Thursday, November 20, 2008
Don’t look out the window, you might learn something
It was an early morning flight to Washington DC. The redhead was reading her book, while the codger gazed down at the great basin in wonderment.
“What a sight!” Long morning shadows painted the basin and range country in sharp relief.
“Look at this, cutey! You don’t have to be a geologist to appreciate this scenery. We’ve got to drive across Nevada again. We still haven’t seen the Ruby Mountains.”
The redhead didn’t want to crane her stiff neck.
Then the PA system. The flight attendant asked us to be courteous and pull down our shades.
It’s a thoughtful gesture to pull that shade down. To deny yourself a space odyssey so your fellow passengers can watch crappy movies, TV reruns, and vacuous interviews with vacuous celebrities.
I don’t care how cute the flight attendant is: I don’t feel cooperative.
My fellow passengers may not give a damn, but this land is my land . . . and I want to feast my eyes on her heaving curves and the tattoos on her flat belly.
I pulled my shade halfway down.
Is it any surprise that Americans are geographic dummies? Remember Sam Cooke’s song about being young, dumb, and in love? (“Don’t know much about geography . . . “.
It seems to me that there is an educational opportunity here for a venture capitalist with educational leanings.
My airplane fantasy is a real-time electronic toy with the memory of an Ipod, the tracking abilities of a GPS, and the zooming and scanning ability of Google Earth. The Hungry Eye.
Have your Bloody Mary mix and cruise like a condor. Zoom in on that mountain range and query the landscape with menus.
You could start with geological history, hydrology, natural resources, and flora and fauna. Can you dig it?
What? That kind of stuff puts you to sleep?
Okay, how about human topics? Native peoples, westward expansion, changing land use?
That’s boring too, huh?
Then let's navigate to the nearest town or city, and wade through the urban menu – population, local heroes, industry, recreation, sightseeing, shopping, restaurants, nightclubs, etc.
Well, maybe, you say?
Why hasn’t someone in Silicon valley thought of this?
Is it the cost, or the problems for Homeland Security?
Or are we like the guy in Sam Cooke's song -- we don’t know much about geography and we’re not embarrassed to say so.