The willingness to allow certain people to die

It’s a horrifying and disgusting contrast

The willingness to allow certain people to die
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Today we have the latest installment of The Advice Column Formerly Known as Heart in a Blender by your pal and mine Max Collins of Eve 6. We also have a dispatch from our Hell World postal carrier correspondent about the dangers of laboring in the heat.

First an essay by me about flying in a shitty little helicopter and the saga of the infamous submarine ride to hell. Please subscribe if you enjoy this newsletter it's the right thing to do.

Old North Bridge, Concord, MA via

One of the stupidest things I ever did in my life was climb inside of this tiny little helicopter to do research for a travel magazine story. The concept was you could sign up to take a guided air tour of Paul Revere's ride and glide over the sites of some of the earliest battles of the Revolutionary War. I don't recall too much about it anymore because I was basically shitting my pants the entire time and half-blacking out. That’s where you started shooting back at us I remember the pilot laughing at one point nodding toward some historic field or other. He was a retired British soldier and I thought that seemed a little weird. It would be like having Derek Jeter give you a tour of Fenway Park.

If you ever catch me in a helicopter again it better be because they're saving my ass from a natural disaster.

Maybe it feels different in a bigger helicopter but this one could fit three people tops and not comfortably. Leonardo da Vinci ass helicopter.

It's not so much that I'm scared of flying it's that I'm scared of only kind of flying if that makes sense. I do ok on planes but it's the taking off that gets me. Being high up enough that you'd be absolutely fucked if anything went wrong but not yet high up enough that there would be time for the pilot to do something to forestall crashing.

Speeding through the sky at hundreds of miles an hour is something most of us have done enough times now that it's sort of like whatever but just kind of dinking around there a thousand feet in the air hovering is novel enough to feel unnatural. I do not belong here. Humans do not belong here.

I did my best to engage my writer brain though in the midst of the panic attack. Jotting down observations in my notebook and smearing the ink with my sweaty palms. Man the piece I was going to write! Poetry and history and the marvels of science. Get me I'm the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow of the sky!

Well not even the sky. Just pretty high up. Where does the sky actually begin?

"It’s an informative, if a bit tense trip for those of us with a fear of heights," I wrote "but the distance of history, much like a bird’s eye view of the landscape, has a way of changing one’s perspective."

God being a writer is so dumb. The kind of shit you have to say.

Not long after the editor said he only wanted like a hundred words for a front of the book blurb and cut everything out but the basic details of the tour package. I could've easily written it from land. I could've just copy and pasted the press release. Then I had to chase down the $200 or whatever it was they owed me for over a year. Long story short I'm not a freelance writer anymore.

I was thinking about that dumb risk of mine this week because of the infamous subway ride to hell we all know about. I don't want to run through all of the many angles to the story that we've all heard a million times by now save to say that I'm relieved it appears that the least worst bad thing happened to the people on board which is that they likely died instantly. I am certainly no fan of the ultra rich and wish many bad things upon them but even I draw the line at wanting them to be tortured and to die in such a slow agonizing horror.

Well maybe some of them can go that way but not as a blanket rule.

One of the most striking things about the wall to wall coverage of this fuck up I am interested in however is its contrast to the story of the boat carrying 750 migrants that sunk near Greece. Hundreds missing and likely dead. I don't think I had even heard about it before the comparisons began and I basically live in the Clockwork Orange chair.

Many people have pointed out and written about the imbalance in attention and resources spent trying to fish a few rich dumbasses out of a sinking tin can already so I'm not going to belabor it but it is nonetheless worth pausing to think about again.

The New Republic writes:

Coverage of the missing submersible unintentionally illustrates something even more tragic, however. On June 14, what was likely the second-deadliest refugee and migrant shipwreck on record occurred when a boat carrying as many as 800 migrants sank off the Greek coast. Greek authorities had tracked the vessel, and early signs suggest the country’s coast guard was slow to act despite numerous warning signs. This is a huge news story, one that hits at both Europe’s ongoing refugee crisis and the callousness with which many European nations treat migrants who are desperately trying to reach their shores. Yet it has received scant attention in the American media—and the missing submersible story has dwarfed what coverage there has been.

“It’s a horrifying and disgusting contrast,” Judith Sunderland of Human Rights Watch’s Europe and Central Asia division told NBC News.

“The willingness to allow certain people to die while every effort is made to save others ... it’s a, you know, really dark reflection on humanity,” she said.

It really is!

What is behind the imbalance of coverage then? I don't think it's a nefarious plot by ~The Media~ to ignore the suffering of the poor – although there is plenty of that baked into the traditional news gathering model as a matter of course. I think instead it's the decision makers seizing on an opportunity to give us something to be scared of that seems like it could happen to us. Sure very few of us could afford such an expensive excursion but we could certainly go on another kind of trip and find ourselves imperiled – mountain climbing or skiing or scuba diving or some such. We could all imagine ourselves – and if you're like me you probably spent a lot of time doing this this week – trapped somewhere and running out of air or food or water and panicking and facing the grim knowledge that you are likely to die.

But why can so many people picture themselves in a situation like that or something like it on one kind of boat but not on another? Not on one packed with hundreds of people dying at sea in a slightly different way? Something which people all over the world do regularly. Are doing right now.

It is in this way that empathy is manufactured. The routine every day suffering is ignored while the novel death is prioritized.

This is something I've said before but we're all a lot closer to becoming like those poor migrants lost at sea than we are to being roguish billionaire explorers. It may not feel like it from the relevant comfort of our lives such as they are right now but it's the truth. It would probably take some work but I'm confident I could get there with a sustained series of really bad choices and some moderately bad luck.

On the other hand there are no choices I could possibly make now or ever that would elevate me to the level of the fabulously wealthy.

Maybe a winning scratch ticket. I should go buy some scratch tickets later come to think of it.

Most of us reading this right now are merely hovering in the low sky. We can see the land right there down below us. We're probably not going to crash. This thing isn't going to crash right? It's safe right?

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