August 7, 2007
Rockets in the Sky: Or the Weather of the XXIX Olympiad
Honestly, I didn't even know you could stop rainstorms with rockets, but that's why I'm a lowly Internet writer, and China is a thriving and innovative country full of a billion people. "And in weather, there's a 70% chance of exploding fireballs in the sky, but the good news is sunny skies all week!"
Admit it. You're kicking yourself right now that you didn't think of this idea first. Remember that beach vacation you had when it rained every single day? Well, that wouldn't have happened if you had these rockets with you. And with rockets doing your bidding, you probably could have afforded a nicer hotel too.
For now, the plan is to do this during the Opening Ceremonies, Closing Ceremonies, and some sailing events. (At last, someone has found a way to make televised sailing exciting.) I think the Opening Ceremonies is a particularly inspired choice. If anything goes wrong there, no one will even notice. We'll just think it's part of the show. Besides, when I ponder previous Opening Ceremonies ("And now we present the entire history of our country in five minutes as told through interpretive dance with mascots."), I think exploding rockets in the sky will be a lot more enjoyable. Actually, come to think of it, a good rain shower might be preferable too.
After hearing about this ingenious plan, I decided to visit the official web site of the Beijing Olympics. There, along with an article about the plan, was a wonderful picture of a guy in a helmet standing behind a rocket launcher. Because, you know, I'm sure that's just the kind of image the Chinese government wants to have associated with their Olympic Games.
Of course, I don't mean to pick on the Chinese. Let the record show that I have always been against weather modification. I was against this idea back when Sean Connery tried it in "The Avengers" movie, I was against it when Halle Berry did it in "X-Men," and I remain firmly against the idea today.
Nevertheless, the Chinese are forging ahead with their strategic defense initiative against precipitation. They've already made great strides. According to Reuters, "Beijing … is well practiced at firing chemical-infused rockets into clouds to prompt a much-needed downpour." Wow, there's nothing quite as refreshing as a chemical-infused downpour!
The Chinese are doing this through something called the Weather Modification Office. I think we should all be very worried. If the Chinese can scatter rain clouds with rockets, where do you suppose they will scatter the clouds to? It's only a matter of time before the Communists start using the Weather Modification Office to start modifying our weather, and then we'll really be in trouble.
Seriously, this is like Sputnik all over again. The Communists can suddenly control the weather. Meanwhile, in the last twenty years the greatest meteorological accomplishment in the West has been to make the raindrops on the five-day forecast animated. (Well, Channel 8 deserves some credit too for extending the five-day forecast to a previously unchartered eight days, but that's about it.)
Can you imagine how angry our meteorologists must be about this? Chinese meteorologists actually can change the weather, and they get to fire rockets too, while here meteorologists still have to listen to blow-dried news anchors gripe whenever it rains over the weekend.
"And here's Jim with the weather. Gee, Jim couldn't you do something about all that rain you said was coming for the holiday?"
"Yeah, maybe if I had a freakin' rocket, I could."
I think we had all better keep an eye on Al Roker myself. With the depressing weather gap that now exists between our countries, he's liable to defect at any moment.
©2007 Joe Lavin