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When I was in Junior High (or Senior Elementary as we called it), I had a job delivering newspapers. When I came home from school, the bundle was waiting for me on the driveway, but before I loaded them on my bike, I sat down at the table and read them over. Then I would ride down to the end of the road where an increasingly senile old man would tell me that, in keeping with the Roman style, he’d have to kill me if I was bringing bad news. While the early 90’s had its share of bad news, I could usually find some good news to spare my life.

When I got to University, I was excited to find all kinds of newspaper companies offering their product for free, in the hopes that I would enter into a long term product preference relationship with them.

These days I get my news online. Google is happy to search the headlines of the world for me, and then deliver a series of headlines and images to me, hyper-referenced to articles it thinks I would find interesting.

So, not only have I developed a habit of reading the news, but also of not paying for it. Unfortunately for anyone in earshot when I’m reading it, I’ve also developed a habit of commenting on what I’m reading. There are millions of others like me, and the web hosts of news sites have clued in on this. Now, when you read a news story on any credible/popular new source, you can make a comment, or read from the scores of comments left by other readers.

I, on the other hand, benefit from a condition that is rarely a benefit in any way, I am perpetually afraid that I will come off looking like an idiot. This either prevents me from making comments or at least delays it long enough that I realize any comment I make would certainly be 1) ignored, 2) redundant, 3) fuel for an already cyclical debate, but most likely 4) a combination of the above.

Almost every time I read an article though, the same thing happens. I scroll down a little bit too far and I get a glimpse of how many comments there are. Then I read one, then another, and then it’s almost like I realize again for the first time how pointless the comments are. I can’t think of a single time that my news reading experience has been improved because of a comment I read at the bottom of the page.

These comments also fall into predictable patterns. For any kind of moderately serious crime, posters will use the story as yet another justification to reinstate the death penalty, blame the current or former government for allowing the crime to occur, or offer tips to investigators based on their analysis of the evidence provided in the article. Almost every story of course invites people to blindly defend their nation, political party, race, religion, gender or business as righteous, whether or not their compatriots in the story are clearly the victims, the attackers or simply bystanders in the particular incident.

So I thought it would be fun to speculate on what kind of comments would be generated if today’s news environment were present at big events in our history. Sometimes we already know the general opinion at the time, but the Internet would just make those opinions roughly a million times as extreme.

Go ahead, think of your own. Our friends at XKCD have done it for the moon landing. Here’s my kick at the can:

Titanic Sinks
Once thought to be unsinkable, the large British vessels hit an iceberg and falls to the ocean floor. Thousands are feared dead. More to come.

5 comments
– “I hope this convinces a few more people to stay back in Europe. Last thing we need is more immigrants.”
– “Did anyone check the water for German subs? I don’t buy this iceberg bull-**** for a second.”
– “If boats like this can sink, what’s next? The end times are upon us.”
– “I wonder who was on this boat that the powers that be were afraid of. This administration will stop at nothing to keep their grip on power.”
– “Did the captain go down with his ship? I hope they don’t let him on dry land if he didn’t.”

Note: I hate reading comments on real stories by real writers. I’m just an idiot. Comment away.

-Will-

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Blogs can be wonderful things. I’ve been of that opinion since even before I started my own blog. Many things are necessary to maintain a high quality of posts and a loyal readership which a good blog needs. Unlike other bloggers, I was not able to do that.

But now, even if I did want to resume any kind of regular writing, creative or otherwise, I couldn’t do it on my blog. “The Menno Melange” has been usurped since I began my missionary position, or as my wife prefers to call it, our voluntary service assignment.

Still, every now and then I come up with what I think are great ideas for new blogs. Now some may say that the blog fad has passed and I may as well be coming up with cool new designs for my Lite-Brite. That may be the case, but entertain my suggestions, knowing that they will almost certainly never the see the lite of day.

So-called Christians on TV
Church-going folk don’t really get a fair shake in the media. Christian characters on TV shows are generally portrayed as backwards, narrow-minded and hopelessly out of touch with reality, and that’s just on Micheal Coren Live. So I thought, what if someone took it farther? I could write a blog from the perspective of a person who thinks that those characters professing faith in God on TV shows aren’t Christian enough. My alter-ego could write about the hypocrisy of Angela from The Office or about the theological inconsistencies of The Simpsons‘ Ned Flanders. I would also write it as though this “blogger” understands the characters in these shows to be real people. I think that’d be a nice touch.

Menno Scripts
Along a similar line, I think it would be fun to try to write scripts for ongoing TV shows. Rather than going through the procedure of submitting it to the real writers only to have it rejected, I think it would be fun to post those scripts on a blog. For example, if Corner Gas can use Oscar & Emma’s interaction with Ukranians as part one episode’s plot, then why not Mennonites, they have Mennonites in Saskatchewan. I would naturally take momentum from any positive feedback to keep writing about Mennonites in other TV shows. This would likely fail though, since I don’t watch enough current TV to write about shows people care about, and Mennonites are really all that funny to write or read about.

The Church Office
Who doesn’t love The Office? Setting aside any UK vs. US version arguments, the show’s popularity has to do with its ability to resonate with our own office work experiences and/or fears. Change a few details and characters and it’s almost any office in the world. Having worked in a church office however, I think that there is a serious amount of comedic content that is going untouched. Imagine, instead of a paper retailer, a mega-church (don’t we all love to make fun of them). It could have three or four pastors with unnecessarily long titles, one that has no filter and says too much, one that is ultra-sensitive and says too little, one is disenchanted about the ministry, one that is doing inappropriate things in their persona life, all of them fighting amongst themselves to climb higher up the totem pole, a church secretary that talks too much, various parishioners that come in regularly to complain about stuff, staff/committee meetings that go too long, etc. The rest writes itself.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these ideas, and if you like them, I’ve got some great ICQ skins I’d like you to have a look at.

-Will-

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