Sunday, December 7, 2014

BigTime TV's Operation MindF#@k.

The newest Video from BigTime TV is a Doozy. Taken from today's headlines, and in the spirit of the truth is far stranger than fiction, BTV-23 has launched a new campaign entitled: "Operation MindF#@k" In the words of BTV-23's channel description... Stay tuned, for... some crazy shit is about to go down!

Big Time Television, Network 23 is a YouTube channel of high weirdness and low brow, created by none other than our own Jack Heart. BTV-23 provides commentary on modern socio-political inequities… especially in the context of the new American Plutocracy… AKA: the 1% …and the rise of the NSA State. BTV-23 uses media appropriation, simple animation and a variety of mash-up techniques to present current events in a (hopefully) entertaining way. It’s political snarkyness and humor aspires to the fine tradition of the likes of Monty Python and The Onion.

The curious may check out the BTV-23 Youtube Channel @ BigTime TV 23

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

LSD-25 and the Therapeutic Psychedelic Underground

After thirty years in the deep freeze, research into the medicinal use of psychedelic drugs, ranging from psilocybin to Ketamine, and from MDMA to LSD, has begun to accelerate. FDA-approved pilot studies and clinical trials using the drugs under controlled conditions and in combination with talk therapy have shown they could be used safely, delivering promising results in a wide range of tough-to-treat maladies, including opiate and tobacco addiction, alcoholism, autism, anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

These developments are not surprising to some who remember the first wave of research and even widespread clinical use of psychedelics in the quarter century after the accidental discovery of LSD in 1943. A global review of psychedelic studies and clinical results in 1963 concluded:  “Some spectacular, and almost unbelievable, results have been achieved by using one dose [of the drugs].”

But the powerful drug that was proving surprisingly safe to use in the clinic was creating a panic (in the eyes of the Media & the PTB) when used on the streets. The mushrooming (no pun intended) popular use of psychedelics in the late ’60s, particularly by young people taking it in uncontrolled environments, struck such a sensitive cultural and political nerve that it left the drugs, and the scientists who worked with them, severely stigmatized for more than a generation.

Ironically, the criminalization of the possession of psychedelic drugs in 1970 and the attendant passion of the PTB’ anti-drug crusade did little to slow the spread of recreational use, but effectively shut all research into possible beneficial uses down cold.

In the three decades that followed, an underground network of therapists continued to use the now illegal compounds in treatment of psychological maladies. In the late 1970s, with the rediscovery of the psychoactive effects of the synthetic psychedelic 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine, or MDMA, these underground therapists found a compound many felt was even more useful in combination with therapy than the classic psychedelics –– avoiding the unpredictable effects and anxiety-provoking visions that sometimes arose, as well as creating an almost instant bond with the therapist. MDMA also had the advantage of not yet being illegal.

As the government (in its pomposity) prepared to rectify that in 1985, a coalition of credentialed doctors and scientists allied with those in the psychedelic underground to take the attempt to rehabilitate the drugs and bring back the hope of the ’50s and ’60s that they could become a powerful tool in psychotherapy. They sued the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to prevent them from placing MDMA on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the most restrictive category reserved for highly dangerous drugs with no medical benefit.

After months of hearings and volumes of testimony, the presiding judge ruled dramatically in the plaintiffs’ favor –– MDMA he declared, was neither particularly dangerous when used in a clinical setting nor without medical value. The DEA simply ignored the ruling, which was not legally binding, and MDMA therapy went back underground.

But some of those behind the challenge refused to surrender. If they couldn’t prove their case in court, they would do it in the lab. It took more than a decade and a slowly changing culture, but as the 20th Century came to a close, the Food and Drug Administration began to once again approve clinical trials of psychedelics on humans. At a time when half a million veterans have returned from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD, contributing tragically to the average of 22 veterans each day who commit suicide, the clinical use of such agents couldn’t come too soon.

The cost to the American taxpayer of giving these vets the medical care they’ve earned will be in the range of a trillion dollars over the next 30 or 40 years. If PTSD could be reliably cured with a short-term treatment using an inexpensive drug like MDMA, those costs could be slashed dramatically. And yet, though the Department of Defense is spending lavishly on speculative development all sorts of untested therapies –– including planting microchips in veterans’ brains –– it has yet to budget a dime for MDMA research, in part, clearly, because the cultural wars of 1970 continue to hold the image of psychedelics hostage.

- The above excerpts are from an article written by Tom Shroder based on his new book: Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy, and the Power to Heal

Friday, November 21, 2014

Hackers: Black Hat vs White Hat

Know yer Hacker

First things first… it needs to be (abundantly clear) that hackers aren’t inherently bad… the word “hacker” doesn’t mean “criminal” or “bad guy.” (All Hackers are not Anonymous and all Anonymous are not hackers.) Geeks and tech writers often refer to “black hat,” “white hat,” and “gray hat” hackers. These terms define different groups of hackers based on their behavior. The (contemporary) definition of the word “hacker” is controversial, and could mean either someone who compromises computer security or a skilled developer in the free software or open-source movements.

Black Hats

Black-hat hackers, or simply “black hats,” are the type of hacker the popular media seems to focus on.  Black-hat hackers violate computer security for personal gain (such as stealing credit card numbers or harvesting personal data for sale to identity thieves) or for pure maliciousness (such as creating a botnet and using that botnet to perform DDOS attacks against websites they don’t like).

Black hats fit the widely-held stereotype that hackers are criminals performing illegal activities for personal gain and attacking others. They’re the alleged computer criminals. A black-hat hacker who finds a new, “zero-day” security vulnerability would sell it to criminal organizations on the black market or use it to compromise computer systems.

White Hats

White-hat hackers are the opposite of the black-hat hackers. They’re the alleged “ethical hackers,” experts in compromising computer security systems who use their abilities for good, ethical, and legal purposes rather than bad, unethical, and criminal purposes.

For example, many white-hat hackers are employed to test an organizations’ computer security systems. The organization authorizes the white-hat hacker to attempt to compromise their systems. The white-hat hacker uses their knowledge of computer security systems to compromise the organization’s systems, just as a black hat hacker would. However, instead of using their access to steal from the organization or vandalize its systems, the white-hat hacker reports back to the organization and informs them of how they gained access, allowing the organization to improve their defenses. This is known as “penetration testing,” and it’s one example of an activity performed by white-hat hackers.

A white-hat hacker who finds a security vulnerability would disclose it to the developer, allowing them to patch their product and improve its security before it’s compromised. Various organizations pay “bounties” or award prizes for revealing such discovered vulnerabilities, compensating white-hats for their work.

Grey Hats

Very few things in life are clear black-and-white categories. In reality, there’s often a gray area. A gray-hat hacker falls somewhere between a black hat and a white hat. A gray hat doesn’t work for their own personal gain or to cause carnage, but they may technically commit crimes and do arguably unethical things.

For example, a black hat hacker would compromise a computer system without permission, stealing the data inside for their own personal gain or vandalizing the system. A white-hat hacker would ask for permission before testing the system’s security and alert the organization after compromising it. A gray-hat hacker might attempt to compromise a computer system without permission, informing the organization after the fact and allowing them to fix the problem. While the gray-hat hacker didn’t use their access for bad purposes, they compromised a security system without permission, which is illegal.

If a gray-hat hacker discovers a security flaw in a piece of software or on a website, they may disclose the flaw publically instead of privately disclosing the flaw to the organization and giving them time to fix it. They wouldn’t take advantage of the flaw for their own personal gain — that would be black-hat behavior — but the public disclosure could cause carnage as black-hat hackers tried to take advantage of the flaw before it was fixed.

“Black hat,” “white hat,” and “gray hat” can also refer to behavior. For example, if someone says “that seems a bit black hat,” that means that the action in question seems unethical.

Editor’s note: At the end of the day… like all things of this Spaceship Earth… Perceived Reality is an ever-changing mosaic of shades of grey. Now the pendulum swings toward the black… now it trends toward the white. Hackers, for good or ill, are the one’s who have “gotten a clue” as to the technological workings of our modern world. That doesn’t mean that they have any better ethical grip… they simply know how to control the artifacts.

Original article by Chris Hoffman

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.