OK, I fibbed.
I said I wasn’t going to say anything more, but when it’s the first thing in the morning, and it’s really early in the morning, and it’s the first news you hear, what are you going to say that’s coherent?
First, to follow up on my metacomment from this morning. Yes, we have finally found a story that has broken through the media fog of war.
For weeks–indeed, now months–since the atrocities of September 11, the Fox News Channel has covered the war at their 10 PM eastern time (7 PM, in the time zone where I spend much of my time) slot. Initially, this was on Paula Zahn’s “The Edge,” but since Paula jumped ship and went over to CNN in the morning (where she promptly got trounced in the ratings by “Fox and Friends” on FNC), the folks at FNC have, each week, been alternating various personalities in that time slot with “War on Terror” coverage. I don’t know, but I would presume that they’re actually auditioning potential Paula replacements, and watching ratings each week as one means of making a decision.
This week was handled by Laurie Dhue, a blonde ingenue that FNC acquired from CNN via MSNBC about a year ago. Ms. Dhue normally handles the newsreading at the top and bottom of the hour in prime time, and of all the female news personalities on Fox (or any other news channel, for that matter, in my humble opinion) she is the easiest on the eyes, and has a sultry voice to boot. I can’t offer any similar assessment for male news personalities, not being bent that way.
(Disclaimer–I deeply love Patricia, who reads this weblog, would never ever even consider swapping her for any other, and all comments here are purely objective, and only peripherally derived from my limbic system and several million years of evolution).
She is clearly someone who FNC is grooming for bigger and better things, and putting her in the rotation for the 10 PM slot is a way of finding out if one of those things is replacing Paula Zahn permanently. My impression is that, in addition to her predictable visual and aural effects on the heterosexual male libido, she is reasonably intelligent, and hard working, but, regrettably, not particularly knowledgeable about matters military, and doesn’t always come off well in attempting to cover wars.
Tonight (I suspect at her own request) she got to do an hour on Something Completely Different. She devoted the whole hour to a celebration of the life of George Harrison. Though she was almost certainly in diapers, if she existed at all, when the Beatles were in their heyday, she was clearly enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the subject, and in my opinion, did a much better job of covering it than she has the war this week. She managed to get Dick Cavett and Billy Preston live in the studio together to reminisce.
So, anyway, this is just a long way of saying that the pattern has been broken–we have finally found a story that is important enough to preempt war coverage for.
The other interesting thing that I noted was that while watching it, I was still a little starved for war news (as there is now a battle on for Kandahar–the final Taliban redoubt, not counting Osama’s caves). FNC obliged me by running a crawl during the Harrison tribute. As a result, I got a chance to practice my multiplexing ability–reading the war crawl while listening to the interviews with various people remembering George. However, given my genetic heritage, I have to confess that I lost the war train of thought every time they did a full screen of Ms. Dhue–I can listen to one thing and watch another, but I can only watch one thing at time, and hormones will always out, regardless of one’s devotion to his true love…
Anyway, now, to drop from the metacomment, to an actual dissertation on George Harrison, and a disquisition on genius, life, the universe and everything.
Listening to him sing “Here Comes The Sun,” I realized that I never really appreciated the Beatles until Abbey Road. It may have been partly because that is the time that I really started to come of age, but I think that it’s also because it was the album that had more of George’s influence than any previous one, with the possible exception of Sergeant Pepper. It was the pre-breakup Beatles, the ones that were evolving just as George was blossoming as a total musician, that I enjoyed the most. During that period, in the late sixties, they were revolutionizing their own music, and more indirectly, popular music in general, and I’m quite convinced that it was because George Harrison was struggling to break free of the previous confines of their classical fifties rock’n’roll roots. This artistic tension is what ultimately, a couple of years later, broke up the group, but it also spawned some of their greatest and most interesting work.
The other thing that I was thinking as I listened, appreciating his voice, and guitar, and his beautiful melody, was “what is the chance that people of this level of talent, not just individual talent, but a talent that created something much greater than the sum of its parts, would come together in Liverpool, England?”
And I thought, both infinitesimal, and inevitable. We should be amazed that such a group could come together from anywhere in the world, but for them all to come from the same city at the same time…well, it’s just pure luck. If you think of it kind of like the Drake equation, multiplying probabilities on probabilities, it indicates that there were probably lots of people in Liverpool who could have gotten together to form world-changing bands, but they…well…just didn’t get together. And if there were people like that in Liverpool, there were also people like that in Birmingham, and Manchester, and Glasgow, and London. And New York and LA and Shanghai and even Kabul and Kandahar…
The point is, that at the risk of sounding PC, diversity (true diversity–not the monochrome kind pushed by the PC police) is the source of both sublime genius and, unfortunately, evil mayhem. But if we have a system of both freedom and responsibility that can allow the genius to bloom while containing those who would mindlessly increase entropy, then the more the merrier. Population control is evil, not just because it violates peoples’ rights, but because it violates some more basic principle of the universe–the necessity to throw the dice many times in an attempt to bring together the necessary combinations that create great works and knowledge–to ultimately help the universe to know itself.
And yes, of course earth is not enough–we will indeed eventually run out of room, and that’s why we have to expand into the other 99.999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999% of the universe. But, trite though it may sound, there is a reason to do so–to create more George Harrisons. And more Beatles, and Beethovens, and Einsteins and Hawkings. And in the meantime, we have to subdue those on this planet who would constrict and destroy, so that we can make room, both physically and spiritually, for those who do create.