Confusing Shitholes for Pieholes

 

A special factslap edition, particularly for presidents from shithole frontal lobes:

  • Haiti is the second oldest independent nation in the Western Hemisphere, after the United States.

 

  • The place where Hitler killed himself is now a children’s playground.
  • Jackie Chan trains his stuntmen and pays their medical bills out of pocket.
  • Cacao plants are slated to disappear by as early as 2050 thanks to warmer temperatures and dryer weather conditions.
  • Director Guillermo del Toro owns a house called ‘Bleak House’ in which there’s a room with a never-ending rainstorm projected onto all windows and audio to match. He often uses this room to write.
  • In China, 171,000 people perished in 1975 due to the collapse of the Banqiao Dam, an event hidden from the world until 2005.
  • Phonophobia is the fear or aversion to large sounds.
  • A 2017 study found that the faxaccounts for 75% of the country’s medical communications.
  • In France, it is illegal to to publish photographs of handcuffed suspects, as they are not to appear guilty until proven so.

United We Stand, Together We Fall

 

Dearest Samuel,

I never know what to say to you on this day. It’s by no means a birthday, just the opposite. I guess it’s an anniversary, though not nearly as celebratory; “happy” belongs nowhere near this sentiment.

Yet, here is today. It’s hard to believe we’ve been together 18 years. We’re legal! Well, to vote and crack skulls in the name of country. We’ll have to wait another three to commemorate our skull crackery with a beer.

It’s been a helluva year, but I’m glad to report your kidney and pancreas remain in the dutiful service of Life, the only religion I know.

Every time I go to the doctors, they’re impressed with our union. One told me that medicine didn’t really begin pancreas transplants in earnest until 2008! That makes us guinea pigs of sorts. They even have trouble finding the scar.

I don’t.

I met a man on Christmas Day that made me think of you. Not in appearance or lifestyle: He kept all of his belongings in a shopping cart, which was amiably guarded by the thickest pit bull you’ve ever seen. The man, too, was thick as a sequoia.

But, like his companion, he wasn’t nearly as fearsome as he appeared. In fact, we shared a brief Christmas Day conversation. He barely spoke English, but I could at least make out that he was fatigued. The real world had clearly gotten to him.

Like you.

The more we tried to communicate, the more I saw the weight of Things on his shoulders, like the faded gray and orange backpack he carried. Even though the day was cloudy, he never took off his cheap Ray-Bans, dollar store shades with neon orange temples (he must like that color).  But when I gave him some money, he reached under the glasses to wipe his tears. Then he began to sob.

Then I did. So there we were, weeping outside a 7-Eleven like 12-year-olds who’d just seen The Beatles but were trying to play it cool. Where’s Hallmark when you need them?

We shook hands, and he and his buddy trundled on, shaken but unbroken.

Like you.

We had a brief scare with sepsis this year. Confession: I haven’t been that nervous on the gurney since we met. Yet, every time I go in, every time a doc tells me what we’ll undergo, the thought of you brings me a peace. I know that two will face This, not one. There’s gotta be strength in numbers, right?

In fact (confession #2), I even use our tandem to bullshit. Whenever someone asks me whether I’m nervous or frightened about something, I love to respond, “Motherfucker, I carry the dead.”

Yet other than that first word, every one that follows is a lie. Including the bravado: I probably am nervous or frightened about something.

But I find sure footing. Because you carry the living.

Thank you.

See you tomorrow.

 

 

The Arithmetic of News

 

The Pew Research Center just released a study that must awaken newspaperpeople in cold sweats, or urine: 81% of Americans get their news from a screen —  either online outlets or social media (a putrid redundancy) sites. That doesn’t even include TV. Of the stragglers left over who get their news from papers or magazines, more than 60% are 65 and older.

So newspapers are literally dying.

That’s hardly new, news or surprising. I’m in the business, and can’t say I really support the concept of newspapers in a modern era. One day, historians will look back at our cultural institutions and think it quaint that we used to get our news from day-old parchment. That living things needed to be killed, shredded and delivered manually for  mankind to learn who won yesterday’s game shows.

Still, the death of papers is not like the death of coal. There has been little evidence that news coverage contributes to global warming (unless you count Trump as a carbon  emissions threat). In fact, consumption of news is at a record high.

So there are elements of newspapers that could still flourish, if not most newspapers themselves. The New York Times and Washington Post have seen a revival of scoops and influence unmatched since the Nixon years. So, they’re likely safe, if Jeff Sessions doesn’t equate reading news to heroin.

But, for the few who have little access to or interest in the Post or Times, the question over what constitutes news becomes as gray as uncertainty.

Our preeminent TV news outlets aren’t helping things any. Every MSNBC segment is simply asking a commentator, ‘Don’t you think Donald Trump is a nincompoop?’ The answer — and endless supply of examples — make for great comedy.  Just ask Alec Baldwin. And it soothes the confirmation biases of two-thirds of the country.

CNN is entering similarly shark-infested waters, accentuating sermonizers over strategists. Still, they’re the only network that gets A-list commentators Woodward, Bernstein and the NYT’s Maggie Haberman, the Three Musketeers of the White House. But they are three in a house of neophytes — who make enough errors to provide the administration defensive mortars.

That leaves the short-bus student, Fox News. For the first time, the network is losing regularly to MSNBC, once unthinkable. The state news agency is learning the limited punditry appeal of columnists from obscure outlets like Axios and The Washington Examiner, whoever the fuck they are now (I worked in DC for six years and never saw a copy). Hint: the outlet is the only measure of a commentator, who are interchangeably uniform.

So who to watch? When does news actually occur? Who to watch when it does?

There may be a simple but pretty accurate algorithm to measure the issue, and perhaps an answer that won’t even require you listen to a single word from the blowhards. Plus, it’s color-coded, so Alabamans can understand it.

It works this way. If possible, put CNN, FOX and MSNBC next to each other on the TV guide, so you can quickly flip up just two clicks for the world pulse.

Don’t bother listening, or even making out he pictures on the screen. Just look at the bottom of the screen: There will be a blue strip or a red one emblazoned across the bottom. Marketing research must dictate those colors — only.

Now click quickly twice, noting the color bands on the bottom.

If you see three red bands splashing BREAKING NEWS, you know that something real happened. An example of this would be the hurricanes or the Vegas shootings, incidents that demanded attention across all manner political spectrum.

If there are two red banners and one blue banner, the news will be negative against trump. The alleged Bannon-Trump split, for instance, dominated the broadcasts of CNN and MSNBC for an interminable span. Fox’s lead stories on the day of Fire and Fury’s release were the cold temperatures in the Northeast, and Jeff Sessions consideration of an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s role into Russian meddling.

If there’s one red banner, the news is good for Trump. Trump’s strike on Syria. His choice of Gorsuch. Stock news.

Finally, if all the banners are all screaming in blue, there is no real news that day. Turn off the TV. Step outside. Forget the Gnash.

We’ve come to measure our world in analytics. Why not the news that dictates it?