From Nevada County Sherriff’s Office: “Good Morning Nevada County!”

OK, we had some “fun” this morning. We got an automated call from 866-419-5000 on our Magic Jack home phone (an Internet phone). I did a quick Google search for that number (since I was sitting at my computer when the phone rang) and — to add some extra confusion to the morning — the search results included complaints about spam and nuisance calls from that number.

But listening to the message, I heard this:

“This is the Nevada County Emergency Call Center. Stay inside your residence. There is a subject shooting a rifle in your area.

I walked around and looked out all the windows in the growing pre-dawn light. I saw nothing. Heard nothing. Very quiet.

I called 911 and the answering operator said, “Disregard that call. It was a computer glitch. The message was meant for the Kingvale area. Gotta go, I’ve got more calls to answer.” (I could hear the phone ringing off the hook in the background).

Boy_Who_Cried_WolfWow, I was wide awake then, as I imagine everyone else in our neighborhood was this morning.

About a half hour after all that, we got another automated call from the same emergency service with the same caution about staying inside, but referring to a shooting in the Truckee area!

I hope this emergency system doesn’t turn out to be a modern day version of crying wolf.

Does the “Sharing Economy” Create Community, or Profit From the Lack of It?

When our kids were little, we lived in an Eichler suburb in south Palo Alto. Every house on the block had a 6-to-7-foot fence around it. In the year that we lived there we rarely saw a neighbor. It was eery.

One day, while mowing our lawn, I had a revelation: Our market system has a vested interest in our individual isolation, because this way — rather than sharing, say, lawnmowers among all the neighbors — we each buy our own lawnmower. Consumption is maximized by the destruction of community. In some weird way our market system depends on our isolation from one another, from the weakness of community.

Notice that this is — maybe — starting to change a bit now with the “sharing economy” … Airbnb, Uber, the mesh, waste as food, access not ownership, etc. But does the “sharing economy” really increase community, or merely find a new way to profit from the lack of it?

Various personal and civic pathologies are associated with the breakdown of communities … crime, mental health, etc.

In the following article from Huffington Post, human isolation is now found to be at the root of addiction, and human connection — community — the key to healing it.

The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think”
 By Johann Hari

Excerpt:

The experiment is simple. Put a rat in a cage, alone, with two water bottles. One is just water. The other is water laced with heroin or cocaine. Almost every time you run this experiment, the rat will become obsessed with the drugged water, and keep coming back for more and more, until it kills itself.

The advert explains: “Only one drug is so addictive, nine out of ten laboratory rats will use it. And use it. And use it. Until dead. It’s called cocaine. And it can do the same thing to you.”

But in the 1970s, a professor of Psychology in Vancouver called Bruce Alexander noticed something odd about this experiment. The rat is put in the cage all alone. It has nothing to do but take the drugs. What would happen, he wondered, if we tried this differently? So Professor Alexander built Rat Park. It is a lush cage where the rats would have colored balls and the best rat-food and tunnels to scamper down and plenty of friends: everything a rat about town could want. What, Alexander wanted to know, will happen then?

In Rat Park, all the rats obviously tried both water bottles, because they didn’t know what was in them. But what happened next was startling.

The rats with good lives didn’t like the drugged water. They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used. None of them died. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did.

 

A Beautiful Moment From a Beautiful Movie: “Pride”

For years I’ve kept a mental collection of movies that contain forgiveness. I dunno why. Maybe because we are all so often in need of it ourselves. Places in the Heart. Enchanted April. Love Actually. Happy Thank You More Please.

And now — after watching it today on Amazon streaming — Pride, based on a true story about an alliance between a group of Welsh miners and a group of gays and lesbians in Thatcher’s UK in 1985.

Here’s the emotional high point from this beautiful beautiful movie, a rendition of Bread and Roses like we’ve never heard before. A great old union song.

 

The End of Old Artic Sea Ice in Three Minutes (video)

“Decades ago, the majority of the Arctic’s winter ice pack was made up of thick, perennial ice. Today, very old ice is extremely rare. This animation tracks the relative amount of ice of different ages from 1987 through early November 2014. Video produced by the Climate.gov team, based on data provided by Mark Tschudi.”

Timelapse Video of Planet Earth from Space

Explanation of video from YouTube posting:

Watch Earth roll by through the perspective of European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Alexander Gerst in this six-minute timelapse video from space. Combining 12,500 images taken by Alexander during his six-month Blue Dot mission on the International Space Station this Ultra High Definition video shows the best our beautiful planet has to offer.

Marvel at the auroras, sunrises, clouds, stars, oceans, the Milky Way, the International Space Station, lightning, cities at night, spacecraft and the thin band of atmosphere that protects us from space.

Often while conducting scientific experiments or docking spacecraft Alexander would set cameras to automatically take pictures at regular intervals. Combining these images gives the timelapse effect seen in this video.

Watch the video in 4K resolution for the best effect and find out more about Alexander Gerst’s Blue Dot mission here: http://www.esa.int/BlueDot

Follow Alexander Gerst via http://alexandergerst.esa.int

Audio via the Audio Network library:
1. Into The Matrix (1899/6) Jason Pedder / Ben Ziapour
2. We Are Delirious (2073/6) Annie Drury / Bob Bradley / Matt Sanchez / Matt Parker

Je Suis Charlie

Internet’s Impact on Print Media Only Part of the Story

Playwright Alena Smith, describing the faded fortunes of American playwrights, notices that the impact of the Internet extends far beyond the print media:

This is what happens to “old media,” after all — new media rise up and displace them. We are clearly in the midst of such a conflict right now, as the internet has seized control of the global cultural economy, upending established industries and eroding formerly paramount institutions from book publishers to the music industry to print newspapers and magazines to now, finally, even the mighty television networks. Rough times lie ahead for the television industry, and these challenges will inevitably impact its writers.;

Side note: We’ve joined this revolution by dropping our cable service several years ago (saving ourselves over $100/mo). Now we do all of our “television” viewing online, Internet only.

Smith continues:

As internet pioneer turned techo-skeptic Jaron Lanier starkly puts it in his 2010 screed You Are Not a Gadget, “Once file sharing shrinks Hollywood as it is now shrinking the music companies, the option of selling a script for enough money to make a living will be gone.” Lanier’s warning may seem hyperbolic, but unrestricted file sharing is surely what undermined the music industry, and it’s what’s hurting the world of journalism, too. In a sense, the internet caused the unbundling of both the music album and the print newspaper — and in doing so, severely damaged both industries. The trouble comes down to simple economics of supply and demand in the digital age. When infinite copies of a work of art can be made and distributed globally in an instant, supply is limitless, and the value of an individual copy gets pushed down to zero. But of course, the original cost of creating a work of art in the first place, for the creator, does not change a bit. Writers still need to eat, pay rent, and feed their families. They just can’t necessarily rely on profits from their actual work to compensate them for that endeavor. This is how a profession gets demonetized. This is how a job — a living — gets reduced to a hobby.

Notice too Smith’s perspective on net neutrality:

The platform where nearly all of culture now takes place is, in fact, owned and controlled by a handful of incredibly powerful, borderline-monopolistic corporations. And these are the companies, like Amazon, now getting into “the scripted game.” We’ve already seen the types of problems that can arise under this new arrangement — for example, in the recent conflict between Amazon and the publishing company Hachette. In an era where Amazon is responsible for 65 percent of all online book sales, and 41 percent of book sales, period, their thuggish negotiation tactics can be potentially calamitous for a publishing company, and devastating for individual writers. If this is how Amazon treats the writers of books, how well can we expect them, as producers or distributors, to treat the writers of TV shows? Similar questions can be asked about any of the powerful new platform owners — in particular, the telecom companies that actually control the physical cables and routers through which all our media now travels. The fight for net neutrality is the fight to stop the internet from becoming a place where giant telecom companies are able to dictate terms to every creator who wishes to distribute content through their pipes. And screenwriters’ livelihoods depend on it.

Read the full article here: “You Can’t Make a Living: Digital Media, the End of TV’s Golden Age, and the Death Scene of the American Playwright

Best Headline in Today’s Union

Best headline in today’s Union:

“Nevada City woman arrested for stealing friend’s car, evading police under the influence”

I don’t steal cars, but I agree that it’s best to avoid drunk cops.

Bitnami