SAST

Just so you know, I’m part of the majority these days. Specifically, the majority of people who had their flu shots this winter. Turns out this is one of those years where the vaccine was significantly less effective than we all hoped–according to my doctor, sixty percent of those who got their shots also got the flu.

On the bright side, that means forty percent didn’t get it. I regard you lucky minority with envy.

I tell you this not because I’m advocating against flu shots. Quite the contrary. I’m well aware that some years are better than others, and we just drew the short straw this time around. I’ll get my shot next year, and the year after, and so on until medicine comes up with something better. Hell, I’d get my shot even if I knew 40% was the best it could do. It’d be worth it to have a shot at being in that group.

Nor am I telling you this because I’m looking for sympathy or because I’m announcing a temporary suspension of civil libertiesthe blog. Posts will continue. They just may not be hugely coherent.

Yeah, go ahead and get it out of your system. “How can we tell the difference?” I know there’s at least one wiseass out there thinking exactly that. I’m going to ignore you with dignity.

Right now my attention span compares unfavorably to Sachiko’s. She’s seamlessly shifting between watching birds at the feeder and sleeping in front of the heat vent. That’s about one and a half more things than I can do right now. And I can’t even blame it on drugs. No, this is all on my body, too busy diverting resources to the battle against the viral invader to spare anything for linear thought.

Look, it’s so bad, I can’t even turn on a ball game until I finish the blog post. If I were to turn it on, I’d bounce back and forth between the computer and the game, appreciating neither and–

Excuse me. I was watching a flock of turkeys walking up the street. They’re about to collide with a crew of Jehovah’s Witnesses. This should be interesting. My money’s on the birds winning right of way.

Unless the Witnesses make a fort out of their copies of The Watchtower. Then maybe they can stand off the birds by hiding inside and playing loud music. “All Along the Watchtower,” maybe? Hendrix version, naturally. Turkeys, being contrary souls, would probably prefer the original Dylan version.

Where was I?

Oh, right. Who needs coherency anyway? Other than laser manufacturers, that is. An incoherent laser is just a power-hungry flashlight.

Sorry. I’ll shut up and go watch some baseball now. See you Thursday when I just might have finished rebooting my brain.

What Was That Song Again?

I’ve used a huge number of words on this blog complaining about the short attention spans of the American population. Apparently I owe some of the population an apology.

I was browsing through the July browsing trends on Google and was stunned by ten top searches for songs.

The Number One song on the list is Happy Birthday. Let that sink in for a moment… Now let this sink in: It was also the most-searched song last month and has been in the top ten for the past eighteen months. That’s right: for a year and a half–longer than I’ve been writing this blog–Americans have been desperate to find a song they’ve heard at least once a year for their entire lives.

What’s going on here? Can the public not remember the words from year to year? Are they looking for recordings so they don’t have to strain their vocal chords with a fifteen second tribute to their loved ones? Maybe they can’t remember the tune? No, forget that last one; if it were The Star-Spangled Banner I might buy that, but Happy Birthday barely has a melody in the first place.

Speaking of The Star-Spangled Banner, guess what’s in third place? That’s right! The American national anthem. That’s been in the top ten for thirty-nine months, more than three years. Again, this is a song is pounded into every American’s head from childhood on. It’s taught in school*. It’s played at every sporting event (and we’ve seen that Americans are obsessed with sports). Why this strange determination to find it online?

* Well, the first verse is. But since that’s the only verse anyone ever sings, it doesn’t affect the argument any. All those searches aren’t coming from people who want the rest of the lyrics.

I’ll admit it’s damn near impossible to sing if you’re not drunk (the tune is lifted from an Eighteenth Century English song celebrating the pleasures of wine, women, and–amusingly recursively–song). Even so, it seems unlikely that all the searches are coming from people looking for recordings to play at the neighborhood kids’ soccer game. Maybe it’s drunks looking for sheet music? That seems doubtful too. Aside from the fact that alcoholic indulgence increases the drinker’s confidence in his memory, there just aren’t enough Americans who can read printed music to generate those kinds of numbers.

Still, the fact that both songs have remained in the top ten so long does run counter to claims that America’s attention span is declining. The rest of the list also supports the idea that Americans are capable of remembering things beyond a single twenty-four hour news cycle.

At Number Two, we have Let It Go, from Frozen. The song has only been on the list for three months, but the movie came out last year. Apparently people can remember last November if the spectacle is large enough.

Further support from positions Four through Seven: Katy Perry’s Dark Horse was released last September, as does Ylvis’ The Fox. Magic!’s Rude goes back to last October, and Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, which has racked up twenty-three months in the top ten, dates back to 1984!

This leads me to offer a suggestion to any activists concerned that their causes might get lost after the next news cycle. (Yes, I realize that’s all of them.) The evidence suggests that if you can set out your concerns in a single verse and set it to the tune of a popular song celebrating sex, drugs, and/or rock ‘n’ roll, you can stay in the public’s mind for years.

Just ask Arlo Guthrie