So I was waiting for Mme Metro to pick me up. I decided to kill time by dropping in to our local blue-collar bar.
It's an old place I can call "The Drake". The interior is dark, built mostly of roughish wood and festooned with antique memorabilia that wasn't bought fresh from a restaurant supply store or as a job lot on eBay. It's a cash bar, self-service only. I like it a lot. Reminds me of Big Bad John's back before they started playing up the hillbilly angle.
I buy my four-times-the-price-of-gasoline pint and retire to a table near the bar. They're all near the bar, the place is too small to get too far away.
Which is why I can hear the idiot holding forth at the nearby table. He and the two he's talking to are working-class types, but cleaner than the house painters, taper/drywallers, and other mudslingers who populate the place at the moment. I'm not running him down for that: In among the spattered overalls and work boots my kakhis and collared shirt stick out; just a little, but they do.
"Well these scientists--they don't even know what it's gonna do, this Large Hadron Collider. I mean, ..."
Me (thinks) Oh great. Just smurfin' great.
"This thing is supposed to copy the Big Bang, right? So it's gonna create a whole new little universe, right? Or they say it might even destroy the whole world ..."
He goes on to explain his eminently scientific theory.
"Yeah, these scientists, they don't even know what they're doing. It's like those guys who messed aroung with the atom, and they got the atom bomb. They didn't know--they thought they might blow up the world, and they went ahead anyway. They just got lucky. So here we are and they spend billions of dollars and they don't even know ..."
I try to tune him out, but it's hard. This dude is emblematic of much, maybe most, of what's wrong with society.
My grandparents were not educated people. But they had faith in science, and in scientists. Why? Because they read enough to understand the level of their own ignorance. They knew enough to step back and let the experts argue things out, and they respected somebody who'd spent their life studying an aspect of science that they perhaps might not have considered.
But now we've fallen for the fallacy that every man's opinion is as good as another's. I watched a "man-in-the-street" interview last week, the question to which was: "Do you think the Large Hadron Collider poses a risk to human life?" or some such drivel.
Don't believe me?
Last week the world watched in horror as John McCain stooped to pander to the rightwing christofascists of his party, who had turned from him in droves, and selected his running mate, Sarah Palin.
Bought her governorship in a state so jaded by corruption that her own ideological corruption went largely unremarked.
Is a lifetime member of an organization that believes more guns in public life is a good thing.
Supports abstinence-only sex ed (but fortunately seems unopposed to birth control).
Believes no woman should ever have an abortion under any circumstances except a direct threat to the mother's life.
Believes the world was created, as is, about six thousand years ago.
Is a regular attender of a church that preaches that we are living in the Biblical "End Times".
Thinks the Iraq war is "a task from God."
Believes in censoring libraries.
Is, clearly, a goddamned idiot.
Yet this, this homunculus, this hindering knotgrass maid, this hayseed, is reckoned the stuff of vice-presidency? Hell, even the Rupert-Murdoch-mouthpiece Wall Street Journal thinks she's nuts.
Lord Jesus, defend us from your followers. And from the average.
I think one reason Steve Harper called the Canadian election for next month (aside from his wish to take his ball and his bat and not play anymore if the opposition's just going to keep letting him have his way, apparently) is that he knows that no-one'll be paying attention as long as the US is dithering between a young, dynamic, go-ahead kind of dude whose veep pick is a senator with a track record of hard work, and a has-been war hero who's repudiated everything he ever stood for, crowning his horse$#17 sundae with the rotten and worm-infested maraschino cherry of the Palin nomination.
In what country on this planet would one expect to see the McAncient/Psycho ticket tied with the Charismatic-youth/Forty-odd-years-of-genuine-experience ticket?
Sam Harris probably says it better:
Americans have an unhealthy desire to see average people promoted to positions of great authority. No one wants an average neurosurgeon or even an average carpenter, but when it comes time to vest a man or woman with more power and responsibility than any person has held in human history, Americans say they want a regular guy, someone just like themselves. President Bush kept his edge on the "Who would you like to have a beer with?" poll question in 2004, and won reelection.Let me leave my US Avid Fans with one last thought:
Do you want, as a person one heartbeat from the presidency, a few seconds from controlling the world's deadliest nuclear arsenal, a woman who believes the end of the world is already well on its way, and that she can do no wrong because her God is in charge and will guide her finger?
If the Republicans actually win the White House with this ticket, then it's time to build a large brick wall, topped with broken glass and patrolled by rabid rottweilers, along the forty-ninth parallel.
We cannot allow anti-science idiots to run the world.
Harper's wrong, of course. The appointment of this imbecile makes it even more important that Canada elects someone who likes actual, y'know, science. Stephane Dion would be okay. David Suzuki would be better. But Harper is to science what Herod was to Bethlehem daycare.
Which brings me back to the bar. As one of the expounder's drinking companions passes me, I am unable to resist saying:
"Say--ask him if he felt anything funny two weeks ago when they tested it for the first time."
Happy Hadron Collider Day. And you know something? If it finds God rather than god particles I'll delete this post and pray the McAncient/Nutjob ticket wins.