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April 09, 2005

Wisdom of Adams

Chapter 28 of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams reads:
The major problem—one of the major problems, for there are several—one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them. To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso fact, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job. To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem. And so this is the situation we find: a succession of Galactic Presidents who so much enjoy the fun and palaver of being in power that they very rarely notice that they're not. And somewhere in the shadows behind them—who? Who can possibly rule if no one who wants to do it can be allowed to?
Is it just me, or is this a pretty good summary of the summary of American politics in the last, oh, couple of decades? And related to the issue of how power circulates and the almost unimaginably awful consequences of the fact that it's never as it seems, The Long Emergency, a brief synopsis of where the world is at in terms of energy resources and consumption, is about the scariest thing I've read in a long time. If true, we're screwed. Sometimes I really wish I had a Sub-Etha Sens-O-Matic (more here) so I could just hitch a ride to another planet or something.

Posted April 9, 2005 02:01 PM | ai books general politics

didn't plato make this same argument in the republic?

Posted by: monica at April 9, 2005 08:12 PM

I just finished re-reading "So long, and thanks for all the fish".

My favorite quote is: "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is, as has been remarked before often and accurately, a pretty startling kind of thing. It is essentially, as the title implies, a guidebook. The problem is, or rather one of the problems, for there are many, a sizeable number of which are continually clogging up the civil, commercial, and criminal courtsg in all areas of the Galaxy, and especially, the more corrupt ones, this.

The previous sentence makes sense. That is not the problem.

This is:

Read it through again and you'll get it."


Posted by: Gideon at April 9, 2005 08:17 PM

The author of "The Long Emergency" has a weblog:

That article in Rolling Stone was taken from a book that will be published soon.

Posted by: Evan at April 10, 2005 07:53 AM

While I don't give up on my various beliefs, I do find myself more and more resigned to the the ideas of pretty substantial disaster. And not even the kind described by "The Long Emergency." More the kind described by Bill Joy (link) (and, kind of, by Kurt Vonnegut in that _Galapagos_ book).

It just seems that as diseases and such get easier to alter and cross-breed, it'll get easier and easier for apocalyptic groups and psychotic individuals to concoct really virulent diseases. HIV, for example, with the transmissibility of the common cold.

I really do suspect that in a couple of decades we may be living (or ceasing to live, I suppose) in a decidedly more medieval world than the one we see today. But here's hoping I soon come to my senses...

Posted by: washburn at April 10, 2005 06:29 PM

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