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Posts Tagged ‘current events’

Obey the Kitty!Regardless who you voted for, thank you for voting.

Washington State is now all mail-in ballots, so voting for me was easy. Not so for many people in other states who had to wait in line for hours just to exercise this essential civic right. Nor was it easy for those still caught in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and who, displaced or homeless or without even a polling place to go to, somehow managed to get in there and cast a ballot. Bless you for your efforts, for your perseverance, and for your example. (more…)

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There was a time when we admired people who knew stuff, people who invented things. When did that change?

We used to admire people like Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, and Albert Schweitzer. We admired our educators, our scientists, our doctors. We used to value intelligence, and it was something we thought was important for our leaders to have. After all, who wanted a buffoon running the country?

Then something happened. We started to belittle our teachers, we began blaming our doctors for every bad outcome, and we began to discount everything our scientists told us about our world. Gut feeling trumped empirical data. Sound bites overrode sound reasoning.

Soon, we no longer cared if our leaders and representatives in government were smart enough for the job. Intelligence didn’t matter; what mattered was whether they talked like we did. And now, we don’t even care if a candidate can string a coherent sentence together. High intelligence is now a detractor, a tick in the minus column. It is more important that we enjoy sitting down to have a beer with our candidate than whether s/he has a single clue about the complex and manifold issues that face this country.

The result? We now have mainstream political parties that completely deny entire bodies of established and accepted scientific analysis. We have politicians who believe that the female body has some sort of whoop-whoop alarm system that will keep women from getting pregnant in case of “legitimate rape.” And we now have a candidate for the presidency who has a budget, but his team admits that they haven’t “run the numbers.”

It’s ludicrous. Why would I listen to someone who’s “read a book” on a subject instead of someone who’s studied that subject for decades? Do I ask a scientist for spiritual advice? Hell, no! So why would I give more credence to a preacher than a scientist in areas of scientific study?

Why don’t we want our leaders to be the smartest guys we can find? More to the point, why don’t we demand it?

Aw, hell. Hand me another beer, will ya?

k

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Obey the Kitty!I have put myself on a “news diet.”

A “news diet” is where you severely limit your intake of news reports, news shows, news feeds, and general punditry.

As the election cycle shifts into top gear, we get bombarded by more and more input. Unfortunately, this input provides less and less content as the positions of the various sides divide and solidify, and rhetoric coefficients grind upward toward what will undoubtedly be an hysterical fever-pitch by November.

Case in point: For years, I was a faithful Sunday news show watcher, but that habit collapsed with the sudden death of our beloved Tim Russert. My interest was revived for a while, when Christiane Amanpour took over the helm at “This Week,” but when her stint ended, so did my renewed interest.

I still check in on the shows, now and again, and last Sunday I rose a bit early and sat down with my coffee to give “This Week” a look-see. What I saw, infuriated me. When boiled down to its essential components, the first 25 minutes looked like this:

George asks Question A.
Faction-X-Representative gives answer to Question B.
George asks Question A again.
Faction-X-Representative gives answer to Question B again.
George shrugs, and moves on to Question C.
Faction-X-Representative gives answer to Question B, yet again.

Switch to Faction-Y-Representative.
Repeat.

This is repeated on every Sunday news show, and it is without a doubt the most ludicrous excuse for news I have seen. These shows do not provide any news and they are not even providing useful content. They have become nothing more than a soap-box from which each faction can deliver their spin and rhetoric for 15-20 minutes, free of charge. It is then followed up with another 25 minutes of “analysis,” in which the pundits merely restate the rhetoric of their favored faction (Mary Matalin looked positively foolish, trying to dodge and twist questions to fit her prepared talking-points answers.)

But this is only the most egregious example. Already, this dilution and corruption of the news extends to every media outlet. Every story of a political nature is nothing more than a tit-for-tat exchange of platform language. Soon, any story that can be tied to policy will have its portion of spin, and eventually, even current events reportage will reach us colored by various political spectra.

So, my “news diet” is as follows:

  • Sunday news shows and pundits: cold turkey stop (Sorry, Rachel; love ya, but it’s for my own good).
  • National news outlets: only the first 10 minutes of the main broadcast, and only a couple nights a week.
  • Local news outlets: check headlines and weather online, no opinion or op-ed pieces.

It’s the only way I’m going to stay sane until November.

k

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