Tarnmoor’s ABCs: Newspapers

Take a Good Look While They’re Still There

Take a Good Look While They’re Still There

I was so very impressed by Czeslaw Milosz’s book Milosz’s ABC’s. There, in the form of a brief and alphabetically-ordered personal encyclopedia, was the story of the life of a Nobel Prize winning poet, of the people, places, and things that meant the most to him. Because his origins were so far away (Lithuania and Poland) and so long ago (1920s and 1930s), there were relatively few entries that resonated personally with me. Except it was sad to see so many fascinating people who, unknown today, died during the war under unknown circumstances.

My own ABCs consist of places I have loved (Iceland), things I feared (Earthquakes), writers I have admired (Chesterton, Balzac, Proust, and Borges); things associated with my past life (Cleveland and Dartmouth College), people who have influenced me (John F. Kennedy), and things I love to do (Automobiles and Books). This blog entry is my own humble attempt to imitate a writer whom I have read on and off for thirty years without having sated my curiosity. Consequently, over the months to come, you will see a number of postings under the heading “Tarnmoor’s ABCs” that will attempt to do for my life what Milosz accomplished for his. To see my other entries under this category, hit the tag below marked “ABCs”. I don’t guarantee that I will use up all 26 letters of the alphabet, but I’ll do my best. Today the letter is “N” for Newspapers.

I know that newspapers are in trouble, especially in this country. Still, I cannot imagine beginning my day without reading the Los Angeles Times with my breakfast. (It used to be the Herald Examiner, but that died almost exactly twenty-five years ago.) I scan the front page, the California section, the business section, and—most especially—the comics.

The comics have always given me a good feel for the way people really look at life. It’s the most “popular” section of the paper, and it cuts across age boundaries and even socioeconomic boundaries. I know I could see many of the comics on individual websites, but not easily while I am drinking my tea and munching my cheese and crackers. This morning it would not have been possible at all because I think my Uninterrupted Power Supply unit crashed overnight. Despite a fearsome rainstorm, however, my paper was still leaning on my doorstep.

There are parts of my newspaper I don’t read, including the sports page and many opinions of columnists and pundits. I’m down on pundits in general. It’s kind of pathetic that these people, who get paid for being experts, are often so ignorant and opinionated. As for sports, I have no allegiance to these highly-paid mercenaries from L.A. and elsewhere.

Will American newspapers eventually disappear? I wish I knew. In the meantime, I will continue to read the Times.


Letting Entertainers Control Your Thinking?

They Make Money from Your Indecision

They Make Money from Your Indecision

We live in a country in which we increasingly let paid entertainers do our thinking for us. As a result, we are advocating our favorite stand-ins against the entertainers we don’t like. It could be as simple as watching Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, laughing, and leaving the whole argument as, “What you said!” Or it could be as nefarious as chewing our fingernails in fear listening to Glenn Beck (above) or Sean Hannity and going to bed angry.

Remember: These people are all well-paid entertainers. They aim at a particular demographic and work on them so as to keep them coming back for more.

I used to be very upset with these fake pundits, particularly those on the right. If you go back and look at my earlier postings are the tags “conservatives,” “republicans,” or “tea-party,” you will find that I had spent a lot of time getting exercised by people who were just doing what they were paid to do. Rush Limbaugh doesn’t care whether I hate his guts, no more than the actors who played James Bond villains like Auric Goldfinger or Ernst Stavro Blofeld care whether audiences detested them. These guys are all paid villains. It’s what they do for a living.

To uneducated yokels who have been “left behind” in dying rural areas, they are calls to action coming as if from the mouths of angels. Scores of our fellow Americans have been killed because people with a tenuous grasp on their sanity have decided to pick up their guns and take direct action. Rush didn’t tell them to shoot anybody. Glenn didn’t do it, nor did Sean. Even Wayne La Pierre of the NRA didn’t give his blessing. They’re innocent of all wrongdoing, while these poor loonies are surprised that people not only hate and fear them (instead of showering them with candy and flowers) but want to see them receive the maximum punishment.

The danger of using stand-ins to do all our thinking for us is that we could make the mistake of thinking the whole world believes in what their particular set of entertainers say. When they suddenly discover how divided we are, it could come as a serious shock.

So, Democrats, watch Faux News for a while just to see the snake oil that is being sold to the feeble-minded. And wingnuts, stay up late and watch Stephen Colbert or Bill Maher just to see that people may think differently from you.

Take away those blinders, and see the mess we’re in!


Pundits for the Feeble-Minded

“Ditto-Head”—Another Term for the Brainless?

“Ditto-Head”—Another Term for the Brainless?

I am weary of expending my energy reacting to people who say stupid things in public for the purpose of self-aggrandizement, either in the form of fame or money. This has become an age of talking heads who flood the media in order to appeal to the feeble-minded, the left behind, the village idiots. Here, in alphabetical order by last name, are sixteen chronic offenders:

  • Michele Bachmann, Congressman (R-Minnesota). If you can stand to look at her gorgon eyes without turning to stone, you are a better man than I am, Gunga Din.
  • Glenn Beck, Pundit. The rodeo clown of the right wing.
  • Patrick Buchanan, Pundit. Occasionally lucid, usually not.
  • Dick Cheney, Former Vice President. Mean and scary. One of the Beasts of the Apocalypse.
  • Ann Coulter, Pundit. So vicious that she gets in the way of her own message. May be a transsexual.
  • Ted Cruz (and his father Rafael Cruz), Senator (R-Texas). Deceptively smooth rightist ideologue.
  • Newt Gingrich, Former Speaker of the House (R-Georgia). Smart enough to know better, but wants the right wing to win to protect his own shaky legacy.
  • Louis Gohmert, Congressman (R-Texas). His crazy quotes liven many press stories.
  • Sean Hannity, Fox News Pundit. Smarmy and fascistic.
  • Wayne La Pierre, NRA Spokesman. Wants to arm everybody. A shill for the arms industry.
  • Rush Limbaugh, Pundit. If you do the opposite of what he advocates, you’ll probably be okay.
  • Bill O’Reilly, Fox News Pundit. Showers with falafel.
  • Sarah Palin, Ex-Governor (R-Alaska) and Pundit. The only pundit I know who may be more stupid than her followers.
  • Rand Paul, Senator (R-Kentucky). What happens when you mate a libertarian with a Brillo Pad ®?
  • Pat Robertson, Televangelist. Probably can be forgiven for his advanced age, during which he has surprisingly not been struck by lightning once for his pronouncements.
  • Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice U.S. Supreme Court. If there’s something evil that a judge can say, it’ll be Scalia saying it.

Let me quote Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “Let the doors be shut upon him that he may play the fool nowhere but in’s own house.”