On Sunday, June 7, Derek [Kehler] and Helena [Curic] were camping in Sydney’s Blue Mountains. Being wintertime in Australia, a cooking pot of hot coals kept by the bonfire was brought inside their makeshift cabin to stay warm. That night, they died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Helena was 31. Derek was 32.
This happened in Australia, where guns — interesting guns, anyway, like semi-auto rifles — are already outlawed. The promised eternal life for Australians (or anybody else) has yet to appear in the wake of gun control, and WeaponsMan.com suggests as a matter of metaphysics that you may wish to place your faith in one of the world’s more traditionally established religions instead.
Carbon monoxide is interesting stuff. It is one of the most common combustion products and is created by anything that burns. The things that make an oxygen (O2) molecule look attractive to a red corpuscle make a CO molecule even more attractive, and the carbon monoxide displaces the oxygen in one’s bloodstream rapidly. Then, when the corpuscle arrives at a capillary where cells are desperate for oxygen, it has none to give them, just this cuckoo’s egg of a molecule that the cells can’t take and use. The oxygen atoms in CO might as well be in another galaxy for all the good they do the human organism. Absent oxygen, the cells die. One cell at a time, the organism cascades into death — very rapidly. It’s supposed to be a quiet and peaceful way to go, but no one has yet come back to tell us for sure, and so you probably don’t want to roll those particular dice.
It’s summertime up here in the Northern Hemisphere, and we’ve also had carbon monoxide camper deaths in New England and in Colorado this month as people made some bad decisions about how best to get warm after previous bad decisions about how to equip themselves (actually, in the Maine accident, some subgenius put a generator indoors to run a refrigerator. They died, but they had cold beer for the recovery team). Since education has segued into indoctrination in the Western world, we have an amazing number of people who can list all the luminaries of the history of this or that minority group, or who know some other of our equivalents of the Marxist-Leninist doctrine claptrap Soviet schoolboys used to suffer through. But these keenly aware social justicians, as we’ve seen, don’t understand that a two thousand pound wild animal is not a big shaggy dog. And they don’t know how temperatures drop at night in the mountains. They often, then, thin their blood with alcohol, and, shivering in their tents, with a number of complaining kids, they make some unwise choices.
No one, in their formal or informal education, has ever told them that Death attends bad choices. A summer working on a ranch, or a tuna longliner, in a machine shop, or even on an airport ramp around the spinning propellers would teach that, but most people raise their kids to be (in Apple’s 1980s gag-me phrase) “knowledge workers in a post-industrial economy” — soft, delicate flowers, liable to be shredded by the first gust of real-world wind.
The human organism is a weak and fragile one, prone to various malfunctions and easily disrupted by mischief from without.
And in the end, the scythe harvests us all.