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What are we being distracted from today?

March 27th, 2024 at 02:56pm

A good rule of thumb when there is a news story dominating the media despite being of little importance or relevance to the overwhelming majority of the audience is to look around and see what else is happening. Usually, when one story is blown out of all proportion and dominates the news for no good reason, there are other far more important stories which are getting a slither of coverage but not enough for most people to notice, and so most people are successfully distracted from seeing the stories which matter.

Today seems to be one of those days.

There dominant story in the news is about a bridge which collapsed in Baltimore. This is undoubtedly an important story locally in the Baltimore area. The fact a handful of people are missing and might be dead probably makes it worthy of some amount of national coverage in the US. Elsewhere in the world it really deserves no more than a few lines in the papers, and maybe a cursory mention near the end of TV and radio news bulletins. It is a story of no relevance to most of the world outside of Baltimore. And yet, from the moment it happened, it has been THE story dominating just about every news outlet in the western world. A stark difference from when the Gungahlin Drive Extension bridge collapsed here in Canberra and it barely rated a mention outside of Canberra. Unfortunately this distraction technique in the media works, as if you listen to people discussing news stories while they go about their day, primarily this is the story they are discussing even though it makes no difference to their lives whatsoever. Sadly most people will uncritically take whatever mainstream news says is important as being what is important.

So, what else is happening? Well, two stories seem to be of particular importance but are receiving minimal coverage.

Firstly, a few weeks ago I noted the crazy circumstance where Julian Assange couldn’t just appeal his extradition to the United States but instead had to plead for permission to appeal. Well, convenient timing, the UK High Court last night announced that they will grant Mr. Assange this permission, but only if the United States fails to assure them that they won’t impose the death penalty if the extradition is granted, and even then only make an appeal on the basis that he might not get a fair trial in the United States if the US courts fail to accept foreign nationals are subject to first amendment (free speech) protections. Meanwhile Mr. Assange sits in a British jail for even longer.

This story is far more important than a bridge collapse as it fundamentally revolves around the rights of people to find out things which governments might prefer be kept a secret. A society where people are punished for exposing that governments might be doing something bad is a terrifying prospect indeed.

Another important story is some weirdness going on with GPS systems. It is claimed that more than 1,600 aeroplanes across Europe have suffered from some sort of GPS outage. The official spin on this is that it’s Russia’s fault, with basically no evidence to back this up other than “they might be capable of it”. It seems more likely to me to be a result of the severe solar storm which has been hammering Earth’s atmosphere over the last week or so.

Our reliance on technology, and in particular satellite technology for communications and navigation, is a particular concern when solar storms (or cyber warfare) can knock out systems for short or long periods of time. Indeed, as we enter a more active solar cycle, with more reliance on such technologies than we had the last time the sun was particularly active, it is worth considering what backup plans you have in place should a large solar storm knock out communications to some extent. A Carrington-level event could even knock out power for a while. I’m in my mid-30s and I know I would struggle if most technology went away for a few days, but at least I’m old enough to remember a time before modern technology ran just about everything; I shudder to think how the young’uns would handle such an event. Navigating by paper map would be a trial for many.

There’s probably more news of importance than those two things I’ve highlighted but that is what has caught my attention so far. Good luck finding important information on the 6pm news though. Dig deeper. Much much deeper.

Samuel

Entry Filed under: General News

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. nbrettoner  |  March 27th, 2024 at 5:36 pm

    Good evening good sir,
    Greetings from the east of Upper Orara; Korfa Harbour.
    Even Australians can change placenames!; it’s now relegated to “Coffs Harbour”.

    Your strong upstanding post, having no strings attached, brings to bear a very important need in society.
    i.e. The removal of distractions and the bringing first (NOT fourth!) THe TRuth of what REALLY matters.
    We should never be afraid of the truth, but rather be Very Concerned of untruths. Especially all those blatantly put forth as “true”.

    adieu*

    * {French for Pay Up!}

    Noel~of~the~north~somewhere

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