Monday was the birthday twins’ special day, so Kate came home over the weekend to eat cake with her father. We drove her back on Sunday and ate at a fairly awful Chinese restaurant in Ann Arbor before dropping her at her dorm. But! It was a worthwhile experience, because we sat next to a table of athlete/frat bros, and eavesdropped shamelessly on their conversation, which ended up being about women, of course.
What women are 10s? they discussed. The main point of contention seemed to be whether Victoria’s Secret models were 10s by default, having been admitted to the most exalted realm of female pulchritude, or whether there were gradations of heat within the Victoria’s Secret pantheon.
“They’re, like, the primo examples of humanity,” one protested. Another was pickier. Heidi Klum, well past her VS years, was a permanent 10, a hall-of-fame 10, but the rest of them? They would have to apply one by one.
The Derringers sat with ears cocked like cocker spaniels, listening to this. The best entertainment is our fellow human beings.
Which is why today’s bloggage kicks off with examples of humanity at its most confounding, including a man who paid $718,000 to a series of psychics, because he was lonely:
He knew none of it made sense: He was a successful and well-traveled professional, with close to seven figures in the bank, and plans for much more. And then he gave it all away, more than $718,000, in chunks at a time, to two Manhattan psychics.
They vowed to reunite him with the woman he loved. Even after it was discovered that she was dead. There was the 80-mile bridge made of gold, the reincarnation portal.
“I just got sucked in,” the man, Niall Rice, said in a telephone interview last week from Los Angeles. “That’s what people don’t understand. ‘How can you fall for it?’”
This, on the other hand, is a scary-as-hell story about how life and law enforcement works in the Deep Souf’, and how it led to the death of a little boy in the proverbial hail of gunfire.
And with a shift, we pivot to a topic near and dear to my heart: The meeeeedia. Which, it would seem, is getting tired of being a punching bag. In three pieces:
There absolutely is room for debate about the proportionality of coverage of an incident like this compared to something like the Paris attacks that happened on Friday, but to say that the media don’t cover terrorism attacks outside of Europe is a lie.
But as anyone working in the news will tell you, if you look at your analytics, people don’t read them very much.
We live in a world now where no one wants to pay for news. Newspapers are struggling, and foreign bureaus have been shuttering for years. Many of the buzzy new media sites don’t have foreign bureaus or even much original reporting from overseas (with a handful of notable exceptions, and good on them). Publications are increasingly dependent on freelancers abroad, who do their work for low pay, with virtually no institutional resources behind them, often at significant personal risk. To suggest that “no one” is reporting on Beirut, on Garissa, on Baghdad is an affront and an insult to the great many professionals who put their lives in jeopardy to do just that.
We complain that we don’t see the reporting we want. But aside from an outraged Facebook status, many of us in the U.S. don’t actually seem to want the kind of reporting we claim to value — we’re overwhelmingly not paying to subscribe to the outlets that do good, in-depth reporting about places around the world. Aside from when tragedy strikes, we’re not sharing articles on Beirut or a city we’ve never heard of in Kenya nearly as often as many of us are sharing pieces about Paris, or even 10 Halloween Costumes for Feminist Cats.
Since college students are free to vent what they feel about the media, it’s only fair that the media return the favor.
So allow me, based, not on biases absorbed from my parents along with my Maypo, but on actual experience, teaching college courses, including one at Loyola.
College kids don’t know shit. The average college student couldn’t find his ass with both hands and a map. I once taught a journalism course for the State University of New York’s Maritime College. At the end of the final exam, I prefaced the extra credit questions with, “A journalist should have a rough idea of what is going on in the world.” One question was: “With the collapse of the Soviet Union, one Communist super power remains. What is it?” Some students guessed “Cuba.” Others, “Iraq.” Some didn’t even hazard an attempt.
That should give you enough to chew over for a Tuesday. Me, I’m back at work.