Why do Americans refuse to believe crime has been going down for a decade? Why are so many of them foot fetishists? And was Rene “I think, therefore I am” Descartes really murdered with a poisoned communion wafer? Answers to these questions and more on today’s list.

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.

Palestinians dressed as the Na’vi from the film ‘Avatar’ stage a protest against Israel’s separation barrier

Protesters dressed as Na’vi characters from the movie “Avatar” march in the West Bank village of Bilin near Ramallah.

The film fantasy of writers’ lives Literary biopics cater not to the boring truth, but to the illusion that writers are drunk, mad, sex-obsessed geniuses.

A history of media technology scares, from the printing press to Facebook A respected Swiss scientist, Conrad Gessner, might have been the first to raise the alarm about the effects of information overload. …

Why gay jocks don’t come out I asked a friend of mine, who is gay and who competed in the 2006 Winter Olympics and who is a member of the National Guard, why he thought there were so few out athletes in Vancouver. His reply was so interesting and articulate I asked him if I could post it here.

‘Chaos as an Everyday Thing’ You know you’re living in a chaotic situation when (1) the mainstream media are constantly surprised by what is happening; (2) short-term predictions by various pundits go in radically different directions and are stated with many reserves; (3) the Establishment dares to say things or use words that were previously taboo; (4) ordinary people are frightened and angry but very unsure what to do. This is a good description of the past two years throughout the world, or at least in most parts of the world.

New Journals, Free Online, Let Scholars Speak Out He seems genial, but John Willinsky is a dangerous man. As a leader in the development and spread of “open access” scholarly journals, which are published online and offered free, the Stanford University education professor is not just helping to transform academic publishing. He is also equipping scholars around the world with a tool to foment revolution.

Feet=Sex? What’s Behind the Kinky World of Foot Fetishes An astounding percentage of the population is turned on by feet or footwear — what gives?

After Frustrations in Second Life, Colleges Look to New Virtual Worlds The hype is gone, but not the interest, and professors think some emerging projects may have instructional staying power.

Descartes was ‘poisoned by Catholic priest’ French philosopher was killed by arsenic-laced holy communion wafer after airing ‘heretic’ views, says academic.

Dumb Labels, Laws (Not Google) to Blame for Music Blog Deletions Google’s deletion of music blogs accused of distributing music without permission has proven to be a controversial topic this week, as one might expect.

When Fair Use Isn’t Fair

The Royal Mail: A Passion for the Post For 400 years the delivery of letters has been integral to British life.

Crime in America keeps going down. Why does the public refuse to believe it? In 2009, crime went down. In fact it’s been going down for a decade. But more and more Americans believe it’s getting worse.

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