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Sifting through the remains of 2009 as the year ends its turn, by Michael Schuman

By Michael Schuman
Published: Monday, December 28, 2009
I try to end every year with some introspection on what I have learned over the last 12 months. Not all of it relates to book knowledge.

Some relates to human interaction, which is just as important, and as long as I’ve been on planet Earth I’m always surprised how much I learn about the human condition.

I’m sure I’ll anger some people with this column, including some of my friends. But if I haven’t angered anyone reading this then I haven’t done my job. Following are some of the things I learned in 2009.

As a nation we are a very impatient people. We want instant gratification. It took nearly 30 years of Reaganomics — deregulating lenders and other businesses to the point that they made innumerable unwise business decisions based on greed — to get us in the current financial mess. It won’t be corrected overnight.

With President Bush out of office for nearly a year, the Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas culture war seems to have abated to a large degree.

Right wing conservatives proved this year that they are bigger hypocrites than I had ever thought. Kanye West falsely said in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster that President Bush doesn’t care about black people and he was called un-American. Glenn Back falsely said that President Obama doesn’t care about white people and he is called a hero. You figure it out.


Not that the extreme conservatives have a monopoly on hypocrisy. The same liberals who say the Jews take every criticism of Israel as a personal anti-Semitic slur seem to be the same people who take every criticism of President Obama as a personal racist slur.

People don’t hate Rush Limbaugh because he is ultra-conservative. They hate him because he is a thin-skinned bully. The St. Louis Rams denied him part ownership of their franchise because of the many inflammatory statements, several bordering on racism, that he has made over the years. But did Limbaugh even acknowledge that? Nope. To Limbaugh it is everybody’s fault but his.

Nobody — and I mean nobody — wants the 2009 Keene Pumpkin Festival to be the last one.

There are some teachers with whom parents cannot have a reasonable conversation unless the parents accept the premise that all teachers are perfect exactly as they are.

The disgusting insults spewed out by Dartmouth students at a recent Dartmouth-Harvard squash match proves that intelligence does not necessarily translate into class or maturity.

The extra dollars is costs cable subscribers to help keep Channel 8 on the air are definitely worth it, if only for Keene No Spin.

“Unfriend” is a great word. Thank you, Facebook.

After making a living in the newspaper business most of my life, I now understand what it must have been like to have been a blacksmith in 1910.

That said, there is no bigger waste of time than poring through the reader comments following an article posted on the Internet. The sequence of comments usually goes like this: “The writer of that article is wrong.” “No, you’re wrong.” “No, you’re wrong.” “You‘re an idiot.” “Well, you‘re the bigger idiot.” “Yeah, well you‘re an f…ing idiot.” “No, you’re the f…ing idiot.”

The tea baggers who complained that a government-run health insurance public option would have been operated in a manner similar to the post office only proved to me what a good deal the United States Postal Service is. I put a letter in my mail box, the mail carrier takes it, and it will be delivered a few days later to my sister 3,000 miles away in Las Vegas. All for 44 cents.

“Political correctness” has degenerated into a term that basically means anything you don’t like. Don’t like the separation of church and state? It dates back to James Madison, the Constitutional Convention and the official drafting of the Constitution. But now it is political correctness.

Every time I believe it can’t happen here — and happens only in big cities — it does happen here. Witness the Mont Vernon murders.

Everybody with the exception of Yankee fans admits the Yankees bought the World Series this year. And nobody with the exception of Red Sox fans seems to be bothered by it.

When you’re in middle-aged, a decade sure goes fast.

Michael Schuman, who is widely published, lives in Keene.



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