Big stuff in the news this week! There was the HD-DVD leak-turned-user-revolt on Digg, the presidential veto of the Iraq deadline, proposed veto of the hate-crime bill (expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation), increased talk of Cheney impeachment, and on top of that, Tony Blair announcing his retirement. Crazy!
Best of the Week – News/Society: Video – Jon Stewart on Virginia Tech Coverage (The Daily Show)
I have great respect for Jon Stewart, which only increased after this segment from the Daily Show. Stewart discusses the media’s reaction to and coverage of the VTech massacre – exploitation, agendas, and blame everywhere – in the typical Daily Show style of very thought-provoking humor. I can’t do this clip any justice in a summary, just watch it.
Ethics: On Trip to Mars, NASA Must Rethink Death (AP/Washington Times)
Now this was a great read. Since NASA’s planned trip to Mars will last several years, they have to consider some difficult ethical questions – what course of action should be taken if one of the astronauts were to die, and should the fatally ill be placed on life support or mercifully killed for the good of the crew? In mixed-gender teams, how should sexual tension be handled? Should potential crews be genetically screened first? I wouldn’t want to be the one deciding these.
Society: 1973 vs 2007
I’ve always wished I had been born in an earlier decade. These are pretty sad. Example: “Scenario: Jeffrey won’t be still in class, disrupts other students. 1973: Jeffrey sent to office and given a good paddling by Principal. Sits still in class. 2007: Jeffrey given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. School gets extra money from state because Jeffrey has a disability.”
Web 2.0: In Web Uproar, Antipiracy Code Spreads Wildly (New York Times) and Digg This: 09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0 (Digg.com Blog)
Articles about the 2007 Digg revolt from the New York Times and Digg’s very own blog. Basic story: the code to unlock HD-DVD (above) was leaked on Digg.com, and once the users realized that administrators were trying to cover it up, hundreds of stories featuring the code were submitted for several hours until the site was forced to shut down. In Digg’s blog linked above, founder Kevin Rose announced that Digg would go down fighting rather than suppress instances of the code. (I’m proud to say that I personally was a part of the user revolt, submitting and Digging stories with the rest of ’em until the site went down.)
Internet: Download YouTube Videos 23 Ways
23 online-based ways to download YouTube videos and/or convert them to other formats.
Psychology: Confidence – Stepping Out (Psychology Today)
A article about the conscious and unconscious efforts that charismatic people have made to become as magnetic as they are; charisma is something learned, not something innate. It includes some interesting anecdotes from some famous personalities and advice for the shy.
Education/Psychology: Deciding When Student Writing Crosses the Line (New York Times)
I thought this was interesting as a spinoff concern of the VTech massacre that didn’t involve gun control (aren’t we tired of hearing that story yet?). Writing students are often encouraged to take on controversial, possibly disturbing subject matter as a way of freeing their muse… what kind of writing, in an English class, separates a Cho Seung-Hui from the rest?
History: 5 Things to Know About Harems Before You Get One
Five interesting facts about famous harems and how they were managed. It’s a horribly esoteric link – I’ve been fascinated with the structure of harems since I was properly introduced to the idea. Weird, I know, but I’m not kidding here. Even if you don’t share the same interest, this article has a good “Did You Know?” value.
Science: The Basics of Stem Cells
If you don’t know much about stem cells, this is definitely a great place to start. It discusses what a stem cell really is, plus the different types of stem cells, the controversies/research complications of each, and predicted research benefits. If you can see yourself ever engaging in a debate over the ethics of stem cell research, these are the facts you should know (if you don’t already).
Society/Internet: Why can’t you pay attention anymore? (CNET News)
An interesting article about how greater use of the internet will have devastating effects on our attention spans. We can do more things at once, but we’re just doing a more shallow job of them.
Expect another, more coherent post this week – when I’m not dying for sleep at 1:30 am.