Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one. – Albert Einstein

I hate reality. Nevertheless, it’s still the only place to get a good steak. – Woody Allen

It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets worse.

It’s a sentiment first echoed by the madcap comedienne, Lily Tomlin. And in these circumstances, it’s apt.

Don’t you think so?

Europe is having its first war since World War Two, a fact not lost on anyone remotely aware of history. If this was a film, all sorts of ominous chords would be rumbling in the background.

The worry is best summed up by Einstein after the Americans used the atomic bomb to end WW2. “I know not what weapons will be used in World War Three but in World War 1V, it will be by way of sticks and stones.”

People like Einstein felt these things because they knew American society. It is a society that’s getting increasingly divided, ugly and violent.

It used to have people like Rush Limbaugh, a radio talk-show host who was so right of centre that Attila the Hun would have crossed the street rather than accost him.

More to the point, Limbaugh wasn’t dismissed as a kook, a weirdo or a loony as he should have been. On the contrary, he was listened to gravely, had an enormous following, and was even awarded America’s highest civilian honour by President “Weird Don” Trump.

And all this for a man who once advised his audience over the airwaves: “The best way to reduce the number of nuclear weapons is to use them.” That wasn’t thinking out of the box, it was strictly out of the straitjacket.

But few seemed to think it mad, least of all a Fox news anchor who, upon Limbaugh’s death in 2021, described him admiringly as “a force of nature.”

So are earthquakes but they are never given awards nor described admiringly.

The point is the Limbaughs of the world are legion and scattered all over, from Moscow to Madras, from Chernobyl to Cambridge. Extremism is rising and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that what starts off as a local conflict can escalate out of hand.

The way Putin is behaving is unnerving. And you get more worried when you hear, over the BBC, that Western intelligence, thinks he’s feeling “increasingly angry, frustrated and isolated.”

That’s not something you want to know about a guy with easy access to the N-button. Let’s hope “hell hath no fury like a tyrant scorned” isn’t anything more than an exaggerated literary flourish.

The conflict is already affecting us. Our finance minister expects to spend almost RM28 billion on fuel subsidies – extremely idiotic policy given it’s the Mercedes and the BMWs that’ll benefit the most.

But like-minded people will be worrying about the Johor polls where Umno has already got its Three Rules ready…

  1. Get elected (2013)
  2. Get re-elected (2022)
  3. Don’t get mad, get even