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CSotD: I read the news today, oh boy

Francis (AMS) leads today because, for all the bonding in a hyperconnected world, we Americans are still awfully fixated on ourselves.

There was a time when one of the wire services here did a “Top 10 Stories of the Year” list each January, and they finally came under fire for including US sporting events and the Oscars while neglecting wars, famines and destructive storms in other countries.

We’re getting better, but we’re still hardly Citizens of the World.

I’ve got the top-of-the-hour NPR newscast on my Alexa Flash Briefing, followed by a similar five-minute newscast from the BBC, and, even after my morning stroll through the Internets, I hear about things on the Beeb that I didn’t know were going on.

And I’d say NPR is pretty much the top of the pile for American news services, in terms of global awareness.

So in the interest of international amity and news gathering criticism, here’s a Joy of Tech piece about how the Australian government has gotten into a pissing match with Facebook over the preposterous notion that companies spending millions to cover the news should get a little taste when another company starts passing out the results like candy bars.

Not that the Aussies are completely cut off from the news: Rupert Murdoch, bless his teeny tiny vestigial nub of a heart, has agreed to go along with the new Australian law and accept payment from Google, and Google may be striking deals with some other news companies.

Until then, if you Google the news on line down there, you’ll have to trust Uncle Rupert’s view of things, because that’s all you’ll get.

Meanwhile, Facebook is refusing to pay for content at all, and has blocked all coverage of Australian news, both there and here, and if some jolly swagman tries to post a news article himself, it won’t happen, and I suppose he’ll probably go off to Facebook jail.

So, if you live in Australia, don’t use Facebook to access this First Dog in the Moon explanation of it all and, Zuck, I apologize for having had the effrontery to invite people to read it though a Facebook posting.

And nobody Google it, either, because it sure ain’t coming from Fox.

Go straight to the Guardian. Do not pass Zuck or Jack. Do not collect $200 Aus.

So say we all, but not when the bosses are listening.

And in posting that link to the Guardian, I saw that their top story is the snow storm and power outages in Texas, since apparently they’re not as self-absorbed as we Yanks, so we’ll make that our next topic:

 

Someone bet me that I’d see a cartoon of a guy shoveling snow and complaining about global warming, and Michael Ramirez (Creators) came pretty close.

But a charitable reading of the cartoon is that the longhorns wish “Global Warming” simply referred to constant warming rather than a process of “Climate Change” that causes extremes at both ends of the scale, not to mention larger and more powerful storm systems.

 

Steve Breen (Creators) offers this more compassionate look at what’s happening down there, and the situation does call for our compassion.

 

Clay Jones, in the essay accompanying this less compassionate cartoon, provides a very thorough examination of why it’s been such a disaster for their power system and offers a condemnation of the people in government who have let it happen.

 

And Pia Guerra depicts Ted Cruz, whose duties as a US Senator from that state apparently did not involve hanging around to check in with constituents who were suffering and in some cases risking their lives in the disaster, because he had to pile his family onto an airplane and view things from the safe distance of Cancun.

 

Which, to let Steve Brodner bring the story full circle, is better than staying home and lying about what happened, the path chosen by Gov. Abbott.

Brodner also brings us back to Breen’s topic of compassion, and someone at the dog park yesterday voiced my wish, that we could somehow separate our disgust and disdain for Texas officials from our feelings for the people themselves, because there is an almost irresistible urge to let the bastards freeze in the dark.

But decent people have to feel in particular for the people in Houston, who lost so much in Hurricane Harvey and are now in houses with neither furnaces nor insulation nor, in the wake of the storm, electricity or, in some cases, running water.

Texas occasionally threatens to secede, and it’s tempting to ask them to do so.

But we’d have to build one helluva wall to keep those folks from trying to flee to the USA.

We might anyway.

 

Finally, and still on the topic of compassion, Gary McCoy (Cagle) offers this muted appreciation of Rush Limbaugh, who died of lung cancer yesterday, and if Greg Abbott offered a test of our compassion, Limbaugh triples the stakes.

A large number of conservative cartoonists played off his tag line of his talent being on loan from God, mostly with him returning it at the Pearly Gates. Seen one, seen’em all.

Meanwhile, both liberal cartoonists and social media users are dancing on his grave before the body is cold, such that, having curated my social media feed to eliminate Nazi sympathizers, I find it now filled with people joyously saying the sorts of things that they hated Limbaugh for saying.

 

Many of them are passing along this misquote of Mark Twain, a few properly crediting Clarence Darrow.

Darrow said it in one form or another several times, but never with the intent of celebration or snark.

Here’s how he phrased it in front of a Congressional committee, arguing for the abolition of the death penalty:

If a man can think of how often he has been a murderer himself, he would have some sympathy with other fellows who are legally killed; and, of course, we are all murderers at heart—that is, I never killed anybody, but I often read an obituary notice with great satisfaction, which means that I approve of it all right, and everybody else does the same.

Well, not quite everybody, one hopes.

 

Community Comments

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#1 Nicholas Merritt
February/18/2021
@ 7:40 am

I am always baffled when people compare insulting a specific person who is objectively terrible with spreading lies and hatred on a grand scale, claiming that those doing the former are equivalent to the one doing the latter.

#2 Mike Peterson
February/18/2021
@ 9:25 am

It’s that word “objectively” that’s tripping you up.

#3 Nicholas Merritt
February/18/2021
@ 9:40 am

Mike, I know you’re smarter than that. You show it off pretty much every day with your column. Please don’t become one of those “enlightened centrists”. I’d say more on the matter, but I’d rather respect your rules for the comment section.

#4 Mike Peterson
February/18/2021
@ 3:16 pm

Well, since you insist:

First, “objectively terrible” isn’t an oxymoron, but it makes no sense, since “terrible” is a subjective judgment. You can no more be “objectively terrible” than something can be “objectively delicious” or “objectively beautiful.”

Besides, if he were “objectively terrible,” his show would have been canceled the first week. Obviously, a lot of people like him. I cannot for the life of me figure out why, but there it is. I think he was terrible.

As for being centrist, I’d be thrilled to think that the ethical median point in our society truly says, “If ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the Republicans do the same?”

I’d love to think “Be bigger than that” were a centrist position. But, as it is, since I’m agnostic, I don’t claim any religious basis for my ethical stance, which is based more on Stoicism.

A primary pillar of Stoicism is that people and events have only the command on you that you give them. In this case, I am saying that I refuse (hard as it is) to let Rush Limbaugh have any control over me.

You are arguing not simply that you cannot do that, but that I am immoral because I won’t let him jerk my strings.

As said, I’d be thrilled if Stoicism and ethical Christianity stood at the midpoint, but experience suggests otherwise.

You might want to ask yourself why you are giving Rush Limbaugh such power over you. As the old monk said, “Put him down. I did a mile ago.”

#5 Kathleen Donnelly
February/18/2021
@ 3:16 pm

How about Shakespeare?

Nothing in [Limbaugh’s] life became him like the leaving of it.

#6 Mike Peterson
February/18/2021
@ 3:20 pm

That’s diffo. Gentle, non-judgmental subjective scorn.

I’m good with that.

#7 Mary McNeil
February/18/2021
@ 8:03 pm

Kathleen Donnelly -I have an odd take on your Shakespeare quote, Since January 6 I have been thinking of it in honor of Mike Pence.- who on that day did the Right (in the sense of correct) Thing and then, later, even showed up to see his successor sworn in after four years of kissing Trump’s assets,

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