a series of reports from The Nor, an investigation into paranoia, electromagnetism, and infrastructure.

When you get in trouble for looking at the cameras, you stop looking at the cameras. But you should really be looking at the cameras.

One of the defining characteristics of the Wall is that it is not, and cannot be, voluntary. While some of the strategies listed here are based on cooperation with the Wall system (tachyometers, navigation and check-in apps, fitness monitors and wearable computers), these are always the accompaniment or introduction to mandatory systems, and are best seen as elective, collaborative trials rather than early adoption or individualistic disruption. Each successive Wall is only erected when the relevant technologies and social systems have arisen that no longer depend on consent.

Source: The Nor » All Cameras Are Police Cameras by James Bridle

Almost Everything in “Dr. Strangelove” Was True – The New Yorker

This month marks the fiftieth anniversary of Stanley Kubrick’s black comedy about nuclear weapons, “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.”

The Soviets did have a doomsday machine, and a rogue American officer could have launched a nuclear attack.

In retrospect, Kubrick’s black comedy provided a far more accurate description of the dangers inherent in nuclear command-and-control systems than the ones that the American people got from the White House, the Pentagon, and the mainstream media.

“This is absolute madness, Ambassador,” President Merkin Muffley says in the film, after being told about the Soviets’ automated retaliatory system. “Why should you build such a thing?” Fifty years later, that question remains unanswered, and “Strangelove” seems all the more brilliant, bleak, and terrifyingly on the mark.

Source: Almost Everything in “Dr. Strangelove” Was True – The New Yorker

The $9 Billion Witness: Meet JPMorgan Chase’s Worst Nightmare – Rolling Stone

Meet Alayne Fleischmann, the woman JPMorgan Chase paid one of the largest fines in American history to keep from talking.

Fleischmann is the central witness in one of the biggest cases of white-collar crime in American history, possessing secrets that JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon late last year paid $9 billion (not $13 billion as regularly reported – more on that later) to keep the public from hearing.

Back in 2006, as a deal manager at the gigantic bank, Fleischmann first witnessed, then tried to stop, what she describes as “massive criminal securities fraud” in the bank’s mortgage operations.

In other words, two full months before the bank rammed through the dirty GreenPoint deal over Fleischmann’s objections, Chase’s CEO was aware that loans like this were too dangerous for Chase itself to own.

The average person had no way of knowing what a terrible deal the Chase settlement was for the country. The terms were even lighter than the slap-on-the-wrist formula that allowed Wall Street banks to “neither admit nor deny” wrongdoing – the deals that had helped spark the Occupy protests.

the ludicrously nonspecific language surrounding the settlement put you, me and every other American taxpayer on the hook for roughly a quarter of Chase’s check. Because most of the settlement monies were specifically not called fines or penalties, Chase was allowed to treat some $7 billion of the settlement as a tax write-off.

Couple this with the fact that the bank’s share price soared six percent on news of the settlement, adding more than $12 billion in value to shareholders, and one could argue Chase actually made money from the deal. What’s more, to defray the cost of this and other fines, Chase last year laid off 7,500 lower-level employees. Meanwhile, per-employee compensation for everyone else rose four percent, to $122,653. But no one made out better than Dimon. The board awarded a 74 percent raise to the man who oversaw the biggest regulatory penalty ever, upping his compensation package to about $20 million.

Truth is one thing, and if the right people fight hard enough, you might get to hear it from time to time. But justice is different, and still far enough away.

Source: The $9 Billion Witness: Meet JPMorgan Chase’s Worst Nightmare – Rolling Stone

The Campus Free-Speech Debates Are About Power, Not Sensitivity – The Atlantic

The activists who tried to keep Bill Maher from speaking at Berkeley lost out, but they still pose a real danger.

Berkeley did the right thing, but it offered the wrong explanation—and that mistaken explanation raises the chances that the next university may do the wrong thing if it faces some combination of a less self-confident speaker, a better-organized protest, or a less strong-willed university leadership.

“Free speech” is the wrong category in which to think about attempted commencement shutdowns. Nobody has a right to be a commencement speaker.

When protesters mobilize against an invited university guest, they are not merely expressing disapprobation of a selection. They are threatening the university with embarrassment or worse unless the university yields to their wishes. It’s the university, not the speaker, who is their target. What they want from the university is not the right to be heard, but the right to veto. More exactly: These battles over campus speakers are not battles over rights at all. They are battles over power.

What they would have done, had they succeeded, was write new rules for the university itself: rules about what may be said, who may say it, and who decides.

Source: The Campus Free-Speech Debates Are About Power, Not Sensitivity – The Atlantic