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Sunday 16 August 2020

No War In Ba Sing Se

At times, when the world is a dumpster fire, it can feel like focusing on something that isn't the dumpster fire is a little bit like insisting there is no war in Ba Sing Se.

Two competing drives: one to not be dragged down by the soul-sucking quagmire of shit that is the bad news, one to not turn away from it and let it slide.

Not an easy balancing act.

I am of course a huge proponent of the fact that we contain multitudes. That it is possible to be aware of and think about multiple things at once. Like when a news story pops up, and the immediate response is "They're just using X to distract you from Y", well - they may be hoping that is what will happen, but fact is, most people don't forget X just because they are absorbing Y.

The event I covered last week - the explosion at the docks in Beirut - didn't make us forget that they still haven't locked up the cops that killed Breonna Taylor.

But while we can think about multiple things at once, it's hard to write a piece that covers a multitude of situations that are occurring, and not feel like there might be something else that one is missing.

The exam results, for one.

Where the Coronavirus pandemic has absolutely shit-showed the education system for a while - like really knocked the crap out of it - kids haven't been able to take their exams. Given that our system as it exists doesn't take very much into account in terms of delays, the government decided in its wisdom to let the Office of Qualifications (Ofqual) throw together an algorithm to sort out who deserved what grade.

Ofqual were offered assistance by the Royal Society of Statistics - the kind of people that would be quite good at analysing and utilising significant swathes of data - but wouldn't accept the assistance unless the RSS signed a Non Disclosure Agreement.

And thus, over a third of A Level students awaiting their grades to get them into University found that they had been marked down - substantially in a lot of cases - from every prediction that they had been given, and thus, denied their shot at higher education because the computer said no.

Notably, there was a significant statistical trend toward these downgraded marks happening in low-income areas.

The government dismissed any concerns as to their short-selling literally hundreds of thousands of teenagers, because why would they give a fuck? Everyone in Eton got the grades they wanted.

Lets face it, the system wasn't great in the first place, but to fuck it up this badly and then just wash your hands of it is a disgrace.

At the same time as our government fails our youth, some people are angry that we haven't sent out the navy to blow up innocent people in the channel, legally seeking asylum.

This, of course, is very useful to certain members of the government. There's a certain hard core of people in this country that have zero empathy toward foreigners of any kind, and if the government can be seen to be hating refugees as much as they do, then they can rely on the support of that hard core. The fact that they can just suspend their feelings toward the people, actual people, desperately trying to find somewhere safe to live, desperate enough that they would take an unsafe boat across the Channel to a country that seems to hate them, is indicative of a deeper problem.

The landslide of shit isn't constrained to this side of the Atlantic, obviously. Protests against racial injustice continue, and while a hundred tiny platitudes are made by people that aren't being asked to make them, the actual changes demanded aren't being made.

Then there is the ongoing war against an actual democratic election.

It is, of course, just like Donald Trump to torpedo a lifeline service for millions of people - even a significant percentage of his voter base - because it is a means by which people can vote. When your tactic to win the election is to prevent people from voting, you know that you've messed up.

It's working, though. The US Postal Service has had its Postmaster General replaced with an individual that seems to be determined to run it into the ground, and by their direction, postboxes in Blue-voting neighbourhoods in Red states are being removed, and the entire service is being slowed down by various measures.

And he ADMITTED it, that this was his plan... because, well... what can anyone do about it?

There were more fraudulent signatures on the paperwork that got Kanye West registered on voter forms than there were fraudulent votes in the entire 2016 election, but... you know.

If you are seeing a common thread behind this landslide of shit, you are right to.

Also the ice caps are melting because of us and a virus is killing us because a significant chunk of the population don't like masks and don't think it's real.

So... picking out one of those for a deep dive feels like I am ignoring the others. And picking out none of them feels like I am ignoring the entire world.

What a shit time to be a thinker.

And I've been looking for the little bright moments in amongst this torrent of fecal matter, and they are... few and far between. And often they only exist because the shitty situation necessitated them in the first place. But they DO exist.

The government - and not just the government - are so hostile to the presence of refugees on our shores that when celebrities and individuals express sympathy towards them, they're immediately attacked for it. Told they are Virtue Signalling - something I have spoken about before. That they are just trying to look good without doing anything about it. "Have you housed any refugees, Gary?" he was asked by a galaxy-brain Twitter user. "Not yet," he replied - accompanied by his paperwork for actually doing that very thing.

Despite the carnage of an overwhelmingly undergraded A Level crop this year, Oxford University College is honouring all of the offers that it made, regardless of the probably fallacious results sent out by Ofqual.

A study involving Cambridge university, an Estonian university and several Swedish university groups has found a protein that could prevent Alzheimer's.

Ben Shapiro, right-wing munchkin, is getting his ass royally roasted after deciding to take a swing at successful hip hop musicians. It seems he doesn't believe that vaginas can self-lubricate, if sufficiently stimulated. I suppose the abstinence method of sex education has its flaws. His poor wife.

We're still here, life still carries on, and with every day that we have, we can try and make things better. Not just for ourselves, either.

I suppose that is the takeaway.

Yes, there is a war in Ba Sing Se - but there's cabbages, too.

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