Ever since my brother-in-law turned me onto this story a few months back I’ve been dying to use it. And it’s Friday and there’s really nothing else going on so I thought what the hell. Let’s have some fun.

One of my favorite hobbies is studying the various accidents and disasters caused in the old Soviet Union. It really is a treasure trove of idiocy and incompetence that virtually obscures those times when the old USSR actually did something well. There’s a famous story about the space race when NASA spent thousands and thousands of dollars developing a pen that could write in zero gravity. The Russians used a pencil. And the old boys were giving Hitler a good ass-kicking back when everyone else on the planet was wetting their pants.

Then you come across something like this little tidbit from the village of Darvaza in the former Soviet Republic of Turkmenistan:

“While drilling in 1971, geologists tapped into a cavern filled with natural gas. The ground beneath the drilling rig collapsed, leaving a large hole with a diameter of about 70 metres (230 ft). To avoid poisonous gas discharge, it was decided to be burned off. Geologists had hoped the fire would use all the fuel in a matter of days, but the gas still burns almost 40 years later. Locals have dubbed the cavern “The Door to Hell” – WIKIPEDIA

I suppose this could be a harsh reality tale about the misuse of natural resources. Or, it could be a scathing reminder of just how infantile human technology and understanding is. I suppose it could even be a cool place to have a Black Sabbath concert.

I prefer to look at it this way: whenever someone in America pisses and moans and gets their teeny little panties in a bunch about government projects, you can always respond by saying “Hey, at least it’s not a flaming hole in the ground.” Or you can just ignore them, which is what I usually do. Well, first I point at them and start screeching like Donald Sutherland at the end of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. Then I ignore them.

For me, personally, I plan on using this phrase to respond to all manner of problems in daily life. My bank account is overdrawn? Well, hey, at least it’s not a flaming hole in the ground. The light was red? Hey, at least it’s not a flaming hole in the ground. She was only 16? Hey, at least it’s not a flaming hole in the ground.

I love it when human civilization sets the bar of expectations ever lower. It allows me to get away with shit I could never pull off if we lived in a world where we had cured all known diseases or had achieved world peace or colonized the solar system. So the next time you fuck up at work or piss off your spouse or hold the cops at bay with an assault rifle you can always know that at least you didn’t light a massive underground cavern of natural gas on fire and let it burn for four decades.




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