Sunday, March 27, 2005

A Historic Failure

Which one is that, you may well ask ?

The failure of the US media to inform the American public, which itself is apparently sinking into a state of abysmal apathetic ignorance. (If you missed the "Idiot Dust" in January, you might want to take a quick look. Frightening, indeed.)

You might argue that this failure - and the resultant ignorance - is not a new thing, and you might be right. However, since 9/11, things seem to have become much worse. Seen from here in France, it's quite clear that both the printed and audiovisual media in the USA are censoring themselves. They content themselves with serving predigested pap to the masses while ignoring issues crucial to the continued well-being of democracy and the commonweal, such as the rapidly disappearing line between church and state, the failure of the Congress to represent all the people, the wealth gap, the loss of privacy and the creeping fascism.

Nowadays one must work hard indeed and spend valuable time - zapping onto satellite TV stations and feverishly surfing the internet - to find salient facts, dissenting voices and cogent arguments in places other than what certain quarters term "the corporate press". On a given day, one might not find too much, either. While the world as we know it is changing at a faster and faster rate - and not necessarily for the better for us, our children and our grandchildren - the American media highlight steroids in baseball, feeding tubes and a hypothetical "right to die", alleged "child molestation" by a pop star, and other minor issues designed to numb the mind and stifle debate.

One has only to watch non-US news and read non-US papers and magazines to see just how many events the US mass media are not reporting and just how much these same media are underreporting - indeed, expurgating - the events they do deign to report on.

Note that one doesn't necessarily have to agree with the non-US media and papers, either. No one says one must check one's brain in the cloakroom before reading or hearing a dissenting view. Furthermore, no one has a monopoly on the "truth", that most elusive beast which morphs according to eyes of the beholder. Believing one's own propaganda, though, is the surest route to societal destruction. History has proven it many times over.

Simply put, the US news institutions are not doing their jobs, and America is far, far the worse for it. Among the questions we ask ourselves overseas are: has the point of no return been reached ? Have the US media irremediably forfeited their right to attention and respect ? Why have the media failed ? Greed ? Incompetence ? Fear ?


Text © Copyright 2005 by L'Amerloque

Sunday, March 20, 2005

La Primavera I

It's the first day of Spring today: Sunday, March 20, 2005.

Yesterday was the running of La Primavera, the annual Milan-San Remo bicycle race. "Official" Spring is here once again. Another Winter is behind us.

Astronomically speaking, Spring was already here, of course.

Groundhog/Candelmas Day (February 2) is considered to be a "cross-quarter day", i.e. equidistant from the Midwinter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox. Legal "Winter" begins on the former, and legal "Spring" starts on the latter. However, from the climatic point of view, what we call "Spring" began indeed on the cross-quarter day.

Other "cross-quarter" days are:

April 30: May Eve (Walpurgisnacht), the last day of Spring; the cross quarter day separating the Vernal Equinox from Midsummer Solstice.

August 1: First Harvest is the cross quarter day between Midsummer Solstice and Autumnal Equinox.

October 31: All Hallows' Eve; Hallowe'en, the last day of Fall, separates the Autumnal Equinox from Midwinter Solstice.

One can also scrutinize the seasons from a Shakespearean point of view: he titled his play A Midsummer Night's Dream, not The Beginning of Summer Dream. Midsummer Night ("the night in the middle of summer") is June 21. For him, summer didn't start on June 21: it had already begun on April 30.

Now, who won this year's Milan-San Remo, also known as la classicissima ? An Italian fellow named Alessandro Petacchi, apparently. I don't follow bicycle racing, Lance Armstrong notwithstanding. It's one of those sports that leaves far too much room for "arrangements", alas.

In my universe - that of an American expatriate in France - the race is simply a touchstone: an event which symbolizes what the French call le renouveau du printemps. The fact that the race is Italian ? Très logique ! Where better than the Riviera di Ponente (also known as La Riviera dei Fiori) to look for Springtime ?

Too, what better day than the first day of Spring to inaugurate a blog ?


Text © Copyright 2005 by L'Amerloque