The End Is . . . Oh, That Was Just The Lights Flickering

Can you imagine anything weirder than a web site dedicated to telling you how to prepare to and eventually escape your city home/environment when something really BIG happens – bigger, even, than the crazy conclusion of The Sopranos? Or the resignation/firing of yet another big-football-university’s head coach? Or the discovery of irrefutable evidence that Tom Cruise is a Baptist?

Well, there’s this guy who’s been spinning out new web sites of that apocalyptic-event-anticipating nature faster than Homer devours a (smallish) bone.

Last week, his big thing was about some food additive (or something like that) that few people in the civilized world or elsewhere have ever heard of, never mind have any reason to fear. Next up was Treason.news, “the new partner site featuring Dave Hodges! [Well known, of course, to treason lovers or opposers everywhere in his own mind, but not far beyond it.] On Treason.news, you’ll find analysis [sic] of the police state, government tyranny against citizens, martial law and more.”

You’d expect a web site with that name – cleverly using the .news top-level domain name – to offer up articles under headlines such as “Attack from within: Have radical extremists already taken residence in America?” – exhibiting quite clearly that the site’s writers, editors, sponsors, whatevers, don’t read the newspapers or TheDailyBeast.com. But an item headlined “Police are now stealing your ‘stuff’ to protect you from theft” gives the concept of ‘treason’ a whole new meaning. (Note: Advise Wikipedia to get on this.)

Then came, fairly recently, Bugout.news. With headlines such as “What to do before your taps run dry,” .”Don’t make these 5 bugout mistakes,” and “Putting together a vehicle ‘bugout’ kit,” it’s easy to see how quickly these Chicken Littles imagine the sky is falling.

The guy producing this crap looks the part – like someone just busted out from the upper end of the Millennials age group, a self-impressed entrepreneur who sees his path to fortune involving throwing lots of things – web sites, in this case – at the wall and watching, then pursuing, what sticks.

His other sites include Freedom.news (which “celebrates and defends freedom and free speech; It covers transgressions against liberty as well as news on overcoming tyranny and expressing free speech”) and Guns.news, which could teach the NRA a thing or two about how to protect and defend private individuals right to own weapons designed solely to kill other individuals – preferably in countries where, sensibly or not, we or another opposing force have ‘feet on the ground’.

The truly sad truths are that [1] people such as this guy, who are clearly driven by forces alien to the hearts and minds of most people, can spew as much of this garbage as they want to – without needing to drag a garbage can to the curb or haul a trunk full of it to a municipal dumpster every few days, as I do – and [2] there’s an unfortunately-sizable audience (that, fortunately – whew!! – is, and hopefully ever will be, just a fraction of the population) who suck this stuff up.

Some who read this may be old enough to have heard television described, in a 1961 speech by Newton Minow, then the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission under President John F. Kennedy, as “a vast wasteland”.

“When television is good, nothing – not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers – is  better,” he said. “But when television is bad, nothing is worse.”

The same can be said today, with triple emphasis, of the internet.

I remember reading, in the very early days of the internet as we know it – in the early 1980’s – a user comment complaining that commercial entities were set on using it to host advertising. “We’ll never allow it,” that ill-advised user declared. Little did he know.

And little could anyone have imagined then where we are today: With a totally amazing network that enables a significant portion of the world’s population to access – sometimes easily, sometimes not so – virtually any type or quantity of information they could want, almost instantly (or within a few minutes, depending on access speed).

In the late 1980’s, in a pre-internet-as-we-know-it world, when I was a news editor at Prodigy, the original online news and information service, we delivered the service via dial-up modems – at the incredibly low speed of 2400 baud [bits per second]. As the technology advanced, and we jumped up to a delivery speed of 4800 baud then, almost overnight, to several times that rate, the few of us working in that incredible online environment experienced a miracle occurring before our very eyes.

Then came Microsoft’s Windows operating system (OS). That swamped, in terms of connectivity and productive progress, everything that existed before it.

Windows was the beginning of the end for Prodigy, which had many millions of dollars invested in technology that could not be adapted to Windows’ standards. But Windows could be used to help newsroom editors deliver Prodigy’s news content faster and more efficiently. I was the ground-breaker, the newsroom guy first permitted to experiment with this new OS, and colleagues hung over my shoulders with bugging-out eyes as they watched me use two, three windows virtually at once! It was, truly, a brand new world.

It was a brand world soon to be populated by people emotionally prepared and even anxious to produce the likes of treason.news – sites focused on and filled with assorted kinds of other rubbish. (One of the weirdest, very early on, was a site featuring Barbie dolls – singly and in pairs – posed in provocative, practically pornographic ways. It was hilarious – but not in Mattel’s eyes: Barbie’s owner had that site shut down tout de suite!)

Sadly, as P.T. Barnum was (incorrectly) accused of saying, ‘there’s a sucker born every minute’, and most of them, the gullible among us, are willing (and almost anxious) to accept the likes of treason.news as literally as many of them accept the text of the bible – which, over the centuries, has been produced in so many versions it’s hard to imagine much of it has survived in the form set down by eye-witnesses or supposed biographers.

Read what you want. Believe what you will. Be glad that you have the right – and the freedom, in the U.S., at any rate – to do so!

Please checkout Commotion In The Pews, an eclectic blog by a brilliant (ex-Naval Intelligence) guy with a fascinating range of interests and a hobby being Santa, wherever he’s invited, in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

Some of what Joe Courtemanche writes about probably won’t excite you, but at the very least, you more than likely will be impressed by his common sense, and the way he tells his tales.

And on my behalf, please pass on news of this blog to everyone you think might find it interesting. We cover an assortment of issues, most of which, in one way or another, concern – or should concern – a broad swath of the population, in the U.S. and elsewhere.

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