Thursday, December 7, 2017

Santa Claus may cancel deliveries due to drone traffic!

Although Santa and his team may
not make it for this holiday season,
there's still time to order great
stocking stuffers like
Fake News 101
Since the 1960s, when Rudolph began lighting the way, there has never been any talk of shutting down Santa’s delivery runs. However, new issues have come up which may force the cancellation of Christmas. The air traffic from holiday delivery drones has been building for several years, and an insider at the North Pole says a shutdown by Santa may be imminent because of it.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Blogging vs. Journalism: Can you say Blurnalism?

Bloggers and journalists, living together. Mass hysteria!
One of the late George Carlin’s classic comedy bits was about the differences between football and baseball. “Baseball is played on a diamond in a park. The baseball park! Football is played on a gridiron, in a stadium.”
These days some bloggers are doing journalism and many journalists are writing blogs. Although the lines are sometimes blurred - which has produced something I call blurnalism - there are some interesting differences most of the time. So, what would it be like to compare blogging to journalism in a similar way to Carlin’s treatment of baseball and football?
When you write a blog, you’re your own boss. You can write about anything. When you’re a journalist, you’re work is supervised by an editor or a producer who gives you assignments. In some cases, journalists suggest topics, but those have to be approved.
In blogging, you can write as frequently or as infrequently as you want. In journalism, you have to complete assignments on a very regular basis - daily, weekly, or both.
In blogging, you can be speculative and veer off in any direction. In journalism, you’re supposed to be objective and stick to the facts.
In blogging, you can postpone a project if something comes up. You can postpone a project indefinitely. In journalism, there are news cycles and deadlines. Miss a few deadlines, and the editor could give you the ax.
In blogging, you can pick and choose quotes from anywhere. For many bloggers, there’s very little interaction with other human beings. In journalism, you have to actually interview people yourself. Sometimes you have to confront people at their places of work or knock on their front doors.
In blogging, there’s no firm word count for a story or article. A blog post could be 250 words, 400 words, or 1600 words. The possibilities are endless! In journalism, where space is limited, there’s normally a target. If the editor asks for 1200 words, the final product has to be close to that so that it will fit properly.
In blogging, stories can be one-sided. You can write entirely from your point of view. In journalism, when you write a negative story about someone or some business, you have to try to make contact to give that person or business a fair chance to tell their side of the story.
I don’t mean to disparage blogging or bloggers. I’m a blogger myself. Bloggers have unearthed many interesting and important stories that may never have been covered otherwise. Bloggers who are experts in their fields also provide a great deal of valuable information to consumers.
On the other hand, I don’t believe that all journalists are trustworthy and professional in their work. Most Americans now distrust the media and with good reason. Many journalists consistently allow their own biases to seep into their work. It has become too obvious to ignore.

There are significant differences between blogging and journalism. Those differences have an impact on the product. Consumers should be aware of where the stories are coming from as they read, view, and listen to various sources of information.
If you can think of any other funny or interesting differences between blogging and journalism, please leave a comment. 
For further reading, check out the following.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Letter to Florida Times-Union Editor about Fake News: Slow down and smell the satire.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Note: This is a letter to the editor of the Florida Times-Union which was published on November 30, 2017.
The recent tips offered by Times-Union Editorial Page Editor Mike Clark on how to spot fake news were helpful.
However, Clark neglected to address one very serious problem: The inability of Americans to comprehend satire, which is the most prevalent form of fake news.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Don’t Let Fake Brain Enhancement Supplements Make a Fool Out of You

Albert Einstein says,
"Fake News 101
is brilliant."
Would you like to be as smart as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, or Albert Einstein? Who wouldn’t? What would be the harm in getting a free trial sample of a dietary supplement to enhance your mental abilities? All you have to pay is $4.99 for shipping and handling for your trial order of Enhance Mind IQ. But wait, there’s more. Don’t forget to read the tiny print before completing your order.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Wit Privilege and America's War on the Witless

Note: This article first appeared on June 4, 2015, in American Thinker. I wrote it as a satirical piece. With the recent revelations about Al Franken, Louis C.K., and, less recently, Bill Cosby, perhaps the time has come to address the realities of Wit Privilege.  
“Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.” Mark Twain
Mark Twain
Wit is not always a laughing matter.  For example, the Sons of Liberty used their wits to pull off one of the most memorable practical jokes in history at the Boston Tea Party. Also, Ben Franklin disseminated and popularized his philosophy through his bestseller, Poor Richard’s Almanac. His witty one-liners are quoted to this day by people who’ve never even heard of the book.

Wit privilege refers to societal privileges that benefit witty people in ways that are unavailable to the witless.  It continues to be a potent force in the United States.  The witty elite use jokes and anecdotes to win elections, spread ideologies, and market their services and wares.  All too often, the witless are the butts of the jokes. They are at a severe disadvantage in virtually every area of their sad lives.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Confessions of a Grown-up Paperboy

Found that classic paperbag on EBay.
It was dirty and it had a hole in it.
Looks just like my old one.
Back in the 70s, newspapers were not always delivered by adults in cars. Newspapers were frequently delivered by “paperboys.” They would put their bundles of newspapers in canvas bags and either walk from house to house or ride their bikes. 

My first job was delivering newspapers and I did my route on a bike. Every morning, I would ride to the top of my street, Thomas Rd. in South Weymouth, Massachusetts, where a large bundle of newspapers would be waiting for me. I had eighty or so customers. About 60 were Boston Globe subscribers and fifteen or so were Boston Herald Traveler subscribers. There was also a handful of very discerning readers who got the Record American.