American discourse in action: So many noteworthy facts! We're ashamed to admit that, until this day, we had never heard this:
"Eating a whole human body is the equivalent of consuming more than 125,000 calories."
Truly, we had no idea.
Believe it or not, that's one of the "noteworthy facts" on the reimagined page A3 in today's New York Times. For those who favor cremation over consumption, the Times also offers this fact:
"The main cremation tower being constructed for the late King Blumibol Adulyadej of Thailand will be 165 feet tall and will feature both iconography of his accomplishments and a statue of his favorite dog."
Awwwwwww! That really drew us in!
It's hard to miss a basic point concerning this veil of tears. The scattershot grab-bag of New York Times "facts" evokes the scattershot mental stylings of the living Emperor Trump.
These facts are less noteworthy than bizarre, the apparent fruit of some type of disordered intellect. In today's list, we also receive noteworthy facts about a plaque to Julia Child "which, when pushed, unleashes the piped-in smell of cookies baking" and about a former exhibition by Banksy "which featured, among other things, mock security guards instructed to frown."
What kind of person seeks daily exposure to "noteworthy facts" of this type? What kind of journalist thumbs through the Times and thinks these are the nuggets?
The reimagined pages A2 and A3 seem like monuments to our nation's failed mental state. With that dangerous breakdown in mind, ponder this:
If you watched cable news last night, your facts about the Senate hearing were largely picked and chosen for you, largely depending on which tribe you favor.
We'd have to say that MSNBC and CNN each picked-and-chose their facts and frameworks to pleasure our own liberal tribe. Sally Yates won every round if you watched these channels.
We didn't watch much Fox last night, but their selection of facts seemed different.
For ourselves, we didn't think that Sally Yates won every single round. We actually thought she offered some rather fuzzy formulations.
That said, we've come to accept a basic fact. It's utterly pointless to try to fight the drive toward simple tribal narration and high-order dumbnification.
By now, our tribe seeks a set of pleasing tales about as much at the other tribe does. Complication must be washed away. On cable, they know how to keep it simple.
We moderns also like a dramatic tale. Consider the way the New York Times began this morning's front-page report on yesterday's hearing:
APUZZO AND HUETTEMAN (5/9/17): Less than a week into the Trump administration, Sally Q. Yates, the acting attorney general, hurried to the White House with an urgent concern. The president’s national security adviser, she said, had lied to the vice president about his Russian contacts and was vulnerable to blackmail by Moscow.That's dramatic story-telling. Yay yay yay yay yay! But had Flynn lied to Vice President Pence, or had he apparently lied?
“We wanted to tell the White House as quickly as possible,” Ms. Yates told a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Monday. “To state the obvious: You don’t want your national security adviser compromised with the Russians.”
But President Trump did not immediately fire the adviser, Michael T. Flynn, over the apparent lie or the susceptibility to blackmail. Instead, Mr. Flynn remained in office for 18 more days. Only after the news of his false statements broke publicly did he lose his job on Feb. 13.
Yates toggled between these two accounts. So does this morning's Times, right in its first three paragraphs.
On what basis do we claim to know that Flynn lied to poor abused Pence? Do we actually know that's true? Or does it just simplify the story-telling?
How do we know that Vice President Pence wasn't lying too? Do we know any such thing? Or did we all agree to agree on this claim, back in the first ten minutes?
We'd planned to close this post with a favorite pet peeve. It concerns the temporary 90-day plan which has now extended through more than a hundred days.
We chuckled as the Post and the Times blew past this topic this morning. We refer to their news reports about yesterday's judicial hearing concerning Donald J. Trump's proposed 90-day travel ban.
Later, reading Kevin Drum, we were amazed to see that the judges in yesterday's hearing actually raised this very issue—and to see that USA Today actually reported this exchange.
Drum plays this matter as a complaint against Trump. Without any question, that's an obvious part of this story.
That said, nothing will ever change Donald J. Trump; it's hard to see why we want to rehearse our unanimous fury every single time. This is also a story about the press corps' failure to notice anything which isn't part of a simple comfortable narrative.
Trump's 90-day study of vetting procedures ought to be finished by now. As USA Today reported, the judges actually mentioned this clown-worthy fact!
The judges actually mentioned this fact! The Times and the Post still haven't done so. Neither has anyone else.
Reimagine all the people: One of the clues in today's Mini Crossword:
"Much __ About Nothing."
Could the three-letter word, which starts with an A, possibly be "ado?" Also, will A3 soon link that word to this clue:
"French word for goodbye?"