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Some things never change

02/23/2011 @ 1:19pm

My sister told me she was doing some bottom-of-the-drawer cleaning and found some of my columns from 14 years ago.  She said I mainly wrote about stupid politicians and bad weather in Minnesota.


I suppose it’s good to know that some things never change.  Actually, since only about nine people read it the first couple years I wrote the column (I’m up to seventeen now,) I could probably just take the next two years off, recycle the old stuff and no one would notice.  We still have no shortage of stupid politicians or bad weather, and no indication we’ll be running short of either anytime soon.

I have to admit, I have been underwhelmed by the new century (except for acquiring a son-in-law, daughter-in-law and a few grandchildren).  Since the turn of the millennium, we’ve had terrorism, wars, record deficits and financial collapse, and the Vikings still can’t figure out who they want for quarterback.  Plus, of course, bad weather and stupid politicians.

I think I’m going to blame Paris Hilton.

My wife thinks I’m being a little harsh, but it all kind of hangs together.  Paris Hilton flunked out of high school in 1999.  A little while after that her grandfather said that he was going to give 97% of his estate to charity.  That’s actually not quite as bad as it sounds. If I left 97% of my fortune to charity, my kids would have to order the funeral meal off the dollar menu at McDonalds, but Mr. Hilton was starting out with several billion dollars.  Even 3% of that split up among his grandchildren amounted to…I dunno… around seventeen million each.

Now, I could probably live quite a while on seventeen million dollars, but for a gal like Paris, it’s barely enough to keep her chihuahua in diamonds.  So there she was, with no education, no talent, no credentials of any kind and down to the last eight digits in her checking account.  To her credit, she went looking for work and at that moment the downfall of western civilization sped up like the log flume at the Mall of America.

I hadn’t thought about any of this very much until my youngest daughter called and mentioned that she’d seen a headline saying that Ms. Hilton had ended her feud with some Kardashian.  I don’t know for sure what a Kardashian is, and the odds are pretty good that I never will, because my daughter and I agree that just taking the time to look at such a headline makes us measurably stupider, and if we’d actually read the entire article we could have lost the first four months of sixth grade. 

Okay, so maybe it’s not entirely Paris Hilton’s fault.  Spend two minutes waiting in line to check out at the supermarket and you can see all kinds of competition among people who seem to have no discernible reason to exist except to make us all just a little bit dumber, and unless you’re very quick with the remote control you can enter a universe of brain-draining on about half the TV channels.

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