Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Vacations, Ignorance and Bliss

Aaaah yes, summertime. The endless repeats on TV and the news as the sheeple are lulled into the false sense of security that all is well in the world. Nothing new ever happens until the new school year starts up again and along with it a nagging need for distraction. Returning from my yearly summertime hiatus away from these fine internets, I'm pleased to report that the status quo has been maintained once again, making it possible for us to enjoy our vacation time. Having landed on my feet again here in sunny Spain, browsing the news from the past month is eerily similar to leafing through the TV guide lineup of summer reruns making it so much easier to understand the circular nature of news. A top ten for y'all:

1) End of the financial crisis. That's right it's over. At least in Canada where the governor of the Bank of Canada declared, "We're on track for the recovery both in Canada and globally". The Canadians are looking at a 1.3% rise in GDP this quarter. It's hard not to agree when the reason we got into that mess were the actions of banks and non-bank (at the time) entities such as Goldman Sachs. All must be good when they declare profits of $3.44 billion this quarter, while others such as HSBC and Barclays pull in over £6 billion in six months. Aaah, feel so much better again. No weapons of mass destruction here. And the bonuses are because bank employees are like footballers and movie stars. What's that you say? Nothing has changed structurally to make the problem go away, and in fact conditioned have improved for those same institutions to make even more money because they have less competition and more government leeway to do crazy stuff like this? And there not even sorry? My dad says housing prices are going up again on the west coast, so all must be ok.

2) The death of US health care reform, sold as the only hope to pay for the bailout of the above crisis. Well, the parallel to the tactic used in the 90's to derail the last big push is far too obvious, the disinformation too painful. Really, many Americans equate a socialized health care system with eugenics.

3) The Clinton-era flashback above leads straight to North Korea. Kim Jong-Il is crazy! No?? Again, sorry, Really? Is it necessary to make the news so transparently circular? Bill coulda bombed them in '93, didn't, now he negotiates for the release of reporters. Ah yes, the old rewarding children for bad behaviour gambit. Lucky America likes bombing other countries.

4) The world is still safer due to western help in Afghanistan. Did I say change the channel? This rerun is boring. Well, it's not as big as Iraq anymore but while the new NATO boss pushes for more European help most Americans - oops, there I go again, US bashing - of the world are still blissfully unaware of the ease with which this could have been avoided. Books not bombs. Everyone should just head up to Mongolia to check this out to remember what war and hegemony used to be all about

5) Mongolia to the Chinese. What's that, Chinese are being executed. Is it Tiananmen? No, Uighurs, well away from Beijing. They're Muslims and not as pretty as those Iranian girls, so who really cares I guess?!

6) Political unrest in Latin America. Honduras this time. Yes, I know, America once again in a no-win situation. Do something, don't. Hmmm, how did they get there?

7) The G8 is still in charge of guiding the world towards a better future (?!), with or without Italy apparently.

8) Myanmar, Aung San Su Kyi on trial. Probably seems old hat even to her, having been in jail off and on for over 20 years now. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate in 1991, after having won elections the previous year for which the military threw her in jail, is this time accused of having a man swim out to the island where she was held to warn her that "her life was in danger". In a country that moves their capital to avoid scutiny, anything can happen. A most bizarro world we live in, the junta can just keep her in jail indefinitely, until she becomes "Nelson Mandela figure" at which time, well, something will happen. What the?

9) Planes still crash, celebrities die. Look it up. It happens. Oh yeah, plus hot weather plus no water equals fire! Whether you're in Spain, BC, California or Australia. Wait a minute, it could be anywhere! I'm I the only one to notice the pattern here, and the fact (yes, fact) that these events are not only getting more common, but also more intense. Heck, even Camrose, just south of my home town of Edmonton, got into the news due to freak storms trying to kill country music fans. A small increase in the intensity of common storms and POW!

10) Wacked out nationalists like to blow people up. Back to back ETA bombs to celebrate 50 years of killing innocent people. OK, so I like Spain, but really, why the regional nationalism? It's really messed up. Right up there with religion and right wing fanatics in my book of things I dislike. I love the Basques and Patxaran, spent a lot of time up there, they are a different people, but killing people never solved anything. One could argue that they have too much autonomy, or too little (as in their own country). The merry-go-round will keep going until we run out of tickets. Replace Basque with Palestinian or Kurd minus the rights and you get the circular, interchangeable picture.

I know, I know, I've missed a bunch. Life, the news is a kaleidoscope of events, all twirling to form an image one snap shot at a time, one vantage point at a time. But really, do I care that there are cops in Massachusetts who still hate black guys but love beer? That the last communists lost out in Moldova? It was just twitter practice for the non election in Iran. And yes, there's a lot more to say about the death spiral in American politics, but who cares anymore, it'll either be Palin or Obama in 2012! So what if Saakashvili could still light a fuse under Russia or if there are Russian subs sitting off New York? Makes one long for the days when technology would just wipe us all out. Or, it makes one look forward to Labour Day, fall, autumn when the real fun starts. Global food riots, woohooo!