Why This News Is Not as Sad as ...

yesterday was the 113th flight in the shuttle program's 22 years and the 28th flight for columbia, the oldest shuttle in the fleet. i remember when the first broke up. i'll remember this one, too.

first, "TERRIBLE NEWS" was shouted from the steeple tops; "GREAT LOSS" was moaned by the people in the street. and the president got into the national living room televisions to parlay his pity play.

but before i get into that, its NOT sad and its NOT terrible.

my father died in a similar way. his plane fell to pieces over the gulf of mexico while he was doing experimental flight tests for the air force. he was doing what he loved most, doing what he was good at, and the vehicle broke apart. his teeth were found about 2km away from his heel bone. i know this story. i grew up with the requiem; a high-speed aerial vehicle falls apart, the following investigation is difficult, shaky conclusions are drawn, a hero is dead. and so we weep.

everyone on the news is anxious to point out "its obviously so tragic. its so horrible." but really these pilots spent their final minutes at the apex of their dreams. they got to see things that few people - alive today - ever will; earth-rise, weightlessness, thin atmosphere, deep starfields. maybe, if a couple of them had their heads together, they got a little zero-gravity sex research in the day before they died. let's face it, with all the flights that have gone up, someone's probably done it by now.. but in sum they saw past the limits of most people's dreams. and more important, they saw the realization of their own.

consider this email from Laurel Clark, sent the day before she died;

"I have seen some incredible sights: lightning spreading over the Pacific, the Aurora Australis lighting up the entire visible horizon with the cityglow of Australia below, the crescent moon setting over the limb of the Earth, the vast plains of Africa and the dunes on Cape Horn, rivers breaking through tall mountain passes, the scars of humanity, the continuous line of life extending from North America, through Central America and into South America, a crescent moon setting over the limb of our blue planet. Mount Fuji looks like a small bump from up here, but it does stand out as a very distinct landmark. "

i would like to be able to write an email like that the day before i die. let's be honest: they died in their primes and will be remembered as Heros (whatever that means).

but we americans damn well better believe its sad. cause there are millions of people that are watching Bush Jr in the living rooms who are living uneventful lives and will die with their dreams dried up on their tongues... THATs sad. what is sadder is that their emotions get bigger with all that hot air the media pumps into them. and they like it cause it gives em something to feel. its a cycle of consumerism, but a consumerism of symbols. and whats sadder than the formula of these symbols is its message: quantity counts more than quality. if a life is cut short it's tragic. it has nothing to do with how it's lived. the formula is, really, that simple. "more = better" is the message of the material.

and according to these reports on the television, what Matters is the technology.

because, let's face it, seven people somewhere died while you read this and they (sure as you) didnt make the news. it was the death of the symbol more than the death of the people. and the symbols were then used to report back.

in sum, what's sad isn't the death of seven astronauts.

what's sad is that millions of people are paying to be told to blubber over the loss of a piece of technology.

Pierced Eyelids ...
second, everyone taking toll of Technical Tragedy in America is making me scratch my noggin these days. there seems to be a culture of "if i have suffered tragedy i am strong." and i dont know what gutter this idea gurgled out of but it sure has a couple of cousins that smell politically correct to me. but at least its a solid excuse to get good and pissed off. and americans need that these days. the logic goes "i'm strong, i'm innocent, but i'm a victim; i've suffered tragedy, and its made me stronger." which is a great excuse to go kick the shit out of someone if you happen to be a bully. you're the strong victim and you shouldnt take no shit cause you're also innocent.

but, military mitts aside, checkitout:

this photoshopped image (note hands) of a boy crying over a flag (on a baseball field?) holding a space shuttle about cost me the top of my head. the symbology was, really, really, way too thick.

this pointed me to a page which reads like norman rockwell high on saccharin. you'd think that oldschool USofA FDR was out on a spring morning with their ballcaps and bannerads. the writer of the page is as shitty-assed on symbology as the bloke that photoshopped the nasty litl image above. the page has titles like,

In Mourning, the Morning After
A Lifelong Dream
Mourning the Loss
Prayers and Remembrance Across U.S.

none of which say much of anything, really. but it tells you the symbols are important. and, as with President Bush, this is what we americans need to be paying attention to: symbols.

its easy enought to see. i've got both the ellis island national address of 12 september and yesterday's address on the space shuttle. the message is the same.

the breaking news isn't that four astronauts died. the breaking news is about the culture of the states; "we're strong but we are suffering."

read it and weep.

"You can die in a car. Somebody can kill you also. That's life. Its part of the life." Inan Ramon

note: none of the images on this page are mine. i ripped.