Remember Farenheit 451, François Truffaut’s classic movie about a future world where the job of the Fire Department is to burn books? These days they’re not burning books they’re digitizing them. The reason is because if they don’t they will disintegrate before our eyes. And when they do, there goes our history. Only problem is the digital media they use is obsolete long before the books disappear. And human memory is appallingly short. So whatever it is you cherish, better enjoy it while it lasts. Oops, there goes another terrabyte…
The Internet Archive
DeepspeedMedia.com | Feb 13
This video features Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive and his colleagues Robert Miller, director of books, and Alexis Rossi, director of web collections. On a mission to create universal access to all knowledge, the Internet Archive’s staff have built the world’s largest online library, offering 10 petabytes of archived websites, books, movies, music, and television broadcasts. The video includes a tour of the Internet Archive’s headquarters in San Francisco, the book scanning center, and the book storage facilities in Richmond, California.
If childhood trauma is the requirement for adult achievement I should be President of something by now. I won’t go into the details here. Nevertheless, I think Frank Bruni is onto something here. I confess, I too watch Idol. Or at least I used to until Angie was given the boot. Now there’s something to cry about…
Show Us Your Woe
Frank Bruni | NYTimes | 18 May 13
In the service of what I’m about to write, an admission I’m loath to make: I watch “The Voice.”
It gets worse. I watch “American Idol,” too.
Not whole seasons. Not even whole episodes. If I may brag a little, no one can fast-forward like I can, compressing two recorded hours of “The Voice” into 34 minutes and the “Idol” finale on Thursday night into about 19, including the pauses to top off my Chablis and brush the cracker crumbs from my comforter.
But I’ve experienced enough of these shows to know that they’re not merely singing competitions. They’re misery competitions. Bad-luck bake-offs. I’ll see you your high school expulsion, and I’ll raise you my stint in rehab.
A resident of South Central L.A. decided to combat obesity by planting a garden instead of grass. This guy is not just a gardener. He’s a brilliant entrepreneur and an inspiration. Somebody introduce him to Michelle Obama, quick…
A Guerilla Gardener in South Central LA
Ron Finley | TED | Mar 13
________________________________________________________________________________ Artist and designer Ron Finley couldn’t help but notice what was going on in his backyard. “South Central Los Angeles,” he quips, “home of the drive-thru and the drive-by.” And it’s the drive-thru fast-food stands that contribute more to the area’s poor health and high mortality rate, with one in two kids contracting a curable disease like Type 2 diabetes.
Finley’s vision for a healthy, accessible “food forest” started with the curbside veggie garden he planted in the strip of dirt in front of his own house. When the city tried to shut it down, Finley’s fight gave voice to a larger movement that provides nourishment, empowerment, education — and healthy, hopeful futures — one urban garden at a time.
My brother-in-law, with whom I enjoy heated political ‘conversations’, knows that I am sympathetic to a liberal point of view. I was therefore surprised that he sent me a video today which looks at income inequity in America, a subject of repeated and vociferous debate between us. After viewing the video I realised that he sent it because the data and conclusions it presents are so staggeringly amazing that it falls outside the realm of normal political debate. Looking at this doesn’t arouse anger, so much as eye-blinking astonishment…
The image below was created by Chris Jordan, a Seattle-based artist who focuses on the impact of human behavior on the environment. The piece depicted here is called “Unsinkable”. In the chilling text accompanying this piece Jordan describes the nuclear time bomb sitting under the remains of Japan’s Fukushima power plant. You can view this piece and others in Jordan’s remarkable collection at ChrisJordan.com…
Chris Jordan | ChrisJordan.com | 2013
Depicts 67,000 mushroom clouds, equal to the number of metric tons of ultra-radioactive uranium/plutonium waste being stored in temporary pools at the 104 nuclear power plants across the U.S. These waste pools must be cooled with hundreds of thousands of gallons of constantly circulating water, and many plants have inadequate or nonexistent backup cooling systems in case of power loss. In the U.S. and around the world, the waste pools are under-protected, over-filled, and vulnerable to earthquakes, storms, malfeasance, and human error. In 1997 the Brookhaven National Laboratory estimated that a calamity at just one of these waste pools in the U.S. could cause 138,000 American deaths (more than the number of Japanese who died in the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima), and contaminate 2,000 square miles of our land.
Currently, the waste pool in Reactor Unit 4 at Japan’s Fukushima-Daiichi plant is at risk for collapse. The building is unstable, and the cracked and leaking pool contains 262 tons of ultra-radioactive uranium/plutonium waste. For months, Fukushima has been experiencing numerous earthquakes from magnitude 4.1 to 6.2, sometimes several per day. If a magnitude 7 earthquake were to occur, causing the Unit 4 waste pool to rupture and drain, the resulting meltdown and fires could release ten times more airborne radioactive material than was released by the Chernobyl disaster. At that point humans could no longer enter or operate the facility, potentially leading to a chain reaction of meltdown events at Fukushima’s five other units, releasing 85 times as much radiation as the Chernobyl disaster.
The United States lies downwind of Fukushima, only a few days across the Pacific via the jet stream. The jet stream would carry radioactive material into the interior of the United States, eventually circling the globe and reaching the entire northern hemisphere within weeks or months. The amount of radiation released “would destroy the world environment and our civilization,” according to Robert Alvarez, former Senior Policy Adviser for National Security and the Environment at the U.S. Department of Energy.
________________________________________________________________________________ Chris Jordan is an artist based in Seattle, Washington who is best known for his large scale works depicting mass consumption and waste, particularly garbage. He has been called “the ‘it’ artist of the green movement”. Chris is currently working on “Midway”, a feature documentary on the impact of pollution on bird populations, including albatrosses, in the pacific island of Midway.
While the fiercely argued debate over gun control rages on it is more important to be armed with facts than firearms. The article posted below addresses ten of the myths most often hurled by opponents of gun control in defense of their increasingly paranoid position on this touchy subject…
10 Pro-Gun Myths, Shot Down
Fact checking some of the gun lobby’s favorite arguments shows they’re full of holes.
Dave Gilson | MotherJones.com | 31 Jan 13
By cutting off federal funding for research and stymieing data collection and sharing, the National Rifle Association has tried to do to the study of gun violence what climate deniers have done to the science of global warming. No wonder: When it comes to hard numbers, some of the gun lobby’s favorite arguments are full of holes.
Fact-check: People with more guns tend to kill more people—with guns. The states with the highest gun ownership rates have a gun murder rate 114% higher than those with the lowest gun ownership rates. Also, gun death rates tend to be higher in states with higher rates of gun ownership.
There are a lot of people speaking on the issue of gun control these days but you will never hear a more powerful or compelling voice on that subject than Gabby Giffords…
“We Must Do Something!”
Gabby Giffords | US Senate | 30 Jan 13
“You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you.”
________________________________________________________________________________ Gabrielle Giffords was a member of Congress until January 8th, 2011 when she was shot in the head by Jared Lee Loughner, a crazed assasin.
The debate over gun control in this country has been going on for many years. It appears that no amount of violence or busloads of slaughtered school kids is enough to stop it. The crazier this country gets the more people reach for their Glocks. Amidst all the violence I have not heard or read any authentic reports of how all this armament actually succeeded in protecting anyone. In fact one report quoted an onlooker to the Gabrielle Giffords shooting as saying he opted to not use the weapon he was carrying for fear he would be mistaken as a partner of the shooter. So what is this argument really all about? This writer has an interesting reply to that question…
Both Sides Have Something to Fear
David Ropeik | NYTimes | 7 Jan 12
Lots of statistics are being thrown around in the debate about whether guns make society safer or more dangerous. But the gun control argument is intensely emotional because it is about so much more than public safety. Guns have become symbols in our polarized society, figurative weapons in a war of conflicting cultural values that is compelled by deep and ancient instincts.
Humans are social animals. We have evolved to depend on our group, our tribe, for our health and safety. So we adopt views and positions that align with those of our group, in order to be accepted and supported — and protected — as a member in good standing. Agreeing with the group also helps protect us because social unity helps our tribe prevail in the competition with other tribes for control of society in general. So we see and interpret the facts about guns, or any issue, through these deep lenses.
Responding to the tragedy at Newtown, CT many people clamored for gun controls. In response, the NRA trotted out its absurd ‘remedy’ to put armed guards in elementary schools and supply teachers with machine guns. This debate has turned into a shouting match without end leading nowhere and accomplishing nothing. Meanwhile the nation waits for the next lunatic with a Glock to lay waste to more kids or teachers or whoever. Lost in the argument is the remarkable change that has occurred in the US over the past fifty years regarding care and treatment of mental disorders. The infrastructure of mental health in America has been largely eliminated, replaced by America’s favorite cure-all, drugs. This is the cost of government on the cheap. This is the price you pay when profits trump protection and care for those who suffer from diseases that can turn them into monsters. Give a monster a semi-auto Bushmaster and you’ve got a problem on your hands…
Our Failed Approach to Schizophrenia
Paul Steinberg | NYTimes | 26 Dec 12
Too many pendulums have swung in the wrong directions in the United States. I am not referring only to the bizarre all-or-nothing rhetoric around gun control, but to the swing in mental health care over the past 50 years: too little institutionalizing of teenagers and young adults (particularly men, generally more prone to violence) who have had a recent onset of schizophrenia; too little education about the public health impact of untreated mental illness; too few psychiatrists to talk about and treat severe mental disorders — even though the medications available in the past 15 to 20 years can be remarkably effective.
Instead we have too much concern about privacy, labeling and stereotyping, about the civil liberties of people who have horrifically distorted thinking. In our concern for the rights of people with mental illness, we have come to neglect the rights of ordinary Americans to be safe from the fear of being shot — at home and at schools, in movie theaters, houses of worship and shopping malls.