12 April 2024

Living in the Past

It's not just a Jethro Tull album! And I'm not too old to rock and roll — just too old for the mosh pit. Or dance floor. Or TicketBastard-determined "concert seating."

  • Many, many nations distort themselves, their citizenry, and the world at large by living in the past. Ranging from French insistence that the UN Secretary General must speak French (and, for those who point out how common that language is in Africa, it's worth pondering why) to Old Boys at the UK Foreign Office (which was a problem decades ago when I was dealing with them), perhaps the epitome is false nostalgia for the Iron Lady — itself echoing the false nostalgia for Ronald I Over Here.
  • And meanwhile, extreme inherited wealth continues to distort matters and lead directly to unseen levels of corruption. Not just politics — neither airplanes nor orchestras have escaped, either directly or just attempting to please aggressive passive investors who are convinced that "having money" means they know how to manage organizations and mice. Which is far less a defense of mice than a rejection of leeches…
  • …including misuse of technical terms for marketing purposes. It rather pisses me off, as a chemist (just short of a minor in biology, all those decades ago), to encounter "organic" and "natural" bandied about in organic-chemistry-enabled-nonrecyclable plastic packaging. Benzene is organic (and even largely results from natural processes operating on animals whose diets were, umm, completed millions of years before there was anything artificial to add!). Arsenic and amanita mushrooms are natural. But in an extension of misuse of language to deceive that wouldn't have surprised Orwell, that's not what the "reasonable consumer" understands.

    And let's not get into the class-based and "rural rage"-based misuse of "genetically-modified organisms," either — especially not if there are any AKC-breed-standard German Shepherds in the household, which developed their hip dysplasia tendencies without any help from a laboratory. It's not the method, it's the deployment (which is not a defense of the company that gave its name to my undergraduate chemistry building… almost all of whose inimical strategies have been driven by MBAs and not chemists). The past when those dirty rotten scientists hadn't yet explained mechanisms was not paradise.