We are an odd species at the best of times, but I’m beginning to wonder – if the next bit of evolution does ever kick in, which I doubt – whether it’ll be progress or a regression. My reasons for thinking this are myriad, but most of them are surprisingly obvious. Or perhaps that should read ‘dangerously obvious’.
Take the fact that, over the last thirty years, we have handed over virtually every technological function to the computer and the internet….what young people in my country call “digi-ull”. These two forms of ‘progress’ now run everything – and are in such an advanced state of perfection, on the odd (daily) occasion when things go wrong, the usual advice is “have you tried switching it off and then on again?”. Digital mobile telephones, for example, are amazing. I mean they must be right, because, because we’re up to G4 and counting, and G is for good. Listen to a mobile conversation however, and it will consist of “say again/you’re breaking up/the reception’s terrible here/call me back on the land line”.
We have digital satellite television. Wow. Digi-ull and space: the final frontier, the future has arrived. And to accommodate it, we’ve turned off analogue. You remember analogue: that was the TV with 625 lines so you didn’t have half your wall taken up with the screen; but come clouds, trees, bugs, thunderstorms and boil-plagues, it worked. All the time, non-stop. And the programmes were worth watching. Instead of Small Drama and Documentary, we now have Big Shit and topless darts. Quite a trade, that one.
I won’t go into the 24/7 lying, privacy invasion, job-losses and general surveillance that came with the internet: that’s another essay for another day. I’ll just stay with the Snafu theme. Skype is a genius real-time plus visual contact system that works brilliantly…if you turn the camera off. You can talk to people anywhere in the world, if you’re fascinated by disjointed lip-sync and hearing your own echo. And you can make as many calls as you want for next to nothing…which you have to do, because Skype drops about 2 in 3 of them.
Most of the little things that cause the yelling and tonsorial tugging of users are made in China. And here again, the inexplicable behaviour of Homo sapiens stands out for all to see, in that we’ve bought so much of the crap they produce, they’re the biggest creditor nation in the world – and we all owe them trillions of dollars. We have paid good money to watch OK software screwed up by hardware of dire quality….thus winding up frustrated, broke, and shuffling about on our knees every time a Chinese delegation hits town.
The best scam of all to come out of the PRC is the solar garden light – which remains, fifteen years on, heavily demanded despite the fact that it is the only form of lighting in the world that you can see, but it doesn’t actually throw light, as such: it sits there in the ground and just is. You can see there’s a light, because it’s atop the stalk. Everything else remains unchanged. So if you’ve a mind to land a plane on your lawn, then you have a complete set of solar runway lights for a mere £50. Chinese garden lights are not suitable for any other purpose.
Half of all Chinese pens don’t write. Most break within a week. I bought a Chinese bin-liner last year, and when I pulled it from the bin, lo, the bag was empty: conjuring at its best. The garbage was, unfortunately, still in the bin, minus only the liner.
But only the British government is prepared to go that extra mile to prove a sort of desperately deranged mindset. For we, in our wisdom, have decided to give the People’s Republic of China the right to be involved (and invest heavily) the UK’s Nuclear plant renewal programme.
Now fine, there’s Christmas tree lights, and there’s nuclear power. When the lights don’t work (or get stuck on the entertainingly flashing program 5) the kids will yell and Dad will swear, but nobody dies. Usually. But nuclear power: that’s a whole different kettle of fish, some of which have seven eyes.
So in the light of that reality, I want to pose a few questions for HMG re this involvement by Beijing:
1. Are the batteries included?
2. Once they’re installed, will I light up in the dark?
3. Given that Britain is not unlike Japan (small, overcrowded and never far from the sea) have the words Fukushima, poor build quality, meltdown and fish destruction been brought up as issues in the corridors of power?
4. Does cross-referencing the new sites with let’s-get-fracking areas produce any correlation? Only, if it’s above 10%, we could be cooking meltdown stew on gas. The upside would be enough energy generated slowly to last the UK 23,000 years. The downside would be releasing it all in 0.000563% of a millisecond.
5. Are we doing any active research into new solar breakthroughs in the energy space, or is the plan to install non-lithium atom bombs (supplied by a totalitarian crap-factory) it?
6. Do we have a means of escape when it all goes belly up? If not, I know a very good rocket scientist in North Korea, and he says….