Travelling by train…
…still feels glamourous to me. As if every bump, every pitch and roll, every sway were a reminder that I am a Very Important Person… I am a Traveller.*
I cannot wait for the day when we all go by trains and only trains. Well, trains and foot-power. And jet pack. Definitely jetpack. But no more cars—that’s the point. Maybe it will look a bit like Ross Ching’s short film “Running On Empty“.
The wide-scale adoption of train travel powers through the collective unconscious as one of the major signifiers of The Future. What’s the future look like? A good train system. Ever since the industrial revolution, it’s all been about the train. The sleek futurism of Berlin and London? Chalk it up to their sleek futurist undergrounds. The Star Trekian throwback futurism of Paris? You can blame their art-deco le Metro for that. The aseptic future and desolate wastelands we imagine of the US Eastern Seaboard and the LA Basin, respectively? Just look at their trains, man, just look at their trains.
Trains are so The Future, in fact, that we don’t even recognize it. Instead, we have to put a girdle round the moon before we know we’re awed. We mark our overt future now with death, like lamenting the decay of modern media containers and hewing an ark for Digital Format Preservation.
I’m travelling now; travelling by train; travelling across Illinois, de facto capital of the once great Midwest.
The future is abundant here, as it is all over the Midwest…
The Midwestern Future of unrealized dreams — a downtown constructed entirely of parallel one-way streets as separate avenues for the commercial and private traffic, a cull-de-sac where every basement in every house can be connected—just in case the commies land, a 3×2 alcove in a kitchen—equipped with a 220 outlet—too small for anything but your inevitable robot maid, there to shine the self-cleaning tile.
And the Midwestern Future we balked at too soon — college campus whose buildings were designed to fit the monorails “coming in the next five years”, a city-wide people mover, a health and wellness center willing to try anything, a monument ahead of its time, and Westinghouse time capsules to preserve it all.
We’re coming back to it now, getting back to the future of our minds, heading down a parallel track to the ones laid a hundred optimistic years ago, receding into the horizon with no tangible end.
Giant Lego Robot Chess = MOST AWESOME THING EVER
Live like a Vulcan, one of io9’s rare good Star Trek posts; chock-full of links.
Donald Duck is about to catch a Venereal Disease from a human slut. Weird.
I fantasize about Jesse Bering when I masturbate.
A discussion of the problems in academia. I’m not sure I agree with the conclusions, but I enjoy the stance that “a once-desirable career path for the best U.S. scientific talent has become a route to penury, frustration and disappointment.”
Just in case it’s been a while since you read all about how it was evolutionary advantageous for us to believe in agents before non-agents, patterns before randomness, etc etc etc… here’s Michael Shermer’s The Pattern Behind Self Deception