Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Nightmares & the Chinese Curse

I believe it was Joyce who said history is a nightmare from which we try to recover. But which are more upsetting, the nightmares of the past or the nightmares of the future? Terrorists are just itching to get their hands on a nuke. Bush, it seems to me, is just itching for a war with Iran. Meanwhile Nature is Nature, confident of getting the last word. Nature always wins. Which leaves us with ...

Climate change warning for Sydney
By Nick Bryant
BBC News, Sydney

A report on the effects of climate change in Australia paints an alarming picture of life in the city of Sydney.

It warns that if residents do not cut water consumption by more than 50% over the next 20 years, the city will become unsustainable.

Read the story.

Jan. 30, 2007 (ABC News) — A major new report on global warming slated to be released Friday raises new fears that the earth's climate is changing faster than anyone thought possible.

Today, 500 of the world's top scientists are meeting behind closed doors to finish a landmark report on global warming, and the picture they paint is not pretty. They say significant changes in the climate could start happening within the next 10 years.

Read the story.

Bush accused of distorting evidence on climate change
By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
Published: 31 January 2007

The Bush administration has been accused of routinely misleading the public over the threat of global warming and of orchestrating efforts to try to suppress scientific findings that highlight the reality of climate change.

Read the story.

Which brings me back, as so often, to Thornton Wilder's faith that we survive somehow by "the skin of our teeth." We probably will -- but, as Hawking suggests, not here. On the moon. On Mars. The human game goes on.

I feel blessed to be of my generation. Truly do. Blessed for a variety of reasons, as I've said here before.
  • Born before Pearl Harbor, so I have memory of "a just war"
  • Solid parents who cared for their kids more than themselves (i.e. before the Age of Arrogance)
  • Came of age before TV, so not raised by it
  • Grew up when hitchhiking was safe and an honorable mode of transportation -- folks helped you out without fearing you were a serial killer
  • In the Army I served between "hot" wars, after Korea, before Vietnam, the Cold War far less dangerous but still engaging and exciting
  • Started college when at a public institution like Cal/Berkeley, tuition for a term was about a week's wages -- i.e. college was affordable
  • In small towns across America, business was still done on a handshake. My buddy Dick got a bank loan for college from a small Idaho bank on a handshake. After he had the check, they sent him an application for their records!
  • Did not have to grow up in an age of Whining, Refusing Responsibility, and Quick-Fix Quacks. Nobody was a victim of anything. Shit happens and you deal with it.
  • Lived and paid attention long enough to know that in many areas of life "progress" is a complete myth. Some things get worse, not better. Entropy. Nature wins.
  • etc etc etc.

Maybe most folks are delighted to belong to whatever generation they belong to. If Satan himself appeared to make a deal with me, giving me my youth back, I'd tell him to take a hike. You couldn't pay me to be young today. You couldn't pay me to be younger today. I'm happy exactly where I am in the space-time continuum, thank you very much. I lived my younger years at a better time than now, I'm at the top of my game as a writer to reflect on my experiences, and I retain the writer's curiosity to watch, from as far away as I can get, how the whole mess is going to unravel and come apart -- or ("by the skin of our teeth") not.

Remember that Chinese curse? May you live in interesting times.

P.S. Depression is not the only response to the facts of existence. Another is wonder at how much good there is despite the bad (or perhaps because of the bad in a zero-sum universe, the possible cosmic connection between Bach and serial killers) and especially an appreciation of our individual moments of contentment. I don't have to focus on global warming. I can focus on Sketch's steadfast determination to get me to play tug-the-toy with him. I can focus on the blue sky outside. I can focus on writing this.

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