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The bad news is …

While sleepless and low in Hong Kong at 4 a.m. I’ve seen several newspaper news reports that don’t seem either as dramatically good or bad as the reporters think.

1. Much worse than reported:

The latest thing in neuro.* (excuse the regular expression notation).

Scientists who want to make a buck and the advertising agencies are teaming up to check out what kinds of ads trigger your brainwaves. I know this is old stuff — see Vance Packard’s The Hidden Persuaders of the 1950’s — but still, it seems truly pernicious to me for people to use science (as opposed to psychology) to figure out how best to stimulate you to buy what they want to sell you. I don’t know why this is worse than using sex to sell things, or worse than Google tracking your clicking habits, but somehow it seems to me a deeper violation of something I can’t quite name yet, some sort of sanctity. No doubt we’ll all get used to it soon. If it works.

2. Better than reported: We’ll meet again don’t know where don’t know when …

So the Large Hadron Collider at CERN may produce a mini black hole that will destroy the universe, or at least the earth? Unlikely,but it doesn’t seem so bad to me. If we have to go (and we do), it seems not at all a bad exit route, all of us together rather than individually, and preferable to almost anything in the God-Forbid category: disease, radiation poisoning, suicide bombings, SARS, even old age itself. Instantaneous and no-one left behind to mourn or struggle for survival is better.

3. Better than reported:

Roger Cohen on…

“HONG KONG: It’s the end of the era of the white man …”

Maybe it’s a little sad to think about the expected decline of the U.S and Europe with theirfractional growth rates that can’t compare to China and India’s double digits, but in the end it’s just sentimentality to look at the world in competitive chunks rather than one big whole.

“How is it that this is the only place on earth where people think of what you want before you’ve thought of it yourself? ” Mr Cohen says of Hong Kong and its dynamism.

He doesn’t know that Geneva and the designers of the Large Hadron Collider may have thought of what you want before you’ve thought of it yourself, and may end all blessed eras in addition to that of the white man.

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