Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Dark thoughts as 2015 comes to an end

The defining event of this year for me was the death of my mother on 1 November at the age of 88. It was unexpected and yet it wasn't; at least her death came swiftly and painlessly. She fainted while standing up, fell over hitting her head on the corner of a radiator, and never revived.

I would like to thank those who offered their condolences - it was good to hear from you all.

Although my mother's blood pressure had been back under control, her pulse was weak and very slow. She could have fallen at any moment - but then again, she could have lived on for a few more years yet.

We live on the edge of chaos. Any day, something life-changingly bad can happen to you or to loved ones. Or to your country. Or planet. Today, all can seem well, but tomorrow events can spin out of control.

In February, it was widely assumed that Bronisław Komorowski would walk the presidential elections, winning a second term by a wide margin. His lead back then was 40 percentage points. In May, he lost. Public opinion can swing wildly, opinion polls are becoming increasingly unreliable.

In the UK, the Conservative Party won an unexpected outright victory; Labour responded by choosing an unelectable leftie as its leader, which will make its chances of reelection miniscule. But with the left conquered, David Cameron must face the Eurosceptics, who, with the backing of much of the British press, hope to further Putin's interests by decoupling the UK from the EU. The Brexit scenario will undoubtedly lead to the breakup of the United Kingdom. Scots, who voted by a narrow margin to remain part of the UK last year, will seek revenge on the Little Englanders who have marginalised them internationally.

Ebola has been beaten back. Barbarous Islamist terror hasn't.

In America, the prospects of an out-of-control raging ego in the White House, a man espousing extreme views that chime frighteningly with those held by the less-intellectually endowed portion of society, is truly terrifying. Donald Trump with a finger on the nuclear button? Currently bookmakers are offering odds of up to 4:1 for a Trump victory. Somewhat higher than the odds of Andrzej Duda becoming president of Poland this time last year.

Russia looks increasingly ill. The economy is in a downward spiral with no end in sight. With oil prices likely to remain low for the foreseeable future (as OPEC unsuccessfully tries to shut down the American shale plays through overproduction), the Russian monoculture will not pick itself up. Any attempts to diversify the Russian economy through innovation are doomed to failure; North Korean-style autarky beckons. And when the economy is weak, external enemies must be found. Ukraine turned out to be a fiasco - Crimea might have been captured but it is not being digested. Putin, who bragged that he could be in Warsaw in two days, has spent several hundred days failing to conquer the Donbas. And so he distracts, turning to Syria. Where will this new Russian adventure end?

The voice of the closed-minded, basted in their own malodorous sauce, threatens the progress of civilisation like at no time for the past three decades.

And are we too far gone to undo the damage done to the climate by two centuries of burning fuel? Are we on the cusp of runaway climate change? Will the weather get ever-stranger, with anomalous meteorological events becoming commonplace?

In all matters of import, it behoves us to be on guard against complacency.

This time last year:
Shots from the sky

This time three years ago:
One-millionth of a zloty

This time four years ago:
Random year-end thoughts

This time five years ago:
Beery litter louts

This time six years ago:
Miserable grey London

This time seven years ago:
Parrots in Ealing

This time eight years ago:
Xmas lites, Jeziorki


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Michael, for all your thoughts in 2015.
Happy New Year

Paddy said...

Hear Hear Michael, life is precious and fragile. A pleasure reading your thoughts throughout the year. Paddy