Wednesday, 21 April 2010

When God flicked his cigarette...

Through The Last Ditch, I came across an excellent post by Leg Iron: When God flicked his cigarette...every plane in Europe sat idle.

He contrasts it with the American treatment of the Mount St. Helen's eruption in 1980, when planes continued to fly. I was a young child at the time, so I don't remember the media coverage. Equally, I'm neither a volcanologist, nor a meteorologist, nor an aerospace engineer. There may be technical reasons why Eyjafjallajökull poses a more serious threat, or it might just have impacted more flight paths. I don't know. But like Gerald Warner, I distrust the official line, and like Leg Iron, I see it as a symptom of a much wider and deeper malaise. We in the western world have become so risk-averse that we are scarcely human.

Leg Iron's post is worth reading in full, but the section that jumps out to me is the same one highlighted by Tom Paine at The Last Ditch:
Under the dreadful yoke of the current herd mentality, the South and North poles would still be marked as 'here there be dragons' because nobody would be permitted to go there. Yuri Gagarin would have been sectioned for instability - you want to do what? Sit on top of a huge firework in a little tin box and be shot into space? Madness!

The Wright Brothers would have been arrested for endangering themselves. Edison would have been imprisoned for trying to get people to buy a thin glass bulb with a vacuum inside, and then run a high voltage through it. Tesla would have been shot for the safety of the herd because he did some wonderfully wild stuff. Henry Ford would have been ordered to take the engine out of that Model T and tie a horse to it instead.

People traveling on rails behind something that runs on high pressure steam? Insanity! Gas running through pipes right into people's homes? Oh, the risk! A coal fire - indoors? A bridge over the river? What if it falls down? Safer to go around. Better yet, safer to stay here. It might be dangerous over there.

What if, what if, what if. Once that little phrase led to great things. What if lightning could be harnessed? What if we refined that black oil and made an engine that ran on it? What if we were to build a rocket that could take men to the Moon and back again? What if we ignore that 'edge of the world' stuff and just keep on sailing? Let's try it and see what happens.

Now it is completely reversed. What if someone electrocuted themselves? What if that engine caught fire? What if the rocket couldn't get back? What if the edge of the world is real?
Let us hope we can rediscover our sense of adventure.

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