The collapse of local news coverage across the United States

This PBS NewsHour segment was originally broadcast at the end of January but it's still current because it's about a continuing disaster, namely the collapse of local newspapers and news coverage.

Link: https://youtu.be/1KvsAwvXe8M

Local television stations and their websites have to some extent kept a degree of local news going, but it's nowhere near as complete. At one time newspapers were by far the biggest form of advertising. If you wanted to buy a house, for example, you looked in the real estate classifieds. Consistent ad revenues let papers hire lots of reporters. Of course, small towns and rural counties didn't have the level of coverage that larger communities did, but the situation is even worse now.

There are no obvious solutions to the problem. Nonprofit news could help to some extent and is being tried a number of places. There have also been proposals for government subsidies. (In fact, many decades ago the post office delivered magazines and newspapers at reduced rate.) But there are both practical problems and political problems with this.



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The news is out to get Christina Hendricks

Back at the end of February Christina Hendricks was being interviewed on the daytime television talk show Live with Kelly and Ryan when she was interrupted mid-sentence by a breaking news update. That night when she appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers he asked her about that, and here he explains what happened next. Mildly amusing:

Link: https://youtu.be/qjoJWTTANOU



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The continuing debate on marijuana's dangers

Alex Berenson's book Tell Your Children has provoked a lot of discussion concerning the potential dangers of marijuana. (See this favorable review from Stephanie Mencimer in The Washington Monthly here.) I haven't read it, but I gather a Berenson has come in for some legitimate criticism for misrepresenting the research he cites. Of course, the subject excites a lot of passion and pre-judgment on both sides.

Below pediatrician and medical school professor Dr Aaron Carroll, whom I cite a lot here, presents what strikes me as a generally balanced view (though I'm not sure he's right that alcohol is as dangerous as he implies).

Link: https://youtu.be/ZEI9YueX0O4



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Enormous lakes and gargantuan floods thousands of years ago in North America

During the last glacial maximum, for a period of about 7000 years ending roughly 10,000 years ago, glaciers formed ice dams across large rivers in North America. Water blocked by dams naturally spreads out to form lakes, and some of the lakes in question were of staggering size, the largest bigger in area than all of today's Great Lakes combined.

Ice dams aren't stable, in part because ice floats, so eventually the dams that created those lakes collapsed, resulting in truly catastrophic floods, including a whole series of them over 70 centuries in the U.S. Pacifid Northwest. The traces of those lakes and floods remain today, with beaches high above any modern shorelines in Minnesota and North Dakota and unusual terrain such as the so-called channeled scablands in eastern Washington State. An even bigger flood farther east may have dumped so much water into the Arctic Ocean that it eventually disrupted important ocean currents in the Atlantic, which may explain the Younger Dryas, an abrupt cooling event that lasted about a thousand years.

These two videos (which reference each other in passing) explain this remarkable geological history, including some of how it came to be discovered. Human settlers may have been around to witness some of these events and suffer from them.

Link: https://youtu.be/YWZgfPGtQEs

Link: https://youtu.be/qMVhR26NRsk



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More from the latest episode of SNL

As I said yesterday, I thought Saturday's episode of SNL was above average. (I wasn't alone in that opinion; Zach Vasquez at The Guardian rated it the best of the season.) Here are some other bits I thought worth seeing in case you're interested and you didn't see them already.

Guest host John Mulaney had one of the funnier monologue's in recent memory:

Link: https://youtu.be/-mSGwndFMp8

A game show rewards contestants for remembering names:

Link: https://youtu.be/rImxuuD_kwM

From Smokery Farms, guilt-free meat from animals certified to be stupid, badly behaved, or devoid of personality (and apparently not entirely fresh by the time they got around to doing the sketch):

Link: https://youtu.be/R44dRIPLZGM

Finally, this bit about a typical bathroom in a New York bodega is just bizarre:

Link: https://youtu.be/vgBxxEL-3TI



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SNL's version of Michael Cohen's testimony versus the real thing

Last Saturday's episode of Saturday Night Live was one of the best of the recent past. The opening bit was a parody of Michael Cohen's congressional testimony. Below is the sketch as aired, and following that some clips from it juxtaposed with the corresponding segments of the actual hearing, courtesy of The Washington Post.

Link: https://youtu.be/Mp8kFqycfFM

Link: https://youtu.be/aDaleG7seTA



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The oceans are getting hotter, with serious consequences

An article by Damian Carrington in today's issue of The Guardian summarizes some of the the problems created by warming oceans. I recommend the whole article, but here are a few extracts:

The number of heatwaves affecting the planet’s oceans has increased sharply, scientists have revealed, killing swathes of sea-life like “wildfires that take out huge areas of forest”.

The damage caused in these hotspots is also harmful for humanity, which relies on the oceans for oxygen, food, storm protection and the removal of climate-warming carbon dioxide the atmosphere, they say.

...

“You have heatwave-induced wildfires that take out huge areas of forest, but this is happening underwater as well,” said Dan Smale at the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth, UK, who led the research published in Nature Climate Change. “You see the kelp and seagrasses dying in front of you. Within weeks or months they are just gone, along hundreds of kilometres of coastline.”

...

Dr Éva Plagányi at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia also likened ocean heatwaves to wildfires. “Frequent big hits can have long-lasting effects,” she said. “This study shows that record-breaking events are becoming the new normal.”

The damage global warming is causing to the oceans has also been shown in a series of other scientific papers published in the last week. Ocean warming has cut sustainable fish catches by 15% to 35% in five regions, including the North Sea and the East China Sea, and 4% globally, according to work published by Pinsky and colleagues.

“In the space of one week, scientific publications have underscored that unless we take evasive action, our future oceans will have fewer fish, fewer whales and frequent dramatic shifts in ecological structure will occur, with concerning implications for humans who depend on the ocean,” said Plagányi.



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