Thursday, December 22, 2016

On with the light!

Yesterday marked the Solstice -- the first official day of winter for those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere. For the rest of the planet, it's now officially summer, and time to crank up the barbie, not the furnace.

It also would have (should have) been Frank Zappa's 76th birthday. A friend recently sent me a link to a bizarre performance of Frank playing a bicycle as part of one of his fantastic compositions.

But even more bizarre than making music on a bicycle is the raft of 'fake news' we've seen of late. Yesterday's example was a widely circulated story that apparently had no scientific basis, claiming that this year's solstice would bring "the longest night in 500 years." While the hyperbolic nature of the headline should have been enough to raise caution flags, many sources (including plenty of supposedly trustworthy news sites), gave it a prominent spot in their coverage of the changing of the season. I can only hope the announcement that solar energy is now cheaper than wind power isn't another such made-up story.

I suppose 'fake news' is merely an offshoot of the term that's been deemed by the Oxford Dictionary as word of the year: post-truth. That word may indeed be all-too-relevant for the times in which we live, though I'm more inclined to go with Merriam-Webster's word for the year: surreal.

Who was it -- supposedly the ancient Chinese -- who gave us the curse: May you live in surreal times.

Or, if that doesn't sound quite right, let's choose a blessing instead: Let there be light -- and let there be solar power to provide it.

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