ONLY OLD PEOPLE WATCH CABLE NEWS – BY TOM CURLEY

I watch way too much cable news. Which is odd because I don’t really like the news. I worked for CBS News for over 40 years. I had to watch the news. I was making the news shows. It was my job.

If I had a choice, I would rather watch the cartoon network  But now I watch cable news all the time. I seem to be morbidly fascinated with the steady decline of America and what the ass-hole-in-chief did today.

I have noticed one interesting thing. Well, interesting to me.


Only old people watch cable news.

How do I know this? Simple. The commercials. They’re the same. Fox, MSNBC, CNN and for the most part CBS, NBC, and ABC.

By “all the same.”I mean the same advertisers. They break down into a few categories: drugs, medical products, drugs. Medicare supplement plans, drugs. Life Insurance and annuities, drugs, walk-in bathtubs, stair lifts and, oh yeah, drugs.

Every last one of them is depressing as hell. Most of them, I simply don’t understand.

Let’s start with a drug supplement that is supposed to help your brain think better. Why does it make your brain better? Well, they proudly tell you it’s because of an ingredient found … wait for it… in JELLYFISH!

Yes, jellyfish.

Because, you know, when I think of something that involves brains and intelligence, the first thing I think of is a jellyfish! Billion-year-old multi-cellular organisms who float in the ocean waiting for food to become entangled in their floaty dangling tentacle-like thingies. Also, they have no brain.

Then I got to thinking about it and maybe I have it all wrong. Maybe jellyfish are the most intelligent, intellectual philosophical thinkers on the planet. You know, like those advanced omnipotent species that show up on Star Trek.

I mean, what else do they have to do all day? They just float around.

JELLYFISH 1: I think, therefore, I am.

JELLYFISH 2: Free will is an illusion.

JELLYFISH 3: Hey! Some food just bumped into my tentacle thingies!

Next, reverse mortgages.

This is where if you own your house you can sell it back to the bank. They pay you a monthly payment until they buy your house back. Then you have no place to live. So, you’re betting you die before you become homeless. And older.

Is that a bet you want to win?

Then there are all the companies that want to buy your life insurance policy. The pitch goes something like this: “We needed more money for our retirement. We found out we could sell our life insurance policy. Now we are set for life.”

UNTIL ONE OF YOU DIES and the survivor has no life insurance to collect and live off of!!! Isn’t that the reason you bought life insurance??

Isn’t that what happens when the person holding the policy dies??

I guess you could room with the guy who just became homeless. Except, oh yeah, he doesn’t have a home.

Then there are the catheter commercials almost always being hawked by a guy who looks like a middle manager for an insurance company.

Actual catheter guy. And they all have the same mustache.

They all start out with the guy saying, “I don’t like pain when I cath.”

WHAT? Are there people out there who like pain when they cath? And when the hell did “cath” become a verb?? If you don’t know what a  catheter is, Google it. I’m not going to explain it.

Having said that, here’s a true story.

Back when I was a college freshman I worked as an orderly and an ER technician for a hospital. One of my jobs was catheterizing patients. I had only done the procedure on old guys who were unconscious or in a coma.

One day the head nurse gave me a cath kit and told me to do it to a 45-year-old wide-awake guy who was being prepped for surgery. I walked in the room and said I had to catheterize him. He asked me what that was. I explained it to him. When I finished there was a really long pause. All he said was, “You gotta be kidding me.”

It was at that point I realized that:

    1. I had never explained the procedure out loud to anyone before. And —
    2. He had a point. 

So I went back to the head nurse and said “Not doing this one. You’re on your own.”

Finally, drug commercials.

Lots and lots of drug commercials all of which are incredibly annoying because they take a beloved song from my youth and pervert it into shilling their drug. They all tell YOU to ask your doctor if whatever drug they’re selling is right for you.

Shouldn’t your doctor already know that? If he doesn’t, have you considered getting a new doctor?

Here’s the main take away from all drug commercials.


DON’T TAKE ANY OF THESE DRUGS!!!

For God’s sake, listen to the list of side effects they describe in each of them.

        • Explosive diarrhea!
        • Sudden stroke!
        • Sudden death!
        • Rectal itch!

There’s actually a commercial for an anti-depression drug where one of the side effects is suicidal depression!

The drug side effects are worse than the disease you’re trying to treat. Except maybe for the one with rectal itch. I just don’t remember what disease it was treating.

So, to all you young folks out there. If you want to see where your life is going to end up, watch a cable news station for a day.

Me, I think I’m going to go back to watching the cartoon network.

WISDOM VERSUS INTELLIGENCE? Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #2


Okay. First, is there a difference? Isn’t wisdom something intelligent said by a white-haired old person sitting near a hearth fire? Or a casual comment from a kid translated by grown-ups to mean a lot more than it meant.

I read a bunch of definitions of the difference between intelligence and wisdom and basically, it boiled down to intelligence is using wisdom intelligently.

I think you can’t be wise until you turn 70. Certainly not before 60.

Can a child be wise? A child can say something that we interpret as wise, but wisdom from children isn’t wise because it isn’t intelligently thought out — unless we have some kind of super-genius child hanging around. We can act like it’s wise, but the kid didn’t think it was wise and likely doesn’t understand the concept of wisdom.
This reminds me of the Peter Sellers in “Being There.” He’s actually simple-minded, but everyone is convinced he’s very wise. They misinterpret everything he says and they are, by the end of the movie, ready to elect him president. If you haven’t seen the movie, see it. It’s eerily relevant and not in a good way.

I am not wise, but I’ve got a very smart ass. I think it’s possible Garry is wise. I’ll have to ask him when the next commercial break comes on.

WHEN DENIAL IS YOUR BEST DEFENSE – Marilyn Armstrong

Denial: When refusing reality is as good as it gets.

From dumbest to smartest, no one is exempt from it. In fact, I think that the smartest of us are the most clever at making denial seem perfectly rational. We combine denial with massive rationalizations to create an alternate reality that others may actually believe. If you write it down, it’s called “a novel.”

I went through that with each dog, each cat, my need for (and months of) rejected heart surgery. I went through denial when my brother, mother, and first husband each were dying.  Ultimately, with each person, I took a mental cold shower and did what needed doing.

There are times when denial is your only defense against an intolerable reality, between life and death. But it needs to be temporary. Reality has a nasty habit of intruding on even the finest construction of denial. Reality has an attitude while denial is thin and translucent.

In small doses, a little denial can go a long way to soothe a frantic soul — as long as you have a fundamental understanding you’ll have to face reality soon enough.

None of this applies if you are extremely wealthy and can comfortably retire to a distant, yet somehow perfect island in a faraway sea. In fact, I think a lot of our top one percenters live fully in denial.

Problems? What problems?

REBELLIOUS? – Marilyn Armstrong

WHAT’S A REBEL? AM I A REBEL? ARE YOU?

I was never consciously a rebel, but I was definitely “different.” I’m pretty sure the difference  was books.

I read a lot of books. If you couldn’t find me, I was probably hiding somewhere. With a book. Rain, shine, sun, or snow — I read books. I read books intended for grown-ups long before I was “ready” to read them. Once, the librarian tried to prevent me from reading adult books and my mother came and tried to eat the librarian for breakfast.

After that, I could read whatever I wanted. I read ten to twelve books a week and if school hadn’t interfered with my reading program, I’d have read more. Sometimes, my mother took the books from my hand and shoved me outside. So I also jumped rope and played tag and built weird “houses” out of old crates and whatever junk we could find on the streets.

Because I read, so did my friends. Just as bad habits are contagious, sometimes, so are good ones. We were a group of completely outlandish friends who were friends only because we all lived in a strange part of town and were the only kids in the area.

Two girls attended the local Catholic school, the rest of us — a bunch of miscellaneous Jews, Lutherans, and non-believers — read books. We used to have contests with questions and answers — sort of personal trivia — about the books we read.

Of this crowd of kids who basically had nothing in common, everyone (except me) got either a Ph.D. or a Masters … and none of us really fit in anywhere. We used big words — always something that makes you an outsider in most schools — and we all wanted to be something. We got a psychologist, a Director of a NY school district, two college professors … and me.

We were different because we read books and books gave us ideas. They weren’t — apparently — like the ideas everyone else had. Maybe they were ideas others had and dismissed.

Is that really what a rebel is? Someone who has different ideas?

The official definition is:


REBEL

noun
1  –  A person who rises in opposition or armed resistance against an established government or ruler, e.g. “Tory rebels”
Synonyms: revolutionary, insurgent, revolutionist, mutineer, insurrectionist, insurrectionary, guerrilla, terrorist, freedom fighter.

verb
reˈbəl (Accent on the second syllable)
2 – To rise in opposition or armed resistance to an established government or ruler. E.g., “the Earl of Pembroke subsequently rebelled against Henry III”

Synonyms: Revolt, mutiny, riot, rise up, take up arms, stage/mount a rebellion, be insubordinate as in “the citizens rebelled.”


I’m not insurrectionary or any kind of freedom fighter. I have had some unconventional ideas, but ideas don’t make me a rebel. Not being the same as everyone else is — or wants to be — is not revolutionary.

Having unique ideas is just “thinking for yourself.” It’s something we should all do. No one can manipulate you if you do your own thinking.

Why Incompetent People Think They’re Amazing

How competent are we? Are they? Are any of us? Do we want to know?

ScienceSwitch

Research suggests that we’re not very good at evaluating ourselves accurately. In fact, we tend to overestimate our own abilities. Psychologists call this phenomena – the Dunning-Kruger effect.

THIS IS COOL. I WANT TO LEARN SOMETHING ELSE, TOO!

Video via – TED-Ed
Further Readings And References @ Sparkonit, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and Pacific Standard

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SPYING

So I’m looking through my news feeds again — there are so many these days — and I come upon Daily KOS. I like them. They are pretty accurate and mostly, they write well. Of course they are always out for donations, but everyone is. And there’s the headline:


Marilyn, on Thursday the House voted to reauthorize section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which is a “backdoor” to allow the U.S. government to spy on citizens. This section is the basis for the NSA’s largest domestic surveillance programs, which serve as an end run around the Fourth amendments prohibitions on unreasonable search and seizure of citizens.

We don’t have much time. The House has already passed this bill. The Senate vote is scheduled for January 16, right before the current FISA authorization sunsets on January 19. If you care about protecting your rights to privacy–free from government interception– please use the link below to contact your Senators immediately. 


I’m walking around laughing. This is just the most recent invasion of our privacy. This month, the government. Next month? Cable news? Google? Windows? I don’t know who it will be, but it will be someone. They are all spying on us.

But our government spies on us more than anyone else and they are never going to stop. You knew that, right?

Last night, when we were tucked into the most comfortable bed in the world, I said to Garry, “Can you think of any government anywhere, or any time in the history of humankind, during which governments have not spied on their citizens or subjects?”

He honored me with a thoughtful few seconds before answering (or maybe he was just twiddling with the remote control). “Nope.”

And I said “I think the way it works like this. We invent heads of state. Kings, presidents, emperors, whatever. Then they invent a special police force to keep an eye on us. The only thing that changes is technology. And the quality of the dungeons.”

“Yup.”

“I think it’s a mistake to try and monitor all those emails and phone calls. I mean, they are just going to be buried under data. Lots of jabbering kids yakking with friends, people arguing with customer support, and boring conversations by people like us. We never say anything interesting on the phone. We hardly talk on the phone at all. Our email is pretty dull too.

“Yup.”

Traffic cameras in Brookline

Americans have an ongoing need to be outraged. It’s our thing.  We require a constant level of civic hysteria. Scandal keeps ratings up and gives talk show hosts something to joke about. It gives liberals and conservatives something to accuse each other of doing, even though every administration has done pretty much the same stuff and always will.

Spying never gets old.

Possibly the only traffic camera in our town. At least the only one I could find.

Nothing will change. Governments spy on citizens. Citizens are outraged. The outrage is ignored. Everyone moves on, until it comes up again.

I remember Richard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover. I know there are traffic cameras tracking me everywhere, even out here in the country. If anyone is looking for me — or you — I’m sure they’ll have no trouble finding us. My government spies on me. Corporations spy on me. Everyone collects my personal data and uses it without my permission.

Fedex truck on Aldrich Street
No cameras here. No streetlights, either. That’s how you know you are in the country!

It’s the price I pay for being connected and computerized. I suppose I could go live in a cave where no one would find me (is there such a place?), but what fun would that be?

Spying on citizens is as old as government. It will never end. You knew that too, right?

RACHEL MADDOW AND CABLE NEWS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I never used to watch 24 hour cable news. But after Trump’s election, I started watching The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC at 9 PM weeknights. I love this show because it has a different format and purpose than most other cable news shows.

Rachel Maddow talks directly to you for much of the show. She rarely has more than one guest at a time and there aren’t that many guests throughout her hour. This in itself sets her apart from the other cable news hosts. She sees her job as explaining and digesting key news items of the day for her viewers. She tells her chosen stories of the day with lots of background and perspective, both historical and political. Some hours are totally dedicated to unraveling and illuminating the complexities of just one story. She starts at the beginning and brings you up to date with the complete story, boring details and all.

Sometimes you don’t quite know where Rachel is going on a story and then suddenly, what she’s saying clicks with something in the news today and the light bulb goes off in your head. Rachel will then explain the significance of today’s facts and evaluate the importance of the information. She makes sense of the barrage of information we are being inundated with on a daily basis.

You end your hour with Rachel feeling that you actually have a handle on what’s going on, at least regarding whatever stories she has covered. I find that I often can help friends understand some issue by imparting some of the wisdom I have absorbed from The Rachel Maddow Show. Friends are grateful for their new-found understanding and look at us like we are founts of wisdom. It’s not us. It’s Rachel.

Lately I’ve started watching other shows on MSNBC, my chosen cable channel. I don’t find them as satisfying as Rachel Maddow. But they do serve a more general purpose. They just report on whatever is happening or is in the news at the moment. They often use interviews with multiple people in those little boxes on-screen. The experts and/or pundits explain different versions of the story and offer different opinions about it. Often there is shouting involved.

Other MSNBC show

There’s nothing wrong with that. Very little in this world is simple or clear-cut. There is a place for the two-sided, “he said/she said” news presentation. Most of the print news I read is presented this way too.

For me, there’s something about how Rachel Maddow presents the news which I find very clarifying. After her shows, I feel like I have a better grasp of the material she covered. I don’t always feel that way when I read or watch other sources.

I find so much in the media to be confusing and uncertain, as well as unbelievable. I’m grateful for every bit of clarity and comprehension I can get. I thank Rachel Maddow for giving me an hour a day of sanity in the middle of the information storm in which we live today.