Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | July 19, 2004

Falling into a current-events funk

I’ve always been a news junkie and have especially enjoyed following all levels of politics. But my devotion to current events and politics occasionally takes a toll. When I’m in one of my periodic current events funks, it’s difficult to keep reading newspapers, watching cable news and surfing the net for the latest tidbits. Unfortunately, I’ve been in the throes of a current events funk for the last few weeks.

Perhaps it’s because I recently started a new job. I’m working 32 hours a week as a technical editor at Sun Microsystems. The stress of adjusting to a new schedule after two years as a freelancer, combined with the tax on my brain of learning several new software programs and Unix at the same time leave me drained when I get home. But old habits die hard, and despite being tired and cranky, I do check the papers, the Internet and cable television.

The first local story to kick me in the gut, emotionally, was the news of the accidental death of a South County toddler who was run over in her driveway in late June.

The death of child is always heart-wrenching, but history was about to repeat itself, and much too soon. Just last week, a 3-year-old Santa Clara girl was killed when her father accidentally backed over her while she was playing in a parking lot.

Reading accounts of two nearly identical deaths of toddler girls left me reeling from the senselessness of these tragedies.

Meanwhile, Morgan Hill’s scandal erupted. Here’s the condensed version: A local attorney hired an unlicensed private detective to spy on two top City Hall employees to try to find evidence that they were having an affair, an allegation that both employees deny. One of the employees became aware of the spying and reported it to City Council. City Council, so far, has spent $50,000 investigating the investigation.

Because of my days covering city hall for the Morgan Hill Times, I know most of the people involved in this sad situation. It grieves me that the names and reputations of people I knew to be honorable have been tarnished. I can only shake my head in disbelief at the behavior of some of those involved.

When I put aside my personal knowledge of most of the players in this drama and reflect upon the situation as a Morgan Hill taxpayer and citizen, I ponder other concerns. I wonder about the ability of some of those involved to effectively serve the citizens of Morgan Hill. I wonder about the wisdom of spending $50,000 to investigate this scandal. Perhaps there’s a good reason, but the statements I’ve read so far haven’t convinced me it was a necessary course of action.

No matter how I look at the Morgan Hill tempest, my overall reaction is sadness. This situation will leave a stain on many reputations and a lingering bad taste for Morgan Hill residents.

But it’s not just local news that’s sagging my spirits. Even the presidential election season, the Olympics of current events and politics, has thus far been depressing instead of entertaining. Instead of enjoying the spectacle of gaffes, misstatements, political scheming and attempts to distill complex issues into short sound bytes, I’m finding it all rather tiresome.

It irks me when George W. Bush calls John Kerry a flip-flopper. Arianna Huffington included an eye-opening list of the president’s flip-flops in her column last week. From opposing, then supporting, the formation of the Homeland Security Department, to calling gay marriage a state issue, then a federal matter, to opposing, then supporting the formation of the 9/11 Commission, it takes a short memory or a lot of gall for Bush to criticize Kerry for changing his mind.

On the other side of the political spectrum, I wonder what good Whoopi Goldberg thought might come of her sexual puns on the president’s last name during a Kerry-Edwards fundraiser. There’s enough valid criticism of Bush’s decisions to fill a monologue without resorting to a pointless rant about the man’s last name.

The Democratic and Republican conventions are just around the corner. I’m hoping my current events funk lifts so that I can savor the political dramas. If not, I’ll be forced to view them as the scripted spin fests they really are. And what fun is that?



  1. […] news junkie ways. I attribute some of it to jet lag, and some of it to occasional news fatigue – a current events funk, so to speak – that periodically envelopes […]

  2. […] every once in a while, I slip into a current events funk. This usually happens when the news is so unremittingly depressing that I […]

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