Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Idiotic Yammering

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I have for the first time in my life acquired cable TV -- motivated by the unavailability otherwise of the Boston Red Sox, hey we all have our little vices.

Anyway, having noted (below) the pervasive ignorance of people who get their info from TV news, I figured I'd check it out. Last night was revealing indeed. The three broadcast networks nightly news programs, and the all-news cable channels, talked about pretty much absolutely nothing else but the Virginia Tech massacre -- the nightly news for the full half hour, and the cable news channels all evening long. I mean nothing else. Not for 10 seconds.

Here's what they knew during the half hour evening news shows.

Somebody shot and killed two people in a dormitory at a little after 7:00 am. About two hours later, a man entered a classroom building and shot about 50 people, about 30 of whom were dead. He killed himself as police closed in. Some witnesses had identified him as appearing "Asian."

That's it. I just told you 100% of the information that occupied the entire news broadcast.

After the responsible authorities held a press conference at 7:30, we learned the following additional facts.

The police still weren't sure that the classroom shooter was the dorm shooter, but they were working to confirm that. The classroom shooter used two weapons, a 22 caliber pistol and a 9 mm pistol. The classroom shooter had chained at least one set of doors shut. The university president also read out a brief timeline of the authorities' response to developing events.

In addition to these actual facts, there was a rumor (false, as it turns out), that the shooter was a Chinese national. That's it. All of the information could have been read out, slowly and clearly, in about 40 seconds. There was nothing else. Yet this is all they talked about for hours, from Lou Dobbs to Wolf Blitzer to Joe Scarborough.

Also yesterday, although none of these programs mentioned it, as far as I noticed, the U.S. military announced the deaths of 7 soldiers and marines in Iraq; the Sadrist bloc withdrew from the government; and dozens of people were shot to death around the country, including two university professors, as it happens. Currently, there are about 30 U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq every week -- the highest rate since the last few days of March, 2003 when the invasion was first launched.

Also, an e-mail showed unambigously that Alberto Gonzales had lied to Congress when he said he had no involvement in deciding which U.S. Attorneys to fire. He was closely involved in discussions about firing Carol Lam, prosecutor of Duke Cunningham. A big storm in the northeast caused a lot of flooding and power outages. A new installment of the report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had a lot of bad news for coastal areas of the U.S. The Urban League issued a discouraging report on the state of Black America. And so on.

But, if you get your information from TV news, you don't know any of that. You are an ignorant idiot, and you're too ignorant even to know it.

By the way: The yammering heads repeatedly assert that the events yesterday at VT were "the worst mass shooting in U.S. history." Not even close.

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