Where is Andy Rooney when we need him?

I obviously am dating myself invoking the curmudgeonly spirit of Andy Rooney here, almost to the same extent I’m amazed at how many people – even those who are old enough – who don’t remember him.  Rooney’s appearances on CBS’ 60 minutes every Sunday, “A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney,” were the epitome of how entertaining – and informative – it was to listen to an older guy complain.  And that’s essentially what he did:  Complain.  About ignorance, about indifference, about the stupidity that is in seemingly endless supply in our culture anymore.

Once a week, we got treated to something like this – and I honestly think our lives were better for it:

And so, even if it is due to delusions of grandeur, the older I get the more I find myself wanting to be just like Andy Rooney.  I find I can read the news on practically any given day and find stupid, poorly-researched, idiotic stuff being tossed at us under the somewhat disingenuous heading of “news” or “journalism.”

Like this particular article on the AP News website today:

Wind energy boom and golden eagles collide in the US West

(Feel free to read it now; it’ll open in a new browser window.)

Matthew Brown, who might well be a youngster who has never heard of Andy Rooney – and who will perhaps easily dismiss my rant as that of an old fart who is completely out of touch. (His twitter profile is only this picture at the right and it appears that he is quite shy about having his image appear online – at least it’s more difficult to find than I’m willing to bother with today.)
Mr. Brown wrote the piece whose title seems to imply that the proliferation of wind farms in Wyoming are a dire threat to the golden eagle population.  His forth paragraph into the post – a single sentence paragraph that should and probably does have freshman English teachers everywhere cringing – certainly leads us to this conclusion:  “That leaves golden eagles doubly vulnerable — to the shifting climate and to the wind energy promoted as a solution to that warming world.”

Unless, that is, if you are actually paying attention when you read the next one-sentence paragraph.  (Come on Matt!  Did you throw the AP Stylebook away once you began writing for them?)  Here he points out that wind turbine blades are only one – not even the most serious – threat that golden eagles are facing:  “Turbine blades hundreds of feet long are among myriad threats to golden eagles, which are routinely shot, poisoned by lead, hit by vehicles and electrocuted on power lines.”

Lets ignore for a moment that “myriad” is primarily a noun, even though many use it as an adjective; thus his sentence really should read, “are among the myriad OF threats…”  We’ll ignore this as it could indeed be the nit-picking whine of an older curmudgeon.

But parse that sentence carefully:  And maybe do a bit of search work or at least follow the link.  (Which is an article about BALD eagles being poisoned by lead, NOT GOLDEN EAGLES.)  “Routinely shot…” (By the fine residents of Wyoming that apparently don’t really care about golden eagles since we learn later in the piece that “Illegal shootings are the biggest cause of death, killing about 700 golden eagles annually, according to federal estimates.”)  “Electrocuted on power lines…”  (Of which there are many, if not more, than the total amount of wind turbine towers and apparently these account for almost as many eagle deaths as do turbine blades.)

Add all this together?  Once again – it happens incessantly with online “news…”  we have an article whose headline is nothing more than click bait and doesn’t actually give an honest glimpse into what’s being described.  Are golden eagles at risk?  (Even though they are not endangered?)  I’d guess, as best I can tell from the article, that the answer to this question is “yes.”  Are wind turbines the one, big, bad “smoking gun” causing this problem?  No, not a chance.  (If folks out west want really address the problem, then deal with your own asshole neighbors who keep shooting these magnificent birds!)

And Mr. Brown?  Remember that not all of us are going to give you a pass for shoddy research and sensational writing.