Where There Were No Doors

Follow your bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before - Joseph Campbell

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

I read the news today

Oh boy.

- So I was reading the news...
- "Are you crazy? Why would you do that to yourself?"
- Aww don't worry about it, they've doubled the amount of prozac in the city's water supply.
- "Even so man......"
- Yeah, well someone's got to do it. And I take every conceivable precaution... I quadruple the dosage of all my meds, and have a highly-trained team of trauma-counsellors and therapists in the next room should anything go wrong. So better it's me than some hotshot kid with a blog, a dream and nothing else.
- "You were that kid once..."
- Yeah... I guess so... but things change. The whole damn world's gone and changed......

Though perhaps less than we sometimes think.
A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of coloured ribbon.
- Napoleon Bonaparte
(To the captain of HMS Bellerophon, 15th July 1815)
What could better illustrate this sad truth than the news today that there is "fury" at the refusal to award a medal to a group of World War Two veterans? It appears that the sailors of the Arctic Convoys are to receive a "special emblem" instead.

Now, far be it from me, in my complete ignorance of military regalia to comment upon the relative merits of an emblem as compared to a medal. But for Cdr Eddie Grenfell to claim that "This is the most dreadful thing that has ever happened to veterans." is - I think - something of an exaggeration and makes him sound just a little bit silly. He also makes it clear that "The only way that a campaign will go down in history is by a medal - a badge means nothing". Now I don't know whether that's true or not. To me, an emblem means precisely the same as a medal. And I do have to question the merit of a medal that is demanded. Doesn't that defeat the purpose somehow?

That said, you've got to wonder about the crapness of a government willing to deny a group of WWII vets their final victory in the name of meaningless military decorum. The veterans are guilty of using exaggerated language. But the establishment is guilty of being plain mean and petty. Give them a bloody medal if they want one!

Speaking of fusion research....

OK, it's true... I've managed better segues. But the next article I stumbled upon whilst reading the news (at least, the next one that provoked a comment other than "oh dear god") was the news that there's still deadlock on the future of fusion research. Actually, the story did provoke an "oh dear god" response.

For some years now fusion research has been teetering on the edge of a major breakthrough. It's not a technology capable of mitigating the effects of the peak oil crisis about to rip our civilisation to shreds, but for those who take a longer-term view of humanity, then it is a technology into which we should be investing a great deal of resources. One day, assuming we don't wipe out the entire species during our resource wars, our descendants will look to the stars and decide to take the steps for which we lacked the maturity. Fusion is the technolgy that will take them there. And it's the perfect technology on which to base a sustainable, high-tech society. So as our society heaps unimaginable hardship upon our grandchildren, at least let our fossil-fuel-intensive / big-engineering fusion research be a small gift to our great-grandkids who might be able to do something useful with what we learnt from it.

Well nice in theory. Sadly, despite proving that we have the resources and will to fight a war which has - to date - cost more than 150 billion dollars in order to gain a strategic foothold on top of the Middle East's oil reserves; our race can't seem to get a 10 billion dollar research project off the ground. Six of the richest countries in the world are involved... and they've spent the best part of two years arguing about the location.

Three of them want it in France. Three of them want it in Japan.

The question that keeps going through my mind is this: "Why not build two?" I mean; so long as we're spending tens of billions on making life miserable for generations to come; why not spend some of it on something that has a chance of being useful some day?

And while we're on the subject of energy and ting; it seems very likely to me that the implications of peak oil are now being taken seriously in China. Could this have anything to do with the recent change in position by the US Department of Energy? Curious minds demand answers.


Blogger L said...

"take a longer-term view of humanity"? You must be kidding... politicians never do that sort of thing; they find it tiresome.

8/3/05 23:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In other news.... Your fears over "Constantine" are unfounded. Saw it this evening, loved it. Surprised you weren't there, I have a feeling I was responsible for half the audience. Booze, food, have you forgotten your ligger legs?


9/3/05 03:40  
Blogger Jim Bliss said...

I'll believe it when I see it Joel. And I never intend to see it! I intend to be the anti-Mary Whitehouse... complaining about things I haven't seen because they're not blasphemous enough! "More filth on our screens!" I'll be chanting as I wave my placard outside the cinema, and decrying those like you walking past me to the ticket-booth lending financial support to society's slide into sterility.

Is nothing sacred? Not even the profane? (We should do another movie-night soon by the way, Joel... though not Constantine if that's OK)

And to L... what worries me is that the trouble may not lie with politicians but with people. When Tony Blair gave his speech on climate change, he said "if we put forward, as a solution to climate change, something which involves drastic cuts in growth or standards of living, it matters not how justified it is, it simply won't be agreed to".

And the same is true with regards to any long-term plan that requires sacrifice. It's much easier to convince people of the truth of something they want to believe. And any government which tries to implement a realistic solution to the peak oil crisis (i.e. a solution that involves major cutbacks in energy consumption before supply shortages manifest) will be voted out of power long before the plan gets off the ground by a bunch of free-marketeers promising to burn every last drop of oil in a great orgy of joyless consumption.

Individuals will listen to reason, but the masses always seem positively willing to be duped by cornucopian fairytales of eternal over-abundance.

This is why democracy sucks and I should be made God-Emperor of Earth.

10/3/05 02:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I can understand your attitude to "Constantine" Jim, it is of course an Americanisation. Luckily I never saw the original comic, so have nothing to compare it to except other Hollywood monster movies, and on that score it's not bad at all, not your standard pap, some surprisingly edgy filming to it and good humour. But you could shoot holes in it, sure. I don't know whether the original Constantine had a Holy Knuckleduster, but that made me laugh, and what a great merchandising opportunity that presents. But overall, despite the fact that you sat through as much of Hellboy as would play, I understand. As Alan Moore said when asked whether he was going to see "From Hell" -- "I'll wait till it comes out on video."


10/3/05 14:16  

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