I read recently on the Internet of the predicted upcoming demise of a few of our cultural icons in the coming year(s). It struck me that these are the very things that many of us fondly grew up with and I will miss some of them.
I suppose I can live without the Yellow Pages, and I rarely rent movies from movie rental stores anyway, but it would be a shame to see the family farm and TV news disappear.
Apparently, most of us are getting our information from the Internet nowadays and we have no need for the printed word in hard copy any longer. Only 20 million of us listen to the evening news and I would guess we’re all over 40. Everyone is predicting the demise of newspapers, and, since you are holding one in your hand, you and I will resist that to our last page-turn.
We communicate with each other on the run and apparently no longer have a need for land-line phones. News magazines will be replaced by headlines on AOL, and we’ll get our classified ads from Craigslist.
As one local TV station reminds us daily, there are only 37 days left for analog TV and they are sure that someone will wake up on Feb. 17 and wonder why their TV doesn’t work. When incandescent light bulbs are made illegal, will those same people wake up in the dark? And, sadly, the government has apparently sided with the corporate farmers and ranchers and decided that wild horses, the very symbol of the West, will have to be euthanized by the thousands to protect the range lands of sheep and cattle. Apparently, even the vast acreage of the West is disappearing and can no longer support even the 33,000 wild horses that remain.
All of this has given me cause to ponder what I would rather see disappear in the coming year. Of course everyone’s list would include war, poverty, death and taxes, but I am thinking more about what mortal man could, in fact, possibly accomplish.
I’ll keep my Newsweek and my Daily Gazette and my land-line phone, thank you, but would have no regrets to see the following headline makers fade away:
- Caroline Kennedy’s run for the Senate. Perhaps it’s heresy for a good Kennedy Democrat to oppose Caroline’s interest in taking what will be Hillary Clinton’s vacant Senate seat, but I just can’t support her. Surely there are more talented and experienced New Yorkers who have earned the right to represent us in Washington. And I don’t think she has the wherewithal to do an effective job for us. I do admire the family, but I didn’t support Bobby’s run for New York senator in 1964 either. I was quite happy with Sen. Kenneth Keating at the time and thought the Kennedys were using New York as a stepping stone to national recognition. I still feel that way.
- Talk radio. I’ll share with you a true story: A person near and very dear to me who has battled mental illness all her life got listening to conservative talk show host Glenn Beck on a regular basis. Being housebound, she accepted his ranting as her lifeline to the outside world and believed what he said as the truth. She could not distinguish between radio “news” and “entertainment.”
During the recent presidential election, he had her so convinced that an Obama victory would nationalize the banks, usurp what little money she has and cause her daughter, who works for a bank, to lose her job, that she ended up back in the hospital under psychiatric care. She remains there today. Have they no shame? Let’s keep the wild horses in 2009 and hope for the disappearance of these representatives of a horse’s lesser end.
- Sin taxes. So New York wants to tax soft drinks containing sugar both as a health measure and to raise some money. Perhaps we should tax ridiculous proposals instead. I can suggest one: Since overexposure to the sun causes melanoma, we should put a $5 tax on all sun worshipers, beachgoers, golfers and children who play outside. Families with Wii boxes would be exempt and children would be measured in school for sun exposure and forced to attend school all summer as their penance and for their own protection. Those parents would pay an extra school tax as well.
- Puppy mills and pet stores. Besides the cruelty and inhumane treatment that animals suffer through the abuse they receive in puppy mills, and, indirectly, through their best customers, the pet stores, the need for people to adopt pets through animal shelters is ever-growing.
The downturn in the economy has forced innumerable pet owners to abandon their pets to shelters, and decreased both government funding and charitable contributions.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, as quoted in a Dec. 22 Daily Gazette article, half of the 6 million to 8 million dogs and cats sent to shelters every year are euthanized.
We don’t need puppy mills. We need people to adopt from shelters. President Obama has a wonderful chance to set an example by doing so when the First Family decides to bring a dog to the White House.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger and all other egocentric politicians. Can you imagine the audacity of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s muscle-bound ego to suggest that we should change the Constitution in order to allow this non-natural born citizen a chance to run for the presidency? And he’s done such a good job in California — to the point that San Diego is on the verge of declaring bankruptcy as a city!
I’m sure there are numerable able candidates among the over 300 million of us, and, if we were to consider changing the Constitution for any particular individual, then we probably should have done it during the life of Alexander Hamilton, a most capable leader and economist. He was not able to run for president because of his birth in the British West Indies. I assure you, Gov. Schwarzenegger is no Alexander Hamilton!
Well, that’s my short list of things I’d like to see disappear in 2009. I left out the ever-glowing Christmas letter, the college football bowl games (I’m ready for a National Championship playoff) and Fox News, among others.
I’m sure you have a list also. I would love to see it.
Anthony Frank lives in Schenectady and is a regular contributor to the Sunday Opinion section.