Big Sky

photo (9)It is a chilly rainy damp dim day in the Northeast and a calm has settled as our nation takes a break from online shootings and memes and government self-induced crisisusum. Unemployment is meh, the markets are blerg, and elections just completed seem to tell us more about 2016 than they do our current state of affairs, at least according to the moaning spewing TeeVees blaring in a million DunkStarNutbucks and sundry other outlets where broadcast news is forced on the population who have since discovered online poker and Call of Duty Ghosts as more relevant ways of passing time.
We have not even had a dead whale or panda bear wash up on our shores for quite a while. True, scientists managed to kill the oldest living organism, but this is from that same playbook where clumsy science drowns baby tigers, cuts down the oldest tree, and serves up well over a thousand domestic nuclear tests in the fragile and taciturn dessert in order to ensure that the SOVIETS would not dare bomb us since we were way way too busy bombing ourselves. All is quiet in Crisislandia. For us. Right now. At this moment.
Meanwhile, a world away, things have turned to butt butter. The nations of the world are not prepared for nature’s wrath and those still “developing” (FKA the Third World) are least apt to withstand even a minor disruption. It was very frightening to read how quickly the situation turned desperate. Not within more than 24 hours the population devolved into chaos. This was not the devolution of a heterogeneous population of total strangers, but the rapid breakdown of a society known for its almost tribal affiliations and local networks. True, these networks may be stronger in the villages – those places in the news because people continue the meme that isolated villages will be worse off than the teeming metropolis – albeit, a lack of medical assistance and basic food stuffs impacts all in the same manner, even if the immediate reaction to these privations and maladies may differ.
Meanwhile, I am warm.
I am safe from the fickle weather outside. For the moment.
The coffee I bought in the terminal is lukewarm, but drinkable.
There is a little phone in the washroom I can pick up if the countenance of nature exists in this tiled and terrazzo temple of endless water.
I am scheduled for yet another flight. I will travel 450 miles out of my way to make what we call a “connecting flight.” How is it our modern world can send you so far away from you final destination with ease, with simple matter of fact, Sir you have to got to Texas in order to get to Columbus Ohio from New Jersey. Imagine the Pilgrims progress were they to make a stop in South Africa in order to catch a boat to Massachusetts or Columbus who traveled to the New World…. to catch a connecting trade wind… to Cathay…. That he apparently missed. But, today, these circumnavigations are quite common and no mater what the energy inputs, we take our flight to Atlanta in order to go next-door.
Neil Degrasse Tyson, the head of the Hayden Planetarium is known to talk a lot about stars and dark matter and electrons and things of the universe flushing this way or that and he also was speaking on science and existence and subjects I remember not since I was half paying attention to the radio as I readied for the day to the usual ramblings of my iDevice that chats at me every morning as part of my morning toilet. What stuck was what Dr. Tyson said about life. Not “life” as in Leben, the challenge of metaphysical issues of Der Gerschlunkakak and Le Shashasha but life as in the facility, the mechanics, the basics of air in one hole, pee out the other. According to Dr. T – we are but minutes away from total personal system failure. A lack of blood flow here and there, dead, a reduction of lack of oxygen, dead, a drop from such and such a height, exposure to too much of this or that element in rarefied form, dead…. The fragility of our condition is a simple matter to anyone with the basics of science and understanding of the body. However, it is not something we seem to be aware extends so much to our systems and our advanced way of life – as the milk in my morning coffee radiates and forms a galaxy with radial arms following the same rules and form as the galaxy I call home, the universe where my bunker of beans, bullets, and blankets is but a speck of a speck on what Carl Sagan called the dot on the edge of the frame.
Except that my coffee may contain less dark matter than the universe. Unless we count that at the bottom of the cup. Which means scientists need look for the universe’s bottom of the cup….
With imminent collapse at any time, perhaps we do need follow a page from the playbook of those wealthy wack-a-doodles on Doomsday Prep and build shipping container bunkers filled with Skittles and Mallomars. I used to keep a bunch of booze hidden in a tree root out in the woods… Albeit, for a much different reason….
Perhaps knowing that at any moment a momentary lack of blood pumping about our body or a few minutes rest from airflow will harm or kill us, we need scream all the time “Watch out, I could die!” However, both seem somewhat reduce the quality of life, if indeed they are a suck-ass way to live in a constant state of total panic – the job of which we should leave to the MSM and their collaborators. This does not mean, however, we don’t take precautions. I cannot recall if this was the “take away” from Dr. T – but I see this fragility of systems to be a universal and that depriving our complex modern life of but one element for too long, will impact this supra-organism we have all created and which in symbiosis we live.
We have not reached that point where collapse of civilization in a certain region of the Philippians means that our entire global system evaporates. We may never exactly reach that state. Think of the nations and regions that have suffered and war and famines of just the past decades after the end of the Second Great War To End All Wars. Collapse is local and unevenly spread. Climate change won’t (for decades at least) appear more than in this or that local environment. A walking fish here. A killer bee there. Melted frost and dead polar bears with stomachs full of plastic “HAVE A NICE DAY” bags and parts of pizza boxes from “Your Favorite Pizzaria.” This won’t mean our entire world will appear as if sprayed with Agent Orange or appear as from The Road all dusty and on fire n’shit… Or was that the graphic novel Max and Cub? My Dystopian Porn is all blending together. Like asphyxiation, the effected areas will carry the full weight, the other systems follow suit, some faster than others. Consider that the fingernails and hair, I have been told, grow even after death. Or, so I read on the Internet.
Storm and super storm. Typhoon and Super-Typhoon(tm). Snowstorm and Winter Storm Gandolf. Small strokes, little aneurisms, the temporary asphyxiation from asthma, a mere concussion or ten for a kid playing football.
We are not wired to understand incremental. We are not built to think long-term. We must make a conscious effort to do so each day. We do not smoke (much) because we understand the long-term health impact. We do not skate about without a helmet because we know that indeed it is not if but when we fall. We enjoy the comforts of what we have knowing that we should work each day to build the best and most resilient system we can.
Suffering will continue over in the Philippians – a nation that still routinely murders its journalists and activists. Indeed we can send money and food for the short-term comfort, but what can we draw down as lessons from what has now been a regular drumbeat of calamities? Can we continue to afford these major messes as they seem to increase with regularity as those disaster films from the 1970s came churning out only to be put to bed by Airplane (the film). We cannot continue to break out “We Are The World We Are The Children” time and again, sooner or later our global donors will experience fundraiser fatigue as the SuperStorm Season gives way to Earthquake and Mudslide Season followed by a Sharkweek where an actual Sharknado occurs but rather than living attacking sharks it is a waterspout from the garbage continent (Garbargia or the All Knowing Trash heap of Fraggle Rock) tossing dead sharks all stuffed to the gills with plastic bags and Leggos.
This fine evening I touched down in tornado alley and caught the tail end of a strong front coming through. I raised a glass with a friend and watched the havoc outside getting all roasty toasty on hot toddies and nature blew about the chairs and settings on the outdoor patio. Before we knew it, the storm was over an we walked back. Somewhere out in the darkness, distant from the abandoned rail tracks we followed there were pockets of devastation and lives lost. Little islands of horror on an planet that still is rolling along appearing to be fine.
photo (10)

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