My experiment of trying to gain the emotional calmness of an alien anthropologist is reaping spectacular results. After many weeks, no news has managed to excite me much. I can listen to the radio or read on the internet without grinding my teeth, shaking my fist or even harrumphing. Sweet.
For the most part, I’ve been listening to BBC America news on the XM, with some NPR thrown in, especially the Jim Lehrer Newshour, and lastly some CNN when I’m feeling the need for a good laugh.
I enjoy BBCA firstly because I find their accents enjoyable, and not just the British ones. They interview people from all over the world, so it’s quite the aural treat, though for some reason, I only catch about two words in five from South Africans and Pakistanis. I figure I’ll get better the more I listen.
Secondly, I’ve been preferring the BBCA as my news source because it’s a different perspective from ours. I couldn’t help but smile with their reporting of recent financial catastrophes and the undercurrent of not a small amount of satisfaction that we fat Americans are going to lose our Capitalist King title. Who can blame them? Not me. We’re getting what we deserve. I mean, we elected the people who have brought this upon us. I feel sorriest for the people in undeveloped nations who will undoubtedly suffer the worst of us all. And yet, don’t they always?
Anyone who knows me will find the next bit to be something of a shock. I actually listened to the third presidential debate. I know. It’s hard to believe, and yet I actually did it. They carried the debate in its entirety on Potus ’08, and I listened to it while driving the back-roads of Pennsylvania. Now, if you’ve driven the back-roads of Pennsylvania, then you’ll know that I may have missed a few things in the debate. In general though, I paid attention.
When it was over I told Hedon, “Well, Obama smoked that one. He was the clear winner. His answers were logical and clear, while all McCain could do was blather on about some plumber dude while never really answering a single question.”
Imagine my surprise when the Potus hosts shortly thereafter declared McCain the winner. Huh? Really? I must have missed something critical while maneuvering on those little roads. They said Obama played it safe and was clearly nervous and unanimated. McCain meanwhile was really fighting back, they said. Having video must have made some kind of difference. Well, all I know is what I heard. At any rate, they finally said that even though McCain won, he didn’t win big enough to make a difference in the outcome of the election. There ya go. Cover your bases, folks.
I think McCain may be losing his grip on reality. His speeches seem to be getting crazier and crazier. I mean, the guy is still going on about Joe the Plumber, when Joe himself has told the press that he doesn’t really have any plans to buy the business where he works. And he’s unlicensed. Seems like a black eye of this sort would keep you from ever mentioning the plumber fellow again.
But what do I know? I’m no political analyst. After all, one of my biggest criticisms of McCain (apart from his criminal health-care plan), is that I’ve never cared for his voice, and the “Eh” sound he makes is ridiculous. When he gets worked up, I don’t know why, he makes me think of a drunk transvestite ventriloquist. Not that I’ve ever actually seen a drunk transvestite ventriloquist. And yet … there’s this eerie resemblance.
Back to the anthropology report. In general, what I’ve learned from this new way of approaching current events is that when you take away the personal emotional response, vast quantities of information becomes unbelievably dull. I think that’s why I don’t much listen to CNN. They usually only have four or five topics that they beat to death all day long. Gets dull pretty quickly on a 10-hour driving shift.
BBCA has lots of different stories from around the world, so it holds my interest longer. And I don’t know if any of you have ever tried it, but there’s a show on NPR called “American Story” (I think). It’s pretty great. They have all sorts of different tales, from a fellow who saved a lady by taking on two pit bulls to a teacher who was fired for the books she assigned to an expatriate singer from Africa. Also on NPR, “On Point” with Tom Ashbrook. Can’t help but like Tom, even though he’s often not exactly impartial.
I think my strongest feelings about politics at the moment is a vague sense of uneasiness. In some ways, this feels like 2000 all over again. Everyone said Gore would win. He had that big lead in the polls. But Bush managed to steal it. I hope Obama supporters don’t get complacent, the way many of Gore’s did. Hopefully, we learned our lesson in 2000.
As for the financial crisis, I’m in wait and see mode. I just had to force myself to make a purchase I’ve been wanting to make for over a year. It was hard because like everyone else, I’m thinking I’d be best off saving that money. I eventually decided to go ahead. I can afford it and have just been waiting for a new model to come out to buy it (it’s an iPod Classic that I plan to use to store MP3 audiobooks which I’ll also be buying, a space-saving switch from audiocassettes). It’s not like it’s a huge purchase, so it’s a sign of the catching fear that I second-guessed a relatively minor buy such as this one.
I’m interested to see how things go this winter. Freight is already dropping off here at They Who Must Not Be Named. Our dispatcher warned us just the other day to expect light freight for at least the next couple of weeks. This doesn’t overly worry us, since we don’t have to drive a lot of miles to make ends meet. It’s going to be hard on a lot of drivers, though, especially those with big debt. And if freight is slow now, what will it be like in January? Might be a good time to take a month’s or so leave (we don’t get vacations here; we have to turn in our truck and take leave).
Guess all around, it’s just wait and see.