Media is changing. Out goes the old model in which what we saw or heard was filtered by publishers, record companies, radio stations, film studios, or TV networks. In the new model, writers self-publish, movies appear on Youtube, music or podcasts can be downloaded digitally, and private TV networks can be subscribed to on Youtube, (as of this week). Some artists thrive in the brave new world; a fascinating example is Amanda Palmer. Watch her riveting TED talk, about asking, trust, and the relationship between an artist and her audience. (People who really understand media give good TED.) Read her recent blog post (“and i thought: this is amazing. when was the last time a thousand people argued about a stupid poem?”) about the sound and fury that erupted over her previous post A Poem For Dzhokhar. And if you’re now curious about her music, visit her store, from which you can download music on a “pay what you want” basis, including for free. That’s part of the trust between an artist and her audience, that her TED talk was about. Explore… and you’ll come away thinking differently about media.
Back in the old world Israel bombs Syria, while the “peace talks” (or the discussion preparatory to the beginning of the continuation of the “peace talks”) continue. Uri Avnery, éminence grise of the Israeli peace movement, muses on John Kerry, “If the American Secretary of State really believes that he can nudge our government slowly and gradually to ‘meaningful’ negotiation with the Palestinians, he is deluding himself. If he does not believe it, he is trying to delude others.” Meanwhile Stephen Hawking boycotts an Israeli conference, saying, “The policy of the present Israeli government is likely to lead to disaster.” His move was supported by ⅔ of Guardian readers; an attempt to tally National Post responses failed when too many were so vituperative I couldn’t tell which side they were on. Qualitatively though, they seemed less supportive.
In the fight against a plutocracy run by (and for) the 1%, more voices are being heard. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) asks, “How do Fortune 500 companies pay zero in taxes while college loans go up to 6 percent? This game is rigged.” A report on resistance to austerity in Spain is headlined, “In Spain They Are All Indignados Nowadays.” The Guardian connects the dots in a fine piece, “From Texas To Dhaka, Economic Exploitation Continues To Spill Blood.” And in the sort of followup that is all too rare, Casey Danson has a scathing article, “The worst part about BP’s oil-spill cover-up: It worked”. which also covers the effects on people and marine ecology from Corexit, BP’s oil dispersant.
How’s your mental health? Depends on who you ask for an evaluation. For years Big Pharma’s the psychiatrists’ bible has been The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association, now in edition 5. But this week the New Scientist reports on how the world’s biggest mental health research institute (the US NIMH) attacks the validity of the DSM–5. A worthwhile followup in the New Yorker looks at why the NIMH is quitting the DSM and using Research Domain Criteria (R.D.O.C.) instead. This week Jason Collins (basketball player) became the latest sports star to come out as gay, also worth noting because earlier versions of the DSM classified homosexuality as a mental disease. The DSM matters because it is the basis on which drugs are prescribed by doctors, whether for overly bouncy (or shy) teens, or for astronauts. Discovery asks the question you’ve always wondered about: What Drugs Are Our Astronauts On? concluding “…the lesson here is to use zombie mind-control drugs responsibly while in orbit.” That’s about as good a basis for a short-story as I’ve seen recently, though it would take Hunter S. Thompson to do it justice. In his home state, Colorado, the current drug of choice is now (still?) marihuana as Colorado pot growers gear up for ‘green rush’, a state of affairs which gives Doonesbury stalwart Zonker flashbacks.
Slate magazine says, ”It’s not just wrong… It’s the wrongiest wrong that ever wronged,” about a Creationism test given to Grade 4s. Scarily, they could be right. As Mark Twain observed, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Another example is the much-touted Islamization of Europe, about which Quora readers were asked this week. (Answer: It’s not happening.) It turns out, very reassuringly, that people would not accept that “Day of the Dead” was a Walt Disney trademark, as Mouseco™ had hoped to persuade them. But are GMO opponents just the climate skeptics of the left? Slate says yes. Challenge yourself, and read the piece. Some fine counter-arguments in the responses.
Enough serious thinking. Don’t you need something funny, to help you calm down after that Creationism test? The Onion came out with meta-humour this week, responding to the highjacking of their Twitter feed by the ‘Syrian Electronic Army’ with a piece entitled, “Syrian Electronic Army Has A Little Fun Before Inevitable Upcoming Deaths At Hands Of Rebels”. Easy test: spot the moment when this 30 second Lego ad veers dramatically off script. Everyone get 100%? I thought so. That’s a better score than the guy who was obviously wondering, “And what does this button do?” a second before this picture was taken. One of the most surreal interviews ever is a catatonically frozen Anderson Cooper of CNN interviewing Charles Ramsey, who had just freed the Cleveland women.
Time for Geography, starting with a year on the surface of the sun, reduced to a single stunning photo. Then we’ll zoom in to a fascinating pictorial image of world population. And now a brilliantly angled photo of high rises in Hong Kong; a black and white of the Grand Canyon; performers from Naxi, Yi and Bai ethnic minorities beneath the 5,596-metre Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in Lijang, China; and the Ruks Museum burning down setting off celebratory fireworks. For dessert, we offer you this very tasty-looking multicoloured iceberg. I think it’s tutti-frutti.
But what good is geography without people? (Rhetorical question, thanks for not replying.) A one minute exercise video starts this section, and it’s worth waiting for the amazing ending. Next, a fascinating animated look at the similarity in the candidates for Miss Korea this year; The Telegraph’s entertainingly modern portraits of Queen Elizabeth I, William Shakespeare, Henry VIII, et al.; firefighters in a cardboard factory;and a tautly anticipatory Mercedes pit crew at an FI race. And in the first practical use of lenticular technology ever seen (go on, prove me wrong!), an ad with a secret anti-abuse message that only kids can see.
And what good are people without animals? (Not even rhetorical question. Meaningless, really. Ignore. Thank you.) We bring you the thrilling opening dash from the Annual Penguin Marathon, which this year took place, ironically, on Sea Lion Island. Check out the 16 metre (50 foot) rubber duck on its way to Hong Kong. Its creator claims “The Rubber Duck knows no frontiers, doesn’t discriminate against people, and has healing properties.” It is cute, as are Julian (5) and Labrador Max, a 75 kg (165 pound) Newfoundland. Nothing can follow this Mataram, Indonesia grasshopper shedding its old skin. Go, and do likewise.
Special closing section: Things That Don’t Really Fit Together But All Have Numbers in Their Title. Yes, it’s 22 Unbelievable Places that are Hard to Believe Really Exist, if you’re a bored panda. Meanwhile, Gizmodo offers 13 Ingenious Treehouses That Go Out on a Limb. And Twisted Sifter offers 50 Animated Gifs of Fighting Game Backgrounds, with a link to the full set of 125 should you need more. But you probably won’t.