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pockBoston Daily Journal. December 5, 1889. Tom Stoppard and Richard Powers are collaborating on an operatic libretto encompassing these items. Johnny Greenwood is signed to write the score.

Oh, just kiddin’. But the longer I stare at these old newspapers, the more I am bewitched by the cumulative insanity and variety and intellectual free-fall of these deep stacks of randomly interesting nonsense.

They put me much in mind the work of Neil Postman, whose books The Disappearance of Childhood and Amusing Ourselves to Death seemed to me very profound when I read them in my 20s. The guy’s basic theme was that print imposed rationality, but video annihilated it. That, according to Mr. Postman, was because TV equaled vaudeville and vaudeville equaled chaos. Whereas print was inherently rational.

But that’s fundamentally utopian, i.e. stupid, because vaudeville is the default condition of the human mind, regardless of prevailing medium. Am I right? I got Shakespeare and Chaucer on my side here.

P.S. I see some boffins at a Harvardian thinktank are on my side too. I would have tidied up, avoir su.


  1. Well, I’m just a random reader, and I’ve never read Postman, but I’d have to say that, yes, you are right.

    I never studied Pop Culture in school, but seriously — opinion makers are part of the system. They cannot remove themselves from it.

    It’s difficult to the point of impossibility to separate the blogosphere from pre-Cold War journalism.

  2. Except for this blog, of course, which has closer ties to the Crimean War.

  3. I’ m always caught unawares by “News in a Nutshell” ’cause I’m expecting one sentence to be related to the next.Did you ever try to do a collaborative project with Paul Harvey? I could totally hear him reading this stuff.

    • That prick never returns my calls.

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  1. […] newspapers, magazines and ephemeral books have always held an interest for me. That is why the site The Hope Chest is on my RSS feed list. The compiler of The Hope Chest finds oddities from old news and posts them […]

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