LITERACY: “America the Illiterate” / truthdig / Chris Hedges / 11.10.2008 ☮

Chris Hedges

We live in two Americas. One America, now the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world. It can cope with complexity and has the intellectual tools to separate illusion from truth. The other America, which constitutes the majority, exists in a non-reality-based belief system. This America, dependent on skillfully manipulated images for information, has severed itself from the literate, print-based culture. It cannot differentiate between lies and truth. It is informed by simplistic, childish narratives and clichés. It is thrown into confusion by ambiguity, nuance and self-reflection. This divide, more than race, class or gender, more than rural or urban, believer or nonbeliever, red state or blue state, has split the country into radically distinct, unbridgeable and antagonistic entities.

There are over 42 million American adults, 20 percent of whom hold high school diplomas, who cannot read, as well as the 50 million who read at a fourth- or fifth-grade level. Nearly a third of the nation’s population is illiterate or barely literate. And their numbers are growing by an estimated 2 million a year. But even those who are supposedly literate retreat in huge numbers into this image-based existence. A third of high school graduates, along with 42 percent of college graduates, never read a book after they finish school. Eighty percent of the families in the United States last year did not buy a book.

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CANNABIS: “Legal Marijuana Causing Fewer Opioid Deaths, and Big Pharma is Mad” / The Young Turks / Cenk Uygur, Ben Mankiewicz, Ana Kasparian, and Jimmy Dore ☮

Marijuana is literally saving lives, and the companies that make and sell opiates are not happy about it.

SCIENCE – PALEOANTHROPOLOGY: “Cracking the Coldest Case: How Lucy Died” ☮

Bone by bone, UT Austin paleoanthropologist John Kappelman pieced together the life and death of Lucy, the most famous fossil of a human ancestor. She likely died after suffering injuries from an unimpeded free fall from a tall tree, suggesting the terrestrial species likely foraged or nested in trees.