Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Glimpses Of Parallel Universes

Those cosmologists, what a bunch of dreamers they are. All that talk of a multiverse, some potentially limitless number of parallel universes, alternate universes, alternate realities, based on quantum mechanics and populated by wild ideas like “string theory,” it’s hard to take them seriously sometimes. They must have been hovering too long over strange mathematics, we think. Got themselves hypnotized. But they keep coming up with the weirdest ideas. You and I could exist on an infinite number of Earths, and every action could result in an infinite number of outcomes. Could any of this be remotely true?

I meet people sometimes that tempt me to think that it might just be true after all. They say things, believe things, that make me think that they must be living in one of those alternate realities, they must be looking out over vistas that would be strange to me. For example, today I attended a big meeting of the Faculty of Law at my university in Bangkok. We’re implementing a version of the European Qualifications Framework, but that’s another story. The presenter was a member of the Faculty of Humanities, an education professor I think. She might as well have been a visitor from an alien reality.

At one point she asserted that all of our students could speak and understand English very well. I don’t have to trust my own limited hearing comprehension of Thai to know that she said this, my neighbors immediately turned to me and said things like, do you believe it? is that your experience? We had a good laugh.

Because that is not my experience at all. “Our students,” and there are 850,000 of them (eight hundred and fifty thousand, that’s not a misprint), mostly cannot speak English at all beyond some salutations and a couple of hundred words at best. Tales from a parallel universe indeed, I wondered what the weather was like on her planet.

It’s the same in the U.S. now. I read things everyday about politics and the economy and I wonder, what planet are they from? Are they talking about my America? My President Obama? Or do they live in some glorified Star Trek episode where something went very, very wrong, and everything came out a little bent.

You can read the truth, it’s out there, but somehow it is all but drowned out by the same bizarre falsehoods, rumors, innuendo, and slander. The explosion of the deficit, for example, is actually due to 1) the wars; 2) the Bush tax cuts; and 3) the recession, but you will mostly hear that it is due to the criminal socialism of President Obama. It is frequently blamed on “Obamacare,” which hasn’t even started to kick in yet.

Social Security and Medicare, which almost everybody agrees are good things when they need them, are consistently demonized as the twin agents of the end of the world. In truth, Social Security is fine, the trust fund is healthy, at some point decades from now it might, might run into a small glitch. Medicare could run into trouble sooner, ten or twenty years, but it’s certainly not bankrupting us now.

All of the shrill voices that are warning about some kind of impending socialist Armageddon are wrong, comically wrong, and it makes me wonder sometimes: what’s the weather like on their planet? The impending Armageddon is real, but it has nothing at all to do with President Obama’s imagined socialism, nothing even to do with budget deficits, or trade deficits, and certainly nothing to do with the pittance that Social Security pays to old people who have worked for America for a lifetime and paid into the system that, if they are lucky, allows them to either pay their rent or buy food, but not both. Our Armageddon is due to the current ascendance of the rich, big business, the big banks, and our venal, corrupt, self-serving so-called elected officials, who sell us out for a few measly tens of millions of dollars, which is peanuts to the people who thereby purchase the rights to pull their strings.


nanute said...

The parallel universe is expanding rather rapidly here in the good ole' USofA, Fred. Not only are people believing the batshit crazy logic, they're electing proponents to Congress. Here's Rep. Michelle Bachmann:

fred c said...

And it's all the old "make the Federal Government small enough to drown in a bathtub" crowd. I wonder if any of them even remember that this is the goal, to clear the decks for the corporations to fill the vacume. All the Bachmanns know is that it is good for their careers, and for their bank accounts.