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Terrorism experts: evacuating embassies is "crazy pants," "absurd hyperbole"

By an amazing coincidence, the worst terrorist attack that never happened since 9/11 is not happening right now, proving that everyone who was worried about out-of-control NSA spying had lost the plot. Which is ZOMGTERRISM. So 28 US diplomatic posts have been evacuated (that is to say, "experienced an ordered departure"), including ones in places like Mauritius or Madagascar, where al Qaeda has nefariously never operated as part of its devious plan to lure everyone there into a false sense of security.

Well, some people are cynical and just don't believe it, despite all the overwhelming secret evidence that we're not allowed to see or know about or hear about or even have described to us. People like State Department counterterrorism advisor Will McCants, who called the evacuation of the diplomatic posts "Crazy Pants" ("you can quote me"). Loose cannons like Michael Leiter, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, who called the terrifying and nonspecific warnings "absurd hyperbole that is coming almost entirely from reckless commentators or ill-informed or ill-spoken [Capitol] Hill folks...no one who really knows al Qaeda or its history thinks that this is as huge a deal as portrayed—and certainly nothing remotely close to the worst thing we have seen since 9/11." But what the hell does he know?

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Cochliomyia hominivorax thinks you look delicious

Meet Cochliomyia hominivorax — a delightful insect that manages to me more horrifying that even Mark's favorite Central American friend, the botfly. How much more horrific? Check out the name. Roughly translated from Latin, "homnivorax" means "eater of man". Maggie 7

Climate change is increasing the habitat of brain-eating amoebas

Brain-eating amoebas? In my local waterways? It's more likely than you think. Maggie 11

What's big, corrupt, terrifying and worse than ACTA? TPP. Here we go again!


Remember ACTA, the terrifying, secret SOPA-on-steroids copyright treaty that the US government tried to ram down the world's throat? Well, it's back, only this time it's called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and it's limited (for now) to the Pacific Rim. The TPP negotiators are meeting (in secret, natch) in Peru to twirl their mustaches and cackle, and EFF has posted a great infographic summing up their nefarious plan (see the whole thing after the jump):

The TPP is likely to export some of the worst features of U.S. copyright law to Pacific Rim countries: a broad ban on breaking digital locks on devices and creative works (even for legal purposes), a minimum copyright term of the lifetime of the creator plus seventy years (the current international norm is the lifetime plus fifty years), privatization of enforcement for copyright infringement, ruinous statutory damages with no proof of actual harm, and government seizures of computers and equipment involved in alleged infringement. Moreover, the TPP is worst than U.S. copyright rules: it does not export the many balances and exceptions that favor the public interest and act as safety valves in limiting rightsholders’ protection. Adding insult to injury, the TPP's temporary copies provision will likely create chilling effects on how people and companies behave online and their basic ability to use and create on the Web.

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The journal of horrifying science

Science Horrors is a tumblr blog that compiles stories about the discomfiting, disturbing, and just plain terrifying parts of science. From 13th-century bioterrorism to the killer carbon dioxide gas bubbles of central Africa, there's plenty here to amaze you and freak you the frack out. Maggie

What are the chances of a large meteor destroying a city?

Good news: This is probably not something you have to worry too much about during your lifetime. Maggie

The real end of the world

Once again, Earth has not been destroyed in a fiery apocalypse. But, someday, our luck will run out. Be prepared! At The Guardian, Ian Sample and Alok Jha helpfully explain how our universe will one day (finally) be destroyed. The good news: By the time that happens, you'll already be dead. [Watch Ian Sample demonstrate different scenarios for the destruction of Earth] [Watch Alok Jha describe the ultimate fate of the universe] Maggie

Golden eagle snatches kid

One second this eagle is gliding around above a park, majestic, then moments later it swoops down and tries to grab a toddler. It's just so sudden and unexpected: the bird looks small when it's far away, but oh god nope that's one of those Hobbit-carrying guys and little red monkey hat is off to Mordor.

It may not be real, but damn it's a good fake. There's more info here.

Video Link: Golden eagle snatches kid

School freaks out because students making a science video with an umbrella were mistaken for school shooters

A school in Pennsylvania went into full-on lockdown when some children who were making a video about the immune system, which involved some sort of play-fighting with an umbrella, were mistaken for gun-toting lunatics. There is a balance between disaster preparedness and "when in trouble, or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout," and this isn't it. A deputy chief in the video excuses the exercise because the kids were doing something "suspicious," but of course, there's a difference between being secure and being terrified of anything out-of-the-ordinary. Alerting parents and locking down kids when nothing bad is happening isn't making us more secure, it's making us more scared.

School Goes Into Lockdown — Complete with Kids Crying in Closet — Over Umbrella

Donate to Public Knowledge, avert the Mayapocalypse

Michael sez, "While preparing the PK bunker for the December 21st Mayan Apocalypse, we made a startling discovery: a machine powerful enough to prevent the end of the world. Needless to say, we were excited. The only problem? The machine's only power source is donations to Public Knowledge. And, yes, we shot some video. We are so confident that this device will work that we offer you this UNCONDITIONAL GUARANTEE: if you donate to Public Knowledge before the Mayan Apocalypse, the world will not end on December 21st."

Help Us Stop the Mayan Apocalypse (Thanks, Michael)

Mother Jones ecotastrophe headline generator

"Who Paid Al Gore to Slowly Destroy This Baby Octopus" is a headline that just came up on when I tried out the Mother Jones Eco-Doom Headline Generator, which, in lampooning some of MoJo's real headlines, tends to come up with stuff you might otherwise see on The Onion or (dare I say it?) BoingBoing. It may well be the best waste of five minutes you'll find all day. Cory

Mad Max meets zombies in indie Aussie movie "Wyrmwood"

Here's a seven-minute teaser for "Wyrmwood," an indie zombie movie from Australia that merges zombies with Mad Max. It's really a very, very good little short on its own, and convinced me to kick in $20 towards the production fundraiser on Indiegogo. I want to see this movie get made!

About two years ago my brother and I came up with the idea to meld Mad Max with Dawn of the Dead and make the best zombie film ever produced in Australia. Cut to now and we’re about a third of the way through the film and still going strong.

We’ve assembled a cracking cast & crew of disgustingly talented actors, filmmakers & make-up artists who are all working their guts out in order to deliver a piece of ‘Oz-ploitation’ cult cinema that will sit easily next to the likes of Evil Dead, Bad Taste & 28 Days Later …

WYRMWOOD: An Aussie Zombie Film (Thanks, Sam!)

Caviar vending machines in LA malls


Caviar vending machines have been installed in three upscale malls in LA. In addition to $500/oz caviar, they also dispense blinis, mother of pearl spoons, and other caviar essentials. The vending machines (they're billed as "ATMs for caviar") can be found at Westfield Century City, Westfield Topanga, and the Burbank Towne Center. Apparently, these are old news in Russia, where they are favorites of oligarchs and their entourages.

Finally! Caviar by ATM (via Super Punch)

Artist arrested at Oakland airport for wearing ornate watch

Geoffrey McGann, a southern California artist, was arrested at Oakland airport for wearing an assemblage sculpture/watch he'd made. The TSA were also worried because he had a lot of insoles in his shoes. He was eventually released on $150,000 bail.

OAKLAND, Calif. -- A Southern California man was arrested at Oakland International Airport after security officers found him wearing an unusual watch they said could be used to make a timing device for a bomb, authorities said Friday... McGann told Transportation Security Administration officers that he's an artist and the watch is art, Nelson said.

Geoffrey McGann, Man With Strange Watch, Arrested At Oakland Airport [AP] (Thanks to everyone who suggested this!)

Temper tantrums considered for addition to DSM

The American Psychiatric Association is set to add "disruptive mood dysregulation disorder" to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM), the bible of psychiatric disorders. A kid has "DMDD" if she or he has "severe recurrent temper outbursts that are grossly out of proportion in intensity or duration to the situation... at least three times a week."

As Wired's David Dobbs notes, this describes basically all kids ("No, I don't want to wear my rain boots!") at some time or another. So why is this being considered? Here's Neuroskeptic's explanation:

DMDD seems to be nothing to do with mood, but instead covers a pattern of misbehavior which is already covered by not one but two labels already. Why add a misleadingly-named third?

Well, the back-story is that in the past ten years, many American kids and even toddlers have got diagnosed with ‘child bipolar disorder‘ – a disease considered extremely rare everywhere else. To stop this, the DSM-5 committee want to introduce DMDD as a replacement. This is the officially stated reason for introducing it. On the evidence of this paper and others it wouldn’t even achieve this dubious goal.

The possibility of just going to back to the days when psychiatrists didn’t diagnose prepubescent children with bipolar (except in very rare cases) seems to not be on the table.

Psychiatry Set to Medicalize Hissy Fits