Friday, January 27, 2006

living in terror for the sake of fear

Right now there are about 32,500 stories on Google News about bird flu. That is insane. I am sick and tired of seeing stories on the news about what the latest thing is that we should be afraid of. Terrorism in America happened long before September 11, 2001. The traditional media have been bombarding us with stories of unsafe drugs, consumer products, technology (remember Y2K?) roads, potential biological agents (remember the killer bees?) for at least a decade.

Why? Because fear sells. People tune in to learn what they should avoid and what they need to be concerned about. The Bush administration knew this as people in the ad business, so they sold fear to sell the president's policies and ultimately, his reelection. We had to be afriad of Saddam, a non-threat. Of social security collapsing. Of dirty bombs. Of "what kind of message that [Democratic policy] sends to the terrorists/evil doers." Enough is enough.

Americans need to kick their fear habit cold turkey, and the media need to stop feeding into the cycle of fearmongering. Enough exposes. This country was not built on living in fear, but living free. Free from fear in fact, we fought to keep British troops out of our homes and lands (see the 3rd Amendment), from tryannical rulers, from fear itself in World War II.

I for one am not going to live in fear. Avian flu is not going to happen any time soon if at all. It is like monkey's writing hamlet. While we were busy being afriad, Soviet nuclear caches go unguarded, Iran has started up its nuclear program, North Korea has build more nuclear weapons, and Osama bin Laden is still alive making silly attempts a truce. Forgive me if I don't watch the Oprah on bird flu and don't stock up 3 weeks worth of food, medicine, and batteries.

Monday, January 23, 2006

meet the mayors

today as I was waiting for my TRAX train up to the University, I saw Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson across the street. Who should be talking to him but Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Carroon. They must have had some meeting together downtown or something. It was funny to watch some people walk past in utter ignorance, and others recognize either one and stop and talk to them. Of the five to six people that strolled past, two talked to the mayors for some time.

It was a pretty amusing sight. I thought that if something were to knock out both of them at that moment, it would knockout 2/3s of the most prominantly elected Utah Democrats.

On Wednesday, I get to oberserve the civics class that I will be teaching in next week. It is classic TV high school, complete with the head football coach as civics teacher. I wonder how much material these students will be able to cover as we are planning on doing two "chapters" (which are like 5-10 "pages" of a HS text book covered in side bars, pictures and other crap to keep your MTV attention span brain on task) a day. This is a graduation requirement and it will be interesting to see the level of today's Utah public education.

The state has a 1 billion dollar surplus. Will we spend it on roads to commute to bedroom communities? Tax cuts? Or will the legislature improve education funding, cut adminstration and get the state out of competition with Mississippi with last in the nation schools? I wonder if the two mayors I saw today will speak about it with them...but then again, who will listen to them but the scant powerless democrats?