November 9, 2011

We do a lot of hand-wringing over the numbers of registered voters versus the number of voters who actually, you know, show up.

It just occurred to me that we are wasting our time.

Look, in this country, there are darned few outward impediments for any citizen who wishes to vote being able to do so. It’s not as though people have to ride burros or camels over rugged trails to get to the polling place, hoping that no brigands brandishing assault rifles would get in our way. The only impediment to voting in the U.S. of A. is our collective inability to pull our sorry butts away from our daily routines and spend a few minutes once every six months making a difference.


I would imagine that many of those folks who can’t be bothered to vote for their legislative leaders are all to eager to vote someone on to the next round of Dancing with The Stars, or off the island. And no, I don’t think making it possible to vote by hitting a set of numbers on your cell phone is a good idea.


I think we need to change our way of looking at this problem. Maybe we should stop thinking of it as a problem. Reduce our stress. Take a load off.


We who vote should simply think of ourselves as the elite, the real citizens, the crème de la crème, as it were. That’s the ticket.


After all, while the non-voters claim that they are all taxpayers, so are we. But we do the heavy lifting, the comparing of candidates, thinking about the issues, weighing our choices. Well, that’s the theory, anyway. I know some just vote on anybody who’s a member of the same party they are, regardless of qualifications for the job or the lack thereof. That’s their right, of course. The fact is that straight-party voting is, in my view, the result of thinking about elections the same way we think about sporting contests. It may be fun and a great distraction, not to mention leaving out the hard work of having to think about one’s choices. But it does remove some of the filters. Somehow, it doesn’t sound very edifying to cheer that you won the race by putting an idiot in office, on the argument that at least he or she is YOUR idiot.

Sure, all those people out there who don’t vote are missing out on being part of the system that is going to nudge their lives in one direction or another over the next however many years. We can bite our knuckles and come up with all sorts of schemes to get more people registered, as if that is somehow going to get them out to vote. We have been deluding ourselves into thinking that there is something in the way that prevents them from slogging down to the polls and making a few inky ovals on a paper, or pushing the right spots on a screen.

We would be right, of course. But what is in the way of these good people going to vote is that they don’t care. Oh, they’ll grouse and gripe at what gets done or not done, but that’s their right. Bellyaching is protected by the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, not in so many words, but it’s there.


But griping about the actions of a government in which you gave not the least participation is really the worst sort of Monday morning quarterbacking.

Here’s an idea: Maybe non-voters ought to lose something for not taking part. Oh, wait. They already do.

© 2011 Marsh Creek Media, Gettysburg, Pa.

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It’s always SOMETHING

November 5, 2011

Some days, I wonder why any of us bother to get up in the morning.

It’s not as though we don’t have enough to worry about, what with the economy in a shambles in just about every place that has an economy. And of course there’s politics, speaking of shambles, with a president on one side whose opinion polls put him somewhere in the neighborhood of a fart in church, and the opposition party offering up a field of candidates who come off as a bad hybrid of Keystone Cops and extras from Night of the Living Dead.

With all this in the air, I go online to read some nature news, thinking that will get me out of the mind-set that the world as we know it is coming to an end.

Big Mistake.

On one website, I learn that a piece of ice twice the size of Philadelphia is cracking off from the Antarctic ice shelf. The crack so far is about 20 miles long and up to 200 feet deep, and growing at a rate of nearly seven feet per day.

And it’s not even caused by “global warming.” I forget just now what the scientific term for the effect is, but it basically means “s**t happens.”

The whole thing is supposed to break off and start drifting around in the open sea later this year or early next year. Earth on the rocks, shaken, not stirred.

Nobody seems all that concerned. Maybe I shouldn’t be either. On the other hand, having a chunk of ice the size of a small South American nation bobbing around in the ocean just doesn’t sound like good news. Twice the size of Philly? At least it will be cleaner.

And then there’s the asteroid.

The news outlets describe it as an “aircraft carrier-sized asteroid, a little over four football fields in diameter.” It will pass by our little old home planet, closer to us than the moon.

And the moon is only about 250,000 miles away.

That sounds like a far piece, but in astronomic terms, that’s like having a bullet pass by your head close enough that you can hear it buzz.

It’s supposed to pass us by this coming Tuesday. Just so you know.

NASA, known for calling the catastrophic explosion of a Delta 2 rocket as “an anomaly,” has classified the asteroid as a “potentially hazardous object.”

There was a time when if NASA said it would be a near miss, I’d relax. But not too long ago, the space agency aimed a satellite at Mars and missed the whole freaking planet, so, yeah, I’m gonna chew my nails just a little bit.

If this asteroid hits, it won’t be the end of the world, but it will bust things up pretty well. It would make a 4,000 megaton blast, (nearly 20,000 times the force of the bomb that fried Nagasaki), a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. If it hits the ocean, it could cause a tsunami 70 feet high. The tsunamis that hit Japan earlier this year were no more than a third that high.

One of the wire service stories said “Encounters of objects this large this close to our planet won’t happen again until the year 2028…” That one will be a wee bit closer than this one. Wonderful.

I closed the laptop and turned on CNN, only to see some goon in a suit dodging questions on his candidacy. I flipped over to the USA Network to an NCIS re-run. Give me over-the-top violence and improbable stunts any day. It beats watching a planet on the rocks and under fire, and anyway, I’d rather see the bad guys get blown away than elected.