What goes on?

….in your heart,

What goes on in your mind,

You are tearing me apart,

When you treat me so unkind.

R. Starky.

Tap tap. Is this thing on?

Recently, my commute has involved significantly less public transport and worse, less walking from the pool to the home office. Hence I am finding fewer opportunities to write here and my consumption of podcasts has increased.

A pleasant diversion from my usual Chem Trails, Pizzagate, lizard invasion podcast themes has included a couple of good astronomy channels.

I’ve heard some interesting discussions on the Drake Equation and Fermi’s Paradox, where the speakers have been wrestling with the juxtaposition of the magnitude of the number of possible life-bearing planets yet the deafening silence emanating from them.

So… possible scenarios;

  1. We’re alone
  2. We’re the only intelligent life
  3. Intelligent life is so incredibly rare we may never meet or even exist simultaneously
  4. We’re like animals in a zoo, observed by a vastly more advanced civilisation

There’s precedence in human history for scenario 4…. it is similar to how we treat the inhabitants of North Sentinel Island.

What a terrifying concept it would be to learn we are being watched by a civilisation that might solve our energy, health, longevity problem and perhaps remove many of our triggers for deadly conflicts…. yet they don’t lift a finger.

If you were a child on the North Sentinel Island, and at this very moment you became aware that in the same world you were living, there were hospitals, dentists, pain relief, cures for diseases that may have recently killed your family, education, warm clothes, supermarkets full of nourishing food, candy and Xboxes, etc, would you be happy with the alien zookeeper’s decision to keep you in the Stone Age on North Sentinel Island?

Let’s give the child a name, so we might think less abstractly; Sebastian.

How do you think Sebastian would feel once that knowledge of a safer, less precarious life was gained?

Hard to know, but I’m going to guess anger is up towards the top of Sebastian’s list.

And yet, here we are, leaving Sebastian to the mercy of situations we solved as a species hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of years ago.

But, of course, the North Sentilese are a unique case, right?

We generally prioritise the well-being of children in remote and isolated communities. It’s morally the right thing to do, if we know we can vastly improve their physical well-being and longevity.

Or, is it a lot more common than we’d like to admit?

Australian life expectancy is 81 years (male) to 85 years (female), unless one is living in very remote Aboriginal community, in which case, it’s 66 and 70. 15 years difference.

It’s not completely comparable to the North Sentinelese, but it’s analogous.

In the meantime, a lot of airtime and Canberra hours (they’re like normal hours except they cost YOU money) are being expended on a campaign called The Voice from the Heart, which may culminate in a referendum laster this year.

What is the campaign lobbying for?

We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.

Ok. Any more detail on what legal form that might take, maybe what it means practically to aboriginal people or even the taxpayer?

If you can find something more, good luck.

In fact, one of the main members of the campaign has explicitly said we shouldn’t concern ourselves with the details.

Well, that’s ok then.

Bill’s Opinion

I will admit to two changes of opinion with this. Firstly, I was against it, because it looked like another lipstick on a pig solution that wouldn’t address the health and well-being of all the Sebastians living hundreds of miles from a modern hospital.

Then, after some discussion with a good friend who is close to the campaign, I thought “why not?”.

Now, I find myself wondering about Mary Kane and her son, Charles Foster. She knew she couldn’t provide for him on the farm and, once gold was discovered, she arranged for his education and well-being away from their remote community.

Perhaps we should use The Voice discussion to have a conversation about the morality of choosing not to bring Sebastian into town?


Brexit betrayed

This time 2 years ago, cometh the hour, Boris was the man with an 89 seat majority, a mandate to get Brexit done, and indeed he did.

How has that gone for Britain, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar? Scores out of 10?

Can we give negative numbers? What a pile of shite.

Full disclosure: I voted for Brexit. Why?

A good axiom is, if anyone ever tries to tell you Brexit was about immigration, they probably voted Remain.

The reasons I voted leave, most important first, were:

  • Primacy of Common Law, with its emphasis on “everything being legal unless explicitly stated as not”; the opposite to the Napoleonic Code,
  • Democracy; a return to knowing who writes your laws and the ability to fire them,
  • An ability to negotiate trade with the Commonwealth,
  • Control of our borders. Note; not closing our borders, just deciding who can cross them.

Law: Two years on, we have an Online Harms bill likely to be passed into law, the draft of which has outlived 4 Prime Ministers so far. This bill will introduce concepts such as outsourcing the policing of “Legal but harmful” content to the big tech companies.

Seriously, “legal but harmful” is in a law? So that content is now illegal then, presumably? Orwell wouldn’t have even written that.

Democracy: The democratically-elected government took away more citizens’ rights and quicker than in two world wars. And how did Her Majesty’s Opposition do during the Covid lockdowns to hold the government to account? “Harder and earlier”, seemed to be their main idea. Thanks guys.

Trade: We’ve signed some trade deals. We’ve also royally fucked up our economy in the meanwhile by wetting the bed over Covid. No, “everyone else did too” isn’t an excuse.

Immigration: 46,000 people crossed the Channel in little boats last year. Forty six thousand. That’s getting into Dunkirk flotilla territory.

You cannot in all seriousness consider the UK a sovereign nation if it can’t prevent 46,000 people landing uninvited on its beaches in a year.

It’s a sold out football stadium travelling in Zodiacs. Fuck me, Zodiac probably made as much easy money as Pfizer last year.

The only explanation is that the UK government is not trying to stop these boats. 46,000 is far beyond incompetence as the excuse.

Bill’s Opinion

Historians will look back at this period and have to do a double take when they realise which party was in power for the last 12 years.

The Conservatives used to be the party of law and order, low tax, small government, fiscal responsibility, controlled immigration, and home ownership. Say those characteristics out loud now without laughing.

They have taken the social contract and burned it on a pile of Bank of England printed Monopoly money.

In an alternate universe, Brexit could have seen company tax rates abolished, free ports established just off the coast of Europe, and virtual services sold to the globe. The UK could be Singapore in the eastern Atlantic today if the political will was there.

What a wasted opportunity. The Conservative Party should never be trusted with government again. They’ve shown themselves to be pathologically lacking in character, courage, self-confidence and integrity. What little they have left to offer is corrupt deals for crony mates.

Salt the ground.