Friday, April 29, 2011


Larry Niven has written along these lines, but they bear repeating. We live in a rich society. How rich we are isn't made clear to us until some of those riches are taken away.

In the last two hours, I've texted people in Alabama and South Carolina, talked to people in Illinois and Washington, DC, and sent emails to Colorado and California. I could do that because the communications device I use allows me to in places where the infrastructure works. I drove in my personal vehicle (another luxury) and am staying at a resort (absurd luxury) until the place where I live gets its infrastructure back. Northern Alabama is, in comparison to Northern Tennessee right now, poor. A natural disaster crippled the infrastructure that made Alabama rich.

It will be fixed again--the expectation that it will be is itself a luxury. We expect aid and temporary generators and instant wifi nodes to come and relieve the gaping holes in our ability to know what's going on. Easy access to information is a luxury.

A lot of those luxuries are the result of our space program (weather satellites, communication satellites). All of them require hard work, a solid industrial base, widespread education, and freedom to sustain them...all of those, except hard work, are luxuries.

I want to live in a rich society. Heck, I want everyone to live in that sort of rich society! But this week has served to remind me that none of what we take for granted CAN be taken for granted. And it takes work to sustain it.

My $.02 on a Friday in exile.

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