Friday, December 12, 2008

3 years to go. But who's counting?

It’s not new, this death-by-large-celestial-body thing.

The Mayans have known for years and didn’t bother with plans after 2012. Scientists have ‘postulated’ for yonks and done the math and the data says we’re totally fucked, plus or minus 2% error. And thanks to the wonderful Instant Expert technology that is the Internet, you’re not hearing this for the first time are you?

So why aren’t you scared? We’ve got 3 years and change! That’s nothing! That’s not even enough time to drop a bad habit. Why aren’t you and the other 6.7 billion poor saps out there having a good old-fashioned mass hysteria?

Couple of us at the office have kicked this around a bit (sure beats working).
Is it irresponsible to have children now?
Why bother with your career?
Should you just buy that new Golf GTi (on a five-year loan)
That apartment you like in Sentul West (paid up in 25 years!)
Should everyone should have one decent affair with someone they totally should not have an affair with?

But nobody’s afraid. Everyone’s living like there’s going to be a 2013. I mean, forget Global Warming. I guarantee you when the world becomes a big fireball you’ll see some climate change. They say if we don’t act now, in ten years we’ll all be dying slow, UV-irradiated, greenhouse-gassy deaths. By comparison, 2012’s just around the corner. And it’s practically instant.

And yet we continue to make 5-year plans. Paying the mortgage. Having babies.

I think it’s cos 2012 isn’t costing us money.

Look at GM. You’re bleeding cash and begging for a bailout. Suddenly, you’re ready to commit to new hybrid and electric cars? Bullshit. You’re committing to the continuation of your business. Not the preservation of the planet. Or you woulda kept the EV1.

At home, people are asking when the rear seatbelt ruling takes effect. Is it this year or in Januray? Why do you need a specific date to be sensible? Cos you’re more worried about your money flying out the window than your kid.

Remember the Millenium Bug? That scenario was pretty grim. Computers worldwide shutting down, traffic lights going buggy, power cutting out annoyingly while Dr Grey is performing open heart surgery. But it wasn’t a global blackout people feared. Companies spent a bunch of money cos they didn’t want Y2K to swallow their 401k. Their pensions. Their moolah. Not having a name didn’t matter if you didn’t have a penny to it.

Money it seems, is the most real thing in our world.
Never mind that most of it is digital, just one bank’s computer agreeing with another bank’s computer that yes, you have enough money to make this month’s Golf GTi payment.

Money is perhaps what distinguishes us from other forms of Earth life. No other species has trade. Chimpanzees don’t put a down payment of 10,000 bananas on a tree house. Ants – nature’s communists – don’t say ‘Fuck this. The other colony is willing to pay me twice the amount of aphids for this retaining wall! See ya!’ We created money to tell ourselves that we are worth something.

There is no way to calculate, and therefore to limit the financial impact of complete annihilation. So we don’t bother with it. Which is coincidentally how ‘hard’ science – like physics – works. If you can’t quantify it, it’s not real.

Any alien race that visits us first is always going to be technologically superior. So forget about launching an Independence Day style defense. No, our best bet is going to be if they understand commerce. If they come from a civilisation that sees profit as a thing of beauty.

Because that is mankind at its best.

The tripods thump up, a circular door irises open and the death ray comes out. The air goes electric with a slight whiff of ozone as the weapon charges.
And the solitary hope of all mankind walks up to the 2-story behemoth and says: “How much to NOT fire the death ray?”

No comments: