Every day it seems, some public figure pontificates that life would be so much better if we just did what their pet academic suggests. Give up another freedom, do what you’re told peasant, because we’re so much more clever than wot you is, thickie. We will save the world if you just sit down and shut up (although I’d really, really like to know who they’re saving it for and what from – probably for themselves and the hoi polloi, surprise, surprise, won’t get a look in). After all, they’ve got all those letters after their names, nary a one from the bailiffs (That we hear about), so they must know what they’re talking about, right? So the rest of we mortals should just shut our moronic mouths, bend over, and take it up the chuff. Whether we like it or not. As usual. Yet wasn’t something similar out of their mouths in 2011?
Excuse me if I sound a smidge more grouchy than usual, because I’ve been having a fairly unfestive reduced fat, salt and taste Christmas at the in-laws this year. Both of whom are slimly built with BMI’s in the ‘normal’ range, doing enough exercise to keep two couples their age fit. Yet, according to their physicians, both have blood pressure and cholesterol ‘issues’ meaning both are on a permanent regime of statins. My drug use by comparison, is limited to a couple of painkillers every now and again. Maybe once a month, if that. My blood pressure, on a diet rich in fats, proteins and salt, although very light on grains and gluten, is (wait for it) a rather staid one twenty five over eighty at rest.
In addition, despite all the in-laws talk of how many fabulous, just fabulous dahleeng, recipe’s they knew, none of said comestibles were observed on or anywhere near our plates. So, following a less than happy yuletide visit I will say this; whatever my dear wife’s blandishments I’m not going there again because next Christmas I intend to be somewhere else. Berlin perhaps. China maybe. Or Alpha Centauri, the Andromeda galaxy, whatever. And all the festive seasons thereafter. Somewhere I don’t have to keep my bloody mouth clamped firmly shut because my wife’s sister and her husband have ‘mainstream’ (Islingtonite) corporate views. Sorry Bill, but you can’t say you don’t believe in man made global warming and totalitarianism, that would like saying you like to torture kittens. Notwithstanding, I rather like animals. In-laws by comparison, have never been observed to have so much as a goldfish around the house. They didn’t much like my dog while he was alive, either. Bill Sticker rule of socialisation 64B para 4: Never trust anybody who doesn’t like animals.
Sister in law hasn’t liked me since the moment Mrs S introduced me to her clan and sis-in-law greeted my appearance with “Oh, it speaks!” Now I know I’m a big quiet (mostly – honest officer) guy who can appear (very) intimidating at times, but really I’m just a big ol’ teddy bear who likes nothing better than having his back scratched, a good book and a quiet corner. But doesn’t much care for being prodded. Nor insulted to my face by a then total stranger. Then told I couldn’t simply ignore their bad manners or retaliate in any way shape or form. On last visit sis-in-law also called me paranoid for not wanting big government to oversee my every motion. Which firmly zipped my lip for the rest of the visit. If it wasn’t for my deep and abiding affection for my lady wife, I would have verbally ripped Sis-in-law a new one on the spot and walked out never to return, but you can’t do that (So I’m told). Anyway, that’s beside the point. She is a lifetime corporate drone with an awful letterbox grimace doing duty as a smile. So much so even I can see where the “A smile is evolved from a threat gesture” idea came from. Her conversation was limited to how rich and wonderful ‘her’ friends are. Repeatedly.
Speaking of which, now where was I? Oh yes. Academics and public authority figures. Now let me make this clear, I have nothing against others having a more extended education. Let those who are best suited to such study keep going to college or Uni. Let those degrees pile up. Let them expand their minds and delve into the very essence of matter and space / time and the tiniest nuances of DNA. Develop their intellects to Charles Atlas like proportion. Only I wish others would keep more of it to themselves instead of trying to kick intellectual sand in other people’s faces.
There was a time when Academics, oh best beloved, were rarer and stuck to their studies, mostly eschewing the world outside their dreaming spires and ivory towers, leaving the rest of us mere mortals alone. Now they twitter, tweet and publish, making all sorts of theoretical claims. Now pay attention at the back. I say, you boy! Remember that word, theory. Which some people confuse with postulate, which isn’t even enough to qualify as an hypothesis. Theories are partially ‘proven’ (Under given criteria), postulates are not, got that? I will be asking questions later. I hope you brought enough Scientific Method for everybody or the whole class has to stay behind.
Now all this would be fine if these wild postulates stayed corralled within the realm of academia. Academics should discuss and argue their postulates and theories. Between themselves. The problem is funding. Academics need to live too. Under the current system, to live they must publish in academic journals. Which is unfortunate, as a lot of ideas that really need the lumps knocked off them are published way too soon. Then politicians and activists sink their claws in and go quoting specific papers as gospel, when the publications in question are really just ideas for checking, duplication, replication, proof or rebuttal. Let’s say, ‘When reverse pummeling Transept A, B and C did K. I think it’s because K is a specific value of N, a subset of D which correlates with F. Does anyone else get the same answers?’ Which is what may have a lot of science researchers doing massive faceplalms when the media get hold of (or are fed) their carefully thought out postulations. Perhaps vouchsafing; “Oh God, I never said that K was related to mutant flesh eating bacteria at all. Can’t these people read. Who wrote that effing press release?” Then heaving a massive sigh of relief because publication means they actually get paid for the next year. Only a politician or activist on the make would ever claim “The science is settled.” Because science is never settled. Even Hawking says he got it wrong about event horizons (abstract here) and has since amended his views in the light of evidence. Peer review or no.
Speaking of evidence, are the polar ice caps and glaciers still there? Er yes. Polar Bears? Doing nicely thank you. World not ended because someone switched on the Large Hadron Collider? Still here. Is the Oil running out. Cheaper and more plentiful than ever it would seem. More superstorms? Not so you’d notice, no. The end of snow? Not in Las Vegas this year, or the year before. Ahem, are we noticing a developing theme here? Not doomed? That’s nice. Denier? Who’s them then? Not me. The only people in denial are the prophets of doom. You know who you are. Wankers.
To everyone else, a very anxiety free, safe, prosperous and above all happy 2015 (Yes, even to my insulting Sister-in-law). See you next year sometime.