Winter doldrums have set in here at Pipeline, and the result is a noticeable decline in…well…Pipeline. Actually, astute readers will note they haven’t been reading much Pipeline at all in the last several months. There could be many causes or none at all, but I suspect a project I undertook about this time last year has played a significant role in the decline. The project involved archiving and reviewing every single piece posted to Pipeline since it’s inception in 2002. I don’t know about you, but the surest way to get disgusted with the idea of writing about the world and your perception of it is to go back and read about 100,000 words of the same, of varying quality.
I’m reminded of that anti-smoking therapy they used to run commercials for in the ’80’s, where smokers would be forced to breathe stale, stinky cigarette smoke from some horrible device. I suspect the end result of that was to make fragrant smokers smell even worse while simultaneously making them all want to smoke even more; in the reading parallel, the result is to make you sick of writing and particularly sick of reading anything you ever wrote.
But writing is a good thing generally and for me specifically, so it’s time to get back on track. Rather than spend time trying to write something perfect only to walk away from a half-completed outline, I’m just going to type for awhile. Do with it what you will.
First, two political thoughts, one on the national scene and one on the continuing Senate drama here in Minnesota. It’s a bit of a cottage industry now for spurned right-wingers to take to the airwaves and comment boards decrying the stealing of the election by Al Franken, though obviously the contest isn’t official yet. I heard a typical example today on NPR: The spurned right-winger was “deeply suspicious” of the proceedings of the MN canvassing board and the election in general, despite the fact that every single decision made regarding ballots was done on camera, resulting in what has to be the most transparent election contest of its size in U.S. history. The reason for this 52 year-old man’s suspicion? It seems that every time there was a court challenge brought by Franken, the court ruled with Franken. And every time Norm Coleman challenged something in the courts, he lost. I have a similar problem with sports. Every time a team scores less than their opponent, they lose! What gives?
On the national front, here’s a comment thread I see consistently on StarTribune comment strings: Obama’s obviously a fraud who will lead this country to a deep financial ruin. The proof? The stock market, of course. He won the election, but the stock market keeps going down! Ipso, fatso. Never mind that these same people still typically have a difficult time assigning any sort of blame to the Bush Administration or their economic policies for the last 8 years (and much longer), despite some rather compelling long and short-term proof. Obama’s not even the President yet, and it’s already so clear he’s a failure. So clear. Because the stock market is the absolute, complete measure of a President-elect. What kind of Saviour can’t even spur a rally?
Now, to literature. There’s a new girl in my life. Her name is Junie B. Jones, and she is the subject of a great series of books written by Barbara Park. Junie B. is one funny gal, and I’m glad we found her. Second children (at least ours) largely inherit the reading list of their older sibling, but we have found new treasures along the way, and Junie B. is definitely one of them.
Back to politics! Two things:
1. I’m tired of hearing “progressives” complain about Obama not being a “progressive”. Now is not the time to solve the prison-industrial complex, people. Call me an apologist who sets the bar too low, but I’ll settle for competent and inspiring for now. It’s tough for me to be too critical of progressives because I like to think of myself as a progressive, but I’m probably really just a silly pragmatist.
2. I agree that the bad acts of the last eight years need to come to light, but I don’t agree that now is the time. These things will come out as a trickle, then a drip, then a flood. There is a long view here, but the short term will require our full attention and coalitions. I don’t see how a Truth Commission will provide that. And no, I don’t think we should explore the Truth regardless of cost. There is only so much time and political capital to spend. Bush and Co. will get theirs. It may be served cold, but it will come.
Now, music. I have mailed several Northern Lights 2008 mixes out, but there are more where that came from. Please drop me a line if you’d like a copy. (If you are in either my baseball or basketball fantasy league, you’ll get yours when I see you at our upcoming events.) I’m already assembling music for 2009, spurred by a recent trip to (gasp!) an actual record store! It was fun to flip through a used CD bin again. I’m reminded of an old comedy bit from the early 90’s by Jake Johansson/Bill Hicks/Robert Klein/Somebody Else about telling kids about their nostalgia for LPs, because you can’t sort out pot seeds on CDs. And the kids were like, “What’s an LP?” Then the kids were like “Pot had seeds?” Well, Robert Klein, if you think sorting weed on a CD case is hard, try it on an iTunes download. (And Robert Klein’s like, “iTunes? What’s that?” Full circle.)
Now, funny kid quotes of the past couple weeks.
Lily: “Linus, you better listen or you’ll have to suck on the consequences!”
Lily: “When you get in trouble and Mr. Yermama isn’t around you have to go to the advice principal.”
I think you’ve endured enough randomness now. Welcome back, Pipeline People!