Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Happening
I have been intensely busy with remunerative labor since the end of January--but today I put a big project mostly to bed, and it appears that I may have at least a couple of days to kick back--and perhaps even blog a bit more. Here are some items and comments from today's news:

Item: Joseph Ratzinger of Germany is elected Pope Benedict XVI.

Comment: Ratzinger was the pre-conclave favorite, and is a hardliner's hardliner, apparently. Certainly lefty bloggers have found plenty to dislike. KTK at Lean Left calls him "the Goebbels of the Vatican"; John at AMERICAblog says he condones violence against gays the same way Senator John Cornyn condoned it against judges; several bloggers note he was a member of the Hitler Youth as a child (forced to join against his will, he says); and at least one equates him with Karl Rove. I am not sure Ratzinger's election means much here in the United States, where Catholic dogma has been growing increasingly irrelevant even among Catholics for as long as I can remember, and was likely to continue down that path even if the church had elected the papal equivalent of the barefoot, guitar-strumming youth pastor we all had in the 1970s. But I am sure of one thing, however--Ratzinger probably won't be around long, because he's 78 years old.

Additional comment: Ratzinger may have been the pre-conclave favorite, but I am guessing few picked "Benedict" in the name pool. I would have bet the house on "John Paul III."

Item: Today is the 10th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.

Comment: Nothing proves the relativity of horror like the fact since September 11, a terrorist attack that kills 168 people seems diminished. But it's still the biggest domestic terrorist attack in American history--a fact worth noting on a day when Democrats accuse the Department of Homeland Security of ignoring right-wing domestic terrorists in favor of monitoring radical tree-huggers and animal-rights organizations. Of course, in the Bizarro World, radical tree-huggers and animal-rights organizations have been positively rampaging. (Thanks to World O'Crap for the link.) Yet another example of how liberals and conservatives can look at the same thing and draw two entirely opposite conclusions.

Additional comment: I was in my first semester as a returning student at Iowa on the morning of the bombing, and my American Foreign Policy class spent a good deal of time discussing it that day. I won't forget how many of my classmates were all for turning the region from Egypt to India into a glowing parking lot, and asking questions later. [Sarcasm alert] I think four or five of them are working for the Bush Administration now. [End sarcasm]

Item: Starting in September 2006, Monday Night Football is moving from ABC to ESPN.

Comment: I doubt that most people will care all that much--around here, it means the game will be on cable channel 24 instead of cable channel 7. But it's at least possible that the culture will be somewhat poorer for the move. Monday Night Football, the television series, remains a big deal even after 35 seasons. Perhaps not as big a deal as it was when there were only three or four channels on your TV, but it's still big. For football fans, MNF represents validation. You don't get on it if your team isn't good--and I vividly remember the excitement in Packer World when our team finally made it, in 1995, after an absence of eight years. And because the games are on broadcast TV, ABC has always taken extra steps to make them entertaining for the casual fan who drops in--witness the repartee between Howard Cosell and Don Meredith in the 1970s, or the pop-star cameos that have opened each broadcast for the past several years. There will be no need for that kind of thing on ESPN, whose viewers can't be considered particularly casual. NBC is picking up the Sunday night package ESPN has had since 1987--and while they claim that Sunday night is now what Monday night used to be, that's wishful thinking. The Sunday night game is dessert after a football day, easy to skip if you're already full. (Football junkie that I am, I rarely watch unless the Packers are playing--or The Mrs. is out of town.) The Monday night game is a happening--and I don't think it's going to be as big a happening on ESPN.

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