Dinner with the Air Marshall

. . . She didn’t hear the click of a lock when he closed the door behind him but she knew she was a prisoner here. Deciding against testing to see how much freedom she really had she lay on the bed to sleep, perhaps to dream, to await as events unfold.

She couldn’t be sure if it were part of dream or if she pulling up memories but sounds of the boys twittering were filling her head. She awoke. Unsure of what had happened or, if, anything had happened but there was the feeling of distant discovery running through her. What can this be? What had happened while she slept? She had been somewhere. She had been somewhere far, far, away – too far away to put a label on it. Too far to touch, to identify, to find again even. Where had she been?

“Come in please,” she said when there was a polite tap on the door. The Air Marshall’s face appeared. “Oh, hello. I had been sleeping. Sorry, I was far away.”

“In that case please excuse my for interrupting your slumber.”

“Oh, no, you are not interrupting – I was awake when you knocked.”

He nodded. “I’d like you to join me for dinner – nearby. There’s an hotel with a half decent restaurant quite nearby. Say fifteen minutes?”

“Oh, please, make it five. I never need more than five minutes.”

“Very well than.” He bowed and left.


“You are fond of Indian food,” he asked as they sat at a table for four with an immaculate white cloth.

“I am, very much so, although I suspect I’m fond of western Indian food – the sort of Indian food I would prepare.”

“That sounds like the best of both worlds. Let’s hope the food here is to your liking.

465px-Indischer_Maler_des_6._Jahrhunderts_001She had only to eat and to admire the excellent service as it was clear that he had planned the meal carefully, leaving only his probing conversation with which to deal. “Your mother is a friend of the President of India I understand.”

She smiled and nodded.

“Was she was also a friend of the previous President?” She nodded. “And the one before that?” He sat back as she nodded again. “She would be a great age than?”

“Yes,” Meira agreed, “she is – by modern standards.”

“Modern standards being three score and ten?”

“We do a little better than that now. Many live actively into their nineties. Our predecessors – our ancient predecessors, developed lives much longer than currently.”

“How much longer?”

“Six or seven times longer.”

“People lived for six hundred years?”

“Oh yes. Catherine, one of my direct ancestors, was more than seven hundred years old before her body failed her. An amazing woman.”

He thought for a moment of two. “You seem very sure.”

“I am. I’m certain”

“How can you be? Where’s the evidence to support such a view.”

“Oh it’s not a view. It’s a memory. I have much of her memory in my own. That’s what we do, we Matriarchs – we hand down our memories.”

“And archaeological evidence. Where is that to be found?”

“Probably under our feet. This part of the planet was populated by some of the earliest migrants out of the Indus Valley.”

“Surely if it was there it would have been found by now.”

“No. It’ll be far deeper than any archaeologists have ventured. We spend our time counting money – counting costs in monetary terms so the money runs out before the important evidence is revealed. Short term thinking is all we’ve ever done since the cataclysm some twelve thousand years ago.”

“Are you saying that before the cataclysm, before the great floods, there was a more sophisticated society?”

“Oh, yes. Up until that time humans had developed continuously – not linearly you understand – Life has always evolved in fits and starts, but continuously one way or another. We reached the point when the female line began to dominate the leadership around one hundred thousand years ago.” She paused as she read the incredulity passing his eyes.

“At that time,” she continued, “hominids had been in the Indus Valley for eighty thousand years or more – plenty of time to graduate from hunter gatherers to farmers and solar engineers. Much of the apparent mystery surrounding monoliths and megaliths disappears when you realise they were solar devices. They were the earliest attempts to store the heat of the Sun.”

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How to Exit Brexit

640px-European_Parliament_Strasbourg_Hemicycle_-_Diliff.jpg“Cometh the hour; cometh the man,” or woman, is a maxim we British applied when our saviors, Wellington, Churchill . . . pulled us from crisis but, not this time. Great Britain is in need of a visionary leader to be recognized and to address the Brexit problems in an inspirational speech to shake out our moribund parliament but, it seems, there is no one: not this time. This time we are left with only those who choose not to be recognized. This time we are faced with only the mealy mouthed who dare not speak the name of another referendum; of dissolving Parliament; of forgetting the whole idiotic concept . . . We are leader less; we know not which way we are to turn. So what is to be done?

First up is to recognize the problem. Exiting the EU after forty years of ever deepening entanglements without triggering  punitive repercussions is all but impossible yet, I don’t recall either Johnson, or Farage, in their rallying cries to vote for Brexit, underscoring  that simple truth. Prime Minister Cameron called the referendum to silence the ever annoying Brexiteers but failed to ensure the result. Seeing the magnitude of his error he abandoned HMS GB, leaving her to wallow in a sea of uncertainty. Theresa May opted to take the helm and command the nation on the notion that a 4% separation of those for and against represented the will of the people. It did not. It represented only the reptilian reaction of the uninformed. Still that was mandate enough for an ambitious woman hungry for the top job.

640px-View_of_the_Acropolis_Athens_2_(pixinn.net).jpgGiven that ignorance and ambition brought us to the determination to leave the EU the subsequent failure to complete the job, and the realisation of our woeful ignorance of the matter, might, with a little education, bring us back to firmer ground but, how do we sugar the pill? How do we drag the blindly determined Brexiteers to the table of unalienable facts, to recognize their mistakes and, possibly, enter rehabilitation? How do we save faces and protect reputations while examining our errors and searching for better results?

We could conduct a trial? We could take the charge, ‘That we must leave the EU,” to a specially convened court and examine it for validity? We would need a jury: a big, diverse, one, and subject it to proofs and testimonies provided by the informed and overseen by the impartial? The importance of a diverse jury cannot be over emphasized. The best solutions to the Brexit problems can only come from a group diverse enough to encompass the views of many. To illustrate the point Albert Einstein said of diversity:

Everyone is a genius but, if we judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.”

Further endorsement comes from the fact that in any given group of experts, in any particular field, will only contain those of similar training and education so can only reach similar conclusions. To find a broader solution experts from other fields: from many other fields are essential.

640px-charles_bridge_(karlův_most),_vltava_river,_prague,_2015A trial then – better call it a revue – of the EU and our need to exit should be undertaken in order to be sure we are doing what is best for Great Britain: Not for the ambitions of politicians; not for the profits of strategic companies; not for the rallying cries of the Nationalist or the remains of the anti-Nazis loonies; for Great Britain.

For such a revue to succeed it will need time for the experts, advocates, overseers, and a jury to be assembled so let’s not leave that to any but ourselves. Let’s not ask the other members of the EU for a delay leaving us to make decisions at the behest of others; let’s revoke Article 50 ourselves, determine the agenda ourselves, decide for ourselves when we should evoke Article 50 again. Let us make every effort to make the EU great again and in the ensuing hours hope the man, or the woman, cometh.


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The Way We Were

digital-information_d6abb5981aa1d94fGiven all we now know about data collection, its storage and analysis, it’s hard to reconcile our continuing dependence on media hype and the ballot box when electing government yet, we push ever on, making the same mistakes. The decisions of David Lloyd George, Arthur Balfour, General Allenby . . . in the aftermath of WWI continue to fuel the Middle East atrocities to this day. Baldwin’s misjudgment of Hitler’s manic ambitions in 1938 lead us into a war that spent the lives of 59 million people. The American administration’s misconceptions of communism through the post WWII years brought about numerous wars, the most costly being in Vietnam in the 60’s, but we continue to bow to the opinions of wrong people: of misinformed, biased, people.

mayjohnsonA decision, based on a media hyped, ballot box referendum, was made in 2016 to extract the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union: a tree-hugging, freedom loving, phoenix still growing from the ashes of WWII in 1947. Immediately the voters’ choice was known the politically ambitious attention seekers, those who initiated the move, resigned from the administration leaving HMS Great Britain to flounder on the rocks of political stupidity.


2016-us-presidential-debates-hillary-clinton-donald-trumpDuring his presidential campaign we learned that Donald Trump was a bigoted, racist, misogynist yet we elected him to be the most powerful person on the planet where he remains, everyday proving us correct in our assessment and idiotic in our choosing.


When will we learn not to do things this way? When will we move away from the ballot box and give due credit to the social media analysts who, with every click of the mouse, are increasingly privy to our innermost thoughts – not the thoughts of just a few of us who turn out the vote – the thoughts of billions of us attached to the Internet.? When will we take our most important decisions away from the elected few; away from the clumsily elected, narrow focused, few whose interests might not reflect those of the majority?

We don’t do this when deciding if a criminal accusation is valid. Instead we hold a trial, in a court comprised of the informed advocating the salient facts to a diverse group isolated from gossip and hype. In this way we harness the intelligence of the group’s diversity while shielding it from false information. We do this to protect the accused from bias brought about by prejudice, gossip, propaganda, or from views too narrow to encompass the wider perspectives at issue but, when deciding who to trust in high office we revert to the blunt instrument that is the ballot box? When deciding economic policy, or revising the National Health Plan, or the Education Plan, or when exercising fishing quotas and environmental protection we throw away any intelligence diversity might bring by using committees of the elected. Why don’t we harness the power of a large, diverse group? Because it’s too cumbersome? Not anymore it’s not. It’s less cumbersome. It’s cotton-pickin’ easy now with chat rooms, online polling, social media analysis . . . it’s pretty darned easy for the few to garner the wishes of the many – just ask the commercial marketing teams. They can tell us the most appealing way to package our goods, the phrases to use when pitching our products: colours to choose, images, smells . . . it’s all there to be collected, stored, & analyzed.

Few of us Boomers owned computers in the late 1980’s, and of those few only a very few connected to the Internet yet here we are, just 20 years on, with digital television and international video calling available in our living rooms. Those born into this period, the Millennials, take it all in their stride – always anticipating the exceptional. They accept texting, Tweeting, Snapchating, Telegraphing . . . as the norm, and they are embracing blockchain technology, along with crypto currency, as second nature. They don’t need explanations; they just accept new concepts and


learn how to use the latest devices and applications as they need. We Boomers and Xers are having to adjust: having to accept that we don’t need to study the physics of quantum physics in order to utilize its functions anymore than we need to understand how a car works in order to use it to commute. Better still all we now need to know is how to use the Uber app on our mobiles and we’re away to work without the need to understand electricity or combustion engines.


Further examples might be found in the world of commercial aviation where crew training is a never ending cost. Financial pressure forced the industry away from the pedestrian chalk & talk classroom to training simulators where, instead of sitting and listening, we pressed buttons and flicked switches in response to audio and visual stimuli. As far back as 1976 we Concorde crews learned about Specific Behavioral Orientation, SBO: a method of teaching to produce nothing other than specific behavioral responses. It was in there with BFM: an acceptance of magical explanations designed to circumvent educational shortcomings. Now both are used widely to train pilots and engineers to carry out the effective procedures for given situations. The luxury of long courses to provide the background necessary to dispense wisdom during the operating of a complex flying machine haven’t existed for 40 years. It’s been ‘Monkey-see; Monkey-do,’ for a long time.

Can we emulate that in our schools? Can we put our children in training simulators instead of classrooms? Can we hand them digital devices instead of books and pencils in order to let them teach themselves? Will that do the basic job as well as Mr.Chips and Miss Jean Brody? Perhaps. Perhaps it’s happening.

The good news is that the Millennials are taking the helm. The largest group ever born into a decade they are now driving the economy and, consequently, are the targets of the marketing folks and influence peddlers. The even better news is that most Millennials read a lot more than their predecessors and, consequently, are less susceptible to conditioning . They have developed broad reading skills allowing them to scan efficiently and to absorb selectively. If this translates into less tribalism: less left or right; less conservative or liberal we are indeed moving forward. If it narrows the gap between capitalism and communism; if it translates into more measured, more balanced, analysis of newsworthy events, political propaganda, and cultural bias then the human race is set for great leap forward. If the reptilian instinct that drives machismo behavior be pushed further from the frontal lobe then the human race could be on the cusp of a paradigm shift. We might be returning to the way we were.

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