Digest 6

Another digest of what I’m reading online these days. Offline I’m reading William Gibson‘s novel Mona Lisa Overdrive and listening to Marcus Miller.

  • CBS11 News video (warning: autoplays) on civic-minded teenager C.J. Lechner’s speech to the Fort Worth City Council in defense of the Fort Worth Public Library’s Ridglea branch, which is threatened with closure from budget cuts.

  • Galleycat says the Freakonomics documentary comes out on iTunes a month before it hits theaters.

  • The excellent Talking Points Memo reports (I’m stealing half their lede) that “former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has taken up the cause of reforming state judicial campaign and election systems”; she wrote the forward to a report on the subject. (Text below from TPM.)

    The report highlights some of the most blatant examples of overly cozy relationships between judges and their campaign donors, which can lead to corruption or the appearance thereof. One coal executive spent $3 million to elect a West Virginia justice, and the law firm Beasley Allen in Alabama gave over $600,000 to Judge Deborah Bell Paseur’s unsuccessful run for the state Supreme Court, but never appeared on her contribution records.

    Authors of the report said the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case poses a “special threat” in judicial elections, because it overturned bans on election spending from corporate and union treasuries.

  • Lifehacker has a fun thread asking what you carry in your daily backpack; I tote a backpack around all too often, unfortunately; it’s not the most stylish thing — oh well.

  • The BBC covers Frederick Forsyth’s assertion that US spies attacked his wife’s laptop in Guinea-Bissau. I’m pretty sure his novel The Day of the Jackal was the first adult book I ever read, or it might have been Stephen King’s It; I can’t quite remember which. I remember really liking both; then again, I was what, seven?

  • Tom Scott offers a print-your-own PDF of journalism warning labels that you can stick on newspapers or whatnot. Ready for Avery’s Letter-size 5160 labels or equivalent.

    Caveat Publicus!

  • News Corp (parent company of FOX News) donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, according to this NYT article. Murdoch has to pay his actors somehow, right? In response (Politico), Democratic Governors Association Executive Director Nathan Daschle writes to Fox News chief Roger Ailes:

    In the interest of some fairness and balance, I request that you add a formal disclaimer to your news coverage any time any of your programs cover governors or gubernatorial races between now and Election Day. I suggest that the disclaimer say: “News Corp., parent company of Fox News, provided $1 million to defeat Democratic governors in November.” If you do not add a disclaimer, I request that you and your staff members on the “fair and balanced” side of the network demand that the contribution be returned.

    Does anyone have any legit info on other news or ‘news’ orgs’ political donations, if any? UPDATE (19 Aug 2010): Talking Points Memo haz info on other orgs’ donations.

  • The WSJ reports on the wary dance between Google TV and big content providers such as ABC, CBS, Fox, etc.

    The Google software aims to play any video that runs anywhere on the Web, from clips on YouTube to full-length TV episodes that media companies distribute on their own sites. That open pipe has some media companies worried that their content will get lost amid a range of Web content, including pirated clips, according to people familiar with the matter.

    I still haven’t read Cory Doctorow’s nonfiction book Content, about such subjects. Actually I recently dropped that book in the bathtub; then, pursuant to a Lifehacker article, I stuck it in the freezer, removed it later: this repaired most of the wet pages. But I still haven’t read the thing.

  • This NYT post discusses recent record temperatures in connection with global warming. Meanwhile, the Navy and Marines (sez the NYT) are working on increasing use of renewable energy sources:

    “Within 10 years, the United States Navy will get one half of all its energy needs, both afloat and onshore, from non-fossil fuel sources,” he added. “America and the Navy rely too much on fossil fuels. It makes the military, in this case our Navy and Marine Corps, far too vulnerable to some sort of disruption.” […]

    Last year the Navy launched its first electric hybrid ship

    If memory serves, I’ve read in the NYT that the Pentagon’s SOP for futuristic war games is to take global warming into account. They’re not joking around, unlike Joe Barton (R-TX).

  • Beloit College has published a “mindset list” every year since 1998 to describe its new incoming students’ zeitgeist for their teachers. (Also useful info for fiction writers!) Here’s some excerpts from the Class of 2014 list:

    27. Computers have never lacked a CD-ROM disk drive.

    40. There have always been HIV positive athletes in the Olympics.

    41. American companies have always done business in Vietnam.

    43. Russians and Americans have always been living together in space.

    46. Nirvana is on the classic oldies station.

  • A Reuters article says indie bookstores flourish, even in the digital age, when they emphasize their local relationships.

    Bookstore owners say the industry has found new life with the locavore movement, which puts a premium on locally grown or raised food. The trend has brought farmers markets and by extension breweries and craft soap factories to cities.

    “People are rediscovering the value of an independent store that’s connected to their neighborhood and understands them and their tastes,” said Jessica Stockton Bugnolo, who opened Greenlight Bookstore this year.

  • Lifehacker lists resources for free online academic educational content.

Hey, this digest is actually fairly positive! Keep it up, world!

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