Thursday, May 22, 2008

The machines laugh

Occasionally people write to ask this blog to endorse products and ideas. Earlier this week, for example, came a request to be one of many hosts for a 'funky' virtual balloon race in which 'thousands of people' will 'race across the Internet in the hope of winning the ultimate luxury holiday in Ibiza'.

I'm usually one of the last ones to be an impossibly pious environmentalist, but I refused, saying 'I think we should be deploying our ingenuity and creativity to help people be happy where they are or to help those who are not so fortunate, not to encourage high impact luxury consumption that damages the environment.'

Perhaps I've been reading too much poetry like Fuel by R. S. Thomas:
And the machines say, laughing
up what would have been sleeves
in the old days: 'We are at
your service.' 'Take us', we cry,

'to the places that are far off
from yourselves.' And so they do
at a price that is the alloy in
the thought that we can do without them.
Apparently the poet's son was unimpressed: his father would 'drone on to absurd lengths about the evil of refrigerators, washing machines, televisions and other modern a congregation that didn’t have any of these things and were longing for them.'

A more nuanced discussion of eco-travel is here.

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