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Jeff Whitten: On this and that and that and this
editor's notes

From the rear lines of the pandemic, continued: 

Life, like Forrest Gump said in the movie, is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’ll get. Alas so is this space, despites years of my trying to narrow it down and make it less like a squirrel’s nest.

And with that in mind, anybody out there ever eat bait squid?

If so, let me know what it tasted like. I plan to go get some to go fishing with and, being of a sound mind but adventurous spirit, I’ve kind of wondered what fish see in it. At the same time, I’m not sure I want to be like Thomas Swift’s “first man to eat an oyster” so if you’ve already had a chunk, shoot me an email and let me know what you thought, and also whether you were drunk or sober.

What else is up?

Looks as if our myriad local governments are starting to meet up in public again, albeit sitting the required six feet apart. I don’t know whether I liked it better when you could sit home in your drawers watching local officials who were probably in their drawers hit the listen button when they were trying to speak and speak button when they were trying to listen, but it was certainly entertaining at times and confusing at times, and that’s kind of government in a nutshell.

Oh, and as a fellow reporter told me, some public officials mumble, which can make it hard to figure out what they’re saying when you’re watching it on some app. Trust me, sometimes it’s hard to figure out what they’re saying when you’re there, too.

I’m told I often mumble, but I’m not saying anything important and besides, I don’t like raising my voice. It would make me fairly useless at a protest, unless I had one of those electronic signs I could wave around at the throng with red ALL CAPS letters that sort of scrolled past as you typed. “MEAN PEOPLE ARE NOT NICE,” I would type, and I would mean it and own it.

That’s right. Despite my somewhat curmudgeonly appearance, I don’t like mean people, who are also known by a phrase that loosely rhymes with bass hats. If I’m ever mean to someone in this space let me know.

Not that I haven’t been tempted to let loose a time or two over the years. That’s because newspapers, you see, once attracted many of the same sort of squeaky wheels and ax grinders you now find, if you care to look and I don’t, on Facebook and Twitter making absolute nuisances of themselves stretching truths and testing the limits of libel and slander laws.

In the old days the flies in various ointments had to buttonhole newspaper people in person to be heard. If they got to you it could take hours to get rid of them and was, to put it frankly, sort of awful.

Especially if they liked to talk, which most did. I once, circa 1996, sat through about three hours worth of explanation on how a local cable company was wrongly attaching its cables to polls with connivance from county officials and still didn’t know what the fellow was getting at, but for him it was crystal clear and screwing up his TV reception.

Those were not the days. These are the days, because these days the people with a bee in their bonnet can just sit at home in their drawers, fussing online about everything that isn’t nailed down and more power to them. It’s the American way, doing other people’s jobs for them and spreading sunshine and cheer in the process while writing more words than Shakespeare and Stephen King combined ever thought about in the process. The best thing about that is I don’t have to read it, so I don’t. It’s better for my soul to remain blissfully ignorant of the circuses circumnavigating various social media websites, so I’m sticking to the ignore social media policy for as long as I can. If it feels good, do it.

That said, we occasionally do still get some weird stuff, like a pitch from some PR agency noting that most of the victims of police brutality - indeed most of the victims of all crime, no matter who do the perpetrating, are men.

Funny thing is, about 900 percent of the email I get these days comes from PR firms trying to get us to run a story on somebody’s business or idea or incredible amazing unbelievable remarkable whatever, which convinces me there are still people willing to pay somebody to get into our newspaper - they just don’t want to pay us to be in there. Go figure.

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