Hitchens on Everything

In an attempt to grow as a writer, I have committed to reading a varied diet of authors other writers mention in their writing. I am also reading more by writers the people I respect read. This has led to a fascination with the late Christopher Hitchens. 

It helps that he has written about secularism in a witty, informative manner which leaves me feeling a little more enlightened. I feel the need to be completely transparent, so I admit my relief to have purchased electronic books which has facilitated my use of the “define” button with ease. One of my bad habits is to skim very quickly through material and if I see a word I do not immediately recognize, I skim over it and assume I can get the gist of the article or chapter if I just keep reading. This leads to a lot of missed opportunities for me. It also explains why I can reread so many things and never get bored. It’s always a new experience because I miss so much the first 12 times I read it. 

Hitchens is not really light reading for me. The man’s command of the English language is a bit intimidating for a girl who has spent much of her life trying to blend in and avoid accusations of snobbery and elitism. Essentially, I have been accused of trying to use words separate myself from others to the point I stopped trying to elucidate my thoughts using more specific and clear language. I just wanted to fit in. I have since realized my mistake. I have a rabid fascination with words. My dictionary app is one of my favorite apps. I make note of new words when I hear them and I take great pride in trying to learn how to appropriately use the new words I have learned in casual conversation. This is what I consider a good time. 

I find the assimilation of vocabulary into my life a useful tool for making myself understood in a more accurate way. I have spent too long copping out by assuming no one would ever understand what point I am trying to make. I have also assumed no one could possibly be interested. 

My fears of offending people and causing the people I love pain and embarrassment has made writing difficult for me. I have spent much of my life trying to understand the complexities of argument and honing my debaters mind to see the opposing argument as well. This makes it difficult at times to make a point and stick with it. 

Frankly, it has left me paralyzed. 

However, I digress. (Learned that word from a book about a vampire bunny. I wish I could remember what book that was. I loved it.) I was talking about Hitchens. I could go on about this thing or that thing he wrote, however I think you should just go read him on your own. I just wanted to share how much reading him has inspired me to work harder to develop my skills as a communicator and thinker. 

I want to be able to articulate my ideas in a clearer and more concise manner. I want to be able to express how information has influenced my life. I want to be able to demonstrate how I have changed and grown as a result of my experiences in my life. I want to be able to show how it was all still meaningful, even if I don’t believe in immortality. 

I suppose I just want to not waste my life on earth planning for some unimaginable future existence. I want to take advantage of the life I actually have. 

I won’t be dishonest or hide truth as I understand it. I won’t be unshakeable and rigid to accepting new ideas as I learn more. I will never live by the ignorant edict of “that’s the way we have always done it.” I will be openminded and look for evidence. I will continue to value truth above all else. 

I will keep reading, watching, and searching for answers. Maybe someday I will have something interesting to say. If nothing else, perhaps I will be clever in the same way I find Hitchens clever. Wouldn’t that be a riot? 

Why we need ethics: Brian Williams should not be allowed to return

Borrowed from Variety. http://variety.com/2015/tv/opinion/brian-williams-and-the-lost-art-of-the-public-apology-1201425652/

There was an interesting article in Vanity Fair outlining the events that led up to NBC’s problems: Long story short, bad management. However, even this interesting story was possibly filled with exaggerations and quotes about individuals that have not been substantiated. (Brokaw says that he has given no indication that he was “Livid” and he maintains he and Williams have a “cordial” relationship.) According to CNN Money‘s interview with Mr. Brokaw.

I don’t care as much about all of that, my biggest issue is the necessity for ethical behavior by our journalists. These are the people we count on to provide us with unbiased news reporting that enables the public to make informed decisions. I know, I keep trying and failing to make this point, but come on people! Where are the honest people? The ones who do not allow their ego to run their lives? 

We invite these people into our homes, and we allow their reporting to influence our decisions. We allow them to help shape our children’s view of the world. We need to be able to trust them. Unfortunately, Brian Williams has violated that trust. 

I find myself wondering who I can trust, and where to turn for accurate, unbiased reporting. I love a good story, and I am not opposed to embellishment. I just prefer that my journalists stick to the facts. They have an incredible power to sway public opinion and need to remain cognizant of the importance of maintaining trust.

It is imperative to maintain journalistic integrity, and to hold the members of the press accountable for their actions. Brian Williams cannot be trusted. It makes me sad, he was a likable personality on screen, but if NBC allows his return, they will be promoting dishonesty and their newscast will become even more unreliable.

Don’t even get me started on his pathetic apology. It sucks to be caught in a lie. Don’t make it worse by underestimating the intelligence of your viewers. Variety posted a nice opinion piece that says it all so much better than I ever could.

It is time to hold ourselves accountable for being honest, and it is time to hold the press accountable. The prevalence of exaggeration and embellishment to make our point (whatever that point may be) has to be acknowledged. Just be real. Stop trying to impress people. It’s not cool, and the public is tired of it. Seriously. Give it a rest.

I would like to see an overhaul of journalism. Instead of the focus on the pretty people, can we bring back the smart, intelligent people? Where is the integrity? Who can we trust? I need somewhere to get my news.