This is from yesterday (darn that Peter, hogging his own computer):

The Times – America is in a funk, Seventies-style, by Gerard Baker<br/> Our writer takes the temperature of a nation

America completes a gloomy year this weekend, mourning the loss of two rather different national icons who rose to prominence in the 1960s and 1970s. The former Godfather of Soul, James Brown, was eulogised in Harlem yesterday even as the obsequies for the former President, Gerald Ford, began in California.

On the surface there are not many obvious connections between the lives of the two men. You can hardly imagine the quietly decent Ford making much headway with something called Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag and not, presumably even in his most intimate moments, would the 38th President have answered to the description, Like a Sex Machine.

But only a few degrees separate even the most improbably far-flung lives and these two were no exception. They shared a verbal style that consisted almost entirely of guttural, barely comprehensible utterances. They were both leaders and mentors in their profession who identified and encouraged talented followers — though we will have to await history’s judgment on whether Brown’s role in inspiring Booker T and the MGs and Michael Jackson will count for more than Ford’s in bequeathing us Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

Heh. There follows a rather depressing list of all the crap that happened this year. Which I’ll skip.

And if the lives of Ford and Brown tell us anything it is that in America redemption is always possible. The former president might once have been derided as an empty interlude between bad presidents. But history has been kinder than that, crediting him with healing the nation after Watergate. For Mr Brown, rehabilitation took a more literal form, through detox clinics and occasional jail terms. But he too got there in the end — even earning a presidential panegyric this week, though not, it should be said, an especially funky one.

Just about every entry these days, no matter what category or what the others are, includes at least once the tag (which you people can’t see): “deaths”. Oi.