More Hot Air

I begin by apologizing to all the military balloon experts who will be insulted by my flippant attitude, but I have to admit that my first reaction to the Chinese balloon that floated over the country was to smile and say, “Really?  You sent a balloon to spy on us?” 

I thought immediately of a favorite summer activity of ours when we vacationed in northern Wisconsin.  Being miles away from the nearest town, we like to sit back in our lounge chairs and enjoy the stars in the dark night sky.  Our conversation goes somewhat like the following.  Me: “Do you see that dot of light going across the sky?  Is that a meteor?”  My wife: “No, that’s a satellite.”  Me: “How about that flashing red light over there?  Could that be a meteor?”  My wife: “No, dear, that’s just an airplane or maybe another satellite.”

You see, what everyone has admitted about the Chinese balloon is that satellites provide much more reliable information.   I suspect that the Chinese have their satellites passing over our country even as I’m sure that we have our own satellites passing over China, North Korea, and Russia.   

Then we found out that the Chinese have sent other balloons over our country during Trump’s time in office and once before in Biden’s.  And apparently, there is another Chinese balloon currently floating over Latin America.  

All this raises the question, “What’s up with the Chinese and their balloons?”  We’ve come to expect that the Chinese are experts in cyber-warfare, and I suspect that they’re very savvy in other forms of espionage.  But that is all high-tech.  Again, “Really?”  You sent a balloon to spy on us?”  

Of course, we all know after this past week that balloons can be high-tech as well, but how clever is it to send a spying device that ordinary Americans, with only their naked eyes, can see floating over their neighborhoods? 

No wonder late-night TV comedians have had a field day—or field night—with the balloon story.  I have my own tongue-in-cheek theory about what the Chinese are up to.  Am I serious?  No.  But might my theory have a grain of truth in it?  You decide.  

 I like to think that some folks in China sent the balloon because they were just so bored and tired of life under totalitarian rule.  I’m sure there are those who will argue that Communism has its good points, but, frankly, I’ve never seen a photo from one of those massive political rallies in China, North Korea, or Russia and thought, “Gee, I wish I could be there.” 

No, it has to be stressful to live in a country where your government and your neighbors are spying on your every move.  It has to be boring to live in a country that prohibits a free press, given that so many of the juicy stories—forget whether they are true or false—that we hear every day coming to us from enterprising journalists.  And it has to be tiring to know that every time a government leader speaks—and don’t Communist leaders like to talk ad infinitum?—you’re being fed something totally canned and bogus.  

So, back to my tongue-in-cheek, off-the-wall theory behind the Chinese balloon.  I picture some college kids in China who decided, after a few too many beers, that this year they weren’t going to miss out on the Super Bowl and especially the half-time show with Rihanna.  So, they blew up a big balloon, added a few cameras, a computer chip or two, and sent the balloon aloft on a gusty day in hopes that some pics and videos would come back.  

Yes, my theory is crazy and, I confess, impossible, but at least it’s a theory that has some logic to it.  I dare the Chinese government to offer a theory that makes more sense.