Monday, 11 July 2005

Dumb(ing down) asses

When I check news headlines online, I tend to verify the stories on three different publications, as opinions of what is news-worthy and what to say about it can differ substantially. One of the reasons I only buy weeklies is that the important news is online anyway, and all you get extra in the printed version are the useless local stories. I've often wondered what do our SA journalists do these days for most of the day, as most stories seem to come from the news agencies like SAPA, Reuters, AFP etc. It's only these agencies that write actual new news stories, requiring some understanding of the world, which then gets copied and pasted by the local papers.

Increasingly, reading three online publications is just as worthless, because the same story and the same text is just repeated ad infinitum... the same stories get repeated under the "Funny and weird" section (usually about China)... the same pictures get published... the same mistakes get made over and over and over again.

Like the story everyone is running again today, written by some sap at SAPA, about the two scientists that have discovered time travel backwards causes to much interference and you can therefore not theoretically travel backwards to other scenarios. IOL first runs this stunning headline: "Quantum Theory rubbished as mumbo jumbo" then follows it up with the SAPA cut-and-paste job, which ends with probably the stupidest, dumbest comment since... well, since Bush crashed his bicycle again. Check this:

"Their theory makes nonsense of the movie Back To The Future, in which the character played by Michael J Fox had to ensure that his prospective parents actually met."

Holy crap! How inane can you get? What, I ask with bitter tears streaming down my grizly cheaks, does this mean? That the writer knows his 80s movies? That the Back To The Future movies were supposed to be hardcore realism? That the makers always defended it as the truth? That Einstein's brain can be reduced to this?

It's just sad, very sad. And it's everywhere... mostly in standardised high-culture languages.

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