I remember seeing a cartoon about balloons when I was a kid. Balloons everywhere, humans were made of balloons, dogs, cats, cars, buildings. All balloons. It was one of those really old time-y cartoons probably made in the ’30s. There was a weird surreal quality about it, like the animators were high on some sophisticated drug that would have been virtually unknown in the ’30’s, like ayahuasca or mushrooms.
It scared the bejesus out of me. I don’t really know why, but there was something quite frightening about all those balloons. Evil balloons coming to get me. Balloon mania.
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As a form of conveyance, balloons are a rather archaic. They show up everywhere in history, along with hot air that in the old days was the typical form of balloon fuel. I remember making strange flying paper bags when I was a kid (maybe after being inspired by the evil balloon cartoon). I would attach a little platform under an open paper lunch bag and put one of those little tea lights on it and light it. It didn’t go very far, but once I chiseled down the candle enough that the weight wasn’t overwhelming I could get it to fly. But that really wasn’t the sort of balloon that would freak me out. It was the balloon that was filled with helium, or some other substance, that would make it fly. They were/are the evil ones.
The classic weather balloon is the weirdest of all. Once I learned of the Roswell incident that was blamed on a deceivingly innocent weather balloon, I started to take a more serious interest in balloons and their ability to be sinister and mysterious. I mean, really, what could be more terrifying than a big gaseous object floating around in the air up to no good? Come on!
So then this Chinese Spy Balloon shows up. What the hell? Are we going backwards technologically, or what? A balloon? With all the techno-warfare/spy knowhow the super powers of the world possess, they send a balloon over here to spy on us? Apparently they all, including the US, have been using balloons to spy for quite a while. Soon we will be seeing balloon warfare replace F-35 Lightening II jet fighters as well as sail boat attacks at sea, replacing aircraft carriers and destroyers, with harpoons as weapons no less. I guess that’s better than the alternative.
Ahh…the advantages of wind powered vehicles. Just hitch a ride on the ol’ jet stream and you can go anywhere east of your location, it may take months, but so what. No need for remote controls at all, just a carefree balloon blowin’ in the wind. Perfect. Obviously they can easily go undetected, and not only convenient for spying, you can fit one of those “Pocket Atom Bombs” in its payload and wipe out a few hundred hectares of land space.
It is also a pretty safe bet your balloon will get to its target because all people seem to be able to do about one is look at it. “There’s a Chinese spy balloon up there and its been floating over the United States for over a week…looky thar at that thar balloon…should we go up there and collect it? Shoot it down? Or just look at it?” Well, certainly don’t “collect it,” that would make no sense at all…shooting it down with a $400,000 missile might do the trick, show those Chinese bastards who’s boss. Yeah, that worked. Destroying any evidence as to exactly what those Chinese were up to. We figured out what they were up to with that Covid “virus” thingy, didn’t we? Oh, right, we didn’t.
Balloons, on a good day, can be fun and versatile. You can make animals out of them and all sorts of other things. In that cartoon I mentioned whole cities were made out of balloons. Frightening. The Wizard of Oz rode in on a balloon, so did the five Northern Civil War prisoners who landed on the “The Mysterious Island” in Jules Verne’s story of the same name. And wouldn’t it figure, the Chinese are credited for using the first balloons to transport people from one place to another thousands of years ago (I think that might be “misinformation” I couldn’t find any verification for that…it just sounded good). The Chinese know their balloons.
Remember that story years ago (2009) about the couple in Colorado who claimed their six year-old kid was swooped up by some weird balloon and taken away? I tell ya, you can’t trust balloons! They are evil! That ended up being a hoax though. The parents were charged and even served time. The balloon got off the hook on that one. Maybe the Chinese balloon isn’t all that it is cracked up to be either. Ya think?
Another cool thing about using balloons for spying, and other more nefarious duties, is that you can always claim it veered off course if you are confronted with the question, “why are you spying on us!” I mean, you are not controlling where they go, you just send them up in the jet stream and turn your back. It’s God’s fault if they end up some place they aren’t supposed to. Lots of balloons get into trouble this way. “I can’t help it!” they say, “I drifted!” That’s why it was easy to blame the Roswell balloon for being mistaken for an alien spacecraft, “those ornery balloons, they can end up anywhere!!” Same situation with the Chinese spy balloon.
There are a lot of fishy things about this pesky snooping balloon you can’t really blame on the laissez-faire behaviour of balloons in general. For one, it was mighty big to be a sleuth balloon. You could see the thing from the ground plain as day. It was also odd that the US got their knickers in a wad once it was officially announced while over the state of Montana, but said nothing when they first spotted it over Alaska quite a few days earlier. “Chinese bad, let’s take TikTok away from US citizens as punishment for violating our air space.” They should do that, spy balloon or not!
Anyway…any time a balloon is spotted doing funky things it freaks me out. I can understand the US military and government for getting whacked about this. They must have seen that balloon cartoon too. Freaky.