October’s Daily Diary

I have not read every para­graph in the con­tinue rev­e­la­tions of legal phone and other elec­tronic snoop­ing that began last June when gov­ern­ment secrets brought to light by Edward Snow­den were con­firmed and pub­lished in lead­ing news­pa­pers around the world. But I stay pretty cur­rent on it as well as study the jour­nal­is­tic under­pin­nings and ethics gird­ing this sig­nif­i­cant topic.

So Mon­day, when The New Yorker released online its Oct. 7 issue, I read about Alan Rus­bridger, edi­tor of London’s Guardian news­pa­per, where most of the rev­e­la­tions have been pub­lished. He’s an inter­est­ing bird, put in a lot of years report­ing, nat­u­rally, so it shouldn’t be a sur­prise that he is a for­mer colum­nist. The magazine’s media ana­lyst Ken Auletta said Rus­bridger wrote for The Guardian a “daily diary column.”

A what?

It’s a British term, and it may not trans­late well to Amer­ica. Although The New York Times does have its “Met­ro­pol­i­tan Diary.” BBC online ran a story three years ago, “The Death of the News­pa­per Diary?” and the form appears to be, yes, daily, and after that, it could be short takes/items or one con­tin­u­ous essay. Quips or straight report­ing, or just pointed com­ments. One writer or a team. But this cer­tainly is not a gos­sip col­umn, the story says, that gets its own genre. (Or industry.)

Still, a blog­ger or colum­nist these days could take the term “daily diary” as inspi­ra­tion to moti­va­tion for writing.

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Logo[This Brick is adapted from my direc­tor of online media col­umn in the Octo­ber 2013 edi­tion of The Colum­nist newslet­ter of the National Soci­ety of News­pa­per Colum­nists.]

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Also, another insight from Eng­land, a coinage from the satir­i­cal sci-fi movie The World’s End — the verb “star­buck­ing,” mean­ing the com­mod­i­fi­ca­tion of small shops, cafes and, in this show, pubs.

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Speak­ing of the National Secu­rity Agency, it has a children’s web­site, www.nsa.gov/kids. Seri­ously. And it opens just fine, despite the fed­eral gov­ern­ment sequester.

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Ah, here’s one now: A corol­lary to “Watch what you ask for, you might get it.” It is, “Watch what you some­times loathe, you might lose it.”

Here’s a slight expan­sion of that. You often get some form of what you ask for; if you squint, it’s true often enough. Thus, you can wish bad things into existence.

This is sim­i­lar to how you can’t will to win, but you can will to get beaten in
games and lose in more seri­ous matters.

I came up with the “watch” tan­gent (don’t Google it and tell me how many thou­sands came up with it first), after read­ing a story at Slate.com, “An Impor­tant Life Les­son from Black­jack and Base­ball: You Gain More by Not Being Stu­pid Than You Do by Being Smart.” That’s a anti-author head­line. It totally gives away the story so you don’t have to bother.

Well, it is worth read­ing to see the sci­ence behind the theory.

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The NSNC Edu­ca­tion Foun­da­tion met online Sun­day, Sept. 29, for its for­mal annual session.

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The NSNC board itself met online Tues­day, Sept. 17, in a called ses­sion to accept a new set of by-laws. The rea­son was to ensure solid non­profit stand­ing in the eyes of the law, not to men­tion the Inter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice. The NSNC-EF remains a 501( c )3, and the NSNC is unam­bigu­ously a 501( c )6.

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The Sept, 3, 2013 episode of NPR’s Fresh Air fea­tured jazz-influenced exper­i­men­tal com­poser John Zorn. Eccen­tric, as expected. But he had a fresh term for what peo­ple like cre­ativ­ity coach Julia Cameron calls “crazy­mak­ers.” Zorn calls them such folks “psy­chic vam­pires,” that is, friends or rel­a­tives who drag you down, or drain or frus­trate you in your endeav­ors. Or sim­ply drain your good cheer. My Beloved and I began read­ing Cameron back in 1998. Psy­chic vam­pire resonates.

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Great, thought­ful con­cept: There’s post-traumatic stress but there’s also “post-traumatic growth” — Dr. Nor­man Rosen­thal in inter­views pro­mot­ing his new book The Gift of Adver­sity: The Unex­pected Ben­e­fits of Life’s Dif­fi­cul­ties, Set­backs, and Imperfections.

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[C]oronary artery dis­ease and heart attacks are noth­ing more than a tooth­less paper tiger that need never, ever exist. If it does exist, it need never, ever progress. It is a benign food-borne ill­ness.” — Dr. Cald­well Essel­styn Jr., inter­viewed in the Pitts­burgh Post-Gazette.

What a way to view heart dis­ease, and as a pre­ventable con­di­tion, accord­ing to a num­ber of spe­cial­ists, it makes sense. Essel­styn was fea­tured in the doc­u­men­tary Forks over Knives.


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