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Lokal Stops: Old News For Humans Who Are Bad News for Earth

Let’s start off easy with some old news: five days ago, Pornhub launched their own record label, Pornhub Records. More recently, Jeopardy! told women what they want, but women really don’t want those things. Really.

But you know when you know that things are bad, but you don’t really know how bad?

Louisiana doesn’t look like what you think it looks like. We like to imagine it as a boot – that state itself likes to imagine as a boot – but its coastline has been disappearing for quite a while. Expectations versus reality:

Louisiana before_after

Also, since 1970, humans have wiped out 52% of the earth’s wildlife. I don’t want to point any fingers here, but let’s just say that if the entire world lived its every day like Americans, we would need 3.9 planets.

Fuck it, conservation is hard. Let’s just make our animals out of bananas.

Or let’s move to Mars. Every species deserves a second chance, right?

Here’s some (less apocalyptic) new news to tack onto your old Hachette-Amazon dispute news: “All Hachette authors are equal, but some are more equal than others.” Such as Paul Ryan, who was sad his book (published by a Hachette imprint) was difficult to find on Amazon, so Amazon was like “okay we’ll take care of it” and now you can buy Paul Ryan’s book, no problem! So, what can you do about it? Don’t buy another book from Amazon ever again! Google “local bookstores” instead.

Now for some introspection. Is your smartphone too big? Did you buy it of your own volition after having played around with it in the store and are now complaining that it’s too big? Finally, a solution: a small phone that actually does phone stuff which comes with your big phone that does other stuff. When considering making a purchase, think about what kind of person you want to be. Then make your decision.

Okay, maybe not everything is terrible. Sometimes humans can redeem themselves. Like when they rewrite pop songs as Shakespearean sonnets, or sneak Bob Dylan into science reports.

Of course, then they go ahead and green-light a Tetris movie.

I just don’t know what to think about humanity anymore.

Lokal Stops: Fire Spreads

It begins. This summer is set to be awful and “oppressive” as the Farmer’s Almanac puts it. And it begins. Actually, it began in May, the hottest May on Earth since humans started keeping track. Still, no amount of summer heat can match the awfulness of  poisoning your son for social media attention.

Meanwhile, the French have been calling pie charts “diagrammes de fromage” this entire time. Cheese versus pies. I choose cheese pies. Mmm, just imagine warming a nice cheese pie over a fire… oh right, fire no longer means “the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products.” Now it’s… a phone thingie. All things eventually become phone thingies. Speaking of phone thingies, although the White House refuses to comment on whether Obama uses emoji when he’s sending globally important texts, you laypeople can now “yo your mates.” And soon, you’ll maybe even be able to yo Jupiter’s Europa: to the tiny mothership!

 
And while we pettily yo around, important things are happening on the television:

And while important things are happening on the television, even more important things are happening at the FBI.

By the way, has anyone else noticed how great Internet Explorer is these days?

Lokal Stops: The Limit Does Not Exist

All good things must come to being mistakes: the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau says they messed up and approved the powdered alcohol by accident. Don’t let the news cancel your fun, though: just cook up your own powdered amusements. The sky is the limit!

In other news, the sky is no longer the limit. In fact, the sky has not been the limit for quite some time. In fact, the limit does not existWe’ve been to the moon, pretty much assume there’s life on other planets, and soon we’ll be able to see aliens from the comfort of our own solar system.

These are all just baby steps… though giant, leaping baby steps, sure. The guy in charge at NASA says that if we want humanity to survive indefinitely, we’ll have to start colonizing other planets. NASA’s already working on designs for a new spacesuit for Mars. As we get closer to Mars, NASA will have to consider how to advertise space this time around. (Disney probably doesn’t have to be involved.) While we’re at it, we should probably also come up with some galactic laws.

Some cynics out there might be able to think of a reason or two that humanity might just want to stick to the one planet.

To those cynics, I say: things here on Earth could be a lot worse, so let’s try to chin up and look on the bright side. For example: on the bright side, a huge asteroid wiped out all of the creatures that would’ve kept us in the food chain. (On a murkier side, we aren’t as safe from asteroids as we like to believe–but at least if we’re ever struck, there’s a possibility that we’ll be remembered.)

Murky with a chance of sun: some poor schlep sold what might be Shakespeare’s annotated dictionary on eBay.

Also probably feeling pretty schleppy today is the NYPD, whose social media team asked people to tweet their photos with officers, tagged #myNYPD. You probably don’t need a link, you probably don’t need sample tweets of what happened next, but here you go anyway:

Twitter___mollycrabapple___myNYPD__johnknefel____

While the NYPD is treated to its daily ration of criticism/ridicule, James Franco once again enjoys some hearty portions of art-world-ego, while his peers smile and nod at him uncomfortably. For some discomfort outside of the art world, look no further than Game of Thrones’s accidental rapist.

If any of today’s news is making you anxious, you might want to dip into some of Earth’s natural resources for some peace of mind. Or just throw up your hands and let someone else take the wheel.

The Universe on Television, Again: Tyson’s New Cosmos

As kids, we have phases: dinosaurs, mummies, space, etc. We perfect drawing our favorite dinosaur during recess, or take out books about ancient embalming from the local library, or we print out pictures of the planets, color them in, and tape them to the walls of the spare room and call it a Planetarium; admission is five cents. (The last one can’t just be me, right?)

But then the excitement wanes: learning becomes less cool and emotionally liberating than other things like writing out crushes’ names in very careful cursive in the margins of our notebooks. The public school system doesn’t try hard enough to excite its students; science falls to the wayside and no one’s there to reverse this.

In the fall of 1980, PBS aired thirteen episodes of a show in which a man with a certain velvety aura travels across the universe and across time in a “Spaceship of the Imagination.” (This spaceship is shaped like a dandelion seed and is very spacious indeed and looks like it’s not too complicated to operate. Also, sometimes the floor becomes transparent so you can look down at space below.) The man is smiling approximately 94% of the time, he wears a lot of brown clothing, often there is a turtleneck involved, and his voice is excruciatingly creamy: in other words, he is decidedly someone you’d like to read you a bedtime story every night. This show, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, is the most widely-viewed PBS show in the world.

Carl Sagan, the narrator and co-writer of Cosmos, was an astrophysicist, astronomer, and, very importantly, a science communicator. The goal he had in mind for the show was to inspire wonder at science, and to inspire future scientists.

On March 9, 2014, Fox will premiere the first episode of the sequel, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. Hosted this time by Neil de Grasse Tyson – a much more vigorous personality, yet also with very specific sensuousness about him – it seems from the trailer and NPR’s Fresh Air interview that the show will strongly recall the original Cosmos. Tyson is an astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Natural History in New York, and though I can’t yet be sure of his wardrobe on the show, he does majestically don sunglasses as the Big Bang erupts in front of him in the trailer. Also, the Spaceship of the Imagination is no longer a dandelion seed: it’s sleek and shiny (i.e. “modern”).

To be honest, when I first heard that Cosmos was being revamped, I was skeptical. I wondered why Neil de Grasse Tyson & co. didn’t just make an entirely new show. Tyson is a very different personality than Sagan, sensuousness aside: to me, Cosmos wasn’t a modern, mega-visual effected, galactic bonanza of spectacle, as I was sure the remake would be. It was a contemplative place, mellow though breath-taking. But the objective of the original Cosmos – to excite and inspire – was valid and important one… and it still is. So I realized, that’s why a modernized sequel is also valid and important.

Will people care to tune in? The show will be broadcast March 9, 2014 at 9/8c, airing across ten networks, including Fox, FX, and NatGeo. On Fox, it will follow Family Guy, whose audience demographic is the most coveted: 18-34 year old males. (And FYI, Seth MacFarlane is an executive producer of Cosmos.) But anyways, don’t we know that kids these days aren’t watching cable? To me, and hopefully to some of the creators of the shower (though definitely not the media execs at Fox), television ratings don’t much matter when assessing the success of Cosmos. For one, they are skewed with Hulu and all the other variations of online viewing. But the point isn’t where or how people watch the show – it isn’t that they tune into Fox at 9pm on March 9th – but that they watch it at all.

And I’m optimistic – Bill Nye recently brought on a slew of science interest and consideration recently, and just in time. His debate in early February versus Ken Ham, the founder of the Creation Museum, sparked discussion and shock (and a tad of nostalgia for the Science Guy days) with regards to science knowledge and education – every major news organization commented, and Twitter was a-flutter. This proves that people are interested, they just aren’t offered the resources or conditions under which to indulge in their natural human curiosity. Given the lack of motivators, maybe television – at least at 9pm on Sundays – is the best babysitter.

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And in the opposite vein of TL;DR, if you’d like to read more on Neil de Grasse Tyson and on Cosmos in general, I propose:

At the age of eleven, Tyson spoke with a teacher at P.S. 81 about his fascination with astronomy. Tyson’s older brother, Stephen, who is an artist, recalls, “The teacher asked, ‘Why do you want to go into science? There aren’t any Negroes in the field. Why don’t you go into sports?'”

In science, as in other areas of our culture, there is no dearth of voices, but are we paying attention? In the new New Age, it’s all about which cable channels you watch or whom you follow on Twitter.

We could use a national conversation that is not about scandal or sports. If everybody watches the new “Cosmos,” we can talk about it the way we once argued about “The Sopranos” every Monday morning.