The Age Of Missing Information by Bill MckibbenThe Age Of Missing Information by Bill Mckibben

The Age Of Missing Information

byBill Mckibben

Paperback | June 13, 2006

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“Highly personal and original . . . McKibben goes beyond Marshall McLuhan’s theory that the medium is the message.”
——The New York Times

Imagine watching an entire day’s worth of television on every single channel. Acclaimed environmental writer and culture critic Bill McKibben subjected himself to this sensory overload in an experiment to verify whether we are truly better informed than previous generations. Bombarded with newscasts and fluff pieces, game shows and talk shows, ads and infomercials, televangelist pleas and Brady Bunch episodes, McKibben processed twenty-four hours of programming on all ninety-three Fairfax, Virginia, cable stations. Then, as a counterpoint, he spent a day atop a quiet and remote mountain in the Adirondacks, exploring the unmediated man and making small yet vital discoveries about himself and the world around him. As relevant now as it was when originally written in 1992–and with new material from the author on the impact of the Internet age–this witty and astute book is certain to change the way you look at television and perceive media as a whole.

“By turns humorous, wise, and troubling . . . a penetrating critique of technological society.”–Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Masterful . . . a unique, bizarre portrait of our life and times.”
Los Angeles Times

“Do yourself a favor: Put down the remote and pick up this book.”
Houston Chronicle
Bill McKibben is the author of more than a dozen books, including The End of Nature, Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age, and Deep Economy. A former staff writer for The New Yorker, he writes often for Harper's Magazine, National Geographic, and the New York Review of Books, among other publications. He is the founder of the env...
Title:The Age Of Missing InformationFormat:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 8 × 5.18 × 0.61 inPublished:June 13, 2006Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:081297607X

ISBN - 13:9780812976076

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Read from the Book

If you have a cold, you do not need to worry about reinfecting yourself with your lip balm.” That’s Beverly, who leads Christian calisthenics on Channel 116, Family Net. “If you used someone else’s lip balm, I could see that. But not your own.” So much happens between seven and eight in the morning on the ninety-three stations of the Fairfax, Virginia, cable system, until recently the largest in the world. On Good Morning America, Joel, the movie critic, says, “I learned something about England. For sore throats, the actors of Shakespeare’s time used to take a live frog and lower the frog by its foot into their mouths. They figured that would keep the juices going. That’s where the expression ‘a frog in your throat’ comes from.” Since seaweed grows “in the nutrient-rich ocean,” it comes as no surprise to anyone in the Annushka cosmetics organization that it attacks and destroys cellulite. An Amtrak train has gone off the rails in Iowa, according to CNN, and American companies will now be allowed to sell laptop computers in Eastern Europe. Kevin Johnson of the Phoenix Suns, so racked with the flu he had to be fed intravenously, nonetheless tallied 29 points and 12 assists in last night’s game. Meanwhile, a robot surgeon has successfully replaced a dog’s arthritic hip with an artificial joint. On the Fox affiliate, a cartoon Mr. Wilson is sure that’s Dennis (the Menace) in the gorilla suit, so he uses a pair of pliers on the snout; entertainingly, however, it’s an actual gorilla escaped from the zoo. The Infiniti Q-45 goes 0–60 in 6.9 seconds—“ ‘Wow’ is an involuntary response of pure pleasure.” Type A personalities are five times as likely to have a second heart attack, according to Otto Wahl, the psychiatry professor at George Mason University. Following vertical roasting on the Spanik Vertical Roaster, a chicken can be—is—carved with a carrot. In Czechoslovakia, Ambassador Rita Klimova tells C-SPAN, the newly emerging democracy has spawned dozens of political parties, including one for beer drinkers. Sesame Street is brought to you this morning by L, S, and 6. Only 11 percent of Americans feel the penny should be banned. Mr. Wizard is ripping apart fireworks to get at the chemicals inside. “Finally one of my favorites—strontium chloride,” he exults. In Japan an exchange has opened to trade memberships in golf clubs as if they were stocks—they are already accepted as collateral by banks. Margie Grant now uses Dove soap: “I had this revelation. It’s about time for me to start paying more attention to my skin, my face. Because you just don’t realize how fast time passes.” The Travel Channel provides the Lisbon forecast (high of 77) and then a documentary about Austria, a country you “may encounter on the far shores of the world, wherever humanity is striving to improve life.” For instance, “airport passengers in Los Angeles may be driven to the terminal by airport buses made in Austria.” The Hobel, a machine from nearby West Germany, is featured on Breakthroughs. It transforms food preparation from a tedious routine into an exciting event, and is top-rack-dishwasher-safe. Precision-minted pewter medallions celebrating former President Reagan are available for $10 on the Nashville Network. “Tums tastes like chalk,” proclaims an ex–Tums user. On McHale’s Navy, all leaves have been canceled until annoying enemy pilot Washing Machine Charlie can be silenced, much to McHale’s disgust. (“If he’s a menace, I’m a ring-tailed goony bird,” he declares.) Hans, a Dutch national, prepares a creamy Gouda sauce to drizzle over cauliflower for the A&E audience. A harrowing documentary on the Howard University station documents the British genocide of Tasmanian aborigines, right down to the last man, whose skeleton hangs in the Oxford Museum. Richard Simmons introduces his brother, who used to weigh 205 pounds: “Here I was only forty-two and I felt fifty-two, maybe sixty-two.” There’s terrible flooding in Texas—on the Today show, a woman is plucked off the roof of her submerged car by a helicopter. Richard Nixon tells Bryant Gumbel that while it’s true his resignation from the presidency may continue to cloud his record, “the main point is to live life to the hilt, all the time you possibly can, and to continue to give it your best shot to the end.” Owning a firearm is a deeply personal decision, says a young woman in a checkered suit appearing on behalf of the NRA. “Whistle at me, will you, you shirt-tail cousin to a piccolo!” declares Wally Gator, “the swinging navigator in the swamp.” A preacher is explaining something on the Inspirational Network—“As long as you’re holding on to cash, you can’t do anything with it. And if God tries to give you more, what happens?” He demonstrates—the bills bounce off your closed fist and fall to the floor. On the CBS morning news a “controversial Milwaukee alderman” says that unless a hundred-million-dollar minority jobs program is created soon, “revolutionary violence will be committed against the city of Milwaukee.” Newly released hostage Frank Reed declares from his hospital balcony that he is looking forward to a three-pound Maine lobster. A man named Delvin Miller has been harness racing for eight decades, not including a stretch in World War II where he trained mules to deliver medicine in Burma for General “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell. The members of singing group Wilson Phillips remark that people tell them their name makes them sound like a law firm or a type of screwdriver. Fairfax County residents are encouraged to burlap-band their trees for gypsy-moth detection and control. “The reason I’ll always make a big deal about three-quarters sleeves is that you always used to have to push up your sleeves,” says an announcer on the J. C. Penney Channel. Hamstrings work in opposition to quadriceps, according to an exercise instructor on the Lifetime Channel, who adds “the adductor muscles are too tight in most of the population.” More CEOs of Fortune 500 companies were born under Taurus than any other sign; also, age-based sizing for children’s clothing is out-of-date because children are larger than they were when the sizing was devised. A National Family Opinion Research survey discussed on Channel 34 found that most consumers “aren’t shy about testing out beds in retail showrooms.” On MTV, Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden describes his new solo album, which has songs about how there are “all those people at the cocktail party with their little masks on, and all the businessmen in their suits and ties and they’re just stabbing each other in the back all the time.” (Adds Dickinson, “We’ve got a real rip-your-head-off direction in Maiden, and we’re very proud of that direction. But with the solo stuff I can do stuff that’s a little more varied.”) Research from the University of Wisconsin indicates that hamburger may contain certain substances that inhibit skin cancer. Congressman Donald “Buz” Lukens, who was convicted of having sex with a sixteen-year-old, said he had made a “dumb mistake” but that he would run for reelection anyway.   By now it’s nearly eight.