Today on the list: Afghanistan on life support, obsessing over punctuation, and how the Supreme Court (kind of) legalized bribery.

On a regular basis, Truthdig brings you the news items and odds and ends that found their way to Larry Gross, director of the USC Annenberg School for Communication. A specialist in media and culture, art and communication, visual communication and media portrayals of minorities, Gross helped found the field of gay and lesbian studies.

The links below open in a new window. Newer ones are on top.

When a comma makes life needlessly hard Punctuation, quietly doing its job, rarely arouses the passions of the general public the way buzzwords and mispronunciations do. Yes, certain manly writers enjoy denouncing the wimpy semicolon, and spotting misused apostrophes is a popular pastime. But when you hear people arguing about the serial comma or the overuse of dashes, they’re probably editors.

How animals made us human What explains the ascendance of Homo sapiens? Start by looking at our pets.

One Day, You’ll Have a Chip in Your Rear Should your car help authorities track you? Should it be a traveling billboard? … Amid emerging technology, the role of the license plate is in flux and causing controversy.

Do Not Pity the Democrats Do not fear Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin. Fear the underlying corporate power structure, which no one, from Barack Obama to the right-wing nut cases who pollute the airwaves, can alter.

Journalism Education, The Liberal Arts, and the Working Class I’ve been thinking and writing a lot lately (as have many others) about the state of the university, the media, and the role of liberal arts education in both, and how the shifting ideas about each might affect working-class students, and since I’ve titled this entry, “Thinking Through Stories,” I want to begin with a story.

Afghanistan on Life Support You’ve undoubtedly had the experience of pulling on a tiny, fraying thread and discovering, to your shock, that the larger piece of clothing you’re wearing suddenly begins to unravel.

In China’s Internet Cafes, Content Blocking Is Largely Effective Information does not want to be free. It doesn’t care, really. Despite the famous aphorism that the Internet inevitably drives openness, information might just as well want to be forgotten about — there’s plenty else for people to do in cyberspace that has nothing to do with news, politics, or activism.

High-Tech Industry Dreams of White-Space Potential When the Federal Communications Commission first approved the use of unlicensed bands of the airwaves decades ago, it began a revolution in consumer electronics — first in television remote controls and garage door openers, then in baby monitors and cordless phones, and most recently in wireless computer networks.

Half-Truths on a J-School Earlier this month, the chancellor of the University of Colorado at Boulder, Phil DiStefano, announced his institution would explore discontinuation of the journalism school, noting that a committee has been formed to consider how to organize a new “information, communication and technology program.”

The people who brought you the middle class No, it wasn’t capitalism that made the modern American middle class. It was unions.

How Obama Is to the Right of Reagan Who is more conservative — Ronald Reagan or Barack Obama? If you think that’s an absurd question, you’re not alone.

High Court Ruling Allows Corporations to Legally Bribe Judges The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision allows businesses to make unlimited political contributions to judges and politicians. When judges are elected, the need for these contributions inherently turns judges into politicians.

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