Monday, 17 December 2012

The Ruum

From Wikipedia
The Ruum is an entertaining short science fiction story written in 1953 by Arthur Porges. Briefly, the Ruum is an indestructable robot left behind on Earth by aliens during the age of the dinosaurs, but never retrieved because the aliens were destroyed in a battle. It job is to collect specimens of living creatures weighing 145 to 175 pounds and keep them in a state of suspended animation. 

Millions of years later, Jim Irwin, a uranium prospector, stumbles across the machine's collection of specimens which includes a stegosaurus, still living but in suspended animation. Irwin is detected by the Ruum and after a long chase during which his attempts to destroy it all fail, it finally catches up with him.

The Ruum picks up Irwin, weighs him, puts him down again and rolls away. We are to assume that during the pursuit, Irwin lost enough weight to fall outside its sample range.

The Ruum is the unstoppable machine where the only escape is to be beyond its parameters.

Moving on to 1992 during the general election battle between Neil Kinnock and John Major, which Major unexpectedly won, I well recall asking myself where Kinnock saw the limits of state control. Why I picked on Kinnock I don't know, some hint of the future maybe, although I'm not pretending to have been at all prescient.

Anyhow, I clearly recall coming to the conclusion that neither Kinnock nor the Labour party would never acknowledge any genuine limits to state control over the individual.

Three years later, Kinnock moved on to become an EU Commissioner - his reward for what I don't know, but by then my suspicions had solidified into certainty. There is no stopping the machine. There is no shortage of Ruums and never will be. 

Of course it isn't just the Labour party. None of the major UK political parties have ever acknowledged any abiding limit to state control over the individual. The Ruums would claim otherwise if asked, but nothing specific would ever materialise. 

So what's the defence against modern Ruums, how do we move beyond their parameters? How do we avoid a permanent state of suspended animation? Well of course, unless we emigrate or become rich or famous we can't, because those are the escape parameters.

  1. Rich.
  2. Famous.
  3. Expat.

So that's simple enough isn't it?  


Demetrius said...

Whilst the limits to state power may not be visible or predictable because so much is invisible and unpredictable sooner or later something will happen. This is because as the state expands its activity the more and more it puts in place the pre-conditions for failure. And the more state the more catastrophic the potential failure.

A K Haart said...

Demetrius - I agree, it's all too complex, too big and not well understood.

Sam Vega said...

I agree with Demetrius. Learn to take pleasure in what the state cannot (yet) regulate, yet recognise that there are other factors at work which circumscribe our choices. Ageing, climate, the economy, etc.

Keep your powder dry, fight the buggers where it is not too difficult, and wait for the whole enterprise to mess itself up.

A K Haart said...

Sam - I don't really want the whole enterprise to mess up too catastrophically though.