By Scott Sullivan
In the spirit of calling a spade a long-handled tool with sharp-edged, typically-rectangular metal blade used to cut earth, sand and turf, I give you President Biden’s new Disinformation Governance Board.
Picture Republicans’ glee when he threw pollsters this fat pitch. Disinformation and governance already is redundant. “Free” speech assumes it’s like “free” thinking can be also.
For example, it’s fine to take “processor” on its flat meaning “that which processes,” whereas people who make or are that know “process” contains a universe. They don’t think, they live it.
Similarly, Covid is not the disease, it is politics. Assume a virus exists that keeps mutating. Do you leverage it to seize or cease power?
With politics who’s disinforming who? Both sides, assuming there are ones, assert negations, so interchange and advance are stymied. For now “no,” but we can change that.
Break down this gerrymandered word. “In form,” already not pure, merged as “inform” makes it more and less complicated. Adding “dis-” concedes opposites exist — Get out of my garden and stay off my lawn. “-Ation” (an action or process) on the end makes what original word there was go so many ways it’s nowhere.
With “predestination” same. Are we “destined” before or after? How does putting an “n” in front of the suffix make this a -nation? Thank God at least Calvin had a sense of humor.
My last hope was explaining this (“ex-” meaning formerly, “plain” meaning clear) to my daughter. “Your mom has a process,” I told Flannery. “I have mine. They intersect and conflict enough we got married. When they diverge, remember mine’s right and you’ll have a rudder.” Too late; at 22 she knows everything but what’s next.
“Who are you writing this for?” she asked.
“It belongs nowhere,” I answered. “How can I not write it? Life in spring is so fresh I’d weep but I’m already laughing.”
“What’s with turning assertions into negations?”
“Try Beckett; his guilt is proven. What he does is dog repetition: ringed by food and love yields joy and comfort, but what doesn’t?”
“That’s not an answer.”
“Here’s a better one: More than 10,000 largely local people took part in the Grand Rapids River Bank Run on Saturday. I took close to that many photographs, most of them stationed on the home stretch in front of MLive’s new Ottawa Street offices. Not story or word one about this appeared in Sunday’s Grand Rapids Press.
“Back when they were a newspaper,” I went on, “they paid writers and shooters to turn out a special Sunday print section about the race, running more pictures on Page A1. The major Grand Rapids event was more than double that size then.
“MLive cost-cutting measures — I’m sure they were needed so they could pay accountants and tech wizards more — were to slash writers and photographers. The most senior and experienced were jettisoned first because they were paid more. The tradeoff was fast print coverage that made news news. Too bad speed wins races.
“Their feature-rich/news-starved Sunday papers today are largely turned out on Fridays if not earlier. They had to cut editorial because of declining ad revenues, said corporate. Now declines are because of those cuts as well.”
“They pay professionals,” said Flannery, “to make those choices.”
“My point exactly,” I said. “What they do has value, but so does editorial more than ever. No one is superior or inferior.
“Give credit,” I went on, “to anyone who is doing their best. Joel Bissell’s photos posted online Sunday night were great. MLive’s downtown HQ looks cool. Their eight-statewide-edition-features and graphics look good even if they are printed late. Plus it’s more economical to crank out three, not seven, weekly print issues even though it makes “MLive” a misnomer. Joel’s pictures with captions, no stories, appeared in print three days later.”
“Are you jealous?”
“Of what? The nice building? Race sponsors Amway, Fifth Third Bank and others pay contracted staff on the street like me to produce their still-major event, which can be an even bigger money maker. Why can’t MLive pair its resources with these sponsors so all parties benefit?”
“They’d have to hire more editorial.”
“Why do you think I’m pitching it? I’m OK either way; someone else pays me for the value I bring. The Commercial Record is still growing because we could pivot and adjust the fulcrum.”
“Are you cynical?”
“More idealistic now than ever. If you think it has gone to hell that is what you think. I think it keeps getting better. Thing is, the River Bank Run is a 5-hour shoot outside in whatever weather — this year the asphalt was blazing — holding a heavy pro camera and lens. Add prep time, logistics, downloading … I still love it but it taps me more now I’m older.
“Were I younger I’d invest in a more-lightweight mirrorless camera system, portable monopods to bear weight and so on — ironically things I couldn’t afford when younger.
“I still have energy and like my employers. They are fun, treat me right and give me a beer coupon with my check when the race is over. Where there’s beer there’s hope. I enjoy the people.”
“Still feel you are one?”
“What choice do I have?” I said.
By Scott Sullivan