I really shouldn't read the news. I picked up The New York Times that was sitting on my table at lunch, and the stuff they have in there makes me think more and more that the world is ending, or at least that American society "as we know it" really doesn't exist. Things seem to be going downhill fast. A fashion columnist called the latest trends towards '50s-inspired cuts, floral/gold fabrics, and an emphasis on hip-flattering designs for the spring season "dangerously regressive," snarkily adding, "Note to self: make a donation to the National Organization for Women." Right, as if we're headed towards certain doom in the whirlpool of fascism and the only way out is to pull, pull for the shores of gender feminism. Everyone knows, of course, that emaciated, heroin-chic models are really feminists (faminists?), too, and they're an essential part of our American culture—all you big-hipped women out there, you're McCarthyists. Yeah, I'm sure those models are very progressive in their views, pulling for gender equality and all that as they pull another drag on their cigarettes. While the columnist probably just meant her comments to be witty, they belie an underlying bias that's really hard to stomach.
Further, a front-page story about textbooks noted the spectacle that the more conscientious among us have been decrying for years, namely the exhorbitant prices American college students are forced to pay for textbooks. You know those $100-plus psychology, engineering, chemistry, economics, and biology books? Yeah, kids overseas can get those babies for around $50 a pop. Can you say monopoly? Did you know that essentially only three major companies control the U.S. textbook industry? Yeah, that's the state of things. It's too bad the article didn't address the other conspiracy of the U.S. textbook industry, though, namely the fact that so much of the textbook review and revision process is faulty, fundamentally flawed. The world is ending, one textbook at a time.
Further, another couple of articles discussed John Muhammad's decision to represent himself in the D.C. sniper murder trial, with one commentary masquerading as an article sharing equal space with a more objective account of the subject. Several experts essentially said that it's suicide these days to attempt to represent oneself in court, as the issues involved are "too complex" for the layman to handle. What kind of country is this? I understand that there are probably too many laws to handle out there (yet another flaw of our doomed empire), and the complicated shifting about of legal precedents, etc., is tricky, especially if one doesn't have formal legal training. That said, the jury is still composed of people. All these complicated arguments devised by lawyers to intimidate the hell out of the judge and opposing counsel mean jack shit to the jury, which, if composed of ordinary American citizens, will see it for the chicanery and obfuscation that it is. In Muhammad's case, his lawyers didn't give a shit about representing what he wanted, about pleading for what he wanted, regardless of whether it was true or not, they had an agenda, deciding that they were going to simply try to get him life in prison as opposed to the death penalty. Some help they were. If hired lawyers won't do what their client asks, what recourse does one have?
In any case...I simply shouldn't read the news.
The upshot of all this, though, is that most people here don't really read the news all that often, and a lot of times, like when you're walking down the street admiring the freshly cut grass and catching the scent of leaves in the air, everything seems fine. You look at the sidewalk, and it's solid, it's not falling apart all that much yet, and even if the world ends or the U.S. empire crumbles, that sidewalk will probably still be there for quite some time. The only major annoyance would be people crowing about the fall of the empire, but they'd shut up and die of smallpox soon enough.