Laura van den Berg’s first novel, Find Me, was recommended to me a while back. It seemed to have a lot of acclaim. I put it on my reading list. Now, I’ve finished reading it. The book centers on Joy, a young woman whose mother abandoned her as an infant, leaving her to grow up in foster homes in the Boston area. Her life into young adulthood consisted of working at Stop & Shop and getting stoned on Robitussin.
TIME magazine recently put out a cover story claiming that each American owes a $42,998.12 slice of our $13.9 trillion national debt. What is old is new again, apparently. Ross Perot must be sighing in forgotten silence, somewhere. The author, James Grant, puts out Grant’s Interest Rate Review twice a month, and has done so since 1983. On top of that, he’s written some books–most of them about money and finance, and a couple about pet political topics.
Is sugar bad? Good? Toxic? What about fat? What causes obesity, diabetes, and heart disease? Does the current state of nutrition science give us answers to these questions? The answer is a big fat “nope.” This post has been some time in coming. It is a follow-up, and correction of sorts, to a post I made back in February as part of my series on American health. In the comments section of that post, an enterprising reader noted that most of the available evidence used to set to nutrition guidelines is scientifically unsound.
Relatively speaking, this was not a good week. The Internet theme was sound, in my opinion, and I don’t think all the posts on it were bad, although they could have used some refinement. Once again, stressors outside the blog impacted the quality. That’s a well-worn song and dance for this blog by now. There were a couple posts that were downright defective, although I fixed them. One had a blurb of notes that I had meant to delete before publishing, but neglected to do so.
Nothing to see here but some links! You knew what this was. History * [_Titanic_ sinks in real time - 2 hours 40 minutes](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rs9w5bgtJC8) -- A YouTube video taken from a video game currently in development, attempting to simulate the sinking of the _Titanic. _Interesting idea, if a bit morbid. Culture * [What do you owe the friends you unwittingly scammed?](http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/03/magazine/what-do-you-owe-the-friends-you-unwittingly-scammed.html) -- A discussion of the hazards and consequences of involving friends in your business ventures.
It’s time to cap off this week of posts about the Internet, with a broader discussion of the Internet’s capacity for promoting change. Yesterday, I talked about the Internet’s role in American politics, though I didn’t spend much time on how it has affected social change more generally. There are movements happening all around us that are only effective because the Internet is an available tool. The Arab Spring, for instance, unfolded in large part due to online communication and organization.
Here’s another mixed bag, if ever there was one. The Internet has changed the nature of our politics, in ways large and small. I’m here to examine some of them. Our politics didn’t transform all at once, but gradually, over time. The Internet had little effect on the 2000 election, for instance–its potential for political organization had not yet been realized, although political discussion between citizens has been happening online since at least the Usenet days.
Might as well stick with an Internet theme for the week. Today: making the Internet more accessible to people with disabilities. I recently went about searching for housing assistance for a friend. To that end, I went down the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s list of New Jersey housing agencies. First, I was disappointed that one had to check so many websites just to find out if any public or subsidized housing was available in this state.
Time for the other side of the coin. I promise that this isn’t a complete retraction or reconsideration of yesterday’s sentiments. I fully intended to follow up with the opposite view today. Let’s get on with it! As I mentioned, the Internet really has become a central part of most of our lives. In 1996, only 20 million Americans–not even 10%–had Internet access. Today, almost 90% of Americans are online. This kind of rapid progression is downright transformative.
You heard me! First, some qualification: this is primarily about the Internet as used in America, in the English language. Things may be different in other places and in other languages. I am not familiar with them. I’ve been a regular Internet user since 1996. I had some prior experiences with Prodigy’s Internet service in the early 1990s, but it hardly counts since all I did was play MadMaze. It was in 1996 that I got my first real exposure to the Internet as a social phenomenon.