Five Things The Media Is Not Allowed To Do, Post-Election

Dear Media,

Regarding the recent election, you guys really yosted the poodle, didn’t you?

Sorry to be crass, but seriously, media? You gave away billions of dollars worth of free advertising to Donald Trump because you thought he was a big joke, and in the end, the joke was on you. And the irony is that even you couldn’t believe it.

Thanks so much, Media. The 52.8% of the country that didn’t vote for Trump really appreciates that you basically installed him in the office.

[edit: thanks to gilliebean, who corrected me on this: “…there were actually 251,107,000 people in the USA who were eligible to register to vote on Nov 8. Only 24.2% of those people voted for Trump. Only 24.6% of those people voted for Clinton. 51.5% did not vote. So technically, it was 75.8% of the country that did not vote for Trump (not 52.8%). And in all fairness, 75.4% of the country didn’t vote for Clinton.]

The good thing is that you know this, you’ve acknowledged it, and you’ve owned it. We can see examples of this in The New RepublicUSA Today, and MSNBC. But you can find it all over the place – stunned media elites, bemoaning the results, and recognizing their culpability in this scenario that the 52.8% [edit: 75.8%] considers to be nightmarish.

But Media, you must understand that owning it is not enough, not by a long shot. No, media, you also need to make atonement.

That’s right. Atonement. In the form of five things we are taking away from you during the next four to eight years of the Trump Administration.

You might want to sit down for this, Media. Because it’s going to hurt.

  1. No TrumpGate.

Ever since Nixon, you guys have not been able stop putting “-gate” at the end of whatever scandal might crop up. We’ve had BillyGate, DebateGate, IranGate, CableGate, FileGate, HairGate, MonicaGate, EmailGate, IntelGate, and even a GateGate! The list goes on and on and on, and Media, it’s time for you to let it go.

We get it! Gates are terrible things! But as your first act of atonement, you will avoid the temptation to label Trump scandals with names like WallGate, MelaniaGate, NepotismGate, Alt-RightGate, PutinGate, or – God forbid – P*ssyGate.

It’s time for some originality, Media.

But that’s only the beginning.

2. No Trumponomics.

I’m amazed that people complain about the lack of originality in Hollywood, but continue to give the fourth estate a free pass to be as unoriginal as you can be. It all started with Reagonomics, then we had Clintonomics, the Bushonomics, and – silliest sounding of all – Obamanomics.

The madness stops here. As your second act of atonement, you must never refer to the economic policies of Donald Trump as Trumpanomics.

That being said, if you want to use “Trumped-up Trickle Down Economics”, feel free. I don’t think anyone is using it at the moment.

3. No Trumpcare.

untitledYou tried to get this off the ground with Hillary Clinton back in 1993 with Hillarycare, but her healthcare plan flopped. Then, when President Obama announced he was going to push universal healthcare, you quickly grabbed the old nickname and applied it to Obama, and you gave us Obamacare.

And it stops there. Media, after your Election 2016 screwup, you’ve lost the ability to continue this with Trump. John Oliver has already snuck one of these past, but that’s as far as it goes.

As your third act of atonement, you will refrain from dubbing Trump’s new healthcare plan “Trumpcare.” You can call it TrumpHealth, or TrumpMeds, or even InsuriTrump,

But no riffing off Obamacare. You’ve forfeited your right.

4. No “You’re Fired!”

Over the course of these upcoming four years, people will undoubtedly come and go from the Trump administration. As your fourth act of atonement, you will refrain from reporting on that story with headlines like, “Bannon, You’re Fired!”

Also, Trump is liable to send our military to fight somewhere, and you are not permitted to report on that story with headlines like, “ISIS, you’re fired!”

You can extrapolate this out to any situation, and apply the same rule.

untitledThe use of “You’re Fired” is now fired. Take this off your list of possible headlines. Atonement act #4.

5. No “trumps” puns.

The final act of atonement is to avoid the temptation, as great as it will be, to say that Trump has “trumped” things, or someone else has “trumped” him (with the aforementioned exception of Clinton’s brilliant and erudite “Trumped up trickle down.” That, you may use to your heart’s content). But you must not say things like this:

China Trumps Trump When It Comes to Infrastructure

Or this…

Trump Trumps Hate

However, headlines like this are acceptable:

Trump’s Trump Trumps Trump’s Trump

In conclusion, we want you to know, Media, that we realize that you’re hurting. We know that you are apprehensive about what the next four years holds for people in your line of work, and that things don’t bode well for a transparent Trump administration.

But if you do your job from now on: reporting truth rather than promoting sensationalism; putting aside your own personal convictions and reporting with impartially; and holding everyone’s feet to the fire – Republicans, Democrats, whatever, then we might just start listening to you again.

Atonement is, after all, about reconciliation.

Meanwhile, we hope you’ve learned your lesson from this. And every time you have to stop yourself from using one of the easy choices listed above, we hope that it hurts just a little bit. And we hope the little pain that you feel reminds you of how important it is for you to do your job well.

We’re counting on you, media. Don’t let us down again.

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A Review of The Jim Gaffigan Show, Episode 1

Thimblerig’s Ark blog is pleased to have a guest reviewer joining us today, Jay Stroud of Chiang Mai, Thailand.  Jay and I had a brief discussion of the first episode of The Jim Gaffigan Show, and he agreed to share his thoughts on the blog.  Much appreciation to Jay, and to Jim Gaffigan, for giving us a glimpse of his upcoming show, which will air this summer on TV Land.

share_image_showLast night, I had the opportunity to watch the first episode of The Jim Gaffigan Show. I enjoy him as a comedian as he brings out the humor in everyday life stuff without feeling the need to go for shock laughs that spring more from discomfort than actual humor. That being said, the subject matter of his first episode was certainly surprising.

In the story, Gaffigan is leaving for a comedy club and his wife asks him to stop by their church and pick up a Bible the church had given her. He picks it up on the way but it turns out to be a very large family Bible that would draw attention anywhere. After the show at the comedy club, Jim has his picture taken with a fan and because he was holding the Bible, it showed prominent in the picture. It hit social media the next morning and the entire country was convinced that he was outspoken about his faith, though it was never a statement he intended. The story follows Gaffigan trying to navigate the media circus and how the media can affect public thought about celebrities. 

It was an interesting character study on ‘the media’ and fact checking in general but also true and false perceptions of Christianity. It’s amazing how often we forget to use logical thought to challenge what the news and media put out and even more, what is perceived as common perspective, eg. “I can’t be outed as a Christian, people think Christians are stupid.” 

This episode painted a picture of the cost of identifying with Christ. It means laying down your life which could mean your career or even your physical breath in the end. In such a polarized society, cultural forces are bound to tug you one direction or another and put you in tough positions where you have to choose. It is not always expected but calls for one to think on their feet as challenges come fast and furious. Gaffigan was not prepared to answer the questions or which way he wanted to be pulled. In this moment, I think he’s found a place that millions of people can identify with. 

78250-show-65737There are ways to work as a Christ follower more shrewdly than publicly having your pic taken with a giant Bible, and though inadvertent in this episode, some call that kind of attention to themselves purposefully, not expecting somehow that they will get more attention than they can handle and generally the unproductive kind. You wouldn’t stand on a street corner in Iraq declaring Christ without expecting it to blow up in your face (literally perhaps). Christians should be ready for questions that will come and cultural tugs to be clearly who we are.

In a way, it seems that Gaffigan did exactly what he feared. He is open about being Catholic and in this episode, he was able to face down fears about that. He was able to explore right and wrong ways sharing he is a Christian in fictional character. This is a safe way to start discussion and work through worries and issues that we all think about when living out our faith publicly. In this way, Gaffigan exorcised his own demons. At the end of the episode, he had his choice, but in real life, he also makes the choice to be who he is and let the chips fall where they fall. 

Favorite line: “I can’t take the Bible in the comedy club. I might get stand-up comedy on it.”

Jay Stroud lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He occasionally tweets @jay_stroud and very occasionally posts songs and stories about life at jaystroud.net

Click here to see more about The Jim Gaffigan Show.

Fear, Reason, and The Ebola Virus

What is the most frightening word in America right now?

Depending on your level of media coverage, it might just be a word that rhymes with Coca-Cola.

Not Ayatollah.  That’s so 1980’s.

The word we’re looking for is Ebola, and I’m joking about it because it frightens me.

This is a new fear for the lexicon.  For years,  Ebola was just a device in a movie or a novel.  Like the fictional virus in the film starring Dustin Hoffman, the film that had something to do with monkeys and people dying horribly and Donald Sutherland wanting to drop a nuke on a small town in California.

Or maybe Steven Soderbergh’s film where Gwynth Paltrow cheats on Matt Damon and winds up spreading a hybrid bat/pig virus that wipes out a bunch of people.

It’s really odd, how fascinated we are with fictional doomsday movies and books, but when one is teased as actually being on the horizon, we freak out as if we are the hysterical characters in a fictional doomsday movie or book – the panicked crowd running from the monster, or being crushed under the falling building as the superheroes duke it out in the sky.

Could it be that we’re afraid with good reason?  What scares us about something like this current outbreak of Ebola?

That’s easy enough to answer – the possibility of a potential nightmare scenario becoming a living nightmare reality – as it is doing in three countries in West Africa – with devastating effects.

But for those of us not in those countries – why are we afraid?

It’s because of the fear of what might be.  It’s terrifying to imagine that one of those nurses from Dallas may have passed Ebola on – somehow – to someone who is carrying the disease and doesn’t know it.  Yet.  And that those ignorant carriers might somehow pass it on to someone else until the growth becomes exponential and we have a 21st Century global plague that decimates the world population.

It could happen.  Right?

Nevermind the odds.  Nevermind statistics.  Nevermind healthcare professionals and precautions and the CDC and the WHO and the government.

Nevermind God.

It might happen, and the possibility is terrifying.

That’s how fear works.  It’s based on things that could happen in the future.  It’s based on the unknown.

And fear misused can be one of the most dangerous and paralyzing things on the planet.

Fear itself isn’t bad, of course.  God gave us fear to keep us from harm, and that makes it a wonderful thing.  A gift.  For example, fear of falling keeps us from approaching the edge of a cliff, and this saves us from falling.  Fear of getting bitten keeps us from approaching a strange dog, and that keeps us from getting bitten.

God also gave us the ability to reason, to help us understand what we should fear and what we needn’t fear, and when we have the two in balance, we’re fine, operating the way we’re supposed to operate.  We can decide what is deserving of our fear, what isn’t deserving, and what things we need to keep our eyes on – just in case.

Where we get in trouble is when we let fear get the upper hand.

It could be that our fear of Ebola needs to be balanced with a bit of reason.

So, if you are fearful about the potential for an Ebola disaster of summer blockbuster proportions, I’d suggest you ask yourself the following important question:

As of October 17, 2014, what does reason tells us?

1.  Ebola has mostly affected Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea in West Africa.

2.  It has not spread substantially to neighboring countries, largely because of the active intervention of those other countries.

3.  There has been one death caused by Ebola in the United States: a man who travelled to West Africa and had direct contact with an infected person.

4.  Two healthcare professionals in the United States have been identified as having contracted Ebola as a result of caring for that man, and they are currently being cared for by teams of medical personnel.

5.  The people who had contact with the three individuals above are being tracked down and closely monitored – a situation where our Big Brother world is actually coming in handy.

6.  The virus is not airborne, so being in the same room (or airplane) as an infected person does not mean you will become infected.

7.  Ebola is transmitted by having direct contact with the bodily fluids of a person who has been infected, or possibly by having contact with things that have been infected by having contact with fluids from an the infected person – such as soiled clothing or linens.

8.  Ebola isn’t passed on during the 21 day incubation period, only after the person has become symptomatic.

9.  The virus cannot go through skin.  It is transmitted when a person touches someone or something infected and then touches their own eye, nose, or mouth – or through an open cut in the skin.

10.  There is no known cure for Ebola, so when a person contracts the disease, he or she will fight it off on their own.  The things that seem to have an impact on the person successfully fighting the disease include the following:  age, access to modern medical support, nutrition, and prior health.

You can read more facts about Ebola here and here.

What will happen tomorrow?  I have no idea.  None of us do.

But tomorrow isn’t my concern, because right now I can’t do anything about it.

In Matthew 6:34, Jesus said:

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I’m an elementary school teacher, a want-to-be writer, a dad, a husband, and ultimately, I’m just riding the same wave you’re riding, hopeful that we’ll all make it to shore.

And here’s the big thing:  I can’t control the wave.  None of us can.

I can only control my response to the wave.

Using reason, I will ask myself what I can do to prepare.  I will educate myself on the disease and how to recognize it.  I will be careful to wash my hands as often as possible, especially after being in public.  I will be vigilant to do what I can, but I will not be afraid.

Using reason, I will ask myself just who stands to make the most out of an increased amount of fear in the population as a whole.

I wonder who?  Who stands to profit off increased newspaper and magazine sales?  Who gets more ad revenue when we desperately click on their links to find out the latest bit of news?  Who thrives off sensationalism and agitation and unrest?  Who – like a Dementor in a Harry Potter book – loves to suck out all our joy and peace and replace it with fear and panic so that we keep coming back for more?

Who, indeed?

I will make the choice to not permit fear to outweigh reason.

I will make the choice to be wary and careful today, but to let tomorrow worry about itself.

And finally, I will make the choice to continue trusting God, regardless of what happens tomorrow.

An outbreak of Ebola in West Africa or the United States or anywhere doesn’t make God any less God, and doesn’t make Him in any less good, or any less trustworthy – just like cancer doesn’t change who God is, or a job promotion, or meeting the love of your life, or losing a baby in a miscarriage, or any number of the other good and bad things that happen in our lives.

God is still God, even in the face of everything that life throws our way.  And He’s still good.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

Fear balanced with reason, held up by faith.

I can live with that.