News is bad for you

“News items are bubbles popping on the surface of a deeper world.” I’m one week away from one full year without TV/Cable news. It stopped being an experiment a while back. It has been satisfying in ways I can’t really explain. This article takes a shot at it:

The daily repetition of news about things we can’t act upon makes us passive. […] Out of the approximately 10,000 news stories you have read in the last 12 months, name one that – because you consumed it – allowed you to make a better decision about a serious matter affecting your life, your career or your business.

News is to the mind what sugar is to the body. News is easy to digest. The media feeds us small bites of trivial matter, tidbits that don’t really concern our lives and don’t require thinking. That’s why we experience almost no saturation. Unlike reading books and long magazine articles (which require thinking), we can swallow limitless quantities of news flashes, which are bright-coloured candies for the mind.

Most news consumers – even if they used to be avid book readers – have lost the ability to absorb lengthy articles or books. After four, five pages they get tired, their concentration vanishes, they become restless. It’s not because they got older or their schedules became more onerous. It’s because the physical structure of their brains has changed.

Radio stations no longer required to have local studios

Was fortunate to work in radio before “consolidation.” Even small towns might have two or three radio stations, each with different owners and management. After the rules changed, it soon became common for one company to own/operate ALL radio stations and automation (some software on a computer back in the 80s) made it possible to get rid of lots of on-air staff. But to call yourself a “Hooterville radio station,” you had to have a studio in Hooterville. No longer, it seems.

“Stations will still be required to keep a toll-free or local number staffed during normal business hours.”

Where a town once had a radio station with a tower and a transmitter and some DJs and maybe a news guy or two… now has an answering service.

“Because of the rule change, Newsmax Media CEO Christopher Ruddy predicted that “local news production could be moved to places such as New York and Washington as the big networks buy up local stations.”

Truth be told, that’s been happening for a long time. Some of that blood is on my hands but it’s an old story and too long to share. Let’s just say we stretched the definition of “local” to the breaking point. Glad I didn’t miss local radio when it was still local.

Fear Culture, USA

Next month will be one year since I stopped watching TV/cable news (and listening to radio news). I feel… lighter? More awake? Difficult to describe.

Michael Amato explores this inescapable hold the media has on American life in Fear Culture, USA. His carefully staged photographs depict TVs glowing from corners in living rooms, gas stations, and other everyday environments. Sensationalist news stories beam from the screens, charging these otherwise untroubled scenes with a sense of doom. “Cable news projects fear into everyday environments,” Amato says, “and it can be very overwhelming.”

Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash coming to Amazon Prime

“Snow Crash will be a one-hour drama. A product of the early 1990s, it’s set in a failed state that used to be America, where the corporations run everything. It too has a vast artificial location, but this time it’s the Metaverse, Stephenson’s extrapolation of a VR-enabled Internet. Hiro Protagonist—an on-the-nose name if ever there was—is a hacker and pizza delivery driver for the Mafia who comes into possession of dangerous file, Snow Crash, which sends him on a rabbit chase.”

Amazon commissions three new sci-fi shows: Lazarus, Snow Crash, and Ringworld

Color prints from Walgreen’s: Good, fast and inexpensive

I was never one to want or need prints of digital photos. Back in the day the print quality was too poor to bother with (unless you purchased an insanely expensive printer) and the consumables were expensive and it was just more trouble than it was worth. And once it got easy to share photos online, why both printing?

But for some reason I got a hankering to have some prints of the ‘new’ truck so I headed for Walgreen’s where I printed out half a dozen 4×6 prints (and one 5×7). Cost less than 50 cents a print and they were as good as anything I ever had commercially printed. Can’t see any reason (for me) to own and high-end color printer.

The Vietnam War

Watched the first episode (of 10) of The Vietnam War, a film by Ken Burns & Lynn Novick. It clearly showed how world events and U.S. politics resulted in our involvement and how badly we fucked things up. I kept thinking, “Why don’t I know this?” But it was current events or much of my early life and filtered through the media propaganda machine. I don’t expect to fully understand any important event until Ken Burns and his collaborators have time to make a documentary.