Monday, September 28, 2009

The Future Is Hard To Breathe In

I have seen the future, and we are not required to participate.

The world doesn't need people. It could certainly use a lot fewer of us. We've known this for a good long time.

I'm not going to mandate killing off this or that group - that would be work for a Repugnican (all life is sacred until it's born, then good f&*kin' luck).

And here we are reaching toward the seven billion mark. Houses will have to be smaller, and they're gonna have to start paving stuff that ain't paved yet. Or do the Hobbit thing (an outcome I would probably prefer, except for the spiders that always get into these sorts of structures).

And of course there is the whole God thing. I don't remember exactly where it says be fruitful and multiply, but it's not helping. Mother Teresa can share some of the blame, wandering the world trying to combat poverty and telling women to breed like rabbits. Disconnect, anyone?

Pollution, overpopulation, global warming, noise, buddy comedies starring middle-aged children, it all just keeps getting worse and weirder.

Anthony Bourdain (of Travel Channel and Les Halles fame) goes to these groovy places, meets groovy people (most of the time - his Lebanon special is truly amazing), and realizes that he has begun the downward spiral of more and more tourists going to these out-of-the-way places that still have their magical charm specifically because no one goes there. Horribly enough, because Americans don't go there and demand Big Macs.

Daniel Kalder (The Lost Cosmonaut: Observations of an Anti-Tourist) goes to out-of-the-way industrial or poverty-stricken hellholes in the former Soviet Union to point out that he may one of the very few people who ever go to these places as a tourist, and he goes there because no one else would. Places that sound made-up like Kalmykia (roughly translated "remnant land") where the Buddhist population is forced to learn to play chess, because the head of the republic, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, is a chess freak (also head of the world chess federation, FIDE). Kalder has visited places that don't strike one as potential eco-tourist venues, or even cultural interest spots.

While we decry the spreading tentacles of American culture into otherwise isolated places, we also miss it when we visit places like that (though I'm pretty sure a Big Mac would taste somewhat odd in Udmurtia). And if we keep adding more people to the population while living longer and working longer, won't we run this planet out of things? Oil is certainly on its way out, as is coal - but what about toilet paper?

The future keeps coming and going, and we have learned only that we might be creating the engines of our own destruction, but let's keep making more of 'em, because we all need something to do in our vanishing spare time.

People are odd.

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