Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Interesting stats on voting, being superwealthy, Penn State football, and Canadians are richer than Americans

-About 5.85 million adults can’t vote in the November elections because of state laws that prohibit convicted felons from voting, even after they’ve completed their jail terms. Nearly 8 percent of blacks are disenfranchised, compared with 1.8 percent of other races, a study by the Sentencing Project found. In Florida, 23 percent of all blacks are legally prohibited from voting.

-So far, 0.000063 percent of the country’s population—196 superwealthy people—have given more than 80 percent of the Super PAC money spent in the presidential election.
At the same time a grand jury was hearing evidence in the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse case,

-Joe Paterno negotiated a new, $5.5 million contract with Penn State that gave him a $3 million bonus for retiring, and forgave $350,000 in loans.
The New York Times

-The average Canadian is now richer than the average American. The net worth of the average Canadian household in 2011 was $363,202, while the average American household had a net worth of $319,970.
Poll watch

-20% of registered voters say they’re less likely to vote for Mitt Romney because of his net worth of more than $200 million. 75% say Romney’s income will make no difference in how they cast their vote.
Gallup poll

-44% of Americans say they have a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in churches or organized religion. That’s a new low, and marks a long decline from the 1970s, when confidence in organized religion was as high as 68%.
Gallup poll

Monday, September 24, 2012

TV: The rise of ‘binge viewing’

TV: The rise of ‘binge viewing’
Tech-savvy young people have come up with a whole new way to watch TV, said John Jurgensen in The Wall Street Journal. The “binge viewer” compulsively views whole seasons of drama series in marathon sessions lasting a day or more, using new technologies like on-demand TV, digital video recorders, and streaming websites. Netflix says TV shows now account for 60 percent of its streaming volume, and has even introduced a feature that automatically plays the next episode of a series. TV networks aren’t happy, because binge viewers bypass advertising vital to their business, but the increasingly popular practice is “changing the economics of the industry.” Producers now create “highly serialized shows,” hoping to make streaming deals that invite bingers to devour them in one sitting. Immersing yourself in a well-told TV drama, psychologists say, produces “something akin to a trance”—making the characters, plot, and emotions they evoke seem more real.

Binge viewing may be popular, said Jim Pagels in, “but it Binge viewing may be popular, said Jim Pagels in, “but it destroys much of what is best about TV.” Series like AMC’s Breaking Bad are intended to be watched over periods of weeks, not hours—and gorging on them denies you a chance to develop a relationship with their characters, or to relish each episode as a story in itself. There’s nothing quite like the delicious suspense of a cliff-hanger—but “that pleasure evaporates when you simply click ‘play’ on the next episode.” To me, it’s disrespectful to watch the entirety of a nuanced, artful drama in “a few couch-buried sittings,” said Richard Lawson in “Something like Mad Men, which unfolds with elegant precision and demands a little thinking time, is probably best savored slowly.”

That’s silly, said James Poniewozik in Is a great novel less wonderful if you read it in a long, “sustained trance,” or 20 pages at a time over the course of weeks? That’s purely a matter of personal preference; good storytelling “will take whatever viewing conditions you throw at it.” Besides, the era of everyone watching TV shows at the same time, the same way, is over, said Linda Holmes in Now you can watch your favorite series on “a big TV, or on a small TV, or on a tablet, or on a phone.” You can watch it on a train or bus, or in bed, in the afternoon, or at any time of day you like. How could that be bad?

Monday, September 10, 2012

My Zimbio
Top Stories

Some good news for a change

Robert Russell never gave up searching for the 1967 Austin-Healey sports car stolen from outside his Philadelphia home in 1970. Now, 42 years later and living in Southlake, Texas, he has finally found it. Having scoured the Internet for years for signs of his long-lost car, Russell spotted it on eBay in May, for sale at a California dealership. He tracked down his stolen-car report from police in Philadelphia, convinced the Los Angeles Police Department to impound the car, and finally took possession of it last month. Russell now plans to restore the vintage car to its 1970s condition. “We’re going to put it back the way it was,” he said.

As Doug Eaton prepared to turn 65, he asked his friends what he should do on the big day. One suggested doing 65 random acts of kindness—which is why Eaton stationed himself at a busy intersection in Oklahoma City on his birthday and handed out $5 bills to passersby for 65 minutes. Eaton said the gift of giving was the best present he could ask for. “It’s just been fantastic,” he said. “Some people who don’t take the money say, ‘Man, I love what you are doing. I won’t take it, but give it to someone who needs it.’”

A Marine was reunited this week with the disabled Afghan boy whose life he helped transform. Three years ago, Gunnery Sgt. Warren Coughlin spotted the then 10-year-old Sher Jan selling roadside snacks in Afghanistan, and was astounded by the boy’s optimism, given his badly deformed feet. Coughlin got the boy to an Army doctor, and Jan ended up being flown to the U.S. by a nonprofit for foot and heart surgery. The pair met again just weeks before the now recovered Jan was set to rejoin his family in Afghanistan.