Mad Teddy's website: It's never too late

Mad Teddy's web-pages

It's never too late

If you're the sort of character who cheats by looking at the last few pages of a book to get a sneak preview of how it's going to end before reading all the rest of it, presumably you're doing much the same thing right now. Naughty you. You should be a good person and at least have a look around the rest of this website first!

However, if you're determined not to play fair, I suppose I'll have to allow for the fact...

So here are some thoughts which are intended to tie things up a bit, and bring them to a conclusion, for most people - but which will hopefully have the opposite effect for you if you are that stubborn, impatient person, and will prompt you to read the rest of the site also.

Just exactly what does it mean to be human?

I have a satirical book entitled "The Left Handed Dictionary", by Leonard Louis Levinson (1968, Collier Books, New York / Collier-Macmillan Limited, London). This book takes a deliberately sidelong view of the world; the definitions are at least ironic, and many are absolutely dripping with heavy sarcasm. A large proportion of them are quotes from famous sources.

Under the (now politically-incorrect) heading MAN are almost two pages of definitions. Here are some:

The only animal that spits. (Donald A. Laird)

(Well, that can't be right for a start - I've read that llamas also spit, with sufficient force to knock your hat off, if they get cranky enough! Although, check this out...)

The only animal that blushes - or needs to. (Mark Twain)

The inventor of stupidity. (Rémy de Gourmont)

A creature made at the end of the week's work when God was tired. (Mark Twain)

Nature's sole mistake. (Alexander Pope)

A political animal. (Aristotle)

An animal that throws peanuts to its ancestors.

The king of beasts.

The glory and the shame of the universe. (Pascal)

- And then there is this gem from Anatole France:

Of all the ways of defining man, the worst is the one which makes him out a rational animal.

Okay - enough's as good as a feast. The gist is clear: human beings look as though they might have great possibilities, but somehow they don't measure up.

One thing that has become quite clear since the late 1960's, when "The Left Handed Dictionary" was published, is that human beings are the only creatures ever to have come anywhere close to destroying their habitat.

We are, apparently, the most intelligent creatures on the face of our planet. However, it's becoming quite clear that we are in danger of losing it all.

Ice in the polar regions (in glaciers, etc.) is melting at an alarming rate. There are now plenty of science documentaries which make it quite clear that the greenhouse effect, which has been a source of cantankerous argument for at least two decades, is increasing to a dangerous level after all. Even the big-business community - which basically views profitability as its only concern - is worried about this, if only because it's "bad for business". (See my page about Zero-point energy for some details about this; scroll down until you find some purple text. UPDATE, May 2007: this has now been moved into a page of its own; click here.)

I wasn't fully convinced about the seriousness of global warming as an issue until quite recently. I tend to be sceptical of any "accepted wisdom"; and if anything smacks remotely of political correctness, my hackles rise. But the reality is now very visible. Hardly a day goes by without some evidence, somewhere in the world, coming to light - and it can't be ignored any longer.

On ABC-TV's Midday Report on Monday, 5th June 2006, and again on the current affairs program Lateline that evening, was the story of an Alaskan island village called Shishmaref, which appears set to become the first actual physical casualty of this phenomenon. To read a BBC report, click here. Another report, with dramatic "before and after" photographs, can be found here.

Even governments which have held out until now (mid-2006) by refusing to do sensible things like ratifying the Kyoto protocol (and, yes, I'm talking about the US and Australian governments, specifically) are starting to make noises suggesting that, just possibly, "the penny has dropped" after all. Hooray!

- Except that, now, the spectre of nuclear power is raising its ugly head again, after decades of having been on hold. The lessons of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, it seems, have been conveniently forgotten by our leaders - or are at least being played down.

Australia's Prime Minister, John Howard, has in the last few days made it very clear that nuclear power is back on the agenda as an issue for "debate". (Pardon me for being somewhat cynical, but it looks to me as though it's a foregone conclusion; and that the government is much more intent on "educating" us about what is far more likely to be an edict, than it is on any kind of reasoned discussion.)

I could get on my high horse and yell about this, but I can't be bothered. I'd much rather people just look into the matter themselves, think about the issues, and make their own decisions. At the end of the day, we all have to be true to ourselves. So, if you haven't given it much thought, may I suggest that this Wikipedia link which discusses the production of energy from nuclear fission - considering the "if's and but's" without undue drama - is a good place to find some basic information. Then there's this page, also from Wikipedia, which reports on the life and work of Australian physician and noted anti-nuclear advocate Dr. Helen Caldicott (born 1938), and also deals with its subject matter in an even-handed way.

Let's give nuclear (fission) energy the benefit of the doubt for the moment. Assuming it's possible to do it safely, with no melt-downs or other accidents, no problem with storage of radioactive waste, and security (making sure nothing nasty gets into the hands of people of evil intent), is it really a panacea for the world's energy needs? Or is there quite simply a better way?

If you've had a look around this website, I'm quite sure you know my opinion on this. I've already mentioned my zero-point energy page above; another that may interest you is this one.

So does our small planet have a future?

To us oldsters, from a purely selfish perspective it probably doesn't really matter. Before the greenhouse effect kicks in too strongly, or there are too many "incidents" involving fission reactors or the storage of their inevitable waste products, I imagine that most of us will be well out of it.

However, I've got two children poised to enter the world as young adults. Sometime in the not too distant future, I'll probably have grandchildren. What sort of a world do I want them - and their descendents - to inherit?

I don't want a world in which we have pushed beyond their limit the natural processes that make it a decent place to live. I don't want a world in which every single aspect of life is governed by the mighty dollar, come what may. I don't want a world in which the very word "humanity" has lost its meaning.

I want a world in which humans at least have a chance to reach their full potential. I want a world in which the most intelligent race is determined to preserve what's good, and improve on what's not (rather than making it even worse).

I don't want to return to some mythical "golden age". There never really was a "golden age" (even though, for a brief period, it looked as though one may have been within reach); and there probably never will be - short of divine intervention.

Just a little on this subject, if I may, before proceeding.

If you've visited my page on economic globalism, you'll have seen a reference to a book written by one Stan Deyo in 1978 called "The Cosmic Conspiracy". In this book, Deyo appeared to be convinced that the Second Coming of Christ was set to occur in the 1980's. He presented evidence of a 1982 planetary line-up which, he suggested, could trigger seismic activity on a grand scale, creating conditions which may well usher in the Tribulation, to be followed by the Second Coming seven years later.

In the event, it quite clearly didn't happen. Deyo joined a long line of people down the ages who have predicted "the end times" within more-or-less specific time-frames - but who have all been wrong. (The Bible itself quotes Jesus as saying "no-one knows the day or the hour" .)

There are any number of websites which seek to deal with "the end times" in specific terms. I'm not saying that any or all of them are right or wrong. When I was younger, these matters used to exercise me greatly; and Deyo's book held great fascination for me. However, that was a quarter of a century ago, and I've come to realize in the intervening time that, whatever the true state of affairs may be, you can't just sit still and wait for the prophesies to be fulfilled. In the meantime, life is to be lived, and preparations are to be made (as far as possible) for one's offspring to also have something which may be termed a life - in the "here and now", for as long as that lasts.

The forecast events may begin today, or perhaps not for another hundred years or more. It's not my problem. What I see as my responsibility is to do whatever I can to try to make the world I live in right now a better place. This website is a sincere attempt to help do just that.

So what is true religion, if it's not just about sitting back and waiting for the fulfilment of "end-times" prophesies? This is actually addressed quite specifically in a verse of the New Testament. If you're not aware of this, click here to read more.

Or perhaps you prefer the Monty Python version of "The Meaning of Life"? (If you haven't seen this truly gross film, don't accuse me of recommending it. Just as if I would... )

I'm not seeking to promote or refute any individual's sincerely held religious views, including those of the author of this web-page - but if you're interested, that page gives a good review of "The Meaning of Life", and presents the Python crew's conclusion on this most weighty matter. (Not so very different from the point of view expressed in the "true religion" link above, if you think about it...! )

UPDATE, Saturday, 9-8-2014: That second "Meaning of Life"-related page, above, seems to have disappeared, unfortunately - but while trying to find it exists somehwere else, I've turned up another page which might just possibly have similar origins; and this one contains a YouTube link to a new version of Eric Idle's "Universe Song". I recommend a visit. Here's the link - have a chuckle...

One final remark on the subject of matters religious:

As a late-teen-to-young-adult person in the 1970's, I was an enthusiastic participant in the Christian youth culture of the era, as you may have gleaned from comments I've made here and there within these pages (although I've deliberately avoided making a big deal about it).

I am devastated to see how that incredibly positive Christian youth movement appears to have deteriorated into the "religious right" of the 1990's and beyond, which seems to view its main duty as re-electing lunatic, violent, corrupt right-wing governments, hell-bent (I use the term carefully and with precision) on forcing the entire world into their own ugly mould, utilising whatever may "work", including systemic torture, rape, and murder - the very antithesis of what Jesus presented as true religion.

Ultimately, what I do want is a world where everybody is encouraged to be a citizen in the true sense of the word, and to take responsibility for keeping the place livable and always striving to make it better.

It may be a vain hope. But if we don't at least try to achieve that, the prospects are too horrific to contemplate.

I believe that, as long as there is even just one thinking, aware person in the world, it's never too late. I do believe our world can have a future - even right now, before the Second Coming - depending on how we treat it. To quote from a song on the 1968 Moody Blues album "In Search of the Lost Chord" :

Thinking is the best way to travel...

I started to build this website early in 2005. Now, halfway through 2006, it seems to be nearing "completion" (in the sense that I feel that I've succeeded in expressing my concerns to my reasonable satisfaction).

It's a personal statement, and it's been a deeply personal journey for me. I hope you've found something in it to challenge you, or (at the very least) to interest and perhaps amuse you. If it's helped you to think about certain issues you've never thought about previously, then it has succeeded. I can ask no more.

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