Now before I go any further, let me just take a second to espouse the virtues of Dante's Peak. I really can't talk this movie up enough. It has literally everything you want from an action movie:
1. James Bond
2. Sarah Conner
3. Kid that looks suspiciously like John Connor from Terminator 2:
|"Oh no, lava and stuff. Ay caramba!"|
|"You'll never be the blatant Bart Simpson ripoff I was, dude."|
|"And you'll never be the blatant Calvin ripoff I was, loser."|
4. A mother-in-law who is first all like "I'm a stubborn bitch," but then jumps into a lake that's so acidic it eats metal, just to save her family! And Bond just lets her do it because what the hell, she's old, right?
5. This guy:
6. A badass Chevy Suburban that can totally swim!
|I tried to replicate this scene when I was 18. Results were...mixed.|
7. They save a puppy from hot lava!
8. Two people have sex in a hot pool and totally die from it! Awesome!
9. A fat guy falls off a bridge. Hilarious!
10. So many 'splosions! Like, a mountain 'splodes a buncha times.
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. If you haven't seen it, stop reading and go rent it.
Okay, so in the movie, Pierce Brosnan arrives in a sleepy little town at the base of a beautifully rendered CGI mountain called Dante's Peak. It's just been voted the Number 2 small town in America by some magazine that is apparently so influential, the town decides to throw a huge fucking festival to celebrate. This makes sense, a few years ago Forbes magazine named my current town of Portland, Maine the best city in America, and we threw a monstrous party. It was the biggest thing to ever happen here. It was so big in fact, that we ended up going bankrupt. No, I don't see the irony.
Anyway, Brosnan and his crack team go about studying the geological rumblings of the dormant volcano, and Brosnan, being the handsome genius he is, immediately suspects a full blown catastrophe is upon them. But the rest of his conspicuously less attractive crew thinks otherwise, of course! Long story short, the handsome guy is right. I mean, come on! Never put money on the gang of uglies against the lone stud. That's a bet you'll lose every time. To try to tone down the fact that Pierce Brosnan is really way too pretty for this crowd, the filmmakers actually go so far as to have him nearly have sex with Linda Hamilton. Fortunately for Pierce, he's saved at the last minute by a deadly volcanic eruption. Phew!
|Seriously, filmmakers? I mean, really?|
Before all the awesomeness really kicks into high gear, though, Pierce tries to convince the hoard of trolls that is his scientific team of the imminent danger by using the frog in the boiler allegory. It states that if you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will immediately try to escape. However, if you put the frog in a pot with room temperature water and slowly heat it, the frog will remain in the pot until it boils to death. Dr. Handsome, er, Brosnan, states that if they arrived today, they'd be panicking, trying to climb out of the boiling pot. However, because they'd already been there for a little while, they were just sitting and stewing as the water temperature rose.
Is this allegory actually true? I don't know, my sister was the only one who could catch frogs, but she never seemed interested in going along with my research, because clearly, she hates science!
|This is a picture of a frog. I couldn't come up with a humorous caption.|
It doesn't matter if it's true though, and this brings me away from Dante's Peak, and to the main point of my post today. (But seriously, see the movie. It will give you a disaster erection. A disasterection.)
While I'm not exactly a hypochondriac (spelled it right on the first try! Yes!) I do have a tendency to latch onto a notion and obsess over it. A list of things I have thoroughly convinced myself of:
Stiff neck: Meningitis.
Poor short term memory: Slow descent into madness.
Those little floaty things in your vision: Impending blindness
Bloody nose: Stroke
Tingling sensation in fingers: Multiple sclerosis
Weird lump: All of the cancer. (Turned out to be a hernia, which is the only instance where it did actually end up being something kinda serious.)
In every instance, I'll become thoroughly convinced of my imminent demise, only to completely forget about it two weeks later, usually when some other malady presents itself.
Lately though, my obsession has been not of my own bodily malfunctions, but of a much larger scale. I'm pretty sure the world as we know it is coming to an end. Now let me be clear, I don't think it's ending in any of the traditional sexy ways like nuclear war, rapture, aliens, Mayans or zombies (or Mayan zombies, which would be an awesome movie! I just got a disasterection thinking about it!)
My ongoing concern is that we're the frog in the pot, and the water is getting very warm, indeed. I try to tell myself that I'm overreacting by reading too many collapse forums and alternative news blogs that have to rely on sensationalist headlines to generate interest. (thank goodness mainstream media doesn't have to resort to such cheap tactics...) The problem I keep encountering though, is that history keeps yanking my head out of the sand.
Every single great civilization has collapsed, and while some have done so quickly and violently, generally they tend to fall slowly and still kinda violently. That's the problem: we as a species are predisposed to preparing ourselves for sudden, violent action. I'm sure this harkens back to our hunter/gatherer days, when our food had an irksome tendency to run away/trample us/attempt to use us as food for themselves. The problem today of course, is that we still have that mentality. We're more worried about choking on a porkchop than on the vast resources consumed bringing that porkchop halfway across the planet.
Or to put it another way: Girlfriend and I recently had a discussion regarding the Fukushima nuclear meltdown. Girlfriend is pretty staunchly against nuclear power, and my stance is a little more nuanced. I am not exactly a proponent of traditional nuclear plants (specifically those built on active fault lines) however, I'd rather live next to a nuclear plant than a coal burning plant. Why? Because nuclear power still has one of the greatest safety records of any large industry, anywhere. Nuclear's problem is one of perception, when things go wrong, they go spectacularly wrong in a very visceral way. The frog is thrown into the boiling pot. We are conditioned to respond to such intense, sudden stimulation while ignoring the fact that we're slowly being poisoned to death by the byproducts of oil, coal and natural gas. Since it isn't happening as suddenly, we just sort of let it happen. We sit in the pot.
|Nuclear power: About 60 deaths|
|Fossil fuels: Everyone else.|
It's hard to argue that there isn't some kind of decline afoot, not just in America, but worldwide. The revolts in the middle east aren't as much about democracy and freedom as they are about high food prices. America's corn reserves are at an all-time low. Fresh water tables are dropping around the planet, prolonged droughts are devastating the American southwest, northern China and elsewhere. Charlie Sheen continues to make money. Peak oil has probably already passed, and if it hasn't, it's still going to be more expensive to extract. And of course, there is the debt issue, which could legitimately lead to runaway inflation and/or the US Dollar being dumped as the reserve currency. Fortunately, we can solve that issue by letting the republicans defund Planned Parenthood. For every cervical cancer screening we allow a woman to have, we doom ourselves. True story.
I have a solution though. It's going to seem a little unorthodox, but hear me out: Do nothing. That's right, just keep living exactly as you're living. The more us conscientious hippie-types try to make the world a better place, the more prolonged this disaster becomes. Let's face it, we're all fucked. If we try to slow down our descent, then we're less likely to get the huge, visceral disaster we need to get people's attention. We can't have a long slow decline! We need a sudden, massive shift of quality of living for anyone to give a shit. We need some major coastal cities inundated by coastal flooding. No, better yet, let's get a few billion people starving to death. So burn those fossil fuels, use all the plastic, eat only food shipped in from at least 2,000 miles away. Join the tea party. Let's all jump into the boiling pot and swim a few victory laps!
USA! USA! USA!