Right now, there is a pipe sticking out of the seabed in the Gulf of Mexico, from which oil is billowing.  It is a huge environmental disaster, and most certainly a historical event if there ever was one.  But there is a hidden meaning there.  That pipe, with it’s relentless oil plume is a sign of the times.  Yes, it’s a sign that we’re too dependent on oil, etc.  But there’s more.

Think about it like this: we drilled a well 5000 feet below the surface of the ocean.  Lots of them, actually.  Sure, we’re not very good at it, as this whole disaster shows.  But from a technological standpoint there has been progress.  I’m not trying to excuse BP here, nor our sluggish lust for black gold (yes, I’m guilty of it, and you are too, what with cars and such).  But it’s still an accomplishment, and who knows where we’ll go from here?  Maybe it’ll only be a matter of time before we’re drilling on moons, other planets (cue Armageddon reference).

Again, I don’t mean to make light of the disaster.  I only want to try to stay optimistic about our civilization, and who knows, maybe whatever we can learn from this will help us out somehow later on.  Welcome to the future.

It’s Warm Out and other thoughts

Well, it was kind of warm today.  I’m not one to blame climate change, as this is a normal January thaw (so it would seem to me).  But it’s a lot like spring outside, and that’s something.  I mean, it’s certainly T-shirt weather, and almost shorts weather (depending on your definition of shorts weather).  Not a lot of snow is left, and it was raining last night.

This is weird, and short-lived, of course.  I mean, next week we could just as easily have a foot of snow here in the swamp.  But I will say it’s kind of enlightening.  I don’t like the overcast days but I do like feeling like spring is close.  In the midst of worrying about school and work and all that other stuff, I can now say The Future Looks Bright.

And that brings me to my next point.  While not one to pick favorites as far as the subject of music goes, if pushed I would say that Steely Dan is probably one of my favorite bands (or duos, or however you want to describe their operation).  By extension, I do enjoy Donald Fagen’s solo works as well (his earlier two in particular).  Recently I was listening to the song IGY from his album The Nightfly, and was reminded of the sophisticated lyrics of this piece.  The theme behind the album centers around the perspective of a teenager in the 1950’s, dealing with the fears and dreams of people at the time, including optimistic visions of the future.  Getting back to IGY, take a look at this lyric:

A just machine to make big decisions
Programmed by fellows with compassion and vision
We’ll be clean when their work is done
We’ll be eternally free yes and eternally young

I love this quote because it shows the optimism people had as technology progressed.  I mean, I guess nowadays we have computers that “make big decisions,” but then the idea of a big thing that did calculations was quite different.  It should be obvious, but as I sit at my laptop, which makes any room-sized computer from back then look like the crappy little calculator on a clipboard I can’t help but find it fascinating.  And to boot, it’s an ironic warning against Skynet!  (If it was a warning against Windows, Mr. Fagen has failed.)

Of course there are other references in the song too, like to Spandex and an underwater, transatlantic railroad.  I have to wonder how different the future will be than what my generation perceives…