It's gotten to the point that when I open a web site (I no longer open newspapers, I open a web site for a newspaper) I'm not shocked by what I see.
Selling a Senate seat? No surprise (it is, after all, Chicago).
Mother killed her child? No surprise. The mother was a teenager when the kid was born: no, she should never have had children in the first place. This happens deplorably often but don't get me started on people who insist chastity is the answer.
Car companies begging for money? This one had me flummoxed for a while. You want money because you made bad decisions and oops, they've come home to roost? You make a crappy product and nobody will buy it and your workers are overpaid and you want more money? Then I realized that the auto cars saw bankers and Wall Street execs get rewarded for just that, so they figured they could get some, too.
Cholera outbreaks overseas in a country that has a flourishing economy. Oh, wait -- the country's leader is diverting money that should go to infrastructure and preventing people from having to drink from streams that also serve as sewers.
I used to read 'end of the world' books: The Stand, War Day, Alas Babylon. The news headlines today are eerily like some of the ones ficionalized in those books. It's hard to maintain perspective, much less have any hope for the future when we are constantly bombarded by news like this.
And yet I am hopeful. I can't speak for the rest of the world, but Americans are really at our best when our backs are against the wall. That's when new innovations are discovered, new methods are put in place, new leaders emerge, and new ideas take off.
I am cautiously optimistic about 2009 but I think our country is ready for a major shakeup and change. It remains to be seen if it can be done or if we've become so entrenched in the Old Ways that we can't change. But I think we will.
If we don't, then I'll have some great ideas for plots for my next books ....