January 2010

A Decade Ends

Right.

New Year.

Change and all of that.

Except for one minor detail.

I have a growing suspicion that the adage, “The more things change...” is a lot more true than I originally had believed. I’m reluctantly being drawn to the conclusion that on a micro individual scale there is always the potential for growth and improvement, but on a macro/species scale we’re doomed to forever repeat our mistakes, just on larger and larger scales.

Equilibrium is defined as “The state of a chemical reaction in which its forward and reverse reactions occur at equal rates so that the concentration of the reactants and products does not change with time.”

I’m beginning to think that as a species we’re already and always at equilibrium. We advance in one way and we are pushed back in another. We make developments in one area, and we atrophy in others.

Take, for example, the most recent pop culture horror that caused me to curse out my TV screen.

Which is a bad habit that I have developed with increasing frequency of late. I’m not sure if it means that I’m getting old, or if I’m watching too much TV, or that the quality of programming has grown to be an even more reflective indicator of society at large.

But I digress (the more things change...)

For quite a few years now, dating back even to my childhood, the exact minute of New years was dictated by the TV. The clock in the corner would count down, the ball would drop and that would be that. With this in mind, it was perfectly natural to flip the TV on as midnight approached this year. My mistake was that the countdown that I turned to was being hosted by (among others) a particularly vile piece of cultural detritus that goes by the name of Roz Weston.

Yup, another entertainment tonight “personality” unleashed on us to dull us down into an even further state of submissive boredom.

Now in fairness, I’m judging Roz on the basis of only two things, and that might not provide the most well rounded view of his character as a human being, but here’s what I do know…

He works for ET Canada. That’s a pretty big strike right there. On New Years Eve, his commentary included a comment to the effect of “Think about all of the changes that the last decade has seen… 10 years ago we didn’t have Iphones, blackberries or guitar hero!” That isn’t verbatim, but I can’t find any video of the moment online, so you’ll have to bear with me on the approximation.

Well.

Roz.

As someone who has spent the better part of the last decade with his head not shoved firmly up his ass, I would like to submit that maybe, just maybe, the last ten years can’t be adequately summed up with those three cultural points.

I know, it seems like a stretch, but bear with me.

First of all, Guitar Hero, wasn’t released until 2005. The Iphone? Well that was more recent, just 2007 when it hit the streets in the US and it only came to Canada in 2008. The oldest cultural reference of the last 10 years that Roz managed to pull out is the blackberry, which was first released as a “smartphone” in 2002. It’s only in the last 5 years that they have really become relevant en mass, with over half of their all time sales taking place in just the last year and a half.

Now maybe it’s me, but that doesn’t seem to be the best sampling of the events of the last decade. All of them are consumer based, and all of them are electronic.

So after Roz dropped this amazingly vacuous comment, I launched into a tirade on the TV that prompted me to come up with a sort of coles notes of the last 10 years. This is by no means the be all and end all summation of relevant or significant events, just the ones that I remember and know about. It took me all of an hour to come up with, and one would think that perhaps someone who was going to co-host a national television event might have taken the time to do a little research, but evidently not.

So, if anyone has access to his e-mail address, please feel free to forward the following…

2000 - Fraudulent election brings George W. Bush to the White House, after Charles Schultz dies the final peanuts comic is published, the Russian submarine The Kursk mysteriously sinks, in a lead up to the events of 9/11 the USS Cole is attacked while in port, and on the Canadian political scene, the Reform party is dissolved and Canadian alliance formed.

2001 – I can’t believe I watched a major television broadcast where someone recounted the last 10 years and I have to be the one to bring up 9/11. Also, Pierre Trudeau Dies, an international coalition invades Afghanistan (cause that’s always worked so well…), there’s the US Anthrax bioterrorism scare, the execution of Tim Mcveigh, War criminal Slobodan Milosevic is arrested and taken to Hague, Europe hit by mad cow disease and Canada becomes first country in the world to legalize medical marijuana.

2002 – Enron falls apart, the Bush administration starts its ultimatums and intelligence fraud to Iraq, Sniper attacks in and around Washington DC, Department of Homeland Security is formed, Robert Pickton (the BC pig farmer) was charged with the disappearance and murder of over 50 women, Steven Harper becomes leader of Canadian Alliance, Four Canadian infantrymen are killed and eight injured in Afghanistan by friendly fire from two U.S. F-16s, dropping a 230-kilogram bomb.

2003 – Invasion of Iraq based on completely fabricated intelligence, Osama Bin Laden still alive, North American power grid collapses leaving 50 million people without electricity, Space Shuttle explodes upon re-entry, Sars in Toronto, Canadian Alliance Party merges with Progressive Conservative Party to form the Conservative Party of Canada.

2004 – Another fixed election in the US, water is proven to have once been on mars, Abu Gharib Scandal, Indian ocean tsunami, Yassir Arafat and Ronald Reagan die, avian flu results in millions of birds culled in BC, Alberta declared debt free, First legal same sex marriage in Canada

2005 - London terror attacks, hurricane Katrina, FEMA failure and the revelation that George W. knew there was a high probability that the levees would fail, NHL season cancelled. Record flooding in Alberta in June, and yes, Guitar Hero is released.

2006 – US senate is taken by the democrats, Iran spin begins, Pluto loses planet status, An Inconvenient Truth released, Saddam Hussein sentenced and executed, crocodile hunter killed, second Lebanon war, Steven Harper elected Prime Minister.

2007 – Pet Food from china crisis, the beginning of sub prime mortgage failure begins in the US, The Northwest passage opens up completely for the first time in recorded history, Benazir Bhutto killed in a suicide bomb, the last Harry Potter book is released, Canadian Loonie hits record high, Robert Pickton is tried and convicted.

2008 – Barak Obama elected president. Ice is sampled on Mars. Government bail outs amid scandal of millions of dollars in bonuses, Olympic games in Beijing, Fidel Castro relinquishes power to brother Raul, Israel invades Gaza in retaliation for rocket attacks, Canadawide Listeria outbreak, Vince Li greyhound rampage, bisphenol A revelation, Steven Harper wins a slightly more minority Government and yes, the Iphone is released in Canada by Rogers.

2009 – Barak Obama Takes office, Begins redesign of US health care system, Commits 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, Tiger woods mistresseseseses scandal, Swine flu, Micheal Jackson and half of the entertainment industry dies, Ted Kennedy Dies.

And that’s just in an hour. Granted, some of it has a somewhat negative slant, but given more time I’m sure that I could have come up with some “happy” stories, or even done a whole list of “happy” stories, but for someone to try and sum up the ten years in the way that Roz did is just mind boggling. Thanks for setting the bar yet another rung lower.

Here’s the bottom line. Ignoring the bad things doesn’t make them go away, and if the high watermarks of the last ten years are just two wireless devices and a video game, than we’re in even more trouble than I would have ever guessed, and I’m usually labeled the cynic.

The Shit List

(another pseudo monthly segment I will in all likelihood forget about after a few installments, although I haven't yet, which is really weird).

5) People who drive Honda Ridgelines. I'm not 100% on this one just yet, but I'm actively working on a theory that anyone who drives these sportscar/truck mutations is really just driveing the newer version of a jacked up el camino. Also, that they are the worst most aggressive drivers in the world, but I'm still collecting imperical evidence on that one.

4) Supermarkets that stock a product that I get hooked on, only to never stock it again.

3) Obama. Closing Guantanamo what? Everyone who believed that "yes we can" was anything more than a precursor to "maintain the status quo but feel slightly better about ourselves in the process" is also deserving of a #3 spot as well this month, especially if you were a Canadian that thought the same thing.

2) Stephen Harper. Can we at least try and maintain the same facade of "democracy" our southern neighbours do?

1) Stephen Harper. He's just that bad.

You know where to find me

Nate@natepike.com