Tuesday, September 28, 2004

A Little Less Terror is a Good Thing

I was reading my daily news update, called "Today's Papers," on Slate. I find this daily update to be both a useful summary of the news and of news reporting, as the summary includes the headlines of all major US papers as well as which papers front what -- and often asks why they do so. It reminds you, sometimes scarily, of the power of media to decide what is important. It also is a quick digest of the major news which saves me from having to deal with a whole paper, as well as avoiding television news which I find bizarre and loud.

In yesterday's edition, there was this passage regarding terrorist alerts, " ...according to James M. Loy, deputy secretary of Homeland Security, "We must find a way to hold onto the sense of urgency, and hold it potentially for decades."" Slate then offers a contrasting view from Harper's magazine.

It's a joy to read. If you want to breathe a little easier after all of this terror stuff, just for a little bit, please check out the article now.

As an aside, I find some folks' obsession with being up to the moment on all news to be baffling. If something important happens, don't you think you'll find out about it? Isn't it stressful and time-consuming to constantly assault your awareness with updates on the state of things, all of which may change by tomorrow? A passage in Lost Horizon by James Hilton has stuck with me all of these years: the visitor to a remote country find out that the country's leader has access to a newspaper only once a year. When the visitor expresses his shock at the lack of information, the leader smiles and tells him that if the news is important enough, it will appear in that yearly newspaper access or in some other way.

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