Thursday, August 25, 2016

Salad, Aunty Beeb and the Nanny State

I’d intended this post to be about eating salads but it morphed into something else along the way which may make it a difficult read but that is how I certainly and I suspect most others think; in a random fashion with new ideas falling over old ones on a sort of higgledy piggledy fashion.  So that’s how it’s going to be.

Many days when I am working I go to a local supermarket for lunch.  They have a really extensive buffet that has grown remarkably over the years.  It is the best one around of its type by far.  My eye was caught by a mound of attractive looking food that turned out to be sesame chicken but as I was on the lettuce routine I avoided the hot dishes and moved to the cold thinking “does anybody really like this stuff?”  I didn’t think ‘stuff’ I’m afraid, but I do try to be polite.

Whoever came up with the notion of eating green plants in the first place?  Our Neanderthal forebears undoubtedly ate them in the thousands of years before people in the Fertile Crescent discovered mutant grass, farmed them and called them ‘crops’ at a stroke creating civilisation as opposed to a mass of nomadic hunter gatherers not much different to rodents or other beasts.  (Thank you by the way). That was years ago.  Surely we’ve moved on from that?

However as someone who fairly recently stabilized his weight at yet another higher level than ever before, I was stuck with the greenery.  I do blame Italy for this as Viv and I had a wonderful couple of weeks there in spring; Naples, Amalfi Coast and Rome.  Certainly we didn’t stint on anything whilst we were there which is why I am now reaping this whirlwind of greenery rather than tucking into something rather tastier and more calorific – something the Fertile Crescent taught us: calories are good.

Anyway who came up with the idea of eating these greens these days?  Certainly there’s millions of diets all decrying some other, older strategy in favour of their no-fail alternative.  And who are these people that come up with this nonsense anyway?  Nutritionists or some such, I suppose.  And what makes them the fount of all knowledge?  Throwaway ridiculous degrees at universities that really should know better in my view are responsible for an awful lot of this.  Get a degree in Applied Flower Arranging and in an instant you are an expert and can become a consultant and write a book.

I’m just reading a book called the End of Big by a guy called Nicco Mele which is an interesting read by the way. The hypothesis is that with radical connectivity (i.e. the internet, Moore’s Law, etc.) old institutions are becoming redundant or obsolete.  This has always been the way of course but things are speeding up.  Mr. Mele talked about government, newspapers, big business and the like saying that we have more capability ourselves now and can compete effectively so don’t need all that old stuff.  This is simplifying of course but these days that is the point.

Take journalism for example.  Mr. Mele says that no more will there be investigative or accountable journalism and I think he is dead right.  The need for it will be there but nobody will notice any more.
My de facto news source has always been the BBC and several years ago I was pleased as Punch to read that many regional newspapers and radio stations in the US had given up on covering international and even high level US news because the BBC simply did it better.  They turned that side of things over to the Beeb and went local.  I was really proud of the BBC thinking they’ve reached that stage because they haven’t sacrificed quality.

That was a few years ago for just last night I was ‘reading’ the news section of the BBC website and really was pushed to find any news at all.  For sure the BBC is run by a bunch of liberal lefties who are so politically correct as to make any position taking virtually impossible (except about Donald Trump strangely about whom it is perfectly acceptable to state any position at all, rather like Nigel Farage of UKIP too). But there wasn’t any real news.

One headline in the UK section was about 5 people who had died on the beach at Camber Sands, a popular resort beach in Sussex on the south coast.  The article could say nothing about who, where or why only – and this is the important thing – relying on what other people who had actually been there saw, thought, felt or imagined.  Much of the article was pictures of tweets and the scribble that accompanies them.  No journalism at all.  Given that even the Police these days employ PR people simply to tweet messages to the world about investigations and you realise that the ‘journalist’ probably hadn’t left his/her desk to write the piece.  Given also that Twitter gives you 144 characters to say anything – equivalent to a 20 second sound byte used everywhere these days – and one has to conclude that Mr. Mele is right on the button.

How profoundly depressing this all is.  All you need to do to be successful in the world these days is to have a degree in Media Studies or something like that and talk a half way decent 20-second line of patter no doubt in Estuary English.  No need to argue a point, justify a position, present and argue varying hypotheses… Just tweet.

The BBC often ends up articles asking for ‘Readers’ Views’ – why, for goodness sake?  Will someone saying that it’s a shame really add anything to the piece?  It also carried on with ‘Related Articles’ the first of which was entitled ‘How to Stay Safe on the Beach’ and was written by some patronizing moron as though he/she was speaking to a 6 year old.

For that is exactly how the public is being viewed and at times I think they are right.  Certainly in the UK it has become the super-nanny state.  PC is everywhere.  Opinion is virtually outlawed.  When I was young at school, if I fell over and scraped my knee drawing blood I’d go to the wash basins and wash it off and then maybe tie it up with something (even my rather disgusting hanky) and go and do it all over again.  Just like everyone else.  I imagine today being rushed to the school nurse for a check up, being sent to counselling for the trauma with parents looking for someone to sue while the school issued an apology stating that it would introduce new school rules to prevent such an event ever happening again. (Makes me think of regulation, compliance and all that other totally useless stuff that we have to put up with because we aren’t able to look after ourselves… like good little children).

To my mind the recent Brexit vote was people rebelling against this Establishment/nanny state nonsense.  Trouble is that it is the new Establishment who has to navigate their way through the actual mechanics of the process.  Makes me think of the Who’s anthem “Won’t Get Fooled Again” and its last line “Meet the new boss/Same as the old boss”.

And still I have to eat that bloody salad!

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