Sunday, February 22, 2009

Wires cutting through the Green Mountains of central Vermont

For as long as I can remember, I've noticed these wires. We'd be crossing some secluded area in northern New York State or rural Virginia, and from the back seat of the car I'd look out at the wires cutting across the landscape. It was always the same; they'd be marked by a vast, unnatural opening of trees and awkwardly large structures to maintain the line. The Earth was reshaped to make room for these giant conductors that stretched long past the horizon.

You just never think about these things when you're sitting at home by a computer. You turn a light on and it goes on. You pick up the phone and hear a dial tone. If your internet goes out and you curse at your crappy connection. You don't think about the thousands of miles of wire that lay beneath the ocean or cross the skies, you don't think about the electric plant that supplies you with the energy you need to survive. It's so bright in the skies these days that you can't even look up to see the satellites that have replaced the stars.

It took six tries to lay the first transatlantic telegraph wire. For nine years, the US and Great Britain invested millions of (19th century, remember inflation) dollars in an attempt to connect the Western world. And the day that it happened, people throughout the civilized world danced in the streets.

It's natural to become complacent about these things, but it just makes you wonder, how far will we go, and at what cost?

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