2009-01-15 / Sam Bari

Another year went by in a flash

You can't beat a system you can't understand
By Sam Bari

This week marks four years of "You can't beat a system you can't understand" in the Jamestown Press. This is the 208th column. Despite the cloud of economic uncertainty hanging menacingly over our heads, we managed to have a little fun.

We discussed the wisdom of camping in wildlife preserves, and considered the possible consequences of littering outer space with broken down satellites and other space trash.

While laughing at some of our day-to-day antics, the country managed to elect a president and survive gas pump prices that defi ed the laws of gravity.

During the course of a tough year, icons of the business world fell as if they were bowling pins when the companies they managed disintegrated like fairy dust at shareholders' expense. Authorities sent a strong message that people in highly paid corporate positions are not above the law.

Consequently, Wall Street took a beating, the likes of which it has not suffered in a long time, and all because of the larcenous activities of the few. Yes, the year provided lots of fodder for columnists and the media in general.

Traditionally, election years choreograph quite a show. The political arena is usually an entertaining venue that the media cannot resist lambasting with little or no provocation.

For instance, how could the media be expected to resist targeting the overzealous candidates vying to take up residence in the big White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, especially since they achieved a new low in acrimonious mudslinging? Undoubtedly, the media was all over it.

Anyway, the nation's top job was designed for only the extremely courageous or hopelessly insane. Nobody would want that position because of the high salary. Of that, I am certain.

This year is shaping up to generate a bountiful supply of interesting topics well worth exploring. The country has a new beginning with a freshly-elected president and his hand-picked support staff. This group is expected to bring a welcome change to the Oval Offi ce. God help them if they do otherwise.

Surely, the new personnel at the top of the political circus will be the object of late night television satire, Saturday Night Live mayhem, and the acerbic pens of columnists everywhere.

Nonetheless, the profound and lofty concepts of the country's most astute politicos are taking a back seat to the realities of what the nation deems important. As embarrassing as it may be, the Hollywood award season promises to achieve much better ratings than their political counterparts, as they both compete for the top of the Nielson ratings.

The glitzy Golden Globe television awards are presently in the center ring, and the focus is on the red carpet. Viewers hang on to every word as Hollywood hairstylists speak in make-up department vernacular with well-rehearsed stereotyped California casual attitude while they praise women's hairdos that they deem worthy.

Then they give less than respectful commentary (I refuse to write "diss") on those they declare to be inferior. With the flick of a limp wrist and a tirade delivered through bleached-tooth smiles worthy of national toothpaste commercials, television's finest artists will be pronounced "in" or "out."

These hard-working actors, directors and producers will be judged according to the opinions of event hosts who are picked because they deliver what the audience wants - American gothic at its worst, or best, depending on your perspective.

I think it is time to invest some effort into elevating the American consciousness. At least bring it to a level that will not warrant the sting of criticism from the rest of the world concerning our passion for superficial superiority.

That being said, I would like to thank you, my dear faithful readers, for allowing me to indulge in the rarely considered, sometimes bizarre, and occasionally the profound views of life as I see it. Your kind words and letters are much appreciated.

This year, with the help of the Googlamaniacs, and speculation on the thoughts of the space guys, I do believe we can squeeze out a few more comments on the lighter side of life as we know it, in a system we just can't seem to understand.

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