Debt Ceiling/Shutdown, and real journalism

I was a serious journalist a long time ago, inspired by Woodstein, Geraldo’s Bellevue expose, and 60 Minutes.  So I HATED doing press-release news and he said/he said.  But that’s all we get from mainstream news these days, not just broadcast/cable but also newspapers.  I guess you can’t get paid to tell THE TRUTH anymore, like this piece of debunking Reaganite mythology that underlies Republican government shutdown threats, and even Democratic compliance.

Journalism used to be called “the rough draft of history” or “the first draft of history” (or more correctly, of historiography).  Today it’s not even that — at least I hope not!

“Nor’easter” b.s.

So I’m sitting watching a recent weathercast, wondering if it’s another effect of Global Warming that we seem to have tons more “Nor’easters” these days than when I was little, where maybe I remember reading the term only in Moby Dick dialogue or something.  Turns out the resident lexicographer* at The Boston Globe, appropriately enough, was a few years ahead of me (scroll down): It seems to be nothing more than a recent weather “journalist” fad.  Keep in mind she’s only referring to print usage.  I’d guess it’s even more prevalent in TV and radio: ‘Be afraid, be very afraid, here comes another Nor’easter!

(In that post two years ago to the day — spooky! — I forgot to mention explicitly that weather hype is considered to boost audiences … hence they can charge more for advertising, for delivering more ears and/or eyes.)

Of course, bad ones are a PIA, almost like a hurricane, in some ways worse.  But what’s with all the hype about beach erosion, too?  Wasn’t there plenty in the billions of years before humanity came along and built beachfront condos and resorts?  You’d think the original U.S. eastern shore was halfway out in the Atlantic!  That’s right, it’s not plate tectonics, just beach erosion!  I say anyone who builds in such places deserves what they get.  Now we all enjoy a beach any time of year, and maintaining them in desert perfection costs coastal towns, states, and countries mondo bucks.  That’s gonna get more fun with Climate Change too….

(*–I’ll tell this joke on myself: Originally instead of lexicographer I wrote logothete.  Guess I’ve been reading too much Byzantine history in conjunction with my [informal] Orthodoxy studies!)

Gas gouging

How come gas prices at the pump seem to react immediately to predicted bad weather in the Gulf of Mexico, uncertainty in the Middle East or Venezuela, even news reports of increases in barrel prices?

What’s wrong with that?  When you hear “price per barrel,” that’s in the oil futures market.  Those prices shouldn’t make it to the consumer for a good part of a year, the time it takes to get bought at that price at the wellhead or wherever, across the oceans, through refining, and transporting to your gas station.  Plus, those futures are 3, 6, 9 months out.  ISTM somebody’s exploiting modern information overload for unfair profit.  I don’t wanna tax their windfalls; I wanna END them!!!!!

As for the other causes, they should have a delayed effect too.  They don’t.  Reminds me of the joke about PBS, “Petroleum’s British Subsidiary”!!  Except now it’s ALL the media!