Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

DEATH IS IN THE AIR

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Well, for once Trump is no longer the top story of the day. I’ve heard people say he’s pissed off to not be the center of attention. I hope he’s not that shallow, but it’s certainly possible. So yeah, Kobe Bryant and eight (?) other people are dead in a horrible helicopter crash. Always sad when people die before their time. And this was not a good death, they had time to appreciate the fact that they were going down. At least they likely died instantly in the crash.

A few thoughts. (Yes, this is Doug’s Darkworld, I drink and share my thoughts.) Sociologists noted in the 20s that the distinction between hero and celebrity was breaking down in the US. And 100  years later, here we are, a man wildly nationally famous for his sportsball skills. And his death is front page news, with huge numbers of people feeling a personal connection to him. I don’t quite see what it is with people and celebrities, but that’s how humans roll I guess.

Helicopters, well, they are dangerous. They have a lot of moving parts, so more can go wrong. They tend to be used in lower and more uncontrolled ways than other aircraft, so more opportunity for problems. They are also trickier to fly than fixed wing aircraft. And if they lose power, they drop like a stone, no chance of gliding into a safe landing. I don’t even fly in jets, I would have to be forcibly boarded to fly on a helicopter.

For decades there has been research on helicopter parachute systems. IE the helicopter loses power and drops like a rock, and then a parachute deploys and slows the ground impact speed to a survivable speed. It is workable, but such systems also weigh a lot. So the marginal added safety isn’t worth the loss of cargo/passenger weight, so they aren’t used much. A hundred years (or less) from now helicopters (assuming we are still using them) will be built of such lightweight materials that such systems will be no-brainers. Not to mention the other high tech lifesaving systems that will be in use, and vehicle crash deaths will be almost unknown.

Of course if we all die of coronavirus before then it’s all moot. Yes, my second reference to “death is in the air.” There’s bad news about this virus. It’s apparently contagious before it’s symptomatic. This means infected people can unwittingly and essentially undetectably spread the virus. So we could be seeing the beginnings of a global pandemic, the virus may have already spread completely out of control. Hunker down, wash your hands a lot, and avoid being in public. I don’t think we’re quite there yet, but advice offered to the “better safe than sorry” crowd.

The good news is that the fatality rate appears to be low at this point, a few percent. So even if it turns into a global pandemic, the death toll will be ugly, but it won’t collapse our civilization. And rumours are flying of course. This is to be expected of course, just human nature. Propaganda is to be expected too. It’s what governments do. A former Israeli defense official has floated a rumor that the coronavirus was accidentally released by a Chinese bioweapons facility. No evidence was cited, but it was dutifully regurgitated on mainstream “news” sites. I’ve heard other rumors too, social media is fun that way.

44 years ago today was the Apollo 1 fire. They didn’t even make it into the air. There was a woman I met exactly once, the sister of an old friend. I had reason to believe we were kindred souls. I hoped to talk to her again one day. And then she died in a helicopter crash. Her whole future life, family, marriage, whatever … all gone in an instant. So yes, helicopter deaths get to me.

So let’s all have a safe week. RIP Kobe, Natasha, Grissom, White, Chaffee, Egon, and hopefully a declining number of coronavirus victims.

(Copyright © 2020 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Death and girl. Credit: Egon Schiele 1890-1918. He died in the 1918 flu pandemic.)

Written by unitedcats

January 27, 2020 at 1:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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