We're BackHappy New Year! It has been a long vacation for us, and it is good to be back at home at last. Folks here in Seattle are unhappy about the mid-sixties temperatures, which actually fit right in with their mid-sixties politics, as it seems to show them that the globe is actually warming. The fifty two below zero readings in Minnesota do not fit their theory, but environmentalists are never going to allow mere facts to hinder a good supposition. The further fact that these ultra-low temperatures occurred in a town called Embarrass is also lost on these people, since irony is another thing that they never seem to get.
Meanwhile, I have been steaming for the last couple of weeks over the response to the Tsunami. It would be hard to market a work of fiction in which an earthquake's sequelae are blamed on a political leader in a nation six thousand miles away, yet that is exactly what has happened. First Bush didn't do enough, then he didn't do it fast enough, then he did it in the wrong way (W stands for wrong!). I can forgive the political class from spinning and hyping the story, but what about the media solons, who so recently were wringing their hands over their fading influence. Don't they realize that their influence is fading precisely because they can no longer be trusted to get the most basic facts straight?
Last week it seemed that every news outlet was declaring that the death toll in the tsunami was the "greatest loss of human life in a natural disaster in human history." A quick glance at a compendium of disasters shows that Bangladesh alone has had two greater disasters since 1970, and if we include famine, this tsunami is an order of magnitude short of being on the all-time greatest list. This is the sad truth: the so-called NEWS has degenerated into entertainment, at least in its broadcast form. We can get as much accurate fact from Rush Limbaugh as we can get from CBS News. I have long said in this space that the "Common Knowledge" is always wrong. I must now report that the broadcast news is not much more accurate than that. File this under sad but true.