December 29, 2009
When the big ball drops Thursday night, the Aughts will become the shoulda’s. You’re probably planning on spending the evening in quiet, contemplative thought, torturing over the mishaps and missed opportunities of the last decade. There are certainly lessons to be learned. For instance: Presidents of the United States should at least be able to maintain a B average … even at Yale … even if they’re cheerleaders. In retrospect that doesn’t seem to be too much to ask, but sometime in the last decade a lot of people went to the polls thinking that if below average was good enough to sell Amway, drive a semi, work a backhoe, or maintain a plumber’s crack, it should work fine for the Oval Office too. Turns out they were dead wrong. Sadly, a lot of their sons and daughters didn’t have the luxury of being wrong. They were just dead. George Bush and the extended Bush family didn’t contribute any of their bloodline to that corpse pile, nor did most of the rich people in America … nor will they ever. Happily, some rather major advances were made in robot technology in the last decade that are allowing more and more soldiers to pull joysticks instead of triggers. Increasingly, robots and robotic technology are being used on the front lines of the war on terror. The day may soon (perhaps already has?) come when the son of a drywall mudder from Round Rock will be able to fly a remote-control nanobot up Osama bin Laden’s nose which will burrow its way to his heart in a matter of minutes. So we have that to look forward to … as well as all of its terrifying potential abuses. We also learned that when it comes to being abusive, America is in the Top 10 with a bullet. We are, it would seem, some sadistic motherfuckers, given the right circumstances. Actually, we always have been. We just forgot. Vietnam was quite a while ago, and all the guys who beat the shit out of captured Nazis after World War II are mostly dead. We shouldn’t have been surprised about renditions or waterboarding or prisoner abuse though. It’s hard to find people who are willing to kill people, get shot at, and simultaneously maintain compassion, empathy, and understanding for their enemies. Maybe we can build a robot for that, or maybe we shouldn’t try. We also found out in the last decade that we can be blitheringly incompetent. We crashed a space shuttle, botched a hurricane relief effort, and most recently sent the world economy into a tailspin because we let the greedheads run amok in the world of finance. Now we’re 10% unemployed and in the hole for trillions of dollars – most likely to the Chinese. In 2000 we had a $230 billion surplus. Right now the deficit is $1.84 trillion. That’s a $2 trillion swing. Every man, woman, and child are roughly eight grand in the hole. Oh where are you now charming Billy? Leaving out those under the age of consent for rhetorical purposes, you’d be hard pressed to find many average Americans who wouldn’t Lewinski the prez for eight large … at least on the DL, and you have to figure by now Clinton has learned to keep his mouth shut. At least the Chinese are now making enough money to be the largest new-car market in the world. They also will be pumping out an unprecedented amount of greenhouse gases, so your Hyde Park bungalow might end up being beachfront property in the next 10 years. If only you could go in the sun for more than a few minutes without being riddled with basal cell carcinomas. Yes, all of this sounds pretty bleak, but there’s hope. It said so right there on the Obama campaign poster. In fact, the future’s so bright you might be blinded if you look directly into it. Starting on Jan. 1, America is going to begin building a new, green economy that will create millions of new jobs and lead to unprecedented prosperity. This new prosperity will foster social, physical, intellectual, and spiritual enlightenment that will end all war, conflict, and suffering throughout the world. That’s the thing about the future: You can’t say it won’t happen. One thing that will be happening (if it’s not already in the past when you read this) is the Gourds New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball at the Independent. If history tell us anything, it’s that people really get their freak on when they feel anonymous, and unless you’re one of those people who dresses up in real life, this should be a great opportunity to experiment with being something you’re not. You might even get to do someone you’re not, too. Plus, you’ll be benefiting the brave new world, because the proceeds benefit the YMCA Partner of Youth Campaign, which provides financial assistance for programs and services to deserving Austin families.