Grind for December 23rd, 2018
“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”
– Benjamin Franklin
Bugs are disappearing from textbooks
Research suggests there are more than 200 million insects for each human on the planet.
And those insects play a huge role in our lives – they control food chains, pollinate a full third of the global food supply, break down our waste, and transmit disease.
With such complete dominance over the animal kingdom, one would expect textbooks to be full of information about bugs.
But according to a recent study conducted at North Carolina State University, insect-related content in textbooks has declined significantly over the past decade.
After studying 88 introductory biology textbooks published between 1907 and 2016, researchers Jennifer Landin and Kiran Gangwani determined that insect-related content had dropped 75% in books published after 2000 (compared to books published before 1965).
Today, insect-related content accounts for just 0.6% of introductory biology texts. Compare this to books published between 1900 and 1920, which on average contain 33 pages on bugs. Books published between 2000 and 2017 contain about 6 pages.
Causes for the decline include:
— A growing focus on genetics and cell biology
— The lack of nature in modern life
— The advent of A/C, pesticides, and treatments for insect-borne diseases
Unfortunately, the decline in information about bugs is paralleled by a worldwide decline in their population.
Take Puerto Rico, for example, which suffered catastrophic consequences to its food chain following a 60% drop in the number of insects on the island between 1976 and 2013.
“Insects are disappearing from textbooks, but they’re disappearing in real-life systems as well,” says entomologist Misha Leong. If the trend continues, we can only expect it to be reflected in textbooks for years to come.
Facebook wants to sell TV subscriptions
Facebook is talking with cable networks HBO, Starz, and Showtime about a proposal to sell their streaming TV services on Facebook.
In purchasing subscriptions through Facebook, users could watch shows like Game of Thrones on Facebook’s “Watch” hub.
Facebook hopes to start selling TV subscriptions early next year.
A deal with cable networks would be a significant change for Facebook, whose main service has always been free, and would push the company closer to its goal of becoming a video hub.
Facebook currently makes most of its money through advertising. With the addition of TV streaming, it would also collect between 15% and 30% of any subscription revenue.
The additional income would help Facebook commit to multi-year deals with cable networks (which they will expect) and recover from billions in losses following the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
In the meantime, Facebook is testing users’ appetite for videos by streaming for free all episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly.
GOOD TO THE LAST DROP:
Did you know… Before it was repressed during World War I, German was the second most widely spoken language in the United States and many local governments, schools, and newspapers operated in German.