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Digital Devices and Learning to Grow Up

25 Jul

L.M. Sacasas

Last week the NY Times ran the sort of op-ed on digital culture that the cultured despisers love to ridicule. In it, Jane Brody made a host of claims about the detrimental consequences of digital media consumption on children, especially the very young. She had the temerity, for example, to call texting the “next national epidemic.” Consider as well the following paragraphs:

“Two of my grandsons, ages 10 and 13, seem destined to suffer some of the negative effects of video-game overuse. The 10-year-old gets up half an hour earlier on school days to play computer games, and he and his brother stay plugged into their hand-held devices on the ride to and from school. ‘There’s no conversation anymore,’ said their grandfather, who often picks them up. When the family dines out, the boys use their devices before the meal arrives and as soon as they finish eating.

‘If kids are…

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Closing In on Planet Pluto: an Interview with New Horizons PI Alan Stern

27 Mar

Lights in the Dark

Artist's impression of the New Horizons flyby in July 2015. (NASA/SwRI)Artist’s impression of the New Horizons flyby in July 2015. (NASA/SwRI)

After more than nine years of traveling through space the New Horizons spacecraft is now in the home stretch of its journey, with less than 120 days and 143 million kilometers to go before it makes its historic flyby of the Pluto system on July 14. It will be the first time we get a good close-up look at the distant world which had for over seven decades held reign over the frozen edges of our Solar System as the outermost planet, much like its namesake governed the cold darkness of the mythological Greek underworld.

Discovered on February 18, 1930, the ninth planet Pluto lost its “full” planetary status in August 2006 as the result of a highly-contested decision by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to create a new class of “dwarf planets,” of which Pluto, Ceres, and the then-recently-discovered Eris became charter members. Seven months…

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Antisemitism in France: Yes, No, and Maybe

25 Mar

POINT de VUE: PARIS

vu de pompidou

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo/ policewoman/ kosher market killings here in Paris that took 17 lives last January, people have asked when they might expect to see a ‘point de vue’ on two subjects: whether daily life has changed, and whether antisemitism is on the rise in France. The two are terribly intertwined, for Jews and non-Jews alike.  Were these acts ghastly aberrations, media-genic statistical outliers? Or, is antisemitism at their root and on the march? If it is taking ground, then by how much, how fast? By what measure? How much does one, can one know?

I only live here: in the Marais, the old traditional Jewish enclave. I don’t have insider information and I’m not even sure I think what I think. But everyone can have an opinion– and apparently everyone does. President Netanyahu of Israel expressed his when he invited the Jews of France to…

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6 Abr

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