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That’s It. We’re Toast. Finito. Game Over. Unless…

21 Nov

by Roger White

 

I knew it. I just knew it. We’re doomed. No, I’m not referring to the results of some recent political goings-on you may have heard about (electoral college be forever damned). Although if you want to infer that’s what I’m talking about, go right ahead. I didn’t imply; you inferred. Your bad. No, what I’m yammering about is the impending end of all life on this planet. Some would say that the events of this second Tuesday of November have pretty much opened the gates for such an apocalyptic consequence, but far be it from me to lay blame for the extinction of mankind on the Great Orange Combover. If that’s what it sounds like I’m saying, again, you’re making assumptions.

 

Sigh. Let’s start again. So I read in one of those scientific, researchy-type magazines recently that, according to a prediction by no less than the renowned theoretical physicist, astronomer, and all-around alien-like brainiac Stephen Hawking, we oxygen-breathers don’t have long before it’s lights-out on this big, blue marble. Yeah, bummer, dude.

 

o-godAccording to Dr. H, unless we can figure out a way to colonize other planets and soon, we’re cosmic toast. Yep, unless we can, say, gentrify the Tharsis Upland Region of Mars (by developing high-rise biodome condos and thereby scooting all the tiny, little ethnic Martian micro-organisms off to the lower-rent Hellas Impact Basin—ain’t that the human way?), then our galactic gooses—sorry, geeses—are cooked. It may be nukes; could be climate catastrophe; maybe an asteroid; might even be a violent overthrow by nasty self-aware robots who finally get fed up with having to scrub our sewage-treatment plants, but one way or another, if you pay heed to the Hawkman, the species Humanus Textus While Drivus is a goner. The rolling Hawking-genius-bot gives us 1,000 years, tops.

 

Now, I know that 1,000 years seems like a long time. And, well, it is. But I got lots to do, and I’m just not sure if a millennium is enough time for me to check off every item on my bucket list. So just in case I don’t make it to Thanksgiving of 3016, I’ll need some of you to finish out my to-do things.

 

i-r-writerHigh on my list is (4) become a published novelist. I had this one scratched out several times, thanks to a string of smarmy suck-up literary agents who were so convinced I was on the fast track to the bestseller list that I had a Central Park brownstone all picked out and even had a pen-name to go by in case I got too famous for my own good. One guy even hooked me up with an LA screenwriter who was also quite confident I was the second coming of J.D. Salinger. Nothing ever came of any of it. Four novels, gathering dust in the closet, and a pile of rejection letters from every publishing house from Nantucket to New Zealand stacked high enough to be a fire hazard. Oh, my pen name. Was going to be D.J. Slingerland. I dunno, just sounded good. So there it is. I have four perfectly good mediocre novels waiting for some intrepid soul to champion. One is horror genre; the other three are historical fiction, science fiction, and a heartwarming coming-of-age memoir. You could even mash them all together, if you like. Call it a very long heartwarming historical sci-fi coming-of-age horror memoir. Or something.

 

wtf-circleThe other top-three items on my finish-by-3016 list? They are, in order: (3) learn how to navigate a traffic circle without having to contact my insurance guy; (2) finish the chicken fried steak at Hill Country Cupboard in one sitting (damn near impossible; it feeds a platoon); and (1) talk to someone live and in person who has actually been hospitalized for having an erection that lasts for more than four hours. I mean, is that even a thing? I can’t even.

 

Hey, look! I made it through this whole mess without uttering the word “Trump” once. Aw, dammit.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer/would-be novelist living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, an obese but mannered dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr Syndrome. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

 

 

 

I Give You Sniglets for the New Age

2 Nov

by Roger White

 

Remember sniglets? You have to be at least kind of ancient if you do. Sniglets, the brainchild of 1980s comedian Rich Hall, were simply described as “words that don’t appear in the dictionary but should.” They’re concocted terms used to define everyday phenomena—usually petty annoyances or ridiculous inanities of life that we all experience but don’t think about enough to actually attach a real word or phrase to them. Like backspackle, which is, of course, the ah the spacklemarkings and smudges on the back of one’s shirt from riding a fenderless bicycle. Or giraffiti, which is vandalism spray-painted very, very high. Or one of my personal faves: slopweaver, which is someone who has mastered the art of repositioning the food on his or her plate to give the appearance of having consumed a good portion of it. Teens are marvelously adept slopweavers.

I started pondering sniglets the other day at work when, for the umpteenth time (is “umpteenth” a sniglet?), one of the little protective rubber coverings on my stereo’s earbuds came off in my ear and I didn’t notice—until a coworker pointed out to me that it looked like I had a cockroach nesting in my left ear.

Ah ha. There should be a word for that, I thought. And then, as I pondered sniglet possibilities for my plight, it hit me that we need a whole new crop of sniglets for the 21st century. So, herewith, I give you a jumping-off point of Sniglets for the New Age. These are just sniglet proposals, mind you. I think Rich Hall or somebody has to officially bless them in a ritualistic sneremony or something for them to become official. And as always, I welcome your snig-gestions:

  • Burst Responder: a person who blurts out a response to someone who’s talking on their cellphone because the responder thought the person was talking to them.
  • Adcenta Previa: those frustrating ads placed in front of the youtube video you want to watch.
  • Spellhole: the maddening state you find yourself in when your mobile device keeps insisting on correcting your text spelling when you don’t want it to.
  • Asdfjkrunge: the collection of food crumbs, bits of dust, cuticle washy washytrimmings, and other tiny specks of detritus you have to empty out of your computer keyboard from time to time.
  • Coughartle: the noise made, particularly by cube-environment workers, when trying to mask the sound of passing gas.
  • Tootretort: snarky comment or question posed by annoyed coworker who knows damn good and well that somebody just coughartled. Example: “Is there a gas leak?” or “Did somebody burn the popcorn again?”
  • Textnesia: that troublesome realization that you forgot who or what you were texting in the middle of text conversation.
  • Cell Squeenge: when two people in a cellphone conversation attempt to talk at the same time and end up hearing nothing and saying, “Hello? Hello? Are you still there?”
  • Vinylstalgia: a baby boomer’s angst at the lack of albums and old-fashioned record stores in today’s world.
  • Illoleracy: the absolute dearth of language skills shown by today’s teens and young adults who have been raised on “lol, ur kiddin, rofl, brb…” etc.
  • Faceplant: when you share a post on Facebook that your friend received 102 likes on, and you end up with three likes—and two of those are from you and your mom.
  • Proselyposting: the annoying habit of some Facebookers to hallelujahcontinually post how much they love Jesus/God/Yaweh/Allah/The Dude/Eric Clapton and that if you love Him/Her/Them also you must “like” and “share” or you’re going to Hell/Lake of Fire/Perdition/The Abyss/Cleveland.
  • Screenscramble: that moment when your boss suddenly pops into your cubie, and you have to frantically pull up a document on your computer screen to make it appear as if you’re working and not farting around on youtube.
  • Budplug: I almost forgot. This is what I came up with for that tiny rubber earbud covering that gets stubbornly stuck in your ear without your knowledge.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious offspring, a very obese but mannerful dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

 

This Installment Should Wet Your Appetite. Literally.

7 Oct

by Roger White

“It’s only words…”

True, Messrs. Gibb. But then words are all we have, in a sense.

I can understand when my daughter bursts in the front door, famished from her school day, and exclaims, “I could literally eat a horse.” I get it when an irate Facebook poster pronounces that the myriad evil-doings of the Obama Administration should be “nipped in eaty horsythe butt.” I realize that my kiddo could not sit at the table and consume an entire equine, and I know that the angry online Limbaugh actually wants to nip our dear POTUS in the bud, not in the posterior. I’m hoping on this one.

But when I read in a local newspaper’s restaurant review how the delightful menu of a new downtown eatery will “certainly wet my appetite,” then I start to lose hope. I do enjoy having my appetite whetted, but I’ve never savored the notion of having my appetite drowned.

This wasn’t in the Gazette, Will, so worry not.

Weekly, it seems, adherence to standards of correct grammar slips and slides down the well-greased slope of sloppy English employed by not only everyday people, ersatz authors, cashiers and bosses, and television snake-oil salesmen, but also civic leaders, teachers, and professional journalists—the very enlightened ones who should know better. Surely it’s not coincidence that the graph of language correctness falls in direct proportion to the rise of communications technology. In the days of instant messaging, pondering the spelling of a possessive proper noun just seems old-fashioned, I guess.

For that matter, who’s to say that this migration away from hard and fast rules is necessarily wrong? It may well be simply the natural order—a Darwinistic evolution of our native tongue, hastened by smartphones and Youtube. Rules of punctuation, letter-writing etiquette, cursive penmanship may all be truly obsolete. “I before e except after c” may go the way of the dodo.

Da Dodo

However, for this installation, kids, I’m calling out the lazy operators of our lexicon. Relaxed rules and metamorphosed language aside, a blooper is still a blooper. Case in point: misused and mangled common sayings. And it’s not “case and point,” by the way. Here are some more colloquial clunkers:

  • Should of. As in, “I should of slowed down before the cop started shooting at my tires.” It may sound like should of, but no. It’s “should have.”

 

  • Free reign. I see this one a lot, and it’s easy to slip up here. But the saying doesn’t mean “free rule.” It comes from the days of horsemanship. To give your horse “free rein” was to loosen your hold on the reins to allow your steed more freedom of movement. Hopefully, your daughter didn’t come home afterward and literally eat your horse.
  • Hunger pains. That same daughter who wants to devour your herbivorous quadruped is suffering not from “hunger pains” but hunger pangs. Pangs, my friend, not pains. It pains me to have to point this out to you.
  • Peak your interest. This should actually be clumped together with “wet your appetite,” but I’m too lazy to box up this paragraph and move it. But anyway, it’s “pique your interest”—to stimulate, not unlike to whet or sharpen. I pique, you pique, she piques.
  • A mute point. Please. It’s not a point that lacks the ability to speak. It’s a moot point. Am I tilting at windmills here?
  • whatPour over. Librarians would really hate it if people poured over their documents. You pore over documents. Not unlike “wetting an appetite,” pouring over a document would get downright messy. Those poor documents.

 

  • Extract revenge. This could get ugly, too. If you’re looking to “extract revenge,” it likely involves pulling something out of your intended victim. Yuck. What you want to do, then, is exact revenge. No extractions, please.
  • He did a complete 360 and reversed course. No he didn’t. He did a 180. If the guy did a 360, he turned a silly circle and ended up facing the exact same way he started. Shee.

That’s all I can bring to mind now. We’ll revisit, perhaps with nice scones and tea next time. I know there are many more misused and abused terms in my language suppository; I’ll drudge them up soon. I’m sure your waiting with baited breath. Irregardless, I know many of you could care less. Literally.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

Huzzah for Hard Line on Hardheads with Handhelds! …Huh?

16 Sep

by Roger White

 

Normally, I’m not one to send out hearty huzzahs to governmental entities for actions they’ve taken, and this is likely because governmental entities these days rarely take any action at all (unless it involves evasive action from pursuing police cars, gaggles of reporters, or issues of real import). But I must say that I feel a robust huzzah coming on for the gallant move the Austin City Council made in August. The council types put their pointed noggins together and approved an ordinance banning cellphone use while driving within the Weird City Limits. So here goes. Let’s hear it: Huzzah!

 

Carl, I didn’t see you huzzah-ing.

 

I imagine that this new law, which goes into effect January 1, 2015, will be called by some shorthand name like the DWP law. Driving While Phoning. Or maybe DWT—Driving While Texting. Or we could simply stick with the term DWI and call it Driving While Intexticated. distracted dudeRegardless, label me a cappy hamper. It’s about time we put these handheld monsters in their place. I mean, crikey, time was when you saw a car weaving all over the road and sideswiping lampposts it was usually 2:30 in the morning and the driver had a handful of cheap hooch. Now, any time of day or night you can easily spy a meandering motorist, but these days he’s got his head down, engrossed in his handful of high-tech hosannas. Holy high-speed highjinks!

 

Alas, too, in the olden days, the term “distracted driving” meant that a guy was accidentally steering onto the sidewalk on Guadalupe Street because he was ogling a crowd of college coeds walking down the drag. Nowadays, it usually means somebody put his Dodge in a ditch because he was watching a Vietnamese potbellied pig play the harpsichord on Youtube. It’s insanity, man.

 

So I not only applaud the council for standing up to the mobile madness, I say we take it a few steps further. I vote we enact stiff fines, public shaming rituals, and/or jail time for the following:

  • WWT: Walking While Texting
  • WMWT: Watching a Movie While Texting
  • IYPWT: Ignoring Your Parents While Texting

And, of course:

  • CWRLPWT: Conversing With a Real Live Person While Texting

 

WWTYou’ve surely seen the videos out there of those unfortunate saps who’ve strolled into mall fountains or off sheer cliffs because of their single-minded attention to their devices. And I suppose some of the yahoos in these videos were actually watching videos of other yahoos walking into fountains or off cliffs. Gads. It’s a glimpse of infinity—the fractal geometry of the absurd. Don’t you see? Where was I?

 

Oh. Get this. The Chinese, recognizing the inherent dangers of WWT, have actually devised an urban solution. The city of Chongqing has decided to parse its sidewalks into normal human walking lanes and cellphone user lanes. Apparently, the cellphone lanes have warnings painted onto the pavement about such things as the fact that the sidewalk is ending soon, there’s a naked lady walking right next to you, and your neck could stay permanently frozen in that position if you don’t stop gawking at your phone.

 

I would guess that such walking lanes might need rumble strips or warning buzzers for the hardcore cellphone addicts who refuse to tear themselves away. Such measures may have saved WWT2the tourist in Melbourne, Australia, who walked right off a pier into the frigid waters of Port Phillip Bay recently. According to news reports, the woman thrashed about in the sea for about 20 minutes before being rescued. “There will be no need for a lost property report as the woman kept hold of her mobile phone throughout the entire ordeal,” said a local police officer. The woman’s child and two dogs, unfortunately, were never found. OK, I made that part up.

 

So, anyhow, here’s to our intrepid city council for taking a swipe at all the app-addled addicts out there. I’m with ya, pointy-noggin council types. Is it so hard for people to PUT THE PHONE DOWN? My hope is that once we move into the second phase of our fair burg’s sanctions—the laws against WWT, WMWT, and the like—that eventually we’ll develop edicts against the more grievous mobile device offenses. Such as SWT. You know. Nudge, nudge.

SWT

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

Commence Ye Festivities, Followers: It’s Find the Fib

15 Aug

by Roger White

 

Ah, yes. It’s just about that time again, my anthrax-addled adherents. No, I’m not referring to Be An Angel Day—although August 22 is official Be An Angel Day. If you’re unfamiliar with BAAD, it was created by Jayne Howard Feldman, author of Driving Under the Influence of Angels, who insists that she was inspired by said angels to devise this special day to encourage being kind to others and participating in all-around do-goodery. This is not to bidareyae confused with BAHAD—Bean A Hell’s Angels Day—which involves smacking a motorcycle gang member upside the head and then running like hell.

 

Anyway, that isn’t what I’m talking about, so just leave it alone.

 

No, troops, it’s time once again to play Find the Fib. Yes, I know that NPR Radio has its backward version of this shtick, but as I said before, I’ve been doing it for 33 years now, so if anyone has a case against anybody, it’s me. Against them. About this. But I love NPR, and only lawyers win when you sue, and who needs wealthier lawyers?

 

Which reminds me of another lawyer joke:

Q: Why is attending a bar association meeting like going into a bait shop?

A: Because of the abundance of suckers, leeches, maggots, and nightcrawlers.

 

God, I love that. Anyway, faithful gawkers of my quasi-regular epistles know that every 18 years, rain or shine, I present Find the Fib. How it works is this: I give you, dear readers, several news reports from around the globe. However, one of them is total bunk. Sheer hokum. Your job is to determine which one. First one to e-mail me the correct answer at roger.white@tasb.org wins three real U.S. dollars. No pennies, real bills. Second place wins two bucks; third place, one genuine American dollar. Fourth through sixth place wins a nifty “Jesus Is Coming, Hide the Bong” bumper sticker; seventh through ninth earns a hearty “Thanks for Playing Our Stupid Game!” e-mail from yours truly. Taxes on winnings are sole responsibility of individual winners. Void where prohibited. Prohibit where voided. Violators will be prosecuted. Prosecutors will be etc. etc.

 

If you don’t want to play this time around, worry not. You’ll get another opportunity in August of 2032. So here goes. Find the Fib:

ohboy

Story No. 1: Overly germaphobic types in South Korea have invented something they call the Finger Nap. Finger Naps are tiny plastic sanitary gloves that fit over one’s digits—basically finger condoms—to be used by over-the-wall neat freaks to eat pizza, hamburgers, donuts, and such. Some restaurants in South Korea have caught on to the trend by installing Finger Nap dispensaries. Now if they could only invent Nose Naps for eating kimchi.

 

Story No. 2: Boeing is teaming up with South African Airways to develop jet fuel made from tobacco. The fuel, concocted from a hybrid tobacco plant, is part of an effort to cut carbon emissions and promote green energy in South Africa. Test-farming of the plants is under way, with biofuel output expected in the “next few years,” a company spokesperson said. The spokesperson did not say whether fuels would be available in menthol and ultra-light.

 

Story No. 3: Authorities in New Jersey are investigating the explosion of a giant vat of eggnog, which damaged a pharmaceutical plant and caused minor injuries to two workers. Employees were mixing artificial eggnog flavorings in a laboratory in Totowo, New Jersey, when the explosion occurred, the town’s fire marshal told local news reporters. The company was trying out a new eggnog recipe, the marshal said, adding that the cause of the blast was undetermined. There’s been no word from officials about why a giant vat of whiskey was parked next to the giant vat of eggnog.

 

Story No. 4: In a tragic twist, a Wisconsin man was killed accidentally by an invention he envisioned to save lives. The inventor was wearing his “para-shirt” invention, created weeeto be worn as a dress shirt that could be used as a parachute in the event of a high-rise office fire, when the parachute deployed while the man was driving on a Madison freeway. With his view obstructed, the man drove off a downtown overpass, dropping thirty feet to his demise. Now if he’d only invented the “car-a-chute.”

 

Story No. 5: A South African animal rights group is planning to sue those responsible for the death of a giraffe that smashed its head on a bridge as it was transported in a trailer on one of the country’s busiest freeways. Eyewitnesses reported seeing two giraffes in an open trailer being driven along Johannesburg’s N1 motorway before one hit its head on the bridge. “Look how low that bridge is and how tall the giraffes are,” one witness cried. “Who thought this one through?” South Africa’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SANSPCA) said they would be seeking to prosecute the giraffe relocators. Meanwhile, SASORSP—the South African Society Of Really Stupid People—is also seeking the drivers to award them the organization’s highest honor.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

Suburban Worldsick Blues

27 May

by Roger White

 

With a tip of the hat to a master chronicler of the American age, it must be noted that Bob Dylan never lived in a 3/2/2 with central heat/air and two and a half mortgages during a time when, by all appearances, our society is on the verge of utter decay—all viewable with the click of a mouse or touch of a pad.

 

So I give you “Suburban Worldsick Blues.”

 

Perry’s in the Capitol, railin’ against abortion,

I’m lookin’ at my taxes thinkin’ it’s extortion,

The man in the trench coat shootin’ up the school halls

Says he got bullied so everybody must fall.

 

Look out, dad, the economy is bad,

God knows what we did, but the country’s on the skids.

 

You better duck down, turn page, watch out for road rage,

Another mass swhyhooting, another senseless rampage,

Sterling’s on his cell phone reminiscin’ ’bout slavery,

Miley’s twerkin’ onstage, scandalous behavery.

 

Look out, mom, Gotta stay calm,

Soldiers in Kabul dodging roadside bombs.

 

Get sick, get well, they’re laying off again at Dell,

Are we winnin’ whatever war, it’s gettin’ kinda hard to tell,

Presidenidiotst says our healthcare system’s unfit,

All Congress says is where’s your birth certificate?

 

Well, Hormel, GM organizin’ recalls,

Bad meat, bad brakes, pickets down at town hall,

Daughter’s college fees call for medical sedation,

Building border walls to stifle immigration.

 

Look out, pop, no tellin’ where it stops,

Younger daughter’s boyfriend working at a head shop.

 

Mortgage underwater, excess beer consumption,

Viagra wants to help with that erectile dysfunction,

The factonoworkry just made a Chapter 11 declaration,

School board says it’s gonna teach divine creation.

 

Text tweet online, your selfie looking so fine,

Kids in Bosnia steppin’ on old land mines.

Icebergs meltin’, droughts killin’ all the wheat,

Just global warmin’ lies of the liberal elite.

 

Well, get dressed, get stressed, face the day’s traffic mess,

Oops, your job’s just been outsourced to Bangladesh.

Don’t follow leaders, take pills for all the cedars,

Find yourself a new position as a Walmart greeter.

 

Look out, mama, you’re dyin’ from the trauma,

Increase yer Prozac dosage, tune in the dalai lama.

 

Well, jump down a manhole, filibuster gun control,

thebardThink I saw a shadow up there beyond the grassy knoll,

Headin’ to the car, another day in the loony ward,

Shakin’ yer head ’cause the vandals keyed yer new Ford.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

143a.

 

Just Chill: Most News You Can’t Use

29 Oct

by Roger White

You’re familiar with the old saying, “Don’t shoot me. I’m only the messenger.” To this I say pish and posh. This old adage doesn’t apply anymore. The messenger today IS the problem. The messenger—this insincerely smiling, hair-weaved, plastic-faced talking head—needs to be shot in the behind with a paintball gun, and his message needs to be torn up, stomped on, and burned to ash. Pish and posh, I say.

The messenger I’m pishing and poshing on, of course, is the media—namely, the national outlets: CNN, Fox, MSNBC, etc. Do you ever stop to wonder why your stomach is nervous and sour all the time now, why your heart beats out the bossa nova, why you fret and bite your lip bloody just sending the kids to the school bus stop? The media, I tell you. It’s the media. stop the pressesBecause of our nonstop over-exposure to the national news organizations’ sensationalistic babble, we have all come to believe, consciously or not, that our world has become a living hell. As each of us workaday folks tries so hard just to crawl out of bed each morning to keep food on the table, the electricity on, and our children on the straight and narrow, we have to combat that nagging, pecking sense of doom—that we’re only a mere happenstance away from grisly death, violent criminal mayhem, or worse, a government-led socialist agenda.

Two real, recent examples of headlines from CNN: “Weatherman Eats Cat Vomit” and “Teens Attack Mom; Plan to Eat Her Liver.” No lie. Did we truly need to know this? And did these teens plan this liver feast after watching the weatherman scarf cat puke? These kinds of “news items” are not merely useless—they’re harmful.

Every single cotton-picking day you have to digest (no pun intended) BREAKING NEWS of the latest multiple homicide, the most shocking tale of kidnap, abuse, and mistreatment, the most recent sordid instance of demented behavior (and sometimes this doesn’t even involve Congress) such as the headlines above. The thing of it is—and here is where you have to stop yourself and understand motives—the world really isn’t all that bad. Really, it isn’t. It’s the media’s job, however, to make you feel that way. It’s not CNN’s goal per se to give every man, moidahwoman, and child in America a massive case of peptic ulcers, but it is their job to make money. And gruesome, terrible, apocalyptic headlines mean more views, which mean more advertisers, which mean more money. With news on a 24-hours-a-day-eight-days-a-week cycle now, every second of the day we are fed the most grisly, horrific stories that these “news gatherers” can find—because that’s what they think we want to see.

But here’s the deal. We’re not going to hell in a handbasket; it just feels like it. Did you know, for example, that since the early 1990s, crime has actually declined in the United States and that current crime rates are no worse than they were in the 1960s? True, these stats come from the U.S. Bureau of Justice. The homicide rate in America has declined substantially since 1992 from a rate of 9.8 per 100,000 persons to 4.8 in 2010, according to latest figures. That’s still high, as far as the rest of the industrialized world goes, but, hey, in Russia it’s 13 per 100,000, and in Venezuela it’s 48 per. And nobody here commutes to Honduras, right? There, the homicide rate is 78 per. We’re practically a Buddhist monastery by comparison.

Here’s more: A research think tank known as the Millennium Project produced these eye-opening numbers in 2011:

• The average life expectancy worldwide rose from 64 years in the mid-1980s to 68 years today.
• Infant mortality worldwide has fallen from nearly 70 deaths per 100,000 people to 40 deaths today.
• Poverty, defined by the percentage of people living on less than $1.25 a day, fell from 43 percent of the world population in the mid-1980s to 23 percent now.
• The percentage of the world population with access to water rose from 75 percent to more than 86 percent.
• Secondary school enrollment rose from 45 percent in the mid-1980s to nearly 70 percent today.
• The number of major armed conflicts declined from 37 in the mid-1980s to 26 today.


Unfortunately, these kinds of numbers aren’t found on your average national news site now. In yukkkfact, if you ask me, the best, most useful news you can find these days is in your local, community newspaper. The little weeklies and bi-weeklies that actually cover neighborhood news, civic involvement stories, and human interest items that have nothing at all do with cats in microwave ovens are where you’ll discover “news you can use.” As far as Fox and CNN and all the rest are concerned, pish and posh, I say.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.