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Initially, any new information medium seems to degrade reading because it disturbs the balance between focal and peripheral attention. This was true as early as the invention of writing, which Plato complained hollowed out focal memory. Similarly, William Wordsworth’s sister complained that he wasted his mind in the newspapers of the day. It takes time and adaptation before a balance can be restored, not just in the “mentality” of the reader, as historians of the book like to say, but in the social systems that complete the reading environment. Right now, networked digital media do a poor job of balancing focal and peripheral attention.–“A New Metaphor for Reading,” Alan Lie, The New York Times
Three debatably good things: the Internet and the “absolute destruction of credentialism”; the demise of the professional man of letters; a cybersquatter defeated
A 45-year-old policeman was hacked to death with a machete while he was swimming with his wife near his home in Preah Vihear province’s Kampong Pronak commune. The attacker approached the policeman in a boat, and after committing the crime, docked and hired a motorbike taxi, travelling to the police station to confess. In his confession, the man said that he attacked the victim because of an incident several years ago in which the victim threatened to kill him with witchcraft.–“Cop Chopped for Witchcraft Threat,” Ramsey Kampuchea, The Phnom Penh Post
In March 2009 New York-based GfK Custom Research and British “place branding” consultant Simon Anholt released the global Nation Brands Index (NBI). It rates countries based on international perception of various categories, including tourism, investment, and immigration and governance. Germany ranked 1st overall, the UK 3rd, Canada 4th, the US 7th and China 28th. Iran placed 50th and Israel failed to make the top 50. While it’s tempting to dismiss nation branding as an example of the PR industry’s cynical commodification of the world, its assumptions can shed some light on Israel’s self-inflicted inability to re-brand.–“The Israeli Brand,” Craig Smith, Adbusters
Acres of hemp grown by “patriotic‚” U.S. farmers in 1942 at the behest of the U.S. government:
A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.
Greenpeace apologized after activists accidentally defaced the site of Peru’s 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines when they unfurled cloth letters reading “time for change” near the ancient sand drawings. “We fully understand,” the group wrote in a statement, “that this looks bad.”
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”