Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Count on the Impossible

Pay no attention to what's behind the curtain
Superman Goran Kropp

During this past week, we might all envy those monks living isolated on the cliffside at Mount Athos, Greece, who did not have to endure groups of six political ads in a row on the nightly "news" (followed by a furniture store commercial, to add insult to injury).  So no politics here; you've had enough.
Except for a prediction (can't help it).  It will be the next tactic in the successful voter suppression campaign (the Supreme Court's violation of Florida's due process in 2000, the 37 states which now demand highly specific photo I.D. and right-wing control of electronic voting machine companies among others):  proportional allocation of each state's electoral college chips instead of the current winner-take-all system.  Sounds like a reasonable scheme to let everyone's vote count, which is the way it will be sold, but the winner of each Congressional district will actually get the electoral vote.  You can see that the "blue" districts are fewer in number, clustered around Lexington in Kentucky or Denver/Boulder in Colorado, for example.  Rural white voters will be in charge, thus counteracting the decline in the number of "angry old white guys" that the Republicans are concerned about.  The American Legislative Exchange Council, a Koch brothers-owned agency, will write the legislation to be introduced all over the country by their client state representatives, and George Will's oh-so-witty columns clamoring for support will show up concurrently.  No one thinks the Electoral College will be eliminated by Constitutional amendment, but it's going to be subverted, and the impossible will happen.

Human Power

Inspiring it is (Yoda says) that individuals driven by a challenge achieve the impossible.  In 1931, one American walked backwards across the country!  
Trained in climbing from childhood by his mountaineer father, Goran Kropp of Sweden set off on a bike pulling a trailer loaded with over 200 pounds of gear and food in the autumn of 1995 on a journey of about 8,000 miles to Nepal.  The load was probably the least of his problems:  enroute he was stoned, almost run over and assaulted with a baseball bat and guns.  He was determined to climb Mount Everest without oxygen or the help of Sherpas, believing such would "diminish the adventure."  He was successful, but eight climbers died during that disastrous month of May 1996, documented in Kropp's autobiography Ultimate High and the more well-known Into Thin Air.
Kropp later attempted to ski unassisted to the North Pole but turned back, frostbitten.  Before he could begin his planned solo sail to Antarctica in order to ski to the South Pole, he fell while climbing in Washington State in 2002 and died instantly.
The dream to accomplish what no one else has doesn't perish.  At the end of 2011 a British meteorologist, Felicity Aston, traversed the continent of Antarctica in 59 days, solo on skis, while pulling two sledges of supplies.  Inspired since childhood to challenge that giant ice cake by early 20th-century explorer Robert Scott's tragedy, Ms. Aston also endured 3 summers and two winters at the British Antarctic Survey station without a break.  "The psychological dimension was really interesting," she says.  No doubt!
You can never say "never."

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