On a recent trip across America, what surprised me most was the number of people -- over 200 in one city, 80 to 150 elsewhere -- who wanted to discuss this odd word, "acedia."
It's an ancient term signifying profound indifference and inability to care about things that matter, even to the extent that you no longer care that you can't care.
I liken it to spiritual morphine: You know the pain is there but can't rouse yourself to give a damn.
The concept of acedia was developed by Christians in the fourth century who had fled to the deserts of the Middle East, opting for a simple life in rebellion against a newly legal, wealthy and politically powerful church. Today, we would say that they went off the grid.
# Weird Clouds Look Even Better From Space [Wired]
Clouds are fascinating because they take on so many different, beautiful shapes and are constantly changing. Cloud-watching from Earth can be endlessly entertaining, but some of the most amazing cloud patterns can only be properly appreciated from space.
Satellites can take in thousands of miles of the Earth’s surface in one shot, revealing complicated and intriguing cloud patterns we could never see from below. We’ve gathered here some of the best cloud formations to see from above.
# Disaster unfolds slowly in the Gulf of Mexico - [The Big Picture]
In the three weeks since the April 20th explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, and the start of the subsequent massive (and ongoing) oil leak, many attempts have been made to contain and control the scale of the environmental disaster. Oil dispersants are being sprayed, containment booms erected, protective barriers built, controlled burns undertaken, and devices are being lowered to the sea floor to try and cap the leaks, with little success to date. While tracking the volume of the continued flow of oil is difficult, an estimated 5,000 barrels of oil (possibly much more) continues to pour into the gulf every day. While visible damage to shorelines has been minimal to date as the oil has spread slowly, the scene remains, in the words of President Obama, a "potentially unprecedented environmental disaster." (40 photos total)
# A special report on television: The lazy medium - [The Economist]
In the past few years viewers have gained much more control over television. Video-cassette recorders have been replaced by DVD players and digital video recorders (DVRs), both of which are easier to use. Cable and satellite firms offer a growing number of videos on demand. TV has gone online and become mobile. As a result, viewers’ expectations have changed dramatically. Katsuaki Suzuki of Fuji Television, Japan’s biggest broadcaster, says nobody feels they need to be at home to catch the 9pm drama any more.
But a change in expectations is not quite the same as a change in behaviour. Although it is easier than ever to watch programmes at a time and on a device of one’s choosing, and people expect to be able to do so, nearly all TV is nonetheless watched live on a television set. Even in British homes with a Sky+ box, which allows for easy recording of programmes, almost 85% of television shows are viewed at the time the broadcasters see fit to air them.
# Can Americans’ Car Dependence Be Changed? A Q&A With the Author of ‘Carjacked’ - [Infrastructurist]
The American relationship to cars is a fascinating and complex web of economic, political, social, and psychological factors that combine to shape the identity of our nation, not to mention fuel multi-billion dollar industries. But just where did we get all our notions about cars, from “station wagons are the middle-class mommy staple” to “I need a car to maintain my independence”? In their book Carjacked: The Culture of the Automobile and Its Effect on Our Lives, Catherine Lutz and Anne Lutz Fernandez examine every aspect of our relationships to and with automobiles, and how we can change them in the face of diminishing fossil fuels, increasing traffic, and ever-rising cost.