Category Archives: Ruminations

You can’t fight in here! This is the War Room.

Fifty seven years ago, on the morning of May 22nd, 1957, the Cold War nuclear arms race came incredibly close to explaining to the world, all by itself, exactly why it is such a bad, bad idea.

A 42,000-pound, 10-megaton hydrogen bomb, dropped, by accident, from a B-36 bomber of the U.S. Strategic Air Command over Kirtland Air Force Base, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The bomb, codenamed “Mark 17”, had a yield equivalent to 1 million tons of TNT, or approximately 625 “little boys”, which was the name of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.

Unlike Hiroshima, or Nagasaki, Albuquerque was spared from complete obliteration that day, for reasons that are outlined in a fair amount of detail in the two articles that this post links to. What this editor thinks is most important however, is the manner in which we humans used to, and in fact continue to, toy around with forces too terrible to really ever understand.

Perhaps this is the reason why Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, released a mere seven years after the events described above, is such an extraordinary film (other of course than the fact that it is an extremely well-made film): because it states, in the most ingenious and genuinely comedic way, without ever averting its gaze from that of the viewer, that humans can sometimes be utterly and completely stupid.

Do read more here and here, while enjoying the music.

Of Medicine Men and Ill Remedies

What would the Past have us buy from its wagon of eccentric and exotic, tried and tested methods of healing ourselves? What would it have to offer?

Nationalism and imperialism? Fervent racism and intolerance towards everything not closely resembling us and all that is ours? Faith in the supernatural, which in quite a few instances has appeared in forms of significant brutality and vileness?

Would the past wish us to trade our current, largely unrestricted access to knowledge for the illiteracy and ignorance of times gone by?

And indeed, if it would, what would we do? For to accept its offerings, would be to turn our backs to the future and start making preparations for our impending demise.

Denying our species its craving for progress is equal to starving a child. Even if it is to survive the process, it will forever be sickly and frail.

Parallels could perhaps be drawn between the advancement of our technological civilization and the steady increase in the complexity and effectiveness of Life, observed during the earlier stages of biological activity on the planet; in both cases, the ability to evolve is key.

But even if this analogy is one day proven to be false, the knowledge that we hold in our hands today is steadfast: the path of the betterment of humanity must remain clear of the plagues of yesteryear.

On The Incisiveness of Double-edged Swords

The human condition is beset by a great host of ironical predicaments. The following is one of the multitude that we are faced with in the modern era.

The progress of technology, which is furthered by the enrichment of scientific knowledge, continuously offers new ways of making our lives more comfortable. Even though these comforts, more often than not, come at too steep a price, their very nature renders them nearly irresistible, forcing many a hesitant man down the path of their acquisition, a path that almost always runs through the sharp landscape of the mighty metropolises of our times.

For the majority of those who choose to follow this road, their quest proves to be a lifelong one, of which the rigid structure leaves a small amount of time, if any at all, to be invested in other sorts of endeavors.

This one-dimensional mode of living, in conjunction with the harshness of the urban environment, which, by definition, provides little or no contact with the natural world, wearies the mind and in a near frictionless manner, leads to the formation of a population largely indifferent to the marvels of the world.

Hardly by chance, such is the state of things; the same technology that equips us with unprecedented clarity of vision when examining the many textures of the cosmos, commands our attention away from it, in the form of a myriad distractions that assail our intellect on an everyday basis.

And yet, even as we lie on our sofas, paralysed by our comforts or numb from the pain of our many efforts to acquire them, surrounded by the safe walls of our artificial habitats, the dimly lit night skies of our lives are gently trembling, with the most indiscernible of pulses, as our magnificent yet insignificant Earth, continues her effortless waltz in the ancient sea of curiousness that is the Universe.

The time that we are allowed to spend on our planet as humans, awake to the elegance and sheer force of existence, is limited. So limited in fact, that one scarcely has enough time to question oneself, “Can we afford not to look up?”

The response to the query, which lies inside each and every one of us, shall be given in accordance with the power that the mystery of our origin retains over us, and the pertinence of that to the calibration of our attention.

Even if it may not seem so, our answer holds the future. Here’s to hope. Here’s to us. Here’s to the stars.