PRIVILEGED IN THE PARK – GARRY ARMSTRONG

It was really a lovely day. Cool, bright, not humid. The car, after these months of sitting under the trees which, these days, are covered with the remnants left by Marilyn’s birds. Our Renegade was not looking her best. And, there were a lot of medications waiting at the pharmacy.

We had gotten up early because Marilyn thought we had a doctor’s appointment, but it turned out to be next Tuesday. Since I was up already, I bravely ventured out. Mailed a long-delayed letter. Picked up medications, got the car washed, bought Marilyn a bouquet of white roses, then went down to River Bend.

I found a great spot for photographs, an old Andy Griffith, Mayberry scene. And there was a mom and her two little kids playing in the river. I was also wearing both mask and gloves with my USMC T-shirt and an NCIS vest (bought directly from the CBS online shop).  I guess I didn’t look dangerous enough to call the cops.

I asked permission to take pictures of her and the kids. Eventually, I asked why none of them were wearing masks. She told me, “Thanks for asking permission for pictures. Yes, you can take them. As for no masks and gloves, I think the media is blowing this out of proportion. The President knows what he is talking about.”


Long pause from me. “Hey, ” she said, “You look familiar. Didn’t you used to be on TV? Oh, don’t tell me. I know! I grew up watching you on TV. You have a nice day, now.”

I also guess no one told her about the literally thousands of snapping turtle who live in that area of the river. That’s why you aren’t allowed to swim in it or even dangle your feet off the dock. They like to munch on toes and fingers and have the jaws to for it.


Her 5-year-old is in preschool. The 4-year-old is in nursery school. And mom watches Fox News. You can’t save them all.

YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO LISTEN TO THE FIFTH DENTIST! – BY TOM CURLEY

“Four out of Five Dentists agree Trident Gum is the best.”


We’ve all heard that commercial or any of its variations. The logic is, if a majority of experts agree on something, it’s probably the truth.

Every time I would see one of those spots my first thought was always “What does that fifth dentist have to say?” I imagined it would be something like.

“Trident Gum sucks! Brush your teeth with chocolate!

Sugar is good for your teeth!!
Dental hygiene is a hoax! It’s a vast conspiracy by a deep state cabal of evil dentists owned by toothpaste companies!
They’re fluoridating our water for mind control!!”

You get the idea. The point is, you’re not supposed to listen to the fifth dentist or the 10th doctor.

But today that’s exactly what approximately one-third of the country is doing. The Republican party and all the Trump supporters only listen to the fifth dentist. And he’s fucking insane. Drill baby drill!

You saw it during the impeachment hearings. The Judiciary committee called on four constitutional scholars to explain why impeachment is important. Three of them were adamant and in total agreement that the impeachment clause was written for exactly this president. They unequivocally said that we HAD to impeach this idiot.

And then there was the fourth guy. He hemmed and hawed and said that maybe he did some stuff wrong but impeaching him would be mean. Or something like that. But every Republican-held him up as proof positive that, well, impeachment is mean. And mean people suck.

And then there is the ultimate fifth dentist.
Fox News.

I worked for over 40 years at CBS. Mostly in the news division. In any network news control room is a bank of monitors that everybody can see.  On them are all of the other news network feeds. In our case, NBC, ABC, PBS, CNN, MSNBC,

and Fox News.

One of the things that always drove me crazy was that every day, we would spend hours and hours planning a half-hour news show. We would determine the “line up”, i.e. the stories we would report and the order in which we would report them.

If you watched all the news shows, you’d see them all report the same stories. Why? Because that was what the news was on that day! (Duh) The only real difference was the order in which the stories were reported.

Every night, as the show started, one of the senior producers would be watching all the other network feeds and suddenly scream! NBC is running the (fill in the blank) story first! We have to change the whole line up!! So, now the director would have to frantically re-arrange scripts, the poor tape operators would have to kick the tapes they had cued up out of the machines and frantically try to find the new ones, the font’s would be all out of order.

The control room would descend into chaos. I used to sit there in the audio booth shouting “What the hell are you doing? Nobody at home is watching five televisions!! If they’re watching CBS, they have no idea what’s on ABC or NBC. And they don’t care!”

But today we have a new phenomenon. Fox News doesn’t run the same stories as everybody else. They make shit up. I know, I worked there, briefly. They were always bad, but since Adolf Twittler got elected, they’ve gone off the deep end.

Conspiracy theories are the news over there. As the naked emperor descends ever further into madness, they twist themselves into mathematically impossible shapes to defend him and pretend everything he says is true.

A Fox News poll came out the other day saying that a majority of Americans want the president impeached and removed and the clowns on the Fox morning show short-circuited. I could see the techs coming onto the set during the commercial to re-set the circuit boards in all three hosts because they were fried.

Does not compute. Does not compute. Does not compute.

And yet, somehow, according to Republicans, all of the media is fake news. Except for Fox. The fifth dentist.

Climate change is a hoax!
Caravans of evil rapists and terrorists are invading America.
Toddlers and children are not being held in concentration camps! They’re summer camps!
Liberals want to eat your children!
Brush your teeth with chocolate!”

You can believe in your own reality, but that doesn’t make it real. To all Republicans and Trump supporters: STOP LISTENING TO THE FIFTH DENTIST!

And stop brushing your teeth with chocolate. It’s going to ruin your dinner. And your teeth.

NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS – RICH PASCHALL

Avoiding Stress, by Rich Paschall


Recently I attended a talk at work regarding avoiding stress.  We are in a deadline driven business and there can be a good deal of stress, so a talk on dealing with and reducing stress seemed like a good use of my time in a busy day. The speaker was Dr. Scott Cabrera of Higgins Sports and Spinal Rehab.  This caught my interest as I have had a variety of spinal issues and could not help but believe that some of them were caused by stress.

As I expected he had charts and a skeletal figure so he could explain to us about the spine.  He showed how we can often tense up and this is bad for the spine and the nerves connected to it.  We saw how nerves ran from the spine down the arms and legs.  Tension in the back could be the cause of arm and leg difficulty as well as neck and back pain.  Things were laid out in a colorful and clinical manner.  His main piece of advice was something I did not expect.

“Stop watching and listening to the news,” he declared.  “It adds stress to your life and is something outside of your control.”

He went on to ask how many listened to the news on the way to work.  I am certainly one of those.  I figure it is better to get it in the morning rather than right before bed.  The good doctor did not agree.  He felt it was the way to start off your day in a bad mood.  Do these short radio broadcasts really give you a look at the news?  They are just tidbits, usually of the most sensational items.  There will certainly be something to upset you as they present a preponderance of bad news.  There is no big picture.  There is no understanding.

This makes the news somewhat irrelevant.  You have not learned anything that will be useful in your day-to-day life.  In fact, these tiny slices of news can be misleading.  You can draw the wrong conclusions based on the most dire pieces of factoids thrown at you in a report lasting less than sixty seconds.  After they have successfully upset you, it is likely to be “Traffic and weather on the 8’s” if you live in a big city.  That can upset you too.

The negative morsels broadcast in the never-ending news business can pile on the chronic stress.  This can result in the release of cortisol which is not just the item that builds belly fat, but it is also reported to have adverse effects on your immune system.  Did you know the news could adversely affect your health?

If you have paid attention to the news in this social media driven era of so-called reporting, you will notice how many people get riled up over tidbits of news. These can be tidbits that are essentially meaningless to the larger story, but enough to provide the “confirmation bias” lurking there for someone.  Many use the news or worse, social media memes, as a way to confirm their point of few, rather than to learn anything.  This turns conversations and social postings into upsetting arguments.  Is this making you happier?

news?

Also helping you to get riled up is the spin put on the news by certain programing.  If you are right of center, you may be watching FOX to help confirm your point of view.  If you are on the other side of the fence, perhaps you can find your tidbit somewhere else.  This chasing down of miniscule pieces inhibits creative thinking.  There is no self interpretation of the news, just more proof from your side that the other side is bad.

Since news is largely about things you can not control, you might be happier if you skip the news altogether.  Consider this carefully.  Is it doing anything more than adding stress to your life?

Many will say it is not possible to live in society without being educated on the issues, but is the news actually educating you on anything?  Does learning how many people were shot today bring you closer to the policy decisions, or lack thereof, of gun control.  Does a late night tweet on a particular country bring you near to understanding the trade issues between our country and another?  There are many questions like this and you know the answer to all of them.  No.

Real journalism

What we actually need is true journalism.  We need to delve into a story in-depth so we may come away from it with the ability to do critical thinking.  Rather than a thirty-second piece, how about a story that takes a half hour to report or an article that takes a half hour or more to read.  Yes, many of these are also slanted one way or another, but if you get more than a half-minute of a story, you may stand a better chance to understand it.  Further, a thoughtful, even if time-consuming, look at a story is better than the bombardment of tidbits.

Some years ago, a television station in Chicago changed the 10 o’clock news format to be different from the other stations.  Rather than a bunch of tidbits, it examined the top stories of the day.  It looked into the background and brought the news makers on set to discuss what had happened.  The experiment did not last.  People gravitated to the pieces thrown out on the other channels.  The old format is addicting and people had to have it, no matter how little they actually gained from being upset before bedtime.

Leave the negative tidbit cycle and you will be happier.  Although I was not willing to go along with Dr. Cabrera’s assertion we should just stop listening to and watching the news, period, there is great value to avoiding the news as it is currently presented in society.  I find the tidbits on sports talk radio more interesting these days.

Sources:
Dr. Scott Cabrera, D.C., Higgins Sports & Spinal Rehab, S.C.
News is bad for you – and giving up reading it will make you happier,”
TheGuardian.com/media

EVERYONE IS ANGRY

Rage is sweeping the nation. Fury is in the wind. The fire of anger is fueled by an Internet full of lies and innuendo intentionally created to raise the temperature of our national dialogue until no dialogue is possible. By television news that isn’t news. And by rumors and misinformation spread person-to-person as if it were true.

Why?

A lot of folks who should (could) know better are (apparently) willing to believe anything — everything — they read, hear, or see. Regardless of the source or how ridiculous it sounds, they believe it. How, you ask, can anyone believe such a load of total bullshit?

frankenstein angry mob_10

I have heard a lot of explanations.

* Brainwashing. If you watch enough Fox News, you lose your grip on reality.

* Ignorance. People don’t know better.

* Stupidity. They are mentally deficient.

* Conspiracy. It’s something in the water.

I don’t believe it. Nothing accounts for the massive amount of mindless, parrot-like behavior except an enthusiastic willingness to participate. You’ve got to want to believe.

Fox News didn’t do it to them. Fox News is them. Fox and its ilk would not (could not) exist were it unprofitable. And it would not be profitable (and therefore would not exist) if its audience had not already been there when they came on the air. Millions of disaffected Americans were sitting in their recliners, waiting to have this crap fed to them. Delighted to have someone tell them exactly what they already believed.

It’s a willful act of thick-headedness. For whatever reason, the U.S.A. has a great many unhappy citizens. They expected the American dream, but didn’t get it. Maybe it isn’t a nightmare, but they sure didn’t get what they expected. Their lives aren’t even close to what they thought they’d be. The marriage is shitty. Job unsatisfying. Doctor doesn’t listen. The refinanced mortgage is unpaid and retirement looms. Who did this to me?

The guy or gal in the mirror could not possibly be responsible, but someone has to take the blame. So, they figure they’re being cheated. By the Democratic Party. Congress. President Obama. Welfare recipients. Illegal immigrants. Secret cabals of Muslim terrorists who are infiltrating our cities and towns. Liberal media. All media except fair and honest Fox. Whatever is wrong can’t be accidental. Can’t be the result of their own poor choices. It must be Those People.

Angry people with no joy in their lives marry their misery. They stop looking for solutions. All they want is fuel for their resentment. They could look for the truth, make an effort to repair their damaged lives. No, thanks. They don’t want things to get better. They want revenge on a world which has failed them. So, they spew vitriol, bigotry, hate, anger, rage, jealousy, envy.

Our world is full up with miserable people, convinced they’ve been betrayed. We are exploding with such people. Most appalling is they have become a power unto themselves. Maybe we should put something in the water?


Bone of Contention – I picked a contentious issue about which I care deeply.

Facts? We don’t need no stinking facts …

Are we really as stupid as we seem? It’s downright frightening.

A Global Politico

It is not clear who the culprit is. It is not clear if the GOP is causing it, or Fox News, or the Romney/Ryan ticket, or the Religious Right, or if it’s just the “nature of the beast,” but it seems that Conservatives are allergic to facts. What else is the reason to avoid them like the Plague. One can argue that this condition popped up on the radar during the Nixon administration, but it definitely exploded during the Reagan years and then again during the “W” Dark Age.  Just a single, small point to support this position: “[Public Policy Polling] asked voters who they thought deserved more credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden: Obama or Romney. 63 percent said Obama, 31 percent weren’t sure, and 6 percent said Romney. The results for Republican voters were even more astonishing. 38 percent said Obama, 47 percent…

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