In college, I heard about an art show called “Form without Function”.  I wish I would have been able to see it, but I did hear one exhibit described.

It was playing cards – the whole deck of fifty-two – painted by hand onto transparent plastic.  One of the functions of playing cards is keeping the other players (or even yourself, with solitaire) from seeing cards that should be hidden.  These looked like playing cards, but weren’t usable as playing cards.

So it amused me today when I read about a Soapbox Derby in the local paper (I couldn’t find a link to the original story).  A Cub Scout troop made the cars from scrap/recycled materials and raced them wearing seat belts and helmets.  And then comes the kicker.

The boys raced for fun, with no losers.

Huh?  Racing for fun, sure.  No losers, though?  Why call it racing? And then the last sentence of the story reinforces my view:

Pack 629 Mothers even had a “powder puff” heat at  the end of the competition.

No competition here, folks.  No “heat” racing.  Just some misguided, fuzzy-headed thinking.  The picture with the story shows a bunch of kids at about eight years old.  And yes, each one of those guys wants to be first.  Somebody (dare I say it?  Some misguided mom, probably.) wanted everybody to play and have a good time and nobody gets hurt.  Hang on a moment, Mom-in-Hamersville.  If that’s the case, then there’s no need for seat belts and helmets.  Nobody gets hurt, ever, right?  </sarcasm>  Nope, this is the real world.  People do get hurt, wearing helmets is the right thing to do, and there are winners and losers.  Better to teach the kids about competition, cooperation, and being a good sport.

Pah.

In other “unclear on the concept” news, the big local paper reports on a Christmas concert at a neighborhood bar.  I don’t have any trouble with that – apparently this place does bluegrass shows every Sunday night, and this special Christmas show every year.  The performer uses a Hammond C3 organ, and talks about the effect it has:

“The organ just has a very soulful sound to it. It’s hard to describe,” Schmidt says. “There’s a certain church association to Christmas music . . .”

Well, ya think?  Almost reminds you of the reason for Christmas, doesn’t it?  Almost reminds you that at Christmas time we celebrate Christ’s birth – the outrageous gift from God the father.  And no Christmas shopping – this gift is free to us, although it came at a great price to those involved, and there is a certain commitment if we accept the gift.

So anyway, that’s my take on the morning’s news, and some of the disconnect between the media and reality.

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