I have a particular favoritism toward Stonehenge, the prehistoric and slowly developed monument in England where whoever was walking around there at the time, circa 3100 B.C. and years thereafter, constructed the massive thing out of rock for religious observances, primitive astronomy, ritual killings, the list of conjecture goes on. I have visited the place, once long enough ago when fences did not obscure it. I could touch the rocks, lean against the rocks, and did.
There was no “Zot!” of lightning as I met the stones, as cartoonist Johnny Hart would depict it, and if my life, outlook, mystic properties or ability to play the guitar were altered in some journey-changing way by the experience, none of it is evident to me.
They found more cool stuff at the now-heavily-fenced Stonehenge site, it was reported this week, a ring of underground stone shafts surrounding the visible stuff, and those shafts are estimated to be from about 4500 B.C.
My takeaway: it comforts me to see the British government still pays for research of this sort. It pleases me that, although we’re looking at rock installed thousands of years back, it is news, news which involves something other than our usual daily doses of news.
The issues of the day are race relations in America, and what’s wrong about them; actions and countering inactions regarding the coronavirus and what’s wrong with them, and the activities in the White House and what’s right or wrong with them. That’s it. That’s what current news media offers. Pretty much everything regarded as news, in the paper, on the air and in cyberspace, is a corollary of those three topics.
Business? That’s a virus issue. NASCAR? Race, and I do not mean a NASCAR race. Hockey, basketball? The virus. Baseball? Virus and greed. Football? All three, virus and race and the Trump administration.
Movies? See Business in the prior paragraph. Breakthroughs in health care? Electric cars and global warming and the things about which we pondered just five months ago? Not even on the radar at the moment.
You, with the mask on, at the supermarket or the bank or mowing the lawn, who may have lost a job or is worried about losing it? You can pick for yourself.
I make a living writing news, which means I read and follow it, but everyone has a saturation point. These days, a comfort for me involves science – reading online articles and out-of-date textbooks from the attic, about physics, biology, plant-growing, how to calculate the trajectory of a bullet or a spacecraft. In some ways they are the essence of information. In other ways they have no connection whatsoever to what passes as current need-to-know.
We may have seen it coming, a dumbed-down society finally led by a president concerned more with image than substance. I suspect that most industrial democracies have experienced a similar dumb-down, perhaps led by an invasion from Hollywood, but they have, in general, kept their standards in leadership up.
Never mind him. The topics of race, virus and the government in power are getting easier for media to cover, and easier for those on the intake end of news to comprehend. Follow the usual leads, watch the usual patterns, note who’s doing it correctly and who’s not – New York State right, Florida wrong, but entire websites are now devoted to incidents of stupidity committed by those described, in the first paragraph, as “a Florida man” or “a Florida woman.”
I think I just invented a new parlor game. Find a current news story which does not brush up somehow against racial issues, virus issues or Trump issues. When it can be demonstrated that one or more of those three topics are involved, however obliquely, everybody drinks.
Granted, these are crucial issues. Lives are at stake, as are incomes, futures and whatever passes these days for American or human ideals. Those three categories, though, serve as prisms these days, vetting the news like an experienced editor.
And as an aside: congratulations to this year’s graduates, from someone who has graduated from a few things in his life and knows the feeling the accomplishment brings. You are being told, as you wear the mask and do not gather en masse, that the proceedings this year are unusual. I contend they are not; you will conduct many steps, from now on, in opposition to the way you once lived, the way you were taught, the way you expected. The news may not always rotate, like planets, around certain issues of significance, but the interlocking whole will be uncharted territory. It sounds like an opportunity to come up with ideas and actions against the grain, against precedent, against history. You have my envy.
Contact Ed Adamczyk at EdinKenmore@gmail.com.