18 August 2016
“Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
Robert Oppenheimer, widely known as ‘the father of the atomic bomb’ said these words around 20 years after the 2 nuclear weapons detonated over Japan.
Ah, it’s a powerful, evocative phrase alright, but one holding within a small mistranslation of a small section of the Bhagavad Gita. Nevertheless I’m allowing it; the man did translate it himself. From the Sanskrit.*
This evening I feel bad, something of a pale shadow of the man. Clearing some long grass in the Turner Estate’s Lower Field (despite knowing it’ll adversely affect the drainage) I disturbed a small frog.
Now it must be said, I carried on clearing the growth and disturbed another small frog. Then another. Three unique frogs, with one thing in common…
Today a human, the same human who’d previously allowed their lives to flourish undisturbed, arrived with a big chopper and casually destroyed their habitat.
*The word is ‘shatterer’.
17 August 2016
Behold! You know when a dog listens to you, listens so intently and with total focus that there is no doubt it understands you? And it cocks its head on one side as-if to underscore the extent of its devotion? Marvellous! Ruby dog often evokes that feeling of omnipotence, yes.
Oh I wish there was a drug I could have produced in large-enough quantities, and then have delivered to the human (and near-human) population of this island nation by a fleet of autonomous drones. A drug to at least mimic that response in others. Wouldn’t that be great‽
Yes, obviously. And then, the world!
Let’s face it though, I’m more likely to get that sort of response if I become a boy band or enter politics.
Everyone knows where those two paths lead, so I’d best not.
07 August 2016
Words used to have meaning, used not to be mere scribbles on paper or sounds made to satisfy popular demand.
Take ‘hero’. A hero to me is someone who battles near-impossible odds to save a life, or works for a lifetime against near-impossible odds to change lives. A hero is emphatically NOT someone who kicks a ball for a few minutes each week or runs/swims/cavorts quite fast/energetically - or does both - whilst being paid an entertainer’s wage. Real heroes do it because it’s there, because it must be done, not for the rewards.
For some the distinction between the modern and classical versions of the term is unimportant. And that’s a shame.
‘Truth’ used to be something incontrovertible, sustained by peer or objective review, unassailable. Nowadays it’s whatever some politician says - or believes they can get away with saying. And they do. Get away with it. No amount of fact-checking can overcome a recognisable face on the TV or in a favourite newspaper.
Wholesale use of hyperbole is peaking, we can see it all around. There will come a time when even the most hardened Sun or New York Post journalist at least considers giving up.
At least I hope so. I really don’t like this erosion of meaning. What’s next though?
To be sure, languages must evolve, take at least that for granted. In a lot of cases it’s necessary as technology or social change mandates the reduction of complex phrases in favour of a jargon adopted by the general public. In some cases it’s the adoption of trivial, inconsequential, transient words emerging from social media. In others it’s borrowing of foreign words used regularly by a sizeable proportion of those who speak whatever language is evolving. It seems to me though that dictionary committees are spending more time courting the press than accurately following trends.
Trust and tradition, both are being eroded at rates faster than previously seen. ‘Trust’ in an age during which words lose their meaning is a bit of a misnomer. There are a very very small number of people and organisations I can trust without thought. And the list diminishes with time.
Yes of course all ‘traditions’ aren’t necessarily good. Hunting foxes, chasing cheese down hills, Morris Dancing, you know…
Well there’s a phrase: ‘Less is more.’ What a load of crap! Someone influential should redo it to be a true reflection of our times: ‘More is less’.
Hah! There’s a gap in the market; I should apply for a part-time job as a writer, opining from the perspective of a grumpy old bast…
As traditions, trust, language all degenerate where can we find solace in these uncertain times?
Reverting back to one of the biggest comforts of the modern age, at least the sporting world provides some useful distractions: for instance the Olympics (hashtags) and football (obscene spending.)
Reading the news earlier I came across a couple of rage-inducing sentences:
Grabbing a couple of sentences from the article: “Manchester United are on the brink of re-signing Paul Pogba from Juventus in a world record £89m deal. United will pay 105m euros for Pogba and performance-related bonuses and other costs could see that figure rise.”
And that’s a lot of money - some would say ‘obscene’ - for an as-yet unproven talent. It’s a fifth of a hospital, and amounts to a lot of shirt sales.
‘Rage’ though? That may be overstating things a bit; I’ve broken nothing, lashed out at no-one, kicked no dogs, swung no cats…
Best to calm down a bit and look at the…
…let’s not, it’s altogether too depressing.
02 August 2016
For a man wanting to become one of the few this world has ever seen to attain the status of a nuclear’ button’ pusher, Donald Trump has a lot of personal buttons he just does not want pressed.
Unusually for me I’m not going to spend time listing what I think they are, it’s pretty evident that every attack on his statements (to begin with) is a trigger for the man.
Keeping the world safe would now seem to be appropriate for all political ‘sides’ - in the USA and the rest of the sane world - there can’t be much more ramp left up which Trump’s increasingly adversarial tone can ascend.
‘Change’ seems to be the driving force behind the man’s support. Not the same kind of positivity shown 8 years ago prior to Persistent Obama’s success, no. This change is as dark as things get in the so-called civilised world…
I have a theory. Soon ‘The Donald’ will do something so ridiculous and… no, abhorrent, that the Republican Party - and US voters with at least half a brain - will be FORCED to shun the man. Nothing he’s done thus far has worked, but I can imagine his growing despair as each initiative fails.
To be fair though, I thought that about the run-up to Brexit; surely no-one would be daft-enough to vote ‘Leave’ knowing how ill-prepared we were, how ill-prepared we remain. Look how wrong I was there!
31 July 2016
Because there’s nothing else in this world worth commenting on, not yesterday’s family trip to Blackpool, not Brexit, not terrorism or the perceived threats from people we don’t know to our way of life, not climate change, not all the other things, I shall post a link to an article about Donald Trump.
Its nothing major, merely relating to yet another of his insensitive statements. It’s nothing particularly inflammatory, especially compared to some of the insane opinions he’s voiced, no.
The article itself is, to be fair, almost incidental to the gradual expansion of the footnote accompanying every Trump-related article on the HuffPost site.
Please visit and scroll and click the links within the Editor’s Note:
Trump Responds To Father Of Killed American Soldier, Can’t Name A Single Sacrifice