How I outsourced my brain; Only the media thinks Sharpton is a leader; Hating Hillary won’t save the GOP; Censoring the bad news abou

How I outsourced my brain; Only the media thinks Sharpton is a leader; Hating Hillary won’t save the GOP; Censoring bad news about global warming

How I outsourced my brain

David Brooks

The New York Times

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Thanks to all my new cognitive servants, I no longer need a brain, said David Brooks. The beauty of the Information Age, I’ve realized, is not that it enables us to know more. It enables us to know less, as we outsource most mental activity to the great external mind. Thanks to the GPS system in my car, for example, I no longer need to devote any neurons to knowing how to get there from here. My GPS guides me to my destination in a feminine, comforting, and slightly Anglophilic voice, thrilling me with her omniscience. If I want to know what new music to buy, I simply log on to iTunes, and it will select songs it thinks I will like—most of them from bands I’ve never heard of. My TiVo does the same for TV shows, and Amazon can recommend everything from books to garden furniture to suit my taste. The job of remembering names and key facts, which my aging brain finds difficult, has been outsourced to Google, Yahoo, and Wikipedia. My Blackberry keeps track of anything else I might need to know. Who needs to meditate in order to achieve oneness with the universe? I have fused with the knowledge of the cybersphere. I am one with the external mind. Om.

Only the media thinks Sharpton is a leader

Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Washington Post

Once upon a time, to qualify for the title of ‘black leader,’ you had to actually lead, said Ta-Nehisi Coates. The Rev. Al Sharpton proves this is no longer true. On virtually any story involving race, the media now turns to Sharpton as a one-stop shop for the black perspective. Indeed, to much of white America, Sharpton isn’t just a frontman for black America. He is black America. Never mind that most blacks didn’t support his farcical run for president in 2004, or that his greatest accomplishment is his media ubiquity. And never mind that the black community today is more diverse than ever, with true leaders in virtually every field. Most blacks spend little time worrying about reparations for slavery, as Sharpton does, or finding white racists under every rock. But the bombastic Sharpton so perfectly fills the role of angry black leader that the media has neglected to notice that he doesn’t have much of a following. So the next time you see him holding forth on, say, discrimination in Jena, La., remember: Al Sharpton isn’t a black leader, he just plays one on TV.

Hating Hillary won’t save the GOP

David Weigel

The American Conservative

If Republicans want to win in 2008, said David Weigel, they’d better not rely on Hillary-hate. Some conservatives are gleeful that New York’s junior senator is the Democrats’ current front-runner; they see her as an unelectable cold fish who embodies the worst excesses of 1960s radicalism and cultural decadence. With their own party battered and divided, the GOP is trying to rally behind a simple message: Stop Hillary. But while attacking Hillary brings lusty cheers from conservative audiences, it won’t save the GOP from disaster. Clinton may be deeply disliked in red state America, but the swing vote that will elect the next president is far angrier at Republicans and George W. Bush than it is at her right now. Most independent voters are bored with smirking attacks on Hillary’s 1993 health-care plan and ancient scandals from her husband’s presidency. They want to know what the candidates plan to do about today’s problems. If Republicans run on conservative and libertarian ideas, they still have a chance. But if they run on the premise that anyone is better than Hillary, she’s going to outsmart them—again.

Censoring the bad news about global warming

Derrick Jackson

The Boston Globe

For public consumption, said Derrick Jackson, President Bush now professes to believe that global warming is real. But his administration continues to censor government reports that actually take the threat posed by a warming climate too seriously. The latest scientist to be censored is Julie Gerberding, director of the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whose report to Congress on global warming last week was heavily edited by the White House. Gerberding’s original report said that global warming would increase the frequency, timing, intensity, and duration of extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and floods, with the poor, the elderly, and racial minorities taking the brunt of the impact of intense heat waves, droughts, and storms. All of that was deleted by the White House, so that the remaining report contained only some reassuring government garble about how existing programs provide a solid foundation to move forward. Muzzling scientists is an insult to every American’s intelligence, but you can be sure the White House will keep doing it. Bush has only one goal regarding global warming—to leave office without doing anything about it.

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