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Equine Summer 2006 (Vol 1, No 2)

The Editor's Desk: "Apolitical Correctness"

by James N. Moore, DVM, PhD

    When it comes to what is happening in the world on a daily basis, I find that I'm about half a step above illiterate. But I suspect I'm not alone ... or at least I assume that there are others out there balancing on one foot in the same boat.

    My particular boat rises and falls, depending on the comings and goings of twin 13-year-old daughters, work, and my single escape hatch—reading. Not being a morning person, I arise at the last possible minute, shower, inhale the remaining bits of the cereal du jour, make sandwiches that most likely will be nibbled on or traded for something less wholesome, and sit, tapping the steering wheel and waiting for two huge backpacks to find their way onto the backseat of my truck. We then head for the girls' school, occasionally reviewing vocabulary words for a morning test. Most of the time, however, the daughter riding shotgun controls the radio, jumping seemingly at random among the three stations that the two of them like, not one of which even remotely resembles National Public Radio.

    Our ride to school averages 20 minutes, during which I hear more Sean Paul, The All-American Rejects, and Fall Out Boy than I care to admit. Remarkably, I've grown to like a fair number of their songs. After dropping the girls at school, I recover on the way to work with about 7 minutes of mindless chatter and scoreboards on the local version of ESPN radio. My workdays are full, fortunately shared with friendly, inquisitive people, and focused primarily on research projects, writing grant proposals, reviewing or editing manuscripts, teaching veterinary students, and the other trappings (i.e., meetings) of a university-based existence. Life as I know it ceases to exist if the Internet goes down, but I rarely use it for things other than work-related tasks (assuming that occasional respites to ESPN.com, the Apple Store, or elsewhere in search of new electronic gizmos fit that definition).

    If my wife, who is also a veterinarian, is on clinic duty at the end of the workday, I collect my daughters and chat with them a bit about our respective days, and then it's another 20 minutes of Sean Paul and friends. When we arrive at home, it is time to cook dinner, during which we do a bit of homework. Dinner is followed by washing dishes, feeding dogs, catching up on work left over from that day or (more often) a previous one, and finally getting lost in a historical novel or biography on my bedside table. My most recent read was a great new book on the manhunt for John Wilkes Booth—not exactly something on any list of current events.

    As a result, there's a near-complete absence of news in my life on a daily basis, and this morphs directly into a news vacuum with the onset of summer. Consequently, I'm clueless when it comes to what is going on in the world. I found out about "Shotgun-gate" 3 days after the fact when I overheard someone say that Cheney's ratings had doubled because he'd shot a lawyer, I thought the rumblings about DeLay had something to do with someone missing a deadline, and I still don't fully understand why it now costs me $55 to fill my truck with unleaded gas. Because I rarely watch or listen to the news, I've ended up being apolitical. The upside to this is that I don't have to watch or listen to politicians. The downside is that I've had to learn to keep my head down when I overhear people discussing something that is seemingly old news to them but that I've somehow missed entirely. Clearly, the downside is outweighed by the aforementioned upside.

    Rightly or not, I assume there are a number of other veterinarians who find themselves in the same situation, especially with summer upon us. Although we may not be the most political or vocal group in the nation, most of us manage to surface sufficiently in the fall every 4 years to identify who is on the ballot and become the deciders. After the election, it's business as usual, and we take care of the things and people closest to home. We may be on to something. I wonder whether our parents' generation's need to watch the 5:00 local news, 6:00 national news, The McNeil-Lehrer News Hour, 11:00 news, and Nightline every night did much more than help raise the collective blood pressure. From my perspective, apolitical correctness ain't half bad.

    NEXT: Abstract Thoughts—"Danger, Will Robinson!" The True Function of the Innate Immune System