Doc Rioux At Large

Making sense of one day's news

Richard "Doc" Rioux · February 2, 1997

Ever try to make unifying sense of major news items on a fairly typical day in America? Last Tuesday the headlines included an admission by Bill Cosby that he once had a "rendezvous" with the mother of Autumn Jackson. Autumn is the 22-year old who claims to be the illegitimate daughter of Mr. Cosby. She's under arrest for allegedly trying to extort money from the Cosby family in return for her silence. Mr. Cosby claims Autumn isn't his daughter.

I think Bill Cosby has a lot of class. He's handled his son's murder with dignity and grace. His adultery occurred 23 years ago, and it's too bad that the matter had to surface now. We all make mistakes. No one should sit in judgment of his brother.

The Democrats bashed Newt Gingrich for two years for using a non-profit corporation to fund the college course he taught that promoted a national Republican political agenda. Not a big sin, considering what the Democrats were doing at the same time.

The president was having morning coffees with well-to-do friends at about $20,000 a pot. The morning brews raised a whopping $27 million in campaign contributions between 1995 and 1996. Some people will pay anything for a great cup of coffee.

In the 1980s, liberal educators ridiculed E.D. Hirsch for demanding that schools graduate students who knew some basic facts about American history, had read the great books, and who could actually add, subtract, multiply and divide. Today, with the growing concern that "progressive education" has been a dismal failure, the back-to-basics push in education has transformed E.D. Hirsch from an "elitist pedagogue" into a "feted hero" who is presently one of the most sought-after luncheon speakers in America.

What's sad about all this is that it's taken over 50 years for professional educators to wake up from their long progressive sleep. Meanwhile, millions of students were graduating from high school not knowing when the Civil War began or ended. You can pick up a copy of E.D. Hirsch's book entitled Dictionary of Cultural Literacy at any bookstore. It's worth reading a few pages every day.

The O.J. Simpson trials were finally coming to an end. Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman were still dead, and the blood evidence, shoes, hat, and glove still pointed to Mr. Simpson as the assailant. The judge didn't allow the race card to be played, and Mr. Simpson had no reasonable explanation for most of the evidence brought against him.

This case will be studied, analyzed and debated for a hundred years. Television cameras made the major players of the first trial famous or, if you prefer, infamous, as book deals, TV shows and big bank accounts flowed their way.

Money can't buy you faithfulness, but it sure can buy you freedom from incarceration and, for those around you, access to a lot of money. You can bet that the next edition of E.D. Hirsch's Dictionary of Cultural Literacy will include a section on the O.J. Simpson trials and be cross-referenced under the saying: "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit."

Most of the commercials that appeared during Super Bowl XXXI received poor marks from advertising critics. One might think that companies laying out $1.2 million for a 30-second spot would have done a lot better. Among the worst commercials were the Dirt Devil segments showing Fred Astaire dancing upside-down and all around a room with dustpans and carpet sweepers. Pretty tasteless stuff!

Ever wonder where the three wise men in the birth of Jesus might have obtained their gifts of frankinsence and myrrh?

A Los Angeles-based team of archaeologists recently discovered an ancient trail used by traders in the two substances that led from Oman on the Arabian Sea to the Middle East. Frankinsence and myrrh were among the most prized substances traded 2500 years ago, and much of the product was produced near the ancient city of Ubar.

I think if I had to do it all over again, archaeology would be my field of choice for a career. I would want to search for the Ark of the Covenant. Can you imagine finding the original tablets given by God to Moses listing the Ten Commandments? Some believe the Ark is in Ethiopia, but I think the prophet Jeremiah hid it where Moses was buried. Find the grave and you'll find the tablets.

Well then, how does all this piece together? From the onset of history, human nature hasn't changed much. Men and women have struggled with sex, murder, pride and greed from millennium to millennium. King David lusted after Bathsheba, Brutus stabbed Caesar, and proud gladiators fought to the roar of Super Bowl crowds in the Coliseum, while writers recorded the events and parents educated their young. The Ancients traded in spices, and as trade in stocks. They carried goods on the backs of camels as we carry our wares on trucks, planes and over iron rails.

The sets may have changed, but the world remains a Shakespearean stage on which humans act out in roles I believe were predetermined from the beginning of time.

It's Sunday. Burn some incense, brew a pot of flavored coffee, and pray for campaign reform.

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