Revisionist Natural History on an Airplane

Flying back from a business trip to Florida Tuesday evening, we raced through the Atlanta airport* to make a connection that was tighter than a midget’s… um… yeah… we were cutting it close due to an air traffic delay.  Airport strategy for a small group traveling in such a situation?  Every man for himself once clearing the inbound flight – and the first person to get to the connecting gate must fake a heart attack to assure that the door of the plane can’t be closed until the others arrive.  Leave no one behind…

Miraculously – with only 10 minutes to get from the end of concourse B to the middle of concourse C – we made it.  Helped by the fact that the outbound flight now had a 10 minute delay as well.  Shuffling my way to the back of the plane, i grabbed my window seat next to a young man, perhaps 12 years old, sitting in the aisle seat.

As i was getting settled, i realized his parents and perhaps siblings were seated a few rows behind us, so he wasn’t traveling alone.  i stuffed my briefcase under the seat in front of me, and he ate raw almonds, which he’d poured into his baseball cap.  Mental note that his parents were at least providing some better food choices than many

Seated in front of me is my travel mate, the Ninjaneer.  We horsed around a bit, as we are inclined to do.  i threatened to write on his shaved head with a sharpie, he threatened massive ‘silent but deadly’ fartage… normal business colleague stuff.  The kid apparently decides i’m cool enough to chat up, opening with “Are you coming back from Disney World, too?”  Not exactly, but we proceed to discuss roller coasters, amusement park rides and cool things that scare the crap out of you.

The flight crew has made an announcement of a departure delay to allow those folks with tight connections to board.  Plus 100 bonus points to Delta Airlines for making that call – usually they’ll push back to hit their departure time target, and then sit the plane on the tarmac for an hour waiting to take off, while stranded passengers press their faces to the window glass in the departure lounge and scream…

The Ninjaneer turns to tell me that there is creature outside, eating the wing – a reference to the Richard Matheson short story, and Twilight Zone episode, about the guy who flips out, and sees a gremlin eating the wing at 20,000 feet – and no one believes him.  The young man next to me was craning his neck to see outside, and i had to explain that it was a joking reference to an old TV show…

The inquisitive little bugger drills in, wanting me to tell him about the movie, and more scary stories.  It becomes pretty clear to me that he’s not very bright.  He makes a few attempts to tell scary stories – that his older brother tells better – but fails.  i’ve had delightful conversations with youngsters, but this was definitely not going to be one of them.  And we were still on the ground.

Returning the conversation to amusement parks, he tells me about an exhibit at a park somewhere that had dinosaurs that attack you as you ride through – i think it’s a Jurrasic Park thing somewhere, but i’d lost interest.  And then there was this aside:

dim boy: Oh, and you know dinosaurs weren’t killed by the meteors, but they died in a flood, and if it weren’t for Noah we wouldn’t be here…

daisyfae: [mind makes the connection to bible-thumping creationists]  Huh.  How about that?  Wiped out in a big flood, eh?

Ninjaneers shoulders start to shake.  He is laughing – wondering what the hell i’m going to to do this child of born-again science.  Without a doubt, the kid’s been to The Creation Museum**  – where they have an animatronic dinosaur exhibit, showing cave men playing alongside ol’ T-Rex.  And this gem, shown in Creation Theater – Travel 6,000 years back to the beginning of time to see the world created in six days.  Damn the scientific evidence, people – we’ve got a religion to sell here!

Conversation went  further south – my brain aching to challenge him on these assumptions… i didn’t discuss the impossibility that the Grand Canyon was formed in a day due to receding flood waters (what the young earth creationists refer to as the pseudoscience of  “Flood Geology“).  And i certainly didn’t ask why God would have put our sex organs so close to our excretory organs if he’d really been working from a clean slate, executing truly intelligent design…

As we took off, and thankfully blasted through 10,000 feet, i put on my headphones and told him that the old lady needed to sleep.  My iPod was dead, but the headphones stayed on.  i didn’t sleep.  Instead, i wondered what kind of future he’ll have… What sort of life he’ll lead.  What profession will call him…  Whether he’d ever have an opportunity for a full-spectrum education, or whether his well-intentioned parents would continue to raise him under a rock.  A 6,000 year old rock.

And rational thought takes another one in the teeth...

And rational thought takes another one in the teeth...

* Also known as “Hell – Now, With A Train”

** Go to the link and look around.  this shit boggles the mind… do they TRULY believe this?  We’re fucked… farewell, rational thought, critical thinking and logic.

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28 thoughts on “Revisionist Natural History on an Airplane

  1. I’m with you, what will these kids do when they grow up? Of course, the way things are going, we may all be living like Amish farmers by then. Hey, even the Jesuits told me the Bible was mostly myth back in high school. And that was 40 years ago.

  2. tNb – just didn’t seem right to take out the kid, when it’s his parents i wanted to poke with the “WTF?” stick…

    unbearable banishment – it was scheduled for 40 minutes (reasonable), but our flight into ATL was delayed due to overzealous scheduling and an Air Traffic Control delay… it was chilly in northern FL (high only around 45F), but nippier at home (14F when we landed)…

    silverstar – i’ve always been impressed with the Jesuit devotion to study. one of the local Jesuit institutions had one of the few working seismometers way back when we had a minor earthquake in these parts (about 20 years ago). i think there are more now…

    alex – i considered lecturing him on the perils of headlice, and why he shouldn’t eat food out of his hat. but even that just wasn’t my place… never try to teach a pig to sing…

    nm – i just hope he has a chance to learn basic science, reality and the like. not sure i’d want him flippin’ my burgers…

    ninjaneer – welcome back! and that, dear, is a story for another day… i’ll alert you when i get THAT one posted! was it ‘drain’ or ‘flog’? can’t remember…

    Bb – we let one be president for 8 years. what do you think?

    paisley – first step should be back to separation of church and state. that’s a biggie for me…

  3. B*****. I clicked on one of those links and now I’ve polluted my computer. I had thought in my ignorance, that surely the UK was proof against such idiocy, until a little while ago, I switched on the TV to see a HISTORY TEACHER from YORKSHIRE (bastion of all things common-sensical) spouting the same rubbish. Frightening.

  4. Lo, TG – oh, if it were only so easy to obliterate Peabrains… then perhaps we wouldn’t have to worry about subjugation of education by religious zealotry. oooh. that’s a lot of big words before i’ve had coffee…

  5. gnu – my guess is they had a few fashioned as ball gags. there was a good reason this was the kid they had sitting alone a few rows ahead of them…

    kyknoord – *snort* it’s interspecies erotica people…

  6. i’m with Nursie on this one, he’ll soon discover (or one of his older siblings will) that Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Bogeyman, the Tooth Fairy don’t actually exist and he’ll question everything he’s ever been taught, usually happens right after his buddy gets him high in the park for the first time… or his parents will move to some religous fanatic compound in South America or South Texas. Should’ve done him the favor of telling him that he’d remain a virgin as long as he only had butt sex, seems all the kiddies think that these days.

  7. There’s a new book out I’ve been reading. By Jerry Coyne titled “Why Evolution is True.” Good stuff, without all the vitriol of a Dawkins or Harris.

    Scary . . .

  8. I’m no longer allowed to talk to my nieces about rocks. I called bullshit on the ICR psuedoscience they’ve been fed and probably destroyed their wee little faithful hearts. I can’t think of anything better than living in a world where magic jews in the sky aren’t running the show, but apparently, people NEED something to believe in.

    Instead of rationality, of course.

  9. This makes me think of that old B.Cosby skit when he’s trapped sitting next to a little kid named Jeffrey who spends the whole flight telling him he’s four years old.

    It’s stories like these that reaffirm why it’s always good to get a window seat. Not because of the view, but because of the ability to disconnect from annoying seat mates via faking a nap.

    SA

  10. Look, that poor kid got TAUGHT that shite…indoctrinated…it’s people like you who should have the courage to set the boy straight…or just smile and wave and move on to the brighter ones.

  11. Once he becomes a real person, he’ll decide for himself. As I assume a good dose of no sex will come with his theology, he’ll be quickly looking in different directions as soon as he notices his hot little cousins.

  12. kono – butt sex isn’t sex? COOL! i’ll be back…

    stephanie – seriously, the airlines are graded on their “on time” results. if you really want to know the on-time stats, you need to check “arrivals” vs “departures”, because the “push back, punch the clock and wait for your wheels up time” tactic is fairly standard…

    tysdaddy – might have to dig that one up. seems here in the bible belt, i can’t swing a dead chicken during a voodoo ceremony without hitting a creationist…

    casey – i understand the need to believe. and they call it “leap of faith” for a reason – there are things that the human mind may never decypher. cool. but for fuckssake, could they at least TRY a little logic? slip your nieces a link to the Flying Spaghetti Monster. That’ll keep the parents hoppin’ mad for awhile…

    sonny – that’s exactly why i prefer the window… i can put on the headphones, wear my sunglasses even at night, and be left blissfully alone! i remember the “jeffrey” schtick… fun stuff…

    dolce – i seriously debated it… if i’d seen one molecule of intellectual horsepower? i might have attempted enlightenment. but he was a happy kid… no point screwing with his brain.

    uncle keith – my guess is he’s about two years away from playing “Mr. Caveman Meets Sexy Velociraptor” with his creationist action toys…

  13. Pingback: Travel Trauma « Silverstar’s Magical Adventures (and assorted rants)

  14. >>do they TRULY believe this?

    Sadly, yes they do. Never underestimate the capacity for people to believe really stupid things. Especially, as you’ve noted, when ‘God’ is invoked.

  15. manuel – not an original, but i loved it! there are places where you can make your own (http://www.despair.com) Worth a look – you’d be good at it!

    anaglyph – Welcome to The Park, Rev! Fundamental human need for meaning, combined with the hunger for simple answers. Just wish they’d stay out of the schools, and government… i’d be less cranky.

  16. Far be it from me to gloat, but we’re kinda thin on the ground when it comes to young earth creationists over here. I dare say there are one or two nut-jobs floating about who refute decades of proven scientific research, but we keep them locked up in the tower with all those rebellious colonists.

    By the way, I recently discovered that a church a couple of miles away from me houses the mortal remains of one of America’s most ill-judged gentlemen: Benedict Arnold.

    *sniff*

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