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Read in the morning? Pleasant moods, take warning

Wednesday, September 19, 2007 | 10:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:45 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
John Merrill is a professor emeritus at the Missouri School of Journalism.

I woke up the other morning feeling as if it would be a good day. The fact that I woke up was a good omen, and as I gulped down my first cup of coffee, I noted that thus far everything was going well. Thinking I would relax a bit and catch up on the news before my wife got up, I went out and got the newspaper, almost tripping over a rabbit, and sat down before the TV to do a little serious news reviewing.

When you think you might have a good day, I wouldn’t suggest you get the news.

The TV and the newspaper were busy painting a gloomy picture of the world and forecasting even worse things to come. Storms, of course, were showing up all over the map, and even biggies — such as Hurricane Felix, I think it was — were raging onto some coast. It looked like rain in Columbia.

I saw utility bills are going up in October. That’s good, I thought; it might help delay global warming. I started to turn off the lights but decided against it. Bears, I noted, were appearing in Missouri and getting into beehives. Sorrow, sorrow. And an explosive device went off in a Kansas school. Not good.

Katrina victims were still suffering, and more millions are needed down there in the swamplands. And now, of all things, a senator was playing footsie with someone in the men’s room. The poor fellow is losing his job. And in the South especially, but all over, resegregation is taking place in the schools.

Home foreclosures are up, and the stock market is tending to go down. What really frightens me is that Shiites are taking over in Baghdad. Of course, more Americans are dying in the war. And harken! Now there’s talk about restoring the draft because our need for men around the world is compelling it.

Time Magazine said Mother Teresa had questioned her faith, and the suicide rate among adolescents is increasing. And what’s this? An American bomber carrying nuclear weapons is flying across the country. Where are the friendly skies?

Terrorists in Germany are caught before they could blow up a big American military base near Frankfurt and also the Frankfurt International Airport. Two pigs fall into a well in Idaho, and a well-known man (I can’t think of his name) and his small plane disappear somewhere, maybe in Idaho.

Many parts of the country are still under flood waters and millions on millions of dollars are needed. Forest fires are still burning in California. And earthquakes are expected soon. Global warming is still a danger and the Sahara is scheduled to take over all of Africa within the next two or three decades.

Mexicans (and who knows who else) are continuing to flood into the U.S., and the Mexican president is advising President Bush to be patient. Mexican trucks are now able to come into the U.S. and go anywhere they wish. Bank robberies are on the rise, and toys brought in from China are endangering our children.

Enough, enough. No more news. I definitely will not have a good day even though I am told to do so by someone in every store I visit. But I should resign myself: It’s just another day on dismal Planet Earth.

Merrill, a professor emeritus at the Missouri School of Journalism, has written and taught around the world and here in Columbia for more than 50 years.


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