Tuesday, 20 April 2010

When God flicked his cigarette...

...every plane in Europe sat idle.

Strange, that. I remember Mount St. Helen's erupting. It was all over the news and the gunge coming out of it was all over the place. When the planet popped that particular zit, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth because the scaremongers wanted to convince us that we were going the way of the dinosaurs. The whole planet was to be affected by Helen's Ash of Death.

In the UK, I noticed no difference at all. I don't recall the Americans grounding all their planes. Rather, I seem to remember flypast after flypast of the popping zit of Gaia with reporters marvelling at just how much crap one mountain could hold.

When Iceland burst a pimple, a thin cloud of yellow gunge drifted our way. We were told to worry about third-hand erupting or some such thing and stay indoors in case the Icelandic Ash of Death landed on us.

Then we were told nah, it won't hurt you.

It certainly didn't hurt me. I've been looking out for this aerial phenomenon and haven't seen a trace of it.

What the scaremongers forget is that they are now dealing with people who have been convinced of the deadliness of third hand tobacco smoke. If they can be induced to wet themselves at the traces left by half a gram of leaves wrapped in paper, how much will their underwear fill at the thought of a whole mountain's worth of deadly dust headed their way? This calls for some serious reinforced gusset technology, I'd say.

For a week, no plane has flown. A helicopter passed overhead today and I noticed it because it's the first noisy flying thing to pass this way for a while. There's an airport some 15 miles away and I'm on the approach path so noisy flying things don't generally get noticed any more. It's going to be a surprise when they finally get back to work.

Why, though? Why close down all airports because of something that has happened before and which didn't close all airports before? Have we become so feebly risk-averse that the slightest hint of possible bruising is terrifying to us now? I think, in many cases, the answer must be 'yes'. I have bruises at the moment from my current bout of devastation gardening. Gardening has stopped for the moment because it's snowing here but will resume when global warming remembers what it's been ordered to do. Bruises heal, some injuries don't, serious injury can kill us. Being killed is best avoided, sure, but to the extent of not doing anything at all, just in case?

People often tell me I should give up smoking and drinking so much because it's bad for me. On that basis I should give up crossing the street because that can be bad for me in a rather more immediate and definitely terminal way. Crossing the street carries risk. Reading the newspapers or watching the news can make me enraged and risk a heart attack. I sometimes cut myself gardening. Yesterday I was moving a frost-ruined plant pot when it shattered and my mud-caked fingers turned red. I washed them, dried them and stuck plasters on. I risk tetanus or other infection by gardening. Should I just let it all go to hell?

Dick Puddlecote is of similar mind. In another post, he links to the story of a brave lunatic who does mad things for fun. Take a look at those comments on the Daily Tremble article.

A sample:

What if he forgets to open the parachute, what then?
- Salon, Nottignham, 20/4/2010 13:21

Well, then he dies. However, I suspect that the speed of descent would clue him in that he's forgotten something. Sandwiches... flask... clean underwear... Parachute! Yes, that's it. Open the parachute. Phew, almost forgot that time. Better make a note.

He only risks himself, nobody else, but the commenters can't allow that. It's dangerous. Stay with the herd. If you go out on your own you might discover something amazing but the lions might get you. It's just not worth it.

For some, it is. Under the dreadful yoke of the current herd mentality, the South and North poles would still be marked as 'here there be dragons' because nobody would be permitted to go there. Yuri Gagarin would have been sectioned for instability - you want to do what? Sit on top of a huge firework in a little tin box and be shot into space? Madness!

The Wright Brothers would have been arrested for endangering themselves. Edison would have been imprisoned for trying to get people to buy a thin glass bulb with a vacuum inside, and then run a high voltage through it. Tesla would have been shot for the safety of the herd because he did some wonderfully wild stuff. Henry Ford would have been ordered to take the engine out of that Model T and tie a horse to it instead.

People traveling on rails behind something that runs on high pressure steam? Insanity! Gas running through pipes right into people's homes? Oh, the risk! A coal fire - indoors? A bridge over the river? What if it falls down? Safer to go around. Better yet, safer to stay here. It might be dangerous over there.

What if, what if, what if. Once that little phrase led to great things. What if lightning could be harnessed? What if we refined that black oil and made an engine that ran on it? What if we were to build a rocket that could take men to the Moon and back again? What if we ignore that 'edge of the world' stuff and just keep on sailing? Let's try it and see what happens.

Now it is completely reversed. What if someone electrocuted themselves? What if that engine caught fire? What if the rocket couldn't get back? What if the edge of the world is real?

Rather than meaning 'let's find out', it now means 'we dare not try'. The human race has gone, in a very short time, from 'Here goes something new!' to 'Oh, what's the point'. When the dinosaurs died, they had reasons to keep on living. Most of humanity no longer does. For most people, being alive is all there is. They dare not risk doing anything with it.

I don't know whether to write a rallying call for the human race, or an obituary. Either way, I'd probably have to fill out a risk assessment first.

I wonder though, was this plane-grounding all about risk? This was an Icelandic volcano. The Gorgon and his nosegoblins would very much like to blame Iceland for something about now. It will remind people of the terrible, terrible banks that only Labour can save by taking our money and giving it to the naughty bankers with a note saying 'Now don't get caught doing it again'.

The unions wanted to shut down British Airways, and the unions and Labour are the same thing. Could the unions have seen a golden opportunity to smash their hated employers without taking the blame?

Then there's the Met office, desperate to deflect attention from the mess they've made of Climatology. A real and current disaster should do it. As the Climatologists have often said, they'd like a real disaster too because then they could pretend it was due to global warming and start their scare tactics again.

On the whole, I don't think it's down to any conspiracy. Sadly, I think it's down to the general feebleness of the people of the developed world.

Conquer the universe? With this shower? We'll be lucky if humanity can wipe its own backside a hundred years from now.

Brian Aldiss wrote a short story called 'The Failed Men'. It's reprinted in another of his collections and if you read it in the current world climate, it will depress you immensely. I read it many years ago and it is still clear in my mind. Even though he is now a Climatologist, that one story expresses exactly where the 'no we can't, it might hurt' mentality is taking us. Unfortunately comments are closedon that CIF entry, or I'd have reminded him.

All planes grounded because God flicked his cigarette.

Imagine what will happen when he stubs it out.


Anonymous said...

I strongly suspect that the reason why all the flights were grounded were simply because or the Government, or the Met office, or air traffic control, or the airports authority, or whoever ultimately had the authority to ground everything, was worried about one thing and one thing only – getting sued if they’d allowed a plane up into said cloud and it had dropped straight back down again. Then, when it didn’t just drift away as they hoped within a day or two, and the airlines started bleating about how much money they were losing, the risk then grew that if they didn’t let the planes up, and it turned out to be harmless after all, they’d get sued by the airlines instead. And the longer the cloud hovered about there, the greater the amount of money they’d be likely to lose in a court action brought by the airlines. Now that the amounts being talked about by the airlines have become greater than the (presumably estimated) amount likely to be demanded by a few hundred individuals whose friends or relatives might have died in a crash, the restriction has been lifted. As with everything with the "authorities" these days, it all boils down to liability and money.

Leg-iron said...

Money talks. It just doesn't seem to say anything that makes any sense.

subrosa said...

I now switch off when anyone speaks about planes, or the lack of them.

So many people moaning. I was shouting at the TV 'for gawd sake get up for your backside and make your way towards the English Channel.' Then decided people are so indoctrinated these days they need to be told what to do.

I'm sure if I'd been 'stranded' I'd have turned it into another travel adventure. Had quite a few when a lassie. ;)

Junican said...

I think that LI's main point here was that people in general are terrified of taking a risk, even though they seem to take silly risks such as crossing roads without looking. I think LI sees the situation in terms of people being so brainwashed that they see risks in terms of what the government tells them are risks rather than using their own intelligence and powers of observation.

But do you not think, LI, that the worm is beginning to turn? On the politics show at lunchtime today, the Labour Minister (I forget his name, Ainsworth?) was getting a terrible roasting from Paxo over police excesses - such as arresting people for taking photos, the DNA database, using the anti-terrorist laws unreasonably, and such. And that was on the BBC!

It may be that this fracas over the volcano will continue the process that people like you, Frank Davies, Dick Puddlecote and many others started. The thing is, regardless of the result of the election (which is only a passing thing, of no real importance whatsoever), keep on keeping on! Fight against the non-scientific stuff put out by climateologists. Fight for liberty. Above all, as regards the smoking ban, fight against the use of publicans as enforcers of state decrees and fight for the right of people to allow legal acts on their own properties.

How on earth publicans allowed themselves to be used as policemen is totally beyond my comprehension. It really is. The only excuse is that the government actually sprung this law on us all as a trap. Until the third reading of the Health Act 2006, the law was supposed to be going to be a ban in food serving places, but not in non-food places and private clubs. The trap was sprung and it worked, and that is the real reason that government ministers are claiming that the ban has been a great success.

I think that people are gradually learning. Not the masses, but those who can think. I know that that sounds awful, but it seems to me to be a matter of fact. It is not awful if one understands that by 'The Masses' one means those who are so wrapped up in their own personal circumstances that they find it difficult to look outside.

There is always a straw that breaks the camel's back. We wait to see what that will be. Smoking in private cars? Who knows.

Anonymous said...

Pioneers have always been fearless or have had enquiring minds. The great majority are scared - always have been. Fear of failure. Riddled with insecurity. Held back by lack of self-esteem.

Labour panders to the lowest common denominator - actively encouraging its thinking. Now, that lowest common denominator has a voice - several voices; in every organisation in the country, especially state schools. They are now the chattering class.

Failure likes company and if it had its way, would stop everyone else from achieving, because it makes them look and feel bad.

Anonymous said...

LI, the one question no-one’s being allowed to ask on radio or television is, “how much carbon is this volcano spewing into the atmosphere?”

The answer to that question would totally f**k up the eco-mentalists because it’ll be thousands upon thousands of tonnes over just one week.

James said...

Were the RAF or USAF grounded?

Tim Aldiss said...

I wouldn't call Brian Aldiss a climatologist!

We've set up a group for readers to leave a comment for him in his 85th birthday year over on Facebook. Don't know if you'd care to say something on there but I thought I'd post the URL.


Thanks for a good read.


delcatto said...

Money certainly talks. When I was 16 years old I could find jobs, low paid and often non-unionised with attendant risks attached. However, I worked and earned a wage and I was happy because I was a 'real adult'.
My son is 17 and he attends college two adys a week so as to eventually become an electrician. He wants to be his own boss, make money and enjoy the fruits of his labour. Remember, for any trolls or twata out there, he is only 17 years old before you start attacking his naivety. He couldn't even get a job at McDonald's! There is no work and any there is tends to go to over 18's because of the laws pertaining to children, health & safety, etc... He wants to work but there is bugger all to be had. Before any New labour trolls get started, I am a nurse working in the NHS who has done well under this govt. but why then do I feel that if I vote for Brown I am selling my country, the future of my son and others of his generation and my soul. The one saving grace is that I have the skills, experience and knowledge to move abroad but why should I?

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention this possible reason for the 'no-fly' order.


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