Work of Art: 7 billion? On second thought ...

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By Art Trujillo

One of the greatest features of my new toy, my iPad, is the ability to add “apps,” that is, applications that do different things. The one I like but can’t control is named, simply, “Population.”

It resembles a car odometer. It’s digital, and the columns showing units and tens run fast. Last Friday, the last time I checked before now, the count was 6,9099,587,471. The time was 5:33 p.m. Watching the counter moving, I timed it for exactly one minute, during which the estimated population climbed by 148 people.

It became addictive, and in just a few minutes, when I noticed the Earth’s number of humans had increased by 808, I stopped counting and watching, naively believing that if I turned off the iPad, Mother Earth wouldn’t grow so fast.

That was Friday.

Monday I heard on radio that we’d reached 7 billion people. Seven billion — that’s a 7 followed by nine zeroes. If Bill Gates’ fortune were to be divided equitably, we’d all get less than 10 dollars. Some military toys that fly the skies in search of targets might cost around a billion. Those are huge numbers.

Several years ago I was discussing population trends with an anthropology professor, particularly the fact that as Americans, we make a much bigger impression on the planet than virtually any other group.

We consume far more than our share of resources, when we factor in our relatively small percentage of the world’s population.

The professor pointed out that people in Third World countries aren’t resource hogs: They don’t have huge SUVs or multi-room houses. The fear is, he pointed out, that many in Third World countries are hoping to become middle class, just like us. How can the planet sustain all this humanity, with its insatiable lust for more and more stuff?

• • •

I began writing this column at 12:52 p.m., with the population counter on my iPad app showing 7,000,185,517. The total now, as I finish only this first section, 44 minutes later, reads 7,000,192,022. That’s progress?

If the world’s population grows by almost 150 people a minute, it would take an hour and a half to create a city the size of Las Vegas.

Strange that almost no politician claims there are simply too many folks on earth. Would a candidate even stand a chance if he or she espoused zero population growth? Or even worse, negative population growth?

The lines from the book of Genesis 1:28, “Be fruitful and multiply,” come to mind. I wonder if the creator has since uttered, “On second thought ...”

• • •

It’s become commonplace for people, especially politicians, to invoke the word “humbled” when giving their acceptance speech.

“I feel extremely humbled over my decisive victory, and I hope to move forward,” some of them say minutes after the election results come in.

Where, when and how did this use of “humbled” originate? A definitive victory ought not make a person humble but rather empowered. Simply, “humility” is the wrong term. In the case of George W. Bush, he said he was humbled by winning re-election, against John Kerry. It should have been Kerry who was humbled.

But apparently, the opposite twist to humility kicked in, and the result was swagger and bravado instead. Being humbled is how the Dallas Cowboys should feel after the slaughter delivered them by Philadelphia.

The term is closer to humiliation than to elation through victory.

We’ll be hearing much about humility as the political races heat up, and we’ll experience more swagger and bravado as well.

When Condi Rice served as secretary of state, a right-leaning magazine featured her on its cover, with the word “bravado” as her style. Well, “bravado” just doesn’t cut it. The word, possibly misunderstood by the writers, really refers to blustering, swaggering conduct, a pretense of bravery, and the state of being foolhardy. Perhaps the editors thought bravado simply meant bravery.

• • •

My family has known Steven Lobdell 10 years. We became acquainted when his family became our next-door neighbors. He and his older brother, Tobin, were excellent company for my grandson and namesake, and for Carly and Celina, our granddaughters. The family moved to Eighth Street a few years ago.

We believe David and Shereen did a wonderful job of raising two intelligent, honest and polite boys, both of whom enjoy track, soccer and music. Although he might not remember this, when Steve was just a tyke, one morning he came quite early to our house to visit.

A big fence surrounds both our houses, so he never really left the yard.

Wanting action from people who might give him company, he lifted the eyelid of my deep-in-slumber wife, Bonnie. That didn’t work, so he tried the same thing on me. It worked, although I couldn’t guarantee being very perky. So for at least that one morning, he became our alarm clock.

That action is one of many that have endeared him to us.

Steven was released from the hospital a couple of days ago after having a plate, held by several screws, surgically inserted into his shattered leg. Two weeks ago, Steve was heading home on his skateboard, near Legion and Eighth, when, he said, a motorist ran a stop sign, appeared to speed up and aim right at him, hitting him with such force that, “I flew into the air and ended up on the other side of the street.”

Did the driver stop to render aid? Of course not! The driver sped off.

Steve needs to undergo a lengthy period of recovery, in addition to needing to miss classes at Robertson High School, where he’s a sophomore.

Obviously skateboarding, soccer and track are out for the 15-year-old for now. Here’s hoping he makes a full recovery from the serious injuries he suffered.

And we can all hope the hit-and-run driver grows a conscience and does the right thing.

Art Trujillo is a copy editor at the Optic and a contributing member of the newspaper’s Editorial Board. He may be reached by calling 425-6796 or by e-mail to artbt@rezio.net or atrujillo@lasvegasoptic.com.