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Oh, those preachers of doom

If all the bad stuff that is predicted actually happened, there wouldn't be time for any good stuff to happen or anyone here to enjoy it if it did.

A fellow reporter once showed me a perfectly serious study from the 1800s. It proved mathematically that the number of horses in New York City multiplied by their capacity to produce manure divided by the city's ability to dispose of it would have the entire city buried in the early 20th century.

We all know, of course, what really happened. The automobile was invented and New York hasn't had any problems since then.

But ever since I first heard, at about the age of 5, a U.S. senator raving about communists in the State Department, I have been hearing that this or that otherwise boring event was going to be the end of LIFE AS WE KNOW IT.

It happens on every scale from national to local and from the ridiculous to the even more ridiculous.

A garbage incinerator in Pasco, we were told, was going to "kill children." It's been burning away for three years now and I don't think it has even been blamed for killing any kids.

Yeah, yeah, I know. We won't know until it's too late, like with water fluoridation, water chlorination and the aphrodisiac qualities of green M&Ms. (By the way, I went to a Christmas party this year where only red and green M&Ms were served and I can testify that the whole green M&M thing is a dastardly myth.)

Sandwiched between self-proclaimed Indians holding hunger strikes of dubious duration and activists dressed in dog suits prancing in the U.S. 19 median strips, there were some serious protests by rational people with real concerns.

But the rational questioners on such issues are just never quite as much fun or _ to be honest _ as headline-catching as the dead baby/crying Indian/two-headed cow folks are.

Giving up (actually giving back) the Panama Canal a few years back was going to lead to the downfall of the Republic. I even heard reports on religious television about massive gatherings of tanks (Russian, of course) that were going to invade simultaneously with the hand over.

No invasion, Republic as intact (or unintact) as ever, ships still go through the canal. And why should we worry when we can invade an allied country, arrest its head of state and put him in an American prison if we need to look tough?

If English-only laws aren't passed, we are regularly told, we'll have to learn to do everything in Spanish or some other non-dominant language _ this in a country where we're changing the street signs from words to pictures to accommodate the illiterate and where we're providing warnings about using hair dryers in showers to accommodate the stupid.

Yeah, multi-linguisticity has a real big chance of becoming a problem here.

The Clinton election, we were assured, would lead to the destruction of the country. We have heard that about every change of administrations in our brief history, and the predictions came close to being correct only twice _ 1968 and 1972.

Anybody heard Ross Perot's "giant sucking sound" of jobs going south yet? If guns are outlawed will it really be only outlaws who have guns? If good supplement and vitamin manufacturers are forced to stop making outlandish claims for their products, will we really have SWAT teams busting people on a vitamin C rap?

Just how dumb do you activist-types think the American people are? Okay, I'll give you the Michael Jackson thing . . . yeah . . . and the John Wayne Bobbitt thing . . . okay . . . the Tonya Harding thing. Okay, so a lot of 'em do watch Beverly Hills 90210.

Forget I brought it up.

Jan Glidewell is a columnist for the North Suncoast editions of the Times.

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