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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wednesday night MetaFilterFilter.

* NASA climatologist James Hansen, recently arrested at an anti-mountaintop-mining demonstration in West Virginia, says we're almost too late to stop climate change. I wonder about that "almost."

* Nate Silver considers the legislative strategy at work in the upcoming Waxman-Markey vote.

* Mapping relationships in the X-Men Universe.

* An early Christmas present for my father? Corzine trails badly in New Jersey.

* Lots of talk lately about Robert Charles Wilson's anti-Singulatarian Julian Comstock: A Story of the 22nd Century. Here's an interview at io9 that takes up that angle, while Cory Doctorow highlights this blurb:

If Jules Verne had read Karl Marx, then sat down to write The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, he still wouldn't have matched the invention and exuberance of Robert Charles Wilson's Julian Comstock.
* Dancing plagues and mass hysteria. Via MeFi.

* How complexity leads to social collapse: some intriguing historical exploration from Paul Kedrosky. Also via MeFi.

* Roger Ebert explains how Bill O'Reilly works.
O'Reilly represents a worrisome attention shift in the minds of Americans. More and more of us are not interested in substance. The nation has cut back on reading. Most eighth graders can't read a newspaper. A sizable percentage of the population doesn't watch television news at all. They want entertainment, or "news" that is entertainment. Many of us grew up in the world where most people read a daily paper and watched network and local newscasts. "All news" radio stations and TV channels were undreamed-of. News was a destination, not a generic commodity. Journalists, the good ones anyway, had ethical standards.

In those days, if you quoted The New York Times, you were bringing an authority to the table. Now O'Reilly--O'Reilly!--advises viewers to cancel their subscriptions to a paper most of them may not have ever seen. In those days, if the wire services reported something, it probably happened. Today the wire services remain indispensable, but waste resources in producing celebrity info-nuggets that belong in trash magazines. Advertisers now seek readers they once thought of as shoplifters. If nuclear war breaks out, the average citizen of a Western democracy will be better informed about Brittny Spears than the causes of their death.
Discussion (where else?) at MeFi.