A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
The Olympics are over, and for those of us who have been going solid walls of TV coverage for the last two weeks, there’ll be a day or two of decompression – postpartum depression, if you will. Since there’s only one way to “get the athlete off your back” and that’s going cold turkey, there will be some minor side effects. They might include (but are not limited to) engaging in meaningless tests of skill with your friends or relatives, listening to various national anthems on YouTube and experiencing an uncontrollable urge to visit Jamaica. Not to worry, though: these cravings will pass with time, and normal (whatever that is) will happen again, whether you like it or not. Good luck!
Incredible as it seems, while you and I were gone, the world was carrying on without us. Ironically, just as Team GB (Great Britain, for the uninitiated) was proving it could still run with the big boys, David Cameron’s coalition government was showing some serious signs of Banana Republic instability. Davey boy needs to get his political house in order before the Olympic honeymoon‘s over, or he’s going to be relegated to shouting insults from the other side of the aisle. Bad as that seems, Europe’s problemo numero uno is still the red ink that’s hemorrhaging out of Greece, Italy and Spain. It’s obvious that the cozy relationship Angela Merkel had with her Gallic neighbours died when the French people au revoir-ed Sarkozy in May. Angie better start cracking the Euro whip, or, overwhelmed by his own ideology, newly-minted French president Francois Hollande is going to try retrofitting his 20th century politics into Europe’s 21st century problems. The last thing Europe needs right now is another dose of what got them into this mess in the first place!
Meanwhile, over in the desert, Bashar al-Assad is going for the gold as Syria’s candidate for dick-tator of the year. At last count, he had out-Mubarak-ed Mubarak, and with the help of his Iranian buddy Ahmadinejad, was going for the full Gaddafi. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t we just slap the crap out of Muammar for half the malfeasance this guy is getting away with? Assad is hanging onto power in Syria by his eyebrows, and if he thinks his friends in Tehran are going to pull his almonds out of the fire, he ought to give his head a shake. As of the massacre in Aleppo, the only way Assad is going to end his days is Syria is getting dragged through the streets of Damascus in his underwear — and there’s nothing he can do about it. Prolonging the agony is not going to save him.
It’s not all bad news, though: in America, Mitt Romney has named his running mate, Paul Ryan. Ryan is a game changer. Suddenly, the American presidential election is a whole lot more than just uber-cool Obama versus Massachusetts’ answer to The Man from Glad™. It’s now a campaign of ideas. Finally, somebody’s going to have to start talking about all the red ink America’s been accumulating (I’m looking at you, Barack) and offer something more than “hope” as a solution. This may be the first time — ever — that an incumbent president had to run against the other party’s vice-presidential choice! But what the hell! We may even get beyond Wheatley versus Pedro (ala Napoleon Dynamite.) Who knows?
Tons of other stuff happened while you and I were watching Usain Bolt dismantle the record books and rebuild them in his own image. For example, somebody discovered a huge island floating in the Pacific, north of New Zealand. It’s called a ‘pumice raft,” and it’s made of coagulated rocks from an undersea volcano. Apparently, this thing is as big as Belgium! And, oh yeah: the Americans went interplanetary again and landed a rover on Mars. The pictures are fantastic.
So, don’t get too bothered about your Olympic hangover. There’s plenty of other things going on in the world. Besides — football season starts in less than three weeks, and the World Series is right around the corner.