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The Inevitable Afterbirth

Such balmy words he pour’d, but all in vain:The proffer’d med’cine but provok̵

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  1. What translation of the Aeneid is that?

    Also, the quotes at the beginning and the mention of “critics” reminded me of:

    “‘Tis hard to say, if greater want of skill
    Appear in writing or in judging ill;
    But, of the two, less dang’rous is th’ offence
    To tire our patience, than mislead our sense.
    Some few in that, but numbers err in this,
    Ten censure wrong for one who writes amiss;
    A fool might once himself alone expose,
    Now one in verse makes many more in prose.”

    • Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism
  2. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    The Dryden (and Pope’s always amazing)

  3. Part of what’s going on is that within a couple of weeks after a typical newsworthy event, you kind of run out of new facts to talk about. Things still happen, but only in a slow dribble, not enough to sustain the business model. So coverage gets more and more recursive.
    This is the opportunity for Fiat News, the immune system of the status quo, to step in and restore equilibrium. But you know how when you die of the flu, it’s actually the immune response that kills you…

  4. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Yes, I think that’s right. I have a separate note in some degree of disarray on this topic more generally, but yes: narrative abhors a vacuum.

    Your second analogy is really clever and should have made its way into this note. Ah well!

  5. So, is the decision, after week one or two of coverage, to tell us how to think done by some behind-the-scenes cabal (if so who?) or is it, as it appears, more of a decentralized, instinctual media response, maybe even, with some good intent (but still wrong)?

    Also, just an fyi, but sometimes I have to log-on to ET two or three times to get it to “stick” as, sometimes (like today), the system keeps telling me to log-on even after my first and second log-on efforts (from a cloud held password - hence, I didn’t type it wrong).

  6. I think there’s a very difficult line to walk for journalists, and that line is in between Fiat News/Gell-Mann Amnesia-inducing stories/and sufficient context.

    For example, a friend of mine covers a state capitol - he generally TRIES to just print facts. But a lot of the time it is impossible to actually understand what’s going on given only “facts.”

    The example: The governor promotes a ban on vaping, he does this ostensibly to prevent the death of youngsters. The ACTUAL reason is that he wants to both undercut his more liberal rivals and to ensure campaign donations and support from certain anti-vaping lobbying groups. In addition, if he runs for President he can use his attempt to ban vaping (whether the bill passes or fails) as example of how he’s willing to use the power of the state to save the young ones. But just reporting the “facts” it’s difficult to convey the amoral political motives of such a move. So eventually the story becomes “Shady Governor Makes Power Move to Ban Vaping” to try and get readers to understand what’s actually going on, but which facts alone can’t prove or convey, most of the time.

    So I think sometimes narratives arise because journalists are trying to provide adequate context to a story as well.

    That was a bad example but, you know, I just made it up so…

  7. Avatar for rwgood rwgood says:

    It will be interesting to see if the narrative shifts to “well, maybe its not that deadly but it could wreck the Chinese economy” or the world economy for that matter. See Walter Russell Mead in WSJ “the Sick man of Asia”

  8. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    We’re aware of the (odd) login issue and are working to resolve. Sorry.

    I don’t think there’s a cabal. I don’t think it’s a conspiracy. I think well-meaning people with earnest beliefs, when surrounded by people who think the same things, begin to see matters of opinion as self-evident. There is an element of paternalism to it, sure, but I generally ascribe very little ill intent.

  9. Thank you - kind of felt like the soft version to me, too - but I really like your “…see matters of opinion as self-evident” step.

    Hey, thinking about the login issue and all the tech issues you’ve had around ET Live! and, as someone who works from home for himself (so am quite familiar with how “small” tech issues can take up large amounts of time), I wonder if the answer to the “missing” tech-driven productivity boom isn’t staring us in the face every day we fritter away time Googling problems, going down dead-end solution streets and calling tech support (a modern hell we all just accept).

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