Special Reports

The TV Challenge continues…

On the whole do you feel most Special Reports are really that special? Or are they simply annoying? What special report has effected you most? (IE: (9/11, Reagan being shot…etc)

I assume that a “Special Report” is something that begins “We interrupt this program with breaking news…” and not “Tonight, the third installment of our six-part series…”

Here’s something interesting. I have learned of most of the past decade’s disasters through radio, not television. I heard about 9/11 from my clock radio, Hurricane Katrina on my evening commute, the Japanese tsunami on my morning commute. I learned of the Columbia explosion and the Gulf spill on the Internet, and most of us learned of the death of Bin Laden via Twitter.

I guess the point is that I don’t seem to get breaking news from the TV. By the time I see something there, I’ve usually already heard about it and so my reaction is either “good, finally some details,” or (usually) “not this again.”

As for the other sort of special report, the investigative news magazine sort of special report, there was something that affected me greatly for a long time. It was a documentary hosted by Orson Welles, called Nostradamus, The Man who Saw Tomorrow.

We will sell no wine before it is time.

It sounds ridiculous now, but when I saw it as a wee child, it looked like news, or at least like a legitimate educational program. There was a very serious and solemn man sitting behind a desk, talking about historical facts and ancient scholars. Toward the end of the program, he began to discuss Nostradamus’ prophecies of the future, involving a blue-turbaned Muslim armed with nuclear missiles, and the arrival of Halley’s comet coinciding with “a famine so great and so long that man shall become… a man eater!

Somehow, all these vague and sensationalized prophecies became muddled in my mind and I became certain that the world would end in 1986, due to a nuclear exchange that would turn its survivors into cannibal mutants.

That, as you may recall, didn’t happen.

I suppose that’s one reason why end-of-the world predictions based on poetry and numerology haven’t managed to convince me ever since. Astrophysics, ecology, economics, and psychology stand a better chance. I now imagine a very boring yet uncomfortable and all-too-plausible end to the world, if end it must. We simply deplete all of our resources while merrily polluting ourselves to death, all the while bickering over things that shouldn’t even be issues.

On the other hand, I also have hope that we somehow might just fix our problems, build the world of tomorrow, become an elder race, and stick it out until the sun blows up.

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