elephant-in-the-roomI have to admit that I, like the rest of the world, have become fascinated by the disappearance of the Malaysian jet. Partly because it makes for such great media speculation (“it went down in the ocean by Vietnam,” “no it was shot down by terrorists,” “no, the pilots WERE the terrorists”) and partly because there are few great mysteries in this world. Can alligators climb trees? We now know courtesy of Wired that the answer is yes! The Peruvian lines on the grounds made to look like animals? Turns out ancient Peruvians could make balloons!

The other reason people seem to be fascinated by the airplane is that it allows them to let their imaginations run wild in the “comments” section of any web story that peripherally mentions the Malay Airplane incident.Usually the commenters have a name like TrueAmerican123 and the comments go something like this:

Why did the pilots do it ? Well, the pilot with the weird name, you know Zariesomething, belongs to this terrorist political party and he stole the airplane and flew it to Diego Garcia, an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, where they have stolen nuclear material and they will make a bomb and drop it on some other country and it’ll be a false flag operation.

To read the comments, Cliff’s notes are often required. What are Malay terrorist issues? Where is Diego Garcia? What is a false flag operation?

What’s more needed is an editor who can add a note that says: TrueAmerican123, let’s avoid stupid speculation such as this and focus on facts…Oh wait, do you even know where Malaysia is?

Unfortunately, there are few informed people delivering information to us, the information consumer. No one pays for content anymore so we are left with ill-informed people making dumb comments on half written stories and it is our job to discern reality. For things like the Malay Jet, the only thing we have to consider is whether the plane flying over our head is loaded with stolen US nuclear material that will be dropped on our heads. For things like Obamacare, the tendency towards reporting opinion as fact is much more of a threat to the Republic.

Al.com, the Alabama news webblog, is running a series entitled “Obamacare and you.” To put this together, they have solicited everyday people, like you and me, and had them write down their sense of how Obamacare has ruined (or not ruined) their life. Today’s offering, Anger over changing health care due to Affordable Care Act, was particularly egregious. In it, a person who didn’t get to keep the insurance he liked, blamed Obama for his loss. His story went like this:

[He] said his company cancelled the employees’ health insurance plan with Blue Cross Blue Shield that he liked for a new one. According to Carlson, the new plan significantly increased his co-pays, deductibles, and maximum out-of-pocket costs.

In previous entries, al.com has pointed out that the perception that Obamacare was responsible for the perceived injustice was almost always incorrect. Apparently this practice has stopped. As of this writing there are 325 comments. I have not waded through all of them but why our deeply conservative commenters are not siding with the business owner who changed insurances presumably to improve his or her bottom line (which he could do before, after, or  during Obamacare) is beyond me.

To heck with local “news.” I’m going back to Google Maps to find me an airplane.