Five by 8 – 6/2/10: The YouTube battle

1) The YouTube battle is on. Israel has released video , posted on YouTube, that shows its forces being attacked when they boarded one of the ships in the Gaza humanitarian flotilla.

But the flotilla provided its own YouTube campaign. An Al Jazeera reporter was broadcasting when the raid started and said the ship was “raising the white flag.”

Wired’s Danger Room is generally unimpressed…

The IDF has been practicing a willful indifference to global opinion for years. After the Hezbollah war of 2006, it decided that sensitivity to outside perception made its forces too hesitant, and put lives on both sides at risk. So in its 2009 Gaza campaign, the IDF decided to do the exact opposite: Shut out the international press, and fight without restraint and without a care about what anyone else thought.

The IDF did embed camera crews in its combat units, but they were there to defend troops against accusations of war crimes. Meanwhile, a young Israeli soldier — born in a small town in Hawaii, and converted to Judaism at Yale — got together with another American Israeli who thought it’d be cool to share some of those videos online. That became the IDF’s official YouTube channel, unexpectedly generating millions and millions of views. But social media (and information operations, generally) remained on the periphery of Israeli planning.

In an MPR commentary today, Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, urges people to wait before judging, then does…

While the facts are not all yet known, video footage before and during the incident clearly verifies the violent ideology and actions of many of the Marmara’s crew and passengers.

2) The New York Times has an unbelievable report on a Colombian family beset by Alzheimer’s. “To see your children like this … ,” a mother says. “It’s horrible, horrible. I wouldn’t wish this on a rabid dog. It is the most terrifying illness on the face of the earth.” Three of her children have Alzheimer’s.

But the tragedy could lead to breakthrough, the paper says:

Alzheimer’s has repeatedly resisted attempts to treat it. Current drugs, for people who are already impaired, show little benefit. Now scientists want to attack earlier. New findings show “the brain is badly damaged by the time they have dementia,” said Dr. John C. Morris, an Alzheimer’s researcher at Washington University in St. Louis. “Perhaps the reason our therapies have been ineffective or mostly ineffective is that we’re administering them too late.”

Related: A major advance in the figuring out the mysteries of the brain, came because somebody stole Einstein’s.

3) But more research is needed on this one. Do dogs prefer high-definition TV over standard broadcast signals? A newspaper reporter in Fargo noticed his dog paying more attention to what’s on TV these days. A cat owner reports finding the same thing.

A vet says “no.”

Colville says we humans have a cluster of visual receptors in the backs of our eyes called the macula that provides us with a very detailed section in the center of our visual field. Since dogs and cats don’t have that photosensitive cluster, “everything to them looks like things outside of our sharp vision field,” he says.

“Because of that lack of sharp vision, that’s what makes me think that the HD part of it’s probably not as important as the fact that it’s a big image that’s moving,” he says.

Let us know what’s happening with your pet.

4) NPR’s “Tiny Desk Concert” today features Roger McGuinn, Amy Tan, Dave Barry, and Roy Blount.

It’s appropriate, then, that they back off almost completely for McGuinn’s performance of “May the Road Rise to Meet You,” which demonstrates once again that great beauty can appear out of nowhere under unlikely circumstances. The Rock Bottom Remainders’ members don’t take themselves even a bit seriously, but for a few minutes, their music was… not brilliant, exactly, but certainly brilliant-adjacent. There’s genius, and then there’s having the good sense to stand nearby.

(h/t: Mrs. News Cut)

Or maybe Brother Ali is more your speed…

He was Kerri Miller’s guest yesterday on MPR’s Midmorning.

5) Don’t say I didn’t warn you. New Scientist reports on robots that can create more robots:

Over the next few minutes, this “MakerBot” will do something I can only dream of doing: it will create a spare part of itself as an insurance against future mishaps. Staring at the Heath Robinson-style kit before me, it is hard to believe that it – and a few hundred other devices – are paving the way to an era of desktop machines that can make just about anything, including copies of themselves.

It could be a revolutionary age. MakerBot is one of a range of desktop manufacturing plants being developed by researchers and hobbyists around the world. Their goal is to create a machine that is able to fix itself and, ultimately, to replicate.

Sure it starts with little things like making candy dishes, but the next thing you know…

And they’ll come disguised as toys…

Bonus: Carlton has laid off its fire chief. He says there were other places to trim in city government before whacking such a high-profile, public safety position. Are local communities working their way up to new heights when it comes to eliminating the government food chain?

Bear news: Hope is missing again.


Advocates say simple conservation could save many times the amount of oil being spilled in the Gulf of Mexico every day. Has the BP oil spill made you think about changing your energy behavior?


Later today, I’ll be in Woodbury to talk to a group of developmentally disabled kids who are using video to tell their life stories and find their futures. I’ll have that story tomorrow.

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Recent polls have indicated a drop in support for offshore drilling and an increased pro-environment stance among the American public. But will the oil spill really get Americans to reconsider their use of fossil fuels and change their behavior?

Second hour: Josh Axelrad, author of the book, “Repeat Until Rich: A Professional Card Counter’s Chronicle of the Blackjack Wars.”

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Arne Carlson, former governor of Minnesota.

Second hour: New York Times reporter Michael Moss, speaking at the Commonwealth Club of California about his Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting about e .coli-contaminated meat that paralyzed Minnesotan Stephanie Smith.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: NPR political editor Ken Rudin.

Second hour: Last year was a tough one for many Americans as they crawled out from the worst recession in decades. But there was one unexpected piece of good news: despite fears of a crime boom, violent crime went down to levels not seen since the 1960s. Even so, many Americans believe crime is getting worse.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – The metro area is a day closer to the June 10 nurses strike. MPR’s Lorna Benson will have an update.

Thirty-five years ago this month, a star was born. The movie was Jaws, and the star was Bruce, the massive mechanical shark. So what ever happened to the great white machine that terrified a generation? NPR unleashes its best and brightest to find out.

  • John O.

    My two Jack Russells are far more cognizant of the HDTV. Unless I want to wake up the neighbors, “Animal Planet” is off limits.

    On the other hand, I can turn on CNBC and Larry Kudlow puts them both to sleep. 🙂

  • Youtube and other social media have definitely changed the nature of social protests, forever. How those changes will play out, I think, Bob, no one really knows.

  • bob

    Let me see if I have this straight: We should be upset because some folks on a ship that was on a humanitarian mission and that was transiting international waters threw an IDF soldier, who had no right to board the ship, overboard? And other IDF soldiers responded to the act by killing members of the humanitarian mission? I must be missing something.

  • bsimon

    bob’s line of thinking deserves further exploration. By what right did the IDF soldiers board & confiscate the vessels, incarcerating the passengers & crew? That sounds an awful lot like piracy to me. Surely if the IDF wanted to enforce a blockade of Gaza, they could have found a smarter way to do so; perhaps waiting until the flotilla entered Israeli waters, for instance.

  • Jake K

    I don’t allow my dog to watch TV. It would rot her brain.

  • JackU

    The dog prefers watching a computer screen to the TV. I think it’s because he can get his nose up to the laptop screen when I’m sitting on the couch. (The mouse pointer moving is the most fascinating, but he also likes watching character based games with lots of movement. Familiar voices and faces on Skype can get his attention as well.)

    He does respond to sounds on the TV. (Door bells and dogs barking get the most vocal reaction.)

  • Bonnie

    bear update – they spotted the cub again, heading out with food and a cage, not sure but wouldn’t be surprised if they decide to ‘bring her in” until she’s fully recovered. 100,000 people on facebook are going to have serious meltdowns if they keep losing her.

  • Bonnie

    bear update – they lost track of the cub again