Tuesday, November 28, 2023

At Risk

Let's talk abut powder monkeys.

During the Age of Sail, gunpowder was stored in the ship's hold as long as possible to reduce the chances of an explosion on desk. Powder monkeys ferried gunpowder from the ship's hold to the artillery guns. 

Powder monkeys, according to Wikipedia, were usually boys aged 12 to 14, desirable because of their smaller size and higher maneuverability. 

As you can imagine, powder monkeys usually didn't last long enough in their job to be promoted. 

I think we've all felt like a powder monkey at some point in our lives. For me, it was the first eighteen months after Gloria's accident. Every single task felt so consequential, and I had no experience with grieving or the bureaucracy of death. I was acutely aware of my limited competency.

It's not just personal events that can make us feel like power monkeys, though. Today's media contributes to that feeling as well. The way American media makes its money is to convince us that the U.S. is a powder monkey, at risk to explode any second. Instead of selling information, they sell noise. It's why companies don't care if AI-generated content is garbage or nonsensical. It allows them to generate exponentially more noise, and that's all they're trying to do. 

No wonder we all feel like we're carrying gunpowder around.

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