What if we disappeared from the face of the earth tomorrow? All of us, just like that? What would happen? How would the remaining world survive or thrive without us? That’s the scenario that gets examined by science writer Alan Weisman (who we interviewed last year) in his non-fiction eco-thriller, The World Without Us.
Now out in paperback, the book, which spent 26 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, sees things playing out like this:
With no one left to run the pumps, New York’s subway tunnels would fill with water in two days. Within 20 years, Lexington Avenue would be a river. Fire- and wind-ravaged skyscrapers would eventually fall like giant trees. Within weeks of our disappearance, the world’s 441 nuclear plants would melt down into radioactive blobs, while our petrochemical plants, ‘ticking time bombs’ even on a normal day, would become flaming geysers spewing toxins for decades to come… After about 100,000 years, carbon dioxide would return to prehuman levels. Domesticated species from cattle to carrots would revert back to their wild ancestors. And on every dehabitated continent, forests and grasslands would reclaim our farms and parking lots as animals began a slow parade back to Eden.
The World Without Us is a great read. And now some of our readers can get their hands on a free copy. We have 10 copies to give away, and here’s how we propose doing it. We’ll give a copy to the first 10 readers (living in North America) who add a quality piece of “open culture” in the comments section of this post. That is, you will need to post a link to an enriching video, podcast or mp3 that fellow readers will enjoy, and tell us a little about why. When we get ten quality clips, we will then package them in a post and share them with the larger community. In short, think of it as you get as you give. How nice. Very Kumbaya. (Watch Joan Baez sing it). Now let’s see what you’ve got.
NOTE: We can only ship to readers in North America. And, yes, that includes Canada this time, and Mexico too. To our many international readers, I apologize for the geographical limitation. And we’ll try to make things up to you down the line. We do appreciate you.
Also please note that if you’re selected, I will also eventually need your name and mailing address.
NPR’s “This I Believe” is a series of inspirational and motivating statements by individuals about their lives. Available in both essay and audio form at: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4538138
Podcast at http://www.npr.org/rss/podcast/podcast_detail.php?siteId=5183218
While not a clip, this is an excellent list of 100 Must-Read Books: The Essential Man’s Library
Awesome social and free way to learn languages where you can measure your progress against others and get help from others in your quest to learn a new language. It’s excellent. – http://www.livemocha.com
This is the “Courage” commercial that Nike has been running during the Olympics. The images of classic Olympic moments like that of Steve Prefontaine shaking his head after finishing 5th in the 5000meters in Munich capture the Olympic ideal of giving everything for a goal that may never be reached.
Something everyone needs to know: Merlin Mann Inbox Zero
Also shows how PowerPoint can be used effectively.
It seems hard to believe that I was listening to David Byrne and Brian Eno 30 years ago. It’s even harder to believe that I’m still listening to them today.
You can listen for free at:
and download a free sample.
Byrne (who writes an excellent blog at davidbyrne.com) and Eno (who has racked up way too many “public intellectual” credentials for a musician) have both always been a bit too cerebral for their own good — and their music hasn’t always worn well because of it. So it’s nice to discover that their newest music has a heavy helping of melody and a lot of heart.
Here is a transcription of an excellent commencement speech made by David Foster Wallace at Kenyon in 2005:
Cory Doctorow, co-editor of the popular blog boingboing.net and a well known advocate of “open culture”, has released his latest novel Little Brother as a free download under a Creative Commons license:
The novel spent six weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. I personally found it to be a very enjoyable read, and I think the main themes of technology and freedom are very relevant to the readers of openculture.
The Center for Communication offers a number of resources both for members and non-members. On their website you can view recent seminars on a variety of media subjects, like Stereotypes in Film, Making Horror films, or even Walt Disney.
A regional website, but with interviews and recordings of interest to all: Charlottesville Podcasting Network (http://www.cvillepodcast.com). Over 100 author interviews/recordings alone, including Paul Roberts, Douglas Preston, and Vincent Bugliosi, plus film reviews, national and global issues, and more.
This is a two part series on Brooks Bicycle saddle company. It is a small company with a dedicated audience in the cycling community and I think it’s interesting to see how the company has really stuck with it’s origins.
Larry Lessig’s Culture video http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=lessig+%2B+culture&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&sa=N&tab=wv&oi=property_suggestions&resnum=0&ct=property-revision&cd=1# shares if our culture is controlled by copyright. It makes you consider how technology and copyright laws are locking the creativity of our brightest students.
If the World Without Us is a Great Read, then the Story of Stuff has been my most recent great view. I’m encouraging everyone I know to watch this video about the global impacts of consumerism.
Shoot…my link didn’t come through!
The Whale Hunt (http://thewhalehunt.org/whalehunt.html) photographically documents all that’s involved in such an hunt withint an Inuit community.
my link didn’t come through as well:
As far as I know, this is the first youtube vid using LibriVox audio. This is DE. Wittkower reading Schopenhauer’s Studies in Pessimism. Music is Richard Wagner’s Rheingold. I’m not sure the providence of the images.
In preparation for his recent book Conservatives Without Conscience, former Nixon Administration “turncoat” John W. Dean entered into correspondence with Bob Altemeyer, a leading researcher in the study of the psycho-social phenomenon of “authoritarian personality,” its variations and geopolitical consequences. Altemeyer’s prior work, carrying forward the efforts of Theodor Adorno and many others in seeking to understand and explain the often horrific extremes of authoritarian behavior, was written largely for an academic readership, and is thus quite technical. However, with encouragement from Dean, Altemeyer undertook to produce a non-technical distillation of this work in the form of a free e-book (in PDF) for the general public. The resulting “piece of open culture”, The Authoritarians, is an enjoyable read and is enormously important as a lucid, nuts-and-bolts look at the psychology underlying how we in the United States have come to our present state of sociopolitical crisis. Despite its surprising lack of gloom, given the subject matter, one should think of it as a responsible citizens’ guide to how not to behave…
Bob Altemeyer — The Authoritarians
Because culture takes many forms.
I was never a huge fan of video podcasts as they are often just talking heads, thereby not leveraging the power of video, BUT, there is one video podcast that I think everyone would benefit from watching daily.
Beach Walks with Rox (http://www.beachwalks.tv/)
In this daily video podcast, Roxanne and her dog Lexi go for a walk along the beach. Rox talks about a different topic each day, but the topics are almost always relevant to everyone as they frequently touch upon our human nature and behaviors.
Some recent topics include:
When I Grow Up
What’s the Opportunity?
Say No To Victim Energy
Love Heals, Love Hurts
Lead and Contribute
Taking Both Sides
This is a podcast that should be in everyone’s playlist. And as a bonus, you often get to learn a Hawaiian word or two, and admire the beautiful scenario and weather of Hawaiian beaches from anywhere in the world.
The podcast is insightful and relaxing. Give it a try.
A web museum of presidential tv commercials. An interesting history of how presidential campaigning has evolved.
This is a complete performance of Rzewski’s “The People United Will Never Be Defeated!” The sound quality is excellent and this performance of one of the most difficult pieces of 20th century piano music is flawless.
The piece is a set of 36 variations on a song from the Chilean resistance movement of the late 60s/early 70s. The internal logic of the piece is incredibly dense; its sonic landscapes are all over the map; the demands it makes on the player are nearly impossible.
So here’s one of the all-time great performances of this monster of a piece, uploaded by the player, completely free for the world to absorb, contemplate, and enjoy.
I’d like to offer the Terra podcast, produced right here at Montana State University in my town. Terra is a fantastic venue for short films from all across the globe that focus on the natural world and our relationship to it… an appropriate subject considering what this contest is for!
I would recommend the BBC documentary called “The Last Governor”. It is a documentary in 5 parts that details the administration of Chris Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong and his effort to bring democratic Change. It is in 5 parts and the 1st clip of each part is below:
The Last Governor: The Democratic Time Bomb
The Last Governor: Restraint in Difficult Circumstances
The Last Governor: Lewis Carroll Country
The Last Governor: Loosening the Screws
The Last Governor: Another Balls-Aching Week