Thursday, January 05, 2006

Prognosis Positive

This is the time of year that reflective sorts who are given to public displays of punditry look back on the year that was and attempt to encapsulate events gone by. The more critically-minded and profusely partisan among us tend to focus exclusively on the bad, offering only the dimmest wish for better days ahead, when in reality, their entire raison d'etre is dependent on the continued failings of their rivals. Is there any doubt should George Bush pass from this mortal coil in the coming year that Molly Ivins’ brain will turn to dust within days, the absence of his bumbling existence denying it its sole source of sustenance.

Not wanting this blog to fall into a persistent state of negativity and criticism - and being a bit late to the game, all of the good bloggers have already posted their year-end musings - I will forego a review and instead focus on the possibilities for the year to come.

As Springfield attempts to rejuvenate itself through tourism, the new medical district, and other development efforts, it’s time that the city focus on improving its infrastructure to make it a more desirable destination for people and businesses. Free wireless broadband for the masses should be the rallying cry of our city leaders. Let us eat cake when it comes to accessing the Internet. Set the city proper ablaze in one giant hot spot. I’m speaking not as someone who has grown weary of plodding through iTunes downloads, but as a civic minded soul who wants only the best for his hometown.

Other cities are already blazing this trail, including Chicago, but it’s not too late for Springfield to set itself apart as a civic savant in the technology arena. It is, however, a journey not unencumbered by difficulties.

Insight Communications, SBC, and their marauding bands of cut-throat lobbyists will mount a spirited counterattack to any plans for free Wi-Fi. The free market senses of Libertarians will surely be offended at the prospects of a municipally operated broadband network. And government watchdog groups will drool with suspicion should Springfield follow San Francisco’s lead and get into bed with a company such as Google to subsidize the effort.

Their concerns are not without merit, but in the end, a progressive and forward-thinking agenda should prevail. The Digital Divide must be spanned and I should no longer be made to suffer the indignity of waiting 30 minutes to download an Arcade Fire song.

However the city decides to proceed in the quest to get completely wireless, it will need additional funds to develop the network. Who better to foot the bill for high speed Internet access than lead-footed, red light running libertines? One camera placed high above any Veteran’s Parkway intersection should generate enough revenue to connect the entire city and outfit each citizen with a Blackberry of their very own. Put a surveilling eye in the sky at all major intersections and we can provide free comprehensive healthcare to boot.

This too, however, will necessitate some start-up capital to purchase the cameras. Since our government leaders have found it unconscionable to ban smoking in bars and restaurants, it is incumbent upon them to demand their well-earned kickbacks from the tobacco and hospitality industries and use this ill-gained booty for the common good.

Once this is all accomplished, our government will then be able to pursue the Hooverian dream of a chicken in every pot. The aforementioned civic improvements will once again make Springfield a worthy home for that most respected of all franchises: the venerable Chick-Fil-A. I propose transforming all current and former Hardee’s locations into houses of poultric delight. Hardee’s, afterall, has always been rather bland; the only pizzazz coming from the highly-stylized, locally-produced TV ads that ran in the 90s (Platter! Platter! Platter!).

Whatever transpires in 2006, the key to having a good year is wrapping it up on a high note.

A Princeton psychologist has posited a theory that states that people tend to remember and judge events based on how they end, i.e., a vacation fraught with exorbitant expenses and abysmal accommodations will be remembered fondly if the return flight home departs on schedule. To prove his theory, he conducted an experiment on the most vulnerable of all of God’s creatures – men undergoing colonostomies*.

The control group in this experiment received the standard defilement, while the test group was subjected to a longer exam, but measures were taken to make the extra time less excruciatingly embarrassing. The article that I read didn’t say what these measures entailed, but safe to assume that it didn’t involve a private screening of Brokeback Mountain, not that there’s anything wrong with that movie.

Regardless, what was found was that members of the second group later recalled the experience with less terror and were more willing to attend to their regularly scheduled follow-ups. And if men can be duped into believing that that particular procedure, in hindsight, isn't too bad, then anything is possible when it comes to remembering history.

So no matter how badly the half-wit in the White House or the dimwits in congress screw up this year, no matter how insufferable or inherently idiotic those that persist on the other side of the political divide prove themselves to be, 2006 can still be a banner year. We need only to completely cut ourselves off from the outside world on New Year's Eve. Turn off the TV, the radio and the router. Leave the newspaper on the porch. And don't, under any circumstances, pick-up the telephone. Left to bathe in the utopia of our own, uncontested version of reality, the memory of 2006 will be cast forever in an idyllic glow. Who knows, under such circumstances, Molly might even think of something nice to say about George.

*The original post erroneously used the term colostomy. Thanks to PacoBlog for spotting the error.

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