THERE'S a small tug of melancholy in reading better informed bloggers when one's time has been directed away from The News, even for the thrill-a-minute world of wallpaper removal. It pulls even as one admits to oneself that they're better informed even when I am paying attention.
(This is what I have learned, or rather re-learned, from home improvement: had they convicted me back in '73, and given me Life, not only would I still be working on the opening of the tunnel, I would now be on my tenth color scheme and sixth sharpened spoon design, the preceding five having proven too wide or too long by millimeters.)
Of course the Big News still filters through, although I'm unable to explain whether it's personal experience or simple common sense that informs my certainty that the British "car bomb" stories have been misreported in a way that might, (coincidentally, I'm sure) enhance their marketability. Or, to be more precise, someone's idea of their marketability, since the public is well ahead of The Press on this one, as on most things.
Recurrent Transient News Irritation Syndrome. It began, as so often, with a localized rash, despite the Grim News from Overseas that utter incompetents had failed to blow up a Mercedes. On Friday Channel 8 sent its Chief Meteorologist/Tech Reporter out to cover the literally dozens of people lined up to buy an iPhone. I'm sure the other stations did as well, but they don't have someone assigned to the Geek beat. The only thing that stopped him from talking about The Hype was the requirement to mention the $500-600 price tag every two sentences. This might be termed "palindromic reportage"--wherever you start with it you wind up back where you began. A) The proper response to Hype is Inattention; B) $500 was a lot of money when I spent it on a (demo model) Betamax in 1977: today, it's not, except by comparison to the throwaway prices of consumer electronics; C) this is the same guy who's been actively hyping a different gadget or gizmo every week since they created the position as a sop to him for hiring a Weather Bunny to do the primetime chores. He's a teevee weatherman, fer chrissakes. He hypes rain. He hypes breezy for cryin' out loud. He tells people to be sure their dogs are properly hydrated. It was like listening to some guy rail about Perverted Homo Sex with another man's fist up his rectum.
Speaking of which--hype, I mean, not Perverted Homo Rectal Adventuring, which we'll be covering on Wednesday--at some point during the weekend I believe I stumbled onto video of the police blowing up a second car bomb on their own, something the Times confirms. (Once cable news goes wall-to-wall you can forget about figuring out any temporal relations without watching for thirty minutes or more. I have no idea if I saw the thing go up live, or the following day, or if it was, in fact, file footage of a soccer riot.) Has anyone explained why they did that, other than the really cool photos, I mean? It's a car full of gasoline. You can't just off-load it? Spring-cleaning my garage is a riskier act. (Note to self: spring-clean garage.) Or driving a Ford product.
Does this sort of thing actually qualify as terrorism? I'll grant you that, were I standing at an airport entrance--anywhere, actually--when I noticed a burning sedan and/or a couple of burning South Asians coming toward me, "terror" might, possibly, describe my reaction, but assuming the flames didn't spread, specifically to parts of my clothing, I'd get over it after a couple of drinks. Committing an act that more-or-less duplicates what one might conceivably face on any normal day with no political overtones at all--especially if one has frequent contact with the motorists of Illinois--whose life is this going to disrupt? Drunken teenagers with automobiles killed more people in Indianapolis this weekend than disgruntled Kurdish doctors did in the whole of Great Britain.
UPDATE: Her Majesty's government is now announcing the bombers had a link to al-Qaeda. Which, of course they did. It's the one the British government just announced.
Okay, okay, don't get me wrong. I do think Western governments should be concerning themselves with terrorism to the extent that major international plots involving shampoo, or groups of Middle-Eastern natives who plan to blow up the Sears Tower just as soon as they can find someone with the requisite money, explosives, expertise, and bus schedule, wind up in the nets. They should. But it'd be nice if The News figured out the difference between international terrorist threats and overgrown mailbox bombers, the same as everyone who can read and doesn't have a vested interest in amplifying the threat did so several years ago. Still, we watch as the story and the fires are fed, and the "car bomb" exploded (the iPhone! It's been hyped! It costs $500!) without even noticing that there's not so much as the half-assed frenzy that surrounded the Possible Toothpaste Bomb of less than one year ago. C'mon. Let's restrict purchases of gasoline and cell phones. Please?