"There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it's only a hundred billion. It's less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers." ~ Richard Feynman
Column by Alex R. Knight III.
Exclusive to STR
Ever since I was very young, I have always enjoyed watching airplanes cross the sky. Day, or night, high-altitude jet or low-flying Cessna, far away on the horizon, or straight above, I revel in watching them pass across the big blue (or black) canvas overhead. Always.
Naturally, this is only possible since I am a child of the 20th Century. In prior ages, manmade aviation did not yet exist. Neither did automobiles, or the tradition of Thanksgiving, or the curiously irrational idea we know as government. Unless you want to get Einsteinian about the true nature of both time and space, but that runs far beyond the scope of this essay – most predominantly because it, in turn, runs far beyond average human day-to-day experience. So I’ll eschew that part for now.
Back to airplanes. I get to enjoy them so much out here in Vermont. There are several flight paths that seem to pass within proximity of my home. On average, there’s little to no background noise where I live, and so you can hear them approach from far away – sometimes the thin drone of a single-prop engine, other times the slow, rushing roar of jets as it cascades down to earth in classic sonic-boom fashion. Oops – I did just mention the word “drone.” A bit out of context, but I might as well clarify that I’ve not seen any of the unmanned government kind out here yet. Let’s hope things remain that way. I’m not entirely sure they will.
I also used to enjoy plane-watching at my last place of residence, a decade ago and more, in southeastern New Hampshire. There too, are an even greater number of flightpaths that aircraft, both large and small, are navigated through. I drove back there for Thanksgiving this year. The weather was unseasonably warm for that part of the world in late November, and so I was fully able to enjoy being outdoors, walk around the yard, play baseball-catch with a canine friend I’m dogsitting for the time being, and watch jets etch contrails across the big blue sky. There was an occasional small aircraft that flew by, as was always the case in times past, headed to or from more local airports such as Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth, or the smaller ones in Hampton, or at Plum Island, or in Lawrence, Massachusetts. But the big jets predominated as ever -- on trajectories, I would imagine, from various parts of Europe to places along the eastern seaboard: New York City, Baltimore, the District of Criminals known as Washington, Raleigh, and other cities.
Beginning in 2000, before I departed for Vermont two years later, I moved to that location in the midst of a surfeit of personal crises too numerous to even recount here. Some of those things even followed me to Vermont, for a while. There were confrontations with the IRS, and with the Pig Department of Exeter. There were unrelated family financial matters to contend with. My apologies to the very few of you whom I count as exceptions, but suffice it to say that – based on roughly 20 years of experience -- I regard the population of southeastern New Hampshire as being among the most vile, repulsive, and absolutely unlikeable tribe of utter scum I have ever had the misfortune to encounter. Ever. Other than my remaining family members, I’m shut of that place forever. And good riddance to it all.
There was also another unfortunate incident that occurred while I still existed (I won’t say “lived,” because that’s not really what I was doing at the time) in that place, one that in all likelihood you shared. I remember dragging myself out of bed one Tuesday afternoon, hung over, needing a shower and a shave, and not looking forward to starting another week of night-shifts in the warehouse where I worked at the time. I grabbed some clothes and headed downstairs. The shower in the then unfinished second-floor apartment where I paid rent was broken, and in need of a plumber. But there was one I could use on the ground floor.
When I was let in after knocking on the door, the first thing I found out was that it had been five hours since the world had indefinitely changed for the worse. It was roughly 2:00 in the afternoon. Beginning at around 9:00 that morning, Eastern Standard Time, two aircraft had slammed into both towers of the World Trade Center in New York. Another had hit the Pentagon, and still one more went down in rural Pennsylvania (I realize in the time since, any number of questions have been raised about even this basic version of events – these too fall outside the scope of this essay; I leave you to draw your own conclusions).
As I’ve told you, I was watching airplanes this Thanksgiving, as I’ve always liked to do. And every so often I glanced up at a window facing east—one that looked in on the room where I’d been sleeping half-drunk, while 9/11 took place. And then I looked back at those jets cruising north to south, presumably following flight paths right along the coastline. Metal marvels of technology brought about by at least a quasi-free market, flying majestically through the Thanksgiving Day skies. I thought about the people on them, and how in order to board those craft, they were all obligated to possess government-issued passports containing photos of them, personal information about them, with RFID tracking chips embedded in the documentation. How they and their belongings were scanned through X-ray machines. How they were physically groped and molested in a dehumanizing and perverse manner. How they were asked batteries of preposterous, invasive, and wholly pointless questions that they were required to answer to the satisfaction of a cadre of total strangers in uniforms, or face arrest.
And all of that, so groups of politicians can continue to pursue their megalomaniacal, militaristic geopolitical games of genocide and murder unabated, never having to admit their own personal guilt, while you and I and everyone else continue to foot the bill at gunpoint through taxation, and continuing loss of other personal liberties.
I thought about all of these things this Thanksgiving, and as should be obvious, I’m still thinking about them now, along with many others. I was and am thankful for my family, and the fact that many of them are still alive and doing relatively well in this upside-down, distorted world. I am thankful for mild Fall days like the ones that occurred this year. I am thankful for the (if heavily hampered) market forces that have enabled creative and entrepreneurial people to bring things like airplanes, autos, Thanksgiving turkeys, and even baseballs into the world (and yeah, Obama, those people did build those things, you sorry bastard).
But the world that people have otherwise created thus far, the one the majority of them at this point in history seem to be content with hanging on to – even afraid to let go of--one that is strangled and corrupted in virtually every regard by the idea of political government, I can give no thanks for at all. It has not infused into my life any measure of “protection” or “order,” insomuch as it has desecrated and destroyed at every turn the very essence of these things, and in turn forced me to pay for them. It has done precisely nothing for me. Those who profess to work for this entirely evil organization and idea have only done things to me.
And I will be most grateful when, and only when, they and their kind are no more.