Way back at the beginning of the year, when I first started writing Stuff Happens, the first topic was the attack on the satirical publication Charlie Hebdo. That was an atrocity, but at least it was a predictable atrocity: as terrible and unforgivable as it was, at least there was a reason, however pathetic.
But Friday night’s attacks? They were something else altogether.
People going out for dinner, at a cool cafe in Paris, surely a dream for some? Gunned down.
Concert goers at a performance of a band called Monsters of Death Metal? Massacred, mercilessly.
People who may never had had a thought about Syria, or the Islamic State? Victims of a level of hatred that we can’t even begin to fathom.
The deaths of 128 people in Paris on a balmy November night will be remembered for years to come. In time, it may be seen as a turning point of sorts, but which way the world will turn remains to be seen.
In the Olympics, advances in pharmaceuticals are at least as important in advancements in kinesiology.
The evil empire named Russia, if a report from the Wold Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is to be believed, took doping to a whole new level. The Republic of Putinstan has been accused of creating an entire, government-backed doping system. It is so bad, in fact, that the anti-doping agency wants Russian track and field athletes barred from the Rio Olympics in 2016. Russia, as is its want, says the report is “unprofessional, illogical and declarative”. But the report says the situation was so bad, that members of the Russian secret police visited and even posed as staff at the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory. In another incident, 1,1417 tests were destroyed just days before the WADA came to visit — tests the WADA specifically asked to see. The situation is so dire, that Putin has actually vowed to look into it, which is tantamount to a confession of guilt.
There was yet another mega-mega merger in the beer industry this week. It’s so big, I’m not sure who is swallowing who, or even whom. So, I will quote directly from a newspaper story: “Budweiser maker Anheuser-Busch InBev announced Wednesday a final agreement to buy SABMiller for $107 billion in a deal that will combine the world’s two biggest brewers and create a company that makes almost a third of the world’s beer. In an effort to assure regulatory approval in the U.S., SABMiller agreed to sell its 58 percent stake in a venture with fellow brewer Molson Coors for $12 billion.” What does this mean? Well, as far as I can tell, it means almost every bottle of beer drunk in Canada will be be made by the same colossal company, BudweiserAnheuser-BushMillerMolsonCoors InBev SAB. And yet, this still won’t stop normally sane people from buying Coors Light.
There was a major protest at the University of Missouri this week that led to the resignation of the college president. The protest was about racism and a number of other things. But it looked like nothing was going to happen until black players on the university’s football team threatened not to play until the president resigned. That, of course, was the move that forced the president to quit; cancel classes all you like, but don’t you DARE cancel a football game. (The university would have lost $1 million by forfeiting a game, which is basically the take for all CFL games played in a week.) There was an interesting sidebar to the story. At a student protest, a photographer with an independent campus newspaper, Mark Schierbecker, began taking pictures of the event. Melissa Click, an assistant professor of communication who specializes in popular culture, went nuts and refused to answer any questions from Schierbecker, telling him to “get out” and grabbing at his camera. Then she turned to supporters behind her and said, “Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here.” Yes, this is a professor of COMMUNICATIONS who tells a member of the MEDIA to leave a PUBLIC protest. Apparently “Professor” Click doesn’t realize that a protest without media attention is just a bunch of people standing around doing nothing. (According to a university bio, Click serves as an assistant professor in the Department of Communication. “Her work in this area is guided by audience studies, theories of gender and sexuality, and media literacy. Current research projects involve 50 Shades of Grey readers, the impact of social media in fans’ relationship with Lady Gaga, masculinity and male fans, messages about class and food in reality television programming, and messages about work in children’s television programs.” Yes, this is university level stuff.)
RIP: Nathaniel Marston, 40, actor on the soap opera One Life to Live … Helmut Schmidt, chancellor of West Germany from 1974-82 … Allen Toussaint, 77, musician and songwriter (“Fortune Teller”, “Working in the Coal Mine”) … Andy White, 85, British drummer who played the drums on The Beatles first single,”Love Me Do,” when producer George Martin deemed Ringo Starr not up to the task.