When the news breaks, take a break from TV

Rule #1 during events like those in Charlottesville: do NOT watch TV for more than a few minutes at a time.

To keep up, occasionally click on your favorite “breaking news” website.

Depending on your tastes, that could be Drudge, CNN, MSNBC, Fox, the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, or Associated Press.

Of course, once they start interpreting the story, they’ll spin it in their familiar ways.


The current news from Charlottesville can be summarized in less than two minutes, tops, and the networks have 24 hours to fill. They will fill them with high drama, idiotic confrontations, and conjectures, mixed with hard reporting and intelligent commentary. How wild can the conjectures get? When CNN was covering the missing Malaysia airliner, they asked experts if extraterrestrials were to blame.

Intentionally or not, the cable channels heighten viewers’ anxiety with flashing alerts and breathless reporting, following by a sincere look, a bite of the lip, and a calm, “Our thoughts and prayers go out…” So do the thoughts and prayers of the extraterrestrials, I’m guessing. For more on that, tune to CNN.


To show you how briefly the real news can be summarized, here is what we know now (as of 6:15 pm, August 12):
  1. White supremacy and neo-Nazi marchers descended on Charlottesville to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue from a public park.
  2. Counter-marchers also showed up to protest the white-supremacy types. We don’t know what kinds of groups were involved in the counter-protest.
  3. The two groups clashed violently, despite a large presence of local and state police.
  4. A car deliberately accelerated into the counter-marchers, killing one immediately and leaving about two dozen more injured.
    • The car sped away, but the driver was soon captured. His name, motivation, and organizational connections have not been disclosed.
  5. A helicopter crashed nearby but details on that are still sketchy. Two people were killed
  6. That makes three people dead (so far), according to Virginia police.
  7. Donald Trump strongly condemned the violence, urging all sides to respect each other and avoid further violence.
    • Virginia’s state officials and those from Charlottesville issued similar statements, adding that the white nationalists should “go home.”
  8. Significantly, Pres. Trump failed to single out the White nationalists in his condemnation of the violence.
    • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) immediately tweet a criticism of the President, urging Trump to condemn the white nationalists and neo-Nazis.

That’s what we know so far. A newscaster could read it, with appropriate video playing in the background, in under two minutes.

But they have hours to fill. Instead of filling it with serious and illuminating talk, they will fill it with repetition and, within a few hours, snarling political adversaries.

Skip it and keep your blood pressure down.


Exciting Work from University of the Obvious

Yesterday, ZipDialog reported exciting new findings from the University of the Obvious:

 Sex might make you happier at work, study says  (New York Daily News)

 Since then, many readers have asked to learn more about U of O, the pathbreaking work it does, and its distinguished history

 The university combines undergraduate education with cutting-edge research

  • The undergraduate college is famed for its unusually high costs and lax standards, both on campus and off
  • Faculty research, which often exploits graduate assistants, focuses on findings already evident to others, as well as minor extensions of research conducted elsewhere
    • There is a special emphasis on winning large research grants to conduct this work.

 Does U of O have sports? “You bet,” said alum Pete Rose.
“The Lees,” were originally named to honor the university’s benefactor, General Robert E. Lee.

Recently, however, university administrators became aware that Gen. Lee might have fought for the South in the Civil War.

A faculty committee was appointed to study the issue. Its report

  • Confirmed rumors about Gen. Lee’s military service
  • Condemning the “gossip mill” that spread this information
  • Rejected proposed names “Woodrow Wilson,” “Roger Taney,” and “John C. Calhoun”
  • Recommended the university retain its historical connection to the Lee family by honoring Col. Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee.
    • “Lighthorse Harry,” as he was known to all (except his horses), signed the Declaration of Independence and fought in the Revolutionary War.
    • Additional research confirms he fought on the winning side

Athletic teams will retain their proud moniker, “The University of Obvious Lees”