Tuesday, July 27, 2004

the boy next door

Well, not next door to me. He grew up in the house next to one I grew up in, but he's 14 years younger than I.

He's been injured, badly, in Iraq. The Tribune Review has a story.

A soldier from Penn Township was injured in a convoy accident in Iraq July 14.

Jeff Cole, 20, of Level Green, was taken Wednesday to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C., after sustaining a broken leg and internal injuries.

I'm not sure what Jeff's story is. My clearest memories of him involve swinging around in the back yard, and his inability to keep his favorite fast food restaurant straight with a popular children's song. (He often told me about eating at "Old McDonald's.") As I say, I've known him for years, since he was 4, but there is a substantial age difference between us. My impression from my mother was that he had no sense of direction at the end of high school and so joined the Army reserves with the plan that it would pay for college.

I'd be happy just to see him come through this alive, but I've already told my boss I may be headed to a funeral in Pennsylvania in the next couple weeks.

I was disappointed by the coverage The Tribune-Review gave this story. It looks like the reporter just called the house and wrote up a news brief based on what his older sister knew. That's really shoddy reporting. No indication they even called Defense to find out if the accident was related to combat, or how exactly the one vehicle rolled over onto another.

His parents understandably are in a bad state right now. Don Cole has been showing every day of his age since February, when Jeff's unit was called up. When they got the call from the military brass that Jeff had been injured, they flew out to Germany to meet him there, and then flew back with him to Walter Reed on the military transport.

They've been there ever since.

But if the cause be not good, the King himself hath a heavy reckoning to make when all those legs and arms and heads, chopp'd off in a battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all, 'We died at such a place.'

Sunday, July 25, 2004

a human face to the war

If I had to give the war in Iraq just one human face, it would be the face of Jeff Cole.

A corporal in the U.S. Army Reserves, Jeff is no longer fighting for his life against terrorists or insurgents in Iraq. He is now fighting for his life at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., as a result of injuries he received while serving in Iraq. Unlike the faceless and nameless thousands I’ve read about who were stationed in the Middle East since the start of the war, Jeff is the first soldier I’ve known personally. He really is the boy next door.

The Coles became our neighbors in 1987, the year before I graduated from high school. I’ve known him since he was 4 years old and still small enough for me to pick him up by the wrists and spin him around in the back yard.

Having enlisted in the Reserves in part to pay for college, Jeff was called up for active duty in Iraq about six months ago. On July 15, he was in what I am told was an accident that killed two other people, when another military vehicle rolled onto the one Jeff was in.

Two other men in the back with Jeff were killed. Only he and the driver survived and, for a while, that was touch-and-go. Medics at the scene initially were concerned Jeff would bleed to death and then, when they had him stabilized, that he might lose his leg because of a compound fracture.

In Iraq, doctors managed to set the bones in his leg — although there are doubts whether he will ever be able to use it again, because of nerve damage — and operated to repair a punctured kidney. From Iraq, he was flown to Germany, where his parents were waiting for him, and then to Washington, D.C., where he was admitted to Walter Reed Hospital.

Jeff’s prognosis for recovery has improved drastically just by virtue of being at Walter Reed, but it’s still far from certain. Infection already has set in and he’s considered at high risk for fever and for pneumonia. He’s been in and out of consciousness ever since and there’s still some uncertainty whether he’ll come out of this with both legs, or even with his life.

Count him as another victim of the war on terror.

It’s taken me a while to sort out my feelings on what’s happened to him. I’ve been opposed to the war in Iraq from the beginning. This was a war to remove the sovereign of another state who had taken no overt action against us or our allies in 10 years. It was a war where we lacked the support of world opinion, where our drum-beating has been uncertain in its justification at best and where we lacked the moral authority we had after the first Gulf War.

In that sense, Jeff as a soldier becomes a fair target under the terms of engagement for those resisting the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq.

On the other hand, Saddam Hussein is a snake. I don’t doubt for a minute that Iraq is better today under its new government than it was three years ago under him.

If “accident” is simply a military euphemism for an attack that can’t be discussed for security reasons, then the people who primarily bear the guilt for Jeff’s injuries and for the deaths of his companions are his attackers.

In all likelihood, these are the same monsters who consider it sporting to behead innocent civilians and captured servicemen or who think that God considers it a glorious act of devotion to blow up themselves and as many innocent people as are around.

It’s because of such people that we cannot abandon Iraq until and unless its new national government asks us to.

At the moment, the Iraqi people are sandwiched between the hope for a democratic republic where basic human rights are respected and an unholy theocracy where those rights are trampled. They didn’t ask to be there, but that’s where they are.

Nations such as the Philippines have acquiesced to the demands of the terrorists and backed out of the coalition to save the life of a single prisoner. Each concession has emboldened the terrorists to pile one atrocity on to another.

If we leave Iraq before the nation is stable again, we will embolden the terrorists far more than they ever have been before. And there are many more Jeff Coles in Iraq and here in the United States whose lives would be put at risk by such a move.

I can’t blame President Bush for what happened to Jeff. In the end, that judgment belongs to God alone, who will make every president and king answer for all the blood spilled in these wars.

And even though I disagree that we had the right, the moral authority or the prerogative to invade Iraq, I don’t think he is some kind of monster for doing so. Whatever else Bush may be, he’s not a monster. He at least is trying to bring new order to the Middle East and to kindle hope for the future. He wants to make the world a better place.

And the world is not one boy who is fighting to make it to his 21st birthday, even though it seems like it to the people who know him.

cinderella revisited

Tonight my daughter made my day. Her mother was reading her "Cinderella" -- Evangeline's favorite story at the momenet -- and she objected to the story content. She didn't like the fact that Drizella, Anastasia and their mother were so mean to Cinderella, and wanted them to be nice instead.

That's good. She's starting to see how the way we behave toward other people can affect them, and that bad choices have bad consequences not only for ourselves but for other people.

Too cool, huh?

On the other hand, "There once was a girl named Cinderella who lived happily and then lived happily ever after" doesn't make much of a story.

Copyright © 2004 by David Learn. Used with permission.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Elmo must die

Some time ago at the Philadelphia Zoo, when I was speculating aloud whether it would be better to see Elmo trampled by stampeding elephants or gored by wild bulls, a friend of mine commented that I put a lot of effort into hating the little freak.

After I got over my shock — I hadn't even mentioned the possibilities of having Elmo's eyes pecked out by birds, or watching a Burmese python hug all his ticklish parts until he bursts — I had to admit that my friend was right. I do hate Elmo a lot. My fantasy TV special would be to have Barney the Purple Dinosaur choke to death while he’s chewing up Elmo, just as he falls over onto the Teletubbies, whom Thomas the Tank Engine is taking someplace.

Elmo is a scourge from God, sent to punish us for inventing batteries. On Judgment Day, I fully expect God to throw the vilest of sinners — by which I mean politicians, used car salesmen and journalists — not into a lake of fire, but into a roiling cesspool of Elmo sing-alongs that go on and on day and night without stop.

Really wicked people — and by that I mean the lady who stiffed me for a tip when I was a pizza guy — will find themselves in a room full of musical Elmo toys that all play the same songs at slightly different pitches and speeds.

I've had the chance twice now to share my feelings about the Red Furry Monster Who Must Not Be Named with employees of Sesame Workshop. The first was perplexed that anyone would declare an Elmo-free zone around their house and insist that Sesame Street videos could be shown in the house only if Elmo were limited to a supporting role.

The second was more amused, and suggested that I try something therapeutic, like writing down my feelings on Elmo for their marketing people, who have come up with innovations like Tickle Me Elmo, Chicken Dance Elmo, and Beeping Clicking and Whirring Drive Your Father Out Of His Ever-Loving Mind Elmo.

I've given it some though since then, and I've come to accept that Elmo is the cash cow that gives the golden milk. As long as Elmo is marketed to the exclusion of the other Muppets, he's going to bring in the most money and no one is going ask him to step down from the throne of gold.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Here follow my suggested Elmo toys that can be marketed to adults, increasing the amount of revenue he generates for Sesame Workshop and its educational videos and products.

Beat Me with a Stick Elmo. This Elmo doll stands 18 inches high, runs on a 4.5-Volt battery and comes complete with a 12-inch wooden stick the owner can use to strike Elmo whenever he annoys them. Whenever he's hit, Elmo screams in that adorable little voice of his, phrases like "Ouch!" "Stop that!" or "Elmo doesn't like this game." Suggested retail price: $14.99.

Push Me Down an Elevator Shaft Elmo. Covered in soft red felt, this motion-activated Elmo lets out a piteous yet heart-warming scream as he plunges 80 feet into stygian darkness where he meets his doom. Elevator shaft with sharp metal spikes at the bottom, not included.

Urban Legends Elmo. A must-buy for anyone who has ever believed "reliable stories" passed on by their friends. Remove Elmo's kidneys before stuffing him in a bathtub filled with ice! Replace Elmo's hand with a hook, and send him out to terrorize teenagers at the local Lovers Lane! Squeeze his hand and hear him spread salacious rumors about Bert and Ernie! Legal disclaimer: Not responsible for lawsuits resulting from repeating those rumors.

Sopranos Elmo. Marketed especially to New Jersey consumers, who love the violence and family intrigue of HBO's award-winning mob drama, this Elmo offers to whack Kermit the Frog, says "badda-bing, badda-boom" when you squeeze him, and tells people to "Fuggedaboutit." Cigar is included only for decorative purposes and cannot be smoked.

Operation! Elmo. Produced in partnership with Milton Bradley, this Elmo is educational. Children and adults can learn all about surgery and anatomy by cutting Elmo open and removing his internal organs. Added feature: Elmo's realistic screams remind children about the importance of anesthesia.

Having shared all this, I'm amazed to discover the wisdom of the Sesame Workshop employee who suggested I write this all down. I do feel a lot better about Elmo now, and while I'm not likely to relax the Elmo Free Zone my wife and I established, I'm also not going to ask for Marie Antoinette Elmo, Hari Kari Elmo or Black Death Elmo.

Just don't get me started on Disney Princesses.

Copyright © 2004 by David Learn. Used with permission.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

'danger unlimited'

Does anyone else have "Danger Unlimited?" It's a John Byrne series done for Dark Horse around the same time as John Byrne's Next Men, but it's a series that didn't work out very well.

I got in a collected format. It wasn’t that impressive or interesting, and as a series it probably wouldn’t have lasted long anyway at DC or Marvel. He explains in the back of the colleciton that it failed to get going because of the “John Byrne 40,000” — the readers who automatically will read anything by John Byrne. Comic distributors as a policy start out at an elevated number of copies for the first issue of a new comic, which they reduce incrementally for the next two issues. Since everything is ordered three months ahead of time, it’s not until issue four is going to press that they have a clear idea of what the actual readership will be.

Orders for issue number one came out to 40,000. Issue two was 35,000. Issue three was 30,000. So by that time Byrne’s core readers had discovered that he had a new comic out, but about 10,000 of them couldn’t find it anywhere. If the core group can’t get it, it’s a sure bet the marginal readers won’t be able to find it either, and there’s no way to expand the market.

So he killed it.

Like I said, it had a long set up — I think he wrote it near the end of his marriage, which always takes a toll on a writer and his work — but it had some interesting ideas, particularly with the scene he ended up cutting when it became obvious the series wouldn’t work. (The one guy from the original Danger Unlimited whose memory was being restored turns out to be someone whose memories are being overwritten with a new set so he believes he’s the hero in question. The real man is dead and has been for close to a century.)

Could have been a good comic, but it worked out to pretty much just a side note in Byrne’s career.

'the hulk'

The Hulk's origin was only one of the things I hated about the movie.

In all fairness to Ang Lee, he was trying (to an extent) to be faithful to the Hulk's origins and powers as developed over about 40 years of continuity.

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby set out the basic template of the Hulk's origin, with the gamma bomb that exploded while Bruce Banner was saving Rick Jones. Bill Mantlo later developed that in the mid-1980s by making Bruce Banner's father into a research physicist with a streak of paranoia who believed that his work with radiation had caused mutations that his son inherited. If memory serves, he also added the touch that the elder Banner had murdered his wife.

Peter David, during his remarkable run on the series in the 1990s, put forward the explanation that the Hulk gets stronger the madder he gets because his anger actually is leading to heightened cellular reproduction -- more muscle tissue, plus healing so fast that it appears the Hulk is invulnerable. (I think he stole that idea from the Hulk TV show.)

The nanobots were just a stupid addition. They really should have stuck with the basic origin involving Rick Jones and the gamma bomb. Predictable, but there's a certain strength in sticking to the essentials. You don't need to follow it in every detail, but you shouldn't chuck out the whole thing just because it's dated.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

blue's clues: steve

I still like the urban legend I tried to start about Burns: that the SWAT team had to kill him when he went postal at the studio after showing up at work and saying, "Hi, it's me, Steve!" before letting it rip with an AK-47.

The whole situation with Steve's "brother" Joe showing up unannounced, moving into Steve's house and taking over all of Steve's things reminds too much of that scene from "Unbreakable" where the killer steals the family's house. I imagine a series finale where Joe and Blue play a game of Blue's Clues to figure out why there's a smell coming from the basement. The clues are a bundle of rope, a handkerchief and a human skeleton. Joe suddenly gets a crazed look, announces a commercial break, and when we return, Blue is nowhere to be seen. Joe, whose shirt now has red spots all over it, calmly says that Blue had to take a little vacation, but children can tune in next week for an exciting episode of "Green Puppy's Clues."

When I first started working at WCN Newspapers, Eowyn was in the middle of a Blue's Clues obsession. The reporter sitting behind me is named Steve Reilly, and I swear, every time he called someone, he would say, "Hi, it's me, Steve."

Thursday, July 08, 2004

the seduction of power

There's an old saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I don't know if that's true, but power does have a funny effect on the people who get it.

Take for example a man named Glenn. A handyman and contractor, Glenn made a reputation for himself in a township south of here in 1991 by donating a sizeable chunk of his time to building a large playground at the municipal complex. The local Republican Party, which had had a monopoly on political power for about 15 years, knew a good thing when one surfaced, and tapped Glenn to run for township committee in 1992.

Not surprisingly, he won. And that was where things started to go wrong for Glenn.

The problems started to surface in 1995, in the third year of his first term on the Township Committee, when another resident, named David, did the unthinkable. He not only mounted a campaign for the township committee under the banner of the Democratic Party, he won.

The trouble between Glenn and David began quickly. During the four years they served together -- each man was elected to a second term -- Glenn, who frequently called himself a champion of bipartisanship, called the much-shorter David a "dwarf piece of garbage," and reportedly even jumped across the dais to yell at him while he was talking to a resident after the committee meeting had ended.

As time went on, things only got worse. By virtue of being in power so exclusively for so long, members of the GOP had fallen into the habit of making deals that helped one another's financial interests. Word got into the community of a major land deal in the western portion of the township that would make some of the old-time GOP faithful a few million dollars richer. Glenn, who considered himself a watchdog for the public, saw nothing wrong with it.

By the time I came into the picture, in early 1999, there were days Glenn barely seemed to be in the same reality as anyone else. Anyone who disagreed with him was a liar. Any critique of his voting record was a personal attack. He became incapable of telling political allies from political opponents, and slapped down fellow Republicans on the township committee when they disagreed with him.

In his own eyes at least, it seemed Glenn was an unappreciated messiah. While his political opponents stayed at home watching TV and living the fine life, Glenn was wrestling with developers and fighting for the betterment of the community. He also considered himself an expert at everything, as he tried to demonstrate with one embarrassing display after another.

Not surprisingly, Glenn lost re-election in 1999, along with three other Republican committee members. For the first time in 20 years, the GOP had no representation in township government. It was an incredible upset, and contained for those willing to listen a warning against power-brokering and backroom deals.

Glenn wasn't willing to listen. While party officials opted to lay low for a while and plan for the next election, he continued to spout off rather publicly about the evil people afoot in the Democratic Party and how unappreciated he had been.

In 2000, he managed a letter-writing campaign against a Democratic committeeman seeking re-election, attacking his church attendance of all things, and penning some of the most poisonous letters I've ever read.

Not surprisingly after the Republicans lost the election that time as well -- the second year in a row, in a GOP-dominated township -- the party leadership apparently told Glenn to hit the trail.

I'd like to say that what happened with Glenn -- the slide from handyman benefactor to the shrill, embittered small-town politician -- is a rare thing, but I don't think I can. Politics, even local politics, can do strange things to the people who get involved in it.

Regardless of the party, there's an expectation among the party powerful that elected officials are going to toe the party line whether they agree with it or not. That's easy on issues where you
don't have a strong opinion, but eventually the choice will come of embracing the party position and betraying your conscience, or doing the right thing and standing by your convictions.

Very few people have the strength to be true to their principles when the pressure starts to sing the party tune. It gets lonely quickly, and power brokers usually don't get into those positions because they play nicely or fairly.

Most people start out with the small stuff, even if they don't realize it, by letting the party do their thinking for them. Some go beyond that and start playing games by voting for political advantage or to comply with what the higher-ups wish, a move that in time can lead them to abandon their own positions for whatever the party tells them. It's all the same sin, just in steadily growing degrees.

That's the path Glenn took. By the time he was through in politics, he saw nothing wrong with the Republican officers making themselves a few million dollars by adding sewerage to increase the land's attraction to developers, even though a Superior Court judge in Flemington had harsh words to say on the subject. Everything for him boiled down to a simple Republican-good, Democrat-bad formula.

That sort of simplistic thinking should bother everyone. By the time people start thinking that only good people are found on their side of the aisle, and that their side of the aisle is the only place good people can be found; that unless everything is done under their control, it's going to be done poorly; that everyone who has a criticism is a liar, a muck-raker, a troublemaker or a politically motivated malcontent; that the only view worth consideration is their own -- it's time for them to leave political life behind.

It's a shame politicians don't do that more often.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

not really your problem

A friend of mine writes:

I haven't caught up on the news since last week, but last I heard there were 165 lawsuits pending from out-of-state same-sex couples who got married in Massachusetts, then went back home and are suing to have their marriage recognized legally.

So yes, it IS my problem.

The sanctity of your marriage, of mine, and so on, is not diminished at all by the existence of a civil union between two gays, even if that civil union is called a marriage and entitles its members to the same rights and privileges as a heterosexual couple as far as taxes, insurance, pool memberships and whatever else goes. Extending those privileges to gays and homosexuals in no way prevents you from filing as a married couple, from enjoying the benefits Sarah gets at her job, adopting another child, or from making important life-and-death decisions in the event of the other's incapacitation. With your marriage left intact, how is it your problem?

The church is not required to perform same-sex marriages because of the First Amendment guarantee of free exercise of religion. Although some groups likely will scream "homophobia" when a church refuses to perform a gay wedding, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of James Dale v. Boy Scouts of America that government does not have the right to dictate inclusionary practices to a nonprofit organization -- and the BSA is not a religious group. With your church still able to view homosexual behavior according to the dictates of orthodoxy, how is it your problem?

Doubtless there will be gay marriages in some neighborhoods that didn't have them before. A couple with a piece of paper indicating that their union is sanctioned by the state (and maybe a church) is little different from a couple without such a marker. With the only outward difference between before and after being a piece of paper and official sanction, how is it your problem?

I'm not a student of history, but as I understand, marriage has become much more formalized in the last few hundred years, with couples going to church to be married in a lavish ceremony. It used to be that the service was a small civil thing, and that couples would go to the church to celebrate Mass together. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say that's the direction we're headed now as a society -- civil unions for everyone, with the church blessing those it approves of and not recognizing those it disapproves of.

On a side note -- and this really isn't related directly to the topic at hand -- the Scriptures don't say much about what's involved in making a couple married. Paul pretty much states that when a man and a woman have sex, they're joined together in the eyes of God, which is why the Lord gives us the option of one partner or none. (Note: Insert standard digression here, about polygynous relationships in the Tanakh and whether they even were expressly forbidden in the New Testament.)

If that's the case, then wouldn't my friend Josh and his girlfriend Hagar be married in the biblical sense, since they are living together, with all that entails? If I understand the word in the classic sense, "fornication" isn't sex between two unmarried people as much as it is casual sex. (The word comes from the Latin "fornix," which is a brothel.)

The Netherlands have had civil unions for gays for a while now and it has destroyed the family -- last stat I saw said 65 percent of the kids born there in the last few years were born out of wedlock. Sad.

Using that kind of reasoning, I should point out that as the number of pastors and other clergymen in New York has increased over the last few hundred years, the city has seen a growth in murder, drunkenness, extortion, prostitution and corruption.

There are a great many many more social dynamics at work in the Netherlands than just civil unions for homosexuals. I would think the legalized prostitution and generally casual attitudes toward sex in general would do more to erode the concept of family, and probably drove the civil unions for gays as well.

We're probably going to keep going around the mullberry bush on this one as well. If one of our goals as Christians is to preserve the traditional family, we would do better to focus our attention on the root causes of what has caused family to unravel and start finding new ways to bind the strands together so it will hold in the times ahead.

The problem is that we keep viewing this as a political or civil rights issue. It's not. It's a spiritual one. Those driving the call for gay marriages have some legitimate grievances in there, and those who oppose them also have some legitimate objections. Deal with it in the political arena, and we're going to continue to divide ourselves against one another and further inflame heated passions.

Our goal should not be to get people to behave in a certain way, but to get them to the point that they put their faith in Christ, whatever their situation, whatever their sin, whatever their involvement. Lead them to Christ, and then let him begin the process of changing their hearts, which in turn will lead them to change their behavior. Transformation begins on the inside and works its way inexorably outward.

Since, as you acknowledge, the carnal nature is at enmity with the nature of God, trying to get sinful man to follow God's ways is much like trying to teach a pig to sing. You won't have any success, and you'll irritate the pig. And even if you do somehow teach the pig to sing, you haven't really changed its fate. It'll still get chopped up and turned into breakfast for one person or another. Don't focus on changing society's behavior, because you're not accomplishing anything except driving most people away from the gospel for the wrong reasons -- they see Christians as a bunch of controlling moralists -- and possibly making a few people more secure in their own righteousness so they have a comfortable, well padded trip to hell.

Look at it this way. In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul writes to the Corinthian church that he has heard of a form of sexual immorality among the church that is unheard of even among their pagan neighbors. A fellow was having sex with his father's wife, and instead of being ashamed of it, was actually bragging about it.

Paul was outraged, much as I expect you would be too, and told the church to throw the guy the heck out and not have anything to do with him until he had repented. Paul's got all sorts of harsh words for this guy -- but he concludes by saying an odd thing: "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? Expel the wicked man from among you." In other words, "If this were someone outside the church, I'd say it's none of our business. But he claims to be a Christian, so I'm telling you right now to have nothing to do with him until he's repented."

What business is it of ours if people outside the church want to have same-sex marriages? It's not our business. It has no bearing on us; it's irrelevant to what we're here for. Share the gospel, encourage one another to follow Christ, and keep yourself living righteously.

As to prayer, I see no point in praying that the Federal Marriage Amendment go through. I think the writing is on the wall already that it will fail, and even if it succeeds, what is it really going to accomplish? Will it stop same-sex relationships, or will it simply stop same-sex couples in committed relationships from being able to extend insurance benefits to their partners, from being able to make critical life-and-death decisions for one another, and so on?

If you're concerned for people in same-sex relationships -- and I believe you are -- I would suggest praying for ministries like Exodus Ministries and Genesis Counseling (or whatever their names are). Those ministries aren't for everyone, obviously, but there are people who believe they have benefited from them, and there are people who have left the gay lifestyle and adopted a heterosexual one.

And if you're concerned about the country's growing acceptance of same-sex relationships -- and I believe you are -- then start praying for our cultural leaders, the arists, philosophers and other social architects who provide moral leadership to our nation. Pray for them, and pray that they will awaken to God's call on their lives. (Those leaders, by the way, don't live within the Beltway, by and large. They're concentrated in Los Angeles and in New York.)

You aren't going to like hearing this, but the truth is the "culture wars" are over, and the church lost sometime back in the 1960s. We failed to understand what the hippy movement was about and we were slow to provide the leadership our culture needed. We now live in a post-Christian society where our worldview no longer dominates, and where Scripture's testimony about God is no longer accepted as an authority.

The postmodern society Gen X inherited and now is beginning to lead is a society where moral absolutes don't exist, and the superiority of one religion or one set of morals isn't a given. Try to justify your disapproval of gay sex without once referring to Scripture, and you might get a sense of why this is a lost cause. Society has moved on, and trying to get it to go back is like keeping away the tide with a broom.