Why taking drugs is such a lottery

Cannabis sativa

The surface of a Cannabis sativa plant, showing glandular cells called trichomes that secrete a resin containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active component of cannabis when used as a drug.TED KINSMAN/SCIENCE SOURCE



PARTY PEOPLE, LISTEN up: You need to know your limits. In fact, non-party people, too. But how can you, when there’s almost no way of knowing if that cannabis-infused lollipop is going to get you bong-rip high, or just puff-on-a-jay lifted? For that matter, what is in this joint, because right now you are feeling way more lit than usual.

To wit, no reliable method exists to tell you exactly how high that joint, edible, dab, or bong rip will get you. (Actually, I’m pretty confident that a bong rip is going to get you incredibly high.) This is important, because marijuana is going mainstream. Many of its new customers aren’t lifelong stoners, and want an experience similar to, say, a Budweiser: a predictably intoxicating experience. Problem is, cannabis is one hell of a puzzling drug. Its many compounds can play with your body’s chemistry in ways that scientists are just beginning to understand. But the industry is getting closer to a reliable weed label, and in the meantime learning some great science.

“Cannabis is the most phytochemically complex plant on the planet,” says Jeremy Plumb, chemist and owner of Portland-based Newcleus Nursery and the dispensary Farma. Certainly more complex than alcohol. Weed’s most famous ingredient is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. It gets you high. It can also make you anxious. Cannabidiol is the yin to THC’s yang. It’s non-psychoactive, and Plumb says it levels out THC’s high and attenuates anxiety.

But those are just the big two.Cannabis has at least 60 cannabinoids, many of which can alter your body in different ways, along with other chemicals like terpenoids and flavonoids that can complicate the plant’s effects even more. So this is step one to creating a reliable weed label: Standardize the plant. If you’re sure you’re selling the same bud over and over again, consumers can keep better track of what—and how much—they like.

Standardization is incredibly difficult, though. “If I gave you, and three other producers, the exact same cannabis genotype, let’s say a blackberry Kush, and you all grow it out, you might think that the plants have consistent attributes,” says Plumb. “But that is not the case.” Cannabis plants are incredibly sensitive to environmental factors. Maybe your grow room was two degrees warmer than another grower’s. Your humidity was lower. You harvested a day later. You used your own homebrewed fertilizer. Your lights were a watt brighter. “I’ve seen incredible variance in the THC levels of flowers grown closer to the lights,” says Plumb. “I had one indoor plant where the topmost branches closest to the light were 29 percent THC, the middle were 19 percent, and in shaded undergrowth, 9 percent.”

And then you have to ensure that all those plants do indeed have all the same chemical profile. Which means you need to hire some decent chemists and give them access to good mass spectrometry equipment. “Labs can’t function on 100 bucks for three hours of analytical work,” says Plumb. Those labs exist—Plumb says his is one of them—but no regulation exists that makes sure the chemistry in his lab is the same that is being used in the lab down the street, or in Colorado, or wherever. Oregon, which legalized recreational weed last year, is working on rules that could help keep tests more consistent…




‘Burner’ phones, social media and online magazines: understanding the technology of terrorism


Amid the global threat of terrorism, the actual attacks that occur can vary widely. Terrorists aim at different targets in different locations, and tend to be either shooting or bombing or both. There is, however, a central point of connection linking all these events: the use of technology to coordinate and organize the incident.

Recent reporting suggests that terrorists used “burner” phones, prepaid disposable mobile phones, to coordinate their actions during last year’s Paris terror attacks. This is not a new or innovative tactic. Drug dealers, street prostitutes and other criminal groups in the U.S. regularly use these devices for communication: they are cheap, plentiful and difficult to link to a real identity. Their value lies in real-time communication, via text or voice call, that needs no software nor even a computer to connect.

Having researched cybercrime and technology use among criminal populations for more than a decade, I have seen firsthand that throwaway phones are just one piece of the ever-widening technological arsenal of extremists and terror groups of all kinds. Computers, smartphones and tablets also draw people into a movement, indoctrinate them and coordinate various parts of an attack, making technology a fundamental component of modern terrorism.

Attracting attention

Different resources and applications are pivotal at different phases in the process of radicalization to violence, and for good reason. For instance, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Periscope give extremist groups a venue to attract individuals to join their movements.

Social media is especially effective for terrorist groups because it allows people to share and spread short messages, including text and images, in rapid bursts. With access from nearly any device, such as desktop or laptop computers and mobile phones – including burners – individuals can connect to larger networks of members around the world. Those communities can then reinforce ideological beliefs and spin messages.

The Islamic State group has a significant presence on Twitter. It useshundreds of thousands of user accounts to broadcast information about its activities on the ground in real time, as well as to attract individuals to the movement. There have been several examples over the last few years ofyoung people being recruited into the Islamic State group via social mediaand encouraged to travel to join the fight.

Since social media posts are shared in near-real time, terror groups can also post messages to claim responsibility for a terror attack or act of violence. People who see it can share it with others, drawing attention to this news and giving these groups additional attention from people who might join their cause.

Engaging in discussion

Web forums are another important venue for information sharing, radicalization and recruitment. Forums are asynchronous, meaning posts made can be seen at any time – seconds, minutes or even days after being made. Forums also let individuals post lengthy messages with images, hyperlinks and text that may take more time to read and interpret. As a result, they are more conversational and lead people to participate over long periods of time.

Forums are essential for long-term construction of shared cultures underlying extremist movements. They let people debate at length topics and minutiae of belief systems beyond what is possible on social media. In fact, one of the oldest web forums used by members of neo-Nazi and other radical far-right extremist groups in the U.S., called Stormfront, has beenin operation since 1996




You Can’t Handle the Truth: How Confirmation Bias Distorts Your Opinions

confirmation bias


The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.

– Leo Tolstoy

Your thoughts, opinions, beliefs, and worldviews are based on years and years of experience, reading, and rational, objective analysis.



Your thoughts, opinions, beliefs, and worldviews are based on years and years of paying attention to information that confirmed what you already believed while ignoring information that challenged your preconceived notions.

If there’s a single lesson that life teaches us, it’s that wishing doesn’t make it so.
– Lev Grossman

Like it or not, the truth is that all of us are susceptible to falling into a sneaky psychological trap called confirmation bias.

One of the many cognitive biases that afflict humans, confirmation bias refers to our tendency to search for and favor information that confirms our beliefs while simultaneously ignoring or devaluing information that contradicts our beliefs.

This phenomenon is also called confirmatory bias or myside bias.

It is a normal human tendency, and even experienced scientists and researchers are not immune.

Some things have to be believed to be seen. – Madeleine L’Engle

Here are two examples of confirmation bias in action, based on two commonly debated issues:

Climate change: Person A believes climate change is a serious issue and they only search out and read stories about environmental conservation, climate change, and renewable energy. As a result, Person A continues to confirm and support their current beliefs.

Person B does not believe climate change is a serious issue, and they only search out and read stories that discuss how climate change is a myth, why scientists are incorrect, and how we are all being fooled. As a result, Person B continues to confirm and support their current beliefs.

Gun control: Person A is in support of gun control. They seek out news stories and opinion pieces that reaffirm the need for limitations on gun ownership. When they hear stories about shootings in the media, they interpret them in a way that supports their existing beliefs.

Person B is adamantly opposed to gun control. They seek out news sources that are aligned with their position, and when they come across news stories about shootings, they interpret them in a way that supports their current point of view. (source)

Right now, as you are reading this – other examples of confirmation bias are probably starting to creep into your mind.

After all, it is election season in the US, a time for which an apt nickname would be “Confirmation Bias Season.”

In politics, confirmation bias explains, for example, why people with right-wing views read and view right-wing media and why people with left-wing views read and view left wing media. In general, people both:

  • Want to be exposed to information and opinions that confirm what they already believe.
  • Have a desire to ignore, or not be exposed to, information or opinions that challenge what they already believe.

Even in cases where people do expose themselves to alternative points of view, it may be a form of confirmation bias; they want to confirm that the opposition is, indeed, wrong…






This wealthy financial center is known world-wide for its tidy streets and tight controls on personal behavior, including famous restrictions on the sale of chewing gum to keep the city clean.

Now Singapore may soon be known for something else: the most extensive effort to collect data on daily living ever attempted in a city.

As part of its Smart Nation program, launched by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in late 2014, Singapore is deploying an undetermined number of sensors and cameras across the island city-state that will allow the government to monitor everything from the cleanliness of public spaces to the density of crowds and the precise movement of every locally registered vehicle.

It is a sweeping effort that will likely touch the lives of every single resident in the country, in ways that aren’t completely clear since many potential applications may not be known until the system is fully implemented. Already, for instance, authorities are developing or using systems that can tell when people are smoking in prohibited zones or littering from high-rise housing. But the data collected in this next phase—and how it’s used—will go far beyond that.

Much of the data will be fed into an online platform, dubbed Virtual Singapore, that will give the government an unprecedented look into how the country is functioning in real time, allowing them to predict, for example, how infectious diseases might spread or how crowds could react to an explosion in a shopping mall. The government also plans to share data, in some cases, with the private sector.

Officials say the program is designed to improve government services through technology, better connect its citizens, and encourage private-sector innovations. For instance, sensors deployed by private companies in some elderly people’s publicly managed homes will alert family if they stop moving, and even record when they use the toilet in an attempt to monitor general health.

Yet the government also says it isn’t certain what kinds of applications might be possible once the system is built, and hasn’t decided where all the sensors will be located, raising privacy concerns.

A spokesman says that the government will only deploy sensors when there are specific benefits to citizens, and that it doesn’t set out to build systems and collect data before deciding what to do with it.

Any decision to use data collected by Smart Nation sensors for law enforcement or surveillance would not, under Singapore law, need court approval or citizen consultation. If the network is somehow hacked, criminals could potentially access a trove of data about citizens’ lives.

“The big, big elephant in the room is protection of privacy and ensuring security,” says Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore’s foreign affairs minister and minister-in-charge of Smart Nation…




This is What Government Sponsored Mass Surveillance is Doing to Your Mind

Hacker Surveillance Big Brother

by Alex Pietrowski, Staff Waking Times

Big Brother is watching you and he wants you to believe that if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear.

This is a lie, of course, and as we move deeper into the era of state sponsored technological surveillance, we see more evidence that the loss of privacy and confidence in inter-personal communications istransforming the individual into a compliant, self-policing ward of the state.

In one of the first empirical scientific studies to provide concrete evidence of the ‘chilling effects’ that government surveillance has on internet users, Oxford University professor Jon Penney looked at Wikipedia search data and traffic patterns before and after the 2013 revelations by Edward Snowden regarding widespread NSA surveillance of the internet. The results demonstrated an immediate trend towards self-censorship, as traffic and searches for terms like ‘Al Qaeda,’ ‘car bomb,’ and ‘Taliban’ showed nearly instant and mentionable decline.

The changes were statistically significant enough to indicate that many people automatically alter their own behavior upon realizing that a punitive authoritarian organization is monitoring them for legitimate or perceived wrongdoings.

“If people are spooked or deterred from learning about important policy matters like terrorism and national security, this is a real threat to proper democratic debate.” – Jon Penney

In 2013, the organization Pen America conducted a survey of writers in the United States showing that many were already self-censoring themselves in an increasingly oppressive atmosphere of government surveillance. The fear of being caught up in a dragnet of legal and financial problems was sufficient enough for many to change their tone and content, even though no direct physical threat existed.

“The results of this survey—the beginning of a broader investigation into the harms of surveillance—substantiate PEN’s concerns: writers are not only overwhelmingly worried about government surveillance, but are engaging in self-censorship as a result.” [Source]

Commenting on the effects of authoritarian governments which heavily surveil their citizens, Pen America also notes that, “historically, from writers and intellectuals in the Soviet Bloc, and contemporaneously from writers, thinkers, and artists in China, Iran, and elsewhere—aggressive surveillance regimes limit discourse and distort the flow of information and ideas.” This is without question the intended aim of such programs.

That study also included data which indicated how people curtail their online behavior and interactions with other people out of fear of being persecuted by the nanny state:

“Smaller percentages of those surveyed described already changing their day-to-day behavior: 28 percent said they had “curtailed or avoided activities on social media,” with another 12 percent saying they had seriously considered doing it; similar percentages said they had steered clear of certain topics in phone calls or email (24 percent had done so; 9 percent had seriously considered it).” [Source]

Furthermore, in a 2015 study by the Massachussetts Institute of Technology (MIT) examining how awareness of government surveillance affected people’s use of Google, the world’s most widely used internet search engine, researchers concluded that, “users were less likely to search using search terms that they believed might get them in trouble with the US government.”

In general, people’s behavior also changes in ways more favorable to an authoritarian government when surveillance both online and in the real world is as ubiquitous as it already is in American society. The state draws power from a compliant, acquiescent, and self-policing public, and when mass surveillance is applied to the citizenry, with the predictable result of creating a more submissive and conformist citizenry.

This idea was effectively brought to life in George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel, 1984, where the primary surveillance device of the individual was the telescreen, a digital device located in every home that could receive and transmit audio and video, giving individuals zero privacy in their own homes. The beauty of omnipotent surveillance such as this was that the government did not even have to actually be monitoring an individual, because the simple fact that they could be listening and watching was enough to frighten a person into voluntary compliance and self-censorship.

“There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You have to live – did live, from habit that became instinct – in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.” – George Orwell, 1984


About the Author

Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle…

This article (This is What Government Sponsored Mass Surveillance is Doing to Your Mind) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Alex Pietrowski and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.




“Unfortunately there are certain stars who won’t do what we want…”

Sounds kind of like Prince, doesn’t it?

The phrase “Simpsons did it” has become a something of a joke, because in the nearly 30 years the cartoon has been on air, it has seemingly predicted a host of events, including the 9/11 attacks.

Now, it seems, The Simpsons is making headlines once again for predicting another sinister turn of events… Prince’s assassination.

The Treehouse of Horror XIX episode, which first aired in 2008, features Homer Simpson being approached by shadowy agents to become a celebrity assassin because “there are certain stars who won’t do what we want”. He sneaks backstage in the episode and kills Prince.

Check this out:


While we still don’t officially know what killed Prince, rumors are flying that it had something to do with his rejection of the Illuminati and fighting against the system. Conspiracies abound. Not too many people are buying the latest headlines that he just up and suddenly died of AIDS that he just found out he had only six months ago.

So… predictive programming or…?

By the way, if you haven’t seen it, here’s Prince calling out chemtrails in a TV interview:

Delivered by The Daily Sheeple




Editor’s Note: Isn’t this the guy who said water is a privilege and not a right?


by Claire Bernish

A small town in Pennsylvania is the latest to be targeted by Nestlé Waters North America, which, in typical fashion, is seeking to extract millions of gallons of freshwater to bottle and sell for an obscene profit — whether or not local residents approve.

Nestlé sneakily began testing waters in the Kunkeltown area as far back as 2012; but residents wouldn’t have discovered the desire for its water at all had the mega-corporation not rented an office in the community center, as Truthout reported. In fact, Nestlé’s plans comprise no small operation, as Truthout explained:

In the permit application that Nestlé Waters filed with the Township, it states the company is proposing to drill two large wells, pump 200,000 gallons of water per day from the aquifer, put it in trucks and transfer it to an existing bottling facility near Allentown, about 20 miles away. It expects 60 truck trips through the town per day. And Nestlé isn’t going away anytime soon: It plans to pump for 10 years with an option to continue pumping for an additional 15 years, leading to the removal of 73 million gallons of water from the aquifer over the life of the wells.

True to form of its insidious and often covert business methods concerning bottled water operations, Nestlé was able to submit a permit application for bulk water extraction after Eldred Township changed an ordinance in May 2014. Though it’s unclear whether Nestlé had a hand in the switch, with the company already testing waters at the time and the fact the Township failed to inform residents certainly lends credence to the theory.

Prior to the ordinance change, as Truthout noted, “bulk water extraction … was explicitly illegal in places zoned for commercial use.”

At an Eldred Township Planning Commission meeting on January 21, it became clear that had strict standards been required specifically addressing water extraction, the ordinance might not have allowed Nestlé to proceed in its goals. According to an ongoing, detailed blogabout the mess by a Kunkeltown resident, due to little other recourse at this point, “the main objective is to undo the error in passing the 2014 amendment.”

Truthout identified the blogger as engineer Don Moore, who said, “One of the things that opened my eyes was the amount of profit for Nestlé. To take all this water and hardly any cost. It’s unreal.”

Residents of Kunkeltown discovered the permissive zoning change only upon digging through township files and launched a coordinated, concerted effort — that appears to be working — to head off Nestlé’s designs on their water supply. Throngs often appear at township meetings to voice opposition and frustration to what seems to be the surreptitious attempt at usurpation of their water — as well as quality of life.

During a more recent public meeting of the Planning Commission on February 18, which advises the Zoning Board, Nestlé officials became the target as residents took turns expressing outrage for over four hours.

“I go door-to-door in this community, 98 percent of the people are against it. Most of the people in this community are dead set against it,” Desiree Jaeckle demanded. “Why didn’t you find that out before you decided to extract your water?”

Apparently, the meeting and the mobilization by residents fighting Nestlé’s plans may have had an impact — in March, the Planning Commission unanimously voted to recommend the Zoning Board deny the mega-corporation’s application, outright. According to the Commission, which penned a 24-page letter to the Zoning Board, the ordinance redesign was a result of “poor planning,” and had been created by “the efforts of a few, limited interested parties.”

Also noted in the Commission’s letter were “numerous deficiencies and omissions in Nestlé’s application and supporting plans,” as found by the Township Engineer in a review…