Friday, October 20, 2006

A Gift that Keeps On Giving

Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling writes:

Here's a game for the weekend. People often, o.k, sometimes...alright then, never, talk about where they would go and what they would do if they had a time machine. But what if you had a time machine, but there were certain conditions...

Those conditions are:

You can only use your time machine for one "mission" (being distinct from a trip). This mission could have many "legs" - like going somewhere, picking someone up, taking them somewhere else etc. But there can only be one "objective for your mission.

You cannot use your time machine mission for anything at least explicitly personal. Otherwise we would all want to go and see our garandparents and pets.

To give you some background, I first started thinking about this during the previous space shuttle launch. Wouldn't it be nice to bring the Wright brothers back to watch a space shuttle launch, or even fly in a 747 I pondered.

The germ of an idea mutated. Doing something like "Showing the Wright brothers complex twenty-first century aircraft", whilst being no doubt nice, is still a little indulgent. Could we use our time machine better, or at least make things a little more exciting, with the parameter of there being only one "mission" that it could be used for - in the sense that you might have to do two trips in a mission like my one with the Wright brothers, and a parameter limiting your choice of mission to one of benevolence.

I'll kick it off. I've been reading a bit of Niall Ferguson'swork. He wrote a book a short time ago called "The Pity of War"in which he argues that the First World War, and subsequently the rest of the twentieth century, was so unbelievably bloody because Britain intervened. Had Britain sacrificed Belgium, Germany would have had a quick victory over France (is there any other kind?) and Russia. There would have been no Lenin, or Holocaust, or Gulags, or many of the other atrocities that happened during the last century.

And so, my mission would be this. Go back to August 3rd 1914, when Germany invades France and Belgium. Take Herbert Asquith to the battles of Verdun, The Somme, maybe even Auschwitz, and try to convince him of Ferguson's thesis (hell, I might as well take Niall Fergusn with me, let's go nuts) before taking him back to the night before the United Kingdom was to join the Great War, hopefully never to do so, saving more than a hundred million souls in the process.

And now it's up to you. One Time Machine, one mission and objective, and no personal gain - anyone else for showing February 2003 Rumsfeld 2006 Iraq?


Duncan Bayne said...

No personal gain, huh? Then, why would I bother?

I mean, I'd stop WWI, Communism & Fascism because I didn't want it to happen. Me, personally. I'd gain by stopping it. So that's out.

Hmmm ... how about taking some highlights of the last US elections back to show the Founding Fathers, to get them to make a few tweaks to the Constitution? Nah, again, I'd love to see a truly free America, so that's out too.

I think you see where I'm going with this ... ?

Apathy Jack said...

"anyone else for showing February 2003 Rumsfeld 2006 Iraq"

Nope - He'd try anyway.

What I'd do is take footage from 2006, ranging from international affairs to economic and social issues - all America-centric - and play it to the folks in the lead up to the 2000 election on the states.

Eric Olthwaite said...

"I think you see where I'm going with this ... ?"

Yes Duncan, you're playing silly buggers. Of course there is personal gain by stopping WW1 or Rumsfeld's cocking up of Iraq or whatever.

The point I was making, obviously unsuccessfully, was that you couldn't pick a trime travel mission where "you" were the sole benefactor, like going to see next week's Powerball draw or back to see the grandparents or something. I wanted folk to think of something more removed and altruistic than that to see what they would come up with.

That said, your idea of showing America's founding fathers how to tweak the Constitution, and Jack's 2006 media campaign for the 2000 elections are both appreciated, and quite good. Just the sorts of things I was after.