When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last month, the seaside town of Port Talbot in Wales eagerly went along with the move. Brexit was approved by some 57 percent of the town's residents.

Now some of them are wondering if they made the wrong decision.

The June 23 Brexit vote has raised questions about the fate of the troubled Port Talbot Works, Britain's largest surviving steel plant — a huge, steam-belching facility that has long been the town's biggest employer.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Cairo, completing the penultimate leg of its attempt to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.

The trip over the Mediterranean included a breathtaking flyover of the Pyramids. Check it out:

President Obama is challenging Americans to have an honest and open-hearted conversation about race and law enforcement. But even as he sits down at the White House with police and civil rights activists, Obama is mindful of the limits of that approach.

"I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change," the president said Tuesday at a memorial service for five law officers killed last week in Dallas. "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been."

Mice watching Orson Welles movies may help scientists explain human consciousness.

At least that's one premise of the Allen Brain Observatory, which launched Wednesday and lets anyone with an Internet connection study a mouse brain as it responds to visual information.

The FBI says it is giving up on the D.B. Cooper investigation, 45 years after the mysterious hijacker parachuted into the night with $200,000 in a briefcase, becoming an instant folk figure.

"Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history," the FBI's Ayn Dietrich-Williams said in a statement, "the FBI redirected resources allocated to the D.B. Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities."

This is the first in a series of essays concerning our collective future. The goal is to bring forth some of the main issues humanity faces today, as we move forward to uncertain times. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, we will consider two kinds of threats: those due to natural disasters and those that are man-made. The idea is to expose some of the dangers and possible mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with these issues. My intention is not to offer a detailed analysis for each threat — but to invite reflection and, hopefully, action.

Alabama authorities say a home burglary suspect has died after police used a stun gun on the man.  Birmingham police say he resisted officers who found him in a house wrapped in what looked like material from the air conditioner duct work.  The Lewisburg Road homeowner called police Tuesday about glass breaking and someone yelling and growling in his basement.  Police reportedly entered the dwelling and used a stun gun several times on a white suspect before handcuffing him.  Investigators say the man was "extremely irritated" throughout and didn't obey verbal commands.

It can be hard to distinguish among the men wearing grey suits and regulation haircuts on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. But David Margolis always brought a splash of color.

It wasn't his lovably disheveled wardrobe, or his Elvis ring, but something else: the force of his flamboyant personality. Margolis, a graduate of Harvard Law School, didn't want to fit in with the crowd. He wanted to stand out.

Montgomery Education Foundation's Brain Forest Summer Learning Academy was spotlighted Wednesday at Carver High School.  The academic-enrichment program is for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Montgomery Public School system.  Community Program Director Dillion Nettles, says the program aims to prevent learning loss during summer months.  To find out how your child can participate in next summer's program visit Montgomery-ed.org

A police officer is free on bond after being arrested following a rash of road-sign thefts in southeast Alabama.  Brantley Police Chief Titus Averett says officer Jeremy Ray Walker of Glenwood is on paid leave following his arrest in Pike County.  The 30-year-old Walker is charged with receiving stolen property.  Lt. Troy Johnson of the Pike County Sheriff's Office says an investigation began after someone reported that Walker was selling road signs from Crenshaw County.  Investigators contacted the county engineer and learned signs had been reported stolen from several roads.

Pages

In Rapid-Fire 2012, Memes' Half-Life Fell To A Quarter

Dec 27, 2012
Originally published on December 27, 2012 4:34 am

Last June, a young woman in Texas uploaded a Justin Bieber fan video. She seemed a little .... unhinged.

"I just made a list [of] all our future kids names: Bartholemew, Clarence, Steven, Bryce," she sings, eyes wide.

The video was posted to Reddit in a thread called "Overly Attached Girlfriend." In 48 hours, it picked up over 1 million views. Within days, the media was running stories about it.

And in a few weeks, everyone forgot about it.

Online sensations like "JB Fan Video" used to have longer legs. But in the past year, the speed with which we cycle through online videos, games and memes has increased enormously.

Wildly Popular ... Briefly

Back in 2008, "Charlie Bit My Finger," a video of a tiny British boy sticking his fingers in his baby brother's mouth, first uploaded to YouTube in 2007, was passed around for months and months ... and months ... and months.

YouTube's trends manager, Kevin Allocca, says it's hard to imagine its popularity lasting so long today.

"That stuff definitely still exists," Allocca says, "but a lot of the most popular things that we're seeing now [are] from professionals at producing entertainment."

And this year, videos dropped in and out of our consciousness faster. Even Allocca — whose job it is to watch trends on YouTube — says, "the speed with which these things happen doesn't cease to amaze me."

It wasn't just lighthearted stuff capturing our momentary attention this year. A video about the central African warlord Joseph Kony started showing up on Facebook and Twitter in March. It took only a few days for "Kony 2012" to obliterate previous YouTube records, with 30 million views a day.

But the backlash came faster, too. Between criticism and controversy, Kony 2012 basically vanished from the cultural conversation within a month.

"It really made me think about the velocity with which we're operating right now," Allocca says. "And the pace of popularity for some of these videos."

Flying By At Warp Speed

And it's not just videos that became online flashes in the pan in 2012, either. Just a couple of years ago, there were 32 million people playing Farmville on Facebook. They happily sent each other online cabbages and watered each other's crops.

It took two years for the vast majority of players to lose interest. When this year's version of Farmville came out, it took only three months for the number of players to fall from a high of 7 million to around 2 million.

Accelerating the pace of linking and "poking" might actually be an efficient way to "be a more social person in today's world," says sociologist Marco Gonzales. We are intensely social animals, he says, hardwired to get pleasure from connecting online.

"We're actually looking to be more social than ever before," Gonzales adds. "Maybe to the point of a problem, right? "

Maybe. Remember "Binders Full of Women"? Or Olympic gymnast Mckayla Maroney scowling with her medal? With these things flying by at warp speed, it's hard to keep up with the cultural conversation.

People cry and moan a lot about the decreasing attention span of America's youth," says Shana Naomi Krochmal, a digital producer for Current TV. "I think everyone's attention span in American is, at the best, quartered from where it was even five years ago. Absolutely."

Call it the quartering of the half-life. Krochmal thinks it's happened, in part, because of the strain on old media in a 24-hour news cycle. Memes are cool. They're plucked up, chewed on, spat out and forgotten.

"I think the kind of media we have now does really reward that intense instant obsessive focus," Krochmal says. "But how long can you do that for, right?"

The Smartphone Factor

In a burgeoning online universe, not so long. This year, Facebook topped 1 billion users. With more of us from all over the world using the same social media — and using it better and faster — that means ever-more information to pass around. Of course, that also means some of it won't go away.

Things like "Gangnam Style," the catchy — and relatively long-running — pop song, tend to stick around if they're interactive or something people can copy or remix.

The proliferation of mobile phones has played a role, too. Social media used to be limited to computers, but 2012 was the year that more than 50 percent of American consumers owned smartphones, giving us Twitter and Facebook right in our pockets.

"Our access the Internet has just improved so dramatically over the last few years," says Andy Borowitz, a comedian who has worked successfully in both old and new media. "We didn't have so much high speed Wi-Fi five years ago. We didn't have high speed networks on our phones the way we have now."

Borowitz says, personally, he's exhausted by the rapid-fire firehose of information he gets on Twitter and Facebook. So in the year ahead, he's planning to read more books. It's balm, he says, for his over-stimulated brain.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

I'm Renee Montagne.

And David, you've seen, I'm sure, that video of the baby getting snatched by an eagle? You know, the one with 39 million hits?

GREENE: Yeah, all those hits and it was totally fake.

MONTAGNE: Totally fake.

GREENE: But I mean entertaining, for a day. But probably not more than that.

MONTAGNE: Well, you know, NPR's Neda Ulaby - she, of course, covers social media. And she says that the online world has turned that proverbial 15 minutes of fame into 15 seconds.

NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: So I just looked up the most popular jokes and pictures people passed around in 2012. I spend too much time looking at memes on the Internet. Yet somehow I missed a major one. Turns out last June a young woman in Texas uploaded a Justin Bieber fan video. She seemed a little unhinged.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I just made a list of our future kids' names - Bartholomew, Clarence, Steve and Bryce.

ULABY: The video was posted to Reddit in a thread called Overly Attached Girlfriend. It picked up over a million views within 48 hours. The media ran stories about it within days. In a few weeks, everyone forgot about it. These things used to have longer legs.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: Charlie bit me.

ULABY: Back in 2008, this video of a tiny British boy sticking his fingers in his baby brother's mouth got passed around for months and months and months and months. YouTube's trends manager, Kevin Allocca, says it's hard to imagine its popularity lasting so long today.

KEVIN ALLOCCA: That stuff definitely still exists, but a lot of the most popular things that we're seeing now are starting to come from professionals at producing, you know, creativity and entertainment.

ULABY: And this year, videos dropped in and out of our consciousness faster.

ALLOCCA: The speed with which these things happen just doesn't cease to amaze me.

ULABY: This guy's job it is to track how things get popular on YouTube, and he's amazed. He says in 2012 it was not just jokey stuff capturing our momentary attention.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: My brother tried to escape.

ULABY: A video about the central African warlord Joseph Kony started showing up last March on Facebook and Twitter. It took only a few days for "Kony 2012" to obliterate previous YouTube records - 30 million views a day. But the backlash came faster too. Between criticism and controversy, "Kony 2012" basically vanished from the cultural conversation within a month. Kevin Allocca.

ALLOCCA: It really made me think the velocity with which we're operating right now and the pace of popularity for some of these videos.

ULABY: Not just videos over the past year either.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIRDS TWEETING)

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ULABY: A couple of years ago, there were 32 million people playing Farmville on Facebook. They happily sent each other online cabbages and watered each other's crops. It took two years for the vast majority of players to lose interest. When this year's version of Farmville came out, it took only three months for the number of players to fall from a high of seven million to around two. Accelerating the pace of linking and poking might actually be an efficient way to be a human, says sociologist Marco Gonzales.

MARCO GONZALES: That is how to be a more social person in today's world.

ULABY: We are intensely social animals, hardwired to get pleasure from connecting online.

GONZALES: We're actually looking to be more social than ever before. Maybe to the point of a problem, right?

ULABY: Maybe. Remember binders full of women? Or the Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney scowling on the podium with her medal? It's hard to keep up with the cultural conversation.

SHANA NAOMI KROCHMAL: People cry and moan a lot about the decreasing attention span of America and America's youth.

ULABY: Shana Naomi Krochmal is a digital producer for Current TV.

KROCHMAL: I think everyone's attention span in America is at their best quartered from where it was even five years ago. I think absolutely.

ULABY: Call it the quartering of the half-life. Krochmal thinks it's partly because of the strain on old media in a 24-hour news cycle. Memes are cool. They're plucked up, chewed on, spat out and forgotten.

KROCHMAL: I think the kind of media we have now does really reward that intense, instant, obsessive focus, but how long can you do that for, right?

ULABY: Not so long in a burgeoning online universe. This year, Facebook topped a billion users. More of us from all over the world are using the same social media, using it better and faster, and that means ever more information to pass around. Of course some of it will not go away.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GANGNAM STYLE")

ULABY: Things tend to stick around if they're interactive, something people can copy or remix.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GANGNAM STYLE")

ULABY: Social media used to be limited to computers. This was the year over 50 percent of American consumers have smartphones. So we have Twitter and Facebook in our pockets.

Andy Borowitz is a comedian who's worked successfully in old and new media.

ANDY BOROWITZ: Our access the Internet has just improved so dramatically over the last two years. We didn't have so much high-speed Wi-Fi five years ago, as we have today. We didn't have high-speed networks on our phones the way we have them now.

ULABY: Borowitz says personally, he's exhausted by the rapid-fire fire hose of information he gets on Twitter and Facebook. So this year, he's trying to read more books. It's balm, he says, for his over-stimulated brain.

Neda Ulaby, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.