Yet another topic that I do not have a strong opinion or clear perspective: politics. I must say I am mildly interested and sometimes my interest heightens and then for months I don't even read newspapers. When I was in college, I used to devour the local newspaper from first to last page - everything from politics, economics, sports and local affairs. I was in no particular hurry in the morning to get to college, I could park the breakfast on to the paper and go through every inch. But after I moved out of there, I have never managed to read a newspaper or magazine from cover to cover. I can attribute that to a lack of care about what is happening around me (unless something drastic which demands attention), bulky newspapers which are very clearly meant for a serious study rather than daily news, internet newspapers which don't have a definitive path to follow (side bar, top bar, snapshots, summaries and in between a small strip of news strewn with links - I am compelled to click on something else before finishing one story) and news channels. The old way still seems better - I can just catch the 10 o'clock news, which will give me relevant news of the day - instead of a 24-hour news channel, which stretches the bits of news beyond imagination to fill in the time. I am tired of the expert’s analysis of statistics of past occurrences of hurricanes that seem to be going up from category 2 to 3 and back to 2.

I am still in the process of discovering the best way of reading news. Latest on that is rss feed - my initiation is with bloglines. But I would at least like summaries of stories, most sites give me headings and I don't want to click too many links. Since we have reached so far, I would like my customized news page with latest and relevant news from Kerala (not about thunder strike by postal workers and flood in Trivandrum bus station), Indian politics and business, cricket, British football, general tech and world news (no, for me, world doesn't mean just US). I think such a newspaper is not far away from making. I should be able to rate stories and say what I don't want to read about from tomorrow onwards and what I would like to monitor more.

Coming back to where I started, last when I had a little bit of interest in politics was during UK election. It was less entertaining than Indian elections where they will surely make me memorize and eventually gag over the name of the candidates by shouting through loudspeakers from morning to evening and putting posters in every inch of available space. I had to make an effort to learn the candidate's names in UK for local constituency. But then even they are becoming more of presidential election with 2 and 1/2 candidates and an enviably low number of major parties. I think the most interesting thing for me was multiple talk shows with the candidates themselves with opportunity for public to probe. It must be incredibly difficult for the leaders to answer all the questions (about education fees, immigration issues, taxation, international affairs, health, environment etc - I have to give them credit for attempting to answer). If not get a satisfactory response, you can at least make out which of them is genuine, still has a trace of sincerity and bit of intelligence. I don't think except for designated spokespersons, most of the ministers back home can perform well under that microscope.

Again, back to my original thought - why do I want to fill up my unused memory cells with obscure views about world peace? Maybe it is the process of my ageing. I think I really feel and want to know the real stories, but am tired of the very standard and pristine news products coming out of news processing industries - I don't want to read "Suicide bomb explodes in hospital - 20 killed." followed by a standard description about where and when it exploded, the counts and such. I think news is getting very unemotional and too high level to comprehend what is really happening. I no longer know whether anything is really true or just a publicity stunt or fed by the PR agency or staged hysteria. I think the current way is hallucinating, creating a world that exists mostly in paper. Lock us up and give a daily sample of celebrity gossip, terrorist attack etc - we might not even notice the change. But does it really matter whether the news is nothing but truth?


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