Picture/Poem Icon April 2002:                      
suggested link

Television Addiction
Is No Mere Metaphor

a featured article in
Scientific American

"Perhaps the most ironic aspect
of the struggle for survival is how
easily organisms can be harmed by that
which they desire."

From sciam.com , the online edition
of Scientific American

Television Addiction Is No Mere Metaphor
By Robert Kubey and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

"Perhaps the most ironic aspect of the struggle for survival is how easily or-
ganisms can be harmed by that which they desire. The trout is caught by the
fisherman's lure, the mouse by cheese. But at least those creatures have the
excuse that bait and cheese look like sustenance. Humans seldom have that
consolation. The temptations that can disrupt their lives are often pure indulgences.
No one has to drink alcohol, for example. Realizing when a diversion has
gotten out of control is one of the great challenges of life.

"Excessive cravings do not necessarily involve physical substances. Gambling
can become compulsive; sex can become obsessive. One activity, however,
stands out for its prominence and ubiquity--the world's most popular leisure
pastime, television. Most people admit to having a love-hate relationship with it."

"The amount of time people spend watching television is astonishing. On average,
individuals in the industrialized world devote three hours a day to the pursuit--fully
half of their leisure time, and more than on any single activity save work and sleep.
At this rate, someone who lives to 75 would spend nine years in front of the tube." [...]

"What is it about TV that has such a hold on us? In part, the attraction seems to spring
from our biological "orienting response." First described by Ivan Pavlov in 1927,
the orienting response is our instinctive visual or auditory reaction to any sudden or
novel stimulus." [...]

Other links of interest . . .

Can Missile Defense Work?

by Steven Weinberg

The New York Review of Books
February 14, 2002

1."On December 13, 2001, President Bush announced that in six months the
United States would withdraw from the 1972 ABM treaty, a treaty that limits
the testing and prohibits the deployment of any national missile defense system
by Russia or the US. The stated reason for this decision was that the United States
needs to develop a system that would protect us from attack by intercontinental
ballistic missiles launched by terrorists or by a so-called rogue state. The US has
not yet withdrawn from the treaty; this is the formal six months' advance notice
that is required by the treaty, and the President could still decide not to withdraw,
but it is hard to imagine that anything could happen before June 2002 that would
change his mind.[...]

"Few of the arguments in this debate will be new. Indeed, it is hard to remember
a time when the US has not been arguing about a national missile defense program.
[1] Almost half a century ago, in the Eisenhower administration, the Army proposed
to convert the old Nike antiaircraft system to an antimissile system called Nike Zeus,
which would send radar-guided nuclear- armed rockets to intercept Soviet warheads
as they plunged through the atmosphere toward US cities. It had obvious failings:
the nuclear blasts from successful interceptions could put our radars out of action,
and the stock of interceptor missiles could be exhausted if the enemy missiles carried
several light decoys along with each warhead.

"In the Kennedy administration the Nike Zeus plan was upgraded to a two-tier project
called Nike X. Long-range nuclear-armed missiles called Spartans would attempt to
intercept Soviet missiles while they were still coasting above the earth's atmosphere;
short-range Sprint missiles would then deal in the atmosphere with those warheads
that had survived the Spartan attack. As a member of the JASON group of defense
consultants, I worked in the 1960s on the problem of discriminating decoys from
warheads, and learned how difficult it is. Like others before me, I gradually also
became influenced by a powerful argument against deploying any missile defense
system: that in the conditions of the times it would simply induce the Soviets to
increase their offensive intercontinental missile forces, leaving us worse off than
before." [...]

Energy Polluters Poised to Reap
$62 Billion in Taxpayer Handouts

a PDF published by Friends of the Earth http://www.foe.org/

Already Out-of-Control Government Giveaways to Oil, Coal and
Nuclear Power Could Double, Groups Say

[...]"Enron [before its collapse] would benefit enormously from tax breaks on pipelines
as well as royalty subsidies in the House bill. These handouts, combined, total $4.9
billion dollars to industry over ten years.

"But Enron is just the tip of the iceberg. Both ChevronTexaco and British Petroleum
have vast assets in the Gulf of Mexico and could potentially benefit from royalty relief
and research and development programs targeted towards activities in the Gulf. [...]

Poetry Out Loud, featured in The Atlantic online
by Peter Davison

One of the biggest changes in modern poetry is its escape
from the page to the performance

"Poetry nowadays, with its ability to stimulate both the eye and the ear, needs to
be taken in by both at the same time, whether you read it aloud to yourself or have
learned to hear it as you read silently. Poetry also has a strange power to evoke
persons and events lost in memory as well as to illuminate the self. The epics we
know as the Iliad and the Odyssey reached their audiences—most of whom could
not read but knew the Homeric legends well—through the ear, by firelight and
torchlight. The range of the bard's voice limited the ancient audience to the number
of people who could gather round. By the time Chaucer had written The Canterbury
Tales, in 1400, and T. S. Eliot The Waste Land, in 1922, audiences had increased
in literacy but were still restricted: before readers could share in it, Chaucer's poetry
had to be copied out by scribes, Eliot's to pass through the hands of publishers and
booksellers. Eventually, the poet as performer began to woo the public again. Dylan
Thomas fifty years ago, drunk or sober, declaimed his poems to large crowds, which
later bought his recordings to hear him again. Robert Zimmerman, perhaps in order
to attract a similarly devoted public, would take the name Bob Dylan." [...]

"Last year the Independent Television Service produced and aired (on PBS)
an hour-long documentary film called Poetic License. The lives of the young poets
whose work it showed have been altered by the urge to create poetry, and they want
to testify. This film focused on a series of "teen poetry slams," which show poets
and audiences facing one another.

Poetic License: film clip  [requires QuickTime]

    "The captivating power of youth poetry and the spoken word"

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