Editor’s Note: When I first started this blog, I had a vision that it would be a collection of essays on a range of topics not only written by me, but also by others: My basket – Their baskets. Apparently they don’t call me Nostradamas for a reason – my “vision” sucks. Four and a half years later, no one else has volunteered to be a contributing editor. So I changed my strategy from recruiting to conscripting, and today I am thrilled to post an essay from a collection of the Friday Good News pieces, written by Rusty Harper and usually sent by email to a select group of his family, friends, and co-workers. And forwarded by those same family, friends, and co-workers to their family, friends, and coworkers, who then forward them to their family, friends, and co-workers, etc. I feel that there is a much more efficient way for these delightful pieces to be shared by the world at large (What – you didn’t realize 2HH had an international readership? You should see all the comments I get in Russian, Chinese, Swahili, just to mention a few.) Yesterday, before leaving for the day, I asked him if I could publish that morning’s essay. I obviously caught him off-guard, with his defenses down and he agreed. Please read, enjoy, and refer your friends here to enjoy also. This piece is copyrighted, so cannot be shared without crediting the author.
I believe everything I read. I am a newspaper/magazine literalist. I figure that if they went to the trouble to print something, they must have checked all the facts so that we could rely on it as being the absolute truth. I believe that newspapers pay all those fact-checkers so much that they canâ€™t afford proofreaders.
Iâ€™m much more uncertain about the internet. If itâ€™s not really printed, do they feel as obligated to do a reality check? Is it true that the moon landing, Elvisâ€™ death, and Obamaâ€™s birth certificate were all fabricated to fool the masses? Is John F. Kennedyâ€™s brain alive inside a government complex in a cave deep beneath the Rockies in Colorado, where he converses with aliens who visit the U.S. on regular basis? My theory is that if you are doing something permanent, like committing a story to print, then of course you are under a high moral obligation to be completely factual. If you can change what you wrote with a delete key, as on a computer, then you donâ€™t have to be very careful. The Friday Good News is predicated on this theory.
Wikipedia is another example. Itâ€™s an internet encyclopedia written by anybody who cares to weigh in â€“ and you can change whatever you donâ€™t like by rewriting it yourself. Is any particular article factual? Maybe yes, maybe no. Apparently it stays there by majority opinion. You can only tell for sure by looking it up in a real (printed) encyclopedia.
If that is true of the internet, then what are we to make of the spoken word on TV? The words arenâ€™t even written down, except on teleprompters which we, the audience, never see. Who are the teleprompter writers? They are anonymous, and their words are never recorded for posterity. They can be as irresponsible as the local anonymous commenters to online newspaper stories, and often they are.
I donâ€™t want you to think Iâ€™m giving up on the Helena Independent Record. Never. I believe that our little paper has so few stories in it about the rest of the world at large because they have to spend so much time checking to be sure that we are getting the pure, unvarnished truth. We are provincial, but what we know, we know with confidence.
The IR is not my only canâ€™t-lie-because-itâ€™s-printed source of news and information. I also read the Economist, a British magazine chock-full of world news. I read it a little late, because I get it as hand-me-down from my parents. Since we live in Montana, which is perpetually 20 years behind the rest of the nation, what does it matter if Iâ€™m a few weeks behind on the news in the Economist?
And what do I read in this hard-print source that never lies? Just recently I learned that scientists are doing research on why women are attracted to men. I can imagine those nerdy scientist guys saying, â€œIf we can figure this out, we will be kings.â€
The research made the startling discovery that women have to make a choice between more masculine features on some men and ordinary features on the rest of us. The magazine has a picture of Brad Pitt, looking hunky in ancient battle armor. I believe he is portraying Achilles, the greatest of the Greek warriors in the Iliad.
According to the researchers, the more manly features, such as a big jaw or a prominent brow, reflect physical and behavioral traits like strength and aggression, as well as physiological traits like virility and a sturdy immune system.
So why doesnâ€™t every women go for the big hunk with the good genes? According to the jealous little science nerds, aggression is fine when directed at outward threats, but is a problem in domestic situations. Sexual prowess â€œensures plenty of progeny,â€ but often is part of promiscuity, and â€œa tendency to shirk parental duties or leave the mother altogether.â€
Shame on you, Achilles, you heel.
The science boys (I doubt there were any female scientists in this research, since it didnâ€™t involve doing anything with Brad Pitt except looking at his picture) conclude, and I quote, â€œSo, whenever a woman has to choose a mate, she must decide whether to place a premium on the hunkâ€™s choicer genes or the wimpâ€™s love and care.â€
I didnâ€™t need this article to know why Pat preferred me over Brad Pitt. At the time she and I met, he was only 13. The more scientific question is why she would choose me over Robert Redford, who was one of the national heartthrobs at the time in question. I can imagine her pondering the difficult choice â€“ should she take the man who is handsome, rich, famous, romantic, every womanâ€™s dream, and also sensitive, intelligent, and active in causes that she supports? Or should she pick the scrawny, average-looking, failed-musician English major with no career prospects?
Itâ€™s a bit of a puzzle when you put it that way, so I asked Pat directly why she picked me. She said Robert Redford wasnâ€™t available.
So much for the research. Donâ€™t believe everything you read.