What Does “Rendezvous With Rama” have to do with empty Woolies shelves and a politician’s pension?

With all the stuff going on in the world right now, I got to thinking. And there is a video element in this as part of a more expanded creative view of things overall.

I am a science fiction fan. No, not escapist “pop” sci-fi along the lines of the Marvel stuff, but what I call real sci-fi, where ideas and concepts that could happen are explored.

Think 2001: A Space Odyssey (the grand-daddy of ‘em all in my opinion), 2010: Odyssey 2, Blade Runner, Logan’s Run, Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind, Interstellar, Moon, District 9, Arrival and so on.

Many – but not all I admit – also explore social situations, environmental circumstances and possible ramifications and repercussions.

The closest parallel in the music area would I suspect be what is commonly called Prog Rock, a genre that peaked in the 70s and 80s and seems to be making a resurgence in some areas at least. Again things are explored in a musical sense as against 3 min 12 second “pop songs” and there have been some mighty contributions from the likes of Pink Floyd, Yes, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Alan Parsons Project, Marillion, Mike Oldfield and more.

These film makers and musicians are people who have or had vision to try and create something to explore, answer a question, provoke more questions and generally try and work out what “is”, what “was” and what “could be”.

Does that make sense? I hope so.

People in the past like this, their forebears if you like, would include DaVinci, Plato, Socrates, Galileo, Newton and so on.

Thinkers. Visionaries. Prophets. And also artists, poets and scientists.

Today, as I looked at empty shelves in my local Woolworths store, I wondered on a more micro sense where today’s visionaries are?

Here’s an example based on that.

As many know, I am based in the south-west of Western Australia, but for the sake of this argument, I could equally be in the Northern Territory or outback South Australia for example.

The reason our supermarket shelves are empty is that the rail link between East and West was cut by torrential rain a few weeks back. Similarly the East / West highway (erroneously referred to as the “Nullarbor” by many) also had issues. Add to that the fact that border closures meant checkpoints slowed things down somewhat.

And so freight, including processed and tinned food, parcels and even alcohol couldn’t get through to the West or the North via SA. Luckily for us here at least, meat and most dairy products have not been too much of an issue due to local industry, although butter and cheeses have been scarce.

But the experts tell us it might take another 6 weeks to get back to some sort of normal.

The main East/West road is known as Highway One and circumnavigates Australia, As such it comes under the Federal Government’s jurisdiction. Oh sure, local councils and State Government departments might do the donkey grunt work, but the funding and design is on a federal level.

The same goes for the trains.

Now Australia is a land of huge contrasts, from its terrain to its weather.

I remember the fanfare when the final part of Highway One was sealed. Finally, the pollies trumpeted, we have an all-weather road!

Well that worked out well didn’t it.

When the Indian Pacific line from East to West was finally finished, giving a single gauge line across the country, everyone cheered. A bit of rain put paid to that in a few days, so that went well too. Not.

It strikes me that over the last few decades, politicians in charge of this stuff who should be planning, forecasting, calculating, risk assessing and implementing to make sure everything keeps rolling along are far more interested in their fat salaries, fat pensions, point scoring in Parliament, making sure their mates are looked after and simply holding on to power to make sure those things all continue.

So I ask, where ARE the visionaries? The ideas people. The ones who have an interest in OUR future and not just their own?

Those who look to the future and think “what can we do if such-and-such happens?” And “How can prevent stuff happening?”. With of course, “if the unthinkable happens we could not foresee, what contingences do we have in place to minimise consequences?”

And what backups are there in place.

Maybe we wouldn’t have empty shelves in Woolworths if the powers-that-be took a leaf out of the Raman’s playbook. As Arthur C Clarke wrote in Rendezvous With Rama, the Ramans do everything in threes…

And that could apply to a lot more things too. It just needs a bit of will and hard graft, as against what the current mob in general in power in Canberra seem to want to do.

Hmm. There might just be a film script in this.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave them in the comments below, its anonymous.



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