Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Not So Futuristic Thinking

Disaster seems to be a popular subject in the news and planning ahead doesn't seem to be very important to us. The paper of record has a TimeSelect editorial about repairing the nation's highways, byways, and energy.
Infrastructure — the catchall term for the backbone of our nation — is the kind of word that makes taxpayers want to roll over, hit the snooze button and go back to sleep. We ignore it and only complain when something breaks. No dummies, our lawmakers react accordingly. They approach the underpinnings of our nation’s future like school nurses, applying the equivalent of Band-Aids and aspirin.

Unfortunately, what ails Uncle Sam’s body is much more than nicks and bruises and there are no short-term remedies, much less miracle elixirs. It takes years to lay a comprehensive network of fiber-optic cable or dig a tunnel through bedrock. By the time we notice how bad things have gotten, the cost of doing business in this country may have grown prohibitively high, thanks to an unofficial and highly inefficient tax levied through broken truck axles and slow Internet connections.
Speaking of taxes, Las Vegas has eliminated the 24-7 wedding option. Now you have to get your marriage license before 8 pm. They didn't make enough money to justify keeping the office open.

Lions, tigers and bears, oh my! Actually, it is floods, tornadoes and hurricanes, it won't happen to me. Yes, it will.
In fact, 91% of Americans live in places at a moderate-to-high risk of earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes, wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, high-wind damage or terrorism, according to an estimate calculated for TIME by the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute at the University of South Carolina. But Americans have a tendency to be die-hard optimists, literally. It is part of what makes the country great--and vincible. "There are four stages of denial," says Eric Holdeman, director of emergency management for Seattle's King County, which faces a significant earthquake threat. "One is, it won't happen. Two is, if it does happen, it won't happen to me. Three: if it does happen to me, it won't be that bad. And four: if it happens to me and it's bad, there's nothing I can do to stop it anyway."
The whole article is interesting and worth reading, maybe it will energize people to improve their neighborhoods. And I don't mean flowers, even though they are nice. I've been doing my front "yard" and even though it looks better, I will still have a few inches of mud unless I come up with a plan. I'm going to be building a front step and the rest of the porch awning today so mom will be able to enjoy the outside air with her cigarettes.

On the bright side of life, we now have Orion. That's the name NASA decided on for the replacement for the shuttle. They hope it will bring back the glory days of Apollo. While reading the article I was struck by the lack of futuristic thinking. They are planning to use this design for more than fifteen years. Why? Won't we have new technologies and materials along the way?

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