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The Morning Grumpy – 4/4/13

4 Apr

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.


1. The dangers of “presentism“.

“If the end of the twentieth century can be characterized by futurism,” media theorist Douglas Rushkoff writes in his new book Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now, “the twenty-first can be defined by presentism.” For Rushkoff, we’ve ceased being a “future-focused culture” and instead morphed into one that can’t look past “the now.” The result, he says, is “present shock” — our panicky retort to an always-on, real-time society.

In the book, Rushkoff zeroes in on five principal ways present shock allegedly rears its head: narrative collapse, how storytellers are reacting to no longer having “the time required to tell a linear story”; digiphrenia, the uneasy ways “our media and technologies encourage us to be in more than one place at the same time”; overwinding, the “effort to make the passing moment responsible for the sorts of effects that actually take real time to occur”; fractalnoia, the “attempt to draw connections from one thing to another in the frozen moment, even when such connections are forced or imaginary”; and apocalypto, “the way a seemingly infinite present makes us long for endings, by almost any means necessary.”

As a companion piece, Jay Rosen of NYU suggests you understand the concept of “stock and flow” to get better perspective on Rushkoff’s theory. Few media outlets, aside from The New York Times, have found the right balance.

2. A total of 75 restrictive voting laws have been introduced in 30 states so far this year. If Republicans can’t win elections with their ever-shrinking base, they’ll change the rules. That’s 75 bills…and it’s only April. If they can maintain the pace of this deluge, small incremental changes will take hold that will add up to a massive shift over time. The GOP is deathly afraid of the emerging Obama coalition.

3. As a means to maintain some mild illusion of bipartisan fingerpointing here at the Grumpy, here’s a list of Democrats who are working just as hard as their Republicans counterparts to undermine Wall Street Reform. It’s not all Elizabeth Warrens, Sherrod Browns in our caucus.

4. If you’ve ever done any investigative work or research of public records, PDFs are the enemy of open and accessible information. They are unsearchable and ponderous documents to manage, which is, of course, by design. Which is why the tabula project to extract tables from PDFs is a really heroic work of coding in pursuit of journalism.

5. Americans believe in A LOT of conspiracy theories.

6. With North Korea throwing a geopolitical tantrum, the issue of Reagan-era ground-based missile defense has re-emerged in our national political circus. Dana Liebelson had a good report last week on Congress intervening to rescue a missile-defense program the Pentagon doesn’t want.

7. Three reasons 30-somethings are accumulating less wealth than their parents.

8. On the 40th anniversary of the first cellular phone, Wired takes a look back at the twelve cellphones that changed our world forever.

9. The growing sentiment on Capitol Hill for ending “Too Big To Fail”

Fact Of The Day: If the the entire world population of 6.9 billion lived in a single city as dense as Paris, it would only take up as much space as Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Quote Of The Day: “Historically, the most terrible things – war, genocide, and slavery – have resulted not from disobedience, but from obedience.” – Howard Zinn

Video Of The Day: “How It’s Made – Marbles” – I could watch How It’s Made around the clock.

Song Of The Day: “Rocks Off” – The Rolling Stones

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