Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sunday Scribbles IXXX

It's just gone 8am, and the day is looking perfect. I've been reading a couple of my favourite blogs, and occasionally looking outside: a light sunshower's comingdown now, and the heat of the sun coming through the window is brushing my skin. It's a beaut morning, folks. Makes me think of how much fun it was to be five years old.

Jenny worked yesterday, and came home to a few treats. There was me, of course, fully dressed, which is a bonus. I'd spent a couple of hours making sure that things were right for her: there was the smell of warm bread through the house, there was an icy gin and tonic waiting, and I was busy in the kitchen. We're eating a little earlier in the evening these days, so by 6 I had the pasta on the table.. and it was, even if I say so myself, delicious. We sat and talked and chatted and laughed for an hour and a half, and killed a very respectable bottle of rose. I had old favourites on the stereo: Dean Martin, Doris Day, Sammy Davis jr, Bobby Darin. The only thing missing was the red-checkered napkins: for a ruistic peasant=sty;le feed a pair of flash white linen napkins don't quite cut it.

I am, obviously, the perfect husband.

We discussed what we'd do if we won Lotto. It's a funny thing, but since we got made redundant and lost everything, our needs aren't great. I'd buy an old 1964 / 65 three litre Rover for myself, and have it done up: air con, a good stereo, leather seats re-upholstered, motor rebuild, catalytic converter, etc. Very good examples of these grand old cars are available for around $13,000, so I should be able to get a perfect one remade for less than $30,000. Jenny wants a PT Cruiser. There's no telling. We would buy a little place in Waihi, or nearby. And the kids would all do well. Then we'd travel a bit. Jenny wants to see the great American civil war battle sites... and Venice. I want to travel through Spain, Portugal, and England. It would be a terrific tour.

Heard on the radio yesterday that someone (don't know who) is suggesting religious studies should be taught at school. I heartily concur. Like it or not, much of the aggro between West and Middle east does have religion at its core. Our kids need to understand what's going on. We are a Judeo-Christian civilisation, and those two religions have provided us with most of ours laws and societal bricks. The Judeo-Muslim civilisations gave us the core of our sciences: mathematics, astronomy, ship-building, navigation. Our children need to know what has made us, and our Muslim / Buddhist / Hindu / whatever neighbours what we all are.

They don't need religious instruction: I, like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, consider that a form of child abuse. But we do need religious studies. Christianity and Islam have given the world a great deal that is positive. The Bible and the Q'ran are magnificent pieces of literature, and our kids need to know what's in them in order to understand our future.

LISTENING TO: Carol King, "Tapestry". It's one of the great albums.

READING: Elizabeth Longford, "Wellington". It's the definitive biography of one of recent history's greatest men.

MOVIES: We watched Nicolas Cage's "Knowing" last night. It surprised me: intelligent, thoughtful, sentimental.

Paper Heroes:

The Heinlein battery is created: a fist-sized unit, it is capable of storing enough energy to power a family air-car for more than 50,000 kilometres before recharging.
Every person in the Commonwealth is routinely inoculated with nanobot machines at birth. These machines flood the bloodstream, doing a more efficient job of scouring disease then white blood cells had ever done. They speed recovery from wounds and breakages. Working alongside the ever-practical nanobots were the specialised embots: when the Commonwealth decides by an overwhelming popular vote that violence and warfare is untenable and illegal, the microbe-sized nanotech computers are programmed to make it extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, for a person to contemplate such actions. Embots reacted not to thought, but to the hormonal and bio-chemical changes that trigger the body’s fight-or-flight reactions. As the decades rolled by, they became more sophisticated, working directly in the brain to neutralise the mood centres, to modify the synapses that snap into action when violence is contemplated. It literally became impossible to think of harming another person or sentient creature by either omission or commission. There were, however, exceptions: a group of no more than a dozen people at any time had limited embot enhancement. These select few were able to consider, in the abstract, the theory of violence. These people, and their facilities, were the extent of the Commonwealth’s defence expenditure and planning. The individuals involved were, by all measures, insane: their thought patterns were so distant from society’s norms that they were viewed with great suspicion and caution. Not, however, fear: fear was an emotional, bio-chemical, and bio-mechanical response that was enormously difficult to have. Even individuals whose lives were in immediate peril didn’t experience fear. Fear, in most cases, was debilitating, and took a person’s ability to reason away from them. At times of danger, a person relied on their P-See to save them. The planet was populated by a people who lived in complacency: they were safe, they were wealthy, their children were smarter than they were. The solar system was their oyster, and Earth their glittering pearl, nascent with promise, peace, and prosperity.
Then, in May, 2385, the deaths began. And, a few short weeks later, a plan was made by a dozen insane people.

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