Looking out at the world from our small community on the edge of the pacific, we are insignificant in the big picture but yet we have all we need for a good, comfortable life. We also have a big, panoramic window to the world which comes across in non-ionizing radiation in the form of RF waves for cellphones and computers and variable frequencies for TV signals. Great inventions, which connect the people on this planet and also lets us look far beyond our solar system and galaxy. But there is a hitch and it happens to be one of Camp’s major peeves which he willingly shared over a fresh pint at our watering hole.
‘Thanks to the profit driven social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, U-Tube and TikTok, lies, conspiracy theories, propaganda and fake news are proliferating to a point where those four platforms alone elected president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in the Philippines. His infamous parents stole billions from their people, imprisoned and killed thousands and have been tried and condemned for human rights abuses as well as exiled from their homeland. Much of their ill-begotten wealth is still tied up in litigation and sits in bank accounts from Switzerland to Hawaii. Marcos Junior does not acknowledge his parents kleptocracy but instead wants his paws on their money. Under the guise of ‘freedom of information and speech’ those platforms have become the voice and the ballot box for fringe movements, radical crackpots, and populist politicians like Trump, Orban or Marcos.’
‘You’re preaching to the choir once again Camp,’ I said. ‘Using the same platforms, hundreds, if not thousands of pro-Putin propaganda bots have been churned out and posted by Russian cyber shops, not so much in the West where Putin is a pariah, but in the East, from India to Indonesia and all over Africa. Is this the start of a new iron curtain and cold war?’ I asked, ‘and are we going back to a them vs us world?’
‘Looks like it but this time the trigger was an unprovoked aggressive invasion of a sovereign country by its neighbour. Should the world just stand by and ignore the big Russian bear trampling everything in its path or should we agree to Putin’s demands which include NATO removing any troops or weapons from Poland and the Baltics as well as the Balkan countries? Russia also demanded that NATO rule out any further expansion, in particular the accession of Ukraine and he wanted the west to provide Russia ‘legal guarantees’ of its security, whatever that means,’ Camp said.
‘A tall order which neither Europe nor the US could accept. As it turned out this was a pretext to the invasion of Ukraine, just after the winter Olympics in Beijing where Xi and Putin promised each other unrestricted friendship.’
‘While China’s experiment in Maoist crowd control, sold as zero-Covid policy, is failing miserably, North Korea is now in the grips of the pandemic. Unfortunately, many of their old will perish due to low vaccination and inadequate healthcare.’
‘Yes, and instead of concentrating our energies at home or in the garden like Clare, we are sitting in paradise, discussing North Korea, a mass shooting in Buffalo and war in Eastern Europe. What does that tell us?’ I said, finishing my first pint.
‘It tells us that we are dysfunctional, helpless and overinformed, confused and unfocused, missing the important things in our lives, those we have some control over.’
‘Like what kind of beers to drink, who to vote for, what to read, watch and participate in and who with.’
‘Yes, we need to relish and celebrate our freedoms, our health and our community.’
‘Without losing sight of the big picture.’
‘What big picture is that?’ Vicky asked while exchanging our empties.
‘You know, the world out there,’ Camp said vaguely with a sweep of his hand that almost knocked her tray over.
‘Maybe you should bring your wives some flowers and let them know they are appreciated. It can’t be easy putting up with two opinionated curmudgeons like you two. ‘
‘Or chocolate,’ she said.