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The Importance of Music In Twin Peaks


Twin Peaks premiered in 1990 as a top rated series, and after only a couple of seasons, the American drama had been cancelled. David Lynch and Mark Frost were the men behind the uncanny series that would gain a cult following and later be revived and premiered on Showtime in May of 2017. Lynch and Frost would direct the show and several original cast members were brought back for the reboot. Angelo Badalamenti played a major role in composing the first soundtrack, and would also return for the much awaited reboot.

The original Twin Peaks soundtrack would live on to have an important influence in music. Lynch’s role in the scene has birthed a new field of artists interested with the look and feel of the show and music of Twin Peaks. David Lynch’s background in music goes back to the late seventies, and with Twin Peaks renewing on Showtime, some artists have already begun remixing some of the music, Jon Hopkins and Flying Lotus to name a couple. Both indie and pop groups alike have taken influence from the music of Twin Peaks over the years and creating great art in doing so, and an influence like that is something the new series can only hope to achieve.

With a new show comes new music. The revival of Twin Peaks comes with a fresh new intro as well as a new score and soundtrack to accompany the show. Come September of 2017, two new soundtracks will be released for the new series, including music from the original composer Angelo Badalamenti as well as the band Chromatics. The soundtracks, Twin Peaks (Music From the Limited Event Series) and Twin Peaks (Limited Event Series Original Soundtrack) will surely live a long life and will see a similar influence on music and pop culture for years to come.

The style of music typically found in Twin Peaks media is jazzy, moody, and instrumental, with a few songs having lyrics written by David Lynch himself, like The Nightingale, Into the Night, and Falling. Twin Peaks compositions have reached critical acclaim and have been called “the summit of TV soundtracks” and “a model of film music ideally matched to the images and actions it underscores.” The theme song also won a grammy in 1991, and like everything else the project has achieved, David Lynch looks to reach the same if not greater heights.

David Lynch certainly has experience placing artists for a grander vision, and you can see him put this experience to effect come his new festival, Festival of Disruption. Including amazing artists like Bon Iver and TV on the Radio, you can see fantastic music performances and talks with the artists as well as fellow Lynch and Twin Peaks collaborators Sheryl Lee and Dean Hurley. Also see past David Lynch films and rare shorts all during the festival on October 14th and 15th in Los Angeles, California. Not only will this be a great event, but net proceeds will go to benefit the David Lynch Foundation.

Dinesh D’Souza’s New “Death of a Nation” Plays Loose with History!


Frequently in the news and oft embattled, filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza can’t help interject himself into the political discussion no matter who is in charge currently. Whether it is decrying Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s “secret plans” to take over America and destroy it or allegations of historical fraud and terror on the part of one political party to the complete exclusion of the other, Dinesh D’Souza dresses up propaganda in the guise of a documentary better than most but not as well as he thinks he does. Indeed, some of the assertions made in Death of a Nation, released during the Trump presidency no less, are not only outright ludicrous but somewhat offensive and could alienate his audience of rabid conservatives.


How so you might ask? Given that D’Souza’s films always proclaim a certain conspiracy about the imminent destruction of the country while a Democrat is in charge, he hasn’t done so when someone like Donald Trump is President of the United States. Indeed, Death of a Nation seems born out of an assumption that Hillary Clinton won the presidency, a derangement that continues to plague D’Souza to this day, and that makes the film not only irrelevant but a shade shy of a waste of time.


D’Souza is no stranger to controversy but his battles tend to pit him against some overwhelming Democratic Party-led conspiracy. In Death of a Nation the only conspiracy is how D’Souza thinks people are going to interpret such a proclamation in the Trump era. After serving time in prison for illegal campaign contributions and receiving a pardon from President Trump, D’Souza’s charge that we are in the death throes of the nation is an interesting assertion and perhaps one that, rarely, on which his Democratic opponents would agree with him. Thus begins the confusion that is Death of a Nation.


In this article we’re going to go over some of the broader assertions made in Death of a Nation and try to match them with historical record. In some cases, such as the assertion that FDR was a fan of Hitler, D’Souza is not only misleading but obfuscating his own chosen party’s role in Hitler’s rise.


The broadest assertion made in the film is that American liberalism is the ideological partner of Nazism, the genocidal philosophy that threw the world into the chaos of World War 2. His argument that this is the case is made on a few correlations that he draws between Nazi policy and current Democratic Party prerogatives, such as abortion.


The simple assertion is that, because Democrats support abortion like Nazis do, the two are one and the same. Aside from the facile nature of this argument, it also fails to take into account that much of the inspiration for Nazi race laws and laws with regard to abortion were inspired by eugenics legislation in the United States. Eugenics, a movement which believed in the sterilization of inmates and mentally handicapped people.


Eugenics was touted by Democrats and Republicans, with organizations such as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, Winston Churchill, and the Republican Party itself. Dinesh D’Souza even admitted this back in 2017 as recorded by the website National Vanguard when he said “progressive” Republicans like Teddy Roosevelt supported eugenics the movement that led, in part, to the practice of abortion as understood in the Nazi regime. Why would D’Souza conveniently forget this when so much of his argument is based on this premise? Because Death of a Nation is a confused, rambling, incoherent piece of work. Whatever valid points are there are hidden underneath a cloying almost sad attempt to make the Republicans look like the saints among the sinners, a kind of Disney-fication of the world and the people in it. Everything is posited as black and white, good versus evil, and truth versus lies yet the latter, upon which so much of the documentary depends, is where it falls apart.


D’Souza’s relentlessly self-righteous assertions are often ill formed in the sense that they do not seem to anticipate rational responses. One example is that D’Souza asserts that Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt was a fan and admirer of Hitler, insinuating that the Democratic Party wanted Hitler to win the war or some such nonsense.


A more nuanced view would discuss the complex ways both Democrats and Republicans talked about Nazis prior to the war. An even further assertion of truth would be to discuss Prescott Bush, grandfather of George W. and father of George H.W., and his relationship with the Nazi regime while working for Brown Brothers Harriman. Prescott Bush not only did business with the Nazis in contravention of a direct order from FDR for businesses to cease operations with the Nazis but he also made a boatload of money doing it as has been documented in numerous accounts.


Little details like this quickly reveal that an honest examination of the political trajectory of certain ideologies in America this is not. Aside from the resounding hypocrisy it would evidence for Nazi ties to be scandalous in one case but not a big deal in the other D’Souza also doesn’t realize he makes dangerous assertions that can blowback on him at any moment.


The only thing that D’Souza does get right is that the Nazis were inspired by the United States’ treatment of the indigenous Americans in devising the “Final Solution” for the Jews. Of course, the Democratic Party is wholly to blame because in D’Souza’s childlike version of the world how could it not be so? It’s almost as if the Republicans never existed and when they do it is always in the heroic since of a Greek saga. Even the most unsophisticated among us can spot a child’s tale when we see one but the film makes one wonder if D’Souza is gearing this towards children or has a childlike understanding of the world. Like the old lies that Daddy or Mommy is wholly to blame for the divorce, D’Souza is trapped in a petulant state of juvenile anchor that makes him seem both whiny and impotent.


Perhaps most insulting of all is that D’Souza reduces slavery from a racial condition to a purely economic question. The evil of slavery was not in the enslavement of human life towards awful ends but rather the separation of a worker from his wages. Of course, since this can happen to anyone and is part of the Democrats’ socialist agenda according to D’Souza, the fact that the African slaves endured the trials they did is sad insofar as they didn’t receive wages for their time as slaves.


The corollary to this as implied by D’Souza is that, as long as there is some form of payment, a relative condition of slavery is justified. And it is that kind of implication that D’Souza is too daft to appreciate and too clumsy to realize he has made. The rise of Donald Trump is presented as an opportunity for people like Dinesh D’Souza but Death of a Nation really illustrates that it is a challenge.


Without the guarantees of establishment conspiracy D’Souza may soon find himself on the outs in both parties as anti-establishment notions rise and D’Souza is firmly anchored to a cabal that is, in every way real and imagined, just as bad as his hated Democratic Party.








Obama, Trump, and Immigration Policy: Who Deported More People, and What Administration Created the Separation Order


By Viral Awesome Staff

When it comes to the immigration debate under President Trump both sides seem to be ratcheting up the emotions, and the accusations, on a daily basis.


Specifically, the so-called “separation order” that detains adults separately from the children is causing a lot of headaches for the Trump administration and Republicans in general, many of who tried to blame the policy on a previous Obama administration order.


It isn’t surprising that Donald Trump is tough on immigration.


Making combating illegal immigration one of the pillars of his 2016 campaign for President of the United States, Donald Trump has used what some consider incendiary rhetoric with regard to illegal immigrants, rhetoric that critics are using to decry Trump’s immigration policies and label him a racist, among other things.


But Republicans are fighting back and pointing out that President Barack Obama was an aggressive administration when it came to the deportation of illegal immigrants, even more so than his predecessor George W. Bush.


Further, Republicans allege that the order to separate families at the border comes from the Obama administration.


For many on the right in the United States, this would seem to be yet another example of the marked hypocrisy that characterizes the left’s approach to public debate. Their leaders can do nothing wrong and Republicans can do nothing right – even when continuing the policies of a Democratic administration.


Of course, with any debate, opinion is often bandied about as fact and innuendo becomes a statement of policy. So what gives? Did the Barack Obama administration ratchet up the deportations of illegal immigrants? And further, did the Obama administration develop the so-called “separation order” that is tearing immigrant families apart and placing children into holding pens along the border?


First, it is true that, during his eight years as president, Barack Obama deported more illegal immigrants than any other previous administration. At the current pace of deportations, if President Trump were to serve for 8 years, he would easily surpass this record but as it stands now Barack Obama’s administration is responsible for more deportations than ever before. In this regard, President Trump has continued Obama era policies if not taken them to the next level. Indeed, Jeff Sessions’ “zero tolerance” approach to illegal immigration has resulted in what some are calling extreme actions on the part of the government, but the trend of deporting more people is one that the Trump administration is continuing from the Obama administration.


According to ABC, the Obama administration removed some 2.5 million illegal immigrants between 2009 and 2015, earning him the moniker “Deporter in Chief.” Further, according to ABC, the Obama administration was not only eager to deport, they allegedly deported more people than all the other administrations of the 20th century combined. One major difference between the deportation actions of the Obama administration and those of the current Trump administration is in who is being deported. Under Obama, a lot of the focus was on criminals and those who had violated the law, not families. The Obama administration even attempted several programs to help these people become legal.


The Trump administration, meanwhile, as mentioned above, is taking a hardline, zero-tolerance approach which includes targeting families of illegal immigrants. While nowhere near the Obama administration’s numbers, the Trump administration’s broadened focus could yield higher numbers as he stays longer in office.


Now, for the question of the “separation order,” did the injunction to separate adults and children begin as an Obama era policy?


The answer to this is an unequivocal “no,” this separation order is an invention of Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Versions of this separation order have existed perhaps since the Clinton administration back in the 1990s, but it was Jeff Sessions who directed that adult illegal immigrants and child illegal immigrants should be detained in separate facilities. President Trump even went to Twitter to claim that this separation order is a law developed by Democrats and has its origins in their caucus. This is not true and inaccurate. There is no federal law ordering that adults and children classified as illegal immigrants are to be held separately. There is an order from Jeff Sessions that this must be done, an order that was revoked by President Trump’s executive action to end the separate detention of adults and children, or the so-called family separation orders. This order has its origins in Sessions’ zero-tolerance approach to illegal immigration and was detailed by Sessions in a series of speeches to law enforcement that he delivered back in April 2018.


Sessions said: “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law … If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border. …We don’t want to separate families, but we don’t want families to enter the border illegally[.] We urge them not to do so.”


In early May 2018, CNN reported that immigration officials were to exercise discretion in separating children from adults: “It has long been a misdemeanor federal offense to be caught illegally entering the US, punishable by up to six months in prison, but the administration has not always referred everyone caught for prosecution. Those apprehended were swiftly put into immigration proceedings and, unless they met the threshold to pursue a valid asylum claim, can be quickly deported from the country. The current DHS plan makes no special arrangements for those who claim asylum when apprehended. While they will be allowed to pursue their claims and could eventually be found to have a legitimate right to live in the US, they could still already have a conviction for illegal entry.”


The two basic answers to this complex question are that, yes, Barack Obama did in fact increase deportations to levels not previously seen in previous presidential administrations and, no, the Barack Obama administration did not conjure up a “separation policy” to remove children from parents in situations of suspected illegal immigration, this is instead a Trump-era policy enacted seemingly unilaterally by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.











Some Of Trump’s Negotiation Style Is Not Much Different Than Previous Republican Presidents


By Viral Awesome with Contributions from M.D Balousek

 When it comes to intractable problems on the international stage, few countries command more attention than nuclear-armed North Korea, the despotic regime in East Asia that is situated at a crossroads between the world’s major economic and military powers and that threatens world peace and stability on a regular basis with bellicose rhetoric and provocative nuclear testing.

A thorn in the sides of US presidents for many years, the regime has survived all attempts to undermine it thus far and, despite repeated promises to follow through on promised agreements, continues to thumb its finger at international norms and agreements.

Now, of course it can be argued, that the United States often will still push regime change even when a country will follow it’s guidelines, like in the case of Libya.

The Clinton administration made some progress with Kim Jong il, the father of current dictator Kim Jong un, though the agreements reached during this period all came to naught as the situation quickly unraveled with the Bush administration’s assertion of an “Axis of Evil” following the September 11th terror attacks in New York City and Washington, DC.

Now, with Republican President Donald Trump, we are seeing a renewed bellicose approach to North Korea and fiery rhetoric to back it up. Gone are the days of the “strategic patience” proffered by the Obama administration and in its place is a confrontational, some might call reckless, style of dealing with the North. It would seem like Donald Trump is pioneering a new way of handling America’s opponents, or is he? What if, rather than an aberration from the normal approach, we told you that Donald Trump is merely falling in the same style of Republican leaders from the past?

A lot of attention has been paid to the style and rhetoric Donald Trump has issued in recent months with regard to North Korea, but few people are paying attention to its substance because therein is where the similarity is found. Donald Trump’s hardline approach is nothing new and has been tried in the past, with success, by prior US Presidents such as Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and even George W. Bush to some extent. In the cases of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan we see closer  analogs because they were dealing with nation states while George W. Bush largely grappled with an amorphous, international organization.

Prior to his tenure as President of the United States, Richard Nixon was perhaps one of the biggest anti-communist campaigners in the country. Few politicians advocated as hardline an approach as Richard Nixon did with regard to the Soviet Union and China and, as was demonstrated in Vietnam, a determination to undermine communist regimes wherever they may be.

Yet, upon entering office, Nixon initiated detente with the Soviet Union and made his famous visit to China to meet Chairman Mao, a despot by any stretch of the term who could give the Kims lessons in murder and social destruction. Making peace with the Soviet Union, or at least toning things down a bit, was an almost unheard of move by a Republican that had made his career on anti-communist rhetoric. But not only did this move by Nixon ease world tensions but also led to a period of friendly relations between the two countries rather than nuclear war. It is hard to imagine how close the world was to total destruction, so Nixon’s efforts at avoiding such a calamity are to admired in hindsight. Nixon’s tough as nails approach prior to getting elected may have made him a fearful politician in the eyes of the Soviets, but Nixon’s pragmatic approach to having a relationship with the Soviet Union probably did more for peace on a global scale in this era than anything else.

The meeting between Mao and Nixon on his famous visit to China is perhaps one of the most shocking moments in international relations. Mao and his regime were world pariahs at this time even with their “allies” the Soviet Union. Taking advantage of the emerging Sino-Soviet split, Nixon ventured to China to meet with its leadership and forge a new relationship. Prior to Nixon’s trip to China the US recognized the government on Taiwan as the legitimate representative of China in the United Nations. In 1979, seven years after his visit, China was not only open to the world but also holding its seat in the United Nations.

Analysts agree that Nixon’s visit to China had monumental implications for the development of relations between both countries and even the phrase “Nixon goes to China” implies making a change of monumental proportions when compared to past rhetoric or beliefs. Later, when Gorbachev was attempting to reform the Soviet Union, President Reagan again took a hardline stance against the Soviets, leading to the collapse of the Eastern Bloc according to some analysts. Reagan’s hot-cold approach to relations with the Soviet Union were buoyed by his history of harsh, anti-communist rhetoric but no one implied he wasn’t sincere in his efforts or that he wasn’t committed to the ideas of America. Indeed, like Nixon, Reagan had a knack for couching the terms of peace in the language of American interests.

It would seem that Republican officials have an advantage over their Democratic opponents in this area.

Some think it has been because Democrats (though perhaps wrongly), have been accused of being weak in foreign policy, or at least adverse to military solutions to conflicts. This could have been for a number of a reasons, Cold War Propaganda against more liberal or left-wing portions of intelligentsia being among them. It is believed that the previous Republican presidents can then make peaceful solutions more palatable to the populace and political elites as a result of this perception.

One of of the main criticisms of Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong un revolves around the human rights question and, indeed, one of the first questions President Trump fielded at his press conference after the meeting was about Otto Warmbier, the DPRK-detained US student that died from injuries suffered in a North Korean jail and who made headlines around the world. These same concerns followed Nixon in China and Mao’s record, one that is still far more readily available to us for examination, is one that is filled with horror and tyranny. But what if the United States, on purely moral grounds, had refused to deal with China? What if, instead, we continued the isolation of China and, in partnership with the Soviet Union, continued to box them out of the international system? Indeed, this has been the approach with North Korea and it has led to a regime of horrors the likes of which this world has probably not seen since the Nazis. Is the price of dialogue so high that the peace of the world can be staked on silence? Whatever your political persuasion may be, Donald Trump’s moves with regard to North Korea are no different than his predecessors. Let’s hope some of the results are equally as positive for the world scene.

“Kill All Normies” and Modern Politics.



By M.D Balousek (and contributions from Viral Awesome Staff)


If there was one phenomenon that emerged out of the 2016 presidential election between then-Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, it is that the social divisions in America are currently at a peak and, simultaneously, are at their most bizarre.

Specifically we are talking about the extremes that have emerged in this tumultuous period – namely the so-called “Alt-Right” and self-proclaimed “Social Justice Warriors” or derogatorily referred to as “SJWs” – and how these two factions have single-handedly hijacked American political discourse. Indeed, much of the actions of either of the two groups has an outsized impact on their target parties, influencing policy and politicians while giving incentive to keep fighting and forego compromise.


Angela Nagle’s recent book, “Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4Chan to Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right,” attempts to explain these phenomena within their political context while also shedding light on the medium that is empowering it all: the Internet.


This anthropological examination of the development of Internet subcultures into full-fledged political movements could not be more needed or timelier, which makes the somewhat suspect sources used to make Nagle’s arguments all the more disappointing. In her attempt at giving gravitas to what are typical ephemeral Internet phantasms, Nagle discusses the Alt-Right and SJWs in terms of monolithic coordination and coherence that she neither proves nor is an accurate description of these disparate movements which often combine everything from economic grievances to historical revanchist. Topics that were once considered sacred ground or aspects of history that were once taken for settled matters are now cast in the pale, green light of ideology and everything is evaluated from that perspective, albeit with different conclusions and points of reference.


This pseudo-historicity combined with romantic, even far-flung notions of what life should be like in the United States and you have two Internet subcultures that are having a real influence on the course of national discussion but who themselves have little to no coherent dogmas or even points of agreement with the other side. Pitting one idea against the other in a constant struggle for ideological and cultural dominance, SJWs and the Alt-Right simultaneously reject this society as “unsound” or “too lacking” in whatever milieu that they are attempting to impose.


One problem quickly identified by the Daily Beast in their examination of “Kill All Normies” is that Nagle relied, overwhelmingly, on Internet sourcing to make her arguments.

Another error identified by the Daily Beast concerns literary theorist Stanley Fish who, according to Nagle, advocated for understanding that people who read and interpret literature do as much from their own, idiosyncratic perspective as they do using the written word in the book. That is, a person’s experiences, racial background, etc. may impact how they interpret a work of art. That is all well and good but this concept and argument was actually made by writer James Atlas in an article he wrote for the New York Times Magazine that discussed the central placement of white, male characters in many stories.


In addition, the wording Nagle employs in discussing some Internet high points in the period under examination, specifically her arguments about Joseph Kony, reference text directly and barely paraphrased from Wikipedia articles.


Mike Harman, an editor for website Libcom, has gone so far as to intimate that Nagle’s lack of sourcing, or credible sources for that matter, borders on plagiarism.


For its part, the publisher of “Kill All Normies” has said they do not expect the same level of citation in Nagle’s book as they do in an academic work but that they do not tolerate plagiarism and copyright infringement.


Speaking on Nagle’s book, Douglas Lain of Zero Books wrote: “What Nagle is accused of doing has nothing in common with this sort of plagiarism. Her work is her own. Five consecutive words do not constitute a copyright violation…In Nagle’s case, we were convinced that her ideas and arguments were not only original to her but timely and important. We stand by that assessment.”


Aside from problematic sourcing and paraphrasing that hits too close to the mark, New York Magazine, for its part, praises Nagle’s ability to delve into the myriad of subcultures spawned on the Internet, including Tumblr liberals and 4Chan anarchists.


One problem the Daily Beast article fails to mention in its lambasting of Nagle for using Rational Wiki and Wikipedia is that there are few, if any, sources on Incels, 4Chan, “SJWs,” etc. Given the lack of academic, sociological work in these areas, Nagle’s pioneering attempt is just that – a first landing for academics interested in this subject matter. To characterize her as disingenuous and, even, as a thief is to miss the point that she is operating in a largely undiscovered territory.


This may come as a shock, but identifying the varying cross-currents of thought that underpin a lot of the new identity politics that is powering a lot of these movements is not an easy task, particularly if no prior academic work has been done before.


For example, Nagle’s analysis that the “demonization” of certain “privileged groups” by the SJWS may have pushed those groups more toward what is called the “Alt-Right.”

Herself a liberal, Nagle says that she was prompted to write the book because of the various, crippling internecine conflicts on her own side, let alone among conservatives. What she discovered in the process is objectively two aggressive, counter-cultural movements that are neither guided nor restrained by past ideologies and instead seek to carve out their own unique space in the political world. While too young to cody entirely, this amorphousness to the Alt-Right and SJWs helps them adapt and survive while also keeping their purposes and goals somewhat inscrutable to systematic and rigorous analysis.


Despite its flaws, Nagel’s work remains a beginning of a new move to analyze what has happened with two polarized groups of the electorate. It’s unfair to say that it is just the “Far Right” vs. the “Far Left”, as Nagle tackles the emergence of internet “outrage culture” and the “Manosphere” in influencing modern political outcomes, and their nebulous political identity often defies labels.

Another interesting and provocative hypothesis of Nagel’s is the role of the problems in modern dating, and how that may influence heterosexual males to take up the causes that lead to them becoming “alt-right”, a controversial statement to say the least, but a very convincing case is made by her.

One can also see and be relieved that there is a new modern “centrist” view of society that is brewing with the work of Nagel and others. A view that is not necessarily in the middle of “left and right” but a view that rejects the sophomoric and often intellectually bereft (or some would say, “pseudo scientific”) ideas that are represented by both “poles”, a view that can grow from these modern day battles of ideas into a better future.

Nagel for one, is an author and academic to watch out for, she has a revised version of “Kill All Normies” in the works, and I for one am also looking forward to more of her work to come because it is definitely a breath of fresh air in our often toxic modern day culture.

For more information:


The Legalization of Pot in the United States and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ One-Man Quest to Stop It By Viral Awesome Staff


The Legalization of Pot in the United States and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ One-Man Quest to Stop It

The speed with which the cultural taboo surrounding marijuana usage and legality is eroding in the United States is spectacular to behold, especially given the rather tense political environment often found there these days.

For those that may not know, in the United States there are two levels of law – federal and state law – and both work to regulate the lives of everyday citizens.

What’s the difference?

State law is passed by state legislatures and federal law comes directly from the federal government. Further, one type of law is idiosyncratic, applying only to the state within which it was enacted, while federal laws apply to all states within the United States.

It is on the state level that the prohibitions against marijuana are eroding, with medical marijuana measures in Colorado, Massachusetts, and California eventually giving way to legalization schemes sold through state cannabis-regulated marijuana dispensaries.

For those people who have watch the marijuana fight in the United States for some time, the speed with which many states have embraced de-criminalization and even advocated for full legalization on the federal level is quite astounding, especially given the country’s current conservative leadership.

Indeed, support for the legalization of marijuana has seemingly spilled over into both sides of the political aisle in the United States, marking a rare moment in which both conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats agree.

Even President Donald Trump has agreed with the move on the part of states to decriminalize marijuana.

But that doesn’t mean everyone in his administration is quite on his side, and that’s where the current snafu resides.

You see, for all the talk of legalizing marijuana and allowing the citizens of states to decide what is best for them, there are also politicians like Jeff Sessions, the former country senator from Alabama now Attorney General of the United States that has likened marijuana addiction to heroin use and who has also emphatically stated that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

As you can imagine, Mr. Sessions’ contrarian approach has won him few allies but many friends in the for-profit prison industry where he proposes sending most every person who is every caught with an illegal substance.

Contrary to statements from his own boss and movements within his own party to do the same, Jeff Sessions has made it his raison d’etre to squash marijuana legalization while he is attorney general. His belligerency on the subject is also putting a nascent industry at risk and stifling innovation in an area that is still heavily influenced by the black market. Basically, those states that are choosing to exercise their right to dictate their citizens’ lives are finding that life is difficult for them under the eye of a grasping federal government legal apparatus under Jeff Sessions.

And who can blame them?

Why would anyone want to start a business that could have its checking account closed for no reason or its product seized in a federal raid? Few entrepreneurs are willing to fight the federal government, and the attorney general’s office knows this.

The same memos that were issued by the Obama administration allowing the setup of marijuana dispensaries were summarily discarded by Sessions which in theory would allow his prosecutors more unlimited freedom in prosecuting people who distribute marijuana.

California Growers Association’s Hezekiah Allen says, “A lot of folks in the business and broader society didn’t realize how tenuous the Obama Administration’s safe space was…there is much more exposure to risk than there ever has been.”

Sessions for his part touts the program as a return to the rule of law even though these people are following applicable state laws. In an odd twist for Republicans, who typically advocate for states’ rights and the primacy of local politics over federal fiat, Jeff Sessions believes that the federal government’s authority in this area is supreme and unassailable. He’s also quite unwilling to listen to any states’ rights arguments to the contrary in a further bit of evidence that the philosophical underpinnings of his conservatism may be nothing more than platitudes.

After all, when there is such a “disconnect” between the federal and state situation, it behooves Congress to act, and they are – although slowly.

Again, many Republicans see this as a states’ rights issue, making Jeff Sessions’ incorrigible position difficult and untenable in the long run. Apart from this other run ins with Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions is easily one of the most embattled figures in the Trump administration, earning the ire of his boss for what President Trump has hinted at is a personality mismatch between the two. Trump has even threatened to fire Sessions on multiple occasions and he has reportedly offered his resignation as well. Neither have happened as of press.

For Democrats, Sessions’ focus on squashing legalized marijuana is quite strange given the country’s crippling and much more immediately pressing opioid epidemic. With so many Americans suffering from opioid addiction, which often stems from a legal prescription obtained by a physician, Sessions’ focus on marijuana legalization and all the ills of marijuana use further highlights his own personal agenda within the wider administration. Focused on “law and order” as well as “crime and punishment,” Sessions has largely eschewed the idea of treatment for these addicts and has focused instead of filling prisons with both addicts and dealers.

As you can imagine, this approach creates headaches for the new cannabis businesses out there. Michael Vitiello, a criminal law expert at the University of the Pacific, says that “Investments are less secure….They were insecure anyway, but potential forfeiture of assets and criminal prosecutions all make legitimate business more difficult.” When cannabis producers exit the black market and do all the paperwork required to participate in legal state markets, he adds, “what they’re saying is ‘Here I am.’”

This kind of heavy-handed approach typically held favor in the 1990s but has now come under scrutiny for what many see as its inability to address the root problems of societal drug abuse and addiction. Many people on both sides of the aisle favor treatment and therapy over punishment, and here Sessions may find himself remaining an outlier not only on the marijuana debate but on the greater debate of criminal justice in the United States itself.

With one of the world’s largest prison populations, many in the United States are beginning to look at alternatives to jail and the legalization of marijuana just conveniently happens to be occurring at the same time.




Kelly Jones Tells David Pakman About “Violent” Marriage with Alex Jones


Whether you call it “fake news” or watch it as fact, Alex Jones’ InfoWars is one of the most prominent websites to come out of the 2016 US presidential election.

And not without good reason – with his bombastic style and energetic presentation, web host Alex Jones has developed legions of fans and detractors for his unique format that adds a little bit of current headlines with a touch of dark web narrative for a concoction wholly his own. But who exactly is Alex Jones and why does he remain in the spotlight so long after the election?

Internet raconteur and provocateur Alex Jones stirs love and hate wherever he goes and, especially after the election of US President Donald Trump, is a lightning rod of criticism for anyone that dislikes the Trump administration. But that isn’t to say some of it is not well deserved. For those in the know, Alex Jones is a master of peddling in conspiracies and often comes off somewhat deranged to outsiders. These conspiracy theories have included such gems as the Seth Rich controversy, the Pizzagate scandal, and accusing Sandy Hook survivors of being crisis actors and calling the whole tragedy a “manufactured” spectacle. As you can imagine, this has won him few fans on the left and not that many on the right for that matter either.

One thing is certain – Alex Jones is hugely popular since the win of Donald Trump. His InfoWars site stays in the headlines and he remains relevant even after proclaiming what some would call the worst in conspiracy theories and what others just call outright lies. Whether he’s a fabulist or not, Alex Jones is not new to the media scene. In fact, he has worked at the game for some time ever since his start in Texas.

That is why a recent interview his ex-wife conducted with the David Pakman Show has raised eyebrows. Not only does she offer insights into who Alex Jones was as a person, but also she sheds some perspective on why things didn’t work out and what drives him to make segments like he does on InfoWars. In short, Kelly’s interview is an admixture of family drama and personal account. Depending on where you stand with Alex Jones you either totally believe her or you think she’s a “crisis actor,” natch. Either way her interview with David Pakman said some pretty explosive things about the Internet personality and we’re going to discuss those with you in this article.

Kelly Jones discussed her failed marriage with Internet talk show host and Internet personality David Pakman on April 3. Currently Kelly has a custody dispute ongoing with Jones, a dispute prompted by his recent political activities, and described her marriage to the man as a “nightmare.”

Kelly and Jones met in Texas when Kelly began her career working for a local public access radio station where the two shared a producer. Initially Jones’ antics caught her eye and she described him as being different from anyone she had ever met before. But “suddenly I was living in a domestically violent situation completely isolated from all friends and family” and she says this, above all things, prompted her to part ways with Alex Jones.

She goes on to list a litany of grievances including Jones’ supposed lack of control, alleged substance abuse issues, and anger issues, saying: “It was a nightmare to be with him, it was horrible, and especially towards the end it was awful, untenable.”

In speaking on why she stayed with Jones for so long if the conditions were so poor, Kelly cites a cycle of domestic violence and her belief that things weren’t as bad as they were. According to Kelly, it was when her children began to mimic Alex Jones behavior that she knew something had to be done. Not wanting her children to behave in a similar manner, Kelly Jones filed for divorce from her husband.

Some might wonder why Kelly Jones is speaking out on this subject now. She told Pakman, “The reason why I’m coming out so hard, too, is I divorced Alex Jones. And everybody looked at me and gaslit me and said I was a liar and worse and treated me horribly, victim-shamed me when I came forward with serious concerns about abuse, and neglect, and other things.”

“If that can happen to me with Alex Jones, there’s people back there all over Travis [County in Texas] and all over this country who don’t have the possibility of this kind of publicity because they didn’t divorce a notorious unwell person. But I did. Doesn’t that concern you, America, that this is happening in family court?” she said.

Much of this occurred before Jones reached the national stage for his advocacy of Donald Trump and his espousal of conspiracy theories. After Jones made it big, of course, the need for Kelly to separate her children from Jones has grown even more urgent. Jones’ politics have always been on the edgy side of things, but his more recent forays into the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting have drawn criticism down upon him from all sides. Further, while he is hawking these bizarre theories, there is some question as to whether or not he believes what he says, a point of contention even in his custody trial with his children where his counsel has alluded to his show being performative and entertainment, not the news show it presents itself as being.

And Kelly isn’t the only one currently in a legal battle with Alex Jones. Former employees of InfoWars have filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging abusive behavior on Jones part towards them. Further, Jones is facing defamation lawsuits from a lot of the people he has called crisis actors. Add these two things to an ongoing custody battle as well as a penchant for staying in the limelight while stirring controversy, it is almost a foregone conclusion that we have not heard the last of Alex Jones and his InfoWars.



The SHOCKING Future of Sex Robots!!!


The future of human interactivity with robots could take on a whole other dimension if android and robotic technology accelerates at the same rate that computer technology has.

Just imagine, a future populated not only by humans but also by ubiquitous machines that are capable of assisting with everyday tasks and chores.

But what if you could make a robot that could also replace the most intimate of human relationships?

We’re talking about sex, of course, and while sex robots have long been a feature of science fiction, they could soon become science fact if Japanese engineers like Hiroshi Ishiguro have their way.

Hiroshi is interested in the “dynamics” of human to human interaction and how we make connections in life.

In a long example offered in Wired, these androids are anything but yesterday’s sock puppet-like automatons. They blink, they wave, they speak – all of the subtleties of human interaction are being distilled into their programming. But can interaction be programmed? Can certain cues guarantee certain social outcomes? Or is life a little less scientific than that?

Hiroshi hopes to find out and so far, what he has discovered may surprise you. To a certain extent, interactions between people can be programmed and quantified in algorithms. It is the nuances of life that have a hard time shining through, however.

In the 15 years he has produced androids Kazuo has done replicas of everyone from newscasters to fashion models. He has made 30 androids in total that have made appearances everywhere from shopping malls to street corners.

He conducts his work mainly at two institutions according to Wired, Advanced Telecommuni­cations Research Institute International in Nara and the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory at Osaka University.

As the article admits, the capability to build a fully functioning artificial robot that mimics humans in their entirety is well beyond our current capabilities. Giving these robots are modicum of humanity is also well beyond our grasp – but it may not remain this way permanently.

One controversial use for human-like androids is sex, and this has a lot of people up in arms. Some critics think this is a vulgar waste of technology and resources, while others see the potential to end human trafficking.

Is sex with robots viable? Depends on who you ask, but it is definitely a trend we will see in the future.

To some critics sex with robots is also offensive to the senses. There’s something inherently weird about the whole thing. And then again, for other people the process would be nothing different than masturbation with a toy.

Of course, this very adult debate brings out very adult arguments and raises questions about the nature of existence and the quality of human interaction. Hiroshi Ishiguro believes that the more human-like our robots become, the more receptive we will be towards the idea of having a relationship with it. As technology makes incremental progress towards this goal, the phenomenon approaches ever closer to reality. This is, of course, assuming that people would require a totally lifelike android to have a sexual relationship with in the first place. That leve of sophistication may be unnecessary, and, indeed, a bit overboard.

Because if androids can truly feel, think, and interact like humans, is there not something vulgar about turning them into silicone prostitutes?

Should something with humanity be purpose built for sex?

Often with things the question of “can we do something?” is less important than “should we do something?” That would seem to be at the crux of the debate of sex robots. It is something we can easily do, but is it something we should do? Does it make sense to give something some semblance of life only to make that existence as some sort of sex slave?

This may all sound a bit ridiculous, but you have to keep in mind we’re talking about a robot that is human in almost every sense – not an advanced sex toy.

Human-robot interaction is an emerging interdisciplinary field that involves computer programming and engineering. It is a nascent area of study that is focused on developing how android and humans will work together in the future.

One thing students really focus on in HRI studies are the subtle, non-verbal cues that other human offer each other. These cues help us interact with one another and, in some ways, are more powerful than spoken statements.

Mastery of this form of human interaction will determine how successful an android is at convincing someone it is authentically responding to them. But, again, is this level of interaction necessary for a sex doll?

One theme that Wired touches on in its article and a psychological facet worth exploring is the concept of loneliness. In the modern world, loneliness is attributed to a range of health and social ills, and perhaps an authentically human android could help cure this?

The strange thing is that Hiroshi describes himself as lonely even while having a family. But what about all of those people who don’t have a family and describe themselves as lonely? Would a robot companion ever fill the space a person should occupy?

Hiroshi Ishiguro at one point describes human interaction and conversation as an illusion. It is an illusion that engineers like him are seeking to master, the ability to cast a robot as a fully-fledged person. Bridging this intimacy gap, he believes, will make human and robot interactions that much more believable. Further, it will not only make them believable, but desirable.

And that’s the crux of the debate – the desire to be wanted and needed coupled with the ability to express that and reciprocate it. The concept of a sex robot goes beyond the imagined “deviancy” of the act and even further beyond sex itself. Perhaps people will find sex with robots more enjoyable if the robot is more mechanical, or perhaps they will prefer a robot that is conversational and interactive. One thing remains: The more advanced the AI powering robots becomes, the closer to human they reveal themselves to be, the more moral quandaries we as a species will encounter in building and procuring them for bespoke purposes. No one would ever raise a child to be a sex worker, so why would we burden a sentient machine with this life, goes the argument.

No matter what the future holds, we can be certain that the more advanced technology gets, the more questions we will have to answer about it and our places in this world.




UK Pug Lover Faces Jail Time For Video

YouTuber "Count Dankula" (Courtesy: Change.org)
YouTuber “Count Dankula” (Courtesy: Change.org)

The limits of free speech and expression are currently being tested in the United Kingdom after a YouTuber by the name of Count Dankula has come under fire for teaching his pug to perform the Nazi salute, among other things.

It all began when 30 year old Markus Meechan from North Lanarkshire, Scotland, uploaded a video of himself teaching his girlfriend’s pug to do a Nazi “sieg heil” salute. In addition to this trick, he also conditioned the dog to respond enthusiastically to the phrase “gas the Jews,” the part of the video that has the YouTuber in hot water with authorities.

The video of Markus teaching the dog these new tricks went viral back in 2016 and racked up over 3 million views under the title “M8 yer dugs a Nazi,” which, as it sounds, is Scottish slang for “Mate your dog’s a Nazi.” A catchy title but nothing terribly offensive in the labeling of the video itself. Authorities, again, are focusing on the content of the video which has free speech advocates reeling from what they see as a legal overstretch.

Bolstering Meechan’s defense is that the story behind the video is less about indoctrinating a pug into the National Socialist movement and more about his awkward attempt at humor. Meechan claims he wanted to “turn his girlfriend’s pug, Buddha, into the “least cute thing I could think of” and so wanted to turn it into a Nazi,” according to Newsweek’s Ewan Palmer.

But then there’s the actual video. In the video Meechan gets the dog to respond to “sieg heil,” records the dog getting excited by the phrase “gas the Jews,” and then, for the coup de grace, the pug listens to speeches by Adolf Hitler. From one perspective it’s a bit overkill, and from the UK government’s perspective it was illegal. After a public furore over the video, Meechan was arrested. He was charged with suspicion of a hate crime and a possible violation of the electronic communications act.

Meechan reiterates that he is not anti semitic and that the whole video was done in jest to annoy his 29-year old girlfriend Suzanne Kelly. Airdrie Sheriff’s Court in Scotland, however, takes exception with Meechan’s portrayal of the video as harmless fun. Sheriff Derek O’Carroll said of the case, “The accused knew that the material was offensive and knew why it was offensive. He would have known it was grossly offensive to many Jewish people.”

During Meechan’s trial a member of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, Ephraim Borowski, called the video “grossly offensive.”

But other members of the UK’s Jewish community have expressed support for Meechan, saying his video is an example of free speech.

In the end though, Count Dankula was convicted of being grossly offensive, a violation of the UK’s Communications Act.

Sheriff Derek O’Carroll said that free speech considerations were taken into account in his ruling, “But the right to freedom of expression also comes with responsibility,” he said.

“The description of the video as humorous is no magic wand.”

During the trial Meechan’s girlfriend testified that he had never expressed any anti semitic views to her whatsoever during the course of their relationship. Further, she called Meechan a liberal and tolerant person. The presiding Sheriff said that Meechan seemed like an intelligent man and thus should have known what he was posting was offensive and in what specific ways it would be perceived. His girlfriend Suzanne Kelly explained that she understood the video to be an example of his sense of humor.

Meechan reiterated that he made the video to annoy her and that, once it began to take off, he simply let momentum take its course. He never intended to make a video about indoctrinating a pug into being a Nazi or to offend anyone, he claims.

Jewish comedian David Baddiel said of the video: “I can see that the video may not be to everyone’s taste. Others may be able to see the comedic or satirical element to it. The court should seek to acquit Mr Meechan for no other reason but to show it is 2018 and not 1984,” in reference to the dystopian novel by George Orwell that posits an omnipresent “Big Brother” character that seeks to control all thought and action based upon arbitrary whims that change with political necessity.

UK comedian Ricky Gervais also chimed in on Twitter, saying “A man has been convicted in a UK court of making a joke that was deemed ‘grossly offensive’. If you don’t believe in a person’s right to say things that you might find ‘grossly offensive’, then you don’t believe in Freedom of Speech.”

As of press Meechan faces a prison sentence of up to six months for his conviction.

LINKS: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-43478925



Trump, Guns, And Video Games.


Trump, Guns, And Video Games, By Viral Awesome Staff

Image From Actual Donald Trump Videogame (C) 2002

The recent Parkland High School shootings in Florida prompted yet another examination of the content found in video games as politicians struggle to place blame for the deadly phenomenon of public violence that has gripped the United States in recent years.


One side of the aisle is pointing their fingers squarely at US gun laws and regulations, claiming that they are too lax and the ease with which people can purchase high-powered guns without undergoing rigorous background checks, psychological evaluation, or gun safety training. The other side cites the increased violence in popular media, particularly in video games, as being a source for the epidemic of public violence that afflicts the United States.


For those of you new to this debate, both of these positions remain relatively unchanged since the Columbine High School Massacre back in 1999. Back then the popular game that captured the attention of the public was DOOM, now those who seek to blame video games have more of a selection of titles to choose from but the debate remains relatively the same.


And that’s what makes the recent meeting between US President Donald Trump and video game industry insiders so puzzling: Upon its announcement, no one was really sure who was attending this meeting. In fact, when Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced the meeting between the US President and the video game industry, many industry leaders looked towards one another to see who had accepted the invite. The Monday prior to the scheduled conference the Electronic Software Association (ESA) said it received an invitation and would be attending. The ESA is a lobbying group for the video game industry and firmly believes that, “Video games are plainly not the issue: entertainment is distributed and consumed globally, but the US has an exponentially higher level of gun violence than any other nation,” according to Kotaku.


Among the organization’s duties are representing the interests of the software industry, holding the annual E3 show, and “defending video games.”


The press, eager to find out details about the meeting, was somewhat stymied by the conference’s last-minute convocation. Indeed, as hastily organized as it was the sit down between the two parties also seemed somewhat vague in purpose if not execution. No one really knew what to expect out of the meeting other than that video games, in some way, would be blamed for the Parkland School shooting and other similar incidents.


Lasting approximately one hour with no conclusions derived from the meeting, the two sides largely engaged in a discussion and viewed a highlight reel of violent footage from video games that the Trump team assembled.


Speaking with the ESA, heads from Bethesda, as well as the Parents Television Council (who infamously supported a California law criminalizing the sale of violent video games to young children, which was ruled unconstitutional) and Trump’s staff discussed the issue in broad terms. The White House released the following synopsis of the hour-long meeting: “During today’s meeting, the group spoke with the President about the effect that violent video games have on our youth, especially young males…The President acknowledged some studies have indicated there is a correlation between video game violence and real violence. The conversation centered on whether violent video games, including games that graphically simulate killing, desensitize our community to violence.”


What is controversial about this position is there are yet no studies that tie violent video game play with actualized violence in the real world despite the popular attribution.


Melissa Henson from the PTC, when asked by Kotaku about the President’s statements on the matter, said he was genuinely interested in hearing from all sides and getting all perspectives.”


While the clip of violence in video games played, the President did allegedly point out the extreme violence depicted but Henson for her part, could not identify the games in the presentation though Kotaku reports that Wolfenstein, Fallout 4, and Call of Duty were part of the presentation.


For its part the ESA stuck to its guns, defending both the rating system and pointing out that school shootings and mass public killings using guns are a uniquely American phenomenon while these games are sold worldwide. The PTC identifies mental health and relative access to guns as contributing factors to gun violence ahead of violent media leading some to speculate that this issue is one of mental health treatment and gun regulations rather than entertainment types or expressions. No conclusions were drawn from the meeting and it largely went the same direction as a 2013 meeting with then-Vice President Joe Biden who met with the industry in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shootings.


No concrete action items came out of the meeting and it was shortly overshadowed by Trump’s trade policies regarding steel. As to whether there will be more meetings in the future remains a question.









5 Little Known Facts About iTunes by Viral Awesome Staff



Ah, iTunes. Whether you love it or hate it, the iTunes Store is a fundamental application to be had when it comes to discovering new music and supporting your favorite artists. Yet, despite the media player and online store becoming such an integral part of our technologically-enhanced lives, how much do you really know about it?


Here are 5 little known facts about iTunes:


Introducing the New Music Store

Once upon a time, humans had to go to the mall or independent music store to pick up an 8-bit track, cassette, or CD-ROM. Though CDs are still popular, and vinyl is making a comeback, how did MP3s and AACs come into play? These formats didn’t just magically appear one day! Apple’s media player, iTunes, arrived on January 10th, 2001 at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco. Two years later, on April 28th, 2003, the iTunes Store appeared as part of the program. Since then, iTunes has revolutionized the music industry, and has sold well over 10 billion songs.


iTunes Used to Have DRM

Do you remember iTunes Plus tracks and only being able to burn purchased audio two times to a disc? Up until 2009, the iTunes Store was selling music that was encumbered by digital rights management (DRM) restrictions. It was a movement that forever changed the face of purchasing music online and how people interact with the iTunes store. DRM-free tracks meant that every piece of audio on the store, not just iTunes Plus tracks, would be encoded at 256kbps and that you could play your files on as many devices and computers you wanted.


Could you imagine what life would be like if that restriction still existed?


No Beatles Until 2010

There are a number of artists who refuse to put their tracks into the iTunes store. For the longest time, you couldn’t even find music by The Beatles due to legal conflicts between Apple Inc. and Apple Records. However, since November 2010, Beatles music has been available—and it is now extremely popular.


Record Breaking Sales

Thanks to the induction of iTunes, Apple has achieved a great many things, such as:

  • Selling 70 million songs through the iTunes store during its first year;
  • Breaking the 1 billion song download mark in 2006;
  • Becoming the most popular site in the world for downloading movies in 2007,
  • By 2011, 15 billion apps had been downloaded through the iTunes Store.


The Tune Has Changed

Everyone who has stuck with Apple since the days of the colored iMac will tell you how much iTunes has changed. In the beginning, iTunes was created by Steve Jobs, a man who is known to have loved music and wanted to begin a “music revolution.” Now, with Jobs’ unfortunate passing, iTunes has shifted gears away from the intended purpose of supplementing music to become a whirlpool of advertisements for merchandise available in the iTunes store.


While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it makes those of us with a sense of nostalgia remember the press release for iTunes 1.0 that stated, “iTunes is miles ahead of every other jukebox application, and we hope it is dramatically simpler user interface will bring even more people into the digital music revolution.”