The Ferret Wheel

A small south European ferret bit through some wires in the Hadron collider last week, and caused the Big Wheel to be shut down for some time at a cost of millions of euros. Being very much a British “let’s hear it for the underdog” sort of bloke, I cannot tell you how happy this news made me. Some years back a tiny green shield-bug crawled into my free-to-air satellite dish here, knocking out all TV reception during the football World Cup Final. Although intensely annoyed by this intrusion into my religious observance, I couldn’t help but pee myself laughing as I applied a 1200 watt vacuum cleaner pipe to the parabola stem, and out shot a family of the little buggers like so many green diamonds on a playing card.

As it happens, the final between Spain and the Netherlands was a deadly dull affair, ending 1-0 to Spain in extra time. I seem to remember the winning goal as a spectacular volley, but that didn’t make up for the 100 minutes of tedium that had preceded it. Maybe, on reflection, the wisdom lay among the shield bugs.

This may also be true of the Ferret broken on the Wheel. I’d imagine that when it finally chomped into the live wire, the interloper was instantly vapourised; but as his or her atoms exploded in all directions, perhaps a train of thought was instantly carried along Einstein’s gravity rope, and it promised “these sapiens plonkers might think they know a thing or two about the speed of light, but very little light has penetrated their brains of late if a furry rodent like me can bugger up the entire experiment simply via the bite of two front teeth”.

If that seems somewhat fanciful to you, what could be more Alice-looking-glass-March-Hare than investors thinking Japan a safe haven when the country’s spent a decade in depression, bought every worthless bond the BoJ can lay its hands on, and is offering the once in a lifetime offer of you lending them money – with you paying for the unique privilege? They developed this scheme with the aim of making their currency (the Yen) worth a lot less, but the result has been it’s now worth a lot more. Ibbledebbledabbledubblebubblehobbledribblegobble.

The thing with ferrets and shield bugs is that they don’t sell, they don’t have money, they don’t have introspection….and thus they don’t hold forth and try to persuade others of their species that the first requirement of forward motion is that you have to accelerate backwards kicking gravel into the air as you do so. They don’t wave at the cameras holding a placard that asserts, “For the poor to be no poorer, three people in every hundred must be disgustingly, illegally, rapaciously rich”. And they don’t pretend that greedy bastards give more to charity the greedier they get.

“Some ideas are so stupid,” said Mark Twain, “only the highly intelligent will entertain them”.

A ferret biting through what looks like tasty food and becoming immediately dead is going to be a rare occurence among his own kind. Equally, the green shield bugs’ chances of being sucked into a Miele vacuum cleaner are more remote than Fred Tonto of Holmes Chapel Cricket Club being abducted by a diplodocus dinosaur.

Nope: it takes the human race – risibly dubbed “sapiens” by itself hahaha – to create situations with a very high likelihood of everything turning into an almighty cockup….and keep using that approach as its default policy going forward.

As a species, we remember everything…and such grudges held lead to war. Sadly, in doing so we learn nothing….and that leads to more war.

Where there is peace, in life there is also death. Where there is war, in death there is also life. Encouraging as the latter may be, trust me: the former is natural, but the latter is viscerally abnormal.

Earlier at The Slog: How local elections show up the flaws in internationalism