The Shape of Things To Come

Happened to be a shop while, by chance, Obama’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech was on the radio. Understandably criticized, it was generally compared to George Orwell’s 1984. It made me think about a song that borrows from Orwell, Tracy Chapman’s Why?, which you can (I hope) hear here.
Love is hate
War is peace
No is yes
And we’re all free

But somebody’s gonna have to answer
The time is coming soon
When the blind remove their blinders
And the speechless speak the truth

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So what should upon my wandering eyes should appear but ABC-TV’s schedule for Tuesday night, Dec 15: A Charlie Brown Christmas. From 8 to 9 pm – 1 hour. When they last broadcast it, LAST Tuesday, as noted here, squeezed into a half hour slot:

Gone was Sally’s materialistic letter to Santa, which finally sends Charlie screaming from the room when she says she will settle for 10s and 20s.

Gone was Schroeder’s miraculous multiple renditions of “Jingle Bells” from a toy piano, including the one that sounds distinctly like a church organ.

Gone was Linus using his blanket as an improvised slingshot to knock a can off the fence no one else can hit, complete with ricochet sound effect.

Gone were the kids catching snowflakes on their tongues and commenting on their flavor.

Gone even was poor Shermy’s only line. He thought he had it bad because he was always tasked to play a shepherd. He had no idea.

And why were all these classic scenes cut? To plug more ads into the show, of course. To sell burgers and greeting cards — and to relentlessly plug the insipid-looking new Disney “soon to be a classic” show immediately following.

So did ABC relent to some sort of pressure? Inquiring minds want to know. But THIS seems to be the viewing of A Charlie Brown Christmas to watch – or record, even if it’s filled with even MORE ads. And – it is hoped – an apology.
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Still catching up, after two sick days this week. One of the truths I’ve long known is that when you’re sick or injured, but don’t act particularly sick or injured, people forget. I experienced that Wednesday, and I admit it: it made me rather cranky.
My wife and daughter both had a snow day, but they seemed to think it was MY snow day too; no, I’m home because …ever look at a computer screen and see it as doubled, only slightly out of sync? That’s what was happening to me. Yet the daughter wanted to play a game while the wife took a nap – a nap; *I* needed a nap. And when the wife announced that since we had this found opportunity, we could (oh, boy!) work on the household budget. No, no, no, it’s YOUR found time; it’s my SICK time. I almost escaped to the local library except I didn’t want to infect strangers.

It’s odd, but I hate taking off sick time. And I have LOTS of it. At the beginning of December, I had 145 days. If I use three in December, I still get 1.5, so I’ll still have 143.5 days left. And it’s not as though I get paid it out when I retire, or can apply the time to my health benefits; when I leave, I lose them. The only way I’ll use them is if I have a catastrophic illness or injury. But it takes so little to fall behind at work – 180 e-mails and 14 phone messages to look at on Thursday.
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Two children’s birthday parties this weekend – goody.
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I was looking at my face in the mirror recently and noticed that my cheeks are slightly darker than the rest of my face, as though the pigmentation after its loss in the vitiligo had returned. More recently, a small circle near my left temple and a larger circle around my right has also gotten darker. I find it odd that I really don’t know what I look like from month to month of late.
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When I was growing up, there were two songs, with similar titles, which appealed to me. One was The Yardbirds’ Shapes of Things, which got up to #11 in the US pop charts in the spring of 1966. The other is Shape of Things to Come by Max Frost & The Troopers, which reached #22 in the fall of 1968. Seems to be my message du jour.


ROG

Roger Finally Answers Your Question, Gordon


Gordon, the near twin, asks:

Here’s a question that might lead to some, well, potentially awkward and uncomfortable conversation:

With all of the “criticism” around President Obama winning the Peace Prize, how much of it do you feel is legitimate (i.e., it’s too soon to tell) and how much may be racially motivated.

Part of the reason why I ask is that several of my friends, after being moderate/liberal for years, are now suddenly becoming hard-core conservatives, and claiming that they “never trusted” Obama. Although the record’s still out for me, to be fair – he’s only been in office ten months, and he has some extremely formidable tasks ahead of him…

(I’m still annoyingly moderate, leaning towards liberal)

I’m willing to suggest that lots of people are legitimately in the “too soon to tell” camp, including myself. That said, I too have been fascinated about quickly people have turned with racial vitriol on Obama in general. I may have used the example of a close relative of my buddy Steve Bissette who had voted for Obama less than a year ago and now thinks that we need to “get the n****** out of there.”

I think that the black President may have more goodwill with, say blacks – polls suggest that – but perhaps less with others. I’m not saying he didn’t waste some of his political capital here and there, but that doesn’t explain the racial ugliness that seems to underlie much of it.

Part of it is the VRWC. Even if you’ve never watched Glenn Beck – I never have – one inevitably has heard that “Obama hates white people” on someone’s blog, and that he’s “playing the race card”, when most of the time, he studiously avoids even talking about it. (And when he does, you end up with a “beer summit.”) Add to that the birthers and the like, and suddenly a talk the POTUS wants to give to schoolkids is Communist socialist Nazi propaganda.

You know the old saying, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” Surely SOME of it must be true, right, RIGHT? And if that guy with the funny name hates white people (like his mother and grandparents) and we don’t REALLY know anything about him (his TWO autobiographies notwithstanding), then maybe if one thinks he DOES hate white people, I can only imagine that they would not be so kindly disposed toward him.

Take the Chicago Olympics bid. You know I’m with you on not thinking a Chicago Olympics was such a swell idea for reasons you talked about. Still, I believe he HAD to go to Copenhagen to try. Imagine the narrative otherwise. Leaders from Brazil, Japan, and Spain go, but he doesn’t. The Games are awarded elsewhere. Obama is blamed; “If he had only gone to the IOC, the Olympics would have come to America. Obama must hate America.” It’s your basic damned if you do…scenario.

As for the Nobel Prize itself: if he were nominated two weeks after becoming President, he was in the running based on a then-pervasive sense that by electing – dare I say the cliche again? – a “historic” candidate for President, that his Nobel nomination and selection was based on a hope that the United States was taking an important step in becoming a post-racial society. Which it ain’t reached yet.

Now, you’ve gotten me to wondering: if Hillary Clinton, or for that matter, Bill Richardson, had been elected President, might one of them been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize based on THAT historic breakthrough?
ROG

Information QUESTION

I was reading the Wall Street Journal a couple weeks ago, and they reported that betting line and most of the “experts” predicted that Chicago would get the 2016 Olympics; you know how THAT worked out.

My question, then, is: What are your sources of information that you most trust? It might well be different sources for different info.

For instance, I find Advertising Age to be a remarkably good gauge of the fall television season, not so much what will be good as much as what the advertisers will be likely to buy into, which may have to quality. the shows they picked to click (Glee, Modern Family, The Good Wife) showed up on many lists as did their losers (Brothers, the already canceled The Beautiful Life). The point is that, year in and year out, they’ve been reliable.

Bill Flanagan of MTV has an occasional segment on CBS Sunday Morning where he recommends albums. There hasn’t been one I have purchased that I did not enjoy. This includes albums by Lizz Wright, Randy Newman, Mudcrutch, and Levon Helm, plus an album of Nashville blues.

I used to love to watch Roger Ebert with Richard Roeper or the late Gene Siskel, and he, interacting with his cohort, always gave me a good gauge as to whether I would like a movie. I didn’t always like what he liked – he had his blind spots – but I always knew WHY he liked it and it informed my viewing. Actually, now I am more affected by Ebert’s pronouncements on non-movie topics such as alcoholism, death and racism.

When Chicago was up for the Olympics, I had had my doubts about it. So I was happy that Gordon confirmed my feelings; all things Chicago, I tend to listen to Gordon. Likewise, the American expat Arthur’s insights, especially on New Zealand politics, are generally my gauge. And there are a bunch more: Johnny Bacardi on Elton John music, Jaquandor on movie music, etc., etc.

Who are your guides?
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My reaction to Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize was epitomized in the title of something on saw at Common Dreams: now earn it!

ROG

Peace

I’m sure that you heard about that Academy-Award winning guy receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. But do you know who got this year’s Ig Nobel Peace Prize? Why, it was the Air Force Wright Laboratory, Dayton, Ohio, USA, for instigating research & development on a chemical weapon — the so-called “gay bomb” — that will make enemy soldiers become sexually irresistible to each other. In 2004, the Ig Nobel Prize in this category was won by Daisuke Inoue of Hyogo, Japan, for inventing karaoke, thereby providing an entirely new way for people to learn to tolerate each other.

The Ig Nobel Prize: you can waste the whole afternoon reading this stuff.
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Local kid on JEOPARDY! tonight.

ROG