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Can we get back to something besides elections? 

With the election finally over (isn't it? I hope no 2000-style dramatics are going on by the time you read this ... damned weekly deadlines). So where were we? Oh, yeah. With the election finally over, we could actually begin to hear about other issues besides who's running for what office. Who knows? The media may decide to tell us about the other important things going on in the world; better still, they may quit flogging the same tired stories we've seen over and over and over.

Here is a list of things I hope we'll be hearing more about, some for real and some merely fanciful; followed by a list of stuff I'm already sick of hearing about and wish would go away. The election's over! Enjoy.

We Should Be Hearing More About:

• City leaders actually doing something besides crying crocodile tears about the rise in the number of homeless and the ever-longer lines at relief organizations like Crisis Assistance Ministry.

• BB&T taking $3.1 billion in bailout money from the government, even though the bank is run by John Allison, a leading Ayn Rand disciple. Allison donates loads of money for colleges to create programs that promote Rand and other quasi-philosophers who espouse the kind of free-market fundamentalism that has landed us in our current financial debacle.

• Why other advanced countries have much more wireless service penetration than the United States, and what can be done to catch up.

• The exciting, vital artwork being produced by artists, sculptors and potters in the Penland-Bakersville-Burnsville area of North Carolina's Blue Ridge mountains.

• Exactly how soon Congress will get around to passing universal health care legislation.

• The measures under consideration in D.C. to help spark "green technology" industries that can help solve global warming, economic recession, and under-employment problems.

• The Fox network's plans to turn Bush's last weeks in the White House into a reality show.

• What happened to the folks thrown out of Piedmont Courts when the spiffy-ization of the former public housing development site began.

• A ban in North Carolina on the use of handheld cell phones while driving. Not to mention driving and text-messaging at the same time.

• How Wachovia's implosion will affect that bank's large loans to companies currently destroying huge swaths of the Appalachians through mountaintop removal mining.

• Updates on whether Blackwater is really getting out of the "security" (i.e., professional taxpayer-funded thug) business, and, if so, what they're up to now.

• The degree to which excessive "defense" spending -- including more than 700 military bases around the world, and hundreds of billions wasted every year on unnecessary or ill-designed weapons -- drains our economy, perverts our priorities and devours badly needed research and development money.

• The members of Congress who have substantial investments in war-related industries. Hint: It's more than a quarter of them, both doves and hawks, and the top ones are John Kerry and Robin Hayes. Not on the list: John McCain, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

• Investigation into how much of the misery and agony in the world today is the result of various forms of religious fundamentalism.

• Why Scarlett Johansson and Alicia Keys refuse to answer my fan letters.

I'm Sick of Hearing About:

• How badly Windows Vista sucks. I mean, what did you expect? It's Microsoft.

• iPhones.

Dancing With the Stars.

• Anything about Hugh Hefner. And I mean anything about Hugh Hefner. Anything.

• The NASCAR Hall of Fame. And to think the real hype hasn't even begun yet.

• Anything written by the Observer's Shallow-Mannequin-In-Residence, Sarah Aarthun. Come on, guys, people are laughing at you about this. You're not going to get the youth market no matter what you do, so why cut out real substance to make room for moronic tidbits that the target audience already saw on the Internet yesterday?

• What fundamentalists think or feel about any issues whatsoever.

• Celebrities' private lives, especially their clubbing, driving, drug, alcohol, mating or baby-adopting habits.

• The Bobcats' sad excuse for upper management.

• Rodney Monroe's college degree. If he can do the job, why should it matter?

• The United Way.

• Carolina Panther Steve Smith's "fight" with Ken Lucas.

• The wonders of the unfettered free market. Seldom have such a large number of people believed so adamantly in a complete fantasy. Stick with Lord of the Rings, guys -- it ends better.

• These same free market fantasists' latest reinvention of history, "explaining" how Roosevelt's New Deal actually made the Great Depression worse. Next on their agenda: how deregulating the airlines saved the industry and gave Americans the most pleasant flight experiences in the world.

• The future of the Republican Party.

• Lights on Interstate 485.

Gossip Girl.

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