Dinosaur Droppings in My Driveway
A coprolite.I found a fresh dinosaur dropping in my drive way the other day. No, not a fossilized version like that pictured above, but the current sort of dinosaur dropping. There was an unsolicited, environmentally unfriendly, old fashioned newspaper in my driveway. The local commie rag was trying to drum up subscriptions again. Apparently, the effects of my phone call to the editor a few years ago asking them to cease and desist littering my property ("Do I have to come down there?") had worn off.
Gingerly, I examined the artifact from a bygone era. "So primates somewhere are still making these things" I said to myself in amazement, "I wonder why?" Searching the long-forgotten memories of my distant past, I tried to remember the last time I had need of a newspaper. Was it after that fishing trip? No, my catch had not been large enough.
Curiosity got the better of me as I transported the archeological find into my home and examined its contents. It was a foolhardy move, because I could not check the article for contamination until I had opened it. Sure enough, contamination was present- in the form of poor logic, selective presentation of facts, and failed ideology. Clearly, the fate of this medium had more problems than its low-tech delivery system (which relative to the net was like using stone axes in a world of laser-guided computer controlled lathes).
The front page was about the mayor of a nearby town complaining that news reports from other sources (not the staff of this paper) made it seem like bidders for bond issue services had to "pay to play." He assured the readers (I use the plural here on the assumption that someone else besides me got curious enough about the tube of trash that had appeared in their yards to open it up) that he and the bond dealers pushing for this thing were on the up and up.
The piece was wholly one-sided. No views dissenting from the Mayor's appeared in the piece, and to my great frustration I found there was no place on the top of the paper to open a new tab and search for any information about the other side of the story. It seemed like the entire purpose of the front page "news" story was to assure readers that the Mayor and the bond dealers the Mayor was working with were, despite any reports to the contrary, completely upright in their dealings.
I am sure it was mere coincidence that one of those bond dealers was Stephens Inc. I believe the same folks who run Stephens also control the paper the story was reported in, but I could not find anywhere in the article exonerating Stephens where this fact was mentioned. It must not have been important.
Leaving the "news" section I turned to the editorials with great curiosity. Here I might gain insight into the values and belief systems of a quaint and primitive culture. Most of it was the standard pro-corporate establishment stuff I got from broadcast news, but a few things did stand out. One was an article which belittled the contributions of Ron Paul and suggested to his supporters that they mostly forget about all of his silliness and come back to the reservation.
So at least these savages were familiar with the name of Ron Paul, though they had an extremely garbled view of his contributions to the nation's political process. Their vast distance from technological civilization probably distorted their perceptions. But while Paul supporters made up about 13% of his party's electorate around here, I could not imagine what would lead them to believe that many of those supporters would wander into the dusty pages to read, much less heed, their advice. The experience was much like one might have if one looked into the sky and observed smoke signals from some forgotten Indian tribe containing a message advising Wal-Mart on how to proceed with inventory control measures.
Rounding out the editorial pages was a long column claiming that "the time was now" for Arkansas to pass an ERA amendment. If you are old enough, you might remember the ERA from the 1970s. It had it's heyday somewhere around the time of polyester leisure suits with bell bottom pants. Yet this newspaper was advising us that "the time was now" for America to get behind this archaic measure. Groovy.
I put down the newspaper and mentally returned to the present century. Did the rest rooms where this stuff was written even have running water? After chuckling with amusement for a few seconds I had a sobering thought. What if there was a significant group of voters who looked at these anachronistic implements not as a whimsical blast from the past, but rather as a legitimate source of information used to shape ones present perceptions?
A chill ran through my spine as I contemplated the sort of idiocy such a population might actually believe. The fear soon passed though. Why, a society where voters and politicians took their cues from newspapers like this one would be so out of touch with reality and so mentally backward that its government would be nearly dysfunctional! The very thought seemed ridiculous, once I had time to consider it. I then placed the artifact in a repository commiserate with its value (the nearest garbage can) and settled into my computer chair to catch the news.