Breaking News: Our Daily Soap Opera

The News cycle is designed to keep us tuned in for the next installment. It’s purpose is to make us believe that if we don’t check in every hour we will miss out on something important. The article quoted below was written some time ago, however most people still don’t know the real history of news reporting and how it has changed over time.

If you understand the purpose of our modern day news cycle, then it can help to put the little information we get into context and hopefully remove some of the anxiety it produces in us. We do not have to live in a continuous crisis mode.

What has emerged, Weaver argues, is a culture of lying. “The culture of lying,” he writes, “is the discourse and behavior of officials seeking to enlist the powers of journalism in support of their goals, and of journalists seeking to co-opt public and private officials into their efforts to find and cover stories of crisis and emergency response. It is the medium through which we Americans conduct most of our public business (and a lot of our private business) these days.” The result, he says, is a distortion of the constitutional role of government into an institution that must continually resolve or appear to resolve crises; it functions in “a new and powerful permanent emergency mode of operation.”

The architect of the transformation was not a political leader or a constitutional convention but Joseph Pulitzer, who in 1883 bought the sleepy New York World and in 20 years made it the country’s largest newspaper. Pulitzer accomplished that by bringing drama to news—by turning news articles into stories with a plot, actors in conflict, and colorful details. In the late nineteenth century, most newspaper accounts of government actions were couched in institutional formats, much like the minutes of a board meeting and about as interesting. Pulitzer turned them into stories with a sharp dramatic focus that both implied and aroused intense public interest. Most newspapers of the time looked like the front page of the Wall Street Journal still does. Pulitzer made stories dramatic by adding blaring headlines, big pictures, and eye-catching graphics. His journalism took events out of their dry, institutional contexts and made them emotional rather than rational, immediate rather than considered, and sensational rather than informative. The press became a stage on which the actions of government were a series of dramas.

Why the News Is Not the Truth by Peter Vanderwicken, Harvard Business Review (May-June 1995)

“All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes…”

Philosophers say that time is about motion and change, but life is about struggle. We struggle to survive, to grow, to find our place in a world that has lost its sense of being.

I’ve always loved this melancholy song by Tanita Tikaram. Her husky voice mixed with the haunting notes of an oboe capture perfectly the anxieties of today’s youth as they navigate a culture that no longer provides them with a sense of purpose and meaning.

Background

The first line of the song, “All God’s children need traveling shoes”, is the title of a book by writer/poet Maya Angelou.

Speaking about the somewhat obscure and enigmatic lyrics, Tikaram has offered different views on their meaning, but said it’s mostly about the particular relationship with the world one feels when entering adulthood. “The song is really about not understanding – when you’re 18, you’ve got a very particular emotional relationship with the world, you feel very isolated, and everybody else is so distant and cold. And I think I was singing about not feeling anything or not being moved by things around. I think this is a strong feeling when you’re just after adolescence.”

Malcolm Messiter plays the oboe on the song,

Wikipedia

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Culture: Where do We Go From Here?

Culture is a catch-all word that encompasses a great many categories and ideas about how human beings live. On one level, culture is about what we do every day. For example, if we leave our homes to go to work our culture is about why we go to work, how we go to work, what we wear to work and what we do at work. Our behavior and attitudes towards work are part of our culture.

Another meaning of culture is the art and ideas that a group of people produce. To be cultured, means one is familiar with and understands what is considered the best of one’s culture. 

On a more abstract level, culture explains who we are as well as our individual roles in society. A stable culture offers explanations of itself to us that are consistent and understandable. To do this effectively it must answer three fundamental questions about human life:

Who are we?
Where did we come from?
Where are we going?

An example of a cultural response to these questions is the Baltimore Catechism. It was the text used to teach young Catholics about their faith. As you can see, the first few questions from the very first chapter answers these questions in a clear and straightforward manner:

Continue reading “Culture: Where do We Go From Here?”

Do you experience guilt over housework? How not to lose your mind… Part 2

You’ve spent the whole day at work, or you’ve been home taking care of the kids, or you’ve managed to squeeze out some time for yourself after taking care of everyone else.  Now, exhausted, you sink into a chair after a good day’s work and look around.

This is Part 2 of a 2 part series.
Part 1 can be found here:

 

Tell the truth. How bad is it? Do you have piles of unfolded laundry flowing onto the floor? How’s the trash situation? Is every flat surface you have in your house fully covered? How long has it been since the dishes have been done? Let’s not even talk about the bathroom.

Don’t despair. First, it’s important to recognize that our culture gives us mixed signals about housework. On the one hand, we feel guilty about a dirty house while on the other, housework belongs to a category of work which is beneath us – unless we’re paid to do it. We have a distorted view of physical work in this country and I for one, am tired of being pushed around about it. I want some level of cleanliness in my home.

So, the second thing to do is to decide what level of cleanliness you can realistically do. You need to consider your work hours, your commitments to family and friends, your health, and your budget.   

If you are working full time or you have a chronic health condition, you might consider someone coming in once a week or longer to get to the things you cannot get to. If neither of these are possible because of your budget, you can still manage to keep some order by attending to a limited number of tasks each day.

And to help you get started, I highly recommend the following book:

How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind by Dana K. White

(Please note that I get a commission if you use that link)

I really liked this book because it was close to my own approach to housework: I hate everything about it, but I also like the results of a tidy home. Also, I learned something new that helped me with some tasks that I was still struggling with and how to fix what I was doing wrong.

Continue reading “Do you experience guilt over housework? How not to lose your mind… Part 2”

Do you experience guilt over housework? We’re all there…Part 1

In the last century technology freed men and women from many time-consuming daily tasks. It was such a rapid, sweeping change that in the 60s people envisioned a time when all labor would be replaced by machines.[e.g. The Jetsons: The Complete First Season ]

This is Part 1 of a 2 part series
Part 2 is here:

I grew up in an era that proclaimed housekeeping a ball and chain holding women back from their true potential. It was a time when all the skills women had accumulated over millennia were belittled and considered worthless. It was a time where Home Economics classes were still taught in public schools (in the late 60s) and yet we were hearing through the culture that women should refuse to do these things in order to be free.

The women in my own family knew how to cook and clean, how to sew and knit, how to organize a dinner party and some of them actually had a college degree and went to work. They did it all. But, I did notice that they had very little time to devote to any creative activity of their own. They were still expected to keep an immaculate home and prepare homecooked meals every night.


By the time I went to college (late 70s), attitudes about women were changing for the better. I was in a Physics class (my major) with three or four other young women. We were holding our own and there was no talk of women not belonging in the sciences. We were going to make the same kinds of intellectual strides as the men.


However, by the ‘80s women were beginning to regret that they never learned domestic skills or, as in my case, failed to practice what they had been taught. They felt guilty that they were not able to do the things their mothers and grandmothers could do.

This anxiety was exemplified in the comedy called “For Richer, For Poorer” starring Kirstie Alley and Tim Allen where a well to do couple, whose marriage is on the rocks, ends up hiding from a crazed IRS agent in an Amish community.


Caroline (Kirstie Alley): Every day’s a reminder that I don’t know how to do anything.

Brad (Tim Allen): You’re feeling sorry for yourself.

Caroline: No, I’m not. These women know how to do everything. Hell, I can’t even cook or sew. [pause] I’m domestically challenged.

Brad: [laughs]

Caroline: I feel so useless here.

A link to the video at amazon is below. (Please note that I get a commission if you use that link):

Continue reading “Do you experience guilt over housework? We’re all there…Part 1”