Thursday, November 13, 2008

...and I feel fine!

Gallery: The Best Fictional Doomsday Devices

Great idea, questionable execution.


No Solarbonite?

No Vogon Constructor Fleet??

No Illudium Q36 Explosive Space Modulator???!!!

Some might question whether the boys @ Wired are truly committed to this all - life - in - the - universe - stopping - instantaneously - and - all - the - molecules - in - your - body - exploding - at - the - speed - of - light schtick.

Oops... there goes another one. Feel free to join in!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Caveat Elector

As the champagne flattens, some sobering thoughts on "Obamania":

  • Let's hope this is the beginning of the end of Race as a political issue in the West; because it certainly isn't the end. A black president is a big deal - but this mustn't be seen as somehow getting Redneck culture "off the hook", or as fulfilling some notional "quota" (i.e. "Black has had its turn"). History has been made, for sure - but the true end will only have come when there's no history left to be made.
  • As I alluded to previously, Americans are entitled to ask if we in Europe could elect a black man. We probably couldn't. But then, I think we stand a far better - though still rather slim - chance of promoting a homosexual, a bachelor, or an atheist to supreme executive power. We've already put women there. The truth is, we've all still got a long way to go.
  • Quietly, in California on Tuesday, throngs of black voters were marking the occasion - by overwhelmingly voting against Gay Marriage. This blogger needfully notes that plenty of non-blacks did too; but omits that, even by his own figures, no other ethnic group supported "Proposition 8" so emphatically. It is hard to imagine a more bitter irony.

"Change" may be blossoming in the garden of democracy, but no-one has quite come out smelling of roses.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Funny Old World

It was easy, in recent weeks, to be cynical about the prospects for real "change" in the USA. Even if Obama won, it seemed, there were plenty of precedents for a seemingly revolutionary change to quickly fade into something not too unrecognizable from the status quo.

Those precedents may remain, but on the night, it was a lot harder to be so churlish. After John McCain's masterclass in defeat with dignity, Obama's studied and sober victory speech seemed to me to be his best yet. Even if my secular blood ran just a little cold at the catechism of "Yes We Can", nonetheless it became harder with each sentence to keep from nodding along.

Hard also to escape a sense of irony, that even Republicans are now able to look over at us in the Old World and say, "Could you do that?" Tonight, people all over the UK will be lighting fires and firing rockets in our own annual pyrotechnic celebration. How typically British - and how much more incongruous now - that we choose to celebrate the failure of a revolution. However disturbing and alien a place the USA has seemed recently, last night showed us the positive flipside of that alien nature - the willingness to embrace seismic change. I sincerely doubt that we could do that.

Even if the change we think we see, ultimately proves to be a naive dream - for today, at least, I envy Americans the chance to dream it.