New York Times
We are constantly bombarded by memes in our daily lives. Some spontaneously flare up and then burn out as quickly as they appeared, while others stick around for decades. We hardly consider their presence, much less contemplate their possible influence on our lives.
Researchers in the emerging field of meme science are digging deeper, however, investigating how and why these sticky phrases or trends sink into our cultural psyche and subconsciously influence the way we process the world around us.
Despite what U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says about their loss of influence, rural Americans managed to string together an impressive array of successes during President Barack Obama’s first term.
Political pressure from farmers and ranchers played a big role in stalling key parts of Obama’s agenda that they don’t like, including cap and trade, stringent new meatpacker rules and the proposed removal of four dams from the Klamath River.
At the same time, producers have managed to push forward things they do like, such as estate tax rates that are more favorable to growers than when Obama took office and finalizing trade agreements that were opposed bitterly by the president’s union allies.
The worst drought in half a century has brought water levels in the Mississippi close to historic lows and could shut down all shipping in a matter of weeks–unless Barack Obama takes extraordinary measures. It’s the second extreme event on the river in 18 months, after flooding in the spring of 2011 forced thousands to flee their homes. Without rain, water levels on the Mississippi are projected to reach historic lows this month, the national weather service said in its latest four-week forecast.
(December 9, 2012)
Wildfires and weather share a common problem: We all talk about them, but what can we do about them? The federal government hopes to answer the wildfire question with a three-year strategy session that’s wrapping up this month. But there’s no guarantee the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy will save an acre of forest. In fact, it might force the nation to decide how much it’s willing to let burn.