Things that just occurred to me, in no particular order

Posts tagged ‘News’


My roommate was aghast.

Her boyfriend was standing over the kitchen sink, a lighter in one hand and a fistful of non-dairy creamer in the other. He sprinkled the one on top of the open flame from the other and was rewarded with a flash of flame.

She gasped.

“I had no idea that stuff, those chemicals, were in my non-dairy creamer.” She swore off the stuff then and there.  If it burned that easily, imagine what it did to your stomach lining?

Of course, I knew that the increased surface area from the powder made it flammable. It would have worked if he’d used flour or talcum powder or sawdust. It’s the reason why grain silos have been known to explode.

But she didn’t know that. Her boyfriend didn’t either. He just knew a cool trick that would impress people.

It’s kind of the way it is right now with science, news, politics, philosophy and economics. Everybody knows a few good tricks, enough to do the social equivalent of lighting a small fire over the kitchen sink.

But few of us know the underlying facts, theories and science behind those tricks — and therefore what those tricks really mean.

I doubt most people could really explain the science behind allergies or the economic principles that drive the stock market. It’s the age of specialization and everybody knows a lot about our specific areas of expertise, but there is no way we’d be able to know all that there is to know today.

So we rely on experts, or people who claim expertise. The problem is, they are often just regular people who know the cool tricks, and not what’s behind them.

The downside is that it’s easy for people to push concepts or ideas that are not supported by facts. They may not even know the facts themselves, but who’s going to challenge them? Their opponents are mostly just as factually ignorant.

So they spin their versions, myths based on what they fear is happening instead of what is supported by fact, and make a knee-jerk reactions every few years at the ballot box, or daily in the grocery aisle or doctor’s office.


Cop shift musings

Every nine weeks or so, every reporter in this newsroom has to strap the paper’s police radio to their hip for a Saturday night and play at being Mark Laflamme.

You gather up the police logs at the local police stations, listen to the scanner and pray you don’t have to write a weather feature.

Sometimes, you’re busy as hell. You dash from disaster to disaster and the 7.5 hours pass in a blink. For others,  the radio stays quiet. And your desk gets all tidied up.

Tonight it was my night: Here’s what’s wandering through my mind:

  • You see a lot of very fancy names in the police log attached to people doing some less than fancy things.  Do you think the parents of Adria, Desmond and Amberly had any clue at the child’s christening? Really, the names  in a police log should be Flo, Dutch and Roy.
  • Then again, the police log is one of the few times your entire name will actually be used. Birth,  marriage, death.  Graduation, I suppose. Indictment, and right next to a fuzzy photograph if that’s the case.  And really, how often can you count on getting a picture in the paper along side your formal name?
  • It’s real easy to fly off the handle listening the scanner. You think it’s big news, and it turns out it’s a lost dog or something. Had situation tonight where and officer rolled up on an empty vehicle, keys in the ignition, engine running. Sounded like the guy had been kidnapped by aliens.  Turns out, he was a utility worker who stopped to inspect a line.  No big deal.
  • Cell phones, computers, digital cameras: They’ve all gotten tiny as technology has marched along. But police band scanners are still massive affairs that threaten to tear out the belt loops to your favorite jeans when you strap them on.  Am I seriously to believe that someone couldn’t come up with a digital scanner that could fit neatly in a shirt pocket? There’s a market there, I’m telling you.
  • Police scanners are cool,  even though they seem like they’re just Radio Shack geekery. But if hipsters ever  figured out how strange the calls were, how much information gets conveyed between police cars and 911 dispatchers, they’d be in line at Radio Shack to get one.
  • I’ve had jobs before where each day was the same as the last, a steady drumbeat. I kind of prefer ones like this: long stretches of boredom punctuated with adrenaline pumping random action.
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