Today on the list: Why academics are still flipping out about television, how Israeli conservatives may be pushing for a one-state solution, and the human brain’s “Life of Brian” mechanism.

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.

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Google Counts All the Books in the World When you are part of a company that is trying to digitize all the books in the world, the first question you often get is: “Just how many books are out there?”

Here We Go Again: Studies of TV’s Effects Should Consider How HDTV Is Different The history of the technology of television has been a continuous evolution toward ever more intense stimulation.

Netflix Stays One Step Ahead of Creative Destruction DO you still visit video stores? I stopped going six or seven years ago, after becoming obsessed with Netflix. In one year alone, I managed to watch 185 movies — DVDs, actually, which arrived in the mail.

Why does my TV hate me? What did I do to deserve this outpouring of agitation when relaxation used to rule?

Parisians Find Playground Under the Streets Beneath Paris lies a network of some 155 miles of tunnels known as “the catacombs”—an underground labyrinth that serves as the weekend playground for bands of urban explorers.

Human brains have ‘Life of Brian’ mechanism IN A classic Monty Python moment, a chirpy, long-haired man on a crucifix urges others around him in a similar predicament to cheer up. Now neurologists have discovered what might be described as a “Life of Brian” brain mechanism that encourages us to look on the bright side of life — even when confronted by thoughts of mortality.

What collapsing empire looks like As we enter our ninth year of the War in Afghanistan with an escalated force, and continue to occupy Iraq indefinitely, and feed an endlessly growing Surveillance State, reports are emerging of the Deficit Commission hard at work planning how to cut Social Security, Medicare, and now even to freeze military pay. But a new New York Times article today illustrates as vividly as anything else what a collapsing empire looks like, as it profiles just a few of the budget cuts which cities around the country are being forced to make.

Israeli Right Embracing One-State? Persistent Israeli- and US-led rejection of a two-state solution in Israel/Palestine has led to the emergence — on the left and among Palestinian activists — of serious proposals for a single state for everyone west of the Jordan River.

Photographing the Dead This week we will be delving into a topic that may seem morbid, but has had a significant role and effect in our perception of death in modern life. Post-mortem photography was popularized in the mid to late 19th century as a continuation of the ancient art of remembrance of the dead.

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