Just watched “The Best of Charlie Skinner” on YouTube for the umpti-umpth time.  Sam Waterston’s portrayal of Charlie in the HBO series, The Newsroom,  is dear to me for his alternation between avuncular father-figure and curmudgeonly news director, and I get a big kick out of him.  Watching that made me think about how much I’d love to see Atlantis Cable News become a real, actual news organization, and then along with that, how many other organizations, governments, and individuals could stand if not a little idealization then some plain and simple improvement.

So I opened a Word document and started enumerating those things I’d like to see happen in the however-many-years I have left.  Put simply, I want to live in a world where:

  • The US Congress is a bit more Tip O’Neill and Everett Dirksen and a lot less John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi
  • Russians get so tired of seeing Vladimir Putin’s bare chest that they throw him out of office and tell him to go get a life
  • Israelis admit to being dicks to the Palestinians at about the same time that Hamas and Al Fatah acknowledge the converse
  • Every news organization on the planet is run by Charlie Skinner or someone very much like him – someone who wants to do the news well.  Why?  Because they decided to.
  • The 1% recognize en masse that they have entirely too much money and change the tax code by their own volition, while at the same time lobbying for a nationwide $15 an hour minimum wage
  • People in general quit worrying about skin color or gender or gender identity and just care more about PEOPLE
  • The believers recognize that their beliefs look pretty foolish to those who don’t believe and that proselytism is just as absurd … so they quit doing it.
  • Governments of the world realize the climate mess we’ve gotten ourselves into and get VERY serious about correcting that
  • Manufacturers and corporations are at least as concerned about the impact of their actions and products on the world and its occupants as they are about their quarterly P&L statements, if not a lot more so.

No, I haven’t been smoking something marginally illegal, just indulging in some rather wistful and wishful thinking.  The sad fact is that I expect each of these vector quantities to go a lot further in their current directions before or even if they reverse course, and that I might not even live to see most of them correct themselves.

Still, I thought I’d document my ideas for the record.

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Comment by sk8eycat on December 7, 2014 at 9:33pm

Remember Northrup's "Flying Wing"?  KCET did a documentary about it in the 1970s...

I remember seeing it in the air when it flew into Lockheed-Burbank in the late 1940s...

http://www.kcet.org/shows/tvtalk/kcet-tv-throwback/the-flying-wing-...

Too pitiful that KCET is no longer a PBS station, and they sold their historical lot (where "Cosmos," Hollywood Television Theatre, and Steve Allen's "Meeting of Minds" were all produced)....to the Scientologists....Ew.

Comment by Loren Miller on December 7, 2014 at 9:28pm

sk8ey, you owe it to yourself to read Rather Outspoken, Dan's memoir of his years in the newsroom.  It's been in my library since not long after it came out, and I think it'd do well in yours.

Charlie Skinner is a fictional character, and granted that I'm rather grieving a non-existent loss.  Still, his putative death is symbolic of what has happened and is happening to old-school television news, which is being eviscerated in the name of ratings and associated profits, a 24-hour news cycle which competes with a five-second viewer attention span.  I give a damn about that loss, as I suspect do a number of others here.

But like atheists, those who do care are in a largely ignored minority.

Comment by sk8eycat on December 7, 2014 at 9:21pm

Here is Rather's web site....was he fired by CBS, or did he quit (I can't believe a lifelong newsman would just walk away from his profession....)

http://www.danrather.com/

There are no links on the site for contacting Mr. Rather or his agent....

I want Walter Cronkite back!  

Or Clete Roberts.  I spent several hour with a group talking with Mr. Roberts off-camera when I was working at KCET....  WHAT a passionate, fascinating man he was!  He played himself in a wonderful hour-long B&W episode of M*A*S*H that was SO realistic....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clete_Roberts

Comment by Loren Miller on December 7, 2014 at 9:05pm

[sigh] And now Charlie Skinner is gone ... because some rich-schmuck-dumb-ass thought that he could buy his own personal crowd-sourced media plaything ... so I guess I don't get Charlie Skinner to run my news organization.

Anyone got the phone number for Dan Rather?

Comment by Bertold Brautigan on December 7, 2014 at 12:50pm

@Loren - I have a built-in governor that prevents me from ever waxing excessively optimistic, but it does seem there are indications that millenials are trending toward that very "busted" moment. A mass realization that bullshit is bullshit and no one has the right to dictate how others live (within the bounds of non-criminal behavior) isn't unthinkable. It's not all that likely in the near future, but it's not unthinkable. I guess there's a reason that "May you live in interesting times" is a Chinese curse.

Comment by Bertold Brautigan on December 7, 2014 at 12:38pm

It's so pathetic that it was because of the lyrics to "You've Got to Be Taught" that South Pacific was "controversial" and there were attempts to ban it. Horrors, we can't have bare naked, blatant truth being sung out in public. And as a culture we've learned so much since then! The real tragedy is that theatre hasn't even been trying to stretch the boundaries any more. It's mainly just been trying to ape past successes like Hollywood does.

Comment by Ted Foureagles on December 7, 2014 at 10:33am

I like to imagine a world in which our current superstitions are looked upon as we do those of an earlier world with earlier, now dismissed gods, and in which no new gods arise to replace them.  I don't expect to see it in my lifetime, and it may never happen.  The pull of magical thinking seems built into our species at a fundamental level.  It's so for sound evolutionary reasons and can't just be tossed off without serious consequences.  When and if we overcome it we will be a different species, and perhaps for the first time worthy of the name homo sapiens sapiens.

In the meantime, I'd like to see a world in which the gigantic US war machine is pulled back to within our own shores and shrunk to a mere echo of its current stature -- just enough to keep our shores defended when necessary.  I'd like to see US politics recognize finally that Reagan was just wrong about economics and moves on to something that can actually work.  I'd like to see us embrace those who want to come here and contribute instead of criminalizing them.  I'd like to see the end of deep partisanism in politics and everyday life, which is to wish for an end to tribalism, another thing that I won't see in my lifetime.

}}}}

Comment by Loren Miller on December 7, 2014 at 8:23am
Daniel, I will second every last point you've made here, although that last point would probably sell a whole lot of Depends!
Comment by Daniel W on December 7, 2014 at 8:17am

I want to live in a world where critical thinking is a required subject in high school and college.

Where people care enough about those who follow, to leave the world a better place for them.

Where politicians yearned to stand on the shoulders of giants, instead of wallowing in the pigpen.

Where religious people acknowledged that their religion is about "me.  me.  me." and "We are us.  You are them", rather than about right or wrong, or what gods demand.

Where, every time someone tells a lie, they pee their pants.  And if someone rationalizes their lie, pretending it's not a lie, they poop their pants.

Comment by Loren Miller on December 7, 2014 at 6:58am

Well, as regards the religious point:

This to me is the true horror of religion: it allows perfectly decent and sane people to believe by the billions what only lunatics could believe on their own.
-- Sam Harris

This begs the question: what happens when it's no longer billions?  What happens when you don't have everyone around you supporting and reinforcing your delusion for you?  Do you dare to start thinking for yourself and recognizing the absurdity of what has been shoved down your throat and reject it?

I think that, as irrational belief fades in popularity and loses its group and monetary bulwark, that group "aw-shit" moment becomes more and more possible and even probable.  It may be that people don't like to admit that they've been fooled, but then they also don't like to BE fooled in the first place.  Sooner or later, a tipping point is reached.

Let's hope it's sooner.

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