October 17, 2019

Reading Yesterday’s News

My house has been hit by another avalanche — several actually — of piles of newspapers. We Leafs are members of the idiosyncratic minority who still harbor affection for printed matter of the tactile variety. In addition to our collections of books — shelved, stacked and otherwise — we appear to be undergoing an assault of newsprint as never before.

Don't get me wrong; I love reading the papers . . . with my morning coffee and at breaks throughout the day. I used to subscribe to the Sunday Times whose myriad magazines, Book Review and lifestyle supplements provided more than enough intelligent reading matter for the week. But when their subscription department refused to renew, yet again, my never-ending 50% off  “trial” subscription, I gave up the practice (figuring there were still plenty of old sections to be gotten to).

And then along came an offer to redeem “about to expire” mileage points for free publications. The New York Times was not among them, so I chose an annual subscription to The Wall Street Journal. Not because I'm particularly business oriented, but hey! It was free. And now that I've been reading it for a while, I must admit that after Rupert Murdoch's acquisition, the paper includes far more items of general interest, all expertly written. The only problem is that except for a dual Saturday/Sunday edition, the Journal lands in my driveway every single day.

Hence the avalanche of newsprint. There are piles of “to be read” papers stacked up in the kitty corner of the settee of our kitchen nook . . . taking over our actual kitty's favorite, food-begging spot. She now approaches her usual leap from the back counter with utmost caution, but often as not, still manages to disturb the oddly balanced hill of print. I don't think she enjoys her ride on this ad-hoc, feline slip 'n' slide, and neither do we, as her descent sends sheets flying in all directions. Lately she's taken to sitting and staring, doglike, at my feet when anticipating treats.

Greywinkle (the cat) is also not amused by the piles of newspapers that have suddenly taken up residence on the couch beneath her favorite sun-perch by the window. I know this for a fact as she's been known to expresses her displeasure by doing her business right on those papers — then attempting to cover up the evidence by shredding the fouled papers with her claws. What disdain from a12-year-old persnickety lady who's used her litter box exclusively ever since her arrival from the shelter at the well-trained age of three months! Shall I gripe about how now I can no longer read these particular saved sections? Or just be happy that at least some of my excess newsprint is making it out the door. At least she's made cleanup easy — I just roll up papers and poop and dump the whole business in the garbage bin. Perhaps I should feel grateful that Greywinkle hasn't expressed similar disgust for the mountains of papers (for nighttime reading) that line the side of my bed.

Still, the sheer volume of papers is getting out of hand and something must be done. Perhaps you have an idea that can help? Every time I begin to weed, I discover yet another interesting article that simply must be read . . . and then leave it for my husband to read as well. And until he gets to it . . . .  But you know, there really is something to be said for enjoying old news. Just last night, as I was dipping into a mint section of the paper by my night table, I came across a panicky feature about a major market downturn. Then I looked at the date, about two weeks ago, and smiled. Because just earlier in the morning, in today's paper, I'd read about how world markets were enjoying great upticks in prosperity and that the trend is expected to continue through the coming year.

It's always good to be reminded not to go crazy over bad news . . . nor put one's faith in journalists who are as likely to create “newsworthy” copy as to report on actual events. Consider the pressure they're under to come up with new, eye-catching headlines daily. No one runs to read: “The world's economies continue today, like yesterday, at the status quo.” Yawn. Reading yesterday's news is always a lovely reminder of how yesterday's panic didn't pan out and how tentative corrections did, at times, actually bear fruit.

There's another reason I've come to enjoy The Wall Street Journal in particular. As a Democrat who hitherto subscribed to what is commonly referred to as “liberal media,” it's been an eye-opening experience to get a view from the other side. My favorite sections are the daily “Opinion” pages and weekly “Review” where most (but not all) staunch Republican arguments are made. Then there are those thick WSJ “magazines” that are really fat advertising supplements for exclusive international real estate (in the market for a castle anyone?) and garish 50-diamond necklaces where any single stone would make an outstanding engagement ring. There's nothing like it to get a multifaceted picture of the mind-set and spending practices of the “one percent.”

To the paper's credit, it often features stories about the Israel's ongoing, extensive charitable and intellectual contributions to humanity. They tend to be the first first-responders at natural disaster zones, offering free state-of-the-art medical and technical manpower and expertise. Their advanced scientific, agricultural and medical research has helped save and enrich untold numbers of lives throughout the world. (These sorts of stories are rarely covered by any of the other major media outlets who appear committed to condemning the State of Israel at every turn, despite the fact that this small, isolated nation remains the only safe, westernized, even liberal democracy in the Middle East.)

But then there are the Journal's daily arguments against Obamacare and just about any Democratic platform, many by learned scholars with statistics, so that I am reminded, yet again, of how easily facts can be rejiggered to prove most any point. I also realize the danger inherent in our country's growing tunnel vision when it comes to news consumption.  When the average person only looks at issues through a lens set to agree with his preexisting opinion, is it any wonder we've become such a divisive nation represented by an oppositional Congress?

But I've saved the best for last, which is actually my very first stop in the reading of any day's paper . . . and why I refuse to simply chuck old copies out. I find the daily quirky item of human interest at the bottom of the Front Page to be the Journal's most endearing (and enduring) feature. Always fresh and wittily presented by, what I presume are, talented freelancers, these story gems span every sort of subject and location on the planet — generally, the more obscure and out-the-way, the better. They will at times relate, if only tangentially, to subjects of topical or timely interest; but that's really not the point. The point, it seems, is simply: Wow! Look at what's happening here! Isn't that interesting. Just because. For example, here are a few “quirky news” headlines chosen at random from my December 2014 collection. Please be forewarned. They may get you hooked too.

“In Canada, Some Old Soldiers Refuse to Fade Away: Rangers Patrol the North With No Mandatory Retirement; Hoodies, Caps”

“Today is National Noodle Ring Day, So If You've Got a Bundt Pan, Use It: Odd Dishes Fight for Spots on Calendar; Celebrations for Melba Toast and Horseradish”

And with a nod to the season past: “Nothing Says Happy Holidays Like a Ferret in a Santa Hat: Small Pets Included in Festivities; Stoles for Guinea Pigs, Wreaths for Bunnies.”

By George, I think I've got it! If push (or paper avalanche) comes to shove, I can always just tear off each and every Page One! To be read whenever, forever. Just like the weird practices of human nature on which they're based, these oddball items of yesterday's news never grow old.

© 2015 Mindy Leaf

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