Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Dumbing Down

I have a bus pass (by reason of my age). So I have started using the bus instead of my car. The savings I make by leaving the car at home are essential, as I have joined the army of those euphemistically referred to as being on ‘limited income’, or, sometimes, ‘fixed income’; or even, not to put too fine a point on it, ‘low income’. That last description could be considered by some to be tactless, or even politically incorrect – but that’s because it is the most accurate. To be described as ‘poor’ is of course unacceptable!

It’s all relative of course – the fact that I have a car to leave at home puts me a cut above many in this country, and makes me unbelievably rich compared to millions in the world.

In this country, particularly in the media, we seem to have arrived at a point where we decline to face certain truths (in case we offend) while at the same time over-clarifying other truths to the point of imbecility.

It is both fascinating and irritating to listen to certain broadcast interviewers, mostly those with enlarged egos, who constantly interrupt their interviewees to clarify that which needs no clarification for the benefit of an audience who (they assume) have not been keeping up with events for at least a year! I get particularly frustrated when listening to ‘Any Questions’ chaired by (or should I say ‘hosted’ by) Jonathon Dimbleby, son of a broadcasting genius, friend of the heir to the British throne, and patroniser par excellence. The amount of air time he spends interrupting the panel to over-elaborate, or over explain, for the sake of listeners who may have no idea what the context of the question is, must be a significant percentage of available air time – and yet his listening audience are likely to be well informed, or they wouldn’t be listening in the first place!

Another truth which could do with being addressed with greater clarity and fewer euphemisms is the fact that many of us are too fat! Yes, I dared to use the F word...

There is so much talk of ‘clinical obesity’, Body Mass Index and the rest that most of us who are too fat (yes, that includes me!) are not made to face up to the truth – I like my food and I like my wine, and physically, I am reluctant to over indulge in exercise.

Back to the bus-ride.

I have noticed that small children on the bus are almost always eating, crisps, or chocolate, or biscuits or some other comforting snack produced by a loving parent in order to quieten the child while the parent concentrates on ‘texting’!

So it follows that a substantial number of teenagers on the same bus have not kicked the habit instigated by their parents, and are chewing on something.

And when the bus slows at the pedestrian traffic lights, to allow a stream of students to cross to or from the Pizza Hut or MacDonalds which have been thoughtfully built near the college, I am tempted so much to leap up and shout, “You are all eating far too much junk and it is going to kill you!!”

Of course, it wouldn’t make any difference – the explanation would be too simple to be taken seriously.

So perhaps I should just go home and concentrate on eating and drinking less, and taking more exercise!

Thursday, 11 September 2008

The Odd Behaviour Of Governments

There seems to be no limit to the bizarre behaviour of nations and their governments.

Recent news from the Arctic Ocean makes me think of a hungry wild animal fighting off others so that it can eat its own leg.

The expanse of Arctic ice has shrunk in both area and thickness to an unprecedented degree, so that it is now possible to circumnavigate the ice. The reduction in the ice area is caused by global warming which itself is caused largely by our profligate burning of various types of fossil fuel. As the area of light-reflecting ice reduces, the area of heat-absorbing water increases. The extra heat absorbed from the sun causes more ice-melt.... and so on.

I am a mere private citizen, and what seems obvious to me may not be as simple as I think it is – but logic suggests to me that the way forward is to burn less fossil fuel.

But logic suggests to national governments that we should take full advantage of this dramatic ice melt to tap into hitherto inaccessible oil fields to produce more fossil fuels so that we can melt the ice even faster!

Not only that – the nations concerned have already started squabbling over boundaries, borders, mineral rights and the like.

One good thing though – if we melt all the ice there won’t be a shortage of water (although it will mostly be in the wrong place)!