At a point when polling suggested Scotland was closely divided on the issue of independence, Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said, “I think there’s real public concern in terms of some of the nature and balance of the coverage.” Well beyond the Scottish borders, there was recognition of the concern. English commentator George Monbiot ripped into media coverage that frequently referred to “the threat” rather than the prospect of independence, compared the democratically elected Salmond to a dictator and dismissed Scottish complaints about austerity as a demand for a “something for nothing society.” Monbiot’s important essay was headlined, “How the media shafted the people of Scotland.” Salmond’s “yes” side ultimately lost, as Scots decided Thursday by a convincing 400,000-vote margin to remain a part of the United Kingdom. But the debate about media coverage carried forward after the count was finished, with Iain Macwhirter, a veteran Scottish political commentator and the author of the book Road to Referendum, asserting on a post-election television panel, “Anyone who reviews the press coverage of this campaign will not be able to come out with any other conclusion than that it was extremely one-sided.” Political campaigns often produce complaints and concerns about media coverage. And in an age of radically transforming media landscapes, the debate itself is changing — as analysts seek to weigh the impact of social media as an alternative to traditional media. Yet author and activist Tariq Ali noted after speaking to a pro-independence rally Monday in Glasgow, “Yes, yes, people should be concerned about the media coverage. The newspapers have been appalling when it comes to covering the story of what’s been happening in Scotland.”
The Great Artificial Elephant, Nantes, France,
This is a robotic miracle!Made from 45 tons of recycled materials,measuring 12 meters high and 8 meters wide. It can carry up to 49 passengers
We come for the evocative allegory, but stay for the gory action and expensive CGI explosions.
None of these classics cares too much about presenting plausible pathways for political change. You might argue that it’s unfair to ask our popular dystopias to do much more than entertain us or, at best, vaguely inspire us to avoid the apocalypse.
How much responsibility does fiction have for answering the questions it raises?
Yes but what about Banks in the guise of Ian M Banks?
In Syntactic Structures (1957), to illustrate the difference between a meaningful sentence and a grammatical one, Noam Chomsky offered the expression Colorless green ideas sleep furiously as an example of a grammatical sentence that’s nonsense.
Naturally, some readers took this as a challenge — within months, students at Stanford had set up a competition to show that the expression could be understood as a meaningful sentence. Here’s one of the prizewinning entries:
“It can only be the thought of verdure to come, which prompts us in the autumn to buy these dormant white lumps of vegetable matter covered by a brown papery skin, and lovingly to plant them and care for them. It is a marvel to me that under this cover they are labouring unseen at such a rate within to give us the sudden awesome beauty of spring flowering bulbs. While winter reigns the earth reposes but these colourless green ideas sleep furiously.”
God created war so that Americans would learn geography.
— Mark Twain (via observando)
When I was 7 I was in a refugee camp waiting in line to get a loaf of bread and a liter of milk from Red Cross. I will kill myself before I wait in line for an iPhone or a pair of Jordan’s.
— Haris (via adisqt)
These incredible coffee paintings are by Mohammad, a refugee from Myanmar living in Sydney. Mohammad spent over 4 years in detention centres around the country. Many of these works illustration the isolation people feel when living in detention for extensive periods of time.
A pretty good sketch of a transforming future from McKinsey and some thoughts on the management challenges:It would be easy, though, for organizations and leaders to become frozen by the magnitude of the changes under way or to tackle them on the basis of outdated intuition. Taking the long view may help. In 1930, the great British economist John Maynard Keynes boldly predicted that 100 years on, the standard of living in progressive countries would be four to eight times higher. As it turned out, the upper end of his optimistic expectation turned out to be closer to the truth. Those who understand the depth, breadth, and radical nature of the change and opportunity that’s on the way will be best able to reset their intuitions accordingly, shape this new world, and thrive.
And for the first time, through the use of a "probabilistic" statistical method, the Science paper establishes a range of uncertainty around its central estimate-9.6 billion Earthlings in 2050, 10.9 billion...
Your paper brain and your Kindle brain aren’t the same thing
Photo: A commuter reads on a Kindle e-reader while riding the subway in Cambridge, Mass. Neuroscience says the way his brain treats reading on the Kindle is different than the way the brain processes the newspaper next to him.
Would you like paper or plasma? That’s the question book lovers face now that e-reading has gone mainstream. And, as it turns out, our brains process digital reading very differently.
Manoush Zomorodi, managing editor and host of WNYC’s New Tech City, recalls a conversation with the Washington Post’s Mike Rosenwald, who’s researched the effects of reading on a screen. “He found, like I did, that when he sat down to read a book his brain was jumping around on the page. He was skimming and he couldn’t just settle down. He was treating a book like he was treating his Twitter feed,” she says.
Neuroscience, in fact, has revealed that humans use different parts of the brain when reading from a piece of paper or from a screen. So the more you read on screens, the more your mind shifts towards “non-linear” reading — a practice that involves things like skimming a screen or having your eyes dart around a web page.
“They call it a ‘bi-literate’ brain,” Zoromodi says. “The problem is that many of us have adapted to reading online just too well. And if you don’t use the deep reading part of your brain, you lose the deep reading part of your brain.”
So what’s deep reading? It’s the concentrated kind we do when we want to “immerse ourselves in a novel or read a mortgage document,” Zoromodi says. And that uses the kind of long-established linear reading you don’t typically do on a computer. “Dense text that we really want to understand requires deep reading, and on the internet we don’t do that.”
Linear reading and digital distractions have caught the attention of academics like Maryanne Wolf, director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University.
“I don’t worry that we’ll become dumb because of the Internet,” Wolf says, “but I worry we will not use our most preciously acquired deep reading processes because we’re just given too much stimulation. That’s, I think, the nub of the problem.”
To keep the deep reading part of the brain alive and kicking, Zomorodi says that researchers like Wolf recommend setting aside some time each day to deep read on paper.
And now that children are seemingly growing up with a digital screen in each hand, Wolf says it’s also important that teachers and parents make sure kids are taking some time away from scattered reading. Adults need to ensure that children also practice the deeper, slow reading that we associate with books on paper.
“I think the evidence someday will be able to show us that what we’re after is a discerning ‘bi-literate’ brain,” Wolf says. “That’s going to take some wisdom on our part.”
What’s it like to translate a compendium of Alain Robbe-Grillet’s sadistic fantasies? Haunting, but, you know, in a good way: “As translator, I am a filter for material: it travels through me. As such, there’s a residue, but it is difficult to qualify. At best, you might compare the book’s effect on me to its effect on any reader: certain images—many, in fact—remain in you, and surge forth unbidden, superimposing themselves in your mind’s eye on perfectly anodyne and serene scenes of everyday life.”
For more of this morning’s roundup, click here.
Illustration: Julianna Brion.
Like an “icy finger of death,” this brinicle (aka brine icicle) grows from the ice sheet above in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. Over the course of 12 hours, it descends to the seafloor below, then extends another 20 feet along the sea bed, trapping anything it touches in ice. Most creatures here move far too slowly to escape its path of death. A brinicle is formed when sea water freezes into sea ice, creating a super-salty brine. This brine percolates through cracks in the ice into the sea water below. The brine sinks because it’s much denser than the surrounding water. It’s also much colder, so sea water freezes on contact, forming a sinister tube of ice.
Limitless growth is the fantasy of economists, businesses and politicians. It is seen as a measure of progress. As a result, gross domestic product (GDP), which is supposed to measure the wealth of nations, has emerged as both the most powerful number and dominant concept in our times. However,…