Thomas, nice work here sir - fine prose

I am starting a movement to ask Substack to put in a poetry section on the website - https://substack.com/profile/10309929-david/note/c-15537618

Feel free to support, and thank you as always :)

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“There's no new news, just old news with new dates” ― Henry David Thoreau

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I totally agree, and as someone who was part of the online media "industry" in various ways for twenty years or so from 1996-2015, I learned first-hand how the idea that news was somehow "supposed" to be unbiased was utter nonsense, when instead the "news" was mostly something cooked up to entertain readers to that they'd be more likely to pick up a paper—and end up looking at the classified ads, which are what really paid for the newsprint and the ink.

News is different from journalism, and different from wanting to know what's going on in your community, or with things that you're actually interested in. I wouldn't say that news is obsolete, but in my view (that close adjunct of news) advertising certainly is.

We just don't need advertising any longer (because it's so easy to find what little you actually need), and (as I wrote in a Note a few days ago) most of “news” is shadowy entertainment for folks with time to fill. Fuck both of 'em, really—but especially advertising.

This chapter of my memoir deals with some of this time in my life, and these themes:


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There's another aspect of the "news" which makes it worthless. The incessant speculation. Oh, I think this shall pass. By golly, so and so is in big trouble now probably! I do hereby predict that Mr. X will go to jail, or failing that, bed. Etc.

I used to be a news junky waiting by the entrance to the alley for my fix. But every time my dealer came by, he said nothing today, but I bet it’ll be real soon. Just keep waiting. I finally walked away. So much of the "news" these days is somebody's opinion on what might happen, designed to keep you in a perpetual state of hopeful distress. Hopeful it will come to pass, or hopeful that it won't. Either way is fine by the news as long as you stay plugged in.

What a great article and a great expression of the depth of thought that went into it. Many thanks, Tom.

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'I would wager that in the Western world there are more people who check their newsfeeds upon waking than their are those who say a prayer or read a line of scripture to start or end their day.'

This is HUGE, and a wake up for me. To see the need to start or end the day with news. So many of us do it. We get that first cup of coffee in the morning and flip through the headlines on our phones or computers. Sort of a comforting habbit that can be a day ruiner. Personally, the pandemic changed my whole view of mainstream news. I've cut a great deal of it out of my life, and I tell ya...it's a better life.

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Apr 9, 2022Liked by Thomas J Bevan

I am addicted to the news, I waste hours of the day reading it; sometimes making sure I’ve read all of it. I read the sun and the daily mail mostly as they are more sensational and I like them more, but I also look at the guardian bbc, and independent too. The horror that I come across on these news websites on a daily basis is simply awful and I am trying to wean myself off them. It is not beneficial or conducive to living a contented life. Thanks for this great article.

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Apr 4, 2022Liked by Thomas J Bevan

"Well for a start negative news is reported versus positive news on an over 17:1 ratio"

Curious to learn more. Do you have a source for this?

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Mar 29, 2022Liked by Thomas J Bevan

In a world of interconnected global supply chains, NOTHING is confined to our local environment. You're not wrong that the news is sensational and manipulative, but ignoring what's happening in the world outside your view is a huge mistake, made by those who wish to keep things simple enough to understand.

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Mar 29, 2022Liked by Thomas J Bevan

Thanks to the news, I found out about Bitcoin. It made me rich and saved me decades of work & put me in early retirement.

Please tell me again how the news is worthless.

Billionaire Investors do nothing else than read industry & technology news. Should they stop?

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Mar 28, 2022Liked by Thomas J Bevan

This post highlights an issue of 'tragedy of the commons'

1. In order to make decisions, we need to observe what is happening in the world. This is news. It's imperfect sampling, but if no one is collecting data, how can we as a society make decisions?

2. News has social value. People want common things to talk about. It would be great if everyone read 'War and Peace' and discussed philosophy, but since when has that ever happened at a bar or party

3. News builds community - with a common set of experiences, people can agree on the 'social fabric' of a set of facts relevant to daily lives.

News falls routinely and woefully short of handling these 3 problems - but I don't think we've found a better solution yet. In part because of the economics - the people driving subscription to the news are the 'addicts' not the 'general population' who would be better served by centrist news.

This feels like an economic problem, not a philosophical one. One solved potentially, in fact, by the very platform you're posting this on.

Until we solve, the news will serve an important role *and* also be screwed up.

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Read the eternities, baby.

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Mar 14, 2022Liked by Thomas J Bevan

There it is again, “mimetic”. I recommend Matthew Crawford’s, “Shop class as soul craft” and “the world outside your head” as a broader philosophically minded understanding of the import and consequence of what you put your attention on, especially along the virtual vs real world axis.

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Timeless in general and timely for me. Thank you sir 🙏

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Mar 13, 2022Liked by Thomas J Bevan

Footnote 10 deserves its own essay, complete with reader voting on the horsemen (I know, too social media-ey)! To paraphrase one of Seth Godin's many books, "With breaking news, nowadays there is a lot less news and a lot more breaking".

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