Today is my dip into happy land, my safe haven, my respite from the madness. Yesterday was the first sign of spring, still chilly but warm enough to go out with only a suit jacket - time for that springtime optimism.
They used to say no news is good news, but now we have it 24x7, so let's just talk up the good news for a change. Today I'll be largely untouched by political chaos, except to note the bright sides.
Here in Europe, Marine Le Pen looks more likely to go down in the 2nd heat, the ultraright AfD is committing suicide in Germany, and Italy's pushed off heated elections for another year - and now John Major's come out hard against Brexit. In short, may be the EU's intact through 2017.
The allies in Mosul continue their steady progress, putting ISIS hopefully about 3-5 months from extinction, at least in Iraq - along with a demonstration that different ethnic factions in the Mideast can work together.
More, we have a total of 4 kind-of wars globally (Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria & the Mexican drug war), with 1000-2000 deaths in the last year. (the civilian deaths in Mosul & Syria seem suspect, but the bigger picture is accurate).Otherwise despite all the fear-mongering, peace is on the move - and crazy places like North Korea will be more and more isolated.
Vox notes that wages in China are up to $3.60 an hour - not a huge amount of money, but marks a new phase: 1) a great success for a not-very-long-ago very poor country, 2) a high enough rate to push jobs out to poorer, lower wage countries, and 3) high enough to start shifting work back to the US.
While I usually ignore the Oscars, this year's signals an end to gentrification of black films - hopefully soon we can just make movies and have a much more expansive appreciation for what good acting, plots, filmwork and pacing mean, lowering our pre-conceptions some more and increasing our openness to new ways of being surprised and blown away. Also, Netflix's foray into original content for the streamed masses is an intriguing extension from Youtube DIY production and a bigger break from the old-time studio system. Should hopefully bring more variety and creativity to the film industry.
In my happyland reverie, I'm even considering whether Susan Sarandon was right - maybe facing the worst is bringing about a coalescence around healthy resistance, better priorities, global condemnation tied to much louder voicing and standing up for key human principles and a better sense of global togetherness.
Unlike the nationalistic pre-WWI period, the masses aren't just the silent pawns of the great powers - we have voices that reach others through a lot of different channels. There's been Hearst's yellow journalism forever - it's only recently, short of Tom Paine's pamphlets, there's been an easy scalable antidote. There is a positive side to globalization - let's take it and run with it.
Elon Musk announced a return to the moon after over 40 years, this time through private space travel. While I'm a great believer in huge government-backed breakthrough initiatives, I also like it when small private efforts like the genome mapping project become doable by the private sector. Once upon a time my smart phone filled a whole room and consumed huge amounts of energy. More, better, faster.
Electric car sales for January were up 59% Y-o-Y, while more utilities are rolling out charging infrastructure even in sparsely populated areas.
It was a warm early spring day much like yesterday that I was sitting outside fa coffee shop in Munich and opened up the morning paper to see the sight of brown shirts and swastikas across the cover of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, with a chorus line of girls in short-shorts dancing across the stage. Yes, Mel Brooks, that profane Jewish comedian, had brought his work back to Germany - "Springtime for HItler", alias The Producers, had opened in the Heimat, the heartland of the Reich - Beerhall Kitsch we might call it - and they were lovin' it. Yep, it's as international and defanged as McDonalds. Take that, all you neo-Nazi wannabes.
History doesn't always repeat itself - hard to believe, but we do often progress and learn from our mistakes, even though we often don't. What's better is we're putting together structures that help codify and structure this progress, make it harder to fall back and easier to move forward. Despite the chilly breezes and the heavy crescendo of cacophony, it's largely springtime for everyone, a time for renewal.
So sit back and enjoy some of Eno's relaxing ambient music and think of better days, at least for today.