Yet More Thoughts on Winter

Here, on this humble little blog, I have made it clear that I am fond of Winter. I may not have gone into much detail as to why.

It also occurs to me that if I’m going to write about politics and/or link to news articles, it’s probably a good idea to to give the reader some impression of why I think the way that I do. This is a good and healthy thing to do from time to time, as it forces me to carefully consider my own views. It also helps the reader decide how much (or how little) they trust my ability to relay and interpret information.

And it’s an excuse to take a break from observing the gas lighting tactics that the GOP has been using in an attempt to defend Trump. Seriously. Just hearing rep. Jordan’s voice now induces rage-nausea in my system, so I’m taking a little break so as to better observe what comes next. 

So Winter. Why is it so great?

I love a good book any day of the year, but Winter invites deep reading in a way that the other seasons do not. 

In Spring, it can be hard to focus on knitting techniques when the sun just appeared for the first time in months. Now you can go outside with just two layers instead of three or four!

In Summer, it’s difficult to understand words of any kind, printed or digital, as the sun is actively trying to murder you. Unless you have good AC (or can go to a place that does) reading during that time of year is tricky.

In Fall, reading a book just isn’t quite as enticing as going for a walk outside, BEFORE the streets are full of frozen mush. Here in Oregon, the brief window of time between Summer heat and Fall rain really is beautiful, and even Tolkien isn’t always enough to keep me inside.

But Winter? It’s perfect! Even when it’s dry enough to have a comfortable walk outside, one still has to spend about 20 minutes gathering layers and putting them on. Why not just read on the couch instead?

So there you have it- I like to read, so I like the season of Winter. But what does that have to do with how I see the world? If you’re one of the three people reading this blog, you might be wondering about that.

My love of reading and my world views are deeply connected, because I believe that putting information in context is important. Especially in the age of social media. 

I’m no purist of course- I like and share memes regularly. I also can’t ignore the fact that social media has given a voice to many who previously didn’t have one. But wealth inequality exists on the internet as well as in the real world, and a well-funded conservative think tank will probably have an easier time buying ads on facebook than a LGBTQA+ rights group. 

As social media organizations have taken over more of the internet, news organizations have had to make changes to co-exist with them. These changes were brilliantly satirized in an Onion article from 2013, relating to the largely manufactured outrage relating to a Miley Cyrus performance.  Although it is dated now, it provides one of the best descriptions of “clickbait” that I have ever seen anywhere. And I’ve been on the internet since Livejournal was the place to be. 

Of course, traditional news sources are not perfect and never have been. I read NYT a lot and find it helpful, but it’s not lost on me that they were much quicker to call on President Bill Clinton to resign than they have been for President Treason Weasel. 

And then there’s the problem of funding. Journalism isn’t free. Believe it or not, it actually costs money to send people into war zones. Who knew?

So who pays? And how can sources of funding impact the reporting?

That’s a complicated subject that would take many pots of tea to discuss in any amount of detail, but the question of funding is a useful tool in vetting information online and elsewhere. If you like a news source, but aren’t sure about how trustworthy it is, looking into who pays for it can give you some clues. 

As to what news sources I typically use, I go for a blend of NYT, WaPo, Mother Jones, The Nation, NPR, PBS newshour, Democracy Now, and whatever local papers I can find. I believe that human rights and environmental health are more important than rich people getting richer. After all, yachts and mansions will become pointless pretty quickly if there’s no breathable air or drinkable water. 

I’m well aware that there are plenty of relevant happenings that don’t make it into the papers, or aren’t reported on accurately. I choose not to dwell on this too much. Using instances of lies or mistakes as rationale for avoiding news altogether strikes me as lazy and arrogant. It has literally never been easier to research and compare news sources for their accuracy and sources of funding, so don’t pretend that you’re some kind of deep intellectual badass for not wanting to spend five minutes a week learning about stuff that’s happening in your town.  

And if you haven’t yet found a good and healthy routine for consuming news (FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY REMEMBER TO TAKE BREAKS) Winter is a good season to start.

Because as much fun as memes are, a couple of sentences pasted over an image probably aren’t going to be as informative as several paragraphs written by a professional on the same topic. 

And if you just don’t have the emotional capacity to handle world affairs or politics, maybe start with something more wholesome. Most larger publications will have arts and technology sections. Perhaps there will be some photographs from space, or a new fossil discovery. Or maybe you’ll just find a really kickass recipe for mashed potatoes. 

So what about you? What publications and news sources do you rely on to keep you informed?

Happy Winter reading!

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