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No, this isn't the diary I said I was writing for tonight. That's still in my draft file. It's not that it's going to take more work than I would have had time to do today, it's just that there's no real time pressure to post it. Tonight, I have to write about Boston and the 24 hour news cycle.

But First, A Word From Our Sponsor:

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The 24 hour news cycle. This is how Stephen Sondheim anticipated it in 1976 in Pacific Overtures. In the song, he's explaining the procedures by which the Japanese and Commodore Perry signed the first treaty giving another nation access to Japanese ports:

and here's the transcript. Note how many proper names Sondheim peppered the song with. It's a TREATY negotiation, after all:

Old man: Pardon me, i was there.
Reciter: You were where?
Old man: At the treaty house.
Reciter: At the treaty house?
Old man: There was a tree …
Reciter: Which was where?
Old man: Very near.
Reciter: Over here?
Old man: Maybe over there,
But there were trees then, everywhere.
May i show you?
Reciter: If you please.
Old man: There were trees
Then, everywhere.
Reciter: But you were there.
Old man: And i was there!
Let me show you.
Reciter: If you please.
Old man: (tries to climb)
I was younger then …
(tries again)
I was good at climbing trees …
I was younger then …
I saw everything! …
I was hidden all the time …
It was easier to climb …
I was younger then …
I saw everything! …
Where they came and where they went —
I was part of the event.
I was someone in a tree!
(tries once more)
I was younger then!

(suddenly, a young boy appears, scurries across the stage, and up the tree.)

Boy: (to the old man)
Tell him what i see!
Old man: I am in a tree.
I am ten.
I am in a tree.
Boy: I was younger then.
Old man: In between the eaves i can see —
(to the boy)
Tell me what i see.
(to the reciter)
I was only ten.
Boy: I see men and matting.
Some are old, some chatting.
Old man: If it happened, i was there!
Both: I saw/see everything!
Old man: I was someone in a tree.
Boy: Tell him what i see!
Old man: Some of them have gold on their coats.
Boy: One of them has gold.
(to the reciter)
He was younger then.
Old man: Someone crawls around passing notes —
Boy: Someone very old —
Old man: (to the reciter)
He was only ten.
Boy: And there's someone in a tree —
Old man: — or the day is incomplete.
Both: Without someone in a tree,
Nothing happened here.
Old man:I am hiding in a tree.
Boy: I'm a fragment of the day.
Both: If i weren't, who's to say
Things would happen here the way
That they happened here?
Old man: I was there then.
Boy: I am here still.
It's the fragment, not the day.
Old man: It's the pebble, not the stream.
Both: It's the ripple, not the sea.
Not the building but the beam,
Not the garden but the stone,
Not the treaty house,
Someone in a tree.
Warrior: (slides panel open underneath the house)
Pardon me, i am here —
If you please, i am also here —
Old man: They kept drinking cups of tea.
Boy: They kept sitting on the floor.
Both: They drank many cups of tea.
(to each other)
No, we told him that before.
Warrior: If you please, i am here.
Reciter: You are where?
Warrior: In the treaty house.
Reciter: In the treaty house?
Warrior: Or very near.
Reciter: Can you hear?
Warrior: I'm below.
Reciter: So i notice.
Warrior: Underneath the floor,
And so i can't see anything.
I can hear them,
But i can't see anything.
Reciter: But you can hear?
But i can hear.
Shall i listen?
Reciter: If you please.
Warrior: I can hear them now …
I shall try to shift my knees …
I can hear them now …
I hear everything …
I'm the part that's underneath,
With my sword inside my sheath.
I can hear them now …
One is over me …
If they knock, then i appear.
I'm a part of what i hear.
I'm the fragment underneath.
I can hear them now!
Reciter, old man, boy: Tell us what you hear!
Warrior: First i hear a creak and a thump.
Now i hear a clink …
Then they talk a bit …
Many times they shout when they speak.
Other times they think.
Or they argue it …
I hear floorboards groaning …
Angry growls … much droning …
Since i hear them, they are there,
As they argue it.
I'm the listener underneath.
Boy: (peering into the house)
Someone reads a list
From a box.
Warrior: (listening)
Someone talks of laws.
Old man: Then they fan a bit.
Boy: Someone bangs a fist.
Warrior: Someone knocks.
Old man: Now there was a pause.
All: Then they argue it:
Warrior: "but we want …"
"no, you can't
And we won't …"
"but we need it,
And we want …"
"will you grant — ?"
"if you don't …"
"we concede it …"
Old man warrior: And they sat i can hear
Through the night them.
And they lit
Yellow tapers. boy
I was i'm a and they
There fragment of the chat
Then. day. and they fight
And they sit
Signing papers.
If i if i i am
Weren't, who's to weren't, who's to there
Say say still.
Things would things would if i
Happen here the happen here the weren't who's to
Way way say
That they're that they're that they're
Happening? happening? happening?
All: It's the fragment, not the day.
It's the pebble, not the stream.
It's the ripple, not the sea
That is happening.
Not the building but the beam,
Not the garden but the stone,
Only cups of tea
And history
And someone in a tree.

I watched the news until 12:45 AM and then from 6:30-7:30 AM (I really couldn't grade my Cal State Early Assessment Program in English exams with the news on) and I just turned it on again (it's 12:25 PM Pacific) and what I'm hearing is pretty much what you see in the transcript of the song above. MSNBC has had this ex FBI profiler on -- NONSENSE, and lots and lots of it.

You know I grew up in suburban Boston. The Kossack fenway49 lives about 1/4 mile from the house where I grew up in Newton, just where what the marathoners call Heartbreak Hill starts. Watertown, incidentally, is due north of Newton, and the two communities share a border. Growing up, I went to see the Sox at Fenway Park and the Bruins and Celtics at Boston Garden. I took the T to the Museum of Science and Industry and the Museum of Fine Arts. I hung out in Cambridge, in Harvard Square, as a teenager. My first permanent apartment as an adult was on Newbury Street between Exeter and Fairfield, a block north and a block west of where the bombs went off. My sports loyalties are to Boston teams, and, even though I was born in Brooklyn and I sent 12 years of my adult life in Manhattan, I think of myself as a Bostonian, not as a New Yorker. Jim, Terun, this. I mean, how much am I expected to deal with? And now the damn profiler is talking about where the suspect they're looking for is. HE HAS NO IDEA. He just mentioned Timothy McVeigh. JEEBUS. Now Michael Isikoff is talking to Martin Bashir about how much misinformation the news is conveying. My head hurts.

All I can think of is that for ONCE -- well, that's not entirely true, considering how New Orleans dominated the TV for the days after Katrina -- something outside New York is being considered all day all the time news. On that note, there's a diary up as I'm writing this complaining that more people died in Texas than in Boston but what are we watching? And, for what I suppose should be the coup de grace, Tweety just announced he'll be talking to Mr. A Verb, a Noun and 9/11 about the bombings. NOW I'll turn on ESPN.

And now it's 6 PM Pacific, and the siege of Watertown is over.  Most of what went on in Chris Hayes's 5 PM show WAS substantive, but "Someone in a Tree" applied until pretty much 5 PM on MSNBC. I'm still convinced that the 24 hour news cycle produces bad journalism when the news programs have to fill time, and I'm hoping that the events of the past week in Boston don't produce a lot of -- actually, any -- bad laws.

And now for the stuff that makes this Top Comments:

April 19, 2013

Thanks to tonight's Top Comments contributors! Let us hear from YOU when you find that proficient comment.

From ColoTim:

Neapolitan makes a short, entirely on-point comment about the stupidity of the "arm everyone and then we'll all be safe" mantra pushed by the NRA in kos's diary, If Boston had more assault rifles, something something something.
From commonmass:
In Jed Lewison's Boston bombing open thread, Ken Bank waxes nostalgic for Sarah Palin regarding all things Chechen and livjack reminds us that other things are going on in the world.
From Noddy:
RfrancisR asks a very good question in Rachel191's diary "Cowering" "Boston liberals."
From Dave in Northridge, your mourning diarist:
In Hunter's diary on that idiot Tony Perkins's response to Boston detroitmechworks starts what's supposed to be a parody thread and learns from Mike the Liberal and Illegitimi non Carborundum that it isn't. The rest of the thread reacts.

April 18, 2013

(excluding Tip Jars and first comments)

  1) You may want this from Facebook by blue aardvark — 145
  2) there are issues that should not be negotiable by teacherken — 127
  3) If I were flintier of heart, I would hope by commonmass — 89
  4) One time Scalia spoke out of turn on pending case by teacherken — 85
  5) The answer to your question is the voters, by commonmass — 84
  6) "Pay the help, Michele." by raboof — 78
  7) As fishgrease noted in an earlier diary by noweasels — 70
  8) No, because the government is by beltane — 66
  9) With the week America's having... by Remembering Jello — 65
10) There seems to be a coordinated effort by righties by aaraujo — 65
11) I need you people tonight by MyNameIs — 64
12) Moving photos of compassionate Afghans by lgmcp — 64
13) who said I was going to stay home? by teacherken — 64
14) But ... she's on a mission from God! by blue aardvark — 62
15) fuck rupert murdoch and his racist organization by aaraujo — 61
16) Hurricane Sandy was a natural disaster by beltane — 60
17) But god gave unto Adam an AK47 by LaFeminista — 59
18) something like this? by LaFeminista — 58
19) May be worth a law suit against the Post by TomP — 58
20) Excellent point, nomandates. by doraphasia — 58
21) Hell hath no fury by milkbone — 58
22) thanks everyone for all the updates by thankgodforairamerica — 57
23) I disagree. by AlyoshaKaramazov — 57
24) You know what else is (or should be) criminal... by Trix — 54
25) And Like the Armagheddon Predictors, No Record by Gooserock — 54
26) All it takes to stop NH3 from burning... by Trix — 53
27) People still think of CNN as this by corvo — 53
28) yes. and i'll cut the crusts off your sandwiches. by thankgodforairamerica — 53
29) They make foaming systems that would have... by Buckeye Nut Schell — 53
30) hang tough Boston by annieli — 52
31) In reality... by nomandates — 52
32) Happy Fursdai, T-Dub! by NormAl1792 — 52
For an explanation of How Top Mojo Works, see mik's FAQing Top Mojo

April 18, 2013

Enjoy jotter's wonderful PictureQuilt below. Just click on the picture and it will magically take you to the comment that features that photo. Have fun, Kossacks!
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