Some Random Thoughts at the launch of 2010, and a Thought on Health Care Coverage.

January 3, 2010

Happy New Year!

For those of us of a certain age, writing “2010” is a real adventure.

I write for a newspaper for most of my living, a trade that seems to be fairly precarious these days. I’ve stopped reading articles in the trade journals. They made me feel like a sword-swallower with hand tremors.

So. 2010 is the sort of date we all saw written in science fiction stories when we were kids. Years beginning with the digit 2 were the Years of The Future.

And here we are. Funny, it doesn’t look all that much the way the sci-fi writers thought it would.

I distinctly remember we were supposed to have colonies on the moon, and probably on Mars. Every home would have a car that would fly. People would wear form-fitting clothing that looked like it was made out of spandex.

Energy mostly came from safe nuclear fusion reactors.

Look around.

Obviously, we missed a step, here and there.

The closest thing we have to a space colony – outside of Congress — is the International Space Station. Think of an Airstream trailer with solar panels.

Our cars? Well, except for some hybrid vehicles, the basic technology of the automobile is the same as it was in Henry Ford’s day, with sexier bodywork. Today’s cars don’t go airborne unless something has gone terribly wrong.

Some people wear form-fitting spandex clothing. Few of them look good in it.

Our energy still comes from old-fashioned sources, hydro-electric, coal, and a few generation plants powered by nuclear fission. Fusion reactors cannot maintain a nuclear reaction and so will not melt-down, and produce little or no nuclear waste. No more TMI nonsense.

Naturally, nobody has been able to figure out how to make a fusion reactor yet that didn’t take more energy to run than it produced.

So, we’ve still got poverty, as always, wars everywhere, as always, and a nation that seems to have no sense of adventure, certainly nothing like it had 40 years ago when humans left their first footprints – and their first junk – on the face of the moon.

This is not to say that I’m one of those old crabs who think nothing has turned out right.

Well, not much has turned out right, but I’m not all that crabby about it.

Today is my 25th anniversary as a newspaper reporter. That much time in these trenches teaches you that few things turn out as planned, usually cost more than they were supposed to, and are usually late to boot.

I come from an era of party lines and rotary-dial phones, black-and white TV, from a time when everything in the world was far away and a long distance call was a marvel, even if filled with hisses and odd acoustical events. And it seemed as though everybody read the newspaper.

Earlier this week, I watched a TV program on my iPod.

I regularly check the weather, read and send email, and take photos and video on my cell phone.

Sometimes I even talk on it.

Attending government meetings or court hearings, my colleagues and I often write stories and file them on-line…while the meeting or court business is still going on.

Every news story and most of the contacts I have made in the past quarter century exist as a pattern of electrons on my laptop or an external hard-drive. A few years back, I ditched four file cabinet drawers full of files, because almost everything that was in them is available on-line in less time than it would take me to walk over and find the file.

And, to be honest, I usually read my own paper online in the morning before I make the 50 mile trek to work where I can get my hands on a dead-tree version.

Yeah, the news industry is going through a lot of changes right now. I have no idea what will happen next. That’s scary, especially for those of us on the shady side of 60 with pesky things like mortgage payments to keep up with.

Even so, it’s also exciting. When the dust settles, there will still need to be people who can sort fact from conjecture and rhetoric and tell a good story.

I hope I’m still one of them, partly because I can’t afford to retire in this economy anyway, and because reporting has GOT to be more fun than shuffleboard.

I think of the opening of this new decade the way a novice skydiver looks at the open door of the airplane on his first jump.

Enough talk. Let’s get to it.


This is just something to think about.

On Christmas Day, independent singer-songwriter Vic Chesnutt died in Athens, Ga.

He was 45.

He died from an overdose of muscle-relaxants.

Chesnutt was partially paralyzed from a car crash when he was 18.  He got around by wheelchair.

He was facing a lawsuit filed by the local regional hospital following surgeries that left him owing about $70,000.

Chesnutt, who was signed to a Canadian record label, often worked with musicians from there. In an earlier interview with the Athens Banner-Herald, Chesnutt said his band mates were stunned by his situation.

“…It’s something that blows their minds; there’s nowhere else in the world that I’d be facing the situation I’m in right now. They cannot understand what kind of society would inflict that on their population. It’s terrifying…I’ve been nearly suicidal over it,” he said.
In other news, CNN reported just last week that tests performed on conservative talk-show guru Rush Limbaugh after he was admitted to a hospital for chest pains found nothing wrong.

The network reported that Limbaugh praised the work of the medical staff.

“The treatment I received here was the best that the world has to offer….I don’t think there’s one thing wrong with the American health care system. It is working just fine.”

I would like to note two things.

1.    The health care debate has not been about the quality of health care available to Americans. If they can pay for it. It has been about who can pay for it. Meaning, who can get, afford, and keep health insurance.

2.    In the summer of 2008, Rush Limbaugh signed an eight-year deal to stick with his radio show. The deal is reportedly worth $400 million, with a $100 million signing bonus.

3.    Vic Chesnutt may have committed suicide because he was being sued for as much money as Limbaugh makes in about three hours.

Just something to think about.

© 2010 Marsh Creek Media, Gettysburg, Pa.
Burger to Go” is a product of me and my company, Marsh Creek Media and, as such, I am solely responsible for its content.
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