The creepy chemist behind CIA's search for a mind control drug

In the 1950s and 1960s, creepy chemist Sidney Gottlieb headed the CIA's efforts to find a mind control drug. Gottlieb and his delightful associates in the MK-Ultra project thought LSD, still legally manufactured, held the most promise. So they bought every drop of acid in the world and ran numerous horrible experiments on unwitting civilians to test its efficacy. Journalist Stephen Kinzer tells the tale in a new book out this week titled Poisoner In Chief. From an NPR interview with Kinzer:

Some of Gottlieb's experiments were covertly funded at universities and research centers, Kinzer says, while others were conducted in American prisons and in detention centers in Japan, Germany and the Philippines. Many of his unwitting subjects endured psychological torture ranging from electroshock to high doses of LSD, according to Kinzer's research.

"Gottlieb wanted to create a way to seize control of people's minds, and he realized it was a two-part process," Kinzer says. "First, you had to blast away the existing mind. Second, you had to find a way to insert a new mind into that resulting void. We didn't get too far on number two, but he did a lot of work on number one..."

Whitey Bulger was one of the prisoners who volunteered for what he was told was an experiment aimed at finding a cure for schizophrenia. As part of this experiment, he was given LSD every day for more than a year. He later realized that this had nothing to do with schizophrenia and he was a guinea pig in a government experiment aimed at seeing what people's long-term reactions to LSD was.

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Submerged car containing man missing for 20+ years found on Google Earth

In 1997, William Moldt, then 40, called his girlfriend from a Palm Beach County, Florida bar to tell her he was on his way home. He didn't show up and was never heard from again. Read the rest

Stranded family saved by message in a bottle

This summer, Curtis Whitson, his girlfriend, and 13-year-old son were hiking in Central California when they became stranded in a canyon near a waterfall with no way out. According to KSBW, "Whitson said he had rope to rappel down, but the river was running too swift and deep due to spring runoff. Backtracking was also not an option." Whitson found a green plastic water bottle, carved "HELP" in the side, put in a note, and tossed it over the waterfall. From CNN:

Some time after midnight the trio was awakened by the sound of a California Highway Patrol helicopter overhead.

"This is Search and Rescue. You have been found," someone said over the loudspeaker.

Whitson said he was told two men found the bottle with the family's note, floated down to the trailhead, then hiked a couple of miles and reached the campground where they alerted the camp host.

That host told Whitson about the hikers, but added the two left before the rescue without giving their names.

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This is the art of pantomime. In church.

"Pantomime at church, in school, or on TV is another form of dramatic expression for anyone who wants to give deeper meaning to words and to thoughts."

This is "The Art of Pantomime in Church" (Meriwether Contemporary Drama Service filmstrip FS-33, 1982).

(r/ObscureMedia) Read the rest

Inside a New York garbage collector's massive personal collection of treasures found in the trash

For more than three decades, New York Sanitation worker Nelson Molina has picked personal treasures from the garbage he collects in East Harlem. Now totaling more than 45,000 cataloged items, Molina has an astounding personal wunderkammer of treasures from the trash. Nicolas Heller profiles him in this wonderful short documentary.

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Rooster kills woman

A domestic rooster killed a 76-year-old woman on her rural property in Australia. The rooster pecked the woman, twice puncturing her skin, and she died. Unfortunately, she had preexisting conditions that caused her to bleed out very quickly. The physicians published the unusual case in the journal Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology. From the abstract:

The decedent’s past medical history included treated hypertension, hyperlipidemia, non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus and varicose veins... Two small bleeding lacerations were present, one of which was located immediately over a perforated large varix. Death was therefore due to exsanguination from bleeding varicose veins following an attack by a rooster. This case demonstrates that even relatively small domestic animals may be able to inflict lethal injuries in individuals if there are specific vascular vulnerabilities present.

image: Dgrady3 (CC BY-SA 4.0) Read the rest

Take a trip with the Family Acid

I'm thrilled to report the release of The Family Acid: California, the book I published with Timothy Daly, my Ozma Records partner and co-producer of the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition. Limited to just 1,500 clothbound copies, it's a far-out photo album from a very unconventional family.

For more than 50 years, photographer Roger Steffens has explored the electric arteries of the counterculture, embracing mind-expanding experiences, deep social connection, and unadulterated fun at every turn. After serving in Vietnam at the end of the 1960s, Steffens immersed himself in California’s vibrant bohemia. Since then, with his wife Mary and children Kate and Devon, he has sought out the eccentric, the outlandish, and the transcendent. Just as often, it finds him, grinning, a camera in one hand and a joint in the other. Steffens took the spectacular snapshots in this new collection between 1968 and 2015 during his family's freewheeling adventures throughout the visionary state they call home.

Steffens is an intrepid explorer of the fringe but he’s also a family man. He met his wife Mary under a lunar eclipse in a pygmy forest in Mendocino, California while on LSD. Soon after, they conjured up a daughter, Kate, and son, Devon. Family vacations took the foursome up and down the West Coast, from the gritty glam of Hollywood’s Sunset Strip to reggae festivals in Humboldt, fiery protests in Berkeley to the ancient redwoods of Big Sur and the wilds of Death Valley. Along the way, they’d rendezvous with likeminded freaks, artists, musicians, and writers, from Bob Marley and Timothy Leary to actor John Ritter and war photographer Tim Page, the inspiration for Dennis Hopper’s character in Apocalypse Now. Read the rest

Johns Hopkins Medicine launches major center for psychedelic drug research

The esteemed research institute and medical school Johns Hopkins Medicine is starting the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research thanks to $17 million in private donations. The generous funders include Boing Boing pal and author Tim Ferriss, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg, TOMS shoes founder Blake Mycoskie, and investor Craig Nerenberg. Psychedelics have tremendous unlocked therapeutic potential for the likes of severe depression, PTSD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and alcoholism, What a wonderful, important, and worthy cause these individuals chose to support. From Johns Hopkins Medical:

In 2000, the psychedelic research group at Johns Hopkins was the first to achieve regulatory approval in the U.S. to reinitiate research with psychedelics in healthy volunteers who had never used a psychedelic. Their 2006 publication on the safety and enduring positive effects of a single dose of psilocybin sparked a renewal of psychedelic research worldwide.

Since then, the researchers have published studies in more than 60 peer-reviewed journal articles. Their research has demonstrated therapeutic benefits for people who suffer from conditions including nicotine addiction and depression and anxiety caused by life-threatening diseases such as cancer. It has paved the way for current studies on treatment of major depressive disorder. These researchers have also expanded the field of psychedelic research by publishing safety guidelines that have helped gain approval for psychedelic studies at other universities around the world and by developing new ways of measuring mystical, emotional, and meditative experiences while under the influence of psychedelics.

The group's findings on both the promise and the risks of psilocybin in particular helped create a path forward for the chemical's potential medical approval and reclassification from a Schedule I drug, the most restrictive federal government category, to a more appropriate level.

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Theme from Friends as a depressing, minor-key ballad

From "The One With the Theme That's Depressing As Hell."

(Chase Holfelder)

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Japanese fabric softener commercial from 1988 is kawaii AF

In 1988, I worked in a toy store and quickly became annoyed by all the requests for the Snuggle bear. But this I can tolerate. For a moment anyway. Read the rest

Auction: Darth Vader's actual helmet from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Up for auction is one of Darth Vader's helmets worn by actor Dave Prowse in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. It's estimated to sell for nearly half a million dollars. That's a lot of galactic credits. From iCollector:

David Prowse "Darth Vader" screen used signature mask and helmet from Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back. (TCF, 1980) Without question, Darth Vader is one of the greatest villains ever portrayed on film. His angular, skull-like mask and helmet has been lifted to iconic status and is universally recognized as a symbol of evil in pop culture. Both the mask and helmet are constructed of fiberglass. The Mask is painted in dark metallic gray with black accents; its interior is marked with a "1" in white paint with worn foam rubber padding and tinted plastic lenses. Two of the original three elastic straps are present to secure the mask to David Prowse's head. The top of the mask originally secured to the jet-black helmet with a circular PVC connection (now missing; the three screw holes used to attached the PVC fitting are present). For added security, the mask's forehead attached to the inner portion of the helmet with Velcro (still present on the helmet's interior, but only the adhesive remnants remain on the mask, and remain hidden behind the helmet). The helmet's interior is marked with a "3" in brown paint. Interior metal mesh behind the triangular respiratory vent and "chin grille" are missing, as are the turned aluminum "atmospheric sensors" at either side of the vent.

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Incredible art from plastic trash

Tom Deininger, previously seen on Boing Boing, is a Boston-based assemblage artist who creates incredible sculptures and 3D "paintings" from plastic garbage.

Deininger created the self-portrait below from "studio trash kept for two months. The size of the self portrait was determined by the trash."

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List of free and amazing online courses from top universities

Open Culture and Class Central compiled a list of thousands of enticing free MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and lectures from top-shelf educators at great universities like MIT, Stanford, and Harvard. Read the rest

Man arrested for attempted smuggling of 5,000 hits of Molly in tubs of Celebrations chocolate

Hassan Akhtar attempted to send a shipment from the UK to Pakistan of 5,000 tablets of MDMA hidden inside, ahem, Celebrations tubs of assorted chocolate. Now that's a party! From BBC News:

Police said the drugs were discovered by the postal company in tubs of Celebrations chocolates and Akhtar was later identified by CCTV footage.

Det Sgt Rob Hood said the defendant was "clearly looking to profit" from selling drugs and "thought by concealing them in chocolate tubs that they would not be detected".

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Thousands sign up to play unauthorized hide-and-seek game at Ikea, police called in

This weekend, police were called to an Ikea store in Glasgow, Scotland when employees learned that thousands of people had signed up on Facebook to play an unauthorized game of hide-and-seek in the maze-like building. According to The Scotsman, "groups of youths who looked like they were only there for the game were turned away from the shop.
" From The Scotsman:

The trend for using Ikea’s giant warehouses for games began in Europe a few years ago - and has seen people hiding in fridges, under beds and in the firm’s big blue shopping bags.

..

However in 2015, IKEA was forced to impose a ban because the events were getting out of control.



Citing health and safety a spokesman explained: ‘We need to make sure people are safe, and that’s hard if we don’t know where they are.’



Rob Cooper, IKEA Glasgow Store Manager said: “The safety of our customers and co-workers is always our highest priority. We were aware of an unofficial Hide and Seek Facebook event being organised to take place at our store today and have been working with the local police for support.



“While we appreciate playing games in one of our stores may be appealing to some, we do not allow this kind of activity to take place to ensure we are offering a safe environment and relaxed shopping experience for our customers.”

"Police called to Scottish IKEA after thousands sign up for hide and seek" (The Scotsman)

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PETA billboard protests Renaissance faire's favorite fare

PETA installed an old-fashioned protest billboard adjacent to the Ohio Renaissance Festival that opened this weekend in Waynesville. The animal rights activists consider the classic Renaissance faire fare of an oversized turkey leg to be distasteful, to say the least. From WLWT5:

The billboard -- placed near the fairgrounds and showing a turkey's face -- reads "Ye Can Live Without Yon Turkey Leg. I Cannot. Go Vegan Forthwith!"

Officials with PETA said they're urging festival-goers to switch from a turkey leg to a falafel, hummus or corn on the cob...

"PETA erects billboard protesting turkey legs at Ohio Renaissance Fest" (WLWT5, thanks Charles Pescovitz!) Read the rest

Watch: New Wave TV commercial for Hawaiian Punch with music by DEVO's Mark Mothersbaugh

This totally excellent computer animated television commercial for Hawaiian Punch was created in 1987 by Omnibus/Abel, the ill-fated company born from the merger of Omnibus Computer Graphics with computer animation pioneer Robert Abel's Abel and Associates.

From Vintage CG:

Rarely seen is this full 90 second version.... Music is by Mark Mothersbaugh (of DEVO), who later admitted to embedding a subliminal message: "Sugar is bad for you."

Excerpts from the commercial later turned up in the classic computer animation VHS compilation "Beyond the Mind’s Eye," the content of which you can enjoy below:

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