Rise of the ScrummasterIt’s been a weird week in the news. The Pope just handed in his resignation, which means another seriously old guy must soon be appointed to the post of Holy Father, or (in non-Catholic language) “that super-rich foreign dude who gets to wear the most expensive and most fabulous hats ever” (though to be fair, that also describes Elton John). Some experts opine that Pope Benedict XVI is actually retiring to escape further scandal over rumors of decades-long alleged sexual misconduct by his flock, or in light of his arguably-Nazi childhood. Or maybe he just decided to give up cross-dressing for Lent.

This comes not long after that bastion of unvarnished truth, Fox News, exhibited their brilliance by celebrating traditional marital values in an online article accompanied by a borrowed wedding photo of a cute couple exchanging a kiss… except the FoxNews.com fact-checkers apparently had NO CLUE that the photo picked to represent righteously heterosexual marriage was actually a picture of a female same-sex couple. This from the same organization of Mensa-candidates who just last week attempted to explain that Germany’s solar power program was so fantastically successful compared to languishing U.S solar efforts NOT because of concerted opposition by American Oil Companies, but instead because somehow the relatively small country of Germany magically “gets more sunlight” than the entire continental United States of America.

You can’t make that kind of stuff up, folks. Seriously. Right or Left, Conservative or Liberal, Dem or GOP, that’s dumbassery of the first water. Though in their defense, a lot of garbage spewed by the other camp on MSNBC is equally nonsensical. No… I take it back. That’s NO DEFENSE. It’s still MORE low-brow idiocy, except coming from equally-stupid jerks who happen to lurk on the other side of the political fence.

Come ON, people. This is NOT the kind of garbage we want broadcast before the waiting eyes of the Western world. Stuff like that is why our collective media, gigantic and influential as it is, has become a favorite laughing stock of intelligent people the world over.

Which seriously sucks, because most recent unbiased, non-agendized, scientifically objective studies on a classroom-by-classroom and college-entry scale wind up ranking our kids pretty high on the intelligence scale (despite what various rabid pundits would have you believe). But failure is frightening, and media manipulators try to keep their audience frightened since frightened people are much less liable to think before they vote.

We’re not doing too badly in relation to the rest of the world, though you’d never know it from all the hand-wringing and whinging by activists desperate to get their mitts on more public funding. For instance: we have more research labs and scientific facilities in the United States than anywhere else in the world. Our literacy rate kicks ass. The main reason some cross-cultural studies return such alarming results is more a factor of the huge monetary gulf that exists between the richest Americans and their poorest counterparts, and disparities between high-population areas and scantly-populated rural ones. Inner city blight doesn’t help much, either: it’s hard to provide first class services to the children of a third-generation welfare class that eternally struggles at the bottom of a financial pit with scant means available of ever climbing out. History has repeatedly shown that to the institutionally downtrodden, it’s far easier to languish and eat regularly than to desperately climb, risking the loss of one’s place in line.

Too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing. We talk about the political “left” and “right,” but sometimes the political spectrum is circular: if you go too far either way, you may wind up sponsoring the very thing you are trying to defeat. Oppression, for instance, be it political or socioeconomic. Picking up the check for everyone is an expensive way to make friends, nor is always the best way to do someone a favor.