Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Then vs. now

Happy Wednesday from central Kentucky, where it's a balmy 17 degrees as I write this.  Every year we seem to get what I would call a "false positive" with our weather, as spring seems to come very early and then we have our average temperatures plummet, just to remind us that it's not actually spring.  This year appears to be no exception!

With our current President in perpetual crisis mode, there's been a lot of news coverage about the late former President Richard Nixon, who was in office when I was a kid, so that's prompted a lot of comparisons between Nixon and President Trump, and, in me, anyway, more comparisons of how things were back then and how they are now.

For instance, I had lunch with a friend yesterday, and we had a spirited discussion about the proposed reforms to the Affordable Care Act.  My friend is a Libertarian, says that our government should be small enough to fit into the trunk of his car, and is definitely opposed to government supported healthcare in most forms.  I lean a bit more progressive, and mentioned to him the social contract with citizens that began with FDR's creation of the Social Security system and continued in earnest with the creation of Medicare in the 1960s.  I added that during my childhood, if my mom took me to the doctor for anything, at the end of the visit, she'd write a check to the doctor's office for $10 and that was that.  No insurance was needed.  And if we had not had the $10, free healthcare would have been available at the local health department, as their primary role was to provide care to those without the means to pay.

See what I mean?  What was and what is are pretty far apart.

My friend also decried the lousy quality of so many items that are made in China, and it's clearly a case of cheap materials as much as anything.  My response was that it's often the only way for manufacturers of consumer goods and clothing to continue to provide items at prices comparable to what has traditionally been charged for, say, a waffle iron.  A waffle iron made in the U.S. would cost quite a bit more than one made in China, I'd wager.

And on it goes.

A sports media guy whom I follow on Twitter mentioned his sadness at going to the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament this week, with Mr. Palmer having passed away last year.  My response to him is that we have so few authentic heroes and legends still with us, and I recall having noted that in this space previously.  Same with John Glenn, there'll never be another like him.

Is it because in today's twenty-four hour news cycle that we're just bombarded by so much information on everything and everyone that we don't hold people in similar roles in such esteem anymore?  Maybe.  It might also be because those icons really were that special.

My wife and I speak often about how Hollywood has no fresh ideas, that much of what comes to the local metroplex is another sequel or reboot or remake of something that may have been great the first time around and really can't be improved upon.  That didn't stop someone from green-lighting a remake of "Ben-Hur," of all things, last year.  As I remember, it lasted a relatively short time in theaters.  I see now that Warner Brothers is contemplating a remake/reboot/reimagining of "The Matrix."  Why?

Even reality television is repeating itself.  How many different ways can the producers of "Survivor" reinvent what was a novel concept so long ago?  And the Food Network is resurrecting the "Iron Chef" concept, which is licensed from Japanese television many years ago, for a new sequence of "Iron Chef" competitions.  I'll probably watch, because I confess that I enjoy some of these competitive cooking shows (never thought I'd like "Chopped," either, until we began watching and found it mildly addictive).

So can it be said that what was once old is new again?  Sometimes.  And sometimes it's not so great, and perhaps it wasn't so great the first time.  Only in our memories, right?

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