Parting Glances: Bread and circuses. . .

By |2006-03-09T09:00:00-05:00March 9th, 2006|Opinions|

As of Saturday, February 25, 2006, the world population clicked in at 6.5 billion people. That’s quite a crowd. (I figure that in the course of my lifetime I’ve made good friends with about 50 people — most of them, sadly, now gone.)
And as of 5:04 p.m. February 25th — and according to the National Priorities Project — the cost to the American taxpayer of the Iraq War is $243,492,150,682 — and spiraling UPWARDS at a dizzying pace.
See for yourself at, or By the time you click on, the above figure will have skyrocketed dramatically. The thousands and hundreds place numbers speed by in a blur.
Pure vertigo. was started in April 2003 by an intergenerational team of two social scientists, Niko Matsakis of Boston MA and Elias Vlanton of Takoma Park MD. After maintaining their astronomical project on their own for the first year, they turned it over to NPP to further ongoing “educational” efforts. (Data by state are given.)
According to NPP, for the money spent to date February 25th — when yours truly just happened to be web surfing — we could have hired 118,600 Michigan teachers for one year. We could have provided 331,763 college scholarships for needy Michigan students. We could have built 61,620 additional Michigan housing units. And — We could have funded worldwide AIDS programs for 24 years.
And since the above five paragraphs have been written on my user-friendly iBook G4, the Iraq War cost countdown has jumped to $243,494,567,328. (Oh, yes. I forgot to mention: We could have fully funded global anti-hunger efforts for 10 years.) That’s $2,416,646 in five paragraphs!
Having presented the above data I offer the following somewhat less staggering figures as part of the galactic spending stew. According to the latest analysis by Witeck-Combs Communications and Packaged Facts (a division of, the total buying power of the U.S. LGBT adult population for 2006 is projected at $641 billion.
This impressive figure is based on a range of population samples that “benchmarks between 6 percent and 7 percent of the adult U.S. population self-identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual, or between 14 and 16 million adults, identified as over the age of 18.”
And here are figures reflecting a subject dear to the still-beating, by-passed hearts of many males — straight and gay, churchgoing and not. According to a CBS 60 Minute Report: Porn in the U.S.A., “It is estimated that Americans now spend somewhere around $10 billion a year on adult entertainment, which is as much as they spend attending professional sporting events, buying music or going out to the movies.
And, highlights the Report, “Consumer demand is so strong that it has seduced some of America’s biggest brand names, and companies like General Motors, Marriott and Time Warner are now making millions selling erotica to America.”
Note please the $10 billion a year also spent on professional sporting events, music, and movies. (So far “Brokeback Mountain” has grossed $68.2 million. “Harry Potter/Sorcer’s Stone,” $317.5 million. “The Passion of Christ,” $370.5 million.)
As of next mid-May — give a day here, add an hour there, subtract a second or two for luck — I figure my small portion in life’s GRAND COUNTDOWN to WHAT? will be 25,550 days (too many spent in the wrong climate), 613,200 minutes (too many spent discoing), and 14,716,800 seconds (not enough firsts).
What was it English poet William Blake wrote? “To hold eternity in a grain of sand, and Infinity in an hour.” Carpe diem? You tell me.

About the Author:

Charles Alexander