Assassination, a Hummer, Cheap Baby, a Challenge

The news cycle strikes again. What isn't relevant or important becomes so because of someone sitting in a news room gathering feeds decides to offer yet another spin on irrelevance. At least this time, the quote remains consistent, though the meaning does not:

Responding to a question from the Sioux Falls Argus Leader editorial board about calls for her to drop out of the race, she said: "My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. You know I just, I don't understand it," she said, dismissing the idea of abandoning the race...Clinton said she didn't understand why, given this history, some Democrats were calling for her to quit.

Why is this "news" now? She said it before, it's history and in the books, yet now she feels she has to apologize for this piece of history because of the Kennedy family's newest bad news: Edward's brain cancer diagnosis.

Possible consequences?

With the news updated and delivered instantaneously, little bits and pieces become leverages for new angles so that it appears to be news. Little bits and pieces are regurgitated over and over, rearranged to give importance to something that wasn't important the last time the news was released. Add to the repetition of the barrage of news, and suddenly people who know better are also thinking it's important.

But, one result is happening behind the scenes. Google Hot Trends is a service for Web designers that lists the 100 most popular search terms used during the last 24 hours. Three terms stick out like a sore thumb, or at least as a warning flag: "Obama assassination," "Clinton assassination," "Hillary assassination." What has become important in people's minds is not the irrelevance of what was said, but solely the word "assassination," the drama and violence of it. Will that bring people to the polls? Will that sway the results?

Some factors to consider

The news is only news if it is spun from all angles. But, in the scurry to produce instantaneous news, real life is left behind. A lot is happening out there, lacking the dots to connect it all together. For instance, this piece of an explanation worth reading:

The biggest factor in the skyrocketing price of gasoline is the historic ascent of crude oil, which has surged from $45 per barrel in 2004 to more than $135 this past week, setting new record highs all the while.
What determines the price at the pump is based on oil that will be available on the market in the future. Oil futures are traded on the stock exchanges and bought by people who have no intention of actually owning that oil. They just want to wait a bit, gamble on the price of a barrel of crude increasing, and then sell.

The day to day impact of the high cost of gas, heating oil and diesel will far outpace and outlast any reduction in oil supply and demand. Less food will be produced and distributed, less work will be available, and fewer people will be able to get to work, even if they have a job. Children, the disabled and the elderly will feel the squeeze far quicker than the rest. Will gas prices ever come back down?

For the first time, the news is reporting the impact of the recession's effects on the more affluent. One couple has been trying to sell their Hummer for the last six weeks with no success. People are trading their gas guzzlers in for scooters and motorcycles and bicycles. The trend is now to move closer to work. Apartments around industrial areas are filled. Fewer people are traveling for the holidays.

By the time November rolls around, along with the heating season, no one will be able to afford to vote.

The solution challenge

People are becoming more and more creative with their solutions to their financial woes. One couple decided to sell their baby on eBay. No takers, even though the opening bid was only $1.57. (Perhaps the people with the Hummer would do better if they opened bidding at $1.)

This one way street is a dead end, or at least that's the way the news is portraying it all. One article gave a tiny bit of advice: inflate your tires and slow down. Surely we can do better than that.

So, let's roll the ball. The great benefit to blogging is that there are no gatekeepers. What bloggers blog about, especially poor ones (like me) that don't have the traffic to support advertising space, is wide open. No one can shut us down. Blogging is the voice we all thought we had but didn't until now. We must now step up and become the news that is important and relevant to all of us.

My challenge to you is to put our heads together and come up with solutions to our squeezes. Bloggers, we all need to do this. Let's create an active community. Are you up for it?

I'll start:

1. Go meet your neighbor. When I first met my neighbor, he told me I was welcome in his shelter if a tornado ever came this way. How about if you can carpool with your neighbor, or get together to buy in bulk? Jump in the same car to run errands together.

2. Help someone out. I talked about this in How to Help Without Harm, and it's a good way to bring people together.

3. Free your creativity. Give it a boost. I explain how in The State of Creativity: How to Tap into Your Fire.

4. Fight all the negativity and let 'er rip. I show you how in Life is Loudly Knocking: How to Open the Door.

5. Your turn! Keep the ball rolling!

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