On February 1, 1968, the Penn Central railroad was created by the merger of the two largest railroads in the eastern United States, the Pennsylvania Railroad, long lauded as the "Standard Railroad of the World", and the New York Central Railroad, long famous for its passenger trains such as the 20th Century Limited, with its Dreyfuss-designed Hudson locomotives. [more inside]
Electronic Beats interviews five Detroit residents (Michael Stone-Richards, a professor in the Department of Liberal Arts at CCS in Detroit; Mike Huckaby, an internationally successful DJ and longtime producer of Detroit techno; Cornelius Harris, aka "The Unknown Writer", the label manager and occasional MC for Underground Resistance Records; Walter Wasacz; a journalist and writer based in Hamtramck, an enclave in the center of Detroit; Mark Ernestus, the Berlin-based producer, DJ and co-owner of Hard Wax record store; Mike Banks of Underground Resistance [UR]; George Clinton, the founder and leader of Parliament Funkadelic; and Samantha Corbit, who has over a decade of involvement with multiple Detroit record labels) on the past and future of Detroit, and it's (electronic) (musical) history. 72 Hours in Detroit
America's Orchestras are in Crisis : How an effort to popularize classical music undermines what makes orchestras great.
"Scientific discovery is not valuable unless it has commercial value" The Canadian scientific research and development agency has announced a major policy change. Going forward, they will only perform research that has "social or economic gain".
Caterpillar, after record profits, squeezes its union for a six-year wage and pension freeze and increased insurance contributions - not because it has to, but because it can. As the machinists' union enters its fourth month on strike, the company says it's getting along just fine with temps and union workers who have crossed the picket line. Private-sector union membership is now at an all-time low of 6.9%. Even as calls to remedy America's income inequality grow from Occupy and other movements, nobody in power is helping. The Democratic Party's ship has long since sailed. (previously)
American cities going dark. Detroit is the poster child, 40 percent of the 88,000 streetlights are already broken, but under a new plan half the city is going permanently dark in an effort to get citizens to move. “You have to identify those neighborhoods where you want to concentrate your population,” said Chris Brown, Detroit’s chief operating officer. “We’re not going to light distressed areas". Other U.S. cities have gone partially dark to save money, among them Colorado Springs; Santa Rosa, California; and Rockford, Illinois. Bonus: 360-degree photo tour of abandoned rail station in Detroit.
On December 19th, Ford closed the doors of their St Paul auto plant, ending 800 jobs and 86 years of history. The plant was closed as part of Ford's move to end the Ford Ranger in North America, a truck that will still be available overseas. Born of the 80s gas crisis, the Ranger has been Ford's compact truck for almost forty years. Ford blames demand for large trucks and the shrinking gap in price between the compact and full-sized truck markets, spurring concern about the future of the compact truck market in North America.
Blogging the Hugos: Decline (part 1, part 2, part 3), is a series of blog posts covering some dystopian trends in recent Hugo nominees and itself winner of the of the BSFA award for non fiction. Meanwhile the 2011 Hugo finalists have been announced, with Mefi favorites featuring strongly: In Best Novella The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang (previously), In Best Short Story The Things by Peter Watts (previously). Doctor who features heavily under Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form (too many posts to mention), but has strong competition from Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury.
The American Century, proclaimed so triumphantly at the start of World War II, will be tattered and fading by 2025, its eighth decade, and could be history by 2030.
The last announcer plays the last record. The last watt leaves the transmitter. Circles the globe in search of a listener.
The end of (big) radio? Citadel, the 3rd largest in the US, announced chapter 11 bankruptcy today. Even Clear Channel, the largest US broadcaster is seeing a huge decline in revenue. Failed innovation and an increasing disenfranchised listenership coupled with massive revenue declines are increasingly showing the decline of the medium as a whole.
“It is going to be rough for us Top 20 publishers. It will be epic for anyone smaller. Lots of folks will vanish due to this, even some bigger guys.” - Hard times ahead for indie comics: Diamond Distribution, which has an effective monopoly on American comics distribution, will be raising it’s wholesale benchmark, meaning many of the comiocs currently available in comics stores will soon be dropped. In a further blow to the adult comics market Diamond will be dropping that section from the print version of Previews, in favour of a PDF only available to retailers. Comics are about to get a whole lot blander.
Some books you might want to read about the US and recent political developments in the world. [more inside]
The leader of the Swedish Pirate Party explaining how the US went bankrupt in 1971, and has been covering it up through an accelerating whack-a-mole borrowing frenzy that is bursting right now. [more inside]
Spending years clarifying my observations of the community and putting them down on paper slowly revealed a society beset by a fatal condition; an affliction that has been destroying us at an ever increasing rate for two centuries and must eventually return us to barbarism. A final result that should be no surprise, as it has overtaken every other civilization; a fate that appears as inevitable and as irreversible as old age with its increasing feebleness and dementia. I was no longer interested in why our bureaucracy was full of incompetents? but why our society was full of incompetents? My original aim to improve my community with technology was replaced with answering the question, why does a community age like any other creature?Philip Atkinson knows: civilization is in decline. And he's determined to tell you about it. Find out the truth about Nelson Mandela, AIDS, obesity, parenting, standard weights and measures, and, of course, the Ten Commandments. We're screwed, guys. Sit down, read a book, and watch it burn.
THE EVOLUTION OF GLOBAL POLITICS. University of Washington Professor George Modelski is credited with developing the concept of world leadership. There have been five world leaders: Portugal, the Netherlands, Great Britain I, Great Britain II, and currently the USA. Some scholars in political science and history are pointing towards U.S. decline and a takeover by a United States of Europe...
From the guy that predicted back in 1976 the demise of the Soviet Union: “There will be no an American Empire”. Emmanuel Todd (scroll down for another Todd interview) is the author of “After the Empire: The Breakdown of the American System". His arguments? economic weakness (debt, massive trade imbalance, internal deficit), and emphasis on military power are signs that US power is in decline.
Hamas is losing. Good news from the Mideast To all those who insist terror wars can't be won, some evidence you are pessimists.
Is this the last days of the Empire, or just the beginning? America the most powerful country since Roman Empire. I for sure hope that the good old US of A don´t meet the same destiny as the Roman Empire...But!? Has there been any country (empire) that survived being the biggest and best(?). Usually i read a lot about Swedens time of glory some couple of hundred years ago, now hoping that my grandchildren won´t read the same about the States. Should we be worried about what the history tells us?