Walter Cronkite, never accused of pedophilia July 17, 2009 6:57 PM   Subscribe

So Michael Jackson gets an obit post re-do, but this is the best we can do for Walter Cronkite, the most trusted man in America?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey to Etiquette/Policy at 6:57 PM (130 comments total)

Oh dear.
posted by jokeefe at 7:01 PM on July 17, 2009


If he were really the most trusted man in America, then yes, maybe we could do better.

Why not flesh out the post by adding your own links?
posted by orange swan at 7:09 PM on July 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Agreed. Lazy fucking post, but with 120 comments so far, it's probably going to end up staying, I guess.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:10 PM on July 17, 2009


Well, crash_Jazz_whatever does have a point. Instead of rushing to be the first in with a single obit link, a more thoughtfully composed post with some interesting additional links would be an appropriate gesture to the deceased and the Mefi readership. Such a higher standard should be, IMO, the norm for Mefi obit posts.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:13 PM on July 17, 2009 [9 favorites]


Yeah, sorry about that. Jumped the gun a bit, huh? Still, one liner obit posts aren't unusual in MeFi, but as the post's author I definitely would say if someone wants to do a bucket of research and do a better post, I'd be 100% okay with that, as fucking lazy as I am.
posted by the dief at 7:15 PM on July 17, 2009


Perhaps MetaFilter needs a better mechanism or something for obit posts. It does seem as if the race for first post can overcome the creation of archive-worthy posts marking the passage of historical persons.
posted by hippybear at 7:15 PM on July 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


I agree that it's a pretty thin quick-draw obit, but the MJ thing happened when I had a chance to be really on top of it rather than on a Friday night on giant-multiparty-kickoff weekend, and since people pretty much love Cronkite without a whole lot of contentiousness and his death wasn't a sudden shock, the thread we've got has so far being going forward without any terribleness to it.

It'd be great to see more links added in to the thread to flesh it out as possible. I expect a lot of people will have personal Cronkite stories to tell as well.

It's not really a Cronkite vs. MJ thing in any symmetrical sense, basically, and while I wish there was a better post the circumstances behind the posts themselves are very, very different.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:20 PM on July 17, 2009


I would like to see more moving and thoughtful Cronkite tributes in the animal masturbation thread.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:24 PM on July 17, 2009 [11 favorites]


I dunno man, did you have an uncle in Asia waste the 80s trying to be Walter Cronkite?

MJ and all the nonsense surrounding him was a lot more known to everybody, not just people in the USA who. Plus, it was rather abrupt and a lot of people didn't expect it.
posted by shoebox at 7:31 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Dibbs on Bill Cosby!!!!!
posted by The Deej at 7:34 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't've MeTa'd it, but since a MeTa now exists, let me just get it out of my system:

I hate the 'period' thing. There's nothing more stupid than opening up an obit thread and instead of seeing it full of the usual robust discussion of most MeFi threads, instead seeing:

.
.
.
.
.
.
.

It's like seeing some sort of goddamn dot matrix printer error. If you don't have anything to say but a freakin' period, you don't have anything to say.

posted by WCityMike at 7:34 PM on July 17, 2009 [24 favorites]


We can always trust BitterOldPunk to put things into perspective. I love that guy.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:34 PM on July 17, 2009


In fact, I hereby nominate BitterOldPunk as "the most trusted man in America".
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:35 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I like the post overall, but I dislike the brevity of the FPP and I dislike many of the comments. It is a thin, quick reaction post, but the thread is filled with personal responses that seem genuine and wonderful. The thread is also filled with comments from a bunch of lame ass quitters who have given up on journalistic integrity and seem to believe that there's no point in seeking out and encouraging reporters and anchors who are willing to do the hard work slogging through shit to make a real name for themselves. Sure it's uncommon, but that's what made people like Cronkite great, that kind of ethic was uncommon in his time as well. Men and women with potential just as great, if not greater than his, are out there, but they need us to respond to them and support their work. If we just bitch about the great ones of the past no one else will rise to greatness.

So I thinks it's a crap post with crap comments, but I want it to stay because I really like it.
posted by Science! at 7:37 PM on July 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's clear that MetaFilter needs a committee that will do what newspapers do, and prepare obit posts for famous people in advance. Quick update with cause of death and meaty post is good to go!
posted by not that girl at 7:37 PM on July 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Wait, there's an animal masturbation thread?
posted by cjorgensen at 7:38 PM on July 17, 2009


Something like this, maybe?
posted by the dief at 7:38 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hate the 'period' thing.

Thanks for sharing. I'm pretty sure this is the first time anyone has pointed that out. I'm sure it will stop now.
posted by Cyrano at 7:39 PM on July 17, 2009 [7 favorites]


Oh the dot thing, I hate it, it's just a herd thing to do, and so, so meaningless. Rather than trawl through . after . it would be better if people actually discussed the person's life, what that person meant to them, a link, a story, an anecdote.

"Well he meant so much to me that I'm going to spend some special time typing a single a full stop into this text area- there- rest in peace Walter, I was glad to spend the time..."
posted by mattoxic at 7:40 PM on July 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hmm...is there an anti-dot greasemonkey script that hides comments that are only dots? That might be a solution for the dot-haters.
posted by jedicus at 7:42 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


.
posted by bru at 7:44 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's my impression that this is typical of most "breaking news" obit posts. We are long past the era where taking the time to craft an interesting, link-heavy post on recognizable celebrity obituaries is rewarded with anything but being third or fourth to the party, and thus almost certainly deleted. We are also long past the era where discussing the problems with "breakingnewsfilter" has even the remotest chance of changing anyone's behavior.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 7:47 PM on July 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


.

Better than
!
_
:-(
*sad*
"He's Dead, Jim."
"and now a moment of silence" followed by 37 blank lines
posted by wendell at 7:51 PM on July 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


We are long past the era where taking the time to craft {a meaningful take on a current event} is rewarded with anything but being third or fourth to the party, and thus almost certainly deleted.

What we need is someone like Walter Cronkite, who could be on top of breaking news in a really insightful way.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:54 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


The yentas and the moaners and the kvetchers, jesus wept.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:56 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's my impression that this is typical of most "breaking news" obit posts. We are long past the era where taking the time to craft an interesting, link-heavy post on recognizable celebrity obituaries is rewarded with anything but being third or fourth to the party, and thus almost certainly deleted.

I'm sure the mods love having people volunteer them for yet more work but...

...we would easily solve this, at least with obit posts, by putting a 24-hour hold on them. I could see this working this way: a placeholder post is dropped into the Blue, perhaps even locked to begin with. This triggers ~24 hours for those who care to do the research and create a post truly worthy of FPP to do so. Then the mods, either on their own or through some process on the Grey, select the best of those submitted and then . fest can begin.

24 hours could easily be 12 hours or 8 hours, if the impatient feel the need.
posted by hippybear at 8:01 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hate the 'period' thing.

As do most, if not all, of my female friends and family. But, they've learned to deal with it.
posted by ericb at 8:02 PM on July 17, 2009 [9 favorites]


I like the dot thing. Ever slip into a funeral home to sign the register and then slip back out again without attending the funeral? I have. Thus the dot thing. The whole point of the dot thing is to be present without having to say anything, if only for a moment. I don't have a clever anecdote about Waltet Cronkite. I don't have anything useful to say about his death. I'm sad that he's gone, that's all. That's all the dot signifies to me: a shared moment of sadness. Is it contrived? Sure. Just like every other ritual there is.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:04 PM on July 17, 2009 [40 favorites]


I don't have a clever anecdote about Waltet Cronkite.

Aww, c'mon, BOP, sure do! How 'bout that time you called him "Waltet"? That was hilarious! You could tell us about that!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:07 PM on July 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


BitterOldPunk, you actually made the effort to drive to the funeral home, get out of the car, walk across the road....

Rather than open MetaFilter, oh, third post down- oh Walter Cronkite died, "."

I know that it's a ritual, so is holy communion, doesn't mean that makes sense.
posted by mattoxic at 8:10 PM on July 17, 2009


Goddamn iPhone keyboard & failure to preview. Hey, look! A masturbating monkey!

*steals flapjax's wallet*
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:10 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


If you don't have anything to say but a freakin' period, you don't have anything to say.

Not that I take any totem or sylmbol too seriously, the period is mainly a way to denote respect and speechlessness in the absence of facial expressions or body language. As much as I like the written and well formatted word there really aren't tags for the diversity of emotions. It's a place holder. A variable. A null pointer, even.

Be thankful it's not an animated GIF of an angel puking rainbows and kittens. I mean a non-ironic one. Some forums and sites do that kind of shit and mean it.

It's pretty innocuous as far as memes and extra-textual methods of saying something. Downright tasteful. Understated. A nod that Mr. Cronkite would likely understand himself.

For perspective you should edit your hosts file to redirect *.metafilter.com to YouTube, digg and MySpace and spend at least 3... no 24 hours reading nothing but the text and comments of a mix of those sites.
posted by loquacious at 8:12 PM on July 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


*steals flapjax's wallet*

Ain't a GAHT-damn thing in it, BOP, sad to say.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:15 PM on July 17, 2009


we would easily solve this, at least with obit posts, by putting a 24-hour hold on them.

Also with posts about Apple, Microsoft, whatever fucked up thing the Bush Administration did that we just found out about today and declawed cats.
posted by Cyrano at 8:15 PM on July 17, 2009


I gotta side with Crash on this one. The only thing slightly more icky than a FIRST!! obit is the response, in this thread, by its author. Boo! the dief, you wrote more about the inspiration of your screen name in your profile.
posted by heyho at 8:18 PM on July 17, 2009


Nothing personal against mcdmII:JO, but he probably could have put something together in the time betwixt his first lol-ly comment and the announcement of the MeTa if it meant that much to him.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:25 PM on July 17, 2009


I actually like the obituary-hold concept. It solves all of the problems. And I can't see how it generates more work for the mods than deleting redundant threads.

Another tenable solution might be to suspend the no-dupes rule for obituaries for 24 hours. Let everybody post their obits. And then delete the crappy ones. Sort of like the MJ-obit fiasco, but intentional. Like a controlled burn.
posted by Netzapper at 8:26 PM on July 17, 2009


Comments consisting of nothing more that a single period must be relatively easy to detect with a regular expression right?

If so, maybe the mods could implement a button/link/dongle/pony on all posts tagged with "obit" so that you could show or hide them at will.
posted by aheckler at 8:30 PM on July 17, 2009


How about a checkbox in the profile editing page that says "Auto-dot threads tagged with 'obit'"? Then you wouldn't even need do show up in them at all.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:33 PM on July 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


maybe we should just appoint certain people to be the official obituary posters of mefi - for those legendary deceased people that everyone's heard of

i'm not volunteering for that, btw
posted by pyramid termite at 8:35 PM on July 17, 2009


Alvy, you are correct, I could have.

I was too busy drinking. Mea culpa.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 8:42 PM on July 17, 2009


Were you drinking in memory of Cronkite? 'Cause that would mitigate my disapprobation.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:45 PM on July 17, 2009


maybe we should just appoint certain people to be the official obituary posters of mefi - for those legendary deceased people that everyone's heard of

i'm not volunteering for that, btw


pyramid termite

were his posts tweets from the beyond

or blank verse

or what

i don't know man - but anyway

he was bitter about some shit - less bitter about some other shit

well

there you go

.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:46 PM on July 17, 2009


(That's just off the top of my head. Imagine what I could do with the proper lead time)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:47 PM on July 17, 2009


If you don't have anything to say but a freakin' period, you don't have anything to say.

Agreed, agreed, a thousand times agreed. It's the most useless sort of noise and only done out of a desire to conform. Even posts about the deaths of obscure quasi-celebrities will have 10-20 fucking dots, and I'd bet you money that most of those people hadn't even heard of the deceased previously. Is it that hard to just say "oh wow, that sucks, I really liked when he/she did (thing)"? At least fucking attempt to communicate something useful. I realize it's a sacred cow and I mostly just try to ignore it, but since the subject has come up I feel like I should at least register my opinion.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:47 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's the most useless sort of noise and only done out of a desire to conform.

"only"?

That's where you're wrong. And I also disagree with the notion that it is better to say something badly than to say nothing at all.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:56 PM on July 17, 2009


I agree with many of the positions previously articulated.

And now, I would like to open auditions for the next few mr_crash_davis monikers.

I've already thrown out "mr_crash_davis 3D: Items in Underwear May Be Smalller Than They Appearr"

For your future consideration:

mr_crash_davis 4: A New Hope

mr_crash_davis 5: dah-dah-dah-DUNH

mr_crash_davis 668: The Neighbor of the Beast
posted by yhbc at 8:59 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Re: . : I agree with wendell. Of all the "noise" that could be added to the thread, the period is the least noisy. When you join the thread and it's all been said, should we say "ditto" instead? "I, too, mourn this loss." The period, though bland, is quickly understood.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:06 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would strongly, strongly, strongly support a new policy of delete-on-sight by the mods of any crappy obit posts like this. Want to make an obit post? Put a little effort into it. Otherwise BLAMMO you get sent to the bit bucket.

Please just delete them all.

Towards that end I suggest that everyone start flagging them. Vote with your flags!
posted by Justinian at 9:09 PM on July 17, 2009


Heh. You said "dongle."
posted by pineapple at 9:18 PM on July 17, 2009


I would strongly, strongly, strongly support a new policy of delete-on-sight by the mods of any crappy obit posts like this.

I'd support a delete-on-sight policy of any obit posts, period. (That period was a figure of speech and not the standard Metafilter period of mourning. And that by that previous period, I meant the dot, not the temporal type.)

Ah fuckit. Just ignore me, I'm on my dot.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:34 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


All discussion about dongle ponies should go in the animal masturbation thread.
posted by desjardins at 9:36 PM on July 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


First of all the periods are supposed to be pebbles, and second of all I only throw in a pebble for people that I know about and feel some sense of loss about and third of all if I do have any personal stories I share them and fourth of all the period haters can suck it, cos there's something pretty powerful about a column of periods from people here who's tastes and opinions I know and appreciate at or don't, but at any rate it connotes something.

.
posted by Skygazer at 9:46 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe we should do like the news organizations do, and start writing obits for people who aren't dead yet, and keep them on file for instant posting.

Dibs on Abe Vigoda.
posted by jenkinsEar at 9:49 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


But I am open to using rainbow colored masturbating kittens instead of pebbles for certain obits. Dash Snow's obit for example would've been perfect for using masterbating rainbow kittens instead of periods/pebbles.
posted by Skygazer at 9:50 PM on July 17, 2009


He's no King of Pop...
posted by Artw at 9:56 PM on July 17, 2009


Re: on-hand obits - I call dibs on Dick Cheney, UK's favorite grandmother. (To be honest, I'll just be cribbing from CNN's file.)
posted by filthy light thief at 10:26 PM on July 17, 2009


Could we be like the big newspapers and have obits ready to go for every public figure over the age of 60? There could be an obit wiki where we put them together. Then when say, Abe Vigoda kicks the bucket, bam! someone posts the obit.

OK, no.
posted by LarryC at 10:34 PM on July 17, 2009


Abe Vigoda is still alive?
posted by Skygazer at 10:36 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


mattoxic: I see your point, but all those folks lining up for crackers at the altar also got in their cars, drove to the church, etc... So rituals have meaning proportional to the effort we invest in them? Maybe so. Maybe ritual is the wrong word for the dot thing. "Gesture" is better, perhaps. Like taking your hat off when you step indoors (boy did I just date myself there). I may be being polite, I may be being respectful, I may just be conforming to the herd mentality cuz I got nothin' better to do. As a signifying gesture, I think the dot thing is at worst harmless and at best a nice token of quiet appreciation. That it's EASY doesn't invalidate it as a signifier, IMO, and I choose not to speculate too deeply on people's motives for posting them.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:40 PM on July 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


After "The Week Everybody Died", I seriously considered suggesting that MeFi sequester the obit posts in their own page (obviously colored black); of course, it could also be used for non-human obituaries, like when CBGB's closed, or the last episode of "Lost" or when the last American-made car rolls off the assembly line (waiting for it) or zombo.com going 404. Kind of a CHRONICLE.METAFILTER.COM

The only way it might possibly work would be as a subsite. We've tried before to sequester Political stuff on its own site (politicsfilter.com, I think and devoter.com) and it never worked. Otherwise, obitfilter.com IS available.

And the reason I didn't post my brilliant suggestion in MeTa was that I didn't feel like getting tarred and feathered that day.
posted by wendell at 10:41 PM on July 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


And when Abe Vigoda does pass away (I think he'll make 100 easy), there will be a record number of duplicate obit posts, because... well, just because.
posted by wendell at 10:42 PM on July 17, 2009


.
posted by edgeways at 11:34 PM on July 17, 2009


Heh. You said "dongle."

It's actually "dangle."

As in: "The angle of the dangle, the throb of the knob, the beat of the meat, and away we go!"
posted by ericb at 11:58 PM on July 17, 2009


Dibs on Shatner!
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:08 AM on July 18, 2009


WCityMike writes " If you don't have anything to say but a freakin' period, you don't have anything to say."

Very insightful. If only there was a way of expressing this all wrapped up in a simple package that could take place of the Big Blue Room moment of silence.


not that girl writes "It's clear that MetaFilter needs a committee that will do what newspapers do, and prepare obit posts for famous people in advance. Quick update with cause of death and meaty post is good to go!"

We should wiki this. I'd be willing to set the first few feeder pages up if it's OK with the Wiki Administrator.

George_Spiggott writes "How about a checkbox in the profile editing page that says 'Auto-dot threads tagged with "obit"'? Then you wouldn't even need do show up in them at all."

I don't speak for everyone who dots but I sure don't dot every obit thread. Heck half the obit threads I don't even recognize the person.
posted by Mitheral at 12:26 AM on July 18, 2009


Look, while I understand the point, it's Walter Cronkite. He's not a much-loved leader in an obscure field, where twelve links are required to explain his life and illustrate his significance. When God is finally declared dead, I will not require extended Wikipedia, NYT and Godtube links to illustrate the import of the event.

As for the dots, I'd rather 300 instances of "." than 300 instances of "We all watched Walter when I was a kid, he was a big part of my childhood and hey, most trusted man in America!" So if you don't have a special Walter Cronkite story to share and you want to convey the same sentiment as the many posters before you - namely that you're sorry to him go and observe his passing with respect - then . works just fine for me.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:47 AM on July 18, 2009


Never used the dot. Don't ever plan to. Others using it doesn't bother me. I am zen.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 12:58 AM on July 18, 2009


I use the dot only on people I am familiar with and have respect for. I hope it bothers everyone.
posted by IvoShandor at 1:52 AM on July 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


DecemberBoy writes "Even posts about the deaths of obscure quasi-celebrities will have 10-20 fucking dots, and I'd bet you money that most of those people hadn't even heard of the deceased previously."

I'd take that bet. Metafilter is both a wide and a deep pool of culture and knowledge as anyone who hangs out in AskMe can attest. Obscure celebrity1 known to a dozen or two users doesn't seem unlikely at all.

I've cranked out a prewritten obituary page on the wiki with a sample obit. I haven't linked it off the main page yet in case it shouldn't be on the wiki. The only difficulty I see is that the wiki uses a different markup language than plain HTML. Is there a way to encapsulate regular html on the wiki? Also it would be nice if either the table of contents could be suppressed or at least the numbers stripped off.

[1] How does that work exactly? Seems you'd be one or the other.
posted by Mitheral at 2:02 AM on July 18, 2009


I'd bet you money that most of those people hadn't even heard of the deceased previously.

And you'd lose your money, cuz you're dead wrong. If I've never heard of the deceased, I typically don't read the thread. If I have, I do and if I have something to say about them, I say it. If I don't, then I comment w/ a period and leave it at that.

Honestly, I have a hard time believing that folks actually get bent outta shape about the moment-of-silence period. You're not really losing sleep over this, are you? Is it really so difficult to scan past the . comments if you're looking for something to read? Do your mice not have scroll wheels? If not, you should totally get one that does. They're the greatest.
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:19 AM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Look, while I understand the point, it's Walter Cronkite. He's not a much-loved leader in an obscure field, where twelve links are required to explain his life and illustrate his significance. When God is finally declared dead, I will not require extended Wikipedia, NYT and Godtube links to illustrate the import of the event.

I've heard the name before and have a vague idea that maybe he was some sort of American television personality / old time celebrity (*). Frankly, I don't think he's that famous outside America (at least not here in Northern Europe). So, for me, it would have been interesting to find out who he was. And certainly I can google him or go to wikipedia, but I guess what I'm trying say is that not all of us come from same place or culture.

To me, American culture while somewhat familiar through media, is still a foreign culture. It's true that many America celebrities are also internationally known, but it's not true for all of them. I understand that I'm a minority in Metafilter and I'm not demanding anything, like I said, I can use wikipedia and google. Still, please don't assume that we all worship the same "God" or that we all even know of your "God".

(*)I went and read the link in the OP and now know that he was an old time news anchor / journalist. I don't think I've ever seen his picture before. If I'm judging the comments in the link right it seemed like maybe he was the same sort of figure in the US that Arvi Lind is here in Finland?
posted by severiina at 2:22 AM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Look, while I understand the point, it's Walter Cronkite. He's not a much-loved leader in an obscure field, where twelve links are required to explain his life and illustrate his significance. When God is finally declared dead, I will not require extended Wikipedia, NYT and Godtube links to illustrate the import of the event.

I, for one, had no idea who he was. Of course I'm not American. I guess non-Americans can do their own research if they care.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 2:30 AM on July 18, 2009


If we're going to do the obituaries early, could we also do the obituary comments early? When Cheney kicks, for example, I want to know that I have a really good comment already filed that will be automatically posted even if I have to catch a flight suddenly so I can drink lots of champagne and piss it all out on a small rectangle of freshly turned soil.

I, for one, had no idea who he was.

I knew but I didn't much care. He was a news presenter from my younger years. I don't mean I'm glad that he died, but that he was only a guy on television, not a friend or relative, not an artist who created things I love, not a guy who changed things. He was the spokesman for a news organization that produced a "this is all the important stuff that happened in the world today as far as we know" report on one American television network weekday evenings, so Americans who watched that network evenings learned to associate him with important stuff. But if he hadn't read the news, another guy would have. If you had changed the channel, you'd have seen Peter Jennings or Huntley & Brinkley doing the same stuff. Now they're all dead and other faces are reading the news.

The sad news is that we all age and die.
posted by pracowity at 3:34 AM on July 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm with ClarissaWAM- I'd vaguely heard of him, somewhere, but couldn't have told you who he was. A bit of background would have been great.
posted by twirlypen at 3:40 AM on July 18, 2009


Dots the way it is.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:01 AM on July 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


We just all need to make long, insightful obit posts about our favorite living people right now, then wait for them to die.

And you know, if they're taking too long, you could always hurry the process along...
posted by Salvor Hardin at 5:10 AM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't mean I'm glad that he died, but that he was only a guy on television, not a friend or relative, not an artist who created things I love, not a guy who changed things.

his editorial in 1968 against our continued involvement in vietnam was a major factor in lbj not running for a second term and our getting out of the war - he did change things

and newspeople don't just read the news - they make it by deciding which stories get told and how they get told
posted by pyramid termite at 5:11 AM on July 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


Michael Jackson was one of the most famous men in the world and one of the most successful entertainers of the 20th century. Walter Cronkite was an American TV presenter that almost nobody outside the US has heard of.
posted by fire&wings at 5:19 AM on July 18, 2009


I would like to see more moving and thoughtful Cronkite tributes in the animal masturbation thread.

When do we start the new policy, whereby every person getting an obit thread is accused of paedophilia regardless of any basis in fact? The answer is that we start this new policy today. We've arranged to have a lawyer on retainer, ready to kill and eat any who would try to sue - that's how important this is.

When I saw the post on the blue, I had just one thought:

1) Good! Walter Cronkite, finally, surely such an iconic anachronism should have died long long ago? We can't have these ghosts walking the earth, not with the end times upon is. The concept of Walter Cronkite here among the living lacks irony, the potential for forthright narrative and heartfelt emotion doesn't belong here anymore, we need these pixels for Lindsey Lohan. He had the gall to die just now, hello it is 2009, just now? Well, at least it's behind us, small mercies.

3) Where does one volunteer for the Sonderkommando, to shovel the bodies of the earnest and the trustworthy into the furnace, to stomp on the ash pile to break down the remaining bones and allow a fuller pack? And then, satisfied with a job well done, to jump in the oven oneself? This place is getting too new, and our presence here is becoming more and more tenuous and embarrassing. Some day even James Brown will be gone.

3) Have you heard? Hailey Glassman, Jon Gosselin's Girlfriend, "Is Bisexual"! I read that on Us Magazine, via the Huffington Post! Look here. Just a cursory glance and we can see that Warren Beatty is still alive! Bob Dylan is still alive! Richard Dreyfuss is still alive! Shameful, who is in charge here? Someone needs to take responsibility for this clusterfuck.

3) There is good news, though. Hunter S. Thompson is still dead! Augusto Pinochet is still dead! JFK is dead, and so is Kirk Douglas, Cloris Leachman, Fred Rogers, Doug Henning, and Telly Savalas. Even Freddie Mercury had the tact and sense to die long before now. We all know the unspeakable crimes these people perpetrated, against the most defenceless members of our society (never proven in a court of law), and still we salute their sensible sacrifice in making way for the shiny and new.

3) Everybody needs a hug. Even if Walter Cronkite was a paedophile (and that has yet to be established in a court of law) he would have needed a hug (doesn't need one as he's dead now), and I would have given him one before proudly pushing him into the oven. For the time being Warren Beatty, Bob Dylan, and Richard Dreyfuss need hugs. It is too early to falsely accuse any of them of paedophilia, and surely that is something we can all get behind in a spirit of fair play.

.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:28 AM on July 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I like the idea of a 24-hour hold on obit posts. The mods could put a 'so-and-so obit post pending' notice on the sidebar until they let one through. It's kind of a shame that every time a vulturous frenzy of obit posts hits the blue, the decent comments in each one end up being deleted, too.
posted by Drop Daedalus at 5:41 AM on July 18, 2009


Meatbomb, I don't think Kirk Douglas is dead.
posted by cgc373 at 5:50 AM on July 18, 2009


This is an internet site.

He is a dead anchorman.

This is a silly complaint.
posted by Slap Factory at 6:04 AM on July 18, 2009


Meatbomb, I don't think Kirk Douglas is dead.

In that case I withdraw my accusation of paedophilia.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:15 AM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you don't have anything to say but a freakin' period, you don't have anything to say.

Agreed, agreed, a thousand times agreed.


The thought that I'm pissing off people like you makes me feel just that little bit better about posting my . in memorial threads.
posted by languagehat at 7:07 AM on July 18, 2009 [6 favorites]


Echoing Skygazer's comment above, I'd always taken the dots to be a virtual stone. Paraphrasing the link: it is simply a way of saying: here [is] a person worth remembering.
posted by elfgirl at 7:13 AM on July 18, 2009


Persuing the MeTa 'obit' tag is good times.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:14 AM on July 18, 2009


Except when they're for MeFites who've passed away, I should add.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:15 AM on July 18, 2009


Let me lay it out for all you dot-haters: elfgirl's link explains the tradition very well I think (thanks elfgirl). We have adopted a poignant and highly symbolic Jewish tradition to commemorate the dead. I, for one, feel we're better for it. Any sociologist will tell you that shared traditions, especially those with underlying significant symbolism, are vital to building and maintaining a sense of community and shared purpose. Posting a dot in an obit thread is a little deeper than just parroting the cool people. So take your sophomoric "don't be a joiner" quips and fuck right the hell off.

And Get Off My Lawn!
posted by JeffK at 7:38 AM on July 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


*puts a stone on JeffK's lawn*
posted by pracowity at 7:51 AM on July 18, 2009


We have adopted a poignant and highly symbolic Jewish tradition to commemorate the dead.

I CAN HAS CABAL?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:57 AM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


This isn't a school project. It's a blog. Who cares. If you want more info about the man, there's Google.
posted by Zambrano at 8:10 AM on July 18, 2009


Slap Factory: "He is a dead anchorman."

This is awfully disrespectful, but I read this and my brain immediately served up: "I'm Walter Cronkite?"
posted by WCityMike at 8:20 AM on July 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


JeffK: "So take your sophomoric "don't be a joiner" quips and fuck right the hell off."

So, take your intolerance of people with a different opinion than you of what honors and dishonors the ddead, and fuck right the hell off as well ... schmuck1.

1Another wonderful thing that mankind has inherited from Jewish tradition.
posted by WCityMike at 8:24 AM on July 18, 2009


"ddead"? I'd love that 'edit to fix typos' feature that the admins were bouncing about a while ago ... any chance we'll ever see it?
posted by WCityMike at 8:25 AM on July 18, 2009


This isn't a school project. It's a blog. Who cares. If you want more info about the man, there's Google.

And that right there is pretty much diametrically opposed to what I consider the whole point of good FPPs.
posted by elfgirl at 8:31 AM on July 18, 2009


Metafilter: Do your mice not have scroll wheels?
posted by Skygazer at 9:05 AM on July 18, 2009


Maybe unfair, but Michael Jackson was an international superstar. Now if Cronkite had worn a sequined glove or learned to moonwalk instead of being a decent journalist, then maybe he would have gotten what a lot of people think he deserved.
posted by anniecat at 10:04 AM on July 18, 2009


and newspeople don't just read the news - they make it by deciding which stories get told and how they get told

I guess producers do that now?
posted by anniecat at 10:06 AM on July 18, 2009


How about we do a death pool, winner makes the post. Dibs on Teddy.
posted by found missing at 10:11 AM on July 18, 2009


Little known fact - Walter Cronkite was the voice of Moloch at Bohemian Grove.
posted by Sailormom at 10:11 AM on July 18, 2009


Frankly, I don't think he's that famous outside America (at least not here in Northern Europe).

NYT: "He was so widely known that in Sweden anchormen were once called Cronkiters."

I knew Walter pretty well. Idolized him. Drank with him. Watched people react to his presence. I think he deserved better than that lameass post, a bunch of dots and some rehashed moralizing about journalism.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:43 AM on July 18, 2009


I asked my friends in Germany last year if they had ever heard of him (no, they hadn't even though they know a lot about American politics and history). His name came up in conversation because it is a homophone of Krankheit (sickness).
posted by found missing at 11:04 AM on July 18, 2009


After "The Week Everybody Died", I seriously considered suggesting that MeFi sequester the obit posts in their own page (obviously colored black); of course, it could also be used for non-human obituaries, like when CBGB's closed, or the last episode of "Lost" or when the last American-made car rolls off the assembly line (waiting for it) or zombo.com going 404. Kind of a CHRONICLE.METAFILTER.COM

The only way it might possibly work would be as a subsite. We've tried before to sequester Political stuff on its own site (politicsfilter.com, I think and devoter.com) and it never worked. Otherwise, obitfilter.com IS available.

And the reason I didn't post my brilliant suggestion in MeTa was that I didn't feel like getting tarred and feathered that day.
posted by wendell at 10:41 PM


YES! Please yes. Enough already.

MJ died? Woah! Thanks.
Walter died? Huh, didn't know that.
Person XYZ died? Okay. He was really interesting and thanks for the links.
The oldest man in the world died? Ummmmmm okay. *shugs*

I'm not saying all obits should go, but some of these are just...not needed.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:21 AM on July 18, 2009


*shrugs not shugs...or drugs...unless you really want to*
posted by P.o.B. at 11:22 AM on July 18, 2009


I knew Walter pretty well. Idolized him. Drank with him. Watched people react to his presence. I think he deserved better than that lameass post, a bunch of dots and some rehashed moralizing about journalism.

Why don't you start with the man in the mirror?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:32 AM on July 18, 2009



Little known fact - Walter Cronkite was the voice of Moloch at Bohemian Grove.
the owl is named Moloch?
posted by hortense at 11:37 AM on July 18, 2009


the owl is named Moloch?

You betcha!
posted by Sailormom at 11:55 AM on July 18, 2009


Maybe a way to allow (and even encourage) the reflex FRIST! obituary posts despite their total lack of Best of the Web material would be to place obituaries and other News As It Happens posts in a separate (or differently colored) news queue in which posts would be built for collaboration. Start with the assumption that something just happened and that no one has had the time to write a great post, but that any first post is welcome because it's an event we are probably going to take an interest in and would like to know about now, not tomorrow. Then [something, something, let pb figure out the details] people interested in the post despite its initial crappiness search the net and make it a great post by adding links to the main post (not burying them in the comments) and even add suggested alternative post text that a mod (with one click) could promote to replace the original crappy FRIST! text if enough people flagged the alternative text as "Use this comment instead of current post text".

And for obituaries (just a subcategory of newsfilter), encourage people to add solid material (links, quotes, testimony, etc.) in lieu of flowers and dots. Make a posting infrastructure with which people could build a memorial. If there are to be dots, let people build an anonymous cairn at the bottom of an obituary post by clicking an Add a Dot button (one dot per member) -- you don't have to advertise your name with the dots, do you? -- that would add one more dot to the pile. It would take up less vertical space, be less ostentatious, and be a lot more like the tradition people are supposedly emulating.
posted by pracowity at 1:01 PM on July 18, 2009


I think he deserved better than that lameass post

If only people could supplement FPPs with links in their comments.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:08 PM on July 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


1. This is utter horseshit:

If you don't have anything to say but a freakin' period, you don't have anything to say.

2. I also like the idea of a 24-hour hold on obituary posts, which applies only until a significantly interesting post - on its own, without needing future comments to flesh it out - is created.
posted by mediareport at 7:23 PM on July 18, 2009


I think having a bitter call out thread in your name which doubles as an opportunity to diss some otherdead guy is the ultimate tribute.
posted by Artw at 10:51 PM on July 18, 2009


I make it special like a prom night. I bomb mics while other brothers is old news like Walter Cronkite.
posted by box at 9:27 AM on July 19, 2009


mediareport: "1. This is utter horseshit: If you don't have anything to say but a freakin' period, you don't have anything to say."

Thanks for that elaborate rebuttal of my statement. I take it you find great semantic value in a period.

It doesn't change the fact that if you don't have anything to say but a freakin' period, you don't have anything to say.

Please. Tell me again how it's horseshit. Profanity, don't you know, is the most convincing argument one can make.
posted by WCityMike at 5:24 PM on July 19, 2009


Some day even James Brown will be gone.

You read my mind: At least James Brown is still with us!
posted by humannaire at 6:28 PM on July 19, 2009


I didn't enjoy the book, but I did enjoy my video rental of Angela's Asshole.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:31 PM on July 19, 2009


WCityMike: If you don't have anything to say but a freakin' period because you have been struck speechless, but want to communicate that you are moved, sad, or in a state of shock, you don't have anything to say you use a period to denote your moment of silence

Jesus Christ. It's not hard to press the "page down" button. What do you care if that's how people want to express how they feel? Would you rather an ASCII drawing of people doffing their caps or wiping their eyes with handkerchiefs?
posted by tzikeh at 6:53 PM on July 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do you have a copy of that?
posted by Mitheral at 7:22 PM on July 19, 2009


tzikeh: "because you have been struck speechless, but want to communicate that you are moved, sad, or in a state of shock, you use a period to denote your moment of silence. Jesus Christ. It's not hard to press the "page down" button. What do you care if that's how people want to express how they feel? Would you rather an ASCII drawing of people doffing their caps or wiping their eyes with handkerchiefs?"

Tzikeh, people debate about the merit and dismerit of Metafilter customs all the time on MetaTalk. It's one of its raisons d'etre, for Pete's sake. So that's why I'm bitching about it here, where bitching about the finer points of Mefite behavior to an obnoxiously particular degree is par for the course, not bitching about it in the thread proper, where people are actually doing it.

People don't use the period because they find themselves at a loss for words. That's the 'defense' of the period I've seen posted a few times here, and, honestly, if we're going to haul out the word 'horseshit' for any commentary in this thread thus far, then that's where it'd be best applied.

What it is, is simply this: in any other thread on Metafilter, a comment that merely says "me too" would be derided as contributing nothing. Yet that's precisely what a obit period is. "You're sorry he's dead? Really? Oh, you know, I really don't have anything new to add to the discussion going on, but: me too!" The underlined sentiment – which is precisely what a period represents – is a sentiment which Metafilter culture would openly deride anywhere else on the site, but for some reason, it's not only not derided but enshrined as tradition in obit threads. Hell, it's even worse than a "me too" – it takes 600% less effort!

It's also not equivalent to a moment of silence. A moment of silence garners its strength from the strength of individuals acting in concert, in a world full of noise, making a combined synchronous decision to simultaneously offer their respect to the bereaved by their silence, in order to during that time create a private space during that silence to be filled by each individual's personal sense of the divine, the spiritual, or respect towards and thoughts of the person who has died.

By contrast, a post full of periods is one of the least respectful Metafilter traditions I ever see. On a website with a membership now membering in tens of thousands, having every Tom, Dick and Harry jumping out of the woodwork to add in a worthless "me too!" which adds nothing to the discussion. It's an entire category of Metafilter thread for which the signal-to-noise ratio is always, continually tilted heavily in favor of "noise" (periods reproducing like jackrabbits) over signal (meaningful commentary on the passed).

I'd kiss the ground and sing the praises of the admins if period-posts became flaggable. They never will, but if anything fulfills the "it breaks the guidelines" flag category, they sure-as-hell do.
posted by WCityMike at 7:38 PM on July 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


WCityMike. Brother. My friend. I think you need to get out and get a little air. Or at least open a window in here.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:41 PM on July 19, 2009


flapjax at midnite: "WCityMike. Brother. My friend. I think you need to get out and get a little air. Or at least open a window in here."

Different things annoy different people. I could really give a flying fuck about a lot of things people get worked up over, but this particular thing is nails-on-chalkboard for me. It's not an uncommon phenomenon for people to have things that many people could care less about, but puts their hackles up ...
posted by WCityMike at 10:10 PM on July 19, 2009


I'd much rather see a thread with a bunch of dots than another round of 'your favorite dead person sucks.'
posted by Space Kitty at 10:23 PM on July 19, 2009


A moment of silence garners its strength from the strength of individuals acting in concert, in a world full of noise, making a combined synchronous decision to simultaneously offer their respect to the bereaved by their silence, in order to during that time create a private space during that silence to be filled by each individual's personal sense of the divine, the spiritual, or respect towards and thoughts of the person who has died.

Thing is, that's exactly the feeling I get when I look at a screen full of . comments. Kind of this wall-of-silence effect - an effect that's interrupted by the longer posts, actually. Of course folks are "me-tooing." It's collective mourning - a "me too" is sort of required.

When I added my moment of silence to the Cronkite thread, it came after four or five type-and-delete sessions where I thought I had something worth saying about the passing of a legend and realized I did not, several times in a row. My first notions were to say something about his career, or maybe the state of modern journalism or the evolution of broadcasting - none of it sounded right. It all sounded pretty damn hollow, really. Were I a better writer, maybe this wouldn't have been the case, but I wound up deciding I had no words for this one. I've worked in journalism. I respected the hell out of Cronkite. He deserved better than my bleating, so I marked his passing with silence.

I'm sorry that this practice bothers you, but know that I'm going to do the exact same thing next time I find myself in such a situation when preparing to comment. The only thing you're 100% in control of in this world is your own reactions to things, so please start there.

I say again - your scroll-wheel is your friend. So is the down arrow and the page down key. And if we're gonna try and drive a particular sort of "me too" comment off the site, can we please, please, please start with the "this" comments?
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:33 PM on July 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


For me, typing "." is absolutely not because I have nothing to say. It is a moment of silence and respect. I do it only in threads where I actually give a damn about the deceased. I will continue to do it. Plenty of things in the world annoy me but I don't feel that it's my right or my duty to make everyone else change in order to conform with what pleases me.
posted by OolooKitty at 11:29 PM on July 19, 2009


Metafilter is a diverse enough community that, aside from the truly globally famous (such as Michael Jackson) there will always be some people who don't know who the subject of a particular obit is. Likewise for any given death significant enough to be reported, there will be some people for whom that person is worthy of special mention. For example I expect most Americans had never heard of Oliver Postgate, but to a large number of the Brits on MeFi he was a very important part of their childhood.

So maybe there should be additional guidelines for obit FPPs:

No Single Link Obit Posts.
Explain who this person is and why they were important.
Add a link to a reputable news source's obit or report of the death.
Add some extra links to information about that person - preferably other (non-obit) articles about them, or videos of them in action, or links to their own website.
Don't just post every widely reported death. Can a distinctive and interesting FPP be made about them?
For double posts, make sure that the one that is the better obit remains, rather than the earlier one. For example, I think this deleted Frank McCourt obit post, while still not great, was better than the one that stayed up.
posted by Electric Dragon at 3:49 AM on July 20, 2009


> this particular thing is nails-on-chalkboard for me

Then skip obit threads, for fuck's sake. Insulting the motives and intelligence of large numbers of your fellow MeFites because you don't like/understand a particular tradition is stupid and unproductive.
posted by languagehat at 8:58 AM on July 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


Walter Cronkite, meh. He wasn't anyone I knew, after all, and he didn't create any pieces of art that I love, he didn't rewrite history or send rockets to the moon, he didn't change anything. You don't need 12 links to explicate his brilliance. He was rather a worthless non-entity, in the grand scheme of things.

Now when Matt Drudge or Ryan Seacrest dies, that will be an occasion for tears, bellyaching, tumult, rioting, and anarchy in the streets.
posted by blucevalo at 10:26 AM on July 20, 2009


I think it's a thing now. At least I hope so. There should be at one obit thread every couple of days or so, if not every day. People could dot the fuck out of them.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:31 AM on July 20, 2009


"One way to measure the fame of a celebrity might be the length of his obituary. Another might be how far in advance it is prepared. So says veteran newsman Walter Cronkite…" April 20, 2006.
posted by tellurian at 11:37 PM on July 20, 2009


languagehat: "Then skip obit threads, for fuck's sake. Insulting the motives and intelligence of large numbers of your fellow MeFites because you don't like/understand a particular tradition is stupid and unproductive."

I do love, languagehat, how you took the one section of that comment that contained a tossaway opinion and only quoted that, and then straw-manned it to boot. Talk about stupid and unproductive ...
posted by WCityMike at 3:49 PM on July 22, 2009


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