Hello? What? Yes I`ve tried that.
As a family, we are experts at dealing with unexpected calamity and the occasional crisis but Sunday proved to be cataclysmic as the full horror of the collapse of internet network connection visited our humble home.
The first horseman of the apocalypse crashed through the roof when an anguished scream was heard coming from an upper storey of the east wing of our small to medium mansion at about lunchtime. Engaged in “blowing away” cyborgs to reach the next level of some surrogate game designed to replace a more sensible passage to manhood, the son and heir issued a loud frustrated expletive when the internet crashed just before he had achieved enough kills to entitle him to deploy cluster bombs. On a previous occasion when male bonding was deemed necessary, I ventured the proposition that if it were a cyborg, then the screen should not be covered with just blood, brains and gore, but that the gloop should also contain the occasional microchip, PCB and possibly a resistor or two. He shrugged, saying that “it`s not real” and then quoted Asimov, Arthur C Clarke and even Descartes. I managed to resist the temptation to slap him round the back of the head. (more…)
This morning, in welcome sunshine, the sound of six month old burger fat being scraped from rusty barbeque grills in neighbouring gardens heralded the beginning of the E-coli season. The gentle hiss of flammable liquid on charcoal still damp from winter complimented the coughing of poorly maintained lawn mowers being persuaded into life. The spring aroma of burning meat was infused with the subtle fragrance of desperation, fear, panic and the unmistakable stench of electioneering. (more…)
There can be few things sadder than seeing formerly dignified and noble institutions descend into squalid decay or once respected and decent individuals fall from greatness into the gutter of ruined reputation.
First among equals in the downward spiral towards derelict oblivion seems to be parliamentary democracy. According to our government, doctors, nurses, support staff and ambulance crews wilfully neglect their duty and are deliberately harming every single NHS patient. By this bizarre logic, the NHS is evil and has to be dismantled. Teachers and their sinister assistants have blighted the lives of children and ruined state education. State education, therefore, is failing and needs to be put out of its misery. What passes for government thinking might also conclude that every police officer constantly tells lies about cabinet ministers, fire fighters start fires, badgers cause floods and fracking will cure cancer. The welfare state, constructed in the aftermath of war and a litmus test of just how compassionate and civilised a nation is, is dead. The illness was mercifully short. It has been less than (more…)
M C Escher (1898 – 1972)
Even after thousands and thousands of years during which lots and lots of very, very clever people tried to define reality, we are still no closer to a universal proof of anything; the only certainty is that nothing is certain.
Since the days of Plato, successive governments have understood that everything is open to interpretation and have carefully exploited the benefits of chaos theory whist simultaneously denying that chaos actually exists. Our current bunch of self-appointed masters having ditched any notion of logic applied to economic policy are now systematically working their way through the sum of human knowledge discarding most of it as being irrelevant.
The rules of valid reasoning, logical argument and proof based analysis no longer seem to apply and we now enter a period of history when reverse logic takes the place of actual fact. So when an A and E department in Belfast declares a major incident because it cannot cope with the numbers of people who require treatment, it is described by some talking head in a suit from the Northern Ireland Assembly as a “one off” and nothing to worry about. A major incident usually involves some traumatic event such as an aircraft no longer being an aircraft, a train that has decided not to be a train anymore or, given that particular part of the world`s unhappy history, a bloody big bomb going off. (more…)
The really nice thing about December is that the festive season offers various opportunities to indulge in activities collectively described as “traditional”. The requirement to eat too much, drink too much and then argue with your nearest and dearest is compulsory. Being completely baffled by the Dr Who Christmas Special is as traditional as watching the Queen read a script and the traditional January salutation “did you have a nice Christmas?” is gradually being transmogrified into “so, you survived Christmas then”.
Sadly, in these enlightened times, very few of us still paint ourselves blue and jump over open fires to celebrate the winter solstice. Fewer still slaughter a sacrificial goat in the traditional hope of keeping sabre-toothed tigers away or to encourage the return of the warm shiny thing that travels across the big blue thing just above our heads. Tradition, like language, is constantly evolving and it is a blessing that buying enough food and drink to last until doomsday because the shops are shut for a day is not further complicated by the need to purchase those hard to find gifts such as frankincense and myrrh. Gold and lamb chops, however, continue to retain their traditional charm. What better way to celebrate the birth of the saviour of humanity than the gift of an already time-limited obsolete gadget, a bottle of scotch and the onset of obesity. (more…)