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The Idle American
"When Gold Finishes Third..."
Wednesday, August 8, 2012 • Posted August 8, 2012

Three centuries ago, poet Alexander Pope penned that “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” If this be true, Americans are trapped squarely in the jaws of danger. We’re in an election year when hundreds of millions of media dollars are spent to provide the electorate with boatloads of “knowledge”—or, loosely translated, what politicians would have us believe to be truth.

Gazillions of ad dollars go to clarify what is said, deny what is said and correct what is said. And that brings us back to “do,” drawing ever closer to “re” and “mi.”

Gored oxen bellow protests that claims are twisted from tiny roots, many “gnarls” away from structural roots in the tree of truth. Further, it’s not unusual for reporters to churn out stories that they know will be challenged, thus assuring more stories for other days….


Sadly, when truth is lifted from context, it warps, waffles or withers. For example, a statement in Newsmax magazine’s June issue begs to be contextually altered. In a piece about front-runners for the GOP’s vice-presidential nomination, a “little-known” fact about Ohio Senator Rob Portman claims he “likes to hunt wild turkey in Ohio.”

Look for opponents to suggest that he hits the bottle, and “likes wild turkey.”

A few pages later, another possible nominee, Marco Rubio, says the Tea Party “hasn’t gone anywhere.” His probable intent was to acknowledge that the movement is still strong, remaining very much around. But some readers may deduce that his intent was to suggest that the party is now motionless….


This brings to mind the story of a candidate for a state office. His aide rushes in, urging him to change his schedule to accommodate a visit to a city where he says “they’re telling lies about you.”

Unruffled by the aide’s announcement, the politico proceeds to the next scheduled rally.

He explains that the scheduled stop is even more important, because “they’re telling the truth about me there.”…


Misleading information probably can be traced back to smoke signals, or maybe to cave markings.

Soviet citizens often joke about propaganda in the Russian newspaper, Pravda. One concerned a yarn about a car race between U.S. and Soviet drivers. The U.S. car won.

The next day, Pravda reported, “The car from the Soviet Union came in second. The U. S. car came in second to last.”…


With only three months remaining before national elections, citizens will be barraged non-stop by both information and misinformation from political candidates.

We’ve reached the point that non-political news is preferable. Thank God for caller ID; now, Robocalls by phone can be ignored.

Let us be likewise thankful that the Olympics provide relief from ramped-up political coverage, athletes “tee-veed” from all angles….


One Olympic purist reveals a trivia nugget about the make-up of Olympic medals, revealing that the championship medals—pure gold in Olympics of 1904, 1908 and 1912—now contain less than 2% gold and more than 90% silver.

Second place medals are mostly silver, and, like gold medals, contain copper. The bronze medal is, uh, made of bronze, which is an alloy of copper and tin.

To be more nearly correct, maybe it should be silver for first place, copper for second and bronze for third. Nah, forget about it. The current system is too engraved in our minds….


We still smile about the athlete who was so proud of his gold medal that he had it bronzed.

Another story worth recalling casts an Aggie in the central role. Or maybe it was a Polish guy. Whatever, he watches Olympic athletes as they are waved through admission gates with minimal ID. One carries a javelin, saying, “Brazil, javelin,” and he’s promptly admitted. Another carries oars, saying, “England, rowing,” and he, too, walks through.

Inspired to gain free entry as the others have done, he totes a roll of barbed wire through the gate, announcing, “Texas A&M University, fencing.”…


Texas A&M brings cows to mind—the heavy-hitters in Chick-fil-A ads.

With the current strong feelings about patronage of the company, the ad execs may depend on the billboard bovines even more. However, signing up teens to wear cow get-ups in front of Chick-fil-A restaurants may be a tough sell.

In these days, though, what isn’t?...


Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Metroplex. Inquiries/emails: Phone: 817-447-3872. Twitter: @donnewbury. Web site:

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