Here’s To A Happy New Year in 2009
It’s the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth and the 75th anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
I can’t wait for 2009.
When the ball drops and the calendar changes at one minute after midnight this Wednesday evening, Thursday morning, I’ve got a feeling the world is going to take a dramatic turn in a better direction. I could be wrong, but I say change is good.
If what I’m thinking turns out to come true, 2009 may be the year the human species turns it all around and starts living up to a smarter, more positive destiny. Maybe we can begin to escape the yoke of ignorance and religious dogma once and for all.
|I captured the legendary blue mist of the Smoky Mountains on film one day in 2000. This is not just fog. It emanates from the pine trees there and is the reason the Cherokee people called it “the land of the blue mist.” European settlers came up with the translation “the Smoky Mountains.”|
For starters, there will be a massive celebration among intellectuals on January 20, the day when George W. Bush boards that presidential helicopter with his dog Barney and leaves the White House lawn forever to head back to that fake ranch in Crawford, Texas.
On the same day, of course, Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. He will arrive in Washington, D.C., on a train, after riding a two-year campaign of “hope.” We will be drinking more than one toast to his victory on this New Year’s Eve, full of hope that he will be able to fulfill his promises.
The mainstream, corporate news media will treat every proposal he offers with a fake skepticism, questioning whether he can really make a difference. But here in Webland, we are going to reserve judgment and keep hope alive.
In addition to coverage of the new world under Obama, we will be spending a good bit of time and space in 2009 celebrating a couple of noteworthy anniversaries.
You will not be able to escape coverage of these events, so you may as well learn about them here first, since few American news organizations have turned the page to these issues, yet.
For the next year, it will be hard to turn on the TV and not see something about the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. The year 2009 also marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of his myth-shattering book, On the Origin of the Species.
A column in the British newspaper The Guardian has the first story we’ve seen on this yet, and even acknowledges a fact you won’t see reported by any American news organization, since the religious backlash to Darwin is still powerful after 150 years.
According to the British author, it is reported that Darwin “is one of the three great intellectuals of the 19th century who shaped modernity, along with Marx and Freud.”
That would be Karl Marx, the social theorist who is attacked by the ignorant on a daily basis in the U.S. because of his association with Socialism, and Sigmund Freud, who pioneered explorations of the mind known as psychoanalysis.
All three of these men had a profound impact on the 20th century, as much for their influence on other thinkers as for the ideas they published themselves. That’s what the uneducated masses and the anti-intellectual news media don’t get.
I spent a good deal of time in Tennessee in the late 1990s studying Darwin myself in a science communications doctoral program, so you can bet we will be following these stories all year with a great deal of relish.
And speaking of Tennessee, the year 2009 will also mark the 75th anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which means, of course, that several camping trips will be in order this year to one of my favorite places on Earth.
According to one of the first stories out on this subject in the Scripps newspaper in Knoxville, the mountains have been home for my ancestors the Cherokee for centuries, and for researchers, “the park is an 810-square-mile laboratory containing more life forms than any other comparable location on Earth.”
Of course there is still a serious question as to whether my home state of Alabama is quite ready to join the rest of the country in this new world, since there are some who are still trying to fight the final battles of the Civil War here.
Even my old friend and the best columnist still working for an Alabama newspaper, Tommy Stevenson, just had to fall for it the other day by putting up a blog post suggesting that the Ten Commandments Judge, Roy Moore, may run for governor in 2010.
OK, we know a majority of the population of Alabama might very well vote for this religious zealot and authoritarian personality, long before they would vote for the black guy, Artur Davis. So if Alabama wants to continue being the laughing stock of the nation, go ahead people. Vote for the dumbass.
If you want to live in the past, keep reading those print editions of newspapers where they still think Karl Rove is a genius and former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman was guilty.
Meanwhile, we’ll be spending more time this year in another Southern state, Tennessee, camping out in the Great Smoky Mountains and thinking about the accomplishments of Darwin and his predecessors in science. Come along for the ride if you’re interested. There will be amazing photography to go along with the stories, budget willing.
Here’s to hoping you have a happy New Year in 2009.