Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Middle Of The Octave

Well, close enough, anyway...

1. Another missing aircraft.

By now, you’ve probably heard about the newly missing AirAsia flight out of Indonesia. This isn’t something to take lightly, as there are 162 people on board. Some of them might even be non-Muslims. But what comes to mind immediately is that this will be the top story on every news organ in the world until the fate of the plane is known.

Why is that significant? Because disasters involving aircraft have become so infrequent! Time was, you were guaranteed to read about a handful of air disasters every year. The usual crash or collision took hundreds of lives. (Dustin Hoffman’s character in Rain Man had a point.) Yet today, even though commercial aircraft are, on average, far older than they were when they seemed to be falling from the sky as if pulled down by Godzilla, we hardly ever hear of an air disaster, at least one involving planes from Europe or the Western Hemisphere. That’s what makes them newsworthy events.

Compare and contrast with the media’s initial treatment of the Apollo 13 flight.


2. The Rafael Ramos funeral.

Yes, the cops really did turn their backs on New York City mayor Bill de Blasio. Moreover, he deserved it. But the most important aspect of the event is what it implies for the future of de Blasio’s term of office.

It’s been said that you cannot govern a city like New York without the support of the police. I would dispute that to some degree, as an American city tends to self-police to a high degree. However, the municipal unions are critical to maintaining a mayor’s control of the city administration...and the New York police, firemen, and non-uniformed municipal employees have powerful unions that tend to act in sympathy with one another. Should they decide that de Blasio is undeserving of their cooperation and support, he’ll become a “lame duck” well before the usual time.


3. Less news is...less news!

Derek Hunter’s column of today contains this statement:

Fox News serves an invaluable purpose, but aside from "Special Report with Bret Baier," there isn’t a whole lot of “news” happing there anymore.

But how much “news,” defined in the traditional fashion as reportage on recent events of general significance or interest, is there to be had from any media outlet? And if there isn’t much being reported, might the reason be that not much of general significance or interest is actually happening? And if not much is happening, wouldn’t that be, by the old maxim, a good rather than a bad thing?

Robert A. Heinlein once posited that the greater part of human neurosis can be traced to our unhealthful habit of wallowing in the troubles of billions of strangers. There’s a lot of truth in that. The remaining question is whether wallowing in the troubles of friends, family, and neighbors, as reported by local papers and shopping circulars, is any improvement.


4. How’s your shooting from a moving vehicle?

Dan Mitchell’s column of today on the use of red-light traffic cameras as revenue-generating instruments should raise a few hackles on freedom-minded folks. And of one thing we may be sure: what brings in revenue, the State, in all its evil glory, will never, ever abandon. (When was a tax last repealed in these United States?)

Here on Long Island, we have a comparable case: the use of automatic speed-measuring devices by Nassau County to generate revenue. County executive Ed Mangano, a Republican, wants to retain them, despite a unanimous vote by the county legislature that they be abolished. His reason? It would punch a hole in his budget.

Still feeing sanguine about the GOP’s takeover of Congress and so many state legislatures?


5. Test readers.

My thanks to those of you who have volunteered to be test readers for the first draft of Polymath. If I’ve missed any of you, shoot me a note at my Yahoo address and I’ll make sure you get a copy.

There’s no “deadline,” as my cover artist is badly backed up at the moment. However, sooner is always better than later. And thanks again.

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