Saturday, September 10, 2016

Reading My Columns Will Extend Your Life (Source: Yale University)

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Attention fellow word lovers: I subscribe to a free service that goes by the name A Word a Day. If you don't, you should. Each weekday you will find a new word in your inbox that's an element of a weekly theme. The word is pronounced, defined, used in a sentence and etymologized. There's a newly listed link to be found on my Links page. (You know how I am about mixing links and content. We must be ever vigilant, Dizzinformation never sleeps.) HT to Stuti! (She knows who she is, well, one would hope so anyway.) An HT is a hat tip. An HT is to geezers as shout out is to callowyutes.    

It's official, researchers at Yale University have determined that people who spend at least a half hour per day reading my column (oh, and other stuff) will live longer.

Now, if you were to read my stuff for at least a half hour per day you would run out of fresh material fairly quickly since I've only been at this for a little better than a year. However, there's no need to read my stuff over and over again, anxiously waiting for each new weekly column to be published. Or, even to hope that I write another looong essay, or produce some new chapters for my great not too shabby American novel.

By the way, the looong essay, the introduction and first three chapters of my novel, as well as other material, are all available at The Flyoverland Crank (.com). While you're probably reading this via my website, I have readers that access my weekly column by other methods -- so no smarty-pants, I'm not losing it.

[What I am doing is engaging in some shameless self-promotion. And, making history, because I've never included a link within the text of one of my columns. And, I ask you, how often are you going to read something on the web that links to itself? I think it's cool -- I apologize if you don't. And, it's test of a technical question I have, I'll spare you the details. And, at the very least, you gotta admit, considering all that this one paragraph accomplishes, that I'm doing my part to combat the problem of stagnating American productivity. And, you may not have even been aware of the fact that stagnating American productivity is a thing, but now you are, which makes me that much more productive. I'll stop now.]

Where was I, oh, fortunately for you, there are several other people loose in the world that write on a fairly regular basis. Also, there's a bunch of dead people that no longer write, but who wrote stuff going back, oh, I don't know how long.

It gets better. People who read actual books, for at least 3.5 hours per week live, on average, almost two full years longer than those who don't. The bad news is that the number of people that do read actual books is in decline. The good news is that the non-readers now have a new reason/motivation to start reading. (396)

The best news is that those of us who are voracious readers, regardless of what we're into, have another reason to feel smugly superior to non-readers, although I don't encourage this, at least not officially. We are polarized/fragmented/factionalized enough. We readers should be humbly smug, for there are hoopleheads even in our ranks. Hoopleheads are everywhere, and we humblysmugs, like everyone else, must be forever vigilant. (472)

[Wait a minute sez Dana, my imaginary gentlereader, who just woke up from a nap (Marie-Louise is visiting friends in Quebec), the Yale researchers studied readers in general, and this had nothing to do with you in particular. You can't go around...]

Sure I can. My very first sentence ("oh, and other stuff") gives away the humbug (see Barnum, P.T.), my ethics are sound. There is no shortage of popular and mainstream websites, including those of what passes for the news media these days, that do the same thing. And the Drudge Report, for example, has refined this particular humbug to an art form, and is wildly successful.

I'd like to be widely successful, but the important thing is that your dilettante about town has just provided you with yet more proof that we live in the Dizzinformation Age. (Sheesh, can I get any more productive?)

I realize that I risk alienating at least some of my gentlereaders due to my oft-repeated references to a phenomenon that I've named the Dizzinformation Age, but I'm on a mission from God (see Blues, Elwood). Dizzinformation Syndrome (DS): dizzy from too much information -- correct, incorrect, or worst of all, contradictory. Also, I must add, deceptive. Deliberately twisting the data in question to deceive the reader (for a humbug, maliciously, or something in between) and/or to secure additional clicks. (686)

Which brings us The Hilliam, The Donald, Mr. Obama, and sadly, the FBI, all of whom are
masters of dizzinformation.

[What!]

Patience. I began this piece by deliberately positing some dizzinformation. The Hilliam have become rich and successful by combining a lawyer's sensibility with masterful dizzinformation and have been refining their techniques for decades. Here's a clip from a mind movie, or at least an old fashion radio drama for ya'. From, "Bill and Hill Have 'The Talk' with Chelsey."

Bill (Southern drawl with a touch of vocal fry) -  "The most important element of the game is that no matter how sleazy the behavior, your actions must be technically legal. When I slipped up it cost me mah law license. Fortunately, it didn't even slow us down (chuckles). But, you gotta' be careful if ya' wanna stay out jail, baby."

Hillary (Accent depends on current geographical location, always stop just short of this side of shrill/harpy)  "Second, relentless dizzinformation. Spin and flip-flop. Try to shade the truth rather than lie outright. Contradict past statements and/or behavior. Stick to the current talking points and order your posse to do the same. Always remember the news media mostly tilts in our direction and will usually spin things our way, but if you go too far they might turn on you. It's not because they're about to let truth or objectivity get in the way of pushing their agenda. This even applies to their mortal enemy, The Trump Network, otherwise known as Fox News. Infotainment rules -- ratings, circulation, and profits -- rule. So don't take it personally sweetie.

The bottom line is, you want to drown the public in contradictory info; this helps you to speak directly to their emotions and cognitive biases and bypass their intellects, honey."

I'm sure you can imagine The Donald having a similar conversation with his kids. Even the FBI, who's sorry about all that character assassination, and the other shady sh... , uh shtuff that they used to dabble in (it was J. Edgar's fault) and would like us to believe that they now embody the Efrem Zimbalist Jr. version of federal law enforcement play the Dizzinformation card. Which is why they released the heavily redacted notes of their recent interview of The Hilliam on a Friday afternoon. At three o'clock. As the nation was trying to sneak out of work early. For the Labor Day holiday weekend. (1024)

[Note: The numbers in parentheses at the ends of some of the above paragraphs are word totals (approximate) that are there to demonstrate to potential syndicators/publishers that I'm aware that I'm a bit windy and that I know they mostly prefer shorter columns to accommodate H. Sapiens rapidly declining attention spans, my gentlereaders excepted. I'd much prefer for my shtuff to be the sort of thing that's read on a lazy week-END (pronounce with a British accent). However, I can be bought. 

Please note that this column could end at any of these demarcated points and still make sense.]

Have an OK day.

©Mark Mehlmauer 2016

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