Saturday, January 25, 2020

Day 3684

Whenever something bad happens these days it almost always reminds me of a movie I've already seen. Reality and fiction have become hopelessly blurred together in ways I never would have thought possible a decade ago. When I first started hearing about the coronavirus scare it seemed so much like the movie Contagion that it would be impossible for me to tell which story was real if I didn't already know that Contagion was a movie. In many ways the idea that there is a city in China that is larger than New York City where people routinely eat bat soup and snakes on a stick seems more like fantasy than any movie I've seen. I guess I'm not as well informed as I thought I was. Until a few weeks ago, I didn't even know that the city of Wuhan existed. Sure, I knew about Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, but Wuhan? Never heard of it.

A pandemic like ebola, bird flu or the coronavirus has to make you wonder about globalism. When anything becomes too big to fail, what happens when it inevitably does fail? When engineers want a failsafe system, they build in a lot of redundancy. When a single system fails, the machine continues to run. We ought to think of the world this way. A lot of independent, self-sufficient economies is a lot safer than a single global economy. We were a lot more resilient as a country when every city had a factory and we were able to make everything we needed ourselves. I think a world where it is not so easy to travel from one country to another is better as well. What is so bad about applying for a visa and planning ahead? The reason we all know about Wuhan today is that it is super easy to just hop on a plane and be anywhere else in the world in a matter of hours.

A guess you can't have it both ways. I'd like to see flying cars and cities on Mars, but I'm still more comfortable in the simpleminded black and white worlds of Have Gun Will Travel and Perry Mason. Old TV westerns make more sense to me than today's news.

Our world may be falling apart, but I find that my own little world usually gets better as soon as I turn off the TV. There is something to be said for concentrating on your immediate surroundings. There is usually plenty there to keep you busy. I ran my usual Saturday errands in the morning and took my walk in the afternoon. Not a lot happened today, but that was fine. An uneventful afternoon is much better than a roof leak.

As my trip to the Davis Mountains draws closer, I'm starting to realize that my knowledge of astronomy is woefully inadequate for conducting star parties at the observatory. I'm reading a lot online these days and spending time looking at star charts. This is no substitute for actually going outside at night, but we haven't had many clear nights lately. The more I read about contemporary astronomy, the more I remember why I chose advertising as a profession. A clear, dark night fills me with wonder, but I don't think I'd have the patience to spend years studying the rotation of galaxies or exploring stellar mass and luminosity.

I hope tomorrow is uneventful as well. A good breakfast and a trip to the gym are all that is on the agenda. That's enough for me.

Bones is today's Dalmatian of the Day
Watch of the Day