All that thinking stuff

Thursday August 24, 2006

They do love statistics, don’t they? Governments, I mean.

It’s an historic obsession of government, trying to express populations, their possessions and their occupations as a model on paper that can be grasped by the most simple minded of politicians and manipulated to the ultimate end that occupies them—control.

We were gifted with a milestone of the data gathering statistician’s craft today with the disclosure that, for the first time, the population of the United Kingdom has passed the sixty million mark. That’s an awful lot of us. Makes our population density some twelve times that of the United States, for instance.

Trawling my own memory for past statistical information I’ve retained, I’m minded to note that well in excess of ninety percent of that sixty million are confined to less than ten percent of the UK land mass. That’s an imbalance which, from an historical perspective, is liable to be short lived.

It’s a dreadful thought, an ever-increasing population squashed into such a small living area. I remember a TV SF production years back that showed a privileged governmental elite spreading themselves comfortably in spacious accommodation while, outside, an impossible crush of humanity shuffled past large windows, gazing in. Knowing the British public as I do, I doubt they’d be content to gaze for very long.

The media, typically, has seized upon the least significant statistic within the greater statistical whole. A significant element in the recent growth of population is occasioned by migrant workers from Eastern Europe, and elsewhere. The ‘threat’ of immigrant workers is an ever-popular diversion from greater concerns and, let’s face it, when you’re engaged in wars all around the globe, some of them legal, some of them not, popular diversions are an element of control that governments welcome as a distraction from difficult issues.

Ach. I don’t care to pursue the matter. I’m not convinced that my knowledge and skills in the area of statistics, or government, are up to the job. My interest most certainly is not.

Just so long as enough of that sparsely populated countryside remains for me to enjoy in what’s left of my lifetime, I’m selfishly content to observe rather than participate. Participation is for more engaged folks. And younger, like as not.

You can’t help but think, though. I was sitting, engaged in just that occupation this evening, and was gifted by a little poem. Writing poems is much better for me than all that thinking stuff.


A military observation
While not watching
the world at war
I caught sight of
two kites riding
the cliff edge wave.
One sailed steady.
The other dipped
dived and fell
its strings unbalanced
as an ill-managed force.
John Bailey
Somerset, August 2006


Reader’s note:  I’m taking a two-day break again, back on Monday with a three-for-one. Thanks for bearing with me in these last days before moving in to the new house and returning to regular dailyness once more.



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