Los Viejos Narcotraficantes

We have access to hundreds—perhaps thousands—of available sources for news around the globe, yet the number of unique topics emerging from them constitutes just a fraction of that larger number. Whether our news of choice is from CNN, FoxNews, the New York Times, MSNBC, BBC, NBC, CBS, etc., we tend to view the same news. Granted, the spin might be slightly different, but the stories essentially are limited in number and offer the same content. Conspiracy theorists might attempt to explain the duplication from one news outlet to the next by claiming the media are engaged in widespread efforts to limit and control what we see and hear—and by extension, what we think. I’ll admit a bias here; I think conspiracy theorists are fundamentally stupid, morally flawed, and consume far more oxygen than they are worth. My explanations for what appears to be a limited number of news stories delivered by an enormous number of outlets are these:

  1. the media have become extremely proficient at determining what is apt to appeal to news consumers—they give us what we want, whether we know it or are willing to admit it or not;
  2. limited resources available to news organizations compel them to make choices about topics to cover—choices that are forced on professional journalists against their most deeply-felt journalistic obligations;
  3. we—the consumers of news—have a limited appetite for thought-provoking news reporting, so news media must narrow the options they give us or else they will lose us to their competitors; and
  4. competition between news organizations is a critically important driver of their decisions in determining what topics to cover…making their choices to cover subjects already more than adequately addressed elsewhere more appealing than choices to cover truly meaningful new information.

If I were to give these issues more intense thought, I might come to different conclusions. But, for now, I do not have the energy nor the inclination to coerce my brain to be more discerning nor more intellectually demanding. So there you go.


I got a follow-up phone call from my oncologist’s office after yesterday’s labs and infusion, informing me that an appointment had been made for me for early Monday morning to see a pulmonologist. Later in the day, I noted in my online portal that the appointment schedule had been delayed an hour…I hope to be finished in plenty of time to see the total eclipse play out. The nurse who called me emphasized that I should go to the ER if, between the time of the phone call and my Monday appointment, my breathing were to become difficult. I do not like to hear such ominous warnings at the beginning of a longer-than-usual weekend. But I assume the nurse was just being cautious. I have no reason to believe I will experience breathing difficulties before Monday.  I used to laugh under my breath at “old people” whose every conversation had connections to their health challenges. I now find that I mock myself with some regularity. I suspect there will come a time when my self-mockery will cease to be even remotely funny. That is when the ready availability of lethal doses of oxycodone or some other such drug will become of paramount importance. When ever-so-brief interruptions to matters of healthcare concern are the highlights of week after week after week, I will no longer see burglaries of pharmacies as the province of people who are addicted to drugs. Eighty- and ninety-year old cat burglars seeking supplies of Schedule 2 drugs like fentanyl may not become commonplace, but younger and more agile criminals may become geezers’ suppliers. I think a piece of fiction in which an aging group of terminally ill patients form a distribution network for morphine, etc. might be interesting. What would be a good title? The Geezanasia Gang?


What the hell have I been thinking this morning? I haven’t taken my fistful of pills yet. That oversight must be addressed. And off I go to swallow my pride and a clot of multi-color pills. I’ll need plenty to drink to make them go down; just taking the pills will require  enough water to ensure that I will be properly hydrated for weeks.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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