A Happy Christmas from your favourite blogger!
Reading on I discover that not only was the research into developing this revolutionary new bog cleaner undertaken by three Nobel Prize laureates! But it even has the blessing of the Pope! Furthermore, when the cleaner comes into full commercial production, the purpose-built factory making the bloody stuff will be the size of 12 football pitches! Or put another way: if the amount of paper wasted reporting such bollocks were cut into inch-wide strips and laid end to end, they would stretch from here to the Moon and back 20 times!
Perhaps even that bargain-price analogy isn’t helping you imagine the sheer scale and magnificence of the project, so try this: if all the paper wasted reporting such bollocks were repeatedly folded in two, getting smaller all the time, not only would you reach a stage where you could no longer see it, but you would create a small folded piece of paper so dense, you would create your own black hole! Well!
I’m not feeling especially grumpy today (i.e. just as grumpy as usual when I wake up in the morning and reflect that I haven’t had sex for 15 years and not had a good shag for least 17), but I got just a little grumpier when this morning - barely ten minutes ago, in fact - I began my daily round of the newspaper websites and BBC News and came across the remarkable story that ‘Europe has launched the Gaia satellite - one of the most ambitious space missions in history.’ And ‘Gaia is going to map the precise positions and distances to more than a billion stars. This should give us the first realistic picture of how our Milky Way galaxy is constructed. Gaia’s remarkable sensitivity will lead also to the detection of many thousands of previously unseen objects, including new planets and asteroids.’(You can find the BBC’s account here, the Daily Telegraph’s here, the Guardian’s here and the Daily Mail’s here. And if you take a little time to find your way around the Mail science pages, you’ll also come across the startling news that we can soon give our dogs a headset for Christmas which will allow us to read it’s mind and a smartphone app which will help make your conversation a little more interesting and make you less of a boring fuck.
So there we have it: I can soon spend several seconds of my life gazing in rapt wonder of a colour pic of the Milky Way. Not only that, but within five years ‘boffins’ will have a complete map of all billion billion square lightyears of it and if, say, they ever find themselves in a part of it they don’t know - that it if they very get lost - they can simply consult their bloody map and find their way home again. Well! But dear reader - dear, dear reader - my immediate reaction to this utterly fantastic and sensational news was: why? Especially as it is all costing £620 million.
Don’t get me wrong: I yield to no man in my enthusiasm for gazing in wonder at colour pics of distant galaxies (I’m told) made up of a billion stars (I’m told) which do look suspiciously like the wallpaper on my smartphone and which, anyway, I forget about within two seconds of moving on. But give me a break: this whole Gaia exercise is costing a cool £620 million. And each time my one thought is: haven’t we got something more worthwhile on which to spend our shekel? Because, dear reader, make no mistake: it is your money which is being blown on a variety of Polaroids of clouds of pink, blue, yellow and red smoke. (And if you are thinking ‘what the hell, they look beautiful, just look at all that galactic dusk, doesn’t it look like smoke rising from a bonfire’, my advice to you is to go and find yourself a bonfire and gaze at the smoke rising from it: it’s just as beautiful and a lot, lot cheaper.)
I know the argument and I can hear you all now: don’t be such a Luddite, Patrick! What would have happened if Christopher Columbus had settled for a trip to Gibraltor rather taken himself off to discover the New World (well, actually a shorter route to India, but let’s not complicate matters). There would be no Disney, no hamburgers, no Fred Astaire, New York would still be a flat piece of swamp near coast, there would be no Cajun music, no grits, no Beverly Hills High, several thousand Iraqis would still be alive today. Come on, keep up, Patrick: you can’t halt progress!
This is science, man! Think of penicillin, the Pill, we’ve eradicated tuberculosis, we’ve conquered malaria, we can now know what our dogs are thinking! And why? Because of science, man, science! Ah, but dear reader wishy-washy liberal that I am despite suspicions that I am actually just a smidgin right-of-centre in my political and economic views, I can’t help but think of the cost and how that money might well be far better spent elsewhere.
We’re told, for example, that one of the biggest killers of young children in parts of the world is diarrhoea which can easily be cured by a simply mixture of sugar and salt, yet these children are not getting it. And we’re told that in parts of the world folk have to drink the same water they shit in. And we’re told that in parts of the world - mainly Africa and Asia - a great many women die giving birth purely because of unhygenic conditions.
Now wouldn’t it make just a little more sense to spend money on programmes help our young and sick and old rather than setting up cameras in space which can give us ever better, ever clearer and ever more colourful piccies of the Milky Way for our smartphone wallpaper? Or am I just another misanthropic old cunt? Answers, please, on the usual postcard which you can then tear up into samll pieces and stick up your arse.