“…it’s an automatic response, in virtually all humans, to think that things are getting worse. Medieval peasants lamented how good the Cro-Magnons had it; people in the Renaissance looked back on the Dark Ages with great fondness. This is a harmless enough reflex—lazy and uncritical, sure, but usually harmless enough. But when it concerns how we see young people, and how we perceive the landscape of learning and literacy, this kind of doomsaying is a goddamned dangerous kind of intellectual sloth. When we assume, as most adults do, that kids are less literate, less interested in books, than ever before, it involves a willful kind of ignorance, and it imperils how we educate young people. Few if any of these dire assumptions—that no one under 18 reads, that all books will be obsolete by 2020—are borne out by any proof whatsoever. The truth is that American publishers put out 411,000 individual titles last year, an all-time record, and netted $25 billion—hardly a sagging industry. And those kids who have abandoned books for electronic media? Since 2002, juvenile book sales have shown compound annual growth of 4.6 percent for hardcover books and 2.1 percent for paperbacks.”—Dave Eggers (via azspot)
NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander has detected snow falling from Martian clouds. Spacecraft soil tests experiments also have provided evidence of past interaction between minerals and liquid water, processes that occur on Earth.
“The Bush administration has overturned a 22-year-old policy and now allows customs agents to seize, read and copy documents from travelers at airports and borders without suspicion of wrongdoing, civil rights lawyers in San Francisco said Tuesday in releasing records obtained in a lawsuit.”—Feds give customs agents free hand to seize travelers’ documents (via datn)
“If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes and shoddy furniture, let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas and shoddy philosophies…it would be a sad situation if the wrapper were better than the meat wrapped inside it.”—Albert Einstein (via sarazucker) (via talby) (via hilker)
“I keep hearing that she’s ”like us.” There’s this idea that people who hunt and have ”good” values are somehow this mythological American; I don’t know who ”this” person is, I’ve never met them. She is no more typical ”us” than I am, than Obama is, than McCain is, than Mr. T is. If there is something quintessentially or authentically American about her, I sort of feel like, you know what? You ”good values people” have had the country for eight years, and done an unbelievably shitty job. Let’s find some bad values people and give them a shot, maybe they’ll have a better take on it.”—Jon Stewart, on Sarah Palin (via julyshewillfly:robot-heart) (via chuckmore) (via 24freedinners)
“I was convinced an Obama/McCain campaign would be measurably different on almost all standards. And to watch it become Bush/Kerry, Bush/Gore, has been one of the most dissatisfying experiences.”—Stewart & Colbert (via danw)
Life has been discovered in the barren depths of Rome’s ancient tombs, proving catacombs are not just a resting place for the dead. The two new species of bacteria found growing on the walls of the Roman tombs may help protect our cultural heritage monuments, according to research published in the September issue of the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology.
“I’ve been buying CDs as well, and I try to sit down with them rather than just gobble them up and rip the songs to the computer. I think you get what you pay for, and I think if you’re gorging your mouth, there’s not a lot of time to listen to the music itself. I could be wrong. But it seems like people are just music fatties. It’s a use-and-discard thing, but mostly it’s just acquisitional. In a way the fetish of music has been shifted from music itself or musicians to the music player - the shiny iPod that is the most treasured.”—
“It’s not based on any particular data point. We just wanted to choose a really large number.”— unnamed Treasury spokesperson to Forbes magazine, explaining how they came up with the $700 billion figure. Just keeps getting better, doesn’t it? (via spiegelman) (via mikehudack)
“We do not support government bailouts of private institutions. Government interference in the markets exacerbates problems in the marketplace and causes the free market to take longer to correct itself.”—From the 2008 GOP Party Platform. The hypocrisy is astounding. One of two things will happen in the next few days. The Republicans in Congress will vote for the bailout and negate their own party platform. Or, they will say something needs to be done and then vote against it, leaving the huge, deficit expanding bailout in the hands of the Democrats. If the latter happens it’ll be a flaming bag of poo the Republicans left on the doorstep of the country for the Democrats to stomp out. What won’t happen in the next few days: you won’t see very many Republicans putting “country first.” (via election08)
“We have all now witnessed apparently sentient human beings, once provoked by a reporter’s microphone, saying things like, “I’m voting for Sarah because she’s a mom. She knows what it’s like to be a mom.” Such sentiments suggest an uncanny (and, one fears, especially American) detachment from the real problems of today. The next administration must immediately confront issues like nuclear proliferation, ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and covert wars elsewhere), global climate change, a convulsing economy, Russian belligerence, the rise of China, emerging epidemics, Islamism on a hundred fronts, a defunct United Nations, the deterioration of American schools, failures of energy, infrastructure and Internet security … the list is long, and Sarah Palin does not seem competent even to rank these items in order of importance, much less address any one of them.”—Sam Harris on Palin