The Null Device
Heavy Trash, an anonymous collective of architects, designers and urban planners opposed to wealthy Americans' retreat into gated communities, has installed Berlin Wall-style viewing platforms at the gates of three such communities in Los Angeles:
"When public services and even local government are privatized, when the community of responsibility stops at the gates, the function and the very idea of democracy are threatened. Gates and barricades that separate people from one another also reduce people's potential to understand one another and commit to any common or collective purpose."
"There are now more than 1 million homes behind such walls in the greater Los Angeles area alone," according to Setha Low, a professor at the City University of New York.
American students traveling abroad confirm the findings of a study indicating that Washington's unilateral approach to foreign policy has seriously undermined Americans' chances of getting laid:
"I'm in Amsterdam--Amsterdam, for Christ's sake--and I'm in the middle of the longest dry spell I can remember," Higgs said. "Last week, I was making out with this Italian girl at a concert. It was all going great until the music ended and she heard my American accent. I swear to God, I went from the cusp of a hand job to, 'Why won't your country sign the Kyoto Treaty?'"
"I voted for Kerry and I marched against the Iraq war," Biehn said. "But when I got to Europe, I might as well have been wearing a Bush bumper sticker on my forehead and star-spangled cowboy boots. As soon as the French guys hear I am from the U.S., all they want to do is argue politics."
And some advice for young Americans attempting to pull in Europe:
"First, pretend you're Canadian whenever you can," Hapbrook said. "But make sure you're not around actual Canadians, because they'll know you're lying and cock-block you. Second, if there are any anti-American protests going on, take care to avoid women carrying signs. Third, focus your itinerary on countries like Ireland and Japan that are still relatively friendly to Americans. You may want to write off France altogether," Hapbrook added.
New-age guru turned skeptic and sociologist Karla McLaren on differences in the way skeptics and new-agers think:
For instance, an understanding of cold reading would have helped me a great deal. I never knew what cold reading was, and until I saw professional magician and debunker Mark Edward use cold reading on an ABC News special last year, I didn't understand that I had long used a form of cold reading in my own work! I was never taught cold reading and I never intended to defraud anyone - I simply picked up the technique through cultural osmosis.
People in my culture have heard you and we're trying to answer - but we don't understand you. Our cultural training about the dangers of the intellect makes it nearly impossible for us to utilize science properly - or to identify your intellectual rigor as anything but an unhealthy overuse of the mind.
We love to say that we embrace mystery in the New Age culture, but that's a cultural conceit and it's utterly wrong. In actual fact, we have no tolerance whatsoever for mystery. Everything from the smallest individual action to the largest movements in the evolution of the planet has a specific metaphysical or mystical cause. In my opinion, this incapacity to tolerate mystery is a direct result of my culture's disavowal of the intellect. One of the most frightening things about attaining the capacity to think skeptically and critically is that so many things don't have clear answers. Critical thinkers and skeptics don't create answers just to manage their anxiety
Meanwhile, a revert war seems to have opened up in the Wikipedia entry on Witchcraft; it started when a bunch of fuzzy-bunny pagans took offense with the part of the article which contradicted their belief that witchcraft was the same unified, benign and generally warm and fluffy thing throughout centuries, rejected the validity of all the sources cited for this (partly because the "secret oral tradition" they know says otherwise, and what would some stuffy academic who's not part of it know?), and vowed to enlist their friends' help to ensure that their point of view prevails.
Quite frankly, I don't care what you think. If you post further erroneous statements, I will not hesistate to remove them. Moreover, I'm sure I can easily recruit a thousand or so neo-pagans that would be more than willing to devote a little of their time to keep Wikipedia's entry on witchcraft free of your hostile and inaccurate statements
Toads in Altona, an area of northern Germany, are spontaneously swelling up and exploding. Thousands of the hapless amphibians have mysteriously swollen up like balloons, growing to three and a half times normal size before bursting and splattering the area (and, presumably, any unlucky bystanders) with toad guts. The cause of this bizarre phenomenon remains unknown, though some are speculating that it is a virus or a fungus.