online: 17 april 2007
modified: 17 april, 9 may 2007

5 april 2007 relative safety

13:02 ...walking alone across bridges over some much used motorways... i am frightened by the proximity of high speed traffic (especially trucks, about 5 metres below me)... motion that may appear to each driver as safe and steady progress (with about half the accident rate of ordinary roads?) but to me (or any naive bystander) it can appear as the nearness of extreme danger...

...the relative safety of high speed motorways is one of the surprises of modern living... two others that come to mind are the safety of electrical appliances and cabling (though domestic voltages can kill) and the safety of anaesthetics (though the drugs used resemble those in poisoned arrows which can kill in seconds)...

...i much like the acquired courage of the public, and the informed care of of experts, in turning dangerous technologies into safe and well-regulated habits and procedures... i suspect that the accident rate of candle light, open fires, horse riding and carriages on bad roads, etc was sometimes as great, or greater than that of their modern equivalents...?

...amidst our new doubts about global dangers (of the cumulative effects of all kinds of new technology) it is i think good to remember, and not to condemn outright, the earlier successes upon which we rely for our survival in such numbers and in relative safety... the new dangers and brutalities of mechanised or digitised living require remedies that respect (not condemn) the careful search for safe uses and extensions of the once natural habitat of all of us!

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