If you haven't read Carl Hiaasen's novels, you've been deprived of therapeutic, seering cynicism guaranteed to keep you laughing as he exposes and examines the excess and corruption of modern Florida. If you ever feel mired in the malaise, give this trio a read.
He's always educational and relentless in pace. If you're taking things too seriously, Hiaasen's the cure. He serves brutal, always hysterical and cathartic ends for those who deserve no less. You get to vicariously enjoy just desserts for evil, rather than act foolishly on the righteous notions conjured in your own wrathful mind. That's how it works for me anyway. And I currently need the medicine, so I ordered his latest this afternoon.
Since reading Tourist Season and Double Whammy in the late 80s, I knew he wrote a regular column in a major Miami paper, but I never bothered to check it out. I did today.
And found this. His take isn't fresh or original, but he's onboard and the cynicism is as expected.
The number is there. Hunt hard enough through the newspaper stories and you'll find it.
Last week it surpassed 1,600. This week it will go higher.
You could write it on the blackboard in a hundred classrooms, and probably in 99 of them nobody could tell you what it stood for.
Here's the answer: As of Thursday, 1,609 was the number of American soldiers who died in Iraq since we invaded 26 months ago.
That works out to more than two soldiers killed every day, which in actuarial terms isn't a huge toll when compared to other long wars.
Unless it's your son or daughter or wife or husband coming home in the coffins, in which case the number is devastating.
Americans haven't completely lost interest in what's happening to our troops in Iraq, but an inevitable numbness has set in as the casualty figures rise steadily. The tragic has become the routine.
Lots more people could tell you the score of the Heat-Wizards playoff game or where the Dow Jones closed on Friday than could tell you how many soldiers died last week in roadside bombings.
They could tell you who got the most votes on American Idol. They could tell you how many times that ''runaway bride'' from Atlanta has been busted for shoplifting. They could tell you who won the NASCAR race at Darlington, and even the new Nextel Cup standings.
That kind of stuff isn't hard to find. Just park yourself in front of the TV or laptop, and relax. It's one big happy avalanche of entertainment.
Obviously we in the media have gone numb, too. And let's be honest -- it's much more fun to write about Paula Abdul than Ibrahim al-Jaafari.