Here are two contrasting items from long ago (4 years) on American Digest. The first (Something Wonderful: Speed Riding at night in Chamonix – American Digest) showcases an almost impossible moment in our long climb up from the mud and remaining forever earthbound in the dust. It showcases a single man, at night over the French Alps near Chamonix-Mont-Blanc swooping high and low, pirouetting in his parachute, his brightly illuminated parachute — over mountain peaks and valleys draped in shawls of snow — descending down with skies on his feet, in an exercise of pure joy. It is a scene of clear crisp white nights. Its elements proclaim the triumph of man over nature. And it is all done to promote not only awe from those of us who do not have the skill and courage and means to replicate the feat, but to sell small cans of flavored water mixed with caffeine, taurine, B vitamins (B3, B5, B6, B12), sucrose, and glucose… a global blend called Red Bull.
The elements that must come together to make this moment not only possible but viewable by us pretty much sum up the acme of technology and civilization available on the Planet Earth in the Year of Our Lord, 2022 AD:
- Advanced parachute design and the fabrics necessary to make said parachute.
- A kind of extremely bright LED lights powered by extremely light and powerful batteries.
- An insulated helicopter to film the stunt.
- The powerful cameras and lenses necessary to make the film.
- The clothes that keep the skier from freezing to death.
- The skis on his feet.
- The global internet distribution system that enables you to see the stunt.
On and on and on in a cascade of things replete with wonder and awe and, to the savage, pure magic they cannot hope to emulate, only to — somehow, someway — sponge off of.
We call this convergence of intelligence, innovation, and invention the First World. From it vast improvements in life, in comfort, in spirit, in hope, and in freedom are spun off on a minute by minute basis to such an extent that a man brought in from, say, 1899, would be struck dumb and in need of severe anti-anxiety 21st-century medication just to begin to get used to the reality we all take for granted from the moment that the alarm on our smart phone sounds in the morning.
At one time in the not too recent past, there were three (3) worlds. The First, the Second, and the Third. The Second world was thought of as those countries that were part of what was then known as The Soviet or Eastern Bloc. With the collapse of the Second world in 1991 those countries in the Second blended into the First and left only the Third. And it left the denizens of the Third world with a deep, burning desire to move from the Third to the First. There were two major problems with this. [continue reading…]