05.11.09 – Monday


Word: raconteur [rak-uhn-tur] n. a person who is skilled in relating stories and anecdotes interestingly

Birthday: Chang and Eng Bunker (1811), Charles W. Fairbanks (1852), Irving Berlin (1888), Martha Graham (1894), Salvador Dalí (1904), Louis Farrakhan (1933), David Gest (1953), Martha Quinn (1959), Natasha RIchardson (1963), Laetitia Casta (1978)

Standpoint: Nowadays, everyone has an opinion on everything. It’s nearly impossible to share anything of interest with anyone without a follow-up correlation or some other form of one-upping. During the course of any given day, if you were to count the instances you hear a sentence that starts with, “They say that…”, or “I just read about…”, the number could conceivably end up nonsensically high.

In this day and age, the onslaught of information is dwarfed only by the amount of opinion it generates.  

One problem is many people don’t understand that some (probably most) “information” they’re being fed is based in fact the way that Star Wars was based in fact. Meaning that much of what you’re watching or reading has the potential to be true, but not necessarily right now. Every media outlet, from CNN to The New York Times to Fox News, is working an angle and/or pushing an agenda. Whatever’s behind it, boosting viewer ratings or selling more newspapers or attempting to influence your politics, all of your news stories come with, at the very least, some small degree of slant. 

Another problem is even more people fail to grasp that just because there’s a man on the television screen discussing his thoughts on a particular matter, it doesn’t make him an authority on anything except his own opinion. That goes for Jon Stewart as much as it does Glenn Beck, two individuals who receive equal amounts of  unwarranted credbility. (Although in Stewart’s defense, he understands his show is primarily for entertainment purposes, while Beck seems totally unaware that his show produces just as many laughs.) Television personalities are both charismatic and persuasive. With a viewer-friendly, professional presentation and use of the proper words at the right time, it’s remarkably easy to take in the thoughts of these “experts” and register them as fact.  

From all the reporting we’re led to believe is factual and the infinite amount of commentary that inevitably follows, it’s entirely possible that we’ve come to know so much that we actually know less. The pursuit of the truth has been replaced by the pursuit of who’s right. And it may not be the fault of those presenting the information. It’s likely that, due to the countless variations offered on “what’s really going on,” you are now afforded the opportunity to simply accept whichever version better falls in line with what you truly want to believe, whatever that may be.

For example, in the case of the issue of global warming, you can side with either (a) those who think that the rise of greenhouse gases is manmade or (b) those who think it’s part of the natural cycle of Earth’s ecosystem. There’s no proving the wrong side. Each side employs science, largely assumed to be infallible in terms of fact, to prove its point. In effect, both sides enjoy the satisfaction of knowing they’re right. Therefore, you’re allowed to pick the perspective you’re more comfortable swallowing, and then, you’re also right. One nice perk that stems from such a scenario is that you can switch sides whenever you want, and, like magic, you’re still right. Sounds pretty great, right?

Well. Not entirely. If we’ve created a world where all fact and opinion are simultaneously true, how are we ever going to figure out what’s not working and move forward? We won’t. And, what’s worse, no one really seems to mind. Maybe in those movies about apocalyptic futures, it wasn’t war that destroyed the human race. It might’ve been that we reached a point where we were able to stop one another from doing anything remotely useful.

Quotation: Every improvement in communication makes the bore more terrible. Frank Moore Colby

Tune: Only music snobs will argue that Illinois’ Hum is not a “one-hit wonder.” If I was going to have only one song that everyone would remember, I would definitely want it to sound something like “Stars.”

Gallimaufry: Check out oddee.com’s list of 15 Strangest Foods and decide which one you would definitely not eat. Mine’s the dried lizards. ∞ Meet Saya, the world first robotic teacher. Now students won’t even have to use their brains to come up with clever ways to cheat. Sweet. ∞ It’s official. There are no more conversations in which the topics of Facebook and Twitter aren’t breached. Even Pentagon briefings.

Incoming: Tomorrow – I’ll find out if it’s possible to do a Google image search without eventually running into porn. Later in the week – My first interview, Annoying Sayings & Misused Words and much much more.

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