At long last, after 4,000 years, Pharaoh has exacted his revenge. A tragically hilarious biblical plague has taken hold of Florida over the last month, as frozen lizards rained from the sky on unsuspecting retirees.

If ever there was a sign of the times, it is this: The Weather Channel flashes a breaking news update across the bottom of the screen that reads "FALLING LIZARD ALERT," and I, jaded by the increasingly curious and apocalyptic news forecasts, am neither surprised nor concerned.

In the rubble of the economy and the war, there is a widespread virus attacking the notion of focus both in the media and in our daily lives.

Israel's move against Palestine came at a tragically convenient time; as the news was overwhelmed with the recession, inauguration, Blagojevich, and (pathetically) NFL playoffs, no one important seemed to notice that 1,300 people were killed over the course of a few weeks. A month ago I implored that the media label those weeks a massacre - but as the number of dead children spiked and Israel blockaded relief supplies and medicine…they are flirting with genocide. However a few weeks and a few senatorial tax scandals later, it's back page news.

As the impoverished squirm, I fear that the dirty bathtub of bonus cash that the pot-bellied pigs of the financial sector are wallowing in will grow bottomless, if we don't trade the rampant fear of the tanking economy in exchange for some old fashioned vigilance - both here, and abroad. Just as banking industry got away with mindless burning of the bail-out money, the rest of the world can be just as opportunistic, if the media watchdogs do not recalibrate their aim.

When the SARS paranoia was at its mightiest earlier this decade, not a single person had died from it in America, and yet no one would shut up about it. Now 8 people have been killed by peanuts. Peanuts! And worse, it was avoidable - there was a leaky roof and bacteria found inside the Georgian plant last year, but they were not legally obligated to report this to the public.

If no one had died, it would much easier to make a joke about this - like about saboteur geese committing acts of terrorism, in cahoots with a villainous Mr. Peanut. But the times have made these events passable, as self-interest and cash flow have become the obstacle de jour - and thereby, only newsworthy agenda for most Americans. The trick to life without money is intelligent trade-offs, and we are like the Boston Red Sox trading Babe Ruth for cash.

Clearly, America's eye is off the ball. That pesky ocean to our east has always left us, as a whole, secluded from the goings-on abroad. But more than ever our focus on progress, awareness, and patient worldly vigilance is tantamount to surviving this muck. I fear that America is treading a tar pit, like Petrie in "The Land Before Time."

If Hollywood has taught us anything about being trapped in a bubbling sink hole, it's that a writhing, fearful struggle will only expedite the inevitable.

A national, collective deep breath, prudent spending, and intelligent prioritization will see us through to the spring.

If the peanuts, geese, and falling lizards don't get us first.


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