Enabling the flatulence of flat-screen swine

As I remarked in a previous post, I loved the new Barajas airport in Madrid. So much, in fact, that I had my picture taken there:


I was, of course, very upset when I read it had been bombed by Basque terrorists. That's because not only do I hate it when terrorists kill people, I also hate it when they destroy beautiful things. I think such terrorist acts are patently immoral.

Yet I must always remember that for other people, even beautiful things like the Barajas Airport are patently immoral.

I kid you not.

This morning Justin told me about this essay by a man who saw the same beautiful new airport, but had a very different reaction. Massive, self-consuming, guilt:

One minute I was admiring Richard Rogers' gorgeous roof, and the play of light upon curves.

But I suddenly stopped perceiving these effects as aesthetic. In place of elegant forms and vistas, I started to contemplate the vast amount of energy embodied in the artefacts, structures and processes that surrounded me.

A big new airbus, taxiing in to park, made me wonder how many thousands - millions - of pounds of matter and energy must have been used to build it.

Beside me was an elegant concrete pillar. It looked benignly tree-like with a gently curving trunk and branches, higher up, that supported a soaring roof.

But how many carbon dioxide emissions were generated during its fabrication? A ton of CO2 is emitted for every ton of concrete that ends up in a pillar - or the miles of concrete apron that stretched, in Madrid, in every direction.

Millions of tons of concrete visible to the eye. Millions of tons of emissions out of sight.

Then there was the noise. I don't usually notice the background hiss and hum of these great modern spaces. But this time my cognitive filters seemd to fail. I became aware of an ambient, angst-inducing roar.

All that air-conditioning, cooling huge volumes of empty space, blowing gales of out hot air to goodness knows where in the sky.

Get that, folks? Air conditioning is evil! Being comfortable is evil.

And of course the United States is the most evil place of all:

Eight per cent of the world's total electricity supply is used to cool buildings in the United States.
You think air conditioning is evil? Did you know that many of you -- my readers -- are so greedy that you are reading these very words on a flat screen monitor?

And did you know that by staring into that flat screen monitor, you are ruining the world? I thought not. But it's the truth.

And therefore, shame on you!

Then there was the light! There was a bank of large plasma screens. On the screens, ads were playing - but all I could think about was their greed for electricity.

Did you know that flat screens use five times more power than the bulbous ones they replace?

And that's just the power they use. Cathode ray televisons contained mostly air. These new plasma screens are packed densely with complex materials whose manufacture is highly energy intensive.

This goes on and on, and while it's easy to dismiss the man as a fanatic, I think that he's a proponent (for all I know he's a victim too....) of an emergent, recently manufactured morality I complained of in an earlier post.

I hate to belabor a point I think is all too obvious, but I thought my readers of the flat-screened persuasion ought to know.

You people are evil, energy-swilling swine!

You are destroying the planet!

And by writing blog posts, I am little more than an enabler.

Isn't it obvious that from a collective standpoint, we're worse than the terrorists?

UPDATE: A scientist I am not. But as a firm believer in scientific morality, I thought it might be worth taking a close look at this screen shot from today's Drudge Report:


Isn't it a little irresponsible of Drudge to show a man freezing his butt off in front of a flat screen monitor?

Because, not only are flat screen monitors ruining the planet, but the image itself -- why, I can't imagine a more blatant depiction of immoral warmth, of hotness, even! The most sinister aspect of this depiction is its cleverly seductive, inherently self-advocating nature. (People who don't know any better might be tricked into imagining that evil is good.) It's a sickening example of what I can only call triple immorality!

posted by Eric on 01.26.07 at 11:15 AM


I don't know where you are coming from, but it appears that the flat screen had some nice rounded curves on it.

M. Simon   ·  January 26, 2007 1:52 PM

Exactly! You just proved my point. The Capitalist swine are trying to insinuate that hot is hot!

And that while the screens may be flat, the images are anything but. What could be more diabolical?

Eric Scheie   ·  January 26, 2007 2:00 PM

The anti-beauty, anti-progress, anti-life, guilt-wracked crowd represented by Mr. Thackara are simply recycling Rousseu-ian noble savage claptrap. Oh, how much *happier* we'd be without all this hideous energy consumption! Without this so-called "progress!" Without these soaring, gorgeous temples to pleasure and productivity! We'd be so much better off back in "balance with nature" -- determined, by, well, those of us who *know better* of course!

Given the overwhelming faults on display here--ignorance of economics, ignorance of history, ignorance of philosophy, envy, guilt, hypocrisy, or just a plain-boiled desire to control other's lives--the fact that this crowd continues to be taken even semi-seriously is nothing short of astonishing.

Valjean   ·  January 26, 2007 2:26 PM

There's a very appropriate term for these people, and that is "killjoy." They do not appreciate that structures and practices which lift the heart and spirits do, in fact, bring a value to lifeó the value called "joy."

Every Independence Day we Americans shoot off billions of dollars' worth of fireworks, which do nothing concrete but which bring joy. I'm sure these killjoys consider this a waste.

But honestly, what would be the purpose of life if we could not experience joy? Seriously, we could have a world without beauty, or art, or anything "wasteful" but what would be the point?

Soul-killing wankers...

B. Durbin   ·  January 27, 2007 1:50 AM

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