I stopped reading newspapers a while back. Can’t remember exactly when. 1980s, prolly. I remember reading rather a lot of newspapers when I was very young. There were a lot of newspapers in the house. We lived near Boston, and Boston had a lot of newspapers. They were pretty good newspapers, too.
Well, they’re all a joke now, and there aren’t very many of them. Reading the newspapers here in Maine is literally terrifying. The writers are borderline illiterate, innumerate, and not very curious. That strikes me as a bad combo for a newsgatherer. Mark Twain used to write for the newspapers, and so did Benjamin Franklin. We seem to have traded them for girls that make a little heart over their “i” instead of a tittle, and the guy in your grammar school that liked comic books a lot and used to cheat off a C student because he printed big enough to see from one row away.
The Intertunnel isn’t much better. I barely understand about 97 percent of blogs. They inexpertly choose a snippet from one of the aforementioned useless newspapers, and then add their incisive George Bush did it!, or, Obama, what’s up with that? I honestly don’t understand why people enjoy a slow boil of outrage all day, every day. Whenever I visit a blog, I can always tell who they hate because there are nothing but pictures of them on the blog. You wouldn’t hang pictures of people you hate in every room in your house. Why would you hang them all over your Interhouse?
The dirty little secret is people loved to be outraged. Feel persecuted. The greatest feeling available on the Intertunnel is the harrumph. Me? I’d like to know things. I wouldn’t mind being amused while being edified, either, but the pros aren’t up to the task — they can’t operate an apostrophe, what chance do they have of running a litote up a stump — so I doubt the amateurs are going to manage it.
I’m awfully glad for the Intertunnel, though. Not because it’s generally swell, but because it’s so vast you can cobble together something useful out of it. I’d starve to death without it if I wasn’t able to eat out of the intellectual dumpster it represents. Like any dumpster, you’ve got to pick and choose.
In woodworking, as in many other industries where things are manufactured, workers are often supplied with a simple device to determine if the thing they’re looking at while they’re banging on it or gouging it or smashing at it or whatever is the correct size. In the vernacular, it’s a Go, No Go gauge. When I’m turning a leg for a chair on a lathe, for instance, and it requires a tenon on the end that’s 1/2″ in diameter, I can simply use a 1/2″ crescent wrench as go/no go gauge. If it won’t go over the tenon, the tenon’s still too big. If it goes over the tenon, the tenon’s likely too small now and you can safely throw it away and start over. I’m not sure of how to behave if the tenon is exactly the right size. It’s never come up.
I’ve made my life easier by fashioning various go/no go text gauges that allow me to immediately stop reading or listening to anything that contains certain terms. They are like intellectual tramp stamp tattoos on the southern end of a northbound doofus. Their appearance signals that nothing intelligent will follow and you can stop paying attention that very instant and move on to something more edifying, something closer to the Sorbonne of the Internets –say, cat pictures and animated gifs.
Anyhoo, here’s today’s list of magic Internet markers:
- Access to
- Step up
- The help they need
- Fiat currency
- Obesity epidemic
- Give back
- Racist (rascist is like a neon sign)
- Fascist (facist is even better)
- Speak out
There are many more, I’m ashamed to say. These are just off the top of my head. If I get any crabbier about the whole enchilada, pretty soon maybe I’ll just shout, “It’s in English! Bah!”, and close the browser.
But as lists go, it’s as good as any. I think there’s a zoning law on the Intertunnel that requires me to make it a Top Ten list, but I refuse to cater to popular tastes. That’s probably why I can buy a Snickers bar with my Google Ad money every three months. Fun-size, not one of those huge things, they’re expensive.
Now, if you decide to use my patented go/no go reading gauge, what you do with the extra four hours a day you save by closing the browser when you see these terms is entirely up to you. Perhaps you can use some of it to tune in tomorrow when I’ll defame women writers with hyphenated names and men who shave their heads while sporting a Van Dyke.