Reading the Newspaper (53 cents)

I still read newspapers, getting three delivered to the house each day, and wondering about the amount of paper wasted (even though recycled) each week. And, of course, I can’t read three newspapers a day, so I generally read the Washington Post rather thoroughly, turn the pages of the New York Times reading only what interests me (although it is, today, a much better paper than the Post, and reading through the front and features sections of the Wall Street Journal when I have time.

I also, at various times during the typical day, will read on-line the opening pages of and, sometimes clicking on articles.

These are my normal news sources.

Perhaps it would be better if I read everything on line, but my eyes cannot adapt to reading long articles on my laptop screen (actually, reading on my Ipad sitting on my lap is easier for me), and the articles you get in the mainstream media on line are generally somewhat abbreviated. And, perhaps most important, I am used to and like the feel of the paper.

But, how much do I really learn reading the paper. Truth be told, news is so omnipresent these days, that as I look at headlines, I normally say “I knew that”, and as I read through the articles, I either say once more “I knew that”, or I say “This is too detailed for me to either think about remembering”. (I call that the Jim Moore syndrome, after a junior high school classmate, who sat in the back of the room and mumbled, in response to every teacher query either “That’s too easy” or “How do you expect us to know that?” Where are you today, Jim Moore?)

But there are things I don’t know in each newspaper, sometimes hidden deep within a story, where I almost never get on-line. Let’s look at the front section of today’s Washington Post.

1. “U.S. officials said that the dose rate [of radiation in California from the damaged Japanese nuclear plant] was about one-millionth of what a person ‘normally receives from rocks, bricks, the sun and other natural background sources'”. Sounds like we should be worried all the time.

2. Because of the protests in Yemen, the president issued an order which enables him to “restrict civil rights and monitor communications”. So citizens of Yemen enjoyed civil rights?

3. The World Meteorological Society has retired the names Igor and Tomas from the hurricane list.

4. If you get a “letter of censure” in the military, you will probably never be promoted.

5. 80% of black smokers smoke menthol cigarettes, although only 30% of cigarettes sold are menthol. Menthol smokers have a harder time quitting.

6. There was an attack on civilians in the Ivory Coast that killed at least 40. Presumably instigated by troops loyal to unrecognized President Gbagbo, the recognized president said the attack was “unimaginable”. (He must be someone who doesn’t read the news.) And in the same Ivory Coast, a 55 year old salesman escaped the attack uninjured. He concluded that “God spared me”, which I assume means that he believes that God wanted the other 40 dead.

7. “Biologists estimate that Mexican fishermen annually catch more than 50,000 sharks illegally in U.S. waters….” A Mexican fisherman said “It’s the same game every day. They chase us, sometimes seizing our boats. And the next day we do it again.”

8. “Zimbabwe is sliding into a police state”, according to the co-President. Already?

9. Former President Aristide of Haiti returned to the country yesterday, accompanied by…….Danny Glover.

10. A CIA drone air strike that killed 40 in Waziristan harmed US-Pakistani relations. (Another surprise)

11. The average age of those killed in the Japanese tsunami was 65 and the median age 72!!

12. “Last week, Director of Intelligence James R. Clapper, Jr., estimated that 75 to 80 percent of Libya’s aircraft are ‘non-operational'”. I bet he is wrong.


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