The smart money says the U.S. economy will splinter, with some states thriving, some states not, and all eyes are on California as the nightmare scenario. After a hair-raising visit with former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who explains why the Golden State has cratered, Michael Lewis goes where the buck literally stops—the local level, where the likes of San Jose mayor Chuck Reed and Vallejo ﬁre chief Paige Meyer are trying to avert even worse catastrophes and rethink what it means to be a society.
At 12, I grasped for the first time who he was. There was a photograph of him in our history textbook with the caption: "Reichsjugendführer Baldur von Schirach" -- leader of the Hitler Youth. I can still see it in front of me: My name was really in our textbook. On the facing page was a photograph of Claus von Stauffenberg, the leader of the failed July 20, 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler, next to the caption "resistance fighter." The word "fighter" sounded much better. I sat in class next to a Stauffenberg, a grandson like me; we are still friends to this day. He didn't know anything more than I did.
Peter Neufeld is the co-director and one of the two founders of the Innocence Project – the organization I mentioned earlier that uses DNA evidence to overturn wrongful convictions. In addition to trying to free innocent people from prison, he and his colleagues work to improve criminal justice procedures so that fewer mistaken incarcerations occur in the first place. This means Neufeld spends a lot of time telling people that they’re wrong, or that the way they do their work is unjust and dangerously error-prone. As you might imagine, dealing with denial is a de facto part of his job description. When I met Neufeld in his offices in lower Manhattan, one of the first things he did was walk me through the many different stages of denial he routinely encounters. He was quick to point out that not everyone goes through all these stages, or even through any of them: many people working in law enforcement support the work of the Innocence Project and cooperate fully in its efforts to free the wrongfully convicted.
PUBLISHED: Sept. 22, 2011
LENGTH: 43 minutes (10777 words)
Stewart isn't just being a bully here. He is being disingenuous, and he knows it. Worse, he's tapping into the collective fantasy without knowing it. He's the gunslinger saying he's going back to the farm while at the same time putting notches in his belt. More precisely, he's the presumptive Edward R. Murrow saying that he'll go back to comedy once he cleans up journalism. But he can't go back. He can't go back to the pleasures of fart jokes and funny faces — the pleasures of comedy — because he's experienced the higher pleasure of preaching to weirdly defenseless stiffs like Jim Cramer. He's saying once again that he's outgrown comedy and is no longer a comedian. But he's not saying what he actually is, because then he'd be judged. And Jon Stewart, to a degree unique in the culture, exists outside the realm of judgment.
When it comes to economic growth and the creation of jobs, the denser the city the better. How great are the benefits of density? Economists studying cities routinely find that after controlling for other variables, workers in denser places earn higher wages and are more productive. Some studies suggest that doubling density raises productivity by around 6 percent while others peg the impact at up to 28 percent. Some economists have concluded that more than half the variation in output per worker across the United States can be explained by density alone; density explains more of the productivity gap across states than education levels or industry concentrations or tax policies.
In the past weeks, the fun has leached away. Readers and viewers who know Rupert Murdoch purely as a name—or as one of those figures so wealthy, and granted such frictionless mobility by their wealth, that they never seem to be in the part of the world that you expect them to be—were startled to see a senior gent, with sparse white hair and a clownish smile, descend upon London. He was seen jogging in one of the parks, in the thrall of a personal trainer. She was blond and wholly fearsome, like someone whom Sylvester Stallone very nearly married before changing his mind and hiding under the bed. As for her trainee, he was photographed with milk-white shanks exposed unkindly to the elements. This was Rupert Murdoch? The man to whom Prime Ministers bend the knee?
Yet only two years in, the future of carbon capture and storage (CCS) is in jeopardy. On July 14, American Electric Power pulled the plug on its CCS efforts, citing a weak economy and the “uncertain status of U.S. climate policy.” CEO Morris said AEP and its partners “have advanced CCS technology more than any other power generator with our successful two-year project to validate the technology. But at this time it doesn’t make economic sense to continue.” The dimming of CCS’s promise reflects a broader national retreat from the goal of reversing climate change. In private and, to some degree, in public, the company and its executives express frustration that they tried to do the right thing—only to end up burned.
For this bodiless replicator itself, Richard Dawkins proposed a name. He called it the meme, and it became his most memorable invention, far more influential than his selfish genes or his later proselytizing against religiosity. “Memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation,” he wrote. They compete with one another for limited resources: brain time or bandwidth. They compete most of all for attention.
What E.O. Wilson is trying to do, late in his influential career, is nothing less than overturn a central plank of established evolutionary theory: the origins of altruism. His position is provoking ferocious criticism from other scientists. Last month, the leading scientific journal Nature published five strongly worded letters saying, more or less, that Wilson has misunderstood the theory of evolution and generally doesn’t know what he’s talking about. One of these carried the signatures of an eye-popping 137 scientists, including two of Wilson’s colleagues at Harvard.