Tiny Dot Airplane, Fly Me Away
Radiation Level: 100% Octane
Listening To: Jamais by Charlotte Gainsbourg
In my mind, this photo represents the best and worst of humanity. The fact that early humans, possibly Homo erectus and Neanderthals, learned how to use/create/control fire is simply fascinating. But we didn’t stop there. Eventually, humans looked into the sky and dreamed of flying through the clouds, just like the birds. And damn, if we didn’t make that happen.
Whenever I see small planes like the tiny one in this photo, I feel comforted somehow. I immediately hear the engine hum in my mind. I don’t even know who’s in the plane, but I know it’s another human being and they are carrying on with their flying and they are probably happy to see god’s view of the world and they most likely feel free.
But this photo isn’t comforting. It’s not even bittersweet. It’s just bitter.
It is a satellite view of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The well is pumping 5,000 barrels of oil into the gulf every day. And even after all the other oil spills, from Exxon Valdes to Megaborg, we still haven’t figured out how to prevent or recover from one?
I’m sure it’s complicated. I’m sure safeguards were in place. I’m sure there was human error. I’m sure it was all an accident. But this is just the kind of thing that makes me nervous about nuclear power plants. And chicken. It makes me not trust technology or people. Humans are responsible. Hell, I’m responsible simply because I put gas in my car and fly on airplanes that use this foul fuel. It’s just that…we are so much smarter than this.
But we allow old systems to remain in place just because it’s always been done that way. The technology for gasoline fueled automobiles was developed in the 19th century (Dr. 9Lives, that’s the 1800’s). We are in the 21st century and still using 200-year-old science? This baffles me, but what’s worse is that I have accepted it. I’m part of the whole ugly charade. There’s oil on my hands.
Isn’t that where government is supposed to come in? To help develop new technologies instead of getting rich on old ones? Don’t get me started on the 405, but even a dummy like me knows there’s a better way to hop around Los Angeles. Oh wait, what about a mass transit system using red electric cars that go all over the city?
That’s right, Henry Ford, General Motors, Standard Oil of California, Firestone Tire and others bought them, got rid of them and made billions by forcing everyone to buy a car if they wanted to get to work, I remember now.
So, tiny dot plane flying over the massive oil slick whirling its way to the Lousianna coast, will you pick me up? Will you fly me away forever? Or, at least until we’re out of gas?