I can’t keep up with all these stupid aggregators lately. BuzzFeed, HuffPost (yes, not entirely an aggregator) and the most irritating of all, Upworthy. I couldn’t quite figure Upworthy for a while — it’s hard to give anything focused attention in the age of Nobody Reads Anything — but eventually it bored through my inattention. It’s a prissy little pass-along deal, which its homepage banner makes clear: Things that matter. Pass ’em on. The person who always sends you Elizabeth Warren fanboy/girl stuff probably found a lot of it on Upworthy.
Anyway, Upworthy recently ran a…cute feature about Detroit’s bankruptcy. It’s not journalism, but more of a nothingburger illustrated with funny, funny GIFs. Way up at the top of the page, note the credit: “made possible by the AFL-CIO.” I don’t have anything against the AFL-CIO, but what this post is peddling is the Maddow version of why Detroit went bankrupt, which involves a) an eeeevil Republican governor; b) revenue sharing; and of course, c) the emergency manager, who is known in this world as the “local dictator.”
It’s not a fact-free version, but it is enormously lacking context, as well as a lot of other facts. But this is common; even among people who do read stuff, they are increasingly likely to like only their own media, who feed them this stuff. The right wing has their own version of why Detroit happened, and it boils down to a) Dumbocrats; b) Coleman Young and c) Dumbocrats.
So I’m grateful to Jeff Wattrick at Deadline Detroit, who put up a counterpoint to Upworthy, also with funny funny GIFs, that’s just as lively and fun to read, only is a lot closer to the whole truth.
And isn’t Upworthy. So there’s that.
I hate to link to Steinberg two days in a row, but I liked his sane take on the recent news that Jews were headed for extinction — at least the secular-leaning Jews most of us know:
So recognizing my own bias, why care? It isn’t as if there is an intrinsic need for a small Jewish minority to question mainstream beliefs anymore. We set the example, now exit the stage, to join the Shakers. Other faiths will step up. The Muslims are doing a fine job as the new minority American faith on deck, and they can complain about crosses in the public way as loudly as Jews did. Societies now has gays to test how much it really believe in tolerance of fractional minorities.
And there will always be some Jews. A core of Jewishness, kept alive by the hermetically sealed world of the Ultra-Orthodox and the Hasidim. Their society is designed to endure—that’s where the whole non-change thing comes in. Sure, we smirk at them for the black hats and wigs and 17th century traditions. But they know that if you swap your heavy black coat for a smart Calvin Klein jacket, you’re halfway a Unitarian. As long they exist, there will be a steady stream of secular Jews dribbling away from them, like the tail of a comet.
Mighty level-headed, I’d say.
Very different, but equally worth your time, is this startling obit for Erin R. Wagman:
Erin Wagman, also known as Erin Borgmann, died of acute alcohol poisoning on October 19, 2013 in Rapid City. She was 42 years old. She died alone.
A writer’s first job is to tell the truth. Someone did.
I think the fall is sapping my energy. It was cold, honestly cold, this morning and I’m not sure I’ve entirely recovered. We’ll see about tomorrow.