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  • Last modified 10 days ago (Sept. 12, 2018)

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Through the muck with Meyer

With both Marion and Hillsboro rolling out the red macramé — and a dizzying array of other objet d’ whatever-they-are for thousands of arts and crafts lovers this weekend — it’s only appropriate to offer an equally eclectic mashup of comments.

Perhaps it’s all the hot air from Washington that streams like a Chinook from the various media devices in my house, but somehow Friend Cat has learned to behave like a politician.

Introduced in her old age to a new diet — seafood pate no less, replacing dry food she used to eat at will from an automatic feeder — she quite convincingly has proved that old cats have it over old dogs when it comes to learning new tricks.

Shortly after sunrise each morning, she now bounds into my bed and vigorously nuzzles my sleeping hand to persuade me it’s pate time. She also has honed her time-honored technique for informing me when her litter needs to be changed.

Previously, she would deposit a squishy reminder of the need just outside her bathroom’s swinging door. That apparently didn’t get prompt enough attention, however. So now she has relocated her reminders a few feet away, on top of an air conditioning vent, which has proved quite potent at instantly spreading the scents of her needs through the entire house.

Fact is, she’s become so adept at slinging her stinking stuff where my nose can’t avoid it that I’m convinced she’s practicing the fine art of making campaign ads in anticipation of a run for governor — or, at least, county commissioner. And those early morning nudges? They feel a bit like robocalls.

My favorites among those are the ones I receive every other morning in Chinese — Mandarin, I think, but it could be Cantonese or even Korean or Japanese, for all I know. I actually look forward to them because I’m hoping to get a call when a colleague from Hong Kong is near enough that I can put it on speaker and try to figure why the heck I’m getting them.

Most robocalls, like other unsolicited junk mail and spam in print or online, don’t manage to get in one ear much less go out the other. But I’m curious enough about these to want to try to find out who gave them my information and why.

My money is on the big money — social media, which silently stalks our every move, profiling us more effectively than NSA spyware ever could while cluttering our lives with fake news and breathless pronouncements by people whose half-baked opinions and daily minutiae we never were holding our breath to learn.

When are people going to learn that these supposedly wondrous services are actually treating them like so many cattle headed to slaughter and that the only way to stop the beast is to stop feeding it information?

Which brings us to a presentation I managed to avoid dozing off during about what’s supposed to be the coming thing in the news business: “engagement journalism.” Truth be know — and truth is what we do — it’s little more than traditional community journalism, dressed up with gaudy new lipstick from the Missy Piggy line of makeup that scholars intent on befuddling more than enlightening love to apply.

The basic idea is to cover real people doing real things by actually talking to real people, not just fake people like official sources. And — this just in — you’re supposed to treat readers like neighbors you might run into while ordering a hamburger steak at a hometown restaurant.

Duh. Seems we’ve unknowingly been ahead of the times for nearly 150 years by refusing to have distant reporters parachute in one day a week to provide coverage of a community they don’t care a whit about except to locate it on Google Maps.

A community isn’t something to be strip-mined by avaricious interests from afar. It’s something to be loved and nurtured, even when dealing with various stinks raised by humans or felines.

Home is where the heart is, not just a place to grab dollars so you can line your nest elsewhere. But this works only if people are smart enough to know when they’re being bamboozled by wolves in sheep’s clothing who offer something for free, only to later display a price tag that’s more than you or our community can afford to pay.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified Sept. 12, 2018

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