Sunday, December 24, 2006

Headline from the future: "Whirrled peas not just for babies and hippies anymore"

Here are the first and last paragraphs from the account of what one writer imagines what life could be like between now and 2026:

"The other day, I borrowed some kids to go gawk with me at the one thing that we can always count on in an ever-more unstable world: age-of-dinosaur dioramas in science museums. This one had the usual dramatic clash between a tyrannosaurus and a triceratops; pterodactyls soaring through the air, one with a small reptile in its toothy maw; and some oblivious grazing by what, when I was young in another millennium, we would have called a brontosaurus. Easy to overlook in all that drama was the shrew-like mammal perched on a reed or thick blade of grass, too small to serve even as an enticing pterodactyl snack. The next thing coming down the line always looks like that mammal at the beginning -- that's what I told the kids -- inconsequential, beside the point; the official point usually being the clash of the titans."

"The future, of course, is not something you predict and wait for. It is something you invent daily through your actions. As Mas Kodani, a Buddhist in Los Angeles, said in the early twenty-first century: "One does not stand still looking for a path. One walks; and as one walks, a path comes into being." We make it up as we go, and we make it up by going, or as the Zapatistas more elegantly put it, "Walking we ask questions." What else can you do?

Perhaps respect the power of the small and the mystery of the future to which we all belong."

It's rather true, and rather encouraging. More and more people are getting fed up with the incompetency of those we rely on to do our bidding, so we're starting to take action on our own to affect change. (Perhaps it also signals an end to our general laziness that has created the obesity and ADD epidemics of late). Read the whole article here: Looking back at history from 2026

Amusing? Idealistic? Naive? Maybe, but ultimately it's one version of what needs to happen if there's any hope for a positive future. There's still time to ask Santa for world peace (or whirrled peas, if you prefer).

Thursday, December 21, 2006

El Capitol

Raleigh is a real town. Kind of. The downtown is bigger than Durham and has a fair amount going on, considering it's a state capital. There are tall office buildings (both existing and being constructed) and government office buildings and local restaurants and stores, and a surprisingly large number of architecture firms. It's a growing Southern city, and it's pretty exciting to see this region expand. Chicago is cool, but there are few new challenges there. Population density is still low here, and there's lots of open space awaiting construction. And that construction is often green--I have seen lots of ads in the independent paper about green homes and apartments. The campus buses run on biodiesel. The energy companies are very visible, and people are working had to preserve the open spaces in the region. The city planning department holds charrettes to give residents a chance to participate in neighborhood development.

Maybe these things happen in other places too, they're just more visible here because there's less of everything. The history museum in Raleigh was closed, so there is probably a lot of interesting here. But for a region that once thrived on the tobacco industry, then crashed when smoking became a bad word, there's a lot of potential yet.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The things you learn on a play day

Today I rented a car and ran some errands, mostly as a celebration for finishing my first semester of grad school. First, I found out from the Enterprise guy that they used to get hybrid cars to rent out (and sell--Enterprise sells their cars too) but since the hybrids have been such a hot commodity, the car companies took away the hybrids to put directly on the market. Then, I was listening to talk radio (not the wacky conservative kind, just some guys talking on the radio) and they did a story about a lawmaker in Texas who is trying to bring equality to the sport (?!) of hunting. Apparently, in Texas (and probably other places too--I've heard this before) it is illegal to use laser spotters while hunting. But this lawmaker is trying to pass a law allowing legally blind people to use spotters, as long as a fully sighted person is supervising. As the talk show guy pointed out, why don't they go all the way and allow legally blind people to drive cars too, as long as a fully sighted person is supervising.