Saturday, April 02, 2005

The news that isn't happening

The media saturation we've experienced over the slow and sorrowful Schiavo case is now fading, along with the women herself. The latest round-the-clock story is the death vigil for the Pope. And, of course, the Jackson case continues in fits and starts when there's not much else to report, now that Peterson has been sentenced and put away.

It's easy to see what is being covered in the news. It's hard, if not impossible, to remember what isn't happening.

Three years ago Israel was rocked by suicide bombing after suicide bombing, in close succession. It was difficult to see how anything would ever stop that pattern. Remember the grisly Iraqi beheadings of less than a year ago, the kidnappings and the grim hostage videos that were almost a daily occurrence? Now they are few and far between, and the hostages tend to be released. Even the horrific suicide bombings in Iraq, so numerous right before and after the election, have declined in recent weeks.

It's human nature to stop dwelling on something that isn't happening any more. It's easy to forget how commonplace that very thing was only a short while ago. We want to forget terrible things, we don't want to hold them in our minds. And the media makes sure it replaces them with the news de jour, which of course is as it should be.

But sometimes I wish we had an alternate history to hold before us, the history of what would still be happening if certain actions hadn't been taken. If Israel hadn't held firm and built the wall; if the Iraqis hadn't bravely turned out in record numbers for that election; if, if, if.

It is so very easy to criticize what is, what has actually been done. The resultant faults and flaws are right before our eyes. The world will always be imperfect; each action will create its own problems. But the even worse (perhaps far worse) things that might have happened but for those actions--those always remain invisible and unknowable, and can only be guessed at.

I don't follow the Michael Jackson trial, but every time I turn on the TV and see it being covered so intensely, I breathe a little sigh of relief, because it means that it's a slow news day, a regular news day.

And slow news is good news.


At 12:25 PM, April 02, 2005, Blogger vanderleun said...

Actually, as you might be aware, there is a large genre of alternate histories laying about. These range from the absurd-high-sci-fi efforts to ones done by highly regarding writers and historians.

Google searches under phrases "alternate history" or "alternate histories" yield some starting points.

But I take you point about having a service that tracks the what-if more closely tied to the present.

At 12:27 PM, April 02, 2005, Blogger vanderleun said...

The again, there's the interesting

Today in Alternate History

At 12:37 PM, April 02, 2005, Blogger vanderleun said...

Or this page on the excellent "What If " series:
Uchronia: The Alternate History List
a href=""

Rob Cowley (Son of Malcom) does the best job in the field.

At 1:51 PM, April 02, 2005, Blogger Barba Roja said...

Here's your alternate history:

At 4:43 PM, April 02, 2005, Blogger Tran Sient said...

You can also find an alternative history at Clinton Library.

At 9:52 PM, April 02, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting to me that you should muse on the alternative history scenario. I've just been catching up on the first two seasons of the TV show "24" and, in one of the episodes, as the president is deciding on whether or not to go to war against the Middle East, his military experts assert that the potential death toll for the US troops would probably number some 20,000 soldiers. Now,of course, I realize this is just a TV show but it made me think back on the projections from the MSM on how many US deaths were likely from the Iraq invasion. Interesting how all that wailing and chest beating can just disappear once proven wrong. None of us take lightly the sad reality that even one soldier lost his life in this undertaking but the number is blessedly so much smaller than many "experts" predicted.

At 6:50 AM, April 03, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Give me history that is real and I will deal with it. Any other type of history, to me , is poppycock!


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