One of the great things about moving back to the U.P. has been the relative isolation from the mindless noise machine that is the mainstream media. We're so far out in the boonies that we can't be tempted to sell our souls to Comcast or Charter, and we're not feeling sufficiently television-deprived yet to fall for a sales pitch from DISH. We are now enjoying a life refreshingly free of noise from the chattering classes.
Oh, there is radio, of course, if I feel the need for a news fix, but local news tends to consist of reports about lost dogs, and national news is courtesy of NPR -- and NPR, regardless if it's Morning Edition or All Things Considered, is valium for the ears. The discourse is always so thoroughly modulated and toned down that they could be telling us a giant flaming meteor is heading straight for earth and we're all going to be dead before sundown, and the listener reaction would be to yawn and think, oh, good, now I don't have to feel guilty about eating that second Danish.
That's not to say we haven't been leading a totally television-free life. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology (i.e., the Intertubes), I can indulge my C-SPAN addiction (although I've been able to ignore it for the past week), and we can view some news and opinion programs: both Al Jazeera and Russian TV do live streams of their programming. I love Al Jazeera. They do long reports on serious issues, quality reporting on real world problems that would never make the cut on any U.S. network, broadcast or cable. Last night I watched a fascinating piece on controversies in wildlife conservation (the general theme was is it worth it to invest millions of dollars trying to preserve an iconic species, e.g., giant pandas, or should preservation focus more on preserving species diversity and habitat?) (Is it worth it to keep pandas going if the only places they can survive are in artificial environments like zoos?). Maybe a program like Frontline on PBS would do a similar report, but I'm skeptical.
Of course, even Al Jazeera could not resist wading into the weeds that are the Herman Cain campaign. The latest revelations about Cain did absolutely nothing to dispel my belief that he never intended to be taken seriously as a candidate. His campaign organization was close to nonexistent, he manages to say something truly stupid on a regular basis, and he had to know reports of the harassment claims (and their subsequent settlements) would eventually surface. His plan had to be to simply raise his profile to the point where it helped up his speaking fees and (if he got lucky) land him a gig on Fox News as a commentator/co-host. Instead, in the bizarro world that the current members of the Republican Party inhabit, the more inept and sleazy Cain looks, the higher his poll numbers go. It's a whole new level of It's Okay if You're a Republican. The same folks who were outraged, truly, truly outraged that Bill Clinton had an intern volunteer to perform sexual favors are just fine with the Pizza Man grabbing some unsuspecting woman's head and shoving it towards his lap. The stupid, it burns.