Wednesday, January 30, 2013

For The Love Of It: Beard Massage

For The Love Of It: Beard Massage, Part 1

For The Love Of It: Beard Massage, Part 2

Monday, January 28, 2013

For the ASMR Community: Extended Cuts of Picking My Beard

In late 2012 I discovered ASMR, Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, through the following article, ASMR, the Good Feeling No One Can Explain.

The phenomenon that was being described seemed vaguely familiar but I really wasn’t sure what the article was about. It did, however, pique my interest enough that I started surfing some of the videos.

Surprisingly I found myself watching videos of ordinary women in an ordinary room whispering an inaudible dialogue. The videos put a smile on my face. The familiarity became more pronounced as I continued my search. An unknown amount of time later I still wasn’t sure what this was all about, that is, until I came across the following video. It tickled my brain and I found myself grinning from ear to ear.

ASMR ~ tapping hardcovor book ~

I finally understood what it was all about and was excited to confirm my findings. That’s when I headed over to /r/asmr and posted the following question:
I made a video of me combing my beard (dry hair), mainly for beard lovers. I have extra footage that I didn't include. Thinking about creating a longer version for ASMR lovers. What do you think?
The community liked the idea and that was all the motivation that I needed. Below you will find the extended cuts of me Picking My Beard. I hope you get as much joy watching them as I had making them.

Brushing Dry Morning Hair: Extended Cut (ASMR)

Picking Wet Hair: Extended Cut (ASMR)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Western Powers Go Full Retard on Africa: China vs. AFRICOM, a Resource War

The following is Part 1 of: “The future of Africa looks bleak, here is why” (Introduction, Part 2, Part 3).

In Africa, China has been securing access to resources through lucrative trade agreements while Western powers have decided to take the military option to secure their share of the pie.
“Across Africa, the red flag of China is flying. Lucrative deals are being struck to buy its commodities - oil, platinum, gold and minerals… From Nigeria in the north, to Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Angola in the west, across Chad and Sudan in the east, and south through Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, China has seized a vice-like grip on a continent which officials have decided is crucial to the superpower's long-term survival.”

China in Africa: New Imperialism?

Chinese world trade has increase over 20-fold in under 20 years and even though Africa represents a minor portion of that growth at present, it is vital for China’s long term security and prosperity. Africa not only contains a vast quantity of the world’s natural resources (more info), it is also the second largest continent with some of the most fertile farmlands (pdf) in the world. This has ushered in the age of the “African land grab”.
“Leading the rush are international agribusinesses, investment banks, hedge funds, commodity traders, sovereign wealth funds as well as UK pension funds, foundations and individuals attracted by some of the world's cheapest land. Together they are scouring Sudan, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Malawi, Ethiopia, Congo, Zambia, Uganda, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Mali, Sierra Leone, Ghana and elsewhere. Ethiopia alone has approved 815 foreign-financed agricultural projects since 2007. Any land there, which investors have not been able to buy, is being leased for approximately $1 per year per hectare…

“Land to grow biofuel crops is also in demand. ‘European biofuel companies have acquired or requested about 3.9m hectares in Africa. This has led to displacement of people, lack of consultation and compensation, broken promises about wages and job opportunities,’ said Tim Rice, author of an ActionAid report which estimates that the EU needs to grow crops on 17.5m hectares, well over half the size of Italy, if it is to meet its 10% biofuel target by 2015…

Source - Art by Eddie Lampkin entitled "The Vilest Scramble for Loot", created at a TANA workshop.

“‘Farmland in sub-Saharan Africa is giving 25% returns a year and new technology can treble crop yields in short time frames,’ said Susan Payne, chief executive of Emergent Asset Management, a UK investment fund seeking to spend $50m on African land, which, she said, was attracting governments, corporations, multinationals and other investors…

“Water is also controversial. Local government officers in Ethiopia told the Observer that foreign companies that set up flower farms and other large intensive farms were not being charged for water. ‘We would like to, but the deal is made by central government,’ said one. In Awassa, the al-Amouni farm uses as much water a year as 100,000 Ethiopians.”

China, USA and the scramble for Africa (Third Angle Insight)

The most recent conflicts have also had a lot to do with obtaining access to Africa's oil:
“Although Africa has long been known to be rich in oil, extracting it hadn't seemed worth the effort and risk until recently. But with the price of Middle Eastern crude skyrocketing, and advancing technology making reserves easier to tap, the region has become the scene of a competition between major powers that recalls the 19th-century scramble for colonization. Already, the United States imports more of its oil from Africa than from Saudi Arabia, and China, too, looks to the continent for its energy security.”

AFRICOM Expands Mission In Africa

To achieve the task of securing resources, in October 2008 the United States government officially activated U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). Headquartered in Kelley Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany, AFRICOM is the most recent addition to the “unified combatant command with an area of responsibility (AOR) solely dedicated to the African continent”.
“In many ways, a context for the pending strategic role of AFRICOM can be gained from an understanding of the origins of CENTCOM and the role that it continues to provide in Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the many ‘stans’ popping up after the implosion of the former U.S.S.R. That context is centered on strategic energy supplies and, explicitly, that of oil.”

click to enlarge - Source

Even though African countries were united in rejecting US requests for a military headquarters on the continent, there were reports as early as 2007 that operations through AFRICOM had already begun:
From oil rich northern Angola up to Nigeria, from the Gulf of Guinea to Morocco and Algeria, from the Horn of Africa down to Kenya and Uganda, and over the pipeline routes from Chad to Cameroon in the west, and from Sudan to the Red Sea in the east, US admirals and generals [had] been landing and taking off, meeting with local officials. [They'd] conducted feasibility studies, concluded secret agreements, and spent billions from their secret budgets.”
In late 2012, it was officially acknowledged that the United States had been expanding its military efforts in Africa and plans to deploy troops to 35 African countries in 2013. This should be regarded as bad news for Africa.

Dr. Marimba Ani - AFRICOM

If you find the idea that Africa can become any bloodier than it is inaccessible, then consider this: Contrary to popular belief, the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa last decade was not Darfur, it was Somalia, and it all began in 2006 when the United States and Ethiopia started a war with Somalia, ending six months of the only peaceful period Somalis had known for years. The end result was the same as all other wars that the United States has started in the last century. Not only was Somalia devastated, it also destabilized the region.

Admin Aids French Bombing of Mali After U.S.-Trained Forces Join Rebels in Uranium-Rich Region

Finally, let’s set the stage. The following maps should help us appreciate the gargantuan game at play. So while Western Mainstream Media continues to feed us government sanctioned news, we should keep this information in mind as events unfold in the next few years. An interactive map with additional parameters available at WorldMap.


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continued in Part 2: France Has Forgotten the Battle of Algiers, Africa Never Will: “Ordinary Victories” by Manu Larcenet

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Some Advice to Those Who Have Lost Loved Ones: Dealing with Death

Note: On 20 August 2009 I posted the following piece on my previous site. I decided to share a comment I had made on a thread that was started on askReddit. Considering recent events, I thought I’d share this again. Peace.

EDIT: I ended up uploading a video version of this post on August 26, 2016:
  • Video on BitChute
  • Audio on SoundCloud
  • Some Advice to Those Who Have Lost Loved Ones:
    Dealing with Death

    I had not planned on getting involved in the following discussion, however, a conversation was started online a few days ago which I felt inclined to participate in, and since my initial reply was well received, I thought it would be worthwhile floating the information here as well. Some of what I have posted were extremely hard-learned lessons and I hope the information finds its way to those who seek such advice.

    The following question was posted on AskReddit:
      “My parents just lost their son of 27 years. I am now an only child. Will it ever get easier for them, or will this bear on their soul until the eventual day where I must say goodbye?

      “I guess I'm not exactly sure what I'm asking for. Stories, anecdotes, puns, and assholes maybe. I want to be there for my mom and dad but I'm unsure of what may even help. What in this world can help someone overcome the grief of having to lose a child? My life has changed from this moment on. Everything I hope to do from now on is to try and bring my parents the happiness of two sons.”

    My reply, which is by no means complete or absolute, follows:
      Here is my 2 cents and please forgive me for not sugar coating my reply. When I opened up Reddit today I didn’t plan on writing this.

      1. Just so that you know where my reply is coming from. I have buried two brothers. One was 26 years old and the other 28. First one we lost when I was in my early 20’s and the second when I was in my mid 30’s. Both of them were completely different experiences. Both of them were devastating.

      2. The following is the biggest mistake you can make, “Everything I hope to do from now on is to try and bring my parents the happiness of two sons.” If you try and do this you will make everyone miserable.

      3. Your feelings/emotions will change with time, so embrace each stage completely. Do not try to run away from your responsibilities to your family but make sure that you also show your loved ones that you also share their pain. The worst thing you can do is to allow people to think that they are the only ones that hurt. That being said, no one will feel more pain than your parents, not even you.

      4. One thing I use to say to people when they asked me what it was like to lose a family member was that, “it’s an experience that you would want your closest friends to know, but you would not wish it upon your worst enemies.” And I really meant this. I have learned to appreciate every moment of life, which is something that I rarely see in others. It took me a long time to get to this state but it is there when you are ready for it.

      5. Life will always taste a little bitter from now on, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s just another flavour, a flavour which can make you appreciate all the beauty of life.

      6. No one will understand how you feel. Your relationship with your brother and with your family is unique so don’t expect people to have answers for you.

      7. Deal with what has happened to the best of your abilities and learn from your mistakes. Don’t expect to be good, right, perfect, etc. all the time … just do the best you can with what you know. Later you may wish you did something differently but always remember that you did the best with what you knew at the time.

      8. Let loose when you need to, with friends or with strangers, but don’t wallow in your misery for too long. Just long enough to be exhausted. Then begin to build up your life again.

      9. The best way to remember and live your life as if you have not lost a loved one is to take what they loved and incorporate it into your life. This is super important. If they loved to read, begin to read. If they loved sports, start playing sports. If they loved a certain type of music, start listening to it. Basically begin to incorporate the best of who they were into who you are. Forget about what you disliked about them.

      10. Don’t forget to cry with joy. There will come a time when you will yearn for the times that you would shed tears for them for hours. Hold on to that feeling and figure out how to tap into it. It will bring you joy in the future.

      11. Let your parents be as miserable as they want to be, or pretend that everything is okay.

      12. Your parents, and you, will most likely begin to become partially self-destructive. It’s okay to do this, just make sure you do not let it destroy you or your parents.

      13. Many families split up after there is a death in the family. If your parents want to divorce, support them. Help them to transition into their new life. Remember, divorce does not mean the end of family.

      14. As you should be aware by now, nothing material matters, except for those little trinkets that remind you of your brother. Make sure they become part of you.

      15. You will build amazing friendships over the next few years and lose some close friends. This is a good thing.

      16. Do not live your life for anyone else other than yourself. This will make your parents happy and will hopefully provide them a good example to follow. Of course they may be doing the same thing for you. This being said, there is nothing more important than family so make sure you are there for them when you are needed.

      17. It will take a while, years, until you fully digest what has happened. Savour those years.

      18. As far as I see things, there is no such thing as death.

      19. I read some of the comments and I think you are doing the right thing. Keep your shit together and make sure everything is taken care of for the next few weeks. It’s important that your parents do not have to worry about technicalities so make sure all phone calls are made and all the paper work is done. You’ll have plenty of time to mourn and reflect… years.

      20. Try to refrain from making too many permanent decisions for a while.
    And some additional sound advice shared by someone who has felt this pain:
    "The only thing I can add to your advice is to get help. therapy, grief group, some sort of support that is not your immediate family... So the advice I would add is to talk with someone who knows or can understand your pain without personally knowing your loved one. It gives you a freedom to let your pain out so you can heal. Even a group grief session once or twice can help."

    Monday, January 14, 2013

    Aaron Swartz, America’s Mohamed Bouazizi: We’re in the midst of a revolution, which side are you on?

    The United States is ripe for a revolution. People are pissed, and rightfully so. The only question that remains is if the restructuring will be peaceful, like what we saw happen in Iceland, or will it be violent, like what we see happening in Greece and Spain.

    As Chris Hedges has implied on multiple occasions, the revolution is well on its way:
    I have seen my share of revolts, insurgencies and revolutions, from the guerrilla conflicts in the 1980s in Central America to the civil wars in Algeria, the Sudan and Yemen, to the Palestinian uprising to the revolutions in East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Romania as well as the wars in the former Yugoslavia. George Orwell wrote that all tyrannies rule through fraud and force, but that once the fraud is exposed they must rely exclusively on force. We have now entered the era of naked force. The vast million-person bureaucracy of the internal security and surveillance state will not be used to stop terrorism but to try and stop us.”

    All of that has been used to essentially, in this reconfiguration of American society… into an oligarchic state, a neofeudalistic state—you criminalize dissent, because they know very well what’s coming, as they reduce roughly two-thirds of this country to subsistence level.”

    Chris Hedges: "America is a Tinderbox"

    Full episode list of “Reality Asserts Itself - Chris Hedges”

    The most revealing feature of our current economic and political model that points to a systematic failure is how the banks have been able to commit and profit from the most heinous crimes without being held accountable, while individuals have been relentlessly hounded for the most minor of infractions. Our society is full of such stories, from banks getting a slap on the wrist for laundering money for drug lords and terrorists while quadriplegics are arrested for smoking a joint and left to suffocate and die in prison, to our leaders having private hit lists and rebranding civilians as combatants and terrorists while peaceful civilians are incarcerated without being charged for any crime just because they refuse to take part in a witch-hunt.

    Our current economic and political system is a joke and the latest victim of this corrupt system is Aaron Swartz. What Aaron accomplished by the time of his death at the tender age of 26 was astonishing, and the events that led to his final decision to take his own life will make your blood boil. The following two videos provide detailed information on what took place and who Aaron was. Keep this information in mind because the story of Aaron Swartz is very similar to that of Mohamed Bouazizi, the catalyst the gave birth to the Arab Spring.

    "An Incredible Soul": Lawrence Lessig Remembers Aaron Swartz After Leading Cyberactivist’s Suicide

    F2C2012: Aaron Swartz keynote - "How we stopped SOPA"

    Friday, January 11, 2013

    Free two hour math class on January 19 in Vancouver - theme of the day will be to find out why we factor (UPDATE - Class cancelled)

    Update: Unfortunately registration for the class was low and the organizers, with my blessing of course, have decided to cancel the class and plan to reschedule it in February or March, possibly during a weekday evening time-slot. We believe that perhaps the class would garner more interest once Trade School Vancouver has a dedicated group of followers. My apologies to the three people who had registered, I will do my best to make sure the class happens on a future date.



    I’ll be teaching a two hour class through Trade School Vancouver on Saturday January 19 from 11:00am to 1:00pm at The Network Hub on 422 Richards Street, Vancouver.

    The school is set up as a barter system, “pay for class with barter items and services, not money,” and for my class all you need to do is to tell me that you love math. So if you sign up, come up to me and tell me, “I Love Math!”, and I will teach you the reason why we factor and how factoring is relevant in our lives.

    Topics covered will include; the Real Number Set, Prime Numbers, Functions, Graphs, Polynomials, Factoring, and Ratios, as well as basic topics requested by students.

    In the next week or so I’ll be working on putting together the course material and once completed I’ll provide the information here as well. You can sign up at the Trade School Vancouver site. Bring some paper and a couple of pens, and I’ll do my best to show you the power of mathematics.

    The following video explains what Trade School Vancouver is all about. Hope to see you there.

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

    Lest we forget, an attack on Syria is an attack on Iran and a threat to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization

    United States involvement in Syria has nothing to do with a repressive regime. After all, in 2002 the United States willingly used Assad’s regime to torture Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen, when they renditioned him to Syria from New York. The world was also quite grateful to Syria for accepting 1.5 million refugees created by the US invasion of Iraq, especially considering that for approximately the same period the United States had only accepted 7,000 Iraqi refugees. What’s happening in Syria is part of a bigger picture, a grand chessboard if you’d like, and what’s happening there is definitely not the end game.

    Irrelevant if Assad stays in power or the rebels take control, what’s important to know about Syria is that an attack on Syria is an attack on Iran and a threat to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) - a mutual security organization founded in 2001, which “includes not only the two giants Russia and China, but also the energy-rich Central Asian states Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.”

    In 2006 Syria signed a defense agreement with Iran. With this agreement Iran "considers Syria's security its own security," and its defense capabilities to be those of Syria. This means that an attack on Syria is an attack on Iran, and Iran is a much more formidable foe than Syria. Not because of Iran’s military capabilities but because of its diplomatic ties to the regional countries.

    Not only has Iran signed a declaration with Caspian Sea leaders in which all parties have agreed “to reinforce peace, stability, economic development, and good neighborliness in the region,” Iran is also an observer state in the SCO.

    Enlarge - Source

    If the United States attacks Syria, which it has threatened to do, it will force it into a military confrontation with Iran. If this occurs, it is very unlikely that the SCO, especially the two most influential members Russia and energy strapped China, will stand idly by.

    Direct Western intervention in Syria or a war with Iran will be catastrophes on their own, but they could also trigger a confrontation between NATO and the SCO. Not a good scenario any way you look at it.

  • August 27, 2013: American forces ready to strike Syria if ordered, U.S. defence secretary says
  • July 12, 2013: Who is the US arming in Syria? President Assad rubs his hands at news of rebel split
  • June 16, 2013: Russia, US heading for confrontation over Syria - "Moscow has announced the dispatch to Syria of two warships carrying 600 Russian marines. They were being sent to Syria, "to protect the Russian citizens there", said an official statement."
  • June 16, 2013: Iran to send 4,000 troops to aid President Assad forces in Syria
  • June 13, 2013: United States officially enters the war in Syria - "The president has made a decision about providing more support to the opposition that will involve providing direct support to the [Supreme Military Council]. That includes military support."
  • June 5, 2013: As U.S. Deploys Patriot Missiles and F-16s to Jordan, Could Syrian Conflict Engulf the Middle East?
  • May 28, 2013: Russia Says End of European Arms Embargo on Syria Harms Hopes for Talks

  • Saturday, January 5, 2013

    Video highlights from the last two weeks: Strain Hunters, J. T. Gatto, Alexander Bard, Democracy Now, Devin Fidler, and Richard Hamming

    For the last two weeks I’ve been super busy with a move, hence the lack of posts. I have, however, still been in information consumption mode and come across some gems that are definitely worth sharing. Below you will find some video highlights for this period. I’ll be back to full blogging mode once I get settled into the new space.

    Strain Hunters Morocco Expedition by Green House Seed Co

    “The large majority of the hashish produced worldwide (up to 70% of the total annual world production) comes from a relatively small mountain region in the North of Morocco, called Rif… we witnessed how the farming cycle linked to hashish production is integrant part of the rural lifestyle of the Berbers, and how it dictates the rhythm of life and the rhytm of work.”

    J. T. Gatto interviewed by Lennart Mogren, Sweden, March 2003 (difference between schooling and education)

    John Taylor Gatto is a retired American school teacher with nearly 30 years experience in the classroom, and author of several books on education. He is an activist critical of compulsory schooling, of the perceived divide between the teen years and adulthood, and of what he characterizes as the hegemonic nature of discourse on education and the education professions.” His book, The Underground History of American Education is available online (summary found here).

    Alexander Bard - CPEU2 - Futurica Trilogy

    Bard has written three books on the internet revolution, collectively known as The Futurica Trilogy, together with media theorist Jan Söderqvist. Their first collaboration The Netocrats was originally released in Swedish in 2000, became available in English in 2003, and has since been translated to a further 16 languages with total worldwide sales exceeding 340,000 copies. The second book The Global Empire was originally released in Swedish in 2003, while the third installment of the trilogy The Body Machines was originally published in Swedish in 2009. These latter two works were released in English in 2012, completing The Futurica Trilogy, in which the authors present their philosophical vision for a global and increasingly virtual society, as a consequence of the interactive revolution.”

    2012 Culture and Resistance with Alice Walker, Randy Weston, Walter Mosley, Gore Vidal and More

    “Today we look at the nexus of politics and art, airing highlights of our cultural coverage from the past year featuring Alice Walker, Walter Mosley, Tony Kushner, Randy Weston, Steve Earle, Randall Robinson, Toshi Reagon, Tom Morello and others. We pay tribute to the late Adrienne Rich, Gore Vidal and Whitney Houston and mark the centennial of the birth of Woody Guthrie.”

    Devin Fidler - Realigning Human Organization

    “Devin Fidler, Research Director at the Institute for the Future, presents the Tech Horizon 2012 research report, Realigning Human Organization.”

    Richard Hamming: "Learning to Learn"

    (links to full playlist, 32 videos)
    “The Art of Doing Science and Engineering: Learning to Learn" was the capstone course by Dr. Richard W. Hamming (1915-1998) for graduate students at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, California.”