Further to my last piece, I noticed that the local supermarket has installed self check-out facilities, thereby displacing six cashiers. Also, the city council now picks up garbage with sophisticated trucks that render the services of squadrons of dustmen obsolete. I heard of machines in use that pick fruit and so dispense with the teams of university students who used to spend their summers earning money for their expenses during the forthcoming semester.
Not so very long ago, strong, but mentally ordinary young men - grunts - could earn their livings by digging holes in the ground. Not so, today. Such chaps are most unlikely to keep themselves going by being IT specialists or financial planners and so, perforce rely on welfare or petty larceny. Along with the cashiers, dust men and fruit pickers, they no longer have sufficient cash to buy widgets. Not sure how society profits from all of this.
An increasingly common trait on news broadcasts is the issue of ‘Trigger Warnings’ before various segments of the broadcasts. So, when the BBC, for example, tells us that hundreds of unfortunates have been trampled to death in Mecca in their enthusiasm to complete the rituals attendant on the hajj and that their reporter Ali bin Ali, is in Mecca, ready to report, we are also informed that many viewers are likely to find some of the images distressing. I know that the World is a nasty place and that many horrid things occur. On being told that we are about to be taken televisually to a disaster zone for news of mayhem, I do not need to be warned of possible distress. I can work that out for myself; moreover I am robust enough to cope with the images. Those that cannot, should avoid the news and confine themselves to soap operas.
I gather that the use of trigger warnings is becoming commonplace in universities. Professors of English are routinely warning their students that War and Peace, for example, contains distressing passages about War and Peace and that students must be ready to cope. What sort of softies are we producing? I await reports of medical students rushing out of pathology classes, shrieking and weeping because the topic of the day is breast cancer and poor Aunite Jane died three weeks ago of that very disease. Perhaps the medical faculty will arrange for really sensitive students to be excused such encounters and allow them to graduate with attached asterisks: MD* (University of Wherever). *Did not study cancer as it was too distressing! I guess that such asterisks would act as useful trigger warnings for prospective patients.
England is in mourning. It managed to secure hosting rights for the World Cup of Rugby, a tournament that is staged every four years. The Rugby Union authorities in England persuaded themselves that the home team had a good shot at winning the Webb Ellis Trophy or the World Cup. Twenty nations possess teams good enough to take part in the competition and they are divided into four pools. During the pool stage, each team plays against the other members of their pool and the two teams that come out on top, go on to the knock out stage. No host nation has ever failed to make it beyond the pool stage until this time. England lost to Wales and was thrashed by Australia and so had no chance of qualifying for the quarter finals. The quality newspapers, those that cover rugby union, have filled acres of newsprint dissecting the English team’s performance and come up with various excuses or reasons for the home team’s abysmal display. My wife, Pat, has become a keen rugby fan in recent years, and was easily able to point out that England’s demise was due to the fact that their players were not very good. They dropped the ball, their kicking was aimless, they did not seem to have any coherent plan. Worst of all, most of the English players seemed to her to be podgy and unfit. The newspaper pundits overlooked all of these obvious deficiencies and sought deeper philosophiocal explanations for the debacle. Perhaps, the truth was just too awful to contemplate. Heigh ho!
Latest piece: Woe is me!
October 10, 2015.
Regular readers will be relieved to learn that the Orthodox Jewish sages, who declared that children whose mothers drove them to school would not be admitted to class because their mothers’ behaviour was immodest, have gone over the relevant chapters in Leviticus and decided that their initial interpretation of the scriptural law was in error. It’s all right kids, you can go to school however you manage to get there. I believe that the authorities in the UK who supervise the operation of schools suggested that the sages had made fools of themselves and that they should have another look at the holy books. Unfortunately, there is no word yet about the Islamic cleric in Saudi Arabia changing his divinely inspired understanding of gynaecology. It is likely that he, too, will realise that he is an idiot and will seek some other interpretation of the scriptures.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the World, another bunch of holy men have declared that a recent earthquake involving Mount Kota Kinabalu was caused by a bunch of Canadian tourists who elected to climb to the top and pose naked for selfies. It appears that the spirit of the mountain was greatly offended and had no option but to trigger an earthquake. Seems entirely reasonable, does it not? Professional comics are fast becoming redundant. One can get all the laughs one needs from the antics of seers, sages and other holy men.
The following three incidents speak for themselves. Comment and questions are superfluous.
A few days ago, Lester Bower, aged 67 years, was led from his jail cell in Texas and taken to an execution chamber and filled with lethal drugs. He had been living in his cell on death row for a little over thirty years and his execution had been delayed while legal appeals went through the courts. On one previous occasion, his execution had to be postponed because the drugs obtained had gone past their expiry date. In Kano, Northern Nigeria, a fourteen year old girl was acquitted of murder. She had been married off against her will to a man more than twenty years her senior and had somehow managed to lace the food to be eaten at the wedding party with rat poison. The husband and two others died. The girl was let off as she was considered to be a minor and thus too young to be convicted but old enough to be married. Albert Woodbox, a coloured man, who has been in solitary confinement in a Louisiana Jail for just under forty years, has been granted unconditional release by a judge. However, the attorney-general of the state disputes the ruling believing Woodbox, who is frail and elderly, poses a threat to the local citizenry.
Latest piece: Two Books
June 13th, 2015