I have been feeling a bit adrift since the grave mistake of 2016, but I think I might be able to cope with being a citizen of “the land of crap Rasputins”. So thank you Marina Hyde. And if the next term in the sequence, as she puts it, is Seumas Milne, I reckon I could handle it. For about five minutes.
Still, I am shocked to have learned from her column that the current incumbent, Dominic Cummings, quotes Murray Gell-Mann in the Bio of (one of?) the twitter accounts he apparently controls.
Gell-Mann co-invented, and named, the quark – one of the fundamental constituents of matter. He was both an expert and a generalist, and a genius by most standards. I am not entirely sure what he meant by “Odyssean education”. Neither do I know what Cummings is on about, though perhaps he has in mind a wide-ranging, dangerous journey with a triumphant homecoming. His head prefect is probably more focussed on any nymphs he comes across, and the rest of us should remember that Odysseus’ crew got turned into pigs, then drowned.
It’s interesting that our new junta seem to be quite enamoured of science though. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has re-appointed his brother to the science and universities brief. Jo Johnson was a decent enough minister for Science and Universities (apart from the regrettable Toby Young incident, of course), who resigned to save us from the impending brexity doom of Theresa May’s deal, and now seems totally chill with the infinitely more damaging “no deal” scenario. Weird.
ABdePJ also made an announcement yesterday about attracting top scientists from around the world to the UK, by making their visas cheaper and easier. If he’s not lying again haha, this is good. The unlamented May had been on a mission to hinder the role of the UK in global science and education since her time at the home office, by means of increasingly harsh and expensive regulations, incompetently applied. If that attitude is slipping into deserved obscurity with its author, great. Though doing this while pursuing a no-deal Brexit is a bit like washing the dishes while simultaneously shitting on the kitchen floor. Johnson (ABdeP) is an expert turd-polisher, and Andre Geim is right to worry he is trying to take us for fools.
In the face of the “most damaging attack on science there has ever been“, we’re also going to stop working with our longtime European collaborators on various satellite projects and reinvent lots of space things of our own, it seems. Expensive stuff. It’s a good job the economy is doing so… well. The vision seems to be sputniks and rationing.
So yes, the Land of Crap Rasputins it is.
Oh, those Russians.