“Are we human or are we dancer?” Human by The Killers, 2008, Island records
In transcripts I have seen, when questioned about the significance of the above line from the above song, the writers remain fairly coy on any meaning or interpretation. The chorus line is of course based on a quote by Hunter S Thompson, which questions whether humanity is broadly becoming less than the sum of its parts: deindividuation on a global scale.
Air travel is one of humanity’s main technological advancements thus far, but does it make us more or less ‘human’? The obvious answer is that by connecting us with our fellow man in far off places it makes us much more culturally aware and empowered. It broadens the mind and feeds the soul. Or does it…
“You wake up at Seatac, SFO, LAX. You wake up at O’Hare, Dallas-Fort Worth, BWI. Pacific, mountain, central. Lose an hour, gain an hour. This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time. You wake up at Air Harbor International. If you wake up at a different time, in a different place, could you wake up as a different person?” Fight Club, 1999, 20th Century Fox, novel by Chuck Palahniuk.
An alternative viewpoint is that for most of us, the different person who awakes on vacation is (luckily for humanity) not Tyler Durden but almost the opposite: a more relaxed, less thinking, less aware version of ourselves. And if travel is just escape then let’s just embrace it as such. And when we get back to reality let’s do our bit for humanity.
Chemicals, TCP and Clean Breathing
“Tricresyl phosphate, abbreviated TCP, is an organophosphate compound that is used as a plasticizer and diverse other applications. It is a colourless, viscous liquid, although commercial samples are typically yellow. It is virtually insoluble in water.” Wikipedia
Tricresyl phosphate is a chemical. Tricresyl phosphate is widely used in industry but moreover is a component of jet fuel. Tricresyl phosphate is a neurotoxin, and specifically by inhibiting the enzyme acetylcholinesterase, may result in an abnormal build up of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine within our bodies leading to the death of our nerve cells, as in the disease Organophosphate induced delayed polyneuropathy . Many chemicals exist in subtly different forms, which are termed isomers. The ortho isomer of Tricresyl phosphate is thought to be more injurious to human health. In a recent study the ortho isomer of Tricresyl phosphate was found to be a ‘significant presence’ in cabin air during flight. 
1. JokanovicÌ M, KosanovicÌ M, BrkicÌ D, VukomanovicÌ P. Organophosphate induced delayed polyneuropathy in man: an overview. Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2011 Jan;113(1):7-10. doi: 10.1016/j.clineuro.2010.08.015. Epub 2010 Sep 28. Review.
2. J.J. Ramsden (2013). On the proportion of ortho isomers in the tricresyl phosphates contained in jet oil. Journal of Biological Physics and Chemistry 13 (2): 69-72. doi:10.4024/03RA13L.jbpc.13.02.
In this article, the generality of health is discussed. Please do not construe this as specific health advice, and please consult a physician if you wish to consider making changes to your lifestyle.
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This post was written by MQ Bismil