Coded gray.

Wednesday 26 January 2005

Screenshot anime Mamotte Shugogetten

Pic of the day: In anime and manga, it is common to use a distorted drawing style or a psychedelic background to show a daydream sequence or a case of misinterpreted reality. Today's screenshot is from the anime Mamotte Shugogetten. Sadly, that's the end of the fun for today.

"That's what's real to me"

I was sitting and minding my own buzzyness when I noticed this song they were playing on the radio. It was some guy singing about various everyday things, and his family that he loved, and each time he ended with this line:
"...that's what's real to me."

I have long suspected this. It may still be the sudden death of us all, if the poorly understood Hawking Radiation doesn't work as expected and Earth falls into a man-made black hole sometime around 2010 when the Large Hadron Collider is up to full speed. Because death by black holes, or asteroids for that matter, is not real to us. Nor are tsunamis, to Europeans (but they are quite real to Japanese). So when these things happen, we are as unprepared as sheep.

The greenhouse effect is not real to most people either. The large, fast, comfortable car is very real to them. The plane that takes them to another state in an hour or two is real. In their reality air condition is part of the solution and not of the problem. The greenhouse effect is just so much hot air. Their precious energy-guzzling devices of personal comfort, that's what's real to them.

Or the bird flu that randomly crosses over to humans and kill 70% of those infected. (Luckily for me and my friends, so far this seems to mostly happen to Vietnamese, or "darn commies" as they were called when I was young.) If a person is infected with both human flu and bird flu (or swine flu, for that matter) the viruses can exchange genetic code between each other, creating hybrid flus which then spread in the populace. This seems to have happened some time before the Spanish Flu in 1918. If the same thing happens with the current bird flu, it could make the Black Death a footnote.

Luckily for all involved, a recently developed type of drugs (neuraminidase inhibitors) such as Relenza (zanamivir) and Tamiflu (oseltamivir) are effective against all types of influenza virus, as these drugs target basic biological functions of this virus group. However, these must be taken as early as possible (within 48 hours, but the effect increases exponentially with earlier intake). They have side effect, more drastic in Relenza which is inhaled as a powder, and are only available with prescription. Because Humans Are Stupid, you simply cannot distribute a packet of Tamiflu to each person and tell them to take it in case of life-threatening influenza. They will either use it on the first common cold or stomach flu, or not at all. Because to them, anything that makes you sick is "the flu". That's what's real to them.


For years, much if not most of my fiction and some of my nonfiction writing has been about the duality of modern human. At the same time powerful (as a species) and powerless (as an individual), it is perhaps best expressed in the Superman/Clark Kent duality. As Superman, we can do the impossible. But as Clark Kent, we are just human. Of course, this is not how it works in practice. It is the decisions we make as Clark Kent that saves or damns the world.

Yes, the expression "save or damn the world", religious as it may sound, is actually lifted from another fiction on this topic, the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever by Stephen Donaldson. A leper who is strangely transported to another, magical world, Covenant finds that his white gold wedding band is a talisman of unimaginable power. But being conditioned to a life as powerless, he refuses to make the right choices until much is lost. Because being a leper, that's what's real to him.


Somehow I think of myself more as Superman and less as Clark Kent, I guess. Except I am not really a superman, you know. Not without the rest of you. So unless a lot of people start to think like that, it doesn't help. You know I've been writing about the world economy (and especially the USA, even though I don't even live there) since the early days of my journal. Still, you keep living as if things will go on forever the way they have recently, don't you? You don't really believe that after the party one must clean up the house, that sooner or later all bills fall due. Somehow, mysteriously, miraculously, Superman will come to save us all. So people keep borrowing, as if loans were gifts that never had to be paid back. And when it goes downhill, they will elect another president, expecting the old one like the scapegoat of ancient Israel to carry their sins out in the desert and disappear.

"Wake up you might be dreaming...
wake up you might be dreaming, now."

Brian McFadden, Real To Me, last lines of the song.

Yesterday <-- This month --> Tomorrow?
One year ago: My computers and I
Two years ago: War and debt
Three years ago: Small gods preferred
Four years ago: Asteroids and mages
Five years ago: Life is hard and then you evolve
Six years ago: Zip drive problems

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