Sunday, July 17, 2016

Must There be a Balloon Drop? - column

Mack Hall, HSG

Must There be a Balloon Drop?

Why do political conventions always feature balloon drops as the final spectacle of spectacles? Such is appropriate for a child’s birthday party, not as part of the sober, serious governance of a republic.

Okay, that’s just grumpiness. For a good, restorative laugh nothing beats watching superannuated Republicans in funny hats and cartoon sunglasses trying to dance to the groovy pseudo-sixties rhythms of the convention rent-a-band

Don’t mock them, Democrats; you’re next.

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The Atlantic, nee’ The Atlantic Monthly, features a useful article on “book deserts” in the USA, and as its thesis asks this relevant question regarding the intellectual and ethical development of pre-school children: How do you become literate when there are no available resources?”

God bless those who through taxes, contributions, and volunteer service make public libraries free to all, especially to little children.

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One of the new robot cars is reported to have caused a fatal crash. What a marvel of technology modern science has given us: a car driven by a computer that can text, apply makeup, take selfies, look for those PokeyThings, light a cigarette, get drunk, scream obscenities at other computers in other cars, change the radio, ignore stop signs, and drive twice the speed limit.

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Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today,
I wish, I wish he'd go away...

From “Antigonish,” Williams Hughes Mearns

Americans, ever submissive to little plastic boxes that light up and make noises, have taken to searching for little beings that aren’t there. The little Orwellian telescreens layer beings that don’t exist upon physical realities that do – including parks, streets, cemeteries, churches, and gang headquarters. The purpose of this new game (“Human – fetch!”) is – well, let’s be real: the initial free access is a loss-leader for selling the player stuff. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the game also allows a certain internet company-which-must-not-be-named to access the player’s machine, including contents and emails.

Let’s blame the police. And President Bush. And fluoride.

Old people are already complaining: “By cracky, in my day we played Angry Buzzards on a Mac II, and we were glad to get it.”

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There were probably no PokeyThings or pretty balloons in the streets of Constantinople and Angora last week. Confused and leaderless young conscripts were sent out – by whom? - in what was later said to be an attempt at a coup. Unwilling to shoot their fellow citizens, these isolated lads were quickly overwhelmed by hordes of healthy and better-organized young men who were not unwilling to humiliate, beat, and murder the young soldiers who had been ordered into an impossible situation and not told why. And as someone asked later, where did all those thousands and thousands of brand-new Turkish flags come from in the middle of the night?

How good it would be if children could go to bed with their mothers reading Goodnight, Moon to them, all without any fear of gunfire, rockets, mortars, rioters, tanks, and murders just outside the window.


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